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Inching toward regional government in Northumberland

Regional government is a dirty term for some in Northumberland County. There are municipal politicians, along with some residents, who spit after saying it, as if to cleanse their mouths of the foul phrase. At this time of year when the levy arrives, taxpayers are reminded of the multiple levels they must pay because of the two-tier system with its deep historic roots. The once proud United Counties of Northumberland-Durham existed from 1850 until 1974, when the west end of the county was sliced off to form a regional municipality stretching from Scarborough to Bowmanville. The current boundaries of Northumberland County were left behind. Continue Reading →

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Empty property tax rebate hurting municipal coffers and must end

It is time to end local tax rebates to empty commercial vacant properties. Port Hope is the latest municipalities to join a growing list of angry politicians wanting to end the provincial giveaway to business property owners. Port Hope Mayor Bob Sanderson spearheaded a motion recently to remove the section of the Municipal Act allowing commercial and industrial property owners to claim a tax rebate between 30 to 35 percent. The intent of the Vacancy Rebate Program, as the province officially calls it, was meant to give relief to owners when property was empty for an extended period. The idea was to give a helping hand temporarily while a new tenant could be found. Continue Reading →

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Government a public service, not a business

Government should be run like a business. This well-worn adage is about to be put to the ultimate test. As Donald Trump became the 45th president of the United States late last week, the businessman/entertainer displayed the attributes of the penultimate entrepreneur. His inaugural address drenched in populist rhetoric and overhyped goals sounded more like an employer talking to his employees than a president getting ready to take office. The most blatant example was the contrast between the inaugural speech and the signing ceremony in the National Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill. Continue Reading →

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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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