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Column for local newspaper

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Time to crack down on sidewalk clearing during winter in West Northumberland

As the freezing rain turns the driveway into a skating rink this Boxing Day, it is a reminder of the dangerous side of winter. It is a time when going out to retrieve the newspaper is more an act of bravery and skill than one might think. Snow removal is a touchy subject. Ask anyone who drives or walks, and you can evoke an instant tirade about the lack of clear roads and sidewalks. But nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

In fact, there are a myriad of bylaws from shoveling sidewalks, to clearing emergency exits, where to place your garbage, as well as where you can park. Continue Reading →

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Loss of Sears signals changing retail landscape

The closure of Sears in the Northumberland Mall provides a good reason to pause to think about the future of retail in the rural Ontario. A Sears spokesperson said the company’s motives were based on lack of surplus stock for an outlet-style store, as well as a poor bottom line. When the doors close in March, it ends an era spanning decades, as Sears had a catalogue pick-up in Cobourg for many years prior to a full-line store in the mall. And while many may argue the loss of such a major retailer is a sign of the weak local economy, it is also a reflection of major changes taking place in Canadian retailing. A recent article in PYMNTS.com, an online retail and consumer trend site, says the future of large anchor stores in malls is under scrutiny. Continue Reading →

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Kindness, compassion is response to Trump’s politics

If the election of Republican Donald Trump was a shocking event for some, the few days since his triumph last week has sent progressive voters into further fits of anxiety and despair. But there is a ray of hope in an otherwise dark cloud. In a surprising, yet resounding, victory the new president-elect drew a swift reaction as many bemoaned his misogynist, racist, xenophobic, anti-Islam, pro-abortion campaign, claiming absolute disbelief he could win. Insta-pundits abounded on social media, as well as in the mainstream, predicting ultimate doom. Almost immediately, some of those who oppose Trump have taken to the streets in protest in multiple events across America and in Canada. Continue Reading →

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Basic income, an idea whose time has come

Guaranteeing a basic income to Ontarians living below the poverty line appears to be an idea whose time has come. And, while it may seem obvious who is going to benefit from this plan, it is not. Starting in April 2017, a basic income program pilot project will be introduced at a cost of $25 million. The province is waiting for a report from Senator Huge Segal regarding the implementation. It was supposed to be released in August but was delayed. Continue Reading →

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Local MP needs to respond to federal health care funding

Doing her best impression of Old Mother Hubbard, Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott told her provincial counterparts last week the cupboard was bare when it comes to health care transfers, leaving Northumberland Hills Hospital and other rural providers facing an even bleaker future. Philpott left no doubt the Canada Health Transfer, the federal contribution to health care costs will be reduced, following the day-long meeting with provincial and territorial health ministers last Tuesday in Toronto. Until now, the federal government provided a six percent increase annually. Instead, it will only go up by three percent next year. Some estimates calculate a loss of $60 billion over the next decade. Continue Reading →

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Time to ban Salmon fishing along the Ganaraska River in Port Hope

It is time to seriously consider closing the fishery along the Ganaraska River inside Port Hope. While the statement is heresy to some, those who think with calmer heads realize the situation along the river within the town’s borders no longer serves the recreational and tourism goals envisioned by town fathers and promoters many decades ago. Instead, it has devolved into some indescribable chaos where a growing number of anglers pack themselves along the banks with barely any space to properly fish. Then, the situation is compounded by those bent on using illegal fishing methods and other horrific practices. And, just to top it all off, there is the littering, trespassing and defiling of private and municipal property. Continue Reading →

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Marketing board changes demand farmers, consumers on same page

If famers are not having a hard enough time dealing with this summer’s incredible drought, the Ontario government decided to hurt them some more. Changes to the Farm Products Marketing Act, recently proposed by the Farm Products Marketing Commission, wants to gut the role of one of the marketing boards, effectively wiping out the authority of the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers. This means the body in charge of negotiating price contracts for 14 of the province’s vegetable crops, including carrots, beans and tomatoes, will be completely transformed. Until now, the system has maintained a pretty equitable deal between farmers, processors and retailers. Like all marketing boards, it provides stability of prices, allowing farmers to plan and invest. Continue Reading →

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Great news for hospital, but with a grain of salt

Well, finally some really good news for Northumberland Hills Hospital came last week when the provincial government decided to lift the fiscal jackboot and provide an additional $613,700 to its annual funding. Unlike previous grants, which are given to shore up expenses for a particular purpose or short-term, which alleviates the financial pain only briefly, this money is annualized, meaning it will come every year from now on. The sighs of relief were almost audible, as Chief Executive Officer Linda Davis says the hospital will now be closer to balancing its budget. Margaret Risk, acting chairperson for the Central LHIN (Local Health Integrated Network) was also present, taking a bow. With all the reports filed over the recent years, there was undeniable evidence the local hospital was being underfunded. Continue Reading →

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No more delays as East Pier needs to be addressed

With the Waterfront Festival wrapped up, it seems like a good time to review the future of the area and, in particular, the state of the east pier. Cobourg council seems content to crawl along carefully when it comes to the waterfront. Certainly, previous councils have moved with caution as projects have moved forward. The development of the lands was carefully planned, along with a staged approach to the walkway, the marina and Rotary Park with the pond/ice rink. It is no wonder politicians are guarded going forward. Continue Reading →

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Orlando reminds local PFLAG group of its own struggles

The tragic death of 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando is a somber reminder of the gurgling homophobia laying beneath the surface within society. Despite decades of legal victories and social transformation, there continues to be a segment of the population who are unaccepting of homosexuality, despite rebuffing any direct accusations. As the deadliest attack in American history, it sparked a massive response. Sadly, there are elements of events tying this to terrorism, distorting the hard truth: this was an attack aimed at the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning) community. And, while some may wish to focus on the perpetrator’s affiliations with the Islamic State, his own father has clearly said he suspects it was triggered by the shooter witnessing two men kissing. Continue Reading →

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