New business recycles pesky propane bombs

Roughly 500,000 propane cylinders are sold in Alberta each year for various uses such as camping, but what happens to all those potentially explosive materials when they’re eventually discarded?

While some municipalities offer services to collect these cylinders and other types of hazardous waste like paint and solvents, there remains a contingent of people, particularly campers, who struggle to find an environmentally-friendly way of disposing these little one pound propane bombs.

Calgary native Jeff Sands, owner of Propane Busters, has an answer and, more importantly, a solution to this issue that’s sustainable, environmentally-friendly and runs on two wheels.

Read the full story at the Rocky Mountain Outloook.

Alberta between mild and extreme ‘petrostate’

Oil is by far the most popular natural resource making headlines on a weekly basis in Alberta and for good reason – the Province has relied on its vast reserves of petroleum for both economic and political reasons.

With impending decisions to be made regarding the future transport of this coveted resource, whether it be through pipelines such as Keystone XL or by rail, Alberta will continue to be known in some circles as a “petrostate,” but to what degree is a topic economics professor Alan MacFadyen has tackled extensively.

Last month, MacFadyen, an Emeritus at the University of Calgary who established the petroleum economics program within the Department of Economics, examined this, and the history of Alberta’s oil industry, during a talk at the Seniors’ Centre in Canmore.

According to the professor, the Province is somewhere in between a mild and extreme version of a “petrostate.” Read the full story at the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Canmore firefighter/EMT recounts medical mission in Haiti

The night before Jacqueline Hutchison and a team of doctors and firefighters from across Alberta travelled to the earthquake-ravaged Republic of Haiti they received an important phone call from the organizer in charge of their trip.

A gang shooting had just occurred in Cité Soleil, one of the poorest areas of the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince, where the group’s medical clinic was located and where they would spend two weeks, starting Jan. 24.

“She said she understood if people wanted to back out or if there was any need to have a reason not to go,” Hutchison, a Canmore EMT/firefighter, recalled. “It certainly made me think only briefly about it because I have experienced unrest in other parts of the world.

“There was some hesitation and I had a long talk about it with my partner and son, but at no time did I think I wasn’t going to go.” Read the full story at the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Economists toy with sales tax idea for Alberta

Following an announcement by Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner that the Province’s projected deficit leading into the 2012/13 budget will be around $4 billion, the idea of implementing a sales tax as a way out has once again reared its way back into the conversation.

During an economic summit a few weeks ago in Calgary, which was set up by Premier Alison Redford and attended by members of all provincial parties, the topic of creating a sales tax was favoured by some of the province’s leading economists.

Todd Hirsch, a senior economist at ATB Financial, was one of the moderators at the summit and pointed out this option shouldn’t be very surprising despite the fact the province has never had a sales tax. Read the full story at the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Slow year ahead for Alberta as price of black gold drops

Oil is Alberta’s business, however, the price of Western Canadian Select, which is made up of heavy conventional and bitumen crude oil, has been decreasing.

With the Province’s reliance on this huge energy commodity, both politicians and economists point to a sluggish Alberta economy limping into next year’s fiscal budget, which will be made public in March.

According to Net Energy Inc., a crude oil trading system based in Calgary, Western Canadian Select has been trading at roughly $35 per barrel less than benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude.

Though the price of Alberta oil has always been offered at a discount, the differential between what’s shipped out of the province compared to WTI or other world oil prices has increased quickly and put Premier Alison Redford’s government under pressure. Read the full story at the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Book review – Let the Eastern Bastards Freeze in the Dark

Scrolling through any Canadian newspaper or online source, one finds it difficult to avoid stories pertaining to the country’s issue with natural resources, be it the expansion of pipelines, advances in technology or which provinces benefit the most from revenue generated.

Almost on a daily basis, Canadians are fed news in an apparent “us versus them” scenario that has existed and will continue as the debates wage on in federal/provincial buildings and on the ground.

These headlines condemning or praising such natural resources like the oil sands, for example, are rooted back to Canada’s foundation, as author/journalist Mary Janigan has proved in her new book. Read the full story at the Rocky Mountain Outloook.

Winter in the Canmore mines

Canmore mine lamp house and entrance to Coal Mine No. 2.
Canmore mine lamp house and entrance to Coal Mine No. 2.

Every winter the old lamp house located beneath Three Sisters Parkway in Canmore groans with age. The windows have all been knocked out, the roof is in disrepair and the frost has taken its toll on the walls with those that are still in tact subjected to graffiti.

It’s safe to say the building, which was where workers met and collected their lamps before heading into Coal Mine No. 2, is not what it once was, but neither is the town itself. Continue reading

Mount Assiniboine Lodge restoration project part of Rockies history

The Naiset Huts at Mount Assiniboine Lodge in British Columbia

A ride in a helicopter is an occasion for celebration, but a ride in a helicopter flying to Mount Assiniboine Lodge is one that soars into the history of the Canadian Rockies.

A 20-minute chopper ride from Canmore casually floats you over endless mountaintops akin to waves gently approaching the surf. Mount Assiniboine is an easily recognizable place. It’s picturesque landscape, with clear blue waters from Lake Magog and Matterhorn-resembling peak, make it one of the jewels of the area known as the Great Divide along the Alberta/British Columbia border.

Escaping the grasp of the closely-knit pack of mountains, travellers circle a valley adjacent to Canada’s “Matterhorn” where little red rooftop cabins are scattered throughout the area leading up to Mount Assiniboine Lodge. The light brown-coloured logs that make up the building’s exterior shine with newness in the morning light. However, it’s not the building, the scenery, nor the fresh mountain air you can see your breath in after exiting the helicopter that makes this place so special. Read the full piece at the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Forward Mark Letestu looks back on season with Pens, Blue Jackets

photo by Jason Mowry/Columbus Wired

Despite sitting last in the National Hockey League with only 25 wins, Elk Point product and Columbus Blue Jackets forward Mark Letestu can see some light at the end of the tunnel.

Playing in the central division among heavyweights St. Louis, Detroit, Nashville and Chicago, the Jackets struggled throughout the year, but have managed a few wins here and there, like last week against the Red Wings. Read the full story at the St. Paul Journal.