Alberta’s Top 10 stories of 2021

2021 New Year Number. File: Getty Images

As 2021 comes to a close, it’s time to look back on the Alberta news stories Global News readers found most interesting over the past year.

While politics and COVID-19 dominated headlines again in 2021, there were also some lighter topics that captures the eyes of readers this year.

Here’s a look back at the stories that drew the most attention from Global News’ Alberta online audience in 2021.

10) Parkland County wildfires lead to evacuations west of Edmonton

Click to play video: 'Tomahawk wildfire rages into the night west of Edmonton in Parkland County'
Tomahawk wildfire rages into the night west of Edmonton in Parkland County

In early May, a wildfire in Parkland County forced several residents to flee their homes west of Edmonton.

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The wildfire flared up the afternoon of May 6 near the rural community of Tomahawk, south of Wabamun Lake.

Residents were allowed to return to their homes a couple of days later. The wildfire was 100 per cent contained by May 19.

The fire had grown to about 2,220 hectares in size before it was classified as being held.

9) Calgary man issues warning after discovering ‘creepy’ security camera live feeds

Click to play video: 'Calgary man finds website showing live private camera feeds'
Calgary man finds website showing live private camera feeds

This story from January centered around a Calgary man who came forward with security concerns after discovering a website that features live security camera feeds from around the world.

After installing a doorbell camera, he was curious if anyone else could see his feed. After a bit of digging online, he found a website that streamed live feeds of people’s front steps, workspaces and private homes.

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Global News reached out to the website for comment but did not receive a response.

On the website, it states that a private or unethical camera will be removed immediately upon an e-mail complaint. The other option is for people to reset the default password on their camera.

8) Message in a bottle resurfaces in Alberta lake nearly 30 years later

Click to play video: 'Message in a bottle resurfaces in Alberta lake after nearly 30 years'
Message in a bottle resurfaces in Alberta lake after nearly 30 years

In a heartwarming story in mid-April, Global News readers learned of a message in a bottle that resurfaced nearly 30 years after it was tossed into a lake in Leduc.

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Michelle Schwengler discovered the bottle in Telford Lake. She smashed it open to find a note written by a young girl 28 years ago.

“I don’t know you, but I would like to know who you are, and maybe you could visit me,” the first part of the message read. “You can visit me on Saturday, June 19, 1993.”

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Schwengler phoned the number written on the note and left a voicemail, but no one called her back. Thanks to the power of social media, she wound up being connected Daryl-Anne Steffen.

Steffen admitted she doesn’t really remember writing the note, but said she was eight years old at the time. Feeling excited and nostalgic, Steffen read the letter and laughed at the vague memory.

7) Wild weather rips through Calgary following week of hot weather

Amid severe heat in early July, a thunderstorm ripped through the Calgary area on July 2, bringing with it heavy rain, hail, thunder and lightning.

Approximately 23 millimetres of rain fell between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. A funnel cloud was also spotted over Calgary just after 5 p.m., which stayed in sight for nearly an hour, according to Environment Canada.

The storm came after days of temperatures in the mid-30s.

6) Krazy Binz stores open in Calgary and Edmonton

Click to play video: 'Customers go ‘Krazy’ for newest Calgary discount store'
Customers go ‘Krazy’ for newest Calgary discount store

The opening of a couple of discount stores in Alberta’s two largest cities drew in hundreds of people in the spring.

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Calgary’s Krazy Binz store opened in April, while Edmonton’s opened in June. The store is part of a chain that began in the U.S. but now has several locations in Canada.

Everything from electronics and toys, to household items and tools can be found in long wooden bins that stretch the length of the room. A lot of the products are items that have been returned to online retail giant Amazon.

Both store openings were met with people lined up for hours to get in on the discounts.

5) Mom who survived pedestrian crash in Calgary grieving boyfriend’s death, hopeful her baby will recover

Click to play video: 'Mom who survived pedestrian crash in Calgary grieving boyfriend’s death, hopeful her baby will recover'
Mom who survived pedestrian crash in Calgary grieving boyfriend’s death, hopeful her baby will recover

In February, 21-year-old Aliyah Ramirez-Bernard and her then-13-month-old daughter, Ember, were seriously injured after being struck by an SUV at Macleod Trail near Glenmore Trail S.W. in Calgary.

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Ramirez-Bernard’s boyfriend, 21-year-old Blade Crow, died in the collision.

Speaking from her hospital bed, Ramirez-Bernard worried about whether her daughter would recover.

In October, Ramirez-Bernard told Global News she is still in pain from her injuries, but added the mental trauma is worse. She was in Calgary ahead of a court appearance for the person charged in relation to the collision.

Twenty-nine-year-old Damon Wilson is facing six charges, including dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and failing to stop at the scene of an accident resulting in death.

4) Calgary police sergeant killed during New Year’s Eve traffic stop

Click to play video: 'Calgarians mourning the loss of Sgt. Andrew Harnett, killed in the line of duty'
Calgarians mourning the loss of Sgt. Andrew Harnett, killed in the line of duty

On Dec. 31, 2020, Calgary police Sgt. Andrew Harnett was killed in a hit and run.

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Police have said Harnett, who was 37, tried to stop an SUV when he noticed its licence plate didn’t match its registration, and was hit and dragged before he fell and was struck by another car.

Two people were charged with first-degree murder in the case. The passenger of the vehicle, Amir Abdulrahman, has since pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 28, 2022.

The alleged driver of the vehicle, who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, is charged with first-degree murder. He is now 18 and is scheduled to go to trial on Jan. 31.

During Abdulrahman’s court appearance earlier this month, Harnett’s family detailed the heartache they’ve been through in the past year.

His widow, Chelsea, was 15 weeks pregnant when Harnett was killed. She said the couple was just about to share the pregnancy news with their family and friends.

“I was now a pregnant widow at 32… I was left alone to navigate one of life’s most precious experiences,” she said. “The loneliness of parenting without Andrew is near crippling.”

3) Alberta’s largest cities elect new mayors in October municipal elections

Click to play video: 'Next mayors of Edmonton, Calgary celebrate historic election wins'
Next mayors of Edmonton, Calgary celebrate historic election wins

Edmonton and Calgary elected new mayors in October, as municipal elections were held across Alberta.

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The news coverage leading up to election day on Oct. 18, as well as live results coverage the night of election, proved very popular with Global News readers.

In Edmonton, former Member of Parliament and city councillor Amarjeet Sohi won with 45 per cent of the vote. In Calgary, Mayor Jyoti Gondek also won with 45 per cent of the vote. Gondek is also the first woman to become mayor in Calgary.

2) COVID-19 pandemic continues

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 fatigue and frustration rise across Canada as pandemic drags on'
COVID-19 fatigue and frustration rise across Canada as pandemic drags on

COVID-19 continued to dominate headlines in 2021: a year that started with the hope of vaccine rollout and ended with a surge in cases in December, driven by the Omicron variant.

From daily to weekly provincial updates and the announcement of a vaccine lottery in Alberta, to a shift to an endemic response in the summer followed by a crushing fourth wave, COVID-19 was a major news driver and will likely continue to be as we head into 2022.

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1) Federal election

The federal election in September garnered the most attention from readers visiting the Global News website in 2021.

The live election results on the night of the election Sept. 20 were particularly popular with our online audience.

The election saw Justin Trudeau’s Liberals form a minority government.

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