Alberta briefs – November 16

Alberta’s energy regulator has resumed issuing licences for sour oil and gas wells, pipelines and facilities.

ERCB reissuing sour gas permits

EDMONTON — Alberta’s energy regulator has resumed issuing licences for sour oil and gas wells, pipelines and facilities.

The Energy Resources Conservation Board says it has lifted the suspension on new licences, issued 10 days ago following a ruling by the Alberta Court of Appeal.

The court had ruled the board must hold a hearing to determine whether two sour gas wells drilled near Drayton Valley could affect the health of three nearby families who live downwind of the site.

The court ruled a hearing was needed because the wells were within a potential fallout area known as a Protective Action Zone.

The ERCB, in a release, says it has since discovered that the boundaries of these zones were calculated in error, making them bigger than they were supposed to be.

It says it has now corrected the error.


All at-risk groups eligible for flu shot

EDMONTON — Alberta is set to have the final group of at-risk people eligible to get vaccinated against the swine flu.

Martin Lavoie, senior medical health officer, says starting Saturday, two final groups will be eligible: those aged 18 to 44 with chronic underlying medical conditions, and household contacts of those who can’t be immunized.

Lavoie also says the death toll has risen by four to 38.

Among them is the first child to die from complications arising for H1N1, though the girl’s age wasn’t given for privacy reasons.

The other three were adults — two men and a woman.

Laovie says next week first-responders — fire crews, police and paramedics — will also be getting the shots.


Lucy to receive health help

EDMONTON — The Edmonton elephant at the centre of a tug of war between the city and animal rights activists is getting some help.

The Edmonton Valley Zoo says it has developed a treatment program for Lucy that focuses on improving her breathing capacity and addressing her arthritis.

The program also includes an enhanced exercise program for the 34-year-old Asian elephant.

Animal rights activists say it’s cruel to leave an old and ailing Lucy by herself in the zoo and that she deserves to be in an elephant sanctuary in the U.S.

High-profile celebrities like ex-TV game show host Bob Barker have weighed in to have Lucy moved.

The zoo, however, says Lucy is too sick to survive the trip.


Hundreds of cats found in garage

MEDICINE HAT — Officials in Medicine Hat are continuing to look into a troubling discovery of hundreds of cats and other animals living in terrible conditions in a garage.

Sgt. Fred Crittenden says in all 100 cats, six dogs, a pot-bellied pig, birds and reptiles were found.

Crittenden says the sheer volume of animals has forced some to be evaluated for medical issues in Okotoks and Calgary.

Crittenden says there is still work to be completed in the investigation and stressed the department is dealing with a “sensitive situation.”

A local society called Persian Dreams and Canine Themes is helping with the rescue effort with assistance from a number of area shelters and agencies.

Society officials say the majority of the cats have gone to various rescue organizations in Alberta and across the country.

“There have already been some charges laid related to our city bylaws, for having some unlicensed animals as well as for harbouring more dogs than allowed under bylaw,” said Crittenden.

Under the Animal Protection Act, provisions allow for the seizure of an animal if it is neglected to the point where it is harmful to its health.

“If we feel that animals aren’t being kept in a proper manner or don’t have the proper care, we can take those to make sure that care is given to them and then determine whether it was something that was done on purpose, through ignorance or something where things got out of hand,” he explained.

Crittenden said the homeowners have been cooperative and were actively trying to find homes for the animals before authorities got involved.

“For one reason or another, I think people start out very well-meaning and they just get overwhelmed,” he said.

Under the city’s current bylaw, a person can harbour as many as four dogs, unless there are circumstances which deem it inappropriate.

The bylaw does not allow for a limit of cats, but all felines must be licensed.

Under the provincial Animal Protection Act, owners can face fines up to $20,000 per incident for someone who willfully neglects an animal.

(Medicine Hat News, CJCY)

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