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Youth earn $5,000 for Haliburton Heat Bank

Joseph Quigley

Two Haliburton Highlands Secondary School (HHSS) students earned $5,000 for Heat Bank Haliburton County through the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) Canada June 4.  

Bence Suranyi and Stefan Salaris beat out their Grade 10 civics classmates with their presentation on the Heat Bank.

The school-wide competition is part of the YPI program, which runs similar charitable contests in schools around the world.  

Suranyi said their presentation highlighted the success stories of the charity.

“The Haliburton Heat Bank is a less-known charity than the other ones that were competing,” Suranyi said. “I think that helped shed light on the Heat Bank.”  

“The stories that (Heat Bank co-ordinator) Tina (Jackson) gave were probably really moving because sometimes they were really tragic,” Salaris added. 

 The YPI initiative has run at HHSS for 12 years. The program goes into the curriculum as a graded project for the school’s civics class. The project requires students to engage with charities in their community and share what they have learned in a presentation. The top-five projects compete in front of the school, with the winning group earning $5,000 for their charity.

The group has donated more than $50,000 to local charities since it started running in Haliburton.  Teacher Paul Longo, who co-ordinates YPI at HHSS, said the program remains successful. 

“It gets Grade 10 students out in the community, visiting charities, asking questions, learning about what we do in this community that’s so important as far as volunteer work,” Longo said. 

Jackson said the charity, which provides firewood and heat to vulnerable people, has participated in projects for YPI before. But this is the first time the charity has won.  

“I am just so proud of the work that both of these youth did, in pouring everything into the presentation that won us the money,” Jackson said. “This is one of the largest donations we’ll likely receive this year.“

They were absolutely passionate. They believed in what we were doing,” she added.  

Salaris said to succeed in the competition, it is vital to choose a charity you care about.  “Pick a charity you believe in, like and would stand for,” he said.

Jump rope returns from the playground

Danielle Maia Carney of Rise Jump Rope. Photo submitted

by Carolyn Alder

There have been many trends in the exercise world, such as Zumba, water aquatics, and Pilates but the latest is jump rope. It’s similar to what you did in the playground at recess with your friends when you were a child.

Owner of Rise Jump Rope, Danielle Maia Carney, is hoping to bring back that playfulness with her online classes of interval jump rope.

“The reason I wanted to do this is because a lot of workout programs out there are by people in their late ’20s or ’30s and often times men, and I found I couldn’t keep up with a lot of those workouts so I wanted to create something that was an opportunity for people wherever they’re at to try something out,” Carney said.

Carney started jumping rope for exercise a couple of years ago at the suggestion of a friend. She’d not been as active as she would have liked. The single mom says when she first picked up her rope, she was shy to do it in front of friends and so began at home by listening to music and jumping in front of a mirror.

“At the beginning it was a bit more clunky and awkward because I was trying to figure out technique and posture. As everything was coming together it became easier.”

Carney then began holding her high intensity, low impact, interval training classes for her co-workers outside at Living Librations in Haliburton. She was going to expand her classes to include more when the pandemic started and she changed her idea to teaching online.

“It inspired me to keep going as a way to engage and move at home and stay connected with people. [The online classes] feel warm and being able to see and talk with each other supports that. It’s a social space. I wanted to create a safe supportive space as a woman for women without excluding men.”

Angela Andrews has been taking the online classes from the start. She said, “if you’re looking to try something new, it’s a lot of fun and a great workout and no one can really see you because you’re too focused on jumping that you don’t often look at the screen.”

Beginning classes run Monday and Wednesday at 6 p.m. while intermediate classes are Tuesday and Thursday at 6 p.m. Blended classes are offered Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. Carney is offering a complimentary class Dec. 6 at 10 a.m. For more information and to register, email risejumprope@gmail.com before Dec. 4.

Doctor says flu vaccine shortages ‘distressing’

Some local residents have been put on a waiting list for the flu vaccine. Flickr

by Kirk Winter

The Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit focused on the problems they are having with providing enough flu vaccines and the planning already underway for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine at their Nov. 19 meeting.

Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Lynn Noseworthy, said the health unit is having “challenges” in the rollout of flu vaccines for the 2020-2021 flu season.

“There are two different vaccines we are dealing with,” Noseworthy said, “the high dose vaccine and the quadrivalent vaccine that is designed to deal with four different strains of the flu. Currently we are all out of the high dose vaccine and the province is reviewing their procurement and distribution plans.”

She said they began their flu shot program in October and so far have used 42,000 doses supplied by the province.

Kawartha Lakes councillor Doug Elmslie said drug stores in his area are short of the vaccine and wondered what the health unit could do about the situation.

“We do not supply the pharmacies,” Noseworthy responded, “and there are currently waiting lists for the vaccine.”

It was suggested provincial health units were only supplied the vaccine at the level they ordered last year, with no consideration for a surge of requests fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The shortages were called “distressing” by Dr. Ian Gemmill, one of the physicians involved in the call.

Gemmill added the only silver lining regarding the flu season is data from the Southern hemisphere, which has already had their winter flu season and saw remarkably low numbers.

Health unit staff suggested there were two likely reasons for those hopeful numbers from South America, Africa, Asia and Australia. The first is “viral competition,” where the common flu virus has been overwhelmed by the much stronger COVID-19 virus and not given a chance to take hold in the nations providing data. The second is that precautions taken for COVID-19, including mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing and the cleaning of high touch surfaces in public buildings, are also very effective in limiting the spread of the flu.

“We still encourage people to get their flu shots (once they are again available). It is certainly not too late,” Dr. Noseworthy said.

Noseworthy also shared “promising results” about the rollout of the COVID19 vaccines pioneered by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna.

“We expect the vaccine will be offered in a staggered manner with high risk individuals and those workers with an elevated risk of infection getting it first,” Noseworthy said.

“Aboriginal communities are also expected to be a priority,” Noseworthy added.

“We are working on a rollout which we expect in the first quarter of 2021,” Noseworthy said.

Elmslie asked Noseworthy how the vaccine will be distributed and whether it will follow the flu vaccine distribution model.

“The Pfizer vaccine needs to be kept at -70 Celsius and the Moderna vaccine at -20 degrees Celsius,” Noseworthy said, “and with that in mind the vaccines will likely only be available at health unit clinics.”

Noseworthy promised more information on the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.

County sends shoreline bylaw to the public

A diagram of the protection area included in a new info document from the County on its draft shoreline bylaw. Photo via County of Haliburton.

The County of Haliburton is ready for a public meeting on its shoreline preservation bylaw with a possible requirement for renaturalization up for discussion.

County council reviewed the draft bylaw and new public information documents at a special meeting Nov. 23. The meeting delved into questions on the bylaw and how to present it to the public, with a variety of minor adjustments put forward for staff implementation.

One key point of discussion was over the renaturalization of shorelines. The bylaw as it stands does not require people to change already developed shorelines, only restricting future development. But councillors raised the possible need to codify shoreline renaturalization and agreed to include it as a question in upcoming consultation.

“There are passionate positions on both sides,” Coun. Carol Moffatt said. “When we look at the objectives of this bylaw (get County shorelines to 75 per cent naturalized), I don’t know if we’re going to achieve these if we don’t implement something that required renaturalization. But I think that’s a massive can of worms.”

The municipality has spent months reviewing the bylaw in response to public pushback. The Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners’ Associations (CHA) has pointed to research about shorelines requiring 75 per cent naturalization to maintain water quality and help prevent algae blooms. A CHA assessment of 60 local lakes found only 47-48 per cent of their shorelines were natural.

Deputy warden Andrea Roberts said the bylaw should remain as is, with something addressing renaturalization possibly coming later.

“How we move is a process,” Roberts said. “This is a step and I think we would be biting off more than we can chew.”

Warden Liz Danielsen said it makes sense to include it in public consultation. She added renaturalization could help alleviate the concerns landscapers have about the bylaw taking from their work.

“If we include a renaturalization component … we’re offering another opportunity. It’s just a different kind of work,” she said.

Public information addressed

Councillors spent approximately four hours reviewing the bylaw, addressing issues such as wording, fish habitat and pressuring the province to allow higher fines to stand.

They also reviewed three documents aimed at making the bylaw more digestible than the “legalese”: an illustrated summary document, a fact sheet and an online selfassessment tool to help property owners determine whether they need a permit.

The municipality has set a target date of April 15 to begin enforcement of the bylaw. Both staff and councillors called the date “ambitious” but said it could be adjusted as needed.

Council voted to receive the discussion as information and direct staff to initiate public consultation and organize a virtual public meeting. That meeting is expected to be some time in January.

Moffatt asked how much time would be allowed to review input.

“Whatever time it takes,” Danielsen responded. “There’s going to be things that we hear and agree with. There will be things we hear and disagree with or can’t do anything about for legislative reasons. We’ll have to wade through it all.”

Chamber hopes job platform can attract talent

A past Haliburton Highlands Secondary School job fair. File photo.

The Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce is bringing forward a new program to help local businesses tap into student and graduate talent from across the country.

Through the Chamber Partnership Initiative, the local chamber is partnering with Magnet, a Ryerson University digital job platform. With the program announced Nov. 11, businesses can access young talent from across the country. Also, the platform will allow businesses to access wage subsidies with the federal Student Work Placement Program (SWPP), offering up to $7,500 to organizations when they hire Canadian post-secondary students for integrated learning experiences.

Chamber executive director, Jennifer Locke, said the platform fills a need, allowing employers to easily search for workers with the right qualifications.

“It’s really quite all-encompassing,” Locke said. “The platform is really sophisticated in that it provides – when you submit the job – exactly how many qualified applicants will be personally invited (to apply).”

Besides enabling access to job seekers, the platform also provides employers with tools to make more diverse hires. It also offers business growth information from partners such as the Business Development Bank of Canada.

“The combination of a national recruitment platform and the SWPP wage subsidy will be an important lifeline for our members,” chamber president, Andrea Strano, said.

Locke said the platform helps build youth experience but can also get businesses qualified people from outside the community.

“Imagine getting someone out of a heavy-equipment operating course and they end up relocating to the area and they’re a 20-year employee,” she said. “It could be a significant way of getting an influx of people that are skilled.”

Locke said they plan to do a virtual walkthrough of the platform with members Dec. 8. She said the uptake has been strong so far, especially from local non-profits.

“Non-profits are excited because it will allow for them to have more hours than they would have been able to budget for,” Locke said. “They can see the value-add.”

Advocates call for swifter action on long-term care improvements

Terry Hartwick was one of the local Long-Term Care Coalition Haliburton-CKL members who held an information picket in Haliburton Oct. 8. Photo by Lisa Gervais.

The Nov. 5 provincial budget lays out plans to provide more support for long-term care and ageing in place, but local advocacy groups say it is not enough.

The provincial government announced Nov. 2 it would increase average daily direct care per longterm care resident to four hours a day, phasing it over a four-year period. That is in addition to a previously announced $1.75 billion to increase long-term care capacity by 30,000 beds. The budget also includes a new 25 per cent tax credit for 2021 for eligible home renovations, up to $10,000, to improve safety for seniors and keep them at home.

Haliburton-CKL Long-Term Care Coalition member Bonnie Roe said their group and other advocates were excited by the prospect of increased hours of care. But she said the target date for the changes is not acceptable.

“It sounds wonderful, but the changes need to be happening now,” Roe said. “There should have been details within the budget that would speak to starting to implement a plan.”

A provincial press release notes improving care hours is an ambitious plan that will “require significant changes in the long-term care sector” including tens of thousands of new staff, but does not specify dollar figures for that.

“Protecting people has been our government’s number one priority,” said Minister of Finance Rod Phillips. “We are making available every necessary resource to keep people safe, including our loved ones in long-term care and our frontline health care heroes during the second wave and beyond.”

The provincial long-term care commission included more care hours in its interim recommendations, announced Oct. 23. Roe said the budget should have offered more funding to address other recommendations, which also include a comprehensive HR strategy to address sector staffing issues.

Tax credit available

The home renovation tax credit is regardless of income and allows families who have a senior living with them to apply as well.

Roe said ageing in place is important, but a tax credit only goes so far.

“A lot of seniors are on the poverty line. So, I think that works for those who can afford to do that,” she said. “The amount is weak.”

Senior-advocacy organization CARP praised the credit but said it is not enough to keep most people at home. The organization also criticized the budget’s long-term care implementation and called for more short-term tangible actions, such as installing cameras in medication rooms.

“While there is a marked increase in health care investment and a promise to improve long-term care over the next few years, CARP worries that the immediate needs of older adults were pushed to the background,” the organization said in a press release.

Roe said the province could implement significant changes sooner but it lacks the political will.

“It just sounds very hollow,” Roe said. “Considering the state of our long-term health care system.”

Lakeview Motel owners look to retirement

John and Holly McDonald have put Haliburton’s Lakeview Motel up for sale. Photo by Joseph Quigley.

Holly and John McDonald, owners of Lakeview Motel in Haliburton, have decided to call it a day.

After 18 years of maintaining the popular accommodation, the McDonalds have put the lodgings on the market and plan to retire. “We aren’t as young as we were in 2002 – business is great, real estate is booming but finding enough good staff is tricky – so it’s time,” Holly said.

Lakeview Motel was built in the 1960s and had five owners before the McDonalds.

The motel came up for sale in 2001, the year John was let go from his project management job at Nortel in Brampton. Holly had been a travel agent prior to having four children in five years. She had been providing daycare for many families for the past 20 years.

“It was far too early for us to retire with four kids to put through post-secondary education,” said Holly. “Six months of research and checking out other properties led us to agree to purchase [Lakeview] in November 2001 and we took over May 1, 2002. We liked the area, saw the potential for growth, [and] being close to the village and on sewers was a big plus.”

The McDonalds have devoted themselves to customer service and through that have put their own stamp on much of the motel over the years. Indoors, they converted the garage to two large rooms and a workshop, replaced everything from plumbing to bed linens, and added coffee makers, fridges and microwaves to all the rooms, which now total 14.

Outdoors, the pair kept the pool in shape, landscaped and hardscaped, installed a new well and created a 1.5-kilometre snowmobile trail that connects to the high-traffic B103 run close to Trail 18.

When the pandemic arrived, the McDonalds adapted to that as well.

“Living through the past seven months with COVID has shown us that you have to persevere, push through, and we’ve changed some of our practices,” said Holly.

After the sale, the McDonalds plan to move to their house in the area and relax. Once pandemic-related travel restrictions have lifted, they’ll travel and visit family and friends.

Owning Lakeview has meant hard work and a sense of community, said Holly.

“We’ve met many great customers, some we call friends … We’ve loved our time here and it’s home now.”

Where some see a weed, teacher sees a wish

Deb Shackell stands next to the Haliburton Sculpture Forest’s newest piece, which she first proposed and fundraised for. Photo by Joseph Quigley.

When Collingwood teacher Deb Shackell was in hospital in 2018 with non hodgkin’s lymphoma, she saw inspiration in a dandelion sculpture outside.

The sculpture at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie gave Shackell hope. She described dandelions as a symbol that have been meaningful to her for a long time.

“I very much believe from difficult things, beautiful things come. It’s about a perspective on life,” she said. “When I see something, I try to see the good in it. When I meet people, I see the best in them. The idea of some see a weed, I see a wish.”

Those words are emblazoned on the metallic leaves of the Haliburton Sculpture Forest’s new dandelion sculpture, installed Nov. 13. Shackell worked with the forest and the high school behind the original sculpture – Innisdale Secondary School in Barrie – to create a new one over the past two years. She said she wanted to bring a sculpture to the forest because of how she connected with it before her diagnosis.

“Just before I was diagnosed with cancer, I had a tour,” she said. “I just really connected, found it a really special place.”

Shackell was cancer-free after a year of treatment. She met with forest curator Jim Blake and program co-ordinators at the high school to get the project rolling. She mounted a fundraising campaign for it on GoFundMe, also producing art cards with inspirational photography.

Visual arts teacher, Jennica Hwang, said the project had some challenges, with personal matters, labour disputes and the pandemic delaying it. The students involved, including the art class that designed it and the metalworks class that manufactured it, could not attend due to COVID restrictions, but teachers took video to bring back with them.

“We’re all excited it’s finally happening,” Hwang said. “It’s kind of overwhelming to think after all that period of time, it’s actually finally going to be planted. And such a happy story.”

“One of the most special parts would be the involvement of the students,” Shackell said. “I’m an educator, so I really love the connection to learning.”

It was a big week for the forest, with two other new sculptures from Zimbabwean artists also installed Nov. 12, donations by former art gallery curators. Blake said it was exciting to engage with students and help create a dandelion sculpture with such an inspirational statement.

“There’s all this layered meaning to it,” he said. “I like it when there’s a lot of story attached to a sculpture.”

Shackell said the installation was a full-circle moment for her and a reminder of how far she has come.

“I hope (the sculpture) brings them hope and joy,” she said. “And that together, we can do beautiful things.”

Snowbirds face winter travel dilemma

Greg Freeman and Jeff Papiez are preparing to travel to the U.S. for their usual winter stay but planning is different in a pandemic. Photo by Joseph Quigley.

Local snowbirds Greg Freeman and Jeff Papiez are preparing to travel to their Florida abode to escape winter’s chill.

In a normal year, they said they probably would have left already. But the pandemic has delayed their usual schedule and left them with challenging choices on how safe it is to travel.

The pair decided to make the trip and fly – citing the safety precautions of their gated community. But other snowbirds are choosing to roost in Haliburton for the winter.

“We’ve given it an awful lot of thought,” Freeman said. “Each snowbird is going to address whether they are going to travel based on a variety of factors.”

The pandemic has impacted travel for snowbirds, with the U.S. border only traversable by air. Those that are making the trip are faced with extra planning to account for different circumstances.

Freeman said they had a lot to consider, including whether the U.S. election result would cause any civil unrest.

“Different planning than what would be the norm in previous years,” Freeman said. “There’s a lot more thought in the whole process of the travel, and concerns for what the impact is of COVID when you are travelling.”

Ilsemaire Tarte is another local snowbird, but she decided she would not make her usual trip to Arizona.

“With all the cases rising there, and also here, we decided it might be safer to stay put for the winter,” Tarte said, adding it was not an easy decision. “We hope next year will be better and let’s hope we have a good winter. Have to stay positive.”

Locals Ray and Norma Isaacs also decided to avoid their usual trip to Mexico due to the pandemic. But Norma Isaacs said staying is also “daunting because we’re getting older.” She added Haliburton’s winter conditions can also be hazardous for seniors such as them. “Walking even on the sidewalk is a challenge.”

Transat Travel Haliburton agent Linda Coneybeare said she is seeing significantly fewer snowbirds preparing to make the trip. She said she does not advise travelling south and it is better to stick within the country if looking to escape. But she said airlines have worked to make flights safer. She added a travel agent can help people navigate the new protocols.

“It’s a very frightening time in the world, this COVID disease,” Coneybeare said. “But I am optimistic we will travel again.

Freeman said they weighed many factors in their decision – including their relatively younger age and the need to take care of their Florida home. Papiez added they do not feel like there is any more risk than in Haliburton, given their U.S. home is also away from major centres. They also expect to be doing a lot less socializing, with people staying apart in their homes.

“The expectation is not going to be the same at all. It is not business as usual,” Freeman said.

OPP arrest seven in Minden drug bust

FIle photo.

Police arrested and charged seven people in a drug bust on Bobcaygeon Road in Minden Hills Nov. 12.

In a press release, police said that the Haliburton Highlands OPP, City of Kawartha Lakes Community Street Crime Unit, Central Region Emergency Response Team and central region canine officers executed a search at a residence on the road.

Police found five people from Haliburton County and two from the GTA in possession of cocaine and fentanyl.

The five people from Haliburton County – three from Minden, one from Haliburton and one from Algonquin Highlands – all face two counts of possession of a schedule one substance for the purpose of trafficking, one count each for cocaine and fentanyl.

The two people from the GTA are also charged with drug trafficking, as well as possession of property obtained by crime. One person from Ajax is also charged with failure to comply with an undertaking.

One of the individuals was held for bail. The remaining accused were released on undertakings and are scheduled to appear at the Ontario Court of Justice in Minden Feb. 3.

Planning for an unusual winter

It is going to be a very different winter in Haliburton County and municipal officials, and others, will have to plan prudently for what is to come.

In today’s paper, we touch base with some snowbirds to see what their plans are. Many of them load up vehicles and drive south this time of year. However, with COVID-19 closing the Canada-U.S. border to non-essential travel, their only option is to fly.

Some are choosing to do so. That choice naturally comes with risk. They are exposing themselves to the virus as they head to southern Ontario and Pearson International Airport and then board planes for Florida, Arizona, Mexico and elsewhere. They are arriving in cities where the pandemic continues to spike. Most are banking on the fact their end destination will be away from hotspots and they’ll stick to themselves to avoid risk. They are chasing the sun and checking on properties. For them, it is worth the risk.

Many others are making the decision to stay in the Haliburton, Minden, Dorset and Wilberforce areas. For them, the prospect of contracting the virus supersedes their need for warmth or property checks.

We can add to the mix the anecdotal accounts that we are hearing from cottagers who plan to stay much later into the fall and even into the winter this year. Essentially it means we could have a few more thousand people in the County going forward.

The Haliburton County Paramedic Service is one organization that has already planned for the influx. They’re buying another ambulance so they can cope with the expected increase in call volume.

Some snowbirds who are staying put have said they’re worried about our older population coping with winter conditions, which can include snow piling up between parked cars and the sidewalk in Haliburton Village. They’re concerned about being able to get around with reduced mobility. The four townships will have to plan for a more robust approach to snow clearing this winter, bearing in mind there will be more aged folks trying to get around.

The recreation departments also have a challenge. What, if any, winter programing can they offer seniors while also keeping everyone safe from COVID? Will Minden Hills be able to open its new arena walking track and gym? Will there be winter walking in other arenas? The Township of Algonquin Highlands is working hard to get the Dorset Recreation Centre open for seniors there.

Haliburton Highlands Health Services will have to continue to plan for all eventualities, including a possible surge in its services for both flu and COVID with a larger at-risk population. It will be very tricky, for example, not having a walk-in clinic in the County for those coming down with ordinary colds and flus or non-life-threatening injuries. If they don’t have family doctors, and can’t get in to see family doctors, they’ll simply clog the emergency departments in Minden and Haliburton.

Social service agencies will see an increased demand. Private businesses, too, must now plan for greater demand, whether it is food ordering by local grocery stores or companies that supply oil and propane. The snowbirds will be looking for help to clear their driveways and walkways.

Being Haliburton County residents, we all know we’ll collectively do our best to ensure everyone gets through the winter. Let’s face it, we’re the types that will offer to pick up groceries for shut-in neighbours or roll the snowblower over to help out an elderly shoveler. However, it’s our businesses, municipalities and other organizations that need to plan now for the heavy community lifting that is to come.