Ukraine dam collapse makes humanitarian crisis 'hugely worse': UN official

WATCH: Ukraine dam collapse: Kherson residents evacuated, face lack of drinking water

The humanitarian situation in Ukraine is “hugely worse” than before the Kakhovka dam collapsed, the U.N.’s top aid official warned Friday.

Undersecretary-General Martin Griffiths said an “extraordinary” 700,000 people are in need of drinking water and warned that the ravages of flooding in one of the world’s most important breadbaskets will almost inevitably lead to lower grain exports, higher food prices around the world, and less to eat for millions in need.

“This is a viral problem,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press. “But the truth is this is only the beginning of seeing the consequences of this act.”

The rupture of the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam and emptying of its reservoir on the Dnieper River on Wednesday added to the misery in a region that has suffered for more than a year from artillery and missile attacks.

Ukraine holds the Dnieper’s western bank, while Russian troops control the low-lying eastern side, which is more vulnerable to flooding. The dam and reservoir, essential for fresh water and irrigation in southern Ukraine, lies in the Kherson region that Moscow illegally annexed in September and has occupied for the past year.

Griffiths said the United Nations, working mainly through Ukrainian aid groups, has reached 30,000 people in flooded areas under Ukrainian control. He said that so far Russia has not given access to areas it controls for the U.N. to help flood victims.

Griffiths said he met with Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, on Wednesday to ask Russian authorities “for access for our teams in Ukraine to go across the front lines to give aid, to provide support for ? Ukrainians in those areas.”

“We’re providing them with details as we speak, to enable Moscow to meet what we hope will be a positive decision on this,” he said. “I hope that will come through.”

The emergency response is essential to save lives, he said, “but behind that you’ve got a huge, looming problem of a lack of proper drinking water for those 700,000 people” on both the Ukrainian-controlled and Russian-controlled sides of the river.

There is also the flooding of important agricultural land and a looming problem of providing cooling water for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, which had been supplied from the dam, he added.

In addition, Griffiths noted that waters also have rushed over areas with land mines from the war “and what we are bound to be seeing are those mines floating in places where people don’t expect them,” threatening adults and especially children.

“So it’s a cascade of problems, starting with allowing people to survive today, and then giving them some kind of prospects for tomorrow,” he said.

Griffiths said that because of the wide-ranging consequences “it’s almost inevitable” that the United Nations will launch a special appeal for more aid funds for Ukraine to deal with “a whole new order of magnitude” from the dam’s rupture. But he said he wants to wait a few weeks to see the economic, health and environmental consequences before announcing the appeal.

Griffiths said he and U.N. trade chief Rebeca Grynspan are also working to ensure the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which Turkey and the U.N. brokered with Ukraine and Russia last July to open three Black Sea ports in Ukraine for its grain exports.

More than 30,000 metric tons of wheat and other foodstuff has been shipped under the deal, leading to a decline in global food prices that skyrocketed after Russia’s Feb. 24, 2022, invasion of Ukraine. It has been extended three times and is due to expire July 17.

Part of the deal was a memorandum signed by Russia and the U.N. aimed at overcoming obstacles to Russian food and fertilizer shipments that Moscow has repeatedly complained are not being fulfilled.

A key Russian demand has been the reopening of a pipeline between the Russian port of Togliatti on the Volga River and the Black Sea port of Odesa that has been shut down since Russia’s attack on Ukraine. It carried ammonia, a key ingredient of fertilizer.

“Opening that pipeline and delivering ammonia across the Black Sea to the global south is a priority for all of us,” Griffiths said. “Ammonia is an essential ingredient for global food security.”

A rupture in the pipeline was reported from shelling late Tuesday, but Griffiths said the U.N. couldn’t confirm it because the pipeline is in the middle of a war zone.

“We, of course, are very, very strongly of the view that we need that repaired as quickly as possible,” he said. “So let’s hope it’s not too badly damaged.” He said the Ukrainians have told the U.N. they will get to the pipeline, which is on their territory, “as soon as they can.”

Griffiths said the Ukrainians see opening the pipeline as part of a package that would also include Russian agreement to open a fourth Black Sea port at Mykolaiv to export more grain.

Negotiations have been taking place in recent weeks, including at a meeting Friday in Geneva between U.N. trade chief Grynspan and Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergey Vershinin.

“We’re not there yet,” Griffiths said. “I hope that we’ll make it.”

© 2023 The Canadian Press

Twins beat Blue Jays 3-2 in 10 innings

TORONTO – Michael A. Taylor homered and drove in all three Minnesota runs as the Twins beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 in 10 innings Friday night at Rogers Centre.

Taylor hit a sacrifice fly off Blue Jays sidearmer Adam Cimber (0-1) that brought home Ryan Jeffers with the go-ahead run. Left-fielder Whit Merrifield was charged with a throwing error on the play.

Jeffers started the inning on second base as the automatic runner. He moved to third on an infield single by Royce Lewis.

With Kevin Kiermaier on second base to start the Toronto half of the 10th, Jhoan Duran (2-2) issued a one-out walk to Merrifield before striking out Daulton Varsho.

Santiago Espinal, who scored both runs for the Blue Jays (36-29), popped up to end it.

Toronto loaded the bases in the ninth inning but couldn’t score. A Brandon Belt lineout sent the game to extra innings.

Minnesota (32-32) ended its season-high five-game losing skid.

It was Toronto’s first loss in four games. The Blue Jays left 12 runners on base.

Yusei Kikuchi gave up a double to open the game, but the Twins couldn’t capitalize.

The left-handed starter eventually settled in and retired eight in a row until Lewis beat out an infield single in the fifth.

Lewis would score on Taylor’s two-run shot and his ninth home run of the season.

The Blue Jays halved the deficit against Twins starter Sonny Gray in the bottom half when Bo Bichette singled to bring home Espinal from second base.

Toronto loaded the bases with one out, but Gray struck out Belt and got Matt Chapman to hit into a fielder’s choice.

Kikuchi allowed four hits, a walk and two earned runs over five innings. He had four strikeouts.

Gray also lasted five frames. He allowed one earned run, five hits and a pair of walks while fanning five.

With reliever Nate Pearson on the hill, Chapman made a highlight-reel defensive play in the sixth. He fully extended his frame to snag a scorching liner by Kyle Farmer near the third-base line.

The Blue Jays tied it when pinch-hitter George Springer welcomed Twins reliever Brock Stewart to the game with a double that scored Espinal.

Springer took third base on the throw, but was stranded when pinch-hitter Alejandro Kirk struck out.

Announced attendance was 35,222 on the first night of the Blue Jays’ Pride Weekend. The game took two hours 59 minutes to play.


The Blue Jays designated right-hander Anthony Bass for assignment before the game and reinstated right-hander Mitch White (elbow) from the 60-day injured list.

The Twins placed left-hander Caleb Thielbar on the 15-day IL with a right oblique strain. The move was retroactive to June 6.


Longtime LGBTQ advocate leZlie Lee Kam helped kick off Pride Weekend by throwing the ceremonial first pitch.

Bass was originally tabbed to catch the ball, but right-hander Kevin Gausman filled in instead.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 9, 2023.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

Driver crashes into West Vancouver Whole Foods, motors through produce section

Police are still trying to work out why an 80-year-old man drove this BMW into a Whole Foods on Friday. One person suffered non-life threatening injuries and was taken to hopsital.

West Vancouver police are trying to piece together exactly how a driver managed to crash their car into a Whole Foods grocery store on Friday.

Emergency crews were called to the supermarket at Park Royal around 11:30 a.m., where a man in his 80s had driven a black BMW into the store.

About 20 shoppers were inside the produce department when the vehicle burst into that part of the store, police said.

One person was hurt seriously enough to be taken to hospital, police said. The driver was also taken to hospital as a precautionary measure.

“While it is unknown what the driver was doing at the time of the incident, he managed to drive into the grocery store, turn left and take out half of the produce department,” police said in a media release.

Firefighters told Global News the driver accelerated through the store’s entrance at a high rate of speed.

Anyone with information is asked to contact West Vancouver police at 604-925-7300.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Majority of British Columbians give ER wait times a failing grade: poll

WATCH: A new public opinion poll has found that British Columbians are almost evenly split down the middle, as to whether they think our health care system is 'good', or 'poor.' Paul Johnson reports.

More than half of British Columbians who’ve landed in the hospital emergency room in the last six months say they’ve faced unacceptable wait times, according to a new poll.

The survey, conducted by pollster Leger in collaboration with the Vancouver Sun, aimed to put numbers to the recent concerns making headlines about the province’s health-care system.

“All those anecdotal stories of horror stories in the ER room, how extensive are those experiences and how many British Columbians are actually going through those worst case scenarios,” Leger executive vice-president Steve Mossop explained.

Overall, the poll found British Columbians split on their view of the province’s health-care system, with 50 per cent saying it was in good or very good condition, and 46 per cent saying it was in poor or very poor shape.

But among the poll’s more troubling findings: 55 per cent of respondents rated both the total length of time they waited to be treated and the wait time before seeing a doctor as “poor” or “very poor.”

“It’s pretty clear-cut,” Mossop said.

“When you have 55 per cent of people who have been to the ER in the last six months that say the wait times are unacceptable, that’s a significant number.”

The poll also found a large number of British Columbians would consider leaving Canada to access health care, with 23 per cent saying they’d consider it for a surgery, 25 per cent saying they’d consider it for dental work and 26 per cent saying they’d consider it for other diagnostic work or procedures.

Mossop said the polling suggested no quick fix to the ER problems, either.

A large part of the issue, he said, is people attending emergency rooms because they lack access to a family doctor or timely care at a walk-in clinic. About 30 per cent of respondents said they’d used an ER for this reason, he said.

Daniel Fontaine, a consultant who has worked a variety of jobs in politics and as an advocate for long-term care providers said given the size of the health-care system, making major changes quickly to satisfy patients and voters likely isn’t realistic.

“If you’re referring to whether they can do it before the next election I would say they’ll be extremely challenged to do that,” he said.

But while the current NDP government is stuck with the challenge, Fontaine said the problems go back more than a decade and have built up at the hands of both of B.C.’s major parties.

Health Minister Adrian Dix has maintained his government is focused on cutting the Gordian Knot of the province’s health-care crisis.

“We know that the answers that are often felt in the emergency room are really an expression of the need for more community care, the need for long-term care and better primary care,” Dix said Wednesday, in announcing an expansion at the beleaguered Surrey Memorial Hospital.

Despite the findings on ER wait times, Mossop said the poll wasn’t all bad news when it came to British Columbians’ perceptions of their emergency care.

Six in 10 respondents said their overall experience in the emergency room was good or very good, while just under four in 10 said it was poor or very poor.

Seventy-six per cent said their quality of care was good or very good, and 72 per cent said their ultimate health outcomes were good.

The Leger poll was conducted online between June 2 and June 5 of 1,000 adult British Columbians, with results weighted using data from the 2021 census. For comparison purposes only, a similarly sized randomized sample of 1,000 respondents would have a margin of error of +/- 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

'Interact with culture': 2nd annual Indigenous artisan market kicks off in New Westminster

The New West Craft Indigenous Market is back in the city for its second year. The event celebrates Indigenous art - music - and storytelling. Our Travis Prasad has a preview.

Shop First Nations and the Arts Council of New Westminster are kicking off their second collaborative New West Craft Indigenous Market on Saturday, with more vendors, food trucks and performers than ever before.

The market will take place at the River Market on the boardwalk of the Westminster Quay between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., with “double” the number of storytellers, singers and dancers, according to Shop First Nations founder Rob Schulz.

“In addition to the shopping opportunities, it’s an opportunity to interact with culture and learn more about Indigenous culture and connect with it,” he told Global News on Friday.

“We had a really good turnout last year and we’re hoping for even more this year from the community. We appreciate everyone’s support.”

The market will feature beadwork, paintings, carvings, culinary products and more from over 35 Indigenous entrepreneurs and artists. It will also include an art and performance space — a “safe and welcome” environment for the public to learn about Indigenous practices and creative expression.

S^yowah, curator of that reclamation space, said it also gives emerging Indigenous artists space and exposure.

“There’s more to Indigenous art than just painting,” he said. “(Visitors) will experience the other side of the products and the items that artists create.

“They’re also going to get some more in-depth ideas and teachings and concepts of why Indigenous artists create the items that they create … Art is one of the last safest places to express what they need to share and express, especially around reconciliation. ”

That exposure is particularly important, he added, given historical bans on all forms of cultural, spiritual and artistic expression by Indigenous Peoples, enforced by the state and churches in Canada.

Both Schulz and S^yowah said the New West Craft Indigenous Market is an opportunity to engage in “financial reconciliation.”

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated the atrocities of Canada’s harrowing residential school system, released a public call to action demanding equitable financial, educational and employment opportunities for Indigenous Peoples that would result in long-term, sustainable benefits.

“I think it’s a huge opportunity and I think it’s really part of truth and reconciliation,” said Schulz.

“If you’re a consumer or just someone looking to do your weekend shopping, it’s a really easy step you can take to support Indigenous entrepreneurs. In turn that supports Indigenous communities and their families, and helps grow the Indigenous economy.”

“We need to look at the City of New Westminster, where they’re located,” added S^yowah.

“There are businesses that are in this market behind us that are occupying this territory that was once a trading spot for the Indigenous people who would use the Fraser River and to use the river system to share their goods.”

Illustrator and designer Tristan Wright, whose artwork can be seen in multiple New Westminster locations, will be speaking at an artist talk at the market at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. She said initiatives like the  New West Craft Indigenous Market are “wildly important,”, particularly for younger artists, and sends a message they can pursue their passion as viable careers.

“It’s been kind of pushed away from them for so long, so now that we’re kind of bringing it back and letting them engage with the community and themselves and their work is really important,” she told Global News.

“It just proves that art is very much so important. It’s all around us.”

Performances begin at 11:15 a.m. Admission to the market is free.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Strike vote underway for 7,000 terminal cargo movers in B.C., raising business concerns

Unionized longshore workers on the B.C. coast cast ballots on Friday, in the first of a two-day strike vote that could affect ports along the Pacific coast. And with a billion dollars worth of goods moving through the ports every day, businesses say a work stoppage could have devastating impacts on the economy. Aaron McArthur reports.

As the threat of a strike looms, some business people are urging the union representing more than 7,000 terminal cargo movers in B.C., and their employer, to reach a deal.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada (ILWU) and B.C. Maritime Employers Association have been working to negotiate a new contract since February, their collective agreement having expired at the end of March.

On Monday, the union authorized a strike vote to take place Friday and Saturday.

Some $350 billion-worth of goods move through the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert alone, according to Bridgitte Anderson, president and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. She said B.C.’s ports are in state of recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic and back-to-back natural disasters, and a strike could disrupt the precarious progress that’s been made.

“Both from an import and export side, disruptions would cause mass problems for us as businesses and for consumers as well, and we have to realize that disruptions can also fuel inflation and also further cost pressures that will just trickle down to impact everyone,” she said Friday.

“We’re urging both sides in this dispute to come together and find a solution so we don’t end up in a situation where we’re seeing further inflation and cost pressures.”

Neither the ILWU Canada nor the B.C. Maritime Employers Association would comment on this story while negotiations are underway.

The two sides are currently in a cooling-off period until June 21, after the union filed a notice of dispute in March that required federally-mandated conciliation that ended on May 30.

Canadian law prevents either side from exercising their right to labour action for 21 days after the end of conciliation, and both the union and the employers association say job action can’t be conducted before June 21, leaving the earliest possible strike date of June 24.

The B.C. Maritime Employers Association represents 49 of the province’s private sector waterfront employers. According to its website, its members contribute $2.7 billion to the national GDP and handled roughly 16 per cent of Canada’s total traded goods worth $180 billion in 2020.

A statement on the website says it aims to reach a “fair and balanced deal” that ensures proper compensation and the competitiveness of B.C.’s ports.

Kari Yuers of Kryton International Inc., a manufacturer of waterproofing and durability products for concrete, called the possibility of a strike “very concerning,” noting the problematic concentration of business disruptions in the past three years.

“I think everybody’s had a taste of supply disruptions and the supply chain and the impact, the negative impact on the economy and inflation. I think people are very worried about this,” she told Global News.

“Certainly for our company, it’s it’s incredibly harmful. We’re in our 50th year and our customers come to rely on us to get them the materials they need. So it’s not okay to say, ‘Oh, well, we might not be able to supply you and we not we’re not sure when that will be.'”

A labour disruption would “absolutely” damage Kryton International’s reputation, Yuers added, and give an edge to its international competitors. About 80 per cent of the company’s sales are outside of North America, and Kryton primarily ships from Vancouver and Port Alberni.

She said many of Kryton’s customers work on strict project deadlines, and if the company can’t ship supplies on time, those projects could fall apart.

“We’ve had these strikes before and unfortunately, it usually takes many weeks before people start to recognize that it’s serious enough. We all have to get to the table. If I have an ask, it’s for them to get to the table sooner and to sort it out.”

Beacon Economics international trade adviser Jock O’Connell told The Canadian Press this week that the timing of a possible strike at B.C. ports coincides with ongoing labour strife at West Coast ports in the United States, as disputes between port officials and the Longshore union’s American counterpart disrupted terminal operations in places such as Oakland and Long Beach, both in California.

O’Connell said a combination of disruptions at B.C. and U.S. ports would seriously damage the West Coast’s role in global shipping, and exporters would look to ports on the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico as more reliable options.

Ultimately, neither side wins a protracted battle in either B.C. or the U.S. West Coast, he added.

“They’ve always had this ability to disrupt cargo flows, but the idea that we might see strike action on both sides of the border is simply unprecedented,” O’Connell said of the possible job action in B.C.

“This is seriously tarnishing the reputation of ports along the Pacific coast of North America as reliable gateways for international trade. If I’m a shipper and I have the discretion of moving goods through different ports of entry or exit, I’m more inclined to do so now than a year or two ago.”

— with files from The Canadian Press

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Campaign aims to put spotlight on children killed by Iranian regime

A Vancouver woman is among the international activists who are raising awarness of the dozens of children killed in Iran, by the ruling regime. Negar Mojtahedi reports.

Nine-year-old Iranian boy Kian Pirfalak had dreams of becoming a robotics engineer one day.

His young life was taken on Nov. 16, 2022 when he was shot and killed while sitting in his parents vehicle in Izeh, Iran.

His family were on their way home while anti-regime nationwide protests took place in the background.

“When the IRGC agents approached their car, he (Kian) told his dad let’s trust the police this time,” said Shiva Mahbobi, a former political prisoner, activist from the group Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran (CFPPI).

According to Mahbobi, Kian’s parents and other witnesses say the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) shot at the young boy, killing him and injuring his father. His mother and father have recently sued the government agents for the killing of their son.

Mahbobi said Kian is one of 76 confirmed cases of children killed by the Iranian regime since the start of the Women, Life, Freedom movement sparked by the death of Masha Jina Amini in September.

The number of dead, Mahbobi said, is likely far higher as many children from Balochistan do not have birth certificates. In other cases, Mahbobi said, many families are too scared to speak out.

Children who activists say have died at the hands of the Iranian regime.

Children who activists say have died at the hands of the Iranian regime.

Sally Nicholls / Global News

Mahbobi is the co-author of a new report documenting the cases of these children, written after speaking directly with their families and sources inside Iran.

The report also outlines other crimes committed by the Islamic Republic against Iranian children.

“Other aspects of the report focus on the children who have been abducted, taken to prison, unknown places, been tortured, raped, given psychedelic drugs,” Mahbobi said.

“It’s really heartbreaking too when these children talk about how many times they’ve been raped in the prison,” added Mahbobi.

The report also documents at least 300 chemical attacks on schools since November, as well as children who were forced into what Iran’s Ministry of Education calls “reforming” centres.

“The report we got from these kids and their families, they’ve been taken there, they’ve been tortured, physically, psychologically. They’ve been forced into false confession,” Mahbobi said.

The psychological impact on these children and their mental and physical development is also examined.

The report lists the names of children who met with brutal violence like Bita Kiani who, according to Mahbobi, lost her eyesight when the IRGC shot her in the eye with a pellet gun as she was playing on her balcony in Isfahan.

Vancouver resident Tara, who is concealing her last name for her safety, is part of the NGO Iranian Justice Collective (IJC).

Their online campaign ‘Say Their Names’ shares the stories of children killed by their own government to honour and protect their memories.

“The killing of nine-year-old Kian Pirfalak was a moment that broke my heart,” Tara told Global News.

Tara said by creating the website the IJC is trying to collect information and evidence for the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on Iran.

Doing so, she hopes, will help bring justice for these children and hold the regime accountable.

“The only response to this violation is false information or denial. In many cases their response has been, ‘Oh they have been killed by accident, dog attacks or even suicide,’” she said.

It’s cases like Kian’s that motivate her to be the voice of those children and the families who have been silenced in Iran.

A hand-written exercise in which young Kian said he believe he and Elon Musk were the two happiest and luckiest people in the world.

A hand-written exercise in which young Kian said he believe he and Elon Musk were the two happiest and luckiest people in the world.

In a handwritten note for a school assignment, Kian was asked who he thinks is the happiest and luckiest person in the world? He responded by saying himself and Elon Musk. His dream of becoming robotics engineer, never realized.

Activists in Vancouver, Toronto and dozens of cities around the world will be marking what would have been Kian’s 10’th birthday on Saturday June 10.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Edson, Yellowhead County ordered to evacuate as wildfires flare up

The extreme heat is not helping the dire wildfire situation in many parts of Alberta. Chris Chacon has what you need to know as we enter a hot, dry weekend.

After a cool-weather reprieve, wildfire conditions west of Edmonton have become extreme again and, on Friday night, an evacuation order was issued for the town of Edson and parts of Yellowhead County.

An Alberta Emergency Alert issued around 6:30 p.m. said due to increased fire activity, fires are becoming increasingly unpredictable.

The fires are moving closer to more populated areas, including Edson, which has a population of about 8,000 people.

“Fires have jumped fire guards. There could be impacts to roads and highways as the fire crosses blocking off points of egress for evacuation,” the emergency alert said.

All evacuees are being told to head east, where a reception centre is being reopened at the Edmonton Expo Centre (7300 116 Ave.)

The county said Hinton currently has a water restriction in effect, so many services will be unavailable and water supply for campers and RVs will likely be impacted.

Many industry workers are in Hinton and finding hotels and campsites will likely prove challenging, the county said, which is why people are being told to go towards Edmonton.

There are several forest fires in the area that are all part of the Pembina Wildfire Complex, and one of those — EWF031, located about 14 kilometres southeast of Edson — grew rapidly and dangerously Friday, putting Edson at risk.

In a late afternoon update, Alberta Wildfire said fire behaviour on EWF031 increased significantly as a result of steady and sustained winds from the southeast, pushing the fire in a northwest direction towards town.

“Very extreme fire behaviour is being observed, firefighters are observing crown fire, meaning that the wildfire is burning in the tree tops.”

(Scroll down for more details on the wildfire.)

The leaders of the town and county put out a video update Friday night, urging people to get out just in case the fires grow large enough to block the highways.

A new wildfire, EWF066, was also detected Friday and is currently burning six kilometres west-southwest of Edson, on the south side of the McLeod River, west of the Ansell Tower. There are airtankers actively fighting this wildfire with eight firefighters and two helicopters.

At the same time, another fire that’s been burning for weeks flared up

Yellowhead County said the western boundary of evacuation zone is Range Road 200, the northern boundary is Township Road 570 to Range Road 160, then north to Township Road 580 east to Highway 751 and south to Township Road 520. It includes the town of Edson.

At the same time, the rest of the county was placed on alert just after 7 p.m. All residents who have not been evacuated must be prepared to evacuate quickly if the situation worsens, Yellowhead County said.

Bussing will be available from multiple locations in the town and county.

Yellowhead County collection points:

  1. Marlboro Community Hall, pickup at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  2. Peers Multiplex, picked up as buses go through to Edmonton
  3. Niton Green Grove Pool, picked up as buses go through to Edmonton

Town of Edson collection points (pick up from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.):

  1. Mary Bergeron School
  2. Westhaven School
  3. Griffiths Park Centre
  4. Glenwood Park
  5. Hillendale Phase 2 Park

All buses congregate at the Edson Leisure Centre for transport to the Edmonton reception centre.

People in the nearby Woodlands County were also told Friday night to be on alert to evacuate.

Alberta Wildfire said in addition to crown fires, EWF-031 wildfire is producing long-range spotting and independent spot fire. Firefighting under these conditions is extremely dangerous, the province said.

Alberta Wildfire said fire activity along the north and northwest side is extreme and fire has crossed and passed the containment lines.

Firefighters, equipment and aircraft have been repositioned to prioritize the fire section that crossed the containment line burning north of Coyote Road, approximately 18.5 kilometres from the town of Edson, as well as the other section of the wildfire east of Rat Creek that crossed the containment line, which is approximately 40 kilometres further east from Edson.

On the west side of the fire, planned controlled burning operations using aircraft are being utilized to prevent the fire from crossing the Sundance Road, the province said.

“This method is often used under the careful eye of a certified ignition specialist and very successful in removing available fuel that the fire could consume. Bringing the fire to the containment line will prevent the fire from processing further into other stands of trees,” the province said.

On the east side of the fire, wildfire firefighters have been pulled from areas of high wildfire activity due to the potential for safety reasons and to reposting on areas where ground crews would be more effective.

Aerial operations will need to be re-prioritized as some areas have very poor visibility.

“You may see many of our aircraft at the airport not being used, that’s due to them not being able to fly in some of these very smoky conditions.”

There are 238 firefighters and support staff working on the Pembina Complex.

There are 65 pieces of heavy equipment and 21 helicopters assigned to the fires.

An airtanker group is available and will be utilized if visibility in the area improves. In addition, the province said a 20-person Australian crew has arrived at camp and will be to joining operations on the fireline immediately.

Alberta currently has approximately 2,900 personnel working on wildfires across the province.

That includes support from across Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, as well as the Canadian Armed Forces.

— More to come…

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Devon Days midway going ahead minus 2 rides after Stony Plain incidents

The midway at Devon Days will go ahead after undergoing an safety review following incidents last weekend in Stony Plain. Sarah Komadina spoke with the town and operator Wild Rose Shows about what had to be done to ensure a safe weekend.

Few small town summer festivals are complete without a midway. The rides at Devon Days will go ahead this weekend after undergoing a safety review following incidents last weekend in Stony Plain.

The midway at the fair in Devon, Alta., is operated by Wild Rose Shows, a family-owned travelling carnival based out of Spruce Grove that operates midways all over Alberta and Saskatchewan, from April through September.

While operating at the Farmers’ Days fair in Stony Plain last weekend, people were injured while riding two attractions: a kid’s merry-go-round-style car ride called The Construction Zone and an adult ride called The Hurricane that sees riders in cars spin.

Two adults told Global News they were switching seats to balance their weight at the operator’s request when The Hurricane started moving, hitting them. One of them needed a dozen stitches on her leg and also had abrasions on her arms and face.

Alberta Health Services said a child was taken to hospital earlier in the day, as well, but the nature of their injures was not known.

Wild Rose Shows said that injury happened on a ride called the Construction Zone.

To operate again, Wild Rose Shows needed to be reinspected by Alberta Elevating Devices & Amusement Ride Safety Association (AEDARSA), and the Town of Devon put forward two additional demands:

  • Safety retraining for Wild Rose Shows staff
  • Confirmation of Wild Rose Shows’ ability to provide on safety certified individual for every three rides in the midway

A joint inspection was done on Thursday by AEDARSA and Alberta OHS officers, both in Devon and in Brooks in southern Alberta, where the company was set to operate another midway this weekend.

The Wild Rose Shows midway at Devon Days on Friday, June 9, 2023.

The Wild Rose Shows midway at Devon Days on Friday, June 9, 2023.

Global News

The Town of Devon said on Friday afternoon Wild Rose Shows was able to meet their criteria and the midway rides will be available throughout the Devon Days weekend.

Wild Rose Shows owner Mike Kryzanowski has been involved in carnivals since he was a kid and worked in the business for over 40 years. He runs Wild Rose with his wife and three adult kids.

The business is his “heart and soul” and talking about the past week was emotional for the owner.

“We feel bad and we’re going to do everything it takes for nothing to happen again,” Kryzanowski said, adding they triple-checked all the rides in Devon.

Kryzanowski said his son and wife Debbie were operating their other unit in Brooks this weekend, where similar inspections took place this week.

“We’re confident that we’re ready to open, but we’re normal human beings and we’re nervous with anticipation,” Kryzanowski said Friday afternoon as the Devon Days midway was powering up for the afternoon.

“We just hope that, you know, people will still come out and visit the show.”

His daughter Mikayla said they’re doing whatever it takes to rebuild trust with the public and worked with OHS for two days to ensure the rides were safe, but added it was all standard procedure.

“We just had to produce some paperwork for them and everything was fine.”

Wild Rose Shows owner Mike Kryzanowski and his daughter Mikayla speaking with staff at Devon Days on Friday, June 9, 2023.

Wild Rose Shows owner Mike Kryzanowski and his daughter Mikayla speaking with staff at Devon Days on Friday, June 9, 2023.

Global News

Devon Mayor Jeff Craddock said the safety criteria put forward was above and beyond what a carnival operator normally has to do, but the town wanted to be very sure the rides were safe.

“We put together a set of protocols we expected them to meet and they have met them,” the mayor said. “The actual okay for them to operate is a provincial decision. It’s not actually a town decision. Keep in mind, we have the right to circumvent that if we thought it wasn’t safe.”

Kryzanowski said even after the officials signed off on the rides, he spent over four hours Friday morning going over all the rides in Devon personally.

The mayor said Wild Rose went above and beyond to meet the town’s demands.

“They stepped up really well. They were engaged, they were emotional, they were complete. They allowed me to walk around and be part of their inspection process with the province. They showed me parts pieces. They laid out what they were going to do. They sent through our directives.

“They have met every mark we have asked for.”

Craddock said he wanted to be sure not just as the town’s mayor, but also as a grandfather — he plans to take his grandkids to the rides at Devon Days.

“I’m not about to put them in a position where they may be hurt or injured or worse,” he said.

Craddock said one safety incident shouldn’t shut down all the fun things in a community if changes can be made. Instead, it’s about doing everything possible to keep people safe, learning from mistakes and proceed with caution.

“There’s always an inherent risk, even when I go and jump in my car. What we tried to do was manage all of those risks, and we believe we’ve done that.”

The two rides that caused injuries to riders last weekend have been pulled from the rotation for Devon Days as they undergo inspection.

A memo from the Alberta Elevating Devices & Amusement Ride Safety Association (AEDARSA) on Friday said The Hurricane has been voluntarily removed from service for the rest of the summer by Wild Rose while it undergoes a full inspection of all components.

AEDARSA said the Construction Zone has also been removed from service while a review of electrical components and wiring to identify the source of electrical shock is done.

“The midway is an important part of Devon Days every year and we are excited to see that the rides will be available for the community to enjoy,” Craddock said in a statement.

While Devon and Brooks are going ahead, the Town of Morinville this week decided to cancel the midway at its Festival Days, scheduled for June 16 to 18, out of an abundance of caution.

“We decided that we were going to exit the relationship for this year and look forward to having them come back in future years once we figure this out,” Morinville CAO Naleen Narayan said.

“We had to make a decision,” he said, adding he didn’t foresee any hurdles for next year as long as everything is in order.

Even after all the inspections were complete Friday, Morinville said it stood by its decision, something Kryzanowski understands.

“Everybody has choices to make, right? We’ll move on and we’ll be okay. We’ll move to other locations and do our due diligence,” the midway operator said.

Devon Days runs Friday through Sunday. While the midway is going ahead, the beloved Friday night fireworks were cancelled due to the dry conditions and hot temperatures.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

U.S.-China talks to be held in Beijing months after spy balloon scuttled plans

WATCH: Blinken addresses Chinese spy balloon, postponement of trip to Beijing

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to China next week for long-delayed talks aimed at stabilizing tense relations, and a U.S. official said he is expected to be there on June 18.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that Blinken would travel to China in the coming weeks, citing an official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

An official on Friday said Blinken would be in Beijing on June 18, but gave no other details.

The Associated Press also confirmed the trip, citing U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because neither the State Department nor the Chinese foreign ministry have yet confirmed the trip.

In February, Washington’s top diplomat scrapped a planned trip to Beijing, which would have been the first by a U.S. secretary of state in five years, over a suspected Chinese spy balloon that flew over the United States.

Since then, there have been contacts between the U.S. and China, but they have been rare as tensions have risen over China’s conduct in the South China Sea, aggressive actions toward Taiwan and support for Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Last week, China’s defense minister rebuffed a request from U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for a meeting on the sidelines of a security symposium in Singapore.

However, China’s commerce minister traveled to the U.S. last month and Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, in Vienna in early May.

The White House said at the time that the meeting “was part of ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication and responsibly manage competition. The two sides agreed to maintain this important strategic channel of communication to advance these objectives.”

More recently, the top U.S. diplomat for the Asia-Pacific region, Daniel Kritenbrink, traveled to China earlier this week along with a senior National Security Council official.

Washington has been keen to reschedule the Blinken trip, and the timing emerged after the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that China has reached a secret deal with Cuba to establish an electronic eavesdropping facility on the island roughly 100 miles (160 km) from Florida.

The spokesperson for the White House National Security Council on Thursday said the report was not accurate, while saying that Washington has had “real concerns” about China’s relationship with Cuba and was closely monitoring it.

The State Department, White House and Pentagon did not, however, immediately respond to requests for comment on a subsequent New York Times report that said China was planning to build a facility in Cuba that U.S. officials were concerned could be capable of spying on the United States by intercepting signals from nearby U.S. military and commercial facilities.

In Havana on Thursday, Cuban Vice Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio dismissed the Journal report as “totally mendacious and unfounded,” calling it a U.S. fabrication meant to justify Washington’s decades-old economic embargo against the island nation. He said Cuba rejects all foreign military presence in Latin America and the Caribbean.

China’s foreign ministry said on Friday that “spreading rumors and slander” was a common tactic of “hacker empire” the United States.

The Cuba issue could raise questions about Blinken’s planned trip, intended by Washington to be a major step toward what President Joe Biden has called a “thaw” in relations between the world’s two largest economies.

U.S. Senator Mark Warner, chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and Senator Marco Rubio, the panel’s vice chair, said on Thursday they were “deeply disturbed” by the Journal report and urged the Biden administration “to take steps to prevent this serious threat to our national security and sovereignty.”

A spokesperson for China’s Washington Embassy said it had no information about Blinken’s trip, but referred to Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s last meeting in November, and added: “China is open to having dialogue with the United States. We hope the U.S. will work in the same direction with China, and jointly implement the important common understandings between the two Presidents in their Bali meeting.”

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk, Jasper Ward, David Brunnstrom, Jeff Mason and Phil Stewart; Editing by Leslie Adler)

© 2023 Reuters

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