Good morning, Greater Sudbury! Here are a few stories to get you started this Wednesday morning.
Renée Sweeney murder trial postponed
A change of defence counsel is delaying the murder trial for the man accused in the killing of Renee Sweeney in 1998. Court heard this morning Robert Steven Wright’s trial has been postponed as Toronto-based lawyer Michael Lacy takes over the case from Sudbury attorney Berk Keaney. The trial was originally scheduled for March this year, but was delayed due to the pandemic. It was scheduled to begin Oct. 25. Lacy told Sudbury.com in an email that he is not able to provide any details beyond what was discussed in open court. The case will now return to court Nov. 2.
Support from popular YouTubers sends cancer-fighting Sudbury man's GoFundMe through the roof
Brett Dobratz, a 23-year-old Sudburian, is a Sudbury-based Twitch streamer and cancer fighter. It was March 6, 2020, the same weekend the COVID-19 pandemic hit Canada, that Dobratz was diagnosed with a rare cancer called Ewing Sarcoma. The cancer is located in the soft tissue of Dobratz’s back and was 12 centimetres when the doctors found it. It also metastasized (spread) to his lungs. Dobratz is currently admitted to Health Sciences North in Sudbury, where he is getting treatment for his cancer. Three months ago, he started a trial drug that ended up damaging his kidneys. Approximately four weeks ago, he was rushed to the hospital with fluid build-up in his lungs and around his heart. Doctors were able to drain the fluid, but told Dobratz that he came very close to passing away. Dobratz created a GoFundme page after his near-death experience to help cover medical expenses. "I made this GoFundMe to cover any and everything we need and to be able to live comfortably without any worry. My parents and myself haven’t worked since I was diagnosed due to all of my appointments,” Dobratz wrote in an email to Sudbury.com. Canadian YouTubers The Nelk Boys shared the Sudburian’s story with their millions of fans, dozens and dozens of whom visited the GoFundMe page to donate, alongside supportive messages to Dobratz. The campaign raised some $20,000 in a single day thanks to YouTubers' support.
Ontario health sector braces for worse staff shortages as vaccine mandates come due
Hundreds of Ontario workers in hospitals and long-term care could be off the job in the coming weeks because they did not get vaccinated against COVID-19, further complicating what advocates call a “perfect storm” of staff shortages. The president of a union representing workers in long-term care, hospitals and retirement homes said the staffing problem, driven by low wages, lack of full-time jobs and poor work conditions, predates the pandemic, and vaccine mandates will likely add to it. "It'll have an impact on staffing levels that are already at a critical point," Sharleen Stewart of SEIU Healthcare said in an interview. "It's kind of stirred up the perfect storm now." A deadline of Nov. 15 has been set for Ontario long-term care staff to get immunized or lose access to their workplaces. It's up to the homes what happens after that, but many operators had already set dates to place unvaccinated people on leave, citing the devastating impact of COVID-19 and the risk of the highly transmissible Delta variant. Dr. Kieran Moore, the province's top doctor, said Ontario is watching closely for the "unintended consequence" of staff shortages related to vaccine mandates but maintained that they are necessary in some jobs to protect the vulnerable.
Bruce Avenue shooting leaves one man dead
Greater Sudbury Police say a 40-year-old man is dead after a shooting on Bruce Avenue in the Donovan neighbourhood of Greater Sudbury late on Thanksgiving Monday night. At around 10 p.m. Oct. 11, police were called out in relation to a weapons complaint on Bruce Avenue after reports of gunshots. When officers arrived on scene, they located a 40-year-old man deceased inside of a residential unit. It is believed that he died as a result of being shot. Police said the man’s name will not be released out of respect for his family’s wishes. “Our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends,” said police. Information provided to police was that multiple people were seen leaving the area on foot prior to police arrival. “This is believed to be a targeted and isolated incident as it is believed that the individuals are known to each other,” said police.
Battalion ends Pack's winning streak with Thanksgiving Day victory
The Sudbury Wolves early-season unbeaten streak of two games was halted Monday by the North Bay Battalion. The Pack travelled to the Gateway City for the Thanksgiving Monday tilt. The game started off well for the Wolves. The Battalion found themselves down 1-0 midway through the first period thanks to a short-handed goal by Wolves captain Jack Thompson. The second period saw North Bay's Josh Currie tie up the game with his second goal of the season, but before the end of the period, Sudbury bounced back to to retake the lead 2-1, thanks to Alex Assadourian’s first OHL goal. In the third, the Battalion found the back of the next twice, once on the powerplay on a tap-in goal by Simon Rose after a nice pass from Dalyn Wakely. Later, Brandon Coe netted the game-winner after he had many chances in the game. Despite the loss, Wolves netminder Mitchell Weeks "put forth another stellar effort," the Pack said in a news release, stopping 30 of North Bay’s 33 attempts on goal to continue his strong start to the season. The Wolves look to get a win back on Oct. 14 in Peterborough for a rematch of the season opener against the Petes.
Greater Sudbury municipal debt has ballooned in recent years, set to reach $327M in 2022
Establishing an appetite for debt, Greater Sudbury city council has increased municipal debt from approximately $19 million in 2014 to an estimated $327 million by next year. The majority of this debt — $200 million — was approved in 2019 and secured the following year as a means of taking advantage of historically low interest rates and has been earmarked for a handful of major projects, including the Kingsway Entertainment District at $90 million and the Junction at $68 million. Ed Stankiewicz, the city’s executive director of finance, assets and fleet, said the timing of city council’s decision to take on debt was ideal. “If you look at the $200 million we secured, that was the lowest rate for a municipality in all of Canada for a 30-year term,” he said. “Council got a rate of 2.416 per cent, which is extremely low.” Debt is already poised to become a topic of debate during 2022 budget deliberations, which are set to begin on Nov. 29. During the city’s finance and administration meeting on Oct. 5, Ward 8 Coun. Al Sizer argued against the city taking on additional debt. At the time, the city’s elected officials were debating whether to forward a handful of business cases to budget deliberations, ultimately deciding to include all of them for future debate.
Cloudy, rainy, but warm day in store
Well, the warm fall weather continues today. Expect a mostly cloudy day, with a mix of sun and cloud for the late morning. Fog patches will dissipate over the morning. Today’s high is 20 with a humidex (yes, a humidex in October!) of 25. The UV index will be three, or moderate. There’s a 30-per-cent chance of showers or drizzle early in the morning. This evening, the skies will cloud over, and there is a 30-per-cent chance of showers. Tonight’s low is a very comfortable 11.