Here's the latest for Wednesday, Nov. 11: President Trump and President-elect Biden both pay respects to America's fallen on Veterans Day; Georgia announces a hand recount of election ballots; 5 dead and 111 migrants rescued in Mediterranean Sea.
Here's the latest for Wednesday, Nov. 11: President Trump and President-elect Biden both pay respects to America's fallen on Veterans Day; Georgia announces a hand recount of election ballots; 5 dead and 111 migrants rescued in Mediterranean Sea.
Prince Wong was still in her mother's womb when the Chinese government reclaimed control over Hong Kong from the British in the summer of 1997. For her 23rd birthday this year, Wong posted a photo of herself on Instagram wearing a pastel-striped paper hat trimmed with pink pompoms. On a recent day, Wong spun a gold ring on her finger in continuous circles as she spoke quietly about the past year of her life.
BROCKTON – Mayor Chris Peabody, like his counterparts throughout Bruce County, is concerned about rising COVID-19 numbers. “The number one cause is social gatherings with family and friends,” he said. “No one’s to blame. The virus is highly contagious, and is most contagious just before people develop symptoms.” Peabody said it’s essential we “knock it down” in order to avoid other measures – the kind of measures we’re seeing in Toronto. Once again, the big box stores are remaining open, while small retailers are locked down, something he, as mayor of a community with a lively downtown filled with small businesses, finds disturbing. While he doesn’t anticipate this area getting to the point where a similar lockdown is needed, people can’t let their guard down. “I hope we get it knocked down,” he said. There’s a lot happening at council that isn’t related to COVID-19 right now. The focus is on planning – the county’s memorandum of agreement (MOA) and Brockton’s own planning review. The latter recommends additional staff, and he’s interested in seeing where that goes. He’d prefer to see redeployment of existing staff from areas such as tourism, which doesn’t generate a lot of money for Brockton, unlike subdivisions, which do. Peabody noted planning is a key issue in a municipality that’s seeing millions of dollars in subdivisions being developed. Another area of interest that’s on the council agenda is a change in provincial legislation that would require municipal officials serving on other boards to be responsible to the electorate, not the board. An example is the conservation authority.Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
GREY-BRUCE – As of Monday, Nov. 23, Grey-Bruce entered the Yellow stage of the Ontario Public Health classification system. The change from Green to Yellow means greater restrictions and enhanced enforcement – including operational restrictions on bars and restaurants, sports and recreational facilities, personal care services, retail spaces and other businesses – an outcome that none of us desires, according to Dr. Ian Arra, medical officer of health. Arra added that collectively, it is in our control to change our designation back to Green as soon as we can – but it will take an effort from all of us. As of press time, there were 50 active cases of COVID-19 in Grey-Bruce, plus eight probable cases. Most concerning are the 280 high risk contacts associated with active cases. As stated on the health unit’s website, “It takes a tremendous amount of effort to manage this number of high-risk contacts. This number will keep increasing, unless we limit, starting today, our unprotected encounters with all people outside of our own households.” Two people in Grey-Bruce are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. Although there are no facilities with COVID-19 outbreaks, as of Nov. 24, Grey Bruce Public Health was working with Bluewater District School Board to address a case of COVID-19 associated with Hillcrest Elementary School in Owen Sound. The bus route associated with this case has been deemed low risk. Public health officials will notify anyone considered at high risk, so they can isolate and be tested. There have been 283 cases to date in Grey-Bruce. Owen Sound has had the highest number – 69, while Southgate in Grey County has had 40 (15 of them active), and Kincardine in Bruce County has had 36 (nine active). All municipalities in the two counties have had at least one case of COVID-19. For detailed information on the Yellow category of the framework, please visit the provincial website. It helps to explain the changes resulting from the change from Green to Yellow. The Grey Bruce Health Unit has fact sheets available to assist the public and businesses in understanding these changes. Stated on the Grey Bruce Health Unit website was the following: “We have been seeing a deeply concerning trend of a significant increase in the number of cases locally, and in the number of close contacts of these cases. These findings are indicative of fatigue related to following public health measures. It is important that we re-focus our energy on the basic measures that can keep us safe – the same ones that got us through the spring first wave.” Those measures include: • Wash your hands frequently. • Watch your distance (ideally two metres or six feet). • Wear your face covering correctly (over nose and mouth). • Avoid crowds. • Arrange for outdoor activities instead of indoors whenever possible. • Stay home if you are sick. • Avoid close contact (unprotected contact within six feet of each other) with those from outside your household. • Avoid travel to areas with higher transmission and minimize non-essential travel. • Be kind, be calm, be safe. • Stay informed.Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
KYIV, Ukraine — Hundreds of retirees rallied in the Belarusian capital on Monday against the country's authoritarian leader, as security forces moved in to break up the traditional weekly march. The crowd of retirees in Minsk were demanding that President Alexander Lukashenko resign after he won a sixth term in office in an election the opposition says was rigged. But they ran into police cordons along the march route and broke up into smaller groups that went into different directions. The demonstrators carried red and white umbrellas and flags that have become the symbol of the protests, and chanted “Rat, go away!” “Grandmothers and grandfathers will go all the way to a victory,” one banner read. Mass protests have gripped Belarus, a former Soviet republic in eastern Europe, since official results from the Aug. 9 presidential election gave Lukashenko a landslide victory over his widely popular opponent, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. She and her supporters refused to recognize the result, saying the vote was riddled with fraud. Authorities have cracked down hard on the largely peaceful demonstrations, the biggest of which attracted up to 200,000 people. Police have used stun grenades, tear gas and truncheons to disperse the rallies. Thousands of people have been detained — and many of them badly beaten — since the protests began, human rights advocates say. Mass detentions, as well as the use of tear gas and stun grenades, continued even as protests have grown smaller this month. On Sunday, police detained 313 people during rallies spanning several cities, including Minsk. The Viasna human rights centre put the number of detainees at 424. At least nine people were detained on Monday, according to Viasna. Footage and photos of the Monday rally posted on social media showed security forces surrounding groups of retirees, preventing the march from continuing. “Don't beat me, son,” another banner carried by demonstrators read. ___ Read all AP stories about the protests in Belarus at https://apnews.com/Belarus. The Associated Press
Despite the pandemic, P.E.I. restaurants offering takeout and delivery registered some growth in September, according to Statistics Canada restaurant sales data.While there is some recovery from the worst months of the pandemic, the report showed overall restaurant business on the Island is still down significantly — 16 per cent for the month and 23 per cent for the year.That is still, however, better than the national numbers, which were down more than a quarter for both the month and the year-to-date."Operators are happy to be open and not under a lockdown scenario such as we're seeing in other parts of the country," said Carl Nicholson, president of the P.E.I. Restaurant Association.The Statistics Canada report also showed a stark difference in how the pandemic is affecting limited-service restaurants, which are focused more on takeout and delivery, and full-service restaurants.Compared to the same month in 2019, limited-service restaurants showed an actual increase in September, though not as strong as the trends were showing in January and February.Full-service restaurants were still off by 13.7 per cent in September compared to a year earlier, and that was following a summer where sales were cut almost in half.New habits?Nicholson said as the tourism season winds down, dining rooms are still feeling the impact — not just of reduced capacity, but also of far less lunch traffic, with so many working from home. It is too early to know if this is a trend that could linger past the pandemic, he added."It's a matter of whether people have gotten into another habit," said Nicholson."Whether they say, you know, I'm tired of packing my lunch and I want to get out and have lunch with someone."Many restaurants chose not to open this season or closed for the season early, and that has helped the restaurants that have stayed open, he said, because they are getting a larger piece of the smaller pie.More from CBC P.E.I.
The number of patients with the coronavirus in Manitoba hospitals has tripled in the last month, says Manitoba's chief nursing officer, Lanette Siragusa.
Quebec's Special Commission on the Rights of the Child and Youth Protection released some preliminary findings Monday, citing a laundry list of problems within the provincial system and recommending the creation of a leadership position to oversee sweeping changes. Originally, the commission was supposed to publish its report and recommendations today, but the deadline has been pushed back to April 30.Régine Laurent, the commission's president, said that considering the thousands of testimonies, they need more time to analyze and develop solutions.However, in the meantime, Laurent said the government should immediately create the role of provincial director of youth protection, describing it as a "guardian angel/guard dog" position.While youth protection is run by regional health authorities, Laurent said there is a leadership problem that needs to be fixed in time for the commission's full list of recommendations.She specified that the director role would be more than managerial: it would create a leader to implement best practices and provide direction and oversight.Particularly, Laurent wants the director to ensure services are uniform across the province, for people living in different regions and for different languages and cultural groups.During the news conference, Laurent provided a breakdown of the various problems identified in Quebec's youth protection system, known by its French acronym DPJ.Laurent identified the need for more services for families in distress, saying that youth protection "should be a last resort, not an entry to services."Commission vice-president André Lebon added that often children come into the youth protection system "too late, too disturbed.""Every time there's a mess, we're looking at the DPJ. The DPJ has a formal responsibility for the child. But honestly what we see, if you look at what we heard, it's much more than just a DPJ mess, or responsibility," he said. During interventions, Laurent said that DPJ services need to prioritize the needs of children, whose voices are often excluded from decision-making."The words of children need to be sought out, listened to, and protected."Workers in the system are also in distress, Laurent said, as they struggle to meet the demands without sacrificing the quality of their work.Laurent said that the DPJ system doesn't take into account the values and context of Indigenous families, and that Indigenous people are underrepresented in the workforce.She said that the law on youth protection needs to be clarified, that the system's funding is inadequate, and that many kids who transition out of the system at 18 are largely abandoned by social services.Until the commission's full report is released, Lebon says fixing the leadership problems within DPJ is the first step toward facilitating the changes they have identified."It would be so easy if it was only one region," said Lebon. "We would say, 'we should put some kind of special needs in that region.' In fact, it's quite the lack of global coherence. So we need someone to push on that."Government intends to follow upFollowing the announcement, Lionel Carmant, Quebec's junior minister for health and social services, said he was open to the suggestion."The well-being of every child is at the centre of our priorities. The creation of a provincial director of youth protection position is interesting and aligns with my own thinking. We intend to follow up quickly with the commission on this recommendation," he wrote in a statement."The work of the commission is of great importance, and the findings bear witness to the enormous work accomplished. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all those who shared their experience and who made their voices heard. Everyone's willingness to change things in order to do better for our children is unmatched." Advocate Marcelle Partouche Gutierrez told CBC she supports the idea, but wants any provincial director to be independent from the rest of the system."I think it's a good idea to create a position that focuses on specifically harmonizing services and making sure that there's a systemic approach," she said."It would be relevant to have a form of accountability that is outside a ministry."She said someone who experienced the system from the inside as a youth in care would make a good candidate for the job, someone who brings "lived experience" to the table.Overall, she said she was happy to see that the issues brought forward by advocates seem to have been heard by the commission.
Coast Mountains School District 82 is dealing with a shortage of bus drivers, but some relief could be on the horizon. The shortage is affecting the Terrace area of the school district. Secretary Treasurer Ginger Fuller said that the district was one driver short of the number it needs, and there are no spare drivers. “This is absolutely new to this school year,” she said. “There are lots of other districts in the province that are having issues with busing, whether it’s with a contracted service or with in-house.” CMSD82 contracts all of its transportation services to Diversified Transportation, which also provides services to School District 57 (Prince George), School District 93 (Francophone Education Authority) and Catholic Independent Schools of BC. Fuller attributed the shortage to competition for drivers with the LNG Project in Kitimat, as well as COVID-19. Drivers that show any signs of illness are staying home, and Fuller said the fact that many drivers are older or retired is playing a role. Earlier in the school year, it was possible to combine bus runs without overcrowding because there were fewer students attending class in-person. But with the colder winter weather and more students in class, that option is more difficult now. Fuller said a recent driver illness forced the school district to think outside the box to make sure students from Rosswood made it to class. CMSD used a high school sports bus and a qualified on-call driver to cover the run until the regular driver could return to work, and had a bus on a nearby run pick up some additional students so the sports bus was not overcrowded. “For us it wasn’t an option not to have kids not come to school,” she said. “We took it into our hands to make sure that there was transportation there, outside of our contract.” There could be some relief in December, when another qualified driver is expected to start working. That would mean the school district would have exactly the number of drivers it needs, but still no backup in the event drivers are sick or cannot work.Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
Northumberland Ferries Limited is reducing the number of crossings between P.E.I. and Nova Scotia in light of new travel restrictions imposed last week.On weekdays, there will be only one departure from each port. There will be no service on the weekends.From Dec. 2-18, the ferry will leave Wood Islands, P.E.I., at 8 a.m., and Caribou, N.S., at 1:30 p.m.Last week, P.E.I. opted out of the Atlantic bubble until at least Dec. 7, meaning most people coming in and out of the province would have to self-isolate for 14 days.More from CBC P.E.I.
The Department of National Defence was responsible for the lion’s share of the federal government’s own carbon pollution last year, according to newly released figures. The government released an inventory of federal greenhouse gas emissions from its facilities and fleet operations as part of its updated “greening government strategy." The inventory shows that the Defence Department, which supports Canada’s Navy, Army, Air Force and Special Forces, generated 543 kilotonnes (kt) of carbon dioxide emissions during 2019-20. The next largest contributor during this time period was Public Services and Procurement Canada, at 117 kt. Public Services is the department that manages federal property and also handles purchasing, accounting and pay services for the public service. At 116 kt, the third-largest contributor was Correctional Service Canada, which runs penitentiaries and other correctional institutions, as well as parole offices and mental health and healing centres. The top six emitting organizations generated 82 per cent of all government emissions. Treasury Board president Jean-Yves Duclos says the government is committed to cutting its own operational carbon pollution 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025. DND itself says it is identifying energy efficiency improvements to its infrastructure and fleets at its military bases and airbases. It expects to cut its pollution by 265 kt by 2030 and has a target for “clean power at all bases and wings by 2025.” The department has released a Defence Energy and Environment Strategy for the 2020-23 period, which calls for a $225-million investment this year in infrastructure to reduce its carbon footprint. “As the largest user of energy and the single-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the federal government, Defence has a key role to play in helping the government of Canada reach its net-zero targets,” the strategy states. Fully 90 per cent of federal greenhouse gas emissions came from facilities, as opposed to fleets of vehicles, in 2019-20. It’s no coincidence then that the three departments that all administer a large footprint of buildings and other infrastructure are also listed as the largest polluters. DND, for example, says it manages about 20,000 buildings, which includes about 11,700 military housing units as well as about 18,000 projects like runways and roads, not to mention 2.1 million hectares of land. Similarly, Public Services bills itself as the “largest owner and manager of office space in the country.” In addition to providing offices for 260,000 public servants, it is responsible for dams, docks and bridges across Canada. Corrections, meanwhile, manages 43 institutions, 92 parole offices and 14 community correctional centres. Almost half, or 47 per cent, of federal carbon pollution was attributable to natural gas, which is often used to heat buildings. The government also said that stationary fuel combustion — the use of fossil fuels to heat facilities — was the source of 63 per cent of emissions, another indication that building heating is an issue. The government’s strategy calls for its “large energy-intensive buildings” to be recommissioned with “smart building technology.” Smart thermostats, for example, automatically adjust temperature settings for best performance. It also calls for new buildings and building retrofits to “prioritize low-carbon” and require a climate change risk assessment. For its part, DND's strategy calls for “modern sustainable buildings,” and it is collaborating with the National Research Council to develop updated building codes that incorporate climate change resilience. The department says it is looking at “non-fossil fuel heating sources, smart building controls, reducing energy loss, minimizing construction, renovation and demolition waste, and building to the latest industry standards for green construction.” Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National ObserverCarl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
WARSAW, Poland — The prime ministers of Poland and Hungary are meeting Monday to strategize over their threat to veto the European Union’s next budget and massive pandemic aid package that draws a link between bloc funding and members' adherence to democratic standards.Poland and Hungary have been in conflict with the EU for years over their democracy records and fear they may be targeted by the new mechanism that allows funds to be withheld to any of the EU's 27 members that fall short of the bloc's standards.Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is hosting Hungary’s Viktor Orban late Monday for talks on their protest strategy for the Dec. 10-11 EU summit that should approve the bloc’s urgently needed aid package and its 2021-2027 budget, totalling 1.8 trillion euros ($2.1 trillion).It will be the leaders' second meeting on the subject in less than a week.Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that for her, the rule of law is “the foundation of the European project" and that finding consensus in the summit won't be easy.“We know that we absolutely want to have a result. We also know how difficult that is if all 27 member states can’t agree on that result,” Merkel told a virtual gathering of members of parliaments’ European affairs committees.She said it was up to politicians to come up with results “with which all can live." But she warned that it won't work without compromise “from all sides."Germany is currently holding the EU's rotating presidency and is tasked with finding a compromise that will pave the way for January's scheduled implementation of the financial package.Hoping to mollify the EU's stance, Morawiecki has vowed full transparency of the EU funds spending procedures in Poland.————————Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed.The Associated Press
WALKERTON – Bruce County was recognized for outstanding work in creative marketing and communications with three Hermes Creative Awards in the video category — a gold for the Grassroots Farm: Choosing to Call Bruce County Home video, a gold for the Bruce Peninsula EcoAdventures: Choosing to Call Bruce County Home video and a platinum for the Welcome Home video. The accomplishment was announced by the county late last week, following Thursday’s planning committee meeting. County Coun. Anne Eadie, mayor of Kincardine, urged her fellow committee members to view the videos – they’re short, only a couple of minutes, and showcase the county beautifully. She noted that receiving the awards is quite an accomplishment, since they’re part of a worldwide competition. Together, the videos inform, educate and generate awareness about Bruce County’s innovative entrepreneurs in energy, agriculture and sustainable tourism. Each video features local entrepreneurs telling their story, guiding potential entrepreneurs to explore life and work in Bruce County communities. The videos, created in partnership with video production company Astrodog Media, promote Bruce County as a place to live, visit and do business. “Bruce County economic development staff work tirelessly to ensure Bruce County’s future is bright,” said Warden Mitch Twolan. “It’s an honour that their efforts — and the quality of their work — have been recognized on the international stage.” According to the report by Kara Van Myall, director of planning and development, Hermes Creative Awards is one of the oldest and largest creative competitions in the world, recognizing the best in creativity from top publications, websites, videos, advertising, marketing and communications programs. The Hermes Creative Awards program is administered by the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals (AMCP). Judges are industry professionals who “look for talent which exceeds a high standard of excellence and serves as a benchmark … the winners of these awards range in size from individuals to businesses to media organizations to Fortune 500 companies.” Van Myall noted in her report that this is the first time Bruce County entered the competition, competing against 6,000 entries from around the world. This was Van Myall’s last committee meeting. She’s accepted the position of CAO of Saugeen Shores. Van Myall was thanked by committee members for her work on behalf of the county and congratulated on her new position.Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
The Town of Castor will plow snow for two residents who don’t have full street access to their residences. The request was heard at the Nov. 23 regular meeting of council. A letter was forwarded to council by Castor residents Glen Falkenberg and Vic Steer about snow building up on the alleyway that accesses their properties, just off of 49 Ave on the west side of town. “Would it be possible to have the street in front of our houses plowed out on a regular basis?” asked the letter signed by Falkenberg and Steer and dated Nov. 19. “The last snow storm left some drifts that were very hard to get through and since then there has been another snowfall.” During discussion town staff noted the street mentioned in the letter was actually an alleyway running between two houses and the alleyway in question probably runs for between 50 and 100 yards. Mayor Richard Elhard stated the drifting on the alleyway was “pretty bad” and the two residents wanted to know why it’s not plowed. Town Chief Administrative Officer Christopher Robblee stated that streets and alleys are both plowed but streets are given higher priority than alleys. During discussion councillors stated it appeared the alleyway was the only access these two residents have to their property and it should be considered a road for snow plowing purposes despite the fact it’s not a road. Robblee stated when plowing streets, residential streets are plowed last, and this alleyway would be considered a residential street. Councillors unanimously passed a motion to consider Falkenberg and Steer’s alleyway a street and place it on the appropriate snow plowing list.Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review
PAISLEY – Nature’s Millworks, located on the banks of the Teeswater River, has become a haven for tourists, local artists and crafters in the Paisley area, but come the end of the month, the doors on this special business will be closing. When Helen and Paul Crysler moved to Paisley from Toronto in 2002, they knew they had their work cut out for them with the old mill they’d purchased two years earlier. And they knew they wanted to be part of the community. The second part was easy. Paul said that within a week, he was on two committees. Both he and Helen have been very active in Paisley and area. They’ve been on the local chamber of commerce. Helen is past president of the community choir. Paul served as president of the Walkerton BIA and is proud to have been a founding board member of the Brockton and Area Family Health Team (five communities, all with new clinics, he noted). Then there’s tourism – founding president of Regional Tourism Ontario District Seven, and chair of the Lake Huron Shoreline Tourism Marketing group. “And other stuff,” said Paul. Community involvement came quite naturally. Said Paul, “All the people we met are completely dedicated to the community and it can’t help but rub off.” The first part was more difficult. The former Paisley City Roller Mills, built in 1885, was huge, and basically derelict. “When we moved in, I thought it would be a 15-year project,” said Paul. “It took a bit longer to fix up the building. We’ve done a huge amount of work.” They did all the refurbishing of the building themselves. That includes living quarters, as well as the retail space on the first floor and the gallery on the second floor where art shows and events are held. In the retail space, everything is based on nature, said Helen. And it’s for sale at discounted prices, because in January, the Cryslers will be moving to British Columbia, to be closer to their family – two daughters and three grandchildren. While they’re eager to get on with the next step in their lives, leaving Paisley won’t be easy. “We got to know the artists and artisans – they’re almost like family,” said the Cryslers. Nature’s Millworks closes its doors Dec. 20, and the Cryslers will be able to get their possessions packed in preparation for the move. Until then – drop in, chat, browse and take in one of the loveliest retail outlets in the area. As for the mill, the building sold last week. The Cryslers declined to comment on what will be going in once they leave, but said a lot of people have wanted assurance the integrity of the building will be maintained. For more information about Nature’s Millworks, located at 4575 Bruce Road 1, Paisley (head west at the GoCo station), visit www.naturesmillworks.com.Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
California's governor said on Monday the state was at a "tipping point" in the COVID-19 pandemic that would soon overwhelm hospitals as political leaders nationwide turn to increasingly aggressive measures to hold back the latest surge. Governor Gavin Newsom said he may clamp new "stay-at-home" orders on California's roughly 40 million residents in the face of infections and hospitalizations that are still rising weeks before emergency vaccines are predicted for release. The governor told reporters discussions were underway among state health officials over the potential stay-at-home order.
ELMWOOD – A pretty dusting of snow added to the charm of Elmwood’s annual tree lighting ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 22. Families gathered in the park by the fire hall for the festivities put on by the Elmwood Chamber of Commerce. There were bags of popcorn and cups of hot chocolate, plus treat bags for the children. Mrs. Claus was on hand to make sure everything went well; Santa had to stay home to make sure the elves stayed on task for getting all those toys finished! Mrs. Claus chatted with the children and posed for photos with many of them. Results of the draw were announced – the big winner of $600 was Cathy McFadden of Elmwood; winners of $50 were Isabel Bell of Chesley, Matthew Engel of Walkerton, Ashley Fairminer, Judith Plante of Montreal, Laurine Zurbrigg of Chesley, Ernie Falkiner of Elmwood, Ruth Ann Schlosser of Hanover, Linda Lamont of Elmwood, Mike Thompson of Waterloo, Rene Dancey of Elmwood, Barry Gateman of Elmwood and Linda Ball of Walkerton. As the sky darkened, the crowd sang Christmas songs. And finally came the moment everyone was waiting for – Brockton Mayor Chris Peabody and West Grey Mayor Christine Robinson counted down the final 10 seconds before the lights came on. The already lovely winter park was instantly transformed into a Christmas wonderland.Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
LISTOWEL – Twice a year the council of the Bethel Christian Reformed Church has visioning sessions. This fall they decided to do one on how to be a hands and feet ministry of Jesus here in Listowel. “I don’t know if you know what that means – basically what it means is Jesus talks in the Bible several times about helping the poor, helping those in prison and helping those who are hungry,” said Ray Heeres, vice-chairman of the council. In Matthew 25, Heeres said there is a verse about people getting to heaven. When they arrive Jesus says, ‘I don’t know who you are.’ The people reply, ‘I don’t know what you mean, we’re Christian.’ To which Jesus said, ‘when I was hungry you didn’t feed me. When I was without clothes you never clothed me. When I was in prison you didn’t visit me.’ The people answer, ‘we didn’t know you were in there.’ Jesus told the people that whenever they do that for anybody they are doing it for him. “The whole point being, what good are you as a Christian if you don’t help your fellow neighbour if you don’t help your community,” said Heeres. That is the background behind why the church council decided to be more involved in the community. “What good is a church in a community if it is a clubhouse for the members to come every Sunday and they don’t give a hoot about anything in the community,” he said. “Then you’re not doing what you are supposed to do.” So, Heeres met with some other church leaders, Andrea Charest, executive director of It Takes A Village, and some representatives from social services at the old Anglican Church which is in the process of finding a new life as The Village Table. “I don’t know if you are aware what’s going on there – Ann and Daryl Voskamp have bought it,” said Heeres. “It’s going to be a ministry centre… So we had Ann and Daryl talk to us a bit about what their vision was for the place.” At the meeting, there was a lot of discussion about the homeless in North Perth and other people who need support. “We learned a lot but of course, now what are we going to do about it,” said Heeres. One idea which has been raised is doing potluck dinners where local families would bring food to The Village Table and people who need a meal would be invited to share in the meal. “That all sounds great until you try to figure out what the COVID guidelines are and all of a sudden – well you can meet with 50 people there – but the idea was a family sits down at a table with a couple of homeless people and shares a meal,” said Heeres. “The health unit says no you can’t do that. You can only sit at a table with people in your bubble. The other bubble has to be at a table six feet away.” Food also has to be prepared in a certified kitchen and the kitchen in the old Anglican Church building would need to be updated, so there are some obstacles to overcome when it comes to hosting meals. Heeres said he thinks using the word ‘homeless’ might limit the people who need some help. “What is better terminology to use because I don’t like saying we’re going to sit down with a few homeless people,” he said. “There has got to be something better than that.” The idea of providing a weekly meal was being talked about before the pandemic started. It was going to be a partnership with It Takes A Village. “We were all gung-ho to do that and then COVID hit and that sort of destroyed everything there,” said Heeres. “So that is still a goal… maybe it has to be take-out meals at this point.” This work is being done to complement efforts by the North Perth Committee on Homelessness which is working with the Salvation Army. “I know the warming centre was talked about and they are waiting on a grant for that I believe, but again at The Village Table I think we are going to look to see whether we can be open a couple of hours a few days a week just to have coffee and maybe you could provide store-bought cookies so it’s not a matter of food prepared in a certified kitchen,” said Heeres. “Now that will take volunteers to staff it… you’d be open a couple of hours in the afternoon so people could drop in and have a free coffee, hang out and warm up.” A cold snap in the winter could pose issues for this plan, but he hopes they would be able to extend the hours if necessary. He knows from experience there are no local motels which would provide shelter for people in need. “As a church, we’ve had to put somebody up once and we had to bring them to Palmerston because the local (motels) would not do it,” he said. “So that thought is in the back of our minds. So you have a warming centre. People come and you close at 5 p.m. and you have to boot them out the door. It’s howling wind and it’s minus-20. You feel like a jerk for doing it but on the other hand, are you set up?” Using The Village Table as an example, he pointed out the problems such as liability and staffing if people had to stay overnight. “You need staffing who can be there all night and be awake,” said Heeres. “You can’t be sleeping. Strictly volunteers, that’s asking a lot.” According to Heeres, the Voskamps would like to see The Village Table being used for a variety of programs. One that he recalled being discussed is Celebrate Recovery. “It’s a fairly intense program for those who are recovering from addictions but also other stuff, mental health issues,” he said. “They tried to have one in town a few years ago but it takes a lot of work and a lot of volunteers so they are hoping to maybe bring this back and operate it out of that building, too.” Heeres did not want to talk too much about programs which will be in the ministry because he is just one of many helpers who will be involved, but he said non-Christians should not worry about the word ‘ministry’, which he said is church talk for a program. “The public says ‘government-run programs’, but to us, in a church, if we are going to do a warming centre we would call it a ministry,” he said. “I don’t think you have to be Christian to be able to work out of there and certainly there will be no ‘we’ll only help you if you are Christian.’ Absolutely not, there is no quiz before you get help. It’s just if you need help, fine.” Heeres said he respects the model at It Takes A Village where they offer support to anyone without asking questions, but he does realize some other organizations have more administration to deal with and they require more information. “You can be tough and say – well if they want food they just better obey the rules,” said Heeres. “Well, we all know what happens then. They just stay away then and find other ways, so the answer isn’t to say to the poor, to the homeless – if you don’t follow our rules then you can’t get any help… I know some people think you are just enabling them … and I’m thinking to myself, ‘you think they’re living high off the hog if they are on disability and getting $1,000 a month? You try to live off that.’ They should be getting twice that so don’t think they are taking advantage of the system. It’s just not the way it is. I think people who say that kind of stuff have never really been in the trenches.” Heeres is open to people in need being involved in creating the programs which will help them. “I would want equal representation from both sides because I have done enough foreign mission trips to know you can do a terrible lot of damage if you think you know what people need,” he said. “I take youth to Nicaragua. I’ve gone there seven or eight times now. You can’t go there and say ‘OK, you need this so we’re going to build it for you.’ That’s not how it works.” When they go on mission trips, they work with the YMCA in Nicaragua, which is different than the YMCA here. “There it’s a community development organization,” said Heeres. “They go into a community and sit down with their council… and they come up with a vision and a plan for what they need… then we will go in and help them do what they need. So the same thing is necessary here. If we are going to ‘help the homeless’, we need to know what they need and I don’t know what they need… so definitely I think the people involved who you are ministering to need input on how the ministry is going to be done or else you can offer something and nobody will show up.” Heeres realizes this might mean they would be working with people who have an addiction and mental health challenges and may not always be reliable. “One of the first mission trips I went on was when the Mississippi River flooded,” he said. “We drove all night as a youth group… we were going to help some people clean up their place. We… showed up at this house at 10 a.m. and the people weren’t there. We’re all going – what ungrateful people, we drove all the way here – it’s all about us in our heads. They showed up at noon. “The whole point of that being, and I’m going to get into Christianity here, Jesus Christ died for us and we didn’t deserve it but he did it anyway, so we’re just like them and we expect Jesus to love us so how about we return the favour and we love the unreliable and do stuff for them and don’t make them being reliable a precondition for us to do something for them because then you are going to be disappointed.” When they are preparing for the foreign mission trips there is a day of orientation. “What I instill in these kids is Jesus doesn’t need you to go to Nicaragua for him if you are not willing to do something in your town so you better be willing, when you come back, to be of service in your town. It’s easy to go to Nicaragua and be a hero and it’s a great trip and it’s fun and everybody thinks you are great but it’s a little different ministering to the guy in Listowel who needs some food. The whole point for Christians is if you are not willing to do something in your town with the downtrodden then you’ve got no right to claim you are ‘a great Christian.’”Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner
BRUCE COUNTY – County Coun. Steve Hammell, mayor of Arran-Elderslie, has been asked to be a member of the steering committee for an agricultural plastic waste recycling pilot project. Bruce County’s Transportation and Environmental Services Committee approved the CleanFarms Inc. project for collecting agricultural plastic waste in the county. In October, staff met with two representatives from CleanFarms Inc., a non-profit environmental stewardship organization that operates permanent collection programs for a variety of agricultural plastics across Canada. CleanFarms has 10 years of experience in such programs. The Bruce County bale wrap and twine collection pilot project would be a first for Ontario. The purpose, as stated in a report to the transportation and environmental services committee, “is to build a collection model that will be practical for farmers, cost effective and that can eventually be replicated in other regions of Ontario.” The Bruce County pilot project will be funded by CleanFarms and the Agricultural and AgriFood Canada’s Canadian agricultural strategic priorities program. “This could have a big impact on diverting waste,” said Miguel Pelletier, director of transportation and environmental services. Hammell said his farm does recycle bale wrap (with a different company). He said the pilot program, if successful, would “divert a lot that’s currently being burned.”Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
TORONTO — Home prices are increasing in Canada’s cottage country as more buyers look to move there full-time, according to a report released Monday by Royal LePage. Prices of single-family recreational homes rose 11.5 per cent to an aggregate of $453,046 in the first nine months of the year, the real estate brokerage said.The data from Royal LePage comes amid an overall uptick in home prices this year, after COVID-19 lockdowns stymied the spring buying season. A rush of demand and a limited supply as the economy reopened this summer and fall meant that home prices were up 15.2 per cent last month in Canada compared to a year ago, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.Royal LePage chief executive Phil Soper says the number of cottages, cabins, chalets and farmhouses on the market have also dwindled amid the increased demand, at least through September.“Inventory levels are the lowest I've seen in 15 years," said Heather FitzGerald, a Royal LePage agent in Moncton, NB, in the report. While local buyers have moved away from cities and closer to nature, FitzGerald also noted an increase in buyers from Ontario and Quebec. Corey Huskilson, another Royal LePage agent quoted in the report and based in Halifax, said buyers from outside of the Maritimes, "who expect to be working remotely for the foreseeable future, are flocking to the area."Real estate agents in 54 per cent of regions told the brokerage that there was a significant increase in buyers looking to work remotely at a cottage as a primary residence. Eric Leger, a Laurentians-based agent, said in the report that Quebec’s lockdown periods “sparked an urgent desire for many city dwellers, in need of more living space, to relocate to the suburbs and cottage country.” Agents in other provinces noted similar trends, with one agent noting that Alberta-based buyers are competing with people across the country for properties in Canmore.“Highway developments have reduced the drive from Saskatoon to 1.5 hours, which makes working remotely more possible for those who still have to go into the office a few days a week," said broker Lou Doderai in the report.The report says retirees have also bid up cottage prices, with agents in 68 per cent of regions saying more retirees are buying cottages this year compared to last year. "Retiring baby boomers have been putting upward pressure on prices and reducing inventory for the last few years. Retirees are now finding themselves competing against remote workers,” said Bob Clarke, an agent in Ontario's Muskoka region, in the report.“The most common question used to be 'is the property West-facing?' Now my clients' biggest concern is internet quality." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Anita Balakrishnan, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — After months of shadowboxing amid a tense and toxic campaign, Capitol Hill's main players are returning for one final, perhaps futile, attempt at deal-making on a challenging menu of year-end business.COVID-19 relief, a $1.4 trillion catchall spending package, and defence policy — and a final burst of judicial nominees — dominate a truncated two- or three-week session occurring as the coronavirus pandemic rockets out of control in President Donald Trump's final weeks in office.The only absolute must-do business is preventing a government shutdown when a temporary spending bill expires on Dec. 11. The route preferred by top lawmakers like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is to agree upon and pass an omnibus spending bill for the government. But it may be difficult to overcome bitter divisions regarding a long-delayed COVID-19 relief package that's a top priority of business, state and local governments, educators and others.Time is working against lawmakers as well, as is the Capitol's emerging status as a COVID-19 hotspot. The House has truncated its schedule, and Senate Republicans are joining Democrats in forgoing the in-person lunch meetings that usually anchor their workweeks. It'll take serious, good-faith conversations among top players to determine what's possible, but those haven't transpired yet.Top items for December's lame-duck session:___KEEPING THE GOVERNMENT OPENAt a bare minimum, lawmakers need to keep the government running by passing a stopgap spending bill known as a continuing resolution, which would punt $1.4 trillion worth of unfinished agency spending into next year.That's a typical way to deal with a handoff to a new administration, but McConnell and Pelosi are two veterans of the Capitol's appropriations culture and are pressing hard for a catchall spending package. A battle over using budget sleight of hand to add a 2 percentage point, $12 billion increase to domestic programs to accommodate rapidly growing veterans health care spending is an issue, as are Trump's demands for U.S-Mexico border wall funding.Getting Trump to sign the measure is another challenge. Two years ago he sparked a lengthy partial government shutdown over the border wall, but both sides would like to clear away the pile of unfinished legislation to give the Biden administration a fresh start. The changeover in administrations probably wouldn't affect an omnibus deal very much.At issue are the 12 annual spending bills comprising the portion of the government's budget that passes through Congress each year on a bipartisan basis. Whatever approach passes, it’s likely to contain a batch of unfinished leftovers such as extending expiring health care policies and tax provisions and continuing the authorization for the government’s flood insurance program.___COVID-19 RELIEFDemocrats have battled with Republicans and the White House for months over a fresh installment of COVID-19 relief that all sides say they want. But a lack of good faith and an unwillingness to embark on compromises that might lead either side out of their political comfort zones have helped keep another rescue package on ice.The aid remains out of reach despite a fragile economy and out-of-control increases in coronavirus cases, especially in Midwest GOP strongholds. McConnell has supplanted Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as the most important Republican force in the negotiations, but he hasn't shown much openness for politically difficult compromises required for a COVID-19 deal that might anger conservatives. Neither have McConnell's warnings of a wave of COVID-related lawsuits against businesses, schools and nonprofits open during the pandemic come to pass, undercutting his demand for blanket protections against such suits.Pelosi seems to have overplayed her hand as she held out for $2 trillion-plus right up until the election. The results of the election, which saw Democrats lose seats in the House, appear to have significantly undercut her position, but she is holding firm on another round of aid to state and local governments.Before the election, Trump seemed to be focused on a provision that would send another round of $1,200 payments to most Americans. He hasn't shown a lot of interest in the topic since, apart from stray tweets. But the chief obstacles now appear to be Pelosi's demand for state and local government aid and McConnell's demand for a liability shield for businesses reopening during the pandemic.At stake is funding for vaccines and testing, reopening schools, various economic “stimulus" ideas like another round of “paycheque protection” subsidies for businesses especially hard hit by the pandemic. Failure to pass a measure now would vault the topic to the top of Biden's legislative agenda next year.___Defence POLICYA spat over military bases named for Confederate officers is threatening the annual passage of a defence policy measure that has passed for 59 years in a row on a bipartisan basis. The measure is critical in the defence policy world, guiding Pentagon policy and cementing decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, military personnel policy and other military goals.Both the House and Senate measures would require the Pentagon to rename bases such as Fort Benning and Fort Hood, but Trump opposes the idea and has threatened a veto over it. The battle erupted this summer amid widespread racial protests, and Trump used the debate to appeal to white Southern voters nostalgic about the Confederacy. It's a live issue in two Senate runoff elections in Georgia that will determine control of the chamber during the first two years of Biden’s tenure.Democrats are insisting on changing the names and it's not obvious how it'll all end up.Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press