Jose Neto and guide dog honoured

CALGARY – A different kind of white hatting ceremony was held Saturday in Calgary.

This one, dedicated to service dogs and the people they help.

A young Calgary man who was blinded by gunfire in downtown Calgary credits his independence to his working dog.

Jose Neto’s inspiring story continues to touch Albertans and he gets around a lot easier these days, thanks to his golden retriever Leo.

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Leo acts as Neto’s eyes and says his service dog is committed to leading the way.

“As soon as you put the harness on, you feel that they are committed to taking you safely. So I am very confident and it’s great to have him,” said Neto.

Neto first came to Calgary from Brazil to study English.

Seven years ago he was struck in the head by a stray bullet in Calgary’s Chinatown.

He lost both eyes. Now, along with four other Calgarians who work with  service dogs, he was white-hatted. A tribute to his optimism and triumph over tragedy.

“Jose Neto. What a wonderful story. The spirit in the strength and the courage and his dog Leo has made a huge difference in his life,” said Cheryl Herperger with the City of Calgary.

“The bottom line is, people couldn’t afford it. And that’s why we do so much fundraising,” said Steve King from the Chestermere Lions Club.

Local lions clubs helped raise the 25 thousand dollars it cost to get Leo into Neto’s home.

“It’s very labor-intensive. From breeding right through to placing the dog with the client, getting the client to Ontario to do the matching in the training and also the support group to support function once people have the dog. You can’t just give a dog to someone and say see you later,” King said.

For Jose Neto, Leo’s guidance allows him to get around without the aid of another person. Since the shooting that took his sight, he graduated from college,  became a Canadian citizen and opened his own massage studio.

“It’s just great to have them around. It’s a partnership they are your eyes or whatever disability you have. They help you out with whatever you need, it’s just so important to have that independence and a dog is a big step on getting that,” Neto said.

Leo also has a new little human he looks out for.  Last month, Neto and his wife welcomed a baby girl into their lives.

“He loves her. I think he’s kind of protective at first, he didn’t know what was going on,” Neto said.

Saturday’s white hatting event was part of the second annual working dogs day event at Bowmont Park.

It was a chance for people to get to know the city’s working dogs and their handlers and learn about the roles of service dogs.

– With files from Lisa MacGregor

Burnaby residents protesting destruction of affordable rental housing

A number of residents facing eviction in one Burnaby neighbourhood took to the streets today, protesting the demolition of low-rise buildings they say are being replaced with new condo towers.

Kaye Bedford learned a few months ago that her building was slated for demolition. She’s now looking for a new home.

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“It’s not good to have that feeling that you’re being tossed out just because you can’t afford to rent apartments around here,” said Bedford, adding that the unexpected evictions of her and her neighbours is what prompted her to join the rally.

“I have friends or I’ve known people that have already been gone because their building is not here anymore, so they have to move somewhere else,” she said.

This latest rally is among a handful of demonstrations organized by the Campaign to Stop Demo-Evictions in Burnaby, a coalition of housing groups which includes the Metrotown Residents Association, Social Housing Alliance and ACORN Burnaby.

“What we’re seeing right now is a lot of these rental buildings are still standing but they’ve been bought up by developers,” said Maria Wallstam, a rally organizer with the Social housing Alliance. “So, although they’re not demolished yet, they will be demolished in the coming years. So, I’m expecting that there will be hundreds of evicted people in the next few years.”

According to a report released earlier this year, 23 apartment buildings were sold in Metrotown last year, with 14 of them slated to become new market housing.

READ MORE: Foreign investors snap up Burnaby real estate

Four areas in the Vancouver suburb–Brentwood, Metrotown, Edmonds and Lougheed–are catching the eyes of investors. Wallstam says that’s no coincidence.

“There’s this idea of transit lead development here in Vancouver which is very popular, but really what it should be called is transit lead displacement because that’s what’s happening,” said Wallstam.

In the past, officials with the city of Burnaby have referred to their Community Benefit Bonus Policy, which allows them to consider developments in these popular neighbourhoods in exchange for a contribution.

However, protesters are asking the city to take another approach.

“We’ve been calling for a moratorium on the affordable and rental housing on the neighbourhood and there’s been no response whatsoever,” said Wallstam.

Canadian brewers band together in fight against impaired driving

EDMONTON — Some of Canada’s biggest brewers are coming together in the fight against impaired driving.

Beer Canada, which represents 32 brewers across the country—including Molson, Labatt and Sleeman, launched its “Partners for Safer Communities” initiative Friday. The joint campaign aims to reduce the number of people drinking and driving by promoting the use of designated drivers.

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“Although we’re individual brewers in a fiercely competitive industry, there’s strength in putting our differences aside and taking action together to promote responsible drinking,” said John Sleeman, founder of Sleeman Breweries and chairman of Beer Canada.

“We know that 85 per cent of Canadians follow Health Canada’s safe drinking guidelines, it’s that other 15 per cent that we really want to get through,” added Jeff Ryan with Labatt Breweries.

About 1,500 brewery employees will visit close to 2,500 establishments across Canada asking people to take the pledge not to drink and drive. For every pledge made, a donation will be made to “Change the Conversation,” an organization that creates awareness about the dangers of impaired driving.

READ MORE: One-day checkstop blitz nabs 166 impaired drivers on Alberta roads

Police in Edmonton are involved in the initiative and said they are “nowhere near” their goal of zero impaired drivers on the road.

“We don’t see a steady decrease throughout the years,” said Const. Kathy Nelson. “One month may be lower than another month, one checkstop may be lower than another checkstop, but in all honesty we’re not really seeing a dramatic decrease.”

Nelson said it appears there is a shift in attitude, though, as they have seen an increase in the number of people reporting possible impaired drivers through their “Curb the Danger” program.

“We make those priority one calls, we respond to them and often we are getting impaired drivers off the road,” she added.

In August, RCMP said a recent study showed each night, on average, one in 33 drivers on Alberta roads is impaired.

Four places where a Sunshine Coast-Lower Mainland connector could go

The provincial government is looking into a road connector between the Lower Mainland and the Sunshine Coast.

“We are into looking a fixed link,” confirmed Premier Christy Clark yesterday.

“It’s really preliminary, but we’re doing that work right now. It would certainly ease access for people, it would potentially lower the cost for BC Ferries as well, but it’s really early on.”

One of the many things that will have to be decided is the route of any connector. Here’s a look at four possibilities.

1. Through Bowen Island to Gibsons

Rafal Izdebski – Bowen Island

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The shortest, most direct route from Metro Vancouver to the Sunshine Coast would be from Horseshoe Bay to Gibsons, with a bridge or tunnel broken up at Bowen Island and Keats Island.

But there are a number of reasons that would be unlikely.

“It would overwhelm traffic, and because of the elevation, there’s no way of building a four-lane highway,” argues Oddvin Vedo, a former Sunshine Coast economic development officer who has advocated for a fixed link via his blog.

Bowen Island Mayor Murray Skeels also feels it’s unlikely they would consider going through Bowen Island.

“I would think that some people would get quite excited, as in passionately excited one way or the other. Passions may flare. Some people would go absolutely crazy,” he said.

“We kind of like being an island. I don’t think that hooking us up to West Vancouver would go over well.”

2. Through Gambier Island to Williamson Landing

Susan Robinson – Gambier Island

Susan Robinson – Gambier Island

Vedo believes a bridge further north, connecting at Williamson Landing, just north of Langdale, would be more feasible because of the room to build a highway connector. But any route would likely have to go through Gambier Island, either from Lions Bay, or Horseshoe Bay via Bowen Island.

“You’re also looking at two deep sea tunnels, and lots of issues from Islands Trust,” says Vedo. “Gambier would probably be very much against the car traffic on their island.”

Kate-Louise Stamford, a Gambier Island Trustee for the Islands Trust, concurs.

“We have been very well aware if you were to draw a straight line across the Howe Sound, Gambier is in the middle, but when you look at the practicalities, Gambier is difficult to maneuver through,” she says.

Stamford notes that Gambier Island, which has a peak population of around 700 in the summertime, has no roads that go through the entire island because of the steep terrain. And the island’s Official Community Plan includes a statement saying they only support passenger ferry access.

“Geographically, it’s quite a difficult access point, and sociologically, the island flavour is we’re a rural area, we’d like to keep it rural. That’s the overarching vision,” she says.

3. From Porteau Cove

Lucas Diack – Porteau Cove

Lucas Diack – Porteau Cove

Vedo is championing the idea of a bridge from Porteau Cove Provincial Park, 20 kilometres north of Horseshoe Bay.

“You can build a bridge, which would be the cheapest one, and you have the elevation on the Sea-to-Sky side to start which would make it 65 metres high, which would allow any sized ship going to Woodfibre and Squamish to pass under,” he argues.

Vedo says that area of the Howe Sound is much shallower.

“The solution at Porteau Cove area is much less costly, and easier. You’d have to build a [new] highway…but that’s quite simple with a couple of bridges and level tunnels.”

4. A highway from Squamish

Garrick Jay – The Chief, Squamish

One option that wouldn’t include any water crossing is a highway from Squamish.

It would take significantly longer for people to reach Metro Vancouver from the Sunshine Coast, and require several tunnels through mountainous terrain. But it would help keep the Horseshoe Bay-Langdale route profitable for BC Ferries (it makes $10 million a year, helping to subsidize smaller routes), would require no bridges over Howe Sound – and has been researched by people on the Sunshine Coast for many years.

“Our road concept has been around a long, long time,” says Colin Palmer, Electoral Area C Director for the Powell River Regional District, and member of the Third Crossing Society.

“What’s triggering part of the issue is the very high ferry fares. It’s becoming more and more difficult for people to move. If that road went through, there’d be less worry about the ferry fares.”

A road from Squamish could either south to Port Mellon and Gibsons, or west to Powell River, but Palmer argues a road to his city, while longer, would open up more economic opportunities in the area.

“Squamish down to Gibsons, those economic advantages are limited. We see a lot more potential for economic development,” he says.

“There’s an aging demographic here, young people are looking to find work. We’re the end of the road, literally. To open up Powell River would be a huge significant benefit, for local government, for taxes, for people’s livelihood.”

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Pro-democracy protesters in Bangkok defy junta with rare anti-coup rally – National

BANGKOK – More than 200 pro-democracy activists defied Thailand’s junta and staged a rare protest in the capital that marked the anniversary of a coup that had pushed the Southeast Asian nation into a nearly decade-long turmoil.

The activists Saturday evening marched peacefully to Bangkok’s Democracy Monument, a symbolic location that has become a rallying point for protests in recent years. They carried anti-junta banners and shouted pro-democracy slogans as a ring of police kept watch but did not break up the rally.

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READ MORE: Bombings in insurgency-plagued southern Thailand kill 3

The demonstration started with a forum at Bangkok’s Thammasat University that was allowed by authorities, but they denied a request for a march outside of the campus.

The protesters, from a group called the New Democracy Movement, called the rally to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 19, 2006, coup that unseated then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on allegations of corruption, abuse of power and disrespect for the king. The coup plunged Thailand into a cycle of sometimes violent street protests as Thaksin’s supporters and opponents struggled for power.

Last year, the army overthrew an elected government run by Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, on the pretext of restoring order and reconciling the politically divided country.

READ MORE: Thai police say Bangkok bombing suspect fled to Turkey

Saturday’s protest also appeared designed at least in part to embarrass the current leader, army chief-turned-Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who is scheduled to make an address this month at the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

Critics at home and abroad say the junta has made little effort toward reconciliation, and has focused on clamping down on dissent and civil liberties.

After initially promising quick elections to restore democracy, Prayuth now says polls will not be held until at least 2017.

©2015The Associated Press

‘With Connor here we really have that one-two punch’: Eberle says McDavid delivers room to move – Edmonton

LEDUC, Alta. — Jordan Eberle, the Edmonton Oilers’ top scorer last season, says the addition of Connor McDavid should give his line the most coveted gift in the NHL — room to move.

“With Connor here we really have that one-two punch. Now it’s going to be tough for teams to match up their checking line … their tough defence against one line,” Eberle said Saturday.

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“Whoever they give (the top checking line) to one night, the other line is going to have it a little bit easier,” said Eberle. “That (one-two line punch) makes teams dangerous.

“I look at the Chicago Blackhawks. They’ve got Jonathan Toews’ line, and it frees up (Patrick) Kane.”

Eberle, with centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and left winger Benoit Pouliot were extremely effective down the stretch last season.

Eberle, 25, finished the year with 24 goals and 63 points in 81 games.

READ MORE: You won’t believe price of Oilers ticket for season opener

The Oilers new head coach, Todd McLellan, is keeping that line together in training camp.

McLellan is matching the rookie McDavid with Taylor Hall and veteran Teddy Purcell to fill out the top six.

Hall and McDavid both have blazing speed and elite level scoring and playmaking skills.

Eberle said they are two lines with different skill sets.

“(Nugent-Hopkins) and I play similar games,” he said.

“If you think of Connor and (Hall), that’s about as fast as you can get in the NHL. They’re going to beat you with their speed, while Nuge and I, we beat you with our give-and-go and our (on ice) intelligence.

“Then you throw a guy like (Pouliot) on there, who is maybe one of the best forecheckers in the league, getting the puck back.

“With his speed he can push guys back and give Nuge and I time.”

The two lines faced off in camp Saturday in the team’s first scrimmage of camp. The game ended in a 3-3 tie.

READ MORE: ‘He’s just that good’: Oilers’ other prospects OK with McDavid hype

Nugent-Hopkins did not play, after taking a puck in the face earlier in practice.

Goaltender Cam Talbot, standing in the crease, cleared the puck following a drill, but instead hit Nugent-Hopkins in the face in the high slot.

McLellan later described the damage as minor.

“No laceration, but a nice welt,” he said. “We’ll see how he is in the morning, but we don’t anticipate any issues.”

READ MORE: Oilers start training camp in Leduc with renewed excitement

The third line in camp is Anton Lander and Leon Draisaitl alternating between wing and centre alongside right winger Nail Yakupov.

McLellan is one of many off-season changes made by the Oilers as they try to break a string of nine consecutive non-playoff campaigns.

Eberle, entering his sixth year with the Oilers, and Hall played for McLellan on Team Canada this spring when it won gold in the Czech Republic at the World Hockey Championships.

Eberle admitted the constant losing in Edmonton has taken its toll.

“It’s been tough, to be honest. Five years of this. It grows on you. You start to think of yourself as a bit of a loser,” he said with a chuckle.

“For me and Hallsy going to the Worlds this summer, and winning and having that winning feeling back … I was really, really proud of myself and really proud of him and proud of our team.

“It makes you feel good about yourself again. That was huge for us. In a crazy way you realize you’re not a loser anymore.”

©2015The Canadian Press

Man charged with sexual assault, related to string of incidents – Halifax

HALIFAX – A 35 year-old Halifax man will be in court Monday to face a sexual assault charge, following a string of reported incidents said Halifax Regional Police.

The name of the man wasn’t released, and he remains in custody. The alleged sexual assault happened Thursday at 3:10 p.m. in the area of Chebucto Road and St. Matthias Street, said a press release, Friday. A man grabbed a 27 year-old woman from behind and touched her in a sexual manner over her clothing.

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Six other incidents were also reported on Thursday. There is currently an investigation on the connection between the cases but Staff Sgt. Bill Morris said they believe the same man charged with the sexual assault is linked to the other assaults and police aren’t looking for other suspects.

READ MORE: Police investigate string of assaults, suspicious circumstances in Halifax

“The investigators are trying to link all of the other files together to make sure there is enough evidence to take the person to court on the other outstanding files,” said Morris.

The other cases reported on Thursday included five reports of assault and one suspicious circumstance. In the assault cases police said the women were either knocked down or grabbed. An obscenity was said to the woman in the case of the suspicious circumstance. The victims were all female, the youngest was a 14 year-old girl, the oldest was 39.

The incidents were reported near Dalhousie University in the 6200 block of Coburg Road, the 6300 block of South Street, and on Cedar Street. The other incidents were reported further north on the peninsula near Windsor Street and Lawrence Street, Oxford Street and North Street, and Oxford Street and Berlin Street. The man was arrested on Dublin Street.

Dalhousie University’s Security Services is working with Halifax Regional Police, said Brian Leadbetter, a spokesperson for the university. A security bulletin was also released to all students, staff, and faculty.

READ MORE: Halifax man facing sexual assault charges after woman grabbed on Chebucto Road

The number of incidents in such a short time frame is rare said police. However, Hollaback! Halifax, a group that works to stop street harassment and violence says these types of incidents aren’t as rare as people might think. Despite the violence, Rebecca Faria, of Hollaback!, said she’s happy the women involved felt comfortable reporting the incidents to police.

“There’s a growing awareness that people have the right to report this sort of thing to police,” said Faria. “At least the people who were affected by it on Thursday believed and hoped that they were going to be believed by police when they report it.”

Police said the incidents were traumatic for the victims but none suffered serious physical injuries. In addition to the immediate impact on victims, Faria said reports of assaults affect all women and how they use public spaces. However, she said women should try to resist the urge to change their daily routines because of the attacks.

Wheelie world record set at Regina speedway

REGINA – Two wheels, 25 kilometres per hour, and over 100 laps. These are the numbers that are going to get Lucas Henwood in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest ATV wheelie.

“Riding with the front tire in the air is all balance,” Henwood said after his attempt. “Focus on your balance; tell yourself every ten seconds.”

“I’ve seen him do 115 laps consistently at one time,” said Henwood’s friend and coach Chad Metz.

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Metz coached Henwood through countless hours of training to get up to the triple-digit mark in laps. Henwood quickly past the old record at the 21-lap mark, and then he upped the ante; drift racers began to also cut laps on the track.

READ MORE: Organization calls on Sask. government to take action on ATV deaths

“That’s one of his favourite stunts I guess. So when the drifters came out here last year to do some racing he fell in love with the idea of bringing drifters out here while he was on the track,” said Metz.

“I love the drifters,” said Henwood. “People are out to watch them, and I’m just a bonus.”

After more than two hours and covering 50 kilometres, Henwood finally dropped down to two wheels after 102 laps.

“Feels good. It was a good run. It was a good ride; great ride,” said Henwood.

He also set up the event to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society. All the of the gate admission, concessions, and a $1,000 donation from King’s Park Speedway are going to the charity.

“Cancer’s hit my family hard, the same as most. It’s a worthy cause. I’m the lucky one, I just want to ride and if I can do something good with it that’s the goal.”

Once Guinness verifies the footage of the attempt and witness testimony, Henwood will officially find himself in the record book.

Villa Maria College opens its doors to boys – Montreal

MONTREAL – For over 160 years, Villa Maria High School has been an all-girls school but in April the school announced it was going co-ed, starting in 2016.

While school admission applications for secondary schools in the province have only just started, Villa Maria says that they have already received over 75 applications by boys.

Maire Anna Bacchi, Villa Maria’s director general said she was pleased that the school’s decision to admit boys had generated such interest from Montreal-area families.

The new uniform for boys was on display at Villa Maria College. Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015.

Max Kalinowicz/Global News

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When the school first announced the changes not all parents were on board with the decision, arguing that single-sex education allows girls to build self-confidence, avoid distractions and assume leadership positions that they wouldn’t otherwise consider.

READ MORE: ‘Marias’ and ‘Marios’ to study together at Villa Maria as of 2016

Accepting boys was part of a three-pronged strategy to keep the school competitive and respond to students’ needs in a changing educational landscape.

Other changes include the implementation of the Education 3.0 project, a technology-based curriculum that will allow students to become responsible digital citizens.

Villa Maria College opened its doors to the public this Saturday and will do so again, on Tuesday, Sept. 22 from 4:00 p.m. to  7:00 p.m. The English sector open house will be held next Saturday, Sept. 26 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m and Tuesday, Sept. 29 from 4:00 p.m.

Comic and Entertainment Expo teleports into Saskatoon – Saskatoon

SASKATOON – Fan fiction took over Saskatoon this weekend for the second annual Comic and Entertainment Expo. Prairieland Park was packed for a “nerd-tastic” celebration of film, television, comics and more.

“A lot of people have this inner nerd in them and they’re excited about whatever medium or franchise it is,” said expo spokesperson Emily “Expo.”

Participants dressed up as their favourite characters, calling themselves “cosplayers,” a combination of the words costume and play.

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“Cosplay is this amazing community. A lot of the stuff is homemade. People put hours and hours, days, months, years making these amazing costumes,” Expo said.

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Fans were eager to show off their original works of art, some designed by hand.

“This one I made myself so each of the leaves was stitched and glued on. There are over 3,000 leaves,” said cosplayer Melody Wood.

The event offers an opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate a common love of fiction in all its forms.

“It’s growing, we are finding our community. Everyone is beginning to embrace their inner nerd,” said cosplayer Kris Brehaut.

Watch below: You may remember him from “Lord of the Rings,” but there’s more to Billy Boyd than acting. The actor and musician plays at Louis Pub with his band Beecake along with appearing at the Saskatoon Expo.

Fans of all ages flooded through the doors hoping to meet their favourite stars and shop at over 200 vendors. There was something for everyone, including live robot battles.

Canadian actress and model Tricia Helfer from Battlestar Galactica couldn’t miss the opportunity to visit the Prairies and share the excitement.

“Getting into costume is fun and I think that’s why a lot of people here enjoy it. You’re playing a part. Not any different than if you went to a sports game and people are in the jerseys with the colours of the team. It’s just it’s fun,” said Helfer.

Crowd favourite Star Trek actor William Shatner will also be representing Canada at the expo Sunday.

Global’s Kevin Stanfield was an emcee at the event.