Average farmland prices up 10.1% in 2015: Farm Credit Canada report

CALGARY – A new report says the average price of farmland across Canada increased 10.1 per cent last year as low interest rates and strong crop income helped maintain demand.

The report by Farm Credit Canada says last year’s gains are part of a continuous upward trend that started in 1993.

The gains, however, are lower than in recent years, with the average price increasing 14.3 per cent in 2014 and 22.1 per cent in 2013.



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    The chief agricultural economist at Farm Credit Canada says farmers have to prepare for a potential softening of the market as lower crop prices have already increased volatility.

    J.P. Gervais says farmers didn’t feel the full effects of lower commodity prices last year because of the significant drop in the Canadian dollar.

    But looking ahead, Gervais says 2016 could see more modest farmland value gains of two to four per cent as farmer income, known as crop receipts, start to be affected.

    “The reason that we’re seeing that rate of increase slow down is that it matches the fact that we’re approaching the top of the cycle when it comes to receipts,” said Gervais.

    He said some areas of the country are already seeing farmland prices affected, with some significant variations in price trends within each province.

    Gervais said that roughly half of Saskatchewan farmland saw little price increase or even a slight decrease last year. The Saskatchewan government has introduced stricter measures dictating who can own farmland in the province in an effort to ensure it remains accessible to the province’s farmers and ranchers.

    Roughly 40 per cent of Ontario farmland also experienced scant price increases, or some decreases, last year. But overall, Saskatchewan’s rate of price growth slowed to 9.4 per cent, down from 18.7 per cent the year before, and Ontario saw a 6.6 per cent increase, down from 12.4 per cent in 2014.

    And on a weighted average, all provinces saw increases, with Manitoba having the highest average gains at 12.4 per cent. New Brunswick’s increases were the lowest at 4.6 per cent.

    British Columbia saw prices increase 6.5 per cent, up from 4.2 per cent in 2014, and Alberta saw a hike of 11.6 per cent compared with 8.8 per cent the year before.

    Despite more than two decades of climbing prices, Gervais says he doesn’t see a bubble in farmland values, since the ratio between crop receipts and farmland values isn’t very far removed from what it’s been for the past 50 or 60 years.

    “What this suggests to me is given where the receipts, given where interest rates are, farmland valuations rest on sound economics,” said Gervais.

    He said any increase in interest rates or a strengthening Canadian dollar would likely have a negative effect on farmland prices.

Whyte Avenue mural-alley to highlight talented local artists

EDMONTON – Graffiti doesn’t always have positive connotations. But the City of Edmonton is actively trying to change that with a new mural-alley.

The idea was spurred following the closure of two popular graffiti spots.

A few years ago, a pilot project was launched to give artists a chance to legally express themselves in a safe environment.



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    Capital City Clean-Up manager, Don Belanger, explained: “we tried it in Mill Woods in a residential area and we tried it here in Strathcona on the back of Tirecraft to see if we create a free-wall where people could come and do tagging and not be worried about safety or fear being charged.”

    Anyone could paint whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted on the designated free-walls. They were used constantly, with new art popping up daily.

    “People got their wedding photos in front of it,” said The Paint Spot’s owner, Kim Fjordbotten. “There were bands taking that as the background for their promotional pictures.”

    But the city determined continuing with the pilot-project was not financially viable. There was too much graffiti spilling over into the surrounding communities.

    “Enforcement officers being involved in monitoring would cost a lot of dollars,” said Belanger. “The community itself would have to pay dollars to have graffiti removed from their properties.”

    At the end of March, the free-walls were shut down, permanently.

    Not wanting to take away all the opportunities for local artists, the city worked with the Edmonton Arts Council and art-supply store The Paint Spot to come up with a new street-art project.

    “That’s where the street art alley came into being with the transitory and permanent mural art that will line this alley.”

    The first of many murals has already been completed on the back of the Tirecraft on Whyte Avenue. It features a creative alphabet and was designed by three local artists, A.J.A Louden, Clayton Lowe and Evan Brunt.

    Brunt said he’s happy to hear about additional space for artists. “I think the more walls with colour on them or something of substance, the better. It’s something that’s important Edmonton does to stay current with the art scene.”

    Artists are paid for their work on each mural.

    “From a tagging sense, it does protect the wall,” said Belanger, “because art is looked upon slightly differently than a blank wall.”

    Other building owners have already expressed interest in having their own contributions.

    “The church is also very interested in a mural here, so immediately you could see that you’d have a density of murals for mural alley here,” said the Arts Council’s Katherine Kerr.

    Six murals will also be painted on the large purple canvas that is The Paint Spot.

    “From day one I wanted to have an outdoor gallery to showcase the artists that I love and the diversity of art-making,” explained Fjordbotten.

    Dozens of local artists, as well as people from Ontario and the United States applied to be featured.

    “77 applications blew me away. If I could find a home for each and every one of them, they’re all calibre, I’d want them all.”

    Everyone involved in the mural-alley is hopeful a successful project off Whyte Avenue will spur other mural-alleys around the city.

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Female employee dies after stabbing at Maxi grocery store

MONTREAL – Police are searching for a suspect after a stabbing Sunday night that left 20-year-old Clémence Beaulieu-Patry dead.

Around 8:30 p.m., police received a 911 call about a stabbing at the Maxi grocery store on the corner of Papineau Ave. and Crémazie Blvd. in the Saint-Michel borough.

“Officers arrived on the scene and located a 20-year-old woman on the ground in distress,” said Abdullah Emran, a spokesperson with Montreal police.

Clémence Beaulieu-Patry, as seen in a Facebook picture.

Clémence Beaulieu-Patry/Facebook

Witnesses said she was stabbed by a man, who then fled the scene on foot

WATCH: Raw footage as police look for a suspect after a grocery store employee was stabbed in Saint-Michel.

Beaulieu-Patry was rushed to hospital, but died of her injuries.

“A perimeter was established around the business,” said Emran.

“Major crimes, the K9 unit and crime scene technicians are on the scene to determine the circumstances.”

A 20-year-old woman was stabbed at a Maxi grocery store, Sunday, April 10, 2016.

Yannick Gadbois/Global News

There have been no arrests so far.

It is the city’s second homicide of the year.


Curling community rallies to bring Mexican fan to Canada

CALGARY – We know that Canadian curling fans were cheering on Kevin Koe’s Alberta rink, as they took gold over Denmark in the World Men’s Curling Championship Sunday morning.

But one woman at home in Guadalajara, Mexico was cheering just as loud. Gabriela Fernandez just might be curling’s biggest fan.

For most Canadian curling fans, standing on pebbled ice is just second nature. Some have grown up on it, others have made careers on it.


But never has the simple touch of it brought out the kind of emotion Fernandez showed when she first touched the ice.

“Touching the ice was the most incredible thing that has happened to me in my whole life,” Fernandez said. “As soon as I went out of there I went into the bathroom and started crying, because I couldn’t believe it.”

Fernandez  is one of curling’s biggest fans you’ll ever meet   – and she lives in Mexico.

She discovered the sport 17-years-ago in an apartment she was renting, that happened to have Canadian satellite TV.

“I was flipping through channels and came across this strange game,” said Fernandez.

After falling in love with that game, it became her goal to see it in person. Then it was announced the Continental Cup was coming to Las Vegas.

“I can go, I can go to Las Vegas. I can go. I can go. So I started saving for a whole year,” Fernandez said.

Then this past January, she returned to Vegas but this time, she got to meet some of her favourite curlers.

“Incredible, I cannot find another word for it,” said Fernandez.

“You know when you talk to all the people who love the game as much as we do as players and the broadcast team and everything. To see someone who does that to come watch a game of curling and they enjoy it that much, it was really a great thing to see,” said Cheryl Bernard, an Olympic curling silver medallist.

The dream isn’t over though, the curling community – now fans of her, are coming together to bring her to Edmonton for next year’s World Championship.

“I don’t think she realizes what a world’s (curling championship) in Canada will be like, she’s going to get the full Canadian experience,” Bernard added.

“It’s a matter of taking a crazy Mexican that loves curling to realize her dream,” said Fernandez laughing.

To top it all off, Sunday just happens to also be her birthday, which coincidentally also happens to fall during the World Curling Championship next year.

“I’m going to be 73-years-old in Edmonton, and I’m going to celebrate with them. It’s a way of me, thanking them. I want to spend my birthday with them,” said Fernandez.

Horse racing aids Alberta’s rural Economy

LETHBRIDGE – Over the past century, Alberta has made a name for itself in the sport of horse racing.

Two of the greatest jockeys of all time, George Wolf and Johnny Longdon, grew up racing on the bush tracks in Alberta.

Albertans have embraced the sport ever since the first recorded race in Millarville, in 1905.

The future of the industry, which had been tumultuous, has recently received renewed support from the provincial government.



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    Nearly two weeks ago, the Government of Alberta and Horse Racing Alberta signed a new 10-year agreement, to support rural communities and the agriculture sector.

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    The agreement replaces the old funding agreement which was set to expire in March.

    Funding for horse racing will continue to come to the industry using a portion of slot machine revenues from Racing Entertainment Centres, like the Rocky Mountain Turf Club in Lethbridge.

    “It provides up to 40% of the net revenue to support and assist horse racing,” said Max Gibb, CEO Rocky Mountain Turf Club.

    The sport is not only a fun past time, but a revenue generator in southern Alberta, with over $300 million of economic development in the province being attributed to horse racing.

    “Horse racing is a significant employer of people,” said Gibb. “Agricultural development, rural development, hay, grain, transportation, tourism, all kinds of economic development.”

    The agreement will allow many to enjoy horse racing for years to come.

    “It’s a way of life, it’s generational, it’s many things,” said Rose Rossi, General Manager Rocky Mountain Turf Club. “It also means that this community gets to keep this racetrack, it’s something unique.”

    The funding also supports Albertans who have built their lives around the sport, to continue to pursue their passion.

    “I can continue doing what I love, what I’ve done for years, without any fear,” said trainer Dallas Birdrattler. “For the past couple of years we haven’t known what is going to happen, now with the new contract, we do have a guarantee for a bit.”

    Spectators in Alberta also get a renewed opportunity to experience horse racing.

    “You get people coming out with hats,” said Rose Rossi, General Manager Rocky Mountain Turf Club  “It’s just a new form, well, an old form of entertainment becoming new again.”

    Horse racing has been a strong part of Alberta’s heritage and with this new arrangement it offers the opportunity to engage, amuse and employ new generations of Albertans.