Mental health cuts spark concern

The IWK Health Centre announcements about the changes to the mental health care programs, have been met with objections from patients, families and staff.

Teens gather at a rally on March 22 to reverse cuts that the IWK is making to the mental health program. (Emma Davie photo)

By Emma Davie

The IWK Health Centre‘s announcements about changes to its mental health care programs have been met with objections from patients, families and staff.

The IWK plans to reassess the residential care offered in their mental health programs. This includes the Adolescent Centre for Treatment (ACT), aimed at young people with behavioural issues and difficulties in school; Compass, which is a similar program for younger children; and the CHOICES program for teens with mental illness and substance abuse problems.

These three programs include residential components, which will be moving from 24/7 to 24/5 to help reduce costs and better allocate resources. However, it also means that 22 youth mental health workers will lose their jobs.

A rally against these changes, supported by NSGEU Local 42 on March 29, was held outside the Nova Scotia Legislature.

Mary Jane Hovey, whose 15-year-old daughter is in the ACT program, was among the protestors.

“She’s absolutely devastated. She feels like she’s been let down. She’s spoken up quite a bit, and she feels like no one’s listening because she’s a kid. And to me, that is just, it’s disgusting,” Hovey said.

Mary Jane Hovey holds a sign that reads, "Mental health happens on weekends." (Emma Davie photo)

“The program is basically going from 24/7 to 24/5 … And what do you do for the kids who are suicidal on the weekends? Where do you go?”

Hovey explained there are several alternate resources for parents when situations arise over the weekend–none of which are ideal. There is the mobile crisis unit, which is staffed by volunteers, who try to talk through the situation over the phone, the hospital emergency room, or constant supervision by parents to keep their child away from self-inflicted harm.

“You rely on the social workers to go to the psychiatrist who’s on duty to make the assessment … and they determine whether your child is suicidal enough to be admitted. And I’ve been down that road, and I don’t want to go there again. I find it a much more positive experience with my daughter being in ACT” said Hovey.

“These youth care workers have become our family … and I rely on them. When I’m having issues with my daughter, I will call them, and we just, we figure out what’s best for my daughter, for the family, everything. It’s very much a group effort. And I don’t want to lose that,” Hovey said.

Yet Hovey and others are concerned about the effects these changes will have on the patients in programs like ACT.

“My concern is that this whole issue is going to take away from her treatment. And that’s what I don’t want to happen,” said Hovey.

Mary Sampson, one of the 22 youth care workers losing her job, also has concerns about the patients.

Mary Sampson, one of the 22 youth care workers losing her job, holds a sign at the rally on March 22. (Emma Davie photo)

“It’s going to greatly impact their treatment. A lot of the clients that we deal with have anxiety attachment disorders. They have walls built up that it takes months on end, and 24 hours a day, seven days a week to break those walls down,” Sampson said.

“Now, all of a sudden, we’re ripping those away from them. So I think that they’re going to build higher walls, and I think it’s going to be harder to treat them,” said Sampson.

Jocelyn Vine, vice president of patient care at the IWK, says the hospital recognizes the patients involved are vulnerable young people, and they hope to manage the transition in the best way possible for each individual.

“Each young person’s situation will be evaluated, and we’ll work out a plan that’s going to be suitable to that young person,” Vine said.

She explained that while the plans may not be ideal for the patient, they will be looking at reasonable solutions and compromises. For patients who are on the verge of being discharged, their treatment may be able to continue for a few more weeks.

Vine added that while the changes are upsetting to the patients currently in ACT and other programs, the next group of patients will be able to experience the positive changes that the IWK hopes to make.

“Right now there’s a cohort of young people within ACT, but in the next number of weeks that cohort of young people will be then moving to a different part of their care, and they will be discharged from that aspect of it. So the next group of young people that come in are not going to have this same issue,” Vine said.

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IWK improves wait times
Poster: Reverse the Cuts
Video: Rally outside the IWK

But those in the program currently aren’t any less devastated to see their youth care workers being cut.

Hovey said, “It’s amazing what these youth care workers do, and we can’t afford to lose one. The importance of maintaining the program is because these youth care workers are often the first people the kids get to see, before they can get in to see the clinicians, and they build relationships with these kids. These kids are out future, and we need to protect them … If anything, we need to add more youth care workers.”


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Mary Jane FINALMary Jane Hovey discusses the positive changes ACT has had on her daughter, and why the IWK should be keeping their youth care workers.

Cops advise caution for debit users

A cardholder’s protection of their pin is important to prevent theft. Police recommend practicing the “hover and cover” method to every credit and debit card holders.

By Emily Hiltz

Detective/Constable Dana Drover sits in front of a POS terminal. (Emily Hiltz photo)

A cardholder’s protection of their pin is important to prevent theft. Police recommend practicing the “hover and cover” method to every credit and debit card holders.

“Don’t be afraid to pick up the point-of-sale terminal, or bend over, and protect it with your hand as well when you enter your pin code,” explained Detective Constable Dana Drover of the Halifax Regional Police.

Changing your pin routinely is also smart. Drover describes it as having an old key to a door lock; once a pin is changed someone can’t get your information.

Example of a point-of-sale terminal (Emily Hiltz photo).

“The main thing is to never ever share your pin with anyone,” said Drover. “It is your personal identification number not someone else’s.”

As technology gets more advanced, point-of-sale terminals get more convenient for the public. Twenty years ago, your credit card had to be physically run through the cash register. Now waiters and waitresses carry terminals around with them, and customers at stores are able to do their transactions themselves. However, the POS machines need to be protected.

“Many times these are organized criminal gangs that do this and many of them come from central and western Canada,” explained Drover. “They will literally travel the country doing these crimes.”

The criminal gangs who are committing the POS terminal thefts need to move in order to avoid detection and identification. If they travel hundreds of kilometres across the country, it is less likely the local police will recognize them.

“It’s important the police agencies across the country communicate with each other,” said Drover.

Related Links
Point-of-sale Advisory
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Halifax Regional Police Contact Page

By sharing information it helps police to identify the gangs that travel around the country committing theft.

It’s also important for businesses to be aware of the possibilities of POS terminal theft because they need to protect the integrity of their machines.

Examples of technologies used to commit POS fraud (Emily Hiltz photo).

“The main thing they can do is make sure that these POS terminals are securely fastened to a fixed point,” explained Dover.

If you suspect that your debit or credit card has been compromised, you should notify your bank or credit card agency and the police immediately.

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Detective/Constable Dana Drover explains how to protect your credit and debit card information

Pet owners warned to pick up after their dogs

While many dog owners appreciate the off-leash areas at Point Pleasant Park, many do not appreciate the dog feces some owners leave behind.

Heather Spurrell pulls out a disposable bag provided at the main entrance of the park
Heather Spurrell pulls out a disposable bag at the entrance of Point Pleasant Park. (Elsa Chang photo)

By Elsa Chang

While many dog owners appreciate the off-leash areas at Point Pleasant Park, many do not appreciate the dog feces some owners leave behind.

Heather Spurrell is one of those shocked dog owners.

“I don’t know why they undermine their own interests in walking their own dogs,” she said.

Heather Spurrell
Heather Spurrell wonders why people don’t pick up after their pets.

When Spurrell noticed that people didn’t pick up after their pets, she even tried to give them bags to draw their attention to what their dogs had done.

Spurrell said fellow dog owners “want to be able to walk their dogs, but if they don’t pick up after their dog, people are not going to allow it.”

BioBag kiosk for dogs. (Elsa Chang photo)


Dog owner David Hazen feels the same way, and warns irresponsible dog owners that the city can stop allowing the dogs to go off-leash in these areas.

“The city takes the complaints from non-dog owners very seriously, especially when it’s a multi-user area,” Hazen said.

To ensure a cleaner environment, Hazen has even helped clean up other people’s dog waste when he walks his dog at Point Pleasant Park.

Linda Maurice, owner of three dogs, believes that dog owners should be responsible for cleaning up their own pet’s feces.

Linda Maurice
Linda Maurice explains the inportance of cleaning up the dog feces.

“It would let everyone enjoy the park this way, especially the people with their young children,” she said. “You don’t want mess like that around.”

Maurice cautions that dog feces could spread viruses, bacteria and parasites.

“Point Pleasant Park has lots of garbage can service locations, so there is no reason not to pick up and throw it in the proper receptacle,” Maurice said.

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“Everything is provided for us to do that, so it’s only the irresponsible dog owners who don’t pick up after their dogs.”

Nova Scotia’s strengths celebrated, future questioned

A large crowd packed into Heritage Hall at the Canadian Museum of Immigration on Saturday to discuss Nova Scotia’s unique strengths, and how they can be used to ensure a bright future.

By Dan Malone

A large crowd packed into Heritage Hall at the Canadian Museum of Immigration on Saturday to discuss Nova Scotia’s unique strengths, and how they can be used to ensure a bright future.

The firing of a bow and arrow kicks off the Nova Scotia: Our Strengths, Our Future forum
The firing of a bow and arrow kicks off the Nova Scotia: Our Strengths, Our Future forum. (Dan Malone photo)

A common theme for many of the speakers was the idea of creating a narrative for the province. One of the first speakers, Rev. Russell Daye of St. Andrew’s United Church, talked about a “narrative of scarcity” and the need to break out of it.

After the crowd broke into groups to discuss their own experiences of Nova Scotia’s specific strengths, Chris Bryant, the managing director of government relations for HRM, took the stage. He asked for ways we can make our province better.

“Business as usual is not working very well in Nova Scotia,” Bryant said. “We’re not taking advantage of our opportunities, we’re not building on our strengths.  It seems to me that we desperately need to do the opposite.”

“We are regularly told that we are too small, too poor, too old, too sick, et cetera,” he continued.  “These are only problems if we consider them to be problems. We need to turn these things on their head.”

Carrying on the theme of narratives established by Daye, Bryant and playwright and former MP Wendy Lill, whose stage adaptation of Sheldon Currie’s novel The Glace Bay Miners’ Museum was recently translated into Japanese, told her own story of her arrival to Nova Scotia and how she ended up serving in Parliament, as well as her love for Currie’s story and what it meant to her.

“We tell stories that are universal, and we have a culture that’s universal,” she said.  “There’s a great staying power in our stories.”

Throughout the day, the consensus was that Nova Scotia has to remain true to its strengths and unique character, rather than trying to “be like Toronto” as one attendee put it, or being confined by what Daye called the “narrative of scarcity,” a sense that all that matters is having enough or not having enough.

“I think the greatest challenge we have, perhaps, is that we’ve lost our narrative,” said Danny Graham, chief negotiator of Aboriginal Affairs Nova Scotia. “What’s the arc of our storyline?  I think it needs to relate to the notion of unity.  What’s our future?  If we’re going to make a future for ourselves, it’s certainly not going to be by describing ourselves as being from Cape Breton, Pictou County, HRM, mainland Nova Scotia, it’s going to be being from Nova Scotia, having a sense of identity.”

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Chris Bryant quotes George Costanza to explain his idea of Nova Scotia’s future

Throne speech “fiction” opposition says

The throne speech was titled, “The Future Starts Here,” but discussed little about the future.

By Adrienne Bernstein

The throne speech on March 29th began the spring session at Province House, and despite being titled, “The Future Starts Here,” the speech actually discussed little about the future.

The throne speech listed past accomplishments such as lower power rates, more jobs, better health care, concentration of the arts and affordable post-secondary education–all attributed to the NDP government.

But Nova Scotia’s opposition leaders felt the speech did not paint a realistic picture of the province.

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baillie on throne speech 

Jaimie Baillie before the throne speech.

“This is the greatest work of fiction that I’ve ever seen,” Jaimie Baillie, the PC leader, said before the speech. “So we are treating this as it deserves to be treated: as evidence that the government has completely lost touch with reality.”

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Stephen McNeil on the throne speech and education.

Liberal leader Stephen McNeil said, “Nova Scotians will be disappointed from what they hear today. There is nothing in this throne speech that addresses the rising power costs in Nova Scotia. Nothing in this helps Nova Scotians with the rising cost of gasoline. The only thing that they’ve done in this province for students has been cutting funding from education,” said McNeil.

Another issue brought up in the speech was the plan to move government jobs out of Halifax and into more rural areas of Nova Scotia. Though the plan could potentially create more jobs across the province, oppositions leaders didn’t like that either.

“Our concern is that they are not moving jobs, but growing bureaucracy,” said McNeil. “We are seeing the fruits of the labour of this government by the fact that there are fewer Nova Scotians working full-time then there were when they took power.”

Premier Darrell Dexter stressed the fact that this was not just about relocating jobs, but setting up departments in rural areas where they could be more effective.

“What we are talking about is that there are some services that can be better delivered from communities outside of Halifax,” Dexter said.

As for who would move, Dexter was reluctant to name departments, but was confident that they would be revealed as the session went on.

NSCAD student’s print exhibit a success

NSCAD University student April Dean opened her art exhibit Soft Light, Hard Landing. It took place in the university’s Anna Leonowens Gallery on Monday, April 3.

By Amaris Bourdeau

NSCAD University student April Dean made an impression at the opening of her art exhibit Soft Light, Hard Landing.

The exhibit took place in the university’s Anna Leonowens Gallery on Monday, April 3.

“The turnout is great. It means a lot that all these people showed up to see my work,” says Dean.

NSCAD's April Dean with her piece, 360 Degrees of Intimacy (Amaris Bourdeau photo)

The print show served as the artist’s master’s thesis. Dean plans to gradate in the upcoming month with a Master of Fine Arts in Media Arts.

The Gallery is made up of three rooms, which means three exhibits took place at once.

“All the exhibits were really interesting, but April’s was the most creative,” says Emily Chudnovsky, art history student at NSCAD University. “I really enjoyed what she accomplished with her medium.”

Historically, printmaking is the art of printing, with an element of originality. Prints are created by transferring ink to a sheet of paper or another form of material.

Dean’s use of lighting to accomplish original prints was possible because of her practice with film.

In her artist’s statement, Dean wrote, “The works in Soft Light, Hard Landing combine images that embody a visceral lived experience while evoking a quiet introspection of the multiple layers, which complicate and mediate that experience.”

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Maritime Museum Adds Photo Exhibit

By Braeden Jones

In the lobby of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Dave Butler is working hard to finish installing a new photo exhibit titled An Earnest Price.

The photographs, taken by Andrew Danson Danushevsky, are of the gravestones of Titanic victims.

2012 marks the passing of a centennial since the great ship and 1,517 passengers met their end in the cold North Atlantic. Given Halifax’s proximity to the accident, the coastal city has always had close ties to the tragedy.

The Nova Scotia Government has many events and exhibits planned for the coming weeks, one of which is the Earnest Price photo exhibit, which will run from April 3 to July 2.

An Earnest Price Exhibit opens April 3 (Braeden Jones Photo)

Danushevsky said in a press release that he “[chose] to represent those ordinary people who perished on and in the waters.”

The pictures are macro images printed onto thick placards. Danushevsky’s work represents 150 gravestones of Titanic victims buried in Halifax cemeteries.

Butler was contracted to install the exhibit, which he says comes with a number of challenges.

“The wall is old, the brick is uneven, the floor is uneven, and the artist was very particular about how he wanted it to look,” Butler says. In the end I think the mechanics I went with should be good. Not perfect, but as good as it could be.”

On April 3, Danushevsky will speak at the opening of the new exhibit.

Watch video of Butler discussing the challenges of the installation: httpv://

More at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

The exhibit adds to the already robust Titanic exhibit at the museum.

The permanent exhibit has the largest group of wooden artificacts from the Titanic that can be observed year round, as well as information on the connection Halifax has to the tragedy.



Lady Windermere’s Fan: An Actress’ Final Hoorah of the Year

Ellen Denny, who plays the lead role of Lady Windermere herself, is sad to have her year at Dalhousie come to an end.

Ellen Denny, front right with her fellow actresses, preparing for their show. (Carlie Connolly photo)

By Carlie Connolly

Oscar Wilde’s, Lady Windermere’s Fan has been all the rave this week for the theatre students of Dalhousie.

Fourth year acting student, Ellen Denny, who plays the lead role of Lady Windermere herself is sad to have her year come to an end. “I’ve been with this crew of 16 for three years so we’re all pretty emotional about it,” she says.

In the fourth year acting program through Dalhousie, the students get the chance to work with the same people, acting in three shows in their final year. As Denny says many of her friends in other theatre schools don’t have as many shows they perform in. Denny finds Dalhousie to be good preparation. “It’s been good to have the different shows experience,” she says.

There were several difficulties with Lady Windermere being Denny’s last show at Dalhousie. “One of the biggest challenges for me was doing the monologues because I’m on stage by myself and you’re not talking to anyone, so it can feel quite unnatural when you start,” she admits.

Everyone in her year was also expected to perform a dialect and she admits that doing a British accent was hard. Although there were struggles, the play went smoothly.

For this last play, the students got to work with a professional director.  The students  get a real feel for what the procedure might be like down the road.

Denny is wrapping up her acting degree but it isn’t the final goodbye for theatre. It’s just the beginning for her, as she has other plans on the horizon. “I’m also a singer, so maybe some musical theatre,” she says. Her biggest passion lies in Shakespeare and classical theatre. “I’m hoping to stick around here for a little bit, but acting all over Canada would be the goal,” she says.

Lady Windermere

Killam Properties using non-traditional promotional campaigns

Killam Properties listed four apartments on eBay for apartment hunters to bid on the rental price, starting bids were five dollars.

By Emily Marshall

This week, Killam Properties took their marketing strategies to a new level and decided to put up four of their properties on eBay, a popular online shopping website.

Apartment hunters in Halifax could place a starting bid of $5 for each of the properties.

Anyone interested in bidding would go to and search for Killam Properties. Their four apartments would appear with information on each apartment, such as the number of bedrooms, size and market rent. Then all one has to do is enter a bid price. The winning bidder would pay that amount of rent for three months of a 12-month lease.

This new way of bidding is also beneficial for those who are already leasing apartments from the Killam Properties, “We have tweaked our traditional Choose Your Neighbour program and allowed our tenants to participate and share with promotion with their friends through social media and be able to win prizes and gifts” says Lindsay Kaiser, the coordinator for marketing and executive relations at Killam Properties. These gifts can include anything from a free months rent to a TV or an iPad.

Even those who don’t win the apartment they placed a bid on will not walk away empty handed.

“We will be incenting all bidders, even those not successful. If you bid, you’ll get a special offer for one of our apartments regardless,” explains Kaiser.

Killam Properties, based in Halifax, is one of Canada’s largest residential landlords owning and operating multi-family apartments and manufactured home communities.

“We are always looking for new and innovative ways of marketing our products, which for Killam, just so happens to be apartments, places to live,” explains Kaiser.

“Social media and online shopping are very popular channels for general communication and consumer purchasing so we’ve simply tried to incorporate both elements into this latest campaign,” says Kaiser.

Killam Properties hopes that this new, modern way of showing their properties will make more people aware of their corporation and promote them as a landlord.

Sarah Baker, a young apartment hunter herself, thinks that this new promotional idea is genius.

“It is definitely clever marketing,” says Baker, “everything is moving to online these days, and putting apartments on eBay is definitely a step in the right direction.”

Baker sees no cons in this marketing idea.

“It seems that they have covered all angles. They’re not forgetting about those who are already leasing apartments from them and they’re being smart by using these people to help promote their apartments.”



Council votes against hosting FIFA in Halifax

On Tuesday, HRM council decided not to host the 2014/2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Events with a vote of 22 against one.

Council discusses the usage of Shannon Park in the future (Evan McIntyre photo)

By Evan McIntyre

On Tuesday, HRM council decided not to host the 2014/2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Events with a vote of 22 against one.

However, city council voted to work with Canada Lands to explore developing public housing or an outdoor sports facility in the future, with Shannon Park being a possible location.

“We need to light a fire under DND and Canada Lands to get that land freed up, so we can look at whether it’s a stadium or housing in some way,” said Councillor Dawn Sloane.

It was recommended that the city not move into building the facility for the games because it would be expensive. “The province has never offered its financial support for this project,” said Councillor Darren Fisher.

As Sloane put it, “this is Nova Scotia, we’re not Alberta. We don’t have gas. Only when we eat beans.”

Fisher said, “I thank the federal government for their interest as well, the stadium project is not dead, but we lose a great catalyst and hosting opportunity with the 2014/2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup of Soccer.”

As for Shannon Park lands, Councillor Jim Smith said, “I do not want something that will keep that land vacant on a hope and a prayer for five to 10 years.”

The land and its structures have been unused since 2004. They were considered in 2006 for the Commonwealth Games.



Money woes kill cheerleaders’ dreams

Halifax’s largest cheerleading competition was held last weekend, and while some were dusting off their pom-poms, others were forced to watch from the sidelines due to lack of money .

Cheer Expo 2012 logo

By Courtney Zwicker

Halifax’s largest cheerleading competition was held last weekend, and while some  were dusting off their pom-poms, others were forced to watch from the sidelines due to lack of money .

The ninth annual Halifax Cheer Expo Grand Championships were held at the Halifax Forum.

Kristina Conway, cheerleader for the Central King’s Gators, says her team didn’t make it to the competition this year because they didn’t collect enough money.

“With just buying uniforms and three more mats we couldn’t afford it this year.”

Coached by Megan Sheppard, this is the first year the Gators have ever had a cheerleading team.

Conway says each team member paid a fee of $75 to be on the team. With that money, each member received a hat and sweater with the remaining money going to uniforms.

The average price for one cheerleading uniform is approximately $100.

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Nova Scotia Cheerleading Club Association

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The Gators Cheerleading Squad at their last competition (Kayla Harvey photo)

Conway says her team sold flowers for Valentines Day, organized a turkey dinner and has a ham dinner in the works in order to raise money.

Erica Royal, president of the Nova Scotia Cheerleading Club Association and coach of the Halifax West Cheerleading club, sympathizes with teams that can’t afford to make it to all the competitions.

Halifax West Cheeleading at Cheer Expo 2012 (Halifax West Cheerleading photo)

“Cheer Expo is definitely an expensive competition compared to the rest of them. The only thing I can recommend is that they have to decide whether or not it’s worth it. Maybe they have to sacrifice a couple other competitions to go.”

According to the Nova Scotia School Competitive Cheerleading Association , standard competition fees are $300 for a school entering either a junior high or senior high team and $550 for a school entering a team in both divisions.

Royal says the cost of Cheer Expo is nearly tripled. She advises teams to do as much fundraising as they can.

According to Royal, what makes Cheer Expo special is its size.

“If teams are coming from outside provinces to compete it’s usually that one. There are about 100 teams at this competition. There are usually only between 40 and 60 at other competitions. It’s got the concert type lighting and the huge backdrop.”

At the competition there are also classes for spectators and athletes to participate in.

The Gators have made it to one competition so far this year, and they have one more planned for April.

“I’m pumped for our next competition,” says Conway.

Conway says her team’s goal is to keep raising money and compete at Cheer Expo 2013.

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Erica Royal talks about Cheer Expo and team budgeting

Department of Natural Resources reminds public of fire laws

Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources issued a memo reminding the general public about the province’s grass burning policies.

By Amaris Bourdeau

Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources issued a memo reminding the general public about the province’s grass burning policies.

“Spring grass burning is a long-standing tradition in Nova Scotia,” says Bruce Nunn, Regional Enforcement Manager for the department.

Regardless, the act of grass burning has consequences. It harms the environment, destroys soil, causes structural damage, and can produce safety risks for both firefighters and the public.

In addition, it is costly for taxpayers to have firefighters combat easily preventable fires.

University Avenue fire station (HRM photo)

The province also reminds the public that burning brush within 1,000 feet (300 metres) of forest requires a provincial burning permit.

For the western counties, this permit is required as of April 1. For the rest of the province, it is required as of April 15. Some regions require a municipal burning permit as well.

“Warm weather this winter has increased the risk of wild fires, so we encourage people planning to burn brush to get a permit,” says Charlie Parker, Minister of Natural Resources.


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