WORLD WETLANDS DAY OBSERVED FIRST WEDNESDAY IN FEBRUARY
Property owners in Ausable Bayfield watersheds, and people from around the world, are completing projects to protect and enhance wetlands and reduce flooding.
Pat Heffernan and Renee Sandelowsky, of Bayfield, helped to clean out and maintain wood duck boxes on a cold, windy, winter day at Huronview Demonstration Farm near Clinton. Their work is shown in a new video recently released by the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority. (Submitted photo)
Every year, on Feb. 2, the world observes World Wetlands Day. The theme for World Wetlands Day in 2022 is “Wetlands Action for People and Nature”. This year’s #WorldWetlandsDay focuses on taking actions to protect and restore wetlands.
“Community members who wrote our local Conservation Strategy gave us a vision of healthy watersheds where our needs and the needs of the natural environment are in balance,” said Wetlands Specialist with Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA), Angela Van Niekerk. “This year’s World Wetlands Day theme of taking action for people and nature reflects that balance of human needs and the need to build and enhance our natural green infrastructure including wetlands.”
Looking ahead to World Wetlands Day, ABCA has prepared a new, short video. The video is on the ABCA YouTube channel at this link: youtu.be/368i87R3QoM. This new video shows volunteers Pat Heffernan and Renee Sandelowsky, of Bayfield, helping to clean out and maintain wood duck boxes on a cold, windy winter day at Huronview Demonstration Farm near Clinton.
Wetlands are lands that are wet for all or some of the year. They support water-loving plants such as Cattails, Sedges, Rushes, Blue Flag Iris, Willows, and Dogwoods. Wetlands filter water and remove contaminants. Wetlands benefit water quality and also water quantity. Wetlands capture water when there’s too much water on the landscape during flooding and runoff and release water gradually when water is needed during times of low water and drought. Wetlands also capture carbon. Wetlands provide habitat for waterfowl and for more than 600 species of plants and animals. They are among the most diverse and productive ecosystems in the world.
The World Wetlands Day awareness work is organized by the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands. The day has been celebrated since 1997, when it was first established. The day also marks the anniversary of the Convention on Wetlands which was adopted as an international treaty in 1971.
This World Wetlands Day, people might consider managing water on their property. Water running off of land during storm events contributes to downstream flooding and erosion. There are ways to manage stormwater to limit flooding and erosion. On agricultural land, owners could consider cover crops to improve filtration, pasture strips around woodlot edges, berms, and ponds or buffer strips with native plants, trees or shrubs.
If people live in a village or town they could consider soakaways, rain gardens and disconnecting downspouts. Take a look at the downspouts’ fact sheet ‘How to Get Disconnected’ (from Credit Valley Conservation, Region of Peel and Mississauga). The fact sheet is available for free download on this web page: www.abca.ca/community/raingardens/
Individuals can also support local wetland enhancement through a donation.
To find out more about stormwater management improvements and wetlands, and projects people can do to enhance them, visit ABCA’s wetlands page, on the abca.ca website, at this web page: www.abca.ca/wetlands Anyone with wet areas on their property are invited to contact ABCA staff for a site visit. To contact staff about technical expertise and grants which may be available to help with potential projects visit the staff contact page here: www.abca.ca/contact/staff
IMPROVED WEBSITE LAUNCHED BY HURON COUNTY LIBRARY
The Huron County Library is thrilled to announce the launch of its new and improved website.
Located at HuronCountyLibrary.ca, the new site features a fresh new look and feel that fully reflects the vibrant community spaces patrons find in the 12 library branches located throughout Huron County.
Some key highlights of the new website include:
- A seamless online browsing experience between the website and the new online catalogue: huron.bibliocommons.com
- Improved navigation for easier access to the Library’s branches, services and collections.
- An online events calendar to quickly find upcoming programs and events: www.huroncountylibrary.ca/events/
- A new blog written by Library staff on a variety of topics to keep patrons better informed: www.huroncountylibrary.ca/stories/
- A mobile-friendly interface that allows for easier site navigation from any device.
- An accessible platform that is welcoming and inclusive for all site visitors.
“We are very excited to launch the new online home for the Huron County Library,” said Director of Cultural Services and County Librarian, Beth Rumble. “The new and improved site will help us to better connect and engage with the community, while making it easier for visitors to find and to access all that the Library has to offer.”
The new site also makes it easier to ask questions and leave comments through the new online contact form and the Huron County Library welcomes feedback as staff work to improve the online library experience. The form can be accessed here: www.huroncountylibrary.ca/contact-us/
HPPH NOW USING PROVINCIAL VACCINE BOOKING SYSTEM
Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) has shifted online vaccine appointment booking to the Provincial Vaccine Booking System.
“I want to thank everyone for their patience and understanding while our staff transitioned online booking to the provincial system,” said Medical Officer of Health for Huron Perth, Dr. Miriam Klassen.
- Individuals are now able to book their first, second, or booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine online at covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/.
- Appointments can also be made by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre 1-833-943-3900 (open seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.)
- Alternately, residents can continue to call the HPPH booking line, 1-833-753-2098, Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Moderna continues to be provided to individuals over the age of 30. Individuals, including children ages five to 11, will get the recommended vaccine for their age group.
HPPH mass vaccination clinics are also beginning to provide walk-in opportunities for select clinics.
Walk-ins are welcome at the following clinics this week:
- Wednesday, Jan 19: Stratford Rotary, noon to 6 p.m.; and Goderich Memorial Arena, 1 – 7 p.m.
- Thursday, Jan. 20, Friday, Jan. 21 and Saturday, Jan. 22: Stratford Rotary and Goderich Memorial Arena, both locations 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Other walk-in opportunities will be shared on their website at www.hpph.ca/vaccinebooking and through their social media channels.
HPPH thanks Huron Perth residents for their enthusiasm. As of Jan. 9, nearly 46 per cent of those aged 18 years and over have received a booster dose. This includes about 85 per cent of individuals aged 80 and over, and 83 per cent of individuals aged 70-79. More details can be found on the HPPH vaccination coverage dashboard.
Evidence continues to show that people who are unvaccinated are at much greater risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 infection. The 20 per cent of the population that is not fully vaccinated are overrepresented when it comes to hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths. Since April 1, 2021, 81 per cent of Huron Perth residents treated in hospital for COVID-19 were not fully vaccinated. In the same time period, of all Huron Perth residents who have died as a result of COVID-19 since that time, 69 per cent were not fully vaccinated.
“We urge everyone eligible to get vaccinated as soon as they are able,” said Dr. Klassen. “Vaccination is our best layer of protection against COVID-19, especially for our most vulnerable community members.”
Partners in Huron Perth continue to provide as many COVID-19 vaccinations as possible. Clinics are open to eligible individuals aged five and older for first and second doses, as well as to those eligible for third/booster doses. For a complete list of third/booster dose eligibility, please visit: www.hpph.ca/thirddose. All clinics provide a family-friendly environment.
As in-person learning is resuming, parents are encouraged to get their children aged five and older vaccinated.
Pregnant individuals may walk in to any HPPH clinic for vaccination; no appointment is needed. HPPH does not require a note from a 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.
Anyone who may have COVID-19 symptoms or are isolating because of an exposure, please do not come to a clinic but reschedule the appointment.
“FACES OF HOMELESSNESS” A ZOOM EVENT TO RAISE AWARENESS
In communities across Perth-Huron and beyond, the issue of homelessness has become more visible as the pandemic continues to impact the lives of vulnerable people. To help raise awareness and deepen local understanding of this pressing issue, United Way Perth-Huron’s Social Research & Planning Council (SRPC) is holding a ZOOM event entitled, “Faces of Homelessness” on Jan. 27
“Homelessness is an incredibly important issue in our communities,” said SRPC Director Joelle Lamport-Lewis. “We wanted to create an event that really humanizes the issue for people and gives them the information they need to understand more about what those experiencing homelessness go through on a daily basis.”
Faces of Homelessness will feature three different components for attendees of the virtual event that will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m.
Keynote speaker Leah den Bok will share stories and photographs of the people experiencing homelessness she has met in major cities around the world with a special emphasis on how COVID-19 has increased the struggles of already vulnerable people. A fashion, beauty and portrait photographer, den Bok’s book entitled, “Nowhere to Call Home: Photographs and Stories of People Experiencing Homelessness, Volume Four” was recently published by Europe Books. To view some of her work and learn more about the event, visit perthhuron.unitedway.ca.
Attendees will also get a sneak peak at the documentary, “Us & Them”, following co-director Krista Loughton’s 10-year journey exploring the worlds of four people struggling with homelessness — Dawnelda, Stan, Eddie and Karen — who she attempts to help. After the preview of Us & Them, there will be a panel discussion moderated by Beth Blowes and featuring local experts; Erin Schooley, County of Huron Social and Property Services; Grant Martin, City of Stratford; Cody Cunningham, Family Services Perth-Huron; Kate Ballagh-Steeper, Lakeshore United Church and Cheri Leyten, Huron Turning Point.
To attend, RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call the United Centre in Stratford at 519 271-7730 or 1-877-818-8867.
FUNDING OPPORTUNITY FOR FESTIVALS AND EVENTS OPEN NOW
Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson is encouraging local festival and event organizers to apply for the provincial government’s newly announced Reconnect Ontario fund.
The province is investing $20 million to provide support to municipalities and festival and event organizers that are creating innovative ways to help Ontarians reconnect with their communities once it is safe to do so.
“While we all have been impacted by the pandemic, tourism, sporting and cultural events have been especially hit hard,” Thompson said. “That’s why this program is important to help them continue to operate and celebrate together with the community.”
Funding may be used for eligible expenses such as programming and production, promotion, mobile applications and website development, and implementation of health and safety measures.
Thompson said that by providing continuing support to festivals and events through the Reconnect Ontario program, the province is delivering a much-needed boost to help maximize the growth and competitiveness of Ontario’s tourism sector as it begins to recover from the ongoing economic and societal effects of COVID-19.
The program aims to support innovative events in Ontario that will:
- offer safe experiences that encourage people to travel locally, participate and rediscover the beauty and diversity of all that Ontario communities have to offer
- draw tourists and local visitors, whether in-person or virtually, through innovative programming, and generate positive economic impact for the local community, the region and the province
- provide job opportunities for Ontarians, particularly in the tourism, culture and entertainment sectors
Continued investments through Reconnect Ontario will provide vital support to ensure the long-term success of the province’s festival and event sector, while helping organizers deliver safe, innovative experiences that allow people to reconnect with their communities, Thompson said, adding that prior to the pandemic, every $1 of provincial funding invested through Celebrate Ontario (the model for the Reconnect Ontario program) resulted in almost $21 of visitor spending.
To be eligible, an event must:
- take place between Apr. 1, 2022, and March 31, 2023.
- occur in the province of Ontario (if an in-person event) or be produced in Ontario (if a broadcast or virtual event).
- be open to the public at large without membership in a club or group.
- follow all municipal and provincial guidelines, including health and safety guidelines.
Program guidelines and application form can be found online at www.ontario.ca/page/available-funding-opportunities-ontario-government. The 2022 application period is now open, and applications will be accepted until Feb. 2 at 5 p.m. EST.
“This is a short window to apply, that’s why I wanted to bring it to everyone’s attention,” Thompson concluded.
COVID-19 PHYSICIAN CLINICAL ASSESSMENTS BY APPOINTMENT
The Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance’s (HPHA) COVID-19 Assessment Centre is now offering physician clinical assessments.
Previously, patients attending the Assessment Centre could access a physician for clinical assessment following their COVID-19 test. With testing guidance changes, the Assessment Centre is adapting to enable patients, who do not currently qualify for COVID-19 testing, to still access the physician for a clinical assessment only appointment. Appointments must be booked in advance. Walk-in appointments will not be available.
So how do you know when you need a COVID-19 clinical assessment? The province has recently updated its online screening tool to help determine whether you should stay home and isolate or seek treatment. You can use this tool to guide a self-referral for a clinical assessment appointment, or you can be referred from your primary caregiver and services like Telehealth.
COVID-19 Clinical Assessment appointments are for anyone experiencing high risk symptoms. Anyone experiencing severe symptoms is advised to immediately call 9-1-1 or visit the nearest Emergency Department. Those experiencing mild symptoms, who are otherwise healthy, are asked to manage their symptoms at home.
If you have any one of the following high-risk criteria you should book a Clinical Assessment Appointment. (Note: COVID-19 testing is only available to those who qualify, per new testing guidelines. This appointment is a clinical assessment appointment with a physician not a COVID-19 test.)
High risk criteria, includes, fever for five or more days; mild to moderate breathing difficulty; and poor drinking or dehydration. A child who is three to six months old with any symptom (infants less than three months old please call your primary care provider or attend your closest emergency department).
If you have any severe symptoms you should seek immediate attention at your closest emergency department. Severe symptoms, include, moderate to severe difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; new onset of loss of speech or mobility, or confusion; and chest pain.
Clinical Assessments are available Monday through Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Here are some helpful tips for booking a COVID-19 Clinical Assessment:
- Use the online booking tool to book your appointment. It’s quick, easy to use, and means you won’t have to wait on hold to speak to someone. This link is also available on HPHA’s website at www.hpha.ca
- If you don’t have access to a smartphone or computer, appointments may also be requested by phone at 519 272-8210 Ext. 2747.
- Please remember that appointments are required, walk-ins cannot be accommodated
Things to know when attending a COVID-19 Clinical Assessment appointment at the HPHA COVID-19 Assessment Centre:
- Enter the Stratford Rotary Complex at the Community Hall Entrance and follow the signs to Hall D where the Assessment Centre is located.
- Please follow all precautions including wearing a mask, physical distancing and frequent hand hygiene. Please note, once you enter the Assessment Centre, you will be asked to remove your personal mask and will be provided with and must wear a disposable medical grade mask.
- The time of your appointment is the time you should arrive at the Assessment Centre.
For more COVID-19 updates and information, follow the HPHA on Twitter or Facebook, or visit their website at www.hpha.ca.