Peterborough’s new council makes no move to scrap PDI sale to Hydro One – Peterborough

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Although several councillors campaigned on a promise saying they would scrap the sale of Peterborough Distribution Inc., to Hydro One, it appears that fight is over.

After Monday night’s general committee meeting saw a report and update on the state of the sale, not one councillor or the mayor pushed for a motion to kill the deal.


READ MORE:
Peterborough council to get update regarding PDI sale to Hydro One

“I didn’t vote, for example in favour of the site plans for the casino, but it’s there now and we make the best of it,” said Peterborough Mayor Diane Therrien, who previously voted against the sale of the PDI, the city-owned electrical distribution arm of Peterborough Utilities.

“I spoke out against the deal when it was happening but you have to recognize that sometimes things don’t always go your way and you still have to make the best of the situation and use those funds in the best possible way for the community.”

Council and city staff met for an hour-long closed-door meeting prior to Monday night’s general committee session and when all sides emerged there was no talk to about the cost or possible litigation that might come from backing away from the sale.

It was back in December, at the first council meeting following the election, where Ashburnham councillor Keith Riel made a motion to request a report from staff to update council on where the deal stood between the city and Hydro One and what the cost would be to scrap the deal if council decided to do so.

But Riel said nothing during Monday night’s meeting about PDI, this despite Peterborough Utilities president and CEO John Stephenson being in attendance and taking some questions.


READ MORE:
PDI sold to Hydro One for $105 million

Councillor Stephen Wright, who campaigned against the sale, and councillor Gary Baldwin were the only ones to publicly ask Stephenson about the sale.

“The report that we are seeing here in public really only advocates for the sale of PDI,” said Baldwin. “But are there any benefits to keeping PDI?”

“There are pros and cons to keeping it as we examined it and there are pros and cons to the path we are proposing,” said Stephenson, who also told council the dividends or profits PDI was paying back to the city were shrinking.

Five years ago Stephenson said the chunk of profits coming back to the city was around $1.1 million, whereas today the profits have shrunk to somewhere around $700,000 and he says the electrical supply business is a changing landscape.


READ MORE:
Sale of Peterborough Distribution Inc. to Hydro One resumes as both sides agree to further discussions

According to city CAO Sandra Clancy’s report, the city and Peterborough Utilities’ board have sunk more than $3.4 million into negotiating the sale of PDI to Hydro One and all the sides are working together to get the sale completed.

At this point, the application for sale is before the Ontario Energy Board who have last say of approval and it’s expected a decision by the OEB will come sometime early in the fall of 2019.

Hydro One has agreed to buy PDI from the city for $105 million, and once the city pays off the debt it owes, it’s expected the sale will net close $55 million, which the city plans to invest.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Small explosions’ start scrap yard fire in East Vancouver – BC

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A second alarm fire in an East Vancouver scrap yard began with a series of small explosions before spreading to a neighboring commercial building Monday night.

That blaze, which Vancouver Fire Chief Darrell Reid described in a tweet as “difficult to access”, was brought under control by about 11 pm.

Reid tweeted that the blazes in the 1900 block of Triumph Street near Powell and Victoria attracted a large number of police and fire units to the scene, and a large number of onlookers as well.

There were no injuries. The cause of the fires is under investigation.

Powell is closed from Semlin Drive to Salsbury, and Victoria is closed from Powell to Triumph, while fire crews clean up.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Trans advocates want VPL to scrap event featuring controversial feminist

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An upcoming talk at the Vancouver Public Library is stirring debate over LGBTQ rights and the the limits of free speech.

The event features feminist speaker Meghan Murphy, the editor of Feminist Current, who has been permanently banned from Twitter.

The January talk, slated for the VPL’s central branch, is billed as a discussion on gender identity and women’s rights.


READ MORE:
Being transgender no longer a mental-health condition: WHO

Murphy’s writing on sex and gender — particularly questioning whether people can change their biological sex and arguing that “men aren’t women” — has drawn condemnation from trans advocates, earning her the label of “TERF” (trans exclusive radical feminist) from some quarters.

“What does it mean to be transgender, how does a man become a woman? How does a person change sex? What is a trans woman?” Murphy asked Global News.

“I feel like these are basic questions I want to talk about because again, I find this conversation and this ideology really incoherent.”

But Murphy rejects the notion her ideas are hurtful.

“Feminists are not going around attacking trans people. We would never do that. We’re not against trans-identified people. Again, we’re just trying to have this conversation,” she said.

WATCH: B.C. teen’s journey to becoming a transgender activist






Murphy attributes her recent ban from Twitter to a new policy against something called “dead-naming.” That refers to calling someone by a gender other than which they identify, such as referring to Kylie Jenner as “he.”


READ MORE:
Senate passes Bill C-16 which defends transgender rights

The planned event has drawn a flurry of opposition.

Opponents have launched a petition calling for the VPL to remove Vancouver police “safe place” signage that indicates the library is a hate and harassment-free environment for LGBTQ people if it won’t cancel the talk.

LGBTQ advocacy group Qmunity is also calling on the library to scrap the event, arguing that hosting it is as good as promoting Murphy’s ideas.

“In providing a platform for Murphy’s hateful views, the VPL is tacitly endorsing these views,” wrote the group in a Facebook post. 

“I would say that her banning from Twitter was about much more than dead-naming,” said Heather Wong-Mitchell with Qmunity.

“It’s about words that contribute to a climate of hatred, discrimination, violence and fear on the part of trans people.”

Former provincial NDP-candidate and trans advocate Morgane Oger has also been vocal in calling for the event to be scrapped, arguing, “There’s a difference between sharing ideas and inciting discrimination.”

In response to the brewing controversy, the VPL chief librarian Christina de Castell has released a statement saying the library has no plans to cancel the event, despite recognizing that Murphy’s views are “concerning.”

“VPL is not endorsing, or hosting this event; it is a rental of our public space,” reads the statement.

“VPL has zero tolerance for discrimination and does not agree with the views of the Feminist Current. However, commitment to free speech and intellectual freedom are fundamental values of public libraries and are bedrock values for democratic society.”

The statement further adds that the library has no standing to cancel an event” or otherwise censor speech that is otherwise permissible under Canadian law.”

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart also raised concerns about the content of the talk, but said Friday it would be inappropriate for the city to intervene.


READ MORE:
‘No room for discrimination’ says Education Minister, school groups, amid dueling SOGI protests

“Although I find it despicable and it’s not something I support at all, part of living in a free society is a right to free speech as well,” he said.

“If it was classified as a hate crime officially then of course we we would take different actions, but at this point I’ve been apprised it doesn’t so the talk will go ahead.”

Murphy’s event is scheduled for Jan. 10.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Students want Ontario to scrap special minimum wage that is lower than that paid to adults

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Ontario is the only province in Canada to have a minimum wage for young workers that is lower than the minimum wage for adults — and Grade 12 student Taamara Thanaraj isn’t happy that a scheduled increase to that rate may soon be frozen.

She was one of a group of 30 students who gathered under drizzly skies at Yonge and Bloor Sts. Friday to protest Bill 47, provincial legislation that, if passed, will result in significant rollbacks to labour protections recently enacted including increases to the general minimum wage and the subminimum wage for students.

“Right now, minimum wage is not a livable wage for a lot of people, especially for parents. That’s why a lot of young people do work,” said Thanaraj, who attends the Scarborough Academy of Technological, Environmental and Computer Education at William Arnot Porter Collegiate Institute.

Bill 47 will keep the general minimum wage at $14 an hour, but cancel an increase to $15 scheduled for January. It will also cancel a scheduled bump from $13.15 to $14.10 an hour for students’ minimum wage.

Employers in Ontario are not required to pay the general minimum wage to students under 18 who work part-time during school or work during a school break or the summer holidays.

“Ontario is the only province in Canada with a lower minimum wage for students, and those (provinces) that previously had a lower rate eliminated them years ago,” the report said.

“In our view, the impact of the provision is discriminatory, and, although the Human Rights Code effectively permits discrimination of those under 18, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not.”

Thanaraj said she helped organize Friday’s protest to advocate for young people — and to send a message to government that they deserve equal treatment.

“The government is assuming that because you’re a younger person, you don’t have financial responsiblities. But that’s such a generalization, because most young people are saving up for post-secondary opportunities,” she said.

According to the Ministry of Labour’s policy manual, the rationale for the exemption is “to facilitate the employment of younger persons,” who may struggle to compete for jobs with older students with more work experience.

Several business groups opposed removing the wage differential. These included the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association, which said, in its submission, to the review that requiring employers to pay students under 18 the general minimum wage “will have a huge impact on the overall business” and “will greatly affect youth employment.”

Documents obtained by the Star through a Freedom of Information request show Morley Gunderson, the CIBC Chair in Youth Employment at the University of Toronto, advised the review experts that “the evidence suggests that the sky will not fall in if the student subminimum (wage) is raised, although it may reduce their employment, perhaps by two per cent or so.”

The review recommended that government eliminate the lower student minimum wage over a three-year period, which the Liberals’ Bill 148 did not do. It did increase the base rate.

The Progressive Conservative provincial government has called Bill 148 “job-killing” legislation, and says its proposed replacement, Bill 47, will “make the province open for business, grow the economy and help create good jobs”

NDP MPP Jessica Bell, who addressed Friday’s protest, said Bill 47 serves “an economy of the rich.”

“Even if we’re not old enough to vote, that doesn’t mean we don’t understand our civic rights. Because we’re old enough to work,” added Thanaraj.

“It’s about more than just a $1 raise; it’s a fight against poverty and discrimination in the workplace.”

Sara Mojtehedzadeh is a Toronto-based reporter covering work and wealth. Follow her on Twitter: @saramojtehedz

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Saint John shaken by another explosion at scrap metal recycler

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As Saint John continues to deal with the aftermath of Monday’s fiery explosion at the Irving Oil refinery on the city’s east side, some residents were shaken Tuesday by another blast at the American Iron & Metal recycling plant on the west side.

Gary MacDonald says he was working in his uptown waterfront condo, located across the harbour from the scrap-metal shredding and export facility, around 2:20 p.m., when he felt « a dull thud » and heard his windows rattling.

He jumped up to look out his living room window and saw a telltale plume of white smoke rising from the American Iron & Metal, or AIM, site.

« For me it is becoming kind of a normal thing — and that’s not a good thing, » said MacDonald, who has witnessed several explosions at AIM in recent months, including a « significant » one on Sept. 14, which he described as sounding « like a stick of dynamite going off. »

Tuesday’s blast was « moderate » in comparison, he said, but similar to what he felt from Monday morning’s refinery explosion, which sent flames shooting an estimated 30 metres high and saw at least four contractors treated in hospital with minor injuries. 

« This is not right, » MacDonald said. « What do we do to address it and how can we address it in a reasonable fashion to satisfy everyone and protect the health and safety of residents? »

‘Infrequent impulse noise’

Port Saint John, which is leasing its federally owned land to AIM, confirmed there was a « small explosion completely contained within the shredder » at around 2:22 p.m.

AIM’s site manager Kevin Hughes described the incident as « an infrequent impulse noise that resulted from a contained single burst of pressure following the shredding of some material. »

« AIM is conscious that the city is on high-alert following the unfortunate explosion at the Irving Oil refinery yesterday, » Hughes said in an emailed statement.

We must find a new balance, where people can live, work and play here and not be negatively impacted by industrial activity.– Don Darling, Saint John mayor

« It is important to note that the equipment is designed to withstand the bursts of pressure and these bursts are not a threat to the public. »

Saint John Mayor Don Darling, who learned of the blast through CBC News, said he was « disappointed » to hear there was another incident at the facility.

City officials met with port representatives last week « with a goal of developing a new path forward, » he said.

« While we appreciate the industrial nature of our city, we must find a new balance, where people can live, work and play here and not be negatively impacted by industrial activity. »

When American Iron & Metal filed for approval to expand its west Saint John scrap recycling operation, the company’s consultants said it would have little impact on neighbours. (CBC)

Port Saint John continues to take the matter very seriously, said spokeswoman Paula Copeland.

Port officials are working with AIM to develop « robust protocols in terms of communication with appropriate officials as well as the public, » he said.

« In addition, all parties are aware of the urgent need to mitigate the impacts from AIM operations. »

Darling has said he plans to have « focused discussions » with industry officials and review communications plans following a string of incidents in the city.

Other incidents include the release of a mystery product from the refinery, and a butane leak at the refinery in January that forced 65 people from their homes for days.

Irving Oil officials are still trying to determine the exact cause of Monday’s explosion but believe it stemmed from a malfunction in a diesel-treating unit, which removes sulphur from diesel.

The company issued a statement Tuesday, saying « the refinery as a whole is safe and the specific site of the incident is isolated and contained. »

The last « flare-up » or re-ignition  occurred at 9 p.m. Monday, according to Saint John EMO officials.

No air quality issues have been detected and crews working on the « turnaround » maintenance project were expected to be back on the site Tuesday night.

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