Year in Review - March 2017
Nothing says St. Patrick's Day like the music of the Irish Grovers, at least according to this parade entry from North Algona Wilberforce Township. It was one of more than 100 floats and entrants which took part in the sixth annual parade in Douglas March 11.
BORUTSKI TRIAL MOVED: The first-degree murder trial of Basil Borutski, charged in the deaths of three Renfrew County women, was officially moved to Ottawa in March. Justice James McNamara, regional senior judge for Ontario’s East Region, released his decision scheduling the trial to begin on Sept. 18. The trial, anticipated to hear from 125 witnesses, is scheduled to take four months.
DRIVER INJURED: A truck driver was left fighting for his life following a single vehicle crash on March 8. Officers from the Killaloe Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) responded to a serious single-vehicle collision involving a logging truck on Highway 41 and Highway 132, in Bonnechere Valley Twp. The lone male driver was taken to hospital by ORGNE Air Ambulance with life-threatening injuries.
MAN STABBED: Police responded to an altercation on March 21 in the area of Laroche Crescent and Herman Street in Petawawa after information was received that a male had been stabbed. Police attended and found a 51-year-old male who had been injured with an edged weapon. The suspect, a 25-year-old male, was taken into custody at the scene by OPP and the victim was taken to hospital by ambulance with non-life threatening injuries.
CHIEF WINS ELECTION: Chief Kirby Whiteduck was re-elected to lead the band council of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation for his sixth consecutive term. The 2017 election received greater interest and participation due to the controversy surrounding disagreements over the Agreement-in-Principle (AIP) for the Algonquin land claim.
“The main reason why I ran for chief was because community members and elders asked me to, and their reason for asking me to
run has to do with their concerns of the AIP. I felt that we shared common concerns and I had something to offer, so I ran,” said Greg Sarazin who ran against Whiteduck for the position of chief.
In recent years, the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation community has been divided over the ongoing land claim negotiations and the AIP – with the fear that by moving forward with the AIP, Pikwakanagan could possibly lose its reserve status and become a municipality. Although the majority of the Algonquin nation voted in favour of the AIP, an internal vote in Pikwakanagan was against it.
NEW CONDO DEVELOPMENT: A new condo development in Pembroke was announced. Construction for Champlain Place was to begin in the spring on a site overlooking the Ottawa River. The three-storey, 39 unit complex is to be located on a parcel of land lying on the east end of Joseph and Maple Street, in sight of Supple's Landing. Tom Gallivan of Gallivan Developments Inc., said something like this has never been offered to the Pembroke area before. He said judging from the amount of interest they have been receiving, it appears the area is ready for this type of development.
ST. PATRICK COMES TO DOUGLAS: Hundreds of people lined the streets of Douglas for the town's sixth annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. Arctic wind chills didn't deter the crowds nor the 160 parade entrants from wearing the green throughout Douglas, the heart of everything Irish in the Ottawa Valley. Green coloured hair, hats, pants, scarves and shamrocks were in abundance, along with scores of Irish flags, proudly flying alongside the Canadian Maple Leaf. Hosted once again by the Douglas Lions Club, the parade served as a great way to kick off the week leading to St. Patrick's Day. It attracts scores of people from across the region to either take part, or watch the spectacle.
PARAMEDIC RULES CHANGE: The minister of health, Eric Hoskins, announced that Ottawa paramedics would change dispatch
practices that were forcing Renfrew County and other neighbouring municipalities to take more and more emergency calls from the city. Reacting to the results of an investigation launched after a complaint was filed from the chief of Prescott-Russell Emergency Services, Hoskins ordered that Ottawa paramedics will no longer have a mandatory 30-minute period where they are not available for another call when they are dropping off a patient at the hospital. As well, Ottawa paramedics will no longer be taken out of service in the last 30 minutes of their shift. Renfrew County paramedics have been hit particularly hard by Ottawa’s land ambulance deployment plans which focus on its urban core as opposed to the rural, outlying areas within its periphery.
COBDEN IN THE RUNNING: The Cobden Astrolabe Arena was named one of 10 finalists in the 2017 Kraft Hockeyville. Cobden emerged out of a total of 2,946 nominations representing 41 per cent of arenas across Canada. The winner of the contest could end up hosting an NHL pre-season game or receive $100,000 in arena upgrades. Chris Pleau, who coaches peewee girls hockey in Cobden, led the effort to submit the nomination back in January. He said they are excited about cracking into the top 10 but the challenge now is to galvanize community support.
“It will be dependent on the community voting,” Pleau said. “How we win is to get more votes than the other communities. It's going to be tough for sure.”
DEAL REACHED: Employees at the Petawawa Public Library reached a collective agreement with the library’s board of directors in March. Councillor James Carmody, who represents the town on the library board, could not offer any details of the collective agreement. In October 2016, the library’s eight employees voted to join the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 24, which also represents library workers in Pembroke and Renfrew.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY: Renowned author Barbara Coloroso paid a special visit to Pembroke on International Women’s Day. The internationally celebrated author and speaker served as the guest of honour at this year’s International Women’s Day event organized by the Bernadette McCann House for Women. Coloroso has written a number of bestselling books on the subjects of parenting, teaching, school discipline, positive school climate, bullying, grieving, nonviolent conflict resolution and restorative justice. Over the years, the beloved and sought-after author has been interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, the New York Times and CNN.
NEW AWARDS PROGRAM: Pembroke rolled out its new Civic Awards program in March. The program had been under development since 2016 as a way to recognize noteworthy citizens who normally wouldn't be in the spotlight. It will be included with the successful Pembroke Youth Awards program, but both will remain separate entities. Councillor Christine Reavie, a member of the organizing committee, said the idea of the civic awards was started by Mayor Michael LeMay, who said there was nothing in place to honour those city residents who did so much for their community, and yet few knew of their contributions.
OPP DEPARTURE: Constable Beth Ethier turned in her badge concluding a fulfilling 30-year career with the Ontario Provincial Police. The community safety/mobilization officer for the Upper Ottawa Valley OPP Detachment officially retired from the force. A native of White Lake, Ontario, she was first posted to the OPP's Pembroke detachment which was located at 162 Agnes St. She then moved to the Upper Ottawa Valley detachment at 1913 Petawawa Blvd. She was fortunate to spend her entire career in the Ottawa Valley, moving between both the two detachments.
NO COMMITMENT ON HIGHWAY 17: Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MPP John Yakabuski announced that
there was still no firm commitment from the transportation minister on four-laning Highway 17. The MPP brought up the question in the Ontario Legislature, seeking transportation minister Steven Del Duca’s commitment to put the expansion of Highway 17 in the government’s five-year infrastructure plan. During the exchange, Yakabuski once again stressed the importance of this project not only for Renfrew County, but to the entire region of Eastern Ontario.
BOARD RETIREMENTS: The Renfrew County Catholic District School Board learned that two members of the board’s leadership team plan to retire in the fall. Michele Arbour, director of education, and Peter Adam, superintendent of educational services, were to retire on Sept. 15, 2017. “My fellow trustees and I wish all the best for them in their future retirement,” said Dave Howard, board chairman. “But I must say that we will regret the loss of such strong leaders from our team.”