U.S.S. Teachers Hit The Bricks
By Roger Varley
Picket lines went up around Uxbridge Secondary School and other high schools in Durham Region on Monday morning as members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation began a strike against the Durham District School Board.
Roughly 40 teachers are on the Uxbridge picket lines at any one time, with the strikers working in two shifts. The first shift runs from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and the second shift from 1 p.m. to 4:30 pm.
History teacher Rob Walker, one of the picket line captains, said Tuesday there have been no incidents on the line so far, although he said some passing motorists have given the strikers the one-finger salute. But he added that some people have also brought muffins and coffee for the strikers.
Mr. Walker said the strikers are in good spirits, despite the cool, wet and windy weather and "boredom"."The weather has been tough," he said, "but what's really neat is people (teachers) are getting to know each other on the line."
He explained that the 80-plus teachers at the school rarely have the opportunity to meet and mingle during school hours.
The strike has closed all secondary schools in the region and the DDSB has informed parents that students will not be going to any classes until the strike is over.
Mr. Walker offered that negotiations at the provincial level will have to be settled first before the DDSB and the union can reach an agreement, but added: "There's no willingness on the part of the board to settle".
In a letter sent to parents on Saturday, the board said that "with the structure of provincial bargaining, there is nothing we can do as a board to resolve this situation."
A news release issued Monday clarified the issue by saying the negotiations with all employee groups now involves two levels of bargaining as required by the province. At the provincial level, "school boards as a provincial collective with the government negotiate with the secondary teachers’ union on a predetermined set of items such as teachers’ salaries and class size". At the local (regional) level, "local school boards like the DDSB negotiate directly with their respective local teachers’ unions about a predetermined and different set of items such as timing of employee pay and grievance arbitration process".
It added that the strike cannot be settled until deals are reached at both levels.
The news release also went on to say the OSSTF has made a number of "inaccurate" statement's about the board's offer, including the OSSTF's claim that the board is "not serious" about the negotiations. In its defence, the DDSB says 10 negotiation meetings have been held since January, with the board making its first offer to the teachers on March 31. The teachers have been without a contract since last August.
Meanwhile, Dale McKnight, program facilitator at the Uxbridge Youth Centre, said the centre is currently discussing whether to increase programing at the UYC until the strike is over.
"I'm open to the centre opening for longer hours, but nothing has been decided yet," he said.
Corrinne Morrison, program co-ordinator at the Uxbridge Public Library, said no extra programs for teens are being considered.
"We have our regular teen programs and there are lots of spaces and computers for them to use," she said.
The same is true for Uxpool. Recreation manager Amanda Ferraro said no new programs are being considered at this point. She noted Uxpool already has programming in place for teens, such as Leadership Fitness.
"It runs four days a week and we're trying to promote it," she said.
Street Banners To Honour Veterans
Uxbridge council agreed Monday to kick in $500 to help Uxbridge Legion Branch 170 place vertical street banners honouring veterans.
The money will cover the cost of raising and later removing 40 banners from street lights around the urban area. The banners themselves will be paid for by sponsors at a cost of $150 each.
The banners will feature photographs of veterans, along with the conflict in which they were involved and the name of the sponsor. They will also carry images of the Canadian flag and the Union Jack and the motto "Lest We Forget".
Sherrill Hodgson, president of the branch, said each banner will be sponsored by a veteran's family or a group "or anyone". She said the veterans so honoured can be living or dead, but the Legion is encouraging photos of Second World War vets. Ms. Hodgson said the official campaign to reach potential sponsors will begin in about two weeks.
The banners will be raised sometime around Oct. 1 and will remain in place until after Remembrance Day on Nov. 11. Because of the work involved, the cut-off for sponsored banners will be sometime in mid-August.
Ms. Hodgson said the veterans banners are not unique to Uxbridge, noting there are other towns in the country doing the same thing.
In committing the township to the $500 expenditure, Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor said the money could come from the township's golf fund, but if that fund is not available, the money would be found somewhere, "even if I have to pay it myself".
Another proposal for Williamson lot:
Council will soon be receiving a proposal to build a six-storey, 150-unit senior residence on the empty Williamson's lot at the south end of Toronto Street.
That information came out Monday when David McKay, vice-president of MHBC, appeared before council to request allocation of water and sanitary sewer servicing capacity for the site.
The residence, if approved and if it goes ahead, would see the project done in two phases. The units would include bachelor apartments and two-bedroom suites, but all would have only a convenience kitchen, with main meals being served in a community dining room.
Mayor O'Connor said the proposal will be presented to council in about two weeks, but the request for allocation comes before the proposal.
This will be at least the third proposal put forward for the site. Others in the past have fallen by the wayside.
Clean up or pay up:
Council agreed to an amendment to the township's graffiti bylaw which will see property owners hit if they do not clean graffiti from their property in good time.
The amendment appeared to be what is termed a "housekeeping" change, spelling out what is included in expenses that must be paid by property owners if the township does the graffiti cleanup instead. It covers not only the actual physical work of removal, but also the work done by various staff at township offices.
It spells out that those affected will pay an extra 25 per cent to cover those expenses.
Mayor O'Connor noted that many community mail boxes have been tagged by graffiti artists and asked if Canada Post would be subject to the same penalties, but Chief Bylaw Officer Andre Gratton said Canada Post is not subject to municipal bylaws.
Let’s Get Happy
with Jacquie Hermans
Inspirational Comedian & Emotional Intelligence Specialist
When Things Don't go Your Way
When things don’t go as expected, the situation can create an opportunity for gratitude. Have you ever forgotten to take the garbage out, or just missed the garbage truck? You’ll understand the heaviness this mishap can create, with the pile up of recycling, compost or bagged garbage. For me, the guilt also creeps in with the need to leave three or more bags at the side of the road.
It seems the garbage collection schedule has changed for our neighbourhood. Recycling used to be picked up by 2:30 p.m. on our street. One morning I was rushing out the door, realized I hadn’t put the garbage out but figured I would be back in plenty of time to get it out. After my morning appointments, I arrived home to find all of my neighbourhood’s garbage had already been collected. Arg!
Over the next week I had to get creative on how to manage my recycling and compost. The memory of missing the garbage collection came racing back to my mind every time I transferred my recyclables to the garage. When the next garbage day came around, I was once again in a hurry to get my kids to school and thought, “I don’t have any errands, I’ll just get the garbage out as soon as I get home.” Driving up my street after the school drop off, my heart sank when I discovered the recycling and compost had already been picked up from my side of the street. The other side of the road hadn’t been picked up yet, so I raced to the garage and ran it over to the other side, completing my transfer just as the truck pulled up. Phew!
I was in such gratitude for making it on time! The elation I felt could be compared to the time I completed my first half-marathon! It felt so good because I went from dread to elation within a couple of minutes! I could have focused my energy on thoughts such as, “Why would they change the schedule without telling us?” Instead, I focused my thoughts and energy on “How do I solve this problem?” and luckily I had an immediate opportunity to get rid of my garbage.
The quicker you can change your thoughts, the faster you’ll get back into alignment, where you are flowing with what makes you happy.
This garbage experience provided me with enough heavy contrast to reinforce how much I do not want that to happen again and to encourage a re-pattern within my schedule that will assist me to get the garbage to the curb on time. The experience also helped me to have an appreciation for all of the times I have gotten the garbage to the curb. We really should celebrate and appreciate all of those responsibilities that we accomplish. Every time I see my husband folding laundry, putting a load in, sweeping or doing dishes, I make a point to thank him. He feels appreciated and now he voices his appreciation for me on a regular basis.
When things don’t go your way, you can celebrate that you’ve experienced a contrast in your life that will provide the drive to make your life even happier. The clearer picture we have about “what we want” in our life helps us to create our desires that manifest from our powerful conscious clarity. Basically, be in appreciation, so you can manifest even more of what you love!
• Catch Jacquie at the Markham Home and Lifestyle Show May 2 & 3 with presentations at 1 & 3 p.m. on May 2, and 10:45 a.m. on May 3.
• Next Uxbridge Women’s Circle is on Sunday, May 3. If you ever need to do a presentation, sales pitch, or even introduce yourself at a networking meeting, this women’s circle will provide you with a tool for creating balance, focus, and clarity. As always there will be a healing meditation, sharing, tea and laughter.
• PLAY with ME (for families) has started. It’s Monday nights from 7-8 p.m. You can drop in for $5/person or register online to reserve your spot (family pkg. available) Note: we have a large group so we may need to turn away drop-in’s on certain nights. Call/Text (905) 758-0565
FAMILY FUN ACTIVITY
On the advice of a friend I started a journal for each of my children when my second child was two. I use the journal to jot down funny stories, things they say, first experiences, etc. My two eldest girls love for me to read them the stories from their books before bed. The story telling usually erupts into laughter.
Here’s a brief journal entry from 2010: “Tonight you and Teaghan had a bath and Teaghan kicked you in the nose. You were fine but it really hurt. Later that night you said to me, ‘If my nose was allergic to feet punching, my nose would have bled.’ I laughed so hard!”
A Cup Of Coffee
with Roger Varley
(One of two new faces on council this year, Fred Bryan is just finishing his first four months as Ward 4 councillor. We figured it was times to find out more about him over a cup of coffee.)
Okay, Fred, it's almost four months since you took your seat on council. Your initial thoughts on those first months?
It's all I thought it would be and more. It's overwhelming in the amount of time it takes. The agenda that we did last week was 246 pages, so you've got to do all that reading on a Sunday. You've got to be up to speed on everything that comes with it. It's very time consuming, more time than I thought, but I love it.
If you'll excuse the expression, Fred, what's your day job?
I'm in sales, so I have that flexibility. I try to keep my public life away from my professional life.
You say being councillor takes more time than you thought. How does that impact your day job?
My company is very forgiving and they know I'm not going to be there on Mondays, so we've made allowances.
But it's not just Mondays, Fred.
Absolutely not, and they're understanding if I have to take a phone call or e-mails or things like that during the day. Being in sales and on the road, I have that flexibility to take those calls. I spend a lot of time on the phone talking to constituents and other councillors.
You mentioned the reading. Are you surprised by the stuff that you now need to know, that you have to almost become an instant expert on?
Yes. Right off the bat we went for councillor training, but mine didn't happen until later. I think if we get elected in October we should take that in November because there's a lot you need to get caught up on. All these different laws and that, I had no way of knowing.
What's the biggest surprise for you as a councillor?
I think I've never been more popular and unpopular at the same time. You can't make everyone happy and so every action has an equal reaction. If you make a decision to satisfy this condition, you're going to upset someone over here. So you have to be cognizant of that. But you have to look at the greater good, what's best for the whole town, not just the ward. You have to think of everybody.
Okay, that's the surprise. What's the best thing so far?
Being recognized is really nice. You know, you go to the store and someone stops you and says, "Hey, can I help you with this?" A lady called from not-for-profit housing and needed some help getting her apartment painted. I was able to reach out to get that apartment painted and it was a wonderful feeling. It wasn't that long ago that my family needed help and it was wonderful to be able to repay that in kind. That was one of the best days I've had on council. And being recognized when you call. They take your call when they hear Councillor Fred Bryan as opposed to Joe Smith down the street.
And continuing the theme, what's the worst thing about being a councillor?
I think it's that you can't satisfy everybody's wishes. Everybody wants you to do things and you can't be all things to all people and you're going to make some people unhappy.
Has there been any impact on your family?
Absolutely. The day before I put my name in, I sat with my wife on the couch and said: "If I win, our lives are going to change." And it did, it changed tremendously. My time is not my own. I go to Zehrs and it takes two hours to buy a bag of milk.
So I get pulled in different directions. You know, I'm here with you and tonight I have a BIA meeting and then tomorrow I have something else. There's always something at night, so it does take away from that family time. I try to make that up with my daughter. I try not to go to work until after I take her to school so we can spend that hour together in the morning.
Were you surprised when you were elected?
Yes and no. I thought I was going to win. You know, you ran. You hope you're going to win, you think you're going to win, from the people I talked to on the street, knocking on doors, I got a good sense for it. But you don't want to say that out loud. So I have to say it was a pleasant surprise.
Why did you run?
Long story short, When we moved here - my wife's from Coppin's Corners - and had our daughter, I thought it was important to be a good role model, to be involved with my daughter. I grew up without a father, so I know how important a male role model can be. So I got on the SCC at Uxbridge Public School and I did that for eight years. My daughter was there for 10 years. I coached her in soccer, I was a coach and manager in hockey, anything |I could do to be involved with her. And it kind of led one into the other. People said "you're good at this sort of thing, how about running for council?" And I ran in 2006 and lost to Jack Ballinger, which was okay. That was an eye-opener, too, because I thought I was going to win that one too. But you don't get in it to lose; you get in to win and bring something to the table.
I'm assuming that, when you ran, you had certain things you would like to see happen in Uxbridge. Have you learned that it doesn't quite work that way?
Absolutely. There's an eye-opener. As you know, you're at council every week and you've seen more council meetings than I have. It's like turning a battleship; a little bit at a time. It's not as easy as I thought it would be.
Is it council that changes the councillor or the councillor that changes council?
I don't know that I have enough experience and I'd like to revisit that question later. But it could be a little bit of both!
What's been the toughest thing to deal with so far?
I think the biggest challenge I've had for Ward 4 is 62 Mill Street and the ramifications that come with that. That seems to be the biggest one we're dealing with right now. But it's something we'll work through, like everything else.
It certainly has brought some bad feelings to the surface. How do you handle that?
You don't take it personally. You know, being in sales you get a lot of doors shut in your face. That's par for the course. You have to have a thicker skin. And I understand that people are passionate about it, because it means so much to them. That's why it's getting out there. But I don't take it personally. I'm there to represent not just them but the entire township and I think when this is all done they'll understand that.
When you ran, what was the one thing you either wanted to change or accomplish?
I took a different approach. Everyone went out and talked about taxes. They knocked on doors and talked about that. I went without a platform. I went and said to the people "what's important to you", so I heard everything from the playground on Campbell to the speed zone on Plank's Lane. So there's a lot of little things we need to fix. Mill Street was one. First Leaside property was another. So at the end of my term four years from now, I'll be able to say that we accomplished this goal and this goal and this goal, as opposed to saying "Hey, I was going to lower your taxes and in fact they went up". I knew that going in, so I couldn't promise that. I'm not happy with how First Leaside looks right now. It's like downtown Detroit. I don't like it.
But your hands are pretty much tied, aren't they?
They are, it's private property, but we hope we can get someone in there with the right type of development. I don't want it to be sitting there looking like that four years from now. I walk my dog past there every morning. It's awful.
You have the public works portfolio. That's a heavy assignment for a rookie councillor. That department spends most of the budget.
Honestly, I would rather have the big one. Raise the bar and I want that bar set high. Give me the ward and give me the department with the biggest budget and let's see if we can start chipping away at that. I love it.
I took it as a vote of confidence when that was assigned to me. I spent a lot of time with Ben (Kester, public works director) running over his budget. I wanted to run through it and say "Hey, explain this to me." I wanted him to explain how his budget works, how this works, how this ties into this, just so I could get a handle on what his number mean. I didn't want to come in ill-prepared.
You seem to have stepped into you role as chair of the public works committee with ease. Is it the kind of thing you are comfortable with?
I think that goes back to my sales job, to being a coach and being a manager. I'm very comfortable giving speeches in front of people. If I've read the budget, if I've read 246 pages of an agenda, I know what's coming up and I know the questions I want to ask. You just have to be prepared.
It's a matter of time management. I'm a regional director of the Ontario Women's Hockey Association and we had our provincials this weekend. I was there all weekend, giving out medals and running things, so I was reading (the council agenda) at my hotel room at night to get all caught up.
You don't get that much free time, do you?
No, but that's okay. Hockey is going to settle right down now, but my daughter starts in soccer in May and I start in baseball in May, so that'll be my free time.
Is this interest in sports because of your daughter or because of your background?
I played baseball a lot when I was a kid. I didn't play hockey until I was 35. I didn't learn how to skate until I was 34, because we didn't have the money. I'm the youngest of seven and we didn't have the money for sports.
So you must love something like JumpStart?
Oh, it's tremendous. I'm a big supporter of stuff like that. That's something you can't get enough of to help the kids out.
Fred, thank you.
Lawnbowling 2015 - Try It Out!
by Margery Cowley
You may have noticed a large square of greyish-looking turf at the corner of Brock St. W. and Centre Road. Now that spring seems to have arrived, that greyish square is in the processs of being transformed into a fine bowling green with help of warm rain, sunshine and the hard work of dedicated greens keepers. Over the next few weeks they will be nurturing (not with banned chemicals, of course) mowing, repairing end boards plus umpteen other jobs, so that all will be ready for the Uxbridge Lawn Bowling Club’s Open House on May 2. Everyone is welcome to the club from 1 - 3 p.m. to chat, ask questions, try their hand at bowling and to enjoy refreshments. Two weeks of open bowling will follow, being available every evening from May 2 through to May 14 from 7-9 p.m.
The Annual Spring Meeting will be held on Thursday, April 30, to discuss and make plans for the coming season. All members are encouraged to attend, as well as anyone from the general public who might be interested in knowing more about our club and the game of lawn bowling. This is an all ages game for singles, pairs, whole families; in fact anyone from the age of 10 and up! All you need are comfortable clothes suitable for the weather and a pair of flat-soled shoes. Bowls can be provided and lessons are available. If you are a curler, you are half way there!
With some lessons you will be ready to join in our house leagues which start on May 18 and are played on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Any questions? Phone Jim Barton 905-852- 5842 or Ted Meyers 905-852-7235. See you on the greens!