Vital signs – interesting numbers that highlight some very disturbing problems to which we don’t have the answers right now.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 3, 2012   A robust crowd gathered early in the morning at the First Credit Union branch to be taken through some “vital signs” about our city – it was not a pretty picture.

The research report, launched by the Burlington Community Foundation,  measures the city across ten areas of focus, including health and wellness, environment, youth, and newcomers.

Burlington Community Foundation Tim Dobbie confers with Executive Director Colleen Mulholland about the research report with some stunning data that was made public on Tuesday.

“As a public foundation created by and for the people of Burlington, we help people, corporations and agencies accomplish their charitable goals and address our city’s most pressing needs,” said Colleen Mulholland, Executive Director of Burlington Community Foundation.  “To accomplish our mission, we first need to deeply understand the community: our strengths as well as areas of need. This is why we have created our first-ever Vital Signs report, a community check-up that evaluates Burlington as a place to live, work, learn and grow by identifying trends that are critical to our quality of life.”

Burlington is a prosperous and affluent community where its individual, household and family median income is 20% higher than Ontario as a whole. This means it is sometimes harder to see the gaps that exist between rich and poor and the rise in mental health issues among youth. .

We are growing,  but not at the rate we have grown in the past and in a direction that brings a lot of problems with it.   More than 80,000 of the 174,000 people in Burlington are over 45 years of age and 1 in 5 of us come from some other country.

To fully appreciate just how wealthy we are as a city – look at that field in the middle of the stadium. Burlington’s parks equal 3,303  of those football fields.

Burlington has 1463 hectares of parkland – which is the equivalent of 3,303 football fields.  That is a lot of parkland.

In a telephone survey to 300 people done by an outside research firm, more than 91% of the people called in Burlington said they donate money to others who are less fortunate.

More than 33% of the people in Burlington volunteer some of their time to helping others make the city a better, nicer place to live.

That’s the plus side – we are, on paper at least, a caring, giving community.

More than 42% of the people in Burlington earn more than $100,000 a year.

The value of the average home in Burlington is $466,000.

We are a rich community as well but we aren’t all rich.

The bad news is very painful.  The vacancy rate for apartments is 1.3% which means the market is very tight and that drives up prices.  Nice for the landlords but very, very hard for those living below the poverty line – and Burlington has a lot of people living below that poverty line.

The researchers tell us that within a decade we will see 24% of the population living below the poverty line.

Day care in Burlington costs $60 a day.  It isn’t possible for low income people to afford day care at that price,which means they don’t work and require social assistance.

We know who does the bullying and we know for the most part where it is being done. Why aren’t we able to bring an almost immediate halt to this kind of behavior. Is the problem with the children who do the bullying or with the parents of those children. That wasn’t a polite question.

31% of newcomers live in poverty – given that 1 in 5 of us were not born here – that is not a nice number.

24% of the minorities live in poverty.

24% of those who are unattached – a polite word for single mothers, live in poverty.  That poverty just grinds these women down and their children suffer.

63% of the people using food banks have been doing so for more than three years.  Many thought food banks were a top gap measure.  For far too many their  trip to the food bank is your trip to the supermarket.

This is what poverty looks like – bleak, cold, few prospects and little hope.

What does poverty look like?  Living on $20,778 a year with one in three living in extreme poverty – getting buy on less than $10,389 a year.

In her remarks Colleen Mulholland told of a woman who said she has to steal to care for her family.  Why is this happening?

31% of newcomers in Burlington live under the poverty line and tend to earn 50 cents for every dollar other people earn.

Our social problems are not limited to the newcomers.  Our youth are suffering from problems they see as staggering. Four out of every 12 young people between the ages of 12 and 15 experience bullying.  We know who is doing the bullying – why have we not managed to have it stopped?

Between 10% and 15% of the teenagers have thought of harming themselves.

Between 19% and 27% of teenagers feel they have too many problems.

Between 6% and 11% of teens have thought of committing suicide.

This is a part of the rosy picture we paint of the city we call the nicest place to live in Canada.

When the data was delivered to a room of more than 60 people, BCF chair Tim Dobbie, with a dazed look on his face said “Wow”!  It was not a happy wow.  He followed that up with a “so what do we do now?”

And indeed that is the question – what do we do now?

Why do we have these problems?  Is it all the result in an unequal distribution of the wealth we have?  Is it because parents are too busy to do their job of raising their children?  Are the schools failing us?  Is this happening because we are no longer much of a faith based society?

Len Lifchus, CEO of the Burlington/Hamilton United Way, the organization that raises funds which are delivered to agencies that deliver support services, listens to data he is all too familiar with.

These aren’t polite questions – but when a parent is called to the hospital to talk to the emergency staff about their child having harmed themselves or worse, and this is happening now; when the police knock at your door to tell you that your child has committed suicide, being polite just doesn’t matter anymore.

This report comes out as we get into the 2012 United Way campaign where we need to raise $2.1 million to take care of those who live under that $20,778 poverty line and especially for those that have to try and get by on $10,389.

Do we see the link between the drug use and the social problems?  Our Burlington covers the police stories and note that the police are kept very busy tracking down the drug dealers.  Having been offered a “joint” as I was coming out of the library a number of months ago I can attest to the size of the problem – the kid was less than 20, taking a break and inhaling that funny smelling cigarette.  We all recognize the smell – do we recognize the problem?

It was a tough report that we had to hear and the BCF people deserve full credit for seeing the need and the courage to put the facts before us.  Hopefully we will have the courage and the concern to do something about those facts.

Vital Signs is a community check-up conducted by community foundations across Canada that measures the vitality of our communities and identifies significant trends in a range of areas critical to quality of life. The check up is coordinated nationally by Community Foundations of Canada.

The Burlington Community Foundation was established in 1999 by a passionate group of local volunteers and philanthropists to improve the quality of life in Burlington.  Several of the city’s  former Mayors were instrumental in getting the organization off the ground.

The initial funding came from a Mayor’s Gala sponsored by Rob MacIsaac; the first meeting of the Foundation was chaired by former Mayor Walter Mulkewich.

The Foundation helps people create funds and support meaningful local causes. The Foundation’s experts understand the community and help donors respond to vital needs by providing grants to charities.

The Masquerade Ball, the Foundation’s annual fund raising event tries  to sell 600 tickets to the event.  They have a lot of fun and the expensive tickets raise the money for the Foundation to operate.


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Participation up, more than 1100 people ran but funds raised was down in 2012 for the Terry Fox Run.

By Pepper Parr

The people numbers were up – the money numbers were down, but the Terry Fox run was a major success nevertheless.

It was the 31st  time the event took place in Burlington. To date the community has raised $1,470,000 and countless numbers of Burlingtonians have run for Terry Fox and for those who found themselves facing cancer.

Don Carmichael, chair of the 2012 run, and expected to chair the 2013 run as well, noted that this year “we had a group running with more than 200 members.  That was very, very significant and is a large part of what the Burlington Terry Fox run is all about.”

More than 1,100 people participated in the run this year.  “We printed up 1000 ribbons for people to wear and ran out”, said Carmichael. “It was a very good crowd this year”, he added.

The fund raising didn’t do as well.  $84,000 was raised in 2011 while just $70,000 was raised in 2012, bringing the total raised by the Burlington Terry Fox Run since its inception to more than $1,470,000  That is a very significant sum of money.

Commemoration boards were set up on the site for people to write a few ords on. What few know is that the organizing committee has kept every board ever set up and written on. They are set up each year in a quiet corner where pople can go and read what they wrote in the past.

Every dollar raised in Burlington goes to cancer research and while the run doesn’t have an official sponsor there are organizations in Burlington that come forward to meet the needs that range from water to food.  This level of support is hugely appreciated by not only the people who organize the run but by the community at large.

More than 100 volunteers make the Terry Fox Run happen.

Carmichael noted that they were seeing more “teams” groups of people running to remember someone or support someone fighting cancer.  “In the past” said Carmichael, “we have had smaller groups running – three or four, sometimes a dozen or more.  The team running for Casey Cosgrove this year exceeded 200 which is a big change for the run.”

Many people find that the run is a way to commemorate a person and to use the time those who walk the route need to think about, celebrate or miss the person they are “running” for.

Many people see the Terry Fox run as a unique thing that happened in Canada and was the result of one Canadian’s supreme effort. The Canadian flag just seems to be a part of the event – and there were plenty of them handed out.

The event is as much a community event as it is a single person running,  with each person having their own personal reasons for being there, but everyone on the site for the same reason – they want to see cancer beaten.

Great strides have been made in research and many forms of cancer are treatable and cured if caught early enough. Carmichael expects to see more groups being formed to take part in the event.

 

 

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Burlington students to take part in Regional Water Festival at Kelso Conservation – 4000 from Region expected to attend.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  October 22, 2012  In the week we are going into more than 4,000 Halton students will spend a part of a day taking part in the seventh annual Halton Children’s Water Festival (HCWF) being held from September 25 to 28, 2012.

Students from grades two to five registered to participate in the festival taking place outdoors at the picturesque Kelso Conservation Area in Milton.

He really wants you to look at the bullfrog he is holding.

Students at the Festival will experience a unique opportunity to learn about water in a fun and interactive way at activity centres which cover Ontario curriculum requirements. New this year, French language activity centres will be piloted with grade five French Immersion students on Thursday, September 27.  The HCWF features nearly 60 activity centres that incorporate four main water related themes:

Kids + water = fun and noise – all part of the Halton Children’s Water Festival. A full day of fun at a cost of $5 per student.

“Since the Halton Children’s Water Festival began in 2006, more than 25,000 children have participated which shows the demand and interest for high quality environmental education in our community,” said Conservation Halton Chairman John Vice. ”The Festival’s success is due to the enthusiastic participation by volunteers, teachers and students backed by the commitment of partner organizations as well as tremendous support from individuals and businesses in the community.  We thank everyone who has participated and contributed to the Water Festival over the past seven years.”

The Festival is co-hosted by Conservation Halton and Halton Region in partnership with, the Halton District School Board, the Halton Catholic District School Board, the City of Burlington, the Town of Halton Hills, the Town of Milton, and the Town of Oakville.  This partnership has created a successful and financially sustainable water festival in Halton. Conservation Halton Chairman John Vice and Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr serve as the Festival’s honorary co-chairs.

It isn’t all classroom stuff – just look at the way this girl rounds the bale of hay. A winner for sure.

The Festival is a community partnership dependent on more than 150 volunteers each day to help with various activities. Halton high school students and community volunteers are once again generously offering their time and gaining experience in community outreach, public speaking, teaching and time management.

The Festival is offered to Halton schools at a cost of just $5 per child, which includes a full day at the Festival as well as transportation to and from the event. Schools seeking Ontario EcoSchools certification can count their attendance at the HCWF as a field trip in the Curriculum category.


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A drizzle that turned into a real rainfall wasn’t enough to stop two chef’s from their shootout.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 21, 2012  It would have been great – as it was it was very good.  The rain spoiled the public participation but it didn’t stop two chef’s from Spencer’s on the Waterfront from showing a small crowd that huddled under umbrellas as Chris Hayworth and Andy McLean put together two really fine meals at an outdoor location in what the Farmer’s Market called Street Fight # 1 with Hayworth vs McLeod.  The knives were out.

You don’t see hand drawn type like this very often

It was promoted as a Street Fight # 1, indicating that this would become an ongoing event. The first pitted two experienced chef’s from one of the better, if not the best, restaurant in the downtown area.

While the rain certainly dampened the public attendance the event was clearly something that could be done fairly frequently next season.  If promoted effectively it could become an event to which day tourists travel to Burlington to take in.

The crowd that was on hand last Friday certainly enjoyed themselves even if they had to huddle in the rain under umbrellas tasting the results.  Hayworth’s cauliflower soup was especially nice.

While the competition was to have two chef’s competing the event turned out to be a battle with the elements.  With just drizzle, one umbrella was enough; but when it turned into real rain – Barry Imber went looking for as many umbrellas as he could find.  His finds and what others had on hand kept most of the rain off the audience.

Chef Hayworth on the left and Chef McLean next to him take their recipes through the final stages of preparation before letting the crowd taste the meal – and it most certainly was a meal.

Chef Chris Hayworth on the left with chef Andy McLean to his left prepare food for individual tastings.  There wasn’t nearly enough to go around.  The original plan was to have people sitting on benches observing; but the rain had people huddling around the cooking tables, while the chefs worked in very cramped quarters constantly hoping the electrical cables wouldn’t short out.

The Farmer’s Market will shut down sometime in October and has to be seen as a success – not a raging success but a very positive addition to life in the downtown core.

Our Burlington supported the event from its very beginning and we will be reminding you about its return in the Spring.

Barry Imber is the driving force behind the concept and the guy who did much of the hands on work to make it happen.  He was the guy who made the phone calls to get people to take part; he was the guy who chased down umbrellas and put them up as the rain moved from a drizzle to a real rainfall.  He was the guy who went looking for additional electrical extension so the chef’s could continue cooking.

One of the vendors teaches children at the Farmer’s Market some hand clapping dances

There were different vendors throughout the year with Featherstone and Plan B on hand consistently.   Some vendors were on the site when they had product – Gibson’s Honey who sold out every time he was there.

There were people from the Tourism office watching the event which many thought could be something done several times during the season and promoted as a destination event.  There people who would love to make a day trip to Burlington to attend an event likes this, stay for the day and drive up into the Escarpment.  As an event – it has potential.

The market is intended for those people who are purely organic.  If you want pure food with nothing added, no preservatives or colouring to make the food look nicer.

What many wondered as the two chef’s worked away was – who was doing the cooking at Spencer’s while Hayworth and Mclean were at the market.

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It was for the COZ – they were all members of Team Casey, walking their talk and being there as part of his extended family.

Part 4 of a 4 part Terry Fox Run photo essay.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 17, 2012  It was for the COZ – there were close to 200 people wearing the small piece of paper that read Team Casey.

There were T-shirts, several handmade creations that said they were there to support Casey Cosgrove as he battles cancer.

Parts of Team Cosgrove

As Deb Tymstra was having the walkers get into the line in front of the starting gate – someone had Team Casey at the other side of the starting gate.  There were so many Team Casey people that the walkers couldn’t get started until the Team Casey people were out of the way.  So Deb Tymstra put them through a warm up exercise given by the Cedar spring ladies.  Eventually, the photo shoot was done and the Team Casey people worked themselves into the walking line and Don Pace did the –  Get Ready, Get Set and Go call.

The Team Casey members were easily recognized. Besides being the biggest group they were probably the noisiest as well. There was never any doubt when a team member crossed the finish line.

They were walking for Casey Cosgrove and along the way appreciating who he was and what he has done for his community.  They thought about the really funny stuff that pops up on his Facebook page and they wondered as well about how much Terry Fox has done for cancer research.

It is cancer research breakthroughs that offer Casey the hope and the opportunity to beat the cancer he battles.  Casey is quite open about his struggle.  He has good days and bad days – but he has hundreds of friends to support him.

Part of bearing the load. Top two members of Team Cosgrove

Terry Fox brought the same robust attitude to his situation: he refused to regard himself as disabled, and would not allow anyone to pity him, telling a Toronto radio station that he found life more “rewarding and challenging” since he had lost his leg.  His feat helped redefine Canadian views of disability and the inclusion of the disabled in society. Fox’s actions increased the visibility of people with disabilities, and in addition influenced the attitudes of those with disabilities, by showing them disability portrayed in a positive light.  Rick Hansen commented that the run challenged society to focus on ability rather than disability. “What was perceived as a limitation became a great opportunity. People with disabilities started looking at things differently. They came away with huge pride”, he wrote.

Two members of Team Casey giving it that final push.

Casey Cosgrove has taught thousands how to deal with health adversity.  Some disabled people are made to feel like failures if they haven’t done something extraordinary.  Casey is just an ordinary guy doing his best and giving just as much as he is getting.

One of Fox’s earliest supporters was Isadore Sharp, founder of the Four Seasons Hotels. Sharp had lost his own son to cancer and offered Fox and his companions free accommodation at his hotels.  He donated $10,000 and challenged 999 other businesses to do the same.   Sharp also proposed an annual fundraising run in Fox’s name. Fox agreed, but insisted that the runs be non-competitive. There were to be no winners or losers, and anyone who participated could run, walk or ride.  Sharp faced opposition to the project. The Cancer Society feared that a fall run would detract from its traditional April campaigns, while other charities believed that an additional fundraiser would leave less money for their causes.  Sharp persisted, and he, the Four Seasons Hotels and the Fox family organized the first Terry Fox Run on September 13, 1981.

Some members of Team Cosgrove made their own sweaters. One of those has to be used in the Spiral submission for the Performing arts Centre if that submission is chosen.

Over 300,000 people took part and raised $3.5 million in the first Terry Fox Run.  4000 of those dollars came from Burlington.

Schools across Canada were urged to join the second run, held on September 19, 1982, and now have their own   National School Run Day.  The runs, which raised over $20 million in its first six years, grew into an international event as over one million people in 60 countries took part in 1999, raising $15 million that year alone.

Last Sunday, in Burlington, more than 1000 people did the run – and 200 of them were there for Casey Cosgrove and the COZ.

Part 1 of 4

Part 2 of 4

Part 3 of 4

 

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Terry Fox runners come out in droves to raise funds for cancer research. Part 2 of a 4 part photo essay.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 17, 2012  After months of organizational work. Hours of committee meetings – the day had arrived.  The weather was great.  Just a little nippy at the start of the day when the Terry Fox Run team began to gather on site.  A sign that the weather was going to be perfect.

With everyone in place; security checked out; the starting gate filled with air and the food and snack tables getting set up and the ladies getting into place at the registration tables – the day was getting close to starting.

The crowd was coming together – you could feel the buzz in the air.

Runners were lined up at the starting gate – but not quite yet.  The exercise girls from Cedar Springs had to take them through a short warm up.

Starting gate is readied for the runners.

And then they were off.  Carrying on a 32 year tradition in Burlington that has seen more than $1.4 million raised.  We will let you know what the amount raised was this year.

The warm up ladies from Cedar Springs took the runners through a series of exercises before getting them through the start up gate.

The tradition began back in 1980 when the first Terry Fox run took place and raised $4000  It`s been a steady grow upwards since then.

In 1980, with one leg having been amputated, Terry Fox embarked on a cross-Canada run to raise money and awareness for cancer research. Although the spread of his cancer eventually forced him to end his quest after 143 days and 5,373 kilometres (3,339 mi), and ultimately cost him his life, his efforts resulted in a lasting, worldwide legacy. The annual Terry Fox Run, has grown to involve millions of participants in over 60 countries and is now the world’s largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research; over $500 million has been raised in his name.

And they were off. There are parents out there who wonder why these lads don’t move quite as fast in getting ready for school or doing their homework.  Look for the Tweeters getting out the word.

Fox was a distance runner and basketball player for his Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, high school and Simon Fraser University. His right leg was amputated in 1977 after he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, though he continued to run using an artificial leg. He also played wheelchair basketball in Vancouver, winning three national championships.

They just kept pouring through the starting gate.

In 1980, he began the Marathon of Hope, a cross-country run to raise money for cancer research. Fox hoped to raise one dollar for each of Canada’s 24 million people. He began with little fanfare from St. John’s, Newfoundland, in April and ran the equivalent of a full marathon every day.

Good start and setting a nice pace.

Pumping away on the backstretch going east from the canal on the way to the Waterfront Hotel. Nice 5k run

Fox had become a national star by the time he reached Ontario; he made numerous public appearances with businessmen, athletes, and politicians in his efforts to raise money. He was forced to end his run outside of Thunder Bay when the cancer spread to his lungs. His hopes of overcoming the disease and completing his marathon ended when he died nine months later.

Fox was the youngest person ever named a Companion of the Order of Canada. He won the 1980 Lou Marsh Award as the nation’s top sportsman and was named Canada’s Newsmaker of the Year in both 1980 and 1981. Considered a national hero, he has had many buildings, roads and parks named in his honour across the country.

 

Doing the first half of the Burlington Terry Fox 5k run

These ladies are in the homestretch of the Terry Fox 5k run.

Each runner sets their own pace. The backstretch of the run is easy going and well shaded.

Terry Fox was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to Rolland “Rolly” Fox and Betty Fox. Rolly was a switchman for the Canadian National Railway. Terry had an elder brother, Fred, a younger brother, Darrell and a younger sister, Judith.  His family moved to Surrey, British Columbia, in 1966, then settled in Port Coquitlam in 1968.  His parents were dedicated to their family, and his mother was especially protective of her children; it was through her that Fox developed his stubborn dedication to whatever task he committed to do.  His father recalled that he was extremely competitive, noting that Terry hated to lose so much that he would continue at any activity until he succeeded.

One of the younger runners enters the home stretch of the Terry Fox 5k run. Many his age did a second go around to make it a 10k run.

 

The runners working the back stretch of the 5k run. You name it and that kind of runner was out doing their part.

He was an enthusiastic athlete, playing soccer, rugby and baseball as a child.  His passion was for basketball and though he stood only five feet tall and was a poor player at the time, Fox sought to make his school team in grade eight.

That finishing line looks good to everyone that sees it. Some used it as an opportunity to make a final dash.

His physical education teacher and basketball coach at Mary Hill Junior High School felt he was better suited to be a distance runner and encouraged him to take up the sport. Fox had no desire for cross-country running, but took it up because he respected and wanted to please his coach.[6] He was determined to continue playing basketball, even if he was the last substitute on the team. Fox played only one minute in his grade eight season but dedicated his summers to improving his play. He became a regular player in grade nine and earned a starting position in grade ten.  In grade 12, he won his high school’s athlete of the year award jointly with his best friend Doug Alward.

Though he was initially unsure if he wanted to go to university, Fox’s mother convinced him to enrol at Simon Fraser University, where he studied kinesiology as a stepping stone to becoming a physical education teacher.  He tried out for the junior varsity basketball team, earning a spot ahead of more talented players due to his determination.

Part 1 of a four part photo essay on the Terry Fox Run

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Brilliant sunny day with more than 1000 doing the Terry Fox walk. Great community stuff – loads of pictures.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 12, 2012  The first run was in 1980 when the city raised $4000 for the Terry Fox Research Foundation and a cure for cancer.

More than 1000 people were out on the pathways at Beachway Park and running through Spencer Smith Park.More than 100 volunteers helped people with massages, warm up exercises, giving directions and handing out glasses of water.

These are the ladies that collected the funds raised. One family came in with more than $1600 raised in their community. We will have the final count later in the week.

We will know later in the week how much was raised in 2012.  The total raised since 1980 in Burlington is now over $1.4 million.

Who would have thought that 32 years after Terry Fox had to abandon his run across the country using an artificial leg, that we would have hundreds of people coming out every year to run for a cause.

Don Carmichael, chair of the Terry Fox run in 2012, meets with part of his team to go over the final check ins before the event gets serious and the crowds begin to show up.

Many, perhaps even most of the people who ran today were not alive when Terry Fox did his run.  I heard about a one legged man declaring that he was going to run across the country when he dipped his artificial leg into the Atlantic ocean and headed west.  It seemed like a bit of a stunt to me – I knew nothing about the man.

It was a little nippy in the morning, the kind of weather that helps the leaves turn colour and keeps people shivering just a bit. That changes when they begin their run.

I was sitting in an office window watching Terry Fox run with that half limp,  half trot of his as he headed south and into Nathan Phillips Square where more than 100,000 people were on hand to greet him.  This was no stunt.

The fund raising drive, which hadn’t done all that well when it worked its way through the Maritimes and Quebec, picked up momentum as the national media picked up the story in Ontario and from that point it just took off.  There were close to nightly news reports with a summary at the end of each week.  The country was mesmerized by what this man was doing.

Eight years earlier Canada came together as a country when a Canadian Team beat the Russians in a closely fought hockey series.  We had a sense of who we were after that and when Terry Fox caught our imaginations we had no trouble getting behind to help.

The country almost automatically  made the project theirs and we’ve been doing that ever since we lost Terry Fox in 1981

He was born Terrance Stanley “Terry” Fox, on July 28, 1958 and was made a Member of the Order of Canada.  There is much more to the Terry Fox story than this.  Follow the Burlington event and the young man`s story.

Part 2 of the Terry Fox story and the Terry Fox run; a photo feature.

Deb Tymstra MC’d the event – her second year doing that job. Here she goes over her notes to prepare for an event that almost got out of hand when the Casey Cosgrove supporters were gathered to have pictures taken. That crowd was so large that it held up the Bikers and the Walkers who Tymstra wanted to get started. She managed the chaos.

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Chef’s to duel it out at the organic only Farmer’s Market in the downtown core.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 13, 2012  Two Spencer’s Restaurant Chef’s will duel it out at the Farmer’s Market on Friday.  Chris Hayworth and Andrew McLeod will shop from the different vendors at the market and then cook up a meal, using what they bought at the market – all organic, that visitors to the market can sample at the tables Barry Imber, the driving force behind the idea of an organic market in downtown Burlington,  plans to set out for people to use.

It’s not a crowded market but it does have a consistent flow of traffic during the two hours it is open. Great produce, pork offerings are very good and each week someone else shows up with a new product. We got great sour-dough there last week.

Fresh bread – straight from the ovens – but you had to get there while the basket still had something in it.

The Farmer’s Market, located off John Street just north of James back in behind Centro Gardens, focuses on local organically grown produce, meat and dairy.

It started up during the early summer and while traffic has not been overwhelming, it is consistent with people drifting in and out during the noon to 2:00 pm window they are open.

Chef Chris Hayworth shows how he will use his knife at the Chef’s Duel scheduled for Friday just after noon at the Farmer’s All Organic market on John Street.

Imber decided to give the location a bit of a promotional boost and challenged the two Spencer’s chef’s to duel it out over their stoves using just the produce available at the market.

Candace Ivezich, sales agent with LeavoyRowe, purveyors of fine meats just might be Chef Hayworth’s secret weapon.

Hayworth plans to play it by ear and see what is on sale- and then use his creative imagination to pull together a meal he is sure will win the day for him.

Hayworth is a full range chef but he tends to like to focus on the appetizer part of the menu – and where he can he goes local.

Could be fun – certainly will be tasty.

Chef Hayworth has a bit of an advantage – he has a supplier that wants him to win; that might tip the scales.

At press time we had not heard from Chef McLeod – maybe he has decided to concede and won’t show.

You be the judge – and see what they serve up.

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Suicide is a community problem – the solutions and the healing have to come from the community.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 8, 2012  –  This is a dodgy subject; what do you say when you learn that someone you know took their own life or that a member of a family you know well committed suicide.  You’re stunned and you wonder if there was something you should have done, could have done.  And what do you do now?

Society is at least talking about suicide. The Region of Halton is partnering with the Talking about Addictions and Mental Illness (TAMI) program to offer two community forums to help break the stigma associated with suicide, help people to talk openly about suicide, and show how everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention

Personally I’ve never understood the stigma sometimes attached to suicide – these are family tragedies that need the help, compassion, understanding and support of the community to be part of the healing.

There is a point where utter desolation becomes more than a person can handle.

An understanding of what depression is; what it does and how best to cope with it is part of the process.  Ignoring it or even worse stigmatizing it socially just drives this very real problem underground where we can’t deal with it .

Monday, September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, and the Halton Suicide Prevention Coalition (HSPC) is partnering with the Talking about Addictions and Mental Illness (TAMI) program to offer two community forums.

Both events will be running from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. on the following dates and locations:

September 10: Holy Trinity High School – Theatre, 2420 Sixth Line, Oakville

September 13: Craig Kielburger Secondary School – Auditorium, 1151 Ferguson Drive, Milton

Suicide can be a difficult subject to talk about and that often stops individuals and families from reaching out for support. Regional chair Gary Carr adds: “That’s why I think it’s wonderful that both the Coalition and the TAMI program are coming together to help reduce the stigma and use World Suicide Prevention Day as an opportunity to open the dialogue.”

“I am sure the event will be powerful as those who attend will hear from both a professional from the HSPC and a speaker sharing his personal experience with suicide. I’m also looking forward to attending the Coalition’s annual general meeting (AGM) on November 9 where Mr. Bob Rae, Member of Parliament, Toronto-Centre will be the keynote speaker detailing Canada’s National Suicide Prevention Strategy. I hope Halton residents will take the time to attend either the community forums or the coming AGM.”

Halton Region plays a key role in both the Coalition and TAMI. Funding is provided by Halton Regional Council. Professional staff from the Health Department work directly with community partners sharing their expertise and experience. Those partners include: Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Halton Branch, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario (SSO), the Phoenix Program, ADAPT (Halton Alcohol, Drug and Gambling Assessment, Prevention and Treatment Services), the Halton District School Board, the hospital sector and individuals affected by suicide.

Mental health needs the same attention and resources as physical health.  One is no less important than the other.

For anyone who is suffering from depression, having suicidal thoughts, or is a survivor of suicide, help is available in Halton. Visit HSPC’s website for more information about suicide prevention and resources.

For information about services available to those struggling with mental health issues, visit Halton Region’s website, or call the Family Health Information Line and speak directly with a public health nurse.

Chairman Carr puts this perfectly when he says: “Together, we can break the silence and reduce the stigma to help save someone’s life.”  The key word is ‘together’.

 

 

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Two Chef’s from Spencer’s on the Waterfront to duke it out at Centro Gardens in a Chef’s Street fight.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 6, 2012   Next Friday September 14, Centro Market is hosting special guest chefs Chris Haworth and Andrew McLeod with their mobile demonstration kitchen – aka “the pen”.

The Dueling Chef’s from Spencer’s on the Waterfront will choose produce from a stand like this and whip up a meal on the spot at the Farmer’s Market on John Street – behind Centro Gardens. Stick around and you could get to taste the results.

The match-up — these two local chefs will pick from the Centro Farm Market’s fresh ingredients to create an amazing dish — live, in gritty real time. They’ll have 1 hour to select ingredients and then duke it out to prepare their dish ready to serve to the lucky visitors of the market.

Market goers will sample their amazing food and judge who’s the victor of the Chef Street Fight. That simple but oh so fun.

The market will be set up with theatre seating and tables to enjoy the food. So come down to shop the market, support your local farmers and stay for the entertainment and a bite for lunch.

So –  are we seeing some raza mataz in the downtown core?   Barry Imber the driving force behind the idea of a Farmer’s Market in the downtown core is hoping that the “duel” will attract people that didn’t even know the market existed.

The market runs from noon to 2:00 pm on Friday.   A not  to be  missed event.


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A “sharrow” on your street? Should you be worried ? Not if you drive a bicycle.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  Sept. 5, 2012— Watch for painted signs along the side of more than two dozen roadways in Burlington.  The city is installing 285 new sharrows throughout the city on streets identified in the city’s Cycling Master Plan as proposed bicycle priority streets.

At $95 a pop – tax included – the city is putting in a couple of dozen of these. They are called sharrows and they tell drivers to share the road with cyclists.

Sharrows are bicycle use road markings that are painted on the road where a complete bike lane barrier cannot be installed.  The markings are meant to attract cyclists who prefer to ride on less busy streets and help increase driver awareness.

“The city’s efforts in improving our cycling infrastructure demonstrate our long-term commitment to promoting and encouraging active transportation in Burlington,” said Scott Stewart, general manager of development and infrastructure.

Burlington received the Bicycle Friendly Community bronze medal award from the Share the Road Cycling Coalition last August. Share the Road is an Ontario-based non-profit organization that promotes bicycling as a mode of transportation, recreation and fitness through provincial advocacy.

Work crews are installing 285 sharrows on the following streets:

•         Millcroft Park Drive from Dundas Street to Walkers Line

•         William O’Connell Boulevard from Millcroft Park Drive to Upper Middle Road

•         Jordan Avenue from Walkers Line to Headon Road

•         Headon Road from Palmer Drive to Headon Forest Drive

•         Forest Run Avenue from Walker’s Line to Bianca Forest Drive

•         Bianca Forest Drive from Forest Run Avenue to Pincay Oaks Lane

•         Headon Forest Drive from Headon Road to Northampton Boulevard

•         Northampton Boulevard from Headon Forest Drive to Dundas Street

•         Duncaster Drive from Upper Middle Road to Cavendish Drive

•         Coventry Way from Cavendish Drive to Guelph Line

•         Tyandaga Park Drive from Brant Street to Kern’s Road

•         Kerns Road from North Service Road to Canterbury Drive

•         Mount Forest Drive from Brant to Fisher Avenue

•         Fisher Avenue from Mountain Forest Drive to Mountainside Drive

•         Mountainside Drive from Fisher Avenue to Guelph Line

•         Mountain Grove Avenue from Mountain Forest Drive to Dead End

•         Martha Street from Centennial Bikeway to Lakeshore Road

•         Pine Street from Brant Street to Martha Street

•         Northshore Road from Belhaven Crescent to LaSalle Park Road

•         Pearl Street from Pine Street to Lakeshore Road

•         Spruce Avenue from Kenwood Avenue to Hampton Heath Road

•         Spruce Avenue from Goodram Drive to Appleby Line

Motorists may experience some delay while pavement markings are put in place.  The work is underway and will be completed this week.

Each sharrow costs $95 to put in place.  The city expects to spend approximately $31,000 this year on sharrows.

$55,000 is budgeted for cycling each year. It is used on minor cycling improvement projects……this includes installation of new bike lanes (grinding of vehicle lane pavement markings and applying new bike lanes)…..curb cuts, sharrows and signage.

Hopefully drivers will see the markings on the roadway and recognize they are expected to share the road they are using with those who choose to cycle.

Once the sharrows are in place we can perhaps see more people using side streets and locations where they can fel safe and be safe.  The REAL challenge for Burlington is coming up with ways to make it safe to use a bicycle on Guelph, Walkers and Appleby Lines.

 

 

 

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West Nile virus appearing in the Region; first human case for 2012 found in Oakville.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  September 5, 2012  A female in her thirties is Oakville’s first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) illness in 2012. Human WNV infections in Halton now total eleven.

Full human and mosquito surveillance s shown below.

While the numbers aren’t huge, they do indicate that we are seeing increased instances of the West Nile virus.  Follow the advice the Regional Health department puts out and you should be fine.  If you feel any differences in your health – head for a Walk in Clinic.

 

Map indicates where Larvicide has been applied to standing water sites.  If there are places on your property where water is standing – clear it out – the mosquitoes love places where the water is still.

Mosquitoes can transmit WNV to humans after becoming infected by feeding on the blood of birds carrying the virus. About 80% of people who become infected with WNV do not experience any illness, while about 20% will develop West Nile fever.

Less than 1% will develop inflammation of the brain or its lining, or a type of paralysis. Older adults and people with underlying illnesses should be particularly cautious as they are more likely to develop the illness. The following are steps that residents can take to protect themselves and their families from mosquitoes:

Cover up. Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants with tightly-woven fabric.

Avoid being outdoors from early evening to morning when mosquitoes are most active, as well as at any time in shady, wooded areas.

Reduce mosquito breeding sites around your home by getting rid of all water-filled containers and objects. Change the water in bird baths at least once per week.

Use an approved insect repellent, such as one containing DEET.

Make sure your window and door screens are tight and in good repair.

This is a relatively easy virus to manage – but it does have to be managed.

 


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Lake Ontario water conditions for swimming at Beachway Park not as good as they were last week.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  August 31st, 2012  The beach water monitoring results done by the Regional Health Department revealed the following beaches are safe for swimming:

Halton Hills – Prospect Park Old Beach

Oakville – Bronte Park Beach, Coronation Park East

The following beaches are unsafe for swimming:

Oakville –Coronation Park West

Burlington – Beachway Park

Milton – Kelso Conservation Area

The Beachway Park has been safe for swimming for the past six weeks – this report is a change in the condition of the water.

Unfortunately, other than media posting, the public that uses the Beachway Park in Burlington has no way of knowing if the water is safe or unsafe.  There are no signs to indicate the condition of the water.  Unfortunate indeed.

 

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West Nile virus infection risk remains high in Halton; 9 Burlington cases reported.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  August 30, 2012   The West Nile virus is still very much with us. The Halton Region Health Department reminds residents to continue to cover up, use insect repellent with DEET, and keep mosquitoes out of homes.

Standing Water Sites Larvicided
August 19 – 25, 2012

The mosquito trapping done by the Regional health staff has found mosquitoes positive for West Nile virus (WNV) for five consecutive weeks.  Laboratory test results over the last three weeks bring the total of human infections with WNV in Halton to nine: seven in Burlington and two in Milton.

Two of the Burlington cases were persons who did not have symptoms but were identified during routine testing as part of the blood donation process.

“The risk of infection will be present until temperatures cool significantly, so it is important to protect yourself from mosquito bites and remove areas of standing water where mosquitoes breed,” said Dr. Monir Taha, Associate Medical Officer of Health for Halton Region.

This is how the virus gets to human beings. Take the common sense precautions.

Mosquitoes can transmit WNV to humans after becoming infected by feeding on the blood of birds carrying the virus. About 80% of people who become infected with WNV do not experience any illness, while about 20% will develop West Nile fever.

Less than 1% will develop inflammation of the brain or its lining, or a type of paralysis.  That’s a nice number – until you realize that you’re one of the one percent.

Older adults and people with underlying illnesses should be particularly cautious as they are more likely to develop the illness. The following are steps that residents can take to protect themselves and their families from mosquitoes:

Cover up. Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants with tightly-woven fabric.

Avoid being outdoors from early evening to morning when mosquitoes are most active and likely to bite, as well as at any time in shady, wooded areas.

Reduce mosquito breeding sites around your home by getting rid of all water-filled containers and objects. Change the water in bird baths at least once per week.

Use an approved insect repellent, such as one containing DEET.

Make sure your window and door screens are tight and without holes, cuts or other openings where mosquitoes could enter your home.

 

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City awarded a bronze medal for being friendly to bicycles. Now we need ways to make cars and bicycles friends as well.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON   Aug. 26.  2012-   Last week Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster was in Ottawa as a city delegate to the Association of Municipalities annual convention and while there accepted the Bicycle Friendly Community bronze medal award on behalf of the city.

Burlington was awarded the bronze rating by the Share the Road Cycling Coalition, an Ontario-based non-profit organization that promotes bicycling as a mode of transportation, recreation and fitness through provincial advocacy.

The Regional Police use bicycles on a regular basis as part of the way they do their work. Are there any other civic employees using bicycles?

Burlington has gone some distance in making the city a more cycle friendly place – in this instance the city is ahead of its citizens.  In June and July the city held two Car Free Sundays at which the turnout was less than expected.  To the surprise of many the event on Appleby Line had a considerably better turn out than the event held on Brant Street.   It was clear to many that the idea needed a re-think.

The Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) Program, an initiative of the Washington-based League of American Bicyclists, was launched in Canada in August 2010 by Share the Road. The program provides incentives, hands-on assistance, and award recognition for communities that actively support bicycling.  Municipalities are judged in five categories often referred to as the Five “E’s” engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation and planning.  A community must demonstrate achievements in each of the five categories in order to be considered for an award.

The city did a photo op in May to promote the idea of cycling to work – threw in a free breakfast for those that showed up. It wasn’t a large crowd. Councillor Dennison is the only serious and sincere cyclist on Council. Bike rack at city hall is seldom full – parking spaces at city hall are well used however – they’re free. Beats a free breakfast.

“We have a lot to be proud of,” said Mayor Rick Goldring. “Over the last number of years the City of Burlington has committed to adding to our cycling-friendly infrastructure throughout the city. We have increased the number of kilometres of bike lanes and paths and made on-road cycling safer with the installation of signage, buffered and coloured lanes and sharrows. This award also recognizes the work we have done in education and awareness.”

“This award is a reflection of the hard work of city staff and our community leaders,” said Scott Stewart, general manager of development and infrastructure. “I encourage more residents to make the safe and healthy choice of cycling.”

A key focus of the city’s strategic plan, Burlington, Our Future, is increasing the number of people who cycle in the city for both recreation and transportation.

Burlington approved a Cycling Master Plan in 2009.  This plan guides the city’s efforts in creating a network of on-road bikeways and multi-use pathways as well as providing policies, practices and programs to encourage more people to cycle.

Burlington has 49 km of bike lanes, 22.5 km of bike boulevards, 19 km of shared use paths and 20.7 km of multi-use paths.  Bicycle racks are available at all city facilities and public art bike racks have been installed in the downtown. Bike racks are also mounted on the front of all Burlington Transit buses.

Increasing its cycling infrastructure is just part of the task: work in the areas of education and awareness continue.

The Burlington Sustainable Development Committee and Burlington Central Library are hosting an active transportation seminar; Get it in Gear, on Oct. 18th,from  7 to 9 p.m.  The city has a Green Transportation Map –  outlining transit routes, trails and tourism destinations in Burlington, available at the Tourism office on Brant Street.

Burlington was up for a pre-Olympic cycling competition but the opportunity got away from us. Maybe in the future?

Burlington got a sense of what was possible when it took a hard look at the idea of holding pre-Olympic elite level races that would have resulted in a jam packed Canada Day.  That idea didn`t fly due to problems with the promoter – but we got a clear sense of what was possible.  At some point the city will meet up with the right promoter and we will perhaps see elite cycle racing in the community.

In the meantime the cycling infrastructure keeps being added to and more and more roadways are truly bicycle accessible.  Hopefully sooner rather than later the city will devote some time and money figuring out how to make the stretch of roadway from Mainway to Fairview bicycle friendly – that for Burlington is the real challenge at Walkers Line and Appleby Line as well.  It is what creates that big divide between the Burlington north of the QEW and the Burlington south of the QEW – and until we resolve that one we won`t be united as a city.  When that problem is solved – we could win gold!


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Downtown farmer`s market is adding more vendors than people. It`s a struggle – but then anything worthwhile is never easy.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  August 17, 2012   The small market that has been operating every Friday in a parking lot on John Street – back behind Centro Gardens reminded me of the Joni Mitchell song Big Yellow Taxi.

The line `put up a parking lot`sort of speaks to the farmers market – it`s held in a parking lot.

An even more telling line is:

Don’t it always seem to go

That you don’t know what you’ve got

Till it’s gone

Barry Imber, the driving force behind the idea, had thought there would be a little more in the way of traffic.  “It is growing” he said “but not quickly enough for the farmers who spend the four hours at the market each Friday.”

There is a small collection of fresh from the farm products available at the Farmer’s Market on John Street. More traffic is needed if the market is to continue.

Last week Russell Gibbs was back with his honey – he sold out the first time he offered his product – so there is a market.  Featherstone Farms has been in since the beginning with their pork and soaps and then added bread.

Farm to Table Meats and Cheese Gypsy as well as Tree & Twig were there.  But Imber wants something a little more robust.  While he isn’t a vendor he nevertheless wants to promote organic and get some activity into the downtown core – where things can get desperately quiet far too often.

Barry Imber, the driving force behind the Farmer’s Market on John Street talks with Michelle Macdonald, operator of Featherstone Farms, the providers of soaps, bread and pork products.

Imber is working on some food trucks and visiting chefs for the coming weeks to spice it up.` He isn’t seeing a good adoption here. Likewise the vendors aren’t totally comfortable with the traffic either so the whole thing may dissolve sooner than later if people don’t come to the conclusion that they have something special here — their own market in their downtown — the start to something cultural and rich.  A real community hub.

If people don’t make an effort to support it soon, it will be gone unfortunately and giving it another try will be that much harder.

And that gets us back to the line:

Don’t it always seem to go

That you don’t know what you’ve got

Till it’s gone

The only reason there will be an outdoor market in the downtown core is if people come out and at least try the products.  Part of the problem may be that people just don`t know.   Our Burlington is certainly doing its part to tell the story.

There will be additional promotional effort put into the project early in September – and then we will see if Imber`s idea was a true addition to the city or just a bit of folly.


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Great weather – great water conditions – Burlington Beachway just fine reports regional Health department.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  August 17, 2012   Beach water monitoring by the Regional Health staff on August 14 revealed the following beaches are safe for swimming:

Beachway water is safe – jump in

Burlington – Beachway Park

Halton Hills – Prospect Park Old Beach

Milton – Kelso Conservation Area

Oakville – Coronation Park East

The following beaches are unsafe for swimming:

•       Oakville – Coronation Park West, Bronte Park Beach.

Remember to take sun screen and to park legally along the Beachway.

Have fun

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Are we giving people who use Beachway Park the information they need and are entitled to in terms of water safety?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  August 9, 2012  Water quality at the Burlington Beachway is just fine.  Oakville’s Coronation Park East is still not safe – that’s been that way for some time.

The Halton Region Health Department monitors the water quality at public beaches throughout Halton.  We get the information from the Region and pass it along to our readers.

Many people don’t go near the water when they go to the beach but those who do swim have the right to know the water is safe and that they are personally safe as well. Lifeguards do that job.

Beach water monitoring on August 6 revealed the following beaches are safe for swimming:

Burlington – Beachway Park

Halton Hills – Prospect Park Old Beach

Milton – Kelso Conservation Area

The following beaches are unsafe for swimming:

Oakville – Coronation Park East, Coronation Park West,  Bronte Park Beach.

This is great information if you’re a regular reader of Our Burlington, but alas, not everyone reads what we have to say.

When you walk out to the Beachway there are days when you can see literally hundreds of people enjoying the water.  In the past, when the water was not deemed safe by the Region, the public had no way of knowing the water was not deemed to be safe.

At one point the Region used to divide the Beachway into North and South – with no really clear dividing line between the north and the south.

On a long weekend there are far more people using Beachway Park in Burlington than the number using the beach shown above – we don’t employ lifeguards nor do we post adequate signs to explain the condition of the water. The city owes its public better service on this one.

The Region did provide a map that we posted – but then they discarded the North and South parts and just call it the Beachway – which was fine.

The problem however is that there isn’t any way for those who don’t read Our Burlington to know the water is not safe.  There is a solution.

Do what other jurisdictions do;  Put up signs or put up flags that tell the people what the water condition is.

On those occasions when there are literally hundreds of people using the beach – where are the lifeguards?  It will cost money to hire lifeguards – which the Region or the city will do in a flash the moment there is a drowning.

Time for the city to take a hard look at the way the beach is used by the public and what the city should be providing in the way of safety services.


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Regional Health Service reports more positive West Nile virus results. Be aware of the signs and cover up.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  August 7, 2012  The Region is seeing more positive West Nile Virus results in its testing than it normally does at this time of year.

A sample of mosquitoes collected last week in Halton Hills (Georgetown) has tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV), bringing the number of positive batches for Halton Region in 2012 to nine. Each of the other local municipalities also had a new positive batch, with Burlington and Oakville now at three each and Milton at two.

“We are now in the highest risk period for human West Nile virus illness. Please protect yourself against mosquito bites,” said Dr. Monir Taha, Halton Region Associate Medical Officer of Health. “These high-risk weeks are almost certain to keep up well into September: Don’t let down your guard.”

The mosquito gets infected when it bites a bird that is carrying the virus.  If that mosquito bites you – then you get infected.  So you need to cover up and not let the mosquitoes bite you.

Mosquitoes can transmit WNV to humans after becoming infected by feeding on the blood of birds carrying the virus. About 80% of people who become infected with WNV do not experience any illness, while about 20% will develop West Nile fever.

Less than 1% will develop inflammation of the brain or its lining, or a type of paralysis. Older adults and people with underlying illnesses should be particularly cautious as they are more likely to develop the illness. The following are steps that residents can take to protect themselves and their families from mosquitoes:

The safety measure you can take are pretty simple:

Cover up. Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants with tightly-woven fabric.

Avoid being outdoors from early evening to morning when mosquitoes are most active and likely to bite, as well as at any time in shady, wooded areas.

Reduce mosquito breeding sites around your home by getting rid of all water-filled containers and objects. Change the water in bird baths at least once per week.

Use an approved insect repellent, such as one containing DEET.

Replace or repair window screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.

What do you do if you are bitten by a mosquito?  Depends on whether or not the mosquito has bitten a bird carrying the virus.  But if the mosquito is infected what is that likely to mean to you and what do you want to watch for?

Dr. Monir Taha, Halton Region Associate Medical Officer of Health has this to say:

“The symptoms, especially in mild infection, do overlap with those of many other viral infections.  As with all infectious illness, we recommend seeing a medical doctor when an illness keeps getting worse, or, if it is not getting better, even though it is no longer getting worse.

You know when you’ve been bitten by a mosquito. Pay attention to how your body reacts – don’t panic but do pay attention to the symptoms.

“For infants (though recalling for WNV illness the very young are at least risk), the elderly, or people with underlying illnesses, one should have a lighter trigger for seeing the doctor (this is especially the case for infants with fever).

“There is no hard and fast rule about when to see a doctor, but if you are worried and things just don’t seem right, then it is better to go than to delay.  (There are other conditions, of course, such as stroke or heart attack, which should result in an immediate 911 call.)

“WNV would not be automatically tested for.  This would be up to the doctor’s clinical judgement.  We have alerted all Halton physicians that WNV is a risk now, so when doctors are seeing patients with fever and some of the other symptoms (e.g., headache, muscle aches, etc.) they should be thinking of WNV as well as other potential causes.  A patient’s history of being out of doors and of mosquito bites would be helpful.

“However, since there is no specific treatment for WNV illness other than supportive care (which in severe illness could require intensive care unit admission), in mild illness not having a laboratory test result would not really be a disadvantage.  In more severe illness, knowing the specific cause is important to help rule out conditions that do have specific treatments and, when it is WNV, is helpful for guiding the supportive care and for prognosis

“Laboratory tests are also helpful from a surveillance point of view as they let us know the extent of the disease in the human population and then allow us (the Health Department) to further alert physicians and the public and to guide mosquito control activities.  As such, we would support the decision to test for WNV even in mild infections (West Nile fever).

Mild Infection

The incubation period is thought to range from 3 to 14 days.

Symptoms generally last 3 to 6 days.

Reports from earlier outbreaks describe the mild form of WNV infection as a febrile illness of sudden onset often accompanied by:

malaise  [feeling ill] ; headache; anorexia  [loss of appetite]; Myalgia [sore muscle]; nausea;  rash; vomiting;  Lymphadenopathy [swollen glands]; eye pain; arthralgia [sore joints]

Approximately 1 in 150 infections will result in severe neurological disease.

The most significant risk factor for developing severe neurological disease is advanced age.

Encephalitis [inflammation of the brain] is more commonly reported than meningitis [inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord].

In recent outbreaks, symptoms occurring among patients hospitalized with severe disease include: fever, gastrointestinal symptoms, weakness, change in mental status.

A minority of patients with severe disease developed a maculopapular or morbilliform rash involving the neck, trunk, arms, or legs.

It all sounds serious and it is serious.  Pay attention to how you feel and if the ill feelings last more than two days – go to a Walk in Clinic.


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West Nile virus has worked its way to human beings – extra-precautions necessary.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  August 4, 2012   The West Nile virus has always been out there – it had just not been seen with human beings until last week when the Regional Health department was notified by Public Health Ontario of the first probable human cases of West Nike; one a female in her fifties in Burlington and a female in her thirties from Milton.

 “These first human cases of West Nile virus illness underscore the need to protect yourself from being bitten by mosquitoes,” said Dr. Monir Taha, Associate Medical Officer of Health for Halton Region. “This message is particularly important for older adults because they are at higher risk for more serious West Nile virus illness.”

In Halton, the months of highest risk for human WNV illness are August and September, however with the abnormally high temperatures the high risk period has started earlier.

Mosquitoes can transmit WNV to humans after becoming infected by feeding on the blood of birds carrying the virus. About 80% of people who become infected with WNV do not experience any illness, while about 20% will develop West Nile fever.

Less than 1% will develop inflammation of the brain or its lining, or a type of paralysis. Older adults and people with underlying illnesses should be particularly cautious as they are more likely to develop the illness. The following are steps that residents can take to protect themselves and their families from mosquitoes:

Cover up. Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants with tightly-woven fabric.

Avoid being outdoors from early evening to morning when mosquitoes are most active and likely to bite, as well as at any time in shady, wooded areas.

Reduce mosquito breeding sites around your home by getting rid of all water-filled containers and objects. Change the water in bird baths at least once per week.

Use an approved insect repellent, such as one containing DEET.

Click to see map showing the locations of standing water sites that have had larvicide applied.

 

 

 

 

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