Portable BBQs on the way out overseas but not here in Canada 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.”

Photo: Stellantis

Cottam church celebrates 75th year of serving turkeys for US Thanksgiving 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 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 Sept. 29 2021 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., 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,” 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’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 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,” 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

Photo: TechWiki

Masks off but plexiglass may stay 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 June 24 2021

By Ron Stang/ 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.

Photo: Wikipedia

Windsor-based fitness program breaks aging stereotypes worldwide 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 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

Photo: Emily Johnson

More murals coming to brighten Windsor's business districts May 26 2021

More murals are coming to city business districts. The Sandwich BIA is refurbishing one that shows the area’s historic French roots. “The BIA is restoring it as the years have not been kind to it,” BIA coordinator Marty Ann Cuderman said. “It should be reinstalled later this spring or early summer. Of course, we will have it coated to address any graffiti.” Recently the Sandwich area was hit by two attacks of vandalism. In March, a plaque honoring Canada’s first two Black journalists - Mary and Henry Bibb - was stolen. And in May, two of 16 side by side African-Canadian mural panels in Paterson Park – were vandalized. One was that of Howard Watkins, one of Canada’s first Black detectives, which was marred with blue paint. Another area of the panels had the words “Hi Gramma” scrawled on it. Meanwhile in Ford City, two more murals are schedule in addition to the three dozen that already adorn the east side neighbourhood, the biggest mural cluster anywhere in Windsor. “We do not have anything concrete yet as to the themes,” BIA coordinator Bridget Scheuerman said. “We will be sending out a request for artists.” And on Ottawa Street, one mural on the side of the Bourbon Tap & Grill (photo) was completed this spring by well-known local muralist David Derkatz (DERKZ) (see ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT). “It was commissioned by the owner of the Bourbon,” Ottawa St. BIA president Ettore Bonato said. It's a Prohibition speakeasy scene. And a second mural, also by DERKZ, is being done specifically for the BIA and is called “Hands.” It is being painted at the Legal Focus law office. It’s a collage of human hands in different positions showing the give and take of human nature. Said Bonato, “He (DERKZ) has a way of approaching the artwork he produces by breaking it up into sections, then using colour to configure placement of different parts of his artwork, then filling in the gaps he created to have a beautiful, completed mural everyone can enjoy.”

City ends vacant property rebates May 7 2021

The city has eliminated a commercial property tax rebate program that saw tax reductions for vacant properties. A report to council cited much less demand for the program as economic conditions improved over the past decade. But the major factors were the province pulling funding for its share (education tax) of rebates, new municipal development incentives and favorable provincial assessment reductions in response to claims by property owners. “This decline can be attributed to improvement in general economic conditions,” the report says. This was prior to Covid, which has placed many businesses under duress due to emergency closure laws. But the city points to a phalanx of 11 short term programs specifically tailored to Covid relief. Otherwise, the decline in applications had dropped precipitously since 2009, from 516 that year with $3.1 million in rebate value approved, to 251 and $1.1 million in 2019. Overall in 2019 the city approved 251 applications for $1.14 million in property tax relief. Specifically in Windsor’s nine Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) in 2019 almost $178,000 was returned as rebates. This was for 58 applications out of a total of 833 properties. Most of the rebates went to property owners in the downtown BIA (for 29 of 304 properties for $139,000) followed by nine of 93 properties in Erie St (Via Italia) for $11,520. The BIA which had the least applications – for just one of 78 properties – was Ford City, and the amount was only $129. Said the report, “there are very few applications received when compared to the overall number of properties within the designated areas as the majority are occupied.”

Big box sales finally limited but goal is overall equal playing field - CFIB April 23 2021

The recent decision by the Ford government to have retailers tape off non-essential areas of big boxes – and other stores like Dollarama – is finally acknowledgement that the small retail sector has been unfairly harmed during the pandemic. Up to now smaller retailers have incessantly complained of the double standard. "We viewed it that the third time around (the latest lockdown) they finally recognized the imbalance that they were creating in favor of the bigger guys and helped level the playing field to a point," Ryan Mallough (photo), Ontario director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), said. While small stores weren’t allowed to open for business or with restrictions, shoppers could easily wander into a Wal-Mart or Costco and purchase housewares, toys or electronics to their hearts’ content. “So, if the government is deciding that we have to shut things down we like this approach in that at the very least it maintains fairness.” But his organization’s position isn’t one or the other. “Ultimately what we’d really like to see is all stores being open to be able to sell all goods – again with capacity limitations, by appointment, or whatever it takes to keep people safe,” he said. Despite seemingly an unfair approach Mallough thinks the reason the government targeted small business was because it wanted to limit, “the number of places that you can go in the hopes that you won’t wind up going out anywhere.” As well, there was the perception that because of their small footprints smaller businesses have more frequent traffic. “Not because cases or spread are necessarily happening there but because ‘we want to communicate to you the public this is how serious it is.’ ” Nevertheless, Mallough said, small retailers have felt themselves the scapegoat. “They’ve been used to set the example to the public as opposed to shut down for direct health and safety reasons.” He said that the CFIB has been trying to encourage government “to think of something that isn’t a blanket lockdown.” He said an example is businesses in northern Ontario “in a region that’s doing pretty well case wise being beholden to the same rules as Toronto.” Or businesses like retail or hair salons that have not seen the same outbreaks as warehouses “yet they’re the ones being shut down.” Methods to level the playing field would be rapid testing or service by appointment. “We’re looking for something that allows some trickle of economic activity to keep these businesses going while we’re still in the heart of the pandemic period.”

Photo: CFIB

All those tinted vehicle windows? Most of them are probably illegal April 9 2021

Windsor-Essex may be the Sun Parlour of Canada but that’s not likely why so many local drivers have their vehicle windows so heavily tinted. Under Section 73 of the Motor Vehicle Act drivers can’t have their windshield or front row windows tinted in a way “that substantially obscures the interior of the motor vehicle” when viewed from outside. A 2017 law did allow a maximum 30 per cent tint on front row windows and no restrictions on backside or rear windows. Yet a Toronto lawyer and well know road safety expert says drivers violate these standards all the time likely because of lack of police enforcement. Patrick Brown of McLeish Orlando law firm says he “continuously” sees vehicles with illegally tinted windows. “I see them in Toronto all the time.” But drivers get away with it due to lack of enforcement. “It really isn’t something that they (police) enforce.” Brown said people tint their windows not to keep the sun out – there are inexpensive visors for that - but because they simply don’t want to be seen. “This is so people can’t look into their cars and see what they’re doing whether it’s police or other people,” he said. And it has “huge” implications. For example, distracted driving and cell phone use. Police have to see drivers to lay charges. “I think some people actually get the tinting so that they can obscure themselves from what they’re doing inside the car like using their phone, like eating, like doing all kinds of distracted stuff that’s going to hurt someone." Sure, the lawyer allowed, some people might tint their windows because “it’s esthetically good looking.” But tinted windows are also a danger to pedestrians and cyclists. Brown, who has led the province's most comprehensive coroner’s review into pedestrian and cyclist deaths, said people need to make eye contact with drivers. “If you’re coming up from behind on a bike, you want to take a pretty good look to make sure they’re not going to door you. You get to a crossing area, yeah, you want that eye contact with pedestrians so that everybody understands what each is going to do.” The lawyer doesn’t understand why retailers still offer tinted window services. “I’m surprised they sell it at all,” he said. But the bottom line is that it’s “another layer of safety that’s been removed. That’s why it’s illegal.”

This unique Walkerville hair salon keeps, well, bouncing to new heights March 19 2021

“That name Bounce refers to a positive hair experience – ‘Get Bouncy,' ” says Jannessa Couture, owner of Bounce Hair Boutique. Bounce might also be a good metaphor for the salon itself, which keeps, well, bouncing to new heights in only a few short years. Bounce recently opened on the second floor of 1645 Wyandotte St. E. (above Envy Boutique) in Old Walkerville’s thriving and fashionable business district. It’s just a block away from its previous location next to Vito’s Pizzeria. It was located four years there. But the boutique started nearby on Windermere Rd. five years ago in a 200 sq. ft., cubbyhole. With the recent move it has 2700 sq. ft. “It’s absolutely perfect,” Couture says. “And the light! There’s windows everywhere. And natural light is so immensely essential for hair.” Hard to believe, but the key reason for the boutique’s success is that it was the only local one specializing in curly hair. “I was the only one in southwestern Ontario that had that as a specific specialty,” Couture says. ”So it’s special advance training. Curly hair styling that comes out of hair school is really very basic.” As a result, she gets customers from all over, some four thousand clients and with the recent Covid business lockdowns, no doubt like other boutiques, has had hundreds on the waiting list. "On top of that we’re an inclusive salon so we do all kinds of hair, every level of hair – all levels of curliness I guess you could say,” Couture says. In its five-year history it has drawn clientele from throughout southwestern Ontario, even as far away as Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. Couture calls it the “curl spectrum, from wavy to very super curly.” Traditionally, she says, hair salons have taken a “straightening” approach to cutting hair while at Bounce “we celebrate and enhance natural curly hair.” Curly is starting to become mainstream. “Something that is sought after is a stylist who celebrates and understands natural texture and curls,” Couture says. But Bounce got in on the ground floor and grew - or should that be, sprung? - the trend, literally, in Windsor.

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Plexiglass shields coming down - slowly

The masks are coming off and the plexiglass is coming down – slowly - at various retail outlets across the country. Shoppers Drug Mart announced a pilot project in Manitoba to remove the barriers, installed during the early days of the Covid pandemic. “We’ve heard from store teams and customers that the dividers often make interactions more difficult,” the company said. The Financial Post said Tim Horton’s now allows plexiglass to be optional and employees “may choose whether to wear a mask.” Canada Post also no longer requires employees at the counter to wear masks. Plastic barriers are still up, however, though optional for outlets in host businesses. While some plexiglass is coming down the Retail Council of Canada’s Michelle Waslyshen says some retailers are actually replacing barriers, noting plexiglass tends to become opaque from cleaning chemicals. – 8/10/22

"Sweet deal" for Tims - U of Windsor prof who led privacy breach fight

A University of Windsor law professor says the recent Tim Hortons privacy data settlement is simply an attempt to generate more business. Jasminka Kalajdzic, who led a class action on behalf of 1.9 million Tim’s customers, called the out of court agreement “really just a guarantee of more business.” The settlement means every affected customer will receive an offer of $8.58 - up to $6.19 for the most expensive beverage and $2.39 for the most expensive baked good. That works out to about $16 million. Says Kalajdzic in the Financial Post, “It doesn't seem to me that a cup of coffee and a muffin are fair compensation for a blatant disregard for our private information. Forgive the pun, but it's a very sweet deal for Tim Hortons.” The payout is due to an admitted privacy breach where Tim’s extensively tracked customers movements. – 8/5/22

Canada Post's instant customer feedback

Coming soon to a post office counter near you - Canada Post’s new point of sale customer service touchscreens. Happy with your service or not? Customers can instantly and anonymously tell Canada Post their customer experience. “The randomly asked customer satisfaction question may be about our products, services, the customer experience, or whether they would recommend Canada Post,” spokeswoman Valérie Chartrand told “Answering is completely voluntary. Customers can skip the question or wait for it to time out.” The tablets rolled out last year and the post office expects to have them all installed by September. – 7/21/22

Photo: Canada Post

Are nursing homes dragging feet on AC, or?

It depends how the news is written. An article last month made it seem like 98 Ontario nursing homes aren’t complying with new government air conditioning standards in the wake of Covid-19. A Canadian Press story said they had ”missed” the deadline. While technically true it wasn’t intentional. And an academic castigated them, saying there’s been “no real follow through…people die from this.” But a government spokesperson told that 265 additional homes – up from 266 in 2020 – now have AC. That leaves the 98. But all are “required to have at least one designated cooling area that is served by air conditioning for every 40 residents” and have complied. The delays are due to global supply matters, Covid-19 outbreaks and visitor restrictions preventing contractors from entering homes. – 7/8/22


Letter carriers don't have right to cross lawns

No, letter carriers do not have a right to cross residential lawns. That’s of course if they’re delivering mail to a traditional home mailbox, not super mailboxes that dot newer suburban developments. Canada Post’s Valérie Chartrand says carriers are not instructed to walk across properties to expedite delivery or their shifts. “We instruct our door-to-door delivery agents to follow prescribed paths to deliver the mail on their route, which does not include walking across lawns,” she told Not so apparently in the US. In 1981 a federal appellate court ruled carriers can take shortcuts across lawns without homeowners’ permission. The Ninth Circuit upheld a district court against a Pittsburg, Calif. ordinance making carriers liable to trespass charges for crossing lawns without permission. – 6/24/22

Photo: Canada Post

Employee fired after stopping shoplifter

A longtime Kroger’s employee was fired from her job in suburban Detroit because she tried to prevent a man leaving the store with a shopping cart full of hundreds of dollars of liquor. According to ClickOnDetroit, Beverly Bennett asked the man if he had a receipt and stood in front of the cart and “swung a basket at the grocery cart.” The man at the Lincoln Park store ran off. Fellow employees congratulated her. Bennett said staff had been told how to handle shoplifters. Shortly after the incident she was fired, she claims. Bennett is now suing the company, America’s largest supermarket chain by revenue. No comment from the chain. “Kroger does not provide a comment on pending litigation,” Kroger Michigan spokeswoman Rachel Hurst told - 6/3/22

Indigo's store hours still lag those of the mall

If you're wondering why Indigo (formerly Chapters) at Devonshire Mall was closing recently as early as 7 pm, understands it's all part of the ramp up in store hours post-Covid 19. The store this week finally extended hours to 8 pm. The store pre-Covid used to be open until 9 pm, at one time even until 10 pm. While Indigo is now open until 8 pm it still lags mall hours, with Devonshire open until 9 pm. An Indigo rep didn’t return requests for comment. The store had a recent revamp changing the longtime name of Chapters to Indigo with a darker outdoor façade and fresher brighter interior with substantially more front of store lifestyle products in addition to its traditional mainstay of books. - 4/29/22

Easter weekend the longest period without regular mail delivery

The Easter holiday weekend is consistently the longest period that mail is interrupted in Canada. The fact Good Friday and Easter Monday bracket the regular non-weekend delivery means there is no mail for four straight days. The next longest period with no weekday mail is over Christmas, which sees mail delivery and Canada Post offices closed Christmas and Boxing Day, though if those holidays fall on the weekend mail delivery is interrupted an four straight days as well. There is also no mail Remembrance Day (Nov. 11), the August Civic Holiday Monday and other statutory holidays, which can mean three days in a row of no mail. But the Easter weekend year after year has the longest mail interruption. According to Canada Post’s website the Crown corporation “is closed on national, provincial and territorial holidays, with no collection or delivery of mail on those days. However, post offices operated by the private sector will be open according to the hours of service of the host business.” As well, “When a holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it may be applied to the next business day.” While Canada Post takes those days off Purolator courier, which is majority owned by the post office, operates normally on Easter Monday. – 4.20/22

Pillette district re-brands with "Art Deco" look

Pillette Village BIA, one of the city's oldest on Wyandotte St. E., is embarking on a $320,000 "Art Deco" streetscape plan, cost-shared through a partial loan by the city. This "rebranding" would change the biz district's character with new rounded shop signs, decorative poles, bike racks, trash receptacles and even self-watering planters. "The existing benches within the BIA already reflect this theme," says a report going to City Council Feb. 28. "The design of the streetscape elements reflect the unique character of the BIA by incorporating a blend of Art Nouveau and Art Deco Motifs." - 24/2/22

Beware airline 80th anniversary ticket voucher scam

Beware an email offering a hard-to-resist offer from Air Canada. The email looks genuine with company logo and artwork, even the type face used by the airline. It says in celebration of the company’s 80th anniversary (the company was founded in 1937 so is 85 years old) the recipient has been selected for a travel voucher that can be used to book two seats “for any destination to share with your loved one.” All you have to do is pay $10 and click on a link “to get started.” The offer is tempting except for a couple of things: the fact you have to fork over $10, and the origin of the email, in this case “Air Canada” but also Air Canada says this is a phishing email. “You must be extremely careful, because scam artists use the colours and logos of legitimate websites to make their phony emails look real.” The fraudsters are trying to obtain your credit card information. Anti-fraudster website Hiya says, ”Similar to the vacation or ‘free cruise’ scam, scammers are disguising themselves as Air Canada to lure victims into believing they’ve won a trip, vacation or mileage vouchers.” Report the email to:– 1/27/22

Purolator investigates Windsor depot incident

Purolator courier says it has contacted a customer about proper packaging after discovering unsuitable containers at its Windsor terminal. Company spokeswoman Courtney Reistetter confirmed the company “investigated a recent case” which involved “a number of shipments sent by one customer, and has determined the packaging used is not suitable for processing with the material handling equipment used in our network.” She said Purolator is “working directly with the customer to improve their packaging to ensure their shipments arrive quickly and in the expected condition going forward.” This follows a tip to that “several packages at the Purolator (depot) in Windsor Ontario have been tampered with and contents missing.” – 12/17/21

False product labelling? It depends

Product labelling can be deceptive. It’s a cliché. But it also stings to know you’ve been deceived after you get home and examine what you just bought. Such is the case with a couple of products, Upfield’s “I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!,” a non-butter spread, and Royale’s toilet paper packaging. In the first case the word “Butter” is the largest on the package. And an unwitting consumer could just grab it thinking it is, well, butter. Meanwhile, the Royale pack has a large “48” making it seem there are 48 rolls. In fact, it’s 16 triple rolls (16 x 3) equaling 48 regular rolls – all explained up front but in smaller print! University of Toronto marketing professor David Soberman says it would be a “hard case to make” that the butter substitute is deceptive because “the brand has been around for a long time and people know from the packaging and ‘the name’ that it isn't butter.” Less so about the toilet paper pack, which he called “confusing.” But, Soberman added, because paper isn’t consumed like food “I believe the packaging does not have to be pre-approved by the government.” Soberman said if someone wanted they could lodge a complaint with the federal Competition Bureau. – 11/24/21

No plans, for now, for a Farm Boy in Windsor

Upscale food retailer Farm Boy doesn’t have plans to enter the Windsor market at least for the time being. But there are three stores in London and another just opened in Toronto as the fast-growing chain continues to expand. “At this time, we do not have any plans to open a store in Windsor, but I can assure you that we are in the process of growing our company and will certainly take your comments into consideration,” a spokesman said. “In the meantime, we hope you are able to visit us when you are close to one of our current locations.” Perhaps the closest store is just off Hwy. 401 at 1045 Wellington Rd. in the Forest City. The chain touts its fresh, artisanal, organic and “butcher quality” products. It also sources local. Shoppers can also buy fresh meals prepared in the store's kitchen. Farm Boy, now owned by Sobeys’ parent Empire Co., started out in Eastern Ontario. – 11/9/21

Decorative lighting, flower boxes for Via Italia alleyways

The alleys behind the Via Italia aka Erie St. business district are “highly underutilized” in terms of their potential, the Windsor-Essex County Environment Ctte has been told. The committee had been discussing the Via Italia Alley Project. The local BIA adapted a business plan to improve alley safety and functionality. Some 47 locations were identified for additional LED lighting and neighbouring businesses are being encouraged to add solar powered lights. As well, local owners will be encouraged to decorate with flower boxes and “vertical gardens.” Via Italia could serve as an example to other BIAs, the committee was told. – 10/10/21


West side modern retail ruin demolished

It was once a spanking new Rexall but then closed and became something of a modern retail ruin, presumably due to too much drug store competition in the area. But now that the former Rexall at the corner of Huron Church Rd. and Totten St. has been demolished. Petretta Construction was hired by the current owner, Plaza Retail of Toronto, to also “modify” the site and prepare it for new business, says Petretta’s Jonathon Lot. There will be a new stand-alone A & W – to break ground in about a month – and a second retail building – “fully leased to several retailers and quick service restaurants” - which should see development in November. – 9/22/21

Photo: Google Street View

Local ctte wants ban on single-use bags

The Windsor Essex County Environment Committee wants a total ban on single use plastic. This includes checkout bags, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery and “certain takeout containers and straws.” It’s calling on the city to ask Ottawa to enact such a ban “no later than the end of the year.” It also asks that the city endorse a “management plan” to add plastic manufactured items “as a toxic substance” to a schedule of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). – 9/14/21

More than 25K Covid rapid test kits have now gone to local businesses

More than 25,000 rapid Covid test kits have been distributed to businesses in Windsor and Essex County. The partnership called WeStaySafe links local chambers in Windsor, Amherstburg and Leamington with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, WEtech Alliance and the province. Some 215 businesses have accepted the self-administered tests which take 15 minutes to provide results. Some 5000 employees in food and beverage, manufacturing, health care, retail and hospitality are taking the tests regularly. They’re designed to keep workplaces safe even if employees have been vaccinated. The goal of is to identify asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic cases of Covid-19 that might otherwise be missed. “As businesses continue to reopen, the possibility of infection and transmission through asymptomatic cases is still very high,” Rakesh Naidu, president and of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce, said. – 8/5/21

E-shelf labels coming to a grocery near you

Look for electronic shelf labels coming to a grocery store near you soon. Empire Company, parent of Sobeys and Food Basics, is introducing the labels on store shelves this summer. Those labels, as per their name, won’t be static but will constantly change to keep up with price points. Instead of a staffer manually changing the prices they will be updated from a central computer. “The electronic shelf labels (ESL) allow the store to instantly update price instead of changing out each price tag when there is a change in price,” spokeswoman Stephanie Bonk said. “The main advantages will be less waste being produced from the use of paper tags and added efficiency in the ability to change prices more quickly.” – 6/28/21

Photo: Empire Co.

Arrest made in Leamington Gleaners warehouse break-in

An arrest has been made in the break-in of Southwestern Ontario Gleaners in Leamington. The volunteer agency packages dehydrated vegetable mix and fruit snacks for charities around the world. The warehouse and processing facility, located in a business park, had a break-in in February. “Because of video surveillance, the police were able to arrest an individual” GM Joel Epp said. Some $5000 in theft and damages (photos) had to be replaced. “We are saddened by this incident and we can only hope that the person responsible gets the help he needs to make better decisions,” Epp said. – 6/7/21

Photos: SW Ont Gleaners

New drinks service delivers just in time for Victoria Day weekend

Think of it as DoorDash or Uber Eats for beer, wine and spirits – and its local. Starting Friday Windsor, Lasalle and Tecumseh customers can order online from the LCBO and local breweries, wineries and distilleries through the Drinks Out website ( The service piggybacks on the huge expansion of home delivery during the pandemic. “We realized that people needed an alternative to receive products during lockdowns, and the convenience provided through direct to door delivery is becoming more of an expectation for consumers,” Vik Lall, co-founder, said in a release. He and his brother - the two an engineer and dentist - are behind the business. They also hope to support local producers by making it more convenient for customers to order their products. Drinkout also offers after-hours delivery until 10 pm, allowing producers such as Wolfhead Distillery and Peele Island Winery to extend their sales hours. Ordering just takes a few clicks and customers can track their delivery status. – 5/19/21

New emergency response company now on the local scene

There’s another choice in Windsor for hard-pressed property owners needing emergency clean-up. First Onsite, an emergency response and restoration company, responds to a wide variety of emergency situations – residential or commercial. These could be anything from basement flooding to house fires, mold and asbestos removal. “We pretty well do it all,” Ontario senior VP Jason Prescott says. In the case of basement flooding - a huge problem in Windsor after major storms in recent years - the First Onsite crew would “extract, remediate and commence to dry out” the home either after being called through an insurance company or individual homeowner, Prescott said. In fact, “fires and floods are the main calls that we get.” In the case of fire, the crew would assess, clean, deodorize and rebuild. The firm will even respond to smaller emergencies like laundry room flooding. First Onsite also has wide experience in serving commercial customers – from nursing homes to schools, hotels to factories. And it carries out infection prevention and decontamination. Charles Bonham is the local manager. – 5/5/21

Recycled containers starting to make a return

Bulk Barn is slowly reintroducing reusable containers after suspending them a year ago. “The Reusable Container Program was suspended as a safety precaution in March 2020, due to the pandemic,” a customer service associate said in an email. Instead of traditional plastic bags customers can bring reusable containers like jars to scoop their favorite bulk foods. The program is aimed at creating zero waste. Bulk Barn also sells recycling jars of various sizes. Customers must check with the cashier to make sure their container meets minimum standards. Participating stores can be found on the chain’s website. Meanwhile the self-service retailer introduced additional safeguards early in the pandemic including enhanced cleaning and gloves to customers. – 4/9/21

It's raining cheques for auto wire harness class action lawsuit members

Many consumers, surprisingly or not, are receiving payments as part of a multi-year class action settlement from the Canadian Auto Parts Class Action. All cheques were mailed March 5 and are either paper cheques or direct deposits. Claimants were automatically enrolled if they purchased or leased an “eligible brand” between Jan. 1 1999 and Nov. 30 2014. The brands are Honda/Acura, Nissan/Infiniti, Toyota/Lexus, Subaru and Pontiac Vibe. “No wrongdoing is alleged,” says the claim’s website. The companies “were unaware of alleged price-fixing in respect of the Automotive Wire Harness Systems they purchased for installation in their automotive vehicles.” Each payment is $25. This is the first of some 40 cases “ongoing” related to auto parts price-fixing and there could be “further distributions.” The law firms of Sotos LLP, Siskinds LLP, Siskinds Desmeules, and CFM LLP are handling the claim. – 3/10/21

Photo: Class action website

Tim Hortons intros chain's third version of dark roast coffee

If you don’t succeed try, try and try – literally – again. Tim Hortons has introduced, for a third time, a dark roast coffee which it vows is “darker and richer” than its two earlier versions, in 2014 and 2017. The challenge was to develop a blend that is “bolder” yet doesn’t have the bitterness that can turn off regular coffee drinkers, Kevin West, Tim's coffee operations director, told The Canadian Press. This flavour is more complex and has notes of chocolate and cedar. Jeff Dover of FX Strategy, told that Tim’s is locked in a competitive war with Starbucks with each trying to offer a coffee the other chain excels in. “Tim Hortons and Starbucks have been competing against each other in Canada,” Dover said. “Starbucks targeted Tim Hortons customers with their True North Blend. Tim Hortons, in turn, has been trying to capture Starbucks customers with its Dark Roast.” Dover also said that with Starbucks closing some stores “Tim’s has an opportunity to capture some Starbucks customers.” Chick Advisor gives the blend a 3.9 out of 5 rating.” - 2/8/21

Photo: Chick Advisor