FOOD & RETAIL
Two Frankenmuth Mich. matriarchs die within three days of each other
WindsorOntarioNews.com Nov. 14 2022
Two Frankenmuth matriarchs have died within days of each other. Irene Bronner, the businesswoman behind “the world’s largest Christmas store,” Bronner’s, died last month at the age of 95. She was married to Wally Bronner who founded Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in 1945. The store’s footprint is 27 acres. It sells more than 6,000 styles of ornaments, half of the glass ornaments being Bronner's exclusive designs. The store is open 361 days a year. Bronner served on the company’s board of directors but prior to that was a public school teacher. Three days after her death Judy Zehnder Keller, who founded and was president of the nearby Bavarian Inn Lodge, died at age 77 in the Michigan town. She began working in the family restaurant, the Bavarian Inn, in 1960. She then founded the Bavarian Inn Lodge in 1986, which eventually became one of Michigan’s largest indoor water park hotels. Keller also owned the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus. She graduated from Frankenmuth High School in 1963 and obtained a degree in hotel and restaurant management from Michigan State University. Keller was described as a “long time entrepreneur, community leader, women’s advocate, working mother, wife and grandmother.” She often said she “fries chicken and makes beds for a living.” Frankenmuth has long been one of Canadians most popular Michigan destinations, not least during the Christmas season like now.
Winery route puts business on map
WindsorOntarioNews.com October 14 2022
A gift shop and ice cream parlour has popped up along the county’s wine route, an example of how businesses other than wineries are benefitting from the increasingly busy tourist trail in the Harrow and Essex areas. It’s Priscilla’s Presents, at 1195 Iler Rd., between County Roads 50 and 20 and immediately south of Cooper’s Hawk winery. The business began in 2017 in the town of Harrow itself but then moved in 2020 to the present location, part of a family farm and a barn converted into the store and ice cream parlor. “It was a barn and then we added to the barn,” says owner Tracey Cipkar. “It’s been in my husband’s family for years.” The store seeks to be a “destination” for customers wanting an old-fashioned retail experience. “We’re into nostalgia and to promote family times and memories,” she says. “When I was growing up my family used to go to small towns. And when you bought something it was always family memories - not just what you bought, it was the whole experience.” The store sells general merchandise. “We have baby items, women’s fashions, we have items for men, a lot of gift items, jewelry, bath – a little bit of everything." All merchandise is new though the owner is thinking of creating a vintage section. For the moment she's making a point of selling items that usually can’t be found elsewhere. “If I find out a store has an item I tend to not buy it, I want to be different.” The Here’s the Scoop Ice Cream Parlour adds another dimension. It also goes back to nostalgia, when Cipkar’s dad took her out Sundays for ice cream. It operates April till October. What about the Priscilla name? That’s the name of Cipkar’s niece who died in 2014. “I always wanted to open a store with her – I'd worked with the school board for 25 years – and then she passed away and you know what, life’s too short, so I named the store," she said. "And ‘presents’ means you can buy gifts at the store but it also means her presence to me." Far from being more isolated than when the business was in downtown Harrow, Priscilla's Presents attracts more customers on the rural Iler Rd., with agricultural fields surrounding. “I’m busier than I was in town because that’s the winery route,” Cipkar said. “I get a lot of tourism which I never would have got if I were in town.” And being “a minute’s drive” of Cooper’s Hawk winery the two businesses do cross promotions.
Finally, a song for Thanksgiving
WindsorOntarioNews.com Sept. 28 2022
You know what’s missing from Thanksgiving? A Thanksgiving song. Not anymore. Canadian jazz crooner Alex Bird has recorded one just in time for the crisp fall holiday. “The Sweetest Moments” – with an accompanying video – shows off the best of the fall season and holiday gatherings. “A really good holiday tune puts you right in the mood,” says Bird, wo earned his first Juno in 2022. “It’s been a long time coming, we’ve all been missing something,” says the lyrics. “It happens every fall, the sweetest moments of them all.” Bird teamed up with the Turkey Farmers of Canada to produce the song that celebrates Thanksgiving, this year on October 10. “When we set out to write a Thanksgiving song, we thought about the sounds, the sights, the smells, the faces, the turkey and really tried to encapsulate that in a tune,” Bird says. The song is also featured in a 30-second ad which began airing this week. “We’re thankful for the opportunity to support incredible Canadian talent and hope the song becomes a Thanksgiving classic,” Darren Ference, chair of the Turkey Farmers of Canada says. Bird is a crooner in the traditional sense with a soft swinging voice. A full-length video on the making of the song is also available on YouTube: ‘Think Turkey Presents The Sweetest Moments.’
Post office getting into loan business
WindsorOntarioNews.com Sept. 14 2022
Canada Post is extending to Ontario its new MyMoney Loan service. The post office teamed with TD Bank first in Nova Scotia for a pilot project and is now extending the service to Ontario. But while the bank-type service might strike consumers as odd that a post office is offering it, Canada Post says it has long provided financial services such as MoneyGram, money orders and prepaid reloadable cards. The post office appears to be making the new service as user-friendly as possible. Customers can use an online calculator to determine their exact financial needs with loans starting at $1000. The post office says these “flexible” loans “can help with” items like debt consolidation, emergency home or car repairs “or other sudden life events.” And when a customer enters a post office building staff can help them apply either online or through a toll-free number. Meanwhile the TD bank "will support customers through the application, decisioning and funding process, and customers will have access to customer support including financial literacy resources and online banking.” Besides the TD bank the post office’s longtime employee union, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) is on board having its members aid customers. While relatively new to this country post offices around the world have long offered an array of financial services. And there has been a campaign to increase what’s known as “postal banking.” According to the Universal Postal Union, this makes post offices the “second largest contributor to financial inclusion worldwide,” immediately behind commercial banks. “Financial inclusion” means expanding banking services to people who have otherwise been excluded such as immigrants. In some countries, the ways the service works is either the post office rents space to third-party operators or retails under its own banking license.
More than $1 million to partially replace the city's hi tech devices
WindsorOntarioNews.com August 30 2022
The City of Windsor must have one of the largest computer accounts in the region. It has 2071 computing devices, according to a report. The city replaces its laptops every 3.9 years. Desktops stay around longer at 4.25 years and monitors have a lifespan of 5.5 years. Last year the city replaced 122 desktops, 141 laptops and 123 monitors. The 263 desktops and laptops represent 13 per cent of the city’s inventory. On average, 19 per cent of the inventory is replaced yearly. But there was less replacement last year “due to the pandemic and the shortage of available equipment.” The city provides networking to more than 70 facilities. Meanwhile, the city’s servers and storage equipment provide applications and services to some 2,100 computer users within its offices and shops. This is in addition to web services provided residents such as the city’s website, tax enquiries, online payments, registrations, licensing, poll locators and property inquiries. “Server and storage virtualization have allowed the City to make more efficient use of hardware,” the report says. The city has 232 servers with 190 being virtual. In 2002 the city switched from leasing equipment to a pay-as-you-go plan as it did for other assets like vehicles and radios. How much did last year’s replacements cost? Just slightly over $1 million. If you think this is too quick a replacement rate think again. The report says these “low replacement rates” are a “good indication” the switch from leasing has paid off.
Portable BBQs on the way out overseas but not here in Canada
WindsorOntarioNews.com July 28 2022
While retailers in Britain have begun scrapping the sale of portable barbecues these reportedly highly dangerous products are still widely for sale in Canada with seemingly little concern, as an internet search found. Not so overseas. Earlier this year the British Waitrose grocery chain said the grills pose an outdoor risk. “Disposable barbecues present a risk to our natural habitats and this is why we’ve committed to removing them from our shelves this year,” a spokeswoman said. Aldi supermarkets also pulled them. “As an alternative, we would encourage customers to opt for more environmentally friendly and sustainable options such as mini portable barbecues, ensuring they are used responsibly,” said a rep. A government official welcomed these moves saying it “helps people act more responsibly while enjoying the countryside and encourage everyone to follow the countryside code when spending time outdoors. This includes only using barbecues in places where signs specify, and are permitted, to better protect people, property and wildlife”. Writing in the Daily Mail Ross Clark points to wildfires and other surprising personal injuries. Fire crews discovered 11 disposable BBQs after a 470-acre wildfire in Dorset and “it is highly likely that at least one of them set off the conflagration.” The problem is that most users don’t understand how the BBQs retain heat. A homeowner in Essex left one on his wooden deck yet the residual heat “managed to spark a fire which destroyed the home.” Even after they’ve been disposed of the portables, made of tin foil and wire mesh containing charcoal, can cause severe harm. There have been occasions where people have stepped on sand where the Q’s had been used. “The heat retained by the sand would be enough to burn the feet of nine-year-old Will Tyler when he unknowingly stepped on to the patch where it had been,” Clark writes. And last month a similar event occurred. The devices are also dirty and inconvenient so many people just leave them where they used them. “This exposes unsuspecting people to the risk of stepping on their sharp edges — even after they have eventually cooled.”
Sobeys joins with Cineplex and will eventually axe use of Air Miles card
WindsorOntarioNews.com July 14 2022
Sobeys will be phasing out its long-time partnership with Air Miles. Meanwhile it’s joining with Canada’s largest theatre chain, Cineplex, and introduction the Scene+ card. The card is being introduced in Atlantic Canada, Sobeys’ parent Empire Co. home, first. It will be rolled out next year across the rest of the country. Scotiabank is the third partner. The Scene+ card will also be honored at restaurants and retailers like Swiss Chalet, Harveys and Montana’s along with Best Buy and Apple. Sobeys says it wants the card to become “a preeminent loyalty program in Canada.”
Buy local. But why? That’s what one of Canada’s premier food research organizations wanted to find out. Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab teamed up with Angus Reid to survey Canadians on why they prefer to purchase local food. Eighty-two per cent of Ontarians thought it important to support local. And Canadians generally said the main reason is to bolster farmers. Perhaps a surprise, few Canadians thought local foods are of higher quality, more nutritious, safe or affordable.
A study found that if grocers place health items near check-outs, customers will eat healthier. UK researchers had certain grocers rearrange merchandise so produce was near the entrance. So-called ”unhealthy” foods like candy were removed. “The findings of our study suggest that a healthier store layout could lead to nearly 10,000 extra portions of fruit and vegetables and approximately 1,500 fewer portions of confectionery being sold on a weekly basis in each store,” Southampton University's Christian Vogel says.
Loblaws plans to eliminate all single-use plastic bags at check-out beginning early next year. Canada’s biggest grocery store chain says that since the company started offering reusable bags for a fee, there was a 70 per cent decline in single-use plastic bags.
Events galore at city BIAs this year
WindsorOntarioNews.com June 30 2022
From a new alley art gallery downtown to outdoor markets in Sandwich Towne the city’s business improvement districts have a slate of activities scheduled this year. The downtown BIA estimated the $100,000 Art Alley project – primarily funded through a federal grant - will see several new art instllations in the alleyway behind the Pelissier Street parking garage. Also, as in previous years the DWBIA will also host the summer Ouellette Car Cruise and Summer Fest - at a cost of $20,000 and $70,000 respectively – funded through sponsorships and other grants. The BIA will again be holding its ever popular night markets this year. The Sandwich Towne BIA (photo) will repeat its outdoor markets that were held last year. Two special events are being added, the Miracle of Sandwich and Open Streets. The Ottawa Street BIA has a number of smaller events on tap: Win Your Purchase, Win Your Purchase Restaurant Aid and a Sidewalk Sale and Open Street. The Pillette Village BIA has one special event on tap, a Giant Garage Sale. And the Ford City BIA is planning one special event called Dropped on Drouillard, described as Windsor’s "only all-day urban street and culture festival." The Old Riverside Town Centre BIA has a special event planned, Wheels on Wyandotte, in addition to its Christmas promotion. The Via Italia Erie St. BIA will hold two events, Carrousel of the Nations, just passed, and the Tour di Via Italia Bike Races. “A smaller winter event is also planned,” the BIA says in its budget submission to City Council. BIA funding generally comes from neighbourhood business levies and small grants.
Retail still waiting for plastic bag ban
WindsorOntarioNews.com June 2 2022
The federal government has indicated it plans to phase out single use plastic bags. But there is still no word on when this will happen. Meanwhile retailers themselves are moving to replace plastic with paper and permanent bags. Michelle Wasylyshen, spokeswoman for the Retail Council of Canada, said the timelines are “a bit unclear.” But, she said, “companies are moving forward.” She said there is not an ”exhaustive list but so far, Sobeys and Walmart have moved away from using plastic shopping bags, and Costco - for as long as I can recall - has never used bags.” Last December the feds announced draft regulations prohibiting single use bags based on consultations launched in 2019. “It is the Government’s intent to finalize these Regulations and bring the ban into force as quickly as possible and as early as late 2022 after reviewing and considering comments received,” the announcement said. It also said it would provide “draft guidance to help businesses adapt” to the ban. The government acknowledged that some bags are recycled but says this amounts to only nine per cent. It added that "the market is already moving forward” with more retailers and restaurants “taking action to avoid single-use plastics.” Municipalities like Toronto have already acted to reduce single-use plastics. The feds say the ban would prevent more than 23,000 tonnes of plastic pollution from entering the environment over 10 years, the equivalent of “one million garbage bags of litter.”
Covid lockdowns gave unintended windfalls to city business districts
WindsorOntarioNews.com May 6 2022
The Covid-19 pandemic has provided an unintentional windfall to the city’s nine Business Improvement Areas (BIA). With businesses closed and street traffic at a low ebb some of the projects and promotions the BIAs normally engage in were cancelled or postponed, saving large sums of cash. In budgets submitted to City Council as much as $1,012,278 has been saved by the BIAs over two years. The Downtown Windsor BIA had the largest surplus of $343,996, followed by Wyandotte Town Centre at $197,119 and Olde Sandwich Towne at $134,387. They were followed by Via Italia/Erie Street at $89,663, Walkerville District at $59,041, Ottawa Street at $57,209, Ford City at $50,061, Pillette Village at $47,761 and Olde Riverside Town Centre at $33,041. The surpluses accumulated over the 2019 and 2020 budget years. And likely more money will accumulate. “While the 2021 financial statements have not yet been finalized, due to restrictions imposed on public gatherings and events during 2021, it is anticipated that these reserves will continue to increase,” a city report says. While City Council has to approve the BIA budgets it can’t tell BIAs how to spend their funds, raised through levies on business district members – the neighbourhood businesses. “There are no legislative requirements for City Council to approve expenditures from accumulated reserves leaving discretion to the BIA Boards,” the report says. Janice Guthrie, city deputy treasurer, says the BIAs have “full autonomy” over with their annual levies and how funds are used. The city collects the levies on BIAs' behalf. And BIAs are “are subject to annual audits which serve to validate that expenditures are made in accordance with approved budgets and conform to generally accepted accounting principles.” Guthrie says BIAs are free to use the surplus funds towards future projects, often enhancements like street scaping, banners and promotions. “Many of the BIAs are in the process of determining the appropriate use of the reserves in order to provide added support to their membership as the city moves towards a full reopening,” she said. Asked if BIAs could reduce their levies in wake of the surpluses, Guthrie said that “would not be considered appropriate as it would be a one-time adjustment.”
Back to the office – downtown – also means discovering new businesses
WindsorOntarioNews.com April 22 2022
With the pandemic winding down and restrictions being lifted – and plenty of offices in downtown Windsor which have been unoccupied for roughly two years – downtown promoters are touting the large number of new businesses that have opened in the intervening months. They hope that may entice more people to come back to the office, with the understanding working downtown also supports small business and helps build a dynamic city core. “The Downtown Windsor BIA is always ready to welcome workers and visitors to the city centre,” Debi Croucher, executive director of the Downtown Windsor BIA says. “We would love to see more people working back in the core and exploring what’s new since they left.” Croucher says the downtown has had some “great new additions” that people may have missed if they’ve been working from home. “And we look forward to introducing them to the workers.” Over the past year new businesses include 88 Fusion Café, Chatham Street Diner, Dahab Designs, Diva’s Delight, Emerson Supply Co., FA Fred’s Fashions, Grass Roots, Hakka Khazana, Huncho’s Barbershop, KFC, La Vern’s Market, Lowend Co – new, larger location, Royal Paan, Sitara Authentic Cuisine, Taco Bell, The Gifting Tree and a new larger location for the Whiskeyjack Boutique.
Most charging stations will take from 6 to 12 hours to recharge your EV
WindsorOntarioNews.com February 28 2022
The new electric vehicle charging program announced for Essex County will likely see the vast majority or all chargers be so-called Level 2 charging stations. These are the stations already funded by the Zero-Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program for 22 stations in the City of Windsor. These are also the overwhelming number of station types funded under the program. Statistics provided by the program show that in the program’s first round Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) awarded funding for 1,340 Level 2 chargers and 46 DC fast chargers. The program called Charge Up is a joint project with Essex Powerlines. “The way the program works is that businesses/organizations would submit applications with their own ideas as to where they'd like to install chargers on their properties,” Eric Freeze, the program’s coordinator says. Once installed NRCan would distribute funds to the participants. There are three types of chargers and each one provides charging at faster rates than the others. Level 1 is plugging your car into a typical household outlet. According to Business Insider magazine, “Plugged into a 120-volt outlet for an hour, an EV will gain around 3-5 miles of range. Completely topping up a car's battery, which is typically good for anywhere between 150 and 300 miles of range, can take days.” Level 2 utilizes a 240-volt connection like you’d use to charge an appliance or power tool. Level 2 can deliver about 20-30 miles of range per hour. It takes roughly 6-12 hours for a full charge. Then there are the Level 3 or DC fast chargers, where some EVs can replenish 80% battery in a half hour to 45 minutes. “Tesla claims the Model S Plaid can add 200 miles of range in just 15 minutes using one of the company's most powerful Superchargers,” the magazine says. How much will it costs to recharge? Freeze said it depends on how the chargers are used. “Some will be for workplaces and not have any cost charged for their service. Others will be open to public use and may have costs associated with charging however that is left up to the applicants.” Essex Powerlines Corp. is receiving $2 million to install up to 300 stations before September 2023.
Covid shots aside, Canada isn't all that great at vaccinating older people
WindsorOntarioNews.com February 10 2022
Covid vaccines aside, older Canadians are under-vaccinated against diseases like influenza, shingles and pneumonia, according to a new “report card” by seniors’ advocacy group CanAge. “The writing is on the wall: improve the way we immunize older Canadians or they will continue to pay with their lives,” says CEO Laura Tamblyn Watts. The report shows that while Canada “is effective at vaccinating children, vaccine uptake in adults is extremely low, putting the vast majority of older adults at risk of severe health outcomes.” In its second annual report card, CanAge found that, among provinces, Ontario dropped to second place as best for administering vaccines. PEI came out on top. That’s due to Ontario’s “shortfalls in public education and limited vaccine accessibility.” One major reason is its refusal to let pharmacies administer vaccines. This at a time “when many older people can't get to their doctor,” Tamblyn Watts says. The report shows Ontario funds both high-dose and adjuvanted (enhanced) formulations of seniors-specific flu shots but hasn't been transparent about the difference to the general public. "We can't afford to shake seniors' confidence in vaccines right now," says Tamblyn Watts. "The Government of Ontario needs to be more clear about what shots people are getting to encourage uptake during the pandemic." Also, Ontario is one of three provinces to fund the shingles vaccine. But it only covers those 65-70 despite experts recommending it should be for all those over 50, who make up 38 per cent of the population.
Detailed personal financial questions are designed to protect you - OSC
WindsorOntarioNews.com January 19 2022
If you’re buying and selling securities like mutual funds you’re now subject to an array of new questions about your personal financial situation including your income and living information. It’s all part of the Know Your Client (KYC) reforms brought in by regulators Dec. 31. These are called ”client focused reforms,” according to JP Vecsi of the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC). For example, you’ll be asked your employment and financial details, whether you own a house and associated costs, your employer. There are questions about your net worth including fixed assets like house and car items “that would be difficult to sell in a timely manner,” as one investment advisor put it. And more saleable liquid asserts like cash and savings along with your investment goals. You’ll be asked your comfort level for stock market losses. For example, if investments dropped 8-10 per cent per year “what would be your decision – would you withdraw everything, some, withdraw or invest any more funds, invest more or invest significantly more?” You’ll also be asked if you have mutual funds in other accounts, if any money invested has been borrowed and how much, say, your non-registered account makes up of your overall portfolio. “With those new questions, what the government kind of rolled out, they compile those answers and give you an investor profile," said the advisor. According to a securities background paper, the new rules are so advisers can “record your risk tolerance and your financial ability to withstand losses (risk capacity) and review the results with you” resulting “in more suitable investment portfolios.” This information must be updated yearly. The backgrounder says all this is to ensure products you’re sold “put your interests first.” Meanwhile advisors themselves must be upfront with clients and inform about conflicts of interest such as being paid a higher commission for selling a certain investment.
Chrysler’s new customer: upper income college-educated millennial women
WindsorOntarioNews.com January 5 2022
Chrysler wants to appeal to a new type of consumer. Put away the traditional concept of “family” or positioning products as “luxury” or as “people mover” vehicles. That’s according to the division's new CEO Christine Feuell (photo), appointed last September. Chrysler created and has long dominated the minivan segment, Windsor’s main bread and butter industry. Speaking to The Detroit News Feuell says she wants to “evolve” the Chrysler brand “beyond just the family positioning.” But the concept of family itself is evolving. “We think that the way particularly younger cohorts define family — it’s not just the people or the family that they were born into,” she says. “But it’s the group of people that they have evolved to become close to, their tribe, their community, so to speak. And they do move in groups together, and we want to make sure that we’re providing a vehicle that enables that mobility.” The CEO made her comments in light of the automaker’s major push this week into the electric vehicle market. Parent company Stellantis is investing $35 billion into electrification and software by 2024. And Chrysler just unveiled the all-electric concept SUV, the Airflow. Feuell wants to “redefine” the market including for electrified large sedans to replace the Chrysler 300. The new focus is on a “college-educated millennial woman who is active in her urban or suburban community and cares about the environment,” the News says. “Her income at $100,000 a year is higher than today’s typical Chrysler buyer.” Referencing the newer Pacific PHEV “,we found a much younger audience aligning to our target persona: millennial female, higher income and also higher multicultural mix,” Feuell says. Comments auto analyst Sam Fiorani, “Re-establishing Chrysler as a brand in a crowded market will be tough; however, an electrified model could be the step up that Chrysler needs to make a splash.”
Cottam church celebrates 75th year of serving turkeys for US Thanksgiving
WindsorOntarioNews.com Nov 11 2021
It’s Cottam United Church’s 75th year of celebrating American Thanksgiving with freshly cooked turkey dinners. Due to Covid meals will be served by drive-up only, similar to last year. Altogether 1200 meals are prepared and you should pre-order through the church website or calling 519-839-4266. Meals can be picked up between 2.30 and 7 pm. Each meal consists of sliced turkey, mashed potatoes, peas, stuffing, gravy, squash and a piece of either apple, blueberry or cherry pie – your choice. “It’s a big meal,” says turkey committee chair Rick Meyer. North Kingsville firefighters will be on hand to direct traffic and keep vehicles from crowding County Rd. 34. The cost is $20 and money goes to civic beautification projects like benches. “They’re about $1500 a pop,” Meyer says. As many as 125 people take part over several days preparing for the big day and the church always sells out of meals. The operation is pretty efficient. You drive up and give your name or order number, staff will be expecting you, and runners (mostly youth) will go into the church, grab your already packed orders and bring them out to the car in under two minutes. Volunteers prepare the dinner in 15-minute intervals so the meals are fresh. So if you order at 4 pm those meals are being prepared at 3.45. Orders are limited to 75 dinners per 15-minute interval. The church orders 1400-pounds of turkey or about 50 turkeys with about half cooked by Colosanti’s and the Woodslee community hall - “we thank them,” says Rick. Local business also supports by doing things like providing bags. Meals are in recyclable containers keeping them piping hot and no need to warm up when you get home. Unfortunately, not too many Americans partake anymore largely because of dwindling visitors ever since 9/11 and now the Covid border closures. But there still may be a couple dozen. “We get some who are here because they have cottages which is why we did it in the first place,” Rick says.
Photo: Cottam United Church
Fraudulent calls say you're a criminal
WindsorOntarioNews.com October 19 2021
It’s enough to make you feel you’re a criminal. But you’re not. Scammers are calling personal phone numbers and ominously informing people they’re being investigated for illegal activity by Canada Customs. An official sounding female voice says: “The reason behind this call is that Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has seized a parcel under your name which was shipped through Canada Post using your identity. The parcel contains illegal components. There is an arrest warrant already issued under your name. To talk to an officer from Canada Border Services Agency please press ‘1’ and hold the line.” When put on hold the caller hears the standard “you’re call is very important to us and you’ll be transferred to the next available agent.” A live person comes on saying, “Canada Border Services Agency, how may I help you?” When asked where the agent is located he hung up. The calls came from Chatham. The real CBSA says there has been an ongoing problem with fraudulent calls. “The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is aware there have been recent cases of individuals posing fraudulently as CBSA officials using email, text messages and telephone calls,” spokeswoman Jacqueline Callin says. “We can tell you that these calls are fraudulent and that the CBSA will never call asking for an individual's personal information or to issue a warrant.” Some of the information is so authentic as to post “display numbers and employee names that falsely appear to be from the CBSA,” Callin says. “Emails may contain CBSA logos, email addresses or employee names and titles to mislead the public.” If you receive such a call report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or online.
Photo: Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
Windsor Regional again taken to task for Met's Tim Hortons outlet losses
WindsorOntarioNews.com Sept. 29 2021
SecondStreet.org has again taken Windsor Regional Hospital to task for losing money at its Tim Hortons Met campus outlet. “Q: Who could lose $1.7 million running a Tim Hortons? A: The government,” the website says in a new post. SecondStreet.org, which investigates how government spending affects the public, says its latest research shows WRH losing $1.7 million from 2010-1019 at the Met campus Tim’s kiosk. Back in 2012 the hospital first made headlines for losing $265,000 through the franchise. Then, staff were being paid $26 per hour including benefits. The hospital now will not disclose wage information. “Ultimately, the losses at the Windsor Hospital’s Tim Hortons take dollars away from departments at the hospital that actually provide services to patients,” SecondStreet.org says. “According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, the cost for the average knee or hip surgery works out to $10,500. Divide that into $1.7 million and it looks like the Windsor hospital could have helped provided an extra 160 surgeries or so – reducing patient suffering at the same time.” The earlier 2012 Postmedia article “served as inspiration” for SecondStreet.org’s 2020 investigation of losses at hospital food services - food served to the public not free food served to patients - across the country. It found more than $12 million in losses over two years alone including $74,775 at WRH. Hospital CEO David Musyj has dismissed the report, as had a hospital spokesman to WON.com in an earlier comment request. Musyj said the two Tim’s outlets should be looked at together. “In his mind, the fact that one of his Tim Hortons franchises lost money wasn’t important as the other one it operated, 4 km away (at Ouellette campus), turned a slightly larger profit,” SecondStreet.org says. “But if you had two Tim Hortons franchises — a profitable one and one that lost money — wouldn’t you shut down the latter so that you ended up with higher overall profits? It’s probably safe to assume that most people would say, ‘Yes.’”
New website lists businesses that believe in freedom of medical choice
WindsorOntarioNews.com Sept. 15 2021
Many Windsor area business have signed on to a new national website where businesses let consumers know they make no judgement on the Covid vaccine debate. “NoPass List supports all Canadians who believe in freedom of choice and don’t believe in discrimination or segregation based on medical choice," the website nopasslist.ca states. Area businesses such as Mindful Body Nutrition and Thomson Baking Co. in Windsor, Wheatley’s Lonestar Exteriors and Stoney Creek’s Lindsay’s Landscaping, have added their names to the site. As of today, 1185 businesses across Canada have signed on to the website, which only started Sept. 5. The website - and the businesses which have signed-up – “don’t believe that you should be discriminated against based on medical choices,” says website spokeswoman Brea Osler. Nor does it necessarily mean those businesses won’t enforce any provincial vaccine passports, as some provinces including Ontario, are introducing. “There have been businesses that have signed up who have openly said that they’re not going to implement the vaccine passports,” Osler said. “But it’s not true for every single business on there as they haven’t come out and made those statements yet.” Osler said the site was created by a group of friends, not business owners but consumers, living north of Toronto in East Gwillimbury. “I’m not actually a business owner, I am a consumer and I do feel very strongly on this topic,” she said. Osler said the site is useful for consumers who may have similar philosophical positions and might like to support businesses that have the same. As Osler said, “People want to know what businesses follow these values and what businesses they can support.” Once vax passports are implemented, could the website publish a list of those retailers that will refuse to enforce them? “It’s something that we’re still discussing. At this time it’s really hard to make that call just yet,” Osler said. The website not only provides photos, logos and descriptions of listed businesses but maps so consumers can easily find them.
Those disappearing floor arrows
WindsorOntarioNews.com August 19 2021
Directional arrows are coming off supermarket floors or at least some of them. The arrows, along with stickers indicating social distancing protocols at check-out counters, became an early feature of pandemic measures in spring 2020. But as Canadians get vaccinated in large numbers, stores are starting to remove the floor markers, which sometimes were sources of friction between shoppers. “At the very onset of the pandemic, we immediately introduced several health and safety measures to help keep our teammates and our customers safe,” Sobeys public relations told WON.com. Among the measures were the “one way aisles” (which the arrows served as guidance), plexiglass cashier shields and cancelling product sampling. Sobeys, whose store chain banners include discounter FreshCo, isn’t specifically removing the markers en masse. Said its PR dept., “The ‘one-way aisles’ and floor markers are currently still being used in the majority our stores. However, as these markers are subject to general wear and tear from floor cleaning and sanitization efforts, we will not be replacing them.” Sobeys said it will continue to “evaluate” health and safety measures, including floor markers, as provincial requirements evolve. Meanwhile, at Loblaw, whose banners include No Frills, Zehrs, Real Canadian Superstore and Shoppers Drug Mart, a similar policy is in place. “In stores where arrows are present in the aisles, they will remain until they are worn and must be removed,” the chain said in response to a comment request. However, “We can confirm that at this point we have no plans to remove the plexiglass shields from our stores in Windsor.” Representatives for Walmart and the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers did not respond.
"Chain of custody" may be way to dent catalytic converter thefts
WindsorOntarioNews.com August 5 2021
The theft of a catalytic converted from the van of a local charity is only the latest theft – and a higher profile one - of thousands of thefts each year across the province and Canada of the highly-valued pollution control devices. And it’s a plague the scrap industry and government are having a hard time coming to terms with. “It’s a problem all over.” John Bruner of Coreline Auto Parts in Mississauga told WON.com. Thieves “crawl underneath a Prius to get $1400 US for the converter.” He said there is no “chain of custody” in Ontario to identify the source of stolen parts. Steve Fletcher, executive director of the London-based Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association (OARA), said his members don’t buy “loose cats” from the public or businesses. “We are in the used parts business and technically a cat separated from a vehicle is no longer considered a part, it is conserved scrap metal,” he said. “We acquire our cats by processing end-of-life vehicles.” The Canadian Association of Recycling Industries (CARI) has a metal theft alert program. “Our industry suffers from more material theft than any other,” its website says. CARI works with law enforcement to combat theft and report suspected items at www.ScrapTheftAlert.com. Alberta appears the province most advanced in tackling the problem. Ken Sorensen, executive director of the Alberta Automotive Recyclers and Dismantlers Association, said if dealers buy cats “as an auto recycler you have to record certain information” such as a driver’s license from the seller. Sorensen said he knows of one new car dealership where vehicles had their converters poached. “Because pick-up trucks are brand new and so high off the ground they’re easy to slide under and with these battery powered cut saws the one dealership lost 12 – they were all lined-up in a row.” Cat converters can fetch more than $2000 but more often in the mid-hundreds. “It all depends on what unit it is,” Sorensen says.
Masks off but plexiglass may stay
WindsorOntarioNews.com July 9 2021
Face masks might disappear before check-out plexiglass shields in supermarkets as vaccination rates go up and Covid-19 cases come down, suggests an industry publication. Already in the United States major retailers like Aldi, Costco, Publix and Target have removed mask mandates. In Canada, with lagged vaccinations though increasingly catching up or starting to surpass, one epidemiologist said he wouldn’t be surprised if stores could go “fully open” as early as September. However, Raywat Deonandan of the University of Ottawa told Canadian Grocer, there still could be capacity limitations. Of course all this depends on the easing by provincial governments of safety protocols, with some provinces moving quicker to dispense with them than others. But Deonandan said expect plexiglass shields at check out to stay up at least for the time being. This could be simply to ensure customers of an ongoing level of safety but also may reflect the enormous cost retailers spent on installing them early last year. He also suggests that grocers will continue to provide more wrapped and bagged produce and baked items, for example, into the future. But Sylvain Charlebois of Dalhousie University said continued “deep cleaning” of stores is unnecessary. “We have a better understanding of the risks,” he says. “And the illusion created by staff cleaning everything won’t change the risks consumers are exposed to.” Meanwhile, as society edges out of the pandemic retailers face a new concern: allowing customers into stores mask free. In the US Costco won’t demand proof of vaccinations but ask members' “responsible and respectful co-operation." Others worry that their staff may become “vaccine police” and endure more abuse from some in the public after their enforcement of mask rules over the past year.
Walking a ghostly Devonshire Mall
WindsorOntarioNewsw.com June 24 2021
By Ron Stang/WON.com publisher
It was a sad, bizarre sight walking through a lonely cavernous Devonshire Mall in what normally would be prime time shopping hours late on a Saturday morning. Only a few people, and a janitor picking up litter, could be seen walking through the, for decades, once bustling mall. With provincial Covid-19 restrictions allowing only 15 per cent occupancy most stores were darkened with their according glass doors locked. A few, like Lululemon, were lit but closed and a couple of employees could be seen inside. According to the mall’s website while these stores were closed – brands like Aldo, Roots and Sephora - did provide curbside pickup. Even the mall floor kiosks, which used to sell products like cellphone cases, had tarps draped over them. Perhaps most depressing was seeing a forlorn Dollarama, the peoples’ store! According to mall management, “select” stories, such as smart phone shops and eyeglass vendors, could open and were oases of retail, almost like pre-pandemic times. They’re considered “essential.” Also, “street facing” stores like Old Navy and Indigo, were open. There were about 20 people in line for Old Navy and a few for Indigo with staff ensuring entrance only when the same number of shoppers had left. Since on principle I don’t wait in line, despite being told it would “only be a second,” I turned around and went back to my car. While a few people walked the mall, official mall walking, of the exercise kind, is suspended. And wheelchairs and electric scooters were unavailable. The province today announced the move into Step 2 of the so-called Roadmap to Reopen June 30, a few days prior to when Step 2 was thought to take place. That’s due to lower Covid case counts and high vaccination rates. But “non-essential” retail will only be increased to 25 per cent capacity. The lineups, at least for exterior “street facing” retailers, will likely continue.
Windsor-based fitness program breaks aging stereotypes worldwide
WindsorOntarioNews.com June 8 2021
Sixty-five isn’t what it used to be. And it’s time the media, institutions and the public stop treating older people as “vulnerable” and “at risk.” So says Windsor-based fitness company owner Emily Johnson. She owns StrongerU Senior Fitness. Its aim is to work with seniors organizations and train instructors to promote better physical activity for aging people. Providing better fitness breaks the myth that older people have to be inactive. “We refuse to accept that,” Johnson says. The idea is to “smash ageist stereotypes and change perceptions.” Johnson says weight gain, loss of mobility and chronic illness aren’t necessarily related to aging. “Inactivity is the real culprit,” pointing to centenarians running marathons and 90-somethings doing CrossFit. Johnson has a wide background. Besides being founder and creative director of StrongerU Senior Fitness, she appears regularly on CityTV’s Breakfast Television and has been feature in AARP, Authority and Impact magazines as well as Livestrong.com. Johnson graduated from UWindsor’s human kinetics in 2014 and moved to Calgary but returned home last year. She developed the seniors’ instructors’ course – which provides initial certificate instruction plus ongoing education - because she saw the “widespread opportunities” to improve senior fitness and get older adults moving again. Her course offers instruction in cardio, strength, stretch and circuit. Graduates now work across Canada, the US, as far away as Australia and New Zealand. Visit www.strongeruseniorfitness.com.
Photo: Emily Johnson