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Riverside Heights WI has great start to new year

Seven members of the Riverside Heights Women’s Institute met on October 4, 2011, at the George Jowett Hall at 1 p.m.

The recent yard sale on Saturday was a success despite a cold and windy morning.

Lucie Durivage reported on the District’s one day bus trip to the Mackenzie King estate. Florence McManus mentioned that the bus is filled. It promises to be a nice day, ending with a stop at the Rideau-Carleton Casino. 

A thank you was received from  Winchester Memorial Hospital for a donation received from our branch.

Florence then showed us some of the jewelry pieces she made from dried potato pieces. 

The list for the shut-ins was revised. Pauline Battershill  will get the Christmas materials ready for members to deliver in December. 

Food items were collected from the members to be donated to our food bank. A light lunch was served by the hostess, Giselle Lavictoire.

Next meeting will be November 1, 2011, at 1 p.m. 


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Balancing value of volunteers with risk management

Needing insurance is like needing a parachute. If it isn’t there the first time, chances are you won’t be needing it again.

South Dundas Clerk Brenda Brunt outlined the insurance issue for members of council at the October 4th South Dundas council meeting.

“In 2010 our insurance policy changed to not include blanket event insurance coverage for use of Township property. Our insurance carrier or any other does not have this type of coverage.”

In the document provided, she explained that there are “four separate groups that are required to have additional insurance while on Township property.”

“The first group is our outside suppliers such as contractors performing paving, sewer flushing, grass cutting, etc.”

“Secondly, facility rentals are comprised of two sections: non-alcoholic event and alcoholic event. The non-alcohol event can use their homeowners or tenant policy which covers their exposure.”

“The alcohol event requires a minimum of $2 million Commercial General Liability with a $500 deductible and includes injury to participants. Our previous blanket policy did not include injury to participants.”

Finally, there are the Special Events groups such as “Old Home Week, Tubiefest, Antiquefest, Applefest, Harvestfest, BIA Plaza Party” and so on.

Brunt told council that “our objective was to transfer risk away from the township. Our insurance agent thought we were practising good risk management.”

Deputy Mayor Jim Locke interjected saying that “since the last meeting I’ve spent a lot of time researching event insurance” and this is “not special to South Dundas.”

Brunt reported that “as public organizations with taxation power and ‘deep pockets’, municipalities have become targets of litigation when other defendants do not have the means to pay.”

Brunt provides an example of such a situation in her written  recommendation: “the bouncy castle jumping apparatus at Old Home Week – if there was an accident it would start with the owner’s insurance and then the event organizer’s insurance and then the Township. If the event organizer didn’t have insurance then it would go to the Township second. This would be bad risk management. Therefore, the Township is implementing good risk management practises that transfer the risk.”

Locke pointed out that the new policy “not only protects the township, but the organizers as well.”

“First we have to agree that there’s a need for this,” he continued and “down the road discuss how it’s funded.”

Councillor Jim Graham said that “our policy wasn’t put in place to deter volunteers. We all know the value of our volunteers.”

While Councillor Evonne Delegarde agreed that there’s “no question that we need proper insurance,” she also voiced concern about insurance “eating into (volunteer groups’) profits.”

She suggested that “perhaps there’s some way we can look at funding this for these groups” because they’re an “extremely important part of the township.”

She went on to emphasize that council “really has to pay attention to” the township’s volunteers.

In terms of the extra insurance for renting facilities, Delegarde said, “one of my concerns is that the facilities would not be rented.”

At this point, Councillor Archie Mellan remarked that “nobody likes insurance” and that “nothing would scare away a volunteer quicker” than “getting stung.”

He went on to say that “we’re doing this to be proactive for the township” because if the worst were to happen, “rates go up and that impacts our budgets,” which, in turn, impacts the volunteers and residents of South Dundas.

He pointed out that “we just need one claim and we’ll be glad we have” the policy in place.

Locke agreed that “it’s just doing due diligence” in that the policy is a “general benefit to the township (and) we are representing the people of the township.”

Mayor Steven Byvelds pointed out that other municipalities have “changed their way of doing things – not just us. They all say volunteers need to have insurance.”

“As much as we value our volunteers, we don’t want them” to face a lawsuit. 

“Next year, when we look at our donations (we can) see if that funding window will be increased.”


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SIU concludes investigation

Press Release – October 4, 2011

The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ian Scott, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge an officer of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) with a criminal offence in regards to the death of 52-year-old Judith Fleury in a collision in Morrisburg in July of this year.

The SIU assigned four SIU investigators and two SIU forensic investigators (FI) to probe this incident. SIU FI investigators videotaped and photographed the scene and forensically mapped the collision site and the surrounding environment. 

The Crash Retrieval modules from both vehicles were also collected and examined. 

Pertinent information was also requested and received from the OPP. One officer was designated as a subject officer and six officers were designated as witness officers. The SIU also located and interviewed six civilian witnesses.

The SIU investigation determined that in the early hours of July 31, 2011, the subject officer was driving alone westbound on Hwy 401 in a marked black OPP Suburban SUV canine vehicle with a police dog in the back. The SUV was equipped with emergency lights in its grill as well as a siren. The officer was responding to a call to assist other OPP units regarding a suspect apprehension pursuit of an alleged impaired driver who was traveling northbound on County Road 31 just north of the town of Morrisburg. 

The officer activated his emergency equipment, turned onto County Road 31 and began accelerating. County Road 31 has a posted speed of 80 km/h. Ahead of him were two other OPP vehicles with their emergency equipment activated and involved in a suspect apprehension pursuit.

Ms. Fleury was driving a white Chevrolet Equinox van northbound on County Road 31. She had three passengers in the back seat of her vehicle that she had agreed to pick up from a social event being held on the shores of the St. Lawrence River in Morrisburg. 

She saw the first two OPP vehicles involved in the pursuit and pulled her van over to the side of the road to let them pass. She then continued in a northerly direction on County Road 31. 

The subject officer saw Ms. Fleury’s vehicle in the distance and moved over to the southbound lane in an attempt to pass it. 

It appears that Ms. Fleury decided to make a left turn across County Road 31. According to the accident reconstruction report, at a speed of approximately 17 km/h, she turned directly in front of the Suburban driven by the subject officer at the driveway of 5120 County Road 31. 

The front of the Suburban collided with the two left side doors of the Equinox with one second of pre-collision braking on the southbound side of the road. Just before braking the speed of the Suburban was in excess of the posted speed limit. 

Both vehicles were pushed approximately 105 metres northbound into the west ditch of the county road. The right front corner of the Equinox struck a pole and came to rest immediately to the west of that pole.

The collision caused the death of the Ms. Fleury, and significant injuries to the two male passengers, while the third, a female passenger suffered minor injuries. As well, the subject officer sustained minor head injuries.

Director Scott concluded that, “While the subject officer was driving significantly over the speed limit seconds before the collision, pursuant to s. 128(13)(a) of the Highway Traffic Act, compliance with the speed limits does not apply to police officers in the lawful performance of their duties. 

Here, the subject officer’s assistance in a suspect apprehension pursuit was a lawful execution of his duties and accordingly his speed alone cannot be considered to be unlawful. 

Further, by all accounts, he had his emergency equipment activated. He could have reasonably concluded that Ms. Fleury would have seen the emergency lights and would not turn into the southbound lane. 

Unfortunately, she turned directly into his path and the collision caused her death and significant injuries to two of her three passengers. 

While this incident is a great tragedy, I have no grounds to believe the subject officer committed a criminal offence because he was in the lawful execution of his duties as he was attempting to pass Ms. Fleury’s vehicle.


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Enhanced response time for fire departments in South Dundas

Your house is on fire and you’ve just called 911. How would you feel knowing that the dispatcher failed to “page out the call” to the fire department? This is just one of the issues with the current South Dundas township’s dispatch system.

At the October 4th meeting of the South Dundas council, South Dundas Fire Chief Chris McDonough reported on the state of the township’s dispatch system and recommended a solution to council.

According to McDonough, the fire department is “currently being dispatched by Christie Walther also know as Canpage Communications.” He provided a list of issues with the dispatch company that impacted the safety of South Dundas residents, including outdated equipment, unreliable personnel, and failure to follow procedures.

For these reasons, he did “joint research with South Glengarry and South Stormont” and it has been concluded that the city of Brockville is the answer.

He told council that the “cost is a little higher, but service is far better.”

McDonough explained that “the expedient and accurate handling of fire calls is a significant factor in the successful outcome of an incident.”

It was reported that “the Brockville Fire Department currently renovated their dispatch centre and purchased a new Crisys Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD).”

According to Crisys Limited, they were “created for the sole purpose of developing the most advanced decision-support systems possible for responding to urgent requests for assistance.”

McDonough recommended that the township “enter into a five year agreement with the City of Brockville to provide a 24/7 Professional Fire Dispatch system, including voice paging system, 2-way radio communications, computer automated dispatch and the Crisys electronic reporting system.”

The recommended system will cost $42,596.54 the first year, which includes $18,163.54 for dispatch, $13,333 for the wireless internet link, and $11,100 for the Crisys reporting system.

The wireless internet link, which costs a total of $40,000 per year, is being divided among the three townships of South Dundas, South Stormont, and South Glengarry for a total of $13,333 each.

The cost for the second year will be $36,236.54 with a 5 per cent increase for each of the following three years left in the contract.

Councillor Archie Mellan was impressed with how the new system would “greatly enhance response time.”

Councillor Evonne Delegarde commented that it seems like a “far superior system” and that it makes sense to “spend the extra money to have a better system.”

The chief agreed, adding that “they’re on top of everything” and “we’ll be able to predict our boundaries a lot sharper – right to the longitude and latitude – very specific.” 

Mayor Steven Byvelds remarked that “the thing this demonstrates is the cooperation of the municipalities.”

The council agreed with Chief McDonough’s recommendation and the current provider will be given a 90 day notice.

McDonough predicts that the “GPS and fire department data will be entered and the equipment installed and tested by December 1, 2011” and that “the system will go live January 2012.”


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Fostering better relations with a cross-border group

Living on the St. Lawrence River, have you ever looked across the water at your neighbours in the United States and wondered, “Are we really that different?”

A press release from Ontario Senator Bob Runciman’s office announced that he has formed a cross-border group with New York State Senators Patty Ritchie and Joseph Griffo.

“This initiative will help open new lines of communication and create a chance to explore new opportunities that can benefit both New York and Canada,” Senator Ritchie said.

The group’s formation came in response to a recent incident in local waters where an American fisherman was arrested for “straying” into Canadian waters.

“The incident reminded Senator Ritchie and I how interdependent the two countries are along the border and how important it is to have a regular dialogue to discuss matters of mutual concern,” Senator Runciman said.

Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MP Guy Lauzon has joined Runciman’s group alongside Leeds-Grenville MP Gord Brown, Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark, and Kingston and the Islands MP Ted Hsu. These members, however, were not present for the founding meeting on October 7.

The Leader was able to speak with Lauzon late last week. He told the Leader that “Runciman is taking the lead.”

While he admitted that his “information is somewhat limited” at this point, he did offer the following information: “I’m on the committee. What we’re trying to do is foster better relations between the two border countries and ridings.”

Lauzon referenced the incident with the fisherman as the catalyst to the formation of the cross-border group saying: “We just think if we can open up better communication with both countries at both levels we can eradicate this problem.”

“Northern New York and Eastern Ontario share not just a common border, but face the same challenges and opportunities. It makes economic sense to look for joint solutions,” Runciman said. “And the people in border communities are not just neighbours, but we’re good friends, too. I see this group as a way to reinforce that message.”


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Let’s skate!

It appears that the Morrisburg Shopping Plaza will be getting a skating rink for the Christmas season.

At the October 4th South Dundas council meeting Councillor Jim Graham reported that the Morrisburg Business Improvement Association (BIA) met the previous evening and “agreed there should be a better location.”

Hugh Garlough, Manager of Public Works, said that he’d like to “thank the BIA for accepting my thoughts” and went on to say that  “we will do our best to work with them (and when it) comes time, do whatever we can to cooperate.”

In terms of where the rink will be located, he reported that “the mall location south of the clock tower will not be used as the township has concerns with this location.”

Possible locations were discussed, including the area of the parking lot where the former visitor’s centre was located. However, Garlough informed the Leader that “the location of the BIA’s skating rink has not been decided as of yet.”

“The location will be decided by township staff and the BIA representatives at a later date.”


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Council hit with unexpected costs

Like everyone else, even the township gets hit with unexpected costs now and again.

On October 4th, Don Lewis, Manager of Recreation, informed the South Dundas council that three of their roof top units for two of their buildings had been red-tagged by the gas company, meaning that the gas won’t be turned on until the heaters are replaced or fixed.

The Morrisburg Justice Building has two roof top units needing immediate attention. One, almost 20 years old, will be completely replaced. The other, only ten years old, will require only the heat exchanger to be replaced.

The remaining roof top unit in question is also close to 20 years old and can be found in Iroquois at the Civic Centre. This unit will be completely replaced.

A tender invitation is being advertised in this week’s papers.

In terms of financing the repairs, Treasurer Shannon Geraghty told council that there “are some potential items we’ve saved on this year” as well as “savings we could pull from.”

As Mayor Steven Byvelds pointed out, “things break unexpectedly.” He said that he agreed with Geraghty, “we should find savings out of the existing budget.”


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Strike Averted

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) announced early Monday (October 3) that it had reached a tentative collective agreement with the Canadian Auto Workers which represents the Corporation’s 475 unionized employees.

The agreement, which was reached following bargaining which extended through the weekend, is subject to ratification by the union membership.

Details of the agreement will not be released pending ratification.

Terence Bowles, President and CEO of the SLSMC, indicated that the conclusion of the bargaining process would allow ships to continue transiting the waterway without interruption.

The Corporation was served with a 72-hour strike notice by the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) at noon on Friday, September 30, of its intent to begin strike action on Monday, October 3, at noon.

If the tentative agreement had not been reached and the unionized workers had proceeded with strike action, The St. Lawrence Seaway would have been closed to all traffic.

According to a SLSMC press release, a contingency plan was in place to provide for the orderly shutdown of the system in the event of the labour interruption. 

Negotiations continued with a federally appointed mediator over the weekend in an effort to reach an agreement. The mediator had been working with the parties throughout the latest round of negotiations, which began on September 19.

The parties have been negotiating since May with the key issues being wages, healthcare (co-payment) and contracting.

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation is a private, not-for-profit corporation, created pursuant to the Canada Marine Act, to operate and maintain the Canadian Seaway. 

Since its inception in 1959, over 2.5 billion tonnes of cargo valued in excess of $375 billion has been transported via the waterway. 

Today, over 60,000 Canadian jobs are directly or indirectly dependent upon cargo transiting the Seaway.


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More meetings planned for Brinston Wind Farm

The Prowind Public Meeting at Matilda Hall in Dixon’s Corners on September 29th is no longer “the final public meeting” for the proposed South Branch Wind Farm in  Brinston. 

Cathy Weston, Managing Director of Prowind Canada, told the Leader that there will be a few more meetings. Prowind, who has a strong “commitment to the community” feels it’s necessary to slow down and give the community more time to process.

Weston, who has “been friends with some of these landowners” feels very strongly about moving forward at a pace that is comfortable for residents of South Dundas.

According to Prowind Canada information, “the South Branch Wind Farm is proposed as a 30 megawatt (MW) renewable energy generation facility. Once constructed, the facility will be able to produce enough renewable electricity to power approximately 7,500 homes per year.”

“South Branch Wind Farm will use wind turbines  to harness kinetic energy from the wind and, by means of an electrical generator, convert to electricity.”

“The commercial scale turbines proposed for the South Branch Wind Farm will consist of three main components: foundation, tower, and nacelle/rotor. Modern turbines self-regulate, optimize, and monitor output parameters using a variety of sophisticated instrumentation.”

The turbines haven’t been decided upon or purchased as of yet because, Weston pointed out, “(we are) trying to leave our options open (in an) economic sense (due to) domestic content rules (that say a product) needs to be 50 per cent Ontario based.”

Aside from the creation of jobs and the expected renewable energy, in terms of benefits to the community, Weston refers to the estimated $70,000 per year tax benefit. She also mentioned that Prowind would be donating $25,000 for a community fund, “provided each year following commissioning of the project, and through to the end of the 20 year contract.”

The Prowind project officially got underway in South Dundas in early 2008. Weston, who has a background in project management, joined Prowind in 2008 after learning about a similar initiative in her neighbourhood in the southwest of Ottawa.

“It’s a transparent company,” said Weston. They don’t hide information, they’re honest and open with the public. She went on to say that “what I want to do, we do.” It’s “a push for green energy.”

According to opposition group, Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO), green doesn’t always equal good.

WCO state that they’re “a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to protect the health, safety and quality of life of the people of Ontario from industrial wind turbines.”

The group’s main concerns seem to revolve around the mass production of wind farms without adequate consultation with local landowners. With the great number of public meetings and the open door policy of information sharing, Prowind Canada doesn’t appear to fall into this category.

In addition, WCO voice concern about the effects of wind farms on property values, public health, wildlife health and habitat, as well as noise and esthetic issues.

When questioned about WCO’s concerns, Weston pointed to the vast studies and experts that Prowind has brought in to help determine what, if any, issues exist or may arise from the project.

Prowind’s experts are chosen based on their accreditation and references. For example, the archaeology expert is “accredited by the Archaeological Society of Ontario.”

She referred to the “scientific evidence” where there was “nothing to show link” between wind farms and ill health, saying that the Chief Medical Officer for Ontario found “no link.”

Weston went on to say that Ontario has the “strictest laws” set up and that Prowind does “follow all the guidelines.”

Information, documentation, related studies, plans and so forth were in abundance at the meeting. Questions, suggestions, opinions and discussion were all welcome.

One such available study, “The Health Impact of Wind Turbines: A Review of the Current White, Grey, and Published Literature” for Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit in June 2008 had the following statement by Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Acting Medical Officer of Health at the time: “In summary, as long as the Ministry of Environment Guidelines for location criteria of wind farms are followed, it is my opinion that there will be negligible adverse health impacts on Chatham-Kent citizens. Although opposition to wind farms on aesthetic grounds is a legitimate point of view, opposition to wind farms on the basis of potential adverse health consequences is not justified by the evidence.”

A report on the “Impacts of Windmill Visibility on Property Values in Madison County, New York” by Ben Hoen suggested “the possibility that effects are more myth than reality.”

The report, which claims there were “no effects” on property values, gives reasons for the findings: “The windmill array fits the landscape; wind farming fits this community’s ‘sense of place;’ the payments the community received ‘balanced’ any adverse impacts.”

 In terms of further opposition, the Leader questioned Weston about the current political situation. 

Premier Dalton McGuinty’s decision to shut down the gas-fired power plant in Mississauga recently resulted in a call to Liberals by Progressive Conservative candidate for MPP of SD&SG, Jim McDonell on September 26th “to listen to families in Brinston and stop the proposed industrial wind farms in their backyard before it reaches the construction phase.”

While Weston admitted that some people are feeling a “nervousness about change” where the wind farm is concerned, she feels that the overall public feedback has been positive.

When asked what Prowind would do in the event of a political change affecting their project, she said that it would be “really disappointing to have to go back to the drawing board again.”

The South Branch Wind Farm is a “great step forward in renewable energy” and, in addition, it would “be a shame for a lot of manufacturing plants (because there are a lot of) jobs right now that would be lost.”

In any case, “we (Prowind Canada) remain committed to this project.” She added that “it’s been developed responsibly.”

The project originally called for 15 turbines, but due to some questions about impact to the location of one of the turbines, Prowind decided to drop the number.

The 14 left have all been mapped. Only two houses in the area come within 600 metres of a turbine. The rest are at least one kilometre away from residences.

According to Weston, the average wind farm project achieves completion in about “the four year range.”

In terms of project time from start to completion for the South Branch project, she estimates that it “is between five and six years all together.” The extra time is due to the fact that the government “regulations changed and the project was put on hold at one point. Also, more notably, Prowind “want(ed) to do things properly.”

While there are large wind energy companies in Canada, Prowind Canada is just one of a very few small-sized wind energy companies in Ontario.

Mayor Steven Byvelds attended the meeting. In speaking with the Leader he said the project “has its merit – as long as everything is done right.”


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South Dundas receives thanks for

South Dundas Fire Chief Chris McDonough recently shared a copy of a thank you letter with the Leader.

The letter was addressed to South Dundas Mayor Steven Byvelds from Fire Chief Bill Hollett of the Chance Cove Volunteer Fire Department in Newfoundland thanking the mayor and the township for their recent donation.

“I would like to extend our most sincere thanks and appreciation to you and your Town for the generosity you have shown in donating to us a fire truck, rescue van and fire & emergency equipment.”

“We are a volunteer fire department in a small community with limited funds available for equipment and training. Up until the arrival of the fire and emergency vehicles you so graciously donated to us, the fire truck we had in use was a 1976 model which we were having great difficulty maintaining due to parts for this truck no longer being available through the manufacturer.”

In a recent email to the Leader, Mayor Byvelds explained that “the idea started with looking at the Old Williamsburg Pumper and what to do with it.  In talking to others including firefighters in Williamsburg, it was in too good a shape to scrap it.  Normally the Township takes items like this to Rideau Actions however we never get what it is worth and may only get less than $5000. “

“I was in Pleasant Bay, Nova Scotia last year on vacation.  I met a firefighter from the area that told me that they were getting a new to them pumper that evening to try out.  They were using a 1976 pumper and were getting a 1987 model.  The group were very happy to get the newer model.”

“It was after that (meeting) that I suggested to Council that instead of selling our old unit that we find someone who was in need.”

“Chief Chris did the research and as a result Chance Cove now have new to them equipment.  I think that it is great that we could help out a community that have a lot less resources than we do.”

The Chance Cove letter also credited Chief McDonough for the donation: “He has certainly gone over and above any call of duty in identifying our need, advocating on our behalf and ensuring we received these vehicles and equipment with as minimum a cost to us as possible.”

Chance Cove did reimburse South Dundas $400 for the “cost of batteries purchased to travel these vehicles to Newfoundland.”

This donation has given Chance Cove more than just reliable fire equipment, as Chief Hollett stated in his letter: “These vehicles will long stand as a source of inspiration to our residents and in particular, our volunteer firemen. They represent the kind and helping hands of a neighbour and of our fellow firefighters, and I am glad to say, has brought a new sense of pride and ownership to our volunteer fire department.”