Tuesday, February 12, 2013

2013 Budget Approved In Principal

City Council is approving its 2013 budget in principal.  It means property taxes will increase by 2.6 percent.  The final budget vote will come down on March 4th.  Meanwhile, taxpayers will have a second chance to comment on the fiscal document Wednesday night at City Hall.

No Decision On Boys & Girls Yet

City Council isn't ready to pay for the Boys and Girls Club property taxes just yet.  The charity group had asked the City to help pay for 40-thousand dollars in taxes.  Councillors discussed the good work the club does but in the end decided they couldn't make any decisions on the issue at a budget meeting.  They'll revisit the issue at a regular session in the future.

Council Tackles Police Budget

City Council continues to plow through it's 2013 budget.  At Tuesday night's meeting they tackled the 35 million dollar Police Services budget.  Police Chief JP Levesque calls it a lean budget.  During a round of questions, Chief Levesque told Council they may consider changing one of their costs in-car cameras to body pack cameras that are on the police officers themselves.

Council Shoots Down EMS Position

City Council continues to drop the axe on extra costs being proposed for the 2013 budget.  Council voted down an Emergency Services Coordinator position Tuesday night.  Councillor Mark Bentz says it's a great idea but they need to find away to offer it without increasing the budget.  Mayor Keith Hobbs was also on board with the project but notes if they raise taxes anymore they'll be giving taxpayers heart attacks.

Extra Week Too Pricey

City Council is turning down a request to keep heated pools open for an extra week.  The proposal was brought forward during one of the final budget meetings.  Most City Councillors felt 10 thousand dollars for one week of swimming was too pricey.  The final vote on the 2013 budget will take place in March.

Hay Reveals Role In Easing Hospital Gridlock

Thunder Bay's Fire Chief is now revealing the role he played in getting emergency room overcrowding at the regional hospital eased last month.   John Hay says he was invited by the hospital to inspect the ER and he found there needed to be changes made to meet provincial safety regulations.  He asked them to alleviate the congestion in some areas and find ways to clear the hallways to adhere to the Fire Code.  Hay's order started a chain of events which lead to the regional health authority coming up with a plan to lessen the overcrowding to make sure it didn't happen again. 

Drug Bust In Attawapiskat

Drug smuggling continues to be a concern in remote northern First Nation communities.   The Nishnawbe Aski Police say that 67 hundred dollars worth of Marijuana and oxycondone was seized recently at a residence in Attawapiskat.   Two people are charged.

Gravelle Excited About New Post

Michael Gravelle says his appointment by the premier as Minister of Northern Development and Mines is an honour and a privilege.  He says it means he can make the Ring of Fire one of  his top priorities. Gravelle says it's also good to be back in control of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, which falls under Northern Development.

Chiarelli Urged To Consider Power Plant Options

The co-chair of the Common Voice Energy Task Force is urging Ontario's new Energy Ministry to look at all options for northwestern Ontario. Iain Angus is reacting to the appointment of Bob Chiarelli. Angus says the first priority is keeping the Thunder Bay generating station running. Angus says the northwest is on the verge of rolling black-out's and stresses a power shortage will cripple the regional economy.

Colli Surprised By Pope's Resignation

Surprise, but not shock is how Thunder Bay Bishop Fred Colli is reacting to the sudden resignation of Pope Benedict. The pontiff says he leaving because of his poor health.  Colli calls it a courageous step and hopes the resignation sets an example to other leaders in the church about when to call it quits. Colli says the pope's greatest asset is that he's very knowledgeable about what's happening in the world.

L.U. Wrestling Coach Disappointed By I.O.C. Decision

I.O.C. leaders are dropping wrestling for the 2020 Games in a surprise decision to scrap one of the oldest sports on the Olympic program. Lakehead University Wrestling Coach Brock Curtis says it's a shame to lose one of the Olympics' most historic events. Curtis says it's too soon to completely understand how the I.O.C.'s move will impact wrestling at all levels.

Klynendorst Steps Down

Thunder Bay's Humane Society is losing its Executive Director.  Maryann Kleynendorst resigned her position effective March 2nd.  She'll be pursuing other career opportunities but has agreed to stay with the organization as a member of the Board of Directors.  Her contract was for six months and Klynendorst stayed on beyond that for 20 months.

Campbell Wants To Get Back To Work

It's time to get back to business at Queens Park. Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell says she's excited that Premier Kathleen Wynne has selected her new cabinet and that they can get back to work. Campbell says the North will be well represented with Michael Gravelle taking over as Minister of Northern Development and Mines.

N.O.M.A. Reacts To New Cabinet

Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association President Ron Nelson says Michael Gravelle is the right man for the job of Minister of Northern Development and Mines. Nelson says he's pleased Gravelle received the cabinet position and notes there's great continuity to work with. Nelson says the new cabinet provides a nice blend of fresh faces and experience.

O.P.P. Respond To "Anonymous" Map

O.P.P. say an on-line map claiming to identify unsolved incidents of violence against aboriginal woman in the Rainy River district has some flaws. It was released by a group calling itself "Anonymous." O.P.P. Acting Sergeant Anne McCoy says not all of the information is verifiable, but won't say if any of the identified cases are ongoing. Until now, the group has been targeting Thunder Bay Police following an alleged assault of a native women in December.

Poverty Reduction Strategy Open House

The next step in the city's Poverty Reduction Strategy takes place today with a public open house from Noon until 6:00 p.m. at the Victoriaville Mall. Councillor Paul Pugh is looking to hear from as many people as possible. Pugh says the aim is to have the strategy ready for city council approval in September.

Looking For Input

The Fort William Business District begins a series of public meetings today to discuss the future of the area. Spokesperson J.P. Fraser says with the face of the area changing the Business Improvement Area is need of feedback. The meetings take place today and tomorrow and for two days next week at the Victoriaville Centre starting at 5:30 p.m.