Alberta briefs – December 9

Edmonton city council has approved a new budget that increases taxes, provides more money for policing and still includes funds for neighbourhood renewal.

City council approves tax hike

EDMONTON — Edmonton city council has approved a new budget that increases taxes, provides more money for policing and still includes funds for neighbourhood renewal.

Homeowners will see their property taxes go up five per cent in 2010, with three per cent of that going to city services, including police.

Chief Mike Boyd had called on the city to increase police funding to help deal with an $11-million debt.

He warned that hundreds of jobs would have to be cut if an increase wasn’t approved.

Most councillors appeared to accept the need for an increase, but didn’t want to approve it at the expense of the renewal fund, which pays to fix sidewalks and roads.

The police service is to get a total of $10.8 million next year.

“We were able to meet the commitments of the police as so outlined,” said Mayor Stephen Mandel.

Arrest warrant issued

STETTLER — A trial for an Alberta man charged with stealing a quad and who was shot as he allegedly fled got off to a false start.

The judge thanked the witnesses gathered in Stettler for the trial Tuesday and then issued an arrest warrant for 31-year-old Harold Groening.

Groening and two other men were charged last spring with stealing a truck and a quad from a farm near the central Alberta community of Bashaw.

Farmer Brian Knight was also charged after shots were fired.

Knight, 38, faces seven charges related to the shooting, including assault causing bodily harm and pointing a firearm.

Knight’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for June.

Good Samaritan rewarded with broken door

EDMONTON — A down-on-his luck Alberta man has learned it doesn’t always pay to be a good guy.

Barry Stachniak sprang into action on Nov. 28 when a woman started banging on the door of his camper about 3:30 a.m., saying she had been struck by a pickup whose driver was intent on running her down.

Stachniak let the woman inside and then went out and told the driver he was calling the police, which prompted the man to smash into Stachniak’s home, breaking the door.

Police arrested and charged a man, but Stachniak says the truck’s insurer won’t cover the costs, claiming the vehicle used in the crime was stolen.

That’s left the Good Samaritan sleeping in a broken-down camper, shivering through the night because his busted door lets in frigid air.

The temperature in Edmonton in the last few days has dipped down at times to -30C.

“I did a good deed,” said Stachniak, 49, who moved to Edmonton from Redwater for contract work. “And now I’m getting shafted. It just seems unfair.”

Helping the woman was the second time Stachniak rescued someone in danger.

On Nov. 2, he emerged from his camper to find his boss at the neighbouring City Truck Stop Truck Wash on the ground.

Mansur Shivji had broken several bones in a seven-metre fall off a ladder while washing a truck.

Stachniak rushed to the 64-year-old’s aid immediately, calling an ambulance and Shivji’s wife.

“He was a godsend,” said Shivji, who will spend the next three months recovering at home. “He was very helpful. He just came at the right time.”

While some are thanking Stachniak, others are sympathizing with him.

Nick Sajim, who works at a gas station near Stachniak’s camper, brings Stachniak coffee often to help keep him warm.

“My heart goes out to him,” said Sajim. “He’s getting the short end of the stick.”

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