A Toronto man has unearthed a Vancouver woman's top secret treasure that dates back to her childhood in the 1980s. Paul Johnson reports.
A Toronto man has unearthed a Vancouver woman's top secret treasure that dates back to her childhood in the 1980s. Paul Johnson reports.
A land redesignation bylaw for a proposed solar farm in Wheatland County was rejected by Wheatland County council, but following a special meeting of council, the project will be considered again during the next council meeting at the latest. During the Jan. 12 regular county council meeting, council considered a motion to adopt second reading of a bylaw to redesignate 160 acres for a proposed 20.1-megawatt commercial solar facility located east of Strathmore. The redesignation was necessary because the lands are currently agricultural, but as per the county’s land use bylaw, solar developments must be sited on lands designated as “energy district,” a category added in 2019. However, the motion failed by a vote of 6-1, with Reeve Amber Link the only councillor to vote in favour of the motion. Despite the council’s ruling, its hands may ultimately be tied because of provincial law. Section 619 of the provincial Municipal Government Act (MGA) provides that any approval granted by the AUC prevails over any statutory plan or land use bylaw. It also establishes that when a municipality receives a land use bylaw amendment and the application is consistent with the AUC approval, the municipality must approve the application. The project received AUC approval on Sept. 25, 2020. Prior to the council meeting, a public hearing for the bylaw was held via teleconference, during which letters from several landowners opposed to the project were read. However, Section 619(4) of the MGA requires that the hearing not address matters already discussed during the AUC application review process, which included many of the issues brought forward. Several of the councillors said during the meeting that despite the constraints of the MGA, they intended to vote in opposition to the motion in principle. “They (AUC) claim they figured what public interest is, but I don’t think so,” said Tom Ikert, Division 4 Councillor. “We are asked to rubber stamp something that a bunch of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats say is fine – but this has been backdoored to us.” Despite voting in favour of the bylaw, Link spoke of the difficulty of that decision. “This is extremely frustrating, because to a huge extent, the jurisdiction of municipal government has been subjugated by Section 619 of the MGA,” she said during the meeting. The proponent, Dan Eaton, has appealed the county’s decision to the Municipal Governing Board (MGB), an independent board established under the MGA that makes decisions about land planning and assessment matters, according to his lawyer, Terri-Lee Oleniuk of Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP. These appeals are costly, with some municipalities paying upwards of $500,000 to participate in similar hearings, said Link. This includes legal costs and land use planning when required. Given Section 619 of the MGA and related past decisions, the likelihood the MGB would rule against the council’s decision is near certain. “I cannot find any legal precedent where we would have any hope in taking that route,” she said. “I’m not willing to throw tax dollars at a losing fight. I am willing to fight the province, but that has to be done through advocacy.” An MGA hearing looks to be avoided, because during a special meeting of council held on Jan. 19, the potential repercussions of defeating the land designation were discussed in a closed session, Link told the Times in an email. Two resolutions were passed during this closed session: council directed administration to prepare a direct control district for the project at the earliest possible date (no later than March 2) and bring a development permit application for consideration at the same meeting, and that administration request the applicant to provide a complete development permit application no later than Jan. 22. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
Faut-il que les professeurs d’université instaurent un préambule dans leurs plans de cours afin d’assurer la liberté académique ?
Curious onlookers may be forgiven for thinking the Stettler area is quickly becoming the fibre board capital of Canada, as a second company has announced they’re building a major plant here. Alberta BioBord Corp. contacted the ECA Review newspaper last week after a story was printed about Great Plains MDF’s plans to develop a fibre board mill in the region south and east of Stettler. Now, Alberta BioBord, unrelated to Great Plains MDF, stated they plan to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant adjacent the Town of Stettler. Alberta BioBord is headed up by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) George Clark, who was formerly a spokesperson for Great Plains, and Clark, along with directors Randy Kerr and Lorne Murfitt, joined the ECA Review for a teleconference interview Jan. 19. Murfitt stated during the Great Plains effort a lot of time and effort was spent meeting the public and touring rural Alberta looking for a place to build an MDF facility and Stettler was selected at that time for a variety of reasons, including its excellent road system, proximity to rail lines and population. Murfitt added that even after several people joined Alberta BioBord, they still focused on Stettler. Clark stated that when looking for a great place to build an MDF plant, which uses wheat straw to make fibre board, Stettler kept coming to the top of the list. While Clark said the mill rates are not necessarily the lowest in this region “the logistics were absolutely the best.” Clark stated that Alberta BioBord hopes to continue with the site named last summer, a parcel of land across the road from the Stettler airport, which he said has easy rail access and good connector roads nearby. He stated Alberta BioBoard won’t be causing any traffic troubles as the existing truck routes will suffice, and also pointed out no Alberta BioBord traffic will be using Main Street. Clark also pointed out trucks supplying Alberta BioBord's facility will be coming from all directions surrounding Stettler, not just one. Additionally, Alberta BioBord is proposing straw depots around the area where material can be stored and trucked when needed, plus the use of train cars. The CEO stated Alberta BioBord’s project is valued at between $650 and $750 million, but noted the project will first begin as a fuel pellet plant. Murfitt and Kerr explained straws can be used to make fuel pellets, a heating fuel in big demand. This phase is estimated at between $35 and $40 million. After the fuel pellet plant is up and running, the MDF plant could move forward. It’s estimated the fuel pellet plant will be producing 300,000 metric tonnes of pellets per year with 40 metric tonnes of biomass fibres entering the plant every hour. Clark pointed out Alberta BioBord is also willing to buy flax straw from producers, which he stated is probably good news for producers looking to sell their flaw straw. The CEO explained the company’s first round of financing is being finalized now and expects that to be ironed out by the end of February, when things like municipal approvals can then be addressed. Clark said the company would like to see construction start this year with the fuel pellet plant in operation next fall. Where will this wheat and flax straw be coming from? Central Alberta producers. Clark noted Alberta BioBord's collection zone for straw will be at least a 250 kilometre radius of Stettler, and the company is planning an extensive public consultation process. All three men stated the company keenly wants to develop strong relationships with producers. They added that producers should watch for more information coming over the next weeks and months about Alberta BioBord’s Stettler project. Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review
An alleged Westside Outlaws street gang member from North Battleford was denied bail. Tonia Cantel, 22, had a show cause hearing before Judge Kim Young in Lloydminster Provincial Court Jan. 21. Crown Prosecutor Liam Fitz-Gerald, from North Battleford, told the court he opposed Cantel’s release. Defence Andrew Lyster from the Battlefords Area Legal Aid Office represented Cantel. The evidence presented and submissions made during the show cause hearing can’t be published. Cantel has been at Pine Grove Correctional Centre for women in Prince Albert since she was arrested on Nov. 20, 2020. She is charged with theft of a vehicle, numerous firearms-related offences, endangering the safety of the public, and flight from police. Cantel, and four others, are accused of taking RCMP on a 150-kilometre, two-hour chase from Lashburn to north of Paradise Hill. Her co-accused include Juanita Wahpistikwan, 21, from Big Island Cree Nation, Kyle Lajimodiere from Cold Lake, Alta., and two young offenders who can’t be named in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act. When police searched the stolen vehicle they found a sawed-off modified rifle, ammunition, a machete, a BB pistol and several knives. Police also located gang paraphernalia including a red paisley bandana. RCMP said the five are members of Westside Outlaws street gang. Wahpistikwan was scheduled to appear in Lloydminster Provincial Court on Jan. 21 but her lawyer, Brian Pfefferle, asked the court to waive her attendance and adjourn the matter until Jan. 28. Wahpistikwan remains in custody at Pine Grove Correctional Centre. Lajimodiere is scheduled to appear in Lloydminster Provincial Court on Jan. 26 to speak to his matter. The charges against the accused haven’t been proven in court. If you are associated with a gang and want to leave it, contact STR8 UP in northern Saskatchewan at 306-763-3001, STR8 UP in central Saskatchewan at 306-244-1771, or Regina Treaty Status Indian Services in southern Saskatchewan at 306-522-7494 to get assistance. firstname.lastname@example.org Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter / Battlefords Regional News-Optimist Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
La MRC de La Matanie et la Ville de Matane ont décidé d’unir leurs forces pour mettre en branle le projet de « ferme » citoyenne à Matane. Les deux entités lancent donc un appel à participation pour tous les citoyens pouces verts et fervents de jardinage de La Matanie. Ce projet de « ferme citoyenne » vise l’élaboration d’une structure citoyenne dans la Ville de Matane se concentrant sur les univers du maraîchage, de l’apiculture et de l’agriculture urbaine. Selon un communiqué envoyé par la MRC, celui-ci pourrait d’ailleurs comprendre un volet communautaire ainsi qu’un volet collectif et éducatif. La MRC de La Matanie précise qu’au niveau communautaire, il pourrait s’agir de préparer des terrains pour les groupes souhaitant bénéficier de jardins communautaires. Au niveau collectif, il est envisagé que la structure ait une vocation d’éducation populaire. En même temps, elle permettrait la réinsertion et le don de denrées fraîches pour fournir les organismes sociaux. Le projet est encore en construction, et les possibilités sont nombreuses, selon le communiqué de la MRC. C’est pourquoi elle encourage les citoyens intéressés à s’inscrire, afin que le projet puisse se mouler à leur image et naître de leurs idées. La MRC de La Matanie cite notamment le projet d’agriculture communautaire de la MRC d’Argenteuil en exemple. Une première rencontre en ligne est organisée à travers Zoom le jeudi 28 janvier de 19h à 21h. L’objectif de cette consultation sera d’énoncer le constat de la situation actuelle, puis d’établir les étapes de réalisation et l’échéancier du projet. Un comité de travail incluant ceux ayant participé à la rencontre sera par la suite formé. « Je suis impressionnée et motivée par le groupe de citoyennes et citoyens qui a lancé le jardin communautaire les Lopins verts en moins d’un an. Cela montre le grand intérêt de la population matanaise pour ce type de projet. C’est une chance de pouvoir travailler ensemble à développer davantage l’agriculture urbaine », a lancé vivement Véronique Gagné, responsable. Pour s’inscrire, il suffit de remplir le formulaire en ligne avant le 27 janvier à 23h45. Le lien de connexion Zoom pour assister à la rencontre sera ensuite envoyé par courriel.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
A German app developer has filed a complaint with European Union antitrust authorities against Google and Apple which he said last year rejected a game aimed at encouraging compliance with government COVID-19 rules. Several developers have challenged Google and Apple over their app policies, triggering calls for regulatory action as nearly all smartphones outside restricted markets such as China come with either Google's Play store or Apple's App Store. In the United States, state attorneys general are planning a lawsuit against Google over its Play Store for Android phones following complaints, sources have told Reuters.
When Hiruthika Ravi moved to Listowel, she was two years old. Her family immigrated by way of Toronto but they only lived there for a year. “I went to kindergarten here – I’ve gone to school in Listowel my whole life,” she said. She recalls going to kindergarten at Eastdale Public School. “It wasn’t something that I thought about but I remember going into class and not seeing any kids who looked like me,” said Ravi. “It was never something I spent too much time thinking about but it was something I noticed.” She doesn’t feel the other kids treated her any differently. “I think I’m pretty lucky in that respect – I’ve never felt different even though I knew I was different from everybody else,” she said. “I talked to everybody.” Relationships she made in kindergarten have lasted for years so that acceptance continued at school. “We all stuck together in terms of going from grade to grade so everyone kind of knew me at that point – so I didn’t feel they were making new assumptions about me,” said Ravi. “I know that’s not always the case with a lot of kids of colour but I was pretty lucky I never experienced direct racism from anybody.” She said she knows there’s that Asian stereotype that Asian kids are super smart. She laughed to herself when she thought about it. “I probably didn’t do much to dissuade that stereotype but at times I think it felt like when they looked at me that’s all they thought of me – like ‘oh you are a brown kid so you should be smart,’” she said. At times it felt tough separating that, she would feel like saying, ‘hey, I’m other things as well.’ That feeling of being stereotyped was more apparent to her after she left Eastdale and moved on to Central Public School for Grade 7, and it continued at Listowel District Secondary School (LDSS). “I was surrounded by a lot of different people and I felt like that stereotype followed me around a little bit,” said Ravi. “No one necessarily made me feel bad for it but sometimes it felt like if someone looked at me that’s the connection they made and then sometimes it felt like I was trapped in being that one personality trait only.” Although Ravi never heard direct racism while growing up in Listowel, she said she knew other people have. “I didn’t want to make the assumption – oh they are saying stuff behind my back but I always wondered,” she said. “Just like when people talked about me to their parents – when you are a kid you talk about making new friends – did my race ever come up or was I just a friend.” When she met her friends’ parents when she was young, she said they were all very sweet but she still wonders whether her race was talked about when she wasn’t there. One thing she did notice about elementary school was her class was not diverse but she did not dwell on it. It’s easy for her just to think of Listowel but she sees racism as an issue that affects North Perth as a whole, and diversity is increasing across the entire municipality, so attending high school was an eye-opening experience. “I kind of realized that the diversity just isn’t there,” she said. “I also did a lot of extra-curriculars in high school so when I did the drama club, I noticed how few People of Colour there were. When I did soccer I noticed how few People of Colour there were. Even on those teams and when I competed against other schools in the board, I would notice how few People of Colour there were. I think that also really exposed me to how much of an island I felt I was like at times.” She has wondered if the way her family has presented themselves has affected how people accepted them in town. They didn’t wear traditional clothing out anywhere and Ravi and her brother never grew up in India, so they didn’t have an accent of any kind. She never really considered that they were trying to fit in but she said her family never acted traditionally either. “People in the community came to know us so we were familiar faces,” said Ravi. “I wonder if that shielded us from some of the more awful experiences People of Colour are experiencing here who may be newer to the community.” She doesn’t feel she made any conscious decisions to whitewash her personality. “I’ve always felt very authentic to my personality but a tiny part of me wonders if it’s just because – I’m not blaming the people I’ve been around – but just because I’ve been around similar people my entire life,” she said. “I wonder if that melded my personality a little bit.” When Ravi moved to London to attend university she felt a big culture shock because she said she met a lot of brown people. “Of course I knew they were there but just seeing them as a commonplace was very interesting at university,” she said. “Then I made some brown friends. I had never made brown friends before in Listowel and then they would talk about their experiences in school, not just with each other but with the diversity with teachers for example.” Her new friends spoke of experiences which were quite different than growing up in Listowel. “I’ve had so many wonderful teachers but the lack of diversity amongst teachers is something I’ve noticed big time,” she said. “I think educators are a big influence, they can be a big influence on you in many ways but when my university friends would talk about hanging out with certain friends or having certain teachers who were BIPOC. I never had those things.” Her friendships at university were a slightly different community experience than she was used to. “People who look like me more I guess – I just kind of realized how little of that I had,” said Ravi. “I gravitate towards people who are like me in personality so I never felt that personality difference between the friends I had here and some of the friends I have here are the absolute best friends. I wouldn’t trade them for the world but it was interesting making friends from similar cultures.” There were some things she said her friends in Listowel could never relate to, so it has been nice to have that at university. “I always felt like had a community here in Listowel but that community in terms of being able to share certain aspects of my tradition or my race, they were never here,” said Ravi. At home with family, she said she had a fairly traditional Indian upbringing. “I spoke the language, I ate the food, we would pray every day so it almost felt like a dichotomy between going to school and coming home,” said Ravi. She never talked to friends about her traditions and her religion when she was young because she wanted them to see her as a kid. “At times I was just afraid the more I brought up about being Indian the more that would become part of my identity – it wasn’t that I was ashamed of it – but I wanted to be a kid,” she said. “I didn’t want people to look at me differently.” She wasn’t guarded of her home life. Friends would come over all the time and she had birthday parties but there were aspects of herself she didn’t talk to her friends about. “As I got older and I kept the same friends I would tell them more things,” said Ravi. When she started talking to her friends about her culture, she said they were always good at asking questions. “They would ask to try some traditional food or they would ask to see the outfits I wore sometimes,” said Ravi. “I think that made me feel like I didn’t have to keep the two things separate because I think it was tough.” Every month or two, her family would travel to the GTA to visit a temple when she was growing up. “We would usually have to go to Toronto to do grocery shopping because a lot of Indian groceries you couldn’t get here,” she said. “We used to go to Brampton a lot because Brampton has a lot of temples and a lot of the family friends we made in similar traditions and races.” When talking about the BIPOC equality march which took place in Listowel last summer, she mentioned that she had felt like an island growing up in Listowel, so she always wondered if the increase in the BIPOC community is something people supported or if it was something they just tolerated. “There is a big difference between the two – accepting people into the community… versus ‘they are here and there is nothing I can do about it,’” said Ravi. “Definitely with the march a lot of the community was accepting of us… not only for the Black community but the BIPOC community as a whole to know that people cared about us – they cared about our well-being, that we were important parts of North Perth.” She was happy to notice a big range in the age of the people who attended the march, from young kids to grandparents. Ravi believes there are certain mindsets which stick with people as they grow but she doesn’t think it’s ever too late to open your mind up and learn. “If you don’t know about an experience, ask somebody about it,” she said. “If you don’t understand the experience of an indigenous person, ask an indigenous person about it – I’m sure they would be happy to tell you. You have to be open to learning about it.” She believes that’s a big thing a lot of local people who retain power haven’t been doing – opening up that community forum and learning. “We’re here – we’d be happy to share our stories if it means change … not only for ourselves but for future generations,” said Ravi. When Ravi sees more diversity in schools in North Perth it makes her happy. “It makes me hopeful that they don’t feel – I never felt lonely, I always made friends and I never felt unaccepted in my classes, but at the end of the day I always felt different and so I hope for this younger generation, all these school-aged kids with more diversity in their classrooms, they don’t feel the way that I did sometimes,” she said. Ravi would like to see more religious tolerance locally and suggested putting a multi-faith area of prayer in town. “I think that would go a long way,” she said. “That is one thing I thought of because there are so many churches here but there is nothing else.” In response to a motion raised at county council to have a multicultural celebration, Ravi said it would be nice but the reality is there are people from many cultures living in the community all year, not just for a day or a month. “We’re not a one-off thing, we’re part of your community,” she said. “If we want to celebrate our culture why is it we have to shove them all into one month?” She suggested Paddyfest as an example of a time when one day from one culture is stretched over two or three weeks. “It’s been here for a long time in Listowel and it is an important part of the town,” said Ravi. “I have fun … but that is a two or three week thing for something that lands on one day of the year. Why are we shoving a year’s worth of celebrations into a month? … We celebrate the holidays when they happen … That feels almost inauthentic even though they are trying to bring these cultures in … But I think it is a great idea to have these community events for these celebrations.” Ravi said it might sound kind of cheesy but she wants people to remember that just because she looks different it doesn’t mean she is different. “When people look at me I want them to see me as a member of North Perth,” she said. “I want what I’m known as to be something I earned, not something I am if that makes sense.” In high school, she did a lot of extracurriculars partly because she loved them but also because she wanted to create a personality for herself that wasn’t being Indian. “I didn’t want them to look at me and see a brown girl,” said Ravi. “I want them to look at me and be like – oh she’s in drama, oh she plays soccer – that sort of thing.” Ravi suggested when people look at each other they should look at what they have in common rather than the differences. “When we come to Listowel and we are in Listowel, we’re not that different,” she said. “If you do a Venn Diagram of the things we have in common, a lot more is going to overlap.” She is currently studying Neuro Science and Psychology at the University of Western Ontario and then she hopes to attend medical school to become a pediatric neurologist. “It’s a very ambitious end goal,” said Ravi. She said she hasn’t thought so far ahead in her plans that she knows whether she will be bringing those pediatric neurologist skills back to North Perth but she feels it would be positive for the area if there was more diversity amongst adult figures who are influential in children’s lives. “Those influential adult figures will go a long way too in terms of creating acceptance in the community,” said Ravi. “I don’t want to speak on the experience of Black people because I’ll never understand that, but if a child sees a teacher who looks like them in this community, I’ll use myself as an example, if I saw a brown teacher, that would make me realize adults like me live here and have great jobs – that could be me.” She said she doesn’t want to force teachers to share the religions and traditions they follow but she thinks it would also bring a lot of exposure to classrooms if people spoke of Diwali, Black History Month and Indigenous celebrations just as easily as they speak of Valentine’s Day and Christmas in classrooms. “Even those little things in classrooms with kids who have not made those opinions and impressions yet, making those things normal would go a long way in terms of not only fostering acceptance but fostering knowledge,” said Ravi. “Giving those opportunities and venues for people to learn, sometimes it might just make people think of questions they did not realize they had and that’s when those discussions can begin.” She realizes it’s tough for these discussions to begin. Ravi doesn’t think anyone would be comfortable if people started walking up to a BIPOC member of the community and asking, ‘hey, have you experienced racism today.’ “That’s not a natural conversation but creating those opportunities and providing those venues for those natural conversations where it doesn’t feel forced but it feels genuine will also go a long way,” she said. In her time living in North Perth, she has seen the BIPOC community grow, and she knows it’s going to continue to grow. She assumes people want it to be an attractive place for people to live so she raised concerns about recent comments Perth County Coun. Daryl Herlick made in the Banner when he said “he doesn’t see colour.” “We’re here, how many of us is it going to take for you to see us,” she said. “You don’t want to be like, OK 30 per cent of the population has to be a visible minority for us to start anything. That’s just an arbitrary number. It shouldn’t take a certain amount of people to be here, those things should already be fostered so that when BIPOC people need to come to the community those resources are already here.” Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner
Brighton is putting its appreciation for health care and frontline workers in lights. At its recent council meeting, council asked staff to design and create a banner expressing its support for local health care employees and frontline workers as they fight the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As well, at the suggestion of Coun. Ron Anderson, the municipality is lighting up a message of gratitude on the electronic billboard outside of King Edward Park Arena and Community Centre. “Perhaps we could put something up there on that sign right away,” Anderson said during the Zoom meeting. “(It’s) just one way of getting the message out to all frontline workers right now,” he told the Independent. “Many frontline workers live right here in Brighton and will see our message on the way to work or grocery shopping. In a week or two, everyone who can will see it and get involved in showing support I hope everywhere.” Council asked staff to craft a message for display on the billboard. The municipality received a letter from Trenton Memorial Hospital Foundation’s (TMHF) executive director, which asked for support to help boost morale. “I just had a conversation with the new CEO of (Quinte Health Care) and she commented about how poorly our staff are feeling right now,” said TMHF’s Wendy Warner in the letter. “They are tired, stressed and feeling down. This can be for a variety of reasons.” Warner noted the overall shortage of health care professionals, staff working more overtime hours and the risk of contracting COVID-19 as a few of the stressors. Coun. Emily Rowley suggested Brighton also put messages of support on the municipal website and on its social media pages. She said she would also like to see lawn signs. “Let’s just paint the town with appreciation,” Rowley said. Mayor Brian Ostrander suggested Brighton start with the banner for health care and frontline workers and discuss the subject of further appreciation for essential workers at a future meeting. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
NEW YORK — A raging pandemic, tumultuous presidential election and deadly Capitol insurrection have combined to make the annual tradition of Dry January more moist than air-tight for some. Not Sarah Arvizo. She considers it her easiest yet. As much as the 32-year-old Manhattanite would love to partake in a little “vinopeutics,” she said the abstinence period she's participated in for several years has been made smoother this time around by her at-home pandemic life and the closing of bars and restaurants. “Longing for those days, for sure,” said the social drinker who lives alone. “But unless I want to freeze outside, that's largely off the table this year.” Eight-year-old Dry January, which comes at the height of resolution season after the holidays, has brought on the desired benefits for many among the millions participating around the world. They're losing quarantine weight, experiencing more clarity and sleeping easier. Others with lockdown time on their hands and round-the-clock access to TV news and the home liquor cabinet are struggling to meet the challenge. Some who have already cheated hoisted a glass on Inauguration Day, Dry January's surreal New Year's Eve. Sue Cornick, 52, in Los Angeles wanted to experience Dry January after her consumption of alcohol rose from three or four days a week to five or six. But she knew pulling the plug wouldn't work before a celebratory Inauguration Day, so it's Dry February for her. “Full disclosure, my Dry February will be more like almost dry. I'll definitely have a cheat day here and there. Just no daily habit,” she said. Others are holding steadfast but said the horrid year that was and the chaotic events of January have made it far more difficult. The odds aren't in their favour. Studies over the years have shown that a small percentage of New Year's resolutions overall are actually achieved. Peta Grafham, a 61-year-old retired IT specialist in Tryon, North Carolina, signed on to Dry January after watching her alcohol intake creep up during the pandemic and months of political and racial turmoil. “I'm a social creature and isolating has been difficult. I found that I would open a bottle of wine and watch TV, usually CNN, and could knock back a bottle in less than two hours. Then I would move on to the Grand Marnier," said Grafham, who lives with her husband. “I announced to my friends and family that I was doing a Dry January, so my pride is what's keeping me sober.” She hasn't had a drop since Dec. 31. Her spouse didn't join, but she said he's an efficient nurser of bourbon or vodka and has supported her effort. “I seemed incapable of limiting myself to just one glass,” Grafham said. According to a recent survey from the American Psychological Association, 78% of adults report the COVID-19 pandemic has been a significant source of stress, and 65% said the amount of uncertainty in the world is causing strain. While addiction treatment experts note that a month of forced sobriety may not have a lasting impact and may lead to binge drinking in February, others believe the show of sobriety can't hurt. Dry January began after a woman training for her first half-marathon, Emily Robinson in the U.K., decided to quit drinking for the month. She later went to work for an alcohol awareness organization that launched a national campaign. The event slowly went global. Well before that, in 1942, Finland began a program called Raitis Tammikuu, meaning sober January, to assist the war effort against the Soviet Union, said Hilary Sheinbaum, who wrote a new book about Dry January, “The Dry Challenge." She said she wrote from personal experience. “On Dec. 31, 2016, moments before the ball dropped, I made a Dry January bet with a friend,” Sheinbaum said. “In the end, I ended up going the full 31 days. My friend did not. He ended up buying me a very fancy meal, but I had the opportunity to see how alcohol was affecting my day-to-day life. With Dry January, I had clearer skin. I was sleeping better. I had so much more financial savings at the end of the month. This is my fifth Dry January.” When she took on her first dry challenge, she was working regularly at booze-infused events as a red carpet reporter, and a food and beverage writer. She was also single and going on a lot of dates. Now in a two-year relationship, she and her live-in boyfriend do Dry January together. “Having someone doing it with you is definitely encouraging,” Sheinbaum said. “For many Americans, we start off the year with a number of resolutions, whether that's saving money, losing weight, just being healthier in general. Dry January checks the boxes for those goals and many more.” She and others note that the ritual isn't meant as a substitute for addiction treatment and recovery. Dr. Joseph DeSanto, an MD and addiction specialist for the recovery program BioCorRx, agreed but said Dry January may give those in trouble "something to rally around, especially if they're not in a 12-step group, and provide a sense of community.” He added: “Any kind of harm reduction is advantageous. If someone is a heavy drinker, they could benefit greatly from switching to moderate to light drinking, even if they can’t stop altogether. I’ve never met an alcoholic that felt worse from drinking less or not drinking.” MJ Gottlieb is co-founder and CEO of the 100,000-strong Loosid, a sober social network with both physical and virtual events and services around the country. He's in recovery himself and launched the company in part to show the world that sobriety doesn't mean the “end of fun.” Since the pandemic, he said Loosid has seen a spike in people posting on its app, messaging its confidential hotlines and accessing its support groups as the pandemic brought on isolation and more drinking at home. That's where Dry January plays a role. “A lot of people who did not have problems previous to the pandemic and were drinking a glass of wine a night are now drinking a couple of bottles a night," Gottlieb said. "They're wondering what's going on. They're wondering, how did I get here?” Leanne Italie, The Associated Press
Original “Saved by the Bell” star Dustin Diamond has begun undergoing chemotherapy treatments after being diagnosed with cancer, according to his representative. Diamond, best known for playing Screech on the hit ’90s sitcom, was hospitalized earlier this month in Florida. Last week, his team disclosed he had cancer. “Dustin has completed his first round of chemo and his next round is being scheduled. He will also begin his physical therapy soon,” the actor’s spokesman, Roger Paul, said in a statement. “Dustin is looking forward to spending more time with his girlfriend, playing his bass guitar/video games, as well as making videos for his fans on social media,” Paul added. “Saved by the Bell” aired from 1989 to 1993, and its spinoffs included “Saved by the Bell: The College Years” and “Saved by the Bell: The New Class,” both of which Diamond starred in. A sequel was launched on Peacock this fall featuring many from the original cast, including Elizabeth Berkley, Mario Lopez, Tiffani Thiessen and Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Diamond was not included. Diamond has been sued several times for delinquent taxes and in foreclosure proceedings for missing mortgage payments. He has appeared on reality TV shows, made a sex tape and produced a tell-all documentary on Lifetime TV called “The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story.” In 2015, he was sentenced to serve 4 months in jail for his part in a Wisconsin barroom stabbing. The Associated Press
A framed arrangement of quilt blocks made of material from masks, gowns and scrub caps is now on display in the lobby at Campbellford Memorial Hospital (CMH). The unique piece reflects the fabric of a community that came together to make masks, gowns and scrub caps for hospital staff shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. Through the donation of fabric, buttons, pipe cleaners, elastic, thread and financial contributions by the community, the Campbellford Mask Makers sewed and donated close to 2,000 pieces to the hospital in a time when Personal Protective Equipment was in short supply, the hospital noted in a news release. CMH called the artwork a “piece of COVID history.” “We will be forever grateful to this community for helping to protect our staff and patients during the early days of this pandemic,” said Paul Nichols, chair of CMH’s board of directors. “These quilt blocks are a testament to the caring, giving and compassion of volunteers in Trent Hills and the surrounding area. They represent the collaborative efforts of a great many individuals who participated in the making and donation of masks, caps and gowns to CMH during the COVID-19 crisis of 2020.” Cathy Redden, co-ordinator of the Campbellford Mask Makers, said the project exceeded the group’s expectations and was a meaningful experience for many of its participants. “This project had results that reached far and beyond our goal of providing the hospital with needed supplies,” Redden said. “It gave many of us a reason to get up and dressed in the morning. While short in its duration, this project had a lasting impact on the surrounding community, our hospital and those who have participated in it.” CMH also gave thanks to Campbellford’s 2777 Northumberland unit of the Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps. and all of the community members who made masks, provided material or supported the project through financial contributions. “CMH staff are forever grateful to be part of such a wonderful community,” the release stated Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
Le bilan du jour par le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux du Bas-Saint-Laurent enregistre 3 nouveaux cas de COVID-19, portant le total à 1446 cas. Le Bas-Saint-Laurent compte actuellement 44 cas actifs sur son territoire, dont 4 de ces cas représentent des hospitalisations en cours liées au virus. Cas par MRC : Kamouraska157 (+1)Rivière-du-Loup259 (+1)Témiscouata83Les Basques28Rimouski-Neigette579La Mitis79 (+1)La Matanie206La Matapédia48Indéterminés7Bas-Saint-Laurent1446 (+3)Parmi les 1446 cas comptabilisés depuis le début de la pandémie, 1375 personnes sont désormais rétablies. Le nombre de décès demeure inchangé à 27. Selon le CISSS du Bas-Saint-Laurent, 633 tests de dépistage ont été réalisés ces 24 dernières heures. Quant aux milieux en éclosion, le CHSLD de Chauffailles de Rivière-du-Loup rapporte un nouveau cas de COVID-19 auprès d’un de leurs employés. Au total, 10 cas ont été confirmés au CHSLD de Chauffailles, dont 4 résidents et 6 employés. La situation des éclosions à l’Unité transitoire de réadaptation fonctionnelle (UTRF) de Rimouski ainsi qu’à l’Unité de réadaptation fonctionnelle intensive (URFI) de Mont-Joli est stable. Il y a eu 38 cas (24 usagers et 14 employés) à l’UTRF et 7 cas (4 usagers et 3 employés) à l’URFI.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
Ontario reported another 2,662 cases of COVID-19 and 87 more deaths linked to the illness on Friday, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government will send two mobile health units to assist in the Greater Toronto Area. "The spike in COVID-19 cases this month has put a real strain on hospitals," Trudeau said during a morning news conference. "For Ontario, in particular, the situation is extremely serious." Trudeau said the units will provide up to 200 additional hospital beds as well as medical equipment and supplies, freeing up space in the region's intensive care units. In a news release, the federal government said the mobile units are being deployed after a provincial request for assistance, and that they expected to be in the GTA "as rapidly as possible." They are scheduled to remain available to the provincial government until May 1, depending on the COVID-19 trends in Ontario at that time. The province will be responsible for staffing the mobile units, the release added. WATCH | Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on mobile health units headed to the GTA: The new cases reported today include 779 in Toronto, 542 in Peel Region, 228 in York Region, 128 in Waterloo Region, 188 in Windsor-Essex County and 102 in Halton Region. Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were: Niagara Region: 95 Durham Region: 80 Hamilton: 78 Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 77 Ottawa: 75 Simcoe Muskoka: 71 Middlesex-London: 65 Thunder Bay: 58 Eastern Ontario: 37 Huron-Perth: 26 Southwestern: 19 Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge: 16 Sudbury:13 Chatham-Kent: 11 (Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.) They come as labs processed 71,750 test samples for the virus and reported a provincewide test positivity rate of 3.3 per cent, the lowest it has been since mid-December. Further, the seven-day average of daily cases dropped to 2,703, marking 11 straight days of decreases. Another 3,375 infections were marked resolved in today's report. There were 25,263 confirmed, active infections in Ontario yesterday — a figure that has also been trending downward since its peak on Jan 11. According to the province's data, the number of people with COVID-19 in hospitals, as well as those requiring intensive care and ventilators all decreased. As of yesterday, the total number of COVID-19 patients that were: In hospitals: 1,512 (down 21) Being treated in intensive care units: 383 (down five) On ventilators: 291 (down two) There were ongoing outbreaks of the illness in 244, or about 39 per cent, of Ontario's 626 long-term care homes. Revised projections recently released by the province's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table suggested if Ontario were to accelerate its immunization rollout and vaccinate all long-term care home residents by the end of January, rather than mid-February, as many as 580 lives could be saved. The 87 additional deaths push Ontario's official COVID-19-linked death toll to 5,701. Meanwhile, the province said it administered 13,784 doses of vaccines Thursday. A total of 264, 985 shots have been given out, while 49,292 people have received both doses. WATCH | Measures in Ontario, Quebec seem to be working, epidemiologist says: #StayHomeON media campaign The provincial government said it has a new #StayHomeON campaign, which will include messages from various online "influencers" and politicians, including a video from Rick Mercer posted this morning. Lisa MacLeod, minister of heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries, said in a news release that athletes on the Toronto Raptors and Ottawa Senators will also be participating. Markedly absent from the province's expanded effort to get Ontarians to stay home is the availability of permanent paid sick days, which the Progressive Conservative government eliminated in 2018. The government's own medical and science advisers, as well as a chorus of municipal officials and activists, have repeatedly called for Premier Doug Ford and his cabinet to implement paid sick days, especially for essential and low-wage workers in the manufacturing, warehousing and food processing sectors. Ford has instead pointed to the federal Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, which offers $500 per week for up to two weeks eligible workers. Critics have noted, however, that the program amounts to less than minimum wage and the financial assistance is not immediate. More cases at Canada Post facility Meanwhile, mandatory testing at a Mississauga Canada Post facility found 27 asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in 48 hours. Canada Post said 149 workers at its massive Dixie Road site had tested positive between Jan. 1 and Thursday afternoon. Spokesperson Phil Legault said the latest cases were detected among workers who were asymptomatic or didn't believe they had symptoms. Testing of the entire shift was ordered by Peel Public Health and began Jan. 19. Legault said Canada Post is now offering voluntary testing to employees working outside the public health-identified shift. More than 4,500 people work at the Mississauga site.
CBC News gains access to a unique inoculation site in the U.K., where vulnerable groups are being prioritized.
HALIFAX — The public inquiry into the April mass shooting in Nova Scotia has announced the hiring of six experts who will help set a course for the investigation. Those joining the inquiry include Thomas Cromwell, a former Supreme Court of Canada justice who will serve as commission counsel. Cromwell previously served with the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. As well, the inquiry has appointed Christine Hanson as executive director and chief administrative officer. Hanson is director of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. She also worked as an international lawyer and diplomat in a variety of roles with Global Affairs Canada. The inquiry has also appointed a community liaison, a mental health expert, an investigations co-ordinator and an expert in charge of research. "We are pleased to have secured a group of experienced and dedicated individuals who are among the most highly regarded in the country in their respective fields," the commission said in a statement Thursday. "There are a lot of questions to be asked and evidence to be gathered by the commission in order to fulfil its mandate and we want the best people to help us in this process." The other team members include: — Research director Emma Cunliffe is a professor at the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia and a visiting professor at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University in Halifax. She is a scholar in complex criminal matters related to violence against women. — Investigations director Barbara McLean is deputy chief of the Toronto Police Service and is originally from Antigonish, N.S. — Mental health director Mary Pyche has worked as an addiction clinical therapist and has held leadership roles in the Nova Scotia Health Department regarding mental health and addiction. — Community liaison director Maureen Wheller co-chaired the first public advisory group that worked with Nova Scotia's mental health and addictions program. The independent federal-provincial inquiry, which has the authority to compel witnesses to testify and produce documents, is expected to produce an interim report by May 1, 2022 and a final report by Nov. 1, 2022. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
PERTH COUNTY – Two items related to Ontario’s Stay-At-Home order and its effect on small businesses were removed from the consent agenda for further discussion during the Jan. 14 meeting of Perth County council. Coun. Todd Kasenberg requested discussion of a letter from Kingsville, Ont. regarding small business closures while bigger stores remain open. “There are many factors involved in the decisions the province has made concerning prevailing conditions for small businesses but certainly the public continues to express concern about the fact that small businesses have essentially been forced to close but large businesses remain open without a whole lot of restriction,” he said. “I have certainly taken COVID very seriously all along. As a microbiologist by training I have a lot of understanding of the kinds of things that have happened.” He finds himself wondering whether some small businesses should have been ordered closed at this time. The Kingsville resolution requested that small businesses be allowed to remain open to in-store sales and service with limited capacity and increased safety measures. “I would like to see a whole lot more data, to be honest, from the province about small business versus large business and about why small business has been targeted at this point,” said Kasenberg. “I’m expressing… sympathy for the letter from Kingsville… I think the concern I have about doing it verbatim is… that this resolution was sent to the province before Christmas and pertained mostly to the holiday season.” Kasenberg said he thinks small businesses are bearing undue pressure in the absence of seeing clear data that small businesses are in contact traces and are unequivocally showing they are a high source for COVID-19 transmission. Warden James Aitcheson suggested a letter from the Reform Coalition of Perth East, which had also been pulled for discussion by Coun. Daryl Herlick, shared similar concerns so he asked if they could be discussed together. “I don’t mean to echo what Coun. Kasenberg just talked of,” said Herlick. “It’s an interesting time. It’s frustrating – the lack of data.” He pointed out that he is a livestock farmer and the members of the Reform Coalition are also livestock farmers with “an actual understanding of how viruses spread and biosecurity.” Herlick said lockdowns are “a rather interesting way of trying to contain a virus that is so detrimental, or allegedly anyway, it’s frustrating.” He received a text message earlier in the day alleging a store near Waterloo had almost 600 cars in the parking lot with people lined up for blocks. “It’s so confusing and frustrating. Small businesses have done such a good job… I need to support this motion of the coalition group for sure and we really need to ask ourselves, when is the cure worse than the disease or what we’re after and in my mind we surpassed that a long time ago.” Kasenberg wanted the two items kept separate. “While there is some common ground between my position and Coun. Herlick’s, I think there are also some fundamental differences,” he said. “I believe COVID is a significant problem in our society. The death rates are 2.3 per cent. Yes, it affects mostly the elderly but when we allow conditions in our society to say that it’s OK for the elderly and the immuno-compromised to be at greater risk than the general population I think we’ve done society a disservice. “I think we’re all needed and we’re all valuable and I am very concerned about a wide-open society.” The letter from the Reform Coalition stated its “ask is not to further extend credit to or provide greater subsidies to struggling businesses, but rather that you advocate to end this game of favourites and allow ALL businesses a level playing field.” “I think that people largely do need to stay home,” said Kasenberg. “My concern is the competitiveness between small businesses that can sell things and large big-box businesses that are reaping enormous profits during this season and have… throughout the pandemic and I don’t think an unequal playing field is appropriate in these contexts.” Kasenberg said he would want to allow small businesses that can demonstrate responsibility towards Public Health precautions to remain open. “I think that we can create conditions for that and in the absence of seeing the provincial data about the spread of COVID through those environments I am concerned that they have unduly affected the business climate,” he said. “Beyond that, I am firmly supportive of precautions that keep all of our people safe, our elderly, our immuno-compromised, etc. Some of that does require people being urged to stay home as much as possible but why should large stores benefit disproportionately during this period.” Aitcheson asked for direction from council as to what they wanted to do about supporting the letter from Kingsville. Kasenberg suggested council ask the provincial government to share the information it has more clearly and more broadly with regards to the impact of small businesses in the transmission of COVID-19. “We are expressing concern that many small businesses have been shuttered and we need to understand why,” he said. Coun. Doug Kellum seconded Kasenberg’s motion. Coun. Doug Eidt asked that the request for information be sent to both the MPP of Perth-Wellington, Randy Pettapiece, and MP of Perth-Wellington, John Nater. Aitcheson continued to connect the Kingsville resolution and the letter Herlick had brought forward saying he thought the letter from the Reform Coalition had already been sent to Pettapiece. “I would recommend that we send this to the Premier,” said Kasenberg. “I think the province should take responsibility for the emergency order that it has put in place and the range of conditions that are attached to that emergency order so I do think the named recipient is the Premier and the Ministry of Health but I agree that we need Mr. Pettapiece and as a courtesy, Mr. Nater, to be aware of our actions here.” “Do you want to add the Minister of Finance on that, Todd?” asked Aitcheson. “Interestingly it is hard for me to discern the role of the Minister of Finance but hey, the more names the merrier,” said Kasenberg. Aitcheson said ultimately there is tax revenue being lost by not having small businesses open. Kasenberg agreed and the motion was carried unanimously. Aitcheson asked Herlick if this motion covered his concerns. “You know what – it does,” he said. “I think we still need to forward (the letter from the Reform Coalition) as well to our local level. Again they have respect for what’s going on but they just want a little more and I’d be willing to move that we support this movement from the Reform Coalition at the local level and I’ll move that.” Coun. Hugh McDermid seconded Herlick’s motion. “You realize that was already forwarded to Randy once?” Aitcheson asked. Herlick asked that it be forwarded to local representation, provincial and federal. The letter asked council to “take a stand against the arbitrary rules placed upon Huron-Perth and push back against this provincial lockdown.” The Reform Coalition based the letter on COVID figures chose arbitrarily as the letter was being written. “At the time of this writing, we have 51 active cases and five hospitalizations with a population of approximately 136,093,” the Reform Coalition members wrote. “In our opinion, these statistics hardly justify such strict lockdown conditions. Active cases have not experienced exponential growth, conversely to this point, they have actually dropped from the high of over 70. Our hospitals are not even close to being overwhelmed by COVID-19.” As of the writing of this article, there are 126 active cases, 62 of which are related to the outbreak at Caressant Care in Listowel, and five hospitalizations in Huron-Perth. Coun. Walter McKenzie and Kasenberg opposed the motion to support the letter and forward it to Pettapiece and Nater. Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner
The Municipality of McDougall has directed to its recreation staff that the George Hunt Memorial boat launch will remain accessible to ratepayers only in 2021. WHO CAN USE THE GEORGE HUNT MEMORIAL BOAT LAUNCH? The boat launch is only accessible for McDougall ratepayers only — so, those with a municipal permit, the same used for the landfill. WHEN DID COUNCIL MAKE THIS DECISION? In May 2020, McDougall council reopened the boat launch for ratepayers only to help prevent COVID-19 cases. In December 2020, parks and recreation director Brian Leduc recommended that council allow non-ratepayer access between Jan. 1 and May 10 and then ratepayer access during the peak activity months of May 11 to Sept. 14, and then non-ratepayer access would resume after Sept. 14. However, council decided to keep restricted access in 2021 at its Jan. 20 council meeting. WHY DID COUNCIL MAKE THIS DECISION? According to McDougall’s mayor, Dale Robinson, if council opted to allow non-ratepayer access at certain times and restrict it at others, it may become confusing and harder for bylaw to enforce. WHAT BOAT LAUNCHES WILL BE OPEN TO NON-MCDOUGALL RATEPAYERS? Currently, Lorimer Lake, Boy Lake, Mill Lake, Nine Mile Lake, Portage Creek and Trout Lake launches remain open to the public. Council voted unanimously in favour of keeping boat launch access restricted to McDougall ratepayers. 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
BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right party said Friday that Armin Laschet, the governor of Germany’s most populous state, has been confirmed as its new leader. The 59-year-old centrist came first in an online vote by party delegates Saturday, ahead of conservative rival Friedrich Merz. Under German law the election had to be officially endorsed with a postal ballot. Laschet received 796 out of 980 valid ballots, amounting to over 83% of the vote. He is the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, which has a population of about 17 million. The party's new chairman will be a strong contender to lead the Christian Democratic Union, or CDU, into this year's national election, in which Merkel will not run again. A decision on who to put forward for chancellor ahead of the Sept. 26 election will have to be made together with the CDU's Bavaria-only sister party. That will likely happen after regional election in several German states take place in March. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Capitol Police are investigating an incident in which a Republican lawmaker was blocked from entering the House chamber after setting off a metal detector while apparently carrying a concealed gun. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., set off the metal detector while trying to enter the chamber Thursday afternoon. The metal detectors were installed after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, which left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer. The incident was witnessed by a reporter from the Huffington Post After setting off the machine, Harris was asked to step aside for further screening. At that time, an officer discovered Harris was carrying a concealed gun on his side, according to the reporter. The officer sent Harris away, at which point Harris tried to get Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., to take the gun from him. Katko refused, telling Harris he didn’t have a license to carry a gun. Harris eventually left and returned less than 10 minutes later. He once again went through security and did not set off the magnetometer. He was then allowed to enter the House floor. Harris, in his sixth term representing Maryland's Eastern Shore, issued a statement through his chief of staff, Bryan Shuy. “Because his and his family’s lives have been threatened by someone who has been released awaiting trial, for security reasons, the congressman never confirms whether he nor anyone else he’s with are carrying a firearm for self-defence,'' the statement said. "As a matter of public record, he has a Maryland Handgun Permit. And the congressman always complies with the House metal detectors and wanding. The Congressman has never carried a firearm on the House floor.'' Eva Malecki, a spokeswoman for Capitol Police, said the incident is being investigated. The public is not allowed to carry guns on Capitol grounds, but members of Congress may keep firearms in their offices or transport them on the Capitol grounds if they are unloaded and securely wrapped. Lawmakers are not allowed to bring guns into either the House or Senate chambers. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
NORTH PERTH – The future of rinks in North Perth was on thin ice until council made some firm decisions on Jan. 18. Due to high rates of COVID-19 transmission, the Ontario government imposed a province-wide shutdown which came into effect Dec. 26. The COVID-19 Response Framework was paused when the province-wide shutdown came into effect. As a result, North Perth facilities were closed to the public and adjustments were made to reduce operational costs. With the possibility of reopening Jan. 25, it was more cost-effective to keep the ice in, adjusting temperature controls so the refrigeration system did not work as much and using the cold outdoor temperatures to help maintain it. Ontario declared a second provincial emergency to address the COVID-19 crisis effective Jan. 14. The municipality was faced with a decision whether to keep ice in as it is and be available to open after Feb. 11, or take the ice out of one or all of the arenas in North Perth. Removing the ice and then putting it back in is estimated to cost more for a three-week break. Coun. Terry Seiler asked if they could come back with ice in fewer arenas. Amy Gangl, interim manager of recreation, said the plan would be to only have ice in the Steve Kerr Memorial Complex after the lockdown since it operates better in warmer weather than the other two arenas. Council unanimously agreed to leave the ice in the Kerr Complex because of its efficiencies but remove the ice at the Wallace Arena and the Elma Logan Recreation Complex. The big issue for council in the discussion was how to be fair to the businesses who have paid for advertising in the arenas. “We invoice once a year – it is an annual fee,” said Gangl. “Our policy is a one-year minimum agreement. They are invoiced in January. We have done that.” Staff was looking for direction from council on whether there should be a discount for advertisers. Mayor Todd Kasenberg said he was not convinced 50 per cent would be a deep enough discount. He suggested charging 30 per cent of the normal annual rate. Coun. Matt Richardson agreed 50 per cent was not a big enough discount considering 2020 was also cut short. “I know this sounds very unusual coming from me but if they paid 100 per cent in 2020 they never got their money’s worth either,” said Coun. Julie Behrns. “I do think that in support of our local businesses, they’re the ones who are advertising and not getting what their money’s worth was, I would highly recommend 50 per cent for the past year and 2021.” She said that people who paid in full in 2020 should not owe anything for 2021. Coun. Neil Anstett agreed and added that many businesses probably don’t have money to put into advertising during the pandemic. All council members agreed to the 50 per cent discount for both 2020 and 2021. The Lion’s Club has been working on its outdoor rink in Atwood, and outdoor rinks are being prepared at the tennis courts in Listowel and Monkton. The plan is to offer residents a rink close to where they live and prevent drawing people to a single location. There are COVID safety plans in place and the municipality is prepared to supervise all three rinks. There will be active screening and the current capacity will be five skaters. Council enthusiastically supported keeping the outdoor rinks open and allowing residents to get some exercise responsibly during the current shutdown. Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner