Making guests pay for road, water fixes offside, Alberta hoteliers say by Bill Mah, May 28, 2015, Edmonton Journal
A levy on hotels introduced by the Town of Fox Creek to pay for infrastructure repairs is illegal, says the Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA).
The industry group released a statement Wednesday after the Journal reported licence fees for hotels in the community are going up from a flat fee of $75 a year to four per cent of total annual room revenues.
One hotel said it faces an annual bill of $100,000, an increase of 133,233 per cent.
The town of about 2,100, 260 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, said it’s a way to recoup the cost of providing services and repairing infrastructure used by the hotels’ main clientele, thousands of energy and forestry workers.
But the association said if the town needs more money to improve its infrastructure, it should be funded by all ratepayers, not just hotels and motels.
“The AHLA recognizes that municipalities require predictable and sustainable funding for their infrastructure needs,” said the statement.
“Like all other businesses, hotels contribute to municipal revenues through their property taxes. However, hotels in Fox Creek have been singled out for a business licence fee increase. The AHLA believes that Fox Creek’s town council does not have the legal jurisdiction or authority to pass a bylaw that is, in reality, the collection of a tax.”
The AHLA has said it is working with hotels in the town to challenge the legality of the bylaw, but it’s not yet clear if it is launching legal action.
“Increasing business licence fees is a significant change to our business, one that could result in lost jobs and the closure of hotels,” said Robin Cumine, vice-president of operations for the Super 8 and Foxwood Inn & Suites in Fox Creek.
“Hoteliers already pay their fair share and to add this burden onto hotels alone is unreasonable and unfair. Attempting to increase room rates to pay for this fee, as oil prices slump, will drive guests away from our hotels and this community.”
The AHLA said its 655 guest rooms employ 150 residents.
Fox Creek chief administrative officer Roy Dell said the town is within its rights to introduce the hotel levy. “Any council, under the (Municipal Government Act) is allowed to implement a type of fee or a special tax,” Dell told the Journal this week. “We’re actually quite excited about it because with the additional funds that we’re going to be collecting through this levy, we’ll be able to make Fox Creek a lot nicer place.”
An Alberta Municipal Affairs spokesman said any challenge to the bylaw would have to be tested in court.
Business licence for Fox Creek hotel goes up 133,233% by Bill Mah, May 26, 2015, Edmonton Journal
Corbett Fertig, general manager of the Timber Ridge Inn & Suites, says the hotel’s business licence fee is going from $75 to more than $100,000 a year under a Fox Creek bylaw change.
The business licence fee for the Timber Ridge Inn & Suites in Fox Creek is going from $75 a year to an annual average of $100,000 — an increase of 133,233 per cent.
The Timber Ridge and all other 11 hotels in the oilpatch and forestry town, 260 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, face sky-high hikes to renew their business permits.
Municipal councillors voted in late April to charge inns and bed and breakfasts with greater than four rooms the equivalent of four per cent of their total annual room revenue instead of a flat fee like other local businesses.
“It’s a huge jump,” said Corbett Fertig, general manager of the Timber Ridge. [Directly related to the huge jump in frac greed?] “Our primary concern is unfairly having to charge our guests an additional four per cent to be staying in Fox Creek.”
He fears passing on the increase to guests, mostly resource-industry employees, will drive them out of town to work camps or to neighbouring Valleyview and Whitecourt.
“We’re talking about groups of 20 to 30 rooms, at points, booking your floors out for two to three weeks. That’s a lot of money coming out of their pockets,” Fertig said.
Hotel guests already pay five-per-cent GST, a four-per-cent provincial tourism levy, and in some areas, a destination marketing fee.
Swallowing the increase is also unpalatable since the hotel already faces high property taxes, staffing and maintenance costs, Fertig said. [Why are annual profits not reported in this article? Without them, $100,000 is meaningless] “We would be faced with having to eat $100,000 a year and being a new business, that’s not really an option for us,” Fertig said.
Roy Dell, chief administrative officer for the Town of Fox Creek, says the hotel levy is a way to recoup some of the costs of providing services to the hotels’ main clientele — thousands of energy and forestry workers.
The town’s population of 2,113 is dwarfed by a shadow population of temporary residents estimated at 8,000. [Wait til AHS starts charging a surtax on increasing STDs, domestic violence, drugs, gambling and other frac boom induced harms]
“There’s a lot of people who are staying in the hotels that are utilizing the services and it’s playing havoc with the town and we have a hard time keeping up,” Dell said.
Town infrastructure such as its streets, water treatment and aquifer and even private businesses such as grocery stores are feeling the strain, he said. [Finally, truth emerges: 133,233% increase in frac harms to community, including economic.]
“The roads are a big one because there’s a lot of heavy trucks that use the roads and we have no way tax revenue-wise to rebuild these roads.”
The town is also spending $14 million this year on upgrading its water system. Last spring, the town was forced to haul water in because of demand from too many people.
Dell expressed doubt that hotels will be hurt by the fee. “In Fox Creek, the vacancy rate a month and a half ago was zero. You could not find anything to rent whether it was a hotel, or an apartment or house.” [Even with the dramatic drop in the price of oil. The AER’s fracing secrets, deregulation and blanket approval process pilot project keeps the harms rolling in, no matter what the price of oil]
He expects hotels to pass on the cost to their customers. “It’s not a hit for the hotels. Basically, all they’re doing is collecting the fee.”
The town projects the levy will raise between $800,000 to $1 million in the first year.
The money will go into a reserve. A committee, including hoteliers, will be formed to look at ways to use the collected money.
The Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) fears the hotel levy will catch on among cash-strapped cities and towns across Alberta.
“If it’s implemented and isn’t challenged and overturned, I can’t imagine any municipality, city or town council that wouldn’t want that revenue stream,” said AHLA president Dave Kaiser. Provincially, it could raise as much as $90 million, but unlike the existing provincial tourism levy won’t assist the hospitality industry. [If Prentice, Redford, Stelmach, Klein and their greedy big oil Tory Teams had been less corrupt, selfish and greedy, and had they appropriately allowed towns and municipalities to charge companies for actual frac and boom damages caused, including impacts to regulators, scientists (forced to monitor and study frac quakes caused by industry’s frac frenzies), roads, community services, health, social services, hospitals, education, water, land, air, etc, would this levy have passed the vote?]
The AHLA is working with Fox Creek hotels to challenge the legality of the bylaw.
The provincial government appears to be leaving the dispute for the courts to settle.
Alberta Municipal Affairs spokesman Jerry Ward said in an email that the Municipal Government Act allows a council to impose a business licence “that may be in the nature of a reasonable tax for the activity authorized or for the purpose of raising revenue.”
Any challenge to the bylaw would have to be tested in court, Ward said. [Emphasis added]
[Who pays for the dramatically increasing health care costs when frac cancers and other mystery chemical diseases escalate and Alberta doctors, hospitals, health care providers etc no longer keep them secret?
Slide from Ernst presentations
March 12, 2014: Cochrane Interpipeline Gas Plant NW of Calgary
How much will the oil and gas industry pay for the surge in cancers? Nothing, as usual?
New report says Alberta expecting 60 per cent jump in new cancer cases by 2030 by John Cotter, The Canadian Press, May 27, 2015, Edmonton Journal
Alberta needs to prepare for a dramatic increase in new cancer cases expected within the next 15 years, says the Canadian Cancer Society. [What does the society say about fracing?]
A report released Wednesday says the number of diagnosed cases in the province is forecast to jump by about 60 per cent compared with the national average of 40 per cent.
“A 60 per cent increase in cancer cases in Alberta will push us beyond our capacity to provide the care and support cancer patients deserve,” said Sarah Hawkins, a public policy analyst with the society.
An estimated 28,140 people in the province will be diagnosed with cancer in 2030, up from about 17,000 this year, the report says.
The society notes that the Alberta increase will be due to population growth, including many more people over 65, and not because of an increase in a person’s risk of developing the disease. [Has the society or any health agency studied frac impacts to workers and families forced to live exposed to frac fluids and flow back, many of which contain carcinogens?]
The society suggests Alberta should improve cancer care and prevention efforts, including screening, to deal with the expected increase. [What about putting a stop to exposing workers and innocent families to frac poisons?]
Hawkins said the provincial government needs to complete “a desperately needed” new cancer centre in Calgary to serve people in southern Alberta.
“The cancer care infrastructure in Calgary has been overcapacity and splintered across the city for a decade.”
Tim Wilson, press secretary for Health Minister Sarah Hoffman, said the government is reviewing the report and is planning to take action.
Wilson said the government is preparing to provide people with an update on the Calgary cancer centre.
“It is notable that Alberta cancer rates are rising 50 per cent faster than the rest of Canada [Perhaps caused by master “model” frac deregulator AER and its ex-encana CEO Protti?], and this shows that the plan to put more resources into health care is absolutely the right policy today,” Wilson said.
“We understand there are many partners and cancer-care providers and patients and families who want to hear an update about the Calgary cancer centre. We are hoping for that soon.”
The province has been promising a new cancer centre since 2006. Construction was to begin this year, but the government shelved the plan due to falling energy prices. Former premier Jim Prentice promised a new centre would be built by 2020.
The society is also strongly encouraging Alberta to ban menthol-flavoured tobacco products and to expand other tobacco control measures, such as tax increases. The province passed a law in 2013 to ban flavoured tobacco, but decided earlier this year not to include the minty flavour. “Any legitimate effort to reduce youth tobacco use must include a ban on menthol-flavoured tobacco products,” Hawkins said. “One in three Alberta youth smokers use menthol cigarettes, compared to one in 20 adult smokers.”
[Families and workers choose to smoke or expose their loved ones to smoke/smokers; they cannot do the same when it comes to frac poisons.]
Premier Rachel Notley said that the NDP opposed the exclusion of menthol from the ban and suggested her government may change the flavoured-tobacco policy that is to go into effect Monday. “We are in the course of getting briefings and having discussions about it and I expect you will see an announcement from us in the very few days to come,” she said Wednesday in Calgary. Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec plan to ban menthol-flavoured tobacco. [Emphasis added]
Canada to see a 40 per cent increase in cancer patients by 2030: report by Kelly Grant, May 27, 2015, The Globe and Mail
Canada’s health-care system needs to brace itself for a major surge in cancer patients.
The number of new cases of the disease diagnosed every year is expected to increase by 40 per cent over the next 15 years, thanks largely to a rising tide of seniors, says a new report. [Or thanks to the phenomenal level of toxic chemicals Canadians are forced to live with, day in day out, in the air they breath, the water they bathe in and ingest, and food they eat?]
By the year 2030, an average of 277,000 new cancer cases are expected to be logged every year, up from nearly 200,000 this year and about 155,000 a decade ago, according to Canadian Cancer Statistics 2015, an annual summary of cancer figures and projections published Wednesday by the Canadian Cancer Society, Statistics Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
“What jumps off the page most significantly about this report is actually the sheer number in the predictions – the 40-per-cent rise in the next 15 years,” said Sean Cleary, a surgical oncologist at Toronto General Hospital. “We need to be prepared in so many ways to face this.”
This is the first time that Canada’s most prominent national cancer report has featured a long-range forecast for the burden of cancer.
The national report comes a day after a separate study published in the B.C. Medical Journal predicted British Columbia would see a 57-per-cent increase in cancer cases over a similar period for the same reasons – the population is getting both older and larger, and that means more cancer patients will be flooding Canada’s hospitals.
By 2030, one in four Canadians is expected to be 65 or older, up from one in eight in 2005. The overall population is expected to grow by about one-third, or nearly 10 million people, in the same period.
To prepare for the incoming wave of cancer patients, both reports call for comprehensive cancer planning. The health-care system will need more oncologists, specially trained nurses, diagnostic services, cancer centres, cancer therapies and palliative care.
“I think the timing [of the national report,] in a way, is so opportune, because across the country there’s so much fiscal restraint and budget-cutting going on,” said Eshwar Kumar, co-CEO of the New Brunswick Cancer Network.
“While that’s necessary and helps us to streamline our system, there needs to be some investment for long-term planning and some strategic investment in prevention, particularly, to try and change these projections.”
As well, as the B.C. report points out, doctors and other health professionals will have to rethink how they approach cancer in more frail, elderly patients who are likely to have other health problems on top of their cancer. [And what about young oil patch workers, notably those working the frac fields, and young families living nearby forced to breath secret brews of toxic drilling, cementing, frac and servicing chemicals?]
“In that population who are over 70, it is a concern that a lot of the treatments we’ve evaluated in the past for cancer are really evaluated and meant to be delivered to patients that aren’t extremely senior,” said Ryan Woods, the scientific director of the B.C. Cancer Registry and one of the co-authors of the B.C. Medical Journal paper. “There could be issues with trying to give very elderly patients the current standard treatments.”
The findings of the new reports do not mean individual Canadians run a higher risk of getting cancer in the future.
Overall, cancer incidence rates – which measure the number of new cases per 100,000 people – have held steady recently, while death rates are down and survival rates are up.
Canadian Cancer Statistics 2015 assumes those trends will continue, although it does present several tantalizing alternative forecasts that show how the increase in total new cases could slow down if more Canadians quit smoking, lost weight, stayed out of the sun and embraced regular cancer screening.
Still, it is difficult to counter the effect of the aging population [and fracing] on the total figures. For instance, the national report predicts that by 2030, prostate cancer will surpass lung cancer as the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the country, despite prostate cancer affecting only men.
“Prostate cancer really is a cancer that affects older men,” said Robert Nuttall, the assistant director of cancer control policy with the Canadian Cancer Society. “Just that sheer volume of older men is really going to drive the prostate cancer numbers that high.” [Emphasis added]
New funding for Alberta prostate cancer research by Erin Sylvester, May 27, 2015, Calgary Herald
Alberta researchers working to create tests to better predict the aggressiveness of prostate cancer will be getting new funding, announced by the Building Trades of Alberta Wednesday. A University of Calgary lab and a lab at the University of Alberta will split a $180, 000 “Father’s Day gift” from the Building Trades of Alberta to support two apprentices.
One in eight Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetimes and 4,000 will die of the disease this year.
Dr. Samar Hegazy is a postdoctoral clinical researcher at U of C and the Prostate Cancer Centre and is one of the recipients of the Building Trades of Alberta Apprenticeship Award for her research into tissue samples. The U of A lab is researching blood samples.
The lab’s research will help determine “biomarkers” for slow-growing versus aggressive cancers in tissue of men with prostate cancer. [Will the lab get companies to disclose all drilling, cementing, fracing, servicing chemicals oil and gas workers are exposed to in Canada?]
Slow-growing prostate cancer may not be life-threatening and Rocco Rossi, CEO of Prostate Cancer Canada, says that this leads to men getting unnecessary treatment. He hopes that better testing and more accurate prediction of the patients likely to face more aggressive cancers will prevent this and lead to more effective treatments.
“How do we ensure that we only treat the men whose cancer will otherwise kill them, and not put men unnecessarily through surgery, radiation, hormone replacement that can have all kinds of side effects,” said Rossi. “This test is so important and is one of the three leading lab tests in Canada that we’ve identified at Prostate Cancer Canada that will very quickly bring something to clinics and help to save lives.” [How many lives would be saved if companies let their workers and the families in communities forced to live frac’d know what chemicals they are exposed to?]
In addition to the Building Trades of Alberta donation, $170, 000 was raised during the Scotiabank Step Up Challenge in Calgary on March 1. On Wednesday, Rossi announced that money would be given to Lauren Walker at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre at Uof C to support her research into the difficulties some men have with erectile dysfunction after prostate cancer treatment. Rossi said Walker’s work is towards having “not just prostate cancer survivors but prostate cancer thrivers.”
Today’s event at Foothills Medical Centre was also about raising awareness for prostate cancer. Mike Rezansoff, the southern manager at Building Trades of Alberta, said donating to prostate cancer research was an easy decision. [It’s even easier to disclose all chemicals used in the oil and gas industry, and the toxics vented, incinerated and flared, and brought up in flow back and produced water, etc]
“We represent predominantly the males who don’t talk about their prostates,” said Rezansoff. “They’re tough guys, they chum around at the job sites and they talk about everything but their prostates. [Do the workers chum around and talk about the mystery chemicals in pallets upon pallets of bags of chemicals marked “Danger, Unregulated” and the masses of tanks of pre-mixed, undisclosed chemicals they work with and expose innocent families to?] We’re hoping that… this donation to this apprenticeship will be a start of a conversation that every member of the Building Trades of Alberta can have at the lunch table.”
Rossi said that for some communities the lack of awareness of [the frac chemicals and] prostate cancer is even more dangerous. Transgender patients may not be asked about prostate testing by their doctors.
“You go through the hormonal treatment and the surgical treatment the prostate glad is still inside,” said Rossi. “That conversation needs to be had and that testing needs to be done.” [Emphasis added]
Above 2012 Email from Alberta Health Services to Jessica Ernst, in response to her questions and concerns about peer-reviewed studies in the US indicating significant negative health impacts from oil and gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
[Refer also to:
Quakes in Gas Fields Ignored for Years, Dutch Safety Agency’s report a relevant read for any fracking zone; Fox Creek frac quakes make AER play deregulation with you and your loved ones: “Red Light = Green Light”
WARNING! Synergy and blanket approval to give industry free-for all fracking in Alberta! Watch out Fox Creek and the rest of Canada, Synergy is brainwashing controlled by industry, incredibly evil and works well