Government puts out an interactive self-assessment application - will it make a difference?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 16th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The province is doing everything they can to get people to use the preventative measure they know work to slow down the spread of the Covid19.

Doug Ford MAr 17

Premier does a media event almost daily – begging – beseeching the public to observe the social distancing rules. But the number of new infections is climbing – daily.

The Premier is his now almost daily web cast where he brings people up to data on what is happening; what they province is doing and putting critical data into the public realm.

He often beseeches, beg the public to be careful and cautious.

A significant part of the public isn’t listening all that well.

Today the province announced a new interactive self-screening tool. It is direct and the province wants people to use it every day.

CLICK HERE to access the app.

That isn’t likely to happen – the questions asked are pretty fundamental and we suspect that after a few days the people that need to hear the message and pay attention will be the first to get bored and stop doing the self-assessment.

Go to school

 

At the risk of being a cynic this Premier might have to announce on a Thursday morning that come Friday at noon all bars and places where people gather for non-essential purposes are closed until the following Monday.

Or perhaps a curfew to make the point. British Columbia put a curfew in place.

The number of new infections are still climbing. At some point these infections will work their way into the school system.

The public reaction will not be pretty.

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Hospitals in the wider region coordinate their plans for increased COVID infections and more hospital stays

News 100 redBy Staff

September 15th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The comments made in the video that accompanied the report from the Joseph Brant hospital on how they expected to use the Pandemic Response Unit – another phrase for what is a “field hospital” – were a little on the jarring side.

field hospital - long look

Totally self contained with very high air exchange features. No television, virtual visits.

The words “expected surge” are now used commonly.  Newspaper headlines make mention of the “surge” in reported COVID-19 virus infections.  Public Health people are always asked – will there be a second wave while others answer that we are now in a second wave.

A number of months ago Eric Vandewall approved the purchase and installation of what amounted to a small hospital – a little like the convalescent hospitals we had when tuberculosis was rampant.

It didn’t get used and some thought it was a waste of money.  Vandewall knew what he was doing – being proactive in the best possible way.

The hospital produced a short video explaining how the unit – called a PRU – will be used. Worth listening to – CLICK here.

The hospitals are not as clear as they can be in explaining how the PRU – Pandemic response unit will be used.

Basically it is in place to handle COVID-19 patients that a hospital cannot accommodate.

Field hospital

It’s a short term facility. People will be there to recuperate. The structure probably has a life cycle of less than ten years – more like five.

Hospitals in Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand, Norfolk, Brant and Burlington (HNHNBB Region) are working together to create a regional COVID-19 model of care for COVID-19 positive patients requiring hospital care.

Together, their goal is to be ready to support the increases in COVID-19 care needs, while minimizing any potential disruption of scheduled, regional, and community care across our region.

The hope is that transmission rates in our region remain low, any increases in COVID-19 care will be managed within each of our hospitals, and that the regional COVID-19 model of care will not need to be activated.

However, creating this regional approach is critical to our pandemic response planning and ensures we are prepared for any potential surge in COVID-19 cases.

Regional COVID-19 Model of Care Strategy

Joseph Brant Hospital (JBH), and all HNHNBB’s hospital emergency departments, will care for persons under investigation for COVID-19. Patients who present to JBH, testing positive and requiring hospitalization, will be cared for at our hospital.

Four designated hospitals will be providing acute COVID-19 care:

Hamilton Health Sciences (Hamilton General Hospital)
Joseph Brant Hospital
Niagara Health (St. Catharines Site)
St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton

Norfolk General Hospital and Brant Community Healthcare System will continue to provide local COVID-19 care, and may transfer COVID-19 positive patients as needed to designated hospitals.

field hospital - installed AprilPandemic Response Unit

Joseph Brant Hospital’s Pandemic Response Unit (PRU) will be the HNHNBB’s regional resource to provide care for COVID-19 patients.

The PRU is an external all-season structure designed specifically to care for stable COVID-19 positive patients who have mild to moderate symptoms.

Patients admitted to the PRU require care and support that cannot be provided at home, including oxygen therapy, medication management, monitoring of symptoms and some personal support. Support for virtual visits and engagement of family/caregivers will be provided while in the PRU.

As admitted patients who are transferred to another hospital recover from COVID-19, they will either be discharged home with community supports as needed, or they will be transferred back to their community hospital for ongoing care as soon as possible.

We are told that there are going to be more COVID infection reports – the numbers are already well above where they were in June and after the lock down.

The solution for everyone is to continue to protect yourself and others by following public health advice including  keeping the required social distance, washing your hands frequently, wearing a mask when appropriate and getting a flu shot when available.

The solution is in our hands – how serious this probable second wave turns out to be will be determined by how responsible we each are.

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Public Health reports first case of West Nile virus in Burlington

News 100 blueBy Staff

September 15th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

While Covid-19 issues keep the Public Health Unit very very busy, it also has to deal with other significant health issues.

A Burlington resident has tested positive for West Nile virus.

Halton Region Public Health has confirmed that a Burlington resident has tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). This is Halton’s third human case of WNV this year; the first two positive test results were residents of Oakville.

“Halton Region Public Health continues to reduce the risk of West Nile virus in our community through education and preventative programs, such as larviciding. Until the fall frost, residents should keep using bug spray, remove standing water and avoid areas where mosquitoes are present,” said Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Halton Region Medical Officer of Health.

“While 80 per cent of people infected with West Nile virus will have no symptoms, others will have symptoms consisting of fever, headache, muscle ache and a rash. These symptoms are very similar to illnesses such as COVID-19, so it is important for residents seek medical assessment.”

Residents are encouraged to take the following steps to protect themselves and their families from mosquitoes:

WestNileVirus_transmission• Urban areas are more likely to have mosquitoes that carry WNV. Reduce mosquito breeding sites around your home at least once a week by getting rid of water in containers and objects such as wheelbarrows, tires, plant pots, old toys, plastic pails and wading pools.
• Avoid areas where mosquitoes are known to be present such as wooded areas, golf courses or gardens, especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
• If you are going to areas where mosquitoes are active, cover up by wearing light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants with tightly woven fabric.
• Use a mosquito repellent (bug spray) containing DEET or Icaridin.
• Make sure your window and door screens are tight and without holes, cuts or other openings.
• Change the water in bird baths at least once per week.

If residents see standing water on public property for longer than a week, they can report it to Halton Region by emailing accesshalton@halton.ca or calling 311.

As part of its ongoing West Nile virus surveillance and larviciding program, Halton Region Public Health staff continue to monitor areas of standing water, eliminate potential mosquito breeding sites and apply larvicide when mosquito larvae is found during Regional monitoring and surveillance. For more information on Halton Region’s West Nile virus program, visit halton.ca.

 

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Media gets it wrong - school board provides report that was incorrect.

News 100 blueBy Staff

September 15th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Media yesterday, including the Gazette, reported that two students were found to have been infected by the Covid-19 virus.

The two people who were infected were students but they didn’t contract the virus in a classroom.

Neither had yet started school.

They were declared infected by the Public Health Unit on the weekend.

Halton District School Board Director of Education Stuart Miller found himself with a piece of bad news on his hands before the school doors even opened.

So far there has not been an infected student or teacher identified in the school board population.

Media got their information from the school board web site.

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HDSB reports two school related covid infections - meanwhile things at Charles Best run very smoothly.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 14th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

The report that two students were found to be infected was incorrect.  Two people were found to be infected – they were not in classroom at the time – they had yet to start school.

Student with parent - getting saniitized and checked iin Sept 14

Parents walks her son up to the entrance at Charles Best

It was not an auspicious start.

First day back at school and the Halton District School Board reports a student at Brant Hills with a COVID infection.

In a brief statement on the Board’s COVID-19 Advisory Committee page they report that a positive test was recorded at the Brant public school in Burlington and the Garth Webb Secondary School in Oakville.

The COVID-19 Advisory Committee provides the number of positive COVID-19 cases that are connected to schools. For all confirmed cases, families and staff at the school will be notified by letter. Halton Region Public Health will contact any close contacts directly.

The web site page does point out that: “ A positive case at a school does not mean the individual was exposed to COVID-19 at the school.

They may have been exposed somewhere else in the community. The identity of the individual is protected by privacy legislation and will not be shared.

Neither school will be closing nor will any classrooms/cohorts be closed.

This morning students at Charles Best Public School arrived by car, by bus and some walked.

Best kjids off bus Sept 14

Students get off school bus and head for their classrooms – all wearing masks.

The start of the day was orderly with every student sanitized and let into the school.

Security was tight with principal Paul Thomson walking the perimeter of the school property in a safety vest and a walky-talky on his hip.

School buses arrived, students hopped out while small groups of parents, not wearing masks, chatted with each other.

It was a nice fall day and while things were a little edgy – the day got off to a good start.

Best Sept 14 - 2

Children on the right are keeping their social distance from people walking along the pathway.

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Daily Covid in the Schools information available to parents and the general public

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 11th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Saying that “The Premier and our government made a promise to parents, that we would ensure that they would have access to the same information that we have.” the province created a web site that will report on the most up-to-date COVID-19 information available, including a summary of cases in schools and licensed child care centres and agencies.

If a COVID-19 case is confirmed at a school it will be posted to the web site.  Data is current as of 2:00 pm the previous day.

Click HERE for the web site.

Set out below is what one of the pages on the web site looks like.

 

Covid cases school report

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Performing Arts will put on performances starting October 2 - No more than 50 people in the theatre at a time - all wearing masks

News 100 blueBy Staff

September 9th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

With Public Health saying holding an event with up to 50 people was now legit Tammy Fox, Executive Director  at the Performing Arts Centre has released her fall season program.

Abbreviated as it is – it is a welcome step forward.

That 50 people rule means that there will be no more than 50 people in the theater – they will be masked and spread out so that the six foot separation measure is met.

Tammy Fox hands-out-768x578

Tammy Fox is thrilled – she wants her patrons to return and has a solid program in place.

Tammy is thrilled – as well she should be.  She has been stuck at home pushing paper and working the telephone.  Tammy Fox is a people person – she needs interaction with people.

The Fall line-up of incredible live entertainment options to lift the community’s spirits in these unprecedented times is part of why the program was put together.

“As a facility, BPAC is perfectly positioned to welcome back audiences with patron safety at the forefront;  with its spacious Lobby, increased ventilation, physical-distancing ticketing system and additional health and safety measures to put theatregoers’ minds at ease.

“Many presenters have pivoted to exploring online content offerings and virtual performances, and while BPAC is also considering live streaming options, the organization believes that there really is no replacement for the experience of live entertainment in engaging the community and in supporting Canadian artists.

“All patrons must wear a mask, hand sanitize upon entry and maintain social distancing outside of their social circle. Patrons are expected to self-screen, and of course to stay at home if experiencing COVID-related symptoms or if suspecting recent exposure to the virus. Health and safety measures are also being implemented backstage to protect artists, and throughout the venue to protect staff and volunteers.

Most performances will be 70-75 minutes in length, and while the Lobby bar will remain open for one hour prior to each performance, intermissions have been suspended in most cases in order to reduce the risk of overcrowding in the Lobby.

Spoons - female lead

Sandy Horne – one of  The Spoons.

Kicking off the Fall line-up is an intimate evening with Burlington’s own THE SPOONS on Friday, October 2nd and Saturday, October 3rd at 8pm, performing as an acoustic duo.

Canadian pop superstar CHANTAL KREVIAZUK will be presented over a three-evening period from October 8th to 10th. “We all have a need to connect so badly right now and there is no better way than through the music. If we can do this safely, I am thrilled and well, to be fair to my kids, they could use a break from their mother!” says Chantal.

gord-downie-in-tears

Gord Downie.

BPAC’s annual Cultural Diversity Festival will begin with its yearly fundraising performance LEGACY: A Tribute to Gord Downie in support of the Downie-Wenjack Fund, featuring Hamilton native TOM WILSON, Indigenous duo TWIN FLAMES, and more, on Thursday, October 15th and Friday, October 16th.

On October 17th and 18th audiences will be treated to BENEATH SPRINGHILL: The Maurice Ruddick Story, about the racial tensions that surfaced in a rural community as a result of a mining disaster, written and performed by Stratford actor Beau Dixon, who seamlessly plays 10 vivid characters. BPAC will also present four performances of DRAG QUEEN MUSIC BINGO with Fluffy Soufflé – each one featuring a different era of music, and tons of exciting prizes to be won!

Two events that had been scheduled for the second half of BPAC’s 19/20 Season, which had to be canceled due the pandemic, have been rescheduled – jazz artist ELISE LEGROW on October 25th and singer/songwriter KEVIN FOX: Songs for Cello & Voice on November 1st.

Sean Cullen

Comedian Sean Cullen

Toronto mainstay the ALTdot COMEDY LOUNGE will be presented at BPAC for the first time, in a series of performances over October 30th, 31st and November 27th and 28th. The October 30th performances will feature actor-comedian SEAN CULLEN with host ALI HASSAN.

Other performances will include comics Nigel Grinstead, Keith Pedro, Peter White, Patrick Haye and more.

Multiple Juno-Award winner SARAH SLEAN takes the stage on Saturday, November 7th and CBC Radio host and BPAC favourite TOM ALLEN presents A POE CABARET on Sunday, November 8th.

Classical pianist LESLIE KINTON Celebrates Beethoven on November 29th and Talk is Free Theatre will present INTO THE WOODS In Concert, a ‘lightly staged’ musical theatre production featuring both professional performers and 27 local youth from December 3rd to 12th.

The firsttwopeople to enter the Mian Theatre for a paid performance hand their tickets to an usher.

The first two people to enter the Main Theatre for a paid performance hand their tickets to an usher. Staff are hoping the audiences return.

Tammy Fox, BPAC’s Executive Director, is hoping that audiences will return with pent-up enthusiasm after months of having only online access to entertainment, and with a new appreciation of the importance of communal connection.

“Putting together a fall season full of incredible Canadian talent over the span of a week has been a little hectic to say the least,” she says, “however the applause really needs to go to our staff, who have been working tirelessly to ensure our safe reopening, to our Board of Directors whose unwavering support in resuming live entertainment offerings has given us the confidence to forge ahead, and to all of the amazing artists who have agreed to be included in the Season – because frankly they have all, in deference to our 50-patron capacity limit, committed to performing at rates well below what they deserve and are accustomed to.

It’s been a team effort, and I am beyond grateful to be surrounded by this community of dedicated artists and arts-lovers.”

BPAC Board Chair Nancy Brewer says “We’ve been holding your seat! And now, what a fantastic fall season we have for you. I’d love to see you in the audience as BPAC welcomes you back, safe, secure & ready to entertain you!”

Tickets go on sale to BPAC Members on Friday, September 11th, and on sale to the general public on Monday, September 14. Renew your BPAC membership to be first in line and to receive $5 off all regular-priced tickets!

Visit https://burlingtonpac.ca for a complete listing of performances.

Box Office Information:
Online: www.burlingtonpac.ca
Over the Phone: 905.681.6000 – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday from 12:00pm to 4:00pm
In Person: 1 hour before each performance.

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City will hold 5th Telephone Town Hall September 23rd

eventsorange 100x100By Staff

September 9th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City is going to host a fifth Telephone Town Hall on September 23rd that will focus on COVID-19 as we head into the fall season.

The event will be between 7:00 and 8:00 pm when information will be shared and questions answered.

These events have been very useful – it serves as a place for people to go when looking for answers and gives the city a sense as to where the concerns are.

That the Director of Education for both the Catholic and the Public Boards of Education are taking part suggests where the serious concerns are.

The Mayor will host the event; taking part with her are:

Tim Commisso, City Manager at the City of Burlington
Pat Daly, Director of Education at Halton Catholic District School Board
Stuart Miller, Director of Education at Halton District School Board
Eric Vandewall, President and Chief Executive Officer at Joseph Brant Hospital
Mary Battaglia, Director of Roads, Parks and Forestry, City of Burlington
Denise Beard, Manager of Community Development, City of Burlington
Allan Magi, Executive Director of Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services, City of Burlington
Rory Nisan, Ward 3 City and Regional Councillor

Members of Burlington City Council will be present and listening.

How to Participate
Residents who would like to participate in the town hall can do so in the following ways:

1. Register in advance: Burlington residential phone numbers will be randomly selected to be part of the telephone town hall. Residents who would like to be added to the telephone call list can email getinvolved@burlington.ca by the end of the day on Sept. 22.
Please note: if you registered for any of the previous town halls (held on March 26, April 14, June 4 or July 16), you are not required to register your phone number again. To remove a name from the call list, email getinvolved@burlington.ca by the end of the day on Sept. 22.

2. Join by telephone: Anyone who does not receive a telephone invitation can call 1-800-779-0904 just before 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 23 to join the town hall. For those individuals calling in, please be advised more than one attempt may be required due to the high volume of traffic on the phone lines. If the first call does not connect, please hang up and dial the 1-800 number again.

Once the call begins, a moderator will provide participants with instructions for how to submit their questions to the leadership panel.

Many of the questions not answered during the call will be posted, with answers, to the City’s website at burlington.ca/townhall, along with an audio file and full transcript of the call after Sept. 23.

 

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The show will go on. Burlington Student Theatre is returning to the stage –six feet apart

artsorange 100x100By Staff

September 9th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

Burlington’s Student Theatre programs will be returning this fall with opportunities for youth ages 4 to 17 years.

Actors from Burlington Student Theatre were on hand for the turning over of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.

Actors from Burlington Student Theatre

Beginning Sept. 29, participating young actors and actresses will be performing at either the Burlington Performing Arts Centre or the Student Theatre building. No experience is necessary to participate.

Online registration for Burlington residents opens Sept. 12 at 9 a.m. Non-Burlington residents can register on Sept. 18 at 9 a.m.

Student Theatre will meet all the health guidelines put out by Halton Region Public Health, which include lower ratios and capacity, physical distancing, mandatory health screening and enhanced facility cleaning.

The final performances will be filmed, edited and played on-screen.

There will be no live performances.

Burlington Student Theatre Film Festival presents a screening of Matilda and Frozen from Summer Arts Camps.

Two films featuring participants from the summer Student Theatre will be played at the Burlington Student Theatre Film Festival at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.

RAINER NOACK with wild lady

Rainer Noack – inspirational leader at the Student Theatre

Tickets are available online. COVID-19 precautions will be in place for each screening.

• Saturday, Sept. 12 – 12 p.m.
• Sunday, Sept. 13 – 12 p.m. and 7 p.m.
• Saturday, Sept. 19 – 12 p.m.

Recreation Fee Assistance
Recreation is for all, regardless of financial situation. Recreation Fee Assistance is funding made available to resident individuals or families who need help to pay for City of Burlington recreation programs.

For more information or to apply, visit burlington.ca/feeassistance. You can also leave a confidential voicemail message at 905-335-7738, ext. 8501 and our staff will return your call to assist you.

As residents continue to rediscover many of their favourite spaces and activities in the city, City services may look different as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19. The City’s commitment to providing the community with essential services remains a priority.

Chris Glenn

Chris Glenn, Director of Recreation Services

Chris Glenn, Director of Recreation Services points out that “Student Theatre has a great history of working with our youth and giving them not only a fun time, but also opportunities for them to grow. As with every program we’re offering, things will look a bit different but will still be filled with friendly faces and high-quality service.”

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Public school board trustees hold their session in the Board room - six trustees take part.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 8th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It started as 1-1 conversations that Andrea Grebenc had with trustees on the virtual meetings the Halton District School Board was holding.
Grebenc thought it was time to hold meetings that took place in the Board room and not have all the participants communicating from their keyboards and cameras.

Grebenc frown

The technology at the School Board Board Room was at times not up to the demands of a meeting that was live and local for some and virtual for others – they made it work.

Once she had canvassed the 13 trustees she met with Director of Education Stuart Miller to look into the possibility of moving back into the Board room.

The question was brought up at an Agenda Review meeting early in August.

“We had to find out if public health regulations would allow us back into the building and how it would restrict us.

“Once we received guidelines from staff and reviewed them, we had a short conversation about it in private session.  That resulted in  the outline of a plan to see about moving forward. The limitations,  physically and technologically, were known.  I then posted a sign-up sheet for the first regular board meeting on September 2.”

Roche xx

Trustee Rocha

Trustees Gerrits, Gray, Rocha, Shuttleworth, Vice Chair Ehl Harrison and Grebenc were there as well as Director Miller.

“We were limited by the board room technology in the room right now as it is hardwired to our desks (which are not even a metre apart. The two cameras would not be able to capture everyone because of the social distancing.

“We settled on six as the maximum number of Trustees to take part.”

However after the first run Grebenc is looking at being in the Board room a little differently.

“There were some problems – but after last week’s pilot, that may be reduced as we had some difficulties with feedback and mics not working properly.

“Bringing the Board room up to the different technical standard was not something we wanted to do. The limited resources (yes, we spend a lot of money – but there is never enough to go around) result in our deciding not to funnel  resources from the classrooms and central administration to expedite the technology changes needed for 13 people (11 Trustees & 2 Student Trustees) who are still able to meet and complete their work online. We felt it was  more important to have the whole system focused on student and staff safety and the learning environments.

grebenc 3

Ear buds were driving her frantic – the six screen she had to keep an eye on made it a busy meeting.

“No worries – we will get there – it is just not a top priority – nor should it be.

“We are following the public health guidelines that were created for the board office. Facilities staff have measured out and designated places we are able to sit to meet the guidelines. There is hand sanitizer available in several places and masks as well. Washrooms are now single person. There are arrows directing us around, etc.

“Personally, I have to say that my set-up at home was a lot easier as I had my three monitors to work with (2 personally owned monitors and my board laptop) and didn’t have to wear the truly uncomfortable (verging on painful) earbuds.

“There are quite a number of screens that I need to use for the meeting to run smoothly:

voting screen,
voting responses,
request to speak form,
speaker’s list,
the google meet screen itself for the meeting,
email for emergency notifications (when someone is having technical issues like getting kicked off.

“The regulation is still in place that would allow the board meetings to happen remotely, so if we have to, we can function completely at a distance again. We are going to be in the board room again on the 16th and probably every meeting going forward.

Gray

Trustee Gray

“As for a public gallery, no. At this time, we are not opening the gallery to the public, but are continuing to live-stream and record board meetings as usual. We do not have any broadcast of the Google meeting available in the board room due to sound feedback issues, so the public would have to sit in the room with earphones watching on a personal device to have access to what everyone is saying – people might as well be doing that at home as there is nothing special going on in the room itself.

“We don’t even talk amongst ourselves in the room because we have to watch our screens and wear the earbuds to hear what is going on.

“We don’t have barriers between us physically in the room, but it sure feels that way socially.”

What is really interesting is that it was the Board of Education that was the first to edge forward a little bit and have at least some of the trustees in the room while conducting public business.

If Burlington city council wanted to come out of their closet as it were they could do so easily – there are just seven members of Council – there are 13 trustees plus two student trustees.
.

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Significant funding to build social purpose organizations available through Burlington Foundation,

News 100 yellowBy Staff

September 9th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Helping Business be a Successful Tool for Social, Cultural and Environmental Change is the theme behind the Investment Readiness Program (IRP) which is a $50M national initiative led by Community Foundations of Canada and funded by the Government of Canada to help social purpose organizations (non-profits, charities, co-operatives, hybrid social enterprises, and mission-focused for-profits) go from great ideas to investment ready.

Organizations have the potential to receive from $10,000 to $100,000 in non-repayable capital to develop their enterprise.

Community Foundation Get ReadyApplications for the second and final round of funding will be accepted starting 9 a.m. EST Tues. Sept. 8th until Fri. Oct. 9th, 2020

Burlington Foundation is excited to be a local partner in the Brant | Halton | Peel Partnership (made up of six Community Foundations, Sheridan College and EDGE), with the partnership allocating $715,000 in Round 1 funding to 23 social purpose organizations impacting our local communities.

As we’ve acutely seen in 2020, it is vitally important to have healthy and thriving social purpose organizations, which will also be key in Canada’s recovery efforts as we #BuildBackBetter. Through the IRP, together, we’re helping to build more resilient, sustainable and inclusive communities.

Comm foundatio Click here graphic

 

 

 

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HDSB may have to pull as much as $8 million from the Reserve accounts.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 7th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

HDSB may have to pull as much as $8 million from the Reserve accounts. Director is OK with that – no sense yet as to how the trustees are going to react.

The Halton District School Board trustees were given a close and disturbing look at just how big the COVID-19 financial hole was going to be. It was not a pretty picture.

financia updated

 

The financial story for the Halton District School Board is far from complete.  The $12.4 million in COVID funding came from the provincial and federal government.  The drill down on what those funds are going to be used for is set out in the table below.

funding

Here is how you spend $12.4 million.

 

covid exp

The above are expenses the board expects to incur when schools open on the -14th

The spending priorities as the Board sees them at this point are shown in the table below.   There are a tasks that still have to be fully costed – at this point they are at $9.6 million

spending prioities

The Board has $40 million in reserves.  Those funds are set aside for specific projects and a source of funds for unexpected situations.  The COVID-19 virus was one of those.  The Board is going to have to pull about $4 million from the reserves to cover the immediate expenses.  This is not something they can do without permission from the province.  School boards across the province were given permission to use up to 2% of their reserves on COVID related expenses.

Board administrators have not yet asked the trustees to approve the spending – they are just telling the trustees that this is the way they see the finances working out.  The HDSB may find itself having to take that 2% from the reserves which amounts to $8 million, which Director Miller said he “is OK with”.

What was of interest was the question Director of Education Stewart Miller put to the trustees on deficits and what they had in the way of a comfort level.

Miller told the trustees that budget shortfalls and the use of reserves are as much a philosophical question as it is a financial matter. What Miller doesn’t have to deal with are tax payers who look askance at increases in their tax bill.  That is the ire that falls upon trustees.

What Miller has to cope with are trustees who do their home work and press the Director for details and teach him how to find efficiencies.

Collard and Miller

If looks could kill – the Director was toast. Amy Collard, Ward 5 Trustee holding the Director of Education to account during the high school closing discussions.

Up until very recently Ward 5 Trustee Amy Collard was the only trustee prepared to and capable of going toe to toe with Miller.

In the past year the Chair, Andrea Grebenc, has gotten stronger and may now be at the point where she can bear down a little harder on the Director and ask awkward questions of some of the Superintendents.

Miller in a huddle with Grebenc

Trustee chair listening to what Director of Education thinks on an issue.

The Chair of the School Board is a job that doesn’t pay very much and for the most part amounts to following staff recommendations. It is a job that takes time to learn – and things can get very sticky if the Chair is having problems – all too often they have to look to the Director of Education for guidance. The biggest job trustees have is hiring and holding the Director to account. It takes several terms as Chair to get to the point where he or she is independent enough to fill the role.

Grebenc showed some of her mettle with the two letters she sent the Ministry of Education; the second had a certain edge to it.  Ms Grebenc may soon be ready for a higher level of office.  She is the Trustee for Ward 3 – that ward could use a voice like the one Grebenc is developing.

Someone to keep an eye on.

Related background articles:

First Grebenc letter to the Minister of Education

Second Grebenc letter to the Minister of Education

Letters from the Board are sent on behalf of the Board

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Rib Fest at Burlington Centre still very much a go - open till 7 this evening.

eventsred 100x100By Staff

September 7th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

When asked how they were coping with the weather – which wasn’t all that good while the folks setting up the Labour Day Rib Fest at Burlington Centre  (formerly the Mall) they came back with:

“For now, we are all set up and ready to go. Hopefully the weather cooperates for us. So it is very much a go.”

If the Rotarians can do the hustle when things looked doubtful at 7 in the morning – the least the rest of us can do is get into the car and make a point of picking up some of those Ribs.

Map Sept 2020

 

Entrance to the event will be off  Fairview this time – look for the directional signs – they will be everywhere.

Jay Bridle, Canada’s Largest Ribfest Co-Chair described the event this way:

“We are excited to keep our Labour Day tradition of delivering delicious ribs & fantastic entertainment live during these challenging times” says Brent Paszt, a Past President of Rotary Burlington Lakeshore, and Co-Chair of Canada’s Largest Ribfest. “While the event may look different from what we are all used to seeing, you can still expect award-winning BBQ Teams to be on hand serving the ribs, pulled pork, and chicken that guests have come to expect from Ribfest” added

“Canceling our annual long weekend event that attracts upwards of 175,000 guests was a huge disappointment and really impacted our ability to support those charities and individuals who need it most, now more than ever” says Rotary Burlington Lakeshore President, Jay Thomblison; “Proceeds from this event, along with those generated from our successful inaugural Canada Day Drive-Thru, will enable us to continue that support”.

Food vendors will take orders and payment (cards preferred) and will deliver each completed order to your vehicle. Gloves and masks will be worn by all staff, vendors, and volunteers.

The four award-winning rib teams in attendance will include Camp 31 BBQ, Billy Bones BBQ, Pistol Pete’s Smokehouse, and Silver Bullet BBQ. There will also be food offerings from East Side Mario’s and Blaze Pizza, Twisted Tomato, Tiny Tom Donuts, and Ontario Corn Roasters, ensuring that there’s something for the entire family. The event will also include live music for guests to enjoy while they wait in the comfort and safety of their vehicles.

Over the course of 24 years, Canada’s Largest Ribfest, a fundraising initiative of Rotary Burlington Lakeshore, has raised over $4.5 million for local, national, and international charities.

 

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St. Matthews takes a break on Labour Day

News 100 blueBy Staff

September 6th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

They have been collecting food and passing it along to the agencies that have a client base that needs it.

They won’t be open this Monday.

Not Monday-Last Backpack

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Together they got it done - 300 Back Packs that will be proudly worn when school opens

eventsblue 100x100By Staff

September 5th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Thousands of students will be trooping back to school – some will not have a shiny new backpack filled with the things needed at school.
Doesn’t sound like a big deal but for the kid with no backpack – it can be devastating.

Those of you who have been there understand.

book packers Burlington Together 2

This is what goes into 300 Back Packs.

Burlington together logoBurlington Together, a group that is steered by Beth Martin Snooker, pulled together a group earlier today and packed supplies into 300 Back Packs – no small feat.

Snooker ensured that mentions are made and sponsors recognized.

“A HUGE thank you to everyone who volunteered at St. Christopher’s this week and at the backpack program today. We prepped over 300 backpacks to help kids be ready for heading back to school! Thank you also to everyone who donated backpacks, school supplies, sanitizer, masks, toys and general good vibes!

“MASSIVE thanks to community partners Open Doors of St. Christopher’s, Food4Kids Halton and Compassion Society of Halton.” A special shout out to Mike McMillan for his donation of over 70 hand sanitizers this afternoon! And a huge thank you to Bill Leggitt and the Rotary Club of Burlington North who gave us a very generous donation which we used to fill the gaps in needed items.

book packers Burlington Together 1

These are the ‘packers’ – some spent most of the day getting the job done.

“Thanks to Corrine Batchelor for the donations of toys and games for the JK/SK/Gr1 bags. And thanks to Lisa Kearns for the donation of 300 masks and for stopping by with delicious treats for the volunteers.

“Thank you to Wellington Square United Church and Burlington Food Bank for sharing your backpack donations with us. Thank you to the Women’s Giving Network for the amazing hygiene kits. Thank you to Umicore Autocat Canada and RCAP Leasing for very generous donations of Walmart gift cards, backpacks and supplies. Thank you to Staples Canada store #14 for your donations of backpacks and supplies!

“Special shout outs to Christina Mulder for rocking this program, Julie Lansley who helped us ALL DAY today, volunteers Nick, Andrea & Danny, Adria, Melanie, Jess, Christine, Lisa D, Jackie B (all day!!), Lisa F, Marie, Gwen, Carmela, Sandi, Judy, Sandra, Michelle, Charlene, and Nick. I’m so sorry if I’ve missed you, it was a long day!

“As usual, NONE of this could have been accomplished without YOU, so my eternal thanks for your community generosity.”

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Back to school: Did you register properly and can you change your mind.

News 100 redBy Staff

September 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Deciding to send your children back to school has been an anxious exercise for most parents.

parent with child - directing

Deciding what is right for your child – and changing your mind later.

It has been a challenge for school board staff who have to figure out how many students will be taught in a classroom and how many will be taught virtually.

Will there be split classes – possibly was what trustees learned earlier this week.  They were assured that there would not be any three different grades in a single classroom.

Where is the wiggle room for parents who have not yet made up their minds or who want to change their minds.

Parents can change their minds: The last day to switch between in-person and virtual learning is Tuesday, September 8. You must call the school and advise the principal.

Every school goes through a bit of a re-organization during the second half of September – there is sometimes a need to move students around to balance the load.

The opportunity to change a delivery model (i.e., in-person, virtual) will be: November 30 or end of Term 1 (mid-February).

For Secondary students (Grade 9 – 12) the time to change delivery model (i.e., in person, virtual) will be aligned with the end of quadmesters: November 12 or February 5.

School office staff will follow up with every family who has not completed the survey as the survey requires parents/guardians to complete the Self-Assessment Acknowledgement form (part of the survey).

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School bus challenges - the service will be stretched to the limit

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

School buses and Covid-19 are just one more worry for parents.

Sitting together on a school bus makes social distancing almost a silly idea.

School buses

Will the school boards be able to set up bus routes that cope with the need to keep students in their cohort everywhere possible – and will they be able to service every family?

The school board administration, in a partnership they have with the Catholic school board, run the school bus service using rented vehicles.

The routes will be quite a bit different and the students will be organized as cohorts – they will ride the bus with the students they are in a classroom with.

It is a logistical challenge and at this point the Board administration is not certain that they will be able to provide service to every household.

There will be no school bus service for the elementary students who will be at school on either Thursday or Friday of next week for their dry run at what a school day is going to look like.

Parents might want to think of ride sharing – and figuring out how to work within cohorts.

That phrase – we are all in this together – will take on much more meaning in the weeks ahead.

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Dry run for elementary students Thursday and Friday of next week

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

Halton District School Board Elementary students will get to do a dry run on returning to school next week – the “letting students experience” a return to classroom takes place on Thursday the 10th and Friday the 11th.

Those students with family names that begin with A through to those whose family name begins with L will go to their school on Thursday the 10th.

student being hand sanitized

The Halton District School Board has a secure supply of PPE

They will be met at the school door, have their hands sanitized and get a face mask test to ensure the thing is being worn correctly.

Then they are taken to their class and given instruction on how school will operate for the foreseeable future.

Parents will not be allowed to enter the school.

On Friday, those students with family names that begin with M through to the end of the alphabet, will go through the same routine.

There will be no curriculum taught on those days.

Nor will there be school bus service to the schools.

Director of Education Stuart Miller asked parents to be patient and careful as they approach the school entrance.

desk spacing

Classroom spacing will be different. No passing notes from desk to desk.

The focus will be to teach them the importance of staying within their cohort and “exposing them to the new reality”.

The Board is working at making video material available to parents so they can prep their children for these introductory sessions.

outdoor exercise

Teachers are encouraged to get students outside as much as possible and to ensure that they stay within their cohort.

There will be washroom rules, recess rules, lunch rules and exercise outdoors rules.

Walking around the school will not be what it was when they left school in March. There will be direction markers along the hallways.

Intent to Return Survey

Parents/guardians (and students 18+) were asked to complete the Intent to Return survey by Aug. 23.  If you have not completed the survey, or if you have completed the survey and would like to change your response(s), please contact the main office at your child’s school. The last day to switch between in-person and virtual learning is Tuesday, Sept. 8.

 

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Tents as classrooms - not in Halton

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

September 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Remember that idea of holding classes outdoors? Some people were thinking year round outdoor classes.

It didn’t get very far at the Trustee meeting this week.

tent classroom

School Board administration found all kinds of reasons for killing the idea of using tents as classrooms.

Trustee Chair Andrea Grebenc raised the thoughts about fundraising for tents that would be used for outdoor classrooms.

They didn’t get very far.

In order to be at all useful – the tent would have to be quite big.

What would go into the tent? And who would be responsible for the cleaning and safety of whatever was placed in the tent?

There would be some vandalism.

In order to put a tent in place the Board would have to get a permit from the city – just the way they have to with portable classrooms.
Insurance and liability issues also had to be figured out.

The killer issue was that parents cannot fundraise for anything related to student accommodation.

That idea was off the table.

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Director of Education: 'these students are our responsibility – my responsibility when they are on school property'

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 2nd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There is still a lot of confusion on the part of parents as well as many of the teachers.

But come Tuesday of next week you will be taking your young ones to school – assuming you didn’t opt out for a virtual classroom.

Your job as a parent begins today: students – especially younger ones will need help in coping with the really big change that will take place at every school.

Parent talking covid

Explain to your child what will be different when they return to school – and why things are going to be different.

The Halton Board of Education will be meeting this evening; we will report on what we learn – expect updates on a number of issues.

Let’s stick with the bricks and mortar structure. There will be one door to enter and a different door to leave the building.

Don’t have the child take very much to school the first day – the rules on what elementary students can bring to school will be set out for them by a teacher who will be dressed in full PPE – which might be a little startling for the student.

There will be a lot of rules and as a parent you can do a lot of the prep work in the next handful of days.

Take your younger children to places where there are markers on the floor and explain what they mean and why they are in place.

Explain why they have to wear a mask and why they can only play with the friends in their class.

And that they can’t get too close to those friends.

social circles graphic

Explain what social circles are and how that might limit who your child can actually play with.

The job for parents of early elementary children:

• Tighten up social circles
• Practice physical distancing
• Follow good hand hygiene and respiratory
etiquette
• Wear face coverings in indoor public places and when physical distancing cannot be maintained
• Explain to the child that at some point what that means.

Miller with students Mar 7-17

Director of Education Stuart Miller sees himself as personally responsible for every student in the HDSB

Schools are doing their best to keep parents fully informed – the difficulty is that the rules change – sometimes by the hour.

The Board of Education has to listen to what the Halton Region Public Health Units requires and follow the dictates of the province.

Halton District School Board Director of Education sets out just what he has to deal with – “everything is fluid and dynamic”. “We have to be smart, be focused and realize these students are our responsibility – my responsibility when they are on school property.”

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