BUILD RESILIENT COMMUNITIES WITH SPRING TREE PLANTING
Ian Jean, Forestry and Stewardship specialist with Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority. (Submitted photo)
As we begin 2022, resilience is once again a common theme, according to Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) staff. Forests and natural areas are an important part of resilient communities. They provide economic and recreation opportunities and places to gather and reflect, said Forestry and Land Stewardship Specialist with ABCA, Ian Jean. He said forests also help to create clean air and clean water. They also contribute to better mental and physical health, he said.
People in our communities have been resilient especially over the past two years. The natural areas we depend on and enjoy must also be resilient, said Jean. Drought, storms, pest outbreaks, and disease have impacted our forests over the years.
“Forests have natural qualities that help them recover,” said the Forestry Specialist. “Genetic variability in trees and species diversity in forests are important for adaptation and recovery.”
There are complex connections between plants and fungi in the forest we are only beginning to understand, he said. Enhancing the qualities that help natural areas recover from stress are more important now than ever, according to Jean. Climate change, invasive species and newly introduced pests and diseases bring additional strain to natural systems.
“Our natural areas today are very fragmented,” he said. “This makes them more vulnerable to the impacts of drought, pests or disease but there are several things we can do to enhance the resilience of our natural areas.”
Planting trees to enlarge and connect natural areas helps build resilience. Larger forests and natural areas have less edge effect and tend to have stronger associations between plants, fungi and animals. This reduces opportunities for invasive species and improves recovery from stressors. Connecting natural areas allows movement of wildlife, pollinators and genetic exchange necessary for adaptation and recovery following disturbance.
Dutch Elm Disease and Emerald Ash Borer and other invasive pests have had major local impacts in recent memory but our forests show an incredible ability to recover and adapt, Jean said. While there are challenges ahead, he prefers cautious optimism over worst-case scenarios.
“We are in a good position with tools, resources and knowledge to build resiliency and help forests recover and adapt,” he said.
People can all contribute, according to the Forestry and Land Stewardship Specialist. In backyards, planting native wildflowers to enhance pollinator habitat is important. On farms, naturalizing unproductive land, small or odd-shaped fields, or rough valley lands improves resilience. These areas can be actively restored through planting or simply left to let nature take over. The advantage of an active approach, according to Jean, is the ability to enhance species’ diversity and function.
Planting different kinds of trees and native vegetation can be used to enhance diversity.
“Diversity is very important,” he said. “More diverse forests are more resilient to disease, pests and climate stress.” Equally important, according to Jean, is matching trees appropriately to the soil type, drainage and other site characteristics.
ABCA offers a wide range of trees through its spring tree planting program. Jean encourages interested landowners to visit abca.ca for the spring tree order form or to give him a call at 519 235-2610 or toll-free at 1-888-286-2610 to discuss planting projects.
“We’re happy to help with project design and help to apply for funding for eligible projects,” he said.
Funding programs are available in many areas for naturalization dependent on the type of project, location and specific program details.
ABCA thanks grant program funding partners including member municipalities, Huron County Clean Water Project, Forests Ontario, the Government of Canada’s Canada Nature Fund, and Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation, along with community donors and other valued funding partners.
FREE EMERGENCY CHILD CARE PROVIDED THROUGH COUNTY
On Jan. 3, the Province of Ontario announced that all publicly funded and private schools would move to remote learning starting Jan. 5 until at least Jan. 17, subject to public health trends and operational considerations.
During this remote learning period, the County of Huron Children’s Services Division and partner agencies are providing free Emergency Licensed Child Care for school-aged children of health care and other eligible frontline workers. This started on Jan. 10. Licensed child care programs for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and centre-based kindergarten programs will remain open.
Emergency Licensed Child Care services are reserved exclusively for children of essential workers identified in the Province of Ontario’s List of Workers Eligible for Emergency Child Care, who have exhausted all other alternatives. Both parents are required to submit verification of employment and at least one parent is required to be on the eligibility list from the Province. Child Care will only be available for the dates that both parents are required to be working outside of the home.
Child Care Centres currently providing Emergency Child Care:
- London Bridge: Exeter Elementary School, 93 Victoria St E, Exeter, ON N0M 1S1
- Clinton Co-operative Childcare Centre: Clinton Elementary School, 27 Percival St. Clinton, ON N0M 1L0
- Clinton Co-operative Childcare Centre: Goderich Public School, 125 Blake St. Goderich, ON N7A 1Z1
- Walton Little School Inc.: 42659 Walton, Brussels ON N0G 1H0
The County of Huron will be approving applications for Emergency Licensed Child Care spaces for eligible families on a first-come, first-served basis. Eligible workers seeking to access Emergency Licensed Child Care for their school-aged children are required to complete and submit the online application. Spaces are limited.
More information and applications forms can be found at:
The County of Huron has worked closely with Huron-Perth Public Health to develop procedures that are required in the operation of Emergency Licensed Child Care services to help limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The County’s Children’s Services Team and partner agencies remains committed to providing necessary and essential community services to Huron residents. The County of Huron thanks local Child Care Providers, and all essential workers, for their continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
HPPH VACCINE BOOKING STAFF WORKING SEVEN DAYS A WEEK
Noted in a press release issued on Jan. 7, Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) continues to book appointments at HPPH mass vaccination clinics as quickly as possible for all eligible individuals. Clinics continue to provide first, second and third/booster doses.
Partners in Huron Perth continue to provide as many COVID-19 vaccinations as possible. Visit www.hpph.ca/vaccinebooking to see local vaccination opportunities.
Despite recent challenges with its booking system, HPPH has been filling vaccination clinics to capacity. The online booking system has been closed due to technical issues and HPPH apologizes for the inconvenience and difficulty it has caused for people trying to make appointments. HPPH will be moving online booking to a new system, and expects it to be available mid-January. As well, HPPH has dedicated booking staff working seven days a week to call those who have left messages or submitted forms.
They have an appointment request form available at www.hpph.ca/vaccinebooking and the HPPH booking phone line, 1-833-753-2098, is open. They continue to book appointments by phone. They are experiencing very high call volumes and it may take them longer to get back to callers. Please be patient and do not leave multiple messages or submit multiple forms as it slows down their response time.
In keeping with provincial guidance, they are also working to ensure access to vaccine for the following groups:
- Healthcare workers and those in congregate settings – if you work in a healthcare or congregate living setting, contact your employer if you have not already been given information.
- Education and childcare workers – HPPH will work with school boards, childcare services and related employers to provide further details.
- Pregnant individuals – if you are pregnant, you may walk in to any HPPH clinic for vaccination; no appointment is needed. They do not require a note from your primary care provider, obstetrician, or midwife.
Select local pharmacies also continue to offer COVID-19 vaccines. A complete list is available at covid-19.ontario.ca/vaccine-locations.
Either mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech) may be used as a booster dose, regardless of which vaccine was received for the first or second dose. The first available vaccine people can get as a booster is the best one.
Anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms or are isolating because of an exposure, is asked to please not come to their vaccination appointment. They will need to reschedule their appointment.
As of Jan. 4, HPPH and partners have administered 257,198 vaccine doses in Huron Perth. Eighty-three percent of Huron Perth residents aged five and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, 78 per cent are fully vaccinated with two doses, and 31 per cent have received three doses of vaccine. Nearly 40 per cent of five to 11 year-olds have received their first dose.
HURON OUT OF THE COLD SHELTER OFFERING EXTENDED HOURS
The Huron Out of the Cold: Heart to Home emergency cold weather shelter is extending its hours. By extending shelter hours, staff are able to continue offering guests overnight accommodation, plus add a day use centre. Shelter guests also receive wrap-around supports, including meals.
“Extended shelter hours is welcome news, particularly in response to the current provincial restrictions that have required many businesses to close to the public,” said Director of Social and Property Services, Barbara Hall. “Day use hours ensure washrooms and warm spaces are available to those who may otherwise be forced to face the winter elements.”
The shelter is staffed by the Heart to Home Stability Team. These individuals have been specially trained in trauma informed care, substance use, and mental health services. Since the opening of the shelter in 2020, 16 individuals have been successfully, permanently homed with assistance from the Stability Team. This Team will continue this important work in 2022.
“I extend my heartfelt thanks to the staff and partners involved in this project.” said Huron County Warden Glen McNeil. “The pandemic has required all of us to shift and pivot many times, often with little or no notice. The team responsible for the Out of the Cold shelter have again worked swiftly to ensure the safety of our community. Thank you to the entire team.”
The Huron Out of the Cold Shelter is located at Lakeshore United Church, 56 North St., Goderich. To access use front door entrance. The phone number is 519 525-5922. COVID-19 screening and restrictions are in place, including mask wearing.
The shelter is open Monday to Friday with the following hours: 9 a.m. to noon, open for day use; noon to 2:30 p.m., closed for cleaning purposes; 2:30-5:30 p.m., open for day use as of today (Jan. 12); 5:30-7 p.m., closed for evening set up; 7 p.m. to 8 a.m., open for overnight guests. Saturday to Sunday and Holidays: 5 p.m. to 8:00 a.m., open for overnight guests. There is no admission after 10 p.m. on any day of the week including holidays.
Huron Out of the Cold: Heart to Home is run by the County of Huron in partnership with: Choices for Change; CMHA Thames Valley Addiction & Mental Health Services and Lakeshore United Church.
For more information on Huron Out of the Cold: Heart to Home and the topic of homelessness in Huron please visit www.HuronCounty.ca/housing.
PROVINCE OFFERS BUSINESS GRANT AND ELECTRICITY RATE RELIEF
Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson has announced a new $10,000 grant for eligible businesses that are subject to closures under the modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen. She also announced that the Ontario government will provide additional electricity-rate relief for businesses, as well as workers and families spending more time at home.
“I am well aware of the sacrifices and hardships businesses, workers, and families have endured during these unprecedented times,” Thompson said. “That is why we will continue to support them in unprecedented ways.”
As part of a comprehensive plan to support workers and businesses, the government is announcing an Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant for small businesses that are subject to closure under the modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen. It will provide eligible small businesses with a grant payment of $10,000.
Eligible small businesses include: restaurants and bars; facilities for indoor sports and recreational fitness activities (including fitness centres and gyms); performing arts and cinemas; museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions; meeting or event spaces; tour and guide services; conference centres and convention centres; driving instruction for individuals; and Before-and-After school programs.
Eligible businesses that qualified for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant and that are subject to closure under modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen will be pre-screened to verify eligibility and will not need to apply to the new program. Newly established and newly eligible small businesses will need to apply once the application portal opens in the coming weeks. Small businesses that qualify can expect to receive their payment in February.
“Small businesses, job creators and the entrepreneurial spirit are the backbone of Ontario’s economy. Unfortunately, these businesses have been some of the most impacted by COVID-19, and many continue to struggle,” said Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Vic Fedeli. “Since the start of the pandemic, we have provided unprecedented supports for businesses in every region of the province. With the new Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant, our government will provide relief for thousands of small businesses that create jobs for hard working Ontarians.”
The Ontario government is also providing electricity-rate relief to support small businesses, as well as workers and families spending more time at home while the province is in Modified Step Two. For 21 days starting at 12:01 am on Tuesday, Jan. 18, electricity prices will be set 24 hours a day at the current off-peak rate of 8.2 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is less than half the cost of the current on-peak rate.
The off-peak rate will apply automatically to residential, small businesses and farms who pay regulated rates set by the Ontario Energy Board and get a bill from a utility and will benefit customers on both Time-of-Use and Tiered rate plans.
“We know that spending more time at home means using more electricity during the day when prices are higher, that’s why we are moving to off-peak electricity rates 24 hours per day, seven days a week,” said Minister of Energy, Todd Smith. “The off-peak rate will provide immediate savings for families, small businesses and farms as all Ontarians work together to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.”
Further, online applications for the previously-announced Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program will open on Jan. 18. This program will provide eligible businesses that are required to close or reduce capacity with rebate payments for up to 100 per cent of the property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to public health measures in response to the Omicron variant.
Eligible businesses required to close for indoor activities, such as restaurants and gyms, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 100 per cent of their costs.
Those required to reduce capacity to 50 per cent, such as smaller retail stores, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 50 per cent of their costs. A complete list of eligible businesses will be provided prior to the launch of the application portal.
The government is also improving cash flows for Ontario businesses by providing up to $7.5 billion through a six-month interest-and-penalty-free period that started Jan. 1 for Ontario businesses to make payments for most provincially administered taxes. This supports businesses now and provides the flexibility they will need for long-term planning. Building on Ontario’s efforts to improve cash flows for businesses, the province continues to call on the federal government to match provincial tax deferral efforts by allowing small businesses impacted by public health restrictions to defer their HST remittances for a period of six months.
“Ontario’s heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries have been hit first, hardest, and are expected to take the longest to recover from the pandemic,” said Lisa MacLeod, minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. “These new supports are critical to protect sectors that contribute more than $76 billion and hundreds of thousands of jobs in communities across the province.”
These measures will build on Ontario’s support for businesses and workers, including:
- Cutting wholesale alcohol prices to provide approximately $60 million in annual support to restaurants, bars and other businesses, as well as making it easier for businesses to create and extend patios and permanently allowing licenced restaurants and bars to include alcohol with food as part of a takeout or delivery order.
- Extending COVID-19 paid sick days until July 31 to keep workers safe and ensure they do not lose pay if they need to miss work for reasons related to COVID-19.
- Providing targeted COVID-19 support through the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which delivered $3 billion in urgent and unprecedented support to over 110,000 small businesses across the province.
These measures will also build on Ontario’s support for businesses and workers, enabling an estimated $10.1 billion in cost savings and support to Ontario businesses in 2021, with more than 60 per cent, or $6.3 billion, going to small businesses, including:
- Supporting a reduction in Workplace Safety and Insurance Board premiums.
- Allowing businesses to accelerate write-offs of capital investments for tax purposes.
- Reducing the small business Corporate Income Tax rate to 3.2 per cent.
- Providing the Digital Main Street program, which helped more than 20,000 businesses across the province to increase their digital presence in 2020-21.
- Introducing and temporarily enhancing the Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit to encourage investments in certain regions of Ontario that have lagged in employment growth in the past.
- Providing targeted COVID-19 support through the Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant.
- Lowering high Business Education Tax rates for job creators.
- Increasing the Employer Health Tax exemption from $490,000 to $1 million.
- Lowering electricity bills through measures such as the Comprehensive Electricity Plan, with the Province paying for a portion of high-priced, non-hydro renewable energy contracts.
- Providing targeted COVID-19 support through the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which delivered $3 billion in urgent and unprecedented support to over 110,000 small businesses across the province.
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.