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Bail hearing scheduled today for teens accused in death of Calgary police officer

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jan 4th, 2021

CALGARY — Two teens charged with first-degree murder in the death of a Calgary police officer are due in court today for a bail hearing.

The accused — 19-year-old Amir Abdulrahman and a 17-year-old boy — were arrested on Friday afternoon after turning themselves in.

They had been wanted in the death of 37-year-old Sgt. Andrew Harnett, who was killed while conducting a traffic stop on New Year’s Eve.

Calgary police have said Harnett pulled over an SUV, which then struck and killed him.

They’ve alleged the younger of the two accused was behind the wheel, while they say Abdulrahman was a passenger.

The pair had their first court appearance on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 4, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Helicopter crash victims identified as parents, two children in family of seven

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jan 4th, 2021

DEBOLT, Alta. — Four people who died in a helicopter crash on New Year’s Day are being identified by loved ones as members of a strong and loving farm family from a small community in northern Alberta.

The families of 45-year-old Wade Balisky and 37-year-old Aubrey Balisky say in a joint statement that they are grappling with the loss of the couple and two of their children, eight-year-old Jewel and two-year-old Fleur.

The family says Wade and Aubrey are survived by their three other children, 16-year-old Chevey, 14-year-old Remington and 12-year-old Indya.

The family lived together in the small farming community of DeBolt, Alta., about 45 kilometres east of Grande Prairie.

RCMP have said emergency responders received an emergency signal from a Robinson R44 helicopter and arrived to find the aircraft crashed in a field in nearby Birch Hills county with no survivors.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

“We have been devastated by our sudden loss of Wade, Aubrey, Jewel and Fleur,” the Balisky and Warkentin families said in a joint statement.

“Chevey, Remington and Indya will need your prayers, love and support as they grapple with the loss of their father, mother and sisters. They know that they were loved and are loved.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 3, 2020.

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Monday, Jan. 4, 2021

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jan 4th, 2021

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 4, 2021.

There are 601,663 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 601,663 confirmed cases (80,822 active, 504,976 resolved, 15,865 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,578 new cases Sunday from 50,584 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. The rate of active cases is 215.01 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 48,389 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,913.

There were 41 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 757 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 108. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.29 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 42.21 per 100,000 people.

There have been 14,041,448 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 390 confirmed cases (12 active, 374 resolved, four deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday from 260 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.3 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 73,148 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 96 confirmed cases (six active, 90 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday from 217 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 3.82 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 80,395 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,499 confirmed cases (27 active, 1,407 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday from 617 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.78 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 34 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people.

There have been 181,051 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 618 confirmed cases (42 active, 567 resolved, nine deaths).

There were seven new cases Sunday from 215 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.3 per cent. The rate of active cases is 5.41 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 26 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four.

There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.16 per 100,000 people.

There have been 116,049 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 210,304 confirmed cases (22,501 active, 179,456 resolved, 8,347 deaths).

There were 2,869 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 265.19 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 17,649 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,521.

There were 11 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 324 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 46. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.55 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 98.37 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,507,746 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 190,962 confirmed cases (23,611 active, 162,701 resolved, 4,650 deaths).

There were 2,964 new cases Sunday from 48,175 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 6.2 per cent. The rate of active cases is 162.09 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 19,546 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,792.

There were 25 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 273 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 39. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.27 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 31.92 per 100,000 people.

There have been 7,838,837 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 25,126 confirmed cases (4,461 active, 19,982 resolved, 683 deaths).

There were 100 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 325.75 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 981 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 140.

There were five new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 38 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.4 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 49.87 per 100,000 people.

There have been 409,113 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 16,083 confirmed cases (2,841 active, 13,084 resolved, 158 deaths).

There were 238 new cases Sunday from 1,017 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 23 per cent. The rate of active cases is 241.9 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,269 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 181.

There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 17 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 13.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 305,692 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 104,228 confirmed cases (18,355 active, 84,827 resolved, 1,046 deaths).

There were an estimated 400 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 419.9 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 6,876 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 982.

There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 64 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 23.93 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,547,298 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 51,990 confirmed cases (8,962 active, 42,127 resolved, 901 deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 176.72 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,998 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 285.

There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 40 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is six. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.11 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 17.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 962,565 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 64 confirmed cases (four active, 59 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 9.79 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of four new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,927 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 24 confirmed cases (zero active, 24 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 7,906 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Sunday from 83 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of one new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,645 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 4, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Police find body of child following Northwest Territories house fire

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 31st, 2020

FORT PROVIDENCE, N.W.T. — RCMP say they have located the body of a child following a house fire in Fort Providence, Northwest Territories.

Police say they were called around 1:20 p.m. Monday to a house that was fully engulfed in flames in the community of about 700 people southwest of Yellowknife.

When they arrived, they were told one child was unaccounted for.

Officers say they tried to enter the home at the time, but the fire was too severe.

A GoFundMe page set up by a relative says a daughter died in the fire and the family has five other children.

Several other people in the home were treated for minor injuries.

On Tuesday, Health Minister Julie Green said the territory’s health authority was sending extra counsellors to help support the community.

As of Wednesday afternoon, around $13,000 had been raised for the family through the GoFundMe page.

The coroner’s office of the Northwest Territories is investigating.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 30, 2020.

The Canadian Press

B.C. mom who gave birth in a coma due to COVID-19 discharged from hospital

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 31st, 2020

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — A mother who had an emergency C-section in British Columbia while in a coma due to complications from COVID-19 returned home to her family in time for Christmas.

Gillian McIntosh was in her third trimester when she went to hospital in Abbotsford with COVID-19 symptoms in November.

The 37-year-old was placed in an induced coma and was on a ventilator for a month due to complications from the virus

Her family says in a statement that the mother of two was discharged from hospital on Christmas Eve.

McIntosh thanked those who supported her family during her health scare.

She says in the statement that it was a surreal experience to wake up from a coma and find out she had given birth, particularly when her last memory is of going to hospital.

Her family says that doctors do not yet know how long it will take for McIntosh’s lungs to return to a healthy state.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 30, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Conservative MP Phil McColeman says he won’t seek re-election

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 31st, 2020

OTTAWA — A long-time Conservative MP says he won’t seek re-election when the next federal vote comes around.

Phil McColeman made the announcement in a social media post.

He says it has been a privilege to represent Ontario’s Brantford-Brant for the last 12 years, and thanks the riding’s voters for placing their trust and confidence in him.

McColeman also thanks his family, volunteers, supporters and staff.

He says while he’ll greatly miss representing the riding in Parliament, he looks “forward to welcoming my Conservative successor.”

McColeman first won the riding in 2008, taking a seat held by Liberals and New Democrats6 since the late 1960s.

His announcement is the latest from a Conservative incumbent who has decided to step down when Canadians next go to the polls.

In late November, Peter Kent said he wouldn’t run again in his Toronto-area riding.

Conservatives DIane Finley and Bruce Stanton have also announced they won’t stand for re-election.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 30, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Raptors lose first season opener in eight years in loss to Pelicans

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 24th, 2020

Brandon Ingram scored 24 points and JJ Redick added 23 as the New Orleans Pelicans beat Toronto 113-99 in the Raptors’ season opener Wednesday at Amalie Arena.

Pascal Siakam had 20 points in one of the bright spots of the loss, the Raptors’ first defeat in a season opener in eight seasons. Kyle Lowry added 18 points and 10 assists, Aron Baynes had 11 points and nine rebounds, and Norman Powell and Chris Boucher chipped in with 12 points apiece.

The Raptors led for most of the first half but went ice cold in the third quarter. They went 0-for-10 from three-point range and were outscored 38-22 in the frame, and trailed 88-79 to start the fourth.

The Pelicans kept their foot on the gas in the fourth, and when Redick knocked down a three-pointer with 5:15 to play, New Orleans led by 14 points.

The Raptors went a horrible 2-for-17 from distance in the second half.

Siakam had been enjoying a career year before the NBA shut down for COVID-19 last March, and was never quite himself when the league resumed in the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World. Fans weren’t kind to the 26-year-old when the Raptors were eliminated by Boston in the second round of the playoffs.

Siakam said he’d lost his love of the game. It looked like it was back on Wednesday.

Siakam not only scored on an array of shots, but pitched some excellent passes out of crowds.

The night marked the beginning of the most bizarre season in Raptors history, a small crowd of about 3,000 fans dotting Amalie Arena. The venue will be Toronto’s temporary home for at least the first half of the season due to Canada’s travel restrictions around COVID-19.

In a sign of these strange times, the Raptor mascot waved the team flag before the game clad in a black protective face mask.

The Raptors tipped off a few hours after the league announced Houston’s game against Oklahoma City was postponed due to positive COVID-19 tests plus James Harden’s violation of the league’s coronavirus protocols left the Rockets without the league-mandated eight available players.

It was a discouraging blow on Day 2 of a season that feels like the league is playing with its collective fingers crossed while the pandemic continues to rage in the U.S.

The Raptors had their own scare earlier in the day. Powell was listed as questionable after some inconclusive tests with someone in his “circle of people,” coach Nick Nurse said.

Nurse said despite the rocky start, he’s “fairly comfortable” about playing.

“I understand that there are some people – players and staff, et cetera – testing positive. I’d be much more concerned if there was a number of players going to the hospital, a number of staff going to the hospital, and I just don’t see that as the case with all these colleges and universities and all the athletes that test.”

Amalie Arena is one of just a few facilities around the league that is permitting a limited number of fans this season.

The Raptors trailed in the early minutes, but Siakam’s three capped a mini 7-0 run that put Toronto up by four. The Raptors led 26-23 to start the second quarter.

Siakam knocked down back-to-back three-pointers – both off passes from sharp-shooter Matt Thomas – to put the Raptors up by 11 with 1:46 left in the first half. Toronto took a 57-50 advantage into the halftime break.

The Raptors now depart on their first road trip of the regular season, playing against former teammate DeMar DeRozan and the Spurs in San Antonio on Boxing Day. They play at Philadelphia on Dec. 28.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 24th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Thursday Dec. 24, 2020.

There are 528,354 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 528,354 confirmed cases (75,305 active, 438,452 resolved, 14,597 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,845 new cases Wednesday from 89,189 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.7 per cent. The rate of active cases is 200.34 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 46,724 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,675.

There were 172 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 798 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 114. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.3 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 38.83 per 100,000 people.

There have been 13,343,345 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 384 confirmed cases (26 active, 354 resolved, four deaths).

There was one new case Wednesday from 232 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.43 per cent. The rate of active cases is 4.99 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 20 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people.

There have been 71,012 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 91 confirmed cases (seven active, 84 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Wednesday from 823 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 4.46 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 77,149 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,458 confirmed cases (35 active, 1,358 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were four new cases Wednesday from 992 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.40 per cent. The rate of active cases is 3.6 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 28 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people.

There have been 171,951 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 585 confirmed cases (47 active, 530 resolved, eight deaths).

There were five new cases Wednesday from 516 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.97 per cent. The rate of active cases is 6.05 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 18 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 1.03 per 100,000 people.

There have been 113,276 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 183,523 confirmed cases (19,381 active, 156,275 resolved, 7,867 deaths).

There were 2,247 new cases Wednesday from 10,758 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 21 per cent. The rate of active cases is 228.42 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 14,350 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,050.

There were 73 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 254 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 36. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.43 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 92.72 per 100,000 people.

There have been 2,436,763 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 162,663 confirmed cases (19,424 active, 139,010 resolved, 4,229 deaths).

There were 2,408 new cases Wednesday from 54,808 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.4 per cent. The rate of active cases is 133.35 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 16,128 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,304.

There were 41 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 194 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 28. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.19 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 29.03 per 100,000 people.

There have been 7,281,798 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 23,381 confirmed cases (4,427 active, 18,349 resolved, 605 deaths).

There were 201 new cases Wednesday from 2,139 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 9.4 per cent. The rate of active cases is 323.26 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,555 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 222.

There were 15 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 82 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.86 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 44.18 per 100,000 people.

There have been 399,378 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 14,101 confirmed cases (3,850 active, 10,121 resolved, 130 deaths).

There were 159 new cases Wednesday from 985 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 16 per cent. The rate of active cases is 327.81 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,507 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 215.

There were five new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 32 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.39 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 11.07 per 100,000 people.

There have been 295,964 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 93,781 confirmed cases (17,821 active, 75,070 resolved, 890 deaths).

There were 1,301 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 407.68 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,184 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,312.

There were 19 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 130 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 19. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.42 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 20.36 per 100,000 people.

There have been 1,547,298 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 48,027 confirmed cases (10,279 active, 36,952 resolved, 796 deaths).

There were 517 new cases Wednesday from 17,821 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 202.69 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,924 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 561.

There were 19 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 104 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 15. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.29 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 15.7 per 100,000 people.

There have been 929,744 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 59 confirmed cases (zero active, 58 resolved, one deaths).

There were zero new cases Wednesday from six completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,878 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 24 confirmed cases (one active, 23 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Wednesday from 38 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.23 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people.

There have been 7,725 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 264 confirmed cases (seven active, 255 resolved, two deaths).

There were two new cases Wednesday from 71 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.8 per cent. The rate of active cases is 18.05 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of six new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.74 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 5.16 per 100,000 people.

There have been 5,333 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 24, 2020.

The Canadian Press

‘Very hopeful:’ Planning underway for modified Calgary Stampede in 2021

BILL GRAVELAND, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 24th, 2020

CALGARY — A world-famous annual rodeo that survived the Great Depression, two world wars and a devastating flood seven years ago was felled by a microscopic virus this year and will have a different look if it’s allowed to go forward in 2021.

Calgary Stampede president Dana Peers says planning is underway, with fingers crossed, to stage the celebration of cowboy life, which brings in a million visitors each year and gives the local economy a $282-million boost.

“Who would have thought it would be a pandemic that would really take us to a whole new level of challenge?” Peers said in an interview.

The Stampede first started on an annual basis in 1923. It had been held every year since, including in 2013 when Calgary and other communities in southern Alberta were devastated by flooding. The grounds were under water, but frantic efforts enabled the 10-day rodeo, fair and midway to go ahead.

“Unlike the floods, where the waters receded and they allowed us to get in there and get the physical work done and move forward, here we are 10 months later and the pandemic hasn’t receded,” Peers said.

“For that reason, we haven’t been able to turn around like we did in 2013.”

Another challenge, Peers said, is there’s been little revenue, since most of the 1,200 events held at Stampede Park each year were also cancelled. A COVID-19 testing site was set up instead and the rodeo grandstand has been used as a courthouse to allow for physical distancing.

Peers said he remains “very hopeful” the Stampede will be held in some form next year. Stampede officials are working with Alberta Health Services and Calgary’s Emergency Management Agency to find a way to hold it safely. He said the arrival of vaccines is also a positive.

“We need to think about new ways to be able to have people (in the) park safely, to be able to social distance, to have those kind of events where people can feel safe,” Peers said.

“I see 2021 as a bridge year. We’re hopefully going to … still have a Stampede. And by the time we get to 2022, hopefully we’re back to a situation where it would be more normal.”

University of Calgary professor Aritha van Herk, who wrote “Stampede and the Westness of the West,” said event officials showed leadership by cancelling in 2020, but people are anxious for it to return.

“You’re not a Calgarian unless you’ve participated completely, drunk too much, danced your feet off. Every part of it is part of the city’s character.”

Van Herk said she expects the event will go ahead next year on a limited basis.

“I bet they will try to do it in such a way that they really limit attendance and they’ll use this opportunity to rethink everything. We’ve been going for a 100 years. What can we make better?”

The City of Calgary had already been hit with a financial crisis linked to a drop in oil prices, which led to layoffs and extensive amounts of empty space before the pandemic began.

The president and CEO of Calgary Economic Development said the city has a perception problem, which hasn’t been helped by focusing on the Stampede and energy sector while ignoring the booming tech and financial sectors.

“People think of us as only an oil and gas town … and yet there’s so much more going on and has been for the last several years,” said Mary Moran.

“It doesn’t mean you abandon your heritage. We have to honour that.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 24, 2020.

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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