Part 1: The Problem - our problem - don't walk away from it.

Greenland ice shelf A

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

August 23rd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Did you know that Germans are now able to buy a brand new Renault electric vehicle (EV) for the cost of a cell phone contract?

Renault

Germany has gone further than most countries to promote the use of electric vehicles. The Renault can be had for the equivalent of a cell phone contract.

Yes, new EV subsidies there almost completely cover the cost of a new economy car, providing it’s of the plug-in variety. Europeans have always taken climate change seriously and are more prepared to take action than the rest of us – but even they are not doing nearly enough.

We, the people on this planet earth, keep breaking records on just how much climate warming pollution we generate.

2019 hit a new record, pumping 36.8 billion metric tons (gigatonnes) of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Thirty-six gigatonnes (Gt) ! It’s like we are in a competition to see how fast we can waste the planet.

To put that into context, if we took all the land mammals on the planet and put them on a scale they’d weigh one whole gigatonne. It is estimated that the entire human race together would weigh less than half a Gt. So that’s a lot of carbon pollution and it has led to a higher concentration in the atmosphere than at any point in at least the past 800,000 years.

The thermometer in Baghdad soared to 50 degrees C the other day. That’s 125 F, which is the ‘keep warm’ setting on my kitchen oven. And whether you measure it in Fahrenheit or Celsius America’s Death Valley won the title of hottest place on earth at 130 degree F (56 degrees C). And as you should expect, mother earth is responding to these carbon emissions even faster than anyone predicted.

Greenland ice shelf A

One of the largest ice packs on the planet.

One of the largest ice packs on the planet, Greenland’s ice shelf, has passed the tipping point and is irreversibly melting faster than you can shake a stick. Combined with the rapidly increased melting of ice in the Antarctic, Canada and Russia, the US Geologic Survey, estimated that the world’s oceans could eventually rise 70 metres (230 feet) in a bunch of years. 70 metres is like 45 people standing one on top of each other.

The land below and adjacent to the ice caps is called permafrost, because it never used to thaw. Sealed in by frozen ground for millennia, since the last ice age, there are all kinds of treasures buried there, including some more very ancient viruses. There is also a lot of methane, the stuff you burn in your furnace. It’s from very old decayed vegetation.

It is estimated that there could be 1400 gigatonnes of carbon locked up as methane under the Arctic submarine permafrost alone. Methane is something like 32 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2. So if the scientists are right about potentially releasing those 1400 Gt of methane – do the math – we’re in for one helluva a party. And did I mention there is even more permafrost thawing on the land in northern Canada and Russia?

Further, scientists are now connecting global warming to a puzzling shift of the earth’s axis. Over the last 20 years there has been an increasing drift of the north pole away from Santa’s workshop in Canada’s north. That can be attributed to the melting of Greenland’s ice sheets. Greenland has been losing over 200 gigatonnes of ice a year since 2000 increasing the volumes in the oceans in the process. Meanwhile Antarctica has also lost over 90 gigatonnes.

earth axis

Will the changing climate have an impact on the earth’s axis – and if it does what impact will a change in that axis have on the lives we live?

As the weight of the ice lifts off Greenland the poles start to migrate. It is uncertain what all this means for us planetary inhabitants, aside from our GPS devices needing some kind of updating, and poor Santa of course. But weather patterns will no doubt be heavily impacted as the rotation of the planet is affected.

So the impacts of warming the planet are not just about more flooding, more violent storms, more droughts and more massive forest fires, which in turn just add more carbon into the atmosphere.

COVID-19 might be the most immediate crisis before us now but global warming is the greatest existential threat we face. Yet we’ve all known about climate change for at least four decades and have failed to seriously respond to this growing crisis – a crisis which will be far more deadly than COVID-19.

An EV in every household Is a good start. And Germany is not the first jurisdiction to offer carrots instead of sticks to get their citizens to curb their carbon footprint. About half of the cars sold in Norway are fully electric, for example.

Ontario’s last government also offered generous EV subsidies. They started building a viable carbon-free electrical system, a viable carbon emission trading program and so much more. But we the voters clearly didn’t care about all that. Instead we voted in a government that clearly doesn’t get global warming, and has done it’s best to tear down all of those efforts.

Next time we’ll address why this is happening.

Meanwhile please join the discussion. As we said, perhaps too often, going into COVID – we’re all in this together as well.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers, born in Ontario earned an economics degree at the University of Western Ontario and a Master’s degree in economics at the University of Ottawa.  His 25 year stint with the federal government included time with Environment, Fisheries and Oceans, Agriculture and the Post office.  Rivers is active in his community; he formed the first Sustainability Committee in Burlington.

Background links:

Iraq Oven TempHottest Temp Ever –  2019 Record 

Canada Last Ice –   Europeans –   Free Car

Greenland Ice Earth’s Axis –    Permafrost

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Getting the students ready for a return to school in less than two weeks has created confusion, concern and fear in the minds of some

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 25th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Parents are concerned, somewhat confused and not at all certain what is going to happen when the schools are re-opened.

The Halton District School Board is holding a Town Hall meeting on Wednesday and will be doing everything they can to answer the questions parents have.

Miller in a huddle with Grebenc

Trustee Chair Andrea Grebenc with Director of Education Stuart Miller

The Director of Education will have his team of Superintendents on hand to get into the specifics.

This team has been at it since March – learning that the system was being shut down meant these Superintendents didn’t just have to pivot – they had to do a 180 and make something happen with little in the way of resources or prep.

Director of Education MIller put it very well when he said: “They didn’t teach us this in principal school”.

Each of the Superintendents has been given an area of responsibility. They have taken their years of experience as classroom teachers and the lessons they have learned as Superintendents and a got teacher in front of students even if it was via the internet.

Parents were upset, students didn’t know what was going to happen each day.

It took a bit of time but the technology to reach out and communicate was found and implemented.

Blackwell

Superintendent Terri Blackwell running lead for the secondary students,

Superintendent Terri Blackwell was assigned to the Secondary school problems and the challenges.

Superintendent Scot Podrebarac took on the elementary students.

Both worked tirelessly with the school principals to help them deal with the students and the parents. There were challenges everywhere and few in the way of easy answers.

Hunt Gibbons H&S

Julia Hunt Gibbons – crunched the numbers to determine what could and couldn’t be done.

Superintendent Julie Hunt Gibbons was the numbers person. What would work and what wouldn’t work. Hunt-Gibbons had to take the number of classes, the number of students and come up with options in terms of how the Board could create a schedule that would let the board create a class with 15 to 20 students. She didn’t do it with a slide rule.

When the province said that normal class sizes would prevail – Superintendents gave each other one of those Huh! looks and went back to the numbers.

How do you keep 30 grade 3 students six feet apart in a standard classroom size? Was that possible?

Supt Ruddick (sp)

Colette Ruddock – the heath of every student is her mission.

Superintendent Colette Ruddock is overseeing the relationship between the Board of Education and the Public Health Unit.

How will the Public Health people work with the schools – one on one? Who in a school makes the decisions? We were told that the Director of Education believes he has the authority to close a school.

We will learn going forward what Ruddock is going to do – we know now that she is the contact person with the Health people.

There are nurses being brought in by the province but the school boards don’t see the nurses as part of their staffing compliment.
How long can parents and students get on with their lives under these conditions? No one knows – there are really more unknowns than there are knowns.

The Toronto District School Board has been setting the pace in terms of talk back to the government. With the exception of the stiff letter the Halton Trustee Chair sent the Minister of Education.

screen-time-and-students-banner

This is what it all comes down to – a student in the hands of a good teacher.

Will the school start be later – September 15 is a date being thrown around. Will the return on the part of the students be staggered? A couple of grades one day and a few days later other grades will be added with everyone being in place by the end of the first week.

Gearing up for the day students enter a school is work enough. Behind the scenes there are people across the province giving serious consideration and actually working on what a virtual education system would look like.

If there is the much expected second wave, which will be harsher than the first wave, and everything goes back into lock down – what then?

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Teams and Teamwork are the secret behind the 40 years of fund raising success for the Terry Fox Run to Cure Cancer

News 100 blueBy Burlington Terry Fox Run Committee

August 25th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

*Disclaimer: The Terry Fox Run is a grassroots event with no corporate sponsorship. We rely on our community for support to make this possible year after year. One of the ways that we raise more money for cancer research is to encourage companies and families to participate as a team. Teaming Up for Terry helps motivate members, encourages fundraising with goals and challenges and promotes cooperation and team-building. We are honoured to have so many supportive teams running and walking in the Burlington Terry Fox Run. Team adidas is one of those teams.

Teams are such an important aspect of the modern Terry Fox Run. And one of the biggest teams across Canada is Team adidas. Though the Terry Fox Run has no corporate sponsorship, adidas has been a supporter since the very beginning. It all started with a pair of shoes.

We simply cannot talk about Team adidas without mentioning the iconic blue and white running shoes that Terry wore during his Marathon of Hope. On November 3, 1979, a 21-year-old Terry Fox wrote a letter to adidas asking for a donation of 26 pairs of running shoes. As a broke university student who had been sidetracked by cancer treatments, Terry didn’t have the financial means to fund his dream alone. The rest is history.

Note inside shoe

Tissue paper inside the adidas Terry Fox limited edition shoe box.

This year, adidas released replica shoes to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Terry Fox Run, along with various limited-edition Terry Fox t-shirts.

“Forty years ago, a young man had the courage to reach out and ask for help to embark on mission to bring awareness to a horrible disease that affects so many of us.” – Janette Wilson, Executive Assistant at adidas Canada.

Meet Janette Wilson
Though I could write an entire blog on the adidas shoes and how they’ve become synonymous with courage and determination, this post is about Team adidas. In order to get both a national and local perspective on the team, I reached out to Janette Wilson, Executive Assistant to the President at adidas, Chairperson of Team adidas and Burlington resident.

Janette +

Team Wilson – On the left – Janette Wilson, Executive Assistant, husband Sean, daughter, Alex, Granddaughter, Sydnee and Mike on the right – Mike (Alex’s Fiancé)

Janette Wilson has been with the organization since 2012, but Team adidas started in 2006 – before her time. That said, Janette and her family, as Team Wilson (a team within Team adidas) do the walk every year at Spencer Smith Park (except for last year when they were in Peterborough for a family wedding). Obviously, this year will be different, as well.

Pivoting to Virtual
During normal times, Janette and her counterparts at work would be busy encouraging employees to do the run in the traditional sense. In addition to that, they would be organizing other fundraising events, which will sadly not happen this year due to COVID. This is why Team adidas is laser focused on the virtual event – getting as many people as possible involved online collecting donations in their communities.
“Everybody has been encouraged to walk, run or ride wherever they are,” said Wilson. “Whether it’s in their neighbourhood, the local park or their cottage. So, they’re still encouraged to get out there and participate.”

Team Goals
With the roll out of the commemorative replica shoes and various other Terry Fox products, adidas hopes to raise one million dollars and donate 100 per cent of the net proceeds to the Terry Fox Foundation. When I spoke to Janette, the company was over halfway there.
“We have encouraged staff to join Team adidas online,” said Wilson “to help us reach a goal of $100,000 and to-date we have raised over $34,000.”

Terry Fox run in BC

Janelle Cherniwchan, Store Manager, Richmond, BC. and friends, Ayumi Kanzaki & Yvonne Lum

Team adidas is also encouraging a bit of friendly competition within the organization. Eight teams under the umbrella of Team adidas are competing against each other for who can raise the most money. Each team is tasked with raising $12,500 for that internal competition, and so far they have raised over $32,000.

In addition to the team initiative, the retail stores have been collecting donations at the register for the past seven months (minus the months stores were closed due to COVID). In spite of the obvious challenges on the retail side for 2020, the program has been quite successful, raising almost $49,000 so far.

Team Wilson’s Goal
On a more local level, Janette Wilson has committed to shaving her head if her team/family reaches $40,000 by August 31, 2020. She chose the amount for the 40th anniversary.

“If by some miracle I reach that goal, I’d be more than happy to do it,” said Wilson. “

She knows her goal is a lofty one, but also knows that plenty of people in her life are willing to donate if it means they get to watch her shave her head. She isn’t even worried about the prospect of being bald for a little while, as her hair grows fast, she says.

When I asked her what her advice was to others looking for ways to participate this year during this difficult time, she mentioned for favourite quote from Terry: “Anything’s possible if you try.”

“Whether you give by donating online or participating on run day, you’re going to make a difference,” said Wilson. “A little goes a long way.”

addis room

adidas Canada meeting room

If you want to make a difference and want to see Janette Wilson shave her head, you can donate to Team Wilson to support the cause and help her reach her goal.

Thank you, Janette, for your continued support of the Burlington Terry Fox Run. We are also grateful to adidas for helping Terry over 40 years ago and continuing to keep his dream alive today.

Sponsor Team Wilson:

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This is not the time to let the Terry Fox mission down.

News 100 blueBy Staff

August 24th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

You may have seen some of them – the Terry Fox Posters in the bus shelters around town.

There will be some lawn signs and the display case at city hall will include  Terry Fox material.

EAch of these woman had their own reasons for running this race and each ran it in their own way. Hundreds did just this during the Terry Fox Run for cancer research

Each of these women had their own reasons for running this race and each ran it in their own way. Hundreds do just that during the Terry Fox Run for Cancer Research

The annual Run was to take place in September – but got Covid cancelled.

That hasn’t stopped the people who do the fund raising from getting out there and getting those dollars in for the critical research.

The medical research community has done some really fine work – tens of thousands are alive today because of that research which has been due directly to the people who raise money and do that run.

terry-fox-running-across-from-monument

For Burlington Terry running through Burlington was the beginning of a 40 year relationship.

Burlington has had a special relationship with the Terry Fox Foundation – starting a year or two after the Run ended in Thunder Bay.

Craig Gardner, the chair of the Burlington Run this year has been working on every possible way to get people out and doing their Run.

Fox monument with Brant Inn

The monument is a Burlington statement – one that the city is very proud of having.

He recently told the Gazette that initially before covid-19 he was hoping for $130K which would be their best year ever.

Last year was their second best year ever $121K.

2005, the 25th anniversary was the best year at $127K.

Then, with covid-19, people told us ½ of last year would be a reasonable target so $60K.

Now with four weeks to go and already $24K donated, they think they might hit $100K.

There is one bigger event planned for the adidas person Janette Wilson which could bring in $20K or more alone if they can pull it off.

The Terry Fox T shirts have run into some Covid bumps as well.

When you are out for a walk in Spencer Smith Park and you see the Terry Fox marker – I suspect you do what most people do – you pause and remember when you became aware of that magnificent young man.

Let’s not let him down.

 

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Halton Public School Board chair tells the Minister of Education 'he isn't helping'.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 24th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Reflecting the concern of parents across the province Chair of the Halton District Public School Board wrote the minister of Education to once again ask for some clarity on what the province expected of the school boards.

Using language that is seldom seen at this level the trustee wrote: “We can’t afford to get rental spaces, we have to arrange transportation and we have to do this within, what, two weeks?”

Grebenc

Andréa Grebenc: “Minister – words matter”

Andréa Grebenc, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Halton District School Board said what many have wanted to say:

“The Trustees of the Halton District School Board are greatly concerned and seeking clarification regarding a number of items that are critical for back to school planning and ensuring stability and confidence in public education. It is an understatement to note that there is heightened stress among all parties in the education sector and beyond due to the ongoing pressures and concern about COVID-19 and keeping everyone safe and healthy. While the health crisis evolves and demands flexibility, now is a time for collaboration and clarity of vision.

“In your August 13 announcement, there were several items that are concerning:

Students playing instruments

There will be no music classes as long as the virus is within the community and no vaccine.

The well-being of students, staff, families and the community is the highest priority. In your announcement, you noted that the Province’s Medical Officer of Health has signed off on the current return to school direction regarding existing class sizes in elementary.

You also stated that Boards have the choice to implement greater distancing (finding new spaces) and smaller class sizes than are in that guidance. This is highly confusing and puts our Board in a very difficult position. Elementary class sizes for elementary grades has been a source of broad contention with the Province’s return to school direction to Boards. The announcement created an expectation that would be nearly impossible to meet, particularly before September 8. In Halton, over 1200 new teachers would be required to lower elementary class sizes to 15, and additional space would need to be sourced and outfitted, transportation arranged, etc. In addition to a multitude of logistical challenges, and a lack of rental spaces in areas of need, it is anticipated that the cost to do so would be well in excess of the amount our Board could access from reserves.

Boards are able to utilize a portion of their own financial reserves to implement changes for the upcoming school year. In Halton, reserves have been built over a number of years and earmarked for other high need situations such as upgrading facilities, a home-grown solution to a lack of adequate funding sources for aging schools and administrative buildings.

It's not the kind of high school you were used to - MORE HERE

This kind of training isn’t going to be possible in September.

In the same announcement, you noted a $50M investment to upgrade/address HVAC systems across the province. While additional investment is appreciated, with 72 Boards in Ontario of varying sizes and needs, it is difficult to say how much would flow to each board. For context, to retrofit an older secondary school with a partial air conditioning system has cost in excess of $1M in the HDSB. Facilities staff have been working tirelessly during the summer months to upgrade and update these systems, and inference of lack of safety is not helpful.

Minister, you have spoken many times about working together. It is very challenging when these announcements come with no advance notice, and Boards hear about them at the same time as thousands of concerned citizens of Ontario who, in turn, expect school boards to have answers. These announcements may trigger complex revision processes that often require additional direction from the Ministry which may or may not come in short order. You have also mentioned “scaling up” a number of times, inferring that other announcements could be coming. Systems and people are under great pressure. At this time, staff need to focus on implementing plans for return to school in just over two weeks.

Students doing survey

Students are going to be deprived of most of the extracurricular activity.

Staff and students of Ontario school boards should be focussing on a safe return to school, and establishing the new learning and health and safety protocols that the COVID-19 pandemic requires. Overlaying this with new curricula (such as elementary math) complicates these processes and draws energy from where it is needed most. As such, the Trustees of the Halton District School Board are adding our voice to the many letters you’ve received requesting that full implementation of the new math curriculum be delayed, in favour of a measured transition with adequate preparation time for staff.

Minister, words matter. This is not a time for finger pointing. All Boards, and the communities they serve are different, and plans have been developed to reflect those unique restraints and needs. We are asking for consistency and clarity of vision so that all resources can be focussed on implementing back to school plans. The Trustees of the Halton District School Board look forward to actively collaborating with the Ministry of Education to help make the school year safe for students and staff so that students can learn, grow and succeed.

It doesn’t get more direct than that,  Good on the Chair for telling it like it is.

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Public Board of Education to hold virtual Town Hall on Wednesday.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 23rd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

When will schools open in September?

Group of students MMR

Gatherings like this inside a school will be possible IF all the students are in the same cohort.

The planned date was September 8th, 2020  but there are so many concerns over the number of students there are to be in classrooms – especially at the elementary level; the province is saying that standard class sizes are the rule and parents arenpushing back really hard saying they want no more than 15 students in classrooms.

The Toronto Public School Board is looking at smaller classes as well as a start date of September 15th and staggering the begin date.

Parents are concerned.  The school boards have to plan for whatever shows up on the day school starts and in many cases the school boards don’t know what a majority of the parents plan to do.

School buses

How many students will be allowed in each bus? Who will supervise the students while they are on the bus?

Will they keep their children at home and home-school them?  Will they form a pod with other parents and hire a teacher to run the classes?  Will the parents opt for having their children taught at home – on-line with the services the Board will provide or will they send their children to school.  If they choose the later – how will they get to school?  No one is certain just what the school buses are going to be able to handle.

On top of all this there is the issue of face masks.

Teachers will be decked out in full PPE gear – they may look like  visitors from some other planet.

It is going to be stressful on the younger students.

Students at Lincoln Centennial public school. Ontario school boards are struggling to find low-cost options to school additions to accommodate full-day kindergarten. Some options may include bussing kids. Reading are Heyley Ta and Zeynep Coskan-Johnson. Feb 21 2013. Bob TYmczyszyn/St. Catharines Standard/QMI AGENCY

No carpets on the floor; no soft cuddly toys, no sandbox and maybe masks.

Kindergarten, both junior and Senior is going to be really different.

No carpets on the floor.  Masks required – maybe.  No soft cloth or other covering toys, no sand box.

On Wednesday the Halton District School Board will be holding a virtual Town Hall that parents can call into and ask questions.

The Halton Medical Officer of Health will be part of the panel that will include the Director of Education and the senior superintendents that have been developing different scenarios to handle every possible situation they can think of – right up to shutting a school down if there is an outbreak

There is a very nervous parent community out there that does not feel they have the information, and assurance they need, to know that their children will be safe.

Grebenc

HDSB Trustee chair Grebenc – has become much more assertive.

The Halton District School board spent a long virtual trustee meeting last week and decided they would not make a decision on the wearing of masks in the classroom at every grade level  – they left that decision for another day.  They may not get to make that decision – there are rumblings that the province will mandate something.

The Gazette brought Michele Bogle in to create a group of parents who are serving as a sounding board.  Michelle will write as often as necessary with feedback from her group representing both levels – high school and elementary.  If you want to take part – email Michelle at bogle@bgzt.ca

There is a link to her first sounding board report below.

The Gazette will be monitoring the virtual Town Talk and reporting on that.

Related news story:

Parents voice their concerns about sending their children back to school.

 

 

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Parents asked to submit the Intention forms to school board no later than 4:00pm TODAY

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 23rd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Parents who have students attending the Halton District School Board have until 4:00 pm this afternoon to submit the Survey forms sent to them by the Board asking what they plan to do in terms of which option they take in sending their children back to school.

The Board needs this data to plan for the start of the school year which is scheduled to begin on September 8th.

The information is critical to the plans the board has to make.

Miller July 22

HDSB Director of Education Stuart Miller

The HDSB will be holding a Virtual Town Hall on Wednesday the 26th. Director of Education Stuart Miller and his senior staff will be listening very closely to what parents have to say.

Dr Meghani at news conference Hamilton

Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Halton Medical of Health.

Halton Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hamidah Meghani will be part of the panel listening to parents and answering questions.

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Be aware - be alert. Stay safe.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

August 21st, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board prepared this poster and would like every household sending students to school to tape it to the wall close to the door.

Every student should glance at the poster, run the questions through their mind and if there is a hint of a yes to any of the questions they should speak to their parents.

The is how we catch the COVID-19 virus before it catches us.

Be aware – be alert. Copy poster to memory stick – take it to Staples have them to print an 11×17 copy

Poster

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Survey to determine just how much damage was done during stages 1 and 2 under Emergency Legislation

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 20th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

How much damage was there?

Region covid surveyThe Region is now in Stage 3 of the State of Emergency. All kinds of commercial activity was opened up to help Halton Region and local municipalities understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected businesses; Halton has put together a short 10-minute survey for local business owners and operators.

This joint survey is being conducted by Halton Region Economic Development, in partnership with the Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC), and the Economic Development Divisions of the Towns of Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville.

Your input is valuable. The survey results will be shared with Halton Region and the local municipalities to inform how we can support businesses and help our local economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

How long will the survey take?
We understand that your time is valuable! The survey should take less than 10 minutes.

Who should complete the survey?
We are looking for feedback from business owners, operators or management executives with knowledge of the organization’s operations and forecasts.

Take the survey – CLICK HERE

Survey Deadline
Please complete the survey by Friday, August 28, 2020.

Please note that this is a one-time business survey on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected businesses in Halton. It does not replace Halton Region’s annual Employment Survey, which will start in September 2020.

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There are a lot of parents who have yet to decide how their children will be getting their education

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

August 19th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

What do parents think they want to do about sending their kids back to school in September?

The Halton District School Board has been in session since 1:00 pm today – they expect to be there until at least 7:30 pm.
A table that was presented a few minutes ago suggests where some of the parents are:

Survey

The numbers total 40,872 students; the Board reports that there are 65,000 students in classrooms enrolled in the Halton District School Board

 

Is someone sending out for pizza?

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Learning outdoors planned for Halton schools: Report on when and how due late September.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

August 19, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board is thinking very seriously about Outdoor Learning for as many schools as possible.

Outdoor learning photo

Is this what they are thinking about?

They aren’t talking about just the nice Indian Summer weather we get.

Trustees have asked for a report on what can be done and what might the cost be.

There is $200,000 in the kitty for this type of thing along with some COVID-19 specific funding.

Will the mitts the kids have to wear be covered in that funding?

Report will be ready for late September.

All the trustees were on for this.

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Just where is public sentiment now that we are in Stage 3 of the Emergency? Not where many would like it to be.

News 100 redBy Staff

August 19th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We are now in Stage 3 of the Emergency declared by the City and the Province.

The day those declarations were made everything shut down.  Many thought it was going to be a short term thing – when the end of that first month came people began to realize the pandemic was going to really hurt many in the commercial sector.

We got to stage three almost a month ago – things didn’t immediately open up.  It was slow, very slow for many.

Restaurants were permitted to offer service inside the premises and not just outside on a patio or under a tent.

The mask by law was extended to January 2021 – it was temporary when it was first passed.

Groups were limited to 5 people – that got expanded to 10.

Larger groups were permitted – up to 50 people, and movie theatres and bowling alleys were opened.

City hall was getting ready to have some people back at their desks.

The situation with schools is close to chaotic with different boards of education taking different approaches.

Where is the general public in all this?

A survey done in June on public anxiety, which is growing and any possible opening up of the border with the United States revealed that public sentiment falls into five unique groups

20% Ready to Go – less likely to wear masks or follow rules

19% Nearly Ready – watch data from Govt & Health

23% Want to, But Can’t – some barriers – money, child care etc.

18% Content – OK staying and working at home

20% Afraid – want to see control and penalties, think situation is worse, lack of trust

What can Businesses do to help build that trust and bring about a change in public trust and bring them into the commercial world?

Post promise

This decal is available to every restaurant in the country. They just have to sign up to the promise. Look for it – ask why it isn’t there if you don’t see it.

Model the right behaviour – masks and social distancing: this is not a celebration, demonstrate caution

Provide Credible information and validate safety (Post Promise)

Visual is best – show experience rather than tell – videos/tours

Tone – enforcement, education, help, diligent follow-up.

The hospitality sector, which took the hardest hit during the lockdown is slowly coming back – the emphasis is on the slowly part.

Public confidence isn’t as high as it needs to be. Have you seen the POST promise in the restaurants and bars you go to?

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Burlington Food Bank: Getting ready for a possible second wave.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 19th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The front line people are the people that really get it.

It’s in front of them every hour of every day.

A lot of those front line people are volunteers – that is what community and serving is really all about.

Robin Bailey, Executive Director of the Burlington Food Bank is participating  in the annual Feed Ontario conference which will happen this week online in a virtual format. Today’s course is about “Getting Ready for the 2nd Wave”.

Beth-Martin-Caremonger-1-400x412

Beth Martin Snook – Burlington Together

Beth Martin Snook from Burlington Together made some comments earlier this week that bear repeating.

“As we head into September and beyond, let’s keep in mind that Covid-19, like the common cold, is operating solely in its best interest.

covid virus

Corona virus: They are really good at spreading.

“Corona viruses are really, really good at what they do, which is: spreading.

“We WILL see new cases as schools reopen, it WILL spread. This isn’t a moral failing on anyone’s part. It’s just a virus, doing what it does best.

“Our best defenses continue to be hand washing, social distancing, masking, and supporting each other through what continues to be an extremely stressful moment in time.

“We may very well see a second wave, and if we do, we will be here to support the Burlington community and provide reliable resources.

“The Burlington Food Bank IS and WILL be ready to support our community.

“If you are in need or know of someone who could use our help PLEASE have them email us at info@burlingtonfoodbank.ca or call 905-637-2273 to make arrangements to have food dropped at their door or they can now pick it up. If you live in Burlington, we are here to help.”
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School Board to Hold Virtual Town Hall - question is 'when'?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

August 18th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board is planning on holding a virtual Town Hall meeting to bring parents up to date on September school opening.

HDSB sign and benchThe intention was to hold the event Thursday or Friday of this week but HDSB officials said “we just don’t have enough information from the Ministry and hope to do the Town Hall virtually next week.”

In a telling quote, an Official who asked not to be identified said: “The sands are shifting.”

School Boards across the province have been struggling to deliver on the directions the province has given them.

Parents are not happy with the options they have, school boards have found that they are not getting the opportunity to use the resources they have to deal with the challenge they face.

They were told just days ago that they can tap into their financial reserves; HDSB has $40 million that they need government permission to spend. They have been given permission to spend $6 million on PPE.

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Private sports facilities ask for and get a bit of a break from the city. Coach Dave felt like it was old home week

sportsgold 100x100By Pepper Parr

August 17th 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Recreation Services Redesign plan for the fall to slowly reopen more recreational facilities including rinks and indoor pools to increase the number of recreational programming, activities and rentals available to Burlington residents was approved by City Council lasty Thursday at a Special Meeting.

Earlier in the day a Standing Committee heard delegations from a number of people who outlined the impact the COVID-19 rules were having on the private facilities sector of the sports community.

Coach-David-

Coach Dave

Coach Dave, taught Councillor Nisan enough to get him to the point where he was a respected athlete during his high school days. Councillor Kearns was listening carefully while Coach Dave delegated and then spoke up and said: “So you’re the Coach Dave my kids talk about.  “Who are your kids asked the coach?  “That will be a conversation for another time” said Kearns

Audit Kearns 5

That will be a conversation for another time”

At that point all Coach Dave  needed was one more supporter and he could have gotten almost anything he asked for.  Councillor Galbraith, who runs a fitness club piped in and said he fully understood the financial pressure on the private facility locations.

City Council approved a rental rate reduction of 25 per cent and added more funds to support Recreation Fee Assistance.

The rental rate reduction will help off-set the reduced revenue recreation providers are experiencing due to smaller group sizes, cleaning and additional costs associated with COVID-19.

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 see burlington.ca/feeassistance. You can also leave a confidential voicemail message at 905-335-7738, ext. 8501 and staff will return your call to assist you.

Arenas and Indoor Pools

Some indoor pools and rinks will open for fall programs and rentals.

Indoor pools opening will include Angela Coughlan and Centennial Pool. Nelson Pool, weather permitting, will stay open until Thanksgiving, Oct. 12, 2020.

Central Arena is open. Appleby Arena ice pads 3 and 4 will open soon. Other arenas will open once demand for ice rentals reach 40-60 hours per week at each arena.

Stay tuned for recreational skating programs to resume later this fall.

 

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School Board faces challenges it has never had to deal with before - parents are apprehensive about sending their children back to school at this point.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

August 17th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Stuart Miller H&S

Director of Education for the Halton District School Board (HDSB), Stuart Miller

The Director of Education for the Halton District School Board (HDSB), Stuart Miller, is hunkered down with his staff at the Education Centre on Guelph Line in Burlington, taking part in a meeting that has them all in the same large room.

This is a group that will be very strict in the way people in the room social distance and wear masks.

They are there to figure out how they can handle the opening of the schools on September 8th.

It is not going to be an easy task.

The province has set out requirements that many feel are just plain wrong – but school boards have to do what the Ministry tells them to do.

The government wants students back in classroom and has directed that elementary schools operate just the way they did before the schools were closed in March.

Secondary students will spend some time in a classroom and some time working from their homes being taught synchronically by their teacher who will be in the school.

Last week the Board of Education sent a note to every parent asking what they planned to do with their children: were they going to have them attend classes or were they going to keep them at home?

As of last Thursday just over 50% of the parents had responded. The responses were supposed to have been returned by last Friday – that deadline has been extended.

istem Cafeteria-crowd-Nov-2018-768x371

When parents have questions they show up in droves with their hands in the air. This parents meeting took place at Aldershot High school when the iStem program was announced.

Directors of Education across the province are close to being totally fed up by the way the Ministry of Education is handling the delivery of education to students.

Of the 50% that did respond 81% of the parents of elementary students said they would return; 86% of the secondary parents said their children would return.

There are roughly 45,000 elementary school students being taught by the HDSB and roughly 19,000 secondary students.

The 50% of the parents that answered the survey as soon as they got it were pretty sure as to what they wanted to do – it is reasonable to assume that the other 50% were not certain.

If you do the math – you get a sense as to the size of the problem the HDSB administration is up against.

To get some sense as to what teachers are going to have to deal with. There are elementary schools in the system that have enrollments of 1200 students – Oakville and Milton have elementary schools that big.

Blackwell

Superintendent Terri Blackwell has led the development of the program for secondary school students during the pandemic.

Scott P - close up

Scott Podrebarac has led the program for elementary school students. Both Podrebarac and Blackwell are supported by a team of senior people

How does one keep the required control over 1,200 students – ensuring that they are wearing masks; ensuring that they stay within their cohort, ensuring that they don’t mix with students from other cohorts?

The HDSB has had a schedule of the condition of the HVAC systems in every school in the Region.

More than four months ago HDSB asked for permission to use some of the $40 million in the Board’s Reserve Fund account to upgrade the HVAC systems. They didn’t get a response; they were told that they could allocate $6 million from the reserve fund account to purchase the PPE supplies that would be needed.

Some school Boards, Toronto in particular, are pushing the province to permit staggered classroom openings. Nothing positive yet from the province.

The Province also said that 500 nurses were going to be hired and made available to the school districts. Nothing yet on who will be overseeing those nurses and how they will interact with the individual schools.

Will those nurses be assigned to specific schools or will they be assigned to the Public Health unit they are within?

What will a school do if they find they have an infected student? Close the class and send everyone home for 14 days or shutdown the whole school?

How will busing students to school be handled? Will there be enough drivers?

Miller expects today’s meeting to last all day and points out that most of his staff have worked every weekend since the lockdown took place in March. “This is a tremendous administrative task” adding that “there are more questions than answers – we are going to have to make things up on a daily basis. It is going to be a challenge.”

The trustees will meet for a virtual meeting on Wednesday.

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Farmer's Market a 'roaring success' needs a couple of new volunteers - check it out and check in

News 100 greenBy Staff

August 17th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Peter Bowker tells us that the “Burlington Centre Lions Farmers Market is a “Roaring Success” – but will need volunteers.”

wrb

This is what a Farmer’s Market is all about. People buying fresh goods from the people who made them.

The Market has now been open for ten weeks under strict COVID safety precautions – it was one of the first small businesses in the area to do so. Each week, over 40 vendors set up at the crack of dawn on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday to offer a wide range of fresh agricultural products.

So far, over 55,000 customers have come to shop, and gone away smiling. The vendors and their staff are pleased to be able to offer their services and earn a living.

This is the 62nd consecutive year for the summer market. Over that time, nearly $1 million dollars has been raised through stall rental fees and donated by the Lions to local youth, health, and wellness needs in Burlington and area.

Farmers Market LionsThis year, Burlington Lions Club invested over $4,000 in boundary fencing, signage, PPEs, sanitizers, and access controls to obtain clearance from public health authorities to operate this unique open-air venue. This cost has not been passed on to the vendors or the customers – the Lions consider it an important investment, as a service to the community. Also, additional volunteer staffing has been required to set up and take down the market, and monitor safe distancing practices of vendors and staff.

That is where needing help comes in. “We have been grateful for a number of young people who have helped through the summer, but they will leave to return to classes. So we are in need of half a dozen new volunteers to contribute a few hours each week.

“Either an hour in a morning to help set up, or an hour in the afternoon to put away, or a two-hour shift during the day monitoring customers in and out.

“Anyone interested should send a note to lionsecretary@lions14925.org, or contact Lion Jim McLaughlin at 905-536-8817.”

Related news story:

How the Farmer’s Market is set up in a Covid19 world

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The collection of food for those in need is an ongoing process - don't let up at this point.

dRIVE THRU FOOD DRIVE

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Bryana Cosgrove: 'Guess what’s NOT cancelled this year...the Terry Fox run!'

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

August 16, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

From out of the blue – a few words from Bryana Cosgrove:

“Guess what’s NOT cancelled this year…not even COVID can stop something as wonderful as the Terry Fox run! But, the format is a little different. There are at least 2 ways for you to participate:

Cosgrove ankle

Recognize this ankle ? You should.

1. For all you cyclists out there, there is a 40th anniversary event happening on Aug 22nd where you can ride your favourite route to contribute to the collective goal of cycling 40,000kms (the circumference of the world) on that one day. If you’re interested, DM me for details on how to register and log your kms!

Team Casey

Some things never die – they aren’t supposed to.

2. Team Casey will be creating our own fun event you can complete individually or in teams of people within your COVID bubble. This event can be done on your own time and in your own way…details to follow!

Through Casey’s 7 year battle with late stage lung cancer, he bounced between various treatments, but the most successful treatment was a clinical trial for a drug that was partly funded by research dollars raised by the Terry Fox Foundation.  This drug gave Casey an additional wonderful three years with his friends and family, and for that we are forever grateful.  Please help me pay it forward for others by supporting Team Casey.

Click the link below to become part of our team or to donate

To donate under a specific team member just click on their name on the team page.

The web site is HERE

 

 

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Tax payments are not coming in the way they used to and revenue sources are drying up - city is facing a huge shortfall

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

August 14th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

So how deep is the financial hole going to be?

The city treasurer put some numbers on the table – they don’t look all that good.

Earlier in the week the City got a big chunk of money from the federal and provincial governments. More than $4 million was to cover some of the costs of running the City.

Revenue has been low – mostly from the Parks and Recreation services the City provides.

Here is what Joan Ford, City Treasurer gave Council on Thursday.

The city has been very generous on the time people have to pay their taxes.  There have been deferrals on due dates – which can get a little confusing.  The Table below shows what the shortfall is on the April tax levy.

CSSRA Ford slide 3

There is a total of $7, 708,000 + outstanding from the April tax levy.  A number of people and organizations enrolled in the Tax deferral the city put in place.  That amount comes in at $2,260,000 +

Ford set out for Council what all this was doing to cash flow.  The table below shows the Cash flow projections that were in place for the 2018/2019 fiscal year and what Ford and her staff think the projection will be for 2020.

CSSRA Ford slide 4

Using the data they have the Finance people set out the estimated revenue loss from tax supported and non-tax supported programs – then added to that what they expect to have to spend on COVID-19 matter.  Ford told Council that to date the City has spent about $400,000 on Covid-19 tasks.

Seven million was saved on what they called “expenditure restraint”. Unless it was absolutely necessary – funds were not spent even though they were in the budget.

That still leaves a shortfall of $7,743,834.

CSSRA ford slide 5

Standing back from the detail and looking at the bigger picture – where is the pain?  Parks and Recreation.  Transit, the orange marker wasn’t as deep but substantial nevertheless   The service was offered free of charge.  That changes in September but at this point the transit people have no idea what revenue might look like.

The Parks and Recreation revenue losses were a surprise.

CSSRA ford slide 6

The city let all the part time people go shortly after the Emergency legislation was passed.  Discretionary spending was cut and almost $3.2 million was saved in other “Business as Usual” expenses.

There is only so much that can be squeezed out of a budget.  Also there are found expenses that occur the moment you turn the lights on.

CSSRA Ford slide 7

There is a very bright and tough minded crew of people who look at the services that are provided and ask: How can we redesign this service so that the public gets what they expect and we can be more efficient.

The most recent re-design resulted in an additional $1.7 (almost $1.8) million being added.  Some savings with leaf collection – always a contentious issue in Burlington – were made.

That now has the shortfall at $9,541 + million.

CSSRA ford slide 8

Getting a handle on the damage COVID-19 is doing to the City’s finances in a situation that is both dynamic and fluid leaves the city with what cannot be described as a pretty picture.

The finance people know that things will not remain the same – normal is no longer a state of affairs that can be seen as certain.

The Finance department did a sensitivity analysis.  Starting with what they see happening now that we are into Stage 3 they looked forward and did a calculation based on an additional 5% revenue loss and then a 10% revenue loss.

Those numbers are set out below.

CSSRA Ford slide 9

Members of City Council need now to take those projections to bed with them and think long and hard: Are they ready to tell the public that there is going to be a $13 million revenue loss.  If they have to make that kind of a statement they had better have some solutions and not just assume that a tax hike will cover that off.

City Council might be approaching that point of desperation that many in the commercial, especially the hospitality sector, are experiencing.  City’s cannot go bankrupt nor can they run a deficit.  Should they reach that point the province sends in regulators who take over. That’s when a staff reduction is given a hard close look.

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