15. 11. 2018
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Deputy chief faces possible disciplinary action after blasting police budget

Deputy chief faces possible disciplinary action after blasting police budget

TORONTO – The union representing frontline Toronto police officers has asked the police chief, police board and an independent watchdog to investigate Deputy Chief Peter Sloly for his comments criticizing the force and its billion-dollar budget, Global News has learned.

Sloly hosted a 70-minute online Q&A session Friday, where he delivered candid criticisms of the Toronto Police Service’s “unfocused” policing model, spending and what he called its slow embrace of technology and social media.

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The police services board recently green-lit a 2.76 per cent budget increase for 2016, which pushes the overall budget north of $1 billion for the first time, with nearly 90 per cent of that going to salaries and benefits.

READ MORE: Toronto Police Service Board approves $27 million budget increase

The vote came just days after a $200,000 report from consulting firm KPMG, which suggested multiple ways for police to cut costs and improve efficiency.

Sloly echoed the report in his online chat Friday, arguing police in the city could provide necessary services with fewer officers but a more modernized approach.

“We run around all over the city in the most unfocused way, reacting to what you call us for, as opposed to trying to understand what’s going on and. . . putting our most important resources in the best place.”

George Cowley, counsel for the Toronto Police Association, said Monday the union has asked the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, Chief Mark Saunders and the chair of the police services board requesting they investigate Sloly over his comments.

“Like all police officers in Ontario, a Deputy Chief should be held accountable for his/her actions,” Cowley said in an email.

The OCPC is an independent watchdog agency with a wide oversight mandate, including investigations into conduct of police officers and brass.

With files from Caryn Lieberman.

15. 11. 2018
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Man killed in Alberta oilsands plant explosion identified

Man killed in Alberta oilsands plant explosion identified

Friends, family and his union have identified the man killed at an oilsands facility Friday as 52-year-old Drew Foster.

Loved ones described Foster as a wonderful and kind man. A spokesperson for the Millwrights, Machinery Erectors and Maintenance Union called his death a tragedy.

Friday afternoon, an explosion rocked the Nexen Long Lake facility, killing Foster and seriously injuring another worker.

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    Nexen investigation

    Fatal explosion at Nexen Long Lake facility near Fort McMurray

    Pam Sharpe, media spokesperson for Occupational Health and Safety, confirmed the man who died was 52 years old and the injured worker is 30 years old.

    As of Sunday, the injured man was still in hospital.

    Sharpe said OHS is not releasing any more information about the victims, including where they are from. However, family members of the injured man say he is from Cape Breton and had been
    working out west for several years.

    Family members in Nova Scotia have identified him as Dave Williams, a native of Scotchtown and a journeyman millwright at the Nexen Long Lake Project.

    His cousin Kelly MacEachern, a Scotchtown resident, says Williams’ parents and three brothers are at his side in an Edmonton hospital where he is in an induced coma with third-degree burns.

    Investigators are still on scene at the facility south of Fort McMurray and Sharpe said they will remain there for as long as they are needed.

    The explosion happened inside a building in the compressed gas area at the Nexen Long Lake facility at around 3:20 p.m. as workers were changing out valves on a compressor.

    “A hydrocracker on site may have caused the explosion. That’s early indications, of course,” Acting Staff Sgt. Jeremie Landry said Friday night.

    RCMP were called to the site, which is about 80 km south of Fort McMurrary, just before 5 p.m.

    The Alberta Energy Regulator was on site Monday, working to shut down the plant, but the cold weather presented a challenge. AER is working to ensure all regulatory and safety requirements are met and OHS has control of the site.

    Drew Foster, seen here in photos shared on his Facebook page.

    Credit: Facebook/Drew Foster

    A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Foster’s family.

    “Drew was always caring and was an amazing father and husband – Always smiling and laughing,” wrote Chantelle Roy, who created the page.

    “The couple always helped people when they could. She lost her best friend and love of her life of 25 years.”

    *EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published Jan. 17 and was updated Jan. 18 with the victim’s name.

    With files from and Cape Breton Post

15. 11. 2018
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Documentary filmmaker focused on NHL ’94 video game scores in Sask.

Documentary filmmaker focused on NHL ’94 video game scores in Sask.

SASKATOON – The iconic video game NHL ’94 continues to be enjoyed by fans more than two decades later and is the subject of a documentary film currently being made. A tournament was held in Saskatoon this past weekend to help figure out why.

The ice hockey game by EA Sports has attracted the attention of one fan who’s making it his mission to find out what continues to make it so popular.

READ MORE: Video game bar powers up in Saskatoon

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    “It’s all about this legend, this lore of this video game. You know 30-something year old guys, you mention NHL ’94 and they get weak in the knees so I’m out trying to figure out why that is,” documentary filmmaker Mikey McBryan said.

    Retro video game fans and players gathered at The Canadian Brewhouse sports bar and restaurant on Jan. 16 for the competition showcasing the game.

    McBryan, from Yellowknife, N.W.T, said the Saskatoon area is a perfect venue due to a concentration of highly-skilled NHL ’94 players.

    “Saskatoon, for some weird anomaly reason, has some of the best players in the world just within a five-mile radius of this place,” McBryan said.

    “I’ve travelled to New York City, Toronto, Arizona, Vancouver and I can’t find as many good players as I can right here in the Prairies. You know this is where NHL players are made, this is where NHL ’94 players are made as well.”

    READ MORE: Budweiser pays tribute to Saskatchewan hockey players

    Tournament organizer Darrell Sampson said McBryan sent out a note online to fellow gamers a year ago and he told him he’d put on a tournament. There were about 12 competitors in 2015 and this year had 32.

    “The game itself … I mean we just love playing it and it just became sort of an icon for sports video games, it’s been voted the best hockey game, video game of all time, so we’re high school kids back then we just played it a ton and we still play it today, so we’re just big kids at heart I guess,” Sampson said.

    “There were two previous versions of the game, ’92 and ’93, this one here sort of added all the features that the other ones didn’t have, it’s the first one to come out with one-timers, it was the first one to come out with manual goalies and was actually the first game where the NHL and NHLPA agreed that they can put their logos and the players in the game.”

    The “King of ’94 WEST” tournament was split between Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo versions of the game with 16 players in each bracket. The winners took home $200 and a trophy.

    Sampson says NHL ’94 is still special to him and fellow enthusiasts today.

    “We don’t play for the graphics, it’s not about that at all. Actually the playing value is actually a lot of fun, it’s very simple, the controls are very simple and maybe I’m just a simple guy and maybe that’s why I like it,” Sampson said with a smile.

    “The younger generation, if they came in and they saw these screens, they’d probably laugh because they’d be like ‘who are all these pixelated guys that you’re playing.’ They’re used to NHL 16 … where the graphics are a lot better.”

    Mikey McBryan, who is on the reality television series Ice Pilots NWT, talks about why he’s making a documentary focused on the NHL ’94 video game.

    Luke Banville / Global News

    McBryan mentioned that one gamer even flew in from Sacramento, Calif. to play in the tournament in Saskatchewan for some “mystifying” reason. With the documentary, he intends to figure out the allure the game still has and report back to the rest of Canadians.

    “It’s quite a big story. It goes all the way from California to New York City to the Northwest Territories, this is a North American story and I’ve been tracking it for about a year now. I got about two more weeks of filming and this [tournament] is part of the ending to see who’s one of the best players in the world,” McBryan said.

    The upcoming documentary will be named “Pixelated Heroes.” Editing will take place over the next six months and people can expect to watch the mystery unfurl in the spring of 2017.

15. 11. 2018
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Filmmaker’s 24,000-km journey across Canada passes through Riverview

Filmmaker’s 24,000-km journey across Canada passes through Riverview

Independent filmmaker Dianne Whelan set off from Riverview on Monday to continue a journey that no one else has ever completed.

“I am trying to do the longest trail the world, which is the Trans Canada Trail,” she said. “It’s a 24,000-kilometre journey that connects the Atlantic, the Arctic and the Pacific Ocean.”

Whelan will operate her own cameras to record the trek as she spends two years hiking, snowshoeing and even canoeing the trail for a film she calls “500 DAYS IN THE WILD”.

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RELATED: Prince George man hikes 16,000-km Trans Canada Trail from coast to coast

Her cousin Ricky LeBlanc saw her off at the entrance to the Dobson Trail.

“She is the first one to do this. It’s like a new take on the trail to show our country,” he said.

Whelan, 50, is no stranger to adventure. She has already produced films at Mount Everest and in Canada’s Arctic Region.

She started her journey from Newfoundland about 140 days ago.

“I was looking for my next expedition after finishing the Everest film, and this has been in my imagination since the early ’90s when the government came up with the idea to build the longest trail in the world,” she said.

“I am at an age that I kind of believe that everything we need to know we have forgotten,. I don’t know if the things we need for sustainability on this Earth are going to be found in a lab and I don’t like the backup plan of moving to Mars, personally.”

With the hope of bringing nature and adventure to her fellow Canadians through film, she is making the journey alone, carrying everything she needs in a 60-pound pack.

“The most sacred place that I have ever been is when I am in nature,” she said. “Ever since I was a kid, when I am out here I feel a sense of being part of the whole.”

Whelan is wearing a GPS tracker clipped to her hip and is prepared to go days, or even weeks, without speaking to anyone.

“I talk to the animals, I talk to the birds and if I am really honest, I obviously talk to myself,” she said.

Whelan said her first brush with death came when paddling on the Bras d’Or Lake in Cape Breton. In strong winds and half a mile from the shore, she tried to paddle to land.

“I realized I am not going to make it,” she said. She was forced out into open water, convinced her boat would tip.

“By some good fortune or prayers, I managed to make it to the other side.”

She said she is grateful to be alive, but also humbled by the experience.

“It’s a good, gentle reminder that at the end of the day…there are a lot of forces around us that are a lot more powerful than we are.”

15. 11. 2018
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Edmonton Catholic chair apologizes if sending out Calgary bishop’s letter caused hurt

Edmonton Catholic chair apologizes if sending out Calgary bishop’s letter caused hurt

Edmonton Catholic School Board Chair Marilyn Bergstra said Monday she didn’t agree with sending out a Calgary bishop’s letter to parents.

“I would have advised against the move for a variety of reasons,” Bergstra said, explaining she was at an Alberta School Boards Association Board of Directors meeting when a majority of trustees decided to send out the guidelines and the bishop’s letter to parents “for information purposes.”

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  • Calgary bishop slams LGBTQ rules; calls Alberta NDP ‘anti-Catholic’

    “I would like to personally apologize if this information caused harm or hurt to anyone,” Bergstra said.

    The letter, written by a Calgary bishop, was emailed to parents on Friday. Bergstra would not say how many parents received the letter.

    In his letter, F.B. Henry – Bishop of Calgary – blasted Minister of Education David Eggen’s guidelines on how school boards should deal with LGBTQ students, calling it a “…forceful imposition of a particular narrow-minded anti-Catholic ideology.”

    READ MORE: Calgary bishop slams LGBTQ rules; calls Alberta NDP ‘anti-Catholic‘ 

    Minister Eggen responded by saying the NDP government “strongly supports” Catholic education and has had “very positive” relationships with Catholic boards. Still, he stands behind the government’s guidelines.

    Eggen said Monday that Edmonton Catholic School Board trustees need to “sort themselves out” when it comes to drafting a plan to help LGBTQ students.

    “Obviously, we are seeing a variety of opinions on these best practices, but I would remind everyone that this is about providing students with a sense of security in their place of learning,” Eggen said in a statement to Global News.

    “How an elected board of trustees chooses to communicate with its parents is up to them, but all boards are aware of my expectations around professionalism and decorum in public. We will continue to work actively with all school authorities to build greater understanding and acceptance.”

    READ MORE: Alberta tells Catholic school trustees to ‘sort themselves out’ over LGBTQ issue 

    On the issue of transgender students, the bishop said God created beings as male and female and that: “In his plan, men and women should respect and accept their sexual identity.”

    On Friday, the Board of Trustees emailed a link to the letter to parents. An ECSD spokesperson explained that it was done so they could access it if they wanted to.

    The e-mail sparked a firestorm online, with LGBTQ advocates calling on the Minister of Education to dissolve the board.

    On Saturday, ECSB Trustee Patricia Grell apologized on her website, saying she tried to discourage other trustees from including the link to the letter in the e-mail.

    “…it would not bode well for our district and the future of Catholic education if we allowed ourselves to participate in disseminating his uninformed views and comments which frankly, in my opinion, are not in keeping with the spirit of the Year of Mercy recently declared by Pope Francis”

    On Monday, Bergstra said the Edmonton Catholic School Board is starting the process of looking through the 21 pages of guidelines from the province.

    “There is a lot of information to go through,” she said.

    “We want to honour a process that will be respectful, thorough and thoughtful,” Bergstra said.

    Once the board is finished reviewing the guidelines, it will bring a draft policy forward for its third and final reading.

    With files from Tom Vernon, Global News.

15. 11. 2018
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Alberta could face labour shortage despite layoffs

Alberta could face labour shortage despite layoffs

EDMONTON – Alberta could face a shortage of skilled labour despite layoffs in the oilpatch unless companies and governments keep training new workers, an industry group warns.

BuildForce Canada is projecting a loss of 31,000 construction jobs due to the downturn in the oilsands over the next four years, with many of those people heading to other provinces.

“A skills vacuum is a real risk with the exodus of interprovincial workers within and outside the resource industry,” Rosemary Sparks, the group’s executive director, said Monday.

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    The effects of the sputtering energy sector are expected to ripple out to residential and non-residential construction, she said.

    BuildForce Canada is forecasting the construction sector in Alberta will not bounce back until 2020.

    READ MORE: Job seekers are flocking to Ontario and B.C. again for work 

    The “skills gap” will be exacerbated by the retirement of thousands of baby boomers by the end of the decade, Sparks said.

    Alberta has been through such boom-and-bust cycles before, but factoring in a large number of retiring workers at the same time will make dealing with the downturn more complex.

    “That’s why it’s crucial for industry to stay focused on recruiting young people and attracting and keeping those skilled trades that are, or will be, in the most demand.

    “We can’t wait for that cycle to turn around to start recruiting workers to replace the retiring workers. We have to make sure that we continue to replenish the workforce.”

    Sparks said it takes four to five years to train a tradesperson through an apprenticeship program.

    Some of the trades include carpenters, electricians, boilermakers, welders, pipefitters and heavy-equipment operators.

    Sparks said companies will have to look at ways to keep skilled tradespeople on the job, such as doing maintenance work on major projects.

    Governments and companies also to need maintain apprenticeship training programs.

    “There is a role for employers and for governments to make sure we continue to have that system.”

    Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador could also lose skilled workers due to the energy industry slump and retirements.

    Skilled tradespeople are expected to seek work in provinces such as British Columbia, Ontario and Manitoba that have more construction projects on the drawing board, Sparks said.

    READ MORE: Uncertain future looms over Alberta’s energy sector in 2016 

    ATB Financial, Alberta’s Crown-owned bank, is forecasting the first half of 2016 to be the roughest yet in the current economic downturn, with unemployment projected to reach up to eight per cent. Last January, the unemployment rate in Alberta was 4.7 per cent.

    ATB is projecting more people could leave Alberta this year than move in, a migration pattern that hasn’t happened since 2010.

    BuildForce Canada calls itself a national industry-led organization representing all sectors of Canada’s construction industry. It receives some funding from the federal government.

15. 11. 2018
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Alberta minister not ruling out money for new Calgary arena

Alberta minister not ruling out money for new Calgary arena

EDMONTON – Alberta’s municipal affairs minister says she’s not inclined to use taxpayer money for a new professional sports complex in Calgary, but she’s not closing the door either.

Danielle Larivee says she wants to see how the numbers and projections play out on the project.

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    “I’m watching it with interest and waiting to see if they decide it’s a more viable project going ahead, and we”ll see what they ask for,” Larivee said Monday. ”As the specifics come to light, then we can talk about it.

    “I don’t know that I’m leaning really strongly in that direction (to contribute public money), but I have not shut the door on that.”

    She adds that no one has approached the province for money.

    READ MORE: Who will pay for Calgary’s new arena?

    The proposed public-private partnership would see an $890-million downtown sports centre with a new rink for the NHL Calgary Flames and a new stadium for the CFL Calgary Stampeders.

    The city is currently crunching numbers with a report due this spring.

    READ MORE: Gary Bettman and Calgary mayor Nenshi clash over CalgaryNEXT

    NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, in Calgary last week, urged the city to get moving on the project. He said lack of an updated hockey arena could cost Calgary the chance to hold events such as the league’s draft and its all-star game.

    Bettman’s comments drew a sarcastic response from Calgary Mayor Naheed Neshi, who said: “I know that Calgarians require very wealthy people from New York to come and tell us what we need to do in our community, because they understand vibrancy better than we do.”

    The city will continue a thorough analysis of the numbers, the mayor said.

    Watch below: NHL Commissioner Garry Bettman joined Global Calgary with details on why he is urging business leaders in Calgary to support the CalgaryNEXT project.

    The proposal is for the project to be funded through a $250-million ticket tax, a $240-million community revitalization levy, $200 million from Calgary Flames Sports and Entertainment and $200 million from city taxpayers.

    The complex would include a 20,000-seat arena and a 30,000-seat football stadium.

    The Scotiabank Saddledome, built in 1983, is one of the oldest arenas in the National Hockey League.

    In Edmonton, a new 18,641-seat downtown arena where the Oilers will play is to be ready this fall for the 2016-17 NHL season.

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Cities aren’t spending enough to keep their infrastructure going: report

Cities aren’t spending enough to keep their infrastructure going: report

Canadian cities aren’t investing enough to keep the country’s infrastructure in good repair, according to a new report by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and other national organizations.

One-third of municipal infrastructure is already showing signs of deterioration or deficiencies in need of repair, the report says. Without more investment, that share will keep growing.

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    The report, released Monday, is based on surveys distributed to FCM member cities, asking municipal staff to rate their roads, drinking water, wastewater, and storm water, public buildings, sports and recreation facilities and public transit systems.

    Most municipalities rated their bridges, drinking and stormwater facilities in good condition. They were less generous with their roads, city-owned buildings and sports facilities.

    And small municipalities rated their roads worse.

    49 per cent of fire stations and 51 per cent of arenas were rated as requiring repair; 29 per cent of youth centres are in “very poor” condition, which means that demand exceeds the design capacity and/or operational problems are serious and ongoing.

    And as Global News has reported, local politicians are often oblivious themselves to the disrepair their infrastructure’s in.

    READ MORE: Documents suggest City of Toronto staff downplayed Gardiner structural concerns

    READ MORE: City ignored advice to urgently repair Dufferin Bridge years before emergency closure

    Canada’s largest city is currently debating how to address a $124 million shortfall in its annual budget, while dealing with major infrastructure repairs like the Gardiner Expressway, as well as new transit projects.

    The consequences of under-investment in infrastructure maintenance aren’t always immediately apparent, said Nick Larson, chair of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers’ infrastructure renewal committee, one of the organizations that worked on the report.

    “Overnight things aren’t going to start going down the toilet,” he said. “But you’re going to see gradual declines. Things like basement flooding in municipalities if sewers start to collapse, or with respect to water main failures, you might see water mains that break more, causing disruption to traffic, damage to private property.”

    READ MORE: From 2014 – Toronto’s water mains having worst winter in 20 years

    It’s easy to see cracks in the wall of a decades-old arena, most people don’t realize what’s happening underground in their city’s pipes.

    And while it can be easy to put off maintenance spending, that’s more expensive in the long run, he said.

    “As soon as things start declining past a fair condition, they can require large sums of money to be renewed as opposed to smaller investments to ensure that they don’t fall into a poor state of repair,” he said.

    “Think of your house. You’re going to replace your shingles, you’re not going to do the whole roof. You’re going to make sure you’re spending the upkeep that’s required so you avoid huge expenditures down the road.”

    READ MORE: Cities clamour for speedier infrastructure cash

    The report does not say exactly how many dollars of investment are required to keep up Canadian infrastructure. This was a deliberate decision, said Larson, as different people have different standards in mind.

    However, the report notes that “reinvestment rates” – the annual renewal budget as a percentage of the asset’s replacement value – are much lower than expert-recommended targets.

    To keep your roads in good repair, for example, cities are advised to spend between two and three per cent of their value on annual maintenance; on average, Canadian cities only spend 1.1 per cent.

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Calgary officials appeal for photos, video related to Arbour Lake house fire

Calgary officials appeal for photos, video related to Arbour Lake house fire

Calgary officials are asking the public for information related to a house fire in the city’s northwest Sunday night.

At about 7:30 p.m., the Calgary Fire Department responded to reports of a fire at a vacant house on Arbour Stone Close N.W.

“This is a unique fire and considered suspicious because the house was boarded up; it was empty, no one was living in it,” Calgary Fire Department spokesperson Carol Henke said. “It has a security fence around the perimeter and the utilities had been shut off way prior to the fire.

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“It does make us think that it’s possibly suspicious, and we are looking for any information the public has to offer.”

Police and fire officials appealed to the public Monday, asking for information, photos or video related to the fire before emergency crews responded.

Investigators said they are looking for any vehicles pulled over to the side of Stoney Trail northbound between Crowchild and Country Hills Boulevard before 7:25 p.m. Sunday.

“The home where the fire started backs on to a green space, which then backs on to Stoney Trail,” Henke said. “So if the fire was started purposefully, that may have been a good place to park for a speedy getaway.”

Any information can be emailed to [email protected]长沙夜网.

With files from Global’s Carolyn Kury de Castillo

15. 11. 2018
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Report examines Alberta grazing leases

Report examines Alberta grazing leases

CALGARY – An independent review suggests the Alberta government would have as much as $45 million in extra annual revenue if it revamped how it handles grazing leases.

The long-standing program allows cattle producers to rent vast swaths of Crown land and was criticized last summer by the province’s auditor general.

Merwan Saher said the government manages 5,700 grazing leases on more than two million hectares of public land on behalf of Albertans, which contributes about $4 million each year to government coffers.

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    Saher said it appears ranchers leasing from the government are deriving personal financial benefits when they turn around and accept compensation from oil and gas companies to gain access to wells on that land. He said the province is forgoing more than $25 million each year as a result.

    The independent review by the University of Alberta’s Land Institute looked at alternative models for grazing leases, including one in place in neighbouring Saskatchewan. Each would result in increased compensation to the province ranging from $36 million to $45 million a year, the review suggested.

    “We went into it somewhat naively looking at how those revenues would change … but as we dug into the system, we realized it’s a lot more complicated than just flicking a switch,” said research director Vic Adamowicz.

    “I think we went into it thinking it was a little more black and white than it was.”

    The government is doing its own review of the leasing program and Environment Minister Shannon Phillips has met with the land institute.

    “The information they presented, and that provided by other stakeholders including agriculture and oil and gas producers, helps to inform and support future policy decisions,” Phillips said.

    Adamowicz said the government must consider rental payments leaseholders make as well as compensation they receive from energy companies. Oversight from Alberta’s Surface Rights Board is also needed, he said.

    Cliff Wallis from the Alberta Wilderness Association said leaseholders have been doing a good job caring for the land, but some are making a lot of money that could go elsewhere.

    “It’s super flawed. It basically creates haves and have-nots between the have ranchers who have oil and gas wells and those who don’t,” Wallis said.

    “The money that comes from surface rights payments should be going back into a grassland conservation fund or a public land conservation fund to deal with wildlife issues, compensating ranchers for various things, help with conservation.”

    Wallis said his group would “scream like stuck pigs” if the government tried to divert any new lease money into general revenues.

    The Alberta Grazing Leaseholders Association admits the program isn’t perfect, but believes the auditor general should have done more homework.

    “There are a lot of people who don’t understand it and don’t want to listen to why it works the way it does, but it’s been a very good instrument over the years to ensure these lands were settled and cared for,” said Larry Sears, who leases about 2,300 hectares in southwestern Alberta.

    “The vast majority of the leaseholders in the province have five or less installations and less than half of the leaseholders get any oil and gas activity at all.”