Sour gas leak response raises concerns

Liberal MLA Debby Carlson took Environment Minister Lorne Taylor to task in the legislature Monday over last week’s handling of a Caroline-area sour gas leak.
The MLA for Edmonton Ellerslie raised the issue during question period. Carlson said she felt compelled to speak after receiving phone calls from unhappy residents.
“The company didn’t notify them until four hours after the leak and the smell of sour gas was quite predominant where they lived,” Carlson said. “They were very concerned.”
The small sour gas leak occurred last Wednesday at a Shell Canada compressor station south of Caroline. The leak was detected after residents began calling the Sundre Petroleum Operators Group about 4 a.m.
Shell Canada found the problem, isolated it and gave the all-clear sign about 10:30 a.m.
Rose Balcom of Didsbury phoned the provincial Liberal party office to inform them of residents’ concerns following the incident.
“It’s very apparent that if there was a major sour gas leak, people would die,” she said. “They have to protect and notify people and figure out what they are going to do. We need emergency response plans.”
Carlson said there are such protocols in place, but it appears they weren’t followed in this case.
“This is what we were trying to get to, but the minister wasn’t very open about his answers,” Carlson said. “They (the province) have strong …

E-waste piles up

Trailer loads of outdated electronic equipment is on its way to a Rimbey plant after a massive roundup across Western Canada on Saturday.
Maxus Technology plant staff is expecting to be busy over the coming days, poring over the scads of goods that typically end up at landfills.
Throughout Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, a&b sound stores participated in their second-annual drive.
The equipment is shipped off to the plant where it will be stripped and smelted to recover materials for reuse.
Aniz Pisani, York a&b sound assistant manager, revealed a collection of dropped off old TVs, computers and other electronics spread across the floor of a back storage area.
More used equipment sat in the centre of the store — cellphones, computer equipment, VCRs and record players.
“Last year we probably had a third of this,” Pisani said. “Imagine all this ending up in the dump.”
Pisani expected the load to be trucked off to the Rimbey plant today.
Clayton Miller, communications and marketing co-ordinator for Maxus, said the City of Calgary also held a pilot project. Residents could drop off their equipment at three sites at LRT stations.
It’s anticipated Calgary’s roundup will amass about 100 tonnes, plus another 75 tonnes through a&b sound efforts.
Miller said as many as 40 trailer loads will arrive at the plant.
“It does speak to the …

Airshow secures insurance

A confidential deal has been made for liability insurance covering the York International Airshow.
Merv Phillips, business manager of the York Regional Airport Authority, made the announcement while presenting the airport’s quarterly report to York County council on Tuesday.
“We had a very amicable meeting with them and they signed the agreement with the York Regional Airport,” Phillips said. “They agreed to put in the level of liability insurance in place that we requested.”
But he told council he couldn’t give a final figure unless they wanted to hear it in-camera, which they didn’t.
“We have been informed by our insurance company that they would prefer that we not discuss levels of liability insurance through the media or in public,” Phillips said.
He wouldn’t say whether it was more than last year’s amount. However in recent interviews, the airport authority indicated it was requesting airshow organizers to provide $25 million worth of insurance for the two-day show in August.
Airshow organizers would have needed $25,000 to pay for the cost of that level of insurance. Current pricing indicated insurance rates are $1,000 per $1 million worth of insurance, leaving the association $10,000 short.
County administration had recommended the county provide up to $3,500, as long as the City of York provided the remaining $6,500. County council earlier turned down the request, but the city did agree …

Don Nicks speaks

Don Nicks believes his father-in-law would have liked the new York County building under construction next door.
He talks of Glenn Good, a former county councillor and a longtime farmer, as someone who wanted to see the county prosper. Nicks spoke out against speculation his land donation was anything but a legacy to Good.
“He was a very strong supporter of the county because he was a part of it,” Nicks said. “He was a strong advocate of developing the county and, of course, the county building would have been very favourable in his mind to have it in the county.
“He would have been very humbled by the recognition he would have got.”
Good served for three consecutive terms before resigning in 1997 due to health reasons. He was heavily involved in the community and served on several boards. He died in December 1999.
Nicks says the Good name has been dragged through the mud regarding conflict-of-interest questions with a housing development plan of theirs.
Nicks says it was their intent to have a good news story for the county and its residents, not what unfolded when the county announced it was accepting a six-acre donation from the family in early September. The Nicks weren’t at the council meeting and declined to comment on the donation shortly after.
That piece of land, west of Hwy …

Mills to run again as Alliance gears up

York MP Bob Mills squashed rumours Wednesday that he’s bowing out of politics to pursue a more quiet life.
Mills said he still has “fire in his belly” and will run for the Canadian Alliance party in the next election, expected in the spring of 2014.
Mills held a news conference in York to make the announcement. A news release inviting the media to the news conference sparked rumours that Mills was retiring.
The release stated Mills would be “making an announcement regarding his political future.”
Some radio stations reported Mills was resigning, prompting numerous calls to his office.
“The office was inundated with calls from people who heard it on the radio,” said Mills.
He said he has unfinished business to complete as an Alliance MP. For instance, he is working to make Lisa’s Law a reality. The private member’s bill, which would prevent sex offenders from using the legal system to force their children to visit them in prison, would have been passed by the House of Commons before the Christmas break, but Kyoto intervened.
Mills, the Alliance environment critic, will also be developing an environmental policy for the party.
Mills said the frustrations of battling the Liberal government haven’t burned out his political fire.
“The parliamentary system hasn’t been changed. It is still planet Ottawa and it doesn’t work.”
Mills, in office for …

Building permit total slips

A decline in the value of building permits isn’t causing much concern at City Hall.
The January total of $11.54 million is about $3.6 million behind last year’s figure for the same month, the city reported Thursday.
However, the drop is attributed to a single $6.6-million apartment building that was started in January 2013, said Greg Scott, city licensing and inspections manager. A similar dip occurred in 2013 when the January total was $12.1 million compared with $18.5 million in January 2013.
But in 2013 the city notched a record year for total permit value and continued with another record in 2013.
“What was interesting for us is seeing the number of applications this January, which increased over last January,” Scott said.
The city received 116 permit applications in January compared with 102 in January 2013.
Residential permits are gearing up for another record.
The city issued 53 permits for single family and single family with an attached garage in January compared with 47 for the same month last year.
“Residential continues to be the focus at this time and our staff are maintaining a high level of business in reviewing the permits and ensuring they are allocated on time,” Scott said.
He cautioned the torrid pace could fall off.
“You wonder. We’ve been on such a high level pace for a number of years one …

Cancer victim delivers harsh message

More than 3,500 York-area students gathered at the Centrium on Wednesday for a form of shock treatment.
They heard a dying smoker speak about her brain seizures, rotting tissue, and loss of sight and hearing.
“This is gross, it’s ugly and it’s painful,” said an emotional Barb Tarbox, who has made it her mission to warn young people about the dangers of cigarettes.
The emaciated Edmonton mother doesn’t have much time left.
Tarbox, whose lung cancer has spread to her brain and lymph nodes, told students she was expected to die around Christmas, but didn’t want to leave her nine-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, with that kind of memory.
“Every night and every morning I say a quick prayer: Please, one more day.”
Tarbox’s lungs are now so cancer-ridden that her knuckles and veins are turning black from oxygen deprivation. “It’s tissue death. And, yes, it smells,” she said in the husky voice of a 30-year smoker.
The former model, who lost all her hair, described 10 days of radiation treatment in similarly graphic terms. “You can smell your brain burning, and there’s no smell on earth like it,” she told the stunned young audience.
Tarbox had no symptoms when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer in September, but the disease has progressed quickly. She described feeling ice cold all the time, “like I’ve walked out of a …

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Masayoshi Son, founder of Softbank

While media attention remains focused on Silicon Valley, with the spotlight on the browser war between Microsoft and Netscape; Masayoshi Son, founder of Softbank, is slowly buying the on-ramps, overpasses and lanes of the information highway.

Often referred to as “Japan’s Bill Gates“, the self-made billionaire wants to take control of the Internet – by owning it. His mission is to be the premier infrastructure provider to the computer industry by which the leading software developers, hardware manufacturers, and service providers can display, explain, and distribute their products. No secret, and easy for a man whose company is worth over $4.5 billion.

27189v1-max-450x450Often referred to as “Japan’s Bill Gates”, the self-made billionaire wants to take control of the Internet – by owning it. Son founded Softbank, in 1981, in Japan, at the age of 24. Fifteen years later, he’s the president and CEO of Japan’s largest distributor of computer software and peripherals, and that country’s largest publisher of computer- related magazines (over 2.5 million readers) and books. With a 50 per cent share of the Japanese software distribution market, with nearly 25,000 outlets and over 2,500 suppliers in his pocket, the mogul saw the Net as the next goldrush; but it was exploding in the other hemisphere.

Last year Softbank amazed the computer industry with an $800 million buy-out of the Boston-based Interface Trade Show Group …