With much of the world struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still some good-news stories to report. Here's a brief roundup.
With much of the world struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still some good-news stories to report. Here's a brief roundup.
WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Three men accused of killing a Battleford man had more court appearances but the matters were adjourned again. Isaac Melko, 22, Charles Michael Lewis MacLean, 23, of North Battleford, and Jacob Joseph Ballantyne, 25, of Edam, appeared in North Battleford Provincial Court Nov. 25 via CCTV but the matters were set over to Jan. 13, 2021, to be spoken to. The three, along with a young offender, are charged in connection to the murder of 27-year-old Ryan Gatzke. A badly injured Gatzke was found in a house in Battleford in October 2019. He was taken to the North Battleford hospital where he was declared deceased. Maclean was charged with manslaughter, a firearms offence, and break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence. Melko, Ballantyne and the young offender - who can’t be named in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act - were charged with second-degree murder, break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence, disguise with intent, carry a weapon for the purpose of committing an offence, possession of a firearm without a license, and unauthorized possession of a firearm.Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Originally scheduled to be completed in December, further construction of Gabriola Island’s Village Way Path is now on hold until spring 2021. Asphalt surfacing meant to go in through the Village Core section of the 1.5 km long, two-metre wide path has been delayed “due to weather conditions and paving material availability,” according to Yann Gagnon, the Regional District of Nanaimo’s manager of parks services. “The path will be in a usable condition over the winter, much like a widened gravel road shoulder,” he said. The RDN confirmed delay of completion of the Village Way will not delay the start of the construction of the Huxley Park skatepark in 2021. Work completed so far on the Village Way includes survey layout, tree assessment and removals, retaining wall construction, clearing and path base construction on sections between the Gabriola Professional Centre and Church Road. In the fall, staff determined fewer trees needed to be removed than planned. Using a hydro-excavator, crews exposed the root systems of trees in close proximity to the work site to assess if they would be damaged by further excavation work required to install the path. “This exploratory digging consequently allowed more trees to be retained as opposed to removing trees based on the assumption that the construction of the new path will damage their root system beyond their ability to recover,” Gagnon explained. As a result, trees have been saved in front of the Madrona Marketplace. Adaptations have also been made to parts of the path that will run in front of Gabriola Elementary School. Staff decided to reorient the path to “meander around live trees.” The adjustment will see dead trees or ones identified as declining removed instead. The construction method has also been adapted so that the gravel is “floating” overtop of the existing soil and root masses “as opposed to using a traditional path building method which includes excavation to sub-grade, which considerably damages healthy root systems,” Gagnon said. The completed path will run along the north side of the road from the junction of North and South roads to the 707 Community Park entrance at Tin Can Alley. The RDN has been working with the Ministry of Transportation since 2014 to make the path a reality. In July, the RDN board awarded the $971,349 construction contract to Windley Contracting. The project is entirely funded by the Electoral Area B Community Works Fund.Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder
BERLIN — The European Union drug agency said Tuesday it may need four more weeks to approve its first coronavirus vaccine, even as authorities in the United States and Britain continue to aim for a green light before Christmas.The European Medicines Agency plans to convene a meeting by Dec. 29 to decide if there is enough safety and efficacy data about the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for it to be approved. The regulator also said it could decide as early as Jan. 12 whether to approve a rival shot by American pharmaceutical company Moderna Inc, which submitted its request to U.S. and European regulators this week.If its vaccine is approved, Germany-based BioNTech said the shot's use in Europe could begin before the end of 2020 — but that seems quite ambitious, given that the EU Commission usually needs to rubber-stamp the regulator's decision. Still, the agency has also left open the possibility that the date of that meeting will be brought forward if data comes in faster.Any approval granted by the European regulator will be conditional on companies submitting further information to confirm the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks.The date now being eyed would be later than some European countries had hoped. Germany, which has given BioNTech 375 million euros ($450 million) in funding to develop the vaccine, has been preparing to start immunizing people from mid-December onward.On Tuesday, officials in Germany, France and the Netherlands cautioned that vaccine programs likely won't start until the end of the year.“With the information we got in recent days we have to assume that approval will only happen around the turn of the year,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn said.“It has moved because some studies obviously need a little longer to be submitted," he said. "What’s important is to be prepared.”His comments were echoed by French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge, who said authorities in those countries are working to begin vaccinating people in the first week of January.“It won’t be a vaccination policy for the broader public” during the first few months, Macron said at a news conference.BioNTech and U.S. partner Pfizer have said that clinical trials showed their vaccine is 95% effective. The two companies have already submitted data to regulators in the United States and Britain, and approval might come from them first.Hospitals in England have been told they could receive the first doses of the Pfizer shot as early as the week of Dec. 7 if it receives the OK, the Guardian and Financial Times reported. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s scientific advisers are holding a public meeting Dec. 10 to review Pfizer’s request to allow emergency use of its vaccine, and a decision could come shortly thereafter.Stephen Evans, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that although the main drug regulators will all analyze the same data, the European regulator's decision-making process is slowed by the bureaucracy of the 27-nation bloc.He explained that approval at the EMA “requires co-operation from member states, who each have a say in the authorization of a vaccine.”British regulators also are assessing another vaccine developed by researchers from Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca.Whichever of the three regulators — American, British or European — acts earliest would be giving the first approval of a COVID-19 vaccine that’s been that’s been rigorously tested in tens of thousands of people in trials that meet common scientific standards.Numerous other vaccines are also being worked on. Russia and China have even begun administering shots of locally developed vaccines and selling them to other countries but have not published evidence from advanced studies proving the vaccines are safe and effective.Globally, every country that has a drug regulatory agency will have to issue its own approval for any COVID-19 vaccine, although countries with weak systems usually rely on the World Health Organization to vet the shots. In the EU, countries typically accept EMA approval for vaccines and drugs unless there is a specific issue the country wants examined further.Multiple successful vaccines will be needed to end the pandemic, which has been on the upswing in Europe and the U.S. and so far left more than 1.4 million people worldwide dead.Authorities and drugmakers have pledged to work together to immediately begin rolling out the first shots once approval comes in, whether that’s in the United States or Europe.“Depending on how the authorities decide we can start delivering within a few hours,” said BioNTech's chief operating officer, Sierk Poetting.But officials caution that while some people may receive a vaccine in the coming weeks, it will likely take years to give billions of people around the world the shot, or two if a booster is necessary, meaning that people will be living with some virus control measures at least well into next year.While the three major vaccines so far submitted for approval seem to prevent people from getting sick, it is still unclear whether they prevent people from picking up the virus entirely — and crucially — passing it to others.The EU's top official said Tuesday around 2 billion doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines have been secured for the bloc's 27 nations and called hope for their quick approval "a huge step forward toward our normal life."EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, however, urged EU citizens to remain “disciplined till we have reached finally a vaccination that is appropriate to eradicate this virus.”Even after vaccines are approved, manufacturers and regulators will be monitoring how well they are received by patients to determine the frequency of rarer side effects that may only appear when millions are immunized.___Cheng reported from London and Petrequin from Brussels. Associated Press writers Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin, Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, and Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this report.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak___This story has been updated to correct that Pfizer and BioNTech asked for expedited approval of their vaccine, not an emergency use authorization.Frank Jordans, Maria Cheng And Samuel Petrequin, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The Canadian economy posted its best three-month stretch on record during the third quarter of the year, growing at an annualized pace of 40.5 per cent on the back of household spending.The previous record for quarterly growth in real gross domestic product was 13.2 per cent in the first quarter 1965, Statistics Canada said, but unlike 55 years ago, the rise last quarter was fuelled by a record drop during the preceding three-month stretch.Wide parts of the economy effectively shut down in March and April, creating a pent-up demand among consumers as the savings rate soared in the second quarter.The lifting of lockdowns and further restriction rollbacks during the three-month stretch of July, August and September opened an economic relief valve.Statistics Canada said Friday that there was a substantial increase in the housing market owing to low interest rates, driven down by the central bank in a bid to prod spending, as well as on home renovations.Households also spent more on goods like cars, as consumer spending jumped, although it still remains five per cent below its pre-pandemic peak, leaving a lump of cash in bank accounts as households don't have their pre-pandemic spending options.The savings rate stood at 14.6 per cent, a drop from the record-high 27.5 per cent in the previous quarter, but still far higher than the two per cent at the end of 2019.CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes said that suggests Canadians will have the resources to spend post-pandemic. "Over the next year, I think the focus still needs to be on returning Canadians to a more normal way of life," he said in an interview. "That will return Canadian spending habits to a more normal way of life, and that will return the Canadian economy to a more normal way of life."Despite the overall increase, Statistics Canada said real gross domestic product remains shy of where it was before the pandemic.How the next few quarters play out may rest on households continuing to spend, and whether government aid is toned down as the federal Liberals have indicated would happen if economic conditions improve.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking outside his Ottawa residence, said the positive third-quarter figures showed that federal spending has helped families and businesses stay afloat. "There are still tough times ahead," he said. "So we'll continue to be there for people, especially those who are hardest hit by this crisis."The third quarter ended with the fifth consecutive monthly increase in real GDP after the steepest monthly drops on record in March and April when widespread lockdowns were instituted to slow the spread of COVID-19.September saw a 0.8 per cent increase in real GDP, Statistics Canada said, a slight slowing from the 0.9 per cent recorded in August.The agency also provided a preliminary estimate for October's figures, saying early indicators point to a 0.2 per cent increase in the month. The figure will be finalized at the end of this month.Economists suggested the economy could limp to the finish line of 2020 amid the tightening of restrictions and threats of localized lockdowns. Overall, the economy is likely on track to contract by over five per cent this year, economists say."There is a good chance that the economic recovery doesn’t just stall, but shifts into reverse this winter," TD senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam wrote."While light has finally appeared at the end of the tunnel in the form of vaccine distribution, it will not cure the near-term pain in store for the Canadian economy."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
Northern environmentalists say the federal government's fiscal update on Monday was a missed opportunity — and it should have done more to help the region hardest-hit by climate change to emerge from COVID-19 with a greener economy.The wide-sweeping update includes promises to fund reconciliation efforts, speed up universal broadband access and body cameras for RCMP officers.It says $380 million is going to a support fund for Indigenous communities during the second wave of the pandemic. It also points to $272 million that the government has given airlines and businesses to keep the North's supply chains connected, along with more funding for environmentally-friendly home retrofits, money for consultations on electrical infrastructure projects, and more electric charging stations for cars.An organizer with a group that advocates for a "Green New Deal" in Canada, or a proposed package of government investments that build an environmentally-friendly economy by reducing social inequality, says that plans to promote greener homes, electric vehicles and tree-planting don't create meaningful change.Ellen Gillies, the organizer with Our Time Yellowknife, said on Facebook to CBC that the update "is very much in line with the Liberal's playbook to date — progressive language and lofty promises with little to no transformative commitments or actions on social, economic and climate justice."For example, the budget update promises $1.5 billion for closing the infrastructure gap in Indigenous communities, but the government is actually spending more than $16 billion on the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline alone, Gillies notes.Gillies also says there is no mention of where the money will come from — and she and her organization want it to come from the wealthiest people and corporations."It's really disappointing to me that even with so many people in need, Trudeau's government shies away from taking on the billionaires who have been profiting from the pandemic," she said.Planet on a 'bad trajectory'William Gagnon, a green building engineer and former campaigner for Green Party leadership candidate Courtney Howard, agrees that the proposal doesn't go far enough. He compares the update to "when you crave moose meat … and someone delivers you cucumber sushi."Gagnon points to the many jobs in the oil and gas sector that were lost because of the pandemic, saying this is the moment to help more people get jobs in renewable energy instead.He also says that according to estimates he has done with other advocates for green building, making every building carbon neutral in the territory alone would cost almost half of the budget the country has set aside to pay for building retrofits across Canada.Sebastian Jones, with the Yukon Conservation Society, says certain green efforts like those on habitat restoration and tree-planting won't apply to the North — home to sparse boreal forests and rocky tundra, where habitat loss in the vast region has been minimal."Our planet is in a really bad trajectory," he said."I probably wouldn't have whinged about this if it weren't for the signals we did get from the federal government … that this crisis is a chance to build back greener and better."The fiscal update says an upcoming climate plan from the government "will highlight further work and investments in areas like renewables, clean fuels and hydrogen."The fiscal update says $64.7 billion is also "proposed" to help the territorial governments with pandemic response for 2020 and 2021.
The Northwest Territories' first private retailers of cannabis will open their doors soon, after the government announced final approval in a press release Tuesday morning.Two stores, ReLeaf NT and Trailblazers Cannabis Shop, were named in the release.ReLeaf has been operating as a cannabis accessories store since early April of last year from a storefront at 5123 51st St. in Yellowknife. Luke Wood, the proprietor, has been a vocal advocate for private retail since legalization.ReLeaf won the right to operate as a private retailer after completing an extensive application process for the territory's single license, issued as a request-for-proposals in May.Trailblazers Cannabis Shop, by contrast, appears to be the creation of the Yellowknife Liquor Shop, which has been the city's sole retail cannabis location for the past two years.Responding to concerns identified more than two years ago that selling alcohol and cannabis in the same place could lead to abuse, the territorial government "and the Yellowknife Liquor Shop agreed to separate liquor sales and cannabis sales," the release reads.The new, cannabis-only retailer will occupy a nearby unit in the same strip mall as the Yellowknife Liquor Shop at 100 Borden Drive in Yellowknife."Cannabis will no longer be available for purchase at the Yellowknife Liquor Shop," the release reads.Big plans for cannabis shop, says ownerAt his shop Tuesday evening, Wood was doing some final preparations before opening for business with cannabis for sale.Before COVID-19, Wood's shop sold accessories, records, and tools for growing cannabis. The store still has remnants of that inventory, like a single brightly-coloured panel of mood lights for sale and a display of glass pipes.But Wood said there's a major difference between running a cannabis-lifestyle store and a shop that also actually sells the product: "Customers.""We wanted to hit the ground running so we opened this [store]," he said. "But it's been very slow. And then COVID[-19] hit."Now that the store has its retail licence, Wood wants to bring in books on safe consumption and cooking and bolster the shop's record collection. He said he's even thinking about starting an internet radio station.He also wants to start selling products from local artists, a move he hopes will "reach out to the community ... and get rid of the stigma" around cannabis.High hurdles for new operatorsIn the last year, cannabis sales generated more than $3.5 million worth of revenue in the N.W.T., according to numbers from the NTLCC. More than $2 million of that was spent in Yellowknife alone.In the N.W.T., the Northwest Territories Liquor and Cannabis Commission (NTLCC) is the only legal wholesaler of cannabis. Private retailers must purchase their stock from the commission's limited selection and comply with strict health and safety requirements to operate.Any would-be retailers must follow a 23-page information guide in preparing their application to operate, which includes getting the government's final sign-off on everything from the store's displays to its name.Wood said his licence took 18 months to secure. Now that he's got it, he said he expects his biggest competition will be with the grey market.People who buy weed from non-licensed suppliers say they find the product is cheaper and more consistently available, he said. But Wood hopes his shop can "take away the mystery" for people who are new to the drug. "There's.a huge, bright future," he said. "It's just the beginning of the whole thing."
COVID-19. Les plus récentes données sur l'évolution de la COVID-19, au Québec, font état de 1 177 nouveaux cas, pour un nombre total de personnes infectées de 143 548. Elles font également état de 28 nouveaux décès, pour un total de 7 084. De ces 28 décès, 3 sont survenus dans les 24 dernières heures, 22 sont survenus entre le 24 et le 29 novembre, 1 est survenu avant le 24 novembre et 2 sont survenus à une date inconnue. Le nombre d'hospitalisations a augmenté de 26 par rapport à la veille, avec un cumul de 719. Parmi celles-ci, le nombre de personnes se trouvant aux soins intensifs a augmenté de 4, et s'élève maintenant à 98. Les prélèvements réalisés le 29 novembre s'élèvent à 20 326, pour un total de 3 917 699. Tableau synthèse de l'évolution des données Date Cas confirmésDécèsHospitalisationsHospitalisations aux soins intensifsPrélèvements réalisés24 novembre1 1003565593 (-3)33 02325 novembre1 46428675 (+20)90 (-3)32 26626 novembre1 26925669 (-6)9029 65227 novembre1 48022678 (+9)93 (+3)24 45028 novembre1 39519665 (-13)92 (-1)27 11529 novembre1 33325693 (+28)94 (+2)20 32630 novembre1 1773719 (+26)98 (+4)ND Nombre de cas par région Régions sociosanitaires29 novembre 202030 novembre 2020Total des cas01 - Bas-Saint-Laurent142784302 - Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean116785 28603 - Capitale-Nationale16211911 89704 - Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec84657 03205 - Estrie96624 74606 - Montréal40030651 46207 - Outaouais11153 58008 - Abitibi-Témiscamingue0126909 - Côte-Nord5-120910 - Nord-du-Québec005411 - Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine631 37512 - Chaudière-Appalaches23595 39913 - Laval9612011 58414 - Lanaudière1068911 36715 - Laurentides46357 98416 - Montérégie16519620 29817 - Nunavik002818 - Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James0016Hors Québec33116Région à déterminer003Total1 3331 177143 548 Nombre de décès par région 01 - Bas-Saint-Laurent1902 - Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean13003 - Capitale-Nationale44604 - Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec27305 - Estrie6406 - Montréal3 62807 - Outaouais8108 - Abitibi-Témiscamingue409 - Côte-Nord210 - Nord-du-Québec011 - Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine4012 - Chaudière-Appalaches13413 - Laval72614 - Lanaudière33015 - Laurentides33616 - Montérégie87017 - Nunavik018 - Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James1Hors Québec0Région à déterminer0Total7 084 Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
MONTREAL — Bombardier and Alstom say they have received all the necessary regulatory approvals required to complete the US$8.4-billion sale of the Canadian company's railway division to Alstom.The companies say they now expect the transaction to close on Jan. 29, 2021.Bombardier has been working to transform itself from a maker of trains and aircraft into a company focused on business jets. Alstom shareholders voted to approve the deal on Oct. 29.The sale is expected to make Alstom the second-largest manufacturer of rolling stock, behind China's CRRC.Alstom has committed to establish its North American headquarters in Montreal, which will oversee 13,000 employees, set up a research centre and improve production at the Bombardier Transport plant in La Pocatiere, where the order book is almost empty. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:BBD.B)The Canadian Press
COVID-19. Avec 6500 employés du réseau de la santé absent du travail et le nombre de cas qui reste élevé, le premier ministre a émis des réserves sur la possibilité que les Québécois puissent se réunir du 24 au 27 décembre. La décision finale sera prise d’ici le 11 décembre. «On ne va pas dans la bonne direction. Si le nombre d’hospitalisations continue d’augmenter malheureusement, ça ne sera pas possible d’avoir les deux rassemblements à Noël», a reconnu François Legault. «Il faut poursuivre nos efforts pour protéger notre personnel du réseau de la santé. C’est d’abord à eux qu'on va penser pour prendre la décision finale pour les réunions de Noël», explique-t-il. Le premier ministre a également invité à la prudence dans les centres commerciaux en rappelant que la distance de deux mètres se doit d’y être respectée . Par ailleurs, François Legault s’est montré ouvert à la suggestion du Parti libéral du Québec d’entendre Horacio Arruda dans le cadre d’une commission parlementaire qui permettrait aux députés de le questionner sur la gestion de la pandémie. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
For more than 90 years, Tyndale St-Georges Community Centre has been serving families in Little Burgundy — organizing clubs, classes and camps — and helping strengthen the social fabric of the neighbourhood.At the start of the 20th century, Charles Johnson, the owner of Johnson Wire Works, saw a vivid contrast between the booming industrial sector along the Lachine Canal and the squalid living conditions and lack of social programs for families nearby.He had the idea of opening a "social settlement" in the area — a place to better the lives of others in the service of God — and he approached the local church to make it a reality.It opened as Tyndale House in 1927 with the support of the Presbyterian Church. Tyndale House offered programs such as Sunday school and child nutrition. Its summer camp gave children the opportunity to get out of the city.Even through the Great Depression, it continued to serve the community, though with a reduced budget.After decades of fundraising to build a more suitable home for the growing number of children it served, in 1951 Tyndale House moved from an old house on des Seigneurs Street to its current location, 870 Richmond Square.In the decades that followed, it expanded its offerings. Its space became home to many local groups, including the White Shield Club, Girl Guides and the Scouts.A report to the Presbyterian Church from the time reported that by 1956, Tyndale House was being used by 2,000 people each month.In the late 1960s, the city began expropriating nearby land and demolishing buildings as part of an "urban renewal" project, which resulted in some Tyndale families moving away and fewer volunteers being available. But classes, hockey and other activities continued as the neighbourhood kept evolving.In late 1970, St. George's Corner opened in a former food market on St-Antoine Street, where congregation members of St. George's Anglican Church would gather, and it became a community hub that worked closely with Tyndale House.In the following years, St. George's entered into a partnership with Tyndale, and moved into a neighbouring building on Richmond Square. The partnership officially took the name of Tyndale St-Georges in 1976.In the decades since, Tyndale St-Georges has expanded its programs to include services for adults, seniors and refugees, thanks to the work of a small staff and many volunteers.Its major projects today include early youth development programs, after-school programs, camps, its youth co-op and its pre-employment program for adults.But 2020 brought unique challenges to Tyndale St-Georges, with the pandemic making regular fundraising activities more difficult.To help make up for that, a campaign to raise $125,000 by the end of the year is underway — with a donor matching the money gathered if the target is reached.In addition to monetary donations, these are the kinds of other items the Tyndale St-Georges would love to receive: * New winter clothing for children 0 to adolescence. These would be given to participants in their programs in need of winter clothes as well as children of the adult participants at Tyndale's Adult Centre. * School supplies to use at the centre and also to give out to young participants of the centre's programs. * Pre-prepared food baskets that the centre could give out to their adult and senior participants as gifts.For details on how to give, please contact Tina Naim at firstname.lastname@example.org.During the month of December, CBC will be working with Tyndale St-Georges Community Centre to showcase stories of people in our community who are making a difference for our "Make the Season Kind" campaign. For more stories and to learn more about this campaign, visit http://cbc.ca/bekindqc and make a donation here.
Canada is readying a new tax on foreign home buyers to help tamp down on speculative purchases from overseas, cited as a factor behind sharp rises in housing prices in some markets that have left many Canadians unable to afford homes. "Speculative demand from foreign, non-resident investors contributes to unaffordable housing prices for many Canadians," the government said in its Fall Economic Statement. "The government is committed to ensuring that foreign, non-resident owners, who simply use Canada as a place to passively store their wealth in housing, pay their fair share."
While outdoor rinks will continue to open across Saskatoon this year, hockey games will not be allowed on them.At Saskatoon city council's monthly meeting on Monday night, councillors asked administration about reports that hockey nets were being removed from outdoor rinks. Lynne Lacroix, the city's general manager of community development said that hockey games are not allowed under provincial COVID-19 rules."If you leave the nets out randomly, the chance of scrimmages happening or games picking up will probably be high," said Lacroix. "So they're trying to minimize that as public skating is permitted, games are not permitted under the new regulations."Last week, the province suspended all team and group sports in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19. Under-18 hockey players are still allowed to practise, but only in groups of eight players.Outdoor rinks operated by community associations will still allow up to 30 skaters on the ice at any given time.Andrew Roberts, director of recreation and community development with City of Saskatoon, said the new rules on hockey nets are in effect because the province is only allowing practices for under-18 players."So based on that, we're requiring that nets not be outside on our outdoor rink during public skating time," Andrews said."We are recommending to our community associations — we're not mandating, we're just recommending — that the nets be removed when there's unsupervised time just to mitigate the risk of hockey being played with groups bigger than eight."The policy is in effect until Dec. 17, when the province will be providing updates to the recommendations.Andrews said community associations can still rent out rinks for hockey practices under the new restrictions, and would be able to use hockey nets in those circumstances.The city has received plenty of feedback from citizens and community associations, mostly looking for clarification, he said. "We're providing the requirements and the documentation to our community association so that they can share them among the community as well."Indoor rinks aren't really affected, Andrews said, because nets aren't on the ice during public skating and all rental times are supervised."The difference is everyone must wear a mask indoors — it is just recommended to wear masks at outdoor rinks," he said.Kelly Boes, executive director of the Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association, said the new city guidelines don't really affect organized minor hockey.Boes said their practices, for the most part, are indoors and they are allowed to have nets."I really think this is designed around the kids that are, you know, hanging around and just want to go and have some fun and start playing, and a shinny game breaks out," he said."I think that's why they're doing it, to try to stop that from happening."Coun. Randy Donauer (Ward 5) worried there might be confusion between indoor and outdoor venues."I don't know if it's sending the right message to say we're going to have hockey facilities inside for practices, but you can't even have a net out for kids to shoot on in the neighborhood," he said. Brad Holler, who was out Tuesday shooting pucks at the Sutherland rinks, thinks removing the nets is going too far."It sucks for kids," he said. "This is Saskatchewan. Hockey's a huge part of our culture, it's how kids stay active."I realize there's a pandemic at hand. But when you look at some of the other regulations that are in place right now, like you can go eat at a restaurant, five people per table and take off [your] masks … to take away hockey nets, I think it's a little ridiculous."Roman Todos, president of the Caswell Hill Community Association, said they are still getting the rink prepared, so it isn't open yet.How big a deal the no-net policy will be depends on how long the restriction stays in place, he said."We should be close to getting our rink up and running and then we'll have to follow the guidelines as much as possible," said Todos, adding they'll need some more people to help to put up signage up and co-ordinate the new policy. Meanwhile, Lacroix said other winter activities, like Optimist Hill, are expected to open soon, as is the Meewasin outdoor rink near the Bessborough Hotel.During the city council meeting, Pamela Goulden-McLeod, the city's director of emergency planning, continued to ask people in Saskatoon to stay at home and limit the number of new cases of COVID-19 in the city.On Monday, there were 1,318 active cases of COVID-19 in Saskatoon, almost double the number from Regina."Our ICUs are currently operating over capacity and our resources are stretched," she said. "We need all residents to return to following the guidelines of [Chief Medical Health Officer] Dr. [Saqib] Shahab as closely as possible."
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris says there is a "hunger crisis in America now" due to the COVID-19 pandemic but promises quick action to address the challenge when in office. (Dec. 1)
L'Institut Tshakapesh a annoncé qu'en collaboration avec les écoles membres de l'organisation, elle allait de l'avant avec le virage numérique. Cette démarche est notamment accélérée par les circonstances actuelles qui découlent de la pandémie et elle fait partie du plan d'action du ministère de l'Éducation qui a pour objectif d'outiller numériquement les élèves innus pour favoriser leur réussite éducative. Ainsi, l'Institut mettra en branle une série de mesures pour effectuer ce virage numérique. En ce moment, des iPad acquis par l'organisme au printemps sont distribués dans les écoles membres. Selon l'Institut, cet outil permettra de : « valoriser les méthodes d’enseignement innovantes qui favoriseront des apprentissages chez tous les élèves tant en classe qu’à la maison.» Les écoles membres auront aussi accès à la suite Microsoft Office 365. L’Institut Tshakapesh est convaincu de mettre en place des mesures des conditions gagnantes qui contribueront à la réussite des élèves. « C’est avec fierté que l’Institut Tshakapesh contribue à la transmission des savoirs traditionnels et contemporains. Nous encourageons les écoles à profiter du virage numérique pour adapter et intégrer des outils qui serviront à l’apprentissage de l’Innu-aimun et de l’Innu-aitun », affirme Alexandre McKenzie, président de l’Institut Tshakapesh. De son côté, la directrice générale de l'Institut, Marjolaine Tshernish, tient à souligner le rôle des directions d'écoles dans le virage numérique. Elle explique : « Ces dernières ont mobilisé leur équipe-école dans l'intégration de ces nouveaux outils pour soutenir les méthodes d'enseignement innovantes. Un modèle à promouvoir qui met de l'avant l'inclusion et la réussite des élèves innus et qui permettra des interventions adéquates auprès des enfants les plus à risque. » Formation L’Institut Tshakapesh offre aussi un plan de formation et de soutien pour s'assurer que ce virage numérique se passe dans les meilleures circonstances. Il y aura donc des formations autant pour les professeurs, les élèves et les parents pour que tous soient en mesure de bien maîtriser les nouveaux outils technologiques. D'ailleurs, l'Institut souligne l’apport de partenaires comme Écoles branchées, Apple et les ressources spécialisées de l'organisme qui ont partagé leurs compétences et leur expertise pour rendre possible ce projet. Les communautés membres de l'Institut Tshakapesh sont Uashat mak Mani-utenam, Ekuanitshit, Essipit, Matimekush, Nutashkuan, Unamen shipu et Pakua Shipu.Vincent Berrouard, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nord-Côtier
Quebec's plan to allow people to gather over the Christmas period may be scrapped, given the rising number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Premier François Legault said Tuesday."We have hospitals that are approaching their limit of COVID patients," he said."We are not going in the right direction."Legault said that if the number of hospitalizations continues to increase, it will be "difficult to take that risk."A final decision will be made Dec. 11.Quebec's rolling seven-day average of cases has climbed back up in recent weeks, and there are now more than 700 people in hospital with the virus.The premier has tempered expectations for the holiday season since announcing on Nov. 19 that gatherings would be permitted over a four-day period — provided those meeting isolate for the week before and after.Last week, following consultations with public health, Legault said only two gatherings would be allowed during the four-day period.The province is expected to announce additional guidelines for holiday shopping later this week.
Almost exactly three years have passed since the night Mahdi Al-Hasnawi stepped out of a crowd to lift his dying, big brother off the sidewalk. He tried to bring him to the stretcher, he said, "cause the paramedics weren't doing their job." In a landmark case, former Hamilton paramedics Christopher Marchant, 32, and Steven Snively, 55, are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life for 19-year-old Yosif Al-Hasnawi. On the night of Dec. 2, 2017, the teen was shot with a .22-calibre hollow point bullet. The paramedics thought it was a BB gun, the court has heard. Mahdi Al-Hasnawi, who testified on Tuesday, was 15-years-old back then. He spent that last day with his brother at the mall with a friend, and went to the Main Street E. mosque that night. Al-Hasnawi said his older brother asked him to go outside, but he said no. Later, his other brother Ahmed came and found him."He came inside kind of panicked, and whispered in my ear, 'Yosif got shot,'" he said.'Faking it'Al-Hasnawi found his brother down the street, lying on his back. When he tried to go near him, one of the two police officers who were there put a hand on his chest to stop him. "I know you're panicked and I know you're scared," Al-Hasnawi remembered the officer said. He said they told him, "he'll be okay."When Al-Hasnawi asked his older brother, "are you good?" the teenager mumbled back, "I can't breathe."Al-Hasnawi said he told the officer this, but they repeated he'd be okay.He also remembers them saying that Yosif was "faking it." He didn't say anything back "because they convinced me that he was fine."Patterson asked how it felt to see his brother in that moment."Not good. I don't think there's a way to describe what I felt," Al-Hasnawi said.He said he saw a hole on his brother's stomach, which had dried, brown blood.Mahdi ran to the mosque to get their father, Majed. The defence finished their cross-examination of him earlier on Tuesday.'He should win an Oscar'He went straight to Yosif when he came back. His brother wasn't responding as much as before and was blinking a lot, he said. People in the crowd that gathered were aware he couldn't breathe, Al-Hasnawi said, but there wasn't a paramedic attending to him."They were going around asking questions like they were the cops or something," he said.When a paramedic did examine Yosif, he used two fingers and pressed down on the wound for about 30 seconds. He remembers one of the paramedics said, "he should win an Oscar for how good he was acting."Brother recalls paramedic saying, 'don't touch me'Footage of the scene shows that an officer and paramedic tried to lift Yosif by the arms, but couldn't do it. Al-Hasnawi stepped in and put his arms under his brother, even though he was older, bigger and heavier. In the video, a group assists him, but Al-Hasnawi doesn't remember that. Jeffrey Manishen, who represents Marchant, told Al-Hasnawi that he didn't have to watch that footage, and council could describe it to him. But Al-Hasnawi told him, "play the video."He remembered struggling to get him on the stretcher, and said that's when the paramedics helped. But when one of Yosif's legs came of the stretcher and touched the paramedic, Al-Hasnawi said they replied, 'Don't touch me,' and threw his leg back on. It definitely didn't hit the paramedic hard, he said. It also happened again with an arm. "I don't think someone who's dying can do much damage to someone who's perfectly fine," he said. Al-Hasnawi also said that "the officers were a lot nicer than the paramedics." Even though they said Yosif was faking, Al-Hasnawi remembers them eventually treating it more seriously than the paramedics. The paramedics went into the ambulance with Yosif. Al-Hasnawi tried to join his brother, but they told him no, he said. The ambulance stayed for around 15 minutes, he remembered.The teen was pronounced dead at St. Joseph's Hospital at 9:58 p.m.Defence questions memoryIn their cross-examination, the defence compared Al-Hasnawi's responses on Tuesday with those made in a February 2018 interview with Niagara Regional Police and paramedic one in May 2018.Manishen said Al-Hasnawi had to check some details by reading these in court. He suggested that his memory "might be incomplete" because he didn't mention that the paramedic checked his brother's wound in one interview."Everything that I've remembered, I've remembered it the same way," Al-Hasnawi said. He just would have forgotten to talk about those 30 seconds, he said. Manishen asked whether Al-Hasnawi remembered his brother "thrashing" on the stretcher. He spoke about the paramedic moving Yosif's limbs, and each time the younger brother corrected him by saying the paramedic "threw" them."I don't know what he was doing with his leg, but a paramedic shouldn't do that to a dying person," Al-Hasnawi said.Michael DelGobbo, who represents Snively, asked if someone directed him to lift his big brother, specifically the father. Al-Hasnawi said no one did, and commented that he shouldn't have done it and that it was the paramedic's job.'Please help me'Steve Ryan, who called 911 at a nearby convenience store that night and said he heard a gun shot, also took the stand. He remembered seeing people running, followed by a loud bang like a "firecracker."He said a boy with red hair was telling everyone that night that his brother had been shot. He was saying it "continuously, pleading with the paramedics." Yosif Al-Hasnawi was on the ground, saying "please help me."Ryan said he heard someone say the teen might be "faking," and said it was "disgusting" because paramedics were chuckling.Ryan testified in the trial of the person who shot Al-Hasnawi, Dale King. He was acquitted last year of second-degree murder, and that case is being appealed. He read this transcript to refresh his memory. Both defence lawyers questioned why he told police in a 2017 interview that he didn't think it was a gun shot, and might have been a pellet gun. Ryan said he heard those words from the crowd, and they must have stuck in his mind. But the crack was too loud to be a pellet gun, he said. Regardless of whether it was a gun shot or even a stabbing, Al-Hasnawi should've been transported to hospital immediately, Ryan said, and he wasn't. Father cross-examinedWhen he completed his cross-examination, Manishen showed the father, Majed Al-Hasnawi a video of the scene, which contradicted some of his memories from that night. Among the things that differed, he remembered his son on the ground for 20 to 30 minutes. But it was over two minutes on the video his son was lifted up, and a couple minutes later, Manishen pointed to wheels that rolled by. Al-Hasnawi agreed it seemed to be a stretcher.When Crown Scott Patterson re-examined the father, he noted the defence said on Monday that Al-Hasnawi never brought up the action where a paramedic pressed his son's knees into his own chest up in his 2017 interview with police. Patterson read out a section of that transcript."Yes one arm, hanging him, then close his legs. And imagine when you cross legs, lifting legs, how much pressure will be here on stomach," Al-Hasnawi had told the detective. The father wasn't shown this section in court.Mahdi Al-Hasnawi was also asked by the defence if he saw this pushing action. "It was supposed to help him," he said, but couldn't remember who did it.The court has heard that Yosif Al-Hasnawi was shot at 8:55 p.m. near Main Street East and Sanford Avenue South. The paramedics arrived at 9:09 p.m., and left for the hospital at 9:32 p.m. The trial in Hamilton superior court is expected to last five weeks, and Justice Harrison Arrell will render a verdict.
Social determinants of health – such as discrimination, proper housing and occupation – are critical factors for public health officials when considering how to target resources at those whose risk of contracting the novel coronavirus is highest. As health interventions aim to address these social liabilities in the short-term, the pandemic is also exposing how environmental determinants of health are often overlooked. Air pollution, for example, produces worse health outcomes and occurs more intensely in areas with poorer social and economic conditions, according to research cited in a study published earlier this month by health data non-profit ICES and the University of Toronto. The paper notes that previous studies “have also implicated environmental pollution as having a biological relationship to the risk and severity of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections.” Environmental factors affecting local public health may emerge as a larger discussion in the coming weeks, as Mississauga’s climate plans resurface during budget committee presentations which resumed Monday. Estimated to cost more than $460 million in the next decade, or about $46 million per year, the City is slow to commit funding in its first year of budgeting for a greener future in Mississauga. In June 2019, following the lead of several other Canadian cities, Mississauga’s Council passed a motion to declare a climate change emergency and approved an ambitious Climate Change Action Plan six months later. In the summer, as the 2021 budget document was being considered by City staff, The Pointer asked Mayor Bonnie Crombie about the ambitious goals she championed in the Climate Action Plan just prior to the pandemic, including some $160 million that would be needed in the short term for hybrid and electric buses. "Certainly, the greening of our economy is the right direction to move and I think we all agree with that," she said at the time. "We are very hopeful that the impact of COVID will be contained to the next three-year horizon and that we will still move forward with our Climate Action Plan. It is very dependent on the ICIP money (Ottawa's Invest In Canada Plan for infrastructure) – money coming from the provincial and federal government – to assist us to green our fleet and implement many of the recommendations that you found in that report." Now, implementing the climate plan is a highlight of the City’s 2021 budget. The two-pronged climate change solution universally advocated by scientists – mitigation and adaptation – is reflected in the City’s strategy to promote green energy, and retrofit or build resilient infrastructure. The plan sets out to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent in the next ten years and by 80 percent ahead of 2050, with the long-term goal of reaching zero emissions. The second pillar is to “build resilience” against the effects of climate change, including severe weather damage to City infrastructure. Next year’s ‘pandemic’ budget, has leaned out capital project funding to help weather the City’s major revenue losses in transit and recreation due to the ongoing public health emergency. Parks, Forestry and Environment staff are proposing a net $37.5 million operating budget, or a $1 million increase from last year, to maintain service levels, support higher fleet costs and kick-off climate protection goals. “Now, having a bold plan is very different than action. This is where the City now has to try and follow through on that, and I don't see that in this year's budget yet,” said Marc Johnson, Director of the Centre for Urban Environments at the University of Toronto Mississauga. He cited urbanization data that shows 82 percent of Canadians live in cities, with significant greenhouse-gas emissions and resource extraction linked to oil, lumber and other materials that support urban development. Though projects including infrastructure lifecycle maintenance, tree planting, stormwater drainage, trail upkeep, parks construction and pedestrian bridge replacement may relate to climate change, the budget does not directly connect these developments to the City’s climate strategy. “I want to see earmarked in [the budget] which of these investments in staff, in green technology, and infrastructure refurbishment are aligned with their Climate Action Plan,” he said. Perhaps the clearest funding link to execute the Climate Change Action Plan is the addition of another full-time staffer, a climate change specialist, in next year’s operating budget, with a salary of $92,000, and $121,000 forecast in 2022. No funding has been allocated until 2023 for the Climate Change Plan Implementation in corporate buildings, with budget documents recommending about $216,000 be set aside. In budget presentation documents, staff acknowledged the City requires resources to fulfill its climate plan and parkland growth expansion. However, parkland growth is not funded until 2022, with a recommended $291,000 budget. Capital projects in the Parks, Forestry and Environment departmental budget will also face deferrals, with an overall budget of about $32.3 million for 2021, forecast to more than double in 2022 to $66 million, and drop slightly to $51 million the following year. There is also a modest budget for parkland acquisition in 2021, at $120,000, compared to $26 million forecast for 2022. Corporate building retrofits as part of the climate plan are also being set aside, not being requested in the budget until 2023, with staff forecasting $216,000. More than 40 percent of parks and related infrastructure will need capital funding for replacements and maintenance over the next decade. Funding in other service sectors will affect Mississauga’s climate change goals, most prominently in transit, which accounts for about 70 percent of the City’s emissions. MiWay Director Geoff Marinoff said, during Tuesday’s transit presentation to the committee, that 40 percent of the fleet would be turned over to hybrid energy buses in the next four years. MiWay is proposing $440.6 million to replace 409 buses over the next 10 years. However, staff are proposing only a small fraction of the annual investment needed if 40 percent of a new hybrid fleet is to be acquired in the next four years. The bus replacement budget for 2021 is just $2 million, even though MiWay reaffirmed its commitment to “no longer purchase any conventional diesel buses, and will be required to purchase hybrid-electric and zero emission vehicles.” The budget does not specify if the bus replacement budget will be solely for hybrid-electric vehicles. (The City currently has 36, and the remaining 475 buses run on ultra-refined diesel.) The federal government, as Crombie highlighted in the summer, could provide a significant contribution, as clean energy infrastructure is one of the priorities in its infrastructure investment policy and Ottawa has already approved large sums to municipalities and provinces for clean transportation since the plan was adopted under the Liberals in 2015. The budget also notes the City’s training program for fleet operation will be amended to train drivers in reducing idling and fuel consumption to align with climate goals. Initiatives linked to fighting climate change can also be found in the increased stormwater tax. Mississauga has seen its share of extreme weather in the past decade, with heavy rain and flash floods last spring and fall. Human activity connected to climate change is leading to more extreme rainfalls in North America, according to a study published this June. A stormwater tax raise, which will range from $2.20 to $3.68 per year, is slated to help generate $43.5 million toward the City’s stormwater reserve funds for unpredictable weather caused by changing environmental conditions. Natural disasters and severe weather events demand crucial consideration when making urgent local policy shifts, said Lauren Latour, a coordinator at Climate Action Network Canada. “A lot of the time when we talk about climate policy, we're talking about federal level policy, but the effects are going to have to be dealt with by municipal governments,” Latour said. “They become those frontline protectors for their communities.” Email: email@example.com Twitter: @LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
Council members told staff to keep the blended tax rate for 2021 low – with requests ranging from zero to “two or three” percent. As it presented by staff, the draft budget contained a three percent increase in the Southgate levy for capital projects, which would likely be a two percent in the blended tax rate. CAO Dave Milliner asked council for direction at the end of the special meeting on the proposed capital budget held on Tuesday, Nov. 24. Coun. Michael Sherson said his ideal would be to give residents a zero increase this year. Coun. Barbara Dobreen said she didn’t want to see township reserves depleted to keep the increase “artificially low.” She suggested a 1.5 percent increase – “keep it under two (percent) for sure.” Deputy-Mayor Brian Milne asked if the 2020 impact of growth was known. The more building in the township, the more property owners to share the burden of the tax levy. Treasurer Liam Gott said it would be a few weeks before he had final figures but he expected 2020 added about $159,000 in taxation dollars based on the value of building permits issued (lower than the $280,000 projected). The deputy-mayor said that while a zero increase is desirable – “I don’t think that it’s reasonable or even responsible.” “Our costs are going up,” he said, naming fuel, hydro, insurance and payroll. Given that, he said he’d like to see something around 2.5 to 3 percent. At that point, the treasurer asked whether councillors were talking about the increase for local use or the overall or “blended” increase that includes taxes Southgate collects and passes on to the county and the school boards. At this stage in the budget process, council has seen and discussed capital costs, with the operating budget still to be seen. Coun. Martin Shipston said that a 2.5 to three percent increase would be reasonable, and not leave residents paying more down the road to make up for a lower increase in 2021. Coun. Jason Rice said he would like to see a zero increase. Coun. Dobreen had mentioned the Cost of Living increase for employees, which would be based on the inflation rate of 0.7 percent. Coun. Rice said that maybe for one year, township employees could do without the COLA increase. ”I’m not going against them (staff) – they do a fantastic job,” he said. “It’s this year, this specific year – this pandemic we’re dealing with,” he said. “It’s not our money in this time of need,” he said. He said many Southgate residents never get a Cost of Living increase. Deputy-Mayor Milne said perhaps this was the year to pull back on COLA or “step” increases based on performance and years served. He said that council needs to see the operating budget estimates to make its final decision. To achieve zero would take cuts to services, he said. “What services are we going to cut back on?” “Fuel, hydro, insurance – other expenses like that we have no control over and we have to pay." Coun. Rice asked the CAO for his reaction. Mr. Milliner replied, “if I didn’t hear a comment from council like that I would be surprised.” He did speak in defence of merit or “step” pay increase, adding that he himself is not affected by that policy. Mayor John Woodbury said that council had to balance the need for restraint in the present moment with the risk of postponing needed changes and mortgaging the future. “Overall, two to three percent is acceptable,” he said.M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
Cet automne, les archéologues de la coopérative Artefactuel ont effectué des fouilles dans le secteur du chemin de la Côte-Bissonnette à Varennes. Une initiative qui a porté ses fruits et permis de déterrer quelques vestiges du passé. Entreprises dans la foulée du développement de la zone industrialo-portuaire, ces recherches ont été commandées par la Ville à la suite d’une suggestion de la Société d’histoire de Varennes (SHV). De nombreux artefacts ont été découverts durant les fouilles. Les archéologues ont notamment confirmé avoir investigué les vestiges du Moulin Brodeur et les fondations d’une forge se trouvant à proximité. « C’est vraiment un secteur où il s’est passé beaucoup de choses, explique Jacques Dalpé, président de la SHV et initiateur du projet. Je suis allé sur le site pour leur montrer où les bâtisses étaient situées. Ils n’en revenaient pas que, en 300 ans d'histoire, le site n’ait pas été perturbé davantage. Depuis l’arrivée des premiers colons, tout est vraiment demeuré intact. Il n’y a rien eu d’autre que de l’agriculture et c’est longtemps resté dans la famille Brodeur. » La SVH possédait une photo du moulin peu avant sa démolition qui eut sans doute lieu dans les années 1930. Une découverte de M.Dalpé dans les archives du Musée McCord a cependant permis de mettre la main sur une image de la construction datant de 1887, alors que le moulin était toujours en bon état. « Il y a déjà eu deux inventaires par le passé, ajoute ce dernier, dont un qui date de 1989. À l’époque, on a découvert qu’il y avait deux zones d’habitation possédant un potentiel archéologique. Le deuxième inventaire a été fait en 2018, lorsque le terrain a été vendu à l’entreprise Greenfield Global. » En plus des vestiges du Moulin Brodeur, les archéologues ont découvert des morceaux de poterie et de faïence, des ferrures, limes, clous à tête carrés, des fragments de pipes de plâtres ainsi que divers outils et ustensiles utilisés au quotidien. « J’ai suivi ça attentivement, raconte M. Dalpé. Ç’a été un beau travail. Même les archéologues nous ont dit à la fin que ç’a été un super projet. À chaque coup de truelles, ils déterraient un nouvel arteact qui les emballait. Ils ont vraiment fait des découvertes inattendues. » Les recherches ont également permis d’explorer le secteur de La Saline où se trouvait une station balnéaire. Cette dernière pouvait accueillir les visiteurs qui logeaient au chic Hôtel des Sources. L’endroit fut finalement démoli à la fin du XIXe siècle. « L’hôtel a été construit en 1832. Il a été racheté en 1859 par un curé qui voulait chasser les impies (rires). Les Sœurs Grises s’y sont installées jusqu’en 1871 avant de venir au village pour construire ce qui est devenu le Foyer De Lajemmerais. » Enfin, la Ville compte présenter les plus beaux artéfacts lors d’une exposition qui aura lieu à la Maison ancestrale Hébert-Jodoin. Celle-ci sera par ailleurs reconstruite dans le futur parc du Patrimoine pour le 350e anniversaire de Varennes en 2022. Steve Martin, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève