IPSOS CEO of public affairs Darrell Bricker breaks down the latest IPSOS poll data on Canadians breaking public health guidelines and travelling.
IPSOS CEO of public affairs Darrell Bricker breaks down the latest IPSOS poll data on Canadians breaking public health guidelines and travelling.
PERTH COUNTY – In the fallout of the recent issues at Perth County council, many residents were curious how the local political scene is organized. The short answer is much like a relationship status on social media – it’s complicated. Even in North Perth, which is wedged between Huron and Wellington counties, the distribution of municipal responsibilities differs from our neighbouring communities across those county lines. North Perth Mayor Todd Kasenberg said the Perth County powers are very minimalist. He feels that the division of power between the upper and lower tiers of municipal government seems to have been predicated on the idea that the less responsibility the county has, the better. The Municipal Act is a consolidated statute governing the extent of powers and duties, internal organization and structure of municipalities in Ontario, but the act gives leeway for the distribution of responsibilities of the upper and lower tiers of local government. Municipalities are governed by councils which make decisions about financing and services. In Ontario, the head of a lower-tier council is called the mayor or the reeve and the members of council may be called councillors or aldermen. The way councillors are elected differs from municipality to municipality. Municipal councillors may be elected at large or by ward. The Municipality of North Perth is comprised of three wards: Elma, Listowel and Wallace Wards. Voters in each ward can choose only among the candidates who are running for election in that ward. For example, if a municipality has eight council members and four wards, two councillors will be elected from each ward. Each voter chooses two candidates from among the candidates running in that ward. In each ward, the two candidates with the highest number of votes will serve on council. In a municipality where the councillors are elected at large, all councillors represent the entire municipality. In an election, the voters choose among all candidates who are running in the election. The head of council is always elected at large by all of the voters in the municipality. The county council is composed of designated elected members from the lower-tier municipalities. The composition of Perth County council is determined by a Restructuring Order that came into force on Jan. 1, 1998; North Perth and Perth East each have three representatives and West Perth and Perth South have two representatives each. Each December, county council itself selects its head, who is called warden, from among its members. Depending on its size and its history, a local municipality may be called a city, a town, a township or a village. They are also referred to as lower-tier municipalities when there is another level of municipal government like a county or region involved in providing services to residents. There are several separated towns and cities in Ontario and although they are geographically part of a county, they do not form part of the county. Local examples of this are the City of Stratford and the Town of St. Marys. These are single-tier municipalities. A county or regional government is a federation of the local municipalities within its boundaries and they are referred to as upper-tier municipalities. Since the 1990s the provincial government has been encouraging municipal governments to amalgamate with a view that the municipal government provides services most cost-effectively and efficiently. Some local governments joined together voluntarily to achieve sustainable services and municipal infrastructure. In other cases, the province had facilitated amalgamations of municipalities through restructuring commissions and special advisors. Progressive Conservatives under the leadership of Mike Harris in the 1990s implemented changes in responsibilities of local government which led to a massive wave of municipal mergers. The most important changes saw some counties and regional municipalities merge with their constituent local municipalities. As a result, the number of municipalities was reduced by more than 40 per cent between 1996 and 2004, from 815 to 445. In January of 2009, that number went to 444. Consolidation of municipal service management has resulted in the creation of 47 Consolidated Municipal Service Managers (CMSMs) across the whole province. In southern Ontario, the CMSM area is frequently aligned along the upper-tier boundary and includes a separated town or city if one exists within its geographic boundary. The service manager can be either the upper tier or the separated municipality. Under municipal leadership, CMSMs are implementing a more integrated system of social and community health services for delivery of Ontario Works, child care and social housing. When looking at services provided to residents, it is important to understand how municipal governments relate to the other orders of government in Canada – the provincial and federal governments. Although North Perth CAO Kriss Snell said municipal staff are happy to point residents to the proper level of government to get the help they need, there are many duties a municipal government is too small and localized to service. Separating the duties of the provincial and federal government from the shared duties of the municipal tiers will give citizens an idea of what their local government cannot help them with. The federal government has the big powers “to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Canada” except for subjects where the provinces are given exclusive powers. Among the many exclusive powers of the federal government are citizenship, criminal law, copyright, employment insurance, foreign policy, money and banking, national defence, regulation of trade and commerce and the postal service. According to the Constitution Act, 1867, everything not mentioned as belonging to the provincial governments comes under the power of the federal government. The provincial government has the power to enact or amend laws and programs related to the administration of justice, education, hospitals, natural resources and environment, property and civil rights in Ontario and social services. The province directly funds or transfers money to institutions to ensure the delivery of these responsibilities; provincial highways, culture and tourism, prisons and post-secondary education. The provincial legislature also has power over all municipal institutions in the province so the powers of municipal governments are determined by the provincial government. Municipal governments in Ontario are responsible for providing many of the services within their local boundaries that residents rely on daily such as airports, paramedic services, animal control and bylaw enforcement, arts and culture, child care, economic development, fire services, garbage collection and recycling, libraries, long-term care and senior housing, maintenance of local roads, parks and recreation, public transit, community planning, police services, property assessment, provincial offences administration, public health, sidewalks, snow removal, social services and housing, storm sewers, tax collection and water and sewage. However, there is some leeway in the way these duties are divided up between the upper and lower tiers of municipal government. “You can look at Oxford, at Wellington, at Huron and you’ll see that those counties have more power and they do more because the lower tiers have consented to upload some of that stuff,” said Kasenberg. “I think that’s because over history those lower-tier governments just felt they didn’t have the resources and it made more sense to have a centralized function and do this efficiently for three or four of them.” Looking at the model of upper-tier municipal government in midwestern Ontario, Kasenberg said Perth County is the leanest of all. “There has been a longstanding reluctance to give the county any significant authority or power over things that are lower-tier matters,” he said. Municipal governments in Ontario spend billions each year to provide the public services that meet these important needs of Ontario residents. Most of the money for financing these services comes from the property taxes paid by residents and businesses. Additional funding comes from user fees or non-tax revenue such as parking fines. Property taxes are calculated by multiplying the assessed value of a property by a tax rate which is made up of two parts; the municipal tax rate, which is set by the upper and lower-tier municipal governments, and the education tax rate, which is set by the provincial government. A municipality can set different tax rates for different classes of property. The main classes include residential, multi-residential, commercial and industrial. The services the County of Perth is responsible for are economic development and tourism, emergency management, paramedic services, provincial offences court, prosecution services, administration and collection of fines, archives services, county planning, county roads, bridges, traffic signals and controls and tax policy. Several services are paid proportionately by the county but delivered by local partners such as social services, delivered by the City of Stratford, health services, delivered but Perth District Health Unit, seniors services, delivered by Spruce Lodge Homes for the Aged, and cultural services, delivered by the Stratford Perth Museum Board. North Perth and the other lower-tier governments across the county provide animal control and bylaw enforcement, municipal elections, fire services, libraries, policing, licensing, local roads including sidewalks, planning and zoning, parks and recreation and property tax administration. So, dear resident of North Perth, this may not have been the most exciting thing you’ve read today, but perhaps it will clear up what local level of government you need to contact when satisfying your municipal needs. Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner
BRUCE COUNTY – Mark Paoli, land use planning manager, presented a report to the planning and development committee in December recommending changes to the current fee schedule. The changes will be phased in within one year. At the November meeting, the committee passed recommendations arising from the development fees final report by StrategyCorp that included recovery of all activity costs and appropriate overhead; four new fees (general inquiries, pre-consultations, studies over five hours, and pit/quarry Official Plan amendments); deposit for peer reviews; and resume increasing fees annually by the Consumer Price Index in 2022. The recommendations included that the matter return to the committee in December for approval. The committee approved the following amendments: • Allow for a flat fee for one or two minor variances in the same application, and add to it a separate flat fee that is 30 per cent higher for cases of three or more minor variances in the same application. • For multiple consents, reduce the price of each additional lot in the same application to 50 per cent, after the first one. • Segment fees for major county Official Plan amendment and minor county Official Plan amendment, based on whether it requires more than three technical studies or not. For major amendments, increase the new base fee by eight per cent for each additional technical study required over the threshold of three studies. Paoli’s report stated there’s more involved than greater transparency and ensuring fees fully reflect costs. Fees should “also recognize ‘bulk rate’ savings that come from economies of scale in multi-unit applications, to the benefit of the developer-user. Passing on the savings of economies of scale will accurately reflect actual costs, to the benefit of both the county and the user.” Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
Alimentation Couche-Tard would revive its $20 billion bid for France's Carrefour if the Canadian convenience store operator saw a change in the French government's stance on the proposed deal, its chief executive said on Monday. Couche-Tard dropped its surprise bid for the European retailer over the weekend after the plan ran into opposition from the French government. "We'd love to do the transaction .... if we got signals that the environment could change or would change from the French government or other key stakeholders," Brian Hannasch told an analyst call.
BRUCE COUNTY – Christine MacDonald, director of human services, made a brief presentation in December on a new emergency response agreement with the Canadian Red Cross. The county has had an agreement with the Red Cross since October 2014. The most recent three-year agreement was set to expire at the end of December. MacDonald said staff have been negotiating with the Red Cross on a revised two-year agreement that will expire Dec. 31, 2022. At that time, the Red Cross anticipates modifications to their service approach due to lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the reason a two-year agreement was recommended instead of one lasting three years. The revised agreement establishes parameters that would have the Red Cross provide emergency services that may include registration, reception and information, family reunification, emergency lodging, emergency food services, emergency clothing, transportation and personal services. In addition, the Red Cross responsibilities in preparing for an emergency include recruiting and training volunteers to deliver local emergency services; stocking and maintaining supplies and logistics capacity; and participating in county-led emergency preparedness exercises, activities, and/or meetings. The annual cost of the agreement is $10,000. It is included in the 2021 budget. Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
The provincial government released its list of communities receiving charitable gaming grants for the last half of 2020. More than $1.3 million will be given to local communities from Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming for the fundraising done from July to September 2020 in communities across the province. Groups raising money through “licensed charitable gaming” like bingo, raffles, Monte Carlo events, etc. receive 25 per cent of their net proceeds back in the form of the charitable gaming grant, explained David Morris, a spokesperson with Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming. Numbers released in the Jan. 14 press release quantified the grants by areas of the province with the North Battleford and the surrounding area receiving $141,175; Humboldt and the surrounding area receiving $57,629, and Yorkton and the surrounding area receiving $56,187. While these numbers are only for the third quarter of 2020, Morris said numbers have been impacted by COVID-19 as local events and bingo halls have been shut down. “Many raffles take place in conjunction with sporting events and many sporting events have been cancelled. That’s impacted the number of raffles. If you go to a hockey game, often the team has a raffle and there are no games so there are no raffles.” Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority are proud to support local organizations that fundraise using the charitable gaming program, said Jim Reiter, the minister responsible, in the press release. “The charitable gaming grant program provides extra dollars that help these groups deliver their services in a variety of important sectors including public service, emergency services, health care and recreation.” Local organizations are eligible for the grant program following the filing of their charitable gaming reports. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
OTTAWA — Federal Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole pushed back against attempts to link his party to Trump-style politics on Sunday, saying there is "no place for the far right" in the Tories while accusing the Liberals of divisive dirty tricks.In a statement Sunday, O'Toole asserted his own views on such issues as abortion, gay rights and reconciliation with Indigenous people in Canada while insisting that his party is not beholden to right-wing extremists and hatemongers. "The Conservatives are a moderate, pragmatic, mainstream party — as old as Confederation — that sits squarely in the centre of Canadian politics," O'Toole said."My singular focus is to get Canada's economy back on track as quickly as possible to create jobs and secure a strong future for all Canadians. There is no place for the far right in our party."The unusual statement follows the riot on Capitol Hill, which U.S. President Donald Trump has been accused of inciting and which has since been held up as proof of the dangers posed by right-wing extremists to Western democracy.It also comes on the heels of a Liberal Party fundraising letter sent to members last week that accused the Conservatives under O'Toole of "continuing a worrisome pattern of divisive politics and catering to the extreme right."As one example, it cited the motto used by O'Toole's leadership campaign: "Take back Canada."It also referenced a photo that has been circulating of Conservative deputy leader Candice Bergen wearing a hat with Trump's slogan, "Make America Great Again," and a since-deleted Tory website alleging the Liberals want to rig the next election.O'Toole on Sunday condemned the Capitol Hill attack as "horrifying," and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism by touting his party's support for free and fair elections, the peaceful transfer of power and accountable government.To that end, he lashed out at the Liberals, referencing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's decision to prorogue Parliament last summer as hurting accountability, before turning the tables on the governing party and accusing them of using U.S.-style politics."If the Liberals want to label me as 'far right,' they are welcome to try," O'Toole said. "Canadians are smart and they will see this as an attempt to mislead people and import some of the fear and division we have witnessed in the United States."Former Conservative strategist Tim Powers, who is now chairman of Summa Strategies, believes O'Toole's team saw a "gathering storm" and felt the need to act to prevent the Liberals from painting the Conservatives as beholden to Trumpism.Such action was especially important ahead of what could be an extremely divisive week down in the U.S., where there are fears that Trump supporters and far-right actors will respond to Joe Biden's inauguration as president with violence.Powers suggested it is also the latest act in O'Toole's effort to introduce himself to Canadians and redefine the Conservatives ahead of the next federal election, both of which have been made more difficult by COVID-19.And when Conservatives in caucus make statements or otherwise act counter to his stated positions, Powers said O'Toole will need to "crush them and take them out" to prove his convictions.Shuvaloy Majumdar, who served as a policy director in Stephen Harper's government, welcomed O'Toole's statement while also speaking of the threat that events in the U.S. could pose to the Tories in Canada — particularly if the Liberals try to link them.O'Toole was accused during last year's Conservative leadership race of courting social conservatives who oppose abortion, among other issues. That raises questions about the degree to which he may anger the party's base by taking more progressive positions.But Majumdar suggested many of the populist elements left the Tories for Maxime Bernier's People's Party of Canada and that O'Toole is seeking to appeal to more voters by taking a broader view on social issues while sticking to the party's core economic positions.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2021. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version misquoted Shuvaloy Majumdar saying many social conservatives had left for the People's Party of Canada. He actually said many of the populist elements had left.
BRUCE COUNTY – The county’s planning and development committee has approved a draft plan of subdivision in Lucknow, for Hellyn Development Inc. The plan calls for development of a 5.109-hectare parcel of land on the west side of Lucknow with 28 detached dwellings, four townhouse blocks and a stormwater management block. The number of townhouse units will be between 38 and 46, making the total number of residential units 66 to 74. New municipal streets will be constructed, with two connections to Montgomery Lane at Hamilton and Rose streets. According to the report presented to the county in December, “It is a logical infill project in the settlement area that makes efficient use of land and infrastructure. Therefore, the plan is strongly aligned with the ‘good growth’ guiding principle.” As discussed earlier in the fall by Huron-Kinloss council, the plan is good news for the Lucknow community and the wider area of both Bruce and Huron counties. The land is presently used for agriculture, but is designated primary urban communities in the Bruce County Official Plan, and residential in the township’s Official Plan. The property is within the village’s settlement area. Lands to the east and south are residential, with a mix of single-family dwellings, townhouses and vacant lots. Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
Le ministère des Transports du Québec (MTQ) répondra aux questions des citoyens de Tadoussac en ce qui concerne le projet de réaménagement de la route 138 à l'approche de la traverse. Une séance d'information publique aura lieu le 20 janvier à 19 h via la plateforme virtuelle Teams. Les résidents de la municipalité intéressés à participer à la rencontre doivent s'inscrire par Internet via le lien suivant : https://forms.gle/j3JpTQfdz6cDDAcFA. Rappelons qu'avec l'arrivée des deux nouveaux traversiers à la traverse de Tadoussac-Baie-Sainte-Catherine, la Société des traversiers du Québec (STQ) a demandé au MTQ de revoir le réaménagement des voies de circulation à l'approche du quai à Tadoussac, sur la rue du Bateau-Passeur. « Ces nouveaux navires ayant une plus grande capacité de chargement, la STQ souhaite que le processus d'embarquement et de débarquement se déroule en respectant l'horaire actuel de 20 minutes par traversée », peut-on lire sur le site du MTQ. Ainsi, le réaménagement comprend une aire de préchargement sur la route 138 à l'approche du quai ainsi qu'une aire d'attente du côté sud de la route, à proximité du quai. Ce réaménagement permettra de rendre le secteur de la traverse sécuritaire pour tous les usagers de la route, d'assurer le maintien des infrastructures routières, ainsi que d'améliorer la circulation et la signalisation routière, entre autres. Pour plus d'infos sur le projet: https://bit.ly/3stpb0uJohannie Gaudreault, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Haute-Côte-Nord
Sherbrooke — Tout le monde a le pouvoir d’économiser sur son épicerie, peu importe le temps qu’on a à y consacrer, croit la couponneuse aguerrie, mère et courtière immobilière Vicky Armstrong Béliveau. Même si ses années de couponnage intensif sont derrière elle, la Sherbrookoise croit que ce moment de crise est parfaitement choisi pour partager ses meilleures astuces d’épargne et redonner au prochain. La jeune femme, qu’on a même vue dans l’émission à succès Un souper presque parfait sous le surnom de la « couponneuse perfectionniste », en 2017, utilise toujours plusieurs de ses trucs, même si sa situation financière est plus confortable qu’à ses débuts il y a sept ans. « Je m’étais lancé un défi personnel d’apprendre le couponnage parce que je suis tombée enceinte de ma petite puce, et je suivais des cours de courtage le soir. La nuit, quand j’allaitais toutes les deux heures, j’étais sur des sites de couponnage pour voir ce qu’on allait faire. » Depuis quelques années, elle prend maintenant soin de faire don de plusieurs de ses trouvailles à Moisson Estrie. En trois ans, c’est plus de 100 kg de produits qu’elle estime avoir retirés de ses grandes étagères pour en faire bénéficier les moins nantis. « Je réussis à obtenir plein de produits gratuits ou presque; c’est certain que mon cœur en arrache. J’ai habité en Afrique, et j’ai vu comme c’est difficile de boire un simple verre d’eau là-bas. Alors chaque année, j’essaie de donner le plus possible », confie celle qui en profite déjà pour sensibiliser sa fille en l’impliquant dans le processus de dons. « Couponner » en 4 étapes À l’image de cette ère numérique, la méthode en quatre astuces qu’utilise Mme Armstrong Béliveau repose en grande partie sur l’utilisation d’applications mobiles. Premièrement : les rabais de la semaine en épicerie. Mais pas besoin de circulaire papier : « Ce qui est génial, ce sont les applications Flipp ou Reebee, qui regroupent toutes les circulaires de tous les magasins au même endroit. Avec Reebee, on peut même voir les rabais de la semaine prochaine. On peut faire une liste d’achats dans l’application qui sera ensuite divisée par magasin. » En répertoriant les rabais de différents commerces, celle-ci mise ensuite sur les « imbattables », des politiques appliquées chez Maxi et Walmart qui consistent à égaler les prix de la concurrence à la caisse. La deuxième étape, c’est de rassembler divers coupons qu’elle trouve en ligne. Celle-ci propose notamment des sites comme save.ca, websaver.ca et utilisource.ca. « En jumelant les imbattables et les coupons, je n’ai jamais payé de dentifrice ni de brosse à dents. Je suis encore à écouler mes stocks d’il y a quatre ans », se réjouit Mme Armstrong Béliveau. Son troisième truc : l’application Checkout 51, qui propose chaque semaine des remises en argent lorsqu’on achète certains produits. « Je regarde à l’avance quels produits offrent des remises. Ensuite, au retour de l’épicerie, ils demandent que je prenne ma facture en photo dans l’application pour démontrer que j’ai acheté le produit. Ils mettent l’argent dans mon compte et je reçois un chèque dès que j’atteins 20 $ de remises. J’ai déjà fait de l’argent avec ça, parce que j’avais eu quelque chose gratuitement à cause de mes imbattables et de mes coupons. » Finalement, comme quatrième source d’économies, l’experte recommande vivement l’utilisation de programmes de récompenses, comme PC Optimum (dans les magasins Provigo, Maxi et Pharmaprix), qui permettent aussi d’accumuler des remises en argent et d’utiliser le montant sur son épicerie dès qu’on atteint 10 $. Organisé et assumé « Rien n’oblige à utiliser les quatre trucs. Les gens peuvent y aller à leur rythme. Moi, j’étais une passionnée maniaque! Mais avec la COVID-19, tout ce qui se passe et les gens qui perdent leur emploi, ça peut être tellement intéressant de prendre 10 ou 15 heures dans la semaine. », mentionne-t-elle, encourageant les gens à surmonter leur orgueil et les préjugés de file d’attente. Somme toute, l’organisation et le respect demeurent primordiaux. « Il y a des gens qui attendent derrière. On peut les avertir ou le mentionner à la caissière pour qu’elle ferme à l’avance. Je mets mes imbattables dans le haut de mon panier pour les passer en dernier et j’apporte les bons coupons dans une enveloppe. À l’époque, j’avais monté un gros cartable avec mes coupons classés par date. » Si on prévoit faire de grandes économies, il est aussi préférable de prévoir l’espace de rangement nécessaire, et être prêt à changer de marque selon les différents spéciaux.Jasmine Rondeau, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
An old roadbed in Conception Bay North is getting a new lease on life. Up until the 1970s, the road between Old Perlican and Bay de Verde was the main thoroughfare that connected the two communities. That road was phased out in the 1970s as the current road was put in. Now, decades later, the old roadbed is getting a facelift as a group of volunteers is restoring the old road into a multi-use trailway. “We thought we could go all the way through to Old Perlican,” said organizer Carl Riggs, who is from Bay de Verde. The idea for the trailway started as a conversation between friends, and it ballooned from there. Riggs decided he would take the idea to the councils of Bay de Verde and Old Perlican. They were supportive of the idea and things took off from there. “The support has been tremendous,” said Riggs. It’s been a whirlwind six weeks between work starting and the idea coming to fruition. Since work got underway on Jan. 11, between 80 and 100 people have contributed to clearing brush, rocks and other debris from the trail. There have been significant contributions from the towns of Old Perlican and Bay de Verde, who have sent various pieces of heavy equipment to help with the job. The business community has also chipped in, and there have been donations of equipment, time and money from people all over the province. “It is amazing how much work has been done in a short period of time,” said Bay de Verde Mayor Gerard Murphy. While the original motivation for the restoration of the old road was for use by all-terrain vehicles, the group believes there is ample room for hikers, walkers, mountain bikers and others to use the trail. When finished, it will connect to Bay de Verde’s Lazy Rock Walking Trail. “It is a little bit of an attraction for the whole area,” said Old Perlican Mayor Clifford Morgan. “It is a very, very nice initiative.” The work being conducted this winter by the group is just the start of things for them. Riggs said they want to install gazebos, rest areas and signage along the route in the future. There are also plans to work with the CBN T’railway group to connect their projects. The CBN group is working to clear and maintain the old railbed in the region. The hope is they will be able to connect and provide all-terrain vehicle users with the chance to go from Brigus Junction to Bay de Verde. “This is just the tip of the iceberg for us,” said Riggs. “Excited is not the word.” Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
The U.S. Capitol complex was shut down for about an hour on Monday out of an abundance of caution after a small fire broke out nearby, underscoring security jitters days before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration. The Capitol Police in a statement said the lockdown was lifted and the fire nearby was contained. The lockdown follows the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump, some calling for the death of Republican Vice President Mike Pence as he presided over the certification of Democrat Biden's November election victory.
GREY-BRUCE – The Saugeen Field Naturalists conducted their 44th annual Hanover-Walkerton Christmas Bird Count on Dec. 19, 2020. According to the group’s newsletter, this activity has become one of the largest citizen science projects in the world. The 2020 count was a bit different from past years, due to the pandemic. It didn’t end with a dinner the day after the field outing, but instead with one via Zoom. Care was taken to ensure distancing for everyone’s safety. Gerard McNaughton said the Walkerton-Hanover area count identified 44 species this year including one new species, an osprey. “The actual number of field participants was down as several long-time counters bowed out of this year’s count but once things return to normal I’m sure they will be back,” said McNaughton. He said the weather was a bit blustery, starting out with cloudy skies in the morning and little wind, and shifting to snow showers and limited visibility at times by mid-day, making finding birds harder as the day went on. Most groups said the birds were hunkered down and that most feeders were empty for the first time in years, making for a difficult day. McNaughton said, “As always, several quality birds were observed including a first-ever osprey found by Joy Albright just outside Walkerton. Presumably, the same bird was seen just before count week started but not since, so that was a great find for count day. Several winter finches also put in appearances to help bolster overall numbers.” The overall summary is as follows: Mute swan - 7 Canada goose – 1,339 Mallard - 383 Common goldeneye - 19 Common merganser - 50 Sharp-shinned hawk - 3 Cooper’s hawk - 2 Red tailed hawk - 12 Rough legged hawk - 9 Bald eagle - 11 Osprey - 1 Ruffed grouse - 2 Wild turkey - 132 Ring-billed gull - 428 Herring gull - 121 Great black-backed gull - 2 Rock dove - 439 Mourning dove - 105 Eastern screech owl - 7 Belted kingfisher - 2 Red-bellied woodpecker - 6 Downy woodpecker - 34 Hairy woodpecker - 13 Pileated woodpecker - 3 Northern shrike - 4 Blue jay - 100 American crow – 1,083 Common raven - 3 Black-capped chickadee - 344 Red-breasted nuthatch - 27 White-breasted nuthatch - 32 Brown creeper - 10 European starling – 1,117 American tree sparrow - 51 Dark-eyed junco - 348 Snow bunting - 300 Northern cardinal - 39 Purple finch - 2 House finch - 108 Common redpoll - 164 Pine siskin - 71 American goldfinch - 334 Evening grosbeak - 1 House sparrow - 136 Total was 44 species, 7,405 individuals. Accipiter Sp. - 1 Hawk Sp. - 1 Gull Sp. - 83 Woodpecker Sp. - 1 Two additional species were recorded during the count week period. The hooded merganser and pine grosbeak were both seen in the three days leading up to the count; nothing was reported in the three days after count day. “The next count will take place on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 so mark your calendars now,” said McNaughton. “Let’s hope that everything is back to normal by then and that we’re able to get together to swap stories from the field. Until then, the best of health and happiness to everyone and good birding.” The Christmas Bird Count began over a century ago. Winter hike All indoor activities of the Saugeen Field Naturalists have been cancelled because of COVID-19, but outdoor activities continue. The next one is Jan. 16 – the Winter Nature Hike. The location will be the Murray Tract, the less-well-know part of the Kinghurst Nature Reserve, at 1:30 p.m. Participants must register (email email@example.com). Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
After being "overwhelmed" with 911 calls on the latest pandemic restrictions, Windsor police have provided more information about how they will enforce the rules. The police service said officers won't enter homes, stop cars or people for the sole purpose of enforcing the stay-at-home order and provincial emergency. Further, no one is required to carry proof that they are going to work, the police service said in a statement Friday. If an officer has "reasonable grounds" to think that someone has violated the Reopening Ontario Act or the emergency declaration, officers can ask for ID in order to issue a fine or summons. Failing to properly identify yourself can lead to a fine or obstruction charges. "We will continue to monitor for COVID-19 compliance and respond to COVID-19-related complaints, as required. We will undertake enforcement actions, as necessary, under the legislation," the police service stated. New order sparks questions, criticism Under the stay-at-home order that took effect last Thursday, people can only leave their homes for essential reasons. There is a long list of exceptions, including going out for exercise or essential work, buying groceries and picking up prescriptions. Under the new order, officers can order people attending gatherings to go home, close any building where they believe an illegal event is taking place, and ask for the name and address of anyone they think is committing an offence. Charges can be laid through a ticket or summons to appear in court. The minimum fine for violating provincial gathering rules is $750. For those organizing illegal gatherings, there's a minimum fine of $10,000 and up to a year in jail. Within Windsor and across the province, the new rules have led to questions about how law enforcement will be ensuring compliance. They've also prompted concerns that people from visible minority groups could be disproportionately targeted by enforcement efforts. Police see uptick in 911 calls Windsor police have asked the public not to call 911 regarding the stay-at-home order, saying operators have been "overwhelmed" with calls. On Friday, the police service said it had received 200 non-emergency and 911 calls related to COVID-19 and the new order since Tuesday. "Any call to 911 that is not an emergency can take precious seconds away from a person trying to get through on 911 for a true emergency, where seconds may count for them," police said in an emailed statement.
Norway has stressed that there was no established link between the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the deaths of elderly people who had been vaccinated.View on euronews
Ontario reported its lowest COVID-19 case count since Jan. 1, with 2,578 new cases confirmed on Monday, but with only 40,300 tests completed.
WINGHAM – North Huron Food Share reported a 77 per cent increase in the need for emergency food boxes last month, compared to last year. Joyce Johnston, a board member for the agency, told Midwestern Newspapers that overall, the numbers are up 23 per cent, including more seniors and new residents. Approximately 87 new families were added to the number of clients they provide for, 2020 seeing 211 families compared to the 140 families assisted in 2019. Board member, Roxane Nicholson, said 50 families utilized the food share program when they opened their doors for the first time in 2021, up from 30 – 35 families reported in previous years. The board members want to acknowledge the community’s overwhelming support and the generosity of their landlord, Doug Kuyvenhoven, plus the Huron County Food Bank Distribution Centre, who are crucial for their ability to fulfill the increased needs of the community. The increasing necessity for assistance prompted Kuyvenhoven to expand the current facility, as reported by the Wingham Advance Times in Nov. 2020. The new space is now open, the extra 300 square feet help to ease the congestion. “Between the increased volume, the addition of deliveries, and our attempts to follow COVID-19 protocols, the new space will take the pressure off the congested space we were working in,” Kuyvenhoven said, adding “the new number system of calling customers in one at a time ensures that customers and volunteers are able to maintain proper physical distancing.” The food share program receives fresh food every Monday from the Huron County Food Bank Distribution Centre, and thanks to the new space and the recently purchased walk-in freezer, they can store, package and deliver more fresh produce along with other goods. They also share the donated items with the local Salvation Army who runs their own food distribution agency. The current needs include a request for cash gifts to fill the gap left after receiving donations. Volunteers can use the cash to purchase items at a reduced price at local grocery stores. Foodbank Canada said on their website that “providing food to those in need can be difficult at the best of times. With COVID-19, that task just got harder. Yet food banks continue to be leaders in their communities to provide food to those who live with food insecurity. “Food Banks Canada is in regular contact with the network of food banks across Canada, and already there are signs of COVID-19’s devastating impact on the food bank system: Food banks are already seeing drastic declines in the number of volunteers that can support their work in the days/weeks ahead. Food banks are concerned about the amount of stock they have access to, as a dwindling workforce means fewer pickups. Most food banks are worried about how to support themselves through this crisis and beyond financially. While the public prepares for possible impacts of COVID-19, food bank users cannot afford the same measure, leaving them more vulnerable. Food banks are adapting to these rapidly changing circumstances, but it is clear that help is needed.” To donate cash or food or apply for a hamper, contact the North Huron Food Share program at 519-357-2277 ext. 4, or visit them on their website at nhfoodshare.ca. Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Capitol complex temporarily locked down Monday during a rehearsal for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration after a fire in a homeless encampment about a mile away sent a plume of smoke into the air and caused security concerns. But law enforcement officials said there was no threat to the public and the fire was not believed to be a threat to the inauguration. The evacuation of some participants and the lockdown were ordered by the acting chief of Capitol Police in an abundance of caution, officials said. District of Columbia firefighters responded and put out the fire. Biden was not participating in the rehearsal. A riot Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters has prompted anxiety and massive security concerns about the inauguration on Wednesday. Secret Service increased security in and around the Capitol a week early in preparation, and the city centre is essentially on lockdown with streets blocked, high fencing installed and tens of thousands of National Guard and other law enforcement officers stationed around the area. Participants were ushered from the West Front of the Capitol. Those who had gathered for a walk-through, including a military band, were directed to head indoors and moved in the direction of a secure location inside the Capitol complex. People involved in the rehearsal said security officials yelled “this is not a drill.” The U.S. Secret Service, which is in charge of security for the inauguration, said there was no threat to the public. Andrew Taylor, Colleen Long And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
The Confederation Trail has been turned over to the P.E.I. Snowmobile Association for the winter after a recent snowfall on Jan. 3. The trails are reserved for the snowmobile association in the winter, and the volunteerled group manages and maintains the snow surface for its members. Association president Dale Hickox is reminding walkers to stay off the trails while they are being maintained for snowmobile traffic. “It’s for your own safety,” he said. In recent years, there have been a number of close calls between snowmobiles and a person or an off-leash dog on the trail. The lease agreement between the province and the association stipulates that, while the association is in charge, the Confederation Trail is for snowmobiles only. The dates for the snowmobilers used to be set from Dec. 1 to March 31, but that changed in 2016. Now the lease comes into effect when there is enough snow for the association to groom the trails. Hickox understands people who use the Confederation Trail in the summer would naturally want to be on it in the winter as well. “I get that,” he said. “I want the walkers on it if we’re not there.” In seasons like this one with its late snow, summer rules remain in effect until the tip-to-tip network is snow-covered and ready for the “sleds” as enthusiasts call their snowmobiles. Now that there is enough snow to have association members out and about, Hickox reminds everyone that even though the hard-packed snow is a tempting way to explore winter, it’s not the same trail as in summertime. The speed limit in rural areas is 80 km/hr, and the snowmobiles “don’t stop in a second,” he said, adding most of the machines are a lot quieter than they used to be and can catch people unaware. “In the summer, you don’t have to worry, it’s only a bicycle coming behind you. But in the wintertime, it’s a motorized vehicle that’s coming and it’s going a lot faster than a bicycle,” he said. At the end of last season, Hickox and the association were in discussion with the province about putting up signs at road crossings to help educate trail users of the winter rules. It didn’t happen this year, but Hickox hopes if the association gets the signs in time for next year, the provincial workers could put them up when they open the gates at each road crossing in advance of the snowmobile season. Destinie Graham, a new P.E.I. resident, agreed signs would help. “I moved from out of province, so I had no idea about the snowmobile association having exclusive rights to the trail until it was mentioned by a community member. Signage would help to inform people who may not be on social media,” she said. For now, Hickox said the association is planning a radio campaign to help educate people about safety on the Confederation Trail in winter. Alison Jenkins, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Journal-Pioneer
« Le but est de s’amuser, de sortir des champs battus pour vendre mes semences et de jouer dans le visuel. » La propriétaire de la ferme Le Noyau, Teprine Baldo, a trouvé une façon plus qu’originale de vendre une partie de ses semences en créant la ligne Zombie Seedz il y a deux ans. Le message est encore plus à propos depuis bientôt un an. Mme Baldo cherchait une façon de faire éclater sa créativité à travers sa passion pour la culture maraîchère. « J’adore les semences Le Noyau, mais c’est très “famille bio sur une ferme”. Je trouve qu’il n’y avait pas assez d’art. Je voulais m’amuser dans la présentation et la promotion des semences. » Comme elle adore les films mettant en scène les zombies et le concept d’autosuffisance qui est mis de l’avant pour survivre, encouragée par une amie, elle s’est lancé dans cette aventure de Zombie Seedz. La semencière de Stanbridge East a interpelé des femmes artistes qu’elle connaissait pour leur demander de dessiner ce qui se retrouverait sur les sachets. « Ça me permet de promouvoir mes semences dans des endroits plus atypiques, comme dans les microbrasseries, chez des barbiers, dans des places de gamers, des magasins de disques, des tatoueurs, énumère-t-elle. Comme c’est une ligne plus marginale, je peux essayer d’attirer des ados et surtout de jeunes hommes, que je vois très peu dans ma clientèle. » Une vie pour les croisements En plus d’attirer une nouvelle clientèle, elle profite de cette ligne pour aborder l’hybridation des semences. Avec Le Noyau, elle doit fournir des semences pures puisque c’est la demande qu’elle reçoit. Avec Zombie Seedz, elle peut vendre les semences qui résultent d’un croisement de deux légumes d’une même famille. Les clients en sont bien avisés. Par exemple, deux types de courges peuvent se mélanger parce qu’elles sont plantées trop près les unes des autres. Cette hybridation peut être proposée dans cette ligne totalement à part. Bien sûr, le nouveau légume doit avoir bon goût pour qu’elle fasse la vente de ces semences. « Ce n’est pas évident de faire de l’argent en agriculture et ça l’est encore moins quand on est semencière. » La création de Zombie Seedz permet de diminuer les pertes. Mme Baldo a par ailleurs créé, à la demande de plusieurs clients, un calendrier de plantation. Illustré par les mêmes artistes que pour les sachets Zombie Seedz, ce calendrier lui permet non seulement d’aider la clientèle à se démêler dans les dates de plantation selon le type de fruit ou de légume, mais aussi d’ajouter un revenu pour payer les factures. Elle n’exclut pas d’ajouter d’autres marchandises avec cette thématique. Vers une pénurie de semences Après la fabrication de pain et l’entreposage de rouleaux de papier de toilette, le mouvement pour l’autosuffisance se poursuit au Québec depuis la mi-mars 2020. Ce mouvement se reflète dans la vente de semences. Déjà, l’an dernier, il était difficile de refaire ses stocks de sachets. Cette année, le phénomène risque de se répéter et de s’accroître. Si les jardiniers planifient généralement leur potager estival en février ou en mars, il faut maintenant s’y prendre plus d’avance encore. « Je n’ai pas arrêté de travailler depuis mars 2020, confie Teprine Baldo, qui est également suppléante dans des écoles anglophones. Je n’ai jamais eu autant de commandes. J’en ai depuis novembre et, habituellement, ça commence à la fin janvier. Il a fallu que je ferme mon site temporairement parce que ça allait trop vite et que mes semences n’étaient pas prêtes. » Le Noyau et Zombie Seedz composent une petite ferme semencière, ce qui fait que le volume de semences produit n’est pas encore aussi grand que d’autres. Dans le cas du Noyau, elle n’existe que depuis cinq ans. Les inventaires pourraient être tous écoulés dans une dizaine de semaines à peine. « Ce concept de pénurie de semences, ça touche les histoires de zombies et de la fin du monde. Depuis la pandémie, on se demande tous si on est prêt. Les gens vivent l’anxiété. Je pense qu’ils ont eu un éveil par rapport à l’approvisionnement de leur nourriture, le besoin d’acheter local. »Cynthia Laflamme, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix de l'Est
It was easy as one, two, three. On Thursday, the same day Ontario entered a province-wide stay-at-home order, leaving the country couldn’t have been easier. Just pick up the phone or log into the Air Canada website. Find a sunny destination outside the country. And voila, a flight from Pearson International Airport to Miami could be booked without a hitch. That’s exactly what The Pointer attempted Thursday despite Ontario’s local travel restrictions in place until at least February 11. How could that be? Why are residents allowed to travel to Florida, or many other overseas destinations, but they can’t visit their own family just a few blocks away? Most would assume, with a pandemic raging and daily case counts continually reaching new highs, that driving to the airport during a province-wide stay-home order would be hard and barriers in place would make booking travel difficult. This is not the case. Airports, like stores, have increased their COVID-19 protocols, but have not put steps in place to discourage travel. Much of the travel industry including airlines like Air Canada is still operating as if the pandemic is under control, requiring mask wearing, testing and quarantining but encouraging residents to still go on vacation. Questions about symptoms, plenty of hand sanitizer and the odd thermometer have been put into the mix, yet Ontario airports, including Pearson in Mississauga, aren’t subject to anything you wouldn’t see at the grocery store. On Wednesday evening, when the Province finally unveiled the details of its stay-at-home order, this was made clear. Nestled among the list of essential reasons to leave the house — exercise, groceries and medical trips — was another option: travel to an airport. During the lockdown it is not the place of police or bylaw officers in Ontario to ask where exactly someone’s eventual destination from an airport will be. As a result, a trip from the quiet streets of Peel, to the airport then into the sky and, eventually, onto a beach, remains firmly within the rules. “There are currently no legal barriers to getting on a plane to the U.S. from Pearson, nor have there been since the start of the pandemic,” Ambarish Chandra, associate professor of economic analysis and policy at the University of Toronto, who lists COVID-19 border closures in Canada among his areas of expertise, told The Pointer. “It's not clear that the Province has the power to curtail Canadians' right to foreign travel without suspending their Charter rights.” Over the holiday season, plenty of politicians took advantage of the loophole. Kamal Khera (Liberal MP Brampton West) and Rod Phillips, the former PC finance minister, were among those caught out and publicly criticized. One of the questions raised when politicians across the country were caught flying abroad during the holiday season was the issue of entitlement. While those who can afford such luxuries are still able to get on a plane, many suffering financially because of the pandemic or even before, can't even plan a local trip because of the stay-home order. It creates a two-tier reality, critics have said, and many wealthier Canadians have simply paid to avoid the recommendations while putting others at risk. While the trips demonstrated poor decision making and a selfish attitude toward the rules, the same holidays can still be booked by everyday Ontarians. Public health agencies are begging people not to, but the rules do not actually prohibit it. Booking a flight on the Air Canada website, for example, you would be hard pressed to find evidence of the pandemic that has claimed more than 5,400 lives in Ontario alone. A small, green bar across the top of the website offers answers to the question, “Where can I travel right now?” but otherwise things look the same. On Thursday, The Pointer searched for flights from Toronto Pearson Airport to Miami on Friday, January 22 through Air Canada to understand the process. In the various stages of booking the flight, reminders about flexible tickets and changes to the in-flight meal system were the only hints of the public health crisis playing out across the world. Travel to the United States from January 26 will require a negative COVID-19 test within the past 72 hours, while the same rules apply to those travelling or returning to Canada, along with a mandatory 14 day quarantine. These rules do not stop travel or prescribe essential reasons, but do add an additional step to the process. “Other than our regular requirements (i.e. travel documents in order) we do not have any restrictions,” Peter Fitzpatrick, a spokesperson for Air Canada told The Pointer, referencing the fact federal or provincial governments may have a different response. They didn’t. “The Province does not have the legal authority to prohibit international travel,” Ivana Yelich, director of media relations for Premier Doug Ford, told The Pointer. Yelich referenced numerous comments by Ford supporting increased border restrictions for those entering Canada. “International travel is solely the responsibility of the federal government.” “The Premier’s message is simple, stay home,” she added, when asked if Ford supported additional restrictions on outgoing travel. “We are asking Ontarians to avoid all non-essential travel at this time. Any restrictions on outgoing or incoming travel is the responsibility of the federal government.” The federal government did not return a request for comment in time for publication. The Pointer also phoned Air Canada’s booking call centre to specifically ask if there were any barriers or advisories against travelling out of Peel Region, or anywhere else in Ontario, to sit on a beach in Miami. The airline’s booking line, which also handles other customer support, was clogged, with a wait time of 56 minutes on Thursday afternoon, hours after the stay-at-home order came into effect. Eventually, an agent explained the U.S. and Canadian rules around receiving a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of flying, but said that was “basically the only requirement”. There was no advice offered against travelling or about the dangers of spreading COVID-19 through discretionary trips. “I'd be surprised if the federal government were to institute any ban on foreign travel either.” Chandra said. “The best they can do is discourage foreign travel which is already happening, both from explicit recommendations and from the need to quarantine for two weeks upon return.” In short, there is nothing to stop international travel by Canadians as COVID-19 fatigue and the dragging winter test people’s patience. Like so many of the COVID-19 protocols governing residents in Peel, it is about appealing to people’s better nature and commitment to flattening the curve. Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should. Public health and elected officials are asking people to stay home and limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. “With the Provincial Stay at Home Order in effect, it is crucial that residents not leave their homes for anything other than the essentials, like groceries, medical appointments or exercise,” Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel’s medical officer of health, told The Pointer. “This means cancelling or postponing all non-essential activities or going virtual where possible. I know this is frustrating and it’s been a long year and we have all sacrificed a lot. With the arrival of [the] vaccine in Peel, let’s keep pushing and beat COVID-19 together.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 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. Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer