Allegations of sexual harassment against former Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown, and of sexual assault against Brown’s friend, former party President Rick Dykstra exposed a wide rift in the party over the last few days. That rift separates the old guard in the party, including most of its sitting MPP’s, and the younger, more urban membership, many of whom were recruited by and allied with Brown and the team he assembled in a bid to win power over the Liberal Party under Kathleen Wynne.
One of the starkest representations of that rift came from allegations of physical intimidation against Lanark Frontenac Lennox and Addington MPP Randy Hillier that stems from an incident that took place in Ottawa back in March of 2016.
Under new electoral boundaries, Hillier will be running in the new riding of Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston. Goldie Ghamari is the PC candidate in the adjacent riding of Carleton, also a new riding. Late on Sunday night (January 27) just after Party President Rick Dykstra resigned, Ghamari put out the following two tweets:
“Two years ago, a sitting [Progressive Conservative] MPP harassed me, intimidated me, & used his body to bully & scare me out of getting involved in politics. I gave him an opportunity to apologise and recognise that his actions were wrong. He chose to deny it ever happened.” and “My story breaks tomorrow. I urge this person to step forward, acknowledge their actions, and apologise for what they did to me. When I complained about their behaviour, I was told this is ‘not surprising’ given this person's history.”
It did not take long for Randy Hillier to come forward and acknowledge that he was the MPP that Ghamari was referring to. He immediately sent her an email, which she also posted on her twitter feed.
It reads, in part “I was outside for a smoke at the Ottawa Convention Centre in 2016. We briefly exchanged pleasantries and small talk and then parted ways. It was only when you brought your claims forward two years ago that I learned of who you were at the time. I never denied the interaction, but I will confirm there was never any physical contact nor do I recall any unkind words exchanged. I’m truly very sorry if you felt intimidated while we shared a smoke ...”
In the article that Goldie Ghamari was referring to in her tweets, which came out in the Ottawa Citizen on Monday, she describes a different kind of encounter.
She said that it took place in the evening of March 16, 2016. She went outside to get some fresh air and check her messages when he walked up, slung an arm around her shoulders and pulled her in close.
“He was smoking, his cigarette was in his left hand, and it was clear that he was drunk. It was just very obvious from the way he was walking and I could smell the alcohol on his breath, his fingers were digging into my shoulder and his cigarette was still in his hand as well.”
Again, according to her account, as reported in the Ottawa Citizen, Hillier then asked her if she was “Goldie from Nepean who is running against Lisa”.
At the time, due to riding redistribution, Lisa MacLeod had yet to decide if she was going to run in the new Carleton riding or in the Nepean riding, both of which contained parts of her soon to be eliminated riding, and Goldie Ghamari was known to be considering challenging for the nomination in Carleton, the more rural and thus more safe Conservative seat.
In 2016, Ghamari was a member of the riding executive from Nepean, but since there were many Nepean PC’s who wanted to attend this particular convention, she had been invited to represent a weaker PC riding, Kingston and the Islands. Her name tag also used her given name Golsa, even though she goes by Goldie.
Her name tag, “Golsa from Kingston and the Islands” was not what Hillier expected.
“He seemed sort of shocked and he grabbed my name tag, and looked at it and then he was like, ‘Huh,’ and then he just walked away.” she said, adding that “the exchanges was brief, but frightening.”
She told the Citizen that she subsequently approached a senior party office, gave her account of what had happened, and asked for a written apology from Hillier.
The party official then talked to Hillier, who said he had indeed spoken to Ghamari that day, but the encounter happened in the afternoon, not the evening, and he never touched her.
The party officials then contacted the Convention Centre to see if the encounter was caught on any video footage. The results were mixed. There is video of Ghamari and Hillier exiting the building at around the same time, in the evening, and of Ghamari re-entering the building a few minutes later, lending credence to Ghamari’s claim about the time of the encounter. But the video is limited and there is no there is no footage of them together, and there were no eye witnesses available.
There are two incompatible accounts of what had happened, Hillier says it was a non-physical friendly moment in the afternoon, and Ghamari says it was a physical, visceral and intimidating encounter in the evening.
At this point the investigation had run its course as far as the party was concerned.
The official wo dealt with the matter, Nic Pappalardo, told the Citizen in an email this past Sunday (April 28) that “I suggested to her that under the circumstances, the ball was in her court and that she was free to launch a formal complaint under any applicable law or standard in the appropriate forum and that we would fully cooperate. Given her legal background, I had no doubt she understood her options. That was our last exchange on the subject.”
On November 2, 2016, Goldie Ghamari was chosen as the PC candidate for the riding of Carleton, winning a contest with one other candidate.
There was considerable controversy around her selection, as two potential candidates were not ratified by the riding association executive, which, Ghamari’s critics claim, had been stacked with her loyalists.
One of the potential candidates reportedly made a “racial comment” regarding Ghamari.
Last summer, 8 months after Ghamari was nominated, MPP Lisa MacLeod made some headlines questioning the suitability of Ghamari as a candidate in Carleton.
In an email to supporters that was leaked to the press, MPP MacLeod wrote,“For 22 years John Baird and I have kept Carleton deep Tory Blue and now that is at risk. I chose a tougher, urban seat and I do not regret the choice, but I am gutted by what comes next in Carleton as I not only believe the current candidate will not win but worse, if she does win, she will not be a suitable representative for my constituents who I remain loyal to.”
MacLeod acknowleged that she wrote the email, according to the National Post.
MPP’s Lisa MacLeod and Randy Hillier were among the first members of the Conservative caucus to call for Patrick Brown to resign last week, doing so even before the story broke on CTV news.
On Saturday (January 27), MacLeod came forward to say she had approached the party executive about rumours she had heard in the fall of 2017 about Patrick Brown’s history, concerned it might become a problem, but had been ignored.
The next day, (Sunday, January 28) Ghamari tweeted about her 2016 encounter with Hillier, making it public for the first time, and the Citizen article came out the next day.
On Monday evening (January 29) the Ontario Conservative Party announced that they will be hiring an outside investigator to take a fresh look at what happened on March 16/2016 between two of its own candidates for the upcoming election, Goldie Ghamari and Randy Hillier.
As a result, Hillier would not speak to the matter when his office was contacted on Tuesday (January 30), but Dave Shostal in Hillier’s Perth constituency office said “Randy stands by what he told the press on Monday when he spoke to reporters.”
In one of those exchanges, Hillier said that the fact this incident is coming forward at this time is anything but a coincidence.
“The record is clear that Ms. Ghamari was a candidate that was selected by Patrick Brown. There was some level of dispute and consternation with her nomination. We know with what has transpired recently in the party that there were those people who were supportive of Brown and people who were less supportive. And it’s clear Ms. Ghamari and I were on different sides of this divide.” he told the Ottawa Citizen.
For her part, Ghamari told the Citizen that her timing has more to do with the broader historical moment than partly politics. She did not want to put the encounter at the level of “any sort of inappropriate sexual behaviour ... but I think in the sense of how women are generally treated in certain industries and certain professions, it’s something that unfortunately is far too common ... I’m glad that it’s coming out, in all different areas, because I think it’s important for everyone to be treated respectfully. I think it’s important for everyone to be treated as equals. And I think everyone should have a fair chance to do whatever they want to do based on their merits and their capabilities.”
Both Lisa MacLeod and Randy Hillier are former candidates for the PC party leadership.
According to Dave Shostal, the fact that interim leader Vic Fedeli, announced on Tuesday that he will not be seeking the leadership, “does open things up for some potential candidates. I have read the same media reports as everyone else, which say that Lisa is considering running. I can say that Randy is also thinking about it,” he said.
Randy Hillier finished fourth on the first ballot in the 2009 leadership contest that chose Tim Hudak as leader. He threw his support to Hudak before the second ballot.
Lisa MacLeod ran in the contest that chose Patrick Brown. She eventually stepped out of the race, and threw her support to Vic Fedeli.
Lennox and Addington County Warden Bill Lowery said something that is music to the ears of Denbigh residents last week in the context of the announcement that the county has purchased the property in Denbigh that it has been leasing for 15 years to house an ambulance base.
“Lennox and Addington County’s purchase ensures that ambulance service will continue to have a location in Denbigh,” he said.
The continued operation of a service based in Denbigh has been debated a number of times by Council, as pressure to upgrade service to the population centres in the southern rim of the county had put pressure on the ambulance budget.
The Denbigh service was pegged back from a 24 hour to a 12 hour service 5 years ago, and its continued existence has been debated at least twice since then. Over a year ago, county staff were instructed to try and find a suitable piece of property for a new base, but that did not happen.
The fall back option was to purchase the existing building, which had been identified as deficient in its current state, and renovate it. And that is what will happen now.
“The County will continue to operate one ambulance for twelve hours per day from the newly purchased base”, said a media release last Friday, and “will make improvements to the building including installation of an automatic generator to ensure operations are not disrupted as a result of power outages.”
Addington Highlands Reeve Henry Hogg said that he is “relieved” that the property has been purchased because it signals that the service will be maintained in Denbigh after all the threatened closures in recent years, but he noted that even with planned upgrades the Denbigh base will not be on par with the bases that have been built elsewhere in the county in recent years.
“It at least gives Denbigh a foot hold, even if it is not being built to the standards of the other bases,” he said.
The Denbigh ambulance service was established in 1982 by the Province of Ontario, with local volunteers playing a key role, as a pilot project to provide service to remote corners of L&A, Frontenac, Greater Madawaska and Hastings Counties. It was subsumed under the County of Lennox and Addington when ambulance service became a municipal responsibility in 2001.
The last time we all went to the polls was for the Federal election way back in the fall of 2015, when the 10 year old Steven Harper led Conservative government was tossed out in favour of the Liberals under Justin Trudeau. This year the 14.5 year run of the Ontario Liberals, during which time Dalton McGuinty was elected 3 times and current Premier Kathleen Wynne one time, will be on the line on June 7th. Riding redistribution, which came into effect federally in that 2015 election, will be mirrored at Queen’s Park after this coming election. Lanark Frontenac Lennox and Addington Conservative MPP Randy Hillier will be contesting the new Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston riding against Amanda Pulker-Mok of the Liberals, Anita Payne of the Green Party, a still un-named NDP candidate, and perhaps other independent or small party candidates who may come out of the woodwork in the run up to the election.
Our readers in Addington Highlands will be part of the new provincial riding of Hastings, Lennox and Addington (HL&A). Former Conservative Federal Member of Parliament Daryl Kramp, who lost the Federal election in the HL&A riding to Mike Bossio in 2015, was chosen last August as the Conservative candidate in the new provincial riding, and has been campaigning ever since. The other parties have not selected candidates as of yet.
While the local election will not heat up until the writ period, which starts in early May, on a provincial level the contest has been under way for at least a year, perhaps longer.
The thinking as recently as 3 months ago was that the Liberals were headed to certain defeat to the Conservatives, but the polls have tightened since then. We will be watching the provincial election over the next few months, reporting as the candidates surface for the various parties, and trying to get a sense of how riding redistribution will affect the local race.
In the 2015 Federal election, The Lanark Frontenac Kingston riding went to Scott Reid, the long serving Conservative Party incumbent from the former Lanark Frontenac Lennox and Addington riding. While Reid’s margin of victory decreased from earlier elections, that could have been more a reflection of dipping Conservative Party fortunes nationally than the impact of riding redistribution. In Frontenac-Hastings, the riding swung from the Conservative to the Liberals, leading to a surprise victory for Mike Bossio over Daryl Kramp.
We will look at the candidates as they are announced and will provide coverage of the local election in May and early June, when we will publish profiles of the candidates and will hold all candidates meetings at two locations.
The municipal election will be the subject of our attention at the Frontenac News over the summer and into the early fall. There will certainly be a good number of current council members who will be running again, and a smaller number who will be stepping away from municipal politics at the end of the year. The first thing to watch for after May 1st, when the nomination period opens, is whether any current members of council decide to take a run at the incumbent mayors in Frontenac County. If any do it will open up the council vote and create a more competitive race overall. And if the previous election is any indication, running for council as an incumbent can be anything but a sure thing. In Central Frontenac the last time around, only two of the 7 incumbents who sought re-election kept their place. An incumbent lost in each ward, as did the sitting Mayor, Janet Gutowski. The other townships were not as volatile, but there were hard fought races in many wards, and in the mayoralty races. We will also be closely watching Addington Highlands. If Reeve Henry Hogg does indeed step down, the race for Reeve will be pretty wide open, and it will be interesting to see if any of the current members of council decide to step up to the plate.
We began our early coverage of the election this week by polling incumbent heads of council (reeves and mayors) as to their intentions. We will continue to report on the intentions of current members of council and others who are ready to declare their candidacy as they come forward over the winter and early spring. After May first we will report on nominations as they are submitted in the townships, and our coverage will swing into higher gear after nominations close on July 27th. In the run up to the election we are planning to hold all candidates meetings in each ward where our paper is delivered, as we have done in the past, and we will profile the candidates in September and early October. We will also look at the issues that will be contested in the election, from development pressures in South Frontenac, to the septic inspection issue in Central Frontenac, to the fallout from the rebuild of the township office and the onset of the One Small Town initiative in North Frontenac. The underlying issue of taxation and service levels in all townships is another concern will will address in our coverage.
Kieran Moore, the Medical Officer of Health For Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, is concerned about radon gas, seeing it as a major public health risk.
Radon is an odourless, colourless gas that that is produced by the decay of uranium found in rocks, soil and water. Buildings that are constructed on substrates with high concentrations of radon can create a draw for the gas, which seeps in, and can concentrate in the ground floor, and especially in basements. It does note readily migrate to the upper floors of houses, and is most prevalent in basements, but can be circulated through houses through heating and air-conditioning systems.
It is a major causal factor in the development of lung cancer, having been shown to be responsible for 16% of lung cancer deaths in Canada, according toa report called Radon: Poilcy Considerations, that was presented to members of the Board of KFL&A Public Health in October.
It is the second most deadly environmental carcinogen in Ontario, according to a report published in 2016 by Public Health Ontario and Cancer Care Ontario. Between 1090 and 1550 lung cancer deaths in Ontario are attributable to radon exposure each year. The most deadly environmental carcinogen is the solar UV radiation, which is associated with 2100 and 3000 deaths from melanoma each year.
Radon levels vary according to geography, and in the KFL&A region 11% of homes tested contained over 200 Becquerells per cubic metre, the level where human health can be compromised, according to the government of Canada. The provincial average is 4.6%, making the issue of extra concern in KFL&A
“It should be noted,” said Keiran Moore in a telephone interview last week, “that there is no safe level of exposure to radon, and that in Europe the target is set at 100”.
Moore added that he would have thought that “the levels would be higher on the Canadian Shield portion of the region,” but the studies that were done showed as much exposure on the limestone substrate as on the granite.
To put the risk posed by radiation exposure into context, Moore said that continued exposure to radon over time brings the of developing cancer among non-smokers to 1 in 15. The risk for the population as a whole is about 1 in 300 according to an article published in July o fthis year by Dr. Lynne Eldridge on the website Verywell.com.
The lung cancer risk for smokers, which is 1 in 9, is greatly increased when smokers are exposed to radon over time, rising to 1 in 3, according to Dr. Moore.
“Now that our smoking rates are coming down, we are making headway with lung cancer, which is our number one killer” said Moore. “As this happens, radon, the second most important causal factor, is more and more in our sights.”
The report to the KFL&A Board of Health looks at what the health unit can do to begin scaling back the impacts of radon on residents, in our own region and province wide.
“Exposure can be effectively prevented through well-established radon-specific building measures.” which, the report says “are easy to install during the construction process of new homes and costs approximately $500. However it is more difficult to retrofit an existing building and the expense rises to $1,200 to $5,000.”
Dr. Moore said that the first step for residents is to test for radon. There are kits available at hardware stores at a reasonable price. There are short term and long term tests available.
Brooks Gee, a regional manager for Mr. Radon, a mitigation company, said that the long term kits that are available are generally better than the one time kits. He also said that the place to test in a house is the lowest occupied level.
“If the basement is only used for storage and laundry, it is best to test in the kitchen, but if the basement is occupied, I would test there, said Gee.
Gee also said that his experience dovetails with the studies that have found radon is prevalent throughout the region, regardless of whether the substrate is limestone or granite, but “although it is not scientific I would say the 11% figure for high levels is low,” he said.
Currently only 4% of Canadians have had their homes tested.
Homeowners who are living in homes that are less than 7 years old should test immediately, because through the new home warranty act, Tarion covers 100% of the cost of mitigation for radon for the first 7 years.
Public Health will be advocating for changes to the Ontario Building code requesting that radon specific building measures be adopted in the code when it is amended next year,.
But municipalities need not wait that long.
According to the policy report, Public Health can pursue “advocating to municipalities in our region to adopt radon-specific measures in the National Building Cose as bylaws, in the way that it is done in the City of Guelph, Central Elgin, St. Thomas and Thunder Bay.”
Other immediate measures that can be taken are testing all schools and daycares for radon, and the report also urges the Board to advocate that the threshold be lowered to 100Bq/M³ from 200Bq/M³ to bring Canada in compliance with the threshold level that is recommended by the World Health Organisation.
Starting in the new year, the KFL&A Public Health should pursue a “multipronged strategy to reduce radon exposure for residents in the KFL&A region. These efforts are an investment towards achieving an enduring reduction in the rate of radon-related lung cancer deaths in our region,” the poluicy report concludes.
Dr. Moore said that in response to the report, he made a “promise to the board to come up with concrete best practices. I hope over the next six months we will be able to have the best practices in play. We are bringing in provincial and federal experts to do this.”
It started up 74 years ago, during the second world war in 1943, when the idea of forming a marketing organization for a region that was just developing road access was pretty forward thinking.
Over the years the Land O’Lakes Tourist Association (LOLTA) has seen many ups and downs, and this week in Sharbot Lake the current Board of Directors took the difficult decision to disband.
Harvey Webster, the Manager of the Loughborough Inn, was the chair of LOLTA until Monday. He has been an active member and a member of the Board of Directors over the years.
He said that while LOLTA is shutting down, the marketing work that it had been doing will carry on.
“It was a sad situation but its not that the Land o’Lakes are disappearing. The counties and local townships have stepped in over the last few years, and the provincial Regional Tourist Organisations (RTO’s) have come on stream as well. For our members, there are still opportunities for promotion as part of a region even with us closing down,” he said.
“As far as I am concerned LOLTA is not buried yet, it is more like it is more like it is on hold. If the municipalities and RTO’s step back, we will need LOLTA again.”
The storied history of LOLTA was the subject of a video that was made by Ken Hook in 2013. Hook served as LOLTA manager for one year, after the departure of Terry Shea, manager between 2003 and 2008.
The video outlines how the association got its start as a group of fishing lodges from Tweed, the region called “North Addington” at the time, which is now Stone Mills and Addington Highlands townships, and “North Frontenac”, which at the time referred to the region of Frontenac County north of Verona.
The focus of the association was for lodges and other groups to take advantage of the opportunities that were to come as the war ended and US tourists began to look northward for fishing opportunities. Membership dues went up in 1947 to $5 per season.
Over the years the association changed as new leaders came forward, two of whom, Jeanette Whitfield (1963 -1966) and Faye Henry (1979 -1996) were interviewed. They both talked about issues that were specific to their day, but also to issues that remain relevant today. For example, Henry talked about how much effort it took for the region to be noticed by various levels of government, and they both talked about the need for businesses to work together.
LOLTA was able to access grant money for its members through the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs between the late 1990’s and 2010, but those programs dried up or were diverted to municipalities.
The LOLTA region, which had expanded over the decades to include all Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Counties and the Municipality of Tweed, was essentially cut in half when the province of Ontario set up the RTO’s a few years ago. The Ontario Highlands Region includes North and Central Frontenac, Addington Highlands and Tweed, but Stone Mills, South Frontenac, Napanee, and Frontenac Islands are all part of the Great Waterway region.
Having members split into two regional organizations did not help LOLTA, which has struggled in recent years as managers have come and gone. A couple of years ago, the LOLTA office in Kaladar was shut down and long serving office administrator Joanne Cuddy was let go.
LOLTA was run out of the home office of its latest manager, Jen Fitzpatrick, until she left.
The board began to consider shutting LOLTA down when they realised that, as volunteers who were all busy working on their own businesses, they did not have the energy, or finances, to carry on.
I guess that the Land O’Lakes Tourist Association basically ran its course,” said Harvey Webster. “With the Internet and these other government options that there are for these businesses to be promoted, and the fact that we are a volunteer board, there was nothing for us to do but shut down.”
So, just months from its 75th anniversary, LOLTA is no more.
Residents of Tay Valley Township have been fighting a spraying program that has been underway on County roads in Lanark County for two years, and similar concerns are now being expressed by the Lennox and Addington Stewardship (L&A) Council over a similar program set to start up in L&A this month.
In both cases the roads are being sprayed with Clearview, which is an approved herbicide, and the target species is wild parsnip, which has been associated with painful burns among some people who have been exposed to its toxic juices.
While at least two Lanark County Townships have opted not to spray (Tay Valley and Mississippi Mills) the county roads in those townships were sprayed last year and will be sprayed again this year. Last year, residents living along those roads who were opposed to spraying had the option of putting up “no spray” signs and township crews would avoid their properties.
This year, the protocol has changed, and that has led opponents, such as Sonia Cirka, to voice further opposition. In place of the opt out sign program, those who wish to avoid spraying need to join the “Adopt a Road” program in Lanark County. Taking its cue from previous programs wherein informal residents groups and community clubs “adopt” a section of road by removing litter and trash build up on the roads, the new program provides for further options, from “spotting and reporting invasive plants and noxious weeds, to hand pulling/spading of invasive plants and noxious weeds”
Anyone who wants to opt for an “adopt a road” commitment in place of roadside spraying, must commit to managing the invasive plants and noxious species through other means”
Sonia Cirka, one of the activists opposing the spraying program, feels that the county is employing the adopt a road program to make it harder for residents to stop the spraying along their property lines.
“One councilor said [at a council meeting in March] that the signs were ‘too political” and looked like a ‘campaign’,” she said, “so they came up with a plan that makes people accept the spraying or pull the weeds themselves. This ignores the fact that the spraying causes environmental damage and is not even effective.”
Dr. Paula Stewart, the Medical Officer of Health for Lanark and Leeds Grenville, presented a report in April of 2016 wherein she identified wild parsnip as a hazard and Clearview as an effective and safe control.
“There is a human public health risk of severe burns from exposure to the sap of wild parsnip. There is no research evidence of a health risk to humans with controlled spraying of roadside ditches with Clearview,” her report concluded.
However others have expressed different perspectives on both questions.
“This is an agricultural Class 4 herbicide that is similar in its action to 2,4D. Clearview isn't approved for use on our lawns, so why would we be putting it on our roadsides?” said Dr. James Coupland, an entomologist who lives in Mississippi Mills township. Coupland also questioned the effectiveness of the treatment: “there isn’t enough incidence of interaction with wild parsnip to merit such a huge outlay of herbicide. All the information we need to know is on the Clearview label.”
Concerns about the impact of Clearview on pollinator species have also been expressed by opponents of the spraying program.
In Lennox and Addington, the local Stewardship Council has expressed similar concerns, pointing out as well that the residents of Addington Highlands living along county roads will be subject to spraying even if Addington Highlands Council decides not to spray.
County roads in L&A include: Road 29 which runs from Hwy. 41 through Flinton to the Hastings County border, the section of Hwy. 41 south of Hwy. 7 to the border with Stone Mills, and Road 30, Buckshot Lake Road which runs from Hwy. 41 south of Denbigh to the border with North Frontenac Township.
In a media release earlier this week, the Stewardship Council said the following: “The main concern for the Lennox and Addington Stewardship Council is that the herbicide selected, Clearview®, is highly soluble in water and could easily enter our waterways through the ditches next to our roads.”
They referred to the opinion expressed by James Coupland that “Clearview takes a long time to break down, and it can travel through a water system for months damaging or killing native plants (including milkweed) and threatening our pollinators. Clearview is highly toxic to aquatic organisms in particular.”
Lennox and Addington residents will have the option to post “no spray” signs on their property but the Stewardship Council is concerned that people are not aware of this and the spraying will take place soon. Also, similar to the situation in Lanark, there are strings attached.
“The landowner must sign an agreement to manage all noxious weeds on their frontage,” said the Stewardship Council release.
In addition to a disagreement over the impacts of spraying on human health and agriculture, the two sides also disagree about Wild Parsnip. Proponents of spraying call it a public helath hazard and opponents call it a nuisance whose impacts can be managed.
Bob Taylor and Murry Northey of Northbrook got talking this past winter about the number of great musicians in the Land O'Lakes who are retiring from performing or have died in recent years.
They thought it was time to mark the local heritage through the creation of a virtual hall of fame. After a number of meetings they have formed a committee and are in the midst of establishing a not-for profit corporation.
They are not waiting for formalities, however, and have already announced the first four inductees, who will be honored at the Flinton Community Jamboree in late July.
The four inductees are: Reg Weber, the late Floyd Lloyd, George York of Marlbank and Cathy Whalen of Tweed. As well, lifetime achievement awards will be presented to Harold Perry and Charlie Pringle.
There will be more about the inductees in the coming weeks, but they are only the first names in a long list that the steering committee is planning to populate the hall with in future years.
The hall has already established a relationship with the Tweed Elvis Festival, which is providing administrative support, as well as the Flinton Jamboree.
“Our region is rich with the heritage of music, which was the exclusive form of family entertainment in bygone years, before the advent of television. Community dances, jam sessions and kitchen parties were the norm during the 50s and 60s. With the increasing age of and the loss of our seniors and musicians through death, this cultural history of our region will be forever lost. That's where the hall comes in,” said Bob Taylor.
For information about making a donation to help establish the Land O'Lakes Traditional Music Hall of Fame, call Bob Taylor at 613-336-9630 or Murry Northey at 613-336-0975.
At a Special Inaugural Meeting on May 11, 2016, Lennox and Addington County Council acclaimed Henry Hogg, reeve of the Township of Addington Highlands as county warden for the remainder of 2016. The warden’s office became vacant with the passing of Warden Clarence Kennedy on March 13, 2016 after a brief battle with cancer. The Warden’s Declaration of Office was administered by her Worship Justice of the Peace Donna I. Doelman. Warden Hogg has previously served as county warden for the years 2003, 2010 and 2011. AH Deputy Reeve Helen Yanch congratulated Reeve Hogg over his appointment at a council meeting in Denbigh on May 16.
“We always said that county staff wanted to close the Denbigh base, and now we have proof,” said Addington Highlands Reeve Henry Hogg at a meeting of AH council on Monday night, January 11.
His comments referred to a report that he received last Thursday from Lennox and Addington County staff in preparation for a working meeting of Lennox and Addington Council this week.
Hogg, along with Deputy Reeve Helen Yanch, sit on L&A Council along with two members each from Loyalist and Stone Mills townships and the City of Napanee.
The proposal in the report to L&A Council from Chief of Emergency Services Mark Schjerning calls for the transfer of the remaining 12-hour day shift at the Denbigh base to a new 12-hour night shift at a base in Loyalist Township. It also calls for the establishment of a new service based in Centreville, in Stone Mills Township, noting that average response times in Stone Mills are higher than anywhere else in the township. The report also notes that average response times were up by 12 seconds county-wide in 2014 as compared to 2013.
One of the arguments against the continuing existence of the Denbigh base is the calculation of the price per service call. Since staffing costs per shift are the same no matter how many times the ambulance is called out, the busiest station, in Napanee, has a cost of $743 per call, while the Denbigh base, with only 190 calls per year, has a cost of almost $4,200 per call.
To make the finances even worse, a high percentage of Denbigh calls, 44% (84) are cross-border calls, mostly to Renfrew and Frontenac County, and the compensation paid by neighbouring municipalities for cross-border calls is low, only $350 per call. Ultimately the result is that 44% of the calls to the Denbigh Ambulance generate only 3.5% of the $800,000 cost of operating the base, of which the provincial government provides just under half of the money. L&A ratepayers pay the rest.
“The problem with the way ambulance service is delivered is that dispatch is done on a seamless basis, but there are boundaries where funding is concerned,” said Councilor Tony Fritsch, who added that he has contacted local community activists in Denbigh to let them know that the closing of the Denbigh base is back in front of L&A Council.
When the fate of the Denbigh base hung in the balance in 2012, politicians from Addington Highland were joined by their compatriots from Renfrew County in an attempt to find a regional solution, because the removal of the Denbigh service would create a geographical gap. It presently fills the gap between the Renfrew base to the north-east, the Bancroft base to the west, and the Northbrook base to the south. Nothing came of those efforts, and the base was downgraded from a 24-hour a day operation to a 12-hour a day operation at that time.
“County staff wanted to close the Denbigh base in 2012, and it was all we could do to convince them to keep the base open at all. So it does not surprise me that they are trying again, not at all. They pointed to a study by the IBI group back in 2012,and said they were only following the study's recommendations. There has been no new study so we know that this is something that the staff want,” said Reeve Henry Hogg.
In the report, staff list four options for enhancement to ambulance service in the county. The options are listed in order of priority. Number 1 is to increase the Loyalist coverage to a 24/7 service; number 2 is to establish a 12/7 daytime service in Stone Mills; number 3 is to increase coverage in Napanee by adding a second night shift; and the 4th option is to increase Stone Mills' coverage to 24 hours a day.
The report says, “Staff believes that these enhancements are a higher priority than maintaining coverage at the Denbigh base.”
It also says that staff are not seeking “a final determination of a plan for the ambulance service” but rather a “direction regarding the allocation of funding” for the 2016 budget.
(adendum - The staff report was tabled at a meeting of Lennox and Addington County Council on Wednesday, January 13. After a lengthy discussion, the Warden and Chief Administrative Officer were tasked with contacting their counterparts in Frontenac, Renfrew and Hastings Counties to seek regional funding support to keep the Denbugh base up and running.
"The politicains on County Council do not want to close the Denbigh base, at least as far as I can tell, but the other counties's did not come through the last time they were asked, so I don't hold out that much hope they will now," said Addington Highlands Reeve Henry Hogg in a telephone interview with The Frontenac News on January 14th.)
In 2008, politicians in Lennox and Addington (L&A) County were faced with the option of closing the Denbigh Ambulance Service and re-allocating resources to the south end of the county to satisfy an ever-increasing demand. At that time they resisted.
In 2012 the same issue was before Council and that time they cut the Denbigh service in half, opening a new base in Loyalist Township and allocating one of the Denbigh shifts to the new base.
Now, County staff recommend making Loyalist a 24-hour operation, and closing Denbigh. They also propose to start up a service in Stone Mills within a year or two. The arguments are the same now as they were in 2012.
The Denbigh ambulance was called out 190 times last year. Meanwhile there were 542 calls for service from Loyalist Township during the 12 hours a day when the Loyalist base was closed. On one level moving the shift looks like a better allocation of limited resources.
There are other factors, however. Those night calls in Loyalist were handled mostly by nearby Kingston-based paramedics from the Frontenac County service (80%) or from L&A paramedics in Napanee. The service would be quicker if they came from Loyalist, by a matter of minutes.
If there were no Denbigh service, most of those 190 Denbigh calls would be answered by paramedics stationed in Northbrook (20 minutes from Denbigh), unless they are out on standby somewhere or on a call of their own. In those cases the ambulance will need to come from Renfrew or Bancroft (40 minutes away) or the Frontenac base in Robertsville (60 minutes away).
The time factor is dramatically different
Moving the shift would save five minutes or so in the response time for 542 calls to Loyalist, but could increase the response time by 30 to 75 minutes for calls in the large Denbigh catchment area.
Which is more important?
Once again, as happened in 2008 and 2011, municipal politicians are faced with these kinds of life and death decisions that should never be forced on politicians at this level.
Another factor is at play in the staff report.
Closing the Denbigh base is being proposed as the first link in a chain of changes that would result in improved service in Loyalist Township, Stone Mills, and the City of Napanee. Politicians from all three of those jurisdictions would be working against the individual interests of their own constituents if they support the Denbigh service over these enhancements.
Asking a politician to work against the interests of their constituents, particularly where emergency services are concerned, is an easy sell. Yet that is what Addington Highlands Reeve Hogg and Deputy Reeve Yanch are faced with doing this week. The first step will be to play for time by seeking a deferral, and even if that works it is hard to see what the next step will be.
In order to make an impression, there needs to be community support from Denbigh for Hogg and Yanch when they make their pitch for the Denbigh service to L&A County Council.
The activists from Denbigh who led the public fight the last time around will likely be the same people who will have to come out this time.
Interestingly enough, these are the same people who have been leading a bitter and sometimes personal fight against Addington Highlands Council when it comes to wind turbine proposals from NextEra and RES Canada.
That fight has been focussed on Hogg and Yanch in particular and is by no means over.
Different issues result in different sets of allies and enemies.