Good morning, Greater Sudbury! Here are a few stories to start your day.
Mayor invites city council to return to Tom Davies Square
Mayor Brian Bigger has invited Greater Sudbury city council to return to council chambers for hybrid in-person and virtual city council and committee meetings. The public, meanwhile, will have to wait a bit longer until they receive their invitation. Bigger pledged the invitation at the start of Tuesday’s city council meeting, saying that although rising COVID-19 numbers remain a concern, now’s the time for city council to return if they so choose. A handful of the city’s elected officials had previously indicated to Sudbury.com that they are supportive of a hybrid model. Some events, such as the Wordstock Sudbury Literary Festival, planned for Nov. 4-6, have also adopted a hybrid model to accommodate pandemic concerns. “The province has also recently created a framework and a calendar for a return to normal,” Bigger told his colleagues. “The way we’ve been working together has been successful and our hybrid model allows councillors to be here, at home or in any space where they can communicate clearly, understand and be understood.”
Winter alternative for the homeless encampment being drafted
A unanimous city council has asked City of Greater Sudbury administration to come up with a plan to house vulnerable residents before the area is plunged into the depths of winter. The decision came at the close of tonight’s city council meeting and followed more than three hours of debate. This debate began during the Oct. 12 city council meeting, during which homelessness consultant Iain De Jong’s presentation on the city’s homeless encampment hit the meeting’s three-hour mark, at which time city council voted against extending proceedings. The denied extension meant the discussion continued tonight, during which it dominated the meeting. “I think this has been a very constructive conversation and it is a very significant issue,” Mayor Brian Bigger said on Tuesday, who also said the length of council’s discussion is a testament to how important they believe the issue of homelessness is.
‘We have our work cut out for us’: Laurentian president speaks on university’s poor Maclean’s ranking
Laurentian University president Robert Haché has spoken out about the university’s poor showing in this year’s Maclean’s Magazine university rankings amid LU’s insolvency restructuring. Last year, Laurentian ranked 12th out of the 20 universities in the primarily undergraduate category. That ranking has now slipped to 15th place. But Haché said in a written report presented to the university’s senate last week that this year’s rankings are related to historic challenges at Laurentian, and not entirely due to LU’s filing under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA). “Many will see the decline in ranking as a reflection of the university’s current journey through CCAA,” Haché said, in the report. “However, it is very important for the community to understand that overall low ranking in Laurentian’s Maclean's rankings over the past few years — as well as a significant part of the decline for this year, are a reflection of Laurentian’s ingrained and longstanding historic challenges — as we have discussed in this very senate in each of the past two years since I have taken on my role.” Laurentian is ranked dead last (19th) for reputation among primarily undergraduate universities — it ranked 15th in that category last year. It also ranked dead last (19th) for student satisfaction this year (it also ranked 19th in that category last year). The university’s best Maclean’s ranking this year was for total research dollars, where it ranked in first place among primarily undergraduate universities, as it did last year. There were actually some areas of improvement for Laurentian in the Maclean’s rankings. Last year, the student/faculty ratio was ranked at 11th place, and it’s 9th this year. Faculty awards were at 5th place last year, and are now at 4th place. Haché explained in his report that all but two of the data sets that drive the Maclean’s rankings are derived from data that are “slipped” by at least one year (i.e. 2020 or before).
Marc Despatie named Ontario PC candidate in Sudbury
The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario has named Marc Despatie their candidate for the Sudbury riding in advance of the 2022 provincial election. “I am proud to call Sudbury home and have dedicated many years as a community advocate for Franco-Ontarians,” Despatie said in a release. “I’m honoured to join Doug Ford’s team as your new PC candidate. Doug Ford is the right leader Ontario needs to lead us through the pandemic and build a better future for Ontario.” Despatie is credited with having a long track record in public affairs, including serving as director of communications, strategic planning and government relations at Collège Boréal, commissioner’s representative for Ontario at the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada, and various other roles in the provincial government. Despatie has taught at all levels and been a freelance journalist for the Sudbury Star and Le Gaboteur in Newfoundland.
Safety a priority as public transit numbers increase, head of city transit says
As Greater Sudbury slowly eases into the “new normal” that’s been bandied about for months, more people are making a return to public transportation. While they do so, and as the COVID-19 pandemic lingers in large part due to the more infectious Delta variant and the unvaccinated, safety measures remain paramount. Passengers aboard GOVA Transit buses are still required to wear masks and maintain physical distancing whenever possible, city director of transit services Brendan Adair said. Plus, buses are still being deep-cleaned and sanitized at the end of each shift, and bus drivers sit behind one of two styles of barrier installed throughout the fleet. “We work really hard to ensure our buses are not only on time and reliable, but a safe place for the community,” Adair told Sudbury.com, adding that they’ve been working to uphold Public Health requirements throughout the pandemic. September found ridership hit a pandemic high of approximately 277,000, which Adair said still falls far short of the 467,000 people who boarded buses in September 2019. Still, it’s a significant boost from the low point in the pandemic, in April 2020, when only 149,877 rides were counted. This, Adair said, “is exciting to see after what we’ve gone through for the pandemic.”
STC launches script-writing program for teens
Are you a teenager who would like to learn the ins and outs of script-writing? Well, Sudbury Theatre Centre has you covered. STC invites all budding playwrights — Grade 9 to Grade 12 — to take part in the theatre centre’s first playwriting series, “From Page to Stage.” Running over eight Monday evenings, successful applicants will work in small group settings with local playwright and teacher Kim Fahner, and STC’s Kelsey Rutledge, to create a collaborative play. Two small groups will meet on Monday evenings from Nov. 15 to Jan. 17 for 90-minute classes, with a two-week break over the winter holidays. “Masks must be worn at all times while inside the building,” said a press release. “Hand sanitizer will be readily available throughout the building and in the washrooms.”
Sunny and pretty warm for Thursday
Thursday will be a pretty nice day weather-wise. Expect a high of 11 today under sunny skies. The wind will be out of the east at 20 km/h early in the afternoon. The UV index today is three, or moderate. This evening, expect some increasing cloudiness and a low of four.