Beautiful sunrise in St. John's, NL.
Beautiful sunrise in St. John's, NL.
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
LATCHFORD – Latchford Mayor George Lefebvre has let his frustration be known when it comes to the current situation surrounding insurance for municipalities. Municipal insurance rates have been on the rise and the matter has been a growing concern across the province. One specific area that Lefebvre says he has an issue with is the fact that the legal system allows municipalities to be sued for accidents that occur on major highways, which he feels shouldn’t have any bearing on the municipalities. Lefebvre says those frivolous lawsuits alone are enough to help drive up the rates when the insurance companies are forced to defend the municipalities. A highway accident is “something that has absolutely no bearing (on us) whatsoever,” he said at Latchford council’s regular meeting on February 18. “We all know, we’ve seen a number of these accidents recently. Two of them have occurred in Temagami on Highway 11 and they’re suing the Town of Latchford. It’s just absolutely ridiculous. Some people on an ATV (all-terrain vehicle), crossing the railroad track and caught trespassing on the pipeline and trespassing on the tracks, flipped the ATV and sued the Town of Latchford. Now where the hell is the justice in that?” The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and the province’s Attorney General have been looking into the matter of rising municipal insurance costs for the past couple of years, but actions were delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. One municipality reported seeing their premium increase from $120,000 to $225,000. Englehart was among the lowest, seeing their insurance rate go up eight to nine per cent this year while the Municipality of Charlton and Dack saw an increase of 36 per cent. Latchford clerk-treasurer Jaime Allen told The Speaker in an email message that the town’s rate increased by 13.5 per cent. “We had to change our provider several years ago to attempt to control the increases, so (we) fully appreciate and support the effort by the other municipalities,” said Lefebvre later in an email interview. Back at their regular meeting on January 21, Latchford council passed a resolution to support Charlton-Dack’s resolution that stands up against rising municipal insurance rates. Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
County of Haliburton council decided not to up its 15 per cent corporate emissions reduction target despite staff presenting options for higher goals. It targets a 15 per cent reduction in emissions from 2018 levels by 2030. But McKay presented other options such as increasing that figure to 30 per cent to align with federal and provincial targets, or 45 per cent to follow the best science and help further limit global warming. McKay provided examples of similar municipalities aiming for different goals, from Sault Ste. Marie at 10 per cent to the District of Muskoka targeting a 50 per cent reduction by 2030. “We are seeing unprecedented levels of action by all levels of government, shifting from incremental action toward transformative action,” McKay said. “Experts are warning us this is the critical decade to maintain a livable climate … A 45 per cent reduction is one that is based in science. "Cutting our emissions essentially in half would require bold leadership but we would not be alone in this endeavour.” Councillors expressed concerns about upping the target. Deputy warden Patrick Kennedy said the County faces pressure with more people moving to the area permanently. “Fifteen (per cent) is still an admirable goal to achieve with what’s coming,” Kennedy said. Coun. Carol Moffatt said the municipalities passed budgets and she would want more information on financial implications before approving a higher target. “I would like a multi-year rough projection of what it’s going to do to our budget so we can plan and prepare for it adequately, as opposed to taking a leap of faith for the good of the world,” Moffatt said. “We need to do both.” Environment Haliburton! vice-president Terry Moore said he was upset by how the conversation played out. “The financial budget, they’re not going to matter much when we don’t have a climate that’s conducive to civilization,” Moore said. He said there is not enough of a community movement on the issue versus a place like Muskoka. He lamented the County’s approach to finish a corporate plan before beginning consultations for a separate community plan. “There is nowhere near enough pressure. Council’s not going to lead on this,” Moore said. Warden Liz Danielsen said council will look for more information from McKay as she continues her work. “We’re all recognizing it is a moving landscape,” Danielsen said. “Just because we’re not making a change today, does not mean we won’t do that down the road, and even not too long from now.” Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
Last December, Afghan media worker Shahnaz Mohmand rushed to comfort her female colleagues as they reeled in shock after fellow employee Malala Maiwand was shot dead in the eastern city of Jalalabad. "Don't lose yourself, you have to be strong," she said as she hugged Nadia Momand, the 21-year-old producer recalled. Now the same newsroom is mourning Shahnaz.
There are now seven more cases at the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC). The cases are still contained to the same unit where the initial 14 were identified over the weekend, said Richard Dionne, president of the CNCC Local 369. The corrections officer said he could not share the total number of inmates in that wing, but noted that the area remains isolated. "I don't know the full count and I can't give it to you anyway for security reasons," said Dionne, speaking to MidlandToday. He said he was thankful that no staff cases have been identified at this time. "Hopefully, it stays that way," said Dionne. "The health unit came in the other day to offer voluntary staff testing. I don't know how many staff got tested, but none of those that did, to my knowledge, have come back positive." He said the same safety protocols are being followed with staff wearing increased PPE when interacting with inmates and those incarcerated being provided with masks if needed. "There haven't been any additional measures put into place right now," said Dionne. As for the virus possibly spreading in the air, he said, every unit functions independently in terms of ventilation. "I'm very hopeful we can contain it to the one unit and not have it spread to the entire institution," Dionne said, adding the stress level among staff remains high. "The workload has increased just based on the way that the operation changes because we're limiting day-room use and following protocol around higher use of PPE. And it's also the same for inmates, he added. "They just get more and more frustrated being locked down," Dionne said. "Increased cell time is never good for anyone. That's been put out there by a number of professionals that time locked in the cell by yourself or with one other person isn't beneficial." A request for comment from the province was not received by publication time. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
The dining room in Katie Rioux's Quebec City restaurant has been closed since the fall, and she expected her business would remain a takeout-only operation for weeks to come, if not longer. On Wednesday, though, the owner of Café Krieghoff received some unexpected good news. Premier François Legault announced he was scaling back health restrictions in several regions, allowing Rioux and countless other restaurant owners to serve customers sitting inside for the first time in five months. "Honestly, we could not have gotten better news than this," said Rioux, who also promised to do her part to ensure Quebec City does not go back to being a red zone. "As restaurant owners, we will do everything we can. I think the population is also on our side." Café Krieghoff owner Katie Rioux can't wait to serve sitting customers at her Quebec City restaurant for the first time in five months. (Radio-Canada) However, some public health experts say the Quebec government's decision to roll back restrictions to this extent is too hasty. Following March break, the Quebec City region will be joined by the Eastern Townships, Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec and Chaudières-Appalaches as the latest to be downgraded from red to orange zones. In these regions, gyms and show venues will be allowed to reopen, houses of worship will be able to take in as many as 100 people at a time. The government is also dropping the requirement that all primary school students must wear a medical grade mask. The nightly curfew remains, but will kick in at 9:30 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. "I would have preferred to wait until at least one week after the holiday week, because then we would be able to see the impact of the vacation on the increase of cases everywhere in Quebec," said Dr. Cécile Tremblay, a microbiologist and infectious diseases specialist at the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal. "We know that people from Montreal travel to other regions, and we won't know the result of that until two weeks from now." The race between variants and vaccines Legault's announcement came a day after Health Minister Christian Dubé and Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda held a news conference of their own, during which they warned Quebecers about the growing spread of coronavirus variants. "The ocean is calm at the moment ... but underneath there are sharks," Arruda said, "and I'll tell you what those sharks are: they're the variants." The decision to remove restrictions in places outside of the greater Montreal area seems to reflect data showing that variants are gaining more ground in Montreal than elsewhere in the province. On Wednesday, Legault said spikes in cases and hospitalizations were expected in and around Montreal, and those projections played a major role in the government's most recent announcement. But Prativa Baral, an epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says the province is squandering a golden opportunity to deal a crushing blow to the virus. Seniors arrive for their COVID-19 vaccination at a clinic in the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press) With more and more Quebecers set to get vaccinated, Baral says the government should focus on its inoculation campaign while limiting contacts as much as possible, in an effort to keep the spread of variants under control. "For us to be loosening restrictions now, is too premature. We don't want to be reactive, we want to be proactive for once," Baral said. "At this point, it's more of a virus versus vaccine race, and we really want to make sure that we're pushing the vaccine segment to win, as opposed the variant segment." The province's latest projections for the spread COVID-19 appear to reinforce the importance of winning that race. According to the mathematical modelling published by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) on Thursday, lowering the province's collective guard could provoke a rapid spike in new infections that could reach between 3,000 and 4,000 cases per day. It also seems possible, perhaps even likely given the presence of infectious variants, that Quebec will experience a third wave. Sticking with the low-socialization and low-contact measures that were in place from January and February might not entirely prevent another peak this spring in terms of daily infections, but it could keep hospitalization numbers and fatalities low. Marc Brisson, the director of the Université Laval mathematical modelling group that conducts the INSPQ's COVID-19 forecasts, said the model doesn't account for the government's latest announcement, but does include increased inter-regional travel and social contacts from March break. "If we can accelerate vaccination ... and follow public health guidelines, then at that point our model is saying we could stay at a number of cases that would be relatively stable. However, if vaccination slows down and there's more contact, then a third wave is predicted," he said. There is some good news in the projections, however. The model supports the government's contention that there are two distinct epidemiological realities in Quebec: greater Montreal, and the rest of the province. The fact there is lower community spread outside the province's largest urban agglomeration means it's less likely the variant strains will spread. "The race is how many vulnerable people we can protect with vaccination and ... can that variant infect the most vulnerable among us?" he said. The key, Brisson concluded, is continued adherence to public health measures, which "would buy time for the vaccine to take its effect."
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting five new COVID-19 cases today, four of which are in the eastern health region that includes St. John's. Health officials say the four cases in the eastern region involve people between the ages of 40 and 69; three involve close contacts of prior cases while the fourth is related to domestic travel. Officials say the fifth case is located in the western health region, involves a person between the ages of 20 and 39 and is related to international travel. Eight people are in hospital with the disease, including two in intensive care. Officials say they are still investigating the source of an infection involving a health-care worker at a hospital in the rural town of St. Anthony, located on the Northern Peninsula. Newfoundland and Labrador has 121 active reported COVID-19 infections. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
County council agreed to support a movement for improvements at long-term care (LTC) homes, though disagreed with local advocates’ desire to end for-profit homes. Council voted to write a letter of support for the Haliburton-CKL (City of Kawartha Lakes) Long-Term Care Coalition. The advocacy group is joining with others across the province to push for improvements, including amending the Canada Health Act to include LTC, guaranteeing four hours of direct care per day for residents, stronger enforcement and a culture change. Councillors spoke in favour of those ideas. But the coalition’s desire to end private LTC did not garner support and was specifically excluded in the resolution. “The first four points that you have, I think, are a bold initiative and a great start,” Coun. Brent Devolin said. “The supply going forward, will public initiatives alone be enough to look after all of us?” Coalition co-chair, Bonnie Roe, cited the Ontario Health Coalition, a province-wide organization also calling for the end to for-profit long-term care. Its May 2020 analysis found COVID-19 deaths in homes with outbreaks were higher in private (nine per cent) versus non-profit (5.25 per cent) or publicly-owned (3.62 per cent). The Canadian military also released a report about terrible conditions at homes it intervened in last May, which prompted the province to start an independent commission. Four of those homes were privately-owned. “There are some for-profits that are excellent, but generally speaking, they do not follow the standards,” Roe said. “People are asking, ‘why are there private profits attached to us as a society caring for our elders’?” co-chair, Mike Perry, said. “Why was that ever seen as a profit-making venture?” Warden Liz Danielsen said the Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus has identified LTC as a priority. But she added the caucus is not yet in favour of ending private facilities. Coun. Carol Moffatt said she can attest to the challenges of eldercare and there is a drastic need for better support for health workers. “More people to do the job,” Moffatt said. “We also maybe need to be careful of what you wish for in terms of potential downloading. How do we all as a province push for the changes that are required, without it going off the cliff and then landing in the laps of municipalities for increased costs?” Perry thanked council for the support. “There’s so much common room and so much common ground for this moving forward,” he said. “That’s where we find hope in all this tragedy recently." Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
Disney is expanding its catalogue of Disney princesses, this time taking inspiration from Southeast Asian cultures in Raya and the Last Dragon, releasing on Disney+ for $34.99 in Canada, with a subscription.
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has continued to send stunning images of the red planet back to Earth. In this moment, an incredible shot of the Sun from the Martian surface was captured. Credit to "NASA/JPL-Caltech".
WASHINGTON — A key Senate committee on Thursday approved the nomination of New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland to be interior secretary, clearing the way for a Senate vote that is likely to make her the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved Haaland's nomination, 11-9, sending it to the Senate floor. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski was the lone Republican to support Haaland, who won unanimous backing from committee Democrats. Murkowski, a former chair of the committee, said she had “some real misgivings” about Haaland, because of her support for policies that Murkowski said could impede Alaska's reliance on oil and other fossil fuels. But the senator said she would place her “trust” in Haaland's word that she would work with her and other Alaskans to support the state. Her vote comes with a warning, Murkowski added: She expects Haaland “will be true to her word” to help Alaska. Haaland was not in the committee room, but Murkowski addressed her directly, saying, "I will hold you to your commitments.'' “Quite honestly,'' Murkowski added, ”we need you to be a success.'' Democratic Sens. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Maria Cantwell of Washington state both called the committee vote historic, and both said they were disappointed at the anti-Haaland rhetoric used by several Republicans. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the panel's top Republican, and other GOP senators have repeatedly called Haaland's views “radical” and extreme. Heinrich said two interior secretaries nominated by former President Donald Trump could be called “radical” for their support of expanded drilling and other resource extraction, but he never used that word to describe them. Under the leadership of Cantwell and Murkowski, the energy panel has been bipartisan and productive in recent years, Heinrich said, adding that he hopes that tradition continues. The committee vote follows an announcement Wednesday by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, that she will support Haaland in the full Senate. Her vote, along with Murkowski's, makes Haaland’s confirmation by the Senate nearly certain. The panel's chairman, Sen. Joe Manchin, announced his support for Haaland last week. Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, said Thursday that he does not agree with Haaland on a variety of issues, including the Keystone XL oil pipeline, but was impressed by the strong endorsement by Alaska Rep. Don Young, a conservative Republican who is the longest-serving member of the House and has forged a strong working relationship with the liberal Haaland. As a former governor, Manchin also said he knows how important it is for a president to have his “team on board” in the Cabinet. “It is long past time to give a Native American woman a seat at the Cabinet table,'' he said. Interior oversees the nation’s public lands and waters and leads relations with nearly 600 federally recognized tribes. Barrasso, who has led opposition to Haaland, said her hostility to fracking, the Keystone XL oil pipeline and other issues made her unfit to serve in a position in which she will oversee energy development on vast swaths of federal lands, mostly in the West, as well as offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. Barrasso said a moratorium imposed by Biden on oil and gas leases on federal lands “is taking a sledgehammer to Western states’ economies.? The moratorium, which Haaland supports, could cost thousands of jobs in West, Barrasso said. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
Alberta will be delaying second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for up to four months, instead of the current 42 days, which is expected to allow all Albertans over the age of 18 to get their first dose by early summer. On Wednesday, Alberta decided to follow recommendation issued earlier in the day by the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI), which calls for a four-month window between the first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. New research from Quebec, British Columbia, Israel and the U.K. shows the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were providing 70 to 80 per cent effectiveness against the virus two months after the first dose. Once a second dose is given, long-term protection against the virus will be provided. In delaying the second dose, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said it will allow for more Albertans to receive that first dose and be protected against the virus more quickly. Nationally, it is estimated all Canadians over the age of 18 will be able to get the first shot by early summer under this new distribution plan. “We’ve seen research from other jurisdictions that indicates one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine offers a huge boost in immunity, with Canadian data indicating about 80 per cent protection after the first dose," Hinsahw said. "This change will significantly increase how quickly we can offer Albertans the protection of their first dose. The more people that we can offer this protection to in the coming weeks and months, the more effective we will be at stopping spread," Hinshaw said. Hinshaw said the evidence on COVID-19 is constantly evolving and it is critical that the province uses the most up-to-date information to refine the provincial plan for combating the virus. The top doctor said the second dose is still important to help provide long-term protection. Starting March 10, anyone who books their first dose will have their second dose timeline extended from the original 42-day window up to the 16-week window. Second dose appointments will no longer be booked during the first dose, and Albertans will now be sent a reminder to book their second dose. Right now, three vaccines have been approved for distribution in Canada, with the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine now joining the Pfizer and Moderna products. The province is slated to get some of the AstraZeneca vaccine next week, though it is not known exactly how much. "We are still working to confirm exactly how many doses we will receive, and when they will arrive. We hope to update you soon on how these vaccines will be distributed here in Alberta," Hinshaw said. The province will not be distributing the AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 because it is not as effective on that age cohort. "What's clear is that all three of these vaccines reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 and prevent serious outcomes, including hospitalization and death," Hinshaw said. About 255,000 doses of vaccine have been administered in the province, and more than 89,000 people have now been fully immunized with two doses, she said. "This is great news for our most vulnerable Albertans and those who care for them." Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette
An afternoon traffic stop on Keith Ave. in Terrace led to the seizure of substances which police suspect are methamphetamine and purple fentanyl, according to an RCMP media release. On March 2, 2021, police received a report from a member of the public of a potentially impaired driver. RCMP located the vehicle on Keith Ave. and conducted a traffic stop. A roadside screening of the driver led police to believe the driver was impaired by drugs, and police observed the passenger trying to hide bags of a white substance between their legs. RCMP arrested the passenger for possessing a controlled substance and failure to comply with an undertaking. The vehicle was impounded and the driver was given a driving prohibition and several violation tickets. A search incidental to arrest turned up gloves, which contained suspected methamphetamine and purple fentanyl. The matter has been forwarded to court. Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
LONDON — U.K. authorities have launched an investigation into Apple's App Store over concerns it has a dominant role that stifles competition and hurts consumers. The Competition and Markets Authority said Thursday it was looking into “suspected breaches of competition law" by Apple. The announcement adds to regulatory scrutiny of the iPhone maker's app distribution platform, which is also the subject of three antitrust probes by the European Union's executive Commission. Apple said the App Store is “a safe and trusted place for customers” and a “great business opportunity for developers.” The investigation was triggered in part by complaints from app developers that Apple will only let them distribute their apps to iPhone and iPad users through the App Store. The developers also complained that the company requires any purchases of apps, add-ons or upgrades to be made through its Apple Pay system, which charges up to 30% commission. “Millions of us use apps every day to check the weather, play a game or order a takeaway," Andrea Coscelli, the authority's CEO, said in a statement. “So, complaints that Apple is using its market position to set terms which are unfair or may restrict competition and choice – potentially causing customers to lose out when buying and using apps – warrant careful scrutiny." The watchdog said it would consider whether Apple has a “dominant position" in app distribution for Apple devices in the U.K., and, if it does, whether the company “imposes unfair or anti-competitive terms on developers” that results in less choice or higher prices for consumers buying apps and extra. Apple said it looked forward to explaining its App Store guidelines to the U.K. watchdog. “We believe in thriving and competitive markets where any great idea can flourish," the company said by email. “The App Store has been an engine of success for app developers, in part because of the rigorous standards we have in place — applied fairly and equally to all developers — to protect customers from malware and to prevent rampant data collection without their consent." The Associated Press
De retour en zone orange, le centre d’artistes Espace F de Matane présente depuis le 11 février et jusqu’au 20 mars l’installation sonore Quand un arbre tombe, on l’entend ; quand la forêt pousse, pas un bruit, réalisée en 2018 par Caroline Gagné. Ce proverbe africain rappelle que si les événements les plus bruyants retiennent notre attention, l’essentiel se construit dans la durée et la discrétion.À l’écoute de petites choses perçues dans l’indifférence Vivant et travaillant à Québec et à Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, l’artiste en arts visuels et médiatiques convie les visiteurs de l’exposition à l’écoute de ces petites choses perçues dans l’indifférence. « Tel un archet mué par le vent, souligne-t-elle, le bruit d’une branche d’arbre frôlant un escalier de métal est l’élément déclencheur de cette installation sonore. Dans celle-ci, des formes d’aluminium rappelant ce contexte vibrent aux sons de petits haut-parleurs placés sous leur surface plane. » Active depuis plus de 20 ans Active dans son milieu depuis plus de 20 ans, Caroline Gagné compte à son actif plusieurs expositions individuelles et collectives ainsi que des participations à des événements internationaux. Romain Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Monmatane.com
Le secteur de l’électricité jouera un rôle clé dans la réduction des gaz à effet de serre. Améliorer le transport sur de longues distances permettrait de distribuer une énergie propre à moindre coût.
To anyone looking into Kim Switzer’s backyard last week, they might have seen what looked to be Switzer playing with her son, Memphis. But despite the singing, the dancing, the laughter, and the pure joy on their faces, the pair were actually working; tromping around in snowshoes in a very particular way to create a 12-foot-wide flat circle in the snow that would serve as the starting point for a backyard igloo. The joy was much needed for Switzer, who thrives when she is outside but has found it difficult to do so this winter in the way she needs for optimum mental health. “For me, it’s pure joy,” she said. “I love nature, it’s rejuvenating for me. It’s uplifting.” Being a single mom of three, homeschooling her kids, experiencing the death of a parent and the loss of a business, all while living through the pandemic and experiencing a lack of winter camping left Switzer feeling discouraged. “My whole winter has been [hard], I haven’t been out, I haven’t been out anywhere,” she said. Then, the kindness of a stranger and the connection made available through social media turned Switzer’s winter around. An avid outdoorsperson herself, she follows like-minded people on social media for ideas, inspiration and friendship. When she saw Martin Pine, who is from Huntsville, share about igloos he was making, she quickly sent him a message asking if he might come to her house and build one in her yard. “The next thing I know, I get a message in my inbox that says, ‘you’re like the third person who’s asked me about building an igloo in their yard, and you’re the only one that’s actually close enough that could actually make it possible,’” she said. Switzer was exuberant with excitement, in the manner, she said, of “a little kid in a candy shop.” “And I still am,” she said, the week after the igloo was built. After she and Memphis had created the starting point in the yard for the igloo, Pine visited the backyard and helped to teach Switzer the technique he has perfected using a contraption called, fittingly, an Icebox Igloo Tool. “He pops open this little itty, bitty, tiny, square box that I would say is definitely less than six inches thick, and maybe a foot wide by 18 inches long,” she said. “It folds all up and it’s meant to strap on your back so you can take it anywhere.” With the Icebox Igloo Tool, Switzer said Pine can generally build an igloo in about four or five hours but she said it took them more time as she was asking questions and learning the process of packing the snow, following the angle guide and creating an igloo that can hold the weight of a person leaning against it. “There were plenty of times where he was like, ‘you’re so concentrated,’” she said. “I was just soaking it all in. I learned so much about snow, and even going around the circle I learned how snow changes state ever so slightly. In the shade, it packs this way, but as you come around and you’re in the sun, it becomes a little more wet, and a little bit more sticky … How different snow packs and moves and blends, it’s pretty wild, actually.” When it was finished, Switzer said she was able to get her much-needed outdoor time, sleeping overnight in the igloo, spending time in it with her ukulele, even eating a take-out meal from the Mill Pond restaurant in the shelter. Pine’s unmonetized YouTube channel has almost 10,000 subscribers and his instructional videos of canoe camping, winter camping, bushcraft, meal preparation and igloo construction have accumulated thousands of views. “I love backcountry camping and I have always lamented that so few people avail themselves of the opportunities we have here in Ontario for getting out into nature and camping in the backcountry,” he told the Times. “I determined many years ago that what keeps people from camping in the backcountry – as opposed to say, car camping in a serviced site in a park – is a simple lack of practical knowledge about how to go about [it].” He shares his knowledge online and was happy to help Switzer learn how to make her own igloo in her backyard – for the price of a cup of coffee or two. “As a boy, growing up in rural Quebec, I loved making and camping in snow shelters called quinzhees, which is essentially a large pile of shovelled snow which one then hollows out to resemble a crude igloo-like shelter,” said Pine. Pine said he knew that igloos were sturdier shelters that could remain standing longer and would not result in the builder getting soaked in their creation. “But the Inuit built their igloos out of a type of snow that is not found in this part of the country, namely hard-sintered, wind-packed snow, which can then be shaped during the building process.” Pine purchased the Icebox Igloo Tool, an invention created by an American mountaineer in Colorado, “Igloo Ed,” that allows him to make snow bricks regardless of the snow conditions. While Switzer’s igloo has suffered in recent weather conditions, she sees the resulting hole in the top of the igloo as an opportunity – one to provide a chance to look up at the stars, and also, to learn about how to fix the problem in her own backyard igloo as experience for if she builds one at another time in backcountry. “I’ve got to learn, and you learn from trial and error, mistakes, whatever it might be,” she said. “It’s been four or five days of just an abundance of information.” The igloo in the backyard of her Carnarvon home has lifted her spirits tremendously. “This is the highlight of my winter,” said Switzer. “That right there made my entire winter.” For more information, visit Pine’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/PineMartyn. Sue Tiffin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Minden Times
One person has died after a camper van caught fire at a park in Victoria early Thursday. Victoria police were called to Beacon Hill Park downtown shortly after 8 a.m. PT. Firefighters were already on scene trying to put out the flames in a camper van with red and silver stripes. One person was found dead, according to a statement from police. Alex Painter witnessed the fire Thursday morning and is organizing with other van dwellers to provide fire safety equipment to those who can't afford it.(Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC) Alex Painter lives in a van that was parked nearby and says he awoke to the sound of city staff trying to wake the occupant of the burning van. "By the time I actually got out of my van, there were six-foot flames shooting out the roof," he said Painter, a member of a #Vanlife group said after the fire this morning he and several other members have been discussing buying smoke detectors and mini fire extinguishers to hand out to people living in their vehicles who can't afford them. 'Honest dependable man' William McDougall was a friend of the man who died. He says his friend's death is a tragedy made worse by the fact he was waiting to get housing that never came.(Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC) William McDougall knew the deceased. He said his friend was in his 50s and had spent his life as a merchant marine sailor. "He was an honest dependable man that you could trust and had your back when you needed it," said McDougall, fighting back tears. McDougall says his friend's death is tragic, made worse by the fact he was waiting to get housing that never came. "He got on all the lists with Pacifica Housing and B.C. Housing and he would phone them every week. And he really did want a place and he was always disappointed when it didn't come through," said McDougall The force's major crime unit is now investigating. No further information was released.
OTTAWA — The debate over the safety of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic is coming under researchers' microscopes. Three new projects are aiming determine how many teachers and school staff in Canada have had COVID-19, to help inform prevention strategies in neighbourhoods, schools and daycares. About $2.9 million will be spent on the research in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec as part of the work of the national COVID-19 immunity task force. All three projects will ask teachers for blood samples to determine how many have antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, which would indicate a previous COVID-19 infection. In Ontario, researchers are hoping for 7,000 teachers and education workers to enrol, while in B.C. the study will focus on the Vancouver School District. In Quebec, the work will build on an existing study looking at the spread of the novel coronavirus in children in four Montreal neighbourhoods. The research will also delve into the question of teachers' mental health, a key area of concern for educators in recent months. While the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is released daily, the true number of how many people in Canada have been infected can't actually be known without widespread surveillance testing. "Although daycare and school staff may have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 in their work settings, we don’t have much data on how many school staff have had asymptomatic infections, meaning they had no symptoms but potentially could transmit the virus,” said Dr. Catherine Hankins, co-chair of the task force. The CITF was set up by the federal government to understand the factors in immunity to COVID-19. A piece of that will be the vaccines, now rolling out across the country and teachers participating in the research will also be tracked post-vaccination to see whether their antibody levels change over time. But so far, vaccines have not been approved for use in children, which will likely leave the debate about the safety of schools raging for months to come. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
A local resident’s request for a street light to be installed in front of his house has been denied. Oshawa city staff met with resident Don Smith following direction by council at its Sept. 28, 2020 meeting to review the installation of a street light at 2770 Wilson Rd. N. Due to the pandemic, the meetings took place over the phone. In a previous letter to the city, Smith requested the light be installed on an existing pole at the south driveway entrance of his property due to damage and safety concerns. “Being the last residential property on the road, the multiple incidents of garbage dumping, vandalism, and use of my property from a night time parking spot, my request is reasonable,” he writes. Smith also noted he would come home at night on several occasions to find a car in the dark in his driveway. “At best I think people could be having medical issues and need to get off the road, but the toilet paper, tissues and used sanitary napkins they leave for me to pick up and dispose of suggests to me something different,” he says. Councillor Rosemary McConkey says not having a street light in this area is a major concern. “This is a concern to anyone that lives in a situation like the current owner of this property,” she says. “We can accommodate this resident and the last thing we want to hear is about parties happening, which is a major problem.” Councillor John Neal agreed with McConkey, noting it’s a safety issue. “Safe and reliable infrastructure should be across the whole city, not just selected areas,” he says. However, Councillor John Gray, who sits on the community services committee, says the committee gave this issue a great deal of consideration. “It’s the fact that it’s going to cost $20,000 to put up a street light,” he says, noting the advantage of living in a rural area is the dark. “My impression of a rural area is that you have the advantage of a night sky. Here in the city it’s harder to see a night sky,” he continues, adding the cost for the project is quite expensive and doesn’t compare to the other advantages. According to a city report, street lighting in the area along Wilson Road North is limited due to the current Oshawa Power & Utilities Corp. (OPUC) hydro infrastructure, noting “street lights require a secondary conductor for power, and the majority of the poles on Wilson Road North do not currently have this secondary power supply.” The report states there is a hydro pole with a street light located across the street at 2765 Wilson Road North, which was installed in 2017 at the request of a local resident. According to staff, this was the only hydro pole along Wilson Road North that had access to secondary power for a new streetlight. Staff say there are three hydro poles located north of 2765 Wilson Road North, including one hydro pole at Smith’s property, however none of these poles have a secondary supply required for street lighting. According to a quote from OPUC, it is possible for a secondary cable line to be installed at the city’s expense of $12,000. Furthermore, due to the fact OPUC deemed the pole at the end of Smith’s driveway unsafe due to the existing high voltage line connection on the pole that extends down the pole to provide underground service to this property and existing wiring, a new pole would need to be installed as well. Therefore, the total cost of the project to install a new hydro pole and street light, as well as two more lights on the other two existing poles, would cost the city $20,000. Due to the area of the city in which the resident lives and the high cost of the project, council approved staff’s recommendation to deny Smith’s request for a street light. Courtney Bachar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Oshawa Express