Exercise equipment placed in Burloak Park - paid for by a citizens group

News 100 yellowBy Denis Gibbons

October 2nd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The gorgeous waterfront setting of Burloak Park now is the home of Burlington’s first Seniors’ Exercise & Social Space.

BSCI band

A band was on hand to celebrate the opening of the Seniors Exercise space in Burloak Park. The band is reported to have been paid for by the ward Councillor – Paul Sharman. Photos by DENIS GIBBONS

Equipped with several work stations compatible with safe workouts for seniors, the space was donated to the City by Burlington Seniors Centre Inc., a non-profit group.

BCSI Meed Ward unveiling

Mayor Meed Ward does the unveiling of the plaque that explains why this equipment was put in the Burloak par. Tucked behind the sign is Connie Price, the woman who would not give until the city came up with space for the equipment to be placed. Fred Hendriks, president of Burlington Seniors Centre Inc. stands watching

Connie Price, treasurer and seniors equipment chair, was the sparkplug behind raising $50,000 for the new park.

“I am so concerned that after COVID we are going to have a community of seniors who are more frail,” Price said at Thursday’s official opening. “Now they can get out and use this, even just to socialize which is so important to them.”

Fred Hendriks, president of Burlington Seniors’ Centre Inc., said the project took three-and-a-half years to complete. He said the committee looked all over Burlington for a location.

“We finally found this gem right here,” he said. “And we did it in the colors of the BSCI (blue and green).”

Halton Region Chair Gary Carr said the Halton Board of Health has made an effort to get people of all ages to be active and stay healthy.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said the park is a good example of what happens when people are persistent with their dreams and don’t give up.

“When we do right by our seniors, we benefit our whole community,” the mayor said.

Related article:

The story behind the gift of exercise equipment to the city.

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A public promise will go a long way to creating the confidence the hospitality sector needs to get back on its feet.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

September 29th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Several months ago the Gazette published a piece on a program called the “Post Promise”, which is a self-declaration that a business is working to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Post promiseOnce completed, a business is provided with the necessary communication and implementation tools to educate employees on the five key steps to workplace safety, which were created to be consistent with what has been recommended by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Make the promise today: Click HERE.

Businesses who make the promise will be able to use and prominently display the POST Promise logo which is a nationally recognized symbol of a business’ commitment to doing their part to protect their customers’ and employees’ health and safety as COVID-19 restrictions ease. Participating business can also purchase a kit which will include additional communication tools like window decals, posters and tent cards which can be used to further build awareness of their commitment within their place of business.

Businesses that want to apply for some of the grant money that is being made available ($2500 per grant) will not be eligible unless that have made the POST promise.

I have yet to see one of these decals on the window or door of any restaurant or commercial establishment.

The program is free – and for me and the circle I travel knowing that a location is safe and is prepared to go that extra distance to ensure that I am kept safe while I am in their establishment is something I look for.

cafe crowd - no six feet here

The weather has been great – the traffic on the patios has been good. What happens when the weather chills on us?

The hospitality sector is looking for all the help they can get including financial support from the city and the Region. The want help from the federal government as well.

They are in a very tough sector. When the restaurant business is good it can be great – but it can also be a grind. You take all the problems home with you.

I don’t understand why these decals aren’t on every front door and every print piece a restaurant has. Put it on the menu – tell me that I am going to be taken care of.

The hospitality sector is, unfortunately, close ground zero for the huge spike in infections.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said in a prepared statement that “Consumer confidence to participate in the economy is still very low, and hopefully this will help the public feel more comfortable visiting their favourite local shops.

Photo-ops of the Mayor in a restaurant that has the Post Promise decal on their front door would help.

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The latest COVID testing information

News 100 redBy Staff

September 28th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Do you need to test for the Covid 19 infection?

If you needed one – were you able to get a test?

Where would you go to be tested?

When would the results be available to you?

More questions and answers.

And a very mixed message from the provincial government.

The province put out a graphic that should help.

Covid testing a

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Province has a COVID containment plan - they don't appear to be ready to tell the public what it is

News 100 redBy Staff

September 28th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Everyone with ears will have heard that there were 700 new COVID infections across the province.

And many will have heard that we are into a second wave of infections (no kidding) and that it should peak at around 1000 new infections a day by the middle of October.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford called the province’s record-setting new case count Monday for COVID-19 “deeply concerning” but announced no new public health measures, despite calls by a group of doctors and medical experts calling for a return to Stage 2.

The province reported an additional 700 cases of the infection on Monday, the most on a single day since the outbreak began in late January.

Premier web casting Sept 28th

The picture appears to be that of a beleaguered man – – time for the Premier to begin walking the tough talk.

Speaking to reporters, Ford said Ontario is indeed embarking on its second wave, which will be “more complicated, more complex — it’ll be worse” than the first.

Still, asked about calls by the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) to re-implement restrictions to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, Minister of Health Christine Elliott said, “We don’t want to turn back a stage unless we absolutely have to.”

cafe crowd - no six feet here

Is there a covid rule that isn’t broken in this picture?

The province also announced the recruitment of 3,700 more health-care workers and caregivers, including nurses and personal support workers (PSWs), at a price tag of $52 million.

Burlington has for the most part been sparred really significant new infections. The breakdown of that 700 number had Halton with more new infections than Hamilton.

Niagara Region: 20
Halton Region: 15
Hamilton: 13
Simcoe Muskoka: 12

Nelson High School reported 2 infections.

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Protestors are going to face new 'tools' to keep them away from demonstrating

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

September 28th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Last June Regan Russell was walking in front of a transport truck that was loaded with hogs that were being taken into the Fearmans slaughter house.  The truck had stopped until protesters finished walking front of it; Regan Russell wasn’t able to get out of the way in time and was run over by the truck.  She died at the scene.

Pig protester killed

Regan Russell

The slaughter house is part of a group of slaughter houses across the country that are owned by Sofina Foods.

Regan was one of a number of demonstrators who gather regularly at the Harvester Road/Appleby Line intersection to, as they put it, “bear witness to what is taking place” and to attempt to water the hogs.

They see what they are doing as a peaceful demonstration. They are indeed slowing down the entry of the truck into the meat processing plant.

Regan was run over by the truck that apparently didn’t see her. She was slight in stature and the front of the truck was very high.

The Regional Police investigated and came to the conclusion that a 28-year-old male from the Municipality of North Perth was to be charged with Careless Driving Causing Death under the Highway Traffic Act. The police reported that ‘there were no grounds to indicate this was an intentional act, or that a criminal offence had been committed.”

pigs - watered - girls

The protesters usually arrive as a group waiting for the transport truck to enter the slaughterhouse.

Animal Rights protesters have been demonstrating at that location for a number of years.

The meat processing plant, in operation since the 1960’s, has no intention of moving and currently employs 1000 people.

The provincial government recently passed legislation that would give the municipalities that have demonstrator problems “tools” to handle these situations.

The argument is that the issue is really one of public safety – they want the demonstrators out of the way.

Strong legislation certainly helps do that.

pigs being watered

Protestors water hogs when the transport has to stop for a traffic light at the entrance to the slaughterhouse.

At the Monday City Council meeting a resolution was put forward and passed unanimously.

The Resolution reads:

Whereas the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020 recognizes the unique risks that can result from interfering with livestock transport including creating unsafe work conditions as well as causing stress to animals and introducing diseases or contaminating our food supply; and

Whereas Sections 6(1), 7, 14(1) 3 and 15(1) of the Act came into effect on September 2, 2020 and prohibit the stopping, hindering, obstructing or otherwise interfering with a motor vehicle transporting farm animals; and

Whereas protest groups, including minor children, present outside the Sofina pork plant in Burlington continue to reach inside livestock trailers to touch, film and give water to the pigs creating an unsafe situation where they may be injured by the animals or trailer; and

Whereas the recent tragic loss of the life of a protester in Burlington underscores the urgent need to ensure the safety of all involved; and

Whereas Section 6(2) of the Act states that no person shall interfere or interact with a farm animal being transported by a motor vehicle without the prior consent of the driver of the motor vehicle;

Therefore be it resolved that the City of Burlington pass a resolution urging the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to immediately proclaim Section 6(2) of the Act in order to provide a legal basis to prevent the unsafe practice of protestors having contact with livestock trailers and animals; and

That this resolution be forwarded to Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Region of Halton.

Those in favour of the motion didn’t have a word to say about the right of people to protest.

pigs - single

Hog suffering from heat while being transported.

Councillor Sharman sounded more like a shill for Sofina Foods (they are in his ward) rather than a person responsible for the wider community. The puffball questions he asked the three delegations were embarrassing.

Which begs the question: Why not find a way to allow the Animal Rights people to demonstrate, maybe even water the hogs while the trucks wait at the gate for 10 minutes.

After which the demonstrators would be required to move on.

The Conservation Authority closes off a portion of Kind Road for weeks in the spring so that the Jefferson Salamander can cross the road and mate in the wetlands.

He isn't exactly pretty but nevertheless plays an important role in the local environment. Comes in different colours as well.

He isn’t exactly pretty but nevertheless plays an important role in the local environment.

In 2008 a provincial tribunal found that the loss of a habitat for the Jefferson Salamander in north Burlington was reason enough not to give the Nelson Aggregate an extension to their license.

We have a proud history of protecting endangered species.  Admittedly hogs are not endangered but the right of people to voice their views in a public place is as important as making huge allowances for an endangered species.

That history was sullied this morning by city council.

Related news story:

Protester run over by truck transporting pigs to slaughter.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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The provincial government is going to have to take very strong measures to lower the rate of new infection. Another lock-down will be very painful

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

September 24th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

‘Did someone at Queen’s Park teach the Premier and his colleagues that song about “The Big Rock Candy Mountain”?

Money is flying out of the government coffers.

A million here; ten million there – yesterday it was $1 billion.

All for good reasons – this time it was to Expand COVID-19 Testing and Contact Tracing.

That we have to test so much is really the problem. We now know what we have to do to keep COVID-19 under control – create a safe bubble and stay in it.

The Prime Minister put it in language we could all understand. “There will be no Thanksgiving Dinners with extended family – but if we do the right things we have a shot at Christmas”.

No mask 2

A Canadian city with a diverse population.

The Ontario government is building on the largest provincial testing initiative in Canada by providing $1.07 billion to expand COVID-19 testing and case and contact management.

The government is also immediately investing $30 million to prevent and manage outbreaks in priority sectors, including the province’s long-term care homes, retirement homes, and schools. These investments are part of the province’s comprehensive plan to prepare the health system for a second wave of COVID-19.

To date, Ontario has maintained adherence to public health measures and established a strong foundation for testing and case and contact management by:

covid virus

Smaller than microscopic – this virus needs you to become its home so that it can replicate itself.

• Establishing a provincial COVID-19 lab network with capacity for more than 40,000 daily tests;
• Establishing over 150 assessment centres;
• Testing long-term care home residents and staff in addition to the ongoing testing of staff and homes in outbreak;
• Providing up to 1,700 more contact tracers to support public health units in contact follow-ups through an agreement with the federal government;
• Launching a new, custom-built case and contact management digital system to improve data quality and timeliness and eliminate the use of the multiple tools being used across the province and the integrated Public Health Information System (iPHIS) for COVID-19;
• Launching COVID Alert, the country’s made-in-Ontario exposure notification app; and
• Launching a robust public awareness campaign to educate the public on how to keep them and their families safe, including targeted campaigns to young Ontarians.

Many people have heard all this before – it is the ones who haven’t heard, or don’t want to hear, that are the problem.

No masks - less than 8 days ago.

Less than 8 days ago in a Canadian city – near a university campus

Massive minimum fines is a start – something to catch their attention.

The rest of us can remind those who choose not to wear masks to start now.

The Regional Police have a program that allows the driver of a car who spots someone driving erratically to dial 911.

Amazing how many of these dangerous drivers get pulled over very quickly and charged with a Highway Traffic Offence.

The Provincial Medical Officer of Health has the power to take action along those lines.

Do it – use the billion dollars to swear in constables with the power to take people into custody if they are not wearing a mask.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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Telephone Town Hall on Covid19 issues - panel of experts to take part

News 100 blueBy Staff

September 23rd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There will be another Telephone Town Hall hosted by Mayor Marianne Meed Ward this evening from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

The Mayor will be joined by a panel of local leaders to help answer residents’ questions.

How to Participate

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

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.

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.

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 that 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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Region revises the mandatory face mask bylaw

News 100 redBy Staff

September 23rd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Regional government has pushed a little harder on the need for people to wear face masks.

On September 16th they approved multiple amendments to the Mandatory Mask By-law, where it is mandatory to wear a face covering or non-medical mask in certain indoor public places across the region.

These amendments were made to provide further clarification and requirements related to age, employees working in designated staff areas and enclosed common areas in apartment/condominium buildings. Amendments to the by-law take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, September 23, and remain in effect until November 30, 2020, unless extended by Regional Council.

laundry room

Face masks now required in a condo or apartment laundry room.

Key amendments to By-law 47-20 include:

• clarification that every person aged five (5) years old or older is required to wear a non-medical mask or face covering in certain indoor public places;

• the requirement that employees working within a designated staff area (not for public access) need to maintain a physical distance of two metres from colleagues; and

• the addition of enclosed common areas of apartment or condominium buildings, including the lobby, elevator, laundry room, meeting rooms or other common use facilities as “public places”.

“Halton Region Public Health continues to urge residents to follow all public health measures and remain vigilant to reduce the severity of a second wave of COVID-19,” said Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Medical Officer of Health. “In addition to wearing a mask in indoor public places, please continue to physically distance, wash your hands often, limit non-essential social gatherings and stay home when you are sick (even with mild symptoms).”

It is important to remember that some individuals are exempt from the by-law. As the by-law continues to be in effect, Halton Region reminds residents to continue being kind and supportive of others in our community who may be exempt. Every person’s situation is different and not all exemptions may be visible. The provision that no person shall be discriminated against for not wearing a non-medical mask or face covering due to an exemption, remains in the by-law.

“Halton Region’s Mandatory Mask By-Law continues to be an important part of our community effort to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr. “These amendments were based on feedback received from the Halton community to ensure there is a consistent by-law in place across the region and further protect each other during the pandemic. Thank you to all residents and businesses who continue to take this pandemic seriously and follow public health direction.”

 

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Seasonal Flu shots are the next step - they have nothing to do with the pandemic

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 22, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The flu shot is free - and it doesn't hurt THAT much.

The flu shot is free – and it doesn’t hurt THAT much.

Flu shots – flu shots – not the hoped for COVID-19 vaccine – this is the normal seasonal flu we are to be protected against.

Great – the province has ordered more than 5 million doses and is spending $70 million.

So I can call my doctor’s office and head in for that quick jab in the arm?

How do I do that?

And that’s the rub – there is no protocol in place for all of us to get the flu shot.

Those in long term care homes are first on the list – good.

The seniors are next – so how do we seniors learn where we are supposed to go and when?

Have you noticed that the medical people tend to avoid email – so they will call me?

The pharmacies are said to be given permission to get into the game. That’s being worked out.

The province released step 1 in the six step plan they have to keep us all safe.  Meanwhile the increase in people infected rises.  No idea what the other five steps in that plan are – many suspect that just what those others steps are has yet to be worked out.

The graphic below is evidence enough – that curve is going in the wrong direction. And we the people are the only ones who can change its direction.

Ont covid 19 Sept 22

The slope of the curve is now rising steeper than it was when we had hit a peak.

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Culture Days extended to a more inclusive and interactive four-week schedule of activities - Sept. 25 to Oct. 25

artsorange 100x100By Staff

September 22, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Residents are invited to take part in the interactive online events and activities during the 11th annual Culture Days.

Culture Days is extending beyond the traditional Culture Days weekend to a more inclusive and interactive four-week schedule of activities. Kicking off Sept. 25 and running until Oct. 25, Culture Days invites everyone to participate in and show appreciation for arts and culture in their own community and nationwide.

Culture days - Burlington markThis year’s theme is Unexpected Intersections – encouraging creative and outside-the-box thinking to reveal new avenues of discovery, learning, and expression. In light of the current situation with COVID-19, Culture Days is featuring digital presentations, do-it-yourself activities and self-guided programs.

The Culture Days website showcases thousands of virtual and in-person activities. Visitors can find small-gathering or self-guided events near them, while going digital allows participants to virtually cross the country and discover live-streamed performances and other online presentations.

You can find a Culture Days event HERE

About Culture Days
Culture Days has become the largest cultural event in Canada, attracting an estimated 2.5 million annual attendees to thousands of free activities and performances hosted by artists, cultural organizations and municipalities in hundreds of communities across Canada.

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COVID-19 infections have been identified in three Halton elementary schools; nothing in Burlington

News 100 blueBy Staff

September 21st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board started their second week of having students in the schools – and no serious COVID-19 infections.

As of this morning there were 4 people in three schools who were sent home due to a suspected infection.

Emily Carr, Sunningdale (2 people) and Maple Grove reported people that were sent home. No detail on whether these were all students or if any teachers were involved.

None of the schools were closed.

Miller July 22

Director of Education, Stuart Miller on a ZOOM cal with the Board of Trustees

Director of Education Stuart Miller reports that the classes being delivered virtually are working their way through the early stages.

“We had some experience with the software last April, May and part of June when all that was available to students was the virtual classroom.

Now something in excess of 20% of the student population opted for a virtual education. Miller said that a bit of a sense of the new normal was beginning to take shape. The students are back in the classroom and learning new rules and procedures they have to follow.
“Perfect, it isn’t”, said Miller – but then there is no such thing as a perfect classroom situation.

Most of the schools are located in Oakville where all the data matrices are high. Miller was not able to say why the Oakville numbers are consistently high other than that perhaps more Oakville people have returned to work and are using some form of public transit.

Everyone from the Board administration, the trustees , parents, and everyone at the Public Health Unit, are watching the daily numbers very closely.

Toronto and Peel are the dangerous hot spots – the Premier talks loudly about putting parts of the province in another lock-down.

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A Shoe Strike - a Silent Protest on what is not being done about Climate Change

News 100 greenBy Staff

September 21st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A Shoe Strike

What is a shoe strike.

First it is taking place on Friday September 25th.

Why?

WHAT: A unique youth organized climate strike inviting everyone in Burlington to join in demanding that all levels of government act immediately on the urgent climate crisis.

HOW: Due to social distancing, the climate strike will be held in a representational manner, with the community invited to share a pair of their SHOES to represent their participation. Shoe Strikes have been effective in several locations and countries around the world. Participants are invited to insert a note inside their shoes to convey their message about why urgent action on climate change is important to them. Youth organizers will summarize the notes and relay them to local political leaders.

NOTE: This will be a silent protest. There will be NO opportunity for speeches or public announcements or political leader photo ops.

Shoes pile ofShoes can be dropped off in advance at: Rolling Horse Community Cycle (650 Plains Rd E #2) & 2466 Newport St. (a house near Headon Forest Dr.) beginning on Tuesday, Sept. 22nd & up until Thursday, Sept 24th. Shoes can also be placed at the shoe strike location (tent. scheduled at Civic Square, City Hall, Brant Street) between 10am and noon on Sept. 25.

WHEN: Friday, Sept. 25 – Shoe drop off from 10am to noon. Silent Shoe Strike display from 12 noon to 2pm. After 2pm shoes will be collected and returned to hosts or donated to a local charity that will distribute them to those in need.

WHO: Similar Shoe Strikes will take place in Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills on the same day, approx. at the same time.

Fridays for Future will be co-ordinating similar Climate Strikes throughout Canada. Locally, organizers come from a cross-section of groups: Burlington Biodiversity Team, Students for Change Halton, BurlingtonGreen Youth Network, Burlington Citizens Concerned about Climate Change (BC4), and local residents.

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Old Timers take to the ice - much different circumstances this season

sportsred 100x100By Pepper Parr

September 20th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

They are an 1100 member strong organization that lace up and play the “good old hockey game” on rented ice around the city.

Saturday night was the season opener – it was a lot different than it was last year.

To start – the season at this point is in place for up to Thanksgiving – the COVID infection rate is impacting everything.

Several of the eight divisions got ice time – on ice that wasn’t quite up to the standard most of the players wanted, at least at the Central

Hocket lacing up 1

They laced up under street lights and entered the area through different doors – in for those starting – out for those who had played their game.

Arena where the players laced up in the dark on plastic chairs set out six feet apart.

A carpet was spread out and there was enough light to get the laces in place.

Many of the players arrived in pickup trucks, got into their shoulder pads, knee pads and jerseys along with the hockey pants and walked over to where the chairs were to lace up their skates.

Players going in to play hockey went in through one set of doors – those who had completed a game came out a different door.
In between the games everything gets wiped down.
The league make up has eight divisions with usually six teams in a division.

Those teams get balanced after 10 games – in a normal season.
COVID normality has changed everything in what is usually a 50 game season.

Scot Cameron who does media for the club, as well as play goalie for one of the teams, was waiting for the ice time his team had been allocated.

Goalie

Larry Hallett, goalie for the Black Hawks in the Green Division rolls his equipment out to his vehicle after a 4-0 loss on ice he didn’t think was up to scratch.

Larry Hallet, who plays goalie for the Black Hawks in the Green Division, was rolling his pads out to his vehicle and commented on the ice, then ventured into comments on the game he had just played.

“It was 4-0 for the other guys” he said, “the puck seldom left our end of the ice.

“The game was basically over ten minutes after it started – almost every power play resulted in a goal for the other team.”

Larry seemed OK with that. The challenge for these guys was the shape they were in and the length of time since they were last on the ice.

And there is always another game.

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Grandfather wants more invested in the education of his grandchildren

News 100 greenBy Ray Rivers

September 18th, 2020

MOUNTSBERG, ON

 

These are scary times especially if you are grandparents. When it comes to educating our youth, no one should doubt that school boards, teachers and maintenance staff are doing the best they can in the circumstances. But then nobody can say the schools are as safe as they could be – or used to be before the pandemic hit us. The circumstances have changed.

Seven months have passed since the schools were shut down as part of the provincial COVID-19 lock-down. The Premier warned us that this was not going away, that we’d have to change how we do things if we are to avoid getting infected. So what about the children? Aside from some widening of the aisles between students’ desks very little seems to have changed.

Yes, there are the masks and the single cohorts and the managed crowd control, coming and going. But the students, for the most part, are still captive and crowded within their inadequately ventilated classroom environment for most of their day – another petrie dish for the virus and another opportunity for viral transmission.

Leo at desk

Leo taking part in a class exercise

So when my wife and I had heard that school would be returning pretty much business-as-usual, we reached out to the parents of our youngest grandchildren and offered to help with their children’s grade 2 and 4 French immersion schooling. There are in excess of 20,000 children who receive homeschooling every year in Ontario, so we’d be in good company, we thought.

Fortunately the education ministry had announced that parents could opt out of sending their children back to the classroom and engage in their program of online or distance learning instead. Students would pretty much get their regular course load but learn at home rather than trucking off to school. The Halton Board sent out requests to parents asking them to opt for the option of their choice.

Teachers, apparently some also teaching regular classes, would appear online through the application of Google online conferencing tools, mainly Google Meet and Google Classroom. Teachers use various media to assist in their online teaching and students are even invited to submit contributions, such as, photos.

There are three teaching blocks of 100 minutes each covering the 8:45 am to 3:05 pm day, and duplicating the essence of what would be learned in a regular classroom. Students may even be given homework assignments. And the online platform allows students to see their teacher as well a number of fellow students, making the experience feel a little less remote.

When we undertook to invite the children to our house we expected that we would be heavily involved in preparing classes. Both of us do have some pedagogical training. As it turns out our role is little more than supervision and coaching as the teachers do the heavy lifting of bringing the curriculum to life on the small screen.

How is it going? Well there was some minor stumbling at the beginning, something one should expect with the introduction of this new way of conducting regular classroom instruction. But the students appear to be excited about what they are doing. And the teachers, in our experience, have been wonderful, clearly competent, enthusiastic and responsive to the needs of the students and their coaches.

While being able to conduct regular classes online sounds pretty amazing, the truth is the technology is still not as user friendly as it could be. But the biggest problem is the size of the online classes. There are close to thirty students in each of the children’s classes.

Bea at work

Bea doing math.

It is impossible to practically see all of one’s classmates on a computer screen. And so it is a difficult for the teacher to stay on top of what everyone is doing. And that makes it a huge challenge for effective immersion language training, for example.

Going through the roster of students can take an inordinate amount of time and that can be really boring to those waiting their turn. Students can lose interest and drift off, even with the best of teachers. And that is the big fear – that students will lose interest, shut down, and their performance will reflect that failing.

This is the same problem one sees in over overcrowded regular classrooms only magnified by the remote learning complication. The solution is obvious – hire more teachers for distance learning. In a country where the unemployment rate is currently above 10% and governments are spilling money like rain water, you’d think this was more than possible.

Of course teachers need some training and a program to follow but this is not rocket science – unless they actually are teaching rocket science. And of course experience counts. But our children are the future, why wouldn’t we want to invest more in their education?

Distance Learning

Online Learning

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers usually writes about politics and the environment.  His grandchildren are doing elementary school as distant learners.

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Hockey ice pad to be used for covid testing - yes, the ice will be removed

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

September 17th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Nelson arena

Ice pad to be used as a COVID testing location?

There has been complaint upon complaint about the length of time it takes to get a COVID-19 test and then about how long it takes to get the results.

covid testing

Simple procedure – takes minute or two – testing backlog is big.

The city is working with the hospital to use one of the rinks at Nelson to use as a place tests can be done.

For reasons that are not at all clear – this has become a hush hush matter.

During a Standing Committee meeting earlier today Director of Parks and Recreation said an announcement would be made “very soon”.

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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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