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Three Red Deer men on snowmobile trip missing in Revelstoke, B.C.

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A search and rescue mission is underway to find three missing snowmobilers from the Red Deer area last seen in Revelstoke, B.C., family members have told CBC.

Ryan Pyper, 40, went on a weekend snowmobile trip with friend Todd Kennedy, 45, and Todd’s son Braydon, 21, according to Ryan’s brother-in-law Ryan Davidson.

The trio left central Alberta on Thursday and were expected to return home Saturday or Sunday, said Pyper’s wife, Rozanne.

When she didn’t hear from her husband Saturday morning, Pyper began to worry.

“Your mind goes through all the different scenarios,” she said. “Honestly we’re trying to just keep things positive and hope for the best today that all three of them come off the mountain alive and well.”

The trio were last heard from Friday morning at 7:40 a.m., when Braydon posted on Snapchat a photo of one of the snowmobiles, she said. Ryan was also in contact with his mother-in-law, said Pyper. 

A screenshot from Braydon Kennedy’s Snapchat account. The photo was posted on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018 (Rozanne Pyper)

When hotel staff confirmed they weren’t in their rooms Saturday morning, Pyper reported her husband missing to B.C. RCMP.

She also notified the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club, who confirmed to Pyper that Ryan’s truck was still in the parking lot at the base of Boulder Mountain in Revelstoke on Saturday.

Search and rescue

A search and rescue operation, including a helicopter and an unknown number of “boots on the ground” was underway Saturday afternoon in the area, Pyper said.

Poor visibility because of heavy snow has made it difficult for the search and rescue mission, said Davidson.

Revelstoke was under a winter storm warning as of 2:30 p.m. MST Saturday and “hazardous winter conditions” were expected in the area, according to Environment Canada’s website.

B.C. RCMP have not responded to multiple calls and emails sent by CBC News.

A member of the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club declined to comment but confirmed to CBC News Revelstoke Search and Rescue is involved in a search.

The club also posted to their Facebook page, saying “again we have missing riders. [Search and rescue] has been contacted, we may have to shut down Boulder for the search.”

The organization also shared Pyper’s Facebook post in the comments section.

Pyper, along with her sister and mother-in-law, were travelling to Revelstoke Saturday afternoon to help with the search.

Avid outdoorsman

This wasn’t the first snowmobiling trip for Ryan, who is described as an avid outdoorsman by his wife.

Both Ryan and Todd have travelled on similar trips together in the past, and both families would often camp together in the summer.

Pyper believes Braydon is not as experienced with snowmobiles as the other two men.

A file photo of Boulder Mountain in Revelstoke, B.C. (Scott Magnusson)

She said her husband always travels prepared and this trip was no different. She said the men had four snowmobiles with them, with the fourth being used as a spare in case something went wrong, Pyper said.

As they await news of their family members and keep in close contact with Todd and Braydon’s family, Davidson said everyone is trying to keep positive.

“I, and all of our friends and family, are trying to not think about the worst. Just hoping for the best right now,” he said.  

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‘Too soon to celebrate’ Ottawa’s low case count, says Etches

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Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged just 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the lowest daily total since Sept. 1.

Because of the lag between testing and reporting, the low number could simply reflect low turnout at the city’s testing sites on weekends — all month, new case counts have been lower on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

During a virtual news conference Tuesday, the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said she doesn’t read too much into a single day’s report.

“I don’t think we can make too much of 11. Actually, it could be a lot higher tomorrow — I would expect that, on average,” she said. “It’s too soon to celebrate.”

Provincewide, public health officials reported 1, 249 new cases Tuesday.

OPH also declared 62 cases resolved Tuesday, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 462. Two more people have died, both in care homes currently experiencing outbreaks, raising the city’s COVID-19 death toll to 361. 

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Santa Claus isn’t coming to Ottawa’s major malls this year

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Santa Claus may still be coming to town this Christmas, but he won’t be dropping by any of Ottawa’s major malls, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Cadillac Fairview said Santa won’t be making an appearance at any of its 19 malls across Canada, including Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa. On Tuesday, Bayshore and St. Laurent shopping centres confirmed they, too, are scrapping the annual tradition.

“Due to the evolution of the situation in regards to COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Santa Program and Gift Wrap Program this year,” Bayshore spokesperson Sara Macdonald wrote in an email to CBC.

Macdonald said parent company Ivanhoé Cambridge cancelled all holiday activities “due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country.”

Macdonald said families that had already booked an appointment to visit Santa will receive an email with more information.  

Virtual visits with Santa

Rideau Centre said based on customer research and discussions with public health officials, its North Pole is going online this year.

“Children will be able to have a private chat with Santa,” said Craig Flannagan, vice-president of marketing for Cadillac Fairview. “You’ll also be able to join a 15-minute storytime with Santa over Facebook Live.” 

At Place d’Orléans Shopping Centre, visitors are invited to take a “selfie with Santa” — actually, a life-size cutout of Santa Pierre, the man who’s been playing Santa at the east end mall for years.

“We understand that this is not ideal, but in lieu of this tradition we will be doing what we can to maintain and encourage holiday cheer,” according to a statement on the mall’s Facebook page.

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Ottawa Bylaw breaks up two large parties in Ottawa over the weekend

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OTTAWA — Ottawa Bylaw is investigating social gatherings of more than 10 people in private homes across Ottawa last weekend.

Mayor Jim Watson tells Newstalk 580 CFRA that Ottawa Bylaw broke-up two house parties over the weekend, with 20 to 25 people at each party.

“That’s the kind of stupidity that angers me, that’s where the bulk of the transmissions are taking place, if we exclude the tragedy of the long-term care homes; it’s these house parties with unrelated people,” said Watson on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts.

“The message doesn’t seem to be getting through, particularly to some young people who think they’re invincible.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Bylaw and Regulatory Services Director Roger Chapman says, “There are still ongoing investigations from this past weekend that could result in charges.”

Chapman says recent investigations led to two charges being issued for social gatherings of more than 10 people in a private residence in contravention of the Reopening Ontario Act.

“In one case, up to 30 individuals were observed attending a house party in Ward 18 on Oct. 24,” said Chapman.

“The second charge was issued following a house party in Ward 16 on Oct. 31, where up to 16 individuals were observed to be in attendance.”

The fine is $880 for hosting an illegal gathering.

Alta Vista is Ward 18, while Ward 16 is River Ward.

Ottawa Bylaw has issued 24 charges for illegal gatherings since the start of the pandemic.

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