William mourns the loss of Kate

By Cam Kennedy

BELLEVILLE – Kate, the Chinese Swan Goose, and her mate William have been fixtures  in the pond at the Glenwood Cemetery  in Picton for years.

But Kate is no longer there.

Two teens have been charged in connection with Kate’s death after she was shot by a pellet gun.

A couple weeks later, William and the whole Picton community are mourning the loss of Kate.

QNet’s Cam Kennedy has the story.

Glenwood Cemetery Goose from QNet News on Vimeo.

Hockeyville victory modernizes Stirling’s arena

By Cam Kennedy and William Proulx

STIRLING-RAWDON – It’s been a year since this small municipality celebrated being named Canada’s Kraft Hockeyville and winning $100,000 to upgrade its arena.

The Hockeyville contest, hosted across Canada since 2006, was created by CBC Sports and sponsored by Kraft Foods, the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players Association. The winner is the town or city that is voted most committed to the sport of hockey.

Stirling-Rawdon won the contest in 2012. After weeks of campaigning and national voting, the win was a dream come true for the small-town arena.

Although the celebration of the win was delayed because of the lockout that hit the NHL in the 2012-13 season, Stirling-Rawdon received its $100,000 prize to go into maintaining and modernizing the Stirling District Recreation Centre.

The Hockeyville win also brought two NHL teams to the Quinte area. The Washington Capitals and the Winnipeg Jets played a preseason game at the Yardmen Arena on Sept. 14, 2013.

Now, a little over a year later, the arena has put the money to good use. An upgraded air-filtration system, bigger dressing rooms and recycled-rubber flooring are just some of the new additions made with the money.

“We had people that came from all around the world and voted for us and made this possible,” said arena manager Richard Dean.

Now that the upgrades are complete, the arena will no longer have the problems of scuffed floors, smelly rooms and nowhere for the female athletes to get dressed.

Sylvan Lake, Alta., has won the 2014 Hockeyville contest – but the passion will always live on in Stirling-Rawdon.

City looking at adding more outdoor rinks

An outdoor rink located in the Belleville harbor. Photo by Cam Kennedy

By Cam Kennedy

BELLEVILLE – There was a time in the history of Belleville where the city was scattered with outdoor rinks for people to enjoy.

However today people in the city looking for a place to skate outdoors for free are limited in their options.

The International Ice Hockey Federation says there are 5,000 outdoor rinks in Canada, and Belleville has one of them.

Mark Fluhrer, Belleville’s director of Recreation, Culture and Community Services, said the only city-maintained rink is the one in the Belleville harbour. Otherwise, some residents build an outdoor rink in their backyard.

The harbour is certainly a scenic location for a place to skate, yet it isn’t a location that caters to citizens who live furthest from the shores of the Bay of Quinte, he explained.

Belleville is not alone. Quinte West and Sterling also have only one outdoor rink. Batawa has four outdoor rinks.

If you compare the number of rinks in Belleville to a city of similar size like Cornwall, Ontario, the numbers are quite different.

Cornwall has nine outdoor rinks located in various city parks with seven of them currently up and running.

Cornwall’s Leisure Arts Coordinator Lorne Tallion said volunteers play the biggest factor in the maintenance of the rinks.

“Without the volunteers, we wouldn’t have so many (rinks),” said Tallion, “but we (the city) do some of our own.”

Tallion also said the city supplies boards for the different park rinks but can see why Belleville would have a tough time with an outdoor rink.

A graduate of Loyalist, Tallion said the difference in climates between the two cities plays a factor.

“Their winters in Belleville are a little bit more tamer compared to here, so that could have something to do with it,” he said.

Local historian and Belleville Councillor Egerton Boyce also mentioned a warmer winter climate wasn’t exactly on their side when it comes ideal rink temperatures.

“Historically, back in the 80’s, we did have a few ice rinks in various parks,” said Boyce, “As the climate was getting warmer, we found that we weren’t able to keep up with the rinks.”

Back in 2004 and 2005, Boyce said the city set up an oval rink by Zwick’s Island, but the water’s undercurrent was creating ice issues.

Boyce also mentioned many people in the city are inquiring about more places to skate in the city. Boyce wants council to find a solution.

Recognizing the fact that not everyone is interested in playing hockey, Boyce has inquired to city workers about rinks for recreational skaters.

“I sent out an email to our recreation department asking them to explore more ideas of rinks where people can skate, not necessarily play hockey,” Boyce said.

Good news for skating enthusiasts.

Archives find new home at Belleville Public Library

Boxes waiting to be explored sit on one of the tables inside the Hastings Heritage Centre. Photo by Cam Kennedy

By Cam Kennedy

BELLEVILLE – The historical archives of Belleville and Hastings County will have a new million dollar home at the of 2015.

Renovations will be made to the Belleville Public Library to house the archives that contain the history of Belleville and Hastings County.

Hastings County and the City of Belleville will each donate $500,000 while the Hastings County Historical Society will chip in with $250,000.

A property at 315 Church Street was originally purchased in 2009 to house the archives with the society committed to raising funds towards renovating the building.

However, the site was deemed unsuitable to host the over 50,000 photographs and thousands of documents that would be on display.

The Church Street property has since been put up for sale. The money from the sale of the property will be put towards the library renovations which are slated to be done later this year.

Canadian Forces deploys medical specialists to Sierra Leone

By Cam Kennedy

TRENTON – A Canadian Forces medical unit deployed to Sierra Leone early Thursday morning from Canadian Forces Base Trenton.

The purpose of the mission is to help combat Ebola, the virus that has killed more than 8,800 people in West Africa.

Before the team’s arrival in Sierra Leone, they will travel to the U.K. for further training to help prevent the group from contracting the virus.

During the final briefing before takeoff, Lieutenant General David Millar offered some final words of encouragement for the group.

“It is a real pleasure to be here, to send you off on what is about to be a tremendous life experience for all of you,” Millar said. “You as the Canadian Forces members, you as our medical specialists, are about to go do something absolutely terrific in a part of the world that needs you.”

Captain Kim Grimard is one of the 33 men and women who will provide aid in Sierra Leone and she felt the training they will receive will provide a safer experience.

“I feel excited and a bit nervous but I know the training that we will be receiving in England will reduce the risk of us getting the Ebola virus,” Grimard said. “It will get us ready for deployment.”

The mission is expected to last approximately 2 months.

Final handshakes before deployment to Sierra Leone

Nurses union condemns 39 layoffs as part of budget cuts

hospital-frontBy Cam Kennedy

BELLEVILLE – Patients will suffer under a proposal to cut 39 jobs from local hospitals, the head of the provincial nurses union predicted Wednesday.

Thirty-nine union positions are under threat in Belleville, Trenton, Picton and Bancroft after Quinte Health Care announced major budget.

QHC announced a number of proposed changes as part of its overall plans to cut costs by $5 million for the upcoming fiscal year. The hospital plan also also increases the role of nursing staff, changes to the use of beds, and reductions in administration staff, according to a press release.

Chief Executive Officer Mary Clare Egberts confirmed there will be fewer registered nursing hours per patient, but the job will be done by others. And, in the end, the patients will get the same or more support.

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But Vicki McKenna, provincial vice-president of the Ontario Nurses Association, said despite no final decisions being made on who is being cuts, nursing staff will suffer. She laid the blame at the feet of the administration, saying enough already.

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McKenna said the cuts will be made to nursing staff in the medical units in Belleville, Trenton and Picton, as well as the intensive care units, operating rooms in the emergency departments and the rehabilitation departments.

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However, hospital officials say some of the job cuts will come from attrition, retirements and reassignment, said Susan Rowe, senior director of communications for Quinte Health Care, in a press release.

Before anything is finalized in the next few weeks, union leaders from Ontario Nurses Association, the Ontario Public Services Employees Union, Service Employees International Union and Unifor will have time to respond to the cutbacks to give alternative proposals to minimize the impact on individuals, she said in a press release. The hospital must finalize its budget by April 1.

McKenna said the consultations means little and nursing staff will be affected. This means patients will be affected, as well.

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However, Egbert said admitted it was a hard day.

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Public education is the next key step, Egbert said. The hospital will take the next 18 months to explain the changes and how they will work.

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The hospital received $3.5 million in one-time funding was given to QHC by Ontario’s Health Ministry last week.

Going forward, the proposal has registered nurses, registered practical nurses and personal support workers playing a larger role in a team–based model of patient care, said Rowe in a press release. This means the nurses will provide additional services when it comes to planning patient care, counselling and other services.

Quinte Health Care has already made $7 million in budget cuts. Over the past 3 years, QHC has removed a total of $20 million in costs. This came after a new funding formula implemented by the Ministry of Heath to help create a more sustainable health care system and reduce the deficit.

Quinte Health Care has 1800 staff members and 320 medical staff for region of 160,000 residents. QHC provides a number of services including inpatient services, four emergency departments, children’s treatment center and community mental health programs in Trenton, Bancroft, Picton and Belleville.

Full interview with Ontario Nurses Association Vice-President Vicki McKenna

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Full interview with Quinte Health Care Chief Executive Officer Mary Clare Egberts

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Police station relocation a hot topic

The Belleville Farigrounds is one site that Kelly McCaw feels would be a great site for the new Belleville police station. Photo by Cam Kennedy

By Cam Kennedy

BELLEVILLE – Locations for a new police station are currently being tossed around by Belleville city council once again.

The decision-making process is one that has proven to be difficult.

A site on Station Street was designated and  the subject of negotiations, according to councillor Mitch Panciuk, .

But unbeknownst to Panciuk, as well as councillor Kelly McCaw, another unidentified site was abruptly thrown in the mix of possible locations. Since this is a property matter involving the purchase of sale of land by the city, under the Municipal Act, it’s locations cannot be revealled. Now, both are concerned with the sudden addition.

“Arbitrarily, out of nowhere, another site was added to the mix.  My point is, that can’t happen,” Panciuk said. “I can’t add a site, neither can anyone else on council.”

With the new site being added, it was a surprise to McCaw as well to discover the information through the local news media.

“I would like to be informed within (council) rather than without (after reading in the media),” she said.

McCaw also added she would like to discuss sites talked about the previous term’s council.

“I hope that the new council has an opportunity to weigh in on the decision and consider all the sites,” McCaw said. “Even some of the previous sites that we weren’t aware of because we were not on council. Maybe we could bring some of those forward and reanalyze them to see if perhaps they would be a suitable site.”

Council did decide on a site, located on Station Street, as recommended for the site selection committee to review.

However, it was the owners of this site who were unaware of the negotiations that would take place, Panciuk said.

“The site that the city directed to staff to negotiate with, the people that own it were telling us that  they hadn’t even been contacted,” he said.

If negotiations fall through with the Station Street, McCaw said other sites could be considered.

“There is no argument that the Ben Blecker fairgrounds site would be an excellent site should the initial site not pan out,” McCaw said. “But without information, it is hard to know.”

But the lack of information is what concerns McCaw the most.

“I think we (council), need to be informed, equally informed, and not surprised by things in the media,” she said. “It leaves me feeling in the dark on some issues.”

As both Panciuk and McCaw are newcomers to city council. McCaw would like to gain a sense of where things were left off after last year’s election.

“It would be really helpful to sit down with everyone and have a conversation and know exactly where things are, where things were and where we are going to go.”