Page 1

Your Business. Your Community.

Volume 7, No. 4, December 2016


Deb Geerlinks, Craig Geerlinks, Adam MacLeod Cover story: Page 3

St.Th homas & Elgin lg County for or all your support

We take take great pride in representing and serving the people We people of of St. St. Thomas Thomasand andits itssurrounding surrounding communities. The The Store Store of of the the Year Year Award Award would would not be possible base communities. possible without withoutour ourloyal loyal customer Customers and thethe hard work and dedication look forward totoseeing and hard work and dedicationofofour ourStaff. Staff.We We look forward seeingyou youononyour yournext nextvisit. visit.


295 Wellington St., St.Thomas

519 631-2910



Must be 19 years of age or older to be served alcohol. Government issued photo identification may be required.

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E L G I N T H I S M O N T H 2

Geerlinks Home Hardware: top Canadian store by Terry Carroll

Our questions were answered by VP Adam MacLeod, with input from his partners at the store in St. Thomas. In April of this year, Home Hardware Stores Limited announced that Geerlinks Home Hardware Building Centre was the recipient of the annual Walter J. Hachborn Store of the Year Award for 2015. Can you tell us a little more about this annual award? The Walter J Hachborn award is now in its 19th year. It pays tribute to the top store selected from close to 1100 stores across Canada for achieving the highest standards in retailing, merchandising, staff performance, and overall quality and service. What were some of the key elements that helped Geerlinks Home Hardware win such a prestigious award? The award is presented to the top gold store from 23 Proud of My Home Award recipients. All Proud Of My Home Award recipients demonstrate strong staff performance, superior customer service, excellence in interior and exterior store presentation, and active participation in Dealer network initiatives.  Tell us a little more about your unique management structure, and how that works for you? Our management structure involves Craig Geerlinks, Deb Geerlinks and me as partners. Specifically, Craig is VP of sales and I am VP of Operations. Craig and I have multiple conversations daily on our Key Performance Indicators and as a result we typically meet or outperform any goals that have been set.  Danielle Geerlinks manages the furniture store and we have additional managers throughout the various departments in the store.  About how much of your business is with builders and professional contractors, large and small, and how much is with do-it-yourselfers? Approximately 50 percent of the business is retail and the other 50 percent is contractor/builder. The store has a reputation for excellent customer service. How do you work with staff to keep that up, day in and day out? Customer service is vitally important for customer retention. It’s simple really – customers will not return if they aren’t serviced correctly. We often express that good service means listening to the

customers’ wants and needs and satisfying them every time they enter the store. All Home Hardwares have a reputation for giving exceptional support to customers so we preach it, and deliver it, every minute of the day. Your staff is also known for their ability to offer advice to homeowners, whether that’s what washer they need or the design of a new kitchen. How do you accomplish this … is it more a matter of who you hire or how you train? In terms of offering expert advice, it all begins with the employee selection process. We hire people based more on their Long-time Geerlinks employee Jim MacPherson (right) talks tools behaviour patterns and less on with Mary Sargent. their product knowledge. If you miraculously land someone with a combo of both traits, you’ve hit a home run. Our philosophy is you can teach knowledge but you cannot change someone’s behaviour. Since we’ve adapted this philosophy our turnover has dramatically been reduced. What do you like best about doing business in St. Thomas / Elgin? We’ve learned over time the importance of community involvement. The people of St Thomas truly want to see their community succeed. It becomes very contagious to watch and learn how so many businesses and people give Bonnie Baker gets some product advice from Craig Geerlinks. back. sponsor for the St. Thomas Santa Claus parade. We Geerlinks Home Hardware is known for being strongly involved in the com- give back to our contractors with a massive BBQ, munity. What are some of your key priorities for helped Gordie Michie go to the Paralympic Games in Rio, raised $4,800 for Red Cross, and were able charitable giving and community involvement? While no business can support everything, we do to contribute over 1,000 pounds of food for Carwhat we can. We’ve raised $8,000 for Alzheimer’s, ing Cupboard through our annual Ladies Night. sponsored multiple events for ALS, the St. Thom- Currently we’re doing a coat and mitten drive for as Home Builders Association and the Chamber those in need.  of Commerce and assisted with the Tree Canada plant at Forest Park Public School. Annually, we Cover and page 3 photos by Mike Maloney support the Shedden Tractor Pull and are a key

Elgin This Month Section Editor Business Beat – Bob Hammersley Freelance Editor Terry Carroll Sales Supervisor Geoff Rae

Advertising Consultant Greg Minnema Layout Janine Taylor Production Metroland Media Group

Elgin This Month is a monthly magazine focusing on business and lifestyle issues and includes Business Beat, the St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce newsletter. The publication is available for pickup at no charge at news stands and other locations around Elgin County, as well as distribution to businesses and selected households.

Published monthly by Metroland Media Group Ltd., 15 St. Catharine Street, St. Thomas, ON N5P 2V7 519-633-1640 December, 2016




Goof bravely – the joy of making mistakes by Jim Innes The fear of making a mistake is common. It is the result of unrealistic perfectionistic thinking, as if making mistakes will lead to some terrible consequence, or that making mistakes is a sign of weakness or incompetence. The fear of making mistakes is insidious. It can be almost unfaithful because it undermines us, and those about us. The fear of making mistakes burns us with anxiety. Our connection to those present is muted, and we become distracted by a nervous hesitancy. The fear of making a mistake muffles the prophetic voice. Instead, our unique ‘calling’ becomes shrouded in doubt. The fear of making mistakes dulls our brilliant presence. Out goes our quiet confidence; our creativity becomes limited, our vibrancy subdued. Our life should not be a cautious journey to Peter’s gates, sidestepping blunders and slipping around faults … but rather to skid in sideways – bruised, disorderly, and crying out with a surprising vitality, “by the grace of God come I!” Unless we let go of this fear of making a mistake, an even more deceptive fear takes root. We eventually fall into a shame-based conviction that our life is nothing but the result of mistakes we once made. This guilt-driven life sentence can unfortunately find validation in our Christian churches. For example, the traditional understanding of the biblical story of Adam and Eve is that we have all been sentenced to a life of suffering – cast eternally outside of perfect paradise because they chose to eat an apple from a tree they were warned not to eat from. This sin-burdened theology is not so subtly reinforced in the liturgy of my own Anglican tradition, when, for example, in the ‘Prayer of Humble Access’ found in the Book of Common Prayer we are asked to recite “O merciful Lord ... We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table.” Granted, some find a modest beauty and a deeply respectful significance in such stories and liturgy. For them, the words reinforce God,

whose grace carries them through each day, as being merciful. Unfortunately, many don’t interpret it this way. There is a fine line separating humility from humiliating. And when the balance is not carefully managed, many recoil from the implied guilt. Regrettably too, many of the ‘devoutly religious’, who have been overly stewed in self-effacing theology, feel the chronic need to censure and chastise, projecting their own guilty fears on others. Consequently, many good folk suffer, or have suffered, their shaming manner. And we can reasonably assume many have left the Church, and refused to return, because of it. Dignity returns and confidence matures as we risk making mistakes. And our heavy hearts lighten as we let go of the belief that the life we lead is the result of mistakes we, or others before us, made.

As I see it, God’s inspired creativity is felt most assuredly in those who have learned to goof bravely. And the abundant joy of a meaningful life is the gift returned to those who fear not their own imperfection, and who trust that God (or life) rewards those who risk for the sake of the greater good. Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack, a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in. (Leonard Cohen) Jim Innes is a clinically trained therapist and, until a recent transfer, was a priest at St. John’s Anglican in St. Thomas. Learn more at

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E L G I N T H I S M O N T H 4

Business & Community Leadership

Running downhill – work with gravity, and move your feet

by Doug Lester

Like most Difference Makers you enjoy a challenge – especially when you have to struggle to succeed. But how do you do when the going is easy? Can you relax and allow life to happen fast and easy? I am a runner. Each day for the last 35 years, I have run for fitness and recreation. Recently I moved and faced a new challenge – hills. I didn’t realize it but, for the last five years, I have been a flat-lander running a smooth flat route day after day. When I first faced my new route with steep hills I was stretched and my pace was dramatically slower. But then I ran the best time in a month and what was most intense was the downhill sections. The challenge with running downhill is that gravity wants to do the work. All that is required

of me is to accept the pace and keep moving my feet. The feeling is one of excitement and terror. Letting life happen is exhilarating, yet inside there is a “Whoopee!’ voice and a voice of caution and “What ifs”. It takes resolve to throw caution to the winds and be fully in the moment celebrating the joy. So here’s where it applies to you. You have struggled with the tough things in your work and personal life. You have climbed the hills. Hard work and endurance are part of your mojo. But can you glide? Can you relax and enjoy the benefits of your hard work? Do you think that you always have to push and strive? The biggest challenge in running downhill is to minimize your braking process and let it happen.

Everything in life doesn’t have to be a grind. When life flows, accept the joy of running downhill, allow yourself to relax and go with the flow. Cheryl Lester and Doug Lester—individually and together—making a difference through leadership coaching and development, writing, and speaking. Co-authors of 12 Steps of Self-Leadership.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays from Board & Staff at the Elgin Business Resource Centre Stop by one of our three offices in either Dutton, St.Thomas or Aylmer to receive information on any of our programs. 516 John St., N., Aylmer

300 S. Edgeware Rd., St. Thomas

199 Currie Rd., Dutton

December, 2016

E L G I N T H I S M O N T H 5


The Pepper Tree Spice Company Adding a little spice to Elgin County

by Katherine Thompson

Pepper Tree Spice Co. is the creative child of London entrepreneur  Deb Mackey who,  after years of hunting for good quality spices, wanted to share a passion for high-quality and truly fresh spices, herbs, and seasonings with the growing culinary and  organic community in Southwestern Ontario. Combining a love of cooking, spices and endless creativity, she launched her company under the name Hyde Park Spice Co. with a small grouping of organic spices and 15 artisan organic spice blends. Within months, she had developed an on-line presence shipping across Canada and the United States expanding further to open a commercial division in 2011.  With an overwhelming response from the community and as her business continued to grow, it became evident that another location was necessary. In 2012, the company was rebranded Pepper Tree Spice Company and she opened her location on Colborne Street in Port Stanley. Today, with over 250 organic spices and 90 proprietary blends, The Pepper Tree Spice Com-

Our Partners and Staff would like to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas, filled with the warmth of friends and loved ones, and with the promise of a prosperous new year. St. Thomas and Aylmer Partners:

pany is Canada’s only organic spicer. Debbie takes great care in the selection of spices she offers for sale. Sourced from all over the world, these 250 different spice varieties are the highest quality and are completely organic. With absolutely no additives these spices are naturally 100 percent gluten free. All 90 of Pepper Tree’s signature spice blends are made daily onsite at the Port Stanley location. Customers flock to the store to experience the exotic aromas and flavours that add a dash of excitement to their culinary endeavours. Hyde Park Steak Spice, Garlic Mashed Blend, Moroccan Spice Blends, Sensational 16, and various Curry Blends are a few customer favourites. Also particularly popular are the Bridge Street BBQ Rub and the Famous Portly Fish Rub – both developed and named in honour of the village of Port Stanley. The store also offers a wide variety of salts including the

John Scott Al Enns Rob Foster Mike Stover Jim Frederick Bill Luyks Mike MacKinnon Garth Howes Paul Schneider Derek Michell

popular Lavender Rosemary Salt Blend, a huge range of different peppers, a growing collection of Chile Pepper offerings, and a wide variety of rare and difficult to find spices. A gourmet food section features dip mixes, olive oils, chutneys, preserved lemons, balsamics, gluten free pastas, local breads, cheeses, and unique and beautiful cookware – all of which are sure to impress at your next dinner party. The Pepper Tree Spice Company offers exquisitely gift-wrapped spice collections starting at $25. Choose from pre-selected collections or decide what spices to include yourself. These collections are the perfect gift for a friend or loved one this holiday season. Debbie and her staff take great pride in making The Pepper Tree Spice Company a true foodie destination. She has created an experience for all the senses when clients walk through her doors. Questions and consultations are encouraged. Continued on page 7


ChristMas from all the staff

St.Thomas 519-633-0700 Aylmer 519-773-9265

December, 2016

1207 Talbot St., St. Thomas 519-633-0240 E L G I N T H I S M O N T H 6


“a passion for fresh spices, herbs, and seasonings”

Continued from page 6 Staff spend a great deal of time with each customer allowing them to smell and sample different spices, inquiring about their needs, and offering suggestions and advice. Part of this culinary experience is teaching customers the ways in which they can incorporate the spices they purchase into meals and special dishes. The Pepper Tree Spice Company offers spice seminars as well as very popular intimate, interactive cooking classes on-location throughout the year. Small groups ensure that each participant has the

opportunity for one-on-one interaction with the chef/instructor and a large share of the delicious meal that is prepared. For more information about The Pepper Tree Spice Company or to register for an upcoming cooking class Like them on Facebook at

Happy Holidays

Katherine Thompson is Marketing & Communications Coordinator with The County of Elgin

Seasons Greetings from

Aylmer Garden Centre OPEN YEAR ROUND!

We appreciate your business and thank you for your ongoing support!

A Store Full Of Gift Ideas! Make your holiday decorating easy… • Christmas Trees Potted & Fresh Cut • Poinsettias • Fresh Cedar Rope • Secret Santa Gifts • Festive Containers

• Birch Poles • Wreaths • Gift Cards • Sinamay Bows • Stocking Stuffers

Mon-Sat 9-5 Sun 12-4

8467 Imperial Road South, Aylmer December, 2016


Depend on

116 Edward Street, St.Thomas 519-631-7960



Business & Community OUR COMMUNITY

Railway groups merge under Railworks brand

Railway City, and the tag line #stthomasproud, have combined to give the city the vision and A significant part of the remarkable St. Thomas focus that were so missing during the really bad renaissance that is underway (yes, I believe there years of manufacturing jobs losses that crippled really is a renaissance happening) is the enthu- much of southwestern Ontario. siastic public acceptance of the Railway City A clear brand like Railway City defines a combranding developed by the municipality. munity, both its past and present, and helps set clear priorities about the future. In the case of St. Thomas, we want to renew the community based on the assets that made us famous: railway infrastructure, a vibrant and pleasant main street, entrepreneurial businesses focused on making things, and an environment that makes the city livable. Imagine, though, what the situation would look like if we didn’t have the rail assets. Could we still brand ourselves the Railway City? We came perilously close Mayor Heather Jackson & the to losing it all some 20-30 years ago. It members of St. Thomas City Council wasn’t municipal acwould like to take this opportunity tion that saved us to extend warm greetings for the from that fate, it was the passionate vision season, and wish you all a happy, of small groups of healthy and prosperous New Year rail and heritage enthusiasts who drew a City Hall will close on proverbial line in the sand to ensure the Friday, December 23 at 4:30p.m. losses stopped before and re-open Tuesday, January 3 at 8:30 a.m. it was too late. It’s worth reflecting on that today, because 545 Talbot St., St. Thomas 519-631-1680 by Serge Lavoie

December, 2016


four of those groups – Elgin County Railway Museum (1988), North American Railway Hall of Fame (1996), On Track St. Thomas (1994) and the Iron Horse Festival (1994) – have announced that they will merge their operations after more than two decades of working independently. In my opinion, nothing has had more impact on the turnaround of this city than the work of these four non-profit organizations. (Full disclosure: I am currently president of On Track St. Thomas although my five or six years of involvement pale in comparison to the efforts of many long-time residents of this city). Each group has adopted a key railway asset that had been abandoned and left to decay and set out to rescue it, restore it and give it a new purpose that would meet the needs of our community today and well into the future. The vision described by On Track St. Thomas at its inception in 1994 was to create “a stronger future linked to our heritage”. It hasn’t been easy, and over time the community has lost some of its assets. St. Thomas had not one, but two railway roundhouses. The iconic east-west CASO/MCR rail corridor that ran through the centre of the city was transformed into the Trans-Canada Trail and then abruptly abandoned when the City chose not to buy the land when it became available. Battles were lost and battles were won. If there was a lack of municipal government vision in the past, it appears the worst of that is behind us. At the end of the day the city has an impressive collection of buildings and rail infrastructure that the community is proud of, that attracts visitors and that justifies the Railway City brand.

“nothing has had more


TURNAROUND OF THIS CITY” The four organizations that have come together under the banner Railworks recognize that the time has come for collective thinking and implementation. Some of the organizations are carrying debt while others face a daunting task raising the money to restore their properties. What the new consolidated organization is likely to tell our community over the coming months is that they can’t do it alone. The passion and hard work of past volunteers has got us this far; to go farther will require the involvement of even more community leaders, including our municipal government. Serge Lavoie has a 35 year career managing associations. He is currently president of On Track St. Thomas. He lives in St. Thomas.


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1012 Talbot St., St. Thomas 519-631-5080 Life is better in the Quick Lane.™

• DECEMBER 2016 •

Community Spirit & The Spirit of the Season. They come together here thanks to people dedicated to progress and prosperity.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Members, Board of Directors, Volunteers and Staff at the St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce. Matt Janes, North America Railway Hall of Fame (left) and Jeremy Locke, Elgin County Railway Museum discuss the merged future of railway organizations at the November Business After 5 at the CASO building in St. Thomas.

January Business After 5 Date:

Last call for Uncorked … almost! Tickets for the Chamber’s 5th annual “St. Thomas Uncorked” event have been selling quickly and, with Christmas fast approaching, it’s likely there will be few or no tickets left once January gets here. Uncorked is our annual wine-tasting event mixed with some art appreciation in the comfortable setting of the St. Thomas Elgin Public Art Centre. The date is Saturday January 21, 7 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Tickets are the same as last year – $45 per person – and include 5 wine-sampling tickets plus unlimited opportunities for food samples that complement the 16 wines to be featured this year. All wines are served in a “blind” taste test, initially identified only by number. As the evening progresses, our sommelier and event MC Jamie Quai, will reveal each wine and

provide details. At the conclusion of the event, we will provide lists with LCBO product numbers, wine names and prices to make finding any new favourites really easy. More event details and ordering information are in the Events listing on the Chamber website at www. or you can call the Chamber of Commerce office and speak with any staff member at 519-631-1981. Uncorked is made possible by several sponsors. Our 2017 main sponsor is TD Bank. The Real Canadian Superstore will be our provider of delicious foods for this event. In short, if you don’t yet have your tickets, contact us now, before the last few remaining tickets are gone!

Wednesday January 18, 2017

Host & Sponsor:

Art winner

Talbotville Berry Farm 11054 Sunset Road, St. Thomas

At November’s Business After 5, original artwork of the Cabot Trail by Sine Maule was won by Tim Townsend (left) from COAD My Fireplace. Barry Fitzgerald from the St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce presented the winning painting to Tim.

Come join us in the brand new building! Sponsor Remarks & Door Prize Draws start at 6:15 Great door prizes! Exceptional hors d’oeuvres and snacks plus all of your favourite refreshments. Free Admission to all personnel from any organization that is a Member of the St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce.

Business Beat Table of Contents Page 10 ........... Low-cost ergo Page 11 .............. Tourism gap Page 12 .......... Legal Business Page 13 ............Memorial site Page 14 .........“Take the keys” Page 15 ...........New Members Page 16 ............ Progress plan December, 2016

Healthy Lifestyles for the New Year A special feature in the January edition of Elgin This Month To take advantage of these excellent advertising opportunities (ext. 222)

January Edition Advertising Deadline is December 16th




Six low-cost ergo solutions for small business If you have ever considered changing office or workplace equipment to make ergonomics a priority, it’s no surprise if cost has made you re-think the concept. WSPS (Workplace Safety & Prevention Services) works with the Chamber and our Members on virtually any issue that concerns well-being, health and safety on the job. “When it comes to addressing ergonomic issues,” says WSPS ergonomist Mike Lanigan, “small business employers tell me they face three big challenges: cost, time, and resources. ‘This is why I can’t do it,’ they say. These are very real challenges for businesses of any size,” continues Mike, “but low-tech, low-cost solutions exist.” Mike shared six tactics that can help people work more comfortably and efficiently, and require little “talk, time and resources” to implement. 1. Observe and communicate. One of the first things I encourage when I do a walk-through at a workplace is to visually observe job tasks and identify potential musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) hazards. Are people hunched over their work? Lifting awkwardly? Reaching above their shoulders? If so, adjust the work surface, racking and working heights, positioning to help workers maintain a neutral posture and reduce reach. 2. Provide a lifting or carrying device  if the work involves a lot of manual material handling – lifting, pushing, pulling, and carrying. Use a dolly

cart or lift table to move boxes, which can significantly reduce the amount of lifting and carrying required. Also, implement a two-person lift for slightly heavy or awkward loads. 3. Add ergonomics to decision-making when modifying or purchasing tools and equipment. For example, when purchasing a hand tool take into account the weight, amount of vibration, and grip required, so that people can avoid straining their arm or wrist. Involve management and/or workers who use the equip- especially if the vendors have ergonomic expertise. ment. They use the equipment daily and may have Trade shows are a great hands-on opportunity for great advice and suggestions on how to perform testing products and asking questions. Often the shows have low or no entrance fees. Send workthe job tasks more efficiently and comfortably. 4. Train supervisors and the health and safety ers (i.e., the users) as well as supervisors, who will representative  on how to recognize, assess and have a broader sense of how well products or solucontrol MSD hazards, and if resources allow tions would fit their workplace. How WSPS can help train all workers. With a small business you have Businesses of all sizes can access free and lowa smaller workforce, so it wouldn’t take long to train one or two people or even all employees. cost online resources, including a new video, PreHave the training focus on the workplace’s pri- vent Musculoskeletal Disorders in Your Warehouse, that supervisors can download or stream, mary MSD hazards and common tasks. 5. Provide everyone and  e-courses, for individual awareness training. with basic aware- “We also have a variety of free downloads,” says ness training on er- Mike, including • an MSD hazard checklist gonomics  (e.g., how • an MSD risk assessment and discomfort survey to recognize awkward to help with general ergonomic assessments postures, high forces • office ergonomic checklist to help with hazard or repetition) to esidentification and workstation set-up tablish a baseline un• stretching and infographic posters derstanding of the WSPS ergonomists can deliver lunch ’n’ learns hazards, and so that people will feel com- and onsite training, work with your joint health fortable identifying and safety committee or health and safety repreMSD hazards and be sentative on their inspections, and help you deable to watch out for vise a sustainable, results-based MSD prevention themselves and each program. For full information on WSPS services and reother. First Data’s trademark is 6. Check out prod- sources, just visit the WSPS website: www.wsps. providing fast, safe and ucts at trade shows, ca cost-efficient transactions. Let us analyze your latest St. Thomas & District statement and we will meet Chamber of Commerce 2016 Board of Directors or beat your current rates. Published by Metroland Media Group Ltd.,

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For complete information on the St. Thomas and District Chamber of Commerce, reach us at: 115-300 South Edgeware Rd., St. Thomas, Ontario N5P 4L1 Telephone: 519-631-1981 Fax: 519-631-0466 E-Mail: Website: President & CEO Bob Hammersley Accounting Coordinator Susan Munday Member Services Christy Hunking Member Services Barry Fitzgerald

Chair: Dan Kelly, CPA, CGA Dowler-Karn Ltd. Vice-Chair: Robert Furneaux Gorman-Rupp of Canada Ltd. Treasurer: Mark Lassam, CPA, CA Lassam & Co. Past Chair: Ross Fair Fanshawe College Director: Ray Bosveld HollisWealth Director: Kathy Cook World Financial Group Director: Sean Dyke St. Thomas Economic Development Corp. Director: Brian Helmer Reith & Associates Insurance & Financial Director: Kevin Jackson Elgin Business Resource Centre Director: Phil Mauer Phil Mauer & Associates Inc. Director: Ginette Minor Alexelle Slipcovers & Décor Director: Joe Preston Wendy’s Restaurant Director: Bob Ward The Auto Guys

E L G I N T H I S M O N T H 10

Chamber News

$16 billion Ontario tourism gap requires a dedicated government strategy Tourism industry is an important economic driver in St. Thomas and district Lost revenue from Ontario’s Tourism industry also focuses on drawing in visitors from around the is impacting job creation and economic growth, world,” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of and the Chamber wants to work to address the the OCC. “If we can do this successfully, the provchallenge. ince will achieve substantial economic gains while The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Com- keeping up with global growth trends.” merce, in partnership with the Ontario ChamTo produce this report, the OCC convened a ber of Commerce (OCC), has released new data group of Ontario’s leading thinkers within the that reveals a significant tourism opportunity gap tourism community. The report builds on previous when compared to international growth rates. Ac- initiatives undertaken by members of the tourism cording to the research in our latest major report, industry and further substantiates the need for a Closing the Tourism Gap: Creating a Long-Term focused and measured approach targeted towards Advantage for Ontario, Ontario has foregone supporting the future of tourism in Ontario. nearly $16 billion in visitor spending between The complete 40-page report may be viewed 2006 and 2012 by not keeping up with global and/or downloaded from the Chamber website at growth trends. While this year has been a strong year for tourism in Ontario, it is important that this recent growth is translated into long-term, sustainable gains in tourism visitation. “The tourism industry is an important economic driver in St. Thomas & District as well as in many other communities across the province,” says Bob Hammersley, President & CEO of the St. Thomas & District Chamber. “However, through research outlined in this report, we’ve found that Ontario is missing out on significant tourism growth in comparison to international trends. Our local industry and the province as a whole must take steps to boost our reputation as a global destination for foreign visitors and close the tourism gap.” The report identifies a number of challenges faced by tourism operators and the broader tourism community in Ontario, while presenting a series of action items to address them. The St. Thomas & District Chamber is encouraged that the government is moving ahead with an action plan for the province’s tourism industry, a key consideration highlighted by our Members. Our report is clear about the need for any provincial strategy to include measurable targets, a practice currently employed by many successful tourism destinations. These targets would help to organize and coordinate tourism activities amongst the diverse group of public and private tourism organizations in Ontario, another key recommendation of the report. “Ontario’s tourism sector needs a dedicated strategy driven by the provincial government that not only proTel: 519-631-9393 I 45 METCALFE ST, ST. THOMAS, motes tourism within Ontario, but

Important merger

The new “Railworks” merger was the big announcement at November’s Business After Five. The four organizations of On Track St. Thomas, Elgin County Railway Museum (ECRM), North America Railway Hall of Fame (NARHF) and the Iron Horse Festival are uniting and will work together to continue to preserve the city’s railway heritage. On hand for the announcement were Serge Lavoie from On Track (left), Jeremy Locke from ECRM, Matt Janes from NARHF and Paul Corriveau from the Iron Horse Festival.

We want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

December, 2016


ON I 11

Legal Business

New Year’s tinkering with land transfer tax

As we all know, Ontario has levied a tax on the transfer of real property for many years. Although the rate of tax has remained constant over time, (since 1989) the amounts charged on individual transactions has not. The reason for this is simple; the tax is based on the value of the property transferred. And as we have seen, those values have increased substantially in recent years, particularly in the Toronto area. The Province is faced with somewhat of a dilemma. On one hand, certain geographic markets risk being enveloped in a “real estate bubble”, and, on the other, first time buyers are being forced out of the market by escalating home prices. Much has been written about the causes of the apparently over-heated real estate market, as well as proposals to stem the inflationary trend. We have enjoyed a considerable period of historically low interest rates, which have, in turn, reduced the monthly carrying costs of a mortgage. Buyers have been able to borrow more and this ability, it is suggested, has pushed prices upward. As well, a certain level of speculation has been identified in principal residences, as well as traditional rental properties. In addition, some analysts have identified foreign investors as part of the problem. And, one cannot discount the simple effect of stronger demand in certain markets, in particular the GTA. The federal government has addressed the prob-

lem with various adjustments to lending rules, and mortgage insurance premiums, with limited results. The feds could intervene and arbitrarily raise mortgage interest rates. However, such draconian measures have proven disastrous in the past. At the provincial level, direct taxation is perhaps the only tool at its disposal with which to control the growth in any economic sector. And, as we have seen with the introduction of harmonized sales tax, great care must be taken. First, in order to address the predicament of first time buyers, the Province, as of January 1, will increase the maximum refund of Land Transfer Tax to $4000 from the present $2000. A little background might be helpful. The rates of Land Transfer Tax are: .5% on the first $55,000; 1% on the amount up to $250,000; 1.5% on the amount up to $400,000; and 2% on the amount over $400,000. So, under the present refund system, a first time buyer could purchase a home with a value up to $227,500 without paying Land Transfer Tax. Under the new rules, he/she will be able to buy a home valued at $368,000 with no tax. The government estimates that, as a result of the change, more than one half of all first time home buyers in Ontario will pay no tax. As well, there will be enhancements for first time buyers of more expensive homes. Now, what about the “bubble” problem? Re-

member I said the rates of tax had not changed in many years? Well, it looks like there may be some tinkering of the rates on the horizon, at least in relation to certain types of properties, and certain types of buyers. The good news is there does not seem to be any indication of rate changes immediately. The Province is proposing to put in place a system to gather the following information: intended use of property (principal residence or rental); residency, citizenship and permanent resident status of the purchaser; and the type of property, such as residential, commercial, agricultural, industrial or recreational. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think the government is gathering this information just for fun. On behalf of Michael and myself, and the staff at Fordham and Brightling, we wish everyone a safe Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Questions, comments and suggestions for future columns are welcomed by lawyer Monty Fordham at his office: Fordham & Brightling Associates – Lawyers, 4 Elgin Street, St. Thomas. Telephone 519- 633-4000, Monty Fordham FAX 519-633-1371 or e-mail:

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omaS TreeT ST.Th S T o b l a T 5 6 9 E L G I N T H I S M O N T H 12

Member News

New War Memorial Park planned In the months ahead, a unique project will be completed in St. Thomas/Elgin County. A new Veterans Memorial Garden will be created in the municipal green space/parkland area along Moore Street just south of Talbot and north of Centre Street, and east of the L&PS railway tracks. It will be the place where over 10,000 local men and women from Elgin County who answered the call – and to the over 1,000 who never came home – will be recognized. The project is being organized by volunteers working as the Memorial Site Committee. Longtime community supporter Herb Warren is the Chairman of the group. They anticipate that the Garden will quickly become a fundamental part in honouring and remembering and will bring forth an exciting new era of commemoration allowing us to respect the fallen in a new reverential location. The Garden will include the Great War (WWI) Soldier, moving the memorial from its present location at the St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital (STEGH). The WWII/Korean Cenotaph moves from its Talbot Street location at Princess Avenue half a block east to the new site. In addition, plans for a third element honoring the Afghanistan conflict will also be included The current site for Remembrance Day events at STEGH has been deemed as being unsuitable, especially with all of the new construction on the

hospital property. The goal is to have the new location completed and dedicated for the November 11, 2017 Remembrance Day Service. As required, Moore Street can be closed for events with little disruptions for traffic or businesses on Talbot Street. The organizers want to create a special place and invite you to join others in saluting those who served Canada. They hope donations large and small will allow the City of St Thomas are inviting you to do something extra special in St Thomas to not forget by making a meaningful gift towards this project! The initiative has unanimous support from the City of St Thomas, Karen Vecchio, M.P.; Jeff Yurek M.P.P.; the 31CER (The Elgins) and Branch 41 of the Royal Canadian Legion. The project has a total estimated cost of over $225,000 with fundraising efforts already underway showing positive success. It is anticipated that several levels of government will also contribute to the Veterans Memorial Garden. Donations can be brought to St. Thomas City Hall City Hall with charitable receipts available. Cheques are to be made payable to ‘City of St. Thomas’. Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele, Juno Beach and D-Day, the Battle of the Atlantic, the Air War in Europe, Hong Kong, the Pacific War, freeing the Netherlands, the Korean Conflict, numer-

Making the holiday season brighter

War Memorial Park Site Committee members Herb Warren (left) and Allan Weatherall display a model of the site at the November Business After 5 at the CASO Station in St. Thomas. ous Peace Keeping Missions, and most recently Afghanistan, all bring floods of memories for Canadians. The significance of the Garden and its importance for families of our fallen from St. Thomas and Elgin County are primary elements that will be created. Lest We Forget!

ishes w m a e t s y u G T he Auto ristmas h C y r r e M y you a ver


Enjoy your time with family and friends this festive season. Happy Holidays! Michael Moore Tel: 519-637-7747 #3 - 9 Princess Avenue St. Thomas, ON N5R 3V3

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E L G I N T H I S M O N T H 13

Pro Text

Rudolph’s nose is too red …Take his keys

by Angus Gale

Halloween marked the beginning of holiday season and multiple opportunities for friends, family and coworkers to gather. Hosts who serve alcohol should take steps to limit their liability and make sure they have the proper insurance. Social host liability, the legal term for the criminal and civil responsibility of a person who furnishes liquor to a guest, can have a serious impact on party throwers. At least half of the provinces have Occupiers’ Liability legislation which means that anyone who has control over premises (renters, owners, and special occasions) could be responsible for injuries to people who are invited onto the premises. This includes being responsible for the condition of the premises, the conduct of the guests, and incidents coming from the activities allowed on the premises. Before planning a party in your home, it is important to speak with your insurance broker/agent about your homeowner’s coverage and any exclusions, conditions or limitations your policy might have for this kind of risk. Whether you are hanging out with a small group of friends for cocktails or throwing a large company bash, remember that a good host is a responsible host, and needs to take steps to ensure guests get home safely if they have been drinking. If you plan to serve alcohol at a holiday party, here

are some tips to promote safe alcohol consumption and reduce your social host liability exposure: • Consider venues other than your home for the party. Hosting your party at a restaurant or bar with a liquor license, rather than at your home, will help minimize liquor liability risks. • Hire a professional bartender. Bartenders with Ontario’s SmartServe certification are trained to recognize signs of intoxication and are better able to limit consumption by partygoers.  • Encourage guests to pick a designated driver who will refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages so that he or she can drive other guests home.  • Be a responsible host/hostess. Limit your own alcohol intake so that you will be better able to judge your guests’ sobriety.  • Offer non-alcoholic beverages and always serve food. Eating and drinking plenty of water, or other non-alcoholic beverages, can help counter the effects of alcohol.  • Do not pressure guests to drink or rush to refill their glasses when empty. And never serve alcohol to guests who are visibly intoxicated.  • Stop serving liquor toward the end of the evening. Switch to coffee, tea and soft drinks.  • If guests drink too much or seem too tired to drive home, call a cab, arrange a ride with a sober guest or have them sleep at your home.  • Encourage all your guests to wear seatbelts as they drive home. Studies show that seatbelts save

lives. • Know your guests – it is much easier to track the changes in behaviour of those you know. • Try to serve all drinks yourself and avoid selfserve bars to track and monitor your guests’ consumption. Consider hiring a bartender trained in alcohol service. • Meet, greet and repeat – meet and greet all your guests as they arrive in order to determine if they have had anything alcoholic to drink before arriving. If the party is an open house or cocktail format, repeat the process as guests leave. • Keep the phone numbers of cab companies handy and tell the guest that a cab has been ordered – don’t give them the option to refuse. • Call the police – If the person refuses to give the car keys or spend the night at your house, call the police. It may seem drastic, but it could be a choice between that of an upset friend or far more tragic consequences.

Angus Gale

This column appears regularly in Business Beat and has been submitted by Angus Gale, RIBO. Angus is a Personal Insurance Broker/Advisor with Reith & Associates Insurance and Financial Services Limited, 462 Talbot Street, St. Thomas.

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E L G I N T H I S M O N T H 14

New Members

New Members Canadian Tire 25-1063 Talbot Street St. Thomas, ON N5P 1G4 Phone: 519-631-4910 Website: Email: Contacts: Pierre Marcotte, Owner; Brenda Bakker, General Manager; Dwayne Buhler, Service Manager Buyers Guide Categories: Auto Parts, Auto Repair, Hardware, Paint, Plumbing Equipment & Supplies, Sports Equipment & Clothing, TiresSales & Service Products & Services: This fall has seen the changing of local ownership and we are pleased to welcome Pierre Marcotte and his staff team to the St. Thomas Canadian Tire. Since 1922, Canadian Tire has grown and expanded to include over 430 locations across the country. Offering a huge variety of products from home décor, appliances and sporting equipment to auto service and tires, they have something for everyone. Century Chocolates 182 Main Street West Lorne, ON N0L 1M0 Phone: 519-768-3888 Email: Contacts: Krista & Ryan Harris, Owners Buyers Guide Categories: Food Specialties, Food-Wholesalers Products & Services: Century Chocolates specializes in quality handmade chocolate products. Available in a variety of tastes and flavours, as well as a great selection of assortments, gift baskets or individual treats, their chocolates make a perfect addition to any special occasion! Doholis-Lambert 10 Rossmore Court St. Thomas, ON N6C 6A3 Phone: 519-671-2978 Email: Website: Contacts: Paul Lambert, Managing Partner Buyers Guide Categories: Business Advisory Services, Business Information Services Products & Services: Doholis-Lambert’s goal is to help good companies become great companies. They work with entrepreneurs and business leaders who want more out of their business — who want to achieve their goals more quickly, easily, and with less effort. Their proven system of simple concepts and practical tools can help you do the same. Elgin Mall 417 Wellington Street St. Thomas, ON N5R 5J5 Phone: 519-633-6046 Email: Website: December, 2016

The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce proudly welcomes the following businesses and individuals as our newest Members. Those listed below were accepted as registered Members to October 16 – November 15, 2016. Once an organization registers with the Chamber, all personnel (owners/managers/staff) within the organization have full access to all Chamber programs, projects, events and services.

Contacts: Jay Burstein, Owner Vicki Browne, Property Administrator Buyers Guide Categories: Shopping Centres Products & Services: Elgin Mall is under new ownership! The new owners are working to grow and enhance a mix of retail, service and entertainment shops and services, including St. Thomas’ only movie theatre. It is the only enclosed shopping centre in St. Thomas and is the perfect meeting place for businesses, family and community organizations.

ranean restaurant offering a variety of authentic meals and dishes gathered from across different Mediterranean cultures and countries. Choose from a selection of delicious homemade meals, made of the best and healthiest ingredients. The menu caters to vegan, vegetarian and traditional needs with a selection of sea, white meat and red meat dishes. Guests will always enjoy a pleasant Mediterranean experience at Recipes. Talbotville Berry Farm 11054 Sunset Road St. Thomas, ON N5P 3T2 Phone: 519-615-1164 Email: Website: Contacts: Shirley Simpson, Owner Buyers Guide Categories: Agriculture – Growers & Producers, Food-Wholesalers, Food Specialties, Grocery/Food Stores Products & Services: Talbotville Berry Farm is a family owned and operated 100+ acre farm. They grow and supply local produce, baked goods, jams, pickles and more to Elgin County and surrounding area. They have recently opened a spacious and modern new year ‘round market to better serve you!

Mustang Products 35 Currah Road St. Thomas, ON N5P 2R9 Phone: 519-685-5505 Email: Website: Contacts: Brad Sparling, President; Angela Sparling, Vice President; John Lee, Vice President Buyers Guide Categories: Promotional Products; Distributors; Manufacturers Products & Services: Founded in September 2003, Mustang has relocated to St. Thomas from London. The firm brings high-quality functional products to life under high-end licensed brands. The company produces and distributes a wide variety of items, many of which serve major professional sports teams and leagues across Canada, the US, and beyond. Making practical prodPlease donate to Christmas Care ucts memorable, at fair prices, has been with Toys and Non-perishable food items their goal and they are proud to continue to at our office at 115 Curtis St., St. Thomas expand their offering to the retail community and corporate business partners. Mustang is 100% Canadian owned and operated.

Let’s Help Families in Need This Holiday Season

Recipes Elgin Mall 417 Wellington Street St. Thomas, ON N5R 5J5 Phone: 519-207-2345 Email: Website: Contacts: Bilal Khalife & Hassan Chirry, coowners Buyers Guide Categories: Restaurants Products & Services: Recipes is a Mediter-

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E L G I N T H I S M O N T H 15

Chamber News

Our plan for service & progress The Chamber’s work to advocate on behalf of our Members and to be the best local source of business and community information means we must be closely connected to the provincial and national parts of the Chamber network. Locally, we must also work to ensure connections to data and organizations which collect and feed information relevant to the St. Thomas & District market. As the 13th annual Ontario Economic Summit (OES) came to a close on November 4, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) unveiled plans to release its future economic agenda for the province. With key leaders from government and business in attendance, the OCC outlined the direction of its new Ontario Economic Report  (OER), which will reflect the outcomes of the OES and will build upon the resolutions from Ontario Chamber Network’s Annual General Meeting each spring. 90% of the legislation and related functions that impact employers, employees and the ability to do business originate at the provincial level. For

that reason, the work of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce is vital to us. And so is the support and input of local data we obtain from our Members through channels such as surveys. For example, for four weeks from late October to mid-November, we published a link in our weekly email newsletter “Green Mail” and on the Chamber website inviting local viewpoints for our annual Business Confidence Survey. As you will see below, our work to collect local data contributes to a broader result that produces the most accurate and valued market data in Ontario. With the first edition of the Ontario Economic Report to be released in February 2017, the OER will be a permanent, annual, institution for the OCC, and will be made up of four pillars: 1. Business Confidence Survey, containing self-reported economic data from Ontario’s business community and developed in partnership with Fresh Intelligence; 2. The Economic Prosperity Index, focused on

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tracking and measuring economic data that indicates the Government’s ability to support business and achieve economic goals over time, developed in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA); 3. Economic outlooks, forecasting the year ahead, with regional data to understand Ontario as provided by Central 1 Credit Union; and 4. Policy programs, outlining the central advocacy efforts for the Ontario Chamber Network in the coming year in order to convene business and government to drive prosperity in the province. This new annual report will guide OCC policy, support the broader Chamber Network and help shape government policy. It will lead conversations about business in Ontario and inform important public policy decisions for a more prosperous province. “Ontario businesses are looking for stability and economic certainty,” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the OCC. “The Ontario Economic Report  will offer a detailed roadmap for how government and business can work together to achieve their shared goals. It is important that public policy address the concerns of the business community.” The OES was established by the Ontario Chamber in 2003 and is now the premiere conference for Ontario’s leaders in public policy, politics, and business to convene and discuss how to build and grow Ontario’s economy. It is held each year in Niagara-In-TheLake in late October or early November. Discussions at this year’s event, November 2 to 4, focused on creating conditions that will establish the province as a global leader in innovation.

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E L G I N T H I S M O N T H 16


Downtown St. Thomas • Over 300 shops and services • 3 kilometers of beautiful painted murals, parkettes and gorgeous historic Victorian buildings • T h e C i t y H a l l C h r i s t m a s Tr e e Downtown Development Board (DDB) Downtown Dollars are redeemable at participating vendors displaying the yellow “Discover Downtown St. Thomas” logo. For information on purchasing Downtown Dollars as gifts, visit our website, contact us on Facebook, email or call 519-633-5248.

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E L G I N T H I S M O N T H 17

Aylmer & Area Chamber of Commerce Enjoy your holidays more by budgeting wisely by Don Yule

For most households, the holiday season is an enjoyable time of year to spend with friends and family, but it can also be one of the most stressful, with travelling, hosting and gift-buying all being a major drain on the household finances. Meridian, Ontario’s largest credit union, offers the following tips to have an enjoyable holiday season while still keeping your wallet intact: Create a holiday budget – Start by figuring out your total budget – if you only have $500 to spend on gifts, examine the list of those you intend to buy for and divide accordingly. While gifts are likely to be the biggest portion of the budget, it is important to remember non-gift related expenses as well, such as travel and social events. Make a list and check it twice – Before heading out to the store, make a list of absolutely everyone you plan to buy gifts for – family, friends, the mailman, etc. – and budget for each of them. This will help you better organize your shopping trips, avoid impulse buys and stay within your planned budget. Shop around – Once you have made your list be sure to do some research. Compare prices online before setting foot in the store to ensure that you are getting the best value and aren’t being seduced by “sales” which can cause you to spend more


than you planned. Online shopping can offer significant savings and websites often have discount codes for free shipping or gift-wrapping during the holiday season. Keep track of your spending – Making a holiday budget is only the first step – if you aren’t keeping track of your expenditures it can be hard to stick to it. Writing down all of your expenditures throughout the season will help you determine how much you’ve spent and, more importantly, how much you have left. Be wary of department store credit cards – Many department stores pressure shoppers to sign up for credit cards with the enticement of a one-time discount of 10 per cent to 15 per cent off their purchase. While this may seem tempting, these cards usually come with overly high interest rates and it is easy to forget to pay them off. Start saving early – When the New Year rolls around, start putting money aside as soon as you are able. Building a giftgiving fund throughout the year will ensure that you have

a healthy budget by the time the holiday season rolls around. To learn more about financial planning visit or come and visit us at Meridian’s Aylmer branch located at 36 Talbot Street West. Don Yule is Meridian’s Aylmer branch manager





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Aylmer & Area Chamber of Commerce Busy Aylmer elves

Volunteers worked for hours throughout November to decorate the parks for the festive season. Three parks in downtown Aylmer were decorated in anticipation of the lighting which was at the end of November.  The lights will remain on in Palmer Park and Balmoral Park through to the New Year.  You are invited to take a walk through the parks! Thank you to the many volunteers who worked through all types of weather for countless hours. Decorating elves included Diane Mott, Kim Enns, Jeff & Nicole Wiebenga, Jeneen Toth, Wanda Kapogines, Judi Wright, Jack Couckuyt, Linda Black and Thom and Jamie from the Town of Aylmer. See more pics on page 31.

Sell your home even when it’s frosty outside when you sell, there will be less to pack up! 3. Price it to sell! 4. Keep your inside temperature comfortable How can you sell your home during the winter?  Check out these 5 tips that will help you get it and cozy. The moment buyers walk through the front door, you want them to feel warm and welsold over the Holidays! 1.  Hire a reputable Realtor. Trusting one of comed by your home. 5. Include exterior your largest assets to a reputable Realtor just makes sense.  I have over 30 years’ experience photographs of your selling in Elgin County and southwestern On- home from the warmtario. As well, I have a strong track record of sales er months.  Whether and happy clients. Regardless of who you choose, you have a backyard though, ensure you hire someone who is going to oasis or not, you want your prospective buywork for your best interests. 2.  Decorate your house for the holidays but er to see what your yard looks like don’t go overin the warmer board!  Many … months.  Perhaps of us love the you have maChristmas sea- but don’t go overboard ture trees or a son, but you want pool; your buyyour home to be showcased, not your collection of ornaments or ers will want to enviChristmas village.  For one year, it might be a sion themselves living good idea to scale back. The good news is that, there. by Jeff Wiebenga


Jeff Wiebenga, Broker - Showcase East Elgin Realty Inc. can be reached at 519 773 8800 or jeff@showcaseeastelgin. com. His website is

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Healthy Living Self Discovery

Change is inevitable – but how do you adapt? by Anouschka Van den Bosch

It seemed to be popping up at work, at home and amongst friends. It was inevitable. Not just the changing of the season or the time change. Just everything was changing and it all seemed so fast. No time to stop and think about, adjusting or even figuring out where this change came from. Just a constant go. I wrote about change last year and the fear of change but what I did not talk about is the change we have no control over, the change that is going to happen without us being aware of it or at least

not having much time to adjust to. Sometimes life throws us a curve ball and we must go with it or get lost in the shuffle. In our businesses, we try to forecast or predict our sales for the next few months. We plan for employees retiring or going on maternity leave and then, out of the blue, here comes the resignation we did not plan for, the shipment that’s not going to arrive on time for the sale or the change in weather that will ruin the event we’ve spent weeks planning. How do we adapt in those moments when we realize that what we thought was normal is no longer the norm? What I learned over the last few weeks is to ac-

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direction, holding my breath that there would not be another shoe that dropped causing us to change and adapt again. It all came together in the end, but it wasn’t easy. Communication was key as well as processes that we had in place. There were some difficult moments but also extremely rewarding times that made it all worth it. I became acutely aware of what I could control and what I couldn’t. No need to spend time and energy on items I had no control over. I just kept moving forward with what I knew I could accomplish and those tasks gave me and the rest of the team the best rewards. As we are all adapting to our new normal it is clear the change has provided everyone a fresh new perspective on things. Some may still not be on board 100% but hopefully they will see the benefits over the next few months. That’s another one of those things I can’t control. We now work with new goals and new thought processes and it is like a breath of fresh air. When we were in the middle of all the changes, I could sense what the end result could look like. I believe that is important in making a change successful – the vision of what it will look like in the end and letting go of what was since it will no longer be like that anyway, so just move on. That’s easier for me than some people because I don’t mind going at a fast pace getting things done. It became clear, though, as we moved forward with our plans, that some people just needed more time to adapt to and digest the new plans and vision. Looking back, we probably could have provided more time and space for those individuals which would have made the transition easier for them and thus an easier acceptance of the changes. Something I will remember for next time because I can guarantee you there will always be change. “Change is inevitable. Progress is optional”— Tony Robbins

“it all came together,

BUT IT WASN’T EASY” cept what is and not revert to what was. There were times I did not have time to analyze what my options were to prepare for the change – I had to jump on board and fast. I learned to pull all my resources together, talk to the people involved and move the adjusted plan forward. It became very clear that communication was going to be crucial to keep everyone on the same page and in our case, it had to be face-to-face. Some days became a marathon as I tried to keep all the pieces together and keep all those involved in the loop. I would circle back to make sure we were all moving in the right

Anouschka Van den Bosch is a Human Resources Professional and Certified Life and Career Coach.

E L G I N T H I S M O N T H 20


No question is stupid.

This is your future. by Stephanie Farrow

“Blah, blah, blah”… is this what you think you hear your financial advisor saying sometimes? The financial marketplace is riddled with acronyms and jargon that can make these conversations confusing. Trust me when I say your advisor has to work hard to stay away from using too many acronyms because this is how we communicate with investment companies on a daily basis. It can be challenging at times to make sure we remember not everyone knows this terminology, and to be sure to explain things in layman terms while also meeting regulatory standards to cover all necessary details. If you are considering purchasing a car or furniture for example, you can touch and see the qualities and features because they are tangible items. Investment planning involves intangibles which makes them harder to explain and be understood. This isn’t unique to the financial industry. For example, I struggle with computers. When our technology advisor explains our computer issues, I admit I can easily become lost. I try to comprehend what he’s saying but it can be a challenge to grasp the technical terms and details in a way that makes sense to me. I’m trying my best to understand yet, sometimes I struggle after he has gone to remember accurately what he said. Just as it’s important for computer experts to realize not everyone is a technical whiz, financial planners also need to recognize that financial topics do not come easy to most. There is a lot of information to be absorbed by an investor in a typical financial meeting with their advisor. Above and beyond the terminology, it can feel like information overload. Sometimes what makes perfect sense to an investor during a meeting may later become a question that needs revisiting.

Here’s the challenge. Sometimes people feel stupid because they didn’t understand something, or they have forgotten what their advisor said and become afraid to inquire. Please don’t. If you have questions just ask. This is your financial future and it’s important you understand to the level that’s comfortable for you. It’s important for us planners to know when we need to explain something again. While you may feel you are inconveniencing your planner by asking, they would rather you ask than have you confused. So, yes, if that means asking the same question a few times over, in a few different meetings until it sticks, then please ask. There are no stupid questions. Sometimes we hear people say, “When we met about this it made perfect sense but now I’m confused about something. Can you explain it to me again?” Absolutely! Nine times out of ten, it is simply a located at refresher that’s needed to put everything back in the context of the overall plan. People want to understand their investments and financial plan, but it is not easy to absorb everything all at once. Building this knowledge takes time. Remember that even seasoned inves-



tors didn’t become that way overnight. It takes several meetings over several years for an investor to really build their knowledge base. Give yourself credit for small milestones along the way and recognize each meeting allows you to understand at a deeper level. But above all don’t stop learning and don’t stop asking. Your financial future will thank you. Stephanie Farrow, B.A., C.F.P., is a Certified Financial Planner and co-owner of Farrow Financial Services Inc., in Belmont

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Life is better in the Quick Lane.™ 21

Lifestyle That’s Life

Rally for change tables in ALL washrooms

by Elizabeth VanHooren

Dad Club London is a grassroots support group created for modern dads. The group advocates that dads in 2016 are just as involved, engaged and sometimes confused in parenting as mothers. Dads are more involved in their children’s lives than ever before. This modern mom applauds this paternal advocacy. Most especially, I am publicly backing the Dads of London’s fight to have equal access to baby change tables in public washrooms. “Dads change diapers too” is their rally cry. Amen. My husband and I are part of this modern family revolution. Most days, we manage to have one or both of us attend cross country meets, school open houses, assemblies and get the boys to extracurriculars while still holding down full-time jobs. Besides, when all else fails there are still grandma and grandpa (insert a smile emoji). But it’s exhausting because, at one time or another, during any given week, my husband or I are single parenting. This week, I was the lone wolf taking the redheaded pack off to swimming lessons. This is totally an event that can logically be single-parented. But it is way easier if your pack is the same gender as you. Allowing your eight- and six-year-olds into a boys’ change room while waiting patiently on the other side for them to reappear is the defi-

nition of insanity. Case in point one: Eight-yearold has established fast friends with a few boys from his class. I can hear them making farting noises and generally whooping it up while I wait outside powerless. Well, not really powerless because now he knows that I am the mother who will open the door and holler, “This is your mother. Unless you want me to come in and get you – hurry up!” Case in point two: Six-year-old desperately wanting to feel as big as his older brother believes he is ready to venture out on his own – and not be dragged into the girls’ change room with his mom. So, mom puts her “big girl pants” on and sends him into the black abyss of the boys’ change room. After many anxious moments, he emerges. The first time, he is missing his goggles. Then, he retrieves his goggles but comes back out missing his socks. I know my story does not equate to the frustration a father must feel when he is the lone parent of a baby who needs a diaper change, and he can’t find a men’s washroom with a change table. I’m just saying as a modern mom I support the modern dad’s call to action. “Let’s build stronger parents and stronger communities every single

day” one washroom at a time. And Dads, if you see some boys in the change room goofing off, feel free to remind them that their mother is waiting (insert high-five emoji). Elizabeth VanHooren is General Manager of Kettle Creek Conservation Authority

Give Generously to Christmas Care and the Salvation Army this Holiday Season. Let’s make sure everyone has a Merry Christmas.

Allan Hughson

Owen Boughner

Owner Licensed Funeral Director

Licensed Funeral Director

David Gifford Licensed Funeral Director

Ali (Hughson) Harris

Matt Hughson

Office Manager

Internship Funeral Director

Merry Christmas Merry Christmas from all the staff at Ron’s Auto 225 Edward Street, St. Thomas 519-633-6130

December, 2016

45 Elgin Street, St. Thomas (519) 631-0850 E L G I N T H I S M O N T H 22


Wines for giving this

holiday season by Jamie Quai

For my last article of 2016 I thought I’d devote a few paragraphs to five styles of wine I love to give, receive, and share over the holidays. The first wine style is icewine. We are spoiled in Canada to have access to a tremendous selection of world class icewines at our finger tips. Icewines are produced from grapes that are naturally left to freeze on the vine and pressed before the temperature rises. Icewines are amazing food wines. They pair with an incredible array of foods. You can open a half bottle and easily share with a half dozen friends with more than enough to go around. Icewines age very well, and don’t spoil too quickly after the bottle has been opened. There are hundreds of great icewines available for under $40 a bottle. The next style of wine I look for over the holidays is Appassimento style reds. Appassimento is a winemaking style where grapes are harvested at peak ripeness and are put into drying houses, or chambers, to raisin over several weeks to several months to concentrate, flavours and sugars. This style is most often associated with the Veneto, Italy’s region Valpolicella. The grapes in Valpolicella that are left to dry and fermented are referred to as Amarone. If a producer takes used Amarone skins and adds them to regular Valpolicella ferments, it’s called Ripasso. I love these wines, when it’s cold out, with protein rich dishes, like stews or chilis. Several Ontario producers have their own take on the style, and decent examples can be found for under $40. Staying in Italy, the next wine style I love to give/receive/share over the holidays is Barolo. Barolo is called the king of red wines, and for good reason. The Barolo region of Peidmont grows the best Nebbiolo grapes in the world. These wines are aged for almost half a decade before release and the best examples will age for over half a century. This is not an everyday wine. Entry level examples start around $40 a bottle, with the great stuff coming in closer to $70 a bottle. Great Barolos are wines that are studied and pondered over. They evolve over hours and days once they are open. A great Barolo can be as entertaining as seeing a talented musician perform. Think of the purchase as the cost of a few tickets for a great night. Let’s move from the king of red wines, to the December, 2016

king of white wines: Riesling. German Ries- other wine producing countries, a lot of produclings are the pinnacle of the grape, though ers are throttling their selections until it’s more world class examples can be found in Cana- financially lucrative for them to sell them here. da, New York State, Austria, New Zealand, and Best advice is to buy local (where currency fluxes France. The vibrant acidity of Riesling makes it don’t have the same effect) or stock up when you the perfect wine to cut through some of the rich- find a deal. Happy Holidays! er and fatter dishes that are typically served over the holidays. They also tend to have lower alcohol contents, which don’t tend to push drinkers over Jamie Quai is head winemaker at the top the way a fuller red wine might. Everyday Quai du Vin Estate Winery in Elgin drinking Rieslings usually come in the $14 to County, and 2016 Ontario Grape $18 per bottle range, with prime examples of the King. grape coming in the $20 to $40 range. The last wine recommendation for this holiday season is white Burgundy. This is all about Chardonnay. They are great wines with autumn vegetables, and holior call us to CATER your Christmas Party day fare. The wines can be incredibly profound. And much like the Barolos discussed Enjoy Our above, prime examples of these wines will evolve over hours and days once they’re opened. World class white Burgundy starts around $70. The cost is higher as a result of several under-yielding vintages, and higher consumer demand. It’s cheaper to share than concert tickets pm to to 88 pm pm-· RESERVATIONS RESERVATIONS RECOMMENDED RECOMMENDED 12 pm and no less reward519-633-0360 · e: ing over an evening to open a terrific aged bottle. My last tip for the seasons wine selection is to watch the retail Dining Lounge prices and availability. Our wine stores buy their selection in At the junction of Hwy. 3 and 4 Canadian dollars, and HOURS: Mon-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 10am-9pm with our dollar underperforming relative to Nick and Trudy Kanellis ·

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Create space-savvy living areas by Renée Carpenter

Whether your room is long and narrow or small and square, smart ideas for furniture arrangements can help make the most of your space. It’s best, though, to be able to ‘visualize’ it first before shifting and sliding furniture all over the room, or buying a large piece of furniture that will never fit. Below are a few ideas for various shapes and sizes that might help shed some light on your situation. There are a number of factors first and foremost that make a living room layout actually work. One is function. Second is traffic flow. Third is focal point. These are very important details – not to even mention colour scheme and proper balance of placement – that will actually make a room work. Depending on the actual use of the room, one of the most requested functions in a living area is for conversation. This means the television is NOT the focal point! By arranging the seating pieces to face each other over a shared coffee table, this makes conversation easy and the table keeps drinks in easy reach. For those with an open floor plan, divide a large living/dining space into separate zones with furniture placement. Place your sofa away from the dining room table to define the conversation area. This separates it away from other areas in a great room concept. If your room has two or more focal points, well,

have fun! Or maybe just choose the one that is a priority to those that enter the room. Or ignore them all and build a conversation area in the middle of it all and arrange seating perpendicular to all focal points. This one can become quite complicated at times. If you don’t have room for the usual sofa, loveseat, chairs, then do just four chairs – one of my favourites. Four comfy chairs will do just as well – or even better when defining an orderly, compact, yet welcoming seating arrangement. If your space is small, enlarge it! Yes, it is just that simple. Simply by placing the furniture diagonally, it gives the room a boxy flavor and creates a welcoming pathway into the seating area. Use the sofa and coffee table to establish the diagonal axis and then arrange additional seating on the same axis. But to subtly anchor the seating group to the room’s architecture, align the area rug with a wall –

From Our Home to Yours, Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season

maybe the fireplace wall if there is one. In living areas where lounging and television watching are the main activities, sectionals can offer flexible, comfortable seating. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes and can be combined to fit your space and requirements. If your living room is the setting for large parties, bring intimacy and sense of scale to the room by dividing it into smaller conversational groups but with easy access between them. This can be done with two sofas back to back, mirroring images, still leaving a path between them. If the area is large enough, anchor each area with a matching area rug. If not, you can still divide up a longer room into a couple of seating areas, one with a sofa and chairs and a second with just a group of chairs. Order can also be had with symmetry. Pairs of matching sofas, side tables and lamps can strike a perfect balance on each side of a fireplace – whether in a traditional, transitional or contemporary setting. Symmetry always imposes a sense of order in a space. Renée Carpenter owns Jennings Furniture & Design & Stage It With Jennings in St. Thomas.

Jeff Yurek, MPP, Elgin-Middlesex-London wishes you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Y Year.


ELGIN-MIDDLESEX-LONDON Office Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-4:30pm

31 Elgin St., St. Thomas 519-631-0570 December, 2016


750 Talbot St., (CASO Station Suite 201) St. Thomas, ON N5P 1E2 519-631-0666 email: 24

Healthy Living Everyday Health

How chiropractic saved Christmas, Volume VII

by Dr. Greg Johnston B.H.K., B.Ed., D.C.

Santa’s trip around the world almost didn’t happen last year. As regular readers of this column will know, I have been honoured to serve as Santa’s chiropractor for many years now. It’s been a pleasure to do my part to keep the jolly old elf healthy, but we’ve had a few close calls over the years. Fortunately, due to the positive benefits of regular chiropractic care, we’ve managed to keep Santa flying on his annual trip Christmas Eve. Last year was no exception but it was a bit of an unusual situation. Santa presented to my office a couple of days before Christmas Eve with what appeared to be a mild case of lower back pain. He said that his back had started to ache about two days before and that the discomfort had seemed to come and go. The day he came to my office, the pain seemed to be a little worse and was more constant. He assumed that it was a case of the regular lower back pain he had experienced in the past, but he did admit that it seemed to feel a little different. As we talked, it appeared that Santa was beginning to be more and more uncomfortable as he shifted positions trying to relieve the discomfort that seemed to be building. We began with a physical examination to determine the source of Santa’s back pain. The act of rising from the chair didn’t seem to aggravate his back. He said that movement didn’t seem to change the pain. Again, Santa’s discomfort seemed to be getting worse by the moment so I was beginning to become suspicious that perhaps something more than simple mechanical back pain was going on. We tried several orthopedic tests and none of them seemed to either increase or decrease Santa’s discomfort. His neurological tests were all within normal limits, and we really couldn’t isolate a specific area of his back pain through palpation. As we continued to work, Santa was becoming more and more uncomfortable. His pain was getting worse, and it now seemed to be radiating into his groin area. He also became nauseated and felt as though he was going to vomit. He was now sweating and was breathing heavier. I was certain now that Santa wasn’t suffering from regular low-

er back pain and it appeared that his symptoms were consistent with a kidney stone. I knew at that point that the pain was only going to get more severe. Luckily, Santa had brought one of his experienced elf ’s named Buddy with him. Buddy knew how to fly the sleigh so I instructed him to take Santa directly to the emergency room and let them know that Santa seemed to be having a kidney stone attack. At the emergency room, the doctors con- their scope. Thankfully, Santa fully recovered and firmed the diagnosis of a kidney stone with an x- is in good health once again. ray and prescribed some pain medication to make Santa comfortable. They instructed him to drink Dr. Greg Johnston is a Chiropractor plenty of water and told him that usually most and partner in Family Health people will eventually pass the kidney stone. They Options Treatment & Resources gave Santa a strainer to use when he urinated to Centre in St.Thomas try to catch the stone. Determining the type of stone formed can lead to some dietary changes and may lessen the chance of forming anSTAY WARM other stone. Fortunately, Santa THIS WINTER passed the stone the next day and was feeling well enough to make his trip on Christmas Eve. As primary contact practitioners, chiropractors are trained to recognize when a condition Professional installation A GREAT falls within their scope warrantied for as long as you own your car. GIFT IDEA! of practice or when it is appropriate to make a referral for a problem that is outside of


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519-633-5000 December, 2016

E L G I N T H I S M O N T H 25

BUSINESS & COMMUNITY Financial Planning

Meet your goals, perhaps save on taxes, and achieve peace of mind before year-end

by Ellen Luft

Pre-Christmas is not usually regarded as a season for financial and tax planning, but year-end looms and strategies affected by that calendar deadline must be carefully considered as part of your financial plan. I outline a number of situations which may not apply to everyone but should be reviewed for their personal benefits. 1. Manage your capital gains and losses. Capital gains are only taxed when they are realized. The decision to realize capital gains should be taken in the context of your investment plan. It is often advantageous to realize any gains when they can be applied against capital losses, so selling investments that have declined in value can

offset any gains. 2. Time to rebalance your portfolio if you have not already done so. Your investment strategy should be reviewed at least annually to be sure your portfolio continues to match your financial goals. 3. Charitable donations must be made by yearend to qualify for your 2016 tax return. Donations of securities “in kind” have special tax considerations and take some time to process prior to year-end. 4. Make Flow Through purchases, TFSA and RESP contributions. Flow Through purchases must be made in the calendar year to benefit from the many tax advantages. While TFSA and RESP contribution limits can be carried forward, it is good to review your limits and maximize contributions annually if possible. 5. TFSA withdrawals made in 2016 will be added back to your TFSA contribution room at the beginning of 2017. If you are planning a withdrawal from your TFSA in early 2017, you should make the withdrawal before year-end thus creating the ability for a large contribution the following year. 6. Determine your RSP contribution room and consider

how your contribution will be funded in light of Christmas seasonal spending and a deadline for contributions of February 2017. 7. If you are turning 71 in 2016 your RSP must be converted to a Retirement Income Fund by the end of the calendar year. 8. Consider starting a monthly savings plan to meet your financial goals in 2017. When your savings are automatic on a periodic basis, budgeting and cash flow are much easier to manage. All of these strategies should be discussed with your Financial Advisor to determine which would be most beneficial to your personal situation. Some careful planning at this time of year can help you meet your goals, save on taxes and provide peace of mind that your Investment Advisor is working with your best interests in mind. This article was prepared solely by Ellen Luft who is a registered representative of HollisWealth® (a division of Scotia Capital Inc., a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada). The views and opinions, including any recommendations, expressed in this article are those of Ellen Luft alone and not those of HollisWealth.  ® Registered trademark of The Bank of Nova Scotia, used under licence. HollisWealth is a trade name of HollisWealth Insurance Agency Ltd.  Insurance products provided through HollisWealth Insurance Agency Ltd. HollisWealth and the Scotiabank companies do not provide income tax preparation services nor do they supervise or review other persons who may provide such services. Please note that comments included in this publication are not intended to be a definitive analysis of tax law. The comments contained herein are general in nature and professional advice regarding an individual’s particular tax position should be obtained in respect of any person’s specific circumstances. Important information about flow-through limited partnerships is contained in their relevant Prospectus/ Offering Memorandum. Please obtain a copy and read it carefully including the associated risks and tax consequences before investing.

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E L G I N T H I S M O N T H 26


High turnover? It’s tough to grow a business

by Laura Pavilonis and Nancy Annett

Why do so many businesses fail in the first 10 years? Some say it’s a cash flow issue. Others say it’s not staying on top of expenses. Still others say it’s leaders sabotaging themselves by not learning to interact with others properly. We believe one of the biggest challenges is the inability to upscale the people side of the business. Turnover costs The 2012 Allied Workforce Survey gave a glimpse into what can go wrong when a business starts to grow. Interestingly, one of things that results is 25% of new employees failing within the first year. Based on research by Leadership IQ which tracked 20,000 new hires, 46% failed within the first 18 months. As you can appreciate, there is a huge cost to this level of turnover. We estimate that recruitment, selection and orientation of a new employee takes a minimum of 12 weeks to complete for most positions. This number does not consider any training time, so it’s no surprise that WM Surveys Inc. found the average cost to fill one position was about $11,000. That’s over $100,000 if you lose 10 new hires within 18 months. Onboarding and training What’s worse is that the survey also found that, of the companies surveyed, 25% of their onboarding programs did not include training of any type and 60% do not set milestones for new employees. If employees are not given training, then they will not have any clear sense of processes or systems. If employees are not given milestones, then they don’t have a clear vison of the organization’s goals. You’re simply setting new hires up for failure. Logically it seems clear that, if you don’t set goals or train your employees, they aren’t likely to succeed, so why would we not do these things? Because it requires time and effort, and for many growing businesses, the reality is they have scarce resources. Communication, training, dealing with different learning styles or personality styles may not be your strength. If you do the training, you must document it, monitor performance and provide feedback for it to be effective. On top of everything else, you also need to regularly revisit your processes and training to keep them both

current and relevant. In a nutshell, it’s just plain and the answer is “Yes”, you’re on your way to old hard work. growing a successful business. Here’s the kicker. If you don’t put these things in place, at best your organization doesn’t grow Nancy Annett, MBA, CHRP and and worst case, your business fails. You can’t grow Laura Pavilonis, MBA CHRP your business without people, and people need own Flashpoint goals, training and feedback to stay engaged. Training and Development. What’s the solution? A well-thought-out onboarding and training plan. You need to document your systems, rules and ways of conducting business, and then develop training tools and processes to provide new employees with goals and knowledge to do the job you want. To truly be effective, you will want your organizational Call for your Free Consultation with vision and culture to Brandi Pisek, DD or Mike V. Pisek, DD! be entrenched into every operating proWalk in patients and new patients cess. When you ask are always welcome. yourself “Does my All insurance plans are accepted employee embody (financing available). everything I want my organization to be?” Come visit us today and let’s get started

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E L G I N T H I S M O N T H 27

HAPPY HOLIDAYS Tips to prolong the life of your Christmas tree Christmas trees are symbols of the holiday season and the spirit of giving that the season champions. Choosing and decorating a Christmas tree is a tradition for many families, and depending on the trees they choose, families may have some work to do to keep their trees glowing all season long. Artificial Christmas trees require little, if any, maintenance. But live Christmas trees, which some people feel are more authentic and welcoming than their artificial counterparts, require daily maintenance. In addition to supplying the tree with water at least once per day, live Christmas tree owners can take these steps to prolong the life of their trees. Protect the tree on the way home – Your tree might be vulnerable to damage as you transport it from the farm to your living room. Unwrapped trees placed atop vehicles can be dried out by the wind. Prevent wind damage by wrapping the tree if you plan to place it atop your vehicle. If possible, lay the tree in the bed of a pickup truck and close the cover over the bed. If you don’t have access to a pickup truck but can use a minivan or SUV to transport your tree, see if the tree fits inside your vehicle. If it doesn’t, wrap it tightly in a blanket or another form of cover, making sure the cover won’t blow off in the wind when you hit the open road. Have the tree cut before you take it off the lot – If you typically purchase your tree from a florist or tree lot instead of a tree farm, then remember to ask the seller to recut the stem of the

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tree before you take it home. Tree farm trees are freshly cut, but trees sold away from the farm might have been chopped down weeks before they are ultimately sold. During the interval between being cut down and sold, trees’ vascular systems can clog and prevent the tree from getting the water it needs to survive the season. A fresh cut of the stem unclogs the system and ensures the tree will be able to consume water. Avoid placing the tree near heaters or drafty windows – Many people know that placing a live tree near a potentially hot heating vent poses a fire hazard. But doing so also can dry out the tree, decreasing the chances it will make it through the season. Placing the tree near drafty windows also can dry out the tree, so try to find a spot in your home with a consistent temperature. Water the tree often – Christmas trees need lots of water to make it through the season. You may notice the water in the tree stand disappears quickly when you first bring the tree home. That’s because freshly cut trees will consume more water than trees that were cut several weeks ago. As the season goes on and the tree’s vascular system begins to clog, you might not need to water the tree as much as you did when you first brought it home. But check the tree’s water stand twice per day when you first bring it home, refilling the stand with water whenever necessary. A few tricks of the trade can help holiday celebrants maintain lush, awe-inspiring Christmas trees throughout the holiday season.

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E L G I N T H I S M O N T H 28

HAPPY HOLIDAYS Safety first when stringing holiday lights Holiday decorations help make a special time of year even more memorable. Whether you’re hanging mistletoe above a doorway or decking the halls, safety must be a priority when decorating a home for the holidays. Accidents can happen no matter what type of holiday decorating you’re doing, but stringing holiday lights around your home may be especially dangerous. This season, keep the following safety tips in mind when stringing lights so this season of celebration starts off safe and sound. Work with at least one partner. Never go it alone when stringing holiday lights. Make sure someone is there to hold the ladder steady as you climb up and down. Partnering up when stringing holiday lights allows decorators to use both of their hands to climb up ladders instead of using one of their hands to carry lights. Once they reach a point where it’s safe to hang lights, they can then have a helper hand them the lights. If possible, work in groups of three so someone can hold the ladder steady at all times. Inspect lights before hanging them. Lights are not built to last forever, and over time holiday lights can suffer damage that has the potential to be dangerous. Wires can fray, and sockets can crack or break. Inspect lights and wires before hanging them, replacing any that pose a hazard. When replacing bulbs, be sure to replace them with bulbs of equal wattage. Use an extension cord of adequate length. Exterior holiday lights are often plugged into extension cords that extend to a shed or garage. Do not connect several extension cords to power hol-

iday lights; instead, use just a single cord that’s lengthy enough to reach the outlet. Connecting extension cords is a fire hazard. In addition, make sure the amperage of the decorations matches the amperage rating of the extension cord, which can be found on the product label or possibly on the manufacturer’s website. Make sure the extension cord is not plugged into the power source while you are hanging the lights. Make sure lights do not pose a safety hazard inside. Some people string holiday lights indoors as well. Lights might be hung on Christmas trees or along hallways. Such lights and the cords connecting them to power sources should never pose safety hazards, so make sure they are not lying on the floor. Staple lights to the wall and never place them beneath furniture or rugs. Lights can overheat when placed beneath rugs,

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and lights that are not properly secured to a wall can pose certain dangers, including being potential tripping hazards. Hang the correct lights. When stringing lights, make sure you hang lights designated as exterior lights on the exterior of your home and those designated as interior lights inside your home. Hanging lights in the wrong places poses a fire hazard and creates additional safety concerns, so adhere to manufacturer instructions when stringing lights. Safety should reign supreme when stringing holiday lights around the house.

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December, 2016

160 Burwell Rd. St. Thomas 519-631-5502 E L G I N T H I S M O N T H 29

LIFESTYLE Time On My Hands

Travelling on a wing and a prayer flag Getting high in the Himalayan Mountains

confirmation and no payment. First names only. “Don’t worNeither our driver, nor Barb, nor I wore seat- ry”, said a voice from half way belts on some of the highest, wildest roads in the around the world. world. No one in the Himalayas did. A room was waiting, and we The local custom, it seemed, was to rely instead became very fond of the proon the countless strings of Buddhist prayer flags prietor, Kesang, a gentle young that fluttered everywhere like lines of coloured man of Tibetan Buddhist stock handkerchiefs. who spoke three local languages, We had surrendered ourselves to the journey, and a few western ones. travelling on optimism, and the kindness of One of our goals in the mounstrangers. tains was to see how high we For a two-week sojourn in the Himalayas, before could get. We hired a driver and visiting central India, we chose Sikkim, historical- sturdy vehicle for three days, ly a mountain kingdom with a Tibetan Buddhist and sped off on an exhilarating heritage, and presided over by Kangchenjunga, and heady adventure. Landip the third highest mountain in the world. was young and always in a hurry, but very skilled, Sikkim became part of India in 1975, but re- and possessed of rock-solid concentration. mains unique. It lacks any railway or airport, is The monsoon season was just ending, and the the least populated Indian state, and was the first mountains were full of water. Long waterfalls to proclaim itself totally organic, and free of open streamed off cliff tops. The roads were paved, defecation. gravel, or mud, narrow with countless switchSikkim seemed a cozy place where we could backs. Frequent vertical drop-offs sustained an travel on our own, finding transportation and ho- adrenalin buzz. tels as we went. With the steepness of the terrain, and all the Reliance on optimism started early. Our at- rain, landslides were commonplace. We saw the tempt from home to reserve a hotel for the first jumbled remains of many – old and new, small few nights amounted to two phone calls, with no and massive. It was the slides, and the crude, temporary repairs, that made the roads such a shambles. We passed through y a d “ i A l o dds U rH u o y a site where, two years e p” t H op oa before, the whole side Joyous Season of a mountain had sloughed off. Boulders, from house-sized At Kee, Perry & DeVrieze we on down, covered ensure our clients recieve the road with twenty the service and expertise metres of rock, and fanned out across the they need to succeed. valley. A rough repair Please make a call to was still being pushed through the rubble, our office your first and Landip had to step on the road to weave slowly through

by Duncan Watterworth

Merry Chri success. Happy Nsetmas and w Ye ar

the obstacle course. On the second day, above the tree line, beyond the grazing yaks, we reached the end of the road. At 4,600 metres, we could get no higher. Thin wisps of cloud floated in the thin air. It was remote, silent, stark. A place of reverence. We took it in, as best we could, and headed back down. Later in the day, our descent was blocked by a rockslide that had occurred since we went up. We walked up the line of halted vehicles and watched a large power shovel carve a temporary route. Back in Gangtok, we conferred with other travelers, and then spent the rest of our two mountain weeks in Namche, with its colossal Buddhist and Hindu statues, and Darjeeling, famous for its tea. Then we left the mountains for Delhi, and surrendered ourselves to a guided tour of Rajasthan for the next two weeks. We had figured that central India, with its teeming cities and great distances, was too daunting to navigate on our own. Between optimism and caution, under the genial prayer flags, we had found the travelers’ sweet spot. Duncan Watterworth is a life-long resident of Elgin County and a retired lawyer. He can be reached at

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Christmas Town of Aylmer

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