Friday, January 31, 2014

Mill Settlement Reached In Terrace Bay

The town of Terrace Bay and the AV Birla Group are now at peace. They've come to a negotiated settlement on tax payments.  Mayor Jody Davis says the deal is prefered to appealing a government tax assessment  on the company's mill property which could have cost the town much more.  Davis says under the deal the company will pay just over 15 million dollars a year in taxes from 2013 until 2016.

Pepe Disappointed In United Airlines

City tourism manager Paul Pepe says he's disappointed that United Airlines will end its daily direct flights from Thunder Bay to Chicago.   The U.S. company has announced that the service will end April 24th.   Pepe says it's not the end of the world. Pepe says the city will explore new marketing channels

Thunder Bay Above Provincial Average

The city of Thunder Bay is well above the provincial average when it comes to tissue donors with 44% of the population registered. Other communities across the region are patting themselves on the back as well with registration numbers above the provincial mark set at 24%.

Winter Roads Open

It's that time of year again the northern winter roads network is open. The provincial and federal government funded the ice road network that connects 28 First Nations.  Cold weather in December and January meant an early start to this year's winter roads season.

Murray Keeping Eye On Roads

The provincial government says its closely monitoring winter road maintenance of the province's highways this winter. Transportation Minister Glenn Murray acknowledges some contractors have been fined for not meeting snow plowing standards, and stronger action will be taken if his Ministry don't see significant improvements. Murray also inviting resident to call contractors and the Ministry if they have complaints about the roads.

Veterans Protest Office Closure

Frank Fox places
black wreath at VA office
The Veteran's Affairs office in Thunder Bay is closing today.  This morning there was extreme emotion at the office on Red River Road as veterans held a mock Remembrance Day ceremony complete with a wreath and poppies to commemorate the closure.   Also on hand was local veteran Roy Lamore who went to Ottawa and pleaded in vain with the minister Julian Fantino to keep this office, another others in the country, open.

United Airlines Pulls Out

Shocking news out of the Thunder Bay Airport.  United Airlines is ceasing its service between Thunder Bay and Chicago. They'll pull out of the local airport on April 24th of this year.  Airport Manager Ed Schmidtke says the City will still be connected to the US via Winnipeg or Toronto by Air Canada, WestJet and Porter Airlines. Meanwhile, WestJet's new Encore flights will depart from Thunder Bay four times daily to Toronto and twice to Winnipeg starting June 27th.

Uli Walthers Sworn In As 2014 Chair

The Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce is announcing Uli Walther as the 2014 Chair of the Board. Speaking at the Chamber's Annual General Meeting Thursday evening, Walther says one of the board's goals will be to see more of an impact from Aboriginal workers. Also at the meeting was First Nations Negotiator Bob Rae. Walther says having Rae speak at the event was a significant move in pushing the boards goal forward.

Vets Speak With Rafferty Over Office Closure

A memorial service is being held today over the loss of the city's Veteran's Affairs Office. Thunder Bay MP John Rafferty says after speaking with local veterans it is clear that they are not impressed with Minister Julian Fanitno's handling of the situation. Vets will now have to travel over twelve hours to the North Bay office where half of their case files are being sent. The other half will be sent to Winnipeg.

Rae Says Talks Ongoing

Talks between the Province and First Nations Communities in the Northwest are continuing to move forward.  Speaking in Thunder Bay Thursday evening, First Nations Negotiator Bob Rae says both parties have been focused on the needs of communities involved.  Rae adds that talks have been mainly kept out of the public eye out of respect for all groups involved.

New Garbage Plan

The City is going to get their first look at the draft solid waste management plan Monday night.  Coordinator Jason Sherband says one of their ideas include allowing co-mingled materials in the bins at the recycling depot. Another idea in the plan includes moving to a clear garbage bag program.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Police Looking Into Viral Video

OPP are looking into a viral video that shows a near head on collision on a winter road.   Sgt. Shelley Garr says they're following up on the chilling dash board footage.  Garr says they're trying to identify the driver of the offending truck and charges could be laid.  The video posted on youtube says the incident happened on Highway 11 past Nipigon.  Warning the video contains strong language.

Cause Of Weekend Fire Undetermined

The cause of a weekend house fire on Jean Street is in the books as undetermined.   City fire inspector Eric Nordlund says their investigation of the blaze has been hampered by conditions inside the vacant house. He says besides being damaged by the fire,  the house is covered by a tremendous amount of  ice inside and out. Nordlund says it appears someone may have been entering the house without the owners permission, but they can't say if anyone was inside prior to the blaze.

Humane Society Hires New ED

Thunder Bay's Humane Society is getting a new Executive Director.  They've hired Melanie Blanchette.  She has a law enforcement background and has volunteered at the local humane society in the past and another in Ottawa.

Minimum Wage Up To 11 Dollars

The Provincial Government is increasing the minimum wage from 10.25 to 11 dollars per hour. Thunder Bay MPP Bill Mauro says it's going to improve people's lives. Ontario is increasing the minimum wage from $10.25 to $11 per hour on June 1, 2014. The new rate reflects the rise in the Consumer Price Index since the last minimum wage increase in 2010.  The government will also introduce legislation that would tie future minimum wage increases to inflation and will see increases come into effect on October 1st.

Hull's Book Store Closing

Thunder Bay's Hull's Family Book Store is going to close it's doors on February 15th. It's part of a larger closure that will see it's parent store in Winnipeg close its doors as well. The owners say they can't sell enough books to stay open.

Sears Layoffs

Sears Canada won't comment on specifics about recent layoffs across the Country but does say Thunder Bay is included.  They say on average five positions were eliminated from each store including the one at the Intercity Mall. The eliminated spots were department heads.

OPP Take Stance Against Reckless Drivers

As Ontario suffers through one of the worst winters in recent history, the OPP are taking a hard stance with reckless drivers who are jeopardizing the safety of officers and other emergency personnel responding to collision scenes.  Three OPP cruisers have been struck by passing motorists since Monday, two of which happened on provincial highways. One OPP officer was taken to hospital after his cruiser was struck from behind while stopped behind a transport truck.  This past weekend, eight OPP cruisers were struck by passing motorists and two police officers received minor injuries.

Rickford Reacts To Trudeau

A move to change the political landscape in Canada has caught the attention of Kenora MP Greg Rickford.  The Minister of State is reacting to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's decision to turf his senators from the Liberal Caucus.  Rickford says the move only means that the Liberal leader and his party continue to support an unelected and unaccountable Senate.

Paquette Shocked By Trudeau Decision

Lakehead University's Political Science Professor is adding her name to the list of political veterans who were shocked by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's decision to order his party's senators to sit as independents.  Laure Paquette says it worries her that some of the senators reportedly didn't know about Trudeau's decision before the announcement.  Paquette says it's good that the Liberal senators are freed from partisanship but that means nothing if the others don't break ties from the other parties.

Hobbs Proud Of City Finances

Mayor Keith Hobbs is ready to get the budget process going.  On Tuesday night, Council heard how the City will spend its money over the next five years.  Hobbs says he's proud of their finances.  On Tuesday next week the public will get their chance to speak to Council about their thoughts on the proposed 2014 budget.

Dryden Further In The Red

Its news that the taxpayers of Dryden did not want to hear.  The city  is now sitting with a 4-million dollar deficit in the 2014 budget year,  twice the amount first projected. Chief Administrative Officer Andre Larabie warns there will have to be cuts across the board.   Larabie adds a recovery plan is now in place and staff will be working with council for the next 5-weeks to find ways to cut without impacting the safety of residents and workers.

Osisko Taking Goldcorp To Court

Osisko Mining is taking legal action against Goldcorp.  Osisko alleges that Goldcorp misused confidential information prior to making a hostile take-over bid for the company. None of the allegations have been proven in court.  Goldcorp's offer is about 2-point-6 billion dollars, but Osisko calls it "opportunistic and financially inadequate." Osisko is also in the process of mailing its recommendation to shareholders, urging them to reject the offer.

Charities Get Money

Two local charities are getting money.  The Linda Buchan Centre is getting 15-thousand dollars from the local Shoppers Drug Mart. The money raised through the 12th annual Tree of Life campaign will be used to help purchase a digital mammography machine. Meanwhile, the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra is on the receiving end of money from Autism Ontario.  The group presented the symphony with a thousand dollar cheque for their family concert series.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Vets Fuming Mad At Fantino

Thunder Bay's Roy Lamore is joining other military veterans in calling for the resignation of Veterans Affairs minister Julian Fantino.   They're upset  Fantino didn't hold a serious discussion with them about the closure of Veterans Affairs offices across the country...Fantino admits he handled the meeting badly and apologized in the House of Commons.  The offices, including the one in Thunder Bay,  are slated to close on Friday

"Lazylegz" Speaks At Con College

Luca "Lazylegz" Patuelli is spreading his message of "No Excuses, No Limits" with students at Confederation College. Patuelli has a rare disorder called arthrogryposis that affects joint movement and muscle growth and through break dancing has been able to encourage others in achieving their goals. Patuelli has really appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show and will be touring the UK soon with his break-dancing crew ILL-Abilities.

Hyer Praises Trudeau Senate Move

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's surprising move to remove all Liberal senators from his caucus  is getting the thumbs up from Thunder Bay MP Bruce Hyer.   The senators will now sit as independants.  Hyer calls Trudeau's move intelligent and progressive adding, it's a step in the right direction.   He's calling on the Harper Conservatives to do the same thing in the interests of Senate reform.

Trudeau Flip Flopper

Thunder Bay's MP John Rafferty says Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is a flip-flopper.  Rafferty is reacting to Trudeau's decision to order Liberal senators to sit as independents, even though Trudeau didn't vote in support of the NDP's anti-partisan senate motion.  Rafferty feels the Liberal leader is trying to distance himself from an upcoming report on senator expenses from the Auditor General.  In a news conference on Wednesday, Trudeau feels his decision will cut down on partisanship in the upper house.

Health Unit Looking At Options

Thunder Bay's Health Unit is going to take some time to come up with a new way of informing the public about local restaurant inspections. Right now if you want to know your favourite restaurant is doing you have to call the health inspector. Health Unit Spokesperson Lee Sieswerda says one option is to offer the results online but before they do that they'll undergo a feasibility study.

Director Retiring

The Lakehead Public School Board will be looking for a new Director of Education.  Cathi Siemieniuk has announced her intentions to retire effective this summer on August 31st.  Siemieniuk has been Director of Education since July of 2009 and has been an employee of the organization since 1978.

Bridge Gets Upgrades

The Swamp River Bridge just outside of the community of Shebandowan will be replaced in the Spring. The project is part of the province's Growth Plan for Northern Ontario and will create thirty-two new jobs.  The 3.2-million dollar contract has been awarded to LH North.

Forest Industry Rebound

The forest industry is expected to bounce back in a major way in 2014. That's according to the Ontario Forest Industry Association in its pre-budget forecast for the provincial government.  President Jamie Lim says with a little help from the province, thousands of good paying jobs could be created. Lim says the U.S. housing market is starting to recover, and there is an 8-trillion dollar global construction market that will be driving the forest sector over the next few years.

Walkers 900 Kilometers Away From Goal

A group of First Nation walkers are only 900 kilometers away from their journey to Ottawa.  They left at the beginning of January from Attawapiskat First Nation.  The three men are on foot and are hoping to encourage the Federal government to work on addressing several Aboriginal issues.  On Monday, the activists spent some time in Cochrane.

Unifor President In T.Bay

The Unifor "Rights at Work" campaign is in Thunder Bay today. Union President Jerry Dias spoke at the Hoito Restaurant about threats to basic labour rights and what unions can do about it.  Unifor is concerned about the Federal Government's Bill C525 which they feel will make it easier to decertify unions in the federal sector on the basis of biased voting rules.

Kenora Family Safe

For the second time this week, snowmobilers had to be rescued after being stranded in the bush in the Kenora area.  The latest incident took place north of Minaki after a family of four became stranded.  The OPP say the family, which included a 6 year old and a 10 year old had spent a week trapping in the Wingiskis Lake area.  On their way home over the weekend, one of their sleds broke down and another became stuck. Fortunately they had survival gear with them, and they managed to make a shelter, start a fire and had enough food for three days. Family members became concerned when they didn't return home, and contacted a local pilot. He managed to locate them safe and sound Monday morning.

Council Starts Budget Process

The City is kicking off a review of the 2014 budget.  A long term financial plan was presented to Council Tuesday night.  City Treasurer Carol Pollard says they had some unexpected challenges that have had a negative impact on the 2014 budget including increases in the emergency services budget, a decrease in child care revenues and a 25 percent increase in insurance premiums. Meanwhile, Pollard says in the future they hope to put 1.5 million dollars into the infrastructure fund in 2015, another 1.75 million in 2016, and 2.25 million in 2017.  Over the next five years the projected tax levy increases will range from 2.7 percent to 4.7 percent.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dog Seized From Apt. Dead

Animal Services says the rottweiller mix dog that police turned over to them last week has passed away. The dog was seized from a May Street apartment building by Police after they were called to deal with a possible case of animal cruelty.  The dog was thin and in stable condition when it was turned over to a City vet.

City Says Get Your Facts Straight

The city is telling the Chamber of Commerce, get your facts straight. They are asking the chamber to revise its report critical of  city taxes that it released a couple of weeks ago.  Mayor Keith Hobbs says the report, in reaching its conclusions, applies incorrect assumptions with respect to tax rates, tax forecasts and assessment changes.

Horizon Funds Turbine Prototype

Horizon Wind, the company building the Big Thunder Wind Park, is financing the research some Lakehead University engineering students are doing on wind turbines. Horizon's Kathleen MacKenzie says the students are designing a prototype turbine for residential use. She says it's a way to fill a need for small scale wind power development so it can be accessible to anyone who wants it. MacKenzie won't divulge how much the company is giving the students for their study.

Witness Wanted

City Police are looking for a witness to a single vehicle collision that took place on Mountdale Avenue on Sunday morning.   A Red Pontiac was westbound on Arthur Street West when control of the vehicle was lost and the vehicle spinned across five lanes of traffic.  It came to a rest by hitting a cement sign pole in front of the Galaxy Lanes parking lot.  Anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to contact the police.

Shoppers Drug Mart Robbery

City police are charging a woman in connection with a robbery Tuesday morning at the Shoppers Drug Mart on Red River Road.  Officers say a woman entered the store, produced a knife and demanded narcotics, she also tried to gain entry into a safe but failed. Police found her in the backyard of a Picton Street residence where they arrested her at gunpoint. She's charged with Robbery, Disguise and Dangerous Weapons.

Heritage Waterway Touted

Fort Frances council is on the side of a group working towards having a water route between Thunder Bay and Rainy River designated under the Canadian Heritage River System. It would be called the Voyageur's Boundary Waterway Route Rainy Lake Conservancy's Stephen Challis says it will help draw awareness of the area's historical significance and play a part in economic development. Challis says they hope to submit a proposal for review this March.

Highway Re-opened

The Trans Canada Highway is now re-opened at Ignace.   It had been closed since about 4:30 this morning so firefighters could battle a blaze that destroyed a grocery store.  While the fire is essentially out, firefighters are expected to be there for the rest of the day. No one was injured and the cause isn't known.

Ruberto Stoked About Sister Sities

The head of the sister cities program continues to give it high marks. Councillor Aldo Ruberto spoke about the program review presented to councillors Monday evening. He believes the program gives back. He says for every dollar invested we get 10 times the return both financially and in the knowledge gleaned from those who travel to the member cities. Ruberto says while we have cut ties with some sister cities, our new relationship with Jiaozuo, China will make up for it.

Fire Hits Ignace Grocery Store

Fire crews are expected to be at the scene of a major fire at Gramma's Supermarket in Ignace for most of the day. The blaze at the Main Street business ignited around 2:30 this morning. Mayor Lee Kennard owned the grocery store for 5 years and he calls the fire devastating. Kennard says firefighters will be putting water on the building for most of the day. The fire is under control and was contained to the store. Kennard believes a home behind the building may have been damaged. No injuries are reported and the cause isn't known at this time.

Veterans Protest Office Closures

Veterans from across the country are in Ottawa this week to make one last call on the government to stop the shut down of Veterans Affairs offices in their communities this Friday. That includes Thunder Bay's Roy Lamore.
Lamore was one of seven veterans who spoke at a news conference on Parliament Hill today and who will meet with Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino this evening.

Morning Fire At Seniors Home

There were no injuries following an early morning fire at the Suomi Koti Seniors Home in County Park. Firefighters were called to the residence in the 500 block of County Boulevard just before 6:30 this morning. District Fire Chief Mark Harris says the fire was contained to a mechanical room.  Firefighters worked to clear minor smoke from the building and residents were placed in a common area inside.  The cause is not yet known.  

Council Sends Letter

The City is sending a letter to both levels of government opposing Ontario Power Generations plan to bury radioactive nuclear waste under the Bruce Nuclear Power Plant site in Southern Ontario.  It's proposed burial site is near Lake Huron and the City doesn't feel comfortable with its proximity to the water. Council's letter says they're against any burial sites in the Great Lakes Basin in Canada, the US or any First Nations. A spokesperson from OPG spoke to Council last night to try to change their minds on the issue.

Something Needs To Be Done

City Councillor Mark Bentz says something needs to be done to improve the City's south core. That comment came after architect Ahsanul Habib told Council Monday night about his vision of creating a pedestrian market on Victoria Avenue. Habib wants the City to adopt his idea by closing off the street and designating the area a heritage market district. City staff will be looking into the concept further and bringing back a report at a later date.

Heritage Sites Approved

The City is giving the green light to turn three local buildings into heritage sites. The Saint John Evangelist Anglican Church on Pearl Street, the Times-Journal Building on May Street and the Cenotaph Monument in McGillivray Square on East Donald Street are now recognized as historical buildings.

EMS Building Deal Done

The deal is done.  City Council approved the sale of the former EMS building on Donald Street.  Esquega-Everall Holdings Corporation spent 200-thousand dollars for 401 Donald Street. The sale of the building came out of the committee of the whole closed session last Monday.

No Temperature Criteria For School Buses

Don't expect rural school buses to be taken off the road when we are in a deep freeze. One man claiming to be a school bus driver called our newsroom and wondered about student safety as the result of a bus breakdown in the country, but David Carrol of the school bus consortium says a cold weather criteria doesn't exist adding there is no temperature threshold that would stop school buses from running. Carrol says during cold weather spells parents are asked to dress students appropriately.