Flames add to hockey operations staff

August 22 2014 02:16PM

CALGARY, AB --FL The Calgary Flames announced today that have added Terry Doran (OHL) and Brad McEwen (WHL) to their scouting staff in addition to hiring Scott Gouthro as the goaltending coach for the Adirondack Flames. Terry Doran comes to th...

Grand jury in Missouri police shooting is mostly white

August 22 2014 12:15PM

The Missouri grand jury that will decide whether to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown includes nine whites and three blacks, a state court judge revealed.

Wilson, who is white, killed Brown, an 18-year-old black man, in a confrontation that spurred days of riots, protests and Governor Jay Nixon’s activation of the National Guard. The incident has stoked concerns about the majority white police department’s treatment of black residents in the St. Louis suburb.

The presentation of evidence to the grand jury, which sits in Clayton, 20 kilometres from the scene of the shooting, includes seven men and five women. They aren’t expected to conclude deliberations until October at the earliest, said Edward Magee, a spokesperson for prosecutor Bob McCulloch.

The court in Clayton revealed the breakdown of the jury in a hearing Friday at the request of Bloomberg. A lawyer from McCulloch’s office didn’t object to the release.

Missouri grand jurors are selected from rolls of registered voters and licensed drivers over the age of 21, the same pool from which trial juries are selected. There is one grand jury empanelled for St. Louis County, which includes Ferguson and Clayton, with a term that expires after four months, when a new grand jury is formed.

The pool of potential jurors for this grand jury was interviewed by Missouri Circuit Judge Carolyn Whittington. The prosecuting attorney has no role in the selection of the grand jurors, according to Paul Fox, the judicial administrator for St. Louis County, which doesn’t include the city of the same name.

Whittington ordered the release of the current grand jury’s makeup. Fox said the racial breakdown of the grand jury roughly reflects the makeup of the county.

Avalanche G Giguere retires (The SportsXchange)

August 21 2014 01:56PM

Colorado Avalanche goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere officially announced his retirement Thursday after 16 seasons in the NHL. The 37-year-old earned 262 victories in 597 regular-season games and won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. Giguere also won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2003, when the Ducks lost the Cup final to the New Jersey Devils in seven games. Giguere, a first-round pick (No. 13) of the Hartford Whalers in the 1995 draft, finished with a record of 262-216-50 with 25 ties, a 2.53 goals-against average, .913 save percentage and 38 shutouts for the Whalers, Calgary Flames, Ducks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Avalanche.

Calgary Flames/Sport Chek Development Camp for Kids kicks off this weekend

August 21 2014 10:01AM

CALGARY, AB – The Calgary Flames and Sport Chek Development Camp is set to take place this Saturday, August 23rd and Sunday, August 24th at the SAIT Campus. The hockey camp created by Rob Kerr for youth will be hosted through the Flames Foundation...

Soknacki’s campaign heavy on policy, light on fundraising

August 21 2014 04:00AM

“Shake and shimmy, boy,” the woman said as David Soknacki stiffly stepped and clapped off-rhythm at Salsa on St. Clair in July.

As Labour Day looms, the silver-haired anti-Ford, with the policy-rich and social media-savvy mayoral campaign, is still badly in need of some flow — or a rival to fall down — or both.

The ex-budget chief, who left city hall eight years ago to return full-time to his successful flavour additives business, has financed his innovative comeback by putting a small fortune on a personal line of credit.

“I wish it was only $100,000 — it’s much, much more than $100,000,” the millionaire says of his campaign self-financing after a reporter uses that figure as an example. He won’t say how much more but acknowledges donations from others so far total less than $100,000.

Political donors often give some money at the start of a campaign to candidates they like, then wait until they see who can actually win before opening their wallets again.

“We’ve been to a number of donors and they’ve said, ‘We’re not going to give anything now, come back closer to Labour Day,’” he says. “Our intent is to pull on those strings and say ‘We’re here, we’re viable.’”

Opinion polls suggest radio host/politico John Tory has taken the lead from former NDP MPP Olivia Chow, as both prepare to launch pricey advertising blitzes in the home-stretch to the Oct. 27 civic election.

Given that his support in polls has fluctuated between 2 and 6 per cent since January, and that he and fellow back-of-the-packer Councillor Karen Stintz are right-leaning centrists like Tory, why would donors now hand Soknacki the cash he needs to boost his name recognition?

“Ummmmmmmm,” he replies. “Can I ask the question a different way? We recognized at the beginning it was going to be a long shot and funds would be tight; we also believed very passionately in being the campaign of ideas and putting things into the public discourse.”

In that, he has won. While some observers complain Tory and Chow have, to date, given voters little to grab, the Soknacki campaign is bursting with detailed planks on transit (revert Scarborough subway plan to cheaper light-rail line), gridlock (ban all on-street parking in downtown core), the land transfer tax (reform to give low and middle-income home buyers a break) and more.

After Soknacki, 59, called for the TTC to speed up streetcar service by letting riders with passes enter the back doors, TTC chief executive Andy Byford announced he wants to implement the honour system Jan. 1, years ahead of schedule.

And when Police Chief Bill Blair’s contract nonrenewal shone a light on the ballooning $1.08 billion police budget, Soknacki jumped on the thorny topic, vowing to put himself on the police services board and find $65 million in savings. Chow later waded in.

His earnest nerdiness was transformed into an asset by online videos and memes, some riffing on Soknacki’s blandness compared to Mayor Rob FordRob Ford (“Never heard of me? Neither has 52 Division”). They will continue even though the campaign rebranded itself with a more serious tone.

But, beyond the city hall obsessives on Twitter, who cares?

The reality is that third-place Ford and his councillor brother are gobbling up what political oxygen is not consumed by Chow and Tory, leaving Soknacki and Stintz gasping for attention.

Back in February, Soknacki’s team was furious when his land-transfer announcement was upstaged by magician David Blaine’s visit to the mayor’s office. They had to hustle Soknacki up to buttonhole reporters waiting for a magic man who never appeared.

A dozen reporters were at Soknacki’s Aug. 6 police budget presser but others were across the street at budget committee featuring the highly quotable, often inaccurate Councillor Doug Ford.

“We weren’t competing with the budget committee,” says a clearly frustrated Brian Kelcey, Soknacki’s campaign manager. “We were competing with Doug Ford. It should be clear to any observer that the city hall press gallery is now the Rob and Doug Ford press gallery.”

It happened again when the Fords disclosed, for no apparent reason, emailed threats against them while Soknacki released his homelessness, social housing and affordable housing strategy.

Soknacki hopes that, as voters start to get more engaged, he will break from the back. More people are recognizing him at public events, he says. Also, his core support is surprisingly left-leaning, fuelling hopes he’ll pick up erstwhile Chow fans, and 40 new volunteers have joined in the past two weeks alone.

But, when asked what else besides good policy could change his fortunes, there is another long “Ummmm.”

There is a rough template, drawn from the come-from-behind mayoral wins of David Miller in 2003 and Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi in 2010.

Soknacki does not appear to have the political charisma of those men, and his long-winded explanations are a far cry of the “Stop the Gravy Train” mantra that helped Ford muscle past challengers in 2010.

“Yes I could be crisper,” admits the former Scarborough councillor. “It’s of course a challenge for the campaign ... When you’re talking a billion (dollars) on the police budget, it doesn’t resolve itself to 6 words.”

Jonathan Scott, a volunteer on Soknacki’s campaign, says: “If there was to be even a modest uptick for him and they start to write the ‘dark horse’ stories, that’s a powerful narrative.

“If the police budget (issue) was what the island airport was in ’03 …”

But the clock is ticking. Kelcey predicts the campaign, which has six paid staffers, can raise $650,000 to $700,000. Soknacki does not hope to match the spending of Chow or Tory but admits that “to win you need a pile of money.”

At the moment, he is risking a pile of his own money to elevate this mayoral campaign, to force the front-runners to be better candidates.

The inevitable question is “Will you drop out if your support does not grow?” The shrewd, inherently dishonest answer most politicians would give, keeping in mind potential donors, is “No, absolutely not” — until the moment they drop out.

But that’s not Soknacki. “Brian and I, on a monthly basis, look at the existential question ‘Do we continue running or not? ...,” he says.

And if the polls don’t change, the money doesn’t come? “That’s another one of those existential question that we’ll have to be asking.”

Glencross Invitational Charity Roughstock Event This Week

August 20 2014 12:41PM

CALGARY, AB –The third annual Glencross Invitational Charity Roughstock Event Presented by the Calgary Flames and PennWest Exploration takes place this Friday, August 22nd in Innisfail, Alberta. All proceeds will be directed to the Ronald McDonald...

Jordan Sigalet named new goaltending coach for the Calgary Flames

August 19 2014 04:55PM

CALGARY - Jordan Sigalet is the new goaltending coach for the Calgary Flames.

The 33-year-old from New Westminster, B.C., spent the last two seasons coaching Calgary's goaltending prospects with the Abbotsford Heat.

Sigalet replaces Clint ...

Sigalet excited to net promotion

August 19 2014 04:23PM

CALGARY, AB -- Jordan Sigalet was set for Adirondack.

Instead, he’ll pack his bags and take the next step of his career as the new goaltending coach of the Calgary Flames.

“I’m really excited,” Sigalet told CalgaryFlames.com. “It hasn’t real...

National Hockey League releases schedule for the 2014-15 pre-season

August 19 2014 01:05PM

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The National Hockey League will make appearances at several neutral-site venues over the 15-day pre-season schedule beginning Sept. 21.

The 2014 Kraft Hockeyville game between the Calgary Flames and Arizona Coyotes will be pl...

The Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta presents "The Beat Goes on Gala"

August 19 2014 12:12PM

CALGARY, AB – August 19, 2014: The Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta presents “The Beat Goes on Gala”. This unique fundraising gala is being presented to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of The Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta an...

Melbourne tops most liveable city ranking, three Canadian cities in top 10 list

August 19 2014 10:24AM

Three Canadian cities — Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary — have been named as some of the best places to live in the world, according to a report by The Economist.

In the annual poll, the magazine’s Intelligence Unit ranked Vancouver as the third most livable city in the world; followed by Toronto at No. 4, and Calgary tied for fifth place with Adelaide, Australia.

Melbourne, Australia topped the list of 140 cities for the fourth year in a row, with Vienna, Austria coming in second overall.

The Economist ranks the cities on 30 factors across various categories, including stability, health care, culture, environment, education and infrastructure.

Rounding out the top 10 were Sydney, Australia, Helsinki, Finland, Perth, Australia, and Auckland, New Zealand.


Where Toronto placed last year

In 2012, three Canadian cities were among the world’s top five most liveable

In 2011, Vancouver lost its bragging rights

The report noted the world’s most livable cities were often mid-sized cities in wealthier countries with low population density.

“This can foster a range of recreational activities without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure,” said the report. “Eight of the top 10 scoring cities are in Australia and Canada, with population densities of 2.88 and 3.40 people per square kilometres respectively.”

It also pointed out that although crime rates may be on the rise in some of the top-tier cities, it wasn’t in the case in all the top 10 cities. Vancouver was an example where crime has been steadily decreasing after the city hit a decade-long record for homicide rates in 2012.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, human rights violations and conflict were responsible for many of the reasons for the bottom 10 cities on the list.

Damascus, Syria was ranked the least livable city in the world, preceded by Dhaka, Bangladesh, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Lagos, Nigeria and Karachi, Pakistan.

“Conflict is responsible for many of the lowest scores. This is not only because stability indicators have the highest single scores, but also because factors defining stability spread to have an adverse effect on other categories,” said the report.

“For example, conflict will not just cause disruption in its own right, it will also damage infrastructure, overburden hospitals, and undermine the availability of goods, services and recreational activities.”

Hamilton looks to its waterfront as next great frontier

August 18 2014 12:51PM

HAMILTON—Last November, long-time resident Donna Reid opened what many in Steeltown might find a really tough sell — a store celebrating all the great things past, present and future about Hamilton.

“I’d never lived in a city before where people seemed more focused on what we’d lost, rather than what we have,” says Reid, who moved to Hamilton 16 years ago after stints in Toronto, Quebec City and Calgary.

Her wonderfully eclectic James St. N. shop, The Hamilton Store, is just 600 square feet. But almost every inch of its walls are lined with photos, maps, artwork, books and memorabilia chronicling a city with a rich industrial past and a rapidly evolving future.

So it’s somewhat ironic that the store is just a short drive — or about a 12-block walk — down the street from sprawling waterfront parking lots and old warehouses that could soon become the heart of some of the biggest transformations Hamilton has seen in decades.

Of course, that’s assuming city officials can finally turn years of talk into action, and that developers don’t do what they’ve done so often in the past here, says Reid — tear down the old to make way for the new, only to later abandon their grand plans, leaving yet more empty lots and broken dreams in their wake.

“Hamilton is almost a laboratory of urban renewal right now,” says local architect David Premi. “We’re in a bona fide boom.

“There are many, many condominium projects on the table. We have a new GO Train station coming next year in time for the Pan Am Games. There are a lot of pieces being put into place that are really capturing the attention of developers, both inside and outside Hamilton.

“The waterfront is a critical part of that.”

The City of Hamilton is now in the final stages of preparing one of the last major stretches of urban waterfront in Southern Ontario — more than 18 hectares over two sprawling sites — for redevelopment.

In all, the city will spend about $39 million to transform two bayfront sites, some $13 million of that just in roads, sidewalks, sewers and other infrastructure to make the so-called West Harbour area in the city’s once-busy shipping port shovel-ready, says Chris Phillips, head of waterfront redevelopment for the city.

That $500 million, 10-hectare redevelopment is slated to include 1,600 residential units in condo towers no more than eight storeys high, as well as 13,000 square feet of retail, hotel and other commercial space aimed at creating a Halifax-style shopping, eating and living hub on edge of Hamilton Harbour, but within easy walking distance of the transforming downtown.

In time, the existing marine warehouses will likely be converted into shops and restaurants. And the 350-slip marina is slated to double in size with the aim of bringing people — and life — to a stretch of Hamilton waterfront that, until just a decade or so ago, was basically a no-go zone unless you were a member of the sailing or yacht club.

It will remain, in parts to the east of the site, very much a working port, with what steel factories remain continuing to belch smoke in the way that Redpath Sugar on Toronto’s waterfront unloads ships full of sugar in view of pricey waterfront condos.

As if the West Harbour revitalization plan wasn’t ambitious enough for a city relatively new to the condo development game, the City of Hamilton is determined to go to market at the very same time with another major waterfront-area project.

The so-called Barton-Tiffany lands are on a former industrial site that was originally acquired by the city for its Pan Am Games stadium.

Now that the facility is being built elsewhere, the city has proposed a new, eight-hectare live-work community in its place. The proposed condo towers, which have been scaled back to a maximum of eight storeys, would be steps from the city’s new GO Train station. The new neighbourhood would also connect via a pedestrian bridge, waterfront walkways and bike paths to the popular Bayfront Park area and the West Harbour redevelopment site just to the northeast.

For simplicity’s sake, think of the West Harbour site as a much smaller, and far less dense, version of Toronto’s mixed use, but predominantly residential, Harbourfront area — as much a place for downtown workers and downsizing baby boomers to live as a destination for locals and tourists.

The Barton-Tiffany lands could be likened to Toronto’s railway lands development: CN Rail shunting lines, as well as the main CN and GO Train tracks, now run along the shoreline at the north end of site. That means any condo, office or retail development would simply overlook the harbour rather than be right on the water.

There are hopes that, in time, many of those rail lines will be moved elsewhere, with the exception of the main CN and GO lines, says Phillips, allowing residents of the new neighbourhood, on what are now overgrown blocks of razed former factories, easier access to the developing waterfront.

“This really is one of those blank canvases — a landmark setting, adjacent to a downtown, where you can really make a statement,” says Phillips.

The city expects to seek requests for proposals from developers in the next year or so and hopes to see the bulk of construction underway by 2018.

“This is quite unique in that the city is putting all the dominoes in a row (by paying to have infrastructure in place upfront) so it’s ready for the (development) industry to take over.”

Already the sites, particularly the West Harbour lands, are drawing the interest of GTA developers looking for the next condo boom.

That includes veteran builders such as Frank Giannone, president of FRAM Building Group, whose company has already transformed the shorelines of Port Credit and Collingwood from moribund industrial uses to thriving destination residential and retail communities.

“Hamilton is one of the strongest real estate markets in the country because it’s still affordable,” said Giannone in a telephone interview. “We definitely have an interest in it. We think there is a great opportunity to transform the waterfront in the way we have in Port Credit.”

The big challenge, says architect David Premi, will be ensuring that there is adequate density — enough new condos appealing to young professionals, a new generation of downtown dwellers and baby boomers looking for an alternative to the house — to create bustling streets, busy stores and talked-about restaurants that help the city build on the rejuvenation happening downtown.

“We have an enormous opportunity to rebuild the city in a really great, sustainable way right now. The momentum is building and the talent and will is there,” says Premi.

“We could either blow it or we could get it right. But there a lot of things falling into place that are indicating we’re going to get it right.”

Larson quickly exits car after it catches fire

August 17 2014 01:19PM

With flames visible at the front and back of his car, Sprint Cup rookie Kyle Larson had to get out quickly after crashing into the wall near the midway point of Sunday's race at Michigan International Speedway.

Foreign Affairs says it is aware of reports of Canadian killed in Iraq

August 16 2014 11:08AM

CALGARY—A prominent Calgary imam worries that the reported death of a Canadian in Iraq could inspire other radicalized youth to follow his example.

Imam Syed Soharwardy of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, is worried that the death of one youth who has been “brainwashed”, could prompt others to follow in his footsteps.

The federal government says it is aware of reports that a Canadian has been killed in Iraq.

But the Foreign Affairs Department isn’t confirming it is Farah Mohamed Shirdon, a former Calgary man the CBC has identified as having been radicalized in Canada and gone to the Middle East to fight for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The CBC cited multiple social media reports out of Iraq saying Shirdon has been killed.

“We are aware of reports that a Canadian was killed in Iraq. We are following the situation closely,” said Jean-Bruno Villeneuve from Foreign Affairs.

Earlier this year, the network aired a propaganda video of Shirdon burning his Canadian passport and threatening U.S. President Barack Obama.

Foreign Affairs says it is monitoring the situation closely.

The department is advising against all non-essential travel to Iraq because of the “dangerous and unpredictable security situation” in the country.

Soharwardy said he feared the death would create “copycats.”

“Absolutely I think it creates more attraction for those people who already on the borderline and have some sort of extremist feelings toward the more moderate Muslims and that’s why it’s very disturbing,” said Soharwardy.

Soharwardy said he doesn’t know Shirdon personally but has seen him at some events in Calgary in the past.

He said it is disturbing that many young Canadian Muslims are falling in with the wrong type of people who he refers to as “fanatics.”

“They don’t understand that Islam doesn’t condone these kind of actions ... this is not martyrdom — this is fanaticism, terrorism,” he said.

“The fanatics, they have the freedom to preach here, they have the freedom to work and visit the communities and talk to young boys and nobody is stopping them. It is quite disturbing that these youth are being brainwashed in Canada.”

Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Canadian jihadist reported killed in Iraq

August 15 2014 07:23PM

CALGARY—The federal government says it is aware of reports that a Canadian has been killed in Iraq.

But the Foreign Affairs Department isn’t confirming it is Farah Mohamed Shirdon, a former Calgary man whom the CBC has identified as having been radicalized in Canada and gone to the Middle East to fight for.

The CBC cited several social media reports out of Iraq saying Shirdon has been killed.

Earlier this year, the network aired a propaganda video of Shirdon burning his Canadian passport and threatening U.S. President Barack Obama.

Foreign Affairs says it is monitoring the situation closely. It is advising against all non-essential travel to Iraq because of the “dangerous and unpredictable security situation” there.

More at thestar.com:

How a Canadian boy next door becomes an extremist: Ontario

Canadians off to Syria in record numbers to join rebels

Ex-York U student may have been involved in Somalia attack