As Catherine McDonald reports, the incident happened at the same apartment building where there was a shooting just three months ago.
As Catherine McDonald reports, the incident happened at the same apartment building where there was a shooting just three months ago.
LONDON — Buckingham Palace said Wednesday it was launching an investigation after a newspaper reported that a former aide had made a bullying allegation against the Duchess of Sussex. The Times of London reported allegations that the duchess drove out two personal assistants and left staff feeling “humiliated.” It said an official complaint was made by Jason Knauf, then the communications secretary to Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry. He now works for Harry’s elder brother, Prince William. The palace said it was “clearly very concerned” about the allegations. It said in a statement that the palace human resources team “will look into the circumstances outlined in the article” and would seek to speak to current and former staff. “The Royal Household has had a Dignity at Work policy in place for a number of years and does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace,” it said. American actress Meghan Markle, a former star of the TV legal drama “Suits,” married Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son, Archie, was born the following year. In early 2020, Meghan and Harry announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. They recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, California, and are expecting a second child. The bullying allegations were reported four days before the scheduled broadcast of an Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan, which is anticipated to draw a huge audience. It also comes less than two weeks after the palace announced that the couple’s split from official duties would be final. A spokesman for the duchess said she was “saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma.” In a 30-second clip released by CBS Wednesday night, Winfrey asks Meghan how she feels about the palace “hearing you speak your truth today?” “I don't know how they could expect that after all of this time we would still just be silent if there was an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” Markle says. “And if that comes with risk of losing things, I mean, there's been a lot that's been lost already.” The Associated Press
Calgary police say a person has died in a shooting with officers. A news release says police received a complaint Wednesday afternoon about a person with a gun at the Nuvo Hotel in the Beltline area. The agency says there was a confrontation with that person and there was a shooting. No officers were injured, and no other details about the shooting were provided. Roads in the area were to be closed for some time. The province's police watchdog, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, is investigating. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Cheered on by President Joe Biden, House Democrats are hustling to pass the most ambitious effort in decades to overhaul policing nationwide, confident they can avoid clashing with moderates in their own party who are wary of reigniting a debate they say hurt them during last fall's election. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was set for a House vote late Wednesday. The sweeping legislation, which was approved last summer but stalled in the Senate, was named in honour of Floyd, whose killing by police in Minnesota last Memorial Day sparked protests nationwide. The bill would ban chokeholds and “qualified immunity” for law enforcement and create national standards for policing in a bid to bolster accountability. Democrats say they are determined to pass the bill a second time, to combat police brutality and institutional racism after the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans following interactions with law enforcement — images of which were sometimes jarringly captured on video. Those killings drew a national and international outcry. But the debate over legislation has turned into a political liability for Democrats as Republicans seized on calls by some activists and progressives to “defund the police” to argue that Democrats were intent on slashing police force budgets. This bill doesn't do that. Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said it was a reason the party, after talking confidently of growing its majority in November, instead saw it shrink to just 10 seats, 221-211. “We played too much defence on ‘defund the police,’” Perez said. Moderate Democrats said the charge helped to drive Democratic defeats in swing districts around the country. “No one ran on ‘defund the police,’ but all you have to do is make that a political weapon,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar, a moderate Texas Democrat who has pushed for more police funding in places like his city of Laredo, where law enforcement presence is especially concentrated given the close proximity to the Mexican border. While Democrats used their then-larger majority to pass the police reform measure in the House last summer, it stalled in the then-Republican-controlled Senate, where GOP senators pushed an alternate plan that Democrats blocked from consideration, calling it inadequate. Democrats now control both chambers of Congress, but it seems unlikely the bill could pass the Senate without substantial changes to win GOP support. The bill had been set for a vote Thursday, but House leaders abruptly changed the schedule after U.S. Capitol Police warned of threats of violence by a militia group seeking to storm the Capitol two months after the Jan. 6 siege. Democratic control in the House is now so narrow that the loss of even a handful of moderate votes can sink legislation. But senior Democratic congressional aides said Wednesday they were confident the policing bill would clear the House and were eager to get it to the Senate, where negotiations will take longer. Despite the political attacks by Republicans, even the House's more centrist lawmakers, some representing more conservative districts, appear ready to back the bill. Aides pointed to the moderate New Democrat Coalition saying this week that its members would support it. “Black Americans have endured generations of systemic racism and discrimination for too long, and this has been painfully evident in their treatment by law enforcement," said Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash, who chairs the coalition. That endorsement came despite the bill's prohibitions on so-called qualified immunity, which shields law enforcement from certain lawsuits and is one of the main provisions that will likely need to be negotiated in any compromise with the Senate. Police unions and other law enforcement groups have argued that, without such legal protections, fears of lawsuits will stop people from becoming police officers — even though the measure permits such suits only against law enforcement agencies, rather than all public employees. California Rep. Karen Bass, who authored the bill, understands the challenge some House members face in supporting it., “My colleagues, several of them, I do not make light of the difficulty they had getting reelected because of the lie around defunding the police,” Bass said. She called provisions limiting qualified immunity and easing standards for prosecution “the only measures that hold police accountable — that will actually decrease the number of times we have to see people killed on videotape.” Bass said she was not planning to make concessions before the bill clears the House. Changes would only serve to weaken it while failing to shield Democrats from the false “defund the police” narrative surrounding it, she said. “Even if they were to vote against the bill, even if they were to have a press conference denouncing the bill, they are still going to be hit with the same lie,” Bass said of Democrats. She also acknowledged the challenges Democrats faced last November — and may likely see again — when former President Donald Trump's reelection campaign and other leading Republicans crowded the airwaves with images of cities around the country burning. But Bass said those attacks, like much of the opposition to the bill, are built on racism, promoting fears about how, “The scary Black people are going to attack you if you try to rein in the police.” “That's as old as apple pie in our history,” she said. “So do you not act because of that?” Still, she conceded that changes are likely to come if the measure is to win the minimum 60 votes it will need to advance in the Senate, which is now split 50-50s. Bass said she'd been in contact with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the chamber, and was confident he would help deliver some GOP support. Scott said this week that the legislation's sticking points were qualified immunity and prosecutorial standards and that in both areas, “We have to protect individual officers.” “That's a red line for me,” Scott said, adding “hopefully we'll come up with something that actually works.” That could prove a tall order, despite the White House's vocal support for police reform. Biden has promised to combat systemic racism and signed executive orders he says will begin doing that, though advocates are expecting the new administration to go further. Biden has tweeted that he hopes "to be able to sign into law a landmark police reform bill.” Will Weissert And Padmananda Rama, The Associated Press
When it comes to industrial development, the City of Calgary is keeping an eye on Rocky View County. City council's planning committee met on Wednesday to talk about the city's new industrial growth strategy. But the neighbouring county was the elephant in the room. Paul Marsden, a commercial real estate broker with Colliers International, told the committee that Calgary's industrial space has nearly doubled since the year 2000 and has grown continuously. But it's what's happening outside the city boundaries that should be a concern for city council. "Balzac specifically is now a household name in the industrial market, not just locally but nationally," said Marsden. "Both from the institutions who invest in this real estate as well as occupiers who fill that real estate with pallets and products." He said that back in 2011, there was 775,000 square feet of inventory space in the Balzac area. This year, that area in Rocky View County is expected to surpass nine million square feet of industrial space. "This explosive growth is driven largely due to the cost advantage of what we see outside the city limits," said Marsden. Rocky View advantages Among the differences, land values are lower in Rocky View, taxes are low, development standards are lower and the area has developed its own market momentum. For the first time, he said there will be more industrial development in the county than in the City of Calgary. It's not just companies interested in coming to the Calgary area that are choosing Balzac. He pointed out that a company can save 18 per cent simply by relocating from Calgary to Rocky View County. For that reason, large companies are crossing the boundary line. Marsden said Sobey's, Lowes and Smuckers have already moved warehouse business out of Calgary and the city should pay attention so that other major companies, such as Loblaw, Saputo and Federated Co-operatives, don't follow suit. He said existing companies in Calgary are pushing landlords for lower lease rates to compete with Balzac and that means lower property tax revenues for Calgary. If that's not enough of a challenge for the city, Marsden said developers are actively looking for even more developable land on the city's doorstep. "A number of developers are currently looking for other regions in Rocky View County including the southeast area off Glenmore Trail past the HeatherGlen golf course, where a number of developers are looking at large land positions to build what would be dubbed as Balzac 2.0." Keeping up means change While the city's industrial market in the northeast and southeast quadrants currently amount to more than 100 million square feet, the amount of growth that's happening outside of Calgary's borders is a concern. The city's new industrial growth strategy calls for a number of changes to be made to help it compete. The planning department is proposing new industrial zonings, infrastructure improvements to help speed access to freeways and working with Calgary Economic Development to help attract new customers. An industry working group is seeking ways to make Calgary's non-residential property tax rate more competitive but proposals aren't expected until later this year. Role seen for province The chair of council's planning and urban development committee, Coun. Jyoti Gondek, said the growth outside the city's boundaries is well known. But she said it shows a need for guidance from the provincial government. "If the Government of Alberta actually is interested in making sure that we have economic success in all of our jurisdictions, they need to step in here," said Gondek. "It wasn't enough to create a metropolitan regional growth board that only looked at planning and servicing. The economics has been left entirely out of the equation." Ward 3 Coun. Jyoti Gondek said she would like to see Calgary and Rocky View cooperate on industrial development standards that would benefit all municipalities involved.(Scott Dippel/CBC) If the province doesn't get involved, then she said Calgary has other options. "When you see the economics like you did today, we've got a problem," said Gondek. "Maybe it's time to look at where our boundaries actually are." Annexation not only solution Annexing land from surrounding counties has been talked about in the past. In expressing his displeasure in 2015 with then proposed redevelopment plans in the Conrich area just beyond Calgary's northeast boundary, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the "mother of all annexations" might be a way to solve the problem. Gondek said she's not sure annexation is what's required on the industrial development file. She'd rather see Calgary and its neighbours cooperate on industrial development standards which would benefit all municipalities involved in terms of attracting jobs while building quality places to live and work. From her perspective, she said not addressing the sprawl that's occurring on both sides of the city's boundaries is a missed opportunity to do regional planning better and more efficiently for taxpayers.
Pembroke -- A respected member of the Upper Ottawa Valley legal, business and agricultural community, Del O’Brien, was recognized by Renfrew County Council at its February 25 meeting for his coming induction into the Ontario Agricultural Wall of Fame. He was introduced via ZOOM by Donna Campbell, secretary-treasurer of the Renfrew County Federation of Agriculture, one of the bodies which supported the nomination for the honour. Ms. Campbell noted some of the highlights of Mr. O’Brien’s career during which legal, agricultural and business interests, local as well as provincial, continued to intersect. The nomination highlighted his agricultural involvement and specifically his years of work with the Ontario Drainage Tribunal, a body which adjudicates disputes under the Ontario Drainage Act with regard to the impact of water management on farmland use. “In 1975 he was asked to establish and chair the Ontario Drainage Tribunal,” said Ms. Campbell. “As such he had a major influence on the evolution of tile drainage law in the province. In 1984 he was appointed founding chair of the Ontario Agricultural Council. And in 1994 he was appointed the official Drainage Referee for Ontario, a position he held until 2006. Now retired, he continues to operate a 500-acre organic farm along the Ottawa River with his sons.” Mr. O’Brien thanked Mrs. Campbell for her introduction, and county council for the honour and for the opportunity to speak to them. He said he would take the opportunity to leave them with a message. He told the meeting the challenges of coping with the COVID-19 virus bring with them two revolutionary opportunities for Renfrew County. “If we follow the news, we see that city living has become almost untenable,” he said. “People want to flee to the country. Renfrew County is a green area which is very inviting and has a lot to offer. “The second is the IT revolution. The internet has made it possible to work from any home. Renfrew County has severances along every road where the municipality doesn’t have to spend a nickel for services. The road, hydro, and telephone are already there, and in most cases there’s good internet. People can have a large lot with a drilled well and a septic tank. It’s green, green, green! Why do business in the city when it can be done in any home, anywhere in the country?” He said every municipality could use more children in schools and rinks, and more people in the churches. “The county’s structure was originally set up for one family on every 100 acres,” he said. “Thousands of people could be attracted to the Valley by making building lots readily available. Every real estate agent and developer can tell you the demand for lots and houses is outrageous. We’ve got to accommodate that demand and do it quickly, and not by subdivisions which take years to get in place and cost a great deal of money.” He added residential development along existing roads is completely compatible with farming today. “It’s mainly cash crops that are being produced now,” he said. “Due to Mad Cow Disease, beef operations are almost non-existent. And dairy operations are in confined housing 24/7. Planning policies are outmoded and haven’t recognized the revolutionary changes in farming. They must be brought up to date and modernized so that severances move quickly because they are needed immediately. You, the leaders of county council, can be the engine of that change. You’re in charge and you have to seize the opportunity.” Warden Debbie Robinson thanked Mr. O’Brien for his input. “You did not disappoint,” she said. “Your message is extremely timely as we’ll be discussing our Official Plan later today. It was excellent and it was heard.” She congratulated him and displayed a certificate of recognition which she plans to present to him in person when COVID-19 regulations permit. “I can assure you that, if we were doing this today in person in council chambers you would receive a standing ovation with thunderous applause,” she said. Marie Zettler, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
Mariah Carey's older brother on Wednesday sued the singer over her recent best-selling memoir "The Meaning of Mariah Carey," accusing her of defamation and inflicting emotional distress. Morgan Carey is seeking unspecified damages in a complaint filed in a New York state court in Manhattan, including over book passages that he said falsely suggested he was violent. The lawsuit was filed one month after Mariah Carey's older sister Alison sued her for $1.25 million for alleged emotional distress over the memoir, which was published in September and topped The New York Times' nonfiction best-seller list in October.
EDMONTON — Five Black Muslim women, all Somali-Canadians wearing hijabs, have been attacked or threatened in Edmonton in the last 10 weeks. The city's Al-Rashid Mosque began offering Muslim women self-defence lessons following the attacks. The classes are full. Trent Daley is a member of Edmonton's Anti-Racism Advisory Committee. He says someone approaches him or his network on a weekly basis about an assault. Most victims are Black and Muslim women. "There's been a notable marked increase (in assaults) following the pandemic. It's so pervasive right now," Daley says. "It's full of racial epithets, full of disgusting language targeting them based off the scarf that they wear and the identity they presumed that this person has. It's dehumanizing." Calgary police say they received 80 hate crime complaints between January and November 2020. Cheryl Voordenhout with the Edmonton Police Service says it received 60 reports of hate crimes last year. So far in 2021, three of seven hate-crime related investigations have involved Somali-Muslim women. On Dec. 8, a mother and daughter were violently attacked in the Southgate mall parking lot. A week later, near the same mall, another woman was subject to racial slurs as someone tried to hit her head with a shopping bag. In February, a man made racial comments and became aggressive toward a woman at the University of Alberta transit centre. The same day, a man came up behind a woman walking in a popular neighbourhood, pushed her to the ground and made threats to kill her and tear off her burqa. The latest attack happened Feb. 17. The National Council of Canadian Muslims said a man approached a Black Muslim woman wearing a hijab at the Century Park transit station, swore at her and threatened to kill her. Political leaders, including Premier Jason Kenney, have spoken out against the attacks. But the CEO of the national Muslims council says condemnation is not enough and government leaders at the local and provincial level need to take action. "Anti-Black racism is a real problem in Alberta," says Mustafa Farooq. "Black-Muslim women tend to face greater challenges than almost anyone else, because racism and gendered Islamophobia are real problems. "We can look, for example, at street harassment bylaws. We can look at ways in which anti-racism initiatives are being funded. We can look at hate crime units and their advocacy in dealing with these challenges." "So much can be done immediately, but it's not happening." Daley added that recent rallies and marches in Edmonton and Calgary in opposition to COVID-19 measures are examples of how the pandemic has exacerbated racism in Alberta. Some participants were seen carrying tiki torches, which many say are a symbol used by white supremacists. Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee said the police service is doubling down in its effort to work with the Somali community to address racially motivated assaults. "We've got to listen to what they need and then we've got to figure out how we can ... actually get some of the changes that they need," he said at a news conference Tuesday. McFee also alluded to the suspects in the assaults possibly having mental-health issues. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 ___ This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This story has been edited. An interview subject was removed from the original version because of concerns raised about her safety.
As First Nations across the country begin to adopt their own child and family welfare laws, they are being reminded about liability issues and adopting statutory immunity. “It’s very much a policy or political issue for Indigenous governing bodies as to whether or not they want to follow what most provinces have done in including a statutory immunity … (which) obviously does limit recovery for children who may have suffered damages. It’s a question that may not be palatable to include in laws, but it’s there in the laws that the provinces have applied,” said Eileen Vanderburgh, lawyer with Alexander Holburn Beaudin and Lang LLP. In the case of child services, statutory immunity would require a child who is suing for damages to establish that the acts or omissions were done in bad faith, which is a higher standard than claiming a duty was not performed, said Vanderburgh. Vanderburgh spoke March 2 at the third of five virtual gatherings hosted by the Assembly of First Nations on Child and Family Services and Self-Determination. Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, came into force Jan. 1, 2020. It allows Indigenous groups to design and deliver child and family welfare services in the manner that best suits their needs. Indigenous groups would be taking over delivery of these services from the provinces. Vanderburgh addressed liability considerations for transitioning to First Nations jurisdiction over child and family services, pointing out that Indigenous governing bodies could be sued in Canadian courts for damages suffered by children whose care they have taken over. It was a sobering reminder of what could go wrong. “This is a complex area of law that is being applied to a complex web of relationships and there’s a number of legal principles guiding (this),” she said. She pointed out that claims of negligence in performance of duties were common and that these fell into two categories, direct and vicarious. “Vicarious liability can apply even if the authority itself hasn’t done anything wrong but somebody who they employed or contracted with to supply services has, and the law recognizes a vicarious liability in that relationship,” said Vanderburgh. She also noted that the Indigenous governing body could be held liable in the performance of duties that they delegated to another agency. However, the courts do make distinctions between foster homes and institutions. Vanderburgh highlighted the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2003 decision in KLB v. British Columbia, where “the relationship between governing bodies and foster parents is not sufficiently close to impose vicarious liability on governing bodies for abuse committed by foster parents.” Foster parents were described by the court as “independent contractors.” When it came to institutions, the court made the distinction that care was provided by employees and it was the employees who abused or neglected the children and “that was the distinction why vicarious liability would be imposed on the institution for the institutional care, but not on the province where the care was in a foster home,” said Vanderburgh. She added, however, that there were exceptions to the rule and there were cases where the province was held directly liable for abuse that took place in the foster home because the province failed to properly investigate a foster home, to supervise regularly or to investigate complaints made by the child. Vanderburgh also said that the Indigenous governing body could be held financially accountable in a case of joint and several liability even if they are not vicariously liable. Where a number of defendants are liable for damage caused to a child and not all defendants can pay, the court would order the defendant “with the deep pockets” to make compensation. That defendant is most likely the governing body. In turn, the governing body can collect from the other defendants. Vanderburg also pointed out that various sections of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families Act underscored that the best interests of the child were the primary consideration of the Indigenous governing body and not the child’s parents or family when it came to decisions made or actions taken to apprehend the child. “This is consistent with the case law that has developed in child welfare,” she said. The act sets out the minimum national standards of care for the child, but Indigenous governing bodies can adopt other measures in their laws and these form the basis for standard care. Development of clear and operational policies and protocols, as well as limiting liability through laws passed by the governing bodies help to manage the risks, as does hiring and training of employees, and providing supervision and support to caregivers. “Really the gold standard is get insurance…That’s the best risk management tool,” said Vanderburg. She also suggested that Indigenous governing bodies consult with the provinces to see what policies they have in place. “It will outline the scope of what certainly the province considered needed to be covered by policy and tailor that. It will become more than what we want but we can tailor it to the issues that you see or what you want to address in your own policies,” said Vanderburg. She also suggested that First Nations think hard about whether they wanted to create an internal judiciary system or use a dispute resolution system to address the issues that will arise from child and family welfare services. “They could be complicated claims and whether or not you want to take on that additional burden and if so how do you manage that in the legislation because it affects people’s rights who are affected by the decisions made by the governing body on these issues. That I think is a trickier sort of policy, political question as to whether or not that’s what you want to do,” said Vanderburg. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
The top public health officials in Southwestern Ontario pulled in hundreds of thousands in overtime pay last year for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. At least two of the region’s medical officers of health received more than $100,000 each in overtime, including Middlesex-London’s top public health doctor, Chris Mackie, and Haldimand-Norfolk’s Shanker Nesathurai. The overtime pay is part of a provincial program to compensate local health units for extraordinary expenses incurred relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was one of the initiatives set up by the province to recognize some of the frontline healthcare workers,” said London city councillor Maureen Cassidy, who chairs the Middlesex-London board of health. “They’ve asked us to keep a tally of all the overtime hours and the dollars for every one of our employees who have worked overtime directly related to the COVID-19 response," she said. Between March 22 and Nov. 14 of last year, the health unit had 47 staff log overtime ranging from 44 to 716 hours. The global pandemic was declared in mid-March. Mackie, the London area's medical officer of health, logged 611 overtime hours during that period, earning a payout of $100,072. His base salary in 2019 was $300,000. “That reflects the leader of an organization that has gone from five days a week, 8:30 to 4:30, to seven days a week, 8:30 until some days, 10 at night,” Cassidy said about the overtime pay. The total staff overtime spending at the Middlesex-London Health Unit was $730,000. Cassidy said public health staff are making “incredible sacrifices” in their personal lives while battling the pandemic. As Haldimand-Norfolk’s medical officer of health, Nesathurai logged 1,100 overtime hours, worth $160,000, on top of a base salary of $240,000. Joyce Lock, the medical officer of health for Oxford and Elgin counties, received just more than $62,000 in overtime pay “for hours worked over and above the regular schedule as well as unused vacation,” according to Larry Martin, Southwestern Public Health’s board chairperson. “The Ministry of Health has provided provincial health units with clear guidelines for allowable COVID-19 expenditures eligible for reimbursement,” Martin said in a statement. “(Lock’s) employment contract . . . allows for overtime payments in specific circumstances – such as those that have unfolded over the course of what is now a year-long pandemic response.” Lock’s salary in 2019 was $288,000. The base salaries of medical officers of health are paid by local health boards based on member municipalities' professional salary scale and benefits policies. Whether an individual medical officer of health is eligible for overtime pay, and how they're compensated, depends on each board’s contract and municipal policies. In Ontario, most managers and supervisors, usually paid a salary rather than by the hour, aren't typically paid overtime. “In September 2020, public health units were provided with an opportunity to request additional one-time funding from the ministry for COVID-19 extraordinary costs incurred,” Anna Miller, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, said in an email. “Examples of eligible COVID-19 extraordinary costs included overtime for staff if local board of health policies related to overtime allowed for this.” Meanwhile, Lambton’s medical officer of health, Sudit Ranade, did not receive any overtime pay as the County of Lambton’s overtime policy sees employees take time off in lieu. Shari Sterling, executive assistant for Lambton County’s public health services, said Ranade has “some banked hours” but did not specify how many. Lambton submitted $848,429 to the province for reimbursement for COVID-19 extraordinary costs, including staff salaries, accommodation, supplies, equipment and communications. Health units in Huron-Perth, Chatham-Kent, Windsor-Essex and Grey-Bruce did not immediately respond to Free Press requests about overtime expenses during the pandemic for medical officers of health and other staff. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation slammed the overtime pay. “Ontarians hand over nearly half – 45 per cent – of their household income to governments every year in taxes, yet we're still a province struggling with hallway healthcare and chronic problems in long-term care,” said Jasmine Moulton, the federation’s Ontario director. “Then you see governments handing out six-figure top-ups and seven-figure severances to top health officials, and you start to see where the problem truly lies." Moulton said 355,300 Ontarians lost their jobs last year amid the pandemic. “This story is further proof that we're not all in this together." firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter.com/MaxatLFPress Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
VANCOUVER — A lawyer for British Columbia's attorney general says the provincial health officer understands the importance of balancing any COVID-19 restrictions on in-person gatherings against the charter right to freedom of religion. In a hearing over a petition challenging Dr. Bonnie Henry's health orders, Gareth Morley told the B.C. Supreme Court that Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders both verbally in public briefings and in writing. He says Henry's statements described how rapidly rising COVID-19 cases in B.C. last fall threatened exponential growth that could have overwhelmed the health-care system, and further restrictions were necessary to prevent transmission while keeping schools and essential workplaces open. Paul Jaffe, a lawyer for the group of petitioners that includes three Fraser Valley churches, told the court this week the restrictions substantially and unjustifiably interfere with his clients' charter right to freedom of religion. Morley told Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson that Henry believed accelerating cases constituted a health hazard, allowing her to issue orders that she acknowledged may affect charter rights in a reasonable and proportional way. However, Hinkson questioned whether Henry fully appreciated the right to religious freedom based on Morley's description of her statements related to the orders last November and December. "She talks about needs of persons to attend in-person religious services, but that really wouldn't capture the charter right that's asserted by the petitioners ... would it?" he asked. The orders have since been amended and now include specific reference to the charter and freedom of religion, Morley said, adding Henry has always recognized the importance of religious practice and in-person worship. Morley told the court Henry consulted with faith leaders before issuing the orders last year and invited churches to submit requests for case-specific exemptions in proposals outlining how they could conduct services in ways that minimize the risk of COVID-19 to her satisfaction. Jaffe said during his argument this week that his clients — which include the Riverside Calvary Chapel in Langley, Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church in Abbotsford and the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack — have been careful to adopt safety protocols similar to those approved by Henry in places that remain open. He said during a separate hearing last month that his clients applied for an exemption in December and did not receive a response. More legal challenges to B.C.'s public health rules have been filed by representatives of 10 other churches that are part of the Canadian Reformed Churches, and by the Roman Catholic archbishop of Vancouver. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
The man they call Father T now has the appropriate headwear to be Chaplain Father T. Father Thomas Dorward was given the white helmet last week that signifies him as the Fire Rescue Chaplain of the Rideau Lakes Fire Department. "It's wonderful to be recognized by your peers and by the township and village," said Dorward. Fire Chief Scott Granahan considered it to be "absolutely an honour" to entrust the helmet to Dorward. "We sometimes look past the roles that are often supportive," said Granahan. "But I don't forget, nor does our Deputy (Chief) forget, that we have that ability to pick up the phone and have somebody that can not just help, but also bring us back to where we need to be. "He's been just an absolutely amazing resource, not just for our members in the community, but also for our members' families." Dorward, who began serving with the fire department shortly after moving to Westport in 2002 following retirement, made the decision last year to step back from being a full-time responding volunteer firefighter. "As they say, 'time marches on,'" said Dorward. "It seemed the right time to step down from the rigours of firefighting." "We really wanted to keep him in our family, so that’s where this little bit of a change to him becoming a face within our command team came from," said Granahan, who is chief of the just over 80 other members of the fire department. There are many roles of a Chaplain within a fire department. Some include offering support and assistance at emergency incidents, conducting or assisting with fire department funerals or memorial services and acting as a confidential listening ear to personnel and family members. Granahan said the role is vital, as one call cannot drag into the next. "He offers such a level place to focus to get our members and our department as a whole back to where they need to be," Granahan said. Before his run with the township's fire department, Dorward's previous work experience included serving in the Canadian Forces medical services, an emergency EMS responder, and a full-time Toronto International Airport Emergency Services and volunteer firefighter. The last job he held before retirement was as security director for the Toronto District School Board. "It seemed a natural fit to be able to utilize the skills I had learned to serve our new home community," said Dorward on why he joined the volunteer fire department after he and his wife Brenda moved to Westport. When Dorward moved to Westport, he was a Religious Brother in the Order of Saint Andrew. Upon joining the fire department, he assumed the dual role of firefighter-chaplain. Soon after completing his studies, Dorward was ordained as a priest. Something that both Dorward and Granahan stressed was that Dorward's role as fire chaplain is not limited to Rideau Lakes. "With our mutual aid services and partners… this isn't a service that is limited to our own membership. It is something that is absolutely available to everybody in the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, Lanark and beyond," said Granahan. "There's been issues where a chaplaincy was required in other departments," said Dorward. "It's like any other fire department resource. If another department requires it, all they have to do is ask. "We're there for everybody." Marshall Healey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
The City of Windsor is in the process of purchasing a hotel to house people experiencing homelessness. The city's chief of staff, Andrew Teliszewsky, told CBC News in an email Wednesday that city council had approved the deal during an in-camera meeting earlier this year and the legal steps are already underway. He said the city is also working out getting access to provincial funding sources to complete the sale in the coming weeks, though the costs associated with the purchase have not yet been revealed. Though the city's homeless population is currently experiencing a significant COVID-19 outbreak, Teliszewksy said the procurement of a space had been a topic of discussion since last year following an Emergency Shelter Review that went to council in the fall of 2020. He added that beyond the current challenges the city is experiencing with COVID-19 and shelter space, the hotel will be used to support long-term needs by providing an area for women with or without children, youth and young adults. "Proceeding with a property will allow the City of Windsor maximum flexibility in the years ahead to serve community needs," Teliszewsky said. Details of the hotel's location cannot be provided at this time, as the owner is still having conversations with their employees, he added. To cope with the large COVID-19 outbreak among the city's homeless population, an emergency shelter opened on Feb. 25 at the Windsor International Aquatic and Training Centre. As of Monday, 124 clients and staff have tested positive between the Downtown Mission and Salvation Army shelters. The Downtown Mission shelters have since been ordered to close by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.
The shelter system in Edmonton may evolve as early as this summer, as agencies and the city prepare to close COVID-19 emergency shelters. Representatives from the Mustard Seed, Bissell Centre, Boyle Street Services and Homeward Trust joined council's community and public services committee meeting Wednesday to give their input on how they envision future services. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many emergency facilities have been open around the clock — unlike the past practice of inviting clients in overnight and then forcing them out of the facility at 6 a.m. Dean Kurpjuweit, executive director of the Mustard Seed, is one of many advocating for 24/7 facilities. "Having a place for people to go all day makes a major impact on the work we can do with them to help them get housed," Kurpjuweit told the committee. Smaller venues around the city and longer operating hours, he argues, allow social workers to engage with clients and help them find longer-term housing solutions. "You hear their story, you hear where they're at, you hear their needs, you hear their concerns." The shift in approach is on the minds of agencies, city councillors and officials, as temporary facilities wind down and they look for alternative temporary spaces. The agencies jointly run Tipinawaw at the Edmonton Convention Centre, which consistently has 300 full beds. The Mustard Seed also runs a southside shelter of about 50 beds at Cessco off 99th Street, and Hope Mission runs the temporary shelter at the Commonwealth Stadium with about 120 beds. During the pandemic, the Alberta government invested $10 million for shelter and short-term housing spaces in Edmonton, and $17 million for extra pandemic response, which expires the end of March. Councillors on the committee agreed to discuss standards for shelters and are expected to delve into those details at the next council meeting the week of March 15. Those talks could include ways to improve services and subsequently curb encampments before people resort to calling law enforcement. Pandemic lessons Jordan Reiniger, executive director of Boyle Street Community Services, told the committee that operations during the pandemic confirmed what agencies already suspected. "The existing shelter system isn't conducive to ending homelessness, in many cases it's prohibitive — this sort of mass congregate shelter where you can't build relationships and connect with people," Reiniger said. Reiniger pointed to other jurisdictions which have added semi-private and private options that have successfully moved clients into permanent housing options. In an informal survey at Tipinawaw, Reiniger said 75 of 83 respondents said they would prefer semi-private or private spaces. Susan McGee, CEO of Homeward Trust that oversees many housing projects in Edmonton, agreed that agencies have learned a lot in the context of the pandemic. "Physical standards that we have experienced within the case of the pandemic have resulted in clearly better services to people when they are given additional space and they are supported in having a better night sleep," McGee said. In the fall, Hope Mission is set to open its new Herb Jamieson Centre in central Edmonton, which will provide 400 beds. The city has worked with Hope Mission to come up with design changes to the facility, such as a secure storage area for larger belongings like shopping carts and bikes, laundry and more flexible sleeping areas. Christel Kjenner, the city's director of housing and homelessness, said the Alberta government is supporting a service design committee, involving Homeward Trust and the City of Edmonton, that will make recommendations on operations at Herb Jamieson. "It is not clear at this time what operational procedures such as continuous stay policies or medical services to help those with substance abuse disorders may be adopted," Kjenner told councillors. "But we'll continue to have those conversations with our partners." Dry, damp and wet Kurpjuweit said shelters can't continue to be a one-size-fits-all model. "If you want to experience a shelter that is dry or sober because you're trying to live sobriety, even though you're homeless, you need to be in a place that's safe for you," Kurpjuweit said. "The same hand if you're dealing with addictions, you need to be in a place that's safe for you." Mayor Don Iveson noted that flexibility is required to manage substance intake from shelter to more permanent housing. Existing permanent supportive housing, like Ambrose Place, provides a multi-tiered environment depending on need. "It is managed alcohol," Iveson said. "But one floor they described as wet, one floor they described as damp and one floor they described as dry — because people are on that journey and have different needs."
Rideau Lakes Township has approved a one-per-cent property tax rate increase for 2021. At the township council's regular meeting earlier this week, members agreed in a 7-2 vote for the local tax rate increase, down from the 2.5-per-cent increase that was presented in December. The one-per-cent tax increase translates into an additional $12 per year in property taxes on the average home, assessed at $250,000. This in turn measures out to an increase of $113,000 in revenue for the township. The township ended 2020 with an estimated surplus of just over $1 million. Township administrators say this is attributed to the impact of COVID-19 delaying some projects and stronger-than-forecasted revenue. Many on council gave kudos to the township staff for configuring a budget for this year that increases property taxes by only one per cent while still increasing reserves and decreasing the debt level. "I'm really happy with the budget that the staff presented," said South Crosby Coun. Claire Smith during Monday's meeting, adding that in a way she feels the budget is more the staff's than council's due to the strains virtual meetings have on discussions and debates. Only Mayor Arie Hoogenboom and South Elmsley Coun. Jeff Banks voted against the budget. Banks said he would have preferred no increase in the property tax, with Hoogenboom agreeing. "I received a lot of calls, a lot of people are struggling with the COVID," said Hoogenboom. Despite the mayor voting against the budget on the "principle" of the matter, he also said he will respect the will of council and ensure it works best for the township. "The township's fiscal future is bright," said Hoogenboom. "The 2021 budget continues our commitment to prudent spending and progressive rural governance." In a municipal services committee meeting last week, council had a lively discussion on what budget proposal to bring to the regular council. Four options were presented by staff, two each offered either a zero- or one-per-cent property tax increase. At the committee meeting, Hoogenboom and Banks were joined by Couns. Cathy Livingston and Bob Lavoie in voting no on the eventual budget option. Both Livingston and Lavoie ultimately voted yes on the budget in the regular council meeting Monday. All other councillors – Carolyn Bresee, Joan Delaney, Marcia Maxwell, Ron Pollard and Smith – said in the meetings they were happy with the budget brought forward by staff and voted for it in both committee and council. According to a release by the township, the budget includes revenue and expenses of $18.6 million. A total of $2.9 million is being invested towards roads. Plum Hollow Road, which runs from County Road 5 to Healey Road at the Elizabethtown-Kitley Township line, has been designated for a full roadbed reconstruction. The schedule of maintenance stone application to gravel roads has been altered to have the program run at a two- and three-year cycle rather than a three- and five-year cycle. Major investments in buildings include revamping the Ronald E. Holman Municipal Complex. The building formerly housed the Rideau Lakes detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police before it moved to the former Rideau Centennial Public School in Portland. Along with renovating the former police space into a library, work on a new outdoor recreation area will begin this year. Other community halls and parks in the township will be receiving a combined $600,000 in investments, of which half is coming from revenue sources like grants, donations and parkland reserves. Marshall Healey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. There are 875,559 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 875,559 confirmed cases (29,930 active, 823,524 resolved, 22,105 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 2,812 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 78.75 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,365 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,909. There were 60 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 299 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 43. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.11 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 58.16 per 100,000 people. There have been 24,676,396 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 997 confirmed cases (153 active, 838 resolved, six deaths). There were three new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 29.3 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 35 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five. There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.03 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 199,347 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 137 confirmed cases (22 active, 115 resolved, zero deaths). There was one new case Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 13.78 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 20 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 107,377 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,646 confirmed cases (30 active, 1,551 resolved, 65 deaths). There were three new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 3.06 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 30 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.64 per 100,000 people. There have been 343,260 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,438 confirmed cases (38 active, 1,372 resolved, 28 deaths). There were three new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 4.86 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.04 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 3.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 238,399 tests completed. _ Quebec: 289,670 confirmed cases (7,336 active, 271,908 resolved, 10,426 deaths). There were 729 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 85.56 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,198 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 743. There were 19 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 81 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 121.59 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,320,910 tests completed. _ Ontario: 303,763 confirmed cases (10,397 active, 286,352 resolved, 7,014 deaths). There were 958 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 70.56 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,590 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,084. There were 17 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 121 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 17. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.6 per 100,000 people. There have been 10,964,481 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 32,000 confirmed cases (1,146 active, 29,953 resolved, 901 deaths). There were 50 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 83.09 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 413 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 59. There were three new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.15 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 65.32 per 100,000 people. There have been 535,163 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 29,059 confirmed cases (1,431 active, 27,239 resolved, 389 deaths). There were 121 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 121.41 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,079 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 154. There were two new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 10 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is one. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33 per 100,000 people. There have been 579,326 tests completed. _ Alberta: 134,454 confirmed cases (4,649 active, 127,903 resolved, 1,902 deaths). There were 402 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 105.14 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,421 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 346. There were 12 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 36 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 43.01 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,414,903 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 81,909 confirmed cases (4,718 active, 75,819 resolved, 1,372 deaths). There were 542 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 91.65 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,559 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 508. There were seven new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 34 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.09 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.65 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,941,589 tests completed. _ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.38 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,183 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (two active, 40 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 4.43 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 14,664 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 359 confirmed cases (eight active, 350 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 20.33 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of eight new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,718 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
A full zoning bylaw change to accommodate and encourage more affordable housing in town may not be the quickest road to the goal. Midland's affordable housing task force arrived at this conclusion at its recent meeting. The group was looking at the overall official plan and zoning bylaw review process in hopes it would provide opportunities to attract more developers by easing regulations and creating a more inviting environment. "The reality is a lot of our housing development is going to come from other sources than ourselves," said Gord McKay, chair of the committee. "We have to prepare the landscape, the regulation and planning mechanisms, so they can reasonably go forward with affordable housing." The document prepared by the town's former planner identifies some areas where changes could be made, including the current planning and zoning of the Town of Midland. But it's not easy to go through a zoning bylaw review, acknowledged McKay, who asked Mayor Stewart Strathearn where the town was in the process. "We're currently seriously constrained in the planning area, and apparently, it's going to be exacerbated shortly," said Strathearn. "Friday, when we have the HR committee review as to what the immediate future looks like in terms of resources we can access to move things that need immediate attention." The retention of the consultant to do the review is going to be contingent upon putting a planning resource in plan to manage it," he added. In addition, Strathearn said, the county is moving into its municipal comprehensive review. "There's a lot happening right now," he said, adding he agreed with committee member Ted Phelps, who had suggested the committee would be better off with a site-specific zoning, rather than relying on a comprehensive zoning review. "We've identified two properties which will require some sort of zoning change," said Strathearn. "We should focus on those and we can move that ball down the court and in the workshops and other conversations put some emphasis on particular things. We can expand the conversation once we've gotten council's buy-in on some of the other stuff." McKay said a couple ideas that could be included in the new zoning bylaw, whenever that comes forward, may help promote more affordable housing in the area. "The one that's always intrigued me the most is shared accommodation housing," he said. "While we're permitted, we don't encourage it in any fashion. If any group in the public is going to pick up and do something in the affordable housing area, that's probably the mechanism they will employ. "Secondary units is another one that's reasonably well-established," added McKay. Strathearn had a word of caution around it all. "We're realizing that there are inconsistencies at the provincial level with respect to employment lands, rural designation and natural heritage," he said. "There are fundamental conflicts between the three that are really going to contain primary settlement areas to grow and retain their character. We're examining that through the municipal comprehensive review at county." The committee will also be launching a communications campaign to reach out to the community to invite feedback around housing and what the town can do to improve affordable housing in the area. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX’s futuristic Starship looked like it aced a touchdown Wednesday, but then exploded on the landing pad with so much force that it was hurled into the air. The failure occurred just minutes after SpaceX declared success. Two previous test flights crash-landed in fireballs. The full-scale prototype of Elon Musk's envisioned Mars ship soared more than 6 miles (10 kilometres) after lifting off from the southern tip of Texas on Wednesday. It descended horizontally over the Gulf of Mexico and then flipped upright just in time to land. The shiny bullet-shaped rocketship remained intact this time at touchdown, prompting SpaceX commentator John Insprucker to declare, “third time’s a charm as the saying goes” before SpaceX ended its webcast of the test. But then the Starship exploded and was tossed in the air, before slamming down into the ground in flames. There was no immediate comment from SpaceX on what went wrong. But Musk looked on the bright side in a tweet: “Starship 10 landed in one piece! RIP SN10, honourable discharge.” He added: “SpaceX team is doing great work! One day, the true measure of success will be that Starship flights are commonplace.” Musk plans to use Starships to send people to the moon and Mars. The last two prototypes reached a similarly high altitude in December and February, but slammed into the ground at Boca Chica, Texas, and exploded. Each of these last three test flights lasted 6 1/2 minutes. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press
Although Alek Minassian was found guilty of all counts in the Yonge Street van attack, the judge has set a Canadian precedent by considering autism a “mental disorder” under the Criminal Code. Kamil Karamali reports.
The owner of a Calgary cafe has started a letter-writing campaign aimed at convincing city council to reverse a decision that will result in the eatery being evicted from a historic building in Eau Claire. The city, however, says its decision is irreversible — and has been in the works for a long time. The 1886 Buffalo Cafe has been running out of the historic Eau Claire Lumber Company building for about 40 years. Next month, however, the city will not be renewing its lease, in order to undertake some long-anticipated area refurbishment. City councillors said the cafe owners were given notice in 2017 that the city would need to move the building to do some major flood work, and as part of the redevelopment that was happening in Eau Claire. But owner Joanna McLeod told CBC News she feels the city led her astray with confusing communications that made her think they'd be able to stay in the building longer. It prompted her to start a letter-writing campaign and petition in the hopes of saving the cafe. "I just think there's a lot of missing information for the city's aspect," she said. "We've been the best tenants for 40 years … and we would really just love to stay in that building." 'Timeline of assurance' McLeod said they were in negotiations with the city to renew its lease in 2018. At the time, they were on a month-to-month lease, she said, because of the developments that were planned for Eau Claire. The cafe owners were told the revitalization of the area would have the cafe moved closer to the river, and in the same building. In February 2020, McLeod said, she was offered a five-year lease by the city that went unsigned after a realtor told her the language wasn't typical for a commercial lease, and the cafe owners wanted a few details changed before they committed. According to the city, the lease was rescinded in November 2020, after the tenant failed to sign and the city received confirmation of $8.6 million in funding from the province to proceed with the Eau Claire Plaza reconstruction project. But McLeod said there are documents and emails that showed a "timeline of assurances given to us by the city, and kind of leading us down a path of security with them." The owners were blindsided, she said, when they were eventually given notice by a leasing agent that they had 90 days to vacate the premises. And thinking they were going to be staying in the building, McLeod said they invested money into the place. "Had we known that it was a possibility that we wouldn't be able to continue business out of that building … we would have chosen to do business a little differently," McLeod said. Development plans not a secret, councillor says If the decision isn't reversed by the city, McLeod said, she is hoping they will be compensated for the business decisions they made "under bad faith." However, Coun. Druh Farrell told the CBC that while she is very sympathetic with the owners, they have known for a very long time that these developments were in the works. "It's not a secret, and the information has been shared with council, and we've been working on this for a number of years," said Farrell, who represents Ward 7. Significant changes are coming to the area, including essential flood work, that will be very disruptive — but there is a commitment to restore the building and put it in a new designated location, Farrell said. It will be available again in 2023. "There will be no reversing this decision," Farrell said. Still, McLeod is hoping the city might budge. "We're imploring them to change their mind. It's a building that's not only close to our hearts, it's a building that's close to many hearts," McLeod said. "It's just such an iconic piece of Calgary."
Renfrew -- The County of Renfrew may have been expecting a different response from Renfrew council regarding the official plan review, but that didn’t happen. Renfrew council did not agree with the recommendation of its own planner, Eric Withers, to support the amendments to the official plan, fearing it may stifle growth in neighbouring municipalities, as well as its own. Councillor Sandi Heins also felt there was not enough time to review the document. To open discussion at the February 23 ZOOMmeeting, Mr. Withers said this was the latest in the saga of the County of Renfrew Official Plan Review. It was approved last March by the province, but with changes that were different than what the county adopted, he said. However, the province did give the county approving authority, which means amendments can be made without sending them to the province, he said. And, even though this provides the county with “flexibility and freedom,” it does not give carte blanche as the provincial policy which the county must follow still exists, Mr. Withers stressed. Following a quick review, Mr. Withers noted while there are elements that don’t affect the town of Renfrew, the one that does affect it relates to development within serviced, settlement areas. While this is not new for Renfrew, it is for surrounding municipalities that will be affected, including Admaston/Bromley Township and Horton Township, he said. This means municipalities cannot allow builds within a one-kilometre boundary of any settled serviced area, water and/or sewer, and this does not necessarily mean the boundary of adjoining municipalities, he said. The idea is to provide guidance to what appropriate urban development is, he said, explaining that instead of building in an area that does not have services, but wants to provide it by going over vacant land, that won’t be allowed. “It allows for long-range planning,” Mr. Withers said. “As things develop, it happens near existing development, not jumping all over the place. It’s hard to design services.” This does cause concern for property owners who want to develop their property but can’t in the way they want, he noted. “You want to be continuous, orderly and as you develop or extend services, make it as efficient as possible,” he said. Reeve Peter Emon said this issue was raised six months ago and caught the attention of rural municipalities near settled areas. He did not approve accepting the recommendation, noting if council approves the recommendation, and doesn’t agree with the one kilometre boundary around settled serviced areas, it could mean it won’t have the services of its own staff and a consultant would have to be hired. Mayor Don Eady agreed, saying he would not support the recommendation of Mr. Withers. Council should have first discussed the issue with Admaston/Bromley and Horton councils, because services could be provided by the town if that is what they wanted. However, by approving the amendments, this does not provide that opportunity. If the opportunity to negotiate with neighbouring municipalities is included, then that would be fine, he continued. “This is like shoving something down our neighbours’ throat, which I feel is very, very unfair.” Coun. Heins agreed. “It’s very disturbing that we would shut our neighbours out like that,” she said., adding council wants to work with its neighbours and selling services to other municipalities is what the province wants to see happen. “That’s what the provincial government wanted us to do, share services and do what we can to enhance different opportunities to working together,” she said. “I’m not happy with it. I think it’s very important we provide comments to the county.” The concern of building a circle around the town and not letting anyone in is just not right, Coun. Heins added. Council agreed to receive the report for information but did not pass a motion accepting the recommendation to support it. Coun. Heins pointed out there are 32 items in the official plan and all council members should have an opportunity to say what they are happy and not happy with. Mayor Eady agreed. “I don’t understand the whole thing,” he said. “We need to know how others (recommendations) affect us. There’s probably really good stuff in there.” Mr. Withers said he could draft a letter to the county that reflects council’s discussion at this meeting and bring it to the next meeting, which council agreed to. Following that meeting, county council met and the one kilometre buffer was removed. However, the draft plan then went back to county committee level for further evaluation Connie Tabbert, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader