With meteorologist Jaclyn Whittal
With meteorologist Jaclyn Whittal
Contrairement à d’autres secteurs de l’économie, l’industrie du bois tire bien son épingle du jeu en cette ère de pandémie, si ce n’est de la complexité introduite dans la gestion du travail. Selon le directeur général du développement corporatif chez Chantiers Chibougamau, Frédéric Verreault, on a construit des maisons en Amérique du Nord en 2020 à peu près autant qu’en 2019. Pour ce qui est du secteur des pâtes et papiers, M. Verreault souligne que l’usine de Lebel-sur-Quévillon produit de la pâte kraft essentielle à des produits d’emballage alimentaire, à des papiers tissus pour les masqueset jusqu’au papier de toilette. Le président de Barrette-Chapais, Benoît Barrette, abonde dans le même sens. « Les gens investissent dans leur demeure parce qu’ils sont obligés de passer du temps chez eux. Le bois s’inscrit dans les investissements qu’ils font. À notre usine, nous faisons de la clôture, des fermes de toit et des solives de plancher. Ce sonttous des produits très en demande. » Pas de mises à pied « Dans le secteur du bois d’œuvre, les commandes ont augmenté », observe M. Barrette. Notammentpour les sommiers de lit, pour lesquels sa compagnie fabrique des composantes. Plusieurs usines ont fermé au début de la COVID,mais ensuite les commandes sont reparties à la hausse. En définitive, le nombre d’employés reste sensiblement la même chez ces joueurs majeurs de l’industrie, hormis au bureau de Montréal de Chantiers Chibougamau, responsable notamment du développement technique des produits et de l’interface avec le marché. Ce bureau est fermé depuis la mi-mars même si de nouveaux employésont été engagés il y a deux mois. Chez Barrette, on cherche même à embaucher trois employés, entre autres pour les opérations de chariot-élévateur. « On a diminué des heures de production à différents temps de la pandémie, dit Benoît Barrette, mais on a été en mesure de tenir le cap. » Combler le retard Une des grandes difficultés introduites par la pandémie est que certains fabricants de matériaux de la chained’approvisionnement ont suspendu leurs activités pendant parfois jusqu’àsix semaines. Des compagnies comme Barrette Chapais et Chantiers Chibougamau ont donc eu moins de temps pour fabriquer et livrer leurs matériaux de construction. « Il y a un chaos sur plusieurs fronts [...], de dire Frédéric Verreault. Nous sommes sous pression pour livrer au marché. On nepeut pas lever le pied, mais on s’adapte. » À cet arrêt temporaire de fabrication s’ajoutentla raréfaction de certains matériaux et l’augmentation de leur prix, par exemple pour les panneaux de particules OSB.« On doit tous faire preuve de compréhension, de résilience et d’adaptabilité dans les circonstances, analyse M. Verreault. À Chibougamau et Landrienne, nous répondons à des besoins très concrets. Les matériaux qu’on fabrique aujourd’hui vont servir à construire des maisons dans quelques semaines [...] pour des gens qui doivent libérer leur appartement ou leur maison à une date déjà convenue. Si on ne livre pas, plein de gens vont se ramasser à la rue […]. » Selon M. Verreault, tout indique que 2021-2022 sera très occupé pour récupérer les constructions qui ont pu être reportées. Vigilance Alors que la scierie Résolu de Girardville a dû temporairement cesser ses activités en raison d’une éclosion de COVID, chez Chantiers Chibougamau et Barrette Chapais, on touche… du bois. Et on reste vigilants. « Ça [la pandémie] a rajouté des complexités opérationnelles, explique Benoît Barrette, avec les masques, la distanciation. Il a fallu mettre en place différences structures dans nos horaires de travail, […] changer des habitudes dansle cadre de nos interactions. Il y a eu beaucoup de choses mises en place,mais les gens se sont bien adaptés et ça va très bien opérationnellement. […] Nous sommes privilégiés d’être dans un secteur d’activitésoù on a pu continuer à travailler. » Même constat chez Chantiers Chibougamau où, précise Frédéric Verreault, « les humains demeurent fondamentaux. Depuis mars, la firme a travaillé en étroite collaboration avec la santé publique régionale, qui l’a aidée à combiner sa capacité de production et la sécurité des employés. » « Quand j’ai parlé au médecin-chef [...],le 12 mars, je nepouvais pas penser qu’il serait à ce point critique et essentiel au maintien sécuritaire de nos activités », concède le directeur. «Le livre d’instructions n’existait pas. Avec l’automne, nous sommes passésd’un niveau élevé à extrême dans les mesures obligatoires. […] Nous multiplions les actions. » Des escouades de contrôle Depuis l’automne, l’entreprise a instauré des escouades de contrôle dans ses usines et des mesures disciplinaires sanctionnent les employés et sous-traitants qui ne respectent pas lesrèglements. « Les modes d’activités totalement transformés et adaptés, complexifiés sur tous les fronts, analyse Frédéric Verreault, mais on fonctionne à un niveau qui demeure élevé. On a le privilège de maintenir nos activités, mais ça vient avec des responsabilités qu’il faut accepter. »Denis Lord, Initiative de journalisme local, La Sentinelle
Two phone apps are aiming to spark Cree and Dene language revitalization in Meadow Lake Tribal Council (MLTC) First Nations. Slated for release by the end of January, the MLTC initiative will be targeted for residents of Clearwater River Dene Nation (CRDN) and Canoe Lake Cree First Nation. More versions of the app will be developed for local language variants in MLTC's remaining communities by June, a Friday news release said. "Something like this was needed in our communities," said Abby Janvier, who led the Dene project with residents of CRDN and La Loche. The app teaches its users basic vocabulary that's tailored to their communities, Janvier said. Her community's app features words and phrases under 22 categories that include animals, clothing and common phrases. A typical entry also includes a photo, an English version of the word or phrase and an audio pronunciation in Cree or Dene. Janvier says the recorded component helps to communicate unique sounds that aren't shared with English. "Because our language is taught orally traditionally ... it's hard to teach it just with the written piece of it," she said. The applications use LifeSpark App Builder — a tool that developer Kevin Waddell says has its origins in Cumberland House in the early 2000s. Waddell was working as a computer teacher at the time and noticed many students couldn't speak their language. "That bothered me. I wanted to use my skills to help them learn their language again," he said. Waddell eventually developed the technology as a phone app, allowing other communities to use the tool for their own language needs. It's primarily geared toward Indigenous peoples, he said. Waddell's work has received interest from other groups in Africa and Australia looking to revitalize their languages. Roughly two decades since he began, Waddell said he's pleased to see his work reach students like the ones he worked with in Cumberland House. There are plans for local versions of the app in English River First Nation, Buffalo River Dene Nation, Birch Narrows Dene Nation, Flying Dust First Nation, Waterhen Lake First Nation, Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation and Ministikwan Lake Cree Nation. That's encouraging for Gwen Cubbon, who oversaw the Cree project. She's excited the community's unique blend of Michif, Cree, French and English is represented in the app and that other communities will have the same opportunity. "It's a sense of pride that it's our own," Cubbon said. Nick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix
President Donald Trump never hid how he felt. For more than four years, Trump, a Republican, cultivated a political base by sharing his thoughts and emotions - pride, happiness, indignation, rage - on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis, creating an omnipresence of sorts that completely dominated the news cycle. Like no U.S. president has done before, he made himself the center of attention, the star of a literal reality show that was his administration, always with an eye for the camera, a flair for the dramatic, an instinct for the outrageous.
BRUSSELS — The European Union’s executive arm on Monday defended a decision to send a team of senior officials to Lisbon for a meeting with Portuguese government ministers, after two ministers tested positive for COVID-19 and a number of top officials went into isolation. Eight members of the European Commission paid a one-day visit to Lisbon Friday — as Portugal started a month-long lockdown — for meetings early in the country's six-month term as EU president nation, which began on Jan. 1. Portugal’s finance and labour ministers later tested positive for the virus, while three other ministers have gone into isolation after coming into contact with people who tested positive. Two EU commission vice-presidents and a commissioner are in quarantine. Asked why it was so important for the visit to go ahead, commission spokesman Eric Mamer said the decision to meet face to face rather than via videoconference — like most EU meetings over the past year — was “not taken lightly.” “It is the launch of an extremely important presidency. There are many, many files which need to be carried forward by the Portuguese presidency, and it was felt important to be able to hold in-person discussions on these different political files,” Mamer said. Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa said Wednesday that the pandemic is “at its most dangerous point” in the country and that the new lockdown would last at least a month. Staying at home is mandatory, including for work, and fines for not complying with rules such as to wear masks oiutdoors have doubled. Schools remain open, along with companies providing essential services. Mamer said the commission officials in quarantine would respect Belgium’s coronavirus rules and take a test on the seventh day after their return from Lisbon. In August, the EU’s chief trade negotiator, Commissioner Phil Hogan, had to resign after he admitted flaunting some measures during a summer stay in his native Ireland. ___ Follow AP coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press
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.
HURON-PERTH – The community spread of COVID-19 continues despite the lockdown measures being implemented across Ontario. During the Huron-Perth Public Health media briefing on Jan. 11, Dr. Miriam Klassen, Huron-Perth medical officer of health, announced that the cumulative total of confirmed COVID-19 across the region has reached 888 since the beginning of the pandemic, with 41 new cases added over the weekend. Currently, there are 106 active cases, five people are in hospital due to COVID-19 and the number of related deaths has reached 25. “There are many outbreaks in our long-term care and retirement homes,” she said. At Caressant Care in Listowel 10 residents and one staff have tested positive; at Livingstone Manor in Listowel two residents and two staff have tested positive; at Braemar Nursing Home in North Huron two staff have tested positive; at Exeter Villa in South Huron 37 residents and nine staff in the long-term care area have tested positive; at Greenwood Court in Stratford one staff member has tested positive; at Knollcrest Lodge in Milverton two staff members have tested positive; at Seaforth Manor in Huron East one staff member has tested positive; and at Wildwood Care Centre in St. Marys one staff member has tested positive. Although there has not been any COVID-19 vaccines delivered to Huron-Perth yet, Klassen announced that a limited shipment would be arriving soon, possibly within a week. “In keeping with phase one of the vaccination distribution plan, these vaccinations are earmarked for residents and staff of long-term care homes,” she said. “So we’re very excited about that.” Over the next month, Klassen said she estimates there should be almost 3,000 doses delivered which should allow for vaccination of most of the long-term care home residents, staff and associated caregivers in the region. The next priority populations will be retirement home residents. “Right now we have five people in hospital due to COVID, so certainly locally it’s not that our hospital capacity is being exceeded by the number of COVID patients but I think the bigger picture here is that across the province more and more patients are being admitted to hospital ICUs and there is a limited capacity,” she said. “We are part of a bigger system and we certainly would be expected to take ICU patients if called upon,” said Andrew Williams, president & chief executive officer of Huron-Perth Healthcare Alliance. “There is a provincial critical care network that is looking at all the ICU cases currently and they are looking at where they may need to move (patients) from a hot zone, basically defined as the ICUs there are full, so we fully expect that to happen over the coming weeks… it’s an ongoing conversation. We have daily meetings with all the hospitals across this region talking about patient flow and capacities… in the context of COVID there are no individual hospitals, we are very much part of a system.” Klassen mentioned that one of her frustrations is people focusing on where new cases are being announced. “They reflect transmission that happened two weeks earlier,” she said. “So if you only base your precautions on where you are seeing the cases being identified you are two weeks late so we all have to… treat everybody in every place as a place of possible transmission… It’s everywhere now.” Klassen said it’s tough to deal with limiting travel because essential workers need to get to their jobs and people need essential services, food and pharmacies. “The best way to do this would be to do it voluntarily but if that isn’t successful I think that’s when governments have to step in and take… these lockdown measures to ensure the number of interactions is decreasing so we can get the pandemic under control,” she said. Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner
City council will discuss Monday extending a program that encourages businesses to expand or set up new operations in three areas of Calgary. By cutting red tape and reducing cost, the city hopes businesses can get moving with their plans quicker. The proposal would see more exemptions from development permits, allowing immediate applications for building permits and doing away with some permit fees. The pilot project would apply to the International Avenue business improvement area in Forest Lawn, the Montgomery business improvement area as well as two commercial streets in Sunalta. While the program would result in benefits for businesses, the city would also need fewer resources for permit processing. That's not a significant benefit as those services are paid for by permit fees. Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he would have some questions about the program but is generally in favour. "We're taking a pilot project that we've used downtown to cut some red tape and encourage investment and development and expanding that to different parts of the city," said Nenshi. "I'm very much in favour of that as a concept." Downtown tried it first A similar project called the City Centre Enterprise Area was rolled out in 2017 as a way to make it easier for businesses to expand or try different concepts in many empty storefront spaces downtown. In 2019, council voted to extend that project until July 2021. The city acknowledges that there is greater commercial interest in the core, more employment uses and in normal times, more people in the vicinity than the three areas now being looked at for the program. However, the city says choosing the three additional areas for a small pilot project allows it to monitor change of use or renovation exemptions closely. Tough times Administration says making it easier for businesses to start up or expand their operations is critical in Calgary's pandemic-ravaged economy. The executive director of the Montgomery on the Bow business improvement area, Marion Hayes, said the city approached her organization to see if there would be interest. She said they jumped at the opportunity as businesses need ways to quickly adapt to the current environment. "If they can bring change to their business without going through a lot of red tape and also a lot of additional cost, it's a great benefit to them," said Hayes. If council approves the proposal, the pilot project in the three areas will be tried for a year and then be reviewed.
Calling an emergency responder. Accessing an affordable housing unit. Children learning inside school buildings, not portables. Patients receiving care in a hospital room, not a hallway. The services delivered in cities are the heartbeat of safe and comfortable communities, ones that attract residents, jobs, and investment opportunities for municipal and regional development. Municipalities own 60 percent of Canada’s infrastructure, according to StatsCan, and bear the corresponding duty to maintain its state of good repair with limited resources. Peel’s cities rely on funding from higher levels of government to provide key services to residents, including local children’s aid societies, healthcare, schools, and social services. A tacit feature of funding to Peel is – no matter the party colours at Queen’s Park or Parliament Hill – the hyper-growth region is not getting its “fair share” of public dollars, despite the equal contribution of local income taxpayers. During the pandemic, the latest examples from Ottawa and Queen’s Park include the federal government’s initial decision to give Toronto $14 million for COVID-19 isolation centres and none to Peel, before local efforts to point out the higher infection rates in the region forced the feds to allocate $6.5 million to Peel. Queen’s Park, meanwhile, despite socio-economic conditions that drove higher case counts in Peel, gave Toronto 17 provincial testing centres, but funded only 4 in Peel, which advocates said was one of the reasons the viral spread was not properly contained in the hard hit region. “What the pandemic has done is put more of a spotlight on how we’re chronically underfunded,” said Regional Councillor Martin Medeiros, of Brampton. “The leader of any political party needs the 905 to win a majority, and we’ve delivered…But when it comes to getting love, we don’t get the love. Why is that?” Local leaders have struggled to glean an answer to this for more than three decades. But what was once a booming battle cry to put pressure on upper levels of government – most recently via a campaign called the Peel Fair Share Task Force – has been reduced like a diminuendo to a restless hum. Nine months shy of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in June 2019, Brampton councillors began making some noise through demands for increased funding to address its healthcare emergency. They highlighted the dangerous lack of hospital beds in the city, which has less than half the per capita number of Ontario overall. The city receives $1,000 less in funding for healthcare, per person, about half the provincial average. These inequities have been magnified during the pandemic. The region has had the highest infection rates in the province, and residents were put at increased risk because of the chronic failure of healthcare funding, which has left local hospitals particularly vulnerable to capacity issues. Prior to the pandemic, the three full-service hospitals in Mississauga and Brampton were already among the worst in Ontario for performance, with average wait times to be admitted between two-and-a-half and three times higher than the provincial target of 8 hours. As part of its 2020 budget asks, the City launched a “Fair Deal for Brampton” campaign for immediate funding to expand Peel Memorial hospital’s urgent care capabilities, fund the second phase of its build, and create a third healthcare facility. A city of about 650,000 residents, Brampton currently has only one full-service hospital, Brampton Civic, operated by the William Osler Health System. More than one-third of Brampton’s population has at least one chronic condition, and the City says it is projected to have the highest rate of dementia between 2015 and 2025. According to a 2014 study by researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in collaboration with Peel Public Health, the region was headed for a rate of one in six people having diabetes by 2025, largely due to the significant South Asian-Canadian population, which suffers much higher rates of the disease than the general population. At the time, it was one in ten, as reported by Peel’s former medical officer of health in 2018. According to the City’s pre-pandemic data, the emergency department at Brampton Civic was equipped for 90,000 visits a year, but received about 130,000, while Peel Memorial is funded for 10,000 visits a year and received 75,000. Patient-loads have skyrocketed over the course of the pandemic. As of January 15, Osler’s system was treating 109 COVID-19 patients, where about nine weeks ago, patient transfers were triggered around the time when it was treating just 64 people. In October, Premier Doug Ford announced funding to support the addition of 766 beds for 32 hospitals in the province, including 46 at Etobicoke General Hospital, which is also in the Osler system, and 41 beds in Brampton, which has about 60 percent more residents than Etobicoke. The smaller community was also given two testing facilities through Osler during the first half of the pandemic, among the total of 17 in Toronto, while Brampton only had one. The apparent differential treatment between funding the two hospitals under Osler’s management is a snapshot of the issues facing Brampton as it seeks its fair share from the province, Councillor Medeiros said. “They gave [funding] to Etobicoke without any ties. Notwithstanding, it’s the Premier’s riding,” Medeiros said. “Yet, when the City of Brampton is looking for more investment in healthcare, and we're looking to complete the second phase of Peel Memorial Hospital, they say that there’s provincial legislation requirements that we give 20 to 30 percent as a contribution.” A lack of commensurate allocation by the Province and federal governments has also affected Peel’s $1-billion Housing Master Plan, which has not yet been fully funded. The plan seeks to create 280 emergency shelter beds and another 5,300 affordable housing units by 2034. As previously reported by The Pointer, the federal government’s commitment of $276.5 million is on top of the Region’s $333.5 million, which has been criticized by Peel social services staff as being “significantly and disproportionately high.” Regional Councillor Annette Groves, of Caledon, said that local taxes and development charges are not sufficient to support the wealth of services offered by Peel. “I don't think it has anything to do with the current government. I think that it’s been such a long, outstanding battle,” Groves told The Pointer. “The Province has given us some funding to help with the pandemic, and so has the federal government, but again, it’s still not enough because we’re so far behind in terms of, for example, affordable housing.” Both Queen’s Park and Ottawa are guilty of a form of hypocrisy. The federal government sets immigration targets for the whole country, 401,000 for 2021 and growing to 421,000 in 2023. But it does not establish a funding formula for those municipalities that willingly accommodate newcomers. Brampton, over the past two decades, has welcomed more immigrants per capita than any other large city in Canada, but the federal government does little to provide adequate services and infrastructure for the hyper-growth community that openly supports the country’s immigration policies through its growth planning. Queen’s Park, meanwhile, relies desperately on Peel to accommodate the province’s largest share of population growth, but continues to ignore the funding needs it creates through provincial growth legislation, known as the Places To Grow Act. While Mississauga and Brampton rapidly expand, schools, for example, are not brought on line fast enough by the Province, forcing the use of portables, which have become a common feature in Peel’s education landscape. GO services are also glaringly under-funded, as more and more commuters move into the region without proper transportation infrastructure. The list of inadequate funding commitments for Peel grows every year. On top of education and healthcare, affordable housing, transportation, public health, settlement support, legal aid, children’s aid and almost every other funding area are all under-funded in Peel. For example, despite skyrocketing demand, Mississauga’s legal aid clinic receives far less funding per capita than Toronto. In 2019 the co-executive director of the city’s legal aid clinic, Douglas Kwan, said it receives the second lowest funding per capita of all legal aid clinics in Ontario: the lowest – Brampton. Led by Mississauga Councillor Carolyn Parrish, Peel revived efforts in its Fair Share for Peel coalition about four years ago to address its municipalities receiving less than half of the per capita rate of others in Ontario. In the fall of 2017, the Region organized a $90,000 conference with neighbouring municipalities, called the Summit 4 Fair Funding, to encourage a dialogue surrounding funding needs ahead of the 2018 provincial election. According to the Brampton Guardian, the summit was later cancelled after staff were not able to obtain transparent formulas as to how funding transfers were calculated from the provincial and federal governments. The effort followed years of pressure, culminating in an earlier effort in 2011 to assess underfunding and service delivery obstacles including those for seniors, people with disabilities, and victims of violence and abuse. As Peel braces for what February brings during the pandemic, the Region’s Governance Committee continues to advocate for government dollars. After almost a year of neglect, which contributed to Peel’s designation as a COVID-19 hot spot, and its placement in the current lockdown on November 23, the Ontario Ministry of Health recently agreed to a one-time funding disbursement of $14-million to Peel Public Health, to “support extraordinary costs associated with monitoring, detecting, and containing COVID-19 in the province.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
A Burk’s Falls man is hoping to help those who may be feeling isolated during the second provincial lockdown by bringing back good old-fashioned letter writing. Ryan Baptiste, 32, began the project shortly after the success of the letters to Santa Claus initiative he began before the holidays upon hearing the whisperings of another impending lockdown due to rising COVID-19 numbers. “We can see the emotional effects that lockdown can have on individuals,” said Baptiste, who graduated as an addictions and mental health counsellor in 2011. “We started this as a means to keep people connected and hopefully let them know that there are people out there that care about their well-being.” For the pen pals project, people can drop off a letter and Baptiste — along with two other volunteers, Nicole Byng who lives in Toronto, and Debbie Hope who lives in Almaguin — will reply. While counselling isn’t a full-time job for Baptiste, he said he cares deeply, and the effects of COVID-19 can be felt heavily across the profession. “More intake, referrals and virtual sessions with those who are struggling with the isolation is creating larger backlogs,” he said, adding that lockdowns, isolation and social distancing exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions or addictions. After seeing the success of Baptiste’s Santa mailbox, Penny Brandt, who runs a centre for healing arts at 195 Ontario St. in Burk’s Falls, reached out to him to offer him a spot in front of her office. Brandt shares office space with Yolande’s Hair Salon. “I loved what I saw Ryan do at Christmastime with the letters to Santa, and that really hits the heartstrings because of the children and how important it is,” said Brandt. “He has a councillor background, (but) he’s also understanding that there are some awfully lonely people out there that have nobody and sometimes people want to remain anonymous as well.” “So, when I saw that he was looking for a spot to put the mailbox on the main street it was like hey, and I checked with Yolande and she was fine with it, and I thought, this can only help,” she said, mentioning that everyone is suffering mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially in some way due to COVID-19. “The other thing, for me, is remembering that empathy is a starting point for actually creating a community and taking action like Ryan has just done,” Brandt said. “It is the start of change.” The COVID-19 pen pals mailbox can be found at 195 Ontario St. in front of I Am Centre for Healing Arts and Yolande’s Hair Salon or for those who don’t want to venture outside, they can email email@example.com. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
A major Saint John employer is set to shut down this month, when Saputo Inc. wraps up milk processing at its north end plant, affecting 60 jobs. The former Baxter's Dairy plant opened in 1931 and was purchased by Saputo in 2001. Saputo offers products under a multitude of brands, including Baxter, Cracker Barrel and Scotsburn. Almost a year ago, the company announced its intention to close. John MacKenzie, a Saint John city councillor whose ward includes the plant, says the imminent closure will be difficult for the neighbourhood. "It's been around for 90 years," said MacKenzie. "A lot of people have gained employment through that facility. A lot of history … it's really heartbreaking, devastating, for families when a business closes its doors." Dairy farmers hurt too The closure will not only affect the employees at the plant but also local dairy farmers, who had milk processed at the plants. Paul Gaunce, chair of Dairy Farmers of New Brunswick, said the producers will now have to send milk to Nova Scotia or Quebec for processing at their own expense. Gaunce said there won't be any changes to the price of milk because of the changes, but he's still not happy to see the plant shuttered. "I'm very, you know, disappointed because you need processing to keep your industry supported," said Gaunce. "When we lose processing, it just hurts everybody." Saputo earnings fell When the closure was announced last year Saputo said the move was made in an effort to "right size" operations after net earnings for the company dropped by 42 per cent. The company said employees not offered relocation would be given severance packages. MacKenzie said he's confident laid-off workers will find work in the city. "I was looking online this week and I noticed that there were over 290 jobs available," said MacKenzie. "There's opportunities there." MacKenzie said he hasn't heard about any plans for the soon-to-be unoccupied plant, the property is prime for development. "If they sold the property it would make a great spot for some affordable housing with the school right next door and a park behind them and grocery stores within a block," said MacKenzie.
BLUEWATER DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD – The report presented by Andrew Low, financial services, to the Bluewater District School Board’s business committee Jan. 5 demonstrates “the board’s ability to be flexible in the face of uncertainty.” The report stated the budget was done in the summer, on a “business as usual” basis before school started. But business was far from usual, due to the pandemic. Impacts of COVID-19, as outlined in the report, included decreased enrolment for both elementary and secondary students. About 400 fewer than expected elementary students registered for in-person or remote school, and 80 fewer secondary students. This isn’t a local phenomenon, but has been felt province-wide. Many of the elementary students were in the younger (JK) age group, where school attendance isn’t mandatory. This resulted in reduced funding. The province has reduced the impact with stabilization funding. Personal protective equipment and an increased need for cleaning supplies had no financial impact – it’s supplied centrally at no cost to the board. The introduction of remote schools meant an increased need for technology, administrative support and temporary classroom teachers. Costs were offset through Priority and Partnership Funding (PPF), as were costs associated with enhanced protocol for school transportation, special education and increased custodial hours. The pandemic meant a decrease in community education and permit revenues, and an increase in costs due to higher absenteeism, partly offset by PPF funding. Revised estimates indicate a negative financial impact due to COVID-19 of about $10 million, offset by response funding of $8 million. Uncertainty continues about COVID-19 and potential funding gaps, which could require the board to draw on contingency reserves. This creates the need for “budgeting conservatively.” However, the board’s financial position remains strong for 2020-2021, according to the report, with a projected contribution to contingency reserves of approximately $3 million. As stated in the report, “The board’s focus to ensure student achievement and well-being remains our highest priority.” Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
The province is providing $1 million to a Peterborough company to help boost production capabilities of bottles of hand sanitizer and disinfectants to help in the fight against COVID-19. Mark Giunta has more.
For the last four years, the Dr. Hugh Twomey Health Care Centre in Botwood has been without 24-hour emergency services. Just prior to the 2019 provincial election, then-premier Dwight Ball pledged to bring those services back to the hospital in the fall of 2020 once a protective care unit was finished. According to Exploits MHA Pleaman Forsey, the time has come for the Liberal government to come through on its promises. “We are left with a commitment from the Liberal minister of health to review the service after the long-term care facility was finished in Botwood,” Forsey said in a prepared statement this week. “That’s not good enough.” The provincial government stripped the hospital of the service in 2016 in a move by Central Health to reduce its operating budget. An analysis completed by the Department of Health in 2018 indicated patient data supported the decision. Forsey recently sent an email to Central Health about the issue and was told the new health unit is expected to be in use by the end of this month. “This creates added stress to the residents of the Exploits district,” Forsey said of not having 24-hour emergency services. The provincial government's department of health and community services said in a statement the work on the protective unit was nearing completion and the matter of returning to 24-hour service will be looked at when it is done. "Following the completion of construction, the demand and the staffing will be examined to see whether or not there is a need to change the way emergency services are provided to the people in Botwood," wrote a spokesperson for the department. On several occasions since Ball pledged the return of 24-hour emergency services, the Botwood council has written to Gander MHA John Haggie, the minister of health and community services, regarding the status of emergency services at the hospital. Botwood Mayor Scott Sceviour said responses the town has received have not indicated if or when any announcement will be made about the return of regular emergency services. At the time, the town was caught off guard by the decision to alter the emergency services at the hospital. It was expected to help save money, but the mayor says little money has been saved by the decision. “There was no justification for it,” he said. “It was a surprise to all of us.” Now that the area MHA has brought the issue to the forefront again, Sceviour said the town will write to Premier Andrew Furey about the commitments of his predecessor and bring him up to speed on the situation. Botwood is scheduled to have a council meeting this week, where the issue will be on the agenda. “We are going to hold this government to the promise,” said Sceviour. Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
WASHINGTON — As the rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, many of the police officers had to decide on their own how to fight them off. There was no direction. No plan. And no top leadership. One cop ran from one side of the building to another, fighting hand-to-hand against rioters. Another decided to respond to any calls of officers in distress and spent three hours helping cops who had been immobilized by bear spray or other chemicals. Three officers were able to handcuff one rioter. But a crowd swarmed the group and took the arrested man away with the handcuffs still on. Interviews with four members of the U.S. Capitol Police who were overrun by rioters on Jan. 6 show just how quickly the command structure collapsed as throngs of people, egged on by President Donald Trump, set upon the Capitol. The officers spoke on condition of anonymity because the department has threatened to suspend anyone who speaks to the media. “We were on our own,” one of the officers told The Associated Press. “Totally on our own.” The officers who spoke to the AP said they were given next to no warning by leadership on the morning of Jan. 6 about what would become a growing force of thousands of rioters, many better armed than the officers themselves were. And once the riot began, they were given no instructions by the department’s leaders on how to stop the mob or rescue lawmakers who had barricaded themselves inside. There were only enough officers for a routine day. Three officers told the AP they did not hear Chief Steven Sund on the radio the entire afternoon. It turned out he was sheltering with Vice-President Mike Pence in a secure location for some of the siege. Sund resigned the next day. His assistant chief, Yogananda Pittman, who is now interim chief, was heard over the radio telling the force to “lock the building down,” with no further instructions, two officers said. One specific order came from Lt. Tarik Johnson, who told officers not to use deadly force outside the building as the rioters descended, the officers recounted. The order almost certainly prevented deaths and more chaos, but it meant officers didn’t pull their weapons and were fighting back with fists and batons. Johnson has been suspended after being captured on video wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat while moving through crowds of rioters. Johnson told colleagues he wore the hat as a tactic to gain the crowd’s confidence as he tried to reach other officers who were pinned down by rioters, one of the officers said. A video of the incident obtained by the Wall Street Journal shows Johnson asking rioters for help in getting his colleagues. Johnson, who could not be reached for comment, was heard by an officer on the radio repeatedly asking, “Does anybody have a plan?” ___ The Capitol Police has more than 2,300 staff and a budget that’s grown rapidly over the last two decades to roughly $500 million, making it larger than many major metro police departments. Minneapolis, for example, has 840 officers and a $176 million budget. Despite plenty of online warnings of a possible insurrection and ample resources and time to prepare, the Capitol Police planned only for a free speech demonstration on Jan. 6. They rejected offers of support from the Pentagon three days before the siege, according to senior defence officials and two people familiar with the matter. And during the riot, they turned down an offer by the Justice Department to have FBI agents come in as reinforcements. The officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity to discuss the decision-making process. The riot left five people dead, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was hit in the head by a fire extinguisher. Another officer died in an apparent suicide after the attack. The attack has forced a reckoning among law enforcement agencies. Federal watchdogs launched a sweeping review of how the FBI, the Pentagon and other agencies responded to the riot, including whether there were failures in information sharing and other preparations that left the historic symbol of democracy vulnerable to assault. Top decision-makers have offered differing explanations for why they didn't have enough personnel. Sund told The Washington Post that he was worried about the possibility for violence and wanted to bring in the National Guard, but the House and Senate sergeants at arms refused his request. To bring in the Guard, the sergeants at arms would have had to ask congressional leaders. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, said congressional leaders had not been informed of any request for the National Guard before the day of the riot. The office of Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, declined to comment. It's not clear why the threat was not taken more seriously. John Donohue, a 32-year veteran of the New York Police Department who advises the Capitol Police on intelligence matters, sent a memo on Jan. 3 warning of the potential for an attack on Congress from the pro-Trump crowd, according to two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the memo first reported by The Washington Post. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the internal memo. Donohue was well-versed in the extremist threat. At a congressional hearing in July, before he starting advising the Capitol Police, Donohue told lawmakers the federal government needed a system to better monitor social media for domestic extremists. “America is at a crossroads," he said in his testimony. “The intersection of constitutional rights and legitimate law enforcement has never been more at risk by domestic actors as it is now as seditionists actively promote a revolution.” Tens of thousands of National Guard members have now been called to secure the Capitol in advance of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday. A spokeswoman for Capitol Police did not respond to questions Friday. ___ For major events, the Capitol Police normally holds meetings to brief officers on their responsibilities and plans in case of an emergency. Three of the officers interviewed by the AP said there were no meetings on or before Jan. 6. It’s also unclear whether the department held over its overnight shift or called in more officers early to help those who would be on duty that day. “During the 4th of July concerts and the Memorial Day concerts, we don’t have people come up and say, ‘We’re going to seize the Capitol,‘” one officer said. “But yet, you bring everybody in, you meet before. That never happened for this event.” Another officer said he was only told that morning to pick up a riot helmet. He said he had training on dealing with large crowds, but not on how to handle a riot. “We were under the impression it was just going to be a lot of yelling, cursing,” he said. As Trump called on his supporters to go to the Capitol, telling them to “fight like hell,” members of the House and Senate were inside the building to certify Biden’s victory over Trump in the Electoral College. Crowds of Trump supporters, many of them linked to far-right or white supremacist groups, began gathering on both sides of the Capitol. An officer working the western front of the building, which faces the White House and where risers were set up for the inauguration, quickly realized that the crowds were not peaceful. The rioters began breaking down short fences and systematically clipping off “Area Closed” signs, the officer said. Videos from the event show the crowd climbing the walls on the western side and eventually breaching the building. One officer listed the various weapons used to hit him and people near him: batons, flagpoles, sections of fencing, batteries, rubber bullets and canisters of bear spray that went further than the chemicals the officers themselves had. Some of the rioters showed their badges from other law enforcement agencies, claiming they were on the side of the Capitol Police, the officer said. Most of the insurrectionists left without being arrested, which officers who spoke to the AP say was because it was next to impossible to arrest them given how badly the force was outnumbered. That was underscored by the rioters taking away a man who officers had tried to arrest inside the Capitol. “The group came and snatched him and took him away in cuffs,” one officer said. “Outside of shooting people, what are you supposed to do?” ___ Merchant reported from Houston. Nomaan Merchant And Colleen Long, The Associated Press
MILAN — Stellantis, the car company combining PSA Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler, was launched Monday on the Milan and Paris stock exchanges, giving life to the fourth-largest auto company in the world. Stellantis shares rallied 7.6% in Milan to 13.53 euros ($16.32). CEO Carlos Tavares said during a virtual bell-ringing ceremony that the merger creates 25 billion euros in shareholder value. “The focus from day one will be on value creation from synergies, which will increase competitiveness vis-a-vis its peers,” Tavares said. Stellantis has a new logo and will launch on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, due to the Monday U.S. bank holiday, followed by a press conference with Tavares. Chairman John Elkann, heir to the Fiat-founding Agnelli family, said that the new company has “the scale, the resources, the diversity and the knowledge to successfully capture the opportunities of this new era in transportation.” The technological shift includes electrified powertrains as well as moves toward greater autonomous driving. The merger is aimed at creating 5 billion euros in annual savings. The new company will have the capacity to produce 8.7 million cars a year, behind Volkswagen, Toyota and Renault-Nissan. Fiat Chrysler, which was created from the merger of the Italian and U.S. car companies in 2014, closed Friday down 4.35% at 12.57 euros, having gained in previous days. Its closing market capitalization was under 20 billion euros, far off its 2018 highs of more than 30 billion euros. Colleen Barry, The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Phil Spector was viewed as a man with two distinct personas: The late music producer was regarded as a rock ‘n’ roll genius who elevated the genre with his “Wall of Sound” style in the 1960s and created hits for several big names from the Beatles to Tina Turner. But while Spector made his mark as a revolutionary music producer, the stories of him waving guns at recording artists and being convicted of murder overshadowed his artistry. California state prison officials said Spector died Saturday at age 81 of natural causes at a hospital. He was convicted of killing actress Lana Clarkson in 2003 at his castle-like mansion on the edge of Los Angeles. After a trial in 2009, he was sentenced to 19 years to life. The reaction to Spector’s death resurrected some mixed feelings about his life and legacy. Some lauded his early contributions to rock music, while others struggled to forgive his volatile past. Beach Boys musician Al Jardine said it would be “nice to remember him only for his songs & production talents.” He said The Ronettes’ song “Be My Baby,” which was produced and co-written by Spector, inspired his brother Brian Wilson. Stevie Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band called Spector a “genius irredeemably conflicted.” “He was the ultimate example of the art always being better than the artist,” said Zandt on Twitter. He added that Spector “made some of the greatest records in history based on the salvation of love while remaining incapable of giving or receiving love his whole life.” Meanwhile, “The Price is Right” host Drew Carey took aim at Spector, calling him a “murderer and an abusive maniac.” “I wish he would’ve gotten the mental health help he so clearly needed, but he didn’t,” the comedian said on social media. “And so instead of (asterisk)just(asterisk) pulling guns on people in anger or for fun, he murdered one of them. Good ear for music tho, I’ll give you that.” Spector’s former wife, Ronnie Spector, remembered him on Sunday as a “brilliant producer, but a lousy husband.” She was the lead singer of the Ronettes. “Unfortunately Phil was not able to live and function outside of the recording studio,” she wrote on Instagram. “Darkness set in, many lives were damaged. I still smile whenever I hear the music we made together, and always will. The music will be forever.” But Darlene Love, who sang some of Spector’s hits from “He’s a Rebel” and “He’s Sure the Boy I Love,” took a different approach despite her problematic relationship with the producer. She felt sadness after hearing of Spector’s death from her son. “It was sad because of what Spector did, the wonderful music he created, and he spent nearly 20 years of his life in prison,” said Love, who admitted that Spector tried to “control my talent” during her singing career. She said Spector had a dangerous temperament at times, but she tried to remember the positive. “I hope people don’t only remember the reason he spent those years in prison, but more or less what he did for rock ‘n’ roll,” she continued. “He changed the sound of rock ‘n’ roll. That’s what brought me to sadness.” Spector was hailed as a visionary for channeling Wagnerian ambition into the three-minute song, creating the “Wall of Sound” in the 1960s that merged spirited vocal harmonies with lavish orchestral arrangements to produce such pop monuments as “Da Doo Ron Ron,” “Be My Baby” and “He’s a Rebel.” Bruce Springsteen and Wilson openly replicated his grandiose recording techniques and wide-eyed romanticism, and John Lennon called him “the greatest record producer ever.” But the multiple stories of Spector waving guns at recording artists in the studio and threatening women would come back to haunt him after Clarkson’s death. Clarkson, star of “Barbarian Queen” and other B-movies, was found shot to death in the foyer of Spector’s mansion in the hills overlooking Alhambra, a modest suburban town on the edge of Los Angeles. Until the actress’ death, which Spector maintained was an “accidental suicide,” few residents even knew the mansion belonged to the reclusive producer, who spent his remaining years in a prison hospital east of Stockton. Spector became a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. But ultimately, his recording artists began to quit working with him and musical styles passed him by. “He self-destructed in the most horrific manner,” said David Thompson, the author of “Wall of Pain: The Biography of Phil Spector,” released in 2004. “But we have to separate the two. There are so many people who were once revered then we find out they did something terrible. It wipes out all of their achievements. I don’t agree with that.” Thompson said Spector’s biography was one of his toughest to write, because he wanted to solely focus on the music. But while working on the book, he found out about Spector’s conviction. “That was a hard balance,” he said. “I wanted to write about the music, just what he did, what he created and what he gave us. But you had to sort of balance it with the awful things he did.” Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press
Dans le cadre de ses nouvelles mesures mises en place, afin de mieux gérer le contexte pandémique, notamment durant cette période de la deuxième vague, le ministère de l’éducation instaure un programme de tutorat et de mesures supplémentaires pour la réussite scolaire et la santé mentale. « Le financement alloué pour le programme de tutorat et les mesures supplémentaires pour la réussite et la santé mentale sont en lien avec les besoins soulignés par le personnel des écoles dans un contexte de pandémie et de confinement. Le contexte a eu un gros impact sur la persévérance, la réussite et le bien-être de plusieurs de nos élèves » souligne la directrice de l’école Gilbert-Théberge prim, madame Josée Gauvreau. « Un budget supplémentaire pour venir en aide à nos élèves avec des difficultés académiques et psychosociales est toujours bien reçu. Malheureusement, nous sommes déjà en pénurie de main-d’œuvre. Il reste à voir si les écoles seront en mesure de trouver des employés qualifiés pour accompagner davantage nos jeunes » a-t-elle ajouté. Annulation des épreuves ministérielles et le report du premier bulletin Le ministère de l’éducation a décidé également d’annuler les épreuves ministérielles et le report du premier bulletin. « L’annulation des épreuves ministérielles enlève un énorme facteur de stress chez les élèves et le personnel enseignant, surtout pour les élèves et les enseignants de 4e et 5e secondaire pour lesquels la diplomation en dépend. Le premier confinement a déjà exigé beaucoup de rattrapage en plus de compléter la matière de l’année en cours. Cette décision permettra aux enseignants et aux élèves de se concentrer sur les apprentissages nécessaires pour continuer le parcours scolaire sans ajouter à l’anxiété et aux soucis qui les perturbent déjà en pleine pandémie » estime la directrice de l’école Gilbert-Théberge prim. Un manque de personnel ! Les professionnels de l’éducation manifestent plusieurs attentes auprès du ministère de l’éducation notamment durant cette période si difficile du confinement et de la pandémie. « La consultation auprès du domaine de l’éducation est souhaitée afin de pouvoir répondre aux besoins qui sont en changement continuel dans un contexte semblable » espère madame Josée Gauvreau. « Le manque de personnel demeure un facteur problématique. Et, évidemment, l’importance de garder les élèves et le personnel en sécurité en respectant les mesures sanitaires tout en assurant que les élèves vivent dans un environnement agréable et stimulant sans perdre la motivation » a-t-elle conclu. Et en Ontario ? Bien que la situation en Ontario reste semblable à celle du Québec, chaque province se distingue par la particularité de la mise en applicabilité de ses mesures et ses orientations gouvernementales. « En Ontario, nous n'avons pas d'épreuves ministérielles. Toutefois, dans chacun de nos cours, nous devons préparer et administrer un examen de fin de semestre. En octobre, le ministère de l'Éducation de l'Ontario (MÉO) a annoncé que les examens n'auraient pas lieu. Habituellement, à ce moment-ci, je serais en train de faire de la révision avec mes élèves et la dernière semaine du semestre serait celle des examens. Là, comme c'est annulé, je continue tout simplement mes cours jusqu'à la toute fin. Dans la situation actuelle, je crois que c'est une bonne décision » nous fait savoir madame Dominique Roy, enseignant en Ontario. « Personnellement, la fin de semestre est toujours une période surchargée avec la préparation et l'administration des examens, la correction de ceux-ci, la préparation des bulletins et de mes cours pour le prochain semestre. Là, avec tout ce que l'on vit, j'avoue que c'est un soulagement. Ça me permet de souffler un peu et de me consacrer à l'essentiel, le bien-être de mes élèves. Pour les élèves, c'est un stress de moins, parce que l'anxiété est palpable chez plusieurs d'entre eux » a-t-elle ajouté. Des attentes suspendues… Les différents corps professionnels de l’Ontario ont également plusieurs attentes et souhaits à l’égard des gestionnaires de leur ministère d’éducation. « Notre calendrier n'en compte que 7 pour toute l'année scolaire. C'est bien peu pour préparer mes cours en fonction du nouvel horaire qui a dû être adapté à la réalité que l'on vit cette année. Je n'ai pas le temps de corriger à l'école. C'est donc en soirée, les fins de semaine et pendant les congés que je corrige. C'est épuisant » s’exprime Dominique Roy. Les craintes de la deuxième vague ! Alors qu’on est en pleine deuxième vague, plusieurs craintes concernant l’ouverture des écoles règnent au sein du personnel de l’éducation en Ontario. « Du 4 au 8 janvier, ce fut une semaine d'enseignement et d'apprentissage à distance. Comme le nombre de cas positifs n'est pas très élevé dans notre district du Nord de l'Ontario, nous étions de retour en classe le 11 janvier.» a conclu madame Roy. Moulay Hicham Mouatadid, Initiative de journalisme local, Reflet Témiscamien (Le)
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
Calgary, Regina, Houston – One of the first acts of Donald Trump as president of the United States was to invite TransCanada, now TC Energy, to resubmit its Keystone XL pipeline application, and to then approve it. Now, it is looking like one of the first acts of President-elect Joe Biden, after his inauguration, may be to kill it, and revoke the Presidential Permit for the pipeline to cross the international border. Numerous media stories the evening of Jan. 17, including CBC, Reuters and CTV, reported that Biden may cancel the Presidential Permit as early as his first day in office. Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20. The 830,0000 barrel per day pipeline is supposed to run from Hardisty, Alberta, past Shaunavon, to Steele City, Nebraska, eventually connecting to oil hub of Cushing, Oklahoma. The southern portion of the pipeline, which runs from Cushing to the U.S. Gulf Coast, was completed under the Obama administration. Up to 15 per cent of the pipeline’s capacity had been designated for North Dakota oil production. Current maps don’t show the lateral pipeline to North Dakota, but the specs for a recently completed Canadian pumping station list it at 700,000 barrels per day capacity, which would leave room for that American oil to be added downstream. Ironically, the most contentious portion of the pipeline – the international crossing which required a Presidential Permit, was one of the first things completed when construction got underway in 2020. That 2.2 kilometre long-section of pipeline crossed the border in May, 2020, in the RM of Val Marie, southeast of Shaunavon. Usually the border crossing is the ceremonial last weld, not the first, on such pipelines. The reason the pipeline was not completed within the four years of the Trump administration was due to multiple court delays, several from one particular judge in Montana. In one of those rulings in November, 2018, U.S. Federal Court Judge Brian Morris said the greenhouse gas emissions of the Enbridge Alberta Clipper pipeline, which ran on a different route and was owned and operated by a completely different company, should have been considered in the Keystone XL evaluation. But he did not mention anything about the recently completed and operational Dakota Access Pipeline, which handles North Dakota oil. As a result, the Keystone XL pipeline, which had been cancelled by the Barrack Obama/Joe Biden administration in 2015, is not anywhere near completion. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney bet heavily on the project – figuratively and literally, with Alberta investing $1.5 billion into it to get construction going in 2020. The announcement at the time noted, “This investment includes $1.5 billion in equity investment in 2020, followed by a $6 billion loan guarantee in 2021.” Construction work has already taken place within Alberta, including 145 kilometres of pipe already put in the ground, and the recent completion of the Bindloss Pump Station. Construction was supposed to get going through southwest Saskatchewan this year to the American border. Kenney posted on Facebook the evening of Jan. 17, “I am deeply concerned by reports that the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden may repeal the Presidential permit for the Keystone XL border crossing next week. “Doing so would kill jobs on both sides of the border, weaken the critically important Canada-US relationship, and undermine US national security by making the United States more dependent on OPEC oil imports in the future. “In 2019, the United States imported 9.14 million barrels per day of petroleum, 3.7 million of which came from Canada. The rest comes from countries, like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, none of whom share the commitment of Canada and the United States to environmental stewardship, combatting climate change, or North American energy security. “As President-elect Biden’s green jobs plan acknowledges, Americans will consume millions of barrels of oil per day for years to come. It is in perfect keeping with his plan that the United States energy needs should be met by a country that takes the challenges of climate change seriously. “The Keystone XL pipeline also represents tens of thousands of good paying jobs that the American economy needs right now. That is why major American labour unions who supported President-elect Biden’s campaign strongly back the project, as do First Nations who have signed partnership agreements, and all state governments along the pipeline route. “As the Government of Canada has said, building Keystone XL is ‘top of the agenda’ with the incoming Biden administration. Prime Minister Trudeau raised the issue with President-elect Biden on their November 9, 2020 telephone meeting, agreeing “to engage on key issues, including … energy cooperation such as Keystone XL. “We renew our call on the incoming administration to show respect for Canada as the United States’ most important trading partner and strategic ally by keeping that commitment to engage, and to allow Canada to make the case for strengthening cooperation on energy, the environment, and the economy through this project. “Should the incoming US Administration abrogate the Keystone XL permit, Alberta will work with TC Energy to use all legal avenues available to protect its interest in the project.” Premier Scott Moe posted on Facebook the evening of Jan. 17, “It’s very disappointing to hear reports that President-elect Biden is planning to shut down the Keystone Pipeline expansion on his first day in office. “Construction of this project should be a top priority for Canadian-U.S. economic relations. It is critical to North American energy security, will have a tremendous employment impact north and south of the border and has garnered significant indigenous support. Environmentally, Keystone will reach net-zero emissions when it first turns on, and will be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030. “While I am urging the prime minister to leverage his relationship with Mr. Biden, Saskatchewan will continue exercising our contacts in Washington D.C. to advocate for the continuation of this project that clearly benefits both of our nations.” TC Energy responds with green announcement In an 11th hour move, TC Energy put out a press release from Houston on a Sunday evening, stating on Jan. 17, “Keystone XL commits to become the first pipeline to be fully powered by renewable energy.” “The company will achieve net zero emissions across the project operations when it is placed into service in 2023 and has committed the operations will be fully powered by renewable energy sources no later than 2030. This announcement comes after an extensive period of study and analysis, and as part of the company’s ongoing commitment to sustainability, thoughtfully finding innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while providing communities with reliable energy needed today. “Since it was initially proposed more than 10 years ago, the Keystone XL project has evolved with the needs of North America, our communities and the environment,” said Richard Prior, president of Keystone XL. “We are confident that Keystone XL is not only the safest and most reliable method to transport oil to markets, but the initiatives announced today also ensures it will have the lowest environmental impact of an oil pipeline in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Canada and the United States are among the most environmentally responsible countries in the world with some of the strictest standards for fossil fuel production.” The release added, “As part of its continued commitment to working with union labor in the U.S. and Canada, Keystone XL has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) to work together on the construction of TC Energy owned or sourced renewable energy projects.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
NORTH PERTH – Residents are being encouraged by Amy Gangl, interim manager of recreation, to have their say in the development of a community park which will replace Listowel Memorial Arena after its demolition this year. Municipal staff are working with consultants, SHIFT Landscape Architecture, to explore design options to help shape the future park space, and they are looking for input on two preliminary design options presented on Your Say North Perth. On the Memorial Arena Park design options project page at YoursayNorthPerth.ca, residents can review the designs and provide feedback through a survey until Jan. 18. “We’ve received some great input and quite a bit of engagement from the community which is fantastic news,” said Gangl. “That is one of the items council was hoping for and our consultants are already quite pleased with the… input regarding the concept of the designs.” Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner