Year in Review: February 2017
Sean Chase/Daily Observer Youth hold up photos of the six victims of the Quebec City mosque shooting as residents of Deep River gather at the Ottawa Valley Islamic Centre in February to show solidarity with the town's Muslim community. The rally ended with an impromptu singing of "O'Canada."
TEENAGER SERIOUSLY INJURED: A teenager suffered life-threatening injuries after the snowmobile he was driving collided with a transport tractor trailer east of Pembroke on Feb. 1. The accident occurred at the intersection of Fibreboard Drive and Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) Trail ‘A.’ The tractor trailer appeared to be heading eastbound towards the Pembroke MDF fibreboard plant when the collision occurred. Following the mishap, members of the County of Renfrew Paramedic Service arrived at the scene and treated a 14-year-old male who had sustained life-threatening injuries. The victim was then transported directly to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa.
FAMILY ESCAPES FIRE: A family narrowly escaped their burning home as fire destroyed a residence in Beachburg on Feb. 7. Firefighters were called to a two-storey dwelling on Hume Street shortly after 6 a.m. When they arrived the conflagration had already engulfed the second floor with flames shooting through the roof. A retired member of the Canadian Forces and his wife made their way safely out of the home with their two dogs. Whitewater Fire Chief Wayne Heubner said the couple, who were not identified, were alerted by a smoke detector. They were sleeping in a corner bedroom on the second floor when they heard the buzzing sound of the alarm.
BOARD SAYS GOODBYE TO DIRECTOR: The Renfrew County District School Board said goodbye to director of education Roger Clarke in February. Retiring after 33 years of service to the board, eight of those as education director, Clarke ended his last board meeting receiving a standing ovation. The board also announced Pino Buffone as his successor. In an emotional address, Clarke said he has been reflecting on his many years with the school board.
“The last few weeks have been filled with emotional highs and lows, and while I don’t regret my decision to retire, I know I will miss the work and this board,” Clarke said.
FIRE LEVELS HOME: A family escaped after flames razed their home to the ground on Sandy Beach Road, west of Pembroke on Feb. 13. The fire destroyed the single-level bungalow and attached garage. There were no injuries as fire officials credited a working smoke detector with saving the occupants. The emergency forced the Laurentian Valley Fire Department to enact mutual aid calling for assistance from the Town of Petawawa and North Algona/Wilberforce departments. After hearing the smoke detector go off, the occupants, an adult couple and their two children, barely had enough time to quickly dress and make it outside. It took the department’s 20 personnel about an hour to bring the blaze under control.
UNITED WAY MERGER CLOSE: Renfrew County United Way announced that its board members have agreed in principle to a new collaboration - amalgamating with United Ways in Prescott-Russell, Ottawa and Lanark County. After amalgamation, all funds raised locally, will continue to be invested locally to help Renfrew County’s most vulnerable. Over the next few weeks, the four United Ways were scheduled to hold separate special meetings in each community and invite members to support this new collaboration and amalgamation. Renfrew County United Way held its meeting on Feb. 1 at the Giant Tiger.
CHANGE OF VENUE IN MURDER TRIAL: A motion for change of venue was filed in the case of Basil Borutski, charged in the deaths of Anastasia Kuzyk, Nathalie Warmerdam and Carol Culleton. The court heard submissions from Crown attorney Jeff Richardson and Ottawa-based lawyer James Foord, who was acting as an amicus curiae behalf of the accused. Borutski had refused to retain defence counsel. Justice James McNamara, regional senior judge for Ontario’s East Region, said he would release a decision at a later date.
SENTENCING DELAYED: Sentencing for the man convicted in the dangerous driving death of a retired Petawawa soldier was scheduled to take place in the spring. Martial Laverdure had been
convicted of one count of dangerous driving causing death. The 39-year-old had been behind the wheel when his Toyota RAV 4 collided with Ernie Hall on Lake Street just outside the Pembroke Memorial Centre on the night of Jan. 11, 2015 fatally injuring the former regimental sergeant major. Justice Martin James agreed to adjourn the case until April 12.
CLARION HOTEL OPENS: With great fanfare, the Clarion Hotel and Conference Centre officially opened its doors in the city’s east end on Feb. 11. With the hotel’s 21 staff members and guests looking on, the hotel’s new owner, Dev Patel, was joined by local dignitaries to cut a bright red ribbon in the front lobby. It was less than a year ago that the former Travelodge Hotel suddenly closed its doors.
KEEPING THE STATUS QUO: Petawawa town council decided to maintain the first-past-the-post election model when residents go to the polls in 2018. Council agreed with a staff recommendation to maintain the status quo declining the province’s offer through Bill 181, the Municipal Elections Modernization Act, to adopt a ranked balloting system for choosing mayor and councillors. Council needed to make a decision by May 1 on whether to change the voting process. Thus far, only two of Ontario’s 444 municipalities are considering ranked ballots. The City of Pembroke also found the current voting systems worked just fine. The city’s finance and administration committee voted to maintain a voting system of internet, telephone and paper ballot voting which served the municipality well in 2010 and 2014.
BUILDING EVACUATED: A building at Garrison Petawawa was evacuated on Feb. 9 following the discovery of a suspicious package. The garrison's fire department and military police responded to the incident. The package was later identified to include auto parts and confirmed to be safe.
DEEP RIVER SHOWS SOLIDARITY: The residents of Deep River banded together on Feb. 12 to denounce the tragic massacre of six Muslim-Canadians at a Quebec City mosque. Regardless of religion, ethnicity or politics, more than 300 people ventured out in the middle of a blustery snow storm to remember the victims who were gunned down on Jan. 29 inside the Grande Mosquée de Québec in the suburb of Sainte-Foy and show solidarity with the Muslim community not only across Canada but here in Renfrew County. The Deep River Peace Walk mustered an impressive body of folk from across the community to declare that violence of this nature will never be tolerated nor will it deter Canadians from fostering an inclusive and cohesive society.
UNION TALKS BREAK DOWN: Negotiations broke down in February between the Township of Bonnechere Valley and its employees. The township had been in collective bargaining with CUPE Local 4524 representing nine roads and seven waste employees. The parties met in December 2016 and came to a tentative deal, which Local 4524 failed to ratify. As a result, the township and CUPE Local 4524 met with a provincial conciliator as required under the Labour Relations Act on Feb. 15.
END OF THE RIDE: The Telus Snowmobile Ride for Dad held its final run at the Timberland Snowmobile Club in Laurentian Valley. A total of 50 snowmobiles hit the trails in mild and picture perfect weather for a short run from the clubhouse to the Petawawa Legion and back, taking the scenic route, raising $8,086 for the cause - including $7,336 in pledges and $750 in online donations.
DEPUTY WARDENS APPOINTED: On Feb. 22, Renfrew County council appointed two deputy wardens who will appear at Canada 150 events throughout the region this year. Madawaska Valley Mayor Kim Love and Killaloe-Hagarty-Richards Mayor Janice Visneskie-Moore were tasked to help shoulder some of the public appearances that the current warden, Jennifer Murphy, was expected to attend as Canadians celebrated the 150th anniversary of Confederation over 2017. In 2016, County council amended its procedural bylaw to create the deputy warden’s position as a largely ceremonial post. The changes meant the position of acting warden was be dropped but the honourary warden was reserved for a long-standing elected official with 50 or more years of service in municipal government.