Calling On NPCA’s Board To Drop Its Lawsuit Against A Former Employee — Niagara At Large

@NPCA_Ontario #Niagara #NiagaraPeninsula #ISupportJocelynBaker #DropTheSuit

‘The taxpayers of Niagara do not fund the NPCA with their tax dollars so that it can pursue lawsuits, under any circumstance, against private citizens. We expect the NPCA to spend our money on conservation efforts.’ A Message from Friends of Jocelyn Baker, a Niagara, Ontario-based citizen group organized in support of former NPCA employee […]

via Calling On NPCA’s Board To Drop Its Lawsuit Against A Former Employee — Niagara At Large

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Port Dalhousie Secondary Plan

Yesterday. I posted this without comment as, per usual, I prefer humility to accolades. A day later, I’ve changed my mind.
 
“The councillors agreed to drop their FOI request a month later when city staff agreed to show the report to them confidentially with the rest of council. At least one member of the public, Emily Spanton, then filed her own FOI.”
 
Our councillors made a deal with the Devil and left it to us, the public, to fight for transparency and accountability on a highly contentious issue. We answered that deal by saying it was inappropriate and filing our own FOI requests to make the report public. We collected the funds to pay for report from community members. We answered the emails and calls from staff with further questions. We took time out of our day to twice go to city hall, first to file papers, second to pay the fee.
 
And it was only with their imminent release to me that councillors changed their tune and decided to fight for what is rightfully ours. So please, stop giving the credit to 3 men who couldn’t stick with their convictions and are taking the credit for the hard work of a woman and other community members.
It’s uncouth and highly inappropriate.

Niagara the Victim in Press Freedom fiasco, says Quirk

Our friend, and Grimsby representative at Niagara Region and Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, Tony Quirk flat out denies the December #PressFreedom incident happened and states #Niagara is…. a victim.

That’s right folks, Tony Quirk believes it acceptable to use the terminology sexual assault survivors use to describe their experiences in relation to the Region confiscating a venerated member of the press’ notes and laptop before ejecting him from a public building.

If anyone has a right to feel victimized, it is St Catharines The Standard’s Bill Sawchuk and the shocked citizens who were helplessly watching.

No amount of spinning will doctor this record, Tony.

 

The latest from The Standard: https://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/news-story/8312515-region-victim-in-press-incident-says-quirk/

Or catch up on previous FEWniagara coverage: Cap Caper (the #PressFreedom Fiasco)

The Crux of Reles’ Uncouthness

Also Known As Why the NPCA’s Michael Reles pisses me off.

Reles

Why is Michael Reles’ comment so flippant?

Michael Reles is the Communications Manager/Freedom of Information and Privacy coordinator at the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (@NPCA_Ontario); it is literally Reles’ job to release documents requested of the publicly funded NPCA

(or The Authority as they’ve become known in the dystopia that is #Niagara politics).

The Authority’s board of directors comprises of 15 members, 12 of whom represent the Region of Niagara; most of the Niagara representatives at the NPCA are also lower-tier municipality Mayors and/or Regional Councillors.

The FOI process

NPCA 1 001
I requested full expenses including mileage in OCTOBER 2017…

Over a month later, I received a reply from Michael Reles (to the left).

I was called frivolous and vexatious.
For making a request. Through the Freedom of Information process.
For board and member expenses. Of a publicly funded agency.

So, I appealed.

I then requested a two week limit to mediation in favour NPCA 1 003of arbitration.

Mid-JANUARY, 2018, the Mediator informs me Michael Reles has reversed his position; not only am I no longer frivous and vexatious, Mr Reles, and the Authority, now state they would release the records, online, within 90 days.

NPCA 1 002

 

 

and I am not alone.

Local resident, and retired RCAF Major Ed Smith recently spoke with The Standard about his FOI dispute with the NPCA: https://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/news-story/8291010-smith-npca-in-dispute-over-documents/

The Crux of Reles’ Uncouthness

What about it pissed me off so much?

In his Twitter post, Michael Reles states the media has never mentioned NPCA board mileage before now.

We’ve established Michael is withholding the required records to comment (remember, this guy is the NPCA Communications Manager), but, before he stopped complying with FOI requests, he released Authority Chairman Sandy Annunziata, and former Chairman Bruce Timms, 2017 Q1 & Q2 Expenses (below).

 

The hi-lited lines represent dates where MORE THAN ONE (two or more) PER DIEM were charged in a single day by a single board member.

Unless Latin has made a secret comeback, and changed without my knowledge, per diem translates to per day. Per day, by the day, for the day, daily. Not loosely translates as, or kinda means, but quite literally, and simply, translates to per day.

Not only has the public and media questioned this double diem-ing, Port Colborne council grilled CAO Mark Brickell and Chairman Sandy Annunziata about it in December 2017 https://www.niagarathisweek.com/news-story/8004769-port-colborne-seeks-provincial-supervisor-for-npca/

Stop the political skullduggery and misinformation at the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA); one could make the argument it is you who is vexatious, Mister Reles.

Dozens Dead, Numbers Expected to Rise

I have recently completed the first in a series on opioids for The Sound @TheSoundSTC,
Niagara Region’s largest independent paper, and will be releasing it in the weeks to come.

As an addictions counsellor, I am not only qualified to speak on this issue but have experience working with street-involved youth and adults struggling with addiction and active mental health crisis.

As first printed in The Sound, March 2018:
https://thesound.rocks/dozens-dead-numbers-expected-rise/

Dozen’s Dead, Numbers Expected to Rise

I could write an opus on drugs; explain how our brains are wired with neurotransmitters or discuss how different chemicals have different rates of bioavailability, half-life, and pharmacokinetics. I could explain how the therapeutic index (TI) of a drug – the prescribed dosage – is the ratio between the effective dose (ED) and the lethal dose (LD) in 50% of the population; but, it’s time, Niagara.

We need to talk some real shit.

At least three people have died following suspected opioid overdoses in the Niagara Region between Valentine’s Day and February 20th, 2018; at least one opioid death in February could have been avoided if St Catharines had a safe injection site.

According to Niagara EMS, they responded to 155 suspected drug overdoses in 2016 and 520 in 2017. Preliminary death data, released by the province, shows 40 people died from opioid overdoses in Niagara in 2016 while numbers for 2017 are expected to at least double.

NRPH

For the three months available (May-July 2017), there were 7 suspected opioid deaths in each month – 16 confirmed and 5 probable opioid overdoses – for a total of 21 deaths. In 3 months. Compare that to 40 the entire year before.

If we look further, we discover Niagara emergency departments treated 43 overdoses in July 2017, 7 of whom died (6 confirmed opioid, 1 probable). While the death data is not yet available, if the death to ER visit ratio was 7:43 (1/6) in July, and data shows 62 people were treated for opioid overdoses in both August and September, statistically speaking, 10 people probably died in each month.

NRPH_ERThat would mean we surpassed the total opioid deaths in 2016 in just 5 months of 2017 (May through September); the total lives lost to opioids in 2017 is probably around 87… if not higher.

People are dying; this is no longer a problem to be swept into the darker corners of the region. Niagara needs wider-sweeping harm reduction initiatives including a supervised injection site. Mayor Sendzik, of St Catharines, has been vocal in his support, stating he’d like to see a site open in his city as quickly as possible.

“Everyone knows someone who has struggled with addiction.

Just like lifting the stigma of mental health, we have to lift the stigma around addictions to tackle the opioid crisis.”

–  Mayor Walter Sendzik, St Catharines

The City of St Catharines, which has one of the highest overdose rates in Ontario, is currently working with the Region of Niagara Public Health and a coalition of local organizations – known as the Overdose Prevention & Education Network Niagara or OPENN – to open a temporary safe injection site in St Catharines.

Public health officials anticipated the ‘nearly complete’ application for a temporary supervised injection site, once submitted, will take approximately 10-12 weeks (although I was unable to ascertain when, exactly, submission was anticipated to occur).

What Is A Supervised (or Safe) Injection Site?

Supervised injection (SI) sites are a safe place for someone to use their IV drugs; when someone uses their pre-purchased drug in a controlled environment, it allows for the immediate detection and treatment at the onset of overdose symptoms.

Administering Naloxone (formerly Narcan®), a compound which binds at the opioid receptor sites in the brain displacing the drug molecules from those receptors, in combination with respiratory and cardiac support, at the onset of overdose symptoms, saves lives.

In fact, the data shows in 86% of opioid overdoses, Naloxone is effective, and, within 10 minutes the person is conscious.

Here’s where the supervision comes in: how do you self-administer Naloxone if you have lost consciousness? How do you self-administer chest compressions? or call for EMS?

Efforts to train and pass out Naloxone kits are having a positive impact within the community but that doesn’t save the life of the man who uses, alone, in a Tim Horton’s bathroom, does it?

Benefits to the Community At Large

Don’t supervised injection sites encourage drug use? Studies show this to be false, nobody starts shooting heroin because they can do so while supervised; to say otherwise is ridiculous and contrary to the data.

A recent study in Toronto found that 36% of people who use drugs reported injecting in public places such as washrooms and alleyways. In St Catharines, we could replace alleyways with parks.

Supervised injection sites promote safety and hygiene while discouraging inappropriate disposal of used needles. Proper disposal of paraphernalia, such as needles, reduces the risk of accidental needle sticks for first responders, and in our public spaces including parks.

With some simple changes to the way we treat addiction and narcotic abuse, we can reduce the overall costs to our healthcare system – including emergency rooms and EMS resources. We end up with a net positive for the entire community.

We are not going to solve age-old issues of narcotics use, and abuse, by providing harm reduction programs and safe environments to addicts, but we may regain some of our humanity.

Every interaction a worker has with an addict or at-risk client is another opportunity for non-judgmental conversation and education; every interaction is another chance to build trust and, when the person is ready, change.

We created the stigma, the hair shirt, addicts wear; it’s time we share the burden.


This is the first in a series on opioids; check out The Sound (@TheSoundStC) for more. Up next, Social Indicators: Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Poverty.

Emily Spanton, @FEW_Niagara

UPDATE: On February 26th, St Catharines City Council unanimously voted to support an application by Niagara Region Public Health and a collective of harm reduction and social service agencies to the Province for a temporary supervised consumption site.

Opioid Crisis and Overdose Prevention Site

At the meeting of February 12, 2018, Mayor Sendzik provided notice that he would present the following motion:

WHEREAS the use of dangerous opioids is contributing to an epidemic of drug overdoses across the country, including 520 suspected opioid overdoses attended by Niagara EMS in 2017; and

WHEREAS the federal government has responded with temporary exemptions under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for overdose prevention sites; to permit temporary overdose prevention sites to respond to the opioid crisis; and

WHEREAS the Province of Ontario has created a program to establish overdose prevention sites on a time-limited basis as a low barrier, life-saving service providing supervised injection, naloxone, and the provision of harm reduction supplies, to be funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care; and

WHEREAS first responders, including St. Catharines Fire and Emergency Services, are being equipped with naloxone kits and trained to respond in the event of an overdose medical emergency call;

WHEREAS the Overdose Prevention and Education Network of Niagara (OPENN) is a network of local agencies coordinating the response to this crisis, including St. Catharines Fire and Emergency Services, Niagara Region Public Health and Positive Living Niagara;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that St. Catharines City Council supports the Opioid Prevention and Education Network of Niagara / Positive Living Niagara application to the province for a temporary overdose prevention site and requests that the City be consulted in the location of a temporary site and any future considerations for a permanent site in St. Catharines.

 

 

“Fuck you, I like guns.”

While living in Ohio, my partner kept guns in the home – a Heckler & Koch P30 and an AR-15. As a pacifist and urban Canadian, guns were not a part of daily life and moving into a home where guns were openly kept was a shock – both cultural and moral.

In the end, I decided I needed to learn how to safely handle a firearm; I took lessons, went regularly to the range, and even became fairly proficient in cleaning the 9mm (though I always made someone check I had properly reassembled it before attempting to fire it!).

I never touched the AR-15; my ex never touched it out of it’s case, outside of a range, unless cleaning it after having fired it. The AR-15 literally has no uses beyond extreme human carnage and yet, as a long rifle, it is easily purchased. It is also easily modified to be fully automatic.

While I learned to accept the 9mm as a necessary evil to living south of the border, I never learned to accept the AR-15 – not in my home, not in the community at large, and certainly not in the hands of moody teenagers.

The P30 is compact and accurate; it is the 9mm of choice for several European police services. It will stop an intruder, dead, and it is all you need for home security.

Unless you are hunting, no one needs more firepower than a handgun.

Unless you are hunting humans, no one needs more firepower than a traditional long range riffle.

Continue reading ““Fuck you, I like guns.””

#Niagara Theatre of the Absurd: The Pelham Witchhunt

Tit for TatTonight, Niagara Regional Councillors Tony Quirk and David Barrick will continue their attack on the Town of Pelham and lower-tier autonomy. That’s right people, this is an attack on our local political structure and can not be allowed to pass.
While Councillors Quirk and Barrick try to distract council, and the public, with skullduggery, we have a Niagara Regional Police Service board, on which Niagara Regional Chair Alan Caslin, and Councillors Barrick and Bob Gale sit, is running $7.2 million dollar deficit and just paid nearly $1 million to well-respected former Police Chief McGuire to force him to retire.
The board of NRPS is asking the Niagara Region to cover at least $2 million of the police services boards deficit in addition to the previously approved 2018 budget.
 Councillor Quirk sits on the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority board, where Councillor Barrick is Director, and who spent over a quarter of a million to sue Ed Smith and untold millions on other legal fees and severance packages (claiming poverty as the need to let longterm employees go), has a newly created Board Lounge at HQ, where they never go. This new NPCA board *lounge* includes new leather furniture and decorations.
Niagara Region – leave #Pelham alone and clean up your own boards finances.
#Niagara