| Feb 08, 2007


Feature Article - February 8, 2007

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Feature Article - February 8, 2007

Addington Highlands libraries take on expanded roleby Jeff Green

June Phillips, from the Addington Highlands library service, told council this week that Service Canada wants to use the township’s libraries to deliver their services to the public.

Employment services, information about passport applications, social insurance numbers, and a variety of other services will be available online at the libraries in Flinton and Denbigh. Under the proposal the libraries will be open for increased hours as well, with the Denbigh library being open 21 hours a week, and the Flinton library being open 20 hours a week.

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Over the past few years, each of the libraries has been enhanced, both acting as public internet access sites through the CAP (Community Access Portal) program. They currently offer high speed internet, wireless networking, three complete work stations and one laptop. This makes them ideal candidates for becoming Service Canada Outreach centres to serve Addington Highlands , and parts of North Frontenac and the Griffith and Hardwood Lakes areas of Renfrew County .

June Phillips was in a hurry when she came to council, however. “Service Canada wants council’s approval for this by tomorrow (February 6) in order to set up the project to start in March,” she told council.

“It appears to be bringing a benefit, an improvement over what we’ve already got,” said Reeve Henry Hogg.

Council unanimously passed a resolution, allowing June Phillips to proceed with the project.

In the next few weeks, one staff member from each of the two branches will attend training in Peterborough , and they will bring the information back to the rest of the staff members. Details about what services will be available and expanded library hours will be communicated to the public over the next few weeks.

PINE MEADOW Kim Harvey and Valerie Bird, representing management and unionized staff from the Pine Meadow Nursing Home, came to council to ask for support as they face an uncertain future in the face of Bill 140, a new nursing home act that is working its way through the Ontario Legislature.

While Harvey and Bird praised some of the provisions in the act, particularly those proposing increased levels of mandatory care, they expressed concerns that the act will make the long term prospects for Pine Meadow uncertain. Kim Harvey said Pine Meadow has two main areas of concern. The first is with Licensing. Pine Meadow has what is called a “perpetual license”. As long as the home lives up to a stipulated set of standards, the license will remain in place.

“The New Act sets a limit of 15 years for licensing. After that time, the Ministry of Health can decide to upgrade our facility, leave it as it is, or close it down and move our 60 beds somewhere else. This makes it hard for us to plan, to say the least,” Harvey told Council.

The second area of concern for Kim Harvey is with the level of care that Pine Meadow currently offers.

“We would like to have only semi-private and private rooms and close our four-bed rooms, and we would like to improve our dining facilities, which are too small. These are available at “A” class facilities, for which patients pay the same amount of money, but we have had no luck in getting a commitment from the government for an upgrade, and this act does nothing to make improvements any more likely,” Harvey said.

In three different meetings with MPP Leona Dombrowsky and one meeting with Minister of Health and Long Term Care George Smitherman, Harvey told council that she had a good hearing to her requests to improve the facility, but received no commitment. To her fear that instead of being improved the home might actually be closed down, Kim Harvey quoted Leona Dombrowsky, who told her “It won’t come to that.”

She asked council to send a letter to the Ministry of Health asking that Pine Meadow be enhanced. Council agreed, and a letter will be prepared by staff for council to approve at their next meeting.

CELL PHONE FRUSTRATION Council received a report from the Economic Development Committee concerning the lapsing of the township’s offer of a $50,000 grant to any cell phone operator who would put up cell phone towers on Highway 41.

The offer of the grant came about after a 10,000 name petition in support of cell phone expansion, accompanied by letters of support from upper level politicians, received no response from the cell phone companies. The township even contacted TVO, which owns a tower located at Bon Echo Park , and were assured that TVO could make the tower available to a cell phone company, assuring the township that rental fees would not be a limiting factor. The cell pone companies were informed about this but none of them contacted TVO.

The Economic Development Committee’s report to council, written by Ken Hook, offered up an explanation for the cell phone companies’ lack of interest in making an investment in Addington Highlands.

“It should be noted that discussions with Bell Canada have indicated the federal government encourages enhanced high-speed internet in urban areas and this is taking most of the infrastructure budget from cell phone companies in 2007. This is apparently at the expense of some rural areas that do not have basic cell service let alone high-sped DSL service.”

Council accepted the report’s recommendation, and will be asking the County of Lennox and Addington to petition the federal government to “correct the inequity of basic cell service in Eastern Ontario by demanding cell phone companies provide usable service to rural residents for reasons of health and safety and economic development.”

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