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A typical Canadian family spends more than $1,600 a year on home utility bills, yet making some simple changes around the home can save money and make heating and cooling systems more efficient, according to World Energy Solutions, a publicly traded energy services company based in St. Petersburg, Fla.
By evaluating facilities and equipment, World Energy Solutions (symbol: WEGY) helps businesses lower their utility consumption and maintenance costs and extend the life of their equipment.
“Many of the energy-saving strategies we use for our commercial customers can also be applied to the home,” says Benjamin Croxton, chief executive officer of World Energy Solutions. “There are many common-sense, low-cos
Our weekend business panel discusses the latest version of the North America Free Trade Agreement, the impact of the federal carbon tax in Canada and Apple’s introduction of a credit card on your smartphone.
Our weekend business panel discusses the latest version of the North America Free Trade Agreement, the impact of the federal carbon tax in Canada and Apple’s introduction of a credit card on your smartphone. 7:37
After managing the fight against last summer’s massive Shovel Lake fire, a member of the B.C. Wildfire Service had a major complaint about what he was seeing on the ground.
He’d noticed large piles of logs and other woody debris lined up along roads in the wildfire zone near the northern community of Fraser Lake, west of Prince George, B.C. He suspected all that timber was helping the fire spread and intensify, and filed a complaint with B.C.’s forestry watchdog, the Forest Practices Board.
“The complainant told the board that he has worked throughout the province and has never seen the amount of debris that he saw at the Shovel Lake wildfire,” an investigative report from the board says.
But as it turns out, every logging company in the area had met their legal requirements under B.C.’s Wildfire Act for clearing out wood and debris.
That’s a problem, the watchdog says. The current rules allow forestry firms to wait too long and leave too much wood on the ground, and the board is asking the province for changes
“If [the time frame] could be reduced, you’d basically improve your chances of fighting fires in those areas,” the board’s chair, Kevin Kriese, told CBC.
“If they can reduce it even a little, that would be helpful.”
Even then, huge amounts of dead, woody material are allowed to remain on the ground. On a relatively flat, south-facing surface, up to 99 tonnes of branches and twigs can be left behind in every hectare of lodgepole pine that’s been harvested, according to the board’s report.
Millions of tonnes of slash are left behind from B.C. forestry operations each year. There’s concern that the piles of dry fuel contribute to the growth of wildfires. (Sam Beebe/Flickr)
After two record-breaking wildfire seasons in a row, the province is listening to the board’s concerns.
“The ministry agrees the current time period of 30 months is too long and has already started reviewing the guidelines with a view to making changes,” a forests ministry spokesperson said in an email.
The wildfire service has formed a working group to look at the current strategy for dealing with fire hazards on the landscape, according to the board.
The pine beetle problem
The Shovel Lake fire was sparked last July and eventually burned through 922 square kilometres, forcing evacuations, destroying buildings and threatening the Fort St. James National Historic Site. It was one of the biggest wildfires in B.C.’s worst season on record.
Forests in the area had been hit hard by the mountain pine beetle — trees killed during an infestation can fuel particularly intense wildfires. Combine that with the effects of climate change and the results are potentially catastrophic, according to the board.
The annual allowable cut for the area around the Shovel Lake fire was increased in 2002 in an attempt to deal with beetle-killed trees and potentially head off the threat of fire.
The impact of that plan was complicated in 2004 when the Wildfire Act came into force and extended the deadline for dealing with logging debris by almost a year from the previous limit of 19 months. The reasoning for the extra time was to give the pellet industry a chance to come in and collect the woody leftovers, according to the board’s report.
Forestry companies in B.C. have 30 months to clean up debris created from harvesting timber. (CBC)
Taken together, increases to the allowable cut and the timeframe for cleaning up debris meant that huge swaths of the region’s landscape were covered with woody slash.
“According to B.C. Wildfire Service staff, when a fire gets going in this situation and is accompanied by drought conditions, ‘only a change in the weather can put it out,’ ” the report says.
Need for more planned burns
The board also points out that the forestry industry used to rely on prescribed burning to deal with fire hazards, but that has virtually been abandoned in recent decades because of public complaints about the smoke. That has only contributed to the problem.
Kriese said B.C.’s forest industry often gets a lot of flak from the public, but when it comes to wildfire prevention, these companies play a crucial role.
“In terms of fuel reduction, the logging they’re doing out there is actually really positive. We want to encourage them to still go back into these pine beetle stands,” Kriese said.
Diamond Isinger, a spokesperson for the Council of Forest Industries, said industry representatives have yet to review the watchdog’s report, but they look forward to looking at the recommendations.
The board has asked for a response from the government outlining its progress by the end of the year.
The City of Edmonton archivist spends his days poring through pics of our past.
“I love the photos,” O’Grady says. “What I really like about the photo is it’s really accessible and immediate.”
City of Edmonton archivist Tim O’Grady loves looking through the city’s past. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)
Last October the City of Edmonton Archives launched a new website and began transferring selected black and while images from its massive collection onto the new system.
So far, O’Grady and the team have managed to upload more than half of their target of 50,000 photos.
The new database is called AtoM, an acronymn for Access to Memory, which is the standard in archives in Canada, according to O’Grady.
“You can search for a photo, through Google even. You find the photo, but then you can also find all the contextual information about that photo.
“So you would find a photo of a brewery for example and then you’d see this photograph is actually part of a much larger collection.”
Files filled with photos are housed at the City of Edmonton Archives at 10440 108th Ave. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)
It’s that kind of context that delights head archivist Kathryn Ivany.
“Before when we had photos up, you would just see the photograph but now you can see the story of the person who created the photograph, perhaps all the other photographs they took of their family, of their business,” Ivany said.
Being able to link images together in this way makes for a richer experience, whether you’re a student researching a local history project or a genealogical buff looking for faces from your family tree.
But the city archives doesn’t only work with faded, black-and-white images.
It continues to accept digital photos from Edmontonians to add to its ever growing collection.
However, Ivany admits they’re pretty picky about what they take. They have to be in this digital age.
“The collections are getting larger as digital photos take over people’s lives so we are going to actually be much more selective of the ones we put up on our website because we’d soon be overrun with images,” she said.
You can see more from the City of Edmonton Archives in this week’s edition of Our Edmonton on Saturday at 10 a.m., Sunday at noon and 11 a.m. on Monday on CBC TV.
The archives one of the organizations housed at the historic Prince of Wales Armouries Heritage Centre. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)
This week on The House, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh talks about his time in the House of Commons, his plan for the environment and the SNC-Lavalin matter. We also talk about the carbon tax with Minister Catherine McKenna. Finally, MP John McKay fills us in on Russia’s activity in the Arctic.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims in Ottawa is updating its Muslim Community Safety Kit to include sections on lockdown drills, active shooter scenarios and bomb threats to be shared with mosques across the country.
The kit was first developed in 2011 to assist the Muslim community in preventing or responding to anti-Muslim incidents, such as vandalism and hate crimes.
“In the wake of the shootings in New Zealand and in Quebec City just over two years ago, NCCM is looking to revise its guide once again. This is the unfortunate reality of the world that we seem to be living in now,” said Ihsaan Gardee, the organization’s executive director.
Last month, 50 worshippers were killed at two mosques in New Zealand after a lone gunman armed with semi-automatic weapons targeted Muslims attending prayers. In January 2017, six men were killed by a gunman at a mosque in Quebec City.
Gardee said the council felt it was important for mosques to have the necessary resources to ensure their institutions and congregations are safe and secure.
The guide was last updated in 2015 and it included recommendations about how to build a community support network and make the mosque a more secure place. Some of the recommendations included that mosques and community centres trim shrubs and vines to have fewer concealed areas, request more police patrols and install fire and burglar alarms.
Imam Abdallah Yousri of the Ummah Masjid in Halifax says the mosque is looking at upgrading its security measures. (Stephanie Blanchet/Radio-Canada)
After the mosque shooting in New Zealand, the Ummah Masjid in Halifax decided to use the guide for its upcoming community gathering in April to discuss recommendations and to review its security plan.
“It’s better to be cautious,” said Imam AbdallahYousri. “We want to find all possible means to secure the mosque and feel like we did our best.”
He said the mosque is looking at upgrading its security measures.
‘Incidents are deeply troubling’
Gardee said the council doesn’t want to be alarmist.
“We don’t want to cause unnecessary fear in our communities, but I think that these incidents are deeply troubling,” he said.
Gardee said there has been “tremendous support” from Canadians of all backgrounds, but he believes more needs to be done.
More than prayers needed
“Thoughts and prayers are welcomed and appreciated, but we need to be looking at what are some policy solutions that government and other stakeholders can undertake to curb the growth of right-wing extremism and white supremacy, as well as the growth of online hate,” he said.
The launch date for the updated guide hasn’t been finalized, but Gardee said it would come out sometime this year.
“There is definitely a sense of urgency to this and we will be making it a priority,” he said.
Jessa Jones has always loved fixing things, and as a kid growing up in rural Maryland she knew that’s what she wanted to do for a living. But unlikely as it sounds, it was a battle with a blocked toilet that ultimately drove Jones to reshape a medical career — and specialize in recovering people’s iPhone photos.
Jones has a PhD in Human Genetics and Molecular Biology from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and had been focused on helping to find a cure for cancer at a pancreatic cancer research lab at the university.
“I loved biology. And I wanted to fix people,” she said. “I wanted to fix things in people.”
Jones later moved with her neurologist husband to Rochester, N.Y., in the early 2000s. He had landed a residency at a medical facility there and she was working as a biology professor at a local college.
After the couple had four children, Jones decided to become a stay-at-home mom full-time.
In 2013, Jones realized her iPhone had disappeared while at home, which happened to coincide with the family’s toilet getting clogged.
Knowing that her kids would often “borrow” the phone, she put two and two together and concluded that there was a connection — the phone had been flushed.
“I did what anyone would do in that situation,” she said. “I tried to plunge it out.”
But the phone was stuck inside the toilet bowl.
“I carried it out and put it in the front yard, and then I got a sledgehammer and I sledgehammered it — and there was my iPhone,” she said.
Repair expert Jessa Jones was forced to smash a toilet in order to recover an iPhone her child flushed down the toilet. 0:23
From that point on, Jones decided she wanted to learn how to repair iPhones, both because of her love of fixing things and the challenge the iPhone presented.
She went online and studied electronics and micro-soldering in her spare time, and eventually figured out how to fix them.
“I remember the great feeling of putting in a new battery and making it alive … the internet can teach you anything,” she said.
“I thought it was really fun to refurbish these, and part of the fun was the people side. People didn’t think these were reparable.”
She quickly realized her skills were in demand outside the household.
“I spent a long time learning about how very tiny things inside cells go wrong and cause cancer,” she said.
“Now I apply the same sort of analytical reasoning skills and working with things that are really, really small that have no user manual. So now I try to fix iPhones.”
Jones launched a makeshift business out of her house, and found other stay-at-home moms to take on the growing demand. They eventually moved into a small retail space down the street.
“I think that women in general are very good at repair. They tend to have this sort of kind of ability be very gentle, and yet at times to apply enough pressure to get things to move around,” she said.
“They’re appropriately cautious, but also aggressive, and some of those are the kinds of skills that you develop in being a mom.”
Finding a niche
The shop, is called iPad Rehab, and is located in the centre of a tiny town called Honeoye Falls, just outside Rochester, N.Y.
The business is now thriving. One of its key specialties is recovering data — mainly photos and videos — from “dead” iPhones and iPads sent by desperate customers across North America.
That’s how Jones ended up with one such iPhone belonging to Josephine and Dave Billard of St. John’s, N.L.
One beautiful day last summer, the Billards went canoeing on a pond just outside their rural property. Josephine couldn’t resist taking her iPhone in order to get photos of the picturesque setting.
And then — catastrophe.
“We went upside-down. We flipped the canoe,” she said. “The phone went in the pond, and went right to the bottom.” They quickly recovered the phone, but it wouldn’t turn on.
It contained about 8,000 photos, including many from a recent five-month trip of a lifetime to Europe.
The Billards were devastated. They called Apple, and weren’t thrilled with the response.
“We were surprised, of course, that the iPhone people at Apple can’t help. They appeared to have virtually no interest,” she said.
“They’d like to sell you a new phone right away, but they don’t really care so much about the data — and we were more concerned about the data.”
Josephine would not give up. She visited various small repair shops in St. John’s until someone told her about the iPad Rehab website.
That’s when she contacted Jones and sent her phone 3,000 km away to Honeoye Falls.
“I was very doubtful, but you know, I tried to have hope that we would get them back,” she said. “In my heart I really didn’t think I would ever see those photos other than in my mind’s eye, truthfully.”
Most iPhone owners go directly to Apple when they have a problem.
But Apple staff often tells people that if a phone won’t power up, there’s nothing that can be done to recover their data unless it was backed up somewhere else.
“The most common answer, and I hear this from customers all the time, is there is no way to get your pictures from your iPhone if it won’t turn on,” Jones said.
When people go looking for help online, one obvious place that comes up in Google searches about iPhone problems is the Apple Support Communities forum, where users can submit information to learn more about their device and troubleshoot their problems. But even there, people are often told they’re out of luck.
Jones said she had attempted to answer some users’ questions about data recovery, contradicted an answer suggesting that it couldn’t be done, and pointed out a solution.
She said she was then warned about giving “questionable advice,” her message was deleted and eventually her account was banned from the forum.
iPhone repair expert Jessa Jones is challenging Apple’s stance about data recovery from water-damaged phones. (Jon Castell/CBC)
This has happened several times, she added, both to her and to some of her colleagues.
“It’s absolutely heartbreaking, because it is absolutely not true,” she said.
“Most toilet phones, common family water accidents, most of those are recoverable, especially [from] water damage.”
CBC News also contacted the official site for Apple Support and received a similar answer from one administrator.
“As the photos weren’t backed up, unfortunately there is no way to recover them,” the response read.
CBC News asked Apple to clarify if this was their official policy, but they never responded.
Jones, however, says there is a 95 per cent probability that she’ll be able to recover the data from a water-damaged phone, and backs it up with a guarantee — the $300 fixed fee she regularly charges will be refunded if she can’t recover the data.
In the case of the Billards’ phone, Jones was able to recover their thousands of photos. The couple says while they were surprised and thrilled, the experience left them skeptical about Apple’s customer support.
“They should be providing a full range, cradle-to-grave [service], but that means also protecting, retrieving and working on the data,” Dave Billard said.
“And if they’re not prepared to do that, then really is that ethical behaviour? Is that good business ethics?”
Meanwhile, Jones says she will keep fixing the problems that people bring to her.
“My conversation with Josephine — those are the best moments of my job,” she said.
“I spend countless hours looking down the microscope, beating my head on some of these phones. And then being able to call her up and see that she’s a real person, to see how much these pictures meant to her and to give somebody back their own memories, is what drives us to continue solving these problems — no matter what obstacles are in our way.”
When a Newfoundland couple dropped their iPhone in a pond they thought thousands of their precious vacation photos were gone for good — at least that’s what Apple told them. Then they found Jessa Jones, an iPhone repair expert who is challenging Apple’s stance about data recovery from water-damaged phones. 9:37
If you have any tips or have had a similar experience repairing an Apple device, please send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt Daisley said his first visit to a legal cannabis retail outlet in St. Catharines, Ont. this week ended without a purchase after he heard the prices and almost had a heart attack.
“I knew immediately that I would not leave the black market,” he said. “There’s no chance.”
The 60-year-old is a longtime cannabis user and visited The Niagara Herbalist to check out its government-approved marijuana options after the store officially opened Monday. But, when he went up to the counter to buy 3.5 grams of MK Ultra, he said he was asked to pay $45 plus tax and was rocked by sticker shock.
His complaint about the comparatively high price of legal pot was a routinely heard one from customers during the first week of legal retail sales in the province.
The Ontario Cannabis Store says its products are priced to compete with the black market but critics, including a professor at Brock University, say buying illegally offers those willing to take the risk significant savings, meaning legal prices will have to drop if they want to bring in more customers and cut out the black market. Police have also pointed to affordable pricing as an important tool to combat organized crime’s involvement in the drug trade.
Daisley claims he could buy as much as seven grams of MK Ultra for about $40 from an illicit vendor online.
That’s what he plans to keep on doing, he told CBC News, adding the laws around black market weed and the consequences for purchasing it are still vague so he’s willing to go public about his concerns in hopes the government and retailers will listen.
“I’m making a conscious choice to use the black market rather as opposed to the legal market. I understand the ramifications of that,” he said. “[But] what can they really do to a 60-year-old guy who’s smoked for the better part of 25 years every day?”
The price has to be right to defeat organized crime
The laws around cannabis use in Canada are still evolving and need to be tested in court, so there’s “some validity” to Daisley’s point, according to Joe Couto, a spokesperson for the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.
He added police aren’t naive enough to think legalization means the black market will die overnight — especially if there’s a big price difference.
“I don’t know if the price is right,” he said, adding law enforcement officials have to trust the government to make those decisions.
“We’ve always recommended to them that if you don’t price the product at a market price obviously it does create pressures and black market activity.”
Gord Nichol shows off some of the products he bought inside RELM Cannabis Co., Burlington, one of the province’s first legal pot shops. (Dan Taekema/CBC)
Cannabis has long been a source of income for organized crime in Canada, explained Couto, so police are concerned they’ll take advantage of the early stages of legalization to turn a profit.
“If we’re going to eliminate cannabis as a potential source to fuel criminal activities … obviously ensuring the product is accessible and is priced right is really important.”
Daisley said up his experience at The Niagara Herbalist was largely positive until he went up to the counter and found out how much he would be charged.
He said he’d prefer to purchase cannabis legally, but believes that, like him, the buying decisions for most cannabis consumers will be dollar-driven and the price tags raise questions about markup that will keep people out of legal stores.
Like comparing a ‘fine wine’ to moonshine
Hamilton-based cannabis consultant, Olivia Brown, disagrees. She says the quality legal outlets offer is worth paying for.
“I wouldn’t compare a $180 bottle of fine wine to moonshine just because it’s cheaper.”
Brown said the prices charged by private legal retailers are generally similar to those posted on the OCS online store, but added that, like gas stations, consumers could see a slight difference of $1-3 depending on which shop they’re in.
Still, Brown said she hears people complaining about the price of legal pot every day.
She agreed black market prices are lower than their legal counterparts, but pointed out government regulated cannabis is a big business that has to pay many employees and meet all sorts of standards.
“It’s very highly regulated, it’s very expensive to maintain and has huge operating costs.”
Brown also said cannabis is a product where you get what you pay for — there’s a reason the black market is so much more affordable.
“It’s probably grown outside by someone who may not know what they’re doing, they could be using pesticides or have all kinds of bugs or whatever,” she explained. “These people aren’t understanding the difference between really fantastic, lab-tested quality-grown, labeled, packaged beautiful products.”
Offering more options for purchasing those high-quality, legal products is the only way to make sure black market usage is really curbed, according to Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger.
The mayor’s comments came in response to recent criticism leveled at police and officials in Hamilton by Premier Doug Ford who said failure to shut down illegal dispensaries in the city was his “biggest frustration” when it came to cannabis legalization in Ontario.
OCS says legal cannabis is ‘competitively priced’
In a statement to CBC News a spokesperson explained the OCS buys its cannabis from producers licensed by Health Canada then sets a retail price, which can go up or down based on factors including market conditions, supply and the purchase price from producers.
Absolutely the black market enjoys a big price advantage.– Michael Armstong , Brock University
Legal products are tested and “competitively priced” with the illegal market in mind, the statement read.
The spokesperson added the pricing structure for retailers allows them to set their own prices that “reflect their individual business models.”
Customers need a discount option like ‘No Name’ weed
In the short term the limited number of stores in Ontario mean each location should be able to draw plenty of customers, but an associate professor at Brock University said big changes have to happen if government wants to compete for the long haul.
Michael Armstrong teaches at the Goodman School of Business and has been watching Canada’s foray into legalization closely.
“Absolutely the black market enjoys a big price advantage,” he said, pointing to a Statistics Canada report for the last quarter of 2018 showing the average price paid for legal, dried cannabis was $9.70, compared to $6.51 its illegal counterpart.
Brock professor Michael Armstrong says the black market for cannabis enjoys a big price advantage. (Brock University)
At some point, the pool of customers willing to pay up to 50 per cent more for a legal product will dry up and the stores will have to start appealing to people who are only willing to cough up something in the range of 25 cents more per gram.
Armstrong said the government has to be ready and offered a few suggestions for how to cut costs.
The first is lowering the overall production cost by going large scale, automating the process or moving growing operations outdoors. When those saving lead to a drop in price, the professor said provinces should lower their wholesale process so retailers can also sell for less.
Another obstacle is the federal government’s excise tax structure. Armstrong said excise tax currently varies by province, but the default is about $1 per gram minimum, which makes it tough to keep up with the black market.
“Even if a producer can make it really cheaply and a retailer is willing to sell it for a low price, that dollar is a big chunk.”
He argues the government should drop that minimum and just set the tax at 10 per cent.
Under that model a premium product could pay around $2 a gram in tax and an average products could pay around $1, but retailers could offer a discount brand.
“Eventually the retail stores need to be able to sell something like a No Name cannabis, pre-rolled joints for maybe $5 a gram, maybe $3 bucks a half gram,” said Armstrong.
“To compete with the black market in the longer term absolutely we need some of the products priced low.”