Wawa Municipal Council to Hold February Regular Meeting

Wawa Municipal Council is set to hold their monthly regular meeting.

Included on the agenda are resolutions: confirming the schedule of meetings through June; confirming an agreement between the Wawa Public Library and Hawk Junction Local Services Board; approving the Regional Economic Development Officer Group collaboration agreement; and receiving monthly reports from department heads, as well as the annual report on last year's Northern Nationals Drag Race.

Council will also consider a by-law to amend the Zoning By-Law, with respect to land at 23 Mackey Street, and may also discuss a letter from multinational mining and resources company Rio Tinto, notifying of mineral exploration activity on the Lakemount Property about 12 kilometres northeast of Wawa.

There are also three "in-camera" items on the agenda: a legal issue involving an insurance claim; a personnel issue involving clarification of USW articles; and a personnel issue involving the search for a new CAO.

Aside from the "in-camera" portion, tonight's meeting is open to the public, starting at 6 o'clock in Council Chambers.

Sault Ste. Marie Woman Charged After Impaired Driver Tip in Wawa

A young Sault Ste. Marie woman's facing charges after a traffic complaint in Wawa.

Superior East Ontario Provincial Police say they were warned of a possible impaired driver shortly before 3 o'clock Sunday morning, with officers finding the vehicle on Superior Avenue - they performed a traffic stop and detected the odour of alcohol on the driver's breath, leading to her arrest.

The 22-year-old woman has been charged with operation while impaired by alcohol and drugs, as well as failure or refusal to comply with demand - she was also issued a 90-day automatic driver's licence suspension, while the vehicle has been impounded for seven days.

She's set to appear in Wawa court next month.

Ontario Energy Board Holding Chapleau Meeting on Chapleau Hydro Rate Proposal

Chapleau residents can voice their opinion tonight on a proposed rate increase for Chapleau Hydro.

The Ontario Energy Board's holding a community meeting, noting it wants to hear from Chapleau Hydro customers about the proposed rate changes.

In a recent email to JJAM FM News, the local utility confirmed it's asking for a rate increase for all classes - as part of a normal five-year review - noting their current rates are based on 2012 capital and operation costs with yearly inflation, even though they've added $238,000 in assets since then, while the change from a "virtual" utility to a traditional "utility" meant $450,000 more in assets previously owned by a now-defunct affiliate.

The O-E-B says Chapleau Hydro's application - if approved as filed - would mean a "typical residential customer using 750 kilowatt hours of electricity per month" would see a monthly increase of about $1.96, while commercial customers using 2000 kilowatt hours a month would see a monthly increase of $17.40.

That's lower than the numbers provided to JJAM FM by Chapleau Hydro, who stated that a residential customer using 750 kilowatt hours a month is expected to see an increase of $2.88 per month and a commercial customer using 2000 kilowatt hours a month would see an increase of $21.09 a month.

The OEB says utilities "rarely get all they ask for", with 38 percent of the more than 140 major rate applications reviewed since 2009 getting a smaller increase than requested.

The community meeting will be held at the Legion Hall tonight, from 6:30 to 8:30.

Some Details Provided About Collision Near Wawa Turnoff

Some details are emerging about Thursday afternoon's collision on Highway 17 near the Wawa turnoff.

Superior East Ontario Provincial Police have confirmed the collision - just north of Highway 101, along the "Goose Hill" - involved a tractor-trailer and a car, though only minor injuries have been reported.

Images of the car show severe damage to the front passenger side.

While police have confirmed the possibility of charges, they would not comment at this time as to what charges or who would be charged.

The collision didn't close the highway, but did reduce it to a single lane for a couple hours.

Dubreuilville Receives Provincial Support for Arena Renovations

Dubreuilville's arena will get some needed upgrades and maintenance thanks to some provincial support.

The local community is receiving $150,000 over twelve months from the Ontario Trillium Foundation - as part of $83-million being provided to 404 non-profit initiatives - with three parts to the project: upgrades to the lobby doors to restrict access when the upstairs is rented out; the removal, re-grading, and pouring of a new concrete pad for the ice resurfacer, as it has shifted to lean toward the building, causing water to move toward the building's foundation; and upgrades to the roof, adding insulation and waterproofing.

Leisure and Cultural Services Director Rejean Raymond explains the work is necessary to keep the arena functioning into the future.

Raymond notes work will be done this summer, to minimize any impact to service - it should be complete by the end of August, just before the return of the local Strongman Competition and the start of ice season.

Wawa Councillor Looks Back at Recent ROMA Conference

A Wawa councillor's back from a major event: the Rural Ontario Municipal Association - or ROMA - conference.

While he says there were no meetings with ministers, Councillor Pat Tait does highlight speeches given by Premier Doug Ford and his Progressive Conservative government.

Councillor Tait also touts ROMA as a "great place" to make contacts, hear about government plans to support rural communities, and learn about problems and issues in other rural Ontario communities, which he notes are similar to those in Wawa.

Maamwesying North Clinic Holds Grand Opening

A Wawa health clinic offering services for local Indigenous people celebrated its grand opening Thursday.

Maamwesying North Shore Community Health Services - in partnership with Michipicoten First Nation - has opened its North Clinic at 3 Maple Street in Wawa, offering services for free for "on-reserve citizens and the urban Indigenous population residing in Wawa and the surrounding area".

Michipicoten First Nation Chief Pat Tangie calls the clinic "a wonderful opportunity" for not just the Indigenous community, but "all of us", adding that it is fulfilling prophecies.

While Maamwesying is a network of primary health care services along the north shore of Lake Huron, Executive Director Gloria Daybutch says the services offered locally are based on need and what can be covered in the budget, including primary care with a nurse practitioner and more.

Daybutch notes there may be the option for service expansion as needs are determined - and the budget allows - with Maamwesying providing what support it can, including connections within the health system.

Walk-in clinics are Thursday and Friday mornings, though the office is open Monday to Friday - the local team also travels to the Brunswick House and Chapleau Cree First Nations, and serves Chapleau Ojibwe members and those in Chapleau itself.

Michipicoten First Nation Chief Reacts to East-West Tie Project Movement

A local First Nations chief is expressing excitement as the Ontario government's given the go-ahead for the building of a major power line between Wawa and Thunder Bay.

Ontario Energy Minister Greg Rickford announced Thursday that NextBridge has been designated as the transmitter to built the 450-kilometre, double circuit transmission line known as the "East-West Tie Line", rejecting a proposal from Hydro One.

Michipicoten First Nation Chief Pat Tangie says - as one of six First Nations who've partnered with NextBridge on the project through the Bamkushwada Limited Partnership - Michipicoten is quite pleased with the news.

Tangie adds that NextBridge has done "a lot of work" on consultation and accommodation of the First Nations.

BLP had recently called on the provincial government to grant NextBridge leave to construct, arguing Hydro One hadn't carried out the constitutionally-required duty to consult and accommodate First Nations.

Ontario Energy Minister Designates Transmitter for East-West Tie Line

Ontario's Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines has given the go-ahead for the building of a major power line between Wawa and Thunder Bay.

A release from Minister Greg Rickford says the Progressive Conservative government's "taken decisive action to designate NextBridge as the transmitter to build" the 450-kilometre, double-circuit transmission line, known as the "East-West Tie Line".

NextBridge was originally awarded the project, but the previous Liberal government ordered a review of options after project costs jumped from $419-million to $777-million.

Hydro One submitted its own proposal, the "Lake Superior Link", which the utility argued would provide "significant cost savings" and minimize the "environmental footprint", including using their own existing corridor to take the line through Pukaskwa National Park - NextBridge was forced to plan their route around the park.

Minister Rickford says the Ontario Energy Board's review process "has taken longer than expected, putting the timely construction of this necessary project at risk and potentially increasing costs for electricity customers", adding "NextBridge is the right choice to quickly and efficiently complete" the project, having finished preliminary work for it, and gained the support of local communities and First Nation and Metis partners.

This comes less than two weeks after Bamkushwada Limited Partnership - a partnership of six First Nations along the line's route, including Michipicoten First Nation - had called for the provincial government to grant NextBridge leave to construct, arguing Hydro One hadn't carried out the constitutionally-required duty to consult and accommodate First Nations - unlike NextBridge - and they raised concerns that the Hydro One proposal would be built much later than NextBridge's.

Grand Opening for Maamwesying North Clinic

A Wawa health clinic offering services for local Indigenous people is celebrating its grand opening today.

Maamwesying North Shore Community Health Services - in partnership with Michipicoten First Nation - has opened its North Clinic at 3 Maple Street in Wawa, offering services for free.

Integrated Care Manager Irene Armstrong says the clinic's intended for "on-reserve citizens and the urban Indigenous population residing in Wawa and the surrounding area".

As for services offered, Armstrong highlights the staff of the local clinic.

Armstrong adds that walk-in clinics are Thursday and Friday mornings, though the office is open Monday to Friday.

The team also travels to the Brunswick House and Chapleau Cree First Nations, and serves Chapleau Ojibwe members and those in Chapleau itself.

The grand opening celebration runs from 11 to noon, followed by a community feast.