Everyday, for 12 days, tbnewswatch.com will be taking a look back at the news stories that had our attention throughout 2012. Here are some of the top stories published in November:
Minister of Natural Resources Michael Gravelle announced he was diagnosed with lymphoma on Nov. 19. The longtime MPP for Thunder Bay-Superior North went public with his diagnosis surrounded by family, friends and colleagues at his local constituency office. The 63-year-old said despite plans to undergo chemotherapy treatment, he would remain on the job both in the riding and at Queen’s Park. His oncologist told him he has a treatable form of cancer and Gravelle is confident he can still get the job done.
The province announced on Nov. 1 that it would temporarily halt the conversion of the Thunder Bay Generating Station from coal to natural gas. Energy Minister Chris Bentley told tbnewswatch.com that the Ontario Power Authority is looking at other ways to provide the region’s power needs and save about $400 million in the process. In previous interviews Ontario Power Generation officials have stated if the conversion plan was not approved, the plant would have to be shuttered, making it unlikely to operate again in the future.
City council voted 11-2 at the Nov. 26 meeting in favour of the recommendation to have the 5,700-seat event centre in the north core. Only councillors Larry Hebert and Linda Rydholm voted against the recommendation. Hebert had asked council to delay the decision so they could focus on flood relief, while Rydholm said she couldn’t support it because she needed more information. The approval means the city can move forward onto Phase 3 of the project and start seeking funding from the federal and provincial governments.
A second class-action lawsuit was filed against the city related to the May 28 flood. The Toronto-based law firm Adair Morse LLP filed the $510 million lawsuit. The three claimants say the city’s alleged negligence during the floods resulted in the Atlantic Avenue Secondary Sewage Treatment Plant shutting down, which led to damaged homes across the East End. The three residents, all of whom live in the East End, claim the treatment plant shut down because of a single pump failure and the four other available pumps were not used during the storm. The Watkins Law firm filed a claim of $320 million in June, which also accuses the city of negligence.
An 11-year-old boy was allegedly attacked by a dog in Tarbutt Park on Nov. 17. The boy climbed over hockey boards at the Westfort park, unaware there were dogs in an enclosed rink area and was allegedly attacked. The animal's owner told the boy the dog was not vicious and then left the park without helping him. He required 65 stitches to his face. Thunder Bay Police Service officers charged a 56-year-old-man with criminal negligence causing bodily harm. Ron Bourret, manager of the city’s licensing and enforcement division, said they will be asking the courts to euthanize the dog, believed to be a boxer, and slapping a substantial fine on the owner in the range of $5,000 to $10,000.
Job sanctions began at local high schools at midnight on Nov. 12 after closed-door negotiations between the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation and the local school boards broke down. Several unions in education had been protesting the controversial Bill 115 passed in September, which they say removed their right to collective bargaining. On Nov. 22, OSSTF and Lakehead Public Schools had reached a tentative agreement and job sanctions were lifted. But then talks were postponed the following week and the sanctions were reinstated on Nov. 28.
Thunder Bay Police Service officers charged 30-year-old Ashley Rheal Shabogomik Nov. 14 in connection to a fatal hit-and-run that led to the death of 60-year-old Joyce Ryan in October 2011. It’s alleged that Shabogomik drove a stolen truck through a stop sign and collided with the passenger side door of a car traveling down Victoria Avenue. Both Ryan and her husband, Phil, who was driving the car, were taken to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. Ryan died in hospital and Phil received serious injuries.
This year has been tough on local charities. On Nov. 27, the United Way announced they were anticipating a $95,000 shortfall for their 2012 campaign, which a goal of more than $2.6 million. Christmas Cheer said they’d be working with a $27,000 shortfall from last year, leaving the hampers with a couple less items of food for this year’s holiday. And by Nov. 30, the Thunder Bay Disaster Relief Committee had raised $1.17 million with just two months left to reach their $5 million goal. United Way campaign chairwoman Carol Busch said she believed donor fatigue and workplace downsizing in the city were the causes for the anticipated shortfall.
The sculptors of 10 granite balloon animals on display at the waterfront were in the city in late November to fix the heads of their artwork as more than half had been damaged by vandals. Originally installed in the fall of 2011, the artists have now been back to Thunder Bay twice to fix the sculptures. The art was reinstalled near Pier 1. The city hopes better lighting and security in that area will detract people from vandalizing the sculptures again.
Council unanimously voted in favour of rezoning the former Oliver Road School into a home base for Crossroads Centre Inc. at the Nov. 19 meeting. The school was picked for the alcohol and drug transitional recovery home because it offered the recovery program additional space and an increased bed capacity. The home offers beds for 28 people who are sober and have already completed a short-term residential treatment program. The program had moved into the LPH temporary while looking for a more permanent spot. No one voiced any opposition to the rezoning at the council meeting.