Friday, January 30, 2009

Haldimand "What has Happened to our Roads?"

Before I begin my rant about the quality of service that we are getting in regards to winter maintenance, I want to say Kudo’s to the Haldimand County Roads Crew! You do a remarkable job and work very hard, Thank-You!

This winter has certainly been an extreme one with more snow than I can remember in the last several years. When we moved here from Hamilton in 1999, I couldn’t say enough good things about how great our roads are looked after in the wintertime. A few people had their doubts about us moving into the rural area especially for hubby going back and forth to work. Up until this year, outside of a major winter storm or a freezing rainstorm, hubby has never missed a day of work in the winter. I can’t say that about this year, it has been quite the opposite!

We have been snowed in here on Lakeshore Rd. many times this winter, not all because of snowstorms, more often it has been the blowing snow off of the fields and the Lake.

I have called the Mayor on several occasions this year with complaints about our road not being plowed and being snowed in when there has been no actual snowstorm. The Mayors answer to this is that people should just stay home from work when the roads are bad. I have a problem with that remark, maybe she is in no fear of losing her job, but there are many out there that cannot afford to just take a day off work every time our road is impassible in times when there has been no actual storm!

Another point that I brought to her attention was the fact that when we can’t get out, no one can get in either! So thank god there has been no 911 emergencies when we were snowed in!

I found out recently that council had approved the "minimum" level of service for winter control maintenance in Haldimand County.

Our service is based on road class and the ability to fund and deliver winter control as per the standards defined in the Municipal Act under what is known as the "Minimum Maintenance Standards". So our service is at the bare minimum required by law! Well I don’t know about you but when I found this out I was furious!

For the taxes that we pay along Lakeshore Rd. the current service level is "unacceptable" in my opinion. I am sure that for anyone that is rural you will feel the same way. As far as I am concerned it is not too much to ask that our service level be bumped up to meet with the "extreme conditions" of this winter. Yes this will cost more money, but isn’t this what our taxes pay for?

I am sure that some on council will tell you that we are very tight for money…..or it is because of the hard economic times that we are facing… not accept that as an excuse! If in fact we are hurting that bad for money, it is time to seriously look at where our tax dollars are going!

As far as I am concerned winter maintenance is an "essential" service. It is not too much to ask as a taxpayer that our roads are safe and "passable"!

So what can we do, well call your local council member and ask why we are still at a "minimum" service level. If your councillor will not return your call, call another councillor. Call the roads department and put in a complaint, but be kind to them they are not at fault here, they do the best they can with what they have to work with!

One thing I know for sure is that if we do nothing, we will get "nothing" in return!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Haldimand "What Happened to Canadian Patriotism"

What happened to Canadian Patriotism?

Recent developments in both Canada and the United States have led me to ask the question “what happened to Canadian Patriotism?” I have often poked fun at the Americans for their over the top patriotic nature, for example when Richard Nixon lied through his teeth on public television and became a total disgrace to his “fellow Americans” and the day after his impeachment was forgiven by the majority because they felt sorry for him after his public disgrace, or the way the majority of Americans took George W. Bush at his word after the 911 attack and eagerly followed him into Iraq only to find out once again that the real truth behind the attack and the ensuing war in Iraq may never be known. I remember watching and listening to Ray Charles on a television special a few years ago as he sang “America The Beautiful” and brought tears to my eyes and wondering how a black American could feel so devoutly patriotic to a country whose government had for so long allowed his people to be degraded, enslaved and forced to live for the most part in abject poverty. I simply could not understand how people could devote themselves so strongly to a country whose leaders and political philosophy could treat so many of its people so badly. Then yesterday I watched as the first black American was inaugurated as President and I saw that same patriotism shine through in the huge crowds of all in attendance and it finally hit home, their patriotism is what makes them strong. Their patriotic nature is as powerful a feeling as the unconditional love you can only seem to get from a young child or a loyal dog. Patriotism is what makes America the strongest and most powerful nation in the world!

And then there is Canada. Here we have some (although I believe it is now a small minority of) Quebecers who want to separate Quebec from Canada and a number of Canadians outside Quebec (I believe a larger number than the Quebec minority) who wish they would. We have the oil rich Albertans who don’t think it’s fair that they should be expected to share their wealth with the rest of Canadians although they don’t talk about separation in the physical sense and we have Ontario where Torontonians seem to live with the impression that without them the rest of the province would shrivel up and die and resent the rest of us for stealing their wealth. We have some of the hardest working, heartiest and most generous Canadians doing everything they can to make a living in our Maritime Provinces and many other Canadians looking down their noses at them for it and wishing they would separate along with Quebec. Where is the patriotism? How did it get lost? How do we get it back? What do we have to do to become a country again rather than a collection of provinces?

Canadians collectively have a great deal to be proud of. Our armed forces have served and served well to protect the free world in times of need during two world wars and beyond. We live in a vast geographical area with an abundance of natural resources, wildlife, rivers lakes and streams. We have some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world; Niagara Falls, the Rocky Mountains, the Bay of Fundy and the Canadian Shield to name a few. Our Prairie Provinces produce food for a large part of the world and our coastal fisheries feed millions. We have one of the best health care systems in the world and even the poorest of us are rich beyond the dreams of many in third world countries. Canadian people in general are some of the biggest hearted, most caring and giving people on the planet. So why aren’t we proud to be Canadian? Why aren’t we happy to be Canadian? Why don’t we stand up and shout to the world with swollen chests and heads held high “WE ARE CANADIAN AND DAMN PROUD OF IT”? I don’t know! I don’t have the answer. That’s why I’m writing this, I’m hoping you do. I’m hoping that someone out there knows what it will take to bring back Canadian patriotism because I’m afraid that without it this great nation will cease to exist. Of course though, should that happen we will no doubt become Americans in which case they will definitely teach us what patriotism is all about.

So please, if you have the answer or answers share with us and if you don’t have the answer forward this letter along to your contacts because I know someone out there does.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Haldimand "Councillor Grice states Dunnville Arena is a Want not a Need"

The following article written by Karen Best was the third in a series of stories about the ongoing issue of the Dunnville and Cayuga Arenas.

I must say that I did attend the consultants open house and at no time did this consultant say that Cayuga needed an arena before Dunnville.

So what is very interesting is that the consultant in his report stated that both Dunnville and Cayuga in fact need a new arena. Council and staff have also read this report, yet it looks to me like Dunnville is not in the running for a new arena!

Mayor Trainer in her interview with Karen Best a few weeks ago stated that Cayuga will probably get a new arena before Dunnville. Now Councillor Grice has stated that Cayuga "needs" an arena and Dunnville "wants" an arena.

So my question would be: What has changed since the consultant (that was paid $50,000.00) completed his report?

County seeks community arena fundraising target
Posted 2 days ago

Over the next few weeks, members of arena committees will be asked how much their community can raise for a new facility.

"We thought it was important to sit down with the committees to find out what they feel is reasonable," said Hugh Hanly, Haldimand County general manager of community services.

"We need this information to make proper recommendations to council," he added.
Hanly, leisure services manager Rick Lane and councillors Don Ricker and Lorne Boyko will meet with members of the Dunnville Sport and Leisure Project committee on Jan. 21.

"I'm hoping they have a reasonable sense about what will be realistic for the community to raise,"said Boyko.

Dave Dunham, who chairs the Dunnville group, said he was willing to meet with county staff and the two councillors as long as fundraising was the only item on their agenda.

In February, Hanly will present council a report with recommendations about the Dunnville and Cayuga arenas. Last spring, a consultant recommended new arenas in both towns.

Hanly said each building would cost about $8 million. Financial modelling in the report will be based on what the individual communities feel they can contribute, he added.

Referring to the Caledonia twin pad and library complex, he said the community fundraising group committed to raising $2 million. This amounted to 16 per cent of the $12.4 million project cost.

This kind of fundraising is not done by fish fries and golf tournaments, noted Hanly.

After the first Haldimand County council decided to submit a Caledonia twin pad arena for provincial and federal funding in 2001, the Caledonia group began fundraising in earnest.

Clark Companies donated $1 million and several other corporations made significant donations.

For Hagersville arena improvements, a community group agreed to cover 50 per cent of the costs.

The outcome of upcoming fundraising discussions in Dunnville and Cayuga will probably set a percentage level for community partnerships, said Hanly.

In general, fundraising capacities in the two towns will add clarity to his report recommendations, he added.

A 2005 building audit determined that at least $3 million was required in total for floor, roof and interior and exterior work on the two aging buildings.

At a recent council meeting, Coun. Craig Grice spoke about a new initiative to set aside $109,000 a year for arenas.

"A reserve is the right thing to do," he said. "We know Cayuga needs a new arena and Dunnville wants one."

Both Dunham and Cayuga Think Rink co-chairs Rick Beale and John Metcalfe hope their town is the lucky one.

In a recent interview, Dunham wanted to provide more information related to a Chronicle story in the Jan. 9 edition. He said he was not asked to meet with Caledonia arena committee members last spring. Other Dunnville committee members attended the Caledonia presentation held in June because he was unable to attend.

Dunham also noted that the Maple Creek Leisureplex group, which is incorporated, was further ahead than the Caledonia group when Haldimand County was established eight years ago.

The leisureplex group did not fold and has applied for a charitable number, he added.

In allowing the Caledonia project to go ahead, the new Haldimand County council was not acknowledging what the Maple Creek committee had already done, said Dunham.

He also pointed out that Boyko knew the group was looking at a smaller parcel of privately owned land off Ramsey Drive.

In response to some of Dunham's comments, Boyko said he struck an ad hoc committee shortly after the audit identified expensive repairs for the Dunnville arena. He told members that it could be perceived that he had a conflict of interest so he asked group members to take over. His intention was to measure interest in a new arena and to encourage residents to launch the campaign.

Boyko declined to provide further comment on the property issue. "(Dunham) knows I'm a phone call away for anything," the councillor said.

When asked why he did not promote construction of a new Dunnville arena when the new county was established, Boyko said the Caledonia group was so furthest down the road with their plans. In 2001, Dunnville's arena was in the best condition of all four and Caledonia's rink was in the worst shape, he noted.

Article ID# 1390275

Haldimand "Fantino Petition Update"

Petition asks for inquiry into Fantino and OPP
Friday January 16, 2008

On Wednesday afternoon, a man came into The Chronicle office to sign a petition that asks for an inquiry into the actions and decisions of OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino and into the OPP actions in Caledonia over the past three years.

His signature will be one of 10,000 collected by April when the petition will be taken to the Ontario legislature. Launched last week by Caledonia residents Dave Brown and Ken Hewitt, the petition had about 2,500 supporters by Jan. 14.

Through the petition, they are asking for an immediate and unpaid suspension for Fantino while the inquiry into his actions is underway. In the petition's background statement, organizers said police violations of the Criminal Code and the Police Services Act have been documented. They also say the people of Ontario have the right to know the true costs of policing in Caledonia.

Anyone who has signed the petition on the internet will have to sign a hard copy which is the legally accepted document to have their voices heard. Copies are available at The Chronicle office and at the Dunnville Chamber of Commerce office.

If the petition is not available at the chamber's front desk, people are encouraged to ask as it may be in Haldimand Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett's office.

This week Brown delivered copies to stores and restaurants in Cayuga, Hagersville, Jarvis and Dunnville.

Hewitt said he had requests for copies from Ottawa, Barrie, London, Thorold, Niagara Falls, Toronto and Hamilton. "It's exploding," said Brown. "I can't believe how powerful it's getting...It's overwhelming the amount of people who support this."

"We just need law enforcement," he added. PLEASE SEE "REQUESTS" To pack the biggest wallop with politicians and media, Hewitt planned to deliver the petition to Queens Park during the week of April 12. He wanted 1,000 people to come with him. Anticipating a large gathering,

Hewitt said the timing will coincide with the third anniversary of the April 20 OPP raid on Douglas Creek Estates February 2006, several persons from Six Nations moved into the subdivision construction site claiming it as part of their people's territory.

The Caledonia property is within the Haldimand Tract that extends six miles from both sides of the Grand River. Granted in 1784 to Six Nations by Sir Frederick Haldimand, the land replaced territory lost when they fought with the British in the American War of Independence.

What threw Hewitt over the edge was Fantino's endorsement of Clyde Powless, a Six Nations resident. He faced mischief charges for allegedly pulling a hydro tower across Argyle Street South on Dec. 1 during a smoke shop protest.

In his letter, Fantino said Powless has acted as a negotiator and a go-between for his people and OPP. Reporters and politicians have seen Powless acting in that capacity at a few incidents over the past three years.

Fantino crossed the line in submitting that letter of support and is no longer unbiased or neutral, said Hewitt. "I think he needs to go," said Dunnville resident Dennis James. "We need someone who can abide by the rules...Breaking the law is breaking the law no matter what race you are."

He believed political influence was the biggest problem in the immediate area. Hamilton police officer David Hartless signed the petition as did other officers including some OPP members, he said.

Eager to see an inquiry into what was really going on, the Caledonia resident will ask more officers and friends to sign. This is being done professionally without blocking any roads or burning not even one tire, said Hartless.

Ultimately an inquiry will make sure no one else has to endure what Caledonia residents have, he pointed out. OPP are following flawed recommendations from the Ipperwash Inquiry, stated Hewitt.

Five years ago, Premier Dalton McGuinty ordered the inquiry to look into the death of Dudley George and to determine how to avoid a fatality can be prevented in future land claim disputes.

In Sept. 1995, George was one of the natives who moved into the Ipperwash Provincial Park. In a confrontation between protesters and police, a shot was fired and mortally wounded him. "It will bring a lot of things out in the open," said James of a Caledonia inquiry. "This is going to open up coast to coast."

Failure is not an option according to South Cayuga resident Donna Pitcher. "We will be relentless with this...and we will accept nothing but an inquiry being done," she said.

Barrett signed the petition. An attempt to confirm reports that MP Diane Finley only signed for the OPP inquiry was not successful. Her communication director Julie Vaux replied by email saying policing is a provincial matter. "What I can say is that Minister Finley supports her constituents and shares their frustrations as we approach the third anniversary of the Caledonia occupation," stated Vaux.

Calling from an agricultural meeting in Canfield, Barrett said he suggested that Hewitt bring the petition to his New Year levee on Jan. 11 in Caledonia. The MPP only signed in support of the public inquiry into OPP actions.

As a publicly elected servant, he said he could not stick his nose into court issues so he did not sign for the Fantino inquiry. Barrett was in full support of this new campaign for an inquiry as it will reveal solid factual evidence and hopefully will come up with a better approach to dealing with land claims. Barrett gave petition organizers credit for their responsible approach in seeking answers.

This conscious effort also takes off the pressure as the third anniversary of Feb. 28 is looming, he added. After the petition was launched, Gary McHale who founded the Caledonia Wake Up Call web site challenged Haldimand County council members to show their support for residents by signing the petition. Councillors Craig Grice, Buck Sloat and Leroy Bartlett did. Mayor Marie Trainer did not.

Even though she agreed with an inquiry, she felt she could not sign since she had testified about two-tier policing in McHale's bail condition hearings. She is also a member of the county's police services board and soon council will be asked to enter into another contract with OPP. "I thought it just wasn't appropriate (to sign for an inquiry into Fantino)," said Trainer. "He might think I was picking on him."

The mayor hoped the general inquiry will look into the handling of the entire situation, the change in OPP policing on Sixth Line and damage to and blockage of county roads.

Caledonia's councillor Craig Grice, who signed for both questions, said an inquiry was needed so residents can regain power over their daily life. This petition is a quiet form of protest without commotion on the streets, he added "Every time a skirmish happens, OPP say the peace was kept but the peace should not have broken down," he said.

As a result, many Caledonia residents no longer have respect for OPP, he added. Some people have asked him to bring them a copy of the petition to sign. "There are a lot of residents who are afraid to sign the petition (in a public place) for fear of repercussions," said Grice who will not vote in favour of a new OPP contract.

According to Pitcher, the petition holds a lot of weight for people because it was launched by county residents. In the same way people rallied in opposition of the proposed sale of Haldimand County Hydro, people are putting their differences aside to work for the common goal of an inquiry, she added. When $100 million in taxpayers' money is spent as it has been in Haldimand County, an inquiry should automatically be done, said Pitcher of making the government accountable.

Mary Lou LaPratte said an inquiry was essential because the situation in Caledonia has gone beyond the bounds of ethics and beyond Fantino. She hoped the inquiry will be successful with all interested parties allowed to testify. This inquiry will not be about how someone was killed but will be about the actual actions of police and their failure to follow the Police Services Act, she pointed out. "There is a real scandal about to unfold," said LaPratte. Two tier justice started in 1992 in her community, West Ipperwash and 17 years later it continues in some ways, said LaPratte who has moved to another community.

Race-based policing was adopted more widely after the inquiry and resulted in decreased protection from extremists. At an informal session with the Ipperwash inquiry commissioner, residents voiced their concerns and provided recommendations on how to better take non-native interests into consideration during land claim disputes. None were added into the final report, said LaPratte.

Also disturbing was the OPP's approach of arresting people to prevent them from getting hurt by extremists, said LaPratte. This is comparable to a dictatorship in a Third World country, she added.

At least one supporter of Six Nations has signed the petition. Hamilton resident Connie Kidd only agreed to an inquiry into the actions and decisions of the OPP. This will be a follow up on how the OPP are implementing Ipperwash Inquiry recommendations and if they are doing it right and if it worked, she added. The findings would be very useful as a public information item for Canada, said Kidd. She also expected the inquiry would address laws and court precedents requiring government to consult and accommodate First Nations when their rights or lands were affected. Kidd said the local dispute is the result of government failure to consult and accommodate Six Nations prior to development.

Michael Corrado, who is completing a residential development in Cayuga, said Haldimand County is no further ahead on the land dispute than three years ago.

Now provincial taxpayers are facing tens of millions of dollars in expenses for policing, negotiator wages and court hearings.

He pointed out that this bill continues to grow when every tax dollar counts and the province is considering cutting social programs and going into deficit spending. The extraordinary costs for OPP is staggering, he noted.

"The residents of Haldimand County have taken the direct hit but so have the taxpayers of Ontario," added Corrado, who has not signed the petition.

Article ID# 1390271

Monday, January 12, 2009

Haldimand "Dunnville We Will Build Our Arena"

In April of 2008 I attended a public meeting held at the Dunnville Arena to here the consultants report. There were approximately 225 residents that attended this meeting. Councillor Boyko, Ricker and Bartlett were also in attendance. The night prior to this meeting in Dunnville, a public meeting was held in Cayuga to here the consultants report, this meeting was attended by approximatley 25 residents.

One of the most important issues that surround the decisions of building a new arena is the communities financial support. The community would have to raise probably a million dollars. Now I am just throwing out that figure as I can't quite remember what it is.

As I read this article a few things are a bit disturbing. The first of which is the lack of communciation between the council member for Dunnville and the residents. The council member feels that he has not been informed by the residents on this issue, and the residents feel that the council member does not support their concerns. It is obvious that there is history here.

So lets look back in time; The residents of Dunnville were actively working on the building of a major sports complex. It seems that the county at the time was in favour. There were a few blips along the way, but this is very common for a project this big. A plan was in place, a location was in place, and then along comes the amalgamation. So it seems that some are putting the blame on the Provincial government (council, staff?). Hogwash!

Then the unthinkable happens for the 10 years of hard work for many residents of Dunnville, news of a new arena for Caledonia! I don't really know the history behind why this happened, or whether the residents of Caledonia had a committee and had worked just as hard for a new arena for 10 years as the residents of Dunnville had.

But one thing I know is that amalgamation is not the reason why Dunnville was put aside!

Actually I need to make a correction on that statement. At the time of amalgamation a Municipality had to have a population of 50,000 people. Haldimand had a population of 41,000 people. So who in there right mind let this happen? Haldimand is a made up of many smaller communities, all with the same needs, a vast network of roads and bridges, and it was only a matter of time that a financial crisis would bite us on the ass!.

I would also like to add that when the amalgamation took place, all bylaws and decisions by council did not "disappear"! In fact it was of the utmost importance that the decisions of prior councils in each community were protected. So to blame this on amalgamation is as I said "hogwash"! If I am wrong I am sure I will be corrected!

Another disturbing thing I read in this article was that Councillor Boyko had tried on a few occasions to get the committee in Dunnville to meet with the committee in Caledonia in regards to "how to fundraise"! Councillor Boyko makes it look like Dunnville did not want anyones help. I can certainly tell you why they did not meet, and I am sure that Boyko new this one as well:

"The residents of Dunnville know how to Fundraise"!

So now we are well into January of 2009. And no closer to an answer from staff or council as to how this is going to go for Dunnville or Cayuga. Make no mistake, there will be only "one" new arena!

So I would ask, will Councillor Boyko succeed? Will he have the support of his colleagues for a new arena for Dunnville? Well one only needs to look at the last 5 years or so to find this answer.

Or will Councillor Sloat succeed for a new arena in Cayuga? Again one only needs to look at the last 5 years to see who has influenced who at the council table.

Arena group petition seeks support for Ramsey Drive location
Posted 1 day ago

The common denominator is the need for a new arena in Dunnville but how that will be met is becoming a point of contention for the citizen group, the town's councillor and some municipal employees.

For Dave Dunham and Mike Ramsey of the Dunnville Arena and Sports Project group, the decision is already made. Dunnville needs a new arena and based on a former Town of Dunnville council motion, it will be built on Ramsey Drive property.

Coun. Lorne Boyko said he took a proactive approach when a facility audit determined over $1 million worth of repairs and replacements were needed in both the Memorial arena and the Cayuga arena.

To measure interest in a campaign for a new Dunnville arena, he invited representatives from every ice user group to a meeting. Later he handed the adhoc committee over to citizens.

His intention was to position Dunnville as the obvious choice for a new arena. Haldimand County community services general manager Hugh Hanly said the county faces making a decision about the two significant county assets.

Both were identified with significant capital needs and that's why a consultant was hired to study them and their future, he noted.

Next month he will present council with a report that will include analysis of consultant recommendations and the municipality's ability to pay.

"We are not looking at a complex," he stated. "In my opinion as general manager, that Maple Creek Leisureplex was dealt with when council went ahead with the Frank A. Marshall industrial park."

Unknown to him, the pursuit of an arena complex in that area was intensifying. This week, the Dunnville arena group launched a petition asking if residents support siting the new arena on Ramsey Drive.

A response form is located on Page A6 of this edition of The Chronicle and can be dropped off at the newspaper office, Frank Ramsey's Mens Wear and Buckners Source for Sports.
Arena group members will also take their petition door to door.

Ramsey pointed out that the crowd at a recent public meeting unanimously supported the Ramsey Drive location. Without a location how does the group sell the idea for financial support, he questioned.

While council members and some county employees feel fundraising can proceed prior to site identification, Al Billyard disagreed. He is waiting to find out where it will be built before he makes his donation.

In the mean time, he wanted to see more support from Boyko who he described as articulate.

"It's too bad he can't be articulate in a positive manner on this arena build," said Billyard.

Dunham said the group's hands are tied on fundraising. "I can't go to a major organization or write a form letter asking for a substantial donation when I can't tell them where this thing will go," he said.

"It's all about marketing and promotion," added Ramsey.

Both Dunham and Ramsey were upset about some recent comments made by Boyko at a council meeting. They pointed out that the Maple Creek Leisureplex concept, created more than 10 years ago, was scaled down to one-third of its original proposal. The focus was now a twin pad arena and a recreation centre.

Some individuals are willing to enter into financially feasible land negotiations for privately owned land in the Frank A. Marshall business park, Dunham said this week.

He said Boyko knew about these proposals but did not make it clear to his council colleagues that the group was no longer pursuing county-owned industrial lands for the arena site.

Later Hanly pointed out that land acquisitions were dealt with confidentially in closed sessions. He said he advised the group to keep any offers of land confidential.

Right now, any land selection is premature and he and chief administrative officer Don Boyle talked to the group about this, "At this point, we don't even know if we're going to build anything," said Hanly.

In an answer on fundraising, he said he did not think the leisureplex group was told to stop soliciting donations.

Before any decision is made on arena construction, Dunham and Ramsey wanted a demographic study completed to forecast population growth in the two towns. With a population of 11,000, Dunnville was the logical choice for the first new facility, they contend.

Community support exists, contrary to comments Boyko made, said Dunham.

At a council meeting and in an interview, Boyko said people are not coming up to him to express concern or support for the arena. Usually he receives lots of comments on issues that are considered 'hot topics', he added.

Dunham listed some donations to illustrate support and said more groups and individuals are waiting in the wings for a site to be named. Last year St. Paul Anglican Church donated $3,000, a woman made a donation in honour of her grandson and a family took up a collection to raise $120. A local band contributed $100 and $534.50 was collected in the Sobeys Every Penny Counts box and another $173 at Johnny Rottens.

Several tickets are still available for the Florida Panthers and Maple Leafs hockey game. They can be purchased at Ramsey's Mens Wear, Buckners Source for Sports and the arena snack bar and from minor hockey executive members.

People who advocated construction of a Dunnville sports complex and are now seeking a new arena have learned from the past, said Ramsey.

"We will use every means legally possible to get this done," he said.

This can include going to court, securing an injunction or appealing to the Ontario Municipal Board, he added.

He and Dunham said Haldimand County has walked away from approval of the Maple Creek Leisureplex in 1999. A former Town of Dunnville council motion supported the project's concept plan and required that a management and supervision plan be developed.

Now the county is pitting Cayuga against Dunnville and the result may be civil war, noted Ramsey.

Aware that the group based their Ramsey Drive preference on a past council motion, Boyko said he did not consider concept plan approval as approval for the project. It was subject to a management plan, he noted.

As a member of the advisory committee in place at that time, he said the plan got stuck on a couple of issues.

Dunnville Junior C Terriers owner Jim Russ is a member of the arena group and was involved in earlier recreation complex committees. He said it's time for a new arena and if the current building fails it will take three to five years to replace it.

At a recent county trail meeting, Russ said a consultant exhibited aerial photographs and traced trails in Dunnville, ending in the industrial park where the leisureplex was proposed. Eric Hunter also attended the meeting and saw the reference to the sport complex lands.

Hanly said this site was just where the Dunnville trails ended in the Pyle wood lot.

In an interview, Hunter also said Dunnville is oozing with talented hockey players who need more ice time to develop to their potential. The former coach pointed out that sports groups have pushed for years for a new arena for youth.

Last week, both Dunham and Ramsey accused Boyko of failing to represent residents on the arena issue and of not being involved.

The councillor took great exception to their comments. He said he told the two men that he was willing to meet with them and their group anytime. All they had to do was invite him but they have yet to do so, Boyko said. Without the group entering into communication with their councillor, he stated that he could not force himself on them.

As a result, Boyko had no knowledge of group activities other than what he has read in the newspaper. He also had no idea that the group was seeking a smaller portion of land.

Last year, he contacted Ralph Luimes who was a key participant in fundraising for the Caledonia twin pad arena. Boyko contacted Ramsey and Dunham to suggest meeting with Luimes in order to pick up some ideas. The councillor said he received no response to the proposed meeting.

In June, the county invited both the Dunnville and Cayuga arena groups to a meeting where Caledonia arena fundraisers made a thorough presentation filled with great ideas, said Boyko. Neither Dunham nor Ramsey attended, he added.

From his point of view, some arena supporters have adopted a hostile an adversarial approach. This should be a partnership between the county and the group, Boyko pointed out.

"At the end of the day, I'm going to have to sell this on their behalf (to council). If an adversarial approach remains in place, how can I hope to be successful," said Boyko. "I'm more than pleased to help them on this. If they're successful, I'm successful."

The future of the town's arena is based in the past. After the Town of Dunnville culture and recreation plan was completed in 1993, a sports advisory committee was struck. Two years later, members recommended purchase of 60 acres including 20 purchased acres and 20 acres leased from Grandview Lodge.

After negotiations with the former Region of Haldimand Norfolk and the province failed, the committee suggested the town purchase the Dixon property where there would be room for new fairgrounds. Another study was conducted on the complex's feasibility but the region favoured industrial development on the land in question.

The project went back and forth between several proposals and failures to move forward due to industrial plans, flood plain problems and other issues.

In 1997, the Maple Creek Leisureplex idea was revisited to accommodate community recreation on Dixon lands north of the proposed Ramsey Drive extensions and on the former town dump (closed in 1992) and the Pyle woods. A year later work began on the soccer park.

That year. the first public meeting was held on the leisureplex which was to have an arena, track, fairgrounds and art centre.

In 1999, the Town of Dunnville council gave formal approval to the leisureplex concept plan subject to site plan control. A management plan was required.

The ducks were in a row. Restructuring blew them out of the water.

In 1999, the Ontario government announced the mandated restructuring of the former region. Before Christmas, legislation set out how that would happen. In 2000, the transition board's provincial appointees were put in place to create two new counties. Basically, councils became lame ducks and very little happened in the local municipal field.

Capital investment decisions were set aside to be turned over to the new Haldimand County council, said Hanly.

So the leisureplex concept languished.

When the new county came into being in 2001, its first council decided a new Caledonia arena was its recreation priority and would be the project submitted into a shared provincial and federal grant program.

Dunham and others questioned this direction because replacement was not necessary in Caledonia. They wondered why Boyko and Coun. Don Ricker did not fight for the development of the Maple Creek Leisureplex concept.

Eventually, the group was told to wait for the Haldimand County recreation master plan which took a few years to complete.

In the plan, consultants stated that the municipality had enough arenas for its population and enough ball diamonds. As a result, the leisureplex was not required, noted Hanly.

But the group soldiered on. Three years ago, members protested zoning changes for the county-owned industrial park and the wiping out of recreation concepts on Ramsey Drive. Even so, recreational uses are permitted in industrial zones. Recently former Dunnville mayor Bob Blake raised the example of Waterloo where playing fields are located by industrial plants.

Article ID# 1379859

Haldimand "Fantino Petition Update"

CH News reported this morning that there is now over 1,400 signatures on these petitions. MP Diane Finley, MPP Toby Barrett, Mayor Trainer and Councillor Grice of Haldimand County have all endorsed this petition with their signatures.

If you have not signed the petition on line and wish to do so, here is the link;

The following news story is a more in depth interview with Ken Hewitt;

"New petition calls for Fantino inquiry";

By Tamara Botting, The Sachem
Jan 09, 2009

This is a very significant development Ken has initiated,” said Haldimand Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett.

Ken Hewitt, Caledonia resident, has launched a petition both online and on paper “to request the Premier of Ontario to immediately launch a public inquiry into the actions and decisions made by the Commissioner of the OPP, (Ontario Provincial Police) Julian Fantino, and impose his immediate suspension without pay and upon confirmation of facts, his immediate resignation,” and also, “To request the Premier of Ontario to immediately launch a public inquiry into the actions and decisions made by the OPP with respect to Caledonia over the past three years,” (quoted from online petition).

It’s really important that people realize this isn’t about Native land claims, or the Native people. The action of the OPP and our governments clearly put Caledonia and Six Nations in a head-on collision,” Hewitt stated Tuesday.

“I don’t want people to read (the petition) and think that we’re just trying to stir the pot. This is an OPP and management issue. This has nothing to do with the officers at the local level, or those who were told to come in and serve from elsewhere. This is a management and leadership issue. This is specifically aimed at that group.”

“I have signed the petition online and the hard copy, as well,” stated Haldimand County Ward 3 councillor Craig Grice.

“It’s part of the psyche of Caledonia and the constituents, for those who feel that the OPP has failed to provide for the residents of Caledonia, and for those in Six Nations.

“The residents of Caledonia don’t feel (Fantino) has stepped up for them. That goes to the animosity of the OPP and the residents of Caledonia in general. It’s a sad state of affairs.”
Grice stressed, “The officers on the front line will take direction from the superior officers; (their orders) comes from the top down.”

If you’re the leader, you are responsible for the actions of the team, of those who you direct, of your own actions,” said Hewitt.

“We’ve been collecting (signatures) for about a week and a half; since Christmas,” said Hewitt. “The response has been tremendous. An online petition is a barometer; it helps people see the level of interest.”

“The legal petition to present to Queen’s Park has to be a signed petition with a valid signature and address. Currently, we have over 1,000 people signed. Our hope is that when we present it to the legislator, we will have over 10,000 signatures.”

Barrett noted that while citizens can come to Queen’s Park with a petition, they would need an elected official “to formally present a petition and the names before the Ontario Legislative Assembly. They could ask me to do so, or MPP Dave Levac (of Brant). If asked, I would read the petition into the legislature, and sign them as I hand them into the clerk.”

Barrett has invited Hewitt to bring a hard copy of the petition to his levee at St. George Arms in Caledonia on Sunday, January 11 so that local residents will have an opportunity to come and sign it. Hewitt will be there from 1 to 1:30 p. m.

“A petition is a very ancient procedure for people in a parliamentary democracy to influence their own representatives and government; to influence their assembly,” commented Barrett.

“The big reason that I support initiatives like this, calling for an inquiry, is that we are the victims of government paralysis. Next month, we will be going into our fourth year of this paralysis, and that is downright dangerous.

“It is dangerous to drag this out for three years. It creates mistrust. It is destroying the area’s economy, it is destroying the trust in the police, and it is destroying the trust in elected officials,” he added.

We called for an inquiry two and a half years ago,” said Barrett. “It was formally presented on June 5, 2006. That was right after we watched Argyle Street get dug up by a backhoe.”

No one is asking the OPP to solve the land claim issue,” stated Grice. “They are responsible to uphold the law and protect those they are paid to; that’s Haldimand County residents.”

“An inquiry is needed at some point in time to ensure the integrity of the position is upheld; to ensure that the residents’ concerns are brought to the forefront of Canada.”

“I wrote the petition, but this is a grass-roots effort and there is no group, per se, but a number of people who have thrown in their hand to support it. It’s the people of Ontario. The petition is growing in Ottawa, Kitchener, North Bay, Thunder Bay, Hamilton, Niagara Falls... our hope is that it will continue to grow across the province,” said Hewitt.

“It really is the people’s agenda.”

Monday, January 5, 2009

Haldimand "Where is our Leisureplex?"

The following is an article by Karen Best in regards to a new Arena in Dunnville. I have done a bit of background on this issue and I find it very difficult to understand what has happened.

It looks like a full committee was formed (many moons ago), council had agreed in concept, there was land in place, and yet today it looks dismal for Dunnville.

I would also assume that public money had been raised as well, but the article doesn't talk about that issue. So if there is anyone that has information in regards to money please post away.

One comment by Rick Lane does seem a bit out of line. When he was asked about the Central Park wading pool he stated that:

"It's kind of like the arenas. We are operating it to failure," he said.

What responsible staff member in any community would say such a thing. I am sure that an arena would take a few years to build, so is he suggesting that we don't build until the old arena falls down?

Former mayors support new arena plans
December 2008

Two former mayors have stepped forward to support construction of a new arena in Dunnville.
Bernie Corbett, who served as town mayor from 1988 to 1991, said he supported the Dunnville Sports and Leisure Project group and will provide a cash donation.

"I support them wholeheartedly and the people doing it deserve a whole lot of respect, cooperation and support," he added.

While mayor 20 years ago, he was very supportive of the Maple Creek Leisureplex project, that included an arena.

The Dickson property, now called the Frank A. Marshall Business Park, was purchased by the former Town of Dunnville council for recreational purposes and the council of the day had arrangements to go ahead, he said. The leisureplex group had good ideas, a good design and good people on board to push it through, said Corbett, who also served 15 years as a councillor.

In 1999, Corbett was appointed to the transition board established by the Ontario government to cut the former Region of Haldimand and Norfolk into two counties. Minor issues were transferred to two new municipal councils.

"I would have thought they would have carried through with arrangements, " said Corbett. "It was a commitment to the public and at that point in time, this was going to happen."
In his opinion, carrying on with the leisureplex fulfilled an agreement to use the land for recreation and other uses such as industrial to pay the way. Corbett said there was no sense in repairing the old arena.

Former Dunnville mayor Bob Blake also expressed support in the original sport complex.
"Like a lot of projects it was long in the making," he said. "The industrial park was the first step."

He said a sport complex was a good fit in an industrial park in Dunnville just as it was in Kitchener and other urban areas. Blake served as a councillor from 1973 to 1985. From 1991 to 1999, he was mayor.

In a Kitchener industrial area, a driveway between two houses led to a sport complex where factory employees spent their lunch hours kicking soccer balls and playing volleyball, he said.

While Blake was mayor a road was built into the 45-acre property on Broad Street to facilitate development of the leisureplex. Now he supports the current group's efforts to build an arena and other facilities on this property. To sell the concept, members must do research and prepare a strategy to convince council members, he added.

Blake and Corbett are just a few former town politicians who are prepared to demonstrate their support to Haldimand County council, said Dave Dunham. He is the chair of the Dunnville Sport and Leisure Project.

Feeling abandoned by local councillors, he and Mike Ramsey believe Ramsey Drive is still the only location for a new arena.

Twenty years ago, Dunham served on the sports advisory committee which looked at every potential property . Even after numerous studies and public meetings, the Ramsey Drive property remained the best option. It doesn't make sense to look at alternative sites, said he said.

Ramsey referred to an Oct. 1999 Dunnville council motion of an agreement in principle for a recreation facility on this property. A site plan was the only missing piece and council's position was never rescinded, he added.

SEE DUNNVILLE PROJECT At the Dec. 15 council committee meeting, Coun. Lorne Boyko told his colleagues that he suggested the group look for an alternative site as a fall back position. Because the county invested $1.9 million to service nine of 45 acres of industrial zoned land, this location is a non-starter for an arena, he added.

The business park was expected to bring in at least 135 new jobs.

Other council members said the first issue is determining if construction will go ahead. Location will be a council decision, said community services general manager Hugh Hanly.

Even with the delay and disagreement over a site, the project group remained committed to a new arena. Penny boxes are one thing and so are $100 and $500 donations but the group needs millions but can't get it until a property is secured, Ramsey also pointed out that home owners located at Briar Glen, Maplewood and Meadowbrook Crescents were promised a buffer between them and industry. What better buffer than an arena and sports complex, he said. An arena may actually kick start development in the industrial park, he added.
During his term on Dunnville's council, Ramsey said the sports complex was discussed for almost a decade. "I'm offended that this council wants to go back and start over," he said. "Enough delay."

The group has a planner, who is volunteering services, on board and a lawyer ready to look over documents and any agreements between the county and the arena fundraising group.

While the public waited for a staff review of a consultant recommendation to build arenas in Cayuga and Dunnville, community services and finance staff were looking at options. On Nov. 26, they met with council in a closed committee of the whole meeting.

In a memo tabled at the Dec. 15 committee meeting, Hanly said staff will analyze options with respect to base service levels in arenas and building audits to look at immediate and mid term needs in the two arenas. As well, a framework work for community partnerships will be devised.

At the meeting, Hanly said a draft report was not yet written and that recommendations or decisions were not yet devised. The Dunnville group was told about the lengthy process to designate the Ramsey Drive lands as industrial, he added.

Boyko asked his colleagues if they were willing to reevaluate the industrial park for a permanent recreation facility. It was premature to comment on a site because a determination has not been made on construction, replied Coun. Buck Sloat.

After council's discussion, Hanly said it was prudent to weigh arena construction against other financial issues. An $8 million arena will have a huge impact on the tax supported budget and would include debt financing, he added. Meanwhile council is not finished with its review of the capital budget and has not made decisions on debt, he added.

Hanly planned to finish his report in early spring before council begins deliberations on the tax supported budget.

In a later session on the capital budget, leisure services manager Rick Lane was asked about the Central Park wading pool and timing of its replacement.

"It's kind of like the arenas. We are operating it to failure," he said.

Later Lane said even if a decision is made to build, repairs to both arenas will be necessary. Boyko said he understood sensitivities and the potential for tough recommendations but wanted the future of the two arenas addressed once and for all.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Haldimand "Mayor Trainer Reflects on 2008"

Mayor reflects on 2008
Posted By Karen Best / The Chronicle

Mayor Marie Trainer switches directions turning back to the past after just recently peering at the future through Haldimand County’s 10-year capital spending plan. When she thinks about 2008, she sees challenges and some successes and hopes to see more in the new year.

Challenges and hope are central themes in Dunnville’s and Cayuga’s pursuit for new arenas. Together this adds up to huge dollars, says Trainer. "Of course we can’t build unless we get provincial and federal grants and it would have to be one at a time," she points out.

In preparation for a spring report with arena recommendations, finance staff are analyzing options including borrowing money. With taxpayers already shouldering the $22 million Grandview Lodge debt, further loan payments lead to a hike in property tax bills.

"It’s going to be a challenge," says Trainer. "I know they are needed. With the (building) evaluations, it’s looking like Cayuga is most in need and then Dunnville."

Over the past year, the local economy was on the radar. To foster its health, council approved creation of an economic and tourism division to focus on business, tourist trade and agricultural development.

Along with the agricultural advisory committee, these are positive initiatives to support existing businesses, points out Trainer.

With updated processes, the planning department is ready to roll out the red carpet to developers and to assist them with matters under municipal control. The county faces its own challenges with not near enough money to do what council wants, Trainer says.

This is a huge area with lots of roads and a small population to draw taxes from, she notes. More property tax revenue might be created by investors who have expressed interest in opening new businesses and some owners are expanding their enterprises such as Haldimand Motors in Cayuga.

Bruce Power’s proposed nuclear power plant could be the project packing the biggest economic wallop for Haldimand County. Two million dollars a year will be paid in property taxes. After the plant opens, $180 million is expected to be injected in the local economy according to a consultant’s report.While Trainer recognizes the significant potential of the plant, she has reserved her judgment on the project until she reads environment assessment studies and reviews answers to questions posed by residents. In the end, if the plant is a go, she wants all safety precautions in place in a way that make people comfortable. At open houses hosted by Bruce Power, many people asked about radiation, spent fuel rods and potential for disaster.

At the same time, a lot of people are very positive about job opportunities, she adds. Businesses grow other businesses, she says of certain spin offs of the plant. Before the reactors will be activated, a natural gas fired power plant will be operating on Nanticoke farmland. An environment assessment on the Competitive Power Ventures project has been completed and construction may begin in 2011.

"We’ve been saying we want to be the energy hub and I think it’s shaping up with gas, wind, coal and biomass," says Trainer.

In the current economy, some existing county businesses are okay but others continue to be impacted by native issues, says Trainers. Some closed their doors and others laid off employees. Fewer shoppers are coming to the county including natives, she points out. Some people are afraid to come to Haldimand County for fear that is the day the roads will be blocked, says Trainer. "I get that and from people who should know better," she adds of the stigma.

At the same time, word is getting out to many others that it is okay to come to Caledonia, Trainer reports. Taking a country wide view, she says Canada’s banks are in good shape and believes the three big car makers should build gas-efficient vehicles people can afford.

With the sale of cigarettes on First Nations reserves, Canada has lost $500 million in taxes in a year. The economy and all taxpayers have to make up for that and yet development is stopped and workers lose jobs, notes Trainer. "It’s quite a vicious circle for us," she adds.

In a December interview with The Chronicle, Trainer weaves in many references of Six Nations. For her, it is a relief that no one has been shot or killed over the Caledonia situation. For well over a year, she worried that tragedy would strike when debris was tossed from a bridge over the Highway 6 bypass. From April 20, 2006 to this day, total policing is not provided on Sixth Line, which is on the southern border of the former Douglas Creek Estates subdivision, she points out. On Feb. 28, 2006, about 10 people from Six Nations moved on to the site claiming it had never been sold or surrendered. In April 2006, Ontario Provincial Police entered the property, made several arrests and backed out when hundreds of people from Six Nations arrived. That the day OPP promised to stay off 6th Line. While OPP do respond on the road now, a lot of county residents are too nervous to call police, says Trainer.

Six Nations police decide who investigates crime and are still in charge of the road, she adds. Meanwhile, property owners near DCE are angry and frustrated about the same old mess on DCE and the looming threat of a hydro tower on wheels just off the edge of Argyle Street South, says the mayor. The tower has been used in at least three barricades over the past three years.

On Dec. 2, Trainer and Coun. Craig Grice and chief administrative officer Don Boyle met with Ontario aboriginal affairs minister Brad DuGuid. Human impacts and the county’s $56 million recovery plan was discussed. The mayor reports that the minister was willing to work with his federal counterparts to see an emergency fund set up to help people when man made emergencies damage property values. While she liked DuGuid, she can’t help but be skeptical about receiving an update in the new year. It’s just one more meeting and nothing will happen, she says.

In Haldimand County, some people, including Trainer, often mention development and Six Nations in the same breath. She points out that land set aside for housing projects are already within urban boundaries in Caledonia, Hagersville and Cayuga. "These are logical expansions and it would be good to see them go forward," she adds. On Dec. 18, some Six Nations men stopped a Hagersville townhouse development. Such action impacts the ability of people to pay provincial and federal taxes which are used to settle claims, she points out. Trainer reports that Six Nations band chief Bill Montour sent developer John Voortman a letter acknowledging the possibility of a land claim. The band chief also made it clear that his council did not sanction occupation of the site, states the mayor.

Meanwhile there’s no news about the county’s official plan adopted by council in June 2006. Trainer says the county is waiting for comments from the Mississaugas of the New Credit band council. The official plan is a policy document that directs development and land use in a municipality. "It’s very frustrating that a First Nation is allowed to more or less close down anything we try to do," says Trainer."We are following provincial and federal laws and are careful to do things properly and we’re still being stopped and that is not fair."

Even so, Haldimand County officials have extended their hands and their ideas to local First Nations. More than a year after council established its First Nations relationship committee, members initiated the first meeting between them and Montour. The agenda included discussions about water and sewer issues, says the mayor. Politicians from both communities met three more times this year. Trainer notes that Montour was unaware of the big water pipe project proposed in Nanticoke and a new water treatment plant with the capacity to provide water to Six Nations and to communities further up river.

The chief indicated he wants to work on with the county on this and other issues of mutual interest, she adds. When leaders from both communities make joint presentations to the provincial and federal government, there will be a greater chance of success, believes Trainer.

Overall, she is pleased with the newly formed relationship. The chief and the mayor agree they were not part of the 1784 Haldimand Proclamation. It granted six miles on both sides of the Grand River to replace Six Nations territory lost due to their allegiance with the British in the American Revolution. "It’s not for me to solve (land claims) and it’s good we realize that," she adds.

Meanwhile Trainer stands firm in her belief that negotiations on land claims and rights of Six Nations must resume. "We’re not going to get anywhere by not talking. I hope that both sides will be more realistic," she states. Trainer hopes the provincial and federal government will make a New Year’s resolution to help Haldimand County with its $56 million recovery plan revealed early this year.

One of the plan items was an $11 million Hagersville sewage plant upgrade. Both the provincial and federal government are taking a serious look at grant applications filed by the municipality, says Trainer. "I get the impression they are going to do something for us," she adds. Even though she is optimistic, Trainer is also disappointed with a year of waiting. "We thought with our special circumstances we would have got more attention sooner but it seems to be a long drawn out process," she says.

Meetings and reports aside, it is the people who make Haldimand County a wonderful place, says Trainer. Many employees working at Grandview Lodge have spent decades on the job and are providing continuity in caring service to residents, she notes. This is one of the best long term care facilities in all of Ontario, she boasts. After a recent review of lodge operations, an evaluator was amazed with how the home was run and with the high level of involvement of the public and volunteers, reports the mayor.

After 15 months on the job, county chief administrative officer Don Boyle has affected a change in attitude across the whole county, says the mayor. Staff morale greatly improved after employees learned about each other’s jobs and were recognized for their on-job achievements.

"There is a lot of positive vibes and I see that everywhere," says Trainer. Council members are more amicable and are working more diligently for the good of the county, she adds.

For a year, highly trained Haldimand County firefighters and paramedics have worked for the same boss, emergency services manager and fire chief Rob Grimwood. Trainer says the amalgamation of the two responding services is a resounding success. A long time supporter of defibrillator purchases, she is thrilled that units are installed in all county public buildings where employees are trained to use them.

Upon hearing that firefighters prepared their automatic external defibrillator to shock Caleb Verlint, she says saving one life is worth the money and training on this equipment. Now recovered, the five year old was revived by two men who performed CPR after a Dec. 10 vehicle accident.

Trainer’s outlook on 2009 is optimistic. She hopes to see grant money for the Hagersville sewage plant upgrade and to see relationships continue to grow with Six Nations and the Mississaugas of the New Credit. Turning the calendar page also means more Bruce Power public meetings and more information for residents, she adds. With economic and social improvements coming in 2009, next year will be a good one for Haldimand County residents, sums up Trainer.Article ID# 1372328