Alberta briefs – October 9

A Calgary father has been sentenced for abandoning his child in a freezing cold car so he could gamble in a nearby casino.

Father spared jail for leaving baby in freezing car

CALGARY — A Calgary father has been sentenced for abandoning his child in a freezing cold car so he could gamble in a nearby casino.

A 21-month-old baby boy was found in a car in the parking lot of the Silver Dollar Casino last March.

The window was partially covered by a blanket and the child was crying and shivering and had thrown up on himself.

The father was arrested inside the casino where he had reportedly been for several hours.

The little boy, who was apprehended by Child and Family Services, is back in the custody of his father.

The father was spared jail time so he can look after the boy because the mother is not part of his life.

“I am left with a father who has custody of the child again who has no visible means of handing the child off for a sustained period of time,” said Crown prosecutor Paul Mason.

“I’m looking at the overall family unit and hardship that this child is placed in the absence of his father when he goes to jail.”

The man was sentenced to the lesser charge of “youth in need of intervention” and was handed a 12-month conditional sentence.

He will serve the first three months under house arrest and then be under a stiff curfew.

The accused will appear in court in December to face a criminal charge of endangering the life of a child.

Companies should pay half for power lines: NDs

EDMONTON — Alberta’s New Democrats says electricity companies should pay half the cost of $20 billion worth of proposed power transmission lines in the province.

The fall sitting of the legislature is scheduled to start Oct. 26, and the opposition parties are ramping up their campaigns against Bill 50, which would give the green light to those power projects.

NDP Leader Brian Mason says if electricity companies were forced to pay 50 per cent of the costs it would prevent them from doing unnecessary upgrades on power transmission lines.

Enmax, an electricity company owned by the City of Calgary, says consumers could see another $300 added to their annual power bills to pay for such lines, while the government says it will be under $100.

The province has also said that commercial users of the upgraded power lines would pay 85 per cent of the cost, while consumers pay 15 per cent.

Premier Ed Stelmach has said new power lines are needed because Alberta’s electricity infrastructure is getting old.

Conservationists demand equitable water-sharing

CALGARY — With the Bow River at its lowest level in nearly a century, conservationists are stepping up their calls for a water sharing system that won’t leave less affluent Albertans high and dry.

Activists like Water Matters’ Danielle Droitsch say the second-lowest levels recorded in the Bow River in 91 years is an omen for even drier years to come and prove the need for equitable water distribution.

Droitsch says a 2006 moratorium on granting licences means the existing ones have become a commodity sold to the highest bidder.

He says that means the first water market in Canada is in Alberta, adding it’s time to look at water as a public good and not just an economic good.

Water Matters says population growth and increased agricultural and industrial use, combined with global warming that’s rapidly melting Rocky Mountain feeder glaciers, is impacting Alberta rivers.

The group says Alberta’s water licensing system dates back a century and is based on a first-come, first-serve basis that’s clearly outmoded.

Towns such as Okotoks, Cochrane and Strathmore that don’t have proper water allocations could run dry within two decades, said Droitsch.

With the province now reviewing its water use policy, Ecojustice’s Barry Robinson is hoping Alberta adopts legislated minimum river flows and a mandatory system whereby users share consumption reductions during dry years.

“Otherwise the wealthiest industrial user can outbid municipalities and agriculture for water,” he said.

During the 2001 drought, water users volunteered to reduce their water take by 40 per cent, noted Robinson.

The two groups’ recommendations will be part of the province’s review, said Jason Cobb, spokesman for Alberta Environment.

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