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Wind opposition group asks for help


“It’s so confusing,” said South Dundas Deputy-Mayor Jim Locke, referring to the opposing sides of the wind farm debate.

Council has decided to postpone rulings concerning the requests made by the South Branch Wind Opposition Group at the December 6th South Dundas council meeting. The group won’t hear anything definite from council until January 2012.

Leslie Disheau, a spokesperson for the South Branch Wind Opposition Group, presented council with the requests after giving a very thorough, detailed presentation on why Prowind Canada’s plan to build the South Branch Wind Farm, consisting of about 14 wind turbines, should be stopped or, at the very least, roadblocked.

The project, which could begin as early as next spring, but no later than 2013, officially began in 2008.

Disheau began by outlining “South Branch Wind Opposition group’s points of objection to industrial wind turbines: they have not been proven safe to be sited close to communities – health concerns; they kill large numbers of birds and bats; they devalue non-participant properties; and, there is no reduction in cost to consumers for electricity rates.” 

In 2006, Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD testified before the New York State Legislature Energy Committee, saying “I’m an intelligent person and I support renewable energy. I am not here to shoot down wind energy, which probably has its place, though that place is not near people’s homes or near schools, hospitals, or other locations where people have to sleep or learn.”

Pierpont has a BA in Biology from Yale University, a PhD in Population Biology from Pinceton University, and an MD from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

In September of this year, Cathy Weston, Managing Director for Prowind Canada, told the Leader that there are only two houses in the area designated to be within 600 metres of a turbine. She explained that the rest of the turbines would be situated at least one kilometre from all existing homes.

At the council meeting, Disheau referred to studies that show inhabitants of houses that are less than a 1.4 kilometres from a turbine are subject to negative impacts on their sleeping habits and, in turn, their health.

According to Pierpont, “a setback of 1.5 miles from homes, schools, hospitals, and similar institutions will probably be adequate, in most NY State terrain, to protect people from the adverse health effects of industrial wind turbines.” For reference, 1.5 miles is equal to 2.4 kilometres.

On behalf of the South Branch Wind Opposition Group, Disheau made several requests of South Dundas council members.

The first request asked council to “pass a motion making a request to the Ministry of the Environment, and provincial officials that would place a moratorium on the construction of industrial wind turbine facilities before a third party independent epidemiological study (can be done) determining they pose no risks to human health, the environment, and property values.”

The second request suggested council “pass a by-law that requires wind turbine companies to have equipment and trained Emergency Response personnel to deal with high elevation fires and rescues for turbines over the 200 foot mark. And, council must amend the Emergency Preparedness Plan for South Dundas to deal with ice throw and flying debris from wind blade disintegration.”

In a third request, Disheau wanted council to “pass a by-law, according to the Municipal Act, restricting night time nuisance noise and vibration.” She explained that as per the Green Energy Act of Ontario, 10 p.m. is the stop time for wind turbine installations.

A fourth request suggested that “before any building permits are given to Prowind or any other developer, South Dundas council should conduct an open forum session for all township residents to have their questions and concerns answered.” 

This request is actually being addressed by Prowind Canada itself. Two public meetings, both scheduled for January, will follow a question and answer format. The meeting in South Dundas will be held at Matilda Hall in Dixon’s Corners on January 10th from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

In the South Branch Wind Opposition group’s final request, Disheau pleaded with council to “make an appeal to the Environmental Review Tribunal on the approval of the wind farm project.”

In response to Disheau’s informative and moving presentation, Mayor Steven Byvelds said, “we hear your concerns. I’ve added it to the discussion. There are some options in my mind as to where we can go with this,” however, “here we are less than six months away from people who have spent a lot of money to put something up. That presents challenges.”

During a later discussion, Byvelds presented his fellow council members with three options in response to the group’s presentation and requests: one, take time to review the information and make a decision at a later meeting; two, “take their information under advisement and monitor the progress of the wind farm and if there are any issues, deal with them according to the law; and three, “agree and do as they ask.”

Both Byvelds and Councillor Jim Graham seemed perplexed as to the last minute attention to the project. Graham asked, “It’s been four or five years and this is the first sign of opposition?”

Councillor Archie Mellan agreed, saying “they’re asking us to try to stop it when shovels” are about to dig in.

Byvelds seemed skeptical of the proof behind the group’s concerns, saying “I would find it really hard to believe that the province is relying on poor information.”

With that said, he addressed council, saying “I want to be fair to both sides. I advise council that you read both sides of the story.”

South Dundas council members unanimously chose option one, meaning they will take time to review, research, and  attend Prowind’s January 10th meeting, before responding to the opposition group’s requests. The requests will be revisited and decided upon at the council meeting following Prowind’s January 10th meeting.

Byvelds concluded the discussion on the topic, saying “I know I sound a little closed-minded, but we’ve had meetings with Prowind. They’ve spent a lot of money. We want to make sure we’re right on this.”

Contact information for both sides of the issue are: Prowind Canada via e-mail at; and, the South Branch Wind Opposition Group via e-mail at


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McDonell speaks out


News Release – Dec 5, 2011

QUEEN’S PARK – Stormont, Dundas, and South Glengarry MPP, Jim McDonell blasted the McGuinty government for playing politics with the Eastern Ontario Development Fund (EODF) by linking its future to an unknown program for Southwestern Ontario.

Jim McDonell expressed shock that the government has introduced a bill it knows will put the EODF in jeopardy.

To extend the EODF, the government’s bill forces MPPs to also vote for a new program in Southwestern Ontario that’s surrounded in serious questions – including how it will be funded and what accountability measures it will have.

“We don’t need this bill for the EODF program. The program exists already and it has the support of Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak and our caucus,” stressed Jim McDonell.  The fund was created to address the unique challenges of Eastern Ontario, challenges that still need to be addressed. 

“However, we won’t support a bill bundling it with a program that has so many unknowns. The McGuinty government is asking for a blank cheque and we all know that would be a costly disaster for taxpayers.”

In fact, Jim McDonell noted that with an estimated $28 million still left in the fund after more than three years, the EODF could be extended through March of 2013 with no new government spending.

Jim McDonell said the government is using the threat of cancelling the EODF as a tactic to force the Legislature into helping Premier McGuinty keep an election promise to establish the Southwestern Ontario fund.

It’s a promise that comes with an $80-million price tag at a time when the province has a deficit of $16 billion.

“Rather than debate the merits of the new Southwestern Ontario program, they’re pitting regions against each other with this bill,” explained Jim McDonell. “It’s unfortunate that, at a time of economic turmoil in this province, the McGuinty government would choose to play political games instead of focusing on job creation.”

Jim McDonell called on Economic Development and Innovation Minister Brad Duguid to do the right thing and separate the two programs and bring together Eastern Ontario MPPs to review the EODF before it expires in March, 2012.

“Let’s stop playing partisan politics and do what Ontarians expect MPPs to do in this minority legislature, which is to work across party lines to fix the serious challenges facing the province today,” urged Jim McDonell.


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McDonell talks Ontario energy


News Release – Dec 5, 2011

QUEEN’S PARK – “We can no longer afford to ignore the energy crises in Ontario.  This is a self inflicted problem and it is time to listen to the people,” said Jim McDonell, MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry.

In his report, Auditor General Jim McCarter revealed Dalton McGuinty ignored repeated warnings from his own energy advisors that his approach to renewables – such as the FIT program and Samsung deal – is too expensive and would increase energy bills for job creators and families alike. 

The auditor also confirmed that consumers have paid more than enough to cover the $7.8-billion Debt Retirement Charge (DRC), but the government continues to charge it on hydro bills while keeping the remaining debt a secret. 

Finally, over the last six years, Ontario consumers paid $1.8 billion to New York and Quebec to take away the province’s excess energy. 


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Specialized hearing services at WDMH


News Release – Dec 5, 2011

WILLIAMSBURG – Winchester District Memorial Hospital (WDMH) is pleased to welcome Robillard Hearing Centre, as one of our newest healthcare partners providing care close to home.

“Patients told us that we should offer a clinic at WDMH,” explains Sophie Robillard, a board-certified hearing aid specialist who leads the clinic. “Hearing needs are increasing and we’re pleased to be here to respond to local communities.”

“We are happy to have Robillard on-site offering specialized hearing services,” adds Cholly Boland, WDMH CEO. “Our goal is to bring together services that our local communities need and hearing support is definitely one of them.”

Robillard Hearing Centres are family owned and operated and have been serving the Eastern Ontario region for more than 50 years. Qualified hearing healthcare professionals evaluate hearing issues and provide remedial recommendations to family doctors for hearing instruments, assistive hearing devices. They can also fill any hearing instrument prescription.

The clinic is offered on Wednesdays and is located in the Dillabough Building. To make an appointment, please call 1-877-498-3301 or visit

If you would like to provide comments or suggestions about hospital services, contact Cholly Boland, President and CEO, Winchester District Memorial Hospital at 613.774.1049 or by email at


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Apprenticeship system issues


Media Release – Nov 30, 2011

QUEEN’S PARK – Ontario is currently facing the paradox of having high unemployment at the same time as a growing shortage of skilled trades workers. 

Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak said today that modernizing Ontario’s apprenticeship system is a practical solution that will help fix both problems by creating 200,000 new skilled trades jobs.

Ontario is losing 100 private-sector jobs every hour, contributing to a jobless rate that has remained above the national average for almost five years. 

At the same time, Ontario’s shortage of skilled trades workers – from ironworkers to electricians to plumbers – is reaching an alarming level, and is expected to top one million vacancies within a decade.

The issue is Dalton McGuinty’s refusal to modernize an outdated apprenticeship system that requires businesses to employ three, four or even five journeymen to train a single apprentice – a more restrictive ratio than almost all other provinces in Canada.

Hudak renewed his call today to reduce the ratio of journeymen to apprentices 1-to-1. Reducing the ratio frees up more journeymen to train more apprentices.  Those apprentices eventually become journeymen themselves and train apprentices of their own – creating a job creation cycle that would see 200,000 new skilled tradesmen on the job in just four years.

“Yesterday, over 50 apprenticeship students attended Queen’s Park, relating their problems in completing their programs, due to the 3:1 ratios.  In fact, during the session, every one of them identified a classmate that had to move to Western Canada to finish their program.  We need action now by this Liberal government to fix this ratio issue, address the huge shortage of trades people that is forecasted over the next 5 years and to create 200,000 new, high paying skilled jobs.”

–Jim McDonell, MPP


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Callers ‘love’ 211 helpline


Media Release – Nov 23, 2011

SD&G – 211, the information helpline for Ontario’s community and social services, won a coveted award for highest customer satisfaction from SQM Group. 

With a 92% satisfaction level, 211 achieved the highest ranking for any call centre in the government industry. SQM benchmarks over 450 leading North American call centres.

“This award represents good news for 211 and our callers,” said Bill Morris, Executive Director, Ontario 211 Services Corporation. 

“We’re proud to have been able to maintain our high standards of quality even as we expanded the reach of 211 province-wide. And, we are very pleased 211 was able to help so many callers address their needs with one call.”

211 is currently available to 94% of Ontarians. The goal of reaching all Ontario residents will be met in the coming weeks through launches in Cochrane, Temiskaming, Nipissing, Sudbury, Lambton, Elgin, Prescott and Russell.

“211 represents an exceptional partnership by Ontario’s United Ways, municipalities, community data contributors, the Government of Ontario and Canada to work together,” said Morris. 

“Recently an agency in London secretly tested 211 on behalf of the London Free Press. I really can’t say it better than to quote the editorial headline, “In helping the public, 211 service hits a home run.”

By connecting callers with the right community and social services, 211 prevents problems from spiralling into a crisis. 211’s information and referral specialists answered more than 560,000 calls in 2010. 

They have access to information on more than 56,000 agencies, programs and services across Ontario. 211’s free, anonymous and confidential helpline is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and is available in more than 150 languages. 

In the five months that 211 has launched in SD&G and Cornwall the service has received just over 700 calls says Karen Turchetto, executive director of United Way of S.D. & G.

Ontario 211 Services Corporation is a non-profit supported by the Province of Ontario, individual municipalities, local Ontario United Ways, the Ontario Trillium Foundation and Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Dial 211 or search to find the right community and social services.


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Teens focused on their future


Are high school graduates ready for the next step?

The principals and teachers at Seaway District High School are doing everything they can to ensure the answer to that question is a resounding “yes!”

Seaway is just one of many schools taking part in the new Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program introduced by the Ontario government. Each student graduating from the program will get an SHSM seal on their diploma.

According to Principal Terry Gardiner, SHSM “engages students and gives them a purpose.”

He went on to say, “I feel it’s my job to set  people up to meet their potential and have something meaningful after their high school experience.”

The SHSM program allows students to focus on a career path that matches their skills and interests. At the same time, they’re able to meet the requirements of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD).

Students who take part in the SHSM program gain important skills on the job. They also earn industry certifications like standard first aid and CPR.

The SHSM program consists of specialized sectors. Most schools choose one sector of specialty. They are: arts and culture; aviation and aerospace; business; construction; energy; environment; forestry; health and wellness; horticulture and landscaping; hospitality and tourism; information and communications technology; justice, community safety, and emergency services; manufacturing; mining; non-profit; sports; and transportation.

Seaway’s specialized sector is agriculture. There are career options for students choosing a path to apprenticeship; to college; to university; or, straight to the workplace. Regardless of the path chosen, there are many possibilities for a rewarding career.

According to Gardiner, Seaway has “eight students on track to graduate with the seal this year.”

In addition, in September he said there were 18 grade 11 students signing up. He pointed out that the program begins in the 11th grade for those who are interested.

With the SHSM program, students are  “allowed to be part of experiential learning.”

“They do better in school,” he continued. Also, “students with learning disabilities do better.”

Gardiner credits the success of the SHSM program to the fact that students can see the relevance of what they’re doing. They’re engaged and can see a purpose for their hard work.


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Just in time for Christmas


Ron Patterson of Cardinal was the lucky winner of the $1,000 Christmas Draw sponsored by the Iroquois Matilda Lions Club. The balance of the proceeds will go to the club’s charities, which include the Dundas County Food Bank and the Christmas Exchange. 


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Having a baby? WDMH is the place to be


 “We provide a service beyond what you expect,” said Winchester District Memorial Hospital (WDMH) CEO, Cholly Boland.

On November 17th, WDMH hosted a Coffee and Conversation period with the press to talk about the hospital’s obstetrics program.

Susan Castle, Clinical Manager of Medical/Surgical and Obstetrics at WDMH told reporters: “We’re classified as a Level One hospital. Any really sick moms or babes have to go to Ottawa. To go up a level, we’d need a nursery, which we don’t have.” 

In terms of what WDMH offers, she said, “we have three female obstetricians. We have six midwives. We offer anesthesia service – epidurals. We take the pain situation very seriously here.” 

“We give mom options,” Castle continued. “Patients can choose what they feel comfortable with.”

“We have four birthing rooms and eight postpartum rooms.”

Boland interjected, saying “we have birthing rooms that are home-like, not like a hospital room.”

Continuing, he said, “maternity is right next door to surgery if a cesarean section is required.”

Dr. Ejibonmi Adetola, Chief of Obstetrics at WDMH since March 2011, says the “cesarean section rate is about 22 per cent.”

“You don’t find a lot of Level One hospitals with three obstetricians with a 24 hour service.”

“That’s what draws the women to us. It’s the word of mouth,” continued Dr. Adetola. “It is really nice here. Nurses are really dedicated.”

Castle agreed, saying, “we have a stable non-turnover group of nurses who take pride in their work.”

She explained that the nurses are specially trained to work in the obstetrics unit, adding, “I have nurses coming from Ottawa applying here, which is great because they’re highly experienced.”

“Our postpartum service is open 24/7 as of November 1st,” said Castle. Here, she continued, “RNs are specifically trained to work with mom now that she’s delivered.”

According to Boland, there were approximately 200 births at WDMH in 2006.

Castle said there have been approximately 400 births per year since 2006 and this year, in 2011, the total is approximately 600 births.

According to Dr. Adetola, “patients come from all over Ottawa, from as far as Brockville and Cornwall, as well as all the neighbouring towns. People come from everywhere.” 

Boland emphasized, “we have this expert surgical coverage. People need to understand it can happen in a community this size.”

Having a baby at WDMH is “a safe experience, a comfortable experience, it’s a small town home experience,” said Boland.

According to Castle, “everybody gets a knitted hat,” thanks to volunteers and to the WDMH Foundation,  

The Foundation also offers parents, grandparents, friends or neighbours the opportunity to purchase a “shiny red wooden apple with baby’s picture, name and birth date on it” for a minimum of $60 in celebration of the hospital’s 60th anniversary. The apple is hung on the apple tree wall in the obstetrics unit for one year. On baby’s first birthday the apple is returned home as a keepsake.

Money raised through the apple program “will help the hospital grow, supporting equipment purchases to enhance the excellent care programs for your friends and family.”


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Ontario Power Generation gives to food bank


Ontario Power Generation Gives to Food Bank
On November 23rd, Linda Halliday, Public Affairs Officer of the Ontario Power Generation (OPG), met with Brenda Millard, Chair for the Dundas County Food Bank (DCFB), at their Morrisburg location. DCFB is one of many food banks that have received a $500 donation from OPG this season. According to Halliday, OPG gives to every food bank “everywhere in the province where we have generation.” If OPG has a nuclear thermal or a hydro electric generation in the area, then all local food banks will receive a $500 donation this year. Millard said the donations being received by DCFB from now through to December “helps us finance the winter. We depend on that support at the end of the year.”