Beekeepers warn 6/10 of Ontario’s bees died during harsh winter – Toronto

TORONTO – An Ontario beekeepers’ group is concerned by a new report that says nearly six in 10 of the province’s bees didn’t survive the winter, a rate three times that of other provinces.

The Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists survey found that 58 per cent of Ontario bees died during what was an especially long winter, while other provinces lost on average about 19 per cent of their swarm.

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While the report fingers the weather as the main culprit for the bee deaths, hive-minders in Ontario and Quebec also cited acute and chronic pesticide damage or insufficient recovery from pesticide exposure last year as contributing factors.

Ontario Beekeepers’ Association president Dan Davidson says bees’ exposure in the hive to pollen contaminated by pesticides “almost guarantees they will not survive the winter.”

The group is calling on the governing Liberals to fast track a plan looking at permits restricting the number of plant seeds treated with neonicotinoids, a widely used pesticide that some scientists and environmentalists say are killing bees and other insects.

READ MORE: Ontario to restrict use of neonicitonoids

The apiculturists association states Canada’s overall winter mortality rate averaged 25 per cent, well above what it says beekeepers deem the “acceptable” loss limit of 15 per cent.

The Ontario bee group says nearly all corn seeds and about two-thirds of soy seeds sold in the province are pretreated with neonicotinoid coatings, though only a minority of the crops are at risk from pests the insecticide is meant to stop.

It did its own winter survey earlier this year and found more than a quarter of beekeepers lost 75 to 100 per cent of their colonies.

“Beekeepers cannot sustain these losses and many will have to leave the business if these losses continue,” group vice-president Tibor Szabo said in a release Wednesday.

READ MORE: A bee haven that offers clues as global hives struggle

“The government of Ontario must immediately take the initiative to ensure this permit (system) is in place for the 2015 growing season if we are to have a sustainable industry as well as the pollinators we need for our fresh fruits and vegetables.”

An international panel of 50 scientists working as the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides said last month the use of neonicotinoids and another popular insecticide called neonics should be phased out.

The panel said its study of 800 research papers provides conclusive evidence that the pesticides are causing the mass deaths of insects that are essential to the process of pollinating most crops.

A Health Canada report has suggested that seeds treated with neonicotinoids contributed to the majority of the bee deaths in Ontario and Quebec in 2012, likely due to exposure of the pesticide-laced dust during planting.

©2014The Canadian Press

Continue reading Beekeepers warn 6/10 of Ontario’s bees died during harsh winter – Toronto

Volunteer spirit helping make NAIG a success – Regina

REGINA – You’ll hear her voice with every batter at Optimist Park this week.

Announcing and marking down every pitch, Lynette Nishnik isn’t getting paid, but she is hard at work.

“It’s a lot to do but you have to remain focused and always be paying attention,” said Nishnik during the few seconds between pitches.

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Nishnik is one of more than 2,000 volunteers for the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in Regina. She’s been keeping score at the park for several years and, like any other major tournament, she didn’t want to miss it.

“I like to show this beautiful Optimist Park and have the kids out here. I like to support young athletes doing positive things in their communities,” Nishnik said.

The games had looked to come up short on volunteers just one week ago, but since then another 400 people have signed up for jobs like making deliveries or setting up bleachers.

Help has come from all across the country.

“We actually had a group of youth come from Northwest Territories to volunteer. I’ve had phone calls from people in Ontario and Calgary, flying in the day of the opening ceremonies,” said Brad Bellegarde, NAIG volunteer coordinator.

Volunteer efforts are perhaps appreciated the most by parents – cheering on their kids, while recognizing their work is what helps keeps these young athletes competing.

“There are people left and right helping them out, making them lunch, driving them back and forth,” said one appreciative parent.

“I don’t think it would be possible for this event to happen without them,” an athlete said about NAIG volunteers.

All eyes this week are on the athletes, but this support off the field may be what makes it possible for them to perform.

Continue reading Volunteer spirit helping make NAIG a success – Regina

‘A child was killed’: Extreme messaging will slow speeders, former cop says – Toronto

TORONTO – Rolling stops, red light-running and speeding seem to have become ingrained in Toronto’s driving culture; especially on smaller streets.

Spend just 15 minutes standing at almost any residential intersection and you’re bound to see multiple offenders go through.

So, what do we do about it?

“Education, awareness, perhaps changing the way we message things,” suggests former Toronto Police Traffic Services Sgt. Tim Burrows.

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Now retired, Burrows worked the traffic beat for years in Toronto.  He’s seen plenty of educational campaigns along the way and suggests it might be time for a bolder, more direct approach to signage. Particularly in areas where major incidents have occurred.

“Instead of ‘children at play,’ put the stark, harsh realities into people’s faces,” he said. “’A child was killed’ or ‘children have been injured here.’  Change the messaging up a little bit to make it a little more resounding to people that are driving through that area.”

Less than a week after her death, a photo of Georgia Walsh’s smiling face looks over the intersection of Millwood Avenue and McRae Road where she was fatally struck by a minivan.  Police have not released any investigative details, nor have any charges been laid.

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A neighbourhood gathers to pay their respects to 6 year old Georgia Walsh




Still, the reaction in the community has been swift:  Condemning a large influx of aggressive, fast-moving traffic that locals say is detoured through the area due to Crosstown LRT construction on Eglinton Avenue and the establishment of big box shopping centres in the area a few years ago.

“Slow down” has been painted in red on nearby hydro poles, pink ribbons are tied to street signs in Walsh’s honour and concerned residents have launched a homegrown lawn sign campaign.

Leaside residents are urging drivers to slow down in the wake of Georgia Walsh’s death

With funding from local car dealers, they’ve been printing lawn signs reading “slow down, kids at play.” Organizers estimate about 30 per cent of the requests they’ve received actually come from areas of the city beyond Leaside.

Local father Roger Cattell has helped spearhead the effort and  in an email he said the program is moving along “slowly and steady,” with 50 signs printed and installed so far.

“This is all being done through volunteers and the kindness of others. We will eventually have distributed some 4-500 when this is done,” he said.

While signage is key, there’s more to it than that.  There are still calls for lower speed limits in residential areas and the city’s Medical Officer of Health has suggested bringing them as low as 30 kilometres an hour.

Burrows says a lower speed limit is bound to reduce deaths and injuries simply because “anytime you’re going to lower speed limits, especially in a residential area, you’re going to lower the impact of collisions as they happen.”

To deal with construction and its ensuing detours, some suggest more restrictions preventing left turns from major to residential routes during rush hour, like you see all over Moore Park.

“They definitely do make me feel safe,” says area resident Matthew Bloom. “Especially in this neighbourhood because there’s a park right there, so there’s a ton of kids always walking around.”

Another alternative Burrows pitches is bumping up the fines drivers could face in construction zones to protect the residential communities around them.

“If you made a construction zone the same as a community safety zone, where the fines are increased, penalties are increased, the courts can put greater penalties on people, I think there you could really have an opportunity to start to make some change.”

It’s not a quick fix, however.  It would require legislative changes at the provincial level.

Continue reading ‘A child was killed’: Extreme messaging will slow speeders, former cop says – Toronto