PICKERING -- Residents who help make Pickering great were honoured for their efforts during the City's 2011 Civic Awards.
Thirty individuals and groups were recognized for their contributions to the community during a ceremony on May 28, which covered everything from volunteer efforts to heritage to urban design and cultural diversity.
“Each year I look forward to this celebration because it affords us the opportunity to shine a well-deserved spotlight on so many outstanding individuals, teams and organizations that call our community home,” said Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge the hard work, dedication and contributions that have touched countless lives and make this wonderful city even better.”
Claremont resident Carolyn Evans was recognized for her decades of service to the community with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Over the years Ms. Evans has contributed to her community as a volunteer with her local United church, as a Girl Guide leader and as a long-time swim instructor, teaching at both the Pickering Recreation Centre and offering lessons to area children in her backyard pool for more than 25 years.
“It's really rewarding to see the little ones swim and the smiles on their faces,” Ms. Evans said of teaching, noting water safety is also a top priority.
“I encourage anyone and everyone to learn how to swim, it's a life-saving skill. Especially with toddlers, it's important parents know not to take their eyes off kids because it only takes a second and they sink like a rock. It can happen so fast.”
Mayor Ryan praised Ms. Evans for her efforts.
“Ms. Evans realized that many youngsters in her community couldn't make their way to public swimming pools,” he explained, noting she offered programs at neighbour's pools before getting one of her own.
“Each summer, Ms. Evans spends six weeks teaching about 40 students a day. Some of her former students are now bringing their children to her for lessons and some have gone on to become certified instructors. Her commitment to ensuring children are safe around water is commendable.”
Other honorees included Pickering teen Nicholas Schiefer, who received a special citation for his scientific achievements, which resulted in him winning a $50,000 scholarship from the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for his search engine project, which is optimized for small chunks of text such as tweets and Facebook updates.
This year's Bravery/Heroism Award went to Pickering resident Scott Canata, who raised $40,000 for cancer research with his Run to Live, which saw the Pickering resident run 8,500 kilometres from one coast to another in honour of his mother, a cancer survivor, and his grandfather, who died from cancer six months ago.
PICKERING -- Durham Region is one step closer to having an elected chairman after Pickering joined Clarington and Ajax in endorsing the position.
Councillors voted unanimously to endorse a regional bylaw that would switch the regional chairman position to direct election, rather than appointment by council, during a regular council meeting on May 22.
At least one citizen was not in favour.
“I've been reading up on the issue and it's just not obvious to me that there would be any benefits in terms of good government,” resident Glenn Brown told council, noting that an elected chairman wouldn't necessarily represent the region any better than an appointed one.
“I don't see the benefits, but it would create a new ring to watch in the political circus,” he continued.
Councillor Doug Dickerson also had concerns with direct election, noting it would take deep pockets to campaign across an area as geographically vast as Durham.
“Candidates are going to need to put quite a team together and I have a fear that's going to create party politics at the municipal level, which would be a travesty but where else is someone going to find that team?” he said.
He noted he had “serious misgivings” about direct election but intended to support it because of the results of a referendum question on the issue that was placed on the 2010 municipal election ballot.
The question, which asked voters if they were in favour of switching to a direct election for the regional chairman position, received 80 per cent support across the region, and 83 per cent in Pickering.
Other councillors also pointed to the referendum question when explaining their support, while others simply called direct election more democratic.
“I think this is long overdue for the region as we come to our 40-year celebration,” said Coun. Kevin Ashe, noting it wasn't about the performance of current chairman Roger Anderson. “This is about us moving forward and growing as a democracy.”
The regional bylaw, which was passed by regional council on April 4, would change the method of selecting the chairman from appointment by council to direct election by the public.
The bylaw needs a “triple majority” to pass. In addition to support from regional council, five out of eight lower-tier municipal councils must pass a resolution in support and the total number of electors in the lower-tier municipalities that pass the resolution must also form a majority of all the electors in the region.
V!VA Retirement Home has risen to its full six storeys at 1880 Glengrove Road at Kingston Road. Just steps away from Pickering Town Centre, with 137 suites V!VA offers another great option for active retirement living in Downtown Pickering.
Meanwhile, in Downtown South, San Francisco By the Bay readies for the new occupants of 1235 Bayly Street, a 16 storey, 235 unit condominium tower located just minutes from the Pickering GO Station. At Walnut Lane & Kingston Road, the next phase of commercial development is well underway. Early tenants including Ci Gusto, West End Burgers and Michaels will join Home Depot and Shoppers Drug Mart in the New Year.
Today Brampton council will vote on changes to the city's rules around public delegations at council and committee meetings. In January, council directed staff to bring forward alterations to the city's procedural by-law to enhance opportunities for the public to communicate with council and com- mittees.
The central issue concerns the public's ability to speak at council meetings. Public delegations are required to address specific matters included on council and committee agendas. A request to speak before council or committee must be submit- ted to the city by 4:30 p.m. on the Tuesday of the week before the meeting takes place.
However, agendas are typically finalized and published the Friday before the meeting is set to take place. As such, requests submitted after the agenda is published are subject to the city's procedural rules for new business, meaning unanimous approval is required for the individual to speak at council and a two-thirds vote for committees.
Brampton staff is now recommending that any request to speak before council or a committee on an agenda item will be permitted as-of-right up until the start of the meeting.
“The proposed rule change would permit a delegation request after the agenda is published and the public has an opportunity to review the agenda,” the staff report reads.
As well, though no by-law changes were proposed, staff addressed the issue of council members' use of smartphones and other electronic messaging devices during council and committee meetings. The report urges meeting chairs to enforce existing by-law provisions to ensure minimal disruptions. As well, staff notes it is imperative that councillors are “not perceived to be influenced by or influencing others through electronic messaging during a meeting.”
This issue has also recently popped up in Pickering, where Councillor David Pickles introduced a motion to amend council's procedural by-law to state: “the use of electronic devices by members of council is prohibited at in-camera and public meetings of council and committees.” Pickles introduced the motion at council's April 18 meeting, though despite Mayor Dave Ryan's support, the motion was voted down 4-3.
Brampton staff had also been asked for a report on adding a new section to committee of council, for the city's buildings and property management department. However, staff is not recommending such a section be added. The staff report notes the existing sections of the committee of council “were not established to mirror the organizational structure of the city's administration.”
The subject matter of a given staff report determines which section of the committee it will be directed towards, not the author's department.
PICKERING -- Councillors aren't willing to give up their smartphones during their meetings.
Ward 3 City Councillor David Pickles' motion to ban the use of cellphones in council chambers during public and in-camera meetings failed at the April 18 council meeting.
The motion stated electronic devices at meetings can be “distracting, disruptive and disrespectful.”
“I don't think there's any need to use BlackBerries or other tablets or cellphones during the conduct of meetings and I hope other councillors will support this,” Coun. Pickles said at the meeting.
Some did, such as Ward 2 City Councillor Doug Dickerson, who brought the motion forward along with Coun. Pickles.
“I understand the need for something for emergencies but not for continuous use of them within, whether that be a delegation or member of council,” he said.
But the majority didn't support a ban.
“I do believe we should treat our colleagues and delegations with respect but it's not necessarily about having a BlackBerry or not,” said Ward 1 City Councillor Kevin Ashe.
Electronic devices are the way of the future, said Ward 2 Regional Councillor Bill McLean, who likes to know family members, residents and clients can reach him day or night.
“My BlackBerry's always on, even when I'm sleeping -- my wife will attest to that,” he said. “I also have a business that is not a nine-to-five business.”
Ward 3 Regional Councillor Peter Rodrigues, who noted he hardly has his BlackBerry with him at meetings, said banning an object isn't the answer to making council more respectful.
“Should we ban screwdrivers because the odd person will stick someone with it?” he said.
Ward 1 Regional Councillor Jennifer O'Connell complained the motion didn't spell out that the use of assistive electronic devices would be allowed for someone with a disability.
“We're asking council to move backward in time?” she said.
But Coun. Pickles said the clerk would make sure those details were ironed out in the bylaw process. He added after the meeting that such allowances go without saying, like guide dogs accompanying the visually impaired when a sign says 'no pets allowed.'
The mayor supported the motion.
“I think it's well-intended and I think it would work,” he said.
PICKERING -- A Pickering councillor is tired of his colleagues using their smartphones during public meetings.
While the doors entering council chambers have a sign that says no cellphones are permitted, and a security guard keeps a watchful eye out for offenders in the public gallery, Ward 3 City Councillor David Pickles says it's time councillors start playing by the rules. He says any time he looks down the row of his colleagues, it's common to see them looking at their phones, possibly checking their e-mails, while members of the public or fellow councillors are talking.
“We've got to show more courtesy our way,” he said.
He plans to bring a motion forward at the council meeting on Monday, April 18 to control their use. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. and will take place at the Pickering Civic Complex, One The Esplanade.
DURHAM -- Overwhelmingly, the voters have said they want a say in who runs Durham Region.
In percentages ranging from the mid-60s to the high-80s, voters were unequivocal in their desire.
To be binding, however, at least 50 per cent of voters had to cast a ballot -- an almost unheard of total in municipal elections.
For instance, unofficial totals show 26 per cent of eligible voters in Ajax cast a ballot, while just over 32 per cent voted in Pickering.
Now, it will be up to the new Regional Council on what happens next.
Should Regional Council decide to move forward with an elected chairman, a request would be made to the Minister of Municipal Affairs to pass a regulation allowing Durham to go ahead. After that, Durham would have to approve a bylaw making the change. The bylaw would need a 'triple majority -- support of Regional Council, support by a majority of municipalities and the number of residents in the municipalities supporting the change are a majority of residents in the Region.
Current Regional Chairman Roger Anderson isn't surprised at the results.
“It's not anything I wasn't expecting in the urban areas of Durham Region,” said Mr. Anderson.
In Ajax, where politicians have been for an elected chair, 13,788 per cent of voters supported a direct election, while 2,375 voted for the current system.
In Oshawa, more than 21,100 supported an elected chair, against just over 5,800 opposed.
Whitby saw 19.171 in favour, while almost 4,400 opposed an elected chair.
In Scugog the vote was 5,082 yes and 2,566 no. In Uxbridge, 4,765 said yes and 2,158 said no.
It's the second time some voters have had a say on how the chairman is selected. In 2006, Ajax, Pickering and Oshawa included a question on the ballot and in Ajax, 89.3 per cent voted in favour of an elected chair. In Pickering, the vote was 89.2 per cent in favour and in Oshawa, it was 86.3 per cent in favour. Overall, it was 87.9 per cent in favour.
An attempt was made to have a question on all ballots in Durham for the 2006 election, but Regional Council voted it down.
Mr. Anderson expects the issue to move forward.
“Hopefully we'll have it in the hands of the local municipalities by June,” he said.
The change would be in place for the 2014 municipal election
The waters of Durham politics rippled on Monday, as early results predicted three incumbent mayors had been unseated in the region's eight municipalities.
But a tidal wave of change looked to be forming in the distance: a critical, region-wide referendum on whether the area's top political job should be changed from appointment by council to election by general vote appeared to be carried by a landslide.
In Whitby, Ajax, Uxbridge, and Brock, where unofficial results were available at press time, electors voted lopsidedly in favour of democratically electing the chair of regional council --- in Ajax, as many as 85 per cent of voters inked ‘Yes’ on the ballot. The chair is currently appointed by council's 28 members.
“Tonight has been a victory for democracy in Durham Region,” said John Mutton, the former mayor of Clarington who fought to have the referendum question on the ballot. He is campaigning to be appointed chair until the decision takes effect in 2014.
“It's just what we had always thought --- the voters are overwhelmingly in favour of having a directly elected and accountable chair,” Mutton said.
Roger Anderson has been regional chair for the past 13 years. On Monday, he said the referendum results were not a vote on his performance. “I don't think it's a mark against the regional chairs, I just think it's that (voters) want the right to vote for the regional chair.”
The referendum is not binding unless 50 per cent of the region's voters cast a ballot, but Mutton said the results give council their “marching orders.”
Meanwhile, mayoral incumbents Steve Parish in Ajax, Dave Ryan in Pickering, and Pat Perkins in Whitby were voted back into power, partial returns indicated.
But in several other races across the region, early results predicted the defeat of several incumbents, notably in Oshawa where John G. Henry defeated two-term mayor John Gray. In Uxbridge, Gerri Lynn O'Connor was beating incumbent Bob Shepherd, and Clarington incumbent Jim Abernethy was losing to Adrian Foster.
The most dismal showing was not for any candidate: in Ajax, where voter turnout for the 2006 election was only 23.2 per cent, only three per cent more residents bothered to get out and vote. The city tried to boost participation with celebrity-filled ads, but with every vote counted, Ajax's turnout was still only 26 per cent.
Councillor Pickles was pleased to attend the Fire Services Awards Reception on October 19th hosted by the Pickering Fire Services and Pickering Professional Firefighter's Association.
“It is important to take the time to attend this event to recognize the committment and hard work of our firefighters.” - Councillor Pickles
THE TRAIL -- The Pickering trail starts near the Rouge River, with a spectacular view as you head east through the Petticoat Creek Conservation Area, a good place to stop for a quick rest or picnic. The trail takes one along residential roads around Frenchman's Bay; don't try to take a shortcut along the waterfront past West Shore Boulevard, it's a dead end. Once you bike or hike back down the east side of the bay and reach the bottom of Liverpool Road, it's along the boardwalk where one can view the large OPG wind turbine.
RESTROOMS -- There are limited opportunities for a restroom break along the Pickering trail; restrooms can be found at the west side in Petticoat Creek Conservation Area, but one won't find another public washroom until reaching the east side of Frenchman's Bay, with another facility at the foot of Liverpool Road (Millennium Square).
PICNIC SPOTS -- The Pickering waterfront trail offers a few spectacular areas for picnics; perhaps the most scenic is at the Petticoat Creek conservation area with another at the Frenchman's Bay east park. One could also easily set up a picnic basket on the greenery near the wind turbine at the eastern part of the trail.
GRAB A BITE -- While there are great spots along the trail for picnics, if one doesn't pack food it could be a hungry journey. However, there are some restaurants at the bottom of Liverpool Road including the quaint Waterfront Bistro overlooking the lake.
PHOTO OP -- A picturesque view of the Pickering marina is afforded at the base of Liverpool Road, especially nice during sunrise/sunset. Getting 'underneath' the OPG windmill further east from that point can also make a dramatic shot.
THE TRAIL -- After heading past the Pickering nuclear generating station past Brock Road, one launches onto a section of trail covered by nature's canopy. A bridge crossing requires riders to dismount; for those on inline skates, beware as the trail turns to gravel almost immediately east of the bridge. After an uphill battle, the trail is fairly smooth sailing with a nice view of the lake.
RESTROOMS -- Ajax's Rotary Park, on the western part of the Ajax trail, boasts washroom facilities. More can be found slightly east of that point, but beyond that one will not find another restroom for some distance.
PICNIC SPOTS -- Ajax's trail offers several spots for picnics, with picnic tables along the way near the pedestrian bridge, and another nice spot at the waterfront park east of Shoal Point Road. There are also large grassy areas to the north of the trail along the way (one in particular just east of Rotary Park) that could accommodate a homemade feast.
GRAB A BITE -- Rotary Park boasts a concession stand, but finding food for sale along the way is not an easy task. It's probably best to take food for this section of trail rather than buying it.
PHOTO OP -- The footbridge just west of Rotary Park allows a nice view of a beachy area, and there are several spots along the trail east of Rotary to snap photos of the lake. Paradise Park is another ideal area for photography near the water, just west of Shoal Point Road.
THE TRAIL -- Much of Whitby's waterfront trail is not on the waterfront, including a dangerous stretch of gravel shoulder along Victoria Street where large trucks and other vehicles whizz by. (Tip: there is a narrow 'track' created by bicycles on the inside of the shoulder to smooth out the ride). After travelling along some residential roads, one eventually finds oneself near the water near the Whitby Mental Health Centre. But then it's back up Gordon Street, with an option to cut through a park to Watson Street or back up to Victoria for a short stretch.
RESTROOMS -- There are portable toilets on Whitby Shores Greenway just south of Victoria Street, also at the foot of the shortcut from Gordon Street to Watson Street. Port Whitby boasts washrooms and one can also find facilities at Heydenshore Kiwanis Park near where Water Street meets South Blair Street, and portable potties on Thickson Road near Thickson Woods.
PICNIC SPOTS -- Because much of Whitby's waterfront trail is not actually on the waterfront, there are limited picnic spots. However, there is a picnic area near Heydenshore Kiwanis Park.
GRAB A BITE -- Those feeling peckish along the Whitby trail can stop at a plaza at Gordon and Victoria streets, and there has traditionally been a chip truck stationed along Water Street near the foot of Brock Street South. The Town boasts the Port Whitby Marina's clubhouse is open to the public for food and refreshment.
PHOTO OP -- A quaint lighthouse stands at the foot of a pier off Water Street, with more attractive scenery along the trail eastbound to Thickson Road. Thickson's Point, just west of Thickson, is a nice lookout spot near the lake.
THE TRAIL -- A new section of trail is being offered along the waterfront from the Whitby-Oshawa border to the base of Park Road, but you can also travel along Phillip Murray Avenue. The trail then takes tourists through a picturesque wildlife reserve, before snaking up though Lakeview Park with some traveling along roadways. But the trail east of Farewell Street is a treat; another wildlife area, and smooth sailing from there into Clarington.
RESTROOMS -- There is a portable toilet right on Boundary Road as one enters Oshawa's trail system, and facilities at Lakeview Park (slightly off the marked trail). But it's a bit of a hike until one comes across another restroom near Darlington Provincial Park.
PICNIC SPOTS -- There aren't many picnic spots per se along the Oshawa trail, but Lakeview Park would make a suitable venue. If you can bike or hike a little further, there is a nice picnic area at Darlington Provincial Park.
GRAB A BITE -- Food is available at Lakeview Park, but don't count on finding too many other options along the route.
PHOTO OP -- Oshawa's trail has its fair share of photo opportunities; there is a wildlife reserve just east of Cedar Street off the end of Stone Street, with ideal photo-snapping surroundings a little further along the trail at Second Marsh Wildlife Area and McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve.
THE TRAIL -- The trail opens with a trip through Darlington Provincial Park near campgrounds and picnic areas with smooth going to Courtice Road up to South Service Road. But as the trail heads back south along Osbourne Road, it turns to gravel, not suitable for those on inline skates. And a bit further down the trail the surface becomes clay/gravel which is also not inviting for inlines. Be careful not to miss the OPG Darlington trail head off Solina Road. But it's a treat for bicyclists; picnic areas, scenery, even a grassy trail leads visitors east.
RESTROOMS -- There are plenty of opportunities to stop for a break along the Clarington trail; there's a washroom just east of the McLaughlin reserve, the Ontario Parks Store in Darlington Provincial Park also boasts facilities. There's a portable toilet at the parking lot near Park Road, with another at the parking area off West Beach Road.
PICNIC SPOTS -- Clarington also boasts pretty picnic areas; some at Darlington park, with another nice spot near the parking area at Park Road.
GRAB A BITE -- The Parks Store (in Darlington Park) boasts food and snacks. There's the Fifth Wheel truck stop at South Service and Waverley roads, and Bobby C's restaurant offers a nice patio view of Port Darlington near the foot of Port Darlington Road.
PHOTO OP -- There is much scenery to snap along the Clarington trail, with Port Darlington a nice sight to take in. Samuel Wilmot nature area, further east on the trail, boasts lookout points near the lake.
DURHAM -- The Region will investigate having an integrity commissioner who could be used by all Durham communities.
Regional council's finance committee decided to have staff prepare a report on the matter, including how much it could cost.
In February, Pickering council endorsed having an integrity commissioner, at the Regional level, who could be shared by all municipalities. Pickering let the other Durham communities, along with the Region, know what it had done.
Some municipalities, such as Ajax, supported the idea, while others, such as Clarington and Port Perry, didn't.
Committee member and Clarington Mayor Jim Abernethy said he wanted a report from staff.
Scugog Mayor and committee chairwoman Marilyn Pearce said a report could be done by June, as staff would have begun work on the 2011 budget by then.
The Pickering motion suggested the issue be dealt with during the 2010 budget deliberations, but Mayor Pearce noted it was too late, as the budget has been passed.
“I feel this should be a cost borne by the municipalities, not the Region. It could be on a user-fee basis,” Mayor Abernethy said.
“A municipality could use it if it needs to,” he said. “I think this is something important. It's important we move forward on this in a positive way.”
Oshawa Councillor John Henry joked, “I don't think Oshawa could afford it on a user-fee basis.”
Mayor Pearce noted the Region could use an integrity commissioner, if needed, through the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, a lobby group for municipal governments.
Garry Cubitt, the Region's chief administrative officer, said the Region has an internal ethics program offered through the human resources department.
Mayor Pearce said the report would include the cost of having a commissioner in-house or retaining someone.
PICKERING -- Pickering councillors questioned the regional chairman for the good portion of an hour last week on everything from the widening of Hwy. 407 to the public alerting system for the nuclear plant.
Roger Anderson gave his annual address at the latest council meeting, listing ways the Region has supported Pickering in 2009. Improvements included the $8.3-million expansion of Brock Road from Dellbrook Avenue to Rossland Road, which will continue into 2010. He also mentioned the widening of Altona Road between Kingston Road and Sheppard Avenue, valued at $6.5 million, expected to be completed in 2010.
“In addition, the Region invested $2.9 million to rehabilitate 12.5 kilometres of regional roadways in Pickering,” Mr. Anderson said. “We also invested $750,000 to install or improve traffic control systems at 10 locations in the city.”
He also mentioned the Region's largest project ever, the $575-million Stage 3 expansion of the Duffin Creek water pollution control plant. It includes shares from York and Durham regions and $94 million in federal and provincial infrastructure programs funding. The Region has contributed almost $73 million to it this year.
He noted recent work on the Region's strategic plan, which focuses on promoting a vibrant economy, protecting and sustaining the environment, balancing growth, enabling sustainable communities and ensuring Durham is safe, healthy and inclusive.
Ward 2 City Councillor Doug Dickerson commented Mr. Anderson didn't bring up the topic of the alerting system project for the nuclear plant. The Region is provincially required to install sirens throughout a three-kilometre radius of the plant. After years of planning and agreements between Pickering and the Region, the number of sirens has changed dramatically, and Coun. Dickerson felt the Region has ordered more sirens than is required. It's also recently asked for Pickering's support to add six more.
“Why would we want to put up more sirens than we have to?” Coun. Dickerson said.
Mr. Anderson said he'd share the concerns with staff.
Ward 3 City Councillor David Pickles mentioned concerns Greenwood residents have with plans for a bypass being put at Westney Road as part of the Hwy. 407 east expansion.
The chairman said the top priority is moving forward on the 407, and while he'd be hard pressed to ask for a delay, he'll relay the concerns to Aecon Group Inc., designers of the project.
Ward 1 City Councillor Jennifer O'Connell questioned Mr. Anderson on signing off on the change in location for a contentious odour control facility that was set to go in west Pickering. Over the summer recess, Mr. Anderson and York Regional Chairman Bill Fisch agreed that the facility be moved just west of Pickering, over York-Durham Townline Road, without consulting council.
To Mr. Anderson, the answer was simple since Regional council had signed a resolution that if York were to move it out of Durham Region, he could sign off on it.
“I don't know why you'd think I'd go back to council when I had authority to sign off on it,” he said.
PICKERING -- Hiring a shared integrity commissioner to handle complaints across Durham Region will allow for consistent rules, application and economic efficiency, says a Pickering councillor.
Ward 3 City Councillor David Pickles and Ward 1 Regional Councillor Bonnie Littley introduced a motion at council's latest meeting asking the Region of Durham to establish the position or hire an integrity commissioner to serve Durham and all of its municipalities.
“A hodgepodge of several different integrity commissioners and codes of conduct in the Region and municipalities would be confusing and ineffective,” Coun. Pickles said.
The idea is to get an integrity commissioner in place to work across the region on a common code of conduct for elected officials. Coun. Pickles suggested retaining the commissioner as a common request for services by the Region and municipalities. That way they can get the best price and consistency, but be billed separately for the service required, “which I think and hope will be very little.”
Ward 2 Regional Councillor Bill McLean argued the idea doesn't have enough teeth to pass at Regional council.
“It's not even going to get out of the gate at the Region,” he said.
Mayor Dave Ryan supported the motion but pointed out if it fails at the Region, it can come back to Pickering council for alternate plans.
Council approved the motion unanimously.
Clarington's council is expected to consider the motion at its March 1 meeting.
PICKERING -- Pickering could soon ask the Region of Durham to seek out an integrity commissioner to serve all municipalities across Durham.
Ward 3 City Councillor David Pickles recently gave notice that he and Ward 1 Regional Councillor Bonnie Littley will introduce a motion at the next council meeting to ask the Region to hire or establish the position of an integrity commissioner to serve the Region and all eight of its municipalities.
The integrity commissioner would review inquiries or complaints on matters regulated in the municipalities' code of conduct or code of practice.
Changes in 2006 to the Municipal Act allowed individual municipalities to establish the role. Coun. Pickles feels a shared commissioner will maintain accountability and transparency in Durham's municipalities. It would also be economically feasible, practical and consistent, he said.
Clarington's council is expected to consider the motion at its March 1 meeting. Coun. Pickles is glad to see others are endorsing the idea and hopes more municipalities will catch on.
“There's a greater efficiency and accountability if other councils will change the position,” he said in an interview.
Pickering council is expected to consider the motion Tuesday, Feb. 16.
From Friday's Globe and Mail Published on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009
If something goes terribly wrong at a nuclear power plant, how much liability should the operator bear?
The federal government is introducing a new limit of $650-million for damages that can be claimed from nuclear companies after an accident at one of their stations. The amount represents a massive leap from the previous $75-million ceiling, which anti-nuclear groups called a hidden subsidy.
Questions remain, however, as to whether the new amount would cover all the claims due to the psychological trauma of living through such a mishap, the health impacts of being showered with radiation and damage to property.
The compensation figure, contained in a bill now before Parliament, is much less than amounts in some other countries, including the United States, Japan and Germany. Reactors in the U.S. have a call on about $10-billion to cover accidents, the Japanese have about $1.4-billion and the Germans have unlimited liability.
Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt is defending the new limit, telling a parliamentary committee hearing on the proposal earlier this month that the figure is in line with international standards and is a fair compromise balancing “the needs of victims with society's interest in nuclear development.”
Under the new legislation, once the $650-million is exhausted, Parliament has the option, but not the obligation, to vote to give additional funds to compensate victims. If it did vote to give out money, it would potentially put taxpayers at risk of a huge bill for damages.
The limit, which applies to such companies as Ontario Power Generation, Hydro-Québec, and NB Power, has prompted controversy. Greenpeace issued a report this week estimating there would be about $50-billion in health damages from a worst-case accident at just one of Ontario's Bruce stations, located on a relatively isolated section of Lake Huron.
Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a spokesman for the group, said the new compensation limit is “definitely not” adequate and would be quickly used up by those with claims from a major incident. He said accidents at the Pickering or Darlington stations, which are closer to the densely populated region around Toronto, could have even larger impacts.
He contended that because nuclear plant operators have a relatively low limit on the amount of insurance they need to cover accidents, they are able to sell power at rates that do not reflect the true costs of generating it. It is special treatment that isn't available to other industries. “This is a huge hidden subsidy,” he said of the damage cap of $650-million.
The current $75-million compensation limit was established in 1976, before such nuclear accidents as the one at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union in 1986 and at Three Mile Island in the U.S. in 1979.
But the nuclear industry and the federal government say such worst-case, catastrophic accidents are extremely unlikely. George Christidis, director of regulatory affairs for the Canadian Nuclear Association, says the industry's safety record has been exemplary, with no accident claims to date, justifying a cap on damages well below the levels of a severe incident.
“There has never been an injury, a radiation-based injury” due to a nuclear power plant mishap in Canada, he said.
Natural Resources Canada, in an e-mailed response to questions, said that it based the liability limit in part on its estimates of the effects of the “worst case foreseeable nuclear incidents” likely to occur in Canada.
Mr. Christidis rejected claims the cap on damages amounts to a handout to the nuclear industry, which he says plays a major role in promoting exports and in generating power. “In our view, it's not seen as a subsidy,” he said.
Under the proposed legislation, nuclear plant operators wouldn't be liable for damages if their plants had accidents resulting from war, civil war or insurrection, according to the Library of Parliament's summary of its contents. However, payments will be made if a terrorist attack causes the damages.
HAPPY CANADA DAY
At any given time more than 1,700 people in Ontario are on organ transplant awaiting lists. However, each year the number of donated organs and tissue falls short of the provinceās waiting lists and many individuals die waiting for much needed transplants.
Most, if not all, of us know of someone in our community who has either received an organ transplant or is awaiting a transplant and a second chance to live to its fullest. It is my hope that increasing awareness of the importance of organ and tissue donation will increase donations for transplantation, which will contribute to saving lives and improving the quality of life for many people.
Many people will spend months, and in many cases years waiting for a second chance to live, see and walk because the need for organs and tissue outweighs their availability. However, it doesn't have to be this way. Everyone is a potential donor, regardless of age.
So, give someone a second chance and join me and others in your community by signing a donor card and/or registering with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. You can do so when renewing your driver licence, or by updating your health card, or by obtaining a Gift of Life Donor Card. For more information, contact the Trillium Gift of Life Network at 1-800-263-2833 or www.giftoflife.on.ca
In September of 2003, the 20th anniversary celebration of the opening of the Pickering Recreation Centre and an event at the Pickering Town Centre attracked enthusiastic crowds for Pickering's own women's 100M hurdles 2003 IAAF World Track and Field world champion Perdita Felicien's homecoming. The Pickering and Ward 3 resident impressed fans with her gracious appreciatation to Pickering and provided inspiration as well as the message to stay in school and earn a degree to our youth.
Council named Perdita as the City's Ambassador to the World in 2004, leading up to the Athen's Olympics.
I am please to have supported the construction of a much-needed women's shelter to service the area of west Durham including Pickering and Ajax. The 15,000 sq. ft. facility located in Ajax opened in the fall of 2003.
One of the prouder moments for me was that I, and the other six members of Pickering Council, attended the meeting of Ajax Council to support the establishment of this women's shelter in 2002.
The groundbreaking for the women's shelter, now named Herizon House, took place in Ajax in April of 2002. Councillor Pickles and his wife Brenda were pleased to attend, with Janet Ecker, former M.P.P., former Pickering Mayor Wayne Arthurs and other officials, the May 2002 "a tasteful event" fundraiser for Herizon House.
For women in need of help, the organizations' crises line is 1-866-HERIZON.
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