President Joe Biden on Saturday said his administration would make an announcement on Saudi Arabia on Monday, following a U.S. intelligence report that found Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had approved the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Biden administration has faced some criticism, notably an editorial in the Washington Post, that the president should have been tougher on the crown prince, who was not sanctioned despite being blamed for approving Khashoggi's murder.
(Submitted by Gerald McKenzie - image credit) First Nations in Saskatchewan have continued to be hit hard by COVID-19 in the first two months of 2021. According to Indigenous Services Canada, during the first seven weeks of 2021, there were 2,779 new cases in reserves in Saskatchewan — more than in any other province. By comparison, in that same time period, there were 2,290 cases on reserves in Manitoba and 2,389 in Alberta. In a Wednesday news release, Indigenous Services said it is "closely monitoring the number of COVID-19 cases reported in First Nations communities across the country." However, there is some good news — active case counts are declining, and there has not yet been a confirmed case of any of the new coronavirus variants of concern on reserve. Vaccine deliveries are also ramping up, and as of Feb. 23, Indigenous Services reported that more than 103,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Indigenous communities throughout Canada. In Saskatchewan, as of Feb. 14, the federal department estimates that vaccine uptake in First Nations communities was at or above 75 per cent. Indigenous Services also said it is working to support the vaccine rollout for Indigenous adults living in urban areas. "ISC is working closely with [the] National Association of Friendship Centres, as well as provinces and territories, First Nation, Inuit and Métis partners, and other urban community service organizations to support planning efforts," the department said in its news release this week. "This includes working to identify barriers, challenges and opportunities for increasing vaccine uptake and ensuring the vaccine is available in culturally safe and accessible locations." According to the department, vaccine clinics for Indigenous adults are currently being planned for Saskatoon and Regina.
(Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press - image credit) Health Canada's approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India's version to prevent COVID-19 in adults follows similar green lights from regulators in the United Kingdom, Europe Union, Mexico and India. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, called ChAdOx1, was approved for use in Canada on Friday following clinical trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil that showed a 62.1 per cent efficacy in reducing symptomatic cases of COVID-19 cases among those given the vaccine. Experts have said any vaccine with an efficacy rate of over 50 per cent could help stop outbreaks. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said the key number across all of the clinical trials for those who received AstraZeneca's product was zero — no deaths, no hospitalizations for serious COVID-19 and no deaths because of an adverse effect of the vaccine. "I think Canada is hungry for vaccines," Sharma said in a briefing. "We're putting more on the buffet table to be used." Specifically, 64 of 5,258 in the vaccination group got COVID-19 with symptoms compared with people in the control group given injections (154 of 5,210 got COVID-19 with symptoms). Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at Toronto's University Health Network, called it a positive move to have AstraZeneca's vaccines added to Canada's options. "Even though the final efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine appears lower than what we have with the mRNA vaccines, it's still reasonably good," Hota said. "What we need to be focusing on is trying to get as many people as possible vaccinated so we can prevent the harms from this." Canada has an agreement with AstraZeneca to buy 20 million doses as well as between 1.9 million and 3.2 million doses through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX. WATCH | AstraZeneca vaccine overview: Canada will also receive 2 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the government announced Friday. Here's a look at some common questions about the vaccine, how it works, in whom and how it could be rolled out. What's different about this shot? The Oxford-AstraZeneca is cheaper and easier to handle than the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which need to be stored at ultracold temperatures to protect the fragile genetic material. AstraZeneca says its vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (2 to 8 C) for at least six months. (Moderna's product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures for 30 days after thawing.) The ease of handling could make it easier to administer AstraZeneca's vaccine in rural and remote areas of Canada and the world. "There are definitely some advantages to having multiple vaccine candidates available to get to as many Canadians as possible," Hota said. Sharma said while the product monograph notes that evidence for people over age 65 is limited, real-world data from countries already using AstraZeneca's vaccine suggest it is safe and effective among older age groups. "We have real-world evidence from Scotland and the U.K. for people that have been dosed that would have been over 80 and that has shown significant drop in hospitalizations," Sharma said, based on a preprint. Data from clinical trials is more limited compared with in real-world settings that reflect people from different age groups, medical conditions and other factors. How does it work? Vaccines work by training our immune system to recognize an invader. The first two vaccines to protect against COVID-19 that were approved for use in Canada deliver RNA that encodes the spike protein on the surface of the pandemic coronavirus. Health-care workers Diego Feitosa Ferreira, right, and Clemilton Lopes de Oliveira travel on a boat in the state of Amazonas in Brazil, on Feb. 12, to vaccinate residents with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures, which facilitates its use in remote areas. In contrast, the AstraZeneca vaccine packs the genetic information for the spike protein in the shell of a virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees. Vaccine makers altered the adenovirus so it can't grow in humans. Viral vector vaccines mimic viral infection more closely than some other kinds of vaccines. One disadvantage of viral vectors is that if a person has immunity toward a particular vector, the vaccine won't work as well. But people are unlikely to have been exposed to a chimpanzee adenovirus. AstraZeneca is working on reformulating its vaccine to address more transmissible variants of coronavirus. How and where could it be used? Virologist Eric Arts at Western University in London, Ont., said vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, which is also under review by Health Canada, and Russian Sputnik-V vaccines all have some similarities. "I do like the fact that AstraZeneca has decided to continue trials, to work with the Russians on the Sputnik-V vaccine combination," said Arts, who holds the Canada Research Chair in HIV pathogenesis and viral control. Boxes with AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at St. Mary's Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. Health Canada says the vaccine is given by two separate injections of 0.5 millilitres each into the muscle of the arm. "The reason why I'm encouraged by it is I think there might be greater opportunity to administer those vaccines in low- to middle-income countries. We need that. I think our high-income countries have somewhat ignored the situation that is more significant globally." Researchers reported on Feb. 2 in the journal Lancet that in a Phase 3 clinical trial involving about 20,000 people in Russia, the two-dose Sputnik-V vaccine was about 91 per cent effective and appears to prevent inoculated individuals from becoming severely ill with COVID-19. WATCH | Performance of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine so far: There were 16 COVID-19 cases in the vaccine group (0.1 per cent or 16/14,964) and 62 cases (1.3 per cent or [62/4,902) in the control group. No serious adverse events were associated with vaccination. Most adverse events were mild, such as flu-like symptoms, pain at injection site and weakness or low energy. Arts and other scientists acknowledged the speed and lack of transparency of the Russian vaccination program. But British scientists Ian Jones and Polly Roy wrote in an accompanying commentary that the results are clear and add another vaccine option to reduce the incidence of COVID-19.
OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced scoring attack in a 6-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon at Canadian Tire CentreJuuso Valimaki, Mikael Backlund, Elias Lindholm, Sean Monahan, Andrew Mangiapane and Matthew Tkachuk scored for the Flames, who ended Ottawa's three-game win streak.Drake Batherson, Colin White and Brady Tkachuk replied for the last-place Senators. Ottawa (7-15-1) remain in the NHL basement with 15 points.Calgary (10-10-2) moved into a fourth-place tie with Montreal in the North Division with 22 points. The Canadiens were scheduled to play the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night.The Flames opened the scoring four minutes into the game. The speedy Johnny Gaudreau zipped around a couple of Ottawa players before sending a backhand saucer pass to Valimaki for the one-timer.The Flames scored again 37 seconds later as Backlund flipped a rolling puck past a handcuffed Matt Murray.The Sens goalie stopped 27-of-33 shots on Saturday.Perhaps in an effort to spark his teammates, Austin Watson fought bruising Flames forward Milan Lucic on the ensuing faceoff. Lucic, who had a 35-pound weight advantage, won the decision.Calgary took advantage of some sloppy defensive play ahead of its third goal. Josh Norris turned the puck over deep in the zone and Lindholm snapped it in at 11:05.Batherson extended his goal-scoring streak to five games with a power-play effort at 13:05. He beat David Rittich with a wrist shot from the faceoff circle.Another Senators' defensive lapse proved costly early in the second period as Chris Tierney coughed up the puck down low. Gaudreau fed it to Monahan for the power-play goal at 4:02.A Calgary shorthanded goal followed at 9:36. Mangiapane hit the post with a redirect attempt before tapping in the rebound. White responded 40 seconds later by scooping a loose puck off the faceoff and snapping it past a screened Rittich. The netminder posted 31 saves in Calgary's win.The lone goal in the third period came when Brady Tkachuk scored on the Ottawa power play at 10:00.The Senators dumped the Flames 6-1 on Thursday night. The teams will face off again Monday in the finale of Ottawa's five-game homestand. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
Several rounds of staff reports, public comments, and consultant presentations later, Tiny council still remains at square one around an effective strategy to address short-term rental (STR) issues in the township. At the end of the day, staff were sent back to prepare a public survey and to continue drafting an STR licensing bylaw and renters code of conduct with public input. In the process' latest round, council's committee of the whole received an open deputation Friday from a resident, who had concerns around the third-party monitoring system, a presentation from the third-party service provider and another staff report. "I read through the supplier and I have concerns about the cost and the Big Brother feel," said Kim Romans, who is a year-round Tiny resident with two rental cottages on her property. "This is not a registry, this is about regulation. "We are a small township and a small number of units," she added. "People who are offering STRs should come to the table and work with council to design something that works for the people and township. We shouldn't be burdening people with over-regulating and the costs associated with them." Coun. Tony Mintoff clarified for Romans that the township's intent was always to come up with some sort of regulation around STRs in the area. "It's always been the intent to have a registration and a licensing program," he said. "As for survey of the members of the public and property owners, that's part of the plan." Council also sat through a presentation by Samantha White, account executive with Granicus - Host Compliance, whose services were giving Romans the jitters. The company, White said, focuses and specializes in helping local governments address their short-term rental related challenges. "We pull down the data from the top 60 STR platforms and match that with your assessor data to drive greater compliance using the solutions we have," White said. The five tools that Granicus offers include digital registration and tax collection, address identification, compliance and rental activity monitoring and a dedicated hotline for complainants, she explained. Steve Harvey, chief municipal law enforcement officer, said staff had brought forward Granicus as an efficiency tool. "Staff see this as a very important efficiency tool to get us up and running very quickly for 2021," he said. "It's a critical component to rolling this out. Recreating something similar to this would take a lot of time and be cost prohibitive. (Granicus costs) $36,000 a year and we're asking council to consider them as sole-source provider." In addition to the $36,000 cost for bringing on Granicus, Harvey said, staff was also proposing an additional bylaw officer at a cost of $51,000 for eight months. Some council members still had concerns if the township had the right way of approaching the issue. "What are we trying to achieve and more particularly what are we trying to achieve for the 2021 season?" said Mayor George Cornell. "I don't think we're at a point where we can start writing up our bylaw and engage Granicus. There's a whole public consultation piece here that hasn't been looked at. We haven't made any decisions yet. I would caution council not to get ahead of ourselves." That's exactly where Mintoff was coming from. "I think it's premature to be thinking about engaging a third-party consultant and hiring a staff now when we haven't even put the issue of what the program is going to look like," he said. "I do agree with the bylaw approach versus the zoning approach because it would help us administer a monetary penalty system." Instead, Mintoff said a survey is a good first step in which to begin. He also wasn't convinced if the definition of an STR should focus on any period less than 28 consecutive calendar days since the problems lie with those renting for weekends. "We should be looking at under eight days," he said, adding, "We can get our feet wet and look at the ones that are causing the most problems. "If we just say, if you're going to rent less than eight days, you have to register," said Mintoff. "That doesn't say you can't rent for 28 days." All council members agreed that engaging Granicus services at this time wasn't necessary, however, White and her colleague offered to help staff in crafting the licensing framework. Meanwhile, staff will continue with the strict enforcement policy already in place. Council is hoping to have a report back with an implementation date for the end of May. The decision was ratified at the council meeting held later the same day. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
(Government of P.E.I. - image credit) Prince Edward Island is reintroducing some public health restrictions — including no indoor dining at restaurants —after six new cases of COVID-19 were reported Saturday. The restrictions will begin Sunday and be in effect until at least March 14, Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, said in a COVID-19 briefing Saturday. P.E.I. has had 12 cases in the past four days, and a handful of potential exposure sites have been identified. "This outbreak is likely to get worse before it gets better," Morrison said. Other "circuit-breaker" measures announced Saturday include: Takeout only at restaurants. Personal gatherings limited to household members plus 10 "consistent" people. Organized gathering limit of 50 for activities including concerts, worship services, and movie theatres Weddings and funerals limited to 50 individuals plus officiants. Not eligible for multiple gatherings. No funeral or wedding receptions. No sports games or tournaments, though practices are permitted. Gyms, museums, libraries and retail stores can operate at 50 per cent capacity. No changes to current measures for long-term care facilities. Unlicensed and licensed child-care centres can operate at 100 per cent capacity, with physical distancing. The Chief Public Health Office has asked all people aged 14-29 in the Summerside area to get tested this weekend even if they are not experiencing symptoms. People with symptoms are asked to get tested at clinics in Slemon Park or on Park Street in Charlottetown. By 3 p.m. Saturday, Morrison said close to 1,000 tests were done at the temporary clinic at Three Oaks High School. The clinic is open until 8 p.m., and will be open Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for anyone in the Summerside area aged 14-29. Callbecks Home Hardware in Summerside was identified Saturday as a possible exposure site. The new cases, five men and one woman, are all in their 20s. Five are close contacts of previous cases. Four new exposure sites were also identified on Saturday — Callbecks Home Hardware in Summerside, Pita Pit locations in Summerside and Charlottetown, and Burger King in the Summerside Walmart. Premier Dennis King said the province does not know if the new cases are variants, but the assumption is they are. He said it's not the news he wanted to deliver, but said circuit breakers have proven effective in the past. "I think it's discouraging from the perspective for all Islanders simply because we've done very, very well to date and we can see the finish line, but we do seem to be stuck in this tangled spider's web of COVID that it won't really let us firmly out of its grip." P.E.I. has had 126 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began almost a year ago. Thirteen remain active. There have been no deaths or hospitalizations. The Atlantic bubble remains suspended, as well. Here is a list of possible public exposure sites on PEI. Public health officials are urging anyone who was at these locations on these dates and at these times to immediately self-isolate and get tested. Pita Pit, Summerside: Feb 19, 11 a.m.-9 pm.; Feb 21, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Feb 22, 12 noon-9 p.m.; Feb 23, 12 noon-9 p.m.; Feb 24, 2-4 p.m.; Feb 26, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Callbeck's Home Hardware, Summerside: Feb. 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, 25, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (all dates) Burger King, Granville Street, Summerside: Feb 14, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Feb 17, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.; Feb 18, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; Feb. 20, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4-5 p.m.; Feb 21, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Feb 22, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; Feb 23, 4 p.m.-1 a.m.; Feb 24, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; Feb 25, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Dominos Pizza, Summerside: Feb 17, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Feb. 18, 4-11 p.m.; Feb. 19, 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; Feb 20: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Feb. 21, 4 p.m.-1 a.m.; Feb 22, 4-11 p.m.; Feb 23, 4 p.m.-1 a.m.; Feb 24, 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Shoppers Drug Mart, Summerside: Feb 21, 10-11 a.m. Dollarama, Summerside: Feb 20, 3-4 p.m. Superstore, Montague: Feb 24, 4:30-5:30 p.m.; Feb 25, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Tailgate Bar & Grill, Montague: Feb 25, 9:30-11:30 p.m. Iron Haven Gym, Summerside: Feb. 20, 6-8 p.m.; Feb 23, 6-8 p.m. Toys R Us, Charlottetown: Feb 23, 10 a.m.-12 noon Taste of India, Charlottetown: Feb 20, 4-10 p.m.; Feb. 21, 3-9 p.m.; Feb 22, 3-9 p.m.; Feb 23, 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. The Breakfast Spot, Summerside: Feb 20, 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m. New Brunswick reported two new cases on Saturday as the active total, 41, continues to drop. New Brunswickers can now travel and visit people in different regions after a series of changes to the orange phase took effect. Nova Scotia reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday as tighter restrictions came into force to stem a recent increase in case numbers. The province has 39 active cases. Newfoundland and Labrador reported four new cases, as well as another death. It has 217 active cases. More from CBC News
Pembroke – The Barry’s Bay area was identified by the local health unit as the hotspot for COVID-19 in Renfrew County last week, making not only local news, but national news for the small village of about 1,300 people in the southwestern part of the county. “It put us in a very bad light as a community,” Madawaska Valley (MV) Mayor Kim Love told the Leader. “The concern from the business owners was the very negative impression this was giving of our community. We have been working very hard. The vast majority of the population has been working very hard to comply.” In an open letter to the community, she alsocalled out those who are not complying with directives from the Renfrew County District Health Unit (RCDHU). “To anyone simply unwilling to follow the guidelines of public health, if you can’t join the rest of society in wearing a mask, washing your hands and staying six feet apart, then please stay home,” she said. In a release last Friday from the RCDHU, Barry’s Bay was highlighted not only as an area of concern because of merchants who complain about customers not complying with mask wearing, but also “anti-mask demonstrations and concerns about post-secondary students not complying” with health unit directives. Since January 1st, the Bay area has had 27 cases of COVID-19 whereas the remainder of Renfrew County and the district covered by the RCDHU has totaled only 47. This is 36 per cent of all the cases in an area with only 12 per cent of the total population in RCD. However, a clarification on Monday given by the health unit to MV, where Barry’s Bay is located, stated the issue is not just seen as isolated to the village by the health unit, but the entire township, as well as neighbouring townships. These are: Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards (KHR); Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan (BL&R) and South Algonquin. Mayor Love passed this on in a letter to the community, pointing out Barry’s Bay is the main service and employment centre for the area. “It has a combined population of approximately 12,600 people,” she wrote. “Of the 27 cases of COVID-19 referenced and attributed to the Barry’s Bay area by the RCDHU press release, 22 cases have been in Madawaska Valley, four in Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan and one in South Algonquin.” KHR has the distinction of being one of two municipalities in the county with no cases of COVID since the pandemic began, the other being Head, Clara and Maria. Pikwakanagan First Nation has also had no cases. Blindsided By Release It’s been a couple of challenging days for Mayor Love since Barry’s Bay was named a hotspot. The municipality and business owners were basically blindsided by the press release, she pointed out. “We had no notice, so that puts you in reactive mode,” she said. “We would prefer to be a partner in assisting in getting the message out.” Since then, the emails, calls and messages began to go back and forth between the township, the mayor and the health unit, as well as members of the local board of health. The township was also dealing with inquiries by business owners and community members who were concerned and upset. Impact on Business A Barry’s Bay business owner who spoke to the Leader on the condition of anonymity called the press release from the health unit “damaging, reckless and very careless” to frame the community as a hotspot. “It has affected business in Barry’s Bay and people’s perception of Barry’s Bay and coming into town,” he said. “And things like this last a long time.” Their business saw a “noticeable” decline in business since Saturday. Speaking to other business owners, they reported the same impact with declines in foot traffic or cancellations of reservations for services or appointments. “The damage they did to Barry’s Bay is unbelievable,” they said. “To get the title of hotspot thrown at us is unbelievable.” The fall out in social media has been tremendous as well, they noted. “People are criticizing businesses if they see snowmobiles parked at their locations,” they noted. “It is inciting back and forth comments that are not fair. “Everyone in the business community is feeling the fallout. There is no other way to describe it,” they noted. “It has been felt since the weekend.” Of added concern they said the health unit had never singled out another community like this and they questioned if it had a co-relation to the anti-mask protest on a Sunday earlier in the month in the community. They also said singling out post-secondary students was not fair since the post-secondary institution in the community, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College, has worked hard to ask students and staff to comply with local health directives. Ironically, as their business saw less foot traffic, the question was where people were going for their shopping. If they are choosing to travel to other communities to shop, it just increases the impact of travel. “They have scared people and put people in a worried state,” the business owner said. Timing of Release Mayor Love said while the spike in cases occurred in the first two weeks in January, the press release and notification of concern did not occur until the third week in February. “We wanted the health unit to know if they communicate with us as soon as they see a spike in numbers, we are there for them, to assist them with messages directly to our public,” she said. “We are there to help and also keep our communities healthy and safe.” Mayor Love said she understands MV had one case of COVID-19 early on in 2020 and no cases at the time of the December 26 provincial lockdown. By January 11, the township had 15 cumulative cases and seven active ones. “It could be someone travelling into Madawaska Valley from an infected area or someone travelling to an infected area and coming back to Madawaska Valley,” she said. “The travel that brought COVID-19 here might have involved cities like Ottawa or Toronto, but it could just as easily have been local travel within Renfrew County.” The mayor also described it as “unfortunate” a reporter travelled to the community from an Orange Zone to Barry’s Bay on Saturday to report on the situation. “I’m not sure that would be essential travel,” she said. The mayor said moving forward she is glad to have an open line of communication with the health unit and is anticipating a good working relationship as a partner in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Health Unit Warning Renfrew County and district has been classified as a Green Zone throughout the time the province had applied the COVID-19 Response Framework and was among the first regions to re-open following the provincial lockdown in December. With a total of 321 cases since the pandemic began and 11 active cases reported on Tuesday and two deaths since the pandemic began, the district is one of those with the lowest infection numbers in Ontario and well below the provincial average. Although early on the COVID numbers were isolated to the larger centres in the county like Arnprior or Renfrew and those closest to Ottawa, it is rare for one community to be highlighted as an area of concern within the county as has occurred with Barry’s Bay and region. One exception was when an outbreak occurred among a Mennonite Community in Whitewater Region, but that situation was always identified as being confined to the self-contained community. Dr. Robert Cushman, the acting chief medical officer of health for the health unit, stressed the county and district has had low numbers overall. “The exception is the Barry’s Bay area which, surprisingly, has seen more COVID-19 cases in 2021 than all of last year,” he said in a release. “While there is no obvious direct cause and effect link, and the spread has mostly been within families, we have to ask, why is this area not following the downward trend we see across the rest of RCD?” he asked. He did not rule out implementing more stringent rules in the Barry’s Bay area if the number of cases continues to rise. “Businesses are finally getting the chance to open again, to employ their workers, and to serve their customers delayed needs,” he added. “The last thing we want to do is to jeopardize our status and clamp down yet again on the economy, or possibly implement more stringent rules in the neighbourhood of Barry’s Bay compared to elsewhere in Renfrew County and district. “This is concerning as it will be a challenge with forecasts of a third wave driven by COVID-19 variants that are more infectious and spread quicker than the original strains of the virus.” Dr. Cushman said constant attention needs to be paid to masking, distancing and proper hygiene. Moreover, what stands out amongst the latest cases is the number of contacts and the additional spread. “COVID-19 is a very social virus, especially the new strains and it goes without saying that we need strict adherence to our household and workplace contacts to limit the spread,” he said. “We are all in this together and I would urge everyone of us, and especially the folks living in the Barry’s Bay area to be vigilant to protect themselves, others and the economy. As the old saying goes, “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.” Mayor Love Reaches Out Since the community was identified as a hotspot, Mayor Love sent two open letters to the community. “The municipality has repeatedly asked everyone to comply with provincial orders and follow the guidelines of public health,” she said in an open letter. “Not doing so jeopardizes the health of our essential workers, healthcare providers, families, seniors and the economic viability to the local businesses we all depend on. “To the vast majority of Madawaska Valley residents and visitors who are staying within their household bubbles, wearing masks, washing their hands, staying six feet apart and limiting their exposure to others, you are putting the well-being of our entire society first and we sincerely thank you,” she said. “To anyone who, for medical reasons can’t wear a mask, please contact a friend or a volunteer group that is willing to pick up food and essentials for you while you stay safe at home.” The mayor also addressed some of the concerns raised by Dr. Cushman. “To anti-mask protesters, please note that protests will not end this pandemic,” the mayor stated. “COVID-19 doesn’t care if you protest. Everyone who is following the guidelines of public health does care. If you can’t join us, then please stay home.” Mayor Love concluded by asking everyone in the community to follow the established protocols. “Let’s make sure the Barry’s Bay area doesn’t require stricter enforcement measures,” she said. “We are all in this together. We all need to stay vigilant right now to protect the local economy and our community.” As the focus shifted to Barry’s Bay late last week, the entire county and district saw a slow increase in COVID-19 numbers. Earlier last week an outbreak was reported at Valley Manor, the long-term care home in Barry’s Bay. An outbreak is declared at a long-term care home when one individual tested positive. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
WASHINGTON — The House approved a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill that was championed by President Joe Biden, the first step in providing another dose of aid to a weary nation as the measure now moves to a tense Senate. “We have no time to waste,” Biden said at the White House after the House passage early Saturday. "We act now — decisively, quickly and boldly — we can finally get ahead of this virus. We can finally get our economy moving again. People in this country have suffered far too much for too long.” The new president’s vision for infusing cash across a struggling economy to individuals, businesses, schools, states and cities battered by COVID-19 passed on a near party-line 219-212 vote. That ships the bill to the Senate, where Democrats seem bent on resuscitating their minimum wage push and fights could erupt over state aid and other issues. Democrats said that mass unemployment and the half-million American lives lost are causes to act despite nearly $4 trillion in aid already spent fighting the fallout from the disease. GOP lawmakers, they said, were out of step with a public that polling finds largely views the bill favourably. “I am a happy camper tonight," Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said Friday. “This is what America needs. Republicans, you ought to be a part of this. But if you're not, we're going without you." Republicans said the bill was too expensive and said too few education dollars would be spent quickly to immediately reopen schools. They said it was laden with gifts to Democratic constituencies like labour unions and funneled money to Democratic-run states they suggested didn't need it because their budgets had bounced back. “To my colleagues who say this bill is bold, I say it's bloated," said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. “To those who say it's urgent, I say it's unfocused. To those who say it's popular, I say it is entirely partisan.” The overall relief bill would provide $1,400 payments to individuals, extend emergency unemployment benefits through August and increase tax credits for children and federal subsidies for health insurance. It also provides billions for schools and colleges, state and local governments, COVID-19 vaccines and testing, renters, food producers and struggling industries like airlines, restaurants, bars and concert venues. Moderate Democratic Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon were the only two lawmakers to cross party lines. That sharp partisan divide is making the fight a showdown over whom voters will reward for heaping more federal spending to combat the coronavirus and revive the economy atop the $4 trillion approved last year. The battle is also emerging as an early test of Biden's ability to hold together his party's fragile congressional majorities — just 10 votes in the House and an evenly divided 50-50 Senate. At the same time, Democrats were trying to figure out how to assuage liberals who lost their top priority in a jarring Senate setback Thursday. That chamber's nonpartisan parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, said Senate rules require that a federal minimum wage increase would have to be dropped from the COVID-19 bill, leaving the proposal on life support. The measure would gradually lift that minimum to $15 hourly by 2025, doubling the current $7.25 floor in effect since 2009. Hoping to revive the effort in some form, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is considering adding a provision to the Senate version of the COVID-19 relief bill that would penalize large companies that don't pay workers at least $15 an hour, said a senior Democratic aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations. That was in line with ideas floated Thursday night by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a chief sponsor of the $15 plan, and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., to boost taxes on corporations that don't hit certain minimum wage targets. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., offered encouragement, too, calling a minimum wage increase “a financial necessity for our families, a great stimulus for our economy and a moral imperative for our country.” She said the House would “absolutely" approve a final version of the relief bill because of its widespread benefits, even if it lacked progressives’ treasured goal. While Democratic leaders were eager to signal to rank-and-file progressives and liberal voters that they would not yield on the minimum wage fight, their pathway was unclear because of GOP opposition and questions over whether they had enough Democratic support. House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal, D-Mass., sidestepped a question on taxing companies that don't boost pay, saying of Senate Democrats, “I hesitate to say anything until they decide on a strategy." Progressives were demanding that the Senate press ahead anyway on the minimum wage increase, even if it meant changing that chamber's rules and eliminating the filibuster, a tactic that requires 60 votes for a bill to move forward. “We’re going to have to reform the filibuster because we have to be able to deliver,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., another high-profile progressive, also said Senate rules must be changed, telling reporters that when Democrats meet with their constituents, "We can’t tell them that this didn’t get done because of an unelected parliamentarian.” Traditionalists of both parties — including Biden, who served as a senator for 36 years — have opposed eliminating filibusters because they protect parties' interests when they are in the Senate minority. Biden said weeks ago that he didn't expect the minimum wage increase to survive the Senate's rules. Democrats narrowly hold Senate control. Pelosi, too, seemed to shy away from dismantling Senate procedures, saying, “We will seek a solution consistent with Senate rules, and we will do so soon.” The House COVID-19 bill includes the minimum wage increase, so the real battle over its fate will occur when the Senate debates its version over the next two weeks. Democrats are pushing the relief measure through Congress under special rules that will let them avoid a Senate GOP filibuster, meaning that if they are united they won't need any Republican votes. It also lets the bill move faster, a top priority for Democrats who want the bill on Biden's desk before the most recent emergency jobless benefits end on March 14. But those same Senate rules prohibit provisions with only an “incidental” impact on the federal budget because they are chiefly driven by other policy purposes. MacDonough decided that the minimum wage provision failed that test. Republicans oppose the $15 minimum wage target as an expense that would hurt businesses and cost jobs. ___ Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Kevin Freking and Josh Boak in Washington contributed to this report. Alan Fram, The Associated Press
Tay council isn't giving up on its hope for a Port McNicoll transit stop with plans to bring it back to the county during public consultations around its transportation master plan. That was the conclusion drawn at the end of a recent council session during which county representatives talked about the new LINX Transit route that will be launched in this summer. The discussion centred around the two stops studied for Port McNicoll. Dennis Childs, Simcoe County manager of transit, said the Triple Bay Road and Talbot Street stops looked at during the study would add up to 18 minutes to the Midland-Orillia route's run time. "When we look at the stop into Port McNicoll, the bus is going to go down one area stop and go out the other area," he said, in response to a question by Coun. Paul Raymond. "When you look at all the stops we've put in place, other than the end of the line, there's always one stop on the other side of the road and one on the opposite side. The reason is for efficiencies. "When you look at Port McNicoll, if we were to go down and put a bus loop, it's not going to save us any amount at all," added Childs. "The reason we had two stops on either side of Port McNicoll is for efficiencies. Anytime you're pulling into a bus loop, you're always going to need to add additional time." Raymond said, he, and other councillors, want the decision reconsidered. "I understand being a lower-tier municipality we don’t have a say," he said. "I tried to find out from the studies what the ridership estimates were per hour, per location. I could not find anything through the county’s site. Is that information available for Tay Township?" David Parks, director planning, development and transit with the County of Simcoe, said he did not have the information on hand but could share it with council later. "I know you know that the needs of the community in Port McNicoll are very important. When you do a study, do you look at the needs of a community and what they have in the community?" said Coun. Mary Warnock. "Is that part of your plan or is it just the logistics and costs?" Parks said the county looks at establishing a regional system. "Our study was limited, but our direction was from county council," he said. "That’s why we’re doing the (transportation) master plan to see if there’s more we can do. We didn’t get to that scale because it wasn’t our mandate, but I encourage you to bring that up." Raymond said he would make it a point to do so because he did not believe the micro-transit options were the answer. "(Accessibility) requirements prevent micro transit systems," he said. "So short of doing taxis, do you have any suggestion on how we could get around that economically?" Childs said there has been a huge push over the last few years for on-demand transit. "That really is the direction rural communities are going to have to go, because the ridership numbers are not high," he said. "It's an easier system to use and the vehicles you can use are smaller vehicles and compliant with current (accessibility) legislation. A lot of these new technologies use apps and make it much more user friendly." During the presentation, Childs noted that the transit link, known as Route 6, will see a soft launch in this summer with the first month being free. The delay was caused due to bus orders being delayed during the pandemic. The route has two stops in Midland and Victoria Harbour, one stop each in Waubaushene, Coldwater and Warminster and two stops in Orillia. The stops in Midland will be at No Frills and Georgian College. In Victoria Harbour, the bus will stop at Richard and Albert Streets and Oakwood Community Centre. On its way through Waubaushene, Route 6 will stop at Sturgeon Bay Road at Pine Street. In Coldwater, passengers can access the service at Coldwater Road and Michael Anne Drive. No specific stop destination was provided for Warminster, however, in Orillia, the bus will stop at Lakehead University and West Ridge Boulevard at Monarch Drive. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
(Furrukh Ikram via YouTube - image credit) Peel Regional Police say a man has been arrested after allegedly stealing a tow truck and fleeing from officers on Friday. A video of the arrest surfaced online and shows the moments leading up to it. A spokesperson for Peel police told CBC Toronto that they received a call around 11:15 a.m. on Friday about several men fighting. At some point, a tow truck was stolen, they said. Police located the tow truck in a nearby residential neighbourhood. A video of the incident posted on YouTube by the user Furrukh Ikram shows the tow truck reversing out of a residential driveway in what appears to be a Brampton neighbourhood before a police cruiser catches up and rams into the side of the truck. Several other cruisers then arrive to box in the vehicle on each side. Police officers exit their cruisers and begin pounding on the driver's side of the truck yelling, "Get out!" while the the vehicle appears to continue attempting to flee. WARNING | The following video contains graphic images and audio It is unclear whether police used Tasers in their efforts to stop the driver, but crackling can be heard in the video. After a couple of minutes, police can be seen forcibly removing the man from the truck and placing him under arrest. Police say the man was taken into custody and transported to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has invoked their mandate following the incident, police said. The SIU is an independent agency that investigates incidents involving police that result in serious injury or death as well as allegations of sexual assault. Police say a 35-year-old man has been charged with theft under $5000, theft of a motor vehicle, flight from a peace officer and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.
BARCELONA, Spain — Lionel Messi scored after setting up Ousmane Dembele for the opener to secure a 2-0 victory at Sevilla on Saturday, lifting Barcelona into second place in the Spanish league. Dembele netted in the 29th minute when Messi played him clear on a quick attack to end Sevilla’s excellent defensive streak of five straight clean sheets in the league. Messi then capped a complete performance by his team in the 85th when he dribbled through the area and beat goalkeeper Yassine Bounou on a second try. It was Messi’s league-leading 19th goal. Barcelona will meet Sevilla again on Wednesday needing to overcome a 2-0 first-leg loss in the return leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal. Barcelona’s victory left it two points behind leader Atlético Madrid, which has two more matches to play. Sevilla was left in fourth place after the end of its run of six straight victories in the league. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Joseph Wilson, The Associated Press
Once again, the West Parry Sound Pool project is making waves in Whitestone’s online community. Following a question-and-answer document posted on the municipal website on Feb. 25, a Whitestone ratepayer named Bruce Morris shared the link with Whitestone Community Chat on Facebook where it soon drew discussion. “Even after all of the knowledge of how the majority of ratepayers are against the project and all of the data to show why it is a waste of time and money, I guess the mayor has decided to create this draft of fiction,” wrote Morris in the comments. Another ratepayer stated that the Q&A document was not impartial and should be dismissed. “The will of the majority of Whitestone ratepayers must be taken into consideration not the will of Parry Sound and some members of council,” said Sue Krusell. Whitestone’s councillor Joe Lamb was quick to comment on the Facebook post stating that he did not agree with the document being published as is. “I was asked for input on these questions and answers,” wrote Lamb. “I will post separately my input to the mayor.” The document says that it is answers to questions raised by Whitestone ratepayers regarding the proposed West Parry Sound Pool and Wellness Centre project and the municipality’s participation in the project. In a separate post on the Whitestone Community Chat, Lamb posted his opposition to the Q&A document posted on the municipal website. “Mr. Mayor, in addition to my earlier comments, I have reviewed each one of the 25 questions and ‘your’ responses,” said Lamb. “I must reiterate these are just your responses, they simply cannot be ‘from council’ because they are absolutely misleading.” It is not known at this time when Whitestone will make a decision on its involvement in the West Parry Sound pool project however it has been stated that the municipality will hold another public meeting before it makes its decision. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
The federal auditor general says in a report that the Liberal government won't meet its goal to lift all boil-water advisories for several years. Dawn Martin-Hill, chair of Indigenous studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, says there needed to be more work with Indigenous communities to build a strategic plan to ensure access to reliable, safe drinking water.
Mexican authorities hope most of the asylum seekers living in a major encampment on the border will be allowed to enter the United States by the end of next week, according to a Mexican government source. The migrant camp in Matamoros, Mexico, just across the river from Brownsville, Texas, is currently home to just under 700 migrants, according to the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR). The majority are asylum seekers who have been waiting in Mexico as their cases wind through U.S. courts under a program implemented by former President Donald Trump.
En 1964, la Société d’histoire de Matane (SHM) cède pour la somme symbolique de 1 $ le phare maritime à la Ville de Matane. Acquis du gouvernement canadien en 1952, il a servi de bureau d’information touristique et de petit musée d’objets anciens. Depuis 1962, il était abandonné et subissait des actes de vandalisme. À l’époque, le phare en béton armé portait l’inscription Bienvenue en Gaspésie. Éphémérides à Matane un 27 févrierRare exemplaire ayant une forme complètement cylindrique Érigé à partir de 1906 et inauguré en novembre 1907, le phare de Matane est l’un des rares exemplaires ayant une forme complètement cylindrique. D’une hauteur de 67 pieds et en bon état, il est pourvu d’un escalier en spirale. Depuis 1910, il est relié à une résidence de 28 pieds par 28 pieds dont le revêtement extérieur est en bardeaux de bois. Le phare est surmonté d’une lanterne vitrée, elle-même chapeautée d’une coupole en acier avec girouette. Au sommet, une galerie en béton mesurant 30 pouces de largeur ceinture la lanterne. En 1951, le ministère des Transports a cessé d’utiliser le phare après avoir installé un système d’éclairage sur le brise-lames. En 1928, l’aqueduc du village de St-Jérôme de Matane est prolongé en haut de la côte Saint-Jean, aux frais de scierie Price Brothers. En 1866, c’est la bénédiction solennelle du chemin de croix de la chapelle de Sainte-Félicité. Romain Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Monmatane.com
COVID-19. Les plus récentes données sur l'évolution de la COVID-19, au Québec, font état de 858 nouveaux cas pour la journée d'hier, pour un nombre total de 287 003 personnes infectées. Parmi celles-ci, 268 645 sont rétablies. Elles font également état de 13 nouveaux décès, le nombre total de décès s'élève à 10 385. Le nombre total d'hospitalisations a diminué de 21 par rapport à la veille, avec un cumul de 599. Parmi celles-ci, le nombre de personnes se trouvant aux soins intensifs a diminué de 7, pour un total actuel de 112. Les prélèvements réalisés le 25 février s'élèvent à 28 226. Finalement, 15 902 doses de vaccin ont été administrées dans la journée d'hier, pour un total de 418 399. Jusqu'à maintenant, 537 825 doses ont été reçues. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
It's a year of change at the Canadian women's curling championship in the Calgary bubble. The field was padded to 18 teams this year for the first time. There are no spectators at the Markin MacPhail Centre due to the pandemic. The Page system was dropped in favour of a three-team playoff. Coaching benches are at opposite ends of the ice rather than beside each other. Traditional post-game handshakes are verboten with some players tapping brooms instead. Curling fans and athletes are still thrilled to have the sport back on the domestic stage after a long absence. The Scotties Tournament of Hearts — the first of six events to be held in the protected "bubble" environment — has been a success entering the final weekend. Championship pool play continues Saturday and the playoffs are set for Sunday. Many classic traditions specific to the Hearts are on hiatus for 2021. The HeartStop Lounge, a party barn with entertainment, food and drink, is obviously idle this year. The annual women's curler banquet and full-field group photo should also return in 2022. And in a change to a long-standing routine that Hearts competitors have held dear since 1981, many teams will not receive jewelry this year. Longtime event sponsor Kruger Products decided it will only award jewelry to the four teams — P.E.I., N.W.T., Yukon and Newfoundland and Labrador — who were able to play provincial/territorial playdowns. The nine provincial teams who accepted invitations after the pandemic forced the cancellation of their respective association championships are out of luck. "Players/teams that were acclaimed entry into the 2021 Scotties and any alternate players that were not part of a winning provincial/territorial team are unfortunately not eligible to receive jewelry," said Kruger corporate marketing director Oliver Bukvic. "This is a very unique year, with many changes due to COVID, and we will recognize the winners who earned a berth in the 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts." That's a change from last season when Nunavut — the other territorial entry in the field — received jewelry despite not playing down. Jewelry is not given out to defending champions (automatic entry) or wild-card teams (entry via ranking). Unlike the nine pandemic-affected provincial entries, Iqaluit was able to host championships this year. However, women's playdowns weren't held because the Nunavut team — which did not receive jewelry this year — was unopposed for a second straight season. Bukvic didn't comment on previous setups but said this year's plans came down to eligibility. "We look forward to next year when we'll hopefully be back to normalcy and we'll be able to recognize all of these provincial and territorial winners with their jewelry for winning their playdown," he said. First-year players who are eligible for jewelry receive a gold necklace with a four-heart pendant. A diamond is added to the pendant for each of the next four appearances. After that, a tennis bracelet is awarded with a diamond addition for every return to the Hearts. "We knew that that wasn't really on the table this year, which is fine," said Alberta vice Kate Cameron. "I think we were really excited to have this opportunity to even be here right now. "I think given the state of the world and everything we're going through and then being selected to represent Alberta, I think was something that we were really honoured to do. So I think we're just happy to be here." The jewelry is a significant perk for all teams who receive it, but particularly those who finish on the low end of the event payout structure. Teams cut after the preliminary round receive $2,500 apiece. The winning Hearts team receives $100,000 of the $300,000 total purse. Curlers who reach the podium will still receive traditional rings. The champions have rings set with a diamond, the finalists with a ruby and the third-place team with an emerald. The Hearts finalist receives $60,000 and the third-place team receives $40,000. Other championship pool teams receive $15,000 apiece. Kruger is celebrating its 40th year of Hearts sponsorship this season. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
(Charles Contant/Radio-Canada - image credit) Stéphane Duchesne likes to tell the story of one particular client at his Magasin Général de Castelnau, in Montreal's Villeray Borough. The client, whose elderly father would come over for dinner, liked to indulge in a few cold ones with his meal. The son, not wanting his father to drink and then drive home, would pop into Duchesne's shop and load up on zero-alcohol beers, which contain less than 0.5 per cent alcohol. "[The father] thinks he's drinking real beer. So he can drive back to Laval, no sweat, and the son can sleep soundly," recalled Duchesne. Today's microbrew near-beer scene is far from what it used to be as recently as five or six years ago. There were only a few options, likely produced by a major brewery, and they often tasted like insipid, uninspired attempts at beer. That's not the case today. Duchesne has roughly 15 different types of zero-alcohol beer in the antique, wood-lined fridges in his shop. Quebec microbreweries are pumping out a wide range of zero-alcohol beers, ranging from stouts to IPAs to blondes. "Before it was a sugary beer, they weren't able to put the hops in it. Today a [non-alcoholic] beer without hops is almost impossible," said Duchesne. Now, he says his non-alcoholic microbrews are among his best sellers. "What's interesting nowadays is that you can purchase a non-alcoholic beer that has all the flavour and details of a craft beer and made only with four ingredients," said Sébastien Paradis, vice president of the Association des microbrasseries du Québec. "In the craft world, we pride ourselves on making beer with four ingredients, which are malt, yeast, the hops and water." The segment is gaining in popularity. More and more people are reaching for the zero beers when looking for a refreshment, thanks in part to how the microbreweries have embraced the challenge. "I've been talking to people who have drunk non-alcoholic beers for 15 or 20 years that said it was a boring thing to do. You'd almost hide your non-alcoholic beer," said Paradis. "Nowadays, it's actually pleasant to drink a non-alcoholic beer because the craft segment got interested in the category and started making beers that taste like cereals and like hops." Trend driven by consumers Like many consumer products, the craft breweries segment got interested because of consumer interest. The COVID-19 pandemic drove people toward adopting a healthy lifestyle, according to Max Coubes, a bartender and zero-alcohol drink connoisseur. He said it got people thinking more about their own wellness, and that's being reflected in more zero-alcohol beers on store shelves. "Because it's been so long, I think that people have been thinking more about taking care of themselves and what they consume," said Coubes, who believes the microbreweries are adapting to a booming market. "People just just found themselves alone at home or with their family, which drove them to reconsider their own consumption in general." WATCH | Zero-alcohol beer is beer without the buzz: The perception around zero-alcohol beers is changing too with their artsy labels and funky names such as Montreal's Sober Carpenter, Drummondville's Le BockAle and Quebec City's Bluffeuse. "If I make the parallel to 10 years ago, you'd see someone drinking a non-alcoholic beer. It often resonated with someone who had a history of alcohol problems, who could not drink alcohol," said Paradis. "Now we're seeing a consumer who is drinking alcohol, but instead of drinking alcohol five, six days a week, they're saying, 'well, I'm going to try to cut down to only three or four days a week, and on those other three or four days, I'd still like to enjoy a beer or something good'." Paradis says his association hasn't kept track of how the zero-alcohol beers have grown on the market but, based on the number of products available, he believes it's grown tenfold over the last four or five years. And while the zero-alcohol segment might not occupy a huge portion of the national market, it is growing. Sales hop up 50% Luke Chapman, of Beer Canada, a trade association representing 45 brewing companies, said sales of the zero-alcohol beer grew by 50 per cent in 2020 over the previous year. However, Chapman said they still only occupy 1.7 per cent of total beer sales in Canada. He calls it an underdeveloped segment of the market. Non-alcoholic beer sales have been gathering steam as people look to stay healthy while still enjoying a cold one (or several) at the end of a long day. "It has been identified by both big and small brewers as a potential area of growth, and particularly for those Canadians that are interested in leading a more kind of health conscious lifestyle," said Chapman. "It's not only about the alcohol, but a lot of these non-alcoholic beer products also are quite low in calories when you compare them to other products." The zero-alcohol beers do have one other advantage. Because they do not contain alcohol they are not subject to the SAQ's monopoly, and micro-breweries are allowed to ship their products by mail across Quebec and Canada. "It's definitely a good opportunity for Quebec brewers to show what they can do for the rest of the province, the country and North America," said Paradis.
Eganville – A public meeting about a proposed zoning amendment allowing four RVs to be used for seasonal accommodation per property showed there is more than a little interest in the topic among Bonnechere Valley residents. The meeting, which was originally slated to last two hours, lasted three hours and even that was not long enough to read the 171 letters township residents had sent either in favour of allowing RVs or opposing the initiative. As a result, a second public meeting has been called on the issue where the remaining letters will be read, as well as any new letters received on the topic. Listening to the letters at of the ZOOM meeting, it was clear there was a diversity of opinions, but mostly the viewpoints were divided pretty well down the middle with about half the respondents in favour of the proposed by-law and the other half opposed. The issue had first been spearheaded by the Lake Clear Property Owners Land Use Committee and while most of the letters appeared to have a connection to Lake Clear, there were also letters from residents from other parts of the municipality, since the issue is now a township-wide by-law amendment. Under the by-law council not only clarified what is classified as an RV but stated an RV could be used for seasonal accommodation and there could be four RVs per lot in the township. The only exception is the village of Eganville. Following the public meeting, Mayor Jennifer Murphy said it became clear early on there would not be a chance to finish the public meeting last Tuesday because there were so many letters. “We had allotted two hours for the meeting,” she said. “Normally a public meeting is about 15 minutes or 30 minutes. As the letters came in, it was blatantly obvious we would not get through them all in two hours.” During the meeting, the mayor proposed extending the meeting for an additional hour to get through as many of the letters as possible. Not only were council members listening to the letters but also those who signed in on ZOOM or those listening on the township YouTube stream. Staff members read each letter – and some were quite lengthy – and when the three-hour meeting was done there were still over 20 which had not been read. Since then, there have been more letters coming in and council agreed to allow more letters for the second public meeting which will continue to look into the issue. Mayor Murphy said the next meeting is being done in a timely fashion and also allows for the 20-day notice which is required for a public meeting. As well, the second meeting will allow council deliberation time on what they have heard or read. “This will give us more time,” she said. The new meeting is scheduled for March 19 at 10 a.m. and will be a ZOOM meeting like the last one. The meeting is also streamed on YouTube. Not only will the remaining letters be read, but the new letters and then council will have a chance to discuss the issue. Although there was a provision for presentations, Mayor Murphy explained anyone who wrote a letter will not be able to give a presentation. It is clear the issue is very important to some residents with many heartfelt comments and strongly held opinions on the topic. There were a lot of different opinions expressed on the issue and having an opportunity to listen to all of them will allow council to delve into the issue again, she said. “As a council we can discuss what we heard,” she said. “There were some constructive letters which gave some compromise positions.” Some of the factors which might be considered are lot size, frontage and setbacks, she noted. The issue has been simmering – sometimes more actively than others – for about five years since the original request came to council asking for the municipality to ban RVs around Lake Clear. Since then, it turned into a township-wide by-law issue. The previous council did not make a decision on the issue and this council moved the issue ahead with the by-law amendment. However, there was also some criticism of this council for making a decision during the COVID-19 pandemic when some property owners are not in the area. The Lake Clear Property Owners reached out to members asking them to submit opinions on the issue and the Golden Lake Property Owners Association also reached out to members about the proposed by-law amendment. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
MONTREAL — Quebec's premier issued a caution about a growing number of COVID-19 cases tied to variants of concern on Saturday, but also expressed optimism that an escalating vaccination drive could offer relief from a situation that began playing out in the province exactly one year ago. In a letter posted to his Facebook page, Francois Legault said he feels great hope now that vaccinations of the general population have begun in some regions and are scheduled to start in the Montreal area on Monday. "We should receive around 175,000 doses of vaccine per week in March and therefore we will move quickly," Legault wrote. "We still have a few critical weeks ahead of us, especially because of the spring break and the new variants." New infections in the province have been stable, with another 858 confirmed cases and 13 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus being added to the overall tally on Saturday. The number of people in hospital dropped by 21 to 599, according to Health Department figures, with seven fewer patients requiring intensive care for a total of 112. As the province heads into March break week, authorities reported 984 presumptive variant cases, an increase of 110 suspected infections compared to Friday's figures. The province has 34 confirmed variant cases with 30 of them identified as the B.1.1.7 mutation first detected in the United Kingdom. The Legault government has frequently pointed to last year's spring break as the reason the pandemic initially hit Quebec much harder than other provinces where the break occurred after preventative measures were put in place. One year later, government officials said the more transmissible variants cropping up in the province represent the most pressing concern. "At the start of the spring break, I invite all Quebecers to be extra careful," Health Minister Christian Dube said on Twitter. "Although the data is encouraging, the virus is still circulating and cases of variants continue to increase." It was one year ago Saturday that Quebec authorities convened an evening news conference to report that a 41-year-old woman returning from travel to Iran was the province's first presumptive COVID-19 patient. The positive test confirmed by the provincial lab was re-confirmed the next day by the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg. Since the pandemic was declared last March, the province has reported 287,003 confirmed infections and 10,385 deaths, with 268,645 people recovered. There are currently 7,973 active cases in the province. Quebec administered 15,902 doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Friday for a total of 418,399, roughly 4.3 per cent of the population. Legault noted after vaccinating those 85 and older, the province hopes to quickly get to those over 70 before expanding to the entire adult population. The province expects to begin delivering second doses as of March 15. Quebec has already provided a first dose in long-term care homes and vaccinated 200,000 health care workers. Legault urged Quebecers to avoid gatherings as the province picks up the vaccination pace. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press