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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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Parlow Road now open

The October 4th South Dundas council meeting brought news about two roads in the township. 

Parlow Road from County Road 4 to County Road 2 is open to the public as of October 5.

Manager of Public Works, Hugh Garlough proposed to council that the road be designated “an open, Public Highway, maintained year round.”

According to Garlough, the road work for Parlow Road was completed by Willis Kerr Contracting on September 20, 2011.

He put before council a by-law “to insure that the benefitting properties contribute in a like manner to the construction cost of this road extension.” The by-law was approved.

Now that Parlow Road is officially open, Deputy Mayor Jim Locke revealed that he is “glad this controversial matter is finished.”

Councillor Archie Mellan agreed, adding that he’s “glad to see it’s going to be fair.”

In other road news, the Doran Creek Subdivision road’s name is now officially Doran Creek Drive.

The proposal for the name approval came through Garlough who received the request from Henry Swank of Swank Construction.

According to Garlough, “no other township road name is associated with this naming request.” Council unanimously approved the request.


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Have your say!

Do you have something to say to council or something you’d like to ask council about? Well, if you do, it looks like your opportunity has arrived.

Members of the South Dundas council will be making themselves available to the public on Monday, October 17th at 7 p.m. at the Matilda Hall in Dixon’s Corners.

At the October 4th council meeting, mayor Steven Byvelds announced the upcoming “round table” where there will be an opportunity for “discussion between council and members of the public.”

The meeting falls during the fourth annual Local Government Week, October 16th to 22nd.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing states: “Local Government Week is an opportunity for Ontario students, educators and municipalities to engage one another on  how their communities work.”

Byvelds told the Leader that as of October 6th no schools had contacted him to speak or meet with their students to talk about municipal politics. He commented that the idea “certainly would be a fit for their Civics class.”


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Jr. B Lions in it, but only part of the time

While Morrisburg Junior B Lions coach Thom Racine says “our power play was dreadful all night, and we need to get that in sinc soon” the opposite held true Friday night for the Winchester Hawks who struck for three power play goals in a 5-2 win.

Sunday’s game was a different story as the Lions and the visiting Alexandria Glens kept the penalties to a minimum, but again the Lions ended up on the wrong side of a 6-2 count to collect their fifth loss of the young season.

Friday night in Winchester, “the Lions played a pretty good 40 minutes, but the second period collapse was all too familiar,” says Racine.

Lance Hodgson gave the Lions a 1-0 lead with an unassisted goal at 2:01 of the first period, and that lasted until early in the second when Brock Burge got the Hawks rolling with an unassisted power-play goal.

Hawks goals flowed consistently after that, coming at 9:43 from Graham Loyst, 10:37 from Josh Stubbings and 19:46 from Brock Burge on the Hawks power play. 

Nevin Guy pushed it to 5-1, again on the Hawks power play, at 12:33 of the third period and that was it.

Lions goaltender Mikael Dion shut the Hawks down for the remainder of the period, but the Lions were good for only one more, that on the Lions power play with 2:05 left in the game from Matt Ouimet (unassisted).

“We did a lot of watching and forgot to pay attention to our own zone,” says Racine. “I thought we adjusted well in the third period, but could not create any offence.”

The Lions were out shot 54-29. They scored only one goal in 10 power-play opportunities, while the Hawks were successful three out of six times.

The St. Lawrence Division’s first place Alexandria Glens brought their game to Morrisburg on Sunday and never faultered as they worked their way to their eighth win of the season.

They led 2-0 after the first period and carried a 4-1 advantage into the third as they headed for  a 6-2 win.

“Last year we fell behind so early in games we never had a chance to recover,” says Racine. “Sunday against Alexandria, it was no different.”

“Down 2-0 before the five minute mark deflated us, and, although we were the best team for the next 15 minutes, there was no reward.”

“I was not that upset with the entire game. At times we showed we can skate with these top teams, but when we make mistakes we get burned seemingly every time.”

“We also did not move the puck and use each other often enough.”

Ryan Ward chipped in for the lone Lions goal of the second period on the Lions power play with Alex Steingruber and Sylvester Bzdyl assisting.

Ty Hodgson, from Lance Hodgson and Marc Antoine, added goal number two at 6:23 of the third period, again on the Lions power play.

Dion had a busy time in the Lions net as the Glens out shot the Lions 41-29.

Zachary Montpetit-Car and Jean-Francois Dubois had two goals apiece for the Glens, and Bradley Massia and Shane Kitchen collected singles.

“We have a real chance to help ourselves over the next two weeks, but the competition is not going to hand us anything,” says Racine. “Akwesasne is struggling out of the gate and due for a win, and Char-Lan got their first win last weekend.”

The Wolves are in town this Friday night, October 14 for an 8:30 p.m. start and Saturday night, the Lions travel to Williamstown to take on the Rebels. Next Wednesday night they are in Brockville.


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McDonell quietly takes victory:”It’s great to see the riding go blue”

Well, it’s official, Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry has shed the red and embraced the blue.

Jim McDonell secured an impressive and tremendous win for the Progressive Conservative party.

The October 6th election left the new MPP with a colossal 21,615 votes equalling 54 per cent of the vote.

While his competitors were left in the dust, it is noteworthy that NDP candidate Elaine MacDonald gave Liberal candidate Mark A. MacDonald a run for his money. 

The Liberals came in second with 22 per cent of the vote (8,483 votes) with the NDP following closely with 21 per cent of the vote (8,078 votes).

The Green Party’s Justin Reist held the fourth spot with two per cent of the vote (553 votes) followed by Libertarian Darcy Neal Donnelly with one per cent of the vote (400 votes).

As if the PC’s landslide victory and the NDP’s substantial increase in vote percentages wasn’t enough in terms of noteworthy election tales, it appears that this provincial election had its lowest voter turnout in years.

More than 50 per cent of eligible voters chose not to vote in this election. Elections Ontario, on October 7th, said that “preliminary and unofficial results currently indicate that 49.02 per cent of eligible voters in the province cast their ballot.”

For those who did vote and for those interested in the outcome of the election, McDonell’s victory party took place at the Ramada Inn in Cornwall. Accompanied by wife Margie, he entered the room to the welcoming sound of the Scottish bagpipes.

Also by  his side were daughters Marion and Chelsea and, unexpectedly home from Calgary was McDonell’s son Bernie there to offer his support as well.

He began his short acceptance speech saying, “it’s great to see the riding go blue!” 

The bulk of his speech, however, was spent thanking the people who helped him achieve his victory: “I can’t stress the help I got from all the volunteers. (It’s) all about the volunteers and the people that came out; they make the difference.”

He went on to say that “over the four years they will hear us.”

In response to the overwhelming votes in his favour, McDonell confessed that he was “somewhat shocked” but, at the same time, he and his volunteers “heard the same thing” when they were out campaigning and talking to people: “People were upset” with the way things were being done.

He finished his short speech with a thank you and an invitation to the crowd “to have some fun.”

Since election night, McDonell has kept busy. This past weekend was spent taking a lot of the election signs down and gearing up for the excitement and challenges coming his way.

In a phone call to the Leader Tuesday morning, he admitted that it has been a “bit of a whirlwind the last few days” and that it’s been “lots of fun.”

He said that he’s expecting “orientation information in the next day or two” about the upcoming “session in Toronto.”

He wants to assure people that he will “continue on with actions of government locally.” 

In fact, he attended a South Stormont council meeting Tuesday night where he officially handed in his resignation as mayor.

When asked if there was anything he’d like to share with the people of Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry, McDonell replied: “Thanks to all the people who came out and helped.”

He vowed to “be there for all the residents of this riding” because “that’s really our job.”


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Respect – Don’t reject Mental Health Awareness Week

If a friend told you he had broken his arm, you’d probably be very sympathetic,  probably ask how you could help out until the cast came off.

If a friend told you he had just been diagnosed with cancer, you’d probably be deeply moved,  offer a comforting ear when things were bad, provide hope and  encouragement and lots of support. 

Now, suppose this friend confided that he was suffering from an ongoing mental illness.

Would you still offer to help out? Offer that sympathetic ear? Provide hope, encouragement and lots of support?

According to the Mood Disorders Society of Canada, the answer to all of the above is most likely no. Why? The centuries old stigma still firmly attached to mental disorders. 

When physical disabilities occur, there is rarely blame attached. But if an illness is mental, society appears quick to judge the sufferer.

“Shape up.” “Snap out of it.” “Tough up.” “Face up to it.” “You’re just doing this to yourself.” are society’s common responses to an admission of mental illness. 

Yet the reality is that one in five Canadians will experience a mental illness at some point in their lives, and this will, in turn, touch their families, friends and communities. (Canadian Psychiatric Association)

The real irony is that hope and treatments do exist.

“The majority of people experiencing a mental illness will get better, and even those with the most severe mental illnesses can benefit from early treatment and recover quality of life,” says Dr. Nizar Ladha, president of the Canadian Psychiatric Association. 

Advances have been made in the areas of genetics, biochemistry, anatomy and physiology as well as in understanding the psychological mechanisms that underlie psychiatric disorders and play a role in their occurrence. Light is also being shed on the role that environment and culture play in the development and treatment of psychiatric illness.

Depression is one of the most common, and, in many ways, most treatable of mental disorders. It affects all ages from very small children to senior citizens. 

Depression manifests itself in many different ways. “It is not a simple thing to diagnose, which is all the more reason to keep on top of it, and pay attention to feelings and health,” says Alexandra Kaey of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Among teens, depression is considered a significant contributor to thoughts of suicide, eating disorders, alcohol, drugs and internet abuse and, in some rare cases, to the type of murderous violence which rocked Columbine. 

One in ten adolescents aged 13-19 experiences a depressive episode. Around 20 per cent of teens may undergo a phase of depression. (Know the Teens)

Yet most high schools offer few, if any, intervention workshops or provide any long term education on issues of mental health. 

The need is certainly there. Canada holds the “unhappy distinction of having the worst adolescent suicide rate among the world’s leading industrial powers. Every year, 300 kids between the ages of ten and 19 kill themselves.” (Toronto Star, Feb., 2005)

Mental Health Awareness Week, October 2-8, is attempting to spread a message of hope across Canada.

There is help out there. Treatments and therapy are available. Silence about mental health is costly to families, the work force, the entire nation. 

Mental Health Awareness Week seeks to bring mental health  issues out into the light, particularly among young Canadians. It emphasizes the need to educate parents, teachers, employers, family members, other teens, about the signs of depression, and about intervention and assistance programs which are available.

And the need for more funding for the treatment of all mental disorders continues.

Respect mental illness: don’t reject those who suffer from it. Instead, reject the stigma. 

Mental Health Awareness Week, October 2-8, offers a real chance for people to talk openly and without fear. 


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High School development leaves Helping Hand mission

The final notice has been received and the Helping Hand, a mission of the Pentecostal Church, has until October 17th to vacate its location in the old Morrisburg High School, where it has been a source of clothing for those in need for the past 11 years.

Unfortunate, but true, the Helping Hand used clothing depot, answers a very big need in South Dundas and the surrounding area with an average of 2000-2,500 visitors benefiting from it each year.

The fact that the Helping Hand has to vacate is not a surprise as they were put on notice way back in 2009, that they were in their location on a monthly basis. With the upcoming renovation to the historic high school building to house an expansion to the St. Lawrence Medical and the South Dundas Municipal offices, the monthly basis has ended and the Helping Hand is closing.

The problem is that since they were put on notice of the eventual loss of their location they have been unable to find a new location that would be rent-free, or at the very least, very cheap.

“We have a lot of people not happy about it,” says Pentecostal minister, Rev. Duncan Perry.  “But we can’t afford to go somewhere else. We have a couple thousand dollars (donations) a year coming in, but that is not enough to rent.”