Thunder Bay Hydro customers will be seeing a small increase in their energy bill. The city run utility has been given approval by the Ontario Energy Board for an increase of point two per cent. Hydro spokesperson Eileen Dias says that works out to about 20 cents a month for a household using the average amount of electricity.
City councillors will be making more million dollar decisions Monday night. City engineering manager Pat Mauro says there'll be decisions on contracts to fix the May Street Bridge, asphalt resurfacing and for sewer and watermain replacement. The bridge contract is worth 800 thousand dollars, the asphalt contract comes in at 3 and a half million while it will cost taxpayers 1.7 million for the sewer and watermain replacement. Also Monday night, administration will recommend councillors turn down a proposal to introduce a recycling program for low income residents.
City councillors will be hearing a lot about the proposed Big Thunder Bay Wind Park. Monday, they'll hear from the head of the Nor'Wester Mountain Escarpment Protection committee opposed to the idea of building wind turbines. However City Clerk John Hannam says a special meeting will be taking place Tuesday on the issue. There are close to 20 presentations expected then.
Paramedics in Thunder Bay say they're handling too many non emergency cases. Their boss, EMS chief Norm Gale, will be before city councillors Monday night with an operational update. Gale says something has to be done to deal with the issue of patient transfers possibly handing it to a private company. Gale says in Thunder Bay non emergency transfers make up 20 per cent of paramedic calls. That number jumps to 35 per cent in the region.
A local pharmacy owner is upset with a provincial government decision to cut fees they get from drug companies. Brenda Adams of Janzen's Pharmacy says those rebates go back to help their customers, adding they go to pay for all the services within the pharmacy operation and as such are an essential part of their funding. Adams says if nothing changes she may have to impose a hiring freeze but stopped short of saying a planned expansion would have to be scrapped.
The rising loonie is causing some shoppers to head south of the border. However the president of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce is asking them to consider the advantages if they shop here. Harold Wilson says they are considerable from return policies and follow up services. Wilson says it's also up to businesses to become creative to keep shoppers here adding, they've had plenty of time to prepare.
The Ontario government says its' Northern Entrepreneur Program has helped launch 13 businesses in northwestern Ontario. Northern Development Minister Michael Gravelle says it shows a little assistance from the taxpayer is sometimes needed to help the economy. The businesses range from a backhoe service in Thunder Bay, a dental office in Nipigon to a garden shed company in Dryden. The province staged a media event in Thunder Bay to promote the program.
A top United Way fundraiser is all set to go next month. The Billboard Rescue aims to raise more than 100 thousand dollars. Organizer Shawn Christie says it's always a popular event. It takes place May 20th at the Investors building on Jade Court off of Balmoral.
The Unemployment rate in the city saw a sizable drop last month. Thunder Bay's rate went from February's 7.4 percent to an even 7 last month. That's well below the National average of 8.2 percent and far better than Ontario's rate of 8.8 percent.