Wednesday, February 16, 2011

To increase taxes or not; that is the question

It seems that the Council table is split between slight tax increases and none at all.  Mayor Keith Hobb introduced a motion calling for two million dollars to be put towards a variety of items in the budget that would put the tax rate at zero.  Councillor Iain Angus says he's seen the negative impacts of having a zero percent increase.  Angus says when he started on council in 2003, they had to cut services and staff to make up for several years of zero increases.  The motions lost, but not before everyone had a chance to say where they stand on the tax increase issue.

Landfill fees going up

The Solid Waste and Recycling Facility is expecting a 78 thousand dollar revenue gap in 2011. Expenditures will be coming in at 4.4 million while revenue is set to come in at 4.3 million. Administration has a long term plan that will address that funding gap. Meanwhile, the landfill's gate fee will go up a dollar to sit at seven dollars; the weight for each vehicle will go from 125 kilograms to 140.

Black Path to be cleared

25-thousand dollars is going towards clearing brush at the city's "Black Path".  The path was the site of a murder in the fall.  The money is being included in the 2011 budget.  Several City Councillors spoke out against the move saying it's not fair to cherry pick certain paths in different parts of the city.  Councillors Rebecca Johnson and Joe Virdiramo voted against putting up the cash.  A city wide report on paths will be conducted this summer.

"Stay off the ice" warns OPG

Ontario Power Generation is warning you to stay off the ice on the Kam River.  OPG says it's reduced the water flow from Silver Falls to help police divers searching for a missing teen.   Officials warn that has the potential to create dangerous ice conditions.

Council at Good Roads

Thunder Bay City Council is heading to Toronto to speak with six provincial cabinet ministers.  The Ontario Good Roads Conference starts in a weeks time.  Mayor Keith Hobbs says they'll have a pretty full dance card.  Meetings include transportation, northern development, aboriginal affairs and research and innovation.  Hobbs will also be meeting with Energy Minister Brad Duguid about the region's electricity needs.

Police report another child luring incident

Thunder Bay Police are investigating a disturbing incident from Monday. They say that a man driving a van approached a 12-year-old boy and asked him to help look for a lost dog. The man is described as about 40-years-old with short black hair and a short goatee. The vehicle is said to be a light turquoise box-shaped van similar to a GMC Safari. Anyone with information is asked to call Thunder Bay Poilce or Crime Stoppers.

Humane Society unveils new adoption CATegory

The local Humane Society is trying to save our feline friends.  They have devised a new system to help properly match adoptable cats with an owner.  Spokesperson Judy Decicco says it's scientifically proven to work.  She says the cats are assessed and colour coded. Potential owners are asked to fill out a survey and based on the answers,  they're asked to match their code with cat that has the same one.  Decicco says they plan to design the program for dogs as well

First Nations get funding for housing

Just over 14 million dollars is being handed out to Ontario's first nations for social housing projects. Kenora MP Greg Rickford made the announcement at the Northern Ontario Housing Conference Wednesday. Rickford says this will help improve the housing situation on first nations in the province.  Fort William First Nation Chief Peter Collins says while its a great announcement its just a drop in the bucket.

Delta Hotels tight lipped about waterfront location

An official at Delta Hotels in Canada will neither confirm or deny a report the company will locate a hotel on the waterfront .  Sandy Indig says the company is not in a position to say anything about a story that is only quoting unofficial sources.   She say it's not their policy to make any announcement until a deal is officially signed. 

AbitibiBowater is selling off Hydro assets

AbitibiBowater is selling off 75-per cent of its interest in its hydro assets in Ontario.  This includes the hydro dam in Fort Frances, Iroquois Falls, and Kenora.  The deal with an unnamed Canadian institutional investor and a private Canadian renewable energy company is worth 300-million dollars.  Part of the proceeds will be used to pay down the company's debt.

Health Unit looking for new Medical Officer

The health unit is going to be without a medical officer of health.  Dr. Henry Kurban is stepping down from the job starting July 1st, due to family reasons.  Recruitment for a replacement will start immediately.

Outbreak at Grandview Lodge

The health unit is reporting a flu outbreak at the Grandview Lodge.  All admissions, transfers and discharges have been cancelled.  The Health Unit is urging people to stay at home and refrain from visiting hospitals and long-term care facilities when feeling unwell.

Second Career Program is a success

It's been three years since the Province launched the second career program.  Over 3 thousand laid off workers in the north have taken advantage and have gone back to school to retrain for a new career.  A recent survey shows 74% of the programs graduates have found employment in less than a year.

Work continues at Waterfront

Remediation work on the harbour front is expected to be complete by the first week of March.  Project Manager Katherine Dugmore says it's perfectly normal for the hole to be full of ground water and notes contaminated soil can still be dug up.  The remediation work has cost 2 million dollars to date.

Search for Wabasse resumes this morning

The OPP's dive team will continue its search for Jordan Wabasse this morning.  They were forced to suspend the search near the James Street Swing bridge yesterday evening due to a lack of light.  Wabasse has been missing since February 7th.