West Nile virus surveillance starts as Saskatoon mosquito counts dip

Saskatoon residents have been doing a little less swatting and slapping this summer. The annual return of mosquitoes hasn’t been as bad as in years past but city officials say you’ll still want to be prepared as the risk of West Nile climbs over the next few weeks.

“To date they’ve been right on our five year average or a little bit low,” said Jeff Boone, the city’s supervisor of pest management.

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    READ MORE: Reduce the risk of contracting West Nile virus: Saskatchewan health officials

    According to Boone, the number of mosquitoes per trap, per week has mostly been in the single digits.

    In the spring, city crews began to control the population at it’s aquatic life stage.

    “We target the larval stage of mosquitoes, it’s much more effective to target the larval stages because the larval are isolated to the water bodies so we use a biological insecticide on the water to help kill immature mosquitoes.”

    Plus, Boone said timely rains have helped for small skeeter numbers in Saskatoon.

    “The nice thing is our rains have been fairly evenly spaced out so they’ve had an opportunity for our crews to get in there and treat any standing water and then also there’s been a certain amount of drying between each rain event,” he said.

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    Although there aren’t as many mosquitoes to swat and slap away, the risk of West Nile virus is still there.

    “We’ve seen Culex tarsalis, the mosquito that vectors the West Nile virus but in very, very low numbers.”

    The threat is about to increase as the number of mosquitoes carrying the virus typically peaks on August long weekend.

    Health Canada recommends using insect repellents that contain DEET and cover exposed skin to prevent mosquito bites. City officials say residents can also assist in reducing mosquito populations by simply eliminating standing water on your property.

     “Reducing standing water is a huge benefit to us because, standing water can allow mosquitoes to develop in as little as four days,” Boone said.

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    According to other experts, mosquitoes can lay eggs in as little as two ounces of water and over a thousand eggs can be laid in one cup of water over a season.

    “So removing any standing water from the backyards is very, very helpful, also netting surfaces where you can’t remove standing water like rain barrels, making sure eaves-troughs are clean. All of that helps to reduce the mosquito population,” Boone added.

    West Nile Virus Overview | HealthGrove

B.C. sandcastle sculptor takes passion to new level after losing daughter

A B.C. man whose talent is making large, intricate sand castles, is using his passion to raise money for a local hospice society.

Marc Dansereau started out by making simple sandcastles at the beach with his family.

His passion for sand sculpting escalated to the point where he asked for a pile of sand to be delivered to his driveway so he could build sandcastles there.

The sculpting took on a deeper purpose after his six-year-old daughter Bernadette passed away just months after being diagnosed with stage four cancer.

“They offered chemo but really they said they didn’t expect it would cure her so we made the decision to bring her home here [to] Blind Bay and we cared for her,” he said.

Dansereau can’t say enough about the support his family received from Canuck Place Children’s Hospice in Vancouver during that time.

“As a dad, I have never felt so vulnerable or powerless to come home with your daughter and to watch your daughter die,” Dansereau said.

“The hospice meant really everything.”

Bernadette with one of the family's early sandcastle creations.

Marc Dansereau

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The father of six knew his sand creations attracted a lot of positive attention on the beach.

He decided to take that attention and use it to raise awareness about and money for the local Shuswap Hospice Society.

His fundraiser involves selling a calendar with photos of his sand creations.

“There are so many people who need the services they provide and I don’t think a lot of people know that they are there,” he said.

A hospice society spokesperson says the money raised by Dansereau will go towards grief counselling and palliative care support for families, particularly children.

Click here to learn more about Dansereau’s cause and to find out how to purchase a calendar.

Dansereau’s daughter next to a sandcastle he was in the middle of building in his driveway.

Marc Dansereau

One of Marc Dansereau’s sandcastles.

“Sandcastles are like rainbows. You see them just momentarily and then they are gone,” Dansereau said of his creations.

Facebook/Shuswap Hospice Society

Dansereau likes to continue to add new elements to his sandcastles. On this castle he added a balcony for the first time.

Marc Dansereau

A sand castle built by Marc Dansereau.

Facebook/Shuswap Hospice Society

Dansereau’s castles attract a lot of attention on the beach.

“People come by and they usually go ‘Wow, how do you make it stand?’ It is a lot of fun to surprise people and then just create that magical moment of something special,” Dansereau said.

Marc Dansereau

Lethbridge businesses feeling financial pinch from minimum wage hike

Small business owner Judi Dormaar is paying close attention in her two local stores as the minimum wage creeps closer to 15 dollars an hour.

“I believe people deserve that, but as a small business owner, how do I absorb that?” Dormaar said. “I think I’m going to have to make some changes. You know, I’ll have to put in some hours myself, even though I already work a lot of hours, but I’ll make changes where I’ll probably have to cut some staff hours.”

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    The Government of Alberta is moving full steam ahead on its plan to raise the minimum wage. There is an increase in the amount every October until it maxes out at 15 dollars an hour in 2018. The raise is hoping to address the issue that more than 300,000 Albertan’s make less than that.

    READ MORE: Alberta updates plans to bring in $15/h minimum wage

    President of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce, Harry Gross, said there are other solutions that should be addressed before the wages go up.

    “Approximately 60 per cent of the people at minimum wage are women, how do we solve that issue?” Gross said. “If it’s truly a training issue or an education issue then lets spend time focusing on that. If it’s an apprenticeship issue then again, lets focus on solving the issues.”

    Dormaar said without sound financial planning, some local businesses could be closing their doors.

    “A store can’t stay open if you’re just paying the rent and paying wages of people. You have to make more than that to sustain your own living,” she said. “I expect there are going to be some changes, or people will start and won’t last as long as they used to.”

    While the onus is on the business owner to adjust to the new realities, there are ways the average consumer can help.

    “I think more than ever, it’s going to be important to support your local businesses,” Dormaar said.

    Until then, she said all you can do is stay positive, and plan ahead.

Toronto man takes to the stage against all odds

Prince Amponsah has a commanding presence as makes his entrance in a local production of “The Changeling,” but getting back onstage was intimidating for the 30-year-old.

“It was hard to imagine going back into it again, especially right after the accident,” he said.

The “accident’ was an electrical fire that tore through Amponsah’s rental apartment in November 2012.

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“I stumbled out to the hallway but I wasn’t able to get any farther, I had collapsed and passed out,” he said, adding that he doesn’t remember it himself.

Amponsah’s roommate ran back into the burning building and dragged him out to safety.

“He was right next to the door frame but his pants were on fire. It was like a nightmare,” said Pawel Tosick.

“Waking up from that fire, you know pulling him out, and then seeing the city lights kind of expose him, it was kind of like a horror movie.”

In a way, that was only the beginning for Amponsah.

He was in a medically induced coma for three weeks. Doctors and family described to him how badly he was inured, but he was in a fog due to the medication, so it took awhile for the extent of his injuries to sink in.

“People were telling me my arms had been amputated and it just wasn’t registering,” Amponsah said.

“But as I was slowly coming to and off the medication, I was able to lift my head and look at my body and saw all the bandages and my missing arms and I just remember this huge shiver going through my body and then everything sort of dawned on me at that point.”

Since then, it’s been nearly four years of multiple surgeries, physiotherapy and excruciating pain.

Amponsah said the biggest hurdle has been swallowing his pride and accepting help, even asking for it. Something he’s doing now, by raising money through an online fundraiser for a prosthetic arm he can control through muscle signals.

For him, surviving the fire changed his perspective and there’s no holding back.

“Just jump off the cliff and just go for it, you know? Because when you’re close to losing your life, you really do start to appreciate everything,” he said.

“It gave me the chance to look back and think what could I have missed out on?”

His doctors said he has never stopped pushing himself.

“He lives independently, he’s out acting and being an activist and he’s really made a remarkable recovery,” said Dr. Amanda Mayo, a physiatrist at St. John’s Rehab.

Amponsah wants to help other survivors get to that place, so he is going to university for social work in the fall.

“Hopefully someone can hear my story and whatever they’re going through can sort of relate to it in some way or see that it is possible to get through what they’re going through,” he said, adding he is just thrilled he has a second chance at life —; an encore if you will.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ receiver Weston Dressler ready to return

WINNIPEG – It was a sight for sore eye for fans of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Monday.

Receiver Weston Dressler was back on the practice field after sitting out last week’s game and barring a setback he’ll be back in the lineup on Thursday when the Bombers face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Dressler, 31, suffered what was suspected to be a concussion. He left the game in the first quarter of their home opener against the Montreal Alouettes after a violent helmet-on-helmet collision.

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“Yeah, I’ve gotten hit hard many times, but you know that’s football.” said Dressler. “Just get up and try to go on to the next play.”

RELATED: Winnipeg Blue Bombers WR Weston Dressler to miss Friday’s game

Dressler was criticized by some for not trying to avoid the hit by getting out of bounds. He said in hindsight, he probably should have just ran to the sidelines to avoid the collision.

“Some people say get out of bounds in that situation. In my eyes at that time, second and long is a bad situation for the team.” Dressler said. “In hindsight, obviously with the injury coming out, might have been better off going out of bounds, but that’s football.”

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Dressler has been cleared by doctors to play this week. He said he’s suffered a concussion before, but that was “a long time ago”.

“I feel like I’ve always been a smart player.” said Dressler. “Sometimes you got to take calculated risks and that’s football. You can’t play scared of getting hit, you can’t play scared at all.”

WATCH: Weston Dressler discusses his return to the lineup this week