National Newswatch

Oilsands showdown coming over cleanup of tailings ponds: report

Mar 30 2017 — Bob Weber — EDMONTON — Alberta's oilsands could be heading for another showdown over tailings ponds after an independent assessment found that the cleanup plans of six major operators don't meet new rules. Suncor's intentions have been rejected by the Alberta Energy Regulator and a clean-energy think tank says its analysis has concluded plans by other producers have similar shortcomings. "All companies have submitted plans […]

New head of Energy Efficiency Alberta promises agency will have real impact

Mar 29 2017 — Bob Weber — EDMONTON — The newly appointed head of Alberta's first energy efficiency agency says it has enough resources to make a big difference. "We can have real impact in terms of both job creation and energy efficiency, ensuring savings for businesses and households," Monica Curtis said Tuesday. Energy Efficiency Alberta is funded by the province's carbon tax and is aimed […]

Unhappy trails? Parks documents show concerns with Icefields Highway bike path

Mar 29 2017 — Bob Weber — It sounds like a no-brainer — a bike trail alongside a world-famous scenic highway through two of Canada's best-loved national parks. But Parks Canada documents show the proposed trail down the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper raises a host of complications, from damage to wildlife habitat to safety concerns and increased development pressure. "It […]

Arctic sea ice at record low for third straight year

Mar 22 2017 — Bob Weber — Arctic sea ice is at a record low for the third straight year. The measurements from the U.S.-based National Snow and Ice Data Center say the ice reached its maximum extent on March 7. It was the lowest level in the 38-year history of satellite record-keeping. "I have been looking at Arctic weather patterns for 35 years […]

Liam Neeson film blocked from Alberta national park to shoot in B.C.

Mar 15 2017 — Bob Weber — A movie denied permission to film in Alberta's mountain national parks is now on location in British Columbia. "We have moved four to five days into B.C. for now," said Mark Voyce, unit manager for the film "Hard Powder."  Voyce said staff for the movie are looking for extras for several days of filming in Fernie and Cranbrook. "Hard […]

Ottawa’s recovery plan for West Coast’s endangered orcas criticized as too weak

Mar 14 2017 — Bob Weber — The federal government has released a recovery plan for an endangered population of killer whales likely to be in the path of increased oil tanker traffic off British Columbia's southern coast. But environmental groups say the plan doesn't have enough concrete measures to bring orca numbers in the southern Georgia Strait back to healthy levels. "There needs to […]

Parks Canada rejects movie after learning First Nations in storyline

Mar 8 2017 — Bob Weber — A movie production team was denied permission to shoot in the Rocky Mountain national parks after Parks Canada staff learned the film's plot involved an indigenous gang leader. "They expressed a real concern that this was not something they would favour," said Mark Voyce, location manager for a film project that had been scheduled to […]

Concerns over oilsands river contamination overstated, scientist says

Mar 6 2017 — Bob Weber — EDMONTON — New research from the University of Alberta suggests concerns about contaminants in the Athabasca River from the oilsands may be overstated. "Absolutely — no question," said Bill Shotyk, a soil and water scientist involved in three recently published papers that question much recent science conducted on the effects of the oilsands on the […]

First Nations to call for more say in park system at national conference

Mar 5 2017 — Bob Weber — Giving indigenous people a greater say in the operation of national parks and the creation of new protected areas is on the agenda at a major conference in Alberta this week. First Nations leaders and officials from the federal and provincial governments will review proposals that could give more legal weight to protected areas designated by bands, said Steve Nitah, a […]

Worldwide investigation finds significant wildlife crime, including in Canada

Mar 3 2017 — Bob Weber — A Canadian at the head of an international body fighting wildlife smuggling says a three-week investigation resulted in more than 1,300 seizures worldwide — including some in Canada. "Wildlife crime is a worldwide phenomena," said Sheldon Jordan, head of Environment Canada's wildlife enforcement and chairman of the wildlife crimes working group for Interpol, the international agency that […]

Survey finds two High Arctic polar bear populations larger than expected

Feb 24 2017 — Bob Weber — Polar bears in two High Arctic populations seem to be doing better than scientists had thought. The first major study of the Baffin Bay and Kane Basin populations in about 20 years has found more bears than population models predicted. But the three-year study, done for the Canada-Greenland Joint Commission on Polar Bear, warned that the […]

Ottawa’s northern rep Simon proposes indigenous protected areas’ for Arctic

Feb 24 2017 — Bob Weber — Arctic environments should be conserved through a network of indigenous protected areas that would give Inuit more control over their land, says an interim report from a high-profile northerner. "It's the connection between creating healthy communities, reconciliation, about many different things," said Mary Simon, who is advising Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett on the […]

Survey praises Canadian Arctic companies for respecting indigenous rights

Feb 10 2017 — Bob Weber — An international survey on resource development in the Arctic has ranked Canadian companies among the highest in the world for their policies on respecting indigenous rights. A report from a member of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs says that four of the top 10 companies operating north of the Arctic Circle are Canadian. They […]

Quadders fight back against proposed ban in new Alberta parks

Jan 31 2017 — Bob Weber — EDMONTON — Off-highway vehicle users are fighting a government plan to keep them out of new parks proposed for southwestern Alberta. Members of the Quad Squad, a group of riders from the Crowsnest Pass area, say they were blindsided by the province's recent announcement that it will close all trails for off-highway vehicles within five years in the two parks in […]