Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now says the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months in order to boost the number of Canadians being vaccinated. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, that means going from a three week interval to a full four months. "NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first," the committee said in a statement. Prior to this new recommendation, NACI had said that the maximum interval between the first and second shots of the Moderna vaccine should be four weeks, the interval for the Pfizer-BioNTech product should be three weeks and the interval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be 12 weeks. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. Since first doses of all three vaccines have been shown to dramatically increase immunity to the disease, or to significantly reduce the illness associated with contracting COVID-19, the committee said stretching the interval would help protect more Canadians sooner. NACI said that it reviewed evidence from two clinical trials that looked at how effective the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were after a single dose. Those studies, NACI said, showed the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines started providing some level of protection 12 to 14 days after the first dose. By the time the second dose was administered — 19 to 42 days after the first — the first shot was shown to be 92 per cent effective. Population studies find lower protection Outside of clinical trials, NACI looked at the effectiveness of a single shot of these two vaccines in the populations of Quebec, British Columbia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. NACI said that analysis showed the effectiveness of a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine was between 70 per cent and 80 per cent among health care workers, long-term care residents, elderly populations and the general public. "While this is somewhat lower than the efficacy demonstrated after one dose in clinical trials, it is important to note that vaccine effectiveness in a general population setting is typically lower than efficacy from the controlled setting of a clinical trial, and this is expected to be the case after series completion as well," NACI said. The committee said that published data from an AstraZeneca clinical trial indicated that delaying the second dose 12 weeks or more provided better protections against symptomatic disease compared to shorter intervals between doses. Earlier this week, before NACI changed its interval advice, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and countries around the world showed a "miraculous" protection level of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The head of Moderna's Canadian operations, Patricia Gauthier, said Monday that the company's own trials, and the conditions under which the vaccine was approved by Health Canada, are tied to a four-week interval. "That being said, we're in times of pandemic and we can understand that there are difficult decisions to be made," Gauthier said. "This then becomes a government decision. We stand by the product monograph approved by Health Canada, but governments ... can make their own decisions." Gauthier said she was not aware of any studies done or led by Moderna on what happens when the interval between the first and second doses is changed from four weeks to four months. 'We have to do it safely and watch carefully' Dr. David Naylor, who has been named to a federal task force charged with planning a national campaign to see how far the virus has spread, said the data have been "very encouraging." "The evidence is there for the concept of further delay," Naylor told CBC News Network's Power & Politics today. "We [had] trial data from earlier showing that going out from 90 days, a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective. So things are triangulating." He said health officials need to pay close attention to the data coming out of other countries to determine if the protection provided by the first dose remains strong four months after it was administered. "We do it because we can cover more people with a single dose of the vaccine, spread the protection, prevent more severe disease and prevent fatalities, and the evidence is clear that that's what you can do if you spread those doses out widely. But we have to do it safely and watch carefully," Naylor told host Vassy Kapelos. Watch: The evidence is there for the 'concept of further delay' of second doses: Dr. Naylor: Storage and transport recommendations also changed Health Canada also announced today that after reviewing a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech, it would authorize changes to the way the vaccine is handled in Canada. The new rules allow the vaccine to be stored and transported in a standard freezer with a temperature of between -25 C and -15 C for up to two weeks, instead of the previous requirement that it be stored in ultra-cold conditions of -80 C to -60 C. Vials of the vaccine stored or transported at this higher temperature for no longer than two weeks remain stable and safe and can then be returned to ultra-cold freezers once, said the department.
CARDINAL – The fastest growing hockey league in Eastern Ontario has added another team to the league, this time in Cardinal. The South Grenville Sr. Rangers announced it was accepted into the Eastern Ontario Super Hockey League early last week. “We are excited to build on the hockey traditions in our community and continue to showcase local talent of all ages,” the team said in its February 23rd announcement. The EOSHL began play as a four-team league in the 2019-20 season and is for hockey players age 20 and older still looking to play hockey after their junior eligibility is over. The Sr. Rangers’ announcement comes a week after a franchise was announced in Gananoque and four weeks after the North Dundas Sr. Rockets announced it was joining the league. Team officials said they are hoping to build on local rivalries with other communities, and that the makeup of the league is a positive step in that direction. The Sr. Rangers have not announced a general manager or head coach for the 2021-22 season but are actively recruiting those positions. Unlike minor and junior hockey levels, the EOSHL does not have restrictions on territories or team rights to worry about in signing players. This means former Jr. A, B, or C level players, along with those who have experience in the OHL, NCAA, or U SPORTS leagues can play for teams in the league. League president Mitch Gagne said that the EOSHL is looking to add one more team to balance the league to 12 teams total. “We have a few more areas interested and we hope to have all 12 settled by May 1st so we can enjoy an exciting summer of preparing for the fall for a hopeful start to our league,” Gagne said. One area that will not be joining the EOSHL is Morrisburg. Morrisburg Jr. C Lions. Team general manager Kevin Casselman told The Leader that he is not looking at a team for Morrisburg at this time. “I wish the best of luck to the Rangers and Rockets,” Casselman said. The league plans a 24-game regular season beginning this fall. Other teams in the league include Maxville, Alexandria, West Carleton, Frontenac, Smiths Falls, Pontiac (QC), and Cornwall. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
By Jamie Mountain Local Journalism Initiative Reporter HILLIARDTON – A young Kerns Township girl has been named Ducks Unlimited Canada’s newest Wetland Hero. Lucy Harrison, 10, has been volunteering at the Hilliardton Marsh Research and Education Centre for roughly the last three years and was nominated for the program by research and education coordinator Bruce Murphy. Harrison said that after learning Murphy had nominated her for the program, she contemplated what she should do. “I decided to write a letter to the government about saving wetlands and I sent that letter and I’m hoping to get a response,” she explained in a telephone interview. “For the marsh I’m hoping to plant more trees, trying to make more wetlands and getting more people involved with nature and everything. People in the cities, they come up here and all of a sudden it’s this big change and I want people to see that the marsh is important, and everywhere else with the wetlands, and if we don’t show that then the government might say it’s not important anymore and cut it down and I want to save that.” According to the Ducks Unlimited Canada website, Wetland Heroes are young people under the age of 25 “who make a difference by taking action to conserve and protect Canada’s wetlands. They can be individuals, classes, schools or community youth clubs or groups.” Murphy said that Harrison is the first person the Hilliardton Marsh has ever nominated for the program and she would likely be the only one in Ontario named to it this year. “Basically it’s a program to encourage kids to become involved in their communities,” he explained in a telephone interview. “I’m not that totally familiar with it but it sounds pretty exciting, and to have someone from our own community getting it. She’s the only one from our community that has that designation.” There are many ways that Wetland Heroes can take action against wetland loss, including writing letters, talking to politicians, raising money, enhancing habitat or increasing awareness. A NATURAL Murphy noted that Harrison has been helping on and off at the marsh over the last three years. When Harrison started at the marsh, she helped enter data into the popular citizen science app e-Bird. Soon after that she started helping with other tasks around the marsh, including checking nets and banding birds. Murphy said that bird banding isn’t normally taught to kids younger than 10, but Harrison showed a natural ability that she could handle it. “She was more of an observer at the beginning and then really it’s in the last year that she really started to get some skills that she was able to help out a bit more,” he noted. “When we’re doing the banding, the nets are really tricky. It’s kind of a fussy little skill to take birds out of the net. It’s not that it’s that difficult, it just takes patience and you really do have to have a fairly good finger dexterity, which most of the time young kids don’t have. But Lucy, she was just a natural. I know she does a lot of sewing and stuff like that, so maybe that’s accounted for it.” Murphy said often the marsh has adults who struggle with getting birds out of the nets, so to have a 10-year-old who was able to do it so efficiently was “quite remarkable.” “We’ve had a couple of kids over the years that were kind of a natural at doing it but the other thing is you also have to have kids that have enough maturity, which is odd to say for a 10-year-old. The kids just have to have the right temperament and willingness to be teachable, really. So that’s what we found with Lucy, she was just kind of a natural and she’s really patient, so all of the attributes that you need for that to happen she possesses.” Over the past three years, Harrison has spent over a thousand hours at the marsh. She’s extracted hundreds of birds from nets and banded them. As her confidence has grown, so too has her love of the natural world. “When I first met her, she was so quiet,” said Murphy. “She’s become much more confident since coming here. It’s been a real joy to see.” Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
Loving classic films can be a fraught pastime. Just consider the cultural firestorm over “Gone With the Wind” this past summer. No one knows this better than the film lovers at Turner Classic Movies who daily are confronted with the complicated reality that many of old Hollywood’s most celebrated films are also often a kitchen sink of stereotypes. This summer, amid the Black Lives Matter protests, the channel’s programmers and hosts decided to do something about it. The result is a new series, “ Reframed Classics,” which promises wide-ranging discussions about 18 culturally significant films from the 1920s through the 1960s that also have problematic aspects, from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and Mickey Rooney’s performance as Mr. Yunioshi to Fred Astaire’s blackface routine in “Swing Time.” It kicks off Thursday at 8 p.m. ET with none other than “Gone With the Wind.” “We know millions of people love these films,” said TCM host Jacqueline Stewart, who is participating in many of the conversations. “We’re not saying this is how you should feel about ‘Pyscho’ or this is how you should feel about ‘Gone with the Wind.’ We’re just trying to model ways of having longer and deeper conversations and not just cutting it off to ‘I love this movie. I hate this movie.’ There’s so much space in between.” Stewart, a University of Chicago professor who in 2019 became the channel’s first African American host, has spent her career studying classic films, particularly those in the silent era, and Black audiences. She knows first-hand the tension of loving films that also contain racial stereotypes. “I grew up in a family of people who loved classic films. Now, how can you love these films if you know that there’s going to be a maid or mammy that shows up?” Stewart said. “Well, I grew up around people who could still love the movie. You appreciate some parts of it. You critique other parts of it. That’s something that one can do and it actually can enrich your experience of the film.” While TCM audiences will know her as the host of Silent Sunday Nights, this past summer she was given a bigger spotlight when she was selected to introduce “Gone With the Wind” on HBO Max to provide proper context after its controversial removal from the streaming service. She remembers drafting her remarks for that while also concocting this series. “I continue to feel a sense of urgency around these topics,” she said. “We’re showing films that really shaped the ways that people continue to think about race and gender and sexuality and ability. It was really important for the group to come together to think about how we can work with each other and work with our fans to deepen the conversations about these films.” TCM hosts Ben Mankiewicz, Dave Karger, Alicia Malone and Eddie Muller will also be part of many conversations. The films that they’ve selected aren’t under the radar novelties either. As Stewart said, “they’re the classics of the classics.” The series, which runs every Thursday through March 25, will also show “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “Gunga Din,” “The Searchers,” “My Fair Lady,” “Stagecoach,” “Woman of the Year” and “The Children’s Hour.” The selections allow the hosts to think about Hollywood films more broadly, too. For “Psycho,” which will be airing on March 25, the hosts talk about transgender identity in the film and the implications of equating gender fluidity and dressing in women’s clothes with mental illness and violence. It also sparks a bigger conversation about sexuality in Alfred Hitchcock films. During the “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” conversation on March 18, they talk about why the film adaptation has a less feminist ending than the stage play, and Henry Higgins’ physical and psychological abuse of Eliza Dolittle. Not feeding her and stuffing marbles in her mouth are played for cute laughs in the film. Is it a commentary on misogyny or just plain misogyny? And on the “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” night, airing March 11, Stewart discusses the complex legacy of Sidney Poitier. “His career is so important for the ways that white Americans really started to have more sympathy and understanding of Black people. But at the same time, there are aspects of his films that are clearly oriented primarily to white audiences,” Stewart said. “That opens up all kinds of complications for Black viewers who felt that he wasn’t a representative of the race as a whole.” Companies have lately taken to adding disclaimers before shows and films depicting outdated or stereotypical characters and themes. And in some instances, films have just been made unavailable. Disney has said that it’s 1946 film “Song of the South” will never be on Disney+. The classic film podcast “ You Must Remember This ” has an excellent series about the controversial movie and how it came to be. The goal of “Reframed Classics” is to help give audiences the tools to discuss films from a different era and not just dismiss or cancel them. And Stewart, for her part, doesn’t believe that you can simply remove problematic films from the culture. “I think there’s something to be learned from any work of art,” Stewart said. “They’re all historical artifacts that tell us a lot about the industry in which they were made, the cultures that they were speaking to.” —- Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
Madeline experiences her first encounter with a battery-powered Dachshund toy dog. Priceless!
OTTAWA — Efforts to boost Canada's ability to produce vaccines are among over 100 research projects receiving new federal money. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $518 million Wednesday he says will support the work of nearly 1,000 researchers. The projects receiving the cash also include ocean sensors to track climate change and setting up a digital archive to house records related to residential schools. The vaccine-related funding will be directed to the researchers from the Universite Laval-affiliated hospitals in Quebec City. Their aim is to create a public vaccine production program that will help develop and test vaccines and launch related startup companies. Frustration that Canada is reliant on foreign manufacturers to access the COVID-19 vaccine has led to calls to boost Canada's domestic capabilities. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
ALBANY, N.Y. — Besieged by sexual harassment allegations, a sombre New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo apologized Wednesday, saying he “learned an important lesson” about his own behaviour around women, but he said he intended to remain in office. “I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” Cuomo said at a Wednesday press conference. “It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it.” Cuomo said he will “fully co-operate” with the state attorney general’s investigation into sexual harassment allegations. Attorney General Letitia James is in the process of selecting an outside law firm to conduct an investigation into the allegations and produce a report that will be made publicly. Cuomo had avoided public appearances for days as some fellow Democrats call for him to resign. Before Wednesday's press conference, the governor last spoke to reporters during a teleconference call on Feb. 22. His last media briefing on video was Feb. 19. He hadn't spoken publicly since giving New York Attorney General Letitia James a referral to investigate claims that he sexually harassed at least two women in his administration. One former aide, Charlotte Bennett, 25, said Cuomo quizzed her about her sex life and asked whether she would be open to a relationship with an older man. Bennett rejected Cuomo’s attempted apology, in which he said he’d been trying to be “playful” and that his jokes had been misinterpreted as flirting. Another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, said Cuomo commented on her appearance inappropriately, kissed her without her consent at the end of a meeting, and once suggested they play strip poker while aboard his state-owned jet. Cuomo has denied Boylan’s allegations. And another woman, Anna Ruch, told The New York Times that Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her at a September 2019 wedding. Cuomo started Wednesday's press conference focusing on the latest data on the coronavirus pandemic. He highlighted a disproportionately high number of hospitalizations in New York City, news that the state is receiving an initial shipment of 164,000 doses of the new one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine and that three vaccination sites will temporarily shift to 24/7 operations. __ This story has been updated to correct the day of the press briefing. It was on Wednesday, not Tuesday. Marina Villeneuve, The Associated Press
HALIFAX — Head coach/GM Stephen Hart has signed a three-year contract extension with the Canadian Premier League's HFX Wanderers FC. Hart, 60, is entering his third season with the franchise. The former Canadian national coach was named CPL Coach of the Year in 2020 after leading the Halifax team to the Island Games final in P.E.I. last September. “Stephen was the right person to lead our club on the pitch three years ago and he remains the right person to lead our club into the future," team president Derek Martin said in a statement Wednesday. "Building a club from scratch is an arduous and exciting journey that requires a talented team committed to working together in the pursuit of something bigger than oneself. Our greatest asset as a club is our people and as the face of our club, Stephen personifies our ethos ideally." A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Hart first came to Halifax in 1981. He played for and coached the King of Donair club team and served as technical director of Soccer Nova Scotia. After stepping down as Canada coach in 2012, Hart managed the Trinidad and Tobago’s men’s team from 2013 to 2016. "This club is a project I believe in," Hart said of his CPL side. "Any successful sporting environment has a few things; solid backroom staff, really good administration, and ownership that have a vision. Derek has built a foundation here at the club that allows us to take our time, we all know there are going to be a lot of bumps in the road, but anything worth doing is going to have that." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021 The Canadian Press
Facebook Inc has taken down 185 accounts and groups engaged in an information-influencing operation in Thailand run by the military, the company said on Wednesday, the first time it has removed Thai accounts with ties to the government. The Thailand-based network removed in the latest sweep of "coordinated inauthentic behaviour" on the platform included 77 accounts, 72 pages and 18 groups on Facebook and 18 accounts on Instagram, Facebook said. The company said the accounts were linked to the Thai military and targeted audiences in the southern provinces of Thailand, where conflict has flared on and off for decades as insurgent groups continue a guerrilla war to demand independence.
Jasper is another step closer to seeing the Connaught Drive Affordable Apartments become reality following a decision by municipal council at their March 2 regular meeting. Council approved installation of utility services to the GC, GB and GA parcels in 2021 in conjunction with the construction of a 40-unit apartment building, a modular construction containing 32 one-bedroom and eight two-bedroom suites. The project represents the first phase for lands identified to host new affordable housing in the community. Council also directed administration to develop the borrowing bylaws required to fund Connaught site utility services, to a maximum of $3.647 million and present them at a future regular council meeting. Administration will also allocate $350,250 in the 2021 budget for upfront project costs for the Connaught Drive Affordable Apartments, subject to approval of a Rapid Housing Initiative grant applied for by the Jasper Community Housing Corporation. At the start of council’s discussion, Coun. Bert Journault said he was opposed to spending the money to extend the services to parcel GA, noting that it was unfair to saddle the taxpayer with the costs. “But I certainly support the proposal for the development of that area,” Journault said. “That’s a late property. It will provide our community with a lot of houses.” Deputy mayor Helen Kelleher-Empey noted all the work should be done simultaneously as the area had many residents and two hotels. “I know it’s a lot of money up front but if we’re going to tear up the west end of Connaught I think we should do the work all at once,” Kelleher-Empey said. “Let’s do the work. Let’s get it done and safe (for) the residents and the businesses on that end of town, to not be doing this piece by piece. Do it at once. It saves money in the end.” Coun. Paul Butler agreed with Journeault initially, while Coun. Jenna McGrath pointed out that administration said parcel GA is important for technical reasons. Chief administrative officer Bill Given said the recommendation is built on the requirement to reduce and eliminate the risk of water stagnation via a dead ending, which would make installing utilities for just sites GB and GC more challenging and costly if not impossible. He also noted an additional challenge is about firefighting capacity. “In order to maintain the appropriate volume of water required for fire flows for the hydrants and for high density housing, as is likely on GB and GC parcels, we need to have a high volume of water coming into the sites,” Given said. “This is not about encouraging or supporting development on GA. It is about maintaining appropriate fire flows.” A table showed that servicing just parcel GC would total about $1,840,434, while servicing all three sites at the same time would cost an additional $1,806,666 for a total of $3,647,100. In contrast, if a phased approach is taken, additional incremental costs of $211,100 would be required. By servicing all three parcels at once, $211,000 would be saved and there would be support for private sector interest in near term development on parcel GB. As well, disruption would be minimized to Connaught Drive. The annual debt servicing costs on a $1.8-million debenture over a 25-year term are about $97,500 and about $195,000 on a $3.6-million debenture over a 25-year term. Wastewater Treatment Plant Council directed administration to enter into contract negotiation with Aquatera Utilities Inc. for a 10-year operating contract of the Jasper Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). Since Jan. 27, 2020, the WWTP has been operated by a contracted service provider (EPCOR) under a one-year service agreement. The agreement was extended until June 30, 2021 to complete the RFP process and ensure an orderly transition. A standard services agreement (SSA) was included in the RFP to help proponents refine their services proposals while mitigating the risk of misunderstanding and disagreement during final contract negotiation. “This is a substantial contract,” said Mayor Richard Ireland. The SSA contract will be negotiated and ratified by council and utility rates will need to be adjusted annually. Administration doesn’t anticipate an increase of utility rates for the 2021 year. Canada Healthy Communities Initiative Council carried a motion to approve the submission of an application to the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative for up to $250,000 for improvements to public spaces within the townsite. The improvements include a streetscape plan, sidewalk improvements, planters, benches, wayfinding improvements and a patio grant. Applications must be submitted by March 9. Review committees will start meeting to make decisions on March 10 and all applicants will receive results by April 30. Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
While applicant and the Township are working to iron out concerns with a proposed townhouse project in King City, the matter is still headed to an LPAT hearing. Councillors, staff and members of the public offered input into Stateview Homes’ plan to build 49 residential cluster townhouses on Keele Street. The applicants are seeking amendments to zoning and King’s Official Plan to allow for the development. A public meeting was initially held in March 2019 and since then, both the applicant and Township staff have held working meetings. This led to two revised applications. The applications have been appealed to LPAT and a hearing is scheduled for this coming June. The outstanding issues include consideration for King’s OP, the proposed density, environmental buffers and traffic concerns. The property is currently zoned established neighbourhood, which doesn’t permit large-scale development. Townhouses are not considered a suitable use in this zoning. Staff said this application is fundamentally opposed to current planning rules and fails to meet many criteria. The applicant wants to redesignate the lands as medium density, but they’re currently deemed low density, limited to 25 units per hectare. The bid is to up that to 40 units per hectare. King plans also require vegetative buffers of 30 meters adjacent to natural heritage features, and this plan has zones that vary from 20 to 46 metres. The application included three-storey townhouses, but the surrounding neighbourhood is largely single, detached homes. An architectural design is still under review. Staff have been working with the applicant to address compatibility, particularly the lots in the eastern and southern boundaries. Also, staff are concerned with some minimum lot areas, as well as front and side yard setbacks. Staff are also concerned with limited amenity space. They favour further revision to include fewer or small units, which would allow for better lot coverage and comply with zoning provisions. Staff noted concerns have been raised over access to the site and traffic generated. Residents have asked that traffic lights be installed. However, the current application does not propose any signals. At this time, staff will report back to the Committee of the While, prior to the LPAT hearing, to outline the status of the applications and any further revisions. Consultant Murray Evans, representing Stateview, said this plan has several credible elements and they’ve made changes to improve setbacks, in hopes to mitigating any impacts on existing residents. He admitted there’s work to be done, mostly of a technical nature. The zoning standards, he contends, are reflective or an urban area. Their objective is to create a pedestrian-friendly street front. The issue of access is important to them, he said, noting they are working with the Township on the signal lights, perhaps at Norman. Bruce Craig, on behalf of Concerned Citizens of King Township (CCKT), said rows of townhouses will drastically change the streetscape. The combination of the five lots along the edge of the East Humber River Valley provides an excellent setting and opportunity to create an attractive residential subdivision with clusters of new homes that integrate well with the surrounding neighbourhood known as Heritage Park. However, in CCKT’s view there would need to be significant changes to the present concept and site plan. Reducing the number of residential units and including two or three different forms of housing arranged carefully on this large parcel of land would address a number of concerns. Many mature trees could be preserved, impervious surface area reduced, the 30-metre buffer retained and a suitable transition to neighbouring lots achieved. The Established Neighbourhood designation in the new King Ofﬁcial Plan is intended to maintain the character and general fabric of the surrounding residential neighbourhood. The current proposal, with a density of 40 units/ha and blocks of three-storey townhouses does not achieve the goals or intent of the designation, the group points out. Regarding the revised site plan submitted by Stateview Homes in December 2020, CCKT recognizes several improvements, which include screening, retention of trees, wider planting strips, and more. CCKT said the density of proposal “far exceeds what is envisioned in the Established Neighbourhood designation.” The group would like the number of units reduced substantially. Craig pointed out that the blocks of townhouses stretching along Keele Street with small spaces between blocks is “not appealing and does not complement and integrate well in the existing neighbourhood with a more open space character.” They’d like to see the plan include single-detached, semi-detached, duplexes and/or one or two well-designed small blocks of two-storey townhouses carefully placed on the overall property to integrate well with homes in the existing neighbourhood. Also, the building heights of 12.5 metres is “far beyond the heights of the surrounding residential units which are made up of bungalows, and two-storey dwellings. Heights need to be reduced. CCKT recommends a maximum height of 9.0 metres.” CCKT advocates for retaining the full 30-metre buffer, and recommends that residential units and lots be adjusted to be completely outside of the buffer zone. CCKT, to, would like to see signalization at Norman Drive and the roadway entrance into High Crown Estates. Signals with sensors should be installed to allow the traffic to ﬂow well on Keele Street, and to provide for access on to Keele Street from Norman Drive and the High Crown Estates roadway in peak rush hour times. Dennison Drive should not be used for through trafﬁc in and out of this site. CCKT contends that with “signiﬁcant revisions to the current site plan, a creative and attractive subdivision plan can be achieved that is well-received by the neighbouring community.” Resident Jennifer Hobbs, representing King Heritage Park Ratepayers Association, made a comprehensive presentation to council. Her group represents some 220 King City residents. While residents understand growth pressures, this development doesn’t quite fit in with the neighbourhood and needs to be more forward-thinking. “If there is to be departure from the existing character of the neighbourhood, the development needs to provide adequate transition,” she said. The site includes many natural heritage features and is home to many mature trees and wildlife. The fear is many of these trees will be removed to make room for the development. Official Plan mandates, she said, include achieving a high degree of compatibility; minimizing impacts to vegetation, and having no negative impacts on adjacent properties. KHPRA, she stressed, is trying to ensure compatibility. The bid could change the design to soften the impact, and provide wider transition buffers. They suggest reducing the building height, setting buildings back further from the road, and planting larger streets. Increase traffic congestion is a major concern among residents. Hobbs said backups are common on Keele and this project will make matters even worse. It will add pressure to Keele and neighbouring streets, most of which don’t have sidewalks. The proposal, KHPRA contends, has no park space, and no safe pedestrian crossing. The group said they’re willing to work with the applicant and the Township to see a development that meets the needs of the community. There’s a need to find a balance between growth and residents’ safe enjoyment of their properties and the surrounding neighbourhood. “The latest changes to the proposal are an improvement, but still a long way from a plan that KHPRA would find acceptable.” A Martin Street resident said her street has become a shortcut for motorists, and traffic in her area is often at a standstill. She is concerned the new development will add to the mayhem in this family neighbourhood. She said there needs to be a plan for pedestrian safety, as well as adequate traffic calming measures. Mayor Steve Pellegrini said staff, through its traffic management plan, is always looking at speed limits in King’s villages. Another man said the project still has many deficiencies and he’d like to see two sets of traffic lights in the area. Mark Pavilons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, King Weekly Sentinel
Toronto police say a man who was in a position of authority with the Royal Canadian Air Cadet Program has been charged with sexual assault. The force says the man was with the cadet program in Toronto in November 2019 and allegedly sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl. They say the 27-year-old man surrendered to police on Feb. 24 and is no longer in his position of authority. Police say the man faces charges that include sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a young person. He is scheduled to appear in court on April 12. Police say there may be other alleged victims. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Veteran Canadian strawweight Randa (Quiet Storm) Markos will face Luana Pinheiro at UFC 260 on March 27. It will mark the 17th UFC fight for the 35-year-old from Windsor, Ont., who made her debut in the promotion in December 2014. Markos (10-10-1) has lost three straight and four of her last five, dropping her record in the UFC to 6-9-1. Markos lost a decision to Japan's Kanako Murata last time out in November. Pinheiro (8-1-0) is making her UFC debut after posting a first-round KO win in November over Stephanie Frausto in Dana White's Contender Series. The 27-year-old Brazilian has won her last six outings. The main event at the UFC's Apex production facility in Las Vegas sees Stipe Miocic (20-3-0) put his heavyweight title on the line against No. 1 contender Francis (The Predator) Ngannou (15-3-0). Miocic won by unanimous decision when they met at UFC 220 in January 2018, There are two other Canadians on the UFC 260 card. Flyweight Gillian (The Savage) Robertson, a native of Niagara Falls, Ont., who makes her home in Port Saint Lucie, Fla., faces Miranda (Fear The) Maverick and Quebec middleweight Marc-Andre (Power Bar) Barriault takes on Morocco's Abu (Gladiator) Azaitar. Robertson and Miranda were supposed to meet Feb. 13 at UFC 258 but the Canadian had to withdraw due to a non-COVID-related illness. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
ST. MARY’S – The Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s is balking at a proposal that would hike the annual fee it pays to the Eastern Counties Regional Library (ECRL) by 40 per cent, said the community’s Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald. The response follows the Municipality of the District of Guysborough’s objection last week to a possible request from ECRL for more money to maintain operations there. In an interview, MacDonald said St. Mary’s pays ECRL, which operates nine branches in eastern Nova Scotia, about $17,000 a year for the Sherbrooke location. Now, he said, it wants “around $24,000” starting in the next fiscal year, which begins April 1. What’s more, he said, it’s not clear whether ECRL will restore the hours of operation at the branch to 25 per week, from the reduced COVID-19 level of 15, once the crisis is over. “We have concerns around the costs for the library services and the hours of operation,” he said. “We already contribute to the Eastern Counties Regional Library just under $17,000 dollars a year. We own the building; we provide the heat and electricity, and the maintenance for the library. They are talking about jumping us up to $24,000 a year.” He added: “Prior to COVID, we were getting 25 hours of service. That’s been reduced, and that’s understandable. Now, we’re concerned that those hours will be cut even more… in the next budget … in the next fiscal year.” In an email, ECRL CEO Laura Emery said, “We’re working on a media release regarding our funding in the 2021-2022 budget and will release that as soon as it is ready.” But, according to documents she supplied, the annual “cost of geographic service” in St. Mary’s is higher than the district’s annual contribution – the former amounting to just less than $25,000 a year. “The Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s annual contribution is put toward the annual fixed staffing costs for the Sherbrooke Branch Library,” she added in the email. “There is one Library Assistant based at the Sherbrooke Branch Library.” The ECRL said the problem is not restricted to St. Mary’s. Its documents state that in 2020-21, the cost of service to the Municipality of the District of Guysborough, County of Richmond and Town of Port Hawkesbury also outstripped local government contributions. But MacDonald said St. Mary’s is also perplexed about the way ECRL – whose major funding (73 per cent) comes from the provincial government – allocates the money it receives. “What they are getting from the province, they are using for head office expenses and the cost of supplying the books,” he said. “So, none of that money from the provincial government is going towards the actual operation … the people on the ground running the library service.” A detailed budget breakdown from Emery shows that – for the fiscal year ending March 31 – ECRL’s bottom line was expected to be neutral: revenues and expenses were each pegged at $1,283,522 (up from $1,136,736 the previous year). Revenues included provincial contributions of: $811,800 (operating grant); $46,800 (equity grant); $93,500 (French grant); and $80,000 (on-demand, or Innovation Fund, grant). Municipal contributions amounted to $231,900, while other sources were $19,522. General expenses of $1,200,088 included: $749,530 for payroll; $118,555 for library materials; $115,074 for building and janitorial costs; $82,000 for “innovation projects”; $27,000 for board and staff travel, training and occupational health and safety; and $22,573 for professional services and memberships The documents also include a number of “efficiency statistics” related to ECRL’s operations. In 2018-19, for example, ECRL’s 27-member staff (all nine branches) registered among the lowest in expenses per hour ($61.99) among the province’s nine public library systems. It also posted the fourth-greatest number of hours open. MacDonald said that St. Mary’s staff and council members – one of whom, Everett Baker (District 7), sits on ECRL’s board – became aware of the library’s budget arguments, rationale and priorities in January. “We saw their agendas, and have been having a lot of behind-the-scenes discussions with them since then,” he said. “We’ve been getting correspondence at our staff level from their staff level … We know they think we’re not paying our fair share. Our position is that we are.” The Sherbrooke branch occupies the former Royal Bank building in the community’s downtown area. According to the ECRL’s website, “The building was donated to the District of St. Mary’s in 1994 and was renovated by the municipality through the N.S. Department of Education and Culture’s Library Capital Funding program.” MacDonald said neither St. Mary’s staff nor council has received an official letter from the ECRL on the matter. As a result, he said, “Council has not decided to send a letter [to ECRL] yet. It is up to council if they want to send a letter of concern or if they just want to pay the money. Council has to make a decision on that. That is yet to be determined.” Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Writer and director Eddie Huang hopes his first feature film, "Boogie," will help shift expectations about the type of Asian-American stories shown on the big screen. "This is the next level, where we get to come in and tell our authentic, specific stories," said Huang, whose 2013 autobiography was adapted into the ABC television sitcom "Fresh Off the Boat." The coming-of-age story centers around a high school basketball star who dreams of playing in the National Basketball Association while navigating family pressure, love, and rivals.
LONDON — Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Wednesday strongly denied being part of a plot against her predecessor, as she testified under oath in a political saga that is threatening both her leadership and her push for an independent Scotland. Sturgeon defended the way her government handled sexual assault claims against former First Minister Alex Salmond, saying the #MeToo movement had made it clear that abuse allegations about powerful people must not be “ignored or swept under the carpet.” Sturgeon testified for more than seven hours to a committee of lawmakers probing a political and personal feud that is wracking Scotland’s pro-independence movement and the governing Scottish National Party. Its antagonists are Salmond and Sturgeon, two former allies and friends who have dominated Scottish politics for decades. Salmond was tried and acquitted last year on sexual assault charges, and claims the allegations made by several women were part of a conspiracy to wreck his political career. He accuses Sturgeon of lying about when she learned of the allegations and breaking the code of conduct for government ministers. He alleges her administration undermined democratic principles and the rule of law by allowing the distinctions between government, party and civil service to become blurred. Scotland’s highest civil court ruled in 2019 that the way the Scottish government had handled the misconduct allegations was unlawful and “tainted by apparent bias,” and awarded Salmond 500,000 pounds ($695,000) in expenses. Sturgeon told a Scottish Parliament inquiry into the handling of the complaints that no one had “acted with malice or as part of a plot against Alex Salmond.” “A number of women made serious complaints about Alex Salmond’s behaviour,” she said. “The government, despite the mistakes it undoubtedly made, tried to do the right thing. As first minister I refused to follow the age-old pattern of allowing a powerful man to use his status and connections to get what he wants.” The opposition Scottish Conservatives have demanded Sturgeon resign, but she insisted she acted properly. Sturgeon defended not reporting to civil servants a meeting and a call with Salmond in 2018 about the complaints, saying it was because she did not want to influence the investigation. She denied leaking the complainants’ names, and said she refused Salmond's request to intervene on his behalf because that would have been “a heinous, egregious breach of my position.” Salmond, who led the SNP for two decades, built the separatist party into a major political force and took Scotland to the brink of independence by holding a 2014 referendum. He stepped down as first minister after the “remain” side won, and Sturgeon, his friend and deputy, replaced him. In 2019, Salmond was charged with sexual assault and attempted rape after allegations by nine women who had worked with him as first minister or for the party. Salmond called the charges “deliberate fabrications for a political purpose,” and was acquitted after a trial in March 2020. Salmond has called the last few years a “nightmare.” Sturgeon expressed sympathy for her former friend, but said she had searched in vain for “any sign at all that he recognized how difficult this has been for others, too.” “That he was acquitted by a jury of criminal conduct is beyond question,” she said. “But I know just from what he told me, that his behaviour was not always appropriate." Yet she said Salmond had not spoken “a single word of regret.” Sturgeon said she had “revered” Salmond as a mentor for decades. "I’ve learned things about Alex Salmond over the past few years that have made me rethink," she said. “Many of us, including me, feel deeply let down by him. And that’s a matter of deep personal pain and regret for me.” The political drama in Edinburgh could have major implications for the future of Scotland and the U.K. Scotland's 2014 independence referendum was billed at the time as a once-in-a-generation decision. But the SNP says Brexit has fundamentally changed the situation by dragging Scotland out of the European Union against its will. A majority of Scottish voters backed “remain” in the U.K.’s 2016 EU membership referendum. The U.K. as a whole voted narrowly to leave the bloc. A Scottish Parliament election is due in May, and the SNP leads in opinion polls. Sturgeon says if she wins a majority, she will push for a new independence referendum and challenge British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the courts if his government refuses to agree. John Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, said the damaging saga could hurt the SNP’s electoral prospects. “(The possibility) is that sufficient people, as they see the drama on the accusations played out between Mr. Salmond and Ms. Sturgeon, that some say ‘Well hang on, is this really a country that can govern itself, or at least is this a party that I want us to take us on the road to independence?’” he said. Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
Terrace RCMP arrested two men that had visited someone in COVID-19 isolation and tried to hit a police officer with a chair, according to an RCMP media release. On Feb. 17, RCMP received a report about two men who were visiting a person in COVID-19 quarantine at the Sunshine Inn. The occupant of the room, who is a client of ‘Ksan Society, called the front desk for help after the men refused to leave. The front desk called ‘Ksan Society, who then called who called the RCMP. When police arrived, they told the men they were unwelcome and needed to leave. “The men became combative with police, lifting a chair and attempting to strike the member with it, shouting expletives and threatening to kill police officers on scene,” the release states. The men were arrested for assault with a weapon, resisting arrest and uttering threats. They were later released by police undertaking to address the matter in court. Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
By Jamie Mountain Local Journalism Initiative Reporter ENGLEHART – The times are changing and it was a time for change for the Englehart Dental Office. Owned and operated by Dr. Julie Williams, the business has a new home as it recently opened the newly constructed office building at 35 Third Street. It’s located just down the street from its original office space at 39 Third Street. The Dental Office held an official ribbon cutting ceremony with its staff in front of the new location on February 24 to celebrate the move. “I was just ready to have my own space, something I designed myself,” explained Williams in an interview at the new office building. “It just felt like the next step in the career.” Williams said she put plans into motion for the construction of the new building in January of 2020 but the process really began that March. The old pizza place building that used to occupy the land of the new office then was demolished in July, she noted. “Once it finally got going, it got going,” said Williams with a smile. “I just had the design (of the new building), I made it myself. None of the designers liked it but I just wanted my own space. I didn’t want anything too big, just my size.” Once she purchased the lot from the town, Williams said she was able to design the building size-wise on it. She noted that she originally planned to have a basement in the new building but ran into sewer and water line issues as well as encountering poor soil conditions. “So it’s just on a (concrete) slab now and that changed plans a little bit, but it worked out OK, we still have some storage around. It changed the chemical room slightly, so it changed in the planning as well. That delayed us a good month, month-and-a-half with the redesigning.” Williams said that the COVID-19 pandemic also affected how she was able to carry out her construction plans. “It definitely made material sourcing and everything very difficult,” she said. “The flooring took eight weeks when it should have been like two weeks, that delayed everything. Thank goodness I ordered all the dental equipment like nine months before needed because that didn’t come in until November and it would have been bananas if it didn’t come in.” Williams said the pandemic also “put a little bit of a damper” with how everything surrounding the dental office’s operations flowed while the new building was being constructed, but it wasn’t too much to overcome. “We were able to get open for dentistry before ground broke, after the delays. We had to close to dentistry until the end of May (in 2020) and I was really worried about continuing but we got to open again,” she noted. COMMUNITY FEEDBACK Williams noted that the dental office has been open for three weeks and so far the reception from its patients and the community has been positive. “It’s been fantastic, they’re loving the new space,” she said. “A lot of them are saying ‘Thank you for investing in the community’ and it’s true, I didn’t really think of that effect, but it’s true. It was just always my game plan to stay (in Englehart) so now at least we have our own space to stay.” Williams said her goals for the future are just to enjoy the new office space and provide her patients with a lot more enhanced services. “We have digital x-rays, more computers and everything, we’re finally up to the 21st century” she noted. “Long-term I just want to practice for the next 20 years, really, in comfort and in my own space. This was just the next step, I was ready.” Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
The District of Taylor is taking the wheel on the North Peace Rural Roads Taskforce, drafting a memorandum of understanding for a new coalition. The taskforce was dissolved in January after the 2020 contract was completed. Taylor Mayor Rob Fraser the municipality is prepared to host a new contract during PRRD’s Feb. 11 board meeting. The MOU outlines a coalition between Taylor, Electoral Area B, and Hudson’s Hope, and has been renamed as such, replacing the taskforce. “Our council wanted to make sure there was a commitment by all of the potential participants, and so this MOU was drafted to pull together an agreement between us that would allow this to go forward,” said Fraser. “We’re hoping the regional board will endorse this MOU so we can proceed forward with this rural roads taskforce.” He added that securing funding for the taskforce has been a challenge for the PRRD. Together, the three will set new contracts and annual funding. The MOU draft estimates that each local government could contribute between $50,000 to $150,000 per year, but must reach consensus on what is being spent and how. “The North Peace Rural Roads has been doing fantastic work and has been returning to the region, as much or more as we’ve been putting into it,” said Fraser. “Our council wanted to see this proceed. Everybody was trying to figure out a way to continue this and make it work.” Hudson’s Hope Mayor Dave Heiberg says the group has always worked from the ground up, adding that its goal remains lobbying for needed road improvements. “One of the things I think that the board should realize is that this is a grassroots-driven organization,” said Heiberg. “It has gained traction, and we want to keep that momentum.” Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead says he sees the value of the trio continuing the taskforce, but is concerned with optics of the new coalition. “Shouldn’t it be the Peace River Regional District Rural Roads Taskforce? And shouldn’t it have a strategy aimed at that, on behalf of the whole region, not just one segment?” said Bumstead. “I use that as an observation, not as a criticism of the work.” Director Dan Rose pointed out that the PRRD as a whole could still be on the hook for funding, despite the MOU only including Area B. “If we agree to this as a regional district, we also agree to the funding portion of it. If for some reason it falls out of Area B, the rest of us are responsible for it,” said Rose. “Even at the width and breadth it’s at, it’s a function. And we haven’t asked anybody if they want to fund it yet.” He further added that it could be separated by a resolution through the rural budget committee. Electoral Area B Director Karen Goodings says invitations remain open. “We are certainly open to inviting other members of the board should be interested in joining us. I want to thank Taylor for stepping forward and putting together this MOU,” Goodings said. email@example.com Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
Growing up, it was clear to Will Hanlon that his mother — a young, single mom — put her kids first. “Money was always tight, and I know that my mom sacrificed a lot in order to keep my brother and I clothed and fed and healthy,” Hanlon remembers. One of those sacrifices were menstrual products. Hanlon can’t recall ever seeing them around the house in his youth. “I know that she sacrificed a lot with her health in order to make sure that we were OK,” he said. Knowing that this struggle was not unique to women in the GTA, Hanlon started Twelve, an organization that streamlines menstrual product donations for shelters, charities and individuals in need. Twelve collects donations from members of the public and fulfills orders for organizations, so that they can tailor the products to their specific needs, and not have to find space for donations that may not be in demand. It also gives users the opportunity to choose. Hanlon and his partner handle the storage. When he founded the organization in 2019 that meant finding space in every crevice of their 400-square-foot apartment. Their new home has a garage. Twelve is just one of numerous grassroots, often women-led, Canadian organizations working to tackle period poverty in their communities. The Period Purse, Period Packs, Bleed the North, Project: Full Stop and the 2019 Period Poverty Summit in Nova Scotia, are just some charities and initiatives that have taken up the issue across the country. The challenge of affording things like tampons, pads, menstrual cups, or menstrual panties — which are necessary for people who menstruate — is a global issue and Canada is no exception. A 2018 Plan International Canada survey found that one third of women under the age of 25 struggled to afford menstrual products. Seventy per cent said they’ve missed school or work or social activities because of their period. In northern communities, a box of tampons can be $15 and pads as much as $25. Countries around the world have been working to address period poverty. Scotland became the first country to make menstrual products free out right in early 2020. In February of this year, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that period products would be free in schools for the next three years. The U.K. is looking to scrap its “tampon tax” once it leaves the EU and India started looking to cap the price on sanitary napkins in 2019. Other places have also accounted for menstrual leave — time off separate from sick days to deal with period pain, which for some can be debilitating. These include Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan and Zambia. In some countries this is either paid or unpaid, and people note that while it is available, some still feel a stigma requesting it. So, where is Ontario, and the rest of Canada on this issue? In 2015, Canada removed GST from menstrual products — eliminating a “tampon tax” recognizing that the items are essential. However, with education and health care regulated provincially, there isn’t much more cohesion with government efforts to address period products. The conversation about making period products more accessible has risen in a number of provinces, but few have officially made widespread policy changes. Most of the dedicated response to period poverty continues to be ad hoc through local, grassroots organizations. British Columbia was the first province to move to offer period products for free in schools at the end of 2019. Prince Edward Island did the same in November 2020. The United Way of the Lower Mainland’s Period Promise campaign had an impact on B.C.’s change, and the charity earned a grant to continue research. Other United Way branches in Canada are continuing this campaign. “In Canada, it’s very regionally specific. It’s very, very grassroots,” said Taqdir Kaur Bhandal, the CEO of Mahwari Research Institute, a think tank researching menstrual cycles. In terms of what more there is to do, Bhandal said she would like to see the government move to offer a rebate to encourage use of sustainable products, like menstrual cups and underwear. She also said product access in the prison system could be greatly improved. Young advocates are also joining the push to end period poverty. Isabela Rittinger, 18, founded Bleed the North, a youth organization that both donates products and runs education and advocacy campaigns to help end period poverty. “I think that the time for change was a while ago, and we need to step up,” the Pickering, Ont. teen said. “I want to challenge Justin Trudeau and his government to match Jacinda Ardern’s leadership on this issue.” Toronto Youth Council also wants to see Ontario move quicker on offering menstrual products in schools across the province and has created a Change.org petition for the issue. Free period products in schools have been announced in a piecemeal way, board by board — Toronto District School Board, Peel District School Board, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and Limestone District School Board in Kingston, Ont., to name a few. But the youth behind the petition say it’s time the Ministry of Education made it Ontario-wide. “I just hope that our (government) can just recognize how much of a human rights issue this is, because these are essential products to those who menstruate,” said Monique Kasonga, a member of Toronto Youth Council who started the petition, along with Stephen Mensah and Vanessa Erhirhie. For Meghan White, co-founder of Ottawa-based Period Packs, a challenge with seeing change in period poverty is how varied and extensive the barriers can be. But even with the challenge, she said it still is something policymakers need to fix. “We need intervention from policymakers, because the fact that young people cannot go to school because they’re menstruating — it’s ludicrous. It is unacceptable,” White said. “What is going on right now is not working for half the people that live in this country, and that feels punitive. That’s not OK.” Angelyn Francis is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering equity and inequality. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Angelyn Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star