Kawartha Lakes is seeing a tourism boom thanks to destination weddings
Voter apathy: One in three people voted in the last municipal election. We can change that
Kawartha Lakes is seeing a tourism boom thanks to destination weddings
Voter apathy: One in three people voted in the last municipal election. We can change that
Divorces, by their nature, are very complex. This is especially true for hardworking farm families, as these divorces involve dispersing land, livestock, and machinery that cannot be easily divided. You need a firm that has experience in dealing with divorces involving the division of farm land and equipment. The Riley Divorce & Family Law Firm knows how to guide you through marriage dissolution so that you can protect your children and minimize your legal and financial risks.
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I’m a fairly new resident of Haliburton, after having moved up here from Toronto during the COVID lockdown. Since my relocation, I’m driving Hwy. 118 and County Road 121 but I am really concerned about the aggressive drivers out there. They don’t do the speed limit, usually tailgate me and cut me off when they want to pass me.
One trucker honked his horn repeatedly, then gave me a long blast bullying me right off the road. So I signalled and got off the road. I’m fed up with this road rage. I believe the COVID protocols, restrictions and the social anxieties folks feel have been showing up in their driving behaviours but this road rage is out of control.– Janice Knowles, Haliburton
Persevering against geese party poopers
Barb Peel has single-handedly taken on the challenge of reducing the amount of goose poop in Lions Park Coboconk. For three years she researched and petitioned the city to do something about the goose poop problem. Our Lions Park is a lovely green space that is underutilized because at times in the summer you cannot step a foot in any direction without stepping in goose poop.
The problem escalated a few years ago when the city put in an armour rock wall. The natural vegetation was removed and replaced with the armour rock. This gives the geese a clean sightline to all that gorgeous green grass. Barb approached Kawartha Conservation in the spring of 2019; its staff suggested posts and ropes. Funding was available through them, but we didn’t qualify unless the armour rock was removed. COVID interrupted plans. The work should have been done in 2021 but staff changes and concerns about liability moved the potential work to 2022. It almost didn’t happen.
Fortunately, a mild November meant that the auger guy and cedar post guy along with a few volunteers were able to install the current deterrent. A lot of us cursed the goose poop but shrugged our collective shoulders. Barb persevered and is giving our community a great gift. Huge shoutouts to her.– Gerarda Schouten, Coboconk
Climate change: The science is settled
Re: Children and Climate Change Hopelessness (December 2022 Advocate).
As someone who has been following the science of climate change for decades, the thing that triggers the most despair and hopelessness for me are the people who still insist that climate change isn't happening, based
on rampant online disinformation, scientific studies quoted out of context, and sheer bull-headedness. The science is settled. We are killing our planet. If you don't want to believe it, fine (you know better than NASA, the IPCC and 99-plus per cent of scientists around the world) but please get out of the way of the people who are trying to do something about it. And congrats to Ginny Collins on her excellent column.
– Elaine Jackson, Mount Albert
Poverty industry must be changed with a guaranteed income
Re: Benns’ Belief: “Basic income still alive as a policy option,” December 2022 Advocate.
I fully support guaranteed liveable income. And guaranteed housing. There are models and they work, but politicians take the easy way out and vote no if challenged instead of working to expand funding that eliminates the emphasis on social services and moves towards supportive services. Yes, the industry of poverty must transform itself. Housing is so out of market reality and it does not have to be that way. Very good article, thank you.– Suzette Cullen
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We might have learned from basic income pilot
I agree it was a huge mistake for Premier Doug Ford to abort the Ontario Basic Income Pilot without the benefit of full data from the project. (Re: Benns’ Belief, December 2022 Advocate.) Inexcusable. We might have learned from it.
“Automation is ravaging the work we do.” Agreed also. The solution presented seems to be that since robots can do the job cheaper than humans, then let them take over. The government will just pay the replaced workers to do nothing.
Aside from economics, does that sound like a fair plan? I hold the naive view that, taken as a whole, people would like to think they are making a contribution to society, and would rather pay their way than be idle recipients of a government handout. But that could rapidly change if we instill the notion that all are entitled to a basic income, regardless of circumstance.
Let’s be clear: I’m not speaking of those who are disabled and unable to work. They deserve support and dignity. The reality is there are thousands of jobs going unfulfilled. But what about labourers who are being replaced by robots like self-checkout machines? It must cost something to install and maintain the automatons. Rather than government throwing up its hands and saying
“We’ll cover the entire cost of providing a basic income for those replaced workers,” perhaps they should offer a wage subsidy to employers who rely on robots to save a buck, sufficient to save the jobs that would otherwise be replaced. Makes political and economic sense to me.
– Carl Sweetman, Lindsay
Canadian health care leaves much to be desired
Re: Canadian health-care system may have its flaws but is structure is sound, in the Advocate online.
You forget, intentionally or not, that there are also other options, such as the ones offered in many European countries and in some Asian ones: a blend of public and private.
I live in Portugal now, and my daughters have been referred to ophthalmology for a followup as recommended by their previous ophthalmologist in Canada. After five months, we still do not have an appointment. The good thing is that, realizing that this may take a while and knowing that they should have an eye exam sooner rather than later, we chose to go private.
For 30 euros each, I had my daughters’ vision examined in a private clinic across the road from where we live in Porto, Portugal, within about 10 days after asking for the appointments there. And we had to pay only because I chose not to purchase comprehensive private health insurance for about 50 euros/month for a family of four.
Want to talk medication? Medication here in Portugal costs me about four to five times less than what it used to be in Canada, partly because it is partially covered by the government.
I know that Canadian health care is not something to be too proud of, smug as Canadians may feel about it. I get it; it’s easy to feel smug when comparing yourself with something worse (the dreaded U.S.). But let’s compare Canada to something better for a change. For me, it was one of the main reasons to leave Canada as soon as I was able to retire. I now feel much safer here in Portugal when it comes to my health and the health of my family.
– Cristian Toma, Portugal
After three years as the Advocate's associate editor, this is Nancy Payne's last issue in that role, although she will continue to contribute to the magazine and news site. We wish her well in her many career endeavours.
– Roderick Benns, publisher
As Barb Mildon retires from Community Care City of Kawartha Lakes (CCCKL) in March, Ryan Alexander will take over.
Alexander will rejoin CCCKL on Jan. 9 as CEO-designate and become CEO on April 1.From 2011 to March 2022, Alexander held progressive positions with CCCKL, including health promoter, manager of hospice services and then director of community support services. In 2018, he was presented with CCCKL’s Award of Excellence.
Alexander returns to the organization from a leadership role at Tim Hortons, where he gained valuable private sector experience.
He stated that he "knows the health-care sector is where he belongs and looks forward to returning to CCCKL to lead, champion, and drive the organization’s mission, vision and values to benefit our community.”
Michael Anderson, chair of the board of Community Care, thanked Mildon for “her unwavering commitment and lasting contributions to CCCKL, including providing inspiring leadership as the organization navigated through the COVID pandemic, the introduction of Ontario Health Teams and the soon-to-be-completed construction of our new Community Health Centre.”
Funds are still being raised for Women’s Resources capital campaign to ensure reliable housing for women in need.
Second stage housing gives women who’ve experienced violence a chance to regain their self-esteem and learn to live on their own, out from the shadow of a controlling partner.
If they’ve been out of the job market or feel unsure about their skills, such housing helps them avoid falling into poverty, which can also drive them back to a violent situation.
Community donors have already contributed almost $160,000 toward the $500,000 fundraising goal. The whole project is expected to cost at least $2.4 million. The additional money will come from a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation grant as well as mortgage financing.
Women’s Resources recently acquired a property on Logie Street in Lindsay (pictured above) with the goal of renovating the building to create a safe, six-unit complex.
The facility’s layout is ideally suited for the creation of apartment units. The parking lot will be paved and a privacy fence will be constructed on the perimeter.
To donate to the Open the Door campaign, visit womensresources.ca or call 705-878-4285.
For those looking to tie the knot soon the Kawartha Lakes Bridal Show might be a good first stop in 2023.
The show is happening Jan. 22 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at Thrive Co-working Community in Lindsay, sponsored by The Bridal Studio and Nisbett’s Clothiers.
Darlene LeBorgne, owner of The Bridal Studio, says her models will be mingling around the room, providing people “with an opportunity to see and admire our dresses.” It’s also a great chance to ask questions, she says. Nisbett’s Clothiers will be showing fashion for grooms and their wedding parties.
Other local wedding vendors will include bakeries, caterers, hairstylists, florists, music providers, officiants, photographers and the Advocate’s glossy magazine platform for announcements. (The Advocate is the official media sponsor.)
LeBorgne says the event “is the first opportunity for our brides-to-be to attend a show in Lindsay where they can see so many vendors that they might need for their wedding, all in one afternoon.”
Tickets are $10. Thrive is located at 18 Kent St. W. Visit thriveonkent.com and choose events calendar, or call 705-995-2034.
Cathy Allan Ladieswear has been bursting at the seams for years. “Our formal-wear business has grown so much that we ran out of space at Cathy Allan to be able to service our customers properly,” says co-owner Ron Wittenberg, who owns and runs the business with his wife, Liz Grimes.
When a new location became available two doors down from the original store, he and Grimes took advantage of the opportunity and created Lizzy’s, which opened for business in mid-December 2022. In the process, they also created four new jobs. Lizzy’s focuses on formal wear, which consists of mother of the bride and groom dresses, and outfits for prom, school graduation and wedding guests, as well as shoes and accessories.
Grimes says the creation of Lizzy’s “freed up space and breathing room for patrons of both stores.”
Visit them at 104 Kent St. W. in Lindsay or call 705-324-5555 Call 705-701-8664 or visit evolvedentalhygiene.ca
Lizzy’s focused on formal wear as popular ladies’ wear business expands
According to a 2016 American study, 91 per cent of people don’t follow through on their resolutions.
That’s why, for 2023, I’m only going to make res-illusions.
Here are my illusions so far.
I will work out at least three times a week, without fail, because my body is a temple. I will join a yoga class and become One with Everything.
I will refrain from sarcasm (yeah, right.) I will write handwritten notes to those I care about, instead of dashing off emails and texts.
I will cook more. No, really. I will shop every day for fresh food and avoid the processy foods of the dreaded inner grocery aisles.
I will buy more vitamins and among the 24 bottles in my cupboard I will finish at least one of them.
I will eat more healthily, like Brussels sprouts and legumes. And I will only buy free range, organic animals that led super-happy lives — animals so joyful they really had a fighting chance at selfactualization. And then I’ll eat them.
And I will also stop finding ways to reference Maslow.
I will come to fully understand the teenage brain.
I will learn to always go with the flow without complaining, no matter life’s curveballs.
I will walk more in nature and get up early enough to see animals (other than wandering humans who are also looking for the animals). I will buy fewer dress clothes. I will buy fewer matcha green tea lattes.
I will become a handyman around the house, instead of the unhandyman I currently am. I will travel more to exotic locations. I will finally start writing that next book that’s been on my mind.
I will master TikTok.
I will join TikTok.
I will stop making so many lists. My desk looks like a graveyard of broken promises.
I will complete my learning of the Norwegian language. (Can I call it complete if I only got 4 per cent of the way through my Duolingo language app?) Ønsk meg lykke til!
I will stop using the word indefatigable. Nobody wants to hear that word. Nobody wants to see that word. And quite frankly, it’s just a super-hard word to say.
I will stop lecturing my girlfriend on how much lip gloss she uses and refrain from telling her she's done this to herself because her lips now expect a dose of fake moisturization every seven minutes. (But it’s so true. I really just want her to get it!)
Join me next year at this time, in this space, for My New Year’s Prosecutions, in which everything I don’t like goes on trial.
When the Victoria Day holiday comes around in late May, we have a dream. It’s the kind of dream that can be realized with just a little bit of leadership from a brandnew, forward-thinking council.
We want to see downtown Lindsay, with its newly widened sidewalks and bump-outs, used to its full capacity. We simply want patios, patios, patios. We want a “walkability” mindset once people are downtown, to use the jargon, and so does almost everyone else we talk with.
This is a case where Lindsay must catch up to Bobcaygeon and Fenelon Falls, villages that already attract the kind of tourist we need in the largest centre in Kawartha Lakes. It’s often been said that summer is when tourists rush up here and bypass Lindsay on their way to the cottage, which is likely located near Fenelon Falls, Bobcaygeon, Coboconk or other points north. It’s time those folks stayed a little bit longer in Lindsay, too.
Port Perry, a community considerably smaller than Lindsay, understands this vision well. Its patio scene is lively and energetic. Newmarket and Orillia also get it, with welldesigned patios and a cultivated energy for tourism — in other words, they’ve planned.
The city’s new blood on council has an amazing opportunity to show they get it, too. Councillors must figure out how to expedite permits quickly and easily to manifest this vision. There can be a certain degree of uniformity while also allowing for individualization.
For the private sector to consider, Lindsay ideally would have two more top-quality independent restaurants. (Port Perry, which is half Lindsay's size, has more than we do.) Ideally they would be focused on something we don’t already have. (Please, no more Italian restaurants, since we already have two fine ones in the downtown core.)
We would be interested in hearing from our readers on this topic. What are your thoughts about having more patios in our downtowns and creating an atmosphere that will attract more pedestrian traffic? Send us your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org
Nothing in the PC's election platform suggested what they intended to do with Bills 23 and 39, now officially passed into law. These bills deregulate many environmental controls in the effort to speed up the building process. Introduced on October 25, 2022, and passed November 28, 2022. Time to read, digest, discuss and respond: 37 days.
In Durham Region, many thousands of acres have already been given over to urban sprawl. Why should its citizens care if a few more thousands are paved over? We could relax knowing Premier Doug Ford had promised not to tamper with the Greenbelt lands. We could also relax in Durham knowing we had a preserve protecting agricultural lands. Or so we thought we knew.
If the Ford government thought they could ram through these bills and speed up housing development, the opposite has happened. Resistance has shot up a thousand-fold. Parks Canada has formally acknowledged the threat to the Rouge River National Park. There will be federal environmental studies. The Indigenous chiefs of Ontario have unanimously come out and requested these bills be withdrawn. I wonder how Ford will resolve the upcoming confrontations, a result of his own ineptitudes.
– Rob Ferguson, Seagrave
Ford has unleased much confrontation on Bill 23
Many years ago, 27 to be exact, in the land of Verulam Township, a younger me was full of hope to promote sustainable changes in my neck of the woods. Earth Day events, recycling programs, shoreline buffers and dreams of composting were at the forefront in my agenda.
A half dozen years later I found myself in the land of Kawartha Lakes where some of my dreams got recycled, that being all seven types of plastics and papers for the green box. These leftovers of a consumer society were now put to more uses, which made me happy for a while.
Sustainability was my true wish — to leave a better world for generations to come. Lake management plans came to life and many folks were happy that Kawartha Lakes’ 250 lakes and rivers would be protected for all, locals and visitors too.
Then one recent day I was “back in,” re-elected to council in Kawartha Lakes. But here I was, a recycled sustainability advocate who wanted to continue the sustainability dreams — only to be stopped by a negative force called Bill 23.
This terrible bill has put a damper on my aspirations at the very start. I just wanted to improve the farms, wetlands, parks, conservation lands, climate change-resilient buildings, affordable housing and, of course, the bottom line. I learned conservation authorities (CAs) were worried that this bad bill could remove or reduce wetlands and would negatively affect the conservationists’ ability to protect us from flooding. The loss of wetlands that absorb carbon would affect climate change and wildlife too.
CAs wouldn’t be able to help development projects, or safeguard wetlands and other important environmental features. And the cost of the development would now be increasingly downloaded to taxpayers, not developers.
As well, I knew that to be a truly sustainable community, Kawartha Lakes needs all types of housing, for all income levels, including rentals. Under this unjust bill, developers will only have to make five per cent of their new housing affordable. This won’t solve the housing crisis, only increase it.
I wanted to keep taxes down, but the developers would be reaping the benefits of Bill 23, not the citizens. With no increases in development charges possible to help pay for the roads and services, including parks and other services that keep our communities healthy, road issues could only increase. Changing building design standards was an initiative I wanted to bring forward so homes approved could be built in a way to help people mitigate and adapt to climate change. These green building standards could save homeowners money. Bill 23 could make homes less affordable as the developers may not be required to meet new standards on energy efficiency, insulation, flood protection and water efficiency.
Adding insult to injury, standards that many municipalities have in place to stop bird collisions with windows could be stopped, a terrible move for wildlife conservation. At press time the only hope we have is for another Ford backtrack on the worst bill of his second mandate.
Ontario’s 2022 municipal elections saw astoundingly poor turnouts in most centres. In Kawartha Lakes only one in three registered voters chose to cast a ballot last October. In Burlington, Niagara Falls and St. Catharines the turnout was closer to one in four.
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) has been collecting data on municipal votes since the early 1960s, and reports that over the last 40 years the average municipal voter turnout in Ontario has never risen above 40 per cent.
While Canadians continue to vote in far larger numbers for federal and provincial candidates, half of all municipal races in 2022 ended with a winner acclaimed on election day.
Why is turnout during municipal elections as much as 25 per cent lower than federal and provincial races? What are municipalities trying to do about this disturbing trend? Has any municipal jurisdiction found strategies that can be shared beyond its municipal borders? What solutions might be found right here in Kawartha Lakes to improve civic engagement?
The Advocate asked Kawartha Lakes mayor Doug Elmslie, clerk Cathie Ritchie and all eight councillors for their insights. They suggested a range of potential electoral reforms from the implementation of mandatory voting to a return to one-day-only elections featuring the option of paper ballots.
Since the vote on Oct. 25, much hand wringing has been done by municipal politicians and academics who study democratic participation.
While there hasn’t been time for significant statistical analysis or white papers on municipal electoral reform since the October 2022 vote, much anecdotal evidence has been gathered through exit interviews with those who did choose to vote and discussions with municipal politicians. The AMO has also produced significant information on the disappointing impact that internet voting has had on voter turnout in municipalities that have used it.
Jordan Omstead of the Canadian Press reported in October 2022 that several issues were conspiring to drive down municipal turnout including election fatigue from three campaigns in one year, lack of municipal election advertising and poor promotion by municipalities.
“Party-less local elections lack the millions spent on advertising to stir up election interest,” Omstead wrote, adding “municipalities also do a poor job of promoting the nomination period, and explaining what the election is about and what your options are.”
“The wards are too big for underfunded municipal campaigns to reach the majority of voters,” Omstead said. “Civic outreach groups (who often assist in that work) are exhausted after three elections.”
Omstead also said that the pandemic has affected the number of volunteers willing to knock on doors for the candidate of their choice. Together, all of these factors left many voters feeling they did not have enough information to cast an intelligent vote.
Caro Loutfi, executive director of Apathy is Boring, whose goal is to get youth involved in municipal government in the Montreal area, told CBC that youth are not engaged in municipal politics for several reasons.
Local politicians open to change to boost election turnout
Mandatory voting, paper ballots and bringing back one voting day all up for discussion.
“This is a vicious cycle,” Loutfi said. “Politicians don’t reach out to young people because young people don’t vote, and young people don’t vote because they feel ignored.”
What Loutfi suggests is clearly present in Kawartha Lakes, where city clerk Ritchie reported that only 20 per cent of 18- to 29-year-olds voted in 2022. As low as that number might appear, in the 30- to 39-year-old age cohort the turnout was even lower with only 19 percent exercising their democratic right.
The age of most municipal candidates could be causing the disconnect with potential youth voters. The current Kawartha lakes municipal council features no members under 50 and an octogenarian mayor.
Ritchie also compiled data that indicates only 18 per cent of non-residents (typically cottage owners) chose to vote in the Kawartha Lakes election.
‘‘We regularly hear from seasonal electors that they did not realize they could vote in Kawartha Lakes when they own a cottage here, but live elsewhere,” Ritchie said.
It is also painfully clear that internet and telephone voting is not the panacea to poor voter turnout that so many hoped it would be.
The AMO told Waqas Chughtai of CBC News in November 2022 that “technology has not had a significant impact on voter turnout” and that after a slight bump in the numbers because of the novelty of the system, numbers have steadily declined in Peterborough and Markham. Brantford, Pickering, Kawartha Lakes and Newmarket have only seen declines in turnout since online voting was introduced.
In 2018, the average municipal voter turnout in Ontario was 38 per cent according to the AMO, with that number dropping to 33 per cent in 2022 despite more than half of the municipalities in the province moving to internet and telephone voting.
Chugntai’s article concluded that, in the eyes of academics studying the subject, internet voting “was a great opportunity for people who are already committed to vote” but that “we cannot fix voter turnout with technology alone.”
Several municipal governments, including Hamilton and Sault Ste. Marie, looked at their 2018 turnout and decided to set money aside in hopes of make voting easier and boosting turnout in 2022. They met with disappointing results.
Hamilton devoted $3 million to improving the democratic experience for the citizens of Hamilton. Chief clerk Andrea Holland and her staff tried many different approaches to give voters options they hadn’t had before.
“Holland began outreach with Indigenous and immigrant communities trying to identify barriers to voting,” Ibrahim Daair reported in Municipal World magazine last fall.
Hamilton allowed mail-in ballots for the first time in 2022, university and college students from Hamilton could vote on campus wherever they were going to school, and voting stations were set up at long-term care centres, the local Indigenous Friendship Centre and homeless shelters with one poll focusing exclusively on homeless women and those who identify as transgendered.
“We want to make voting more accessible to everyone,” Daair quoted Holland as saying. “It is very important that everyone who is eligible to vote can vote.”
Despite a very competitive election featuring former Ontario NDP leader Andrea Howath running for mayor, turnout in Hamilton dropped from 38 per cent in 2018 to 35 per cent in 2022.
Elaine Della-Mattia of Post Media reported in April 2022 on the efforts of Sault Ste. Marie city clerk Rachel Tyczinski, with a much humbler budget of $15,000, to increase turnout .
There was hope with a full field of candidates for 2022 that voter interest would be piqued. The city had previously rejected internet voting because “of system flaws” and was looking for other options for increasing voter turnout.
Della-Mattia reported that Tyczinski settled on new options for voters that began with educational packages being sent out to schools “hoping that students would encourage parents to vote.”
The city also used social media, the municipal website and traditional media to show voters how to get on the voters’ list and how “quick and easy” voting was.
In 2022, voters in Sault Ste. Marie could vote at home and have the ballot picked up by city election staff, have an authenticated proxy vote, or vote by mail.
Last, free transit was available on election day so people could make it to the polls with a minimum of fuss and bother. All voters needed to do was present their voter’s card to the driver for a ride to the bus stop closest to the poll of their choice.
Despite these widespread changes to traditional voting, turnout in Sault Ste. Marie actually dropped from 40 per cent in 2018 to 38 per cent in 2022.
Is it the voter or the system that is the problem?
“I am not sure anyone has an answer to voter apathy,” Mayor Doug Elmslie said. “It was an important election because of the large change (in council members) but that did not resonate with voters.”
Ward One councillor Emmett Yeo also focused on the voter rather than the systems in place for voting. “In an effort to change poor turnouts in municipal elections I believe we first have to understand the reasons for this pattern, and I think it’s more than just the process. I feel some people are apathetic and feel disenchanted with governing bodies. Maybe they don’t see outcomes, or feel they don’t have a voice.”
For anyone who feels this way, Yeo suggested that making an effort to be informed pays off. “I strongly encourage people to get involved, know the issues and join a community group. Some people are simply not interested in voting, never have, never will. These people are just too preoccupied with other aspects of their lives and have no desire to vote.
“Sadly I think there is a growing sector who have learned a severe distrust and even hatred of government at all levels. This is dangerous and a threat to our democratic way of life.”
Ward Three councillor Mike Perry agreed. “We certainly need more kindness and respect when discussing politics. A lack of civility turns people off the whole political system, from not putting their names forward as candidates to not voting at all.”
Deputy mayor Tracy Richardson, who represents Ward Eight, believes that council has to engage voters in all four years of its term if it wants to increase turnout.
“(It is important) that residents pay attention to budgets, how money is being spent and how we need to financially plan for the future. The past term (the city) has been more responsive putting out communications regarding council meetings and with the Jump In platform getting more engagement on our city projects.”
Noting that almost every municipality is struggling with the same question, Richardson said “It is a subconscious decision that a voter makes on their own whether you vote or not. The critical key is understanding what motivates voters to vote.”
She and Ritchie agree that there is a need for more information about candidates before the vote.
“(I think) there needs to be a one-stop shop,” Richardson said. “One portal that allows residents to find all the candidates running and pertinent information (about their platforms).”
Ritchie likewise said she wished that information about candidates and their platforms were easier to access.
“We heard consistently from voters that they did not or weren’t sure if they would vote because they did not know who was running or what they stood for. They hadn’t received a flyer, hadn’t heard from a candidate at the door, didn’t know of a local debate, or hadn’t read about the issues in the local media. We regularly heard from electors that they wanted more debates, roundtable discussions, pamphlets and door knocking.”
By provincial legislation, however, the city cannot provide that information. Provincial regulations state the city can only host a list of certified candidates and their contact information on the city website.
“When voters are aware of the candidates and feel a connection to the issues of the day,” Ritchie said, “voter turnout increases. In this past election, where there were urgent local issues the turnout was by far the highest. The turnout was in fact higher than in 2018.”
Australian voters also have the option of voting at any polling station, not just the one closest to their primary dwelling.
Perry and Ward Four councillor Dan Joyce say they want to increase youth engagement in municipal politics.
“We need to find a way to nudge this demographic the right way to participate in the election process,” Joyce said.
Perry said he will have an intern assist him (at the councillor’s own expense) in his work as councillor. He also plans to start a youth community service award in Ward Three this spring to encourage youth to become involved in their towns and villages.
Ward Six councillor Ron Ashmore, long an advocate for paper ballots and voting at a polling station to increase turnout, particularly among those who might lack confidence or comfort with technology, has several allies on council this term. Elmslie, Perry, Joyce and Ward Five councillor Eric Smeaton also say that they are in favour of looking at the return of paper ballots as part of some kind of hybrid voting model.
Smeaton offered an even more radical solution to increasing voter turnout. “I wonder if a 10-day stretch,” Smeaton said, “with all the right intentions, may in fact create a lessening of interest?”
Instead, he suggested, a return to a fixed voting day might increase a sense of “electricity.” “I think that one day of voting creates a surge of ‘Today is the day I vote, a day I decide something very important.’”
Joyce suggested that each ward should have multiple places to vote in person, even if they are not accessible, to give people more choices of locations to cast their ballot.
“In Ward Four the only in-person voter location was in Woodville, which in my mind is unacceptable for residents who live in Valentia for example. We should (also) have had in-person voting alternatives in Little Britain, Oakwood and Manilla.”
Ward Two councillor Pat Warren wondered if making voting compulsory, as a nations such as Australia and Brazil do, might be worthy of study.
In Australia, where voting has been compulsory since 1924, turnout in the last round of federal elections was almost 95 per cent. Australian voters may select “none of the above” or even submit a blank ballot. Regardless, they have to attend a polling station in person or pay a fine equivalent to $20 Canadian for a first-time offence.
All elections in Australia are on Saturdays, and election days are national holidays. Children are encouraged to come to the poll with their parents, and many polling stations in larger urban areas feature playground equipment, pony rides and local food vendors on election days.
Ritchie said she would also like to see increased voter turnout among seasonal residents.
“These voters vote almost 50 per cent less often than resident electors. This is why municipal election turnouts are often lower than their federal and provincial counterparts,” although it’s not for a lack of effort on the city’s part. “Communication efforts to reach seasonal residents should begin the first of the year with information on every tax bill and continue through the election period.”
Ritchie and Joyce both said that voter lists need to be updated well in advance of an election so that everyone has a chance to vote and no one is deprived of the vote because the paperwork to get on the list appears to be overwhelming.
Joyce also noted that up to date lists protect the system’s integrity.
“My door knocking revealed that some households received voter cards for their adult children who no longer reside with their parents. What is to stop a parent from using their child’s voter card to pad their vote? Having an accurate voter list is paramount.”
Elections Ontario will take over the creation and maintenance of municipal voter lists, which were previously overseen by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, or MPAC.
“Elections Ontario are the experts in running elections,” Ritchie said, “and should have better tools, technology and resources to ensure voter lists are up to date. The municipality spends significant time and resources educating the public on how to check if they are on the voters list before the voting period opens, and even more time during the voting period assisting those who are not on the list. . . . This is stressful for voters and ideally will be minimized in the next election.” LA
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Even as snowdrifts cover local fields and our lakes sleep under the ice, members of a vibrant local industry are focused on the warmer months, when they’ll embark on yet another jam-packed season of serving a tourism sector many Kawartha Lakes residents have no idea exists.
Unbeknownst to many of us, our area has become an enormously popular location for destination weddings, providing an experience that’s more memorable than an impersonal big-city event without the hassles and price tag of a tropical location.
“People go to Mexico or Cuba for a destination wedding, but it’s cost-prohibitive,” says Jason Friedmann, property manager at Eganridge Resort, Golf Club and Spa west of Bobcaygeon. Wedding parties who come to him are typically looking to make a weekend out of what used to be just a big day.
“Here they can have a barbecue, hang out with friends, go golfing. They might have a morning-after brunch on Sunday. It’s not just six or seven hours at a banquet hall and then you go home.”
Many weddings take place down the cottage roads few of us ever travel. About one-third of the couples wedding officiant Janet Grant marries are from out of the area. “They either have come up as a youngster to a family cottage or to a friend’s cottage, and they have a lot of sentimental ties here.” For instance, she does a lot of ceremonies on docks, “which gets interesting when they have dogs running around.”
Those of us who live here take beautiful scenery for granted, ranging from the rolling hills around Bethany — among the busiest area for wedding tourism with venues such as Iron Horse Ranch, Hollowbrook Highlands (the former South Pond Farms) and The Ranch Resort — to the lakes, fields and, farther north, rocky Canadian Shield. What’s ordinary for us is a huge draw for people from the Greater Toronto Area and other big cities.
Local businesses have created a romance-based tourism boom with little help from the city.
“I do!”Sandra Mzite and Alex Lipkowski were married in 2022 at Kirkfield's Sir William Mackenzie Inn. Photo: Laura Hargrave.
“When they come up, they’re like ‘We’ve never seen so many stars!’” laughs Andrea Ross, who runs the Bethany catering company Heaven on Seven.
Even though she only takes jobs within 20 kilometres of her home-based business, she easily books 70 weddings from May to November, turning down a further 10 or 15 inquiries a day. Ross estimates that 90 to 95 per cent of her clients are from outside Kawartha Lakes. Several grew up in this area and have moved to western Canada, but when it comes to their big day, they want to be back home.
Others come from much farther afield. Ross remembers getting a call from a woman she couldn’t hear very well. “I asked if I could call her back, but she said the reception would be the same because she was calling from a beach in Wales.” The prospective bride’s parents grew up in Scotland but had fallen in love with Bobcaygeon and built a house there. The caller went on, “Oh, and the groom’s from Dubai.” Guests flew in from all over the world.
Laura Hargrave’s business is similarly made up of far more outsiders than locals. Like Ross, the Cameron-area photographer is a preferred vendor at popular wedding venues, in her case, places like Sir William Mackenzie Inn in Kirkfield.
Hargrave has also worked to incorporate keywords that help ensure her Photography by Laura Elizabeth website turns up near the top of Google searches.
“Eighty per cent or more of my wedding business is from non-local clientele,” she says. They often also ask for portraits of extended family to take advantage of everyone being together.
From tent weddings in the yard to rustic-chic barns that can hold hundreds of guests to sophisticated small venues such as the Pie Eyed Monk, there’s an ever-increasing range of locations to suit all kinds of budgets. “The affordability draws a lot of GTA people this way,” says Hargrave, but many who choose Kawartha Lakes are happy to pay top dollar.
“After going through COVID and everyone being locked inside their homes, now they want events,” says Ross. Whereas in the past, couples may have had an eye on a new car or big-screen television, now “They want the over-thetop wedding. They want to dance under the stars. They want memories.”
Coming to a rural area for a special wedding does bring a few surprises for city folks, of course. High heels sink into those verdant lawns; ankles turn on unexpected rock
outcroppings. And, as Hargrave notes, guests wearing summer suits and minidresses often aren’t prepared for chilly evenings in May and June.
And then there are the bugs. Hargrave recalls the groom who ended up screaming as he tried to flee the mosquitoes descending at dusk, and has seen more than a few brides distressed by the grasshoppers that inevitably get stuck in their skirts at an outdoor ceremony. “You wanted nature,” she remembers thinking. “Well, here’s nature!”
Regardless of whether a wedding brings 20 guests or 200 to Kawartha Lakes, those visitors are spending big bucks at local hotels, resorts, Airbnbs, restaurants and stores. But this ever-growing economic powerhouse operates almost entirely outside of the municipal government’s support or influence.
Unlike, say, Muskoka and Prince Edward County, the Kawartha Lakes tourism department does no weddingoriented marketing, nor does it keep any statistics on the financial impact of the sector.
Individual vendors are left to promote themselves to prospective clients, many of whom later return for anniversary events, to explore further or even to settle. Lindsay’s Pie Eyed Monk won a 2022 award of excellence
through the Lindsay + District Chamber of Commerce for its efforts to market wedding tourism; the work is paying off with 65 per cent of its wedding clients coming from outside the area while it also functions as a popular venue for local couples.
Hargrave has noticed venues starting to offer innovative packages for everything from proposals to elopements. Thrive Co-working Community, which aims to start hosting small weddings in 2023, is organizing the Kawartha Lakes Bridal Show in late January along with sponsors The Bridal Studio and Nisbett’s Clothiers as sponsors. (The Advocate is the event’s media sponsor.)
Despite the lack of official marketing and local profile, our area continues to be a hugely popular draw for couples planning destination weddings from the simple to the spectacular. And if we stop to see what we have going for us here, it’s really not hard to see why. “When I take a couple on a tour and I walk our grounds,” says Friedmann, “despite the fact that I’ve done it a hundred times before, I still think, ‘This is a really nice place to be.’”
Or, as officiant Janet Grant puts it, “Come on. You can’t beat Kawartha Lakes!” LA
Grace King * Heather Muir * Maria Bennett
Alan Gregory * Barb Evans * Mike Perry
Lauren Drew * Barb Taylor * William Steffler
Zita Devan * Nanci Byer * Cordula Winkelaar
Peter + Kathy Anderson * Joe + Joyce McGuire
Glenda Morris * Ivory Conover * Jamie Swift
Eileen MacDonald * Ross Smyth
Christine Wilson * Nora Steffler * Linda Friend
Jim Buchanan + Donna Gushue * Neil Campbell
Bruce + Debbie Peck * Maurice + Marie Jackson
Leslie King * Deborah Smith * Cam Finley
Peter + Sandra MacArthur * Catherine Hennings Janet Smith * David + Margaret Robertson
Leslie King * John + Pauline Hunter David Holloway * Bob & Carol Barkwell
It’s safe to say that seven years ago, Nicole Moore didn’t picture herself practicing law in the cold northern reality of Canada. That’s because she was born and raised in Newcastle, Australia, about two hours north of Sydney. Canada was only supposed to be a six-month working holiday at a ski resort in 2015.
“Six months turned into me having lived in Canada for almost six years and I am now settled in Port Perry with my Canadian fiancé Travis, who grew up in Port Perry,” says Moore. “I now enjoy the short commute to Lindsay each day.” Her commute takes her to her career at Staples & Swain, a Lindsay firm that has certainly been on a growth trajectory, both in terms of adding new lawyers in the past few years as well as adding new office space.
But before Moore could be called to the bar in Canada she had a two-year process of converting her Australian law degree to a Canadian equivalency, with lots of exams along the way. “So, my journey from graduating law school to my first job as a lawyer has been anything but straightforward, but I am so glad to have made it and to start this next chapter as a practicing lawyer,” said Moore, who began at Staples & Swain last August. (The firm is expanding to add a Beaverton office location as of January 1, 2023.) Moore says she is lucky enough to have landed a job at a firm that practices in multiple areas, from corporate and commercial, wills and estates to real estate.
She also feels “very lucky to have gotten my start here at Staples & Swain, as the staff and lawyers are a wealth of knowledge and support and are just really nice people.”
Angus McNeil, one of the partners at Staples & Swain along with Heather Richardson, says they weren’t necessarily looking to add a new lawyer to the firm. “Nicole was introduced to us through a mutual connection, so we had an impromptu interview. Her professionalism, self assuredness, and easy, understated confidence were readily apparent. So, we saw this as an opportunity that happened to fall into our lap.” McNeil says while all the lawyers have their areas of particular interest and experience, “we find it very advantageous to have the flexibility of having more than one person able to address a given issue, which is helpful both for the lawyers and for our clients.”
The 18-year-old version of Moore saw herself advocating for people in serious trials involving human rights issues – “you know, the stuff from movies,” she says. “As I have grown, I’ve realized that what I want to do and what I can do is to help people in my community to navigate the confusing, complicated and stressful situations they find themselves in through providing legal advice and support.”
Staples & Swain is located at 10 William St. S, Lindsay and can be contacted at 705-324-6222
In Beaverton, find them at 402 Simcoe Street or call (705) 426-7317
New lawyer at Staples & Swain as firm continues to grow to serve community
His pint of Turbo Hazy Hot Rod clinks with my own pint of Lock 33 at the Pie Eyed Monk. We’re easily the most overdressed patrons in the pub but my lunch companion wouldn’t want it any other way. You’d have more success in glimpsing a yeti on Kent Street than you would in spotting Kawartha Lakes divorce lawyer Paul Riley without an immaculate suit.
That’s not an attitude from growing up with a silver spoon in his mouth. Rather, it’s the classic second-generation Canadian story, in this case born of a hard-working immigrant mother from Jamaica who saw a better life for her son in the cold north than what she saw in her community of Trench Town.
“My mother went to school with Bob Marley,” Riley says of the reggae legend’s hometown. “While the world embraces Bob Marley, my mother just says ‘Aw, he’s all right,’” he says laughing.
Riley, 55, and a father of four, moved to Canada when he was nine. But there were some tough years before that, considering his mom left him in the care of his grandmother in Jamaica when he was just four years old. He wouldn’t see his mother for five long years.
That’s common practice in Caribbean nations where parents — usually the mother — strike out for Canada or the U.S. in search of a better life for their kids, who stay with a member of the extended family back home. “It’s almost always the grandmother. Jamaica is a very maternal society,” he says.
“The original Trudeau opened the doors to Caribbean immigration,” says Riley, referring to former prime minister Pierre Trudeau. “People were welcomed and were glad to come here.”
They cleaned people’s homes, he said, “and if they were lucky enough to get a factory job” they did it to make it better for their kids, “like myself.”
Riley’s first memory as a child was at four, being held in his aunt’s arms, watching his mother get on a plane. “I’ve never been in therapy but I’m sure that’s affected me somehow. I see her waving still, to this day.”
Conversations with interesting people in Kawartha Lakes
Paul Riley on storytelling, his two careers and what he owes his immigrant mother
Riley’s father was not in the picture at the time. His dad eventually settled in the U.S. and today they might speak by phone once a year, but the relationship is not close. His mom, now in her mid-70s, lives in Mississauga.
“My story wasn’t unique but it still was a tough way to do things,” he said. “She was courageous enough to do that, to come to a cold country, a very white country back then, where she knew no one, to give me a chance. And that’s why I’m never fearful of doing anything. People ask me if I’m ever afraid of going into court. No, I’m not. That’s nothing compared to what my mom did.”
The law is actually his second career. Before there was Paul Riley the high-profile divorce lawyer, there was Paul Riley the television journalist.
But Pam, our server, is here to take our order before we can get to that part of the story. Riley orders a mushroom pizza but wants to start off with an order of shrimp. I ask for a customized chicken, mushroom and pineapple pizza but I take a hard pass on the curled crustaceans.
Riley is still reflecting on his early days in Canada. “There were only two things I ever wanted to be as a kid,” Riley says. “A television reporter and a lawyer. And I’ve done them both. And I think a lot of that had to do with my mother and the neighbourhood I grew up in.”
The first places he lived in were “the usual luxury spots” he says, tongue firmly in cheek, like Jane and Finch and Woolner Avenue in Toronto.
Eventually he and his mom would settle in the Capri Towers near the East Mall. It was government housing at the time.
Riley says he never once felt out of place in this neighbourhood, where an eclectic mix of people from all kinds of backgrounds could be found. “And across the street were middle class homes. But we all went to the same school, so I never felt I was disadvantaged.”
Riley says mixed neighbourhoods “are the most important thing” urban planners can make happen. “A kid sees where he can be. He doesn’t have to dream it; he can see it. He sees someone going to work in a suit and a tie so it’s not a farfetched fantasy. It just allowed a young kid to grow up with everyone else, so I never felt like my life should be limited.”
As the 6’ 5” Riley graduated from high school, Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia recruited him to play basketball. He got his undergraduate degree and then went back to Ontario to take journalism at Humber College.
Paul Riley tries to spend most of his time in Kawartha Lakes now.
But he couldn’t get a job in Toronto, where he really wanted to be. “So I thought, where else have I lived in this great country of ours? Halifax. They at least know my name there as a team captain,” from his years playing basketball.
He called up the CBC, CTV Atlantic (then known as ATV), and another TV news outlet whose name he can’t recall. “I cold called the executive producers. I said I’m a reporter in Toronto — and I was because I was writing freelance for NOW magazine at the time, while I was in journalism school (albeit mainly as a contributor of music and other arts reviews).
“I called CBC first and told them I wanted to move into TV. Said ‘I’m going to be in Halifax for Christmas, and I wonder if you can meet with me.’” He persisted and CBC’s hiring department eventually agreed.
“Once I had him, it was easy. Then I called ATV and said, listen, CBC is interviewing me at Christmas break, and the ATV producer said, well if he’s bringing you out to interview, we want to speak with you too.” The third producer? He absolutely insisted Riley come see him.
In the end, Riley was offered the job at CBC, the network where he most wanted to be, covering for a woman on maternity leave. He anchored on the weekend and did reporting during the week.
In the end, he graduated from Humber but didn’t even finish the first year, given that he had gotten employment so quickly since the school allowed one to exit early if the student had a job in their field. He landed a full-time TV gig within months at the CBC. Within 10 months, though, he had job offers back in Toronto because he had done stories that ended up on CNN and CBC-TV’s The National.
He returned to Toronto where he spent eight years with CBC Toronto, including anchoring the 11 p.m. news and sometimes the 6 p.m. news. He was also an occasional Newsworld anchor.
His career in journalism has been long in the rearview mirror, though, given that he’s been practicing law for 18 years. Riley graduated from Toronto’s’ Osgoode Hall after deciding to become the only other thing he dreamed about being as a kid – a lawyer, “running his own shop.”
Just as he was aggressive in pursuing his career in journalism, Riley is no shrinking violet in the courtroom, either, saying it’s been years since his firm lost a case — excluding a few incidents where clients didn’t listen to his advice. He also sees the skills from journalist to lawyer as transferable. He explains his success this way. “For a corporate lawyer, it all comes down to the contract. For the criminal lawyer, it all comes down to the evidence. But for family law, it all comes down to a story. And I can tell a story better than any lawyer in this country. And you know why? Because I told over 1,000 of them at the CBC.”
Riley has anchored some significant family law cases, including a high-profile international child abduction case that was covered in The Globe and Mail in September.
The lawyer wasn’t planning on working in Kawartha Lakes, given he has offices in Ottawa and Toronto. However, he moved to the Little Britain area six years ago with his spouse, acupuncturist Lori Mitchell, and the peace and tranquility of the area has made him want to spend an increasing amount of time here. He opened a new office at 223 Kent St. W., in Lindsay, and Mitchell has taken some space at the back for her business.
In Ottawa and Toronto, Riley’s elevator pitch is: “We help professionals and high net worth individuals get out of bad relationships. And we fight to protect what’s rightfully theirs.” Kawartha Lakes doesn’t have quite the same number of such individuals.
“That’s why here this office is going to focus primarily on farm-related divorces. Farms may not necessarily mean high income but they have valuable assets,” says Riley. “There are unique issues in farm divorces involving equipment, livestock and crops.”
Riley finds that COVID has successfully accelerated his use of technology, allowing him to keep expanding virtual legal offices in places like Oakville and North York. “If I can stay here four days a week and not be anywhere else, that’s awesome,” he says.
Riley says he wants to be outstanding at whatever he does, from wherever he does it.
“When I came here (to Canada) I knew I wasn’t going to cause any problems or get into any trouble because my mother was gracious enough to give me a good life — and I will always be so grateful for that. I’ve owed it to her to always try and be exceptional at what I do because she took that risk.”
This year, for Christmas he’s starting a foundation in his mother’s name. It will make two $5,000 scholarships available to secondary students from disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Toronto.
As we wind up, I ask Riley what he loves most about living here. “When I leave Toronto and I just get past Port Perry in my car, my heart rate goes down, my blood pressure goes down. I think it happens the moment I see the first cow or horse,” he laughs.
He says he loves Toronto and being close enough to go to a Raptors game or a theatre or a nice restaurant. “But then again there’s nice restaurants opening here now. I love the calm. We’re looking for a farm. Maybe just a handful of animals. I just love the country, man. It’s peaceful. Safe.”
He reflects on his “lucky” marriage with Mitchell and, given what he does every day, acknowledges that “Marriage is tough.” When he was interviewed by Ottawa Life magazine the day before our lunch, he said the writer asked him, “Well, what about love?” in the context of what Riley does for a living.
“I said divorce isn’t a referendum on love. Lots of people get divorced and find love. Most people get divorced because they’re just not with the right person to begin with. That doesn’t mean that love doesn’t exist.” LA
Few residents in Ontario spend as much time talking about the cost and quality of their water as do those of Kawartha Lakes.
Seldom did a council meeting go by in the last four years when something having to do with the city’s water and wastewater system didn’t appear on the agenda.
That very same water and wastewater may soon be more expensive for local users. If passed by council in February of 2023, residents could soon be paying an additional 3 per cent for their water and wastewater.
Dr. Adam Found, manager of engineering and corporate assets, gave council a brief overview of what the city’s plans are for the upcoming year. He then fielded a number of questions from councillors about the ongoing capacity and quality of water in Lindsay and Fenelon Falls in particular.
Found began by reminding council that the entire water and waste water budget is funded through user fees, and only residents who are hooked up to city water and sewer have to pay for water and wastewater.
“The city is responsible for 21 water systems and 6 wastewater systems,” Found said. “The city is also responsible for treatment plants, pumping stations, reservoirs, watermains and sewer mains. All users regardless of where they live pay a uniform fee with Lindsay users continuing to subsidize the smaller systems (making them viable).”
Found told councillors that the city is still playing “catchup” with previously approved projects delayed largely by the pandemic, and that the small number of new projects on the docket for 2023 “will give engineering staff a chance to catch-up with projects still not done.”
Upgrades for 2023, if approved, will include a $2.3 million upgrade in water treatment and an additional $2.3 million spent on sewer mains.
Councillor Charlie McDonald wanted to know if the city has the infrastructure in place to support the building that is going on.
Director of engineering and corporate assets, Juan Rojas, said, “Two major studies have been done, and more studies are currently being done to determine usage and capacity and how much residual capacity exists. All new approvals are based on there being existing capacity.” Rojas said.
McDonald asked a follow-up question of Rojas, wanting more detail on what the city will do if the capacity does not exist.
Rojas laid out a number of options for the councillor including the developer being asked to put in the services themselves and later being refunded by the city or the city finding a way to speed up their own water and wastewater construction schedule.
Found told councillors that the city is still playing “catch-up” with previously approved projects delayed largely by the pandemic, and that the small number of new projects on the docket for 2023 “will give engineering staff a chance to catch-up with projects still not done.”
Councillor Pat Warren wondered with all the development approved, should the city be spending more on beefing up their water and wastewater capacity.
“In the past few years significant work has been done,” Found said. “We can afford to take a year long breather (in major construction) for 2023.”
Councillor Mike Perry asked Found if this means that the very pressing problems facing the water and wastewater system in Fenelon Falls would get fixed in the upcoming year or soon after.
“We have actually accelerated the work in Fenelon Falls,” Found said. “After scoping all the water and wastewater pipes in Fenelon we are gathering all the capital deficiencies regarding problems with Fenelon, and then the work (to correct the problems) will be determined.”
More discussion of water and wastewater is expected throughout January and February 2023 as council crafts its new budget.
After long months of hearing news reports about overworked health care professionals, I lived in fear of a loved one becoming seriously ill. Then it happened — my mother suffered a stroke.
I worried about her getting the medical attention she needed in a broken health care system. The experience would eventually leave me completely astonished and very grateful.
From the local paramedics to the nurses and doctors at Ross Memorial Hospital, I saw nothing but concern and compassion for both my mother and me.
I found it amazing how quickly the nurses began to recognize me behind my mask. While there was no doubt they were busy, they took the time to talk to me about my mother’s condition even when there was little or no change. They never made me feel rushed or in the way.
The nurses often checked on us during my visits, asking if there was anything they could do. They showed such concern for how I was managing and an obvious desire to support my needs as well as care for my mother.
The doctor assigned to my mother’s case was equally quiet and gentle even when delivering bad news. He patiently guided me through the process and the tough decisions that had to be made.
I was told the staff were there for my mother but also for me and they often offered me their assurance that I was doing everything that I could.
I can’t help but wonder what these overworked professionals in a broken health care system could do if someone gave them the help and support they offered to me and my mother.
While my mother eventually passed away in palliative care, I can’t thank the paramedics, orderlies, nurses and doctors enough for everything they tried to do to help her as well as for how they supported me.
– Lisa Hart is an occasional writer for the Advocate
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My beautiful daughter was born in 1995 — the same year the UN’s climate panel published its second report. It said our actions had the potential to change Earth’s climate “to an extent unprecedented in human history.”
That same year atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were 360 parts per million (ppm) — 10 above what is considered safe for a stable climate. For millennia, they had been below 300.
Today, the UN Secretary General is telling us we’re “on the highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.” And C02 levels have topped 420 ppm, something the planet hasn’t experienced in four million years.
Information like that can be paralyzing. But so can watching the climate change-related floods, droughts, mega-storms and wildfires on the weather networks.
It’s no wonder a Canadian study by the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, published in early 2022, found half of students reported that climate change made them feel depressed about the future.
There’s actually a word for that feeling: eco-anxiety, defined by the American Psychological Association as “a chronic fear of environmental doom.”
When I was a kid our biggest fear was a nuclear attack. We practised hiding under our desks for protection. But today’s children have nowhere to hide from an over-heating planet. Their fear is understandable. Eco-psychologists tell us it’s important to acknowledge those feelings.
1. Help kids channel that fear into action. Young Greta Thunberg turned her eco-anxiety into climate action that sparked a worldwide youth movement. “Channelling anxiety into action can have a transformative effect,” according to Caroline Hickman, an eco-anxiety researcher in England. Try encouraging young people to:
• Plant a garden, or native trees. Teach kids that native plants generally have deeper roots, and that plants “inhale” excess carbon dioxide , transport it through those deep roots and store it in the soil.
• Turn off the lights, TV or computer when they leave a room. In Ontario some of our electricity still comes from burning fossil gas, so lower electricity use means less global warming pollution.
• Walk, bike or take the bus whenever possible to lower carbon dioxide emissions.
• Buy less stuff, and buy gently used things. My daughter id most of her Christmas shopping last year at thrift stores, where she found wonderful, meaningful gifts for her friends. Nothing new manufactured, no C02 gained.
• Join their school’s environmental club.
2. Point out the good news. In April 2022 the province of Quebec became the first region in the world to ban oil and gas development. Recently, we learned Kawartha Land Trust will receive $1.7 million over five years from the federal government’s Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund to purchase and protect even more wetlands, forests and grasslands — areas that store and capture carbon.
3. Go for nature walks. Some research has found getting outside in nature (without technology) can reduce ecoanxiety.
4. Write to a politician. For instance, help them write their MPP and tell them the province needs to preserve wetlands and forests, not build on them as Bill 23 proposed last fall.
We need to show our kids the many things we can do to lift our foot off the accelerator and take the off-ramp from that highway to climate hell.
Aimee Haynes – Dunsford
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Although it is customary to sing “Dashing through the snow/ In a one-horse open sleigh” during the Christmas season, the snow is often not plentiful enough for a good old-fashioned sleigh ride until at least January. Though not nearly so common as they were a few generations ago, horse-drawn sleighs and sleigh rides are among the most ubiquitous symbols of winter recreation in North America.
Here in Kawartha Lakes, as elsewhere, sleighs were the original off-road vehicle, used to move goods and people across fields and frozen lakes before the advent of passable roads. Those living in rural communities travelled to and from town in vehicles ranging from the small cutter drawn by a single horse to larger sleighs capable of accommodating an entire family. Farmers and lumbermen alike relied on heavy sleighs to draw logs from the bush every winter, while in 1891 some 15,000 bricks were shipped from Fox’s brickyard south of Lindsay to Verulam Township entirely by farmers’ sleighs.
With so many sleighs coming and going at all hours, it was not uncommon for children to jump onto them on their way home from school — a dangerous practice vehemently discouraged by concerned editors in the local papers.
“Boys, be careful about stealing a ride by ‘catching on sleighs,’” exclaimed the Lindsay Expositor on Jan. 9, 1873. “A boy in town had his leg broken, a few days ago, by being caught by another sleigh passing the one to which he was clinging,” the Expositor warned.
When they weren’t busy stealing rides on passing sleighs, many of old Victoria County’s young adults used them for dating.
“The merry jingle of sleigh bells, the sparkle of the crystal snow in the lambent light of the moon, and the confiding creature that nestles closely to him beneath the buffalo robes, tenderly clasping his left hand in hers, while his right holds the reins, constitute the winter night’s poem that is floating through the doting lover’s soul,” wrote a romantically minded — albeit verbose — correspondent in the Jan. 16, 1879 edition of the Woodville Advocate. (Five years later, on Jan. 7, 1884, the same newspaper declared that “sleighing, like love, puts all ranks on the same level of enjoyment” and rhetorically asked of those inclined to be flirtatious, “when was it ever known to decline a ride because the sleigh was not new and handsome? Never!”)
More family-friendly occasions transpired during the annual “sleigh drives” coordinated by local Sunday schools. These events typically took place in late January or early February, and invariably concluded with tea and refreshments back at the host church.
Of course, some evenings that began with a romantic sleigh ride ended unhappily, as in mid-January of 1888, when a young man from Woodville rented a sleigh at the local livery stable to take to a party in Manilla.
When he refused to return home, his lady friend ordered the horse out, took her seat in the sleigh, and drove home herself — leaving her date to walk. “It is safe to say he will not trifle with her again,” the gossipy Woodville Advocate said in its coverage of the affair.
More family-friendly occasions transpired during the annual “sleigh drives” coordinated by local Sunday schools. These events typically took place in late January or early February, and invariably concluded with tea and refreshments back at the host church.
Nearly 25 sleigh-loads of happy-looking children took in the “drive” organized by St. Paul’s Anglican Church on January 20 1893; as reported in the Canadian Post a week later, “the keen air having sharpened their appetites, an incredible quantity of good (refreshments) disappeared as a result of the vigorous onslaught made upon them.”
Not quite a decade later, the Presbyterian young people of Janetville hosted a midwinter concert and social that attracted a large contingent of Lindsay youth who were bundled up and borne to their destination on two sleighs. According to the Jan. 30, 1902, issue of the Watchman Warder, “one of the sleighs was so heavily loaded that they had to put on two teams of horses.”
Carriage-makers such as S.S. Gainer of Fenelon Falls and Lindsay’s L. O’Connor did quite a trade in cutters and sleighs during the winter months. O’Connor took particular pride in his products, with his sleighs being built of second-growth oak and his cutters of second-growth hickory.
As with other types of horse-drawn vehicle, however, the cutter and sleigh largely disappeared from the winter scene as roads improved and local citizens took to motorized vehicles such as cars and snowmobiles.
Well, not quite. The late Dr. Bob Watson, a long-time surgeon at Ross Memorial Hospital, was one of many local equine enthusiasts who regularly hitched up a horse to take family and friends for sleigh rides during the last quarter of the twentieth century.
“The delightful little cutter with one of the riding horses trained to draw it made for a fun outing for two, with bells jangling and snow flying!” remembers Watson’s widow, Margaret Jean.
On other occasions, the Watsons might have hitched up their heavy draft Belgians to a big sleigh. “You could tell that the horses were enjoying the outing as much as the people,” she recalls, “and there is something lovely about going along through the less-travelled lanes with barely a sound except for the bells!”
420 Eldon Road, Little Britain (705) 748-3848
4075 County Road 121, Kinmount (705) 488-9963
401 Kent Street West, Lindsay (705) 324-1978
Winter is cabbage’s time to shine! Combined with sausages, canned or fresh tomatoes, cheese and vegetables, this cabbage bake makes a hearty meal all on its own, or can be served with nice, crusty bread. No pepper on hand? Mix and match with corn or carrots.
oil or unsalted butter 4 sausages 1 red pepper, diced ½ onion, diced
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
3 garlic cloves, minced ½ head cabbage, cored and sliced 1 cup tomatoes, diced 2 cups mozzarella, shredded
2. Wash and prep the vegetables and sausage.
3. Heat oil or butter in a large pan over medium-high heat, ideally cast iron. Add sliced sausages and cook for 2-3 minutes per side until browned.
4. Add pepper, onion, garlic, cabbage, salt and pepper and cook for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened. While vegetables are cooking, grate the cheese.
5. If not using cast iron pan, transfer vegetables to oven-safe dish. Add tomatoes, and top with cheese.
6. Cook in oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown.
Pats with a tissue
"... cow, E-I-E-I-O, with ___ ..."
Black and white orca
"Let It Roll" group, for short
Tops a rival
Bob Seger hit, 1986
Not of the clergy
Pigeon's perch, often
One having a bawl
Nativity scene figure
Belly dancer's bell clinkers
Johnson of "Laugh-In"
Modern surgical beams
Carry, as a burden
Electric insect repellent
Warwick's "___ Little Prayer"
Plant's pollen producer
Starring actress ... and literally, what the first word of 17-, 24-, 35- and 48-Acrross can have
Burnt ___ crisp
Of the mystic arts
Twelfth Jewish month
Yellowknife is its cap.
Divided state or a Dodge pickup
Roundish trailers designed in Canada
Stage direction meaning "alone"
States under Stalin: Abbr.
Place for bums in church?
Biblical verb ending
Have ___ about (discuss) 9 Counts (on)
Spotted attending 11 Amount before GST, say 12 86 or 99, of "Get Smart": Abbr.
Band, with "The" or "The Guess"
Author's afterword: Var.
Many shows on Bravo
Sign of autumn
Water cooler 26 Unlikely show dogs
Minor thing, to a musician
React to pepper, perhaps 33 "Stompa" singer Serenaby Barbara Olson
"I love this!"
Needed to restock
Audience cry to an award winner
Hawaiian "thank you"
Looked over hungrily
Hall and Hannah
Canadian rockers "Our Lady ___"
"Great" fifth-century pope
Logan is Canada's highest: Abbr.
Cut blades with blades
Invoice word 58 "___ bet" (doubter's words)
Those of us of a certain age will remember back when our local radio station was on the AM dial, the noon in memoriam announcements.
Growing up, weekday lunches, which we called dinners, began with this ritual. One of us would race to turn on the countertop radio. The meal was timed so that we were eating our Kraft Dinner or canned soup just as the sombre organ music stopped, and the announcer started reading the death announcements.
Using a bit of gallows humour, my mom always called it “happy hour.” Now, before anyone feels compelled to write and tell me how horrible and insensitive my mom is, I will note that after 30-plus years working in the hospital, my mom volunteered to do end of life palliative visits, staying with people who had no local family, so that they wouldn’t die alone. The name was just a joke, but the content was beyond important to us.
I remember marvelling at how my parents seemed to know everyone ever mentioned on the program. As the names and details of the dearly departed were read, there would be commentary and additional knowledge shared: This person was the mother of an old neighbour; that person was one of Grandpa’s taxi customers; another related to a second cousin by marriage. Everyone, even in death, seemed connected in my small world.
And while there was frequent laughter at my childhood dinner table, the five minutes of happy hour was not a time to goof around. That was a line that wouldn’t be crossed. And we all knew about that line, thanks to a notorious relative. It may be apocryphal, but when my larger-than-life great uncle was a local DJ, he was fired on air for being (allegedly) intoxicated and announcing the obituaries as a sports score between the funeral homes.
But as actor Steve Allen once famously quipped, tragedy plus time equals comedy. So I probably find humour in that unverifiable story now.
When I got to university, I would share the noon radio obituaries as an example of how small and uncool my hometown was, as people who first leave home often do. But over time, as I have gotten ever statistically closer to being the subject of an obituary, I have changed my views.
I realize now that happy hour was just one of many little, often weird things that made living in a small town different and special. And while that difference may sometimes lie in special annual events or physical attractions, it's often the “characters” and stories that set us apart. They give a feeling of community that I, for one, have never found in big cities or in the echo chambers of social media.
So to all in the (sometimes wacky) community I love, I wish you a Happy New Year.