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WATCH: Kelowna Boulderfields some of the best in Canada

KELOWNA — It’s a sport that’s climbing in popularity and one of the best spots in the country for it is right in our own backyard.

Bouldering is an extreme type of rock climbing with no ropes and no harness, your two hands and two feet are your only tools to scale the massive rocks.

The Boulderfields in south Kelowna boasts some of the best climbs in the country and arguably the world and for being so prestigious, they’re pretty much untouched.

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“There are boulders the size of apartment buildings. They’re huge,” says boulderer Andy White.

And there’s thousands upon thousands of them in the massive Kelowna canyon.

White has been free scaling rocks for the better part of a decade and says while the sport can be difficult it’s also easy for beginners.

“There’s climbs that are easy enough for the vast majority of the population to climb.”

White and a handful of Okanagan residents are developing the landscape of the boulderfields, forging new trails to make the boulders more accessible and cleaning the rocks to make them safer for climbing, “clean enough so your hands don’t slide off it,” says White.

For the past two years, local boulderers have held a “Rock the Blocs” event, which doubled in size from its first to second year seeing 140 climbers in 2014. It’s opened up the sport to climbers from around the world.

“There’s people travelling from all over North America to climb [here],” says White.

While local climbers like the quiet, they’re also ready to share their hidden gem.

“We have this massive playground and we just want to share it with other people.”

For more information on the Boulderfields and to get involved in the sport, you can go to the Okanagan Bouldering website.

SaskPower CEO issues personal apology for smart meters

REGINA – SaskPower’s CEO Robert Watson issued a personal apology Tuesday on the company’s website for the problems caused with its installation of smart meters in Saskatchewan.

In it, he said, “Despite assurances from both the smart meter supplier, as well as independent industry experts, the smart meters clearly did not meet our standards – nor did they meet the expectations of our customers.”

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“For that, I want to personally apologize. I want you to know my family has a smart meter on our home. I understand how important it is for you to know your home is safe.”

He ended with his assurance the cost to replace the province’s smart meters with digital meters will not result in rate increases.

READ MORE: Manufacturer defends smart meters after fires

Earlier Tuesday, SaskPower responded to another meter incident at a house in Regina’s Glencairn neighbourhood.

While the house was installed with a smart meter, a spokesperson with SaskPower said the problem appears to be with the meter socket, as opposed to the meter itself.

It’s believed to have been caused by ground settling, which likely caused wires to short inside the meter box.

The meter was replaced and there was no damage to the home.

Water from breached tailings pond near Likely B.C. almost drinkable: Imperial Metals president

WATCH: Imperial Metals president Brian Kynoch answers questions about the toxicity of the water

VANCOUVER – The president of Imperial Metals says samples from Quesnel Lake following a tailings pond breach from Mount Polley Mine “already almost meets drinking water standards.”

At a news conference on Tuesday, Brian Kynoch says the Ministry of Environment continues to collect samples from Quesnel Lake.

He says while water quality is a key issue, the water in the tailings facility is not toxic.

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  • What’s in Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley tailings? Should you be worried?

  • Residents calling it an environmental disaster: tailings pond breach at Mount Polley Mine near Likely, BC

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  • Tailings pond breach has local eco-tour operators concerned

  • Impact of tailings pond disaster on salmon run could be significant

“The suspended solids are a problem because it’s not water anymore,” says Kynoch. “It’s a slurry now. But the water itself is relatively benign.”

He says they need to confirm the water quality, but says once the solids fall out, the water should be good.

“Yes I would drink the water,” he says. “I would drink the water once the solids come out.”

An estimated 10 million cubic metres of water and 4.5 million cubic metres of toxic waste — equivalent to 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools — spilled into Hazeltine Creek, Quesnel Lake and Polley Lake when the tailings pond failed early Monday morning. The waste water has caused Hazeltine Creek to expand from just over one metre to nearly 46 metres.

“Polley Lake rose about 1.5 metres above its normal height and steps are being taken to pump some of that water into the springer pit so we can start dropping that water level back to normal,” says Kynoch.

WATCH: Mount Polley mine disaster causes water ban

Several employees of the mine, who wished to remain anonymous to protect their jobs, have told Global News the same tailings pond had a minor breach three months ago.

But Kynoch says the dam has never failed before.

Common minerals and elements found in tailings, which is the waste material left over from the extraction of metals, can include arsenic, mercury, sulfur and cyanide.

“We have never detected mercury in the tailings pond at Mount Polley,” says Kynoch. “There’s no mercury there.”

“Another one I’ve heard talked about is arsenic. Arsenic levels are one-fifth of drinking water.”

He adds that the company regularly performs toxicity tests on the water in their tailings facility and it is not toxic to rainbow trout, which spawn there.

READ MORE: Tailings pond breach has local eco-tour operators concerned

An Environment Canada filing from Mount Polley Mine lists all the substances disposed of in the tailings pond – including manganese, cadmium, phosphorous and mercury.

But it is not known how mobile those substances are.

Substances listed as disposed “on-site” in Imperial Metals’ 2013 Mount Polley Mine report (Note: It’s unclear how mobile these solids were, how much was in water, if any, and how much spilled as solids, if any)

Phosphorus – 41,640 tonnesManganese – 20,988 tonnesCopper – 18,413 tonnesVanadium – 5,047 tonnesZinc – 2,169 tonnesCobalt – 475 tonnesNickel – 326 tonnesAntimony – 14 tonnesArsenic – 406,122 kgLead – 177,041 kgSelenium – 46,136 kgCadmium – 6,487 kgMercury – 3,114 kg

Kynoch says “Imperial accepts that it is our responsibility to put this right.”

“Our first priority was, and continues to be, the health and safety of our employees and our neighbours. So we have to work hard to make sure we don’t hurt anyone,” he adds.

“If you had asked me two weeks ago if that could happen, I would say it couldn’t happen.”

Since the news of the tailings pond breach, the shares of Imperial Metals Corporation have dropped 42 per cent.

WATCH: Imperial Metals president Brian Kynoch makes a statement after Monday’s tailings pond breach at Mount Polley Mine

Golfer doesn’t let cancer scare stop him – Winnipeg

WINNIPEG – As one of Canada’s top amateur golfers, Garrett Rank rarely misses his mark.

But a few years ago, he found himself in deep trouble far from the fairway.

“I was diagnosed with testicular cancer in January 2011,” said Rank.

The Ontario-born golfer was just 22 years old when his world was turned upside down. Young and athletic, Rank never thought it was possible that he could be diagnosed with cancer.

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“It’s a lot more common than you think,” said Rank. “Especially among young adults between 15 and 29. It was really surprising and quite the eye-opener.”

But cancer never stopped him.

Rank was back on the range within six months and made the national amateur team the following year.

“He made a pretty good, quick recovery,” said Team Canada head coach Derek Ingram. “He was just so thankful to be alive, to be able to play and just had a great year.”

“I’m so competitive and sport driven that I just obviously wanted to play,” said Rank. “Being able to focus on golf helped in me coming back.”

While his fight against cancer helped strengthen his grip on what matters the most.

“It was tough but at the same time it gave me a better approach on life,” said Rank. “A bogey on the golf course is now different than it was in the past.”

Rank is among the more than 240 golfers playing this week in the Canadian Men’s Amateur Golf Championship being hosted by the Elmhurst and Southwood Golf & Country Clubs in Winnipeg.

WATCH: TV crew captures Hamas terrorists setting up rocket in civilian area – National

TORONTO – Rare footage captured Monday by India’s NDTV shows Hamas terrorists setting up a timed rocket in a densely populated civilian area of the Gaza Strip.

The video, recorded out of a window from a hotel across the street, shows three men working under a tent in an area surrounded by residential and commercial buildings.

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The men appear to go in and out of the tent multiple times and can be seen running wires at one point.

“If Hamas does fire a rocket from here it will have immediate consequences for everyone around here,” the NDTV reporter says.

According to NDTV, the men worked for about an hour before dismantling the tent, covering up what they were working on with tree branches and mud, changing their clothes and leaving.

The footage was captured Monday morning at 6:30 a.m. local time.

On Tuesday morning at 7:50 a.m. local time, 10 minutes before a temporary 72-hour Israel-Hamas cease-fire went into effect, the news crew captured footage of a missile being launched from the exact location the men were working at.

For security reasons, the footage was only aired and posted online after the NDTV crew left Gaza.

Since July 8 the fighting between Israel and Hamas has reportedly claimed nearly 1,900 Palestinian lives. On the Israeli side, 64 soldiers and three civilians have been killed.

The UN and Gaza human rights groups monitoring the death toll have said more than 75 per cent of those killed in Gaza were civilians.

Israel has criticized Hamas terrorists in the past for launching missiles from residential areas and endangering civilians.

“Israel is taking great measures to avoid harming innocent civilians,” UN envoy Ron Prosor said on July 10, explaining the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) warns civilians in Gaza of “imminent strikes.”

“Hamas is exploiting our concern for human life by hiding in Palestinian homes, schools and mosques, and using the basement of the hospital in Gaza as its headquarters,” he said.

-With files from The Associated Press

Edmonton woman has warning for people with glass patio tables – Edmonton

WATCH ABOVE: An Edmonton woman is warning others after her glass patio table shattered into a million little pieces. Quinn Ohler reports.

EDMONTON – An Edmonton woman is still picking up pieces of glass after her patio table seemingly exploded last week.

Lillian Courtney got a call last Thursday from her neighbour, who noticed her table was in smithereens.

At first, she assumed it was vandals. Then she and her husband checked the feed from their outdoor surveillance camera.

“We’re watching it and all of a sudden it’s just like in Mythbusters — the whole table fell down onto the patio.”

WATCH: Surveillance video shows the glass of the patio table shatter

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She believes the tempered glass shattered due to the heat. Temperatures reached nearly 30°C that day.

Courtney adds that she’s just grateful nobody got hurt. Just four days earlier she had dozens of people over for a backyard birthday party. Her dogs also often slept under the table.

“I can’t imagine the magnitude of glass falling on them,” Courtney said.

“There was no warning.”

She now has this word of advice: “If you have a glass [patio table] and you can afford to replace it, it might be something to consider. Children could get hurt, you could get hurt.”

According to Warren Yadlowski, who has worked for years with patio funiture, what happened is unusual.

“They’re meant to withstand the -30 to plus 30, so there’s going to be extremes where it’s very, very cold and very, very hot.”

Still, he says most people have moved away from glass tops. Those who haven’t should ensure they’re buying quality tempered glass, he says. Yadlowski also stresses the importance of making sure glass tables are covered during the winter and heavy snow is removed.

Follow @TrishKozicka
-With files from Quinn Ohler, Global News

Burlington flood victims receiving much needed help from neighbours – Toronto

MISSISSAUGA – Flooded Burlington residents are coming to each other’s aid after a record rainstorm flooded much of the city with two month’s worth of rain in just a few hours.

Debbie Hannon’s brother was caring for their elderly mother when the rain started outside of their childhood home.

“He said it filled up the basement in less than a minute,” Hannon said.

The family is now trying to salvage anything they can from the basement of the home.

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She describes, with much affection, helping her late father build the house 60 years ago, when she was a child.

“He gave me my own hammer and nails,” she said. “This would kill him.”

READ MORE: Burlington hit by the worst flooding in nearly 20 years 

She feels consoled however by the sight of her neighbours offering assistance. Some of her neighbours are facing the same heavy task of uncovering years of memories and possessions buried in mud and water.

A thunderstorm poured between 100 and 120 mm of rain on parts of Burlington Monday. 

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Burlington residents pump, vacuum and dig out of mess left by Monday flood

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When the rain let up, dozens of homes were left flooded, many with severe damage.

Ten-year-old Hannah Dick was visiting her grandmother in Burlington at the time when the storm ended.  There was no damage to her grandmother’s residence, so Hannah set out with her mother to help.

“You have to admit you feel a little guilty looking at them drive by and not doing anything,” Hannah said.

With a broom in hand, the little girl was standing alongside her mother, Kim Haswell, pushing a thick mixture of earthly-brown mud and sludge toward the curb of Mark Palowich’s home – who moved into the home two months ago.

“They’re great – they’re fantastic,” he said, praising the young girl and her mother.

Next door, the Dilworth family has all gathered too to help clean up the mess left in the wake of the storm.

“It was like Niagara Falls,” Mary Dilworth said. “There was a sea of water.”

The family spent the entire day with a gas powered sump pump trying to remove water that reached to the ceiling of the basement.

“Any more and it would have been the whole house,” Mary said.

Winkler mother donates bike to special needs boy – Winnipeg

WINNIPEG — “Yes, yes, yes, a new bike!” Jacob screamed Tuesday afternoon.

The energetic 10-year-old is autistic. His bike with custom-made reinforced training wheels was locked in the backyard of his Elmwood home when it was stolen Saturday night.

When Global viewer Naomi Fehr saw Jacob’s story, she knew she could help.  Her son’s bicycle was practically identical to Jacob’s.

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“I just know how much joy that brought him and to know that joy was taken away from another child, it really impacted me,” Fehr explained.

Fehr’s nine-year-old son Joshua passed away two years ago from cancer. His bike was collecting dust in their Winkler garage. Fehr contacted Global News, asking for help to bring her late son’s bike to Jacob and joy to another boy with special needs.

“Anything that can better the life of someone else, I’m all for it,” Fehr said.

Jacob’s mom, Arlene Reid, was brought to tears when Global News brought the bicycle from Winkler to the Reids’ home in Winnipeg.

“I can’t tell you how much he appreciates this,” Arlene said. “Thank you Joshua. Thank you.”

The bike stolen from the yard was returned to the family on Monday afternoon. But the custom-made cycle was damaged. Spray-painted handle bars, no brakes and no training wheels made it impossible for Jacob to ride.

His mom and dad feared it would take months for the Children’s Rehabilitation Centre to build another.

“When he got his bike back he was distraught. He couldn’t ride it, and he kept coming outside and falling over. With this new bike, he’s got his freedom back again.”

Jacob, ovewhelmed with the generosity, said ” Thanks” to Fehr. And quickly hopped on his bike to take it for a spin.

The Reids told Global News they will be hitting the pavement Wednesday for a family bike ride.

Brantford woman trying to get 8-year-old daughter out of Gaza – Toronto

TORONTO – A Brantford woman is hoping a renewed ceasefire in Gaza will allow her daughter to finally get home.

When Wesam Abuzaiter packed her 8-year-old daughter Salma off for a visit to her homeland she had few worries.  Her husband Hassan, a doctor, was returning to Gaza to work in a hospital and Salma was going with him for the summer.

She would have a chance to stay with her grandmother and see the place where her parents were born:  Gaza City.

The two left in June when the region was relatively peaceful – but in July the crisis exploded and the borders closed.

Hassan Abuzaiter was working 24-hour shifts at the hospital dealing with the wounded.  His mother would tell Wesam not to worry, that the bombs were falling far away.  When pressed for specifics, Hassan’s mother said she meant the next street over.

Communications with Hassan and Salma were sporadic and frustrating but they did make occasional contact via the internet.

READ MORE: Israel, Hamas to negotiate Gaza border deal after truce

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A Palestinian doctor now teaching at U of T proposes to bring 100 wounded children from Gaza to Ontario for treatment.




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Meanwhile, horrific images were being beamed out of Gaza of wounded and dead children.

“I was watching the news 24/7,” said Abuzaiter in an interview with Global News in her Brantford living room.

“The whole day and the whole night. Every line I was reading it. Because I was afraid.”

She launched frantic and frustrating efforts to get her daughter out of Gaza and reached out to Canada’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for advice.

There were a couple of humanitarian convoys out of Gaza but Salma was too young to travel on her own and Abuzaiter’s brother was unable to accompany her because of his Palestinian citizenship.

News of the latest ceasefire allowed Abuzaiter to exhale.

“I was so happy. Yesterday night I can tell you was maybe the first time that I had a little bit of a sleep,” she said.

Abuzaiter hopes that the period of relative calm will allow her brother to get out to Egypt with Salma and bring her home to Brantford.

What’s in Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley tailings? Should you be worried?

WATCH: Experts are just beginning to assess the environmental impacts of the tailings pond breach at the Mount Polley mine and as Linda Aylesworth reports, we’re learning more about what chemicals may be in the tailings.

The bad news: Spilling five million cubic metres of tailings represents a massive failure of a mine-waste storage method designed to be safe and secure for decades (and on whose safety guarantee permission to develop mines is supposed to rest).

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The good news: It’s rare – “very rare,” says University of British Columbia groundwater hydrologist Leslie Smith.

“Any breach at all would be a rare event.”

The big uncertainty: Just about everything – what was in the suspended solids in the mass of spilled sludge; how far it went; whether it can be cleaned up; how much risk it poses right now; and what impact it will have on the environment, animals and humans – from spawning salmon to drinking humans – over the long term.

READ MORE: What 5 million cubic metres of tailings looks like

The tailings are what’s left over when Imperial Metals is done extracting, in this case, gold and copper from its Mount Polley mine. And any risk posed by the wall of slurry that flowed out of the tailings pond Monday comes down to what’s in it – what’s in the water, and what’s in the solids muddying it up.

“You can’t assume that every pond … is toxic,” Smith said. “The impact of the release has to be assessed. We can’t assume it’s terrible; we can’t assume it’s benign.”

Indeed, Imperial Metals has said the water in its tailings pond “is not toxic” and is “very close to drinking water. … The water itself is relatively benign.” The suspended solids that spilled along with it, however, may be another story.

The first good news: According to Imperial Metals, the tailings water was alkaline, not acidic, with a pH of 8.5 (7 is neutral; anything below 7 is acidic). Most metals dissolve faster in acidic water, so alkaline tailings are a good thing.

But it still isn’t clear how much of a risk the spilled tailings pose, or even how far they reached.

READ MORE: Tailings pond breach has eco-tour operators worried

An Environment Canada filing from Mount Polley Mine lists all the substances disposed of in the tailings pond – including manganese, cadmium, phosphorous and mercury. But to get a really good idea of the massive spill’s impact and toxicity, you’d need to know how mobile those substances are.

In the immediate term, the biggest concern is what was in the water itself, Smith said.

“If you’re a fish in Quesnel Lake, what you’re going to be exposed to first is what was  in the tailings pond water, not what was in the tailings themselves,” he said.

But in the longer term, any suspended solids left in the environment could cause problems.

“Those will start to weather and potentially release metals and we need to figure out what the concentrations of that would be,” he said. “Every mining company I know knows what’s in their pond.”

Cleanup, if it’s feasible, could be pretty basic: Think “truck and shovel,” Smith said, to recover any solids.

READ MORE: Concerns about Mount Polley tailings pond were raised three years ago

In the minds of environmental groups who’ve been fighting the development of similar mines from B.C. to Newfoundland, Monday’s massive breach proves there’s no safe way to dispose of the gunky leftovers from open-pit mines.

“A spill like that is devastating,” said Leila Darwish, B.C. and Yukon organizer for the Council of Canadians. And for many, the uncertainty’s the worst part.

“People don’t know the extent of the contamination, how far its moved into different water systems … what’s going to happen to that sludge.”

Darwish hopes the fallout from this spill will give ammunition to communities that oppose mining development near them.

“The safe thing would be not to have these mines,” she said. “What we’re risking is too high.”

Roger Beckie, hydrologist and head of UBC’s Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences department, isn’t so hasty.

“I don’t think there’s a need for a general panic but we have to learn what happened here … and how we can improve. Because this is not acceptable.”

Substances listed as disposed “on-site” in Imperial Metals’ 2013 Mount Polley Mine report (Note: We still don’t know how mobile these solids were, how much was in water, and how much spilled as solids in Monday’s massive breach)

Phosphorus – 41,640 tonnesManganese – 20,988 tonnesCopper – 18,413 tonnesVanadium – 5,047 tonnesZinc – 2,169 tonnesCobalt – 475 tonnesNickel – 326 tonnesAntimony – 14 tonnesArsenic – 406,122 kgLead – 177,041 kgSelenium – 46,136 kgCadmium – 6,487 kgMercury – 3,114 kg

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