The next time you’re walking through downtown Halifax keep your eyes peeled for Pokémon hunters.
“We are on a serious mission right now,” Nikki Sullivan, a Pokémon Go player, said.
Sullivan and her friends have been steadily playing the virtual game ever since they downloaded the app.
“We’ve been hooked ever since… completely addicted.”
Although the app hasn’t officially been released in Canada yet, people are finding ways to download it.
READ MORE: Here’s how Canadians are playing ‘Pokémon Go’
Sullivan isn’t alone in her obsession. Even tourists visiting Halifax from Australia can’t get enough of the game.
“Actually it only came out while we were in Canada and all the people back home we’re playing it,” Ashwin Chandekar, who’s visiting with his family, said.
“We decided to download it and play here. It’s crazy, I’ve never experienced anything like it.”
When playing Pokémon Go, players track Pokémon through GPS maps on their phones. The maps simulate the exact locations the players are in.
READ MORE: Pokemon Go users find everything from dates to dead bodies
Some hot spots for players include tourist attractions like the Public Gardens and Halifax’s waterfront, but Pokémon have been known to show up in businesses as well, including the Stubborn Goat Beer Garden.
“I was enjoying a beverage and basically the creature just kind of appeared and apparently it’s a pretty rare one,” bartender Chloe Zinck said.
Zinck caught the Rhyhorn, one of several virtual monsters that people throughout the city are steadily hunting.
If you want proof that Surrey gangsters are getting younger and younger, you only have to look at their marksmanship, says one drug dealer.
“These kids are trigger happy. They shoot over anything, but they don’t know how to shoot,” says Robbie, who has lived in both Abbotsford and Surrey.
“They shoot like they’re in Compton or something, like sideways. You gotta shoot straight!”
Robbie is just 18, but these days that makes him a veteran in Surrey’s drug scene.
There have been 47shootings already this year in Surrey, compared to 47 shootings for all of 2015, which was considered a watershed year for gun violence.
READ MORE: Surrey RCMP track progress on drug trade and violence
Of those 47, just 16 have involved someone being hit, say Surrey RCMP. But what’s most concerning to people who have studied the Surrey drug trade for years are the ages of the people involved.
It was once rare to see anyone younger than 17 deeply involved in Surrey’s gang culture. Now, it can start in middle school.
“Men as young as 12 and 13 are now involved in this kind of criminal activity,” says RCMP Assistant Commissioner Bill Fordy.
Fordy, who has been Surrey’s top cop since 2012, says technology has been one of the biggest drivers of young teenagers getting involved in the drug trade, creating new complications for police investigations.
“Fifteen years ago, before cellphones, the way drugs were trafficked was very different. It used to be that somebody would go to a house and do the exchange. Now with social media and with the other vehicles used to assist in trafficking, we now have young men driving around doing quick hand-to-hand meets, or going into public places where it’s pre-arranged,” he says.
“It makes it very easy for them to engage in that criminal transaction.”
Technology plays a part. But so are the traditional teenage pressures of money and status – and how to quickly acquire them.
“It’s through the school system. Simple as that,” says Kash Heed, British Columbia’s former solicitor general.
“A friend of a friend introduces them. They hang around the schools. They associate with the kids before and after school and they encourage the kids to get involved as an easy way to make money and kids are not realizing the consequences of their behaviour.”
For many teenagers, the entry point is on the front lines of the dial-a-dope operation that propels many of Surrey’s shootings.
“You gotta couple of drug lines that are being disputed right now. One comes out of south Vancouver. One comes out of the Surrey, North Delta area. They’re using these young kids to traffic in the drugs, they’re fighting with one another, and they’re providing firearms to these kids to settle some disputes,” says Heed.
Mani Amar, a Surrey resident and filmmaker who has researched the drug trade for years, says the aspiring gangster gets money and respect, while established dealers avoid risk.
“Why would a 22-year-old want to do the dial-a-dope street operations and put a target on his back if he has 13, 14-year-old cousins that are willing to make a couple of thousand dollars a week? Why would he take that risk?” he asks.
“I’ve heard of kids making anywhere from five to ten thousand dollars a week if they got a good dial-a-dope operation or Snapchat operation going on.”
Add it up, and it’s an enticing proposition for many young teenagers in Surrey. And it makes Amar concerned about what these teenagers will do when they get older.
“There’s only three ways kids end up going once they get involved. They’re going to end up in jail, they’re going to end up shot and killed, or they’re gonna be permanently disabled and have a bullseye [on] their back for the rest of their lives. There’s really no way out,” he says.
It makes Robbie, all of 18, sound like he’s 65.
“They think they’re living in a movie or something,” he says.
“This newer generation is just too crazy.”
Part 2: When it comes to Surrey gang life, family looms large
– With files from Sonia Deol
Alberta’s smaller brewers say a dramatic increase in the province’s beer tax will leave a bad taste in consumers’ mouths.
“It’s a little scary. It’s an 1,100 per cent increase in our taxes,” said Kelti Boissonneault, co-owner of Theoretical Brewing Company Ltd. in Lethbridge.
READ MORE: Liquor taxes go up, but Alberta ‘shifts the beer playing field’
On Tuesday, the NDP government announced it would be setting a $1.25 per-litre markup for beer sold in Alberta regardless of the producer’s size or location, effective August 5, 2016.
“Whatever is produced and consumed in Alberta will be subject to mark up,” Alberta’s Minister of Finance Joe Ceci explained.
Boissonneault said the tax hike could translate into a $2 hike in the cost of a six-pack of beer produced by smaller breweries, such as Theoretical Brewing.
“The tax hike will need to be passed along to consumer,” Boissonneault said. “There is no way a small business like ours can absorb an 1,100 per cent increase.”
READ MORE: Alberta backtracks on graduated beer tax for craft brewers
The government did consult with industry stakeholders before announcing the change, including the Alberta Small Brewers Association. There is also a yet-to-be announced grant in the works for Alberta’s smaller brewers meant to offset the markup.
“We are hoping to… [keep] our prices as close as possible, but we don’t have enough information,” Boissonneault said.
Details of that grant will be rolled out in the coming weeks in the meantime Boissonneault will be meeting with members of the NDP government is hoping to get answers to a lot of questions.
OTTAWA – The European Commission has again pushed off a decision on whether to require Canadians to have a visa to enter the EU.
The commission says it’s now looking ahead to the Canada-EU summit this fall to see more progress on the issue of Canada removing visa restrictions on citizens of Romania and Bulgaria.
The EU insists that since Canadians don’t require visas to go to Europe, EU citizens should not need them to come to Canada.
In April, the Commission urged the European Parliament and council to “take a position” on the issue by July 12 — but neither did.
READ MORE: Travelling to Europe? Canadians and Americans may require visas soon
The commission notes that high-level political talks — including a visit last week by Canadian Immigration Minister John McCallum — have demonstrated progress, but they still want the issue resolved.
Top EU interior affairs official Dimitris Avramopoulos says the commission will continue to apply pressure.
“Achieving full visa waiver reciprocity for citizens of all member states is the objective for the European Commission and a fundamental principle of our common visa policy,” he said in a statement Wednesday.
To decide whether to lift visa requirements, the Canadian government looks at several factors including how many visa applications are refused as well as immigration violation rates.
WATCH: Canada to lift travel visa requirement for Mexican visitors
Officials from McCallum’s department travelled to Romania last month to examine progress by that country and are making a similar trip to Bulgaria this month.
Pressure to lift visas on those citizens is twofold.
First, the Liberals recently announced they will lift visa requirements on Mexican nationals. And EU officials say if it can be done for Mexicans, it should be done for Europeans.
READ MORE: How easy is it to travel with a Canadian passport?
Second, full ratification of the Canada-EU free trade agreement is at stake, with the possibility that Romania and Bulgaria will refuse to sign the deal if the visas remain.
McCallum travelled to Brussels last week to smooth some ruffled diplomatic feathers on both counts.
“Our dialogues underline the importance of the strong bonds between Canada and the European Union,” McCallum and Avramopoulos said in a joint statement after the meeting.
Officials from the immigration department have already travelled to Romania to assess issues on the ground there. They will be making a similar trip to Bulgaria this month.
Canada and the EU are to hold a summit in Brussels this October.
“The Commission looks forward to the EU-Canada Summit, which will take place on 27-28 October 2016, as the occasion to confirm tangible progress on the lifting of the visa requirement for Bulgarian and Romanian citizens,” Wednesday’s statement said.
Fentanyl has been linked to 60 per cent of drug-related deaths during the first five months of 2016, according to new statistics from the B.C. Coroners Service.
Illicit drug overdoses have killed a total of 371 people in the first half of 2016, with 60 per cent of those showing fentanyl or a combination of fentanyl and other illicit drugs in toxicology reports.
The number of deaths is a 74.2 per cent increase from the same period in 2015, while the proportion of fentanyl-linked deaths have doubled.
It’s the biggest jump in fentanyl deaths since the drug started growing in popularity in 2012.
The updated report on fentanyl-linked overdoses shows people aged 20 to 39 accounted for 57 per cent of all deaths.
Twenty-nine per cent of deaths occurred in the Fraser region, followed by 25.5 per cent on Vancouver Island, and 20.7 per cent in Metro Vancouver.
Numbers also show it’s not just a problem in Metro Vancouver.
“For both Vancouver Island and the southern Interior, the number of deaths in which fentanyl was detected in five months in 2016 has exceeded the number for all 12 months of 2015,” a release from the Ministry of Public Safety states.
READ MORE: Fentanyl in Canada
While it’s effects are spreading wider, it’s still a drug that is abused largely by men, with the gender accounting for 78.7 per cent of deaths.
Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe says it is extremely important to call 9-1-1 immediately if someone appears to be overdosing. The use of naxolone, a lifesaving antidote, should also be used if available.
Health Canada has approved naloxone in the form of a nasal spray that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
“The number of opioid overdoses in Canada is nothing short of a public health crisis,” Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott said in a statement last week.
“First responders, police and family members need immediate access to formats of naloxone that are easy to use so that needless deaths can be prevented.”
The B.C. Ministry of Public Health is calling the number of fentanyl deaths this year unacceptable.
With files from Andrew Russell
A tornado touched down near the central Alberta community of Endiang Wednesday afternoon, according to Environment Canada.
On Wednesday evening, the weather agency confirmed a tornado, given a preliminary rating of EF0, touched down about three kilometres northeast of Endiang at around 2:25 p.m. No damage was reported as of 9 p.m.
Environment Canada said the twister was considered “landspout tornado.”
Weather advisory warning of funnel clouds dropped for Edmonton and surrounding areas
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‘It was chaos’: witness to funnel cloud in central Alberta as tornado warning was issued
Tornado touches down near Killam, AB
A tornado warning was dropped at 2:54 p.m. Wednesday afternoon for areas of Stettler County after Environment Canada issued the warning for areas near Byemoor and Endiang at 2:34 p.m.
“We were just moving some things around the yard…and noticed a funny little cloud was moving and starting to get bigger,” Stuart Somerville, who farms about three kilometres northeast of Endiang, said. “Everyone here noticed it around the same time so we all stood out in the yard to watch it to see if we needed to run for cover.”
“It did get quite big for a while there and it was moving really fast. I’ve never really noticed them fast like that before,” Somerville said.
Environment Canada said its meteorologists are still looking for people to submit photos of the tornado and any damage it may have caused. Anyone with information is asked to call 1.800.239.0484 or to email [email protected]长沙夜网.
While Environment Canada said the Endiang tornado was the only funnel cloud seen to have touched the ground, it had a number of funnel cloud sightings reported to it in parts of central and southern Alberta Wednesday.
A farmer northeast of Endiang, Alta. took this photo of a funnel cloud around the same time Environment Canada issued a tornado warning for the area on July 13, 2016.
COURTESY: Stuart Somerville
Watch below: A farmer northeast of Endiang, Alta. spotted a funnel cloud while he was working just as Environment Canada issued a tornado warning for the area on July 13, 2016. (COURTESY: Stuart Somerville)
Several people south of Edmonton captured pictures of funnel clouds that formed in the Leduc area earlier Wednesday afternoon.
The pictures were snapped as a special weather advisory was in place for the region.
READ MORE: Alberta sees 5 tornadoes in 4 days: Environment Canada
Early Wednesday afternoon, Environment Canada said conditions were favourable for the development of funnel clouds in several regions southeast of Edmonton, adding a few funnel clouds were spotted in the Leduc area.
Environment Canada said these types of funnel clouds are generated by weak rotation under rapidly growing cloud or weak thunderstorms. The weak rotation is normally not a danger near the ground, the weather agency said.
Watch below: Video captured Wednesday afternoon shows a funnel cloud in the Leduc area
The city of Edmonton was not under the special weather advisory Wednesday afternoon. However, areas southeast of the city including Red Deer, Drumheller and Hanna were included in the advisory.
Also Wednesday afternoon, severe thunderstorm watches and warnings were issued for areas in southeast Alberta. For a full list of weather watches and warnings in place in Alberta, head to Environment Canada’s website.
READ MORE: What to do when severe summer weather hits
Want your weather on the go? Download Global News’ Skytracker weather app for iPhone, iPad and Android.
The federal and provincial governments announced Wednesday that it will provide more than $27.8 million for water and wastewater infrastructure projects in eight Saskatchewan communities.
Each government will provide $6,766,000 for a new wastewater treatment plant in Lumsden, Sask., and $2,045,000 for water and wastewater treatment system upgrades in Lanigan, Sask.
Sask. government investing $1M to upgrade water, wastewater systems at 3 parks
Six northern Saskatchewan communities, including Île-à-la-Crosse, Dore Lake, Pinehouse, La Loche, Creighton and Beauval, will get up to $5,088,583 for the construction or upgrade of water treatment plants and reservoirs.
The new facility in Lumsden will handle wastewater from residential and commercial developments in the town and the Rural Municipality of Lumsden.
Two new wells in Lanigan are set to improve drinking water quality as are the new and upgraded facilities in the northern communities.
“Our community has been struggling for years trying to provide a water supply which conforms to regulations,” Lanigan Mayor Andrew Cebryk said in a statement.
“We will now be able to enjoy a water supply which is safe and healthy as well as esthetically pleasing throughout the year with our Water Treatment Plant Reverse Osmosis System.”
The funding will be provided through the federal government’s Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component-National and Regional Projects.
The Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component (PTIC) provides funding to support infrastructure projects nationally, regionally and locally.
“Modern infrastructure that meets the needs of our communities is key to ensuring that Canada will remain the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family,” Ralph Goodale, federal minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, said in a statement.
Whether on social media, in the news or just by word of mouth, Kirkland resident Jordan Furfaro has heard lots of chatter about the Kirkland coyote.
READ MORE: Kirkland coyote: residents on edge after multiple sightings
Kirkland coyote: residents want town officials to focus on safety
Kirkland coyote: residents on edge after multiple sightings
What should you do if you come face to face with a coyote?
He contacted Global News to say that, about a month ago, while out for a walk with his dog, he saw different side of the creature.
“It was following us back to my house, it seemed super friendly, it was trying to play with my dog,” he said.
“It looked hungry, so I figured I’ll give it a little bit of dog food.”
“So, I went inside, got some dog food, put the bowl on the grass and basically, he just started devouring the food.”
READ MORE: What should you do if you come face to face with a coyote?
Furfaro explained when he first saw the coyote, he thought it was a stray dog, but as the animal ate, he began to realize it was actually a wild animal.
“I was literally in touching distance of the animal the whole time,” Furfaro told Global News.
“For, I would say, at least five minutes, if not more, and basically he just looked like he wanted to play. It kept picking up the bowl, throwing it around, jumping around.”
The Kirkland resident said while he hasn’t encountered the coyote since, and doesn’t intend on ever feeding it again, he doesn’t believe the animal is dangerous.
READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE: Coyote on the loose in Kirkland
“It’s a wild animal, I understand, but it’s obviously in an unfamiliar area and it’s going to try to protect itself if it feels the need to,” he said.
“I almost feel like if it did show any aggression to somebody, my thought is maybe it was provoked and that’s purely based on my experience and interaction with it.”
Skedaddle Urban Wildlife Specialist Chris Grabas insisted feeding coyotes is never a good idea.
READ MORE: Kirkland coyote: residents want town officials to focus on safety
“They’re very rarely going to be coming to you – unless somebody like you spoke with, has been feeding it,” he said.
“Hence, that’s where it gets that link…and who knows how it’s going to react if you don’t give them food.”
WATCH BELOW: Spotting the Kirkland coyote
Kirkland coyote chases
Kirkland coyote chases
Kirkland residents on edge after coyote sightings
EXCLUSIVE: Coyote on the loose in Kirkland
Coyote spotted in Kirkland
This is a concern for officials at the Town of Kirkland.
Mayor Michel Gibson said authorities are currently taking steps to capture the wild animal.
“Especially where Harris Park is, towards the Trans-Canada, we have an empty lot there, zoned industrial – there’s a possibility that he’s living in that area,” Gibson told Global News.
“So, what we did is we contacted the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs and they gave us the permission to put a safe trap to capture and relocate him – not into an empty industrial lot, but into a wild forest.”
The sudden popularity of Pokémon GO has raised concerns about possible privacy breaches, potential injuries (caused by people looking at their smartphone screens and not where they’re walking) and even being lured into robberies, according to some reports.
‘Do not look for Pokémon while driving’: Edmonton police
Pokemon Go users find everything from dates to dead bodies
Pokémon Go update appears to fix bug giving developer ‘full Google account access’
But the augmented reality game could pose some serious real-life risks for some of its youngest users, who could fall victim to those who may want to use the video game to lure and take advantage of children.
READ MORE: Here’s how Canadians are playing ‘Pokémon Go’
Police in Greenfield, Indiana arrested a convicted sex offender Wednesday after he was caught allegedly playing Pokémon GO with children outside a courthouse, NBC affiliate WTHR reported.
Zuick, a 42-year-old registered sex offender who was on probation after pleading guilty to four counts of child molestation in April, was reportedly spotted outside Hancock County Courthouse playing the game on a smartphone with a 16-year-old boy. Zuick, according to Fox 59, was under orders not to interact with children and could have his probation revoked.
Organizations that work to protect children from sexual exploitation say parents should know how the game works and set some guidelines before allowing kids and teens to hit the street to “catch ’em all.”
“When children are dealing with strangers, it requires some form of caution — not only by the children but by the parents,” said David Matas, a lawyer for Beyond Borders, an organization that works to prevent child exploitation. “Parents need to inform themselves of the risks.”
The game may not have been designed for nefarious purposes, but that’s the case with many other applications or interactive games that have wound up being used to prey on children, he explained.
“Whether it’s used for good or bad depends upon the people who are using it.”
WATCH: Tech experts and fans break down the Pokémon GO craze that’s hitting Canada. ()
How the game works
First things first, here’s a very basic look at what you need to know about playing Pokémon GO.
Using the app on a mobile device, the players wander around to collect virtual “Pokéballs” and capture Pokémon hidden in real-life locations. It’s quite similar to orienteering or geocaching, which uses a GPS device to locate hidden containers with hidden trinkets or tokens to exchange.
But with Pokémon GO, users can lure others to what’s known as a “PokéStop” where you may be able to capture specific characters you’re on the hunt for, and “Pokémon gyms” where your Pokémon face off in battles.
These locations have included everything from churches to police stations and even more somber and sensitive locations like the U.S. Holocaust Museum and Arlington National Cemetery. The stops can also be set up at individual homes, in parks or at playgrounds.
Pokémon character Squirtle seen in the Pokémon GO game.
READ MORE: Auschwitz bans visitors from playing Pokémon Go
How do you protect your kids and still let them have fun?
The game is great for getting children — and adults — up off the couch and being active, said Signy Arnason, the director of Cybertip长沙夜网.
“[But] within the offending community, they often take what [are], at face value, very positive and good things and turn them into something they can utilize to their benefit.”
One of the first things parents can do, Arnason said, is to actually play the game themselves and identify any safety concerns.
WATCH: Police looking at Pokemon Go link in 3 armed robberies at the University of Maryland
For young children, she suggested parents should institute a “buddy system,” making certain their kids are playing with a friend or a group of friends rather than on their own. “There is safety in numbers,” she said.
And that’s to ensure general safety and awareness — again, not paying attention to surroundings while staring at a screen — not just the chance someone could be aiming to take advantage of youngsters.
READ MORE: From private drivers to betting rings: Weird ways people are capitalizing on Pokémon Go
The fact people are using their phones to play the game, which in theory can be tracked, shouldn’t make parents any less cautious, she added.
“Really? We don’t think people can get around those things to try and make who they are?” Arnson said. “If I’m surfing off of a Wi-Fi [signal] and plant a lure at a particular location, you’re not going to know who I am if I’m [on] someone else’s Wi-Fi.”
Kids in their early teens are at an age where they’re more independent but also vulnerable and afraid of being culpable, Arnson said. They may not want to tell parents when something bad happens to them because they think it may get them in trouble. Those are the children who are easily “duped” into doing something sexual because someone older is manipulating them.
WATCH: The Baltimore Police Department released video of a car crash that was the result of the driver being distracted while playing Pokemon Go.
“That notion of… luring teens or tweens for the purpose of trying to sexually harm them isn’t as popular right now as extorting children, extorting them for more [sexual] content.”
Arnson said raising these concerns is by no means fear mongering over a game that is largely being played for fun. “There are some risks you have to be aware of and what do you do to mitigate those concerns,” she said.
OTTAWA – Containing the spread of terrorism across Africa is a consideration for Canada as it mulls where best to contribute to a UN peacekeeping mission, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Wednesday.
The government has yet to make up its mind on where it will send its peacekeepers, in fulfillment of a major foreign policy priority, Sajjan said. But Canada wants to have an impact wherever it deploys troops, he added, and doesn’t want to send a contingent to a specific country simply for the sake of doing so.
Sources say a mission to Mali, the West African country where more than a dozen peacekeepers have been killed this year, is a serious option for the government.
“Mali was definitely on the radar screen,” said a well-placed source with knowledge of the process, who spoke on the condition they not be named because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter.
READ MORE: US military sends support to protect its citizens in war-torn South Sudan
Sajjan said the need to control the spread of Islamic militants across the Middle East and Africa is part of the government’s calculation in determining where Canada’s eventual peacekeeping mission will be focused.
“We can’t look at a country in isolation,” Sajjan said from Kuwait after visiting Canadian military personnel there and in neighbouring Iraq who are talking part in the U.S.-led coalition’s fight against the Islamic State.
“The reason I think when it comes to looking at Africa … you can look at various groups like Boko Haram, al-Shabaab who are trying to make a greater network with (ISIS).”
In West Africa, Boko Haram has wreaked havoc in northern Nigeria and neighbouring Chad, while al-Shabaab has used the chaos in Somalia to establish a foothold that has threatened East Africa.
France is leading the current UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, which has faced threats in its north from al-Qaida and other militant groups. The 12,000-strong mission has been trying to stabilize the country after French forces drove out an al-Qaida occupation in 2012, making it one of the most dangerous peacekeeping missions on the planet.
Last month, the UN special representative for Mali said 19 peacekeepers had been killed in attacks by extremists between February and May of this year.
WATCH: Climate change to blame for drought, food security in Africa
“It is a risky venture because it can be unpredictable, but we will do our assessment,” Sajjan said during a conference call with journalists. He said the Forces will “mitigate” any threats by making sure they have the right training and equipment.
“We need to look at the root causes of the problem, how certain radical groups will feed into other conflict zones,” Sajjan said.
“Certain parts of the world … haven’t gotten the right amount of attention, and that’s why we’re looking at Africa.”
A source said military personnel will be sent to West Africa in the coming weeks “to scope it out” for a potential mission.
READ MORE: U.S. drone strike kills at least 150 at al-Shabab training camp in Somalia
Sajjan himself hinted that he would be making “certain visits” to gather first-hand information on the ground, as he did this week in Iraq.
Protecting civilians and leveraging Canada’s ability to provide French-speaking troops would be among the considerations in deciding where the country decides to deploy, said Chantal Gagnon, a spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion.
Mali and Canada are both members of La Francophonie. Mali is also one of Canada’s so-called countries of focus for international development assistance.