Fish and Wildlife Officers warn public not to operate vehicles in waterways

Fish and Wildlife Officers would like to remind everyone how important water bodies are for our native fish species, some of which have been deemed “threatened” by the Alberta Endangered Species Conservation Committee.

These species include the Athabasca rainbow trout, the bull trout, and the westslope cutthroat trout. Arctic Grayling have recently been classified a “species of concern,” with a zero catch limit across the province to help aid in its recovery.

While most off-highway vehicle (OHV) operators are responsible, there are some who do not always give thought to the damage they could potentially cause to the land. Some natural areas are extremely sensitive to any kind of disturbance. Some take a long time to return to a natural state while some may never fully recover.

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Spinning tires kick up fine sediment that would not naturally occur. This sediment floats down the stream covering fish eggs, clogging the gills of fry and completely coating other aquatic species. This may cause the organisms to suffocate if they can no longer absorb oxygen from the water.

Depending on the time of year, a vehicle in a waterway may be running over large numbers of fertilized fish eggs or fry, which hinders population growth and recovery. In addition, even if there are no eggs, running a vehicle through a water body could destroy spawning grounds. Fish can only spawn in certain areas, and if there is no suitable habitat, they may not spawn at all.

When vehicles are driven into a waterway, oil and other toxins may enter the water. Mud, grass, oil, grease and seeds that machines carry are washed off into the stream. All of these are detrimental to aquatic species in that area. Mud becomes fine sediment; oil and grease wash off and are extremely toxic to all forms of life. Seeds that travel on machines could introduce invasive plant species that are then enabled to force out indigenous plant life.

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This one right way to cross a stream – perpendicular to the flow without excessive speed or spinning of wheels.

If there is a bridge nearby, even a few kilometres away, please take the extra time to use it. Repeated vehicular crossings over a waterbody can change the form and function of a watercourse. As the vehicles cross the waterbody, they erode the banks and, over time, can cause the watercourse to become wider and shallower. This reduces cover used by fish and can potentially lead to them not being able to pass through areas with low water levels. Furthermore, stream temperature is increased as there is a greater surface area absorbing sunlight. Many of our fish species, particularly trout, require clean cold water and any increases to stream temperature can cause adverse effects for these species.

Offences under the Public Lands Act, such as damaging the bed or shore of a naturally occurring waterway, or operating a vehicle in them, can result in a maximum penalty of $25,000 for first time offenses. Please report irresponsible OHV use through the Report A Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800. We can all play a part in looking after these amazing species so that future generations can enjoy them just as we do today.

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SCAN roots out drug activity in Edmonton neighbourhood

IMG_20160727_112716Investigators from the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) unit have restored peace and quiet for residents of the Glenwood neighbourhood in Edmonton by shutting down a property connected to drug activity.

“Removing a person involved in drug activity from the property and closing down where it was allegedly taking place will provide a sense of safety and security for members of the community,” said Chip Sawchuk, manager of SCAN North.

A Community Safety Order (CSO) was granted in Court of Queen’s Bench under the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act, which gives SCAN units the ability to target problem properties associated with criminal activity like drug trafficking.

The CSO follows a lengthy investigation that began in early 2015, after SCAN received multiple complaints from residents alleging drug activity on the property, particularly a continuous flow of people and vehicles to a detached garage behind the house.

SCAN was able to substantiate the complaint about drug activity – at one point observing approximately 30 vehicles in less than 30 hours of surveillance – and provided their information to the Edmonton Police Service (EPS).

Police obtained a search warrant for the property in August 2015 using the intelligence gathered by SCAN. In the garage, EPS found 30 grams of methamphetamine and drug trafficking paraphernalia (scales and packaging), as well stolen property and imitation firearms.

Police laid charges against the one of the property owners, while SCAN served him with a warning letter and kept the premises under surveillance.

SCAN continued to document drug activity associated with the property, including an incident in April 2016 that led to a seizure of drugs and cash totalling $27,000.

SCAN obtained a CSO after the property owner failed to heed the initial warning letter issued in 2015. The owner consented to a CSO that closes the garage for six months and bars him from the property for three months – a resolution that breaks the cycle of drug traffickers and drug users coming into the neighbourhood, while allowing family members not involved in any illegal activity to remain living in the house.

Albertans who suspect illegal activity is occurring at a property in their neighbourhood can contact SCAN online or toll-free at 1-866-960-SCAN (7226). All complaints are confidential. Residents are reminded to never investigate suspected problem properties on their own.

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Commercial Vehicle Enforcement pulling out all the stops for Roadcheck 2016

The time is again upon us for one of the year’s biggest commercial vehicle safety events.

This year, Roadcheck is taking place from June 7 to 9. June is Alberta’s commercial vehicle safety month, so Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officers make a special effort to share information with commercial vehicle drivers. During inspections, presentations, traffic stops and other interactions, they pass on their message about the importance of vehicle maintenance and driver fitness. They also check for compliance with federal and provincial regulations and collect inspection data.

Roadcheck 2016 will focus on tire safety. Of course, everything rides on a vehicle’s tires. Well maintained tires can run safely for hundreds of thousands of miles, but under-inflation, overloading and poor maintenance can reduce tire performance, shorten service life and cause tire failures.

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Here are some tips for commercial vehicle drivers:

  1. Know the regulations—motor carrier regulations set minimum requirements for safe tire operation, including provisions for proper inflation and loading, minimum tread depth and safe tire condition. Information can be found under the Commercial Vehicle Safety Regulation.
  2. Keep your vehicle suspension in alignments—While potentially affecting the safe control of your vehicle, improper alignment will also rapidly wear tires down. All maintenance plans should include tire/wheel/suspension alignment.
  3. Follow industry best practices for tire management—Tire inflation should be checked at regular intervals over the course of your trip. There are also resources available to assist with proper tire management. Check with the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada.
  4. Understand tire specifications—Tires are rated not only for size, but for maximum load, type of service and speed of operation. Tire specifications on the information label should be followed. Inspectors may check for overloading of tire capacity when scales are in use.

While there is a special emphasis on tire safety during Roadcheck this year, officers will still check everything from exhaust systems to headlights and turn signals. When a vehicle or driver fails an inspection, they are taken off the road until the problem is solved and the carrier may also be fined.

Roadcheck will take place at inspection stations near Dunmore, Ardrossan and Leduc. Motorcoach checks will also be conducted at the Calgary airport. Ultimately, these inspections help save lives by reducing collisions and other accidents, and in turn, they help ensure the supplies, resources and goods transported on our highways make it to their destinations.

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Here are some other helpful facts about tires:

Air pressure

  • 15 per cent under inflation in a tire can shorten its service life by about eight per cent.
  • 10 PSI under inflation can cause tire wear out to be 20 per cent faster than normal.
  • Tires can lose three PSI per month due to air migration alone.
  • Tires can run up to five degrees hotter for every PSI the tire is under inflated.
  • Matching tire air pressure is critical in dual assemblies. A mismatch of five PSI can change the tire circumference and lead to undue wear.

Tread size

  • For every size that a tread width is undersized from the recommended width, mileage is reduced by 10 per cent.

Tread depth

  • Across axles and between tandem axles, tread depths need to be within 4/32”.

Wheel position

  • When matching dual tires, there should be less than ¼” difference in diameter (less than ¾” difference in circumference).
  • Left front steer tire wears faster than the right tire.

2016 marks the 29th year for the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s International Roadcheck.

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Alberta Sheriffs keep highways safe this May long weekend

Expect an increased volume of vehicles on Alberta Highways this May long weekend

The Alberta Sheriffs remind motorists to plan ahead, taking into consideration the increased volume of vehicles. All drivers need to pay attention when you’re behind the wheel, don’t speed, buckle up, drive according to weather conditions, and if alcohol is consumed, don’t drink and drive.

“Alberta Traffic Sheriffs are working with RCMP and other law enforcement agencies throughout the province to ensure motorists get to their destinations safely. The overall goal is to support drivers to make safe decisions, and in turn minimize the number of serious collisions that tend to occur on holiday long weekends.”

~ Rick Gardner, Superintendent, Alberta Sheriffs Traffic Operations

imagepng_2_3Fatal and serious injury collisions are more frequent on holiday long weekends. Contributing factors include increased traffic volume, a greater variety of vehicles (RVs, trailers, large trucks and passenger vehicles), drivers traveling on unfamiliar highways, fatigue, distraction, and impaired driving. Expect increased traffic volume – realize that it could take longer to get to your destination – and drive accordingly by:

  • Going slower – Traveling even a few km/hr over the speed limit increases the distance needed to stop, and adds to the severity of injuries if in a collision. Keep to the speed limit and remain a safe distance (two or even three seconds, preferably more) behind the vehicle in front.
  • Distracted driving is another contributing factor in many fatal collisions. Keep items like cell phones, tablets, and DVD players out of the reach and view of the driver. If using GPS on unfamiliar roadways, GPS devices must programmed prior to travelling to destination.
  • Drivers are also reminded to plan ahead and arrange for alternative transportation if they consume alcohol.
  • Seat belts and child safety seats are the most cost effective life-saving device currently available to reduce motor vehicle injuries. Drivers need to ensure that everyone buckles up.

Sheriffs want all Albertans to have a safe and enjoyable May long weekend.

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Why go to court if you don’t have to?

No one wants to be involved in a legal dispute. Unfortunately, some of us may find ourselves in court one day to face a dispute of some kind.

Regardless of the legal matter, whether it’s a lawsuit, an issue that arises from a separation or divorce, or a disagreement over child support, resolving such disputes—either with the help of a lawyer or as a self-represented litigant—is often time-consuming, stressful, expensive and intimidating.

While going to trial and asking a judge to resolve a dispute is sometimes the best and only option, many issues can be dealt with through the help of a dispute resolution program or service. These alternatives, such as the Provincial Court Mediation Program, are designed to help parties in a dispute find mutually-agreeable solutions without having to set foot in a courtroom.

Mediators act as neutral third-parties and aim to ensure a comfortable environment is created to promote communication, allow each party to explain their grievances, and keep the discussions constructive and on track.

On February 1, 2016, the Edmonton Resolution Support Centre opened on the eighth floor of the John E. Brownlee Building (10365 97 St.) in downtown Edmonton.

For Edmontonians and those living in surrounding communities, the Resolution Support Centre offers a single point of contact for accessing a range of legal resolution and information services previously located in different areas within the Edmonton Law Courts building.

It is the first phase of a new project that will combine in-person, online and telephone resources to more effectively provide legal services and information to Albertans.

Here’s a list of the free services and programs being offered:

  • Family court counsellors
  • Child support resolution
  • Civil mediation
  • Family mediation
  • Child protection and intervention mediation
  • Conflict intervention from a specialized clinician such as a psychologist or social worker
  • Court forms and orders assistance (formally the Family Law Information Centre and Edmonton Law Information Centre)

For more information on the Edmonton Resolution Support Centre or to access services, call 780-415-0404.

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