Monday, February 28, 2011

Ring of Fire blockade planned

There is more First Nations unrest over the Ring of Fire chromite deposit in Northern Ontario.  This time the Marten Falls First Nation is planning to  blockade access to the area.  The blockade will be set up on Thursday.  They're upset because they have been left out of the discussions on the proposed development.

NWO concerns voiced at Queen's Park

The mayor is confident the energy concerns of Northwestern Ontario are now understood clearly at Queens Park. Keith Hobbs says after a meeting with Energy Minister Brad Duguid Monday there is an understanding that the priority here is the distribution, transmission and pricing of electricity. Duguid promised to come back with an answer. Hobbs says they also met with Health Minister Deb Matthews and discussed the transferring of non emergency patients and detox beds for the city.

City in court on environmental charge

The city is in court this week on an environmental charge. It stems from an occurance on the Current River. Lisa Brygidyr of the Ministry of the Environment says it took place in April of last year. She says during the spring smelt spawning run the water flow was suddenly reduced. It resulted in the small fish being stranded on land and many of them died. The hearing is taking place at the Metis Hall on May Street.

LU expert predicts Gadhafi's end is soon

With the world turning against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi a Lakehead University political expert says it's only a matter of time. Laure Paquette says when the end comes, he will not go voluntarily. In fact she believes that when he goes there will likely be violence involved and he'll be taking a lot of people with him. Paquette predicts the end will probably come within about two weeks.

Injured workers to discuss WSIB

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board is currently having a formal review about their funding. The Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers Support Group will be hosting a meeting Thursday night at the Lakehead Labour Centre to discuss the issue, according to treasurer Steve Mantis. Mantis says the Insurance Board review may have a heavy impact on workers in Northwestern Ontario.

Inquest into 2 year old death underway

Ontario's Coroners Office is holding an inquest into a 2 year old death in Northwestern Ontario.  Levi Schaeffer of Peterborough died in June of 2009 after an altercation with the OPP in the Osnaburgh Lake area.  Its expected to last between one to two weeks and will hear from 12 witnesses.  Schaeffer was allegedly shot after he attacked officers with a knife.

Northern gas prices have Horwath steamed

Ontario's NDP leader has her eye on gas prices. Andrea Horwath is upset that not only are they up again, but in Northern Ontario we continue to be the Rodney Dangerfield's of the province...we get no respect. She says we in Thunder Bay and the rest of the north, are getting gouged when prices in Toronto are always lower than they are here. Horwath wants the government to investigate whether government control of gas pricing is required.

Hannam says agenda items moved

The Good Roads Conference in Toronto is having a domino effect at City Hall. Tonight's regular council meeting has been cancelled because most councillors will be away at the gathering. City Clerk John Hannam says it means some agenda items have to be moved. He says one zoning application will now be discussed at the March 21st meeting. Councillors get back on schedule next week.

Wasaya Airways adds new plane

Flying services to Northern Ontario will be getting a boost. Wasaya Airways is meeting increased demand for air service in the North by adding its second Bombardier Dash 8 since October. Vice President George Simon says the company also plans on adding a third Dash 8 as part of an expansion plan.  Simon says the new planes can carry 37 passengers which is a lot larger than the current planes in their fleet.

OPP rescue missing skiers

The OPP Emergency Response team had to pick up some skiers east of Thunder Bay.  The group of three and their dog got lost after dark on the Eagle Ridge Trail Saturday night.  Officials say officers used snowshoes to locate the group and found them early Sunday morning. They suffered minor frostbite.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

City Council divided on need for parks consultant

City parks might be getting a $100,000 check-up from a consultant.

The consultant would take a close look at structures and sports fields in city parks to determine their long-term maintenance needs. The data could then be used by the city to develop a long-term strategy. 

Some members of council would like the city to do the research internally without money being spent to hire outside help.

City Manager Tim Commisso says a consultant is needed because the city doesn't have the resources to do an in-depth study.

Council is waiting for a report on the plan before making a final decision.

Zuback and Makela reflect on gold medal game

Thunder Bay's Brittany Zuback and Amanda Makela are heartbroken after their Team Ontario loss at the Canada Winter Games in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  They are members of the women's hockey team that dropped the gold medal game 3-2 to Alberta.   Both of them spoke after the game.

Brittany Zuback

Amanda Makela

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Early Morning Arrest

A 40 year old man is facing a number of charges after an early morning arrest. The man is being charged with possession of prescription drugs with the intent to distribute. The man is also facing firearm related charges.

Police say they seized a large amount of cash while making the arrest as well.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dawson Court hit with illness outbreak

The Health Unit is restricting who can go to Dawson Court.  A sickness has hit the long term care facility on North Algoma Street. Admissions, transfers and discharges are cancelled until further notice.

Provincial $ for Rosslyn

Rosslyn residents will have better drinking water thanks to a cash infusion from the Provincial Government. Lakehead Region Conservation Authority will use 119-thousand dollars to upgrade faulty septic systems. Oliver-Paipoonge Mayor Lucy Kloosterhuis says the financial assistance makes the improvements possible.

NOSM looking for new Associate Dean

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine is looking to hire more staff. Administration is searching for a new Associate Dean. The associate dean plays a role in administering the residency training program in area hospitals across the North.

Mayor heading to Good Roads conference

The Mayor is leading a contingent to Toronto this week for the annual Good Roads Association conference. Keith Hobbs says its an important meeting because it gives them access to some influential politicians.
Hobbs believes its worthwhile attending such conferences.

Oliver-Paipoonge works on budget

The Township of Oliver-Paipoonge is in the middle of it's budget deliberations. Mayor Lucy Kloosterhuis says they are taking a break from talks at the moment because they are not far enough along to tell how much the increase will be.  Last year it was zero per cent. They hope to have it completed by March.

Councillors dump Monday meeting

City councillors won't be holding their regular Monday meeting next week.  A number of councillors, including the mayor won't be in the city and so it was decided to hold over any items to another committee meeting.   They meet again on March 7th.

Region's paramedics vote to strike

Paramedics in the region are threatening to go on strike.  They are located in 14 remote and rural stations in the district and are members of the Canadian Auto Workers local 229.   Conciliation talks with the City of Thunder Bay will be taking place March 8th and 9th.   The paramedic stations are located in Nipigon, Red Rock, Marathon, Manitouwadge, Terrace Bay, Schreiber, Beardmore, Upsala,Conmee, Shuniah, Armstrong, Geraldton, Nakina and Longlac.

LU gets research funding

Lakehead University is getting 2.5 million dollars in funding for research. The money is going towards a study that is looking at maximizing development in the Arctic and far North while minimizing the social impact on First Nations and the environment. Minister of State Gary Goodyear says this research will hopefully achieve a balance.   It is a 7 year project that will cover all areas of Canada's Arctic.

Sod turning held for new courthouse

Construction on the Consolidated Courthouse is officially underway. Work has been going on for a while but as with most projects like this, the politicians like to hold a ceremonial ground breaking. It took place Thursday at the site in the south downtown core. Attorney General Chris Bentley was part of the contingent. Officials say the cost of the project will likely exceed 250 million dollars and should be completed in 2013.

FedNor gives funding for Multi-Plex study

The City is getting a quarter of a million dollars in Federal Money for a study on a new Multi-Plex.  The FedNor funding will support a economic impact study and business plan for the proposed facility.  The study will look at short and long term economic impacts and if favourable would include design concepts and viable options.

One dead in construction incident

An industrial accident in Sioux Lookout has claimed the life of a 50 year old Manitoba man.  The man was killed and another man was seriously injured in the incident that happened Wednesday night.  The Ministry of Labour is on the scene.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tribe enjoys games experience

Thunder Bay's Erin Tribe is one of several local competitors at the Canada Winter Games in Halifax. She took time out for an interview.

Goodyear rolls into town

For the third time in 4 days, a federal cabinet minister is visiting the city.  This time it's Minister of State Gary Goodyear who will announce some funding for research at Lakehead University at an event Friday morning.  Along with him will be Chad Gaffield, the President of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Library more than halfway to goal

Library officials are pumped about their fundraising efforts. They're trying to raise a quarter million dollars to furnish and stock the new Mary J-L Black Library. Spokesperson Tina Tucker says there are no problems to report.  She says so far 150 thousand dollars has been raised with another 100 thousand to go. Officials released the information as they gave city dignitaries a tour of the library construction site.

Gas prices up again

Gas prices in Thunder Bay have shot up. The website
is showing that many gas stations in the city have jacked up their price for regular to an average of about a dollar 26 a litre. That's up 6 cents a litre from Wednesday. Oil traders say the increase is the result of the crisis in Libya which has increased the price for a barrel of oil.

Police seize pills in raid

Police conducted a drug bust at a Queen Street home on Wednesday. They say about 450 suspected prescription pills were seized in the raid. Two people were taken into custody, but only one 42 year old man was charged.

Police live with forensic's delay

As volunteers continue to search for 15 year old Jordan Wabasse a different waiting game is taking place.  Police have sent a hat, similar to the one Wabasse was wearing, for DNA testing in Southern Ontario. The wait for results will be about six weeks. Inspector Andy Hay admits it's frustrating.  He says while they have asked forensic experts to speed up the process,  they've learned to live with the delay.

Outfitters get no sympathy from minister

If angry tourist outfitters were expecting help from the Natural Resources Minister they're out of luck. Linda Jeffery doesn't give any indication she's willing to budge on the issue of increased land permit fees. Some outfitters say their fees have shot up 700 per cent, but Jeffery indicates it's a done deal with the Outfitters Association.   Jeffery doesn't believe the fee increase will cause some fishing lodges to close as the outfitters claim.

Jeffery says selling act is a work in progress

Ontario's Natural Resources Minister knows her work is cut out for her. Speaking in Thunder Bay, Linda Jeffery says selling the Far North Act to First Nations in the region isn't easy. She is hoping that more and more of them will eventually buy into the governments way of land use planning and calls the discussions, a work in progress.  Jeffery says over time it's been easier to talk about the act with First Nation's chiefs.

Another Federal Minister comes to town

The National Revenue Minister is encouraging students to stay away from the underground economy. Keith Ashfield spoke to students at confederation college about how working under the table hurts the economy and says its part of an awareness program across Canada. Ashfield says underground work removes millions of tax dollars from the economy, that could go towards improving the lives of Canadians.

Building owner hit with hefty fine

The owner of an apartment building on South Brodie Street has been zinged with a big fine.   The Fire Service says it was for breaking fire code laws.  They relate  to improper maintenance of fire extinguishers and not providing working smoke detectors.   He's facing a fine of 11 thousand 700 dollars.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Watkins predicts Supreme Court on 2-4-1

On the legal beat, a Toronto judge has upheld the Federal government's controversial sentencing law.  The law takes away the two-for-one credit that offenders had  received for time served before their sentence. Thunder Bay lawyer Chris Watkins expects the issue to go to the Supreme Court of Canada. Watkins, as do most defence lawyers, favours the two for one credit

Federal minister to visit Con College

For the second time this week there will be a federal cabinet minister in the city.   National Revenue Minister Keith Ashfield is going to speak at Confederation College Thursday morning.  He will be talking about the underground economy and then hold a roundtable discussion.

Loppet looks for record participation

The Sleeping Giant Loppet takes place  on March 5th.  Organizer Marianne Stewart says this year they hope to have a record number of participants in the cross country ski event.  They are shooting for 1 thousand skiers. The loppet take place at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.

ECE's get new deal

Early Childhood Educators in the public school system have one less thing to worry about.  They have a new 2 year contract with the school board.  The board says the full and part time workers are members of the Secondary School Teachers Federation and work in teams along with Kindergarten teachers.  The union and the trustees have voted to accept the deal.

Debt Clock to roll through Thunder Bay

The national Debt Clock is coming to Thunder Bay.  At least that's the plan from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation as it takes it's anti-debt message across the country starting this week.   Spokesperson Kevin Gaudet says the counter should be here within a month or so.  The device shows Canadians how fast the federal government's debt is rising .

Mother pleads for missing son to return

A tearful plea from a distraught mother.   Bernice Jacob called out to her missing son Jordan Wabasse to come home.  He disappeared in Westfort back on February 7th, since then an extensive search has failed to find him.  His mother couldn't hide her grief as she cried for Jordan to "let us know where you are".  Police say the investigation into his disappearance will continue with the help of volunteers.          
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Provincial Government saying no to Hydro rate hike

The McGuinty Government isn't allowing Hydro companies to pass off court fees and fines to consumers. MPP Bill Mauro says the court made a decision to fine companies for over charging interest on late payments and the Ontario Energy Board allowing a rate increase to cover those costs is a mistake. Mauro says the Energy Minister has told electricity companies to find the costs within.

Police investigate the death of a baby

Police are investigating the death of a 6 month old girl in the Webequie First Nation.  The baby died yesterday and was taken to Winnipeg for the post mortem.  Police officials say they hope to find out the cause of death once that is complete.

Firefighters deal with morning garage fire

A garage fire kept Thunder Bay Fire and Rescue busy today. The blaze destroyed a garage at a house in the 200 block of Francis Street. Crews needed about an hour to put it out and no one was injured.

Help on the way for Seniors and people with disabilities

The Federal Government is providing almost 400 thousand to help seniors and people with disabilities in region. Minister of State for Seniors Julian Fantino made the announcement yesterday in Thunder Bay and says its an important issue that needs support. The funding is part of the 2010 Federal Budget and is being distributed through the New Horizons for Seniors Program.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

City looks into low-income tax & water rebates

City council is looking for ways to help residents with low incomes. Council asked for a report last night to see if a program to provide tax and water rebates to low income residents would be a good fit for the city. The report should be completed by June.

New budget passed

The city's new budget has passed. Council voted largely in favour of the budget after some last minute attempts to make cuts fell flat during Tuesday’s council meeting.

Mayor Keith Hobbs voted against his first budget as mayor and says the 1.27% tax hike is a deal-breaker. Hobbs says that the process has been a learning experience.

Councilor Larry Hebert voted against the budget as well; the rest of council voted in favour.

Northwood Councillor Mark Betnz voted for the budget. While Bentz doesn't think the tax increase is unreasonable he wants leaders to keep the city's financial health in mind all year long and not just when it comes time to make a budget. Bentz says that given the circumstances, he feels City Manager Tim Commisso did a good job of keeping costs down.

The budget still needs to be ratified in March before it's official. 

Brown questions legislation

The McGuinty government plans to declare public transit workers in Toronto an essential service.   Thunder Bay Transit Union president Charlie Brown says apart from opposing the idea, he wonders why other parts of the province aren't included in the new legislation. It was an election promise by new Mayor Rob Ford and city council  has requested T-T-C workers be banned from striking.  The NDP is hinting it may delay the legislation.

Commisso says growth is growth

The Conference Board of Canada may not have confidence in the Thunder Bay economy, but our city manager does.  Tim Commisso says the boards prediction of slow economic growth for the city isn't the end of the world.  He says the economy of the city is growing at a stable and steady pace and is diversifying.  The board ranked the city last in it's survey of 27 Canadian cities.

NAN talks economy

The Nishnawbe Aski Nation is holding it's first ever economic summit in the city.  Deputy Grand Chief Les Louttit wants First Nations leaders to form a single voice on things like taking minerals from the ground in the Ring of Fire mining development. Louttit hopes different strategies will be developed over the course of the week.