Teachers rally against education cuts
By Matthew Botha
Proposed cuts to the province’s public education system by the Doug Ford government continue to leave a bitter taste in the mouths of teachers across Ontario.
With Ontario currently sitting at a $15-billion deficit, the Conservative government is slashing funding to a number of services. In an effort to keep taxes lower, this will include a four per cent cut to public education.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, the OSSTF, has made it clear that they won’t let this cut go unnoticed. Both teachers and supporters rallied outside of Hastings-Prince Edward MPP Todd Smith’s office in Belleville Friday afternoon.
Armed with signs and a loudspeaker, they yelled “Shame!” as several guest speakers slammed the Ford Government.
“We are here to say that the education system can’t offered any cuts,” argued OSSTF District 29 President Scott Marshall.
Teachers said the cuts will mean increased class sizes, and less one-on-one attention for students with special needs.
“We need to protect and enhance our public education system… It builds very strong communities. It’s a great equalizer. Anytime there’s talks about cuts, we are going to be here to defend the system…right across the board we would see an impact.”
The federation wanted to make it abundantly clear that they are not picketing because of any worries about reductions in pay.
They said they were there for the children, and their right to having access to all resources needed to make sure they are receiving the best education possible.
“Survey results from our collective bargaining survey show that our members are not interested in salary increases or other personal benefits. They’re more interested in investments,” stated Elementary Teachers Federation Hastings-Prince Edward President Dave Henderson in a speech he gave to the crowd.
“Twenty first century learning is not all about smart boards and non-permanent vertical learning systems. The reality is, it’s about high needs students. It’s about integration with support.”
The teachers acknowledged the fact that the Ontario government is in debt, but that education is not the place to make cuts. Henderson touched on the fact that the government spends millions on a standardized EQAO test that they would be more than willing to part with.
Marshell left the crowd with a simple plea, “If you cut the education system of today, you will end up paying for it in the future.”
Winter tires worth the cost
By Kyle Visser
It’s that time of year again. When the weather separates the believers from the non-believers of winter tires.
In 2008, the province of Quebec mandated by law that winter tires had to be on all vehicles from Dec. 15 until March 15 of each year. A $60 fine and two demerit points are given if you are caught without them.
But is the hype all true? Or is it an exaggerated difference that snow tires make?
“Get winter tires,” said tire expert Jim Wannamaker of Belleville in a video interview.
Wannamaker has worked at Action Towing and Automotive, Bob Clute AutoMart and Taylor AutoMall, spending most of his career in the auto industry.
“At 7°C, your tires start to shrink,” Wannamaker says. This means the rubber on your all-season tires harden, making them less likely to grip the road, according to the website for the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada, or TRAC.
“All tire rubber will begin to stiffen as the weather gets colder, but the latest generations of winter tires maintain their elasticity, even at extremely low temperatures approaching -30°C and below, thus providing superior traction and grip. Instead of thinking of winter tires only as ‘snow tires’ you may want to start thinking of them as ‘cold-weather tires’.”
In a 2018 survey by TRAC, 76 per cent of Canadian drivers owned winter tires. However, this is heavily influenced by the Quebec and Atlantic regions, where winter tires are mandatory. An estimated 97 per cent of residents in those provinces own winter tires, while in the rest of the provinces, the percentage is only 67 per cent.
Among those who own winter tires, 80 per cent say they feel that winter tires have saved them from “being involved in a potentially hazardous driving situation.”
In Ontario, 54 per cent of owners say that “All season tires are good enough”, and 21 per cent say that winter tires are “too expensive.”
“It costs around $20 to put on a tire. How much do you spend partying on the weekend? Is it worth it to spend $100 to put on four winter tires?” Wannamaker says.
Many automotive storefronts will store your winter tires as well as put them on for you.
Downtown strip club to be torn down
By Mari Hiramoto
The City of Belleville announced last month that it had purchased the site of the former Cabaret strip club downtown.
City council also passed a bylaw to authorize the purchase of the building and property on Front Street for $675,000 from a private owner.
The city changed its bylaws a few years ago to limit the areas where new adult entertainment facilities could open. Any new business owner would need to require city council to re-zone the land or make an exceptional approval.
As of 2019, there is only one property, the Go Go Club on North Front Street, that is designated under the new bylaw.
“From my perspective, there is a desire just not to have it along the riverfront, one of the gateways to the downtown core. Front street and Highway 2-Dundas Street are one of the redeveloped gateways to the town. Council has spent around $30 million rejuvenating the street gate,” said Matt MacDonald, the city’s director of corporate services.
The Cabaret club, located right across from City Hall, had always been a controversial business among many local residents. There was even a petition that requested the site be shut down and relocated.
“Those of us that jog, walk, bike or try to take advantage of the waterfront trail certainly encounter employees and patrons smoking and loitering in the back of this establishment,” Mihai Petroianu, the organizer of the petition, stated on the petition web page. “One simply cannot walk by this landmark without noticing the cigarette butts and discarded beer cans around the property and the adjacent parking lot.”
The city of Belleville has been focusing on revitalization projects in the downtown core and the waterfront trails. Many people argued that having a strip club right beside historic sites would impact the image of the city.
“Council members may have got [negative] comments from the general public about how they feel about that kind of establishment being there, in such a visible location. Certainly, when we have dignitaries, whether they be provincial or federal, or from sister cities like Gunpo or Lahr, [the club] is right there in front of the City Hall. I think there is some sensitivity to that,” said MacDonald.
The former strip club is currently surrounded by the two city-owned parking lots, the Moira River, and the waterfront trails. Belleville Mayor Mitch Panciuk stated last month that council is planning to demolish the building and use the land as a parking lot until they decide on a suitable usage.
“We are still doing due diligence on the property prior to taking the ownership. Once the ownership is transferred to us and if all things go right with the environmental investigations, Council will then have to decide what direction they wish to go,” said MacDonald.
By Desirée Decoste
Saturday was this year’s 13th annual FrostFest in Batawa. It was a perfect day with the weather, chilly but it was sunny and enjoyable for all the families who showed up. There was a great turnout of approximately 750 people who attended this year’s event.
“The event is a great event to embrace the Canadian winter. It allows for families to come together and enjoy indoor and outdoor activities,” said Karen Parker, special events coordinator for the City of Quinte West.
“My favourite part of the event was seeing families enjoying their time together and familiar faces who attend each year and look forward to the event.”
The Trenton Golden Hawks hockey team was out to skate with the community and show their support for the event.
“The event was incredible, very well run and organized, as expected. It’s fantastic to see so many people in the community come out to the event,” said Tiger McDonald, a right and left wing on the Trenton Golden Hawks hockey team. “It shows how strong and tight knit the community really is and how friendly everyone is here. I attended the event last year as well and it was just as great!”
There was also free all-day entertainment from marshmallow roasting, balloon twisting, face painting, horse carriage rides, a petting zoo and lots of dance routines from Astounding Heights Dance Academy.
The dance academy is a place where all dancers can learn, practise and express themselves in different kinds of dance in a safe, judgement-free environment, according to the Astounding Heights website.
The petting zoo was Kristie’s Little Portable Petting Zoo, which has been serving the Quinte West area going on 11 years now. They travel all over, visiting schools, nursing homes, day cares and many more places. The petting zoo started with rescues that people had left on their door step or donated to them. It is a non-profit and all expenses come out of pocket, according to their Facebook page.
“This year, we added new enhancements such as Crafts with Brittany, Olaf from Frozen and Mirror me Quinte, to name a few,” said Parker.
Mirror me Quinte is a fun photo booth that engages the guests though a touch screen of colourful animations, entertaining voice guidance and a cool user-friendly interface that everyone will surely enjoy. It includes a special feature that allows you to sign a message or your name using the touch screen and will print out your memorable photo instantly, according to the Mirror me Quinte website.
There are also five outdoor skating rinks to choose from that the Batawa Community runs and maintains. The rinks are free for anyone to use, whenever they feel like skating.
“My favourite part is skating on the outdoor rinks. It’s so amazing that we have such a great outdoor skating facility that’s free and open to the public,” said Hannah Brown, community engagement officer for the City of Quinte West “I always love this event. This time of year, people are really starting to feel cooped up at home all the time and it’s great to get out to Batawa to enjoy some fun winter activities.”
Seniors Unlimited was at the event serving low cost food and beverages to the families and individuals who wanted to buy them. Batawa Ski Hill staff was also onsite handing out $5 coupons towards lift tickets for Saturday night.
High school all-stars play volleyball
By Kyle Visser
The All-Star high school women’s volleyball tournament took place last Friday night at Loyalist College. Starring the best of the best from all secondary schools in the Quinte area, the Pink and Purple teams ended the sport season with a bang.
Team captains Hope Brinkman (Purple team) and Karolyn Yee (Pink team) shook hands and the game began.
The set started with a solid lead from the Purple team, taking it 25-19. In the second game, Pink struck back hard with a defining final score of 25-16.
Despite this, the Purple team was merely down, not out. Purple took it back once more in a close third set, with a score of 25-22.
Not to be taken back so easily, Pink struck back yet again with another blow of 25-19 to take the fourth set.
A 2-2 set tie was in place with both teams having very strong moments and players. They don’t call this the all-star game for nothing.
Throughout the entire game, both teams were looking very strong at all points of the match with many bouts lasting for multiple minutes at a time.
A final set to 15 was next. Purple took a mild lead of 8-6 before switching sides and striking hard and fast to an ace finish of 15-6, winning the tournament.
After shaking hands with their opponents, the two teams gathered together for a team photo and speeches by their coaches.
The coaches also presented awards to the two MVPs of the year on their respective teams to Karolyn Yee and A. Davidson. They received official Loyalist Lancers backpacks as a reward for their efforts.
Happy Flag Day!
Winter racing on the ice
By Matthew Botha and Frank Moses
Ontario Snowmobile Oval Racers competed for the Gates Canada Golden Cup on a windy and frigid Rice Lake in Roseneath over the weekend.
The dead of winter doesn’t stop the women and men of the OSOR from having fun.
“It’s a rush… the fastest two minutes of your life,” exclaimed OSOR Vice President Mark Reoch, when interviewed before racing started at the Golden Beach Resort, which hosted the event.
Reoch notes the club has been active for three years and keeps gaining an active membership. “This is our biggest season yet. We have seven races… this year is working out really well. We were on another circuit before that for about ten years.”
Reoch, Keith Smith, Carl Blight and Richard Greenfield founded the club when another they belonged to folded – and they haven’t looked back.
It’s not an expensive sport. Most start in this sport with one-lungers, venerable single cylinder sleds like John Deere and Yamaha models from the ’70s. One can get into it for a couple thousand dollars and have lots of fun. Some racers have modified sleds, which cost five or six thousand, which is still well under what some motorsports, such as motorcycle and car racing, cost.
The young and old – boys and girls, women and men – help each other between races and then get their game faces on at the start line.
The next race is the biggest of the season. The Feb. 15-16 weekend will see racers from the United States and Canada vie for The 45 year-old Bonnechere Cup in Eganville, north of Ottawa.