COLDEST NIGHT OF THE YEAR WALK RETURNING TO GODERICH
Those who participate in the Coldest Night of the Year Walk that raise over $150 – $75 for youth under 18 – will receive a CNOY toque. (Submitted photo)
United Way Perth-Huron (UWPH) is encouraging residents to bundle up and raise money for the third annual Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) walk in Goderich, a family-friendly winter fundraising event for local individuals experiencing homelessness, hunger and hurt.
“We’re very happy to welcome CNOY back again this year,” said UWPH Goderich & Area Community Committee Chair Beth Blowes. “Funds raised address real challenges in Goderich and area around the issue of chronic homelessness. Based on the success of the past two walks, our community truly understands how important this issue is. We invite everyone to join us in working to raise $94,000 in support of our most vulnerable residents.”
By walking, participants will better understand the experience of being on the streets during a cold Canadian winter while raising funds to aid UWPH’s local work in support of the Huron Homelessness Initiative in Goderich. The initiative includes programs such as the Huron supportive housing worker, shelter for women, children and youth and temporary emergency shelter during the cold months.
This year’s Goderich walk includes a COVID-safe, outdoor event on Saturday, Feb. 26, and a virtual option to walk any time, any distance during the month of February. The in-person walk begins at 5 p.m. and features a two or five km circuit around Courthouse Square. Participants raising over $150 — $75 for youth under 18— receive a CNOY toque. To register as an individual or team, visit cnoy.org.
Last year’s all-virtual CNOY raised $92,492 during the month of February thanks to the efforts of 232 walkers, 44 teams and 1,421 donors.
COMMITTEE WORKING TOWARD IN-PERSON CONSERVATION DINNER
The Conservation Dinner Committee held the community fundraiser as an online event, in 2021, for the first time. The Dinner Committee hopes guests will be able to gather in person again in 2022. The Conservation Dinner has supported projects in local communities for more than 30 years. The Dinner Committee has scheduled the fundraising event for Thursday, Apr. 7, 2022. The committee invites people to mark this date in their calendar and to watch for more information in the new year.
The Chair of the Conservation Dinner Committee is Dave Frayne.
“We encourage people to put the Apr. 7, 2022 date in their calendars,” he said. “We will work towards an in-person gathering. We also want to keep everyone safe so we will follow public health and municipal direction and have the Dinner in person only if and when it is safe to do so.”
The 2021 #VirtualConservationDinner was a success, Frayne said, having raised $40,000 for conservation programs in the community. He said the Committee is looking forward to the prospect of fundraising and fellowship together in person in 2022. There is a continued need to raise funds for community projects of the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation and Exeter Lions Club, the Dinner Chair said.
“We encourage people to donate to the work of the Dinner,” he said. “The Conservation Dinner supports parks and trails and conservation areas; conservation education for local youth; job experience and bursary programs for youth; turtle habitat and much more.”
Personal donations made now, this year, can be made and charitable gift receipts for income tax purposes provided for the 2021 tax year.
The 2022 Conservation Dinner is scheduled to take place at the South Huron Recreation Centre at 94 Victoria Street East in Exeter. Holding the event in person will require pandemic adaptations and it will depend on the status of public health rules in 2022 and will also depend on municipal rules at that time. The Dinner Committee will post information at conservationdinner.com and abca.ca in the new year, closer to the date, as more details are confirmed.
The Conservation Dinner fundraiser supports projects in local communities. Projects include parks and conservation areas; accessible nature trails in Bayfield, Clinton, Parkhill, Lucan, Arkona, Exeter, and Varna; outdoor nature education; a $1,000 student environmental bursary for students in local communities; a summer job at Ausable Bayfield Conservation for a senior secondary school student; turtle monitoring in Port Franks and Ailsa Craig; aquatic habitat studies in Old Ausable Channel at Grand Bend; and other projects.
This dinner and auction started in 1990. The Exeter Lions Club joined as co-partner in 1991. The net profits are split 50-50 between community conservation projects of the Foundation and community conservation projects of the Exeter Lions Club. The event has raised more than $1.255 million over more than 30 years. The annual charitable event features auctions of art and other distinctive items including travel packages and sports and entertainment memorabilia. The Dinner also includes special raffles, general raffles, appetizers, wine tasting, fun and fellowship and a wonderful meal.
The Conservation Dinner Committee thanks all the creative people who have been feature artists over the year in media ranging from paintings to ice sculptures to metal art to culinary arts to other creative disciplines.
To find out more visit abca.ca and conservationdinner.com or phone 519 235-2610 or toll-free 1-888-286-2610.
MEDICAL OFFICERS OF HEALTH ISSUE JOINT STATEMENT
Increasing case numbers and the arrival of the Omicron variant have prompted area Medical Officers of Health to issue a letter outlining recommendations for how residents can protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19 during the holidays.
Huron Perth Public Health’s Dr. Miriam Klassen, Southwestern Public Health’s Dr. Joyce Lock and the Middlesex-London Health Unit’s Acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Alex Summers issued the joint statement on Dec. 9. The letter does not add restrictions or gathering limits for businesses, restaurants or other establishments to those already put in place by the Provincial Government. However, it does advise individuals of the steps they can take to limit the potential spread of COVID-19 at a critical time, when the number of cases is on the rise and holiday gathering and travel plans are being made.
The joint letter from the Medical Officers of Health recommends the following:
• Everyone should limit indoor social gatherings in private dwellings to no more than 10 people. All attendees 12 years of age and older should be vaccinated.
• All unvaccinated individuals 12 years of age and older should avoid any non-essential indoor contact with individuals who are not part of their household.
• Where possible, individuals should work remotely.
The recommendations come into effect immediately and will be reassessed in four weeks.
In addition to limiting close contact with others, the best way to prevent COVID-19 spread and severe illness from the virus, is to get fully vaccinated. The recommendation for unvaccinated individuals 12 years of age and older is included as the risk of acquiring COVID-19 infection is much higher in unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals compared to vaccinated individuals. While breakthrough cases may occur in vaccinated people, they tend to be milder with a much lower risk of hospitalization, ICU admission and death.
“We know people are tired, but we hope they’ll understand why we’re asking them to take extra steps to prevent further spread, especially as we approach the holidays,” said Dr. Summers. “We know that this means adjusting plans, which is a big ask, but the number of new cases and the arrival of the Omicron variant have shown we can’t let our guard down.”
Dr. Lock added, “So many of those from our region have embraced vaccination and the other public health measures we’ve asked of them. This is a reminder that a layered approach is required. We can’t rely on vaccination alone. As our socializing is primarily happening indoors right now, we need multiple strategies in place at once.”
“We continue to see a steady stream of new cases in Huron-Perth, and many are associated with social gatherings and events,” said Dr. Klassen. “The more contacts you have, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spreading to you or your loved ones, including the vulnerable. Following these three recommendations will help keep community members as safe as possible during the holiday season and into January.”
In recent weeks, the three health units have seen higher transmission of the virus and COVID-19 outbreaks in multiple settings, including schools, childcare centres, long-term care and retirement homes. The recommendations are intended to lower the number of close contacts between individuals, which previous experience and Science Table modelling have shown can lead to a decrease in case counts.
For more information about COVID-19 and how to protect yourself and your family and friends from the virus, please visit: Huron Perth Public Health: www.hpph.ca/coronavirus
OMNICRON SPREADING RAPIDLY
In a press release issed on Dec. 14, Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) announced that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the region; Huron-Perth residents are advised to act now to protect themselves and their loved ones as much as possible.
Omicron shows a greater ability to spread among people compared to previous COVID-19 variants. After first being identified in Ontario on Nov. 28, Omicron is now estimated to make up to at least 30 per cent of provincial COVID cases (see the COVID-19 Science Advisory Table Fourth Wave dashboard: covid19-sciencetable.ca/ontario-dashboard/
Although COVID-19 vaccines continue to provide some protection against severe illness and death, there is waning immunity against Omicron compared to other variants.
As a result, HPPH is advising residents of the following:
• Isolate if you are a contact of a COVID-19 case, regardless of vaccination status
• All close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case, regardless of vaccination status, are required to self-isolate for 10 days from their last exposure to a case, and to get tested.
• If someone you know informs you that you’re a close contact of someone with COVID-19, self-isolate immediately and get tested. Do not wait to be contacted by HPPH.
• Get your third dose/booster as soon as you are eligible
“Omicron is a very different variant,” said Medical Officer of Health for Huron Perth, Dr. Miriam Klassen. “Three doses of vaccine are needed to provide good protection. I encourage everyone to get a COVID-19 third/booster dose as soon as they are eligible. If someone is not vaccinated, they are at high risk of contracting Omicron in the next several weeks.”
Currently eligible groups for a third/booster dose include: adults aged 50 and over, healthcare workers, immunocompromised individuals and First Nation, Inuit and Métis adults and their non-Indigenous household members. Individuals can book an appointment if 168 days have passed since their second dose. A complete list of eligibility is provided at www.hpph.ca/thirddose. Use the dose calculator to find out the earliest date that a third dose can be received.
HPPH is adding more vaccine appointments as quickly as possible. Visit www.hpph.ca/vaccinebooking or call 1-833-753-2098 to book. They also continue to provide paediatric vaccines for those ages five to 11 years. Subscribe to www.hpph.ca/vaccinebookingfor updates when clinics or other vaccination opportunities are added. Many local pharmacies are also still offering COVID-19 vaccines. A complete list is available at covid-19.ontario.ca/vaccine-locations.
PROVINCE MORE THAN DOUBLES INFRASTRUCTURE GRANTS
The Ontario government is providing almost $17 million to help build and repair local infrastructure in communities across Huron-Bruce. This represents more than double what was granted in 2021 from the Ontario Communities Infrastructure Fund (OCIF).
“The OCIF is a very important program for local municipalities,” said Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson. “The funds are used to repair, upgrade and build roads, bridges, water and wastewater facilities and other infrastructure assets. It helps keep our communities moving forward.”
Total investment in communities across Huron-Bruce are as follows: County of Huron – $2,417,826 (2021), $4,396,180 (2022); Bluewater – $286,380 (21), $575,357 (22); Brockton – $301,518 (21), $632,990 (22); Central Huron – $483,847 (21), $883,153 (22); Huron East – $431,716 (21), $795,674 (22); Kincardine – $584,570 (21), $1,284,741(22); Morris-Turnberry -$120,830 (21), $232,257 (22); South Bruce – $432,080 (21), $809,937 (22); South Huron, $688,269 (21), $1,210,703 (22); Goderich – $628,685 (21), $1,117,782 (22); Saugeen Shores – $848,610 (21), $1,738,454 (22); Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh – $238,800 (21), $442,460 (22); Howick – $88,051 (21), $178,576 (22); Huron-Kinloss – $275,793 (21), $618,216 (22); North Huron – $316,651 (21), $580,210 (22); and County of Bruce – $660,950 (21), $1,387,939 (22).
This investment is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario by getting shovels in the ground on critical infrastructure projects that support economic recovery, growth and job creation.
The announcement is part of the government’s additional $1 billion investment bringing the government’s total investment to nearly $2 billion over the next five years.
“Our small, rural and northern communities will be at the forefront of our efforts to build Ontario for the future,” said Premier Doug Ford. “With this investment, we are saying ‘yes’ to helping these communities build and repair the vital infrastructure they need to keep their communities working for decades to come.”
Funding allocations will be based on a formula that recognizes the different needs and economic conditions of communities across the province. The new formula will include an increased funding minimum of $100,000 for all communities per year, up from $50,000 over previous years.
“Communities are the heartbeat of this province and we know they are facing unique infrastructure needs and challenges, especially as we navigate through the pandemic,” said Kinga Surma, minister of Infrastructure. “Our government has been with them every step of the way. When we were told more funding supports were needed, we listened and acted in a meaningful way by providing the largest OCIF increase since the start of the program. By doing so, we’re providing stability and predictability to small, rural and northern communities to repair, upgrade, and modernize their critical infrastructure so that they are safer, healthier, and more reliable for all.”
The Province’s investment in OCIF is part of the 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: Build Ontario. The plan lays out how the government will build Ontario’s future with shovels in the ground for highways, hospitals, long-term care, housing, and high-speed internet. To ensure all families, workers and businesses in the province have a better and brighter future, our government’s planned infrastructure investments over the next decade total more than $148 billion.
The OCIF supports local infrastructure projects for communities with populations under 100,000, along with all rural and northern communities.
· For 2021, approximately $200 million in funding was allocated to 424 small, rural and northern communities. Municipalities may accumulate their funding for up to five years to address larger infrastructure projects.
Ontario also provides funding to communities through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), a $30-billion, 10-year infrastructure program cost-shared between federal, provincial and municipal governments, and other partners. Ontario’s share per project will be up to $10.2 billion spread across five streams: Rural and Northern, Transit Infrastructure, Community, Culture and Recreation, Green and COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure.
The 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: Build Ontario is the government’s seventh financial update since the pandemic began, highlighting the government’s commitment to providing regular updates on Ontario’s finances, even during this uncertain economic period. It is part of the government’s plan for recovery driven by economic growth.
TASK FORCE CREATED TO EXAMINE NEED FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson is applauding the creation of a new nine-member Housing Affordability Task Force who will provide the government with recommendations on additional measures to address market housing supply and affordability.
“While affordable housing is often seen as an urban issue, I know full well that it is also a very big concern here in Huron-Bruce,” Thompson said. “Housing prices across the riding have soared in recent years, making it nearly impossible for young families to own their own home. I look forward to some positive ideas resulting from this task force.”
The mandate of the Housing Affordability Task Force is to explore measures to address housing affordability by:
· Increasing the supply of market rate rental and ownership housing;
· Building housing supply in complete communities;
· Reducing red tape and accelerating timelines;
· Encouraging innovation and digital modernization, such as in planning processes;
· Supporting economic recovery and job creation; and
· Balancing housing needs with protecting the environment.
“Young families, seniors and all hardworking Ontarians are desperate for housing that meets their needs and budget,” said Premier Doug Ford. “At a time when our government is hard at work building an economy that works for everyone, this Task Force will provide us with concrete, expert advice that will support our government as we make it easier for more Ontarians to realize the dream of home ownership.”
The Task Force, chaired by CEO and Group Head, Global Banking and Markets at Scotiabank Jake Lawrence, represents a diverse range of experts in not-for-profit housing, Indigenous housing, real estate, home builders, financial markets and economics. The chair’s report outlining the Task Force’s recommendations will be published in early 2022.
“Our government’s policies under the Housing Supply Action Plan are working to address affordability, but more needs to be done at all levels of government,” said Steve Clark, minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “The Housing Affordability Task Force will help our government build on our progress by identifying more opportunities to increase the supply of all kinds of housing, especially the missing middle. Under Mr. Lawrence’s strong leadership, I am confident in the expertise and experiences of this Task Force, and I thank them for their commitment to help us address the housing crisis.”
“I’m honored to have been appointed as the Chair of Ontario’s new Housing Affordability Task Force,” said Lawrence. “I’m proud to work with a diverse team of experts who are committed to ensuring improved housing affordability for current and future Ontarians. We are eager to begin our work to identify and recommend actionable solutions and policies to support the government’s efforts to address the province’s housing affordability crisis.”
“Having a safe, affordable place to call home is an important building block in the foundation of success, which is why addressing housing supply and affordability is a key priority for our government,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, minister of Finance. “We are creating a Task Force to examine innovative policy solutions in order to ensure that the dream of home ownership is in reach for families in every corner of Ontario.”
The Housing Affordability Task Force was first announced as part of the 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: Build Ontario. Everyone has a role to play in fixing the province’s housing crisis. Ontario will continue to work with municipal partners to help them use the tools the province has provided to unlock housing and make finding a home more affordable for hardworking Ontarians. This includes working with municipalities through the upcoming Provincial-Municipal Housing Summit and a special session with rural municipalities leading up to the ROMA conference in January 2022.
The provincial government’s housing policies under More Homes, More Choice: Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan are working to make housing more affordable by increasing the supply of the full range of housing options, from single-family homes to midrise housing to apartment buildings.
In 2020, the year after More Homes, More Choice was implemented, Ontario saw the highest level of housing starts in a decade and the highest level of rental starts since 1992. In 2021, housing and rental starts are on track to exceed these levels.
The province’s ongoing work to address housing affordability complements continued supports for affordable housing for the most vulnerable Ontarians. Through the Community Housing Renewal Strategy and Ontario’s response to COVID-19, the province is providing more than $3 billion in this fiscal year and last year. This includes over $1 billion in flexible supports through the Social Services Relief Fund to municipal and Indigenous partners.