Opinion Column

Positivity provides warmth

By Pembroke Daily Observer

Pembroke city councillor Christine Reavie gets ready to take the plunge during the Polar Bear Dip at the Pembroke Marina last weekend. The event raised $7,000 for the Pembroke and Laurentian Valley Handi-Bus.

Pembroke city councillor Christine Reavie gets ready to take the plunge during the Polar Bear Dip at the Pembroke Marina last weekend. The event raised $7,000 for the Pembroke and Laurentian Valley Handi-Bus.

It is mid-February and is one of the toughest times of the year here in the Valley.

The people who operate The Grind are having a special walk to raise money and it is called The Coldest Night of the Year. Yes folks, it is cold. Brrrrrrr.

If you’re a skater I must say that Laurentian Valley has started something new and exciting in developing a skating trail, one of the longer ones in Ontario. They have set up a unique trail which is 1.74 kilometers long. It is well groomed and a real treat. Best of all it is free for the family however they are asking for donations to help with the surfacing. They have an ice resurfacer and the local fire trucks come and water the track as well. It can be challenging as there are hills and water does run downhill, however it has been reported that skating really works. They even have night time skating. What a real treat.

The trail was the idea of Laurentian Valley’s public works manager Mark Behm. He has put tremendous effort into pulling this off. This is the first year for the trail and he does have a lot of volunteers helping out. Local companies have provided generators and lights for the night skating. This is a different activity, and I congratulate Laurentian Valley for this innovative thinking.

This past Sunday, a polar bear dip was held at the Pembroke Marina as well as ice fishing for kids. Yes folks, this is where people actually do jump wearing only a bathing suit into a large hole in the Ottawa River. The water was freezing as they jumped; scooping the ice off was required. All this was done to raise money for the Pembroke Handi-Bus. The first jumper was city councillor Christine Reavie who actually raised more than $2,400 dollars in donations. I watched her. It was quite a shock. She jumped in completely over her head but I must say she did come out very quickly. Congratulations are well in order as she has done this for many years. Christine is one very brave woman.

There were 23 jumpers in total. Congratulations should be given to all. More than $5,000 was raised for the Handi-Bus.

The Pembroke Professional Fire Fighters Association organised and hosted a kid’s ice fishing derby at the marina. I heard a young person actually caught a small sturgeon, which was released because it is a species at risk. Kids of all ages enjoyed themselves for free.

I also attended, and it was open to the public, the review of the annual financial budget for Pembroke. Yes folks, they do look for constructive comments but I am sad to report very few people actually turned up. This is our money they are spending. Think!

As a past library board chairman, I know budgets were always a difficult, drawn out procedure. Congratulations are very much in order as LeeAnn McIntyre, city treasurer, has made this process simple and easy to understand.

Mayor Mike Lemay did thank LeeAnn and her team profusely. Observer readers must remember that the mayor and council have done an excellent job in holding the taxes while still creating a healthy, financially well-run city. The provincial auditors have commented that we are in great shape.

Mayor Lemay placed me on the Ottawa Valley Waste Recovery Center board. This center is a state-of-the-art facility taking care of all our garbage and recyclables. This is not an easy task especially since the government has decided to pass Bill 151, the Waste-Free Ontario Act. The Ottawa Valley Waste Recovery Centre is a municipal partnership between the Town of Petawawa, City of Pembroke, Township of Laurentian Valley (the host community), and Township of North Algona Wilberforce.

I am mentioning this because Sue McCrae, general manager, with Daniel Burke, finance and support services supervisor, have done an outstanding job creating a manageable 2018 budget. This was difficult because the income they obtain from selling the recyclable waste material like cardboard, etc. varies greatly. Some items dropped more than 50 per cent and yet they developed a budget which incorporates flexibility. If the income levels do come back, there are contingencies for some capital expenditures which are sorely needed.

They are working with what they have, and this is not an easy task. I am a past senior manager of a large Fortune 500 Canadian subsidiary, so I know budgets and adhering to a budget are the most difficult tasks management has. Congratulations to Sue and Daniel for an excellent job, well done!

Well folks, one last task for me in this long and difficult winter is to learn a new skill set. I recently discovered that Rob Turgeon is volunteering his time to the Pembroke Public Library to teach “how to meditate.” This is not an easy subject. He did an excellent job teaching me. Many thanks. This training is being held on the first Tuesday of each month at 6:45 p.m. Rob will follow me as a new editorial board writer next Saturday, Feb. 17 in The Pembroke Daily Observer. I look forward to reading his first column.

Well folks, as Porky Pig says, “That’s all folks!”

Bill Halkett is a member of The Daily Observer's editorial board 

Next week: Rob Turgeon 

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