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One more case of COVID-19 in Elliot Lake
Elliot Lake and area has another confirmed case of COVID-19 for a total of 12 cases since the start of the pandemic last year. Algoma Public Health (APH) reported the new case on Feb. 25. Case 196 is the result of close contact and is self-isolating. Through contact tracing, APH notifies all close contacts directly. If you are not contacted by the health unit you are not considered a close contact. As of Feb. 25, there are four active cases in Algoma including two hospitalizations. A total of 192 out of the 196 cases have been resolved and that number includes three deaths. There have been 146 cases in Sault Ste. Marie and area, 35 cases in Central and East Algoma, 12 cases in Elliot Lake and area and three cases in North Algoma.
Mount Dufour Ski Area allowed to open to residents
Mount Dufour Ski Area has opened for weekend skiing. Elliot Lake council held a special meeting on Feb. 17 to discuss opening the Mount Dufour Ski Area this season. The motion was tabled for discussion by Councillor Tom Turner, who requested the facility be allowed to open “immediately.” “I’m okay with them opening,” Mayor Dan Marchisella said, “as long as all safety protocols are followed.” As for the protocols, Turner explained the ski hill “has a plan in place,” ensuring health and safety measures remain top priority for users. The ski hill is following the measures put out by the province, “and they are very conscious of what they’re doing,” Turner said. “They are intent on maintaining a safe place for people.” Councillor Norman Mann was concerned that no plan was provided for council’s consideration from Mount Dufour regarding their health and safety protocols. “We have no plan in front of us,” he said. “It would be really nice if the municipality actually saw the plan considering it is our insurance” that covers the ski hill. “We are paying the freight on that, and I think that for the transparency of the relationship between the municipality and the ski hill, I think we need to work with Mount Dufour over the next couple of days.” Overall, Mann wants communications clear “to ensure the safety of the community.” Of particular concern is who will be allowed to use the ski hill. Will it be limited to members only, or will people from outside the community be allowed to use the facility? This information was not provided to council, Mann explained. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable for us to ask for something in writing so that we have it before us,” Mann said. Turner, who also sits on the ski hill board, said over the past months the ski hill “has been working diligently on plans to do whatever they could possibly do to make the ski hill a safe place.” “I have seen on paper, those plans,” he said, adding the facility aims to go “above and beyond” all protocols set out by the province, Algoma Public Health, and the recommendations laid out by the Ontario Ski Hills Association. Mann said as councillors, “we’re the stewards of this community, they’re the stewards of the hill.” “So, let’s get a plan, and let’s get it right,” he said. Council voted to allow the ski hill to open immediately, however, only permanent residents of Elliot Lake will be allowed to use the facility. Councillors Sandy Finamore and Ed Pearce were against the vote. On Monday, council is expected to meet to review their decision.
Elliot Lake now has cannabis retailer
What could have gotten a person a criminal record and possibly time behind bars a little more than a decade ago for possession can now be purchased legally in Elliot Lake. Sessions Cannabis Elliot Lake opened at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 19 at 26 Prince Edward Walk with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a line up of customers outside half a block long eagerly waiting to get in. Jason Hamilton, owner of the local franchise, who was born and raised in Elliot Lake, says he opened the Sessions Cannabis store because “it was a real good business opportunity. I thought it was a good idea. I researched the Sessions brand and it was kind of what I was looking for…, and we really thought that it would work here.” He says on his opening day, “We were extremely busy today, much busier than we expected. There were a lot of happy people around.” However, he had help. He has a eight staff as well as three people from Sessions Cannabis who were there to train his staff and assist them on opening day. Because of this large number of staff and support, as well as the COVID protocols, they were limited to having only six people in the store at a time. “We’re just trying to make sure that everyone is six feet apart. So, we’ve lowered the capacity to keep our employees safe, as well as our customers.” Hamilton adds that it didn’t take too long for the staff to get comfortable with the customers and the products. “For some of them (staff), this is a new thing. (Sessions) provided us some really excellent trainers.” The trainers spent all week with the Elliot Lake staff familiarizing them with the products and the business in general. “Not everyone was comfortable with every single product. These are all things that come with time. And they’re working extremely hard. I’m super proud of them, they did really good today.” The store has a wide variety of cannabis products, more than 204, plus accessories such as pipes, T-shirts, hats, papers, lighters and more. “We chose the selection, but there is so much more out there.” He says they picked these cannabis products because they felt these items would be a good fit for Elliot Lake. However, if there is a demand for other items they would look into carrying them. “Myself and my staff, we’ll ask customers about the stuff they bought if they liked it. Tell us what it’s like. Is there anything you want let us know, and we’ll do what we can. We want to be able to fill the needs of people.” Entering the store one would not know they were in a cannabis facility. Customers enter a small lobby where they are screened for COVID as well as for identification for those who might appear younger than the legal age of 19. The retail layout of the store was clean and professional. One might have also expected to smell the odour of cannabis on entering the store, but there was no such odour. On turning corner from the lobby into the retail part, all the products were in their own containers and all the cannabis products were under glass. “We have all of our products on display. It’s nearly at their fingertips. Under regulations, the customer can’t hold cannabis until it’s purchased. So, it’s pretty much as close as you can get,” says Hamilton. One customer on opening day, Neil Collins, says “I think its great. I think it will do very well in our community. I think there is a need for it. It’s bringing money into the community, it’s jobs. I’m all for it.” Hamilton says Sessions is different from some other cannabis retailers. Some dispensaries operate differently, they might have a menu board and the customers ask the staff for a specific product. “They are definitely not all like this. We’re a bit unique. (The layout) is very thought out; it’s planned.” “When there is this many products in a store it can be overwhelming, even for an experienced cannabis user. We try to make it as simple as possible, by categorizing things so people are able to understand it a little better.” Selling cannabis has really changes from going to the black market and having a choice of one or two types to many different types of cannabis, Hamilton explains. For anyone with a doctor’s prescription for a cannabis product, they would have to get it filled at a pharmacy. “We’re not allowed to fill prescriptions; we’re not allowed to give medical advice. This is completely a recreational cannabis facility.” Customers can also order online at www.sessions.ca, click on ‘Elliot Lake’, and select the items. One can also pay online with a credit card. When they pick-up their order at the store, they also have the option of paying in cash. Sessions Cannabis Elliot Lake is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., with the exception of some stat holidays. For more information on Session Cannabis in Elliot Lake, call 705-461-1247.
Elliot Lake Emergency Food Bank settled into new home
The Elliot Lake Emergency Food Bank has settled into it new home and reopened its doors on Wednesday, Feb. 17, with help from JC’s Construction of Elliot Lake. The Elliot Lake Emergency Food Bank’s (ELEFB) new address is 29 Columbia Walk, in the former Sears outlet location. Len Kutchaw, ELEFB president, said by Feb. 17 just about everything was in its proper place in their new home. Tim Derasp, of JC’s Construction, volunteered his employees to help move the food bank, which only took four and a half hours on Saturday, Feb. 13. Kutchaw says they had two trucks and four guys at the only location, and they made quick work of task. They even moved all the large freezers, refrigerators, steel shelves and cupboards. “They came Saturday morning, they started at the front and rolled up the carpet, picked up the desk. By 12:30 p.m., everything was up at the new place,” said Kutchaw. “Then I had to scramble to get it kind of all sorted around.” He adds that with the help they were able to move all the food that was stored at the Rio-Den Arena to the Columbia Walk location as well. With the food bank being closed on Monday, Feb. 15 because of Family Day the volunteers were able to get much of the food put in its place. The donations they received during the Elliot Lake Firefighters Food (Cash) Drive have helped a lot. Occasionally, they still get some people walk in make donations of $100 to $1,000 or more. Some don’t even want a receipt and wish to remain anonymous, Kutchaw explains. He adds that they have even had a few people who sadly passed away and left some money to the food bank. Kutchaw says they still have their eye on having a new building of their own constructed that would meet all of the food banks needs, and would mean no more moving. He hopes to meet with an architect to see what the costs would be and if there would be any government funding available for food banks. The food bank is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 3 p.m.
Two new cases of COVID-19 last week
There were two new cases of COVID-19 reported in the Algoma district last week. Algoma Public Health (APH) reported a new case in Elliot Lake and area on Feb. 18 and said it was associated with the ongoing cluster investigation at 100 Warsaw Place. The new case was the first to be reported in the district since Feb. 12. Case 194 is unknown exposure and the individual is self-isolating. On Feb. 20, APH reported one new case of COVID-19 from Central and East Algoma. Case 195 is close contact and self-isolating. As of Feb. 22, there are four active cases in Algoma including two hospitalizations. A total of 191 out of the 195 cases have been resolved, which includes three deaths. There have been 146 cases in Sault Ste. Marie and area, 35 in Central and East Algoma, 11 in Elliot Lake and area and three in North Algoma.
weather (Elliot Lake)
Chorney-Booth: Chakalaka brings multi-culturalism to the table
The best kinds of restaurants are the ones that tell a story about the people behind the business, be it a tale about the owner’s grandmother’s cooking or a tangible reflection of a chef’s passion for specific ingredients and culinary traditions. Chakalaka, a new restaurant and bar on 17th Avenue S.W. paints a picture of owner Ronnie Mupambwa and the life he’s built here in Calgary.
The 100-mile playground
Lisa Kadane For the Calgary Herald On their Columbia River trip, for example, the luxury of time allowed them to befriend a bird that randomly landed on his youngest son’s head. The juvenile brown-headed cowbird ended up travelling with the family for four days. It was a meaningful connection with wildlife that would never happen on your average, frantic holiday. Right now, nature is the only reliable destination, says Joe Pavelka, a professor in the Eco-tourism and Outdoor Leadership program at Mount Royal University. Last spring he conducted a study to gauge people’s travel fears and aspirations during and after the early months of pandemic isolation. “High performers” in terms of future trip ideas among respondents included road trips, camping and visits to national parks or natural areas. Nature makes a good adventure muse because she gives us agency. Not only do we get to hike, picnic or go for a mountain bike ride, but we can also do so safely. On top of that are the well-documented therapeutic and psychological benefits of being outside: time outdoors decreases stress and increases happiness. For Lisa Monforton, a multi-day cycling trip in Argentina with her husband sealed her preference for slow adventure and the connection to place it fosters.