Cornerstone hopes a corner is being turned on a desperate need

By Cecilia Nasmith

Cornerstone Family Violence Prevention Centre executive director Nancy Johnston hopes Cobourg council's support of two rental projects this week is a sign of turning a corner on the lack of affordable housing.

Johnston sees the need every day at Cornerstone where, for the past five years, their shelter has operated at above-100% capacity. For the 2017-2018 fiscal year (the latest for which figures are available), that figure is 127%. During that year, she reported, they were forced to turn away 100 women and 57 children, youth and dependents for lack of beds in their shelter.

For 2018-2019, she added, they expect to see similar figures.

As Johnston explained at the council meeting, women forced to take refuge at their shelter cannot leave simply because there are no affordable options. It creates a bottleneck that keeps the shelter full and unable to accommodate anyone else.

This week brought several pieces of good news for the agency, including the expansion of their HomeShare program from a pilot project to a county-wide initiative. The idea behind this one is to match up older independent women living on their own who have living space to spare with younger women who require a place to live, in hopes of a congenial arrangement that involves companionship, a sharing of responsibilities and an offsetting of costs as well as shelter.

At council, she was delighted to see support in the form of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of concessions for two rental developments by Trinity Housing Corporation and the Balder Corporation's Cobourg Accessible Energy Efficient Downtown Rentals project. Between them, they will offer 102 rental units, of which 26 will be affordable ones.

Having to turn away vulnerable people who need your service is devastating, Johnston said, forcing staff to work with people to find other options.

“We talk to a lot of people each Monday morning from 9 a.m. to noon – we have a drop-in where they can come and receive multiple levels of services and talk about family-court issues, financial issues. Shelter is a little more tricky.”

Sometimes they are able to refer these people to another shelter, such as the one in Alderville. Sometimes they need to go find shelter in another community, and Cornerstone assists them in getting there.

“Or we explore other options they may not have thought of – is there a safe family member they can stay with for a time until we can bring them in,” Johnston said.

“It's an unfortunate situation we are in – we are turning people away because we simply don't have any beds because women are having to stay way too long because there isn't affordable housing.

“It's not unheard-of for a woman to stay three, four, five months or beyond because there's not enough affordable housing.”

Council's positive response was wonderful news, Johnston declared.

“I think we are finally getting to that understanding that we all need to be working together in this. Cornerstone can't have all the answers, and I don't. The province doesn't, or municipalities.

“There needs to be increased housing stock. Whether private sector or not-for-profit – it's not an either-or for me.”

Earth Week Roadside Garbage Pickup is a winning proposition

By Cecilia Nasmith

Cheryl Beatty of the Harwood Memorial Hall and Park board says their Earth Week Roadside Garbage Pickup fundraiser is a win-win kind of deal.

It gives the community a spring clean-up and is a vital fundraiser for the Harwood Memorial Hall and Park.

Unlike most community halls, which are municipally owned and receive some municipal funds toward their operation, Beatty explained, Harwood Hall is community-owned and -operated, and its fundraisers are key to their remaining open.

Beatty is pleased to announce that, once again, Canadian Tire has sponsored some amazing prizes for the top fundraisers – a 40” Westinghouse Smart TV for the team raising the most money, a 32” Smart TV for the individual raising the most money, and a six-person Outbound tent for the runner-up spot raising the most money (individual or team).

The action is centred around Earth Week, April 21 to 28, but they are already gearing up to go.

Donna Cole (905-342-5464) has pledge forms and will make the assignment of areas that need a pick-up. Participants can report to Harwood Hall (5453 Front St.) Friday, April 19, between 6 and 7 p.m. to pick up garbage bags, gloves and other necessary equipment (or, if you can't be there at that time, contact Cole or event chair Heidi Hagell at 905-342-3372 to arrange pick-up).

Organizers are hoping kids, grown-ups, families and groups will come together so they can really spruce things up – and share the experience by joining the Harwood Memorial Park – Rice Lake group on Facebook and posting their photos.

To celebrate their work, the board is hosting a community barbecue in their honour Sunday, April 28, from 2 to 4 p.m. This is where the workers drop off their pledge forms and money collected – and along with the three big prizes, door prizes will also be awarded. For those participants who can't attend, contact Cole or Hagell to arrange a drop-off time for your pledges).

The Harwood community has always relied on its hall to host the kind of events that bring people together, Beatty said. Their support of this particular initiative is one way to ensure they can keep the doors open.

No Bump Weeks in April, County says

By Cecilia Nasmith

Northumberland County advises residents of a correction to its 2019 Waste and Recycling Calendar.

The calendar incorrectly states that the week of April 22 is a Bump Week, during which all collections move ahead by one day. Their press release, however, points out that there are no Bump Weeks in April and that collections for that entire month will proceed on their normal schedule.

For more information about collection schedules and services, visit

NHH observes Green Shirt Day April 8

By Cecilia Nasmith

David Mitchell

David Mitchell

Northumberland Hills Hospital is getting behind Be A Donor Month by observing Green Shirt Day April 8.

This is a new initiative arising out of the 2018 tragedy in Saskatchewan last April 7, the day so many members and supporters of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team died when their team bus was involved in a devastating accident.

Of those lost, Logan Boulet came in for special mention. The caring young man's donation of six organs not only saved lives but spurred an increase in organ-donor registration.

To honour his legacy and keep the momentum going, Logan's family has championed Green Shirt Day as an annual observance each year on the anniversary of the crash. As this falls on a Sunday this year, NHH will have its own recognition on April 8.

Throughout Ontario, in fact, the Ontario Trillium Gift of Life Network is encouraging businesses, hospitals and students to wear green that day in support of organ and tissue donation.

Locally, NHH is joining community organizations and Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP David Piccini in encouraging everyone to wear green April 8.

“Today in Ontario, there are over 1,600 women, men and children waiting for a life-saving organ transplant and, sadly, every three days someone dies because there are not enough organs to meet the need,” Piccini said in the NHH press release.

“In the riding of Northumberland-Peterborough South, there are 39 people currently on the waitlist.”

By registering to become a donor, one has the potential to save as many as eight lives with the gift of an organ and to enhance as many as 75 more through tissue donations. Age is not necessarily a barrier, and even individuals with serious illnesses can sometimes be donors – each potential donor is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Trillium Gift of Life Network Ronnie Gavsie said the example of the young Saskatchewan hockey player lost too soon made a huge impact last year in Ontario.

“Last Be A Donor Month, as a result of the Logan Boulet Effect, Ontario experienced a 40% increase in donor registrations over April 2017,” he said.

“This year we do not want a tragedy. Rather we want to maintain this momentum and give hope to those on the waitlist. There is no better time to register than during Be A Donor Month. Visit to register or learn more.”

The press release urges donors not only to register but to talk with family members about their wishes. As Warkworth heart-transplant recipient David Mitchell told county council last week, this can make all the difference.

“Even though your loved one may have checked that box or gone on-line to register, when the time comes at the hospital, your family members may override that decision. A lot of times, it's a lack of information, or the loved one has not communicated their wish to the family. So we encourage you to talk about it, tell your family about your wish to be a donor,” Mitchell urged.

Gavsie said that your recorded consent does carry weight in almost all cases, however, with family members honouring and respecting their loved one's wishes where there is evidence that's what they wanted.

“Registering as a donor is the only secure and guaranteed way to make your decision known,” the press release stressed.

To register, you must be at least 16 years of age and provide your date of birth as well as your health-card number and version code (if applicable).

Go on-line to register, check or update your consent at Piccini has also issued a challenge to local mayors, chiefs and residents and created a dedicated local registration page at

You can also register in person at any ServiceOntario centre or by completing a Gift Of Life consent form and mailing it to ServiceOntario Organ Donor Consent, P.O. Box 48, Kingston ON K7L 5J3.

In response, you will receive a confirmation letter if you have completed a new registration, updated your registration information or withdrawn your consent.

For more information, visit or call the Trillium Gift of Life Network at 1-800-263-2833

Cornerstone expands HomeShare

By Cecilia Nasmith

Cornerstone Family Violence Prevention Centre is excited to announce the expansion of the HomeShare program to serve residents across Northumberland County.

Cited as a positive example in last month's county-council discussion on the homelessness issue, this program aims to offer a unique alternative to independent living that can alleviate stress on the affordable-housing market and subsequent implication on health-related issues.

HomeShare Northumberland connects women living in their homes who have spare living space with other women seeking safe and affordable accommodation. Under this innovative housing option, both participants benefit from companionship, offset living costs and share household responsibilities.

“Moving the HomeShare program beyond a pilot is an excellent opportunity to advance the vision of the county's Housing and Homelessness Plan to facilitate housing that respects people's choice of residence and is responsive to community need,” county director of community and social services Lisa Horne stated in the Cornerstone press release.

“As the county and community partners continue to work toward addressing housing affordability and availability in Northumberland, HomeShare Northumberland represents an opportunity to reduce the competition for scarce rental accommodations, helping both home owners and people looking for homes to connect and move forward together.”

HomeShare Northumberland works to support two types of participants.

HomeSharers are women aged 18-plus who seek safe and affordable housing.

HomeOwners are single women living independently at home – in a condo or renting an apartment with a spare bedroom and living space. Both are able to split household responsibilities and are interested in companionship.

“Aligning with Cornerstone's core values of innovation, leadership, community and accessibility, we are happy to be the lead agency for HomeShare Northumberland,” Cornerstone executive director Nancy Johnston tated.

“This program presents an opportunity for the women of our community to help and empower one another by giving back in the form of safe and affordable accommodation. This results in an increase of community connection, quality of life, health and safety, while decreasing anxiety, loneliness and isolation, as well as the use of emergency services and shelters – which results in a strong, safer community for all.”

The announcement said that HomeShare programs – in Canada and around the world - are successful evidence-based initiatives, some of which have run successfully for more than 30 years. Its dynamic is more than just housing, it continued.

“It is about the relationship and companionship between two people based on respect, personal choice and maintaining dignity.”

For more information on HomeShare Northumberland, contact the HomeShare worker at dracine@cornerstonenorthumberland,ca or 905-372-1545, or visit

Dog park is a good deal, council agrees

By Cecilia Nasmith

Cobourg council agreed at this week's committee-of-the-whole meeting to renew the dog-park lease it hold with FV Pharma Inc.

Councillors received a report from manager of parks Jason Johns regarding the FV's offer to extend the lease agreement for the park at 777 Ontario St. for another five years on the same terms as the last week - $18,000 annually plus the non-refundable portion of the HST.

Director of Community Services Dean Hustwick described the work of the citizen group CADDOG (Cobourg And District Dog Owners Group) in administering the project.

“They look after things, and they do an excellent job of managing the facility and working with the individual users to make sure the rules are applied,” Hustwick said.

“They do come to us with specific requests for maintenance, fencing, things like that, and we work with them.”

Deputy Mayor Suzanne Seguin asked for reassurance that this amount is already in the budget – because she didn't recall it – and was told that it is.

Councillor Brian Darling admitted he was a little shocked – in a pleasant way.

“A renewal with no increase,” Darling said.

“I am quite happy to support this, seeing the owner is wiling to consider five years with no increase to the community.”

Revise license structure and fares, cab owner says

By Cecilia Nasmith

Kelly Paton, who purchased Cobourg Cab with her husband eight months ago, urged council at this week's committee-of-the-whole meeting to reconsider Councillor Adam Bureau's move to abolish all limits on the number of taxi licenses the town issues.

“I personally believe unlimited licenses could be the wrong move due to the saturation of the market, which I hear has happened in the past,” Paton said.

“I don't think things should go back to the way they were either. We have to try to reach a middle ground.”

Until a review of Bylaw 14-2014 can be completed, Paton added, she would suggest no new licenses be issued – with an exception made for existing businesses who are trying to improve their service to the public.

She also asked for a review of the pricing structure, which hasn't been updated since 2010. She shared a letter from another player in the tax industry asking that special seniors rates be abolished, since neither the gas pump nor the insurance brokers give taxis a break for driving them.

Finally, Paton urged that any changes to the taxi industry be undertaken in consultation with the taxi businesses in town.

She allowed that, of the 19 taxi licenses currently allowed, not all of them are used.

“Everybody faces their own problems and issues and challenges and difficulties in business. For one reason or another, licenses may not be used,” she said.

The ultimate goal should be a taxi industry that provides pick-ups and deliveries on a timely basis, said Bureau – who originally made his bylaw amendment after hearing from a number of constituents of lengthy waits for a cab (especially in the wee hours of the morning).

Municipal clerk Brent Larmer pointed out that the taxi bylaw is under review and a community-engagement plan is being prepared.

“We want to really engage consumers of the taxi industry, look at all the options and concerns, not only that the owners have but members of the public,” Larmer said.

Northumberland County flies Be A Donor flag

By Cecilia Nasmith

Be A Donor Flag-sm (16).jpg

A Monday-morning flag-raising was held at the Northumberland County building to hoist high the Be A Donor flag that will fly through April 7.

Warden John Logel was accompanied at the event by Warkworth resident David Mitchell, whose life was saved by a heart transplant in 2015.

Mitchell made a presentation at the March county council meeting to share his story and, more importantly, advocate for April to be proclaimed as Be A Donor Month.

Through organ and tissue donations, he said, one donor can potentially save up to eight lives and enhance the lives of up to 75 people. Though 85% of Ontarians support organ donation, however, only 33% have taken the time to register.

Another hurdle is that Ontario law allow a family member to override a loved one's wish to be a donor.

“So even though your loved one may have checked that box or gone on-line to register, when the time comes at the hospital, your family members may override that decision. A lot of times, it's a lack of information, or the loved one has not communicated their wish to the family. So we encourage you to talk about it, tell your family about your wish to be a donor,” Mitchell urged.

Overall, Cobourg and Port Hope can each boast a 48% rate of registered potential organ donors.

“That's a good number,” Mitchell said.

“Personally, I would like to see it over 50%, and that's my goal. I see no reason why Northumberland cannot be above 50% at least.”

Mitchell's presentation spurred council to make the proclamation, and now the flag is a visible sign of their commitment.

County councillors urge everyone to show their support by registering at