2011

29 December — “Alberta sees oilsands tours as way to educate skeptics; Visits extended to December in bid to counter criticism”

As seen in The Edmonton Journal: “The Alberta government offered a record number of oilsands tours to U.S. politicians, foreign diplomats, international reporters and others in 2011 to help curtail growing criticism.

“‘Oilsands tours over the past couple of years have sharply picked up,’ government spokesman David Sands said Wednesday, pointing to 41 oilsands site visits officially hosted by the provincial government this year and an additional 23 to which the government contributed.

“In the face of international criticism, the provincial government has often suggested people come north to see bitumen production for themselves, including tailings ponds and site rehabilitation.

“Sands did not have comparable numbers available on visits to the Fort McMurray area in 2010.

“But as debate grew louder in connection to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline expansion and European legislators considered a ban on fuel from the oilsands, Sands said Alberta’s invitation seemed to have more takers in 2011. In past years, the province had wrapped up all its tours by September. This year, they continued through December.

“‘It is our most effective tool for communicating on oilsands issues … because you bring people up and let them see it for themselves,’ he said Wednesday. ‘You realize the iconic image around the anti-oilsands movement, if you will, is simply a picture of an open-pit mine and how ugly that is. The only way to give people context for that picture they see is to bring (them) up there, to fly them over vast miles of boreal forest and show them where that picture was taken. There’s nothing more effective than that.’ …”

23 October — “First Nations band wants to develop ‘tribal park'”

As seen in The Edmonton Journal: “A northern First Nations band has announced plans to develop Alberta’s first ‘tribal park,’ a protected area of about 90,000 hectares straddling the province’s border with British Columbia.

“‘This area has been in our traditional territory (for) camping and hunting. It’s a spiritual area for our people,’ said Doig River Nation Chief Norman Davis, adding the land – which takes in Sweeney and McLean creeks northwest of Grande Prairie and southwest of Chinchaga Wildland Provincial Park – has been his people’s place ‘for generations, since even before the border was put in.’

“At this time, Ottawa is calling the tribal park plan a ‘unilateral declaration by the Doig River First Nation related to lands under provincial jurisdiction within Alberta and British Columbia.’ …

“Davis said the goal of the park is to ‘try to protect what we have in this area,’ including the forests K’ih Tsaa? dze – the proposed name of the tribal park – means ‘old growth area.’

“While land west of the border – about 50 kilometres northeast of Fort St. John – has been surveyed by B.C.-based consulting company Silva Ecosystems, field assessments of the Alberta side of the proposed park have not yet been undertaken. It is unclear what effect the park would have on oil and gas work in the area. …”

25 September — “Ottawa protest targets oilsands”

As seen in The Edmonton Journal: “Environmental groups are hoping to trigger what they call the ‘largest civil disobedience action in the history of Canada’s climate movement’ Monday in Ottawa — a sit-in on Parliament Hill to protest federal government support of Alberta’s oilsands.

“‘This isn’t about condemning anybody that works in the tarsands or oilsands industry. This is about presenting choices,’ said Greenpeace campaigner Mike Hudema.

“The Edmonton-based activist, who plans to be in Ottawa on Monday, said he hopes people do not see the protest as an attack on Alberta, but a bid for a ‘clean energy economy.’

“Monday’s action takes aim at Alberta’s oilsands as a whole, but the effort piggybacks on growing American and Canadian attention to the proposed $12-billion Keystone XL pipeline extension.

“As U.S. lawmakers draw closer to deciding whether to approve the massive project, expected to eventually pump 900,000 barrels of raw bitumen daily from Hardisty, Alta., across nine states to refineries in Texas, the pipeline proposal has become a magnet for wider environmental and economic debate on Alberta’s oilsands production. Where environmental activists weigh in against bolstering fossil fuel development, Canadian unions and even former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed have raised questions about exporting jobs. Across the U.S., meanwhile, local organizations worry about backyard environmental issues — including worst-case scenarios for the pipeline’s impact on the Ogallala Aquifer in Nebraska.

“’It’s been an interesting year, and yeah, it’s been challenging,’ said Shawn Howard, a spokesman for TransCanada, the Calgary-based company building the pipeline.

“In the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the 2010 Enbridge pipeline rupture that affected the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, however, Howard said it was no surprise to find the Keystone XL project in the cross-hairs.

“’That changes how people look at an entire industry, not just a single project,’ Howard said. ‘All we can do is point to our industry-leading safety and operating record as something we’re proud of.’ …”

19 September — “Industrial development pushes sage grouse to brink of extinction”

As seen in The Edmonton Journal: “A new billboard campaign in Edmonton and Calgary flags the disappearance of the province’s greater sage grouse, a bird whose grasslands home is compromised by industrial development in southeastern Alberta.

“‘They’re the canary in the gold mine; they’re sort of like a figurehead of healthy grasslands,’ says Alberta Wilderness Association conservationist Nigel Douglas, who draws a direct link between sour gas wells and Alberta’s dwindling sage grouse population.

“‘If we’re doing a good job of managing our prairies and managing our grasslands, then we have healthy numbers of birds like sage grouse. So when they are disappearing, it’s telling us that we’re doing something desperately wrong.’

“The billboards, donated by Pattison Outdoor Advertising and Green Light Signs in Edmonton, are expected to flash a stark message to motorists passing Commonwealth Stadium or driving up Gateway Boulevard at 63rd Avenue: There are only 13 male sage grouse left in Alberta.

“That count suggests the total population lies between 30 and 40. In 1991, the provincial government counted 241 male sage grouse. In 1994, there were 70. …”

30 April — “A ‘once-in-a-lifetime experience'”

As seen in The Vancouver Sun: “Thirty years ago, Kitty Norman’s mother wore a black-andwhite polka-dot dress to the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales. The polyester number was mermaid-inspired and the height of 1980s-chic: form-fitting on top and full at the bottom, boosted by crinoline.

‘She probably thought she looked good in it, whereas I’m very much aware of the fact I look like a mug,’ Norman said Friday morning.

The 20-year-old Londoner and her friend, Eliza Dolbey, camped outside Buckingham Palace Friday to witness the royal wedding -after they went dancing in their old-school ball gowns. …”

26 April — “U.K. gearing up for a right royal celebration”

As seen in The Edmonton Journal: “As dedicated royal watchers in Canada make up their minds to pull all-nighters or wake up very, very early to catch television coverage of Prince William marrying Kate Middleton on Friday, Londoners will be gearing up for a day of hard-core partying.

Most everyone in the United Kingdom has Friday off in honour of the royal wedding, and officials say there have been about 800 applications for road closures in the capital alone. …”

23 April — “From couches to ‘glamping,’ London is ready to sleep thousands”

As seen in The Ottawa Citizen: “As London prepares for hundreds of thousands of people to swarm the area around Westminster Abbey in the hopes of glimpsing Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding, some local residents are finding ways to cash in on the international attention.

Websites aimed at allowing people to “monetize their space” are offering a cross-section of places to stay during the royal wedding weekend -whether that space is a lofty fourbedroom home in Notting Hill or a sofa bed near a train station. …”

17 April — “Royal fever getting ‘silly’ in St. Andrews”

As seen in The Ottawa Citizen: “When Prince William and Kate Middleton tie the knot in London later this month, residents of St. Andrews hope to share a piece of the spotlight as the place where the royal couple famously met and dated.

“One out of 10 St. Andrews students meet their future (spouses) whilst at the university,” said Patrick Laughlin, manager of the St. Andrews Partnership, a businesscommunity organization. The figure was famously quoted by a head of the University of St. Andrews during William and Kate’s 2005 graduation ceremony.

“They call this town the most romantic place to study in the world,” Laughlin added. …”


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