region returns to orange-Restrict Level after lockdown
On Feb. 12, the Ontario government announced that the Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) region will transition from the province-wide shutdown into the strengthened COVID-19 response framework. The transition took effect yesterday (Feb. 16) at 12:01 a.m., at which time the stay-at-home order will also end.
In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and as approved by Cabinet, Huron-Perth will be in the Orange-Restrict level of the framework. The region was in this level before the province-wide shutdown. While most measures in the framework are the same, there are new requirements for retail settings.
“The restrictions that were in place over the past month have been difficult for everyone, but they were necessary to bring case numbers down. Together, Huron-Perth residents have done a great job,” said Medical Officer of Health for HPPH, Dr. Miriam Klassen. “I’m pleased that residents will have more social and economic opportunities, which are needed for health and wellbeing. However, I caution that the end of the stay-at-home order is not a reopening or a return to normal. The COVID-19 situation is still serious, especially with the risk of new variants. I strongly advise everyone to continue following public health measures: stay at home, avoid social gatherings, only travel between regions for essential purposes, and limit close contacts to your household or those you live with. If cases increase again, it may be necessary to apply an ‘emergency brake’ - moving our region back into Grey-Lockdown.”
Remember to also wash hands often, maintain 2 Ms (6 ft) of physical distance from others, wear a mask indoors in businesses and public spaces, and stay home when sick to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Everyone must stay the course to keep case numbers down, to protect hospitals and vulnerable citizens, and to allow schools and businesses to function successfully.
The province’s strengthened COVID-19 response framework can be found here: www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-response-framework-keeping-ontario-safe-and-open.
Capturing wealth in rural communities subject of webinaR
Dr. Ryan Gibson (Submitted photo)
Inaugural speaker, Dr. Ryan Gibson, successfully kicked off Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health’s (Gateway) most recent development ー The Gateway College Lecture Series.
Dr. Gibson’s presentation on Rural Wealth and Prosperity highlighted the considerable wealth that small towns and rural areas hold and the potential this presents to create vibrant rural communities. The discussion explored the key question: “How can wealth in rural regions be mobilized to advance rural prosperity?”
As an Associate Libro Professor in Regional Economic Development at the University of Guelph, Dr. Gibson shared his innovative experiences surrounding rural health and strategies for capturing this wealth in rural communities. There is significant value in utilizing place-based, community-owned endowments as a mechanism to support long-term prosperity and facilitate rural revitalization and sustainability. Investing in charities offers an opportunity to create “community bank accounts” to collect and redistribute this wealth to allow rural communities to be self-sustaining in the new global economy, while advancing local priorities. The Oxford Community Foundation in Woodstock and Sunset Community Foundation in Grand Bend are great examples of this.
Four panelists joined in on the discussion with Dr. Gibson, providing insight on their own community’s wealth and prosperity strategies. Executive Director of the Oxford Community Foundation, Louise Wardrop recounted her experiences working in a rural community foundation and the importance of local distribution of funds. Marty Rops, Regional manager for the Huron Perth region with Libro Credit Union expressed his perspective on rural wealth and the goal of contributing to and expanding prosperity among Huron and Perth counties. Warden of Huron County, Glenn MacNeil, who is also the Mayor of the Township of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh, discussed possible approaches to capturing and mobilizing the wealth in Huron County. And Tom Prout, director of Sunset Community Foundation in Grand Bend discussed his experiences with his community foundation, its structure and governance.
Reflecting on the presentation, Gateway’s President, Gwen Devereaux, stated, “During the hour of power, all of the attendees were given the opportunity to dream of the vast potential local, not-for-profit organizations have when provided with additional resources from their own rural community.”
Gateway is fortunate to have Dr. Gibson as the Research Chair of Rural Economic Development, to provide strategies and skills for understanding and mobilizing the economic opportunities that are available for rural, not-for-profit organizations, such as Gateway. It is crucial to recognize the significant value in investing in one’s own community and the importance in cooperation among local organizations to build stronger and more vibrant rural communities.
Dr. Gibson expressed his experience of the presentation, stating, “The Gateway lecture series is a wonderful event - we shared ideas, had a great discussion, and I am hoping it serves as a catalyst for new ideas and actions. I truly enjoyed the opportunity to share information and join panelists from across rural Ontario to discuss experiences in rural wealth and prosperity.”
Gateway would like to thank the sponsors of this event, CIBC Wealth Management, Larry Otten Contracting and Bruce Power, as well as the ongoing support from the community.
Anyone interested in attending the next free, virtual, one-hour, lecture-webinar on Tuesday, March 2nd, starting at noon is asked to visit Gateway’s website to register: www.gatewayruralhealth.ca/lecture-series.html.
Research Project to explore Huron County's Food Landscape
Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health (Gateway) is partnering with Libro Credit Union (Libro) to explore how to stay local. Libro’s financial contribution of $56,800 will be used to support the research project, “How to Stay Local - Exploring Huron County’s Food Landscape”.
In reducing food insecurity and building a vibrant local food economy Gateway and Libro will help raise residents’ awareness towards local food in Huron County, most notably the diversity and accessibility of local food.
This project will consist of a two-year study of Huron County’s food landscape that will help bring awareness of local food in Huron County. It will profile the producers of local foods who are engaged in the marketing and the sale of local foods and determine their motivations for doing so. It will also identify patrons who utilize local food and recognize barriers to accessing local foods. The project also aims to create a knowledge translation strategy allowing similar projects to be carried out in additional rural areas, and impact policy at the county and/or provincial level to improve food accessibility for vulnerable individuals.
According to Statistics Canada, during 2020, it was reported that one in seven Canadians experienced food insecurity and with the financial instability felt by many residents due to the pandemic this project should be a welcome addition to Huron County.
To capture this snapshot of Huron County’s food landscape, Gateway will be developing and implementing Huron-wide surveys that explore the scope and accessibility of local foods in Huron County. Gateway will complement their survey findings through interviews with local food producers and Huron residents.
“Libro is committed to supporting our communities now and well into the future - it is part of our DNA. We’re excited to learn more about the current landscape of food accessibility in Huron County and believe that this partnership will be a catalyst to continue strengthening our local food systems,” said Marty Rops, Huron-Perth Regional manager, Libro Credit Union.
Libro has deep roots in agriculture and continue to support more than 3,200 farm and agri-business owners in southwestern Ontario. Local Food Accessibility is one of Libro’s key focus areas and one of the biggest challenges facing the region.
The Gateway Team members implementing this project will be: Leslie Walker, Grace Bonnett and Sam Murray.
“The Gateway Team, under the guidance of Al Lauzon, Gateway’s Chair of Rural Change and Design and professor in the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development at Guelph University, feel this is a great project to assist our local producers. Also, this project will be of assistance for those among us who may be struggling to find healthy local produce. With the arrival of COVID-19 we realize supporting our local producers has never been as important. We appreciate the opportunity Libro Credit Union has given us to make a difference,” said Gwen Devereaux, president of the Gateway Board of Directors.
Leslie Walker (Submitted photos)
Leslie Walker has recently joined Gateway as a Research Associate and is excited to apply her metrics-based approach on Libro's Food Accessibility Project. She is pursuing her Doctorate of Social and Economic Sciences at the Vienna University of Technology after working globally as a Management Consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for the past four years.
Grace Bonnett has returned to Gateway as a research student, focusing on the Libro Food Accessibility Project. Having recently graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science, Bonnett is looking forward to applying her evidence-based knowledge to local research and pursuing her passion of promoting rural health equity.
Sam Murray is a recent graduate of Trent University, where he completed his Honours BSc in Biology with specializations in Health Sciences and Education. Murray comes from a Huron County farming family and will therefore be able to contribute aspects of both his academic and personal backgrounds to this project. In the future, Murray hopes to pursue a career in the medical field and is excited to be involved in research focused on advancing the health of rural residents through improved access to local food.
Local food producers that would be interested in participating in this study are asked to please phone Gateway at 519 612-1053 or email: email@example.com.
INPUT REQUESTED FOR PROPOSED SHORELINE POLICY CHANGES
The Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) Board of Directors invites the public to provide written comments on some proposed shoreline policy changes related to shore protection structures in regulated dynamic beach areas. The proposed policy changes do not apply to all shoreline areas but only beaches classified as dynamic.
The loss and buildup of sand is a natural part of the shoreline process in a dynamic beach area but recent high lake levels have made the loss of sand more pronounced. In areas where some landowners have previously existing shore protection structures, some neighboring landowners have also requested permits. The proposed policy changes are, in part, a response to this, to make it possible to consider approval of shore protection structures for those property owners in those areas.
“Policies in bluff areas do not change and most policies in dynamic beach areas stay exactly the same,” said ABCA Water and Planning Manager, Geoffrey Cade. “The only changes are to policies related to new shore protection structures, and maintenance or replacement of old ones, in regulated dynamic beach areas.”
The ABCA Board of Directors has approved release of the proposed policies to the public for written comments prior to consideration for approval. ABCA is receiving public written comments on the proposed changes until Friday, March 5. To review the proposed policy changes, and to provide written comments, visit abca.ca and this web page link: www.abca.ca/planning/shoreline-2021/
The Huron Perth Public Health website is updated regularly with confirmed case counts received.
“Our online case reporting is not a real-time tool but is meant to keep the community informed on trends we are seeing,” explains Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Miriam Klassen.
For the latest statistics on COVID-19 cases in Huron and Perth Counties please visit: www.hpph.ca
Conservationist of the Year
Do you know a person, business, farm, community group, or organization doing work that protects water, soil, and habitat for living things in Ausable Bayfield watersheds? If so, you are invited to nominate them for the Conservationist of the Year Award.
Award nominations may be submitted until Feb. 24.
“The year 2021 is the 75th anniversary of our conservation authority and, on this special year, we are proud to once again present this award,” said Doug Cook, chair of the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) Board of Directors. “This is just one way we can say ‘thank you’ to some of our participating local stewards who help to protect your water and soil resources and to improve forest and wetland conditions.”
To submit a nomination, visit abca.ca for the nomination form and award information. The nomination form is found on this web page link: www.abca.ca/community
People may also email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
ABCA has recognized outstanding achievements in conservation, each year since 1984, with conservation awards. Past award winners have included rural landowners and residents, agricultural producers and farms, service clubs, community organizations, companies, nature groups and municipalities.
Sunset Community Foundation
On Feb. 9, Sunset Community Foundation (Sunset CF) announced they will be part of an initiative to provide $1.3 Million across Southwestern Ontario to transform public spaces in response to COVID-19.
This funding is part of the Government of Canada’s new $31 million Healthy Communities
Initiative. This investment by the federal government will support community-led organizations in developing local, small-scale infrastructure projects that respond to the immediate needs arising from COVID-19, while building towards a more pandemic-resilient future.
“We’re very excited to be part of this program,” said Deb Gill, chair of the Sunset CF. “As our region faces increased isolation due to COVID-19, the Healthy Communities Initiative will help our communities to connect safely, promoting the mental and physical well-being of all residents. I know there will be all kinds of creative ideas to make this happen.”
The Southwestern Ontario Hub is being co-led by Windsor Essex Community Foundation, Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation and London Community Foundation, in partnership with Aylmer Area Community Foundation, Sarnia Community Foundation and Sunset CF supported by Centre Wellington Community Foundation and Dufferin Community Foundation.
Starting now, organizations are invited to apply for funding between $5,000 and $250,000 to
lead projects that help create safe and vibrant public spaces, improve mobility options, and
provide digital solutions to help their neighborhoods or communities navigate the pandemic and look to build back better in the COVID-19 recovery.
This could include projects to adapt crosswalks and access to public transport to allow for safe physical distancing, to create community gardens and art installations, and to provide free WIFI in targeted public spaces. A variety of community-led organizations are eligible to apply, including local governments, charities, Indigenous communities, and registered non-profit organizations.
Funding will be distributed in two rounds. The Southwestern Ontario Hub has approximately $537,000 available in the first round, and $806,000 available in the second round. There is also a national funding application available in both rounds.
The application period for the first round of funding closes on March 9 at 5 p.m. A second application period for funding will take place starting in May.
To learn more, including how to apply for funding, visit www.sunsetcommunityfoundation.ca
For more information, please contact Executive Director of the Sunset Community Foundation, Pat Morden, by calling 519 619-8630 or via email: email@example.com.
On Feb. 11, Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) released the Huron Perth COVID-19 vaccine implementation plan overview, based on the model of “bringing vaccines to people”.
“Huron-Perth is a large geographic area with small populations distributed throughout,” said Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Miriam Klassen. “We are committed to providing vaccinations equitably across Huron-Perth for everyone who wants to be vaccinated and want to remove as many barriers as possible. Given these factors, the model that made the most sense was to bring vaccines to people instead of people to vaccines.”
The Huron-Perth model will rely on the Three Ms: mass vaccination clinics, mobile clinics and multiple sites and partners.
As vaccine supply increases and becomes more stable during Phases Two and Three of the three-phase provincial plan, mass vaccination clinics and smaller-scale community clinics will take place across Huron and Perth. Planning is underway to determine community clinic sites across both counties.
Mobile clinics will also be used where groups are experiencing significant barriers such as transportation.
Multiple sites across both counties will ensure geographic reach; HPPH is prepared to scale up vaccinations by activating more clinics and extending hours if supplies increase. Tentative hub locations are Wingham, Clinton, Goderich, Exeter, Listowel, Stratford, St. Marys, Milverton, Mitchell and Seaforth; these locations also align with primary care partners who are prepared to provide support.
The goal of HPPH and partners is to vaccinate at least 75 per cent of the eligible population in Huron Perth as quickly and safely as possible. All vaccines will be administered in accordance with provincial guidance and the provincial ethical framework.
Eligible recipients in Huron Perth are currently those 16 years or older, without a medical contra-indication, who want to receive the vaccine.
Huron-Perth’s plan builds on former Huron County Health Unit and Perth District Health Unit mass vaccination plans, leveraging existing community partnerships and vaccine program implementation expertise for effective and efficient vaccine roll-out.
“The Huron-Perth COVID vaccination model is possible because of enthusiastic and dedicated partners who have offered their resources to make mass vaccinations happen throughout Huron and Perth, reaching as many people as possible,” said Dr. Klassen.
HPPH and partners continue to collaborate through the Huron Perth Mass Vaccination Advisory Committee (HPMVAC). The HPMVAC has representatives from HPPH, the Huron Perth and Area Ontario Health Team, representing more than 60 organizations including, but not limited to: hospital, paramedics, primary care, community and home care, Mental Health and Addictions Services, long-term care as well as developmental services, municipalities and community pharmacy.
Ontario is in Phase One of the province’s three-phase vaccination plan. Phase One focuses on four priority populations including long-term care; from Jan. 12-27, there were 1,459 first doses administered in Huron-Perth long-term care homes and high-risk retirement homes. Last week, HPPH continued to give second doses to residents of long-term care homes and high-risk retirement homes in accordance with current Ministry direction.
Staff, residents and essential caregivers of these facilities remain the priority population and the province will continue to provide direction on who receives the next doses of vaccine that arrive. HPPH also continues to work as a regional group with Middlesex London Health Unit, Southwestern Public Health and London Health Sciences Centre for regional vaccine distribution.
Vaccine supplies remain limited at the moment. Although planning is underway for Phases Two and Three, there is no waiting list to receive the vaccine. Groups are prioritized based on the provincial distribution plan and ethical framework; as vaccines become available those groups will be contacted.
“The important thing to remember is that everyone who wants to be vaccinated will be vaccinated,” said Dr. Klassen. “We will be sharing information regularly and widely on who can get vaccinated next, and how to get vaccinated, especially as vaccines become more widely available in the next few months through Phase Two and Phase Three.”
Phase Two of the provincial vaccine rollout is anticipated to begin in late spring. Phase Three, when vaccine is widely available to anyone who wants to be immunized, is expected to begin in late summer. These timelines are dependent on vaccine availability.
During those phases HPPH and partners will be sharing information widely on who is eligible to receive the vaccine and how to get it. This will include targeted outreach through organizations and facilities, as well as mass media, print, and social media.
To learn more about the Huron Perth COVID-19 vaccination plan, visit www.hpph.ca/vaccine and subscribe to the page to receive page updates.
People often ask if they can add an engraved brick to the path around the Splash Pad in Clan Gregor Square and members of the Optimist Club of Bayfield are pleased to announce that there is further opportunity to have a name added to the circle in 2021.
The engraved pavers in Clan Gregor Square are a reminder of how great area residents and visitors are when it comes to supporting such projects as the Playground and the Splash Pad.
“In Memoriam” stones for loved ones as well as “just because” stones can be ordered with the work being done on site later in 2021 using the same two brick sizes that are already installed around the Splash Pad. The cost of these engraved bricks will be medium, $70; and large, $90. The plan is to have the bricks engraved in late May and/or early June.
Anyone with an interest in adding a brick can contact Mike Dixon via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 519 955-5254 for further information.