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2013-12-29 at 10:57

Look back: December

By Matt Vis,
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Thunder Bay--Superior North MP Bruce Hyer doubled the Green Party’s federal caucus when he crossed the floor. Hyer made the announcement on Dec. 13 along with party leader Elizabeth May in Thunder Bay. He had served as an independent since leaving the NDP in 2012.

The province unveiled its long-term energy plan on Dec. 2, with the region facing a 33 per cent hike in energy rates over the next three years, and projected energy costs rising 2.8 per cent over the next 20 years. Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli responded to concerns about region’s energy demands, saying power “is going to be there when they need it.” 

The James Street Swing Bridge will spend at least another three months without vehicular traffic. CN Rail, the company that owns the bridge, announced on Dec. 5 that there would be no repair work done until at least early in the new year. Thunder Bay mayor Keith Hobbs said he is exploring short-term solutions while trying to engage governments towards getting the ball rolling on new infrastructure.

The arrival of winter weather turned area roadways treacherous and deadly. The OPP responded to 46 motor vehicle collisions on area highways on Dec. 15 alone, including a fatal single-vehicle crash near Shabaqua that claimed the life of a 55-year-old Keswick, Ont. man.

Home health care for seniors received a boost on Dec. 18 with the announcement of $4.4 million to provide home care for more seniors as well as enhance services such as mental health programs. The money will go to more than a dozen regional health care providers to help improve the efficiency of the system.

A 72-year-old woman was struck by a Thunder Bay Transit bus when crossing Algoma Street at the Waverly Street intersection on Dec. 12. Audrey Kahkonen remained in hospital in serious condition through the end of the year. The bus operator was charged with careless driving.

The jury of an inquest looking into the death of a city construction worker returned with seven recommendations to improve job site safety for heavy machine operators. The two-day inquest, which examined the circumstances of Lee Antoniak’s death at the Thunder Bay Country Club in April 2012, concluded on Dec. 19.

Personal support care workers working with SEIU went on strike on Dec. 11 after working without a contract since April. The 25 workers serve under the Red Cross Care Partners banner and were rallying for a wage increase and better working conditions. The two sides reached an agreement on Christmas Eve.

Thunder Bay Fire Rescue rescued a man stuck on the face of Mount McKay in the early morning hours of Dec. 1 after a parachuting mishap. The rescue took nearly eight hours in treacherous dark and icy conditions. The 24-year-old man was taken to hospital afterwards.

Thunder Bay mayor Keith Hobbs gave his annual state of the city address, the final one of this term, on Dec. 16. He called the current term of council to be the “infrastructure council,” and highlighted work done in improving roadways, developing the waterfront and the creation of a drug strategy as significant achievements.

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