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Stony Mountain Institution inmates using drones to sneak in contraband, say staff

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The union that represents corrections officers at Stony Mountain Institution says its members are at risk due to the latest trick inmates are using to get contraband into the prison.

James Bloomfield, the prairie regional president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, says inmates and their contacts on the outside are taking to the skies and using drones to bring things like drugs, cell phones and weapons over the institution’s walls.

« It’s very easy to launch one of these and have them go over an exercise yard to drop off a package, » said Bloomfield, who says the problem is happening at prisons across Canada.

« The technologies are so accurate that in some cases they can have them go right up to a window and drop a package in a specific person’s hands. »

The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers says staff at the Manitoba penitentiary have intercepted at least five drones over the prison in the last year. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

Bloomfield, who is a correctional officer at Stony Mountain, 23 kilometres north of Winnipeg, said staff have intercepted at least five drones flying over the prison in the last year.

He said the demand for contraband in Stony Mountain has created a multi-million-dollar underground economy in the prison and inmates use many techniques — including having packages literally thrown over the fence into the prison’s exercise yard — to get things in.

« Drones are just another tool that we have to work to stop, » said Bloomfield, who worries the technology could see a gun ending up behind the prison walls.

« With the amount that they can hold on a smaller drone these days, our concerns are very high. »

Risky business

As well as the dangers brought by the contraband that is getting into the facility, Bloomfield says officers are also facing risks from delivery system itself.

« If we have a drone come over that yard I can’t shoot it out of the air… If this thing comes over and drops a package now those officers are obligated to go and get that package in amongst 200 inmates, » he said.

« You can imagine the safety risks at that point when they’re dropping $60,000 or $80,000 worth of drugs into an exercise yard with 200 inmates, all of them looking to get that package and make sure that where it’s supposed to go is where it goes. »

Kelly Dae Dash from the Correctional Service Canada wouldn’t confirm the number of drone interceptions at Stony Mountain, citing security concerns, but did say drone sightings have increased over CSC airspace over the past several years.

Dash said the CSC is « continuing to research and introduce new technology including drone detection. » 

« Preventing the introduction of contraband and reducing the use of illicit substances by offenders in correctional institutions is a priority for us, » said Dash in an email.

« The use of drones as a method to introduce drugs into correctional institutions is one of many methods used by drug traffickers in an attempt to circumvent CSC’s drug interdiction efforts. »

Eyes on the sky

While prisons work to develop detection systems for the drones, Bloomfield says what’s really needed is more resources on the ground with their eyes on the sky.

« Really what it comes down to is we need appropriate detection systems and we need the right type of staffing to deal with this, » he said.

« Our staffing levels are very low and we don’t have the ability to have somebody walking around the yards watching and listening for this type of thing at night. »

The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers says drones delivering contraband into Stony Mountain are putting corrections officers are at risk. (CBC)

Dash said the CSC currently has no plans to hire additional staff at Stony Mountain to monitor drone activity.

A lockdown and general search of the institution currently in place at Stony Mountain was planned in advance, said Dash, and has nothing to do with an increase in contraband material getting into the prison.



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A stunning Water Lantern Festival is coming to Montreal

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What might just be the most magical night ever is coming up for Montreal this year.

The Water Lantern Festival has announced that it will be gracing Mississauga with thousands of floating lanterns later this year, as part of a celebration that spans the entire world.

According to the festival’s official website, the event is a celebration of life with proceeds going towards charities and non-profit organizations within the area.

“Water Lantern Festival brings together individuals from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life to join in one emotional and memorable night. At the Water Lantern Festival, we cherish these moments and will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget as you witness the beauty of thousands of lanterns reflecting upon the water,” the website states.

The festival takes place throughout multiple cities around the world, with the Canadian cities of Quebec, Regina, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga, and, of course, Montreal taking part.

For the Calgary event, a date has been confirmed and tickets are already rolling out. Montreal shan’t be far behind, and you can click the Notify Me tab on the event’s site to be kept in the loop.

Expect an evening filled with food trucks, music, lantern designing and finally, a magical launch of the lanterns into the water as the sun goes down.

For our pals over in Calgary, their event includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, a marker, and a wristband. Expect something similar, if not the same, when more details float through about Montreal’s event.

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Euthanasia order on hold for Montreal dog that attacked children

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A pit bull dog that attacked four children and two adults in August 2018 in Montreal North will not be euthanized in the immediate future.

The euthanasia order has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court decision.

On Tuesday, Judge Lukasz Granosik rejected a request to halt the euthanasia order issued by the Montreal North borough, which declared the animal a “dangerous dog.”

The City of Montreal has not changed its mind. This is only a delay before it proceeds with euthanizing the dog, a source told the Canadian Press.

Shotta, the one-year-old dog, was in the care of its owner’s acquaintance in August 2018. The dog attacked four children and two adults, causing serious injuries in separate incidents on the same day.

After the attacks, the dog was taken from the home and entrusted to the SPCA.

WATCH: Dog found dead in Angrignon Park

The Road to Home Rescue Support, an American shelter, asked the court if it could take in the dog. Christa Frineau, the dog’s owner, had also asked that Shotta not be euthanized.

Granosik refused to grant the request.

—With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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9 Things To Do In Montreal This Friday, Saturday & Sunday

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Today’s sunny skies have me itching to make weekend plans. I absolutely cannot wait to make the most of this warmer weather. This might be the time to inflate my bike tires and dust off my running shoes…

Whether you want to brush up on your cooking skills, let loose, or fill your stomach with amazing food, there’s an event out there for you. Read on for 9 fun things you can do with friends or a fling this weekend.

TL;DR Read on for 9 fun things you can do in Montreal this weekend.

Let Yourself Go At Dress Up

Where: 185 Avenue Van Horne, Montréal.

When: Friday, March 29, 9:00 p.m.

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