Paul’s Stuff

Rail trail gaining steam ouside county

Rail trail in Paris, Ont. (QMI Agency file photo)

Rail trail in Paris, Ont. (QMI Agency file photo)

Before there’s a trail where there used to be rail, the county wants some input.

There will be a public information session April 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the Perth East Recreation Centre in Milverton to hear from property owners near the former CN rail line and other interested parties about the rail trail project.

Waterloo Region and Wellington County have already leased land from the province to create trails along the former CN line. Perth and Huron counties are both currently looking into doing the same. The idea is to get continuous trails from Guelph to Goderich.

The section of former railway relevant to Perth County goes from Millbank to Huron County.

Interest in the project has picked up steam, suggested Geoff VanderBaaren, a Perth County planner. A group of citizens has formed the Guelph to Goderich (G2G) Rail Trail Committee. They’ve had four meetings since November, he said.

“They’re keenly interested in having the trail go ahead,” he said.

Some landowners near the possible trail have been attending the G2G meetings and want more information, VanderBaaren said.

There are 159 properties that abut the proposed rail trail.

If the county leases the land from the province it would cost about $1,695 (HST included) for about 28 kilometres. The land would be for “passive” recreational uses such as hiking, biking and snowmobiling. Farmers would still be able to cross and cultivate land to the edge of the track.

Motor vehicles won’t be allowed during the summer.

The county would require comprehensive liability insurance of at least $5 million. The county could sublease the land. What isn’t clear is whether or not there will be additional insurance costs if the land is subleased. Also in question is whether or not the county’s insurance would cover stewardship groups like the Lions Club or if the groups would require their own insurance.

The county also wants to know if a farmer is liable if he or she crosses the trail and damages it or leaves debris that causes an injury.

If the county goes ahead with the project, it would be responsible for maintenance like weeding, drainage and fence repairs unless it’s subleased.

The lease would last five years with an option to renew.

From the Stratford Beacon Herald

‘Saving’ you from spending


Saving is a lost art. You’d think that with all the yada-yada about how important it is to save, what a big deal RRSPs and TFSAs are, and the scant resources we’ll have if we count on the government, that we’d all be squirrelling away money for the future at a wicked clip. We’re not.

People often misunderstand what “saving” is. Saving is “not spending money” and if you want to have “savings,” you have to take the money you didn’t spend and put it somewhere to accumulate for the future.

If you’re sticking money away for a vacation, for present buying or to pay your car insurance, that’s not savings; it’s “planned spending.” Yes, you’re smart to accumulate money for big spends along with your day-to-day needs, but it’s not savings. Unless it’s going into an emergency fund, a long-term savings — think retirement or school – it’s not “savings.”

If money burns a hole in your pocket, then you’re likely spending it faster than you make it. Saving isn’t even part of the game plan. But I have news for you: If you don’t start to save, you’re headed for disaster. Not saving is a sure way to have nothing later. And learning to save is a habit that anyone can establish. You start by picking an amount — even $20, $50 or $100 a month — and sending it automatically to a high-interest savings account.

There are heaps of ways to have a life and save too. Just because you’ve decided to become financially responsible does not mean you’re doomed to a life of boredom. Small luxuries will still have their place. You’re just going to trim back and really appreciate them when they come along.

Don’t give up coffee completely. Decide instead that you’re going to trim back your coffee habit by 25%, 30% or 50% a week, and send all the money you’re not spending to your savings. Forget about giving up all entertainment. It won’t stick. Don’t commit to spending nothing on clothes. Instead, learn to spend less, like hitting the second-hand store and becoming a bargain queen.

Money is an exhaustible resource. It runs out. This is not about hoarding all your money and having no fun. And it doesn’t matter how small you start. As long as you begin developing the saving habit, you’re heading in the right direction and momentum will carry you along.

Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s latest book, Money Rules, is published by HarperCollins and will make you say, “Really? I didn’t know that!” Visit her website at (article originally published in The Stratford Beacon Herald)

Healthy kids need to spend time in nature – David Suzuki

David Suzuki

Ontario’s Healthy Kids Panel recently proposed a strategy to help kids get onto a path to health.

The problem is that the path doesn’t lead them into nature. Though the report quotes parents’ comments and research showing kids spend dramatically less time outside than ever, it doesn’t encourage time in nature.

That said, many of the report’s recommendations should be implemented and supported locally, provincially and nationally to reduce the risks of obesity. Encouraging parents and children to be more critical about dietary choices and requiring more information and labelling from restaurants and food producers is long overdue.

Ontario isn’t the only province working to reduce obesity rates and support parents raising healthy children, particularly in the early years. Alberta released relevant reports in 2011 and Quebec has had a ban on advertising junk food to children since 1980. No one can argue against public awareness and education around the benefits of healthy eating and active living. But a provincial, patchwork approach to addressing these issues isn’t enough. We need a national strategy to get our kids eating healthy foods and being active in nature.

Although it seems logical that much of the time spent being active will take place outside, the Ontario report acknowledges that “many communities are not designed to encourage kids to move or be physically active…and have few safe green spaces.” One parent in a focus group explains that the parks in his community are either gated or locked up once school is closed. So, even when there is green space, it’s not always accessible.

Last year, the David Suzuki Foundation conducted a survey with young Canadians and found that 70% spend an hour or less a day outdoors. The 2012 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card says they spend almost eight hours a day in front of screens. So it’s not that kids don’t have time to be outside. It’s just not part of their lifestyle.

Much has been reported about a recommendation by the Ontario panel to ban junk food advertising that targets children under 12. This has worked in Quebec and is being discussed in Alberta. But the approach has invited criticism from those who argue that people should have the right to choose. It’s always tempting to focus on making bad things less accessible, but perhaps policy-makers should be more creative and focus on ways to make good things more accessible.

Being in nature is good for all of us. People who get outside regularly are less stressed, have more resilient immune systems and are generally happier. And it’s good for our kids. Studies show spending time in nature or green spaces helps reduce the symptoms of ADHD. Even in built playgrounds, kids spend twice as much time playing, use their imaginations more and engage in more aerobic and strengthening activities when the space incorporates natural elements like logs, flowers and small streams, according to research from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Provincial and federal governments are failing to integrate a daily dose of nature into their policies. It’s also something we as a society are failing to make a priority in the lives of our children.

We need to make sure our neighbourhoods have green spaces where people can explore their connections with nature. We need to ask teachers and school board representatives to take students outside so that nature becomes a classroom. And we need to stop making the outdoors seem like a scary place for children by helping parents understand that the benefits of playing outside outweigh the risks.

Connecting kids to nature every day needs to be a priority policy objective in any strategy for healthy children and could easily have been integrated into the recommendations from the Ontario Healthy Kids Panel. Taking our kids by the hand and spending time outside with them will have the added benefit of making us healthier and happier adults.

David Suzuki, published in The Stratford Beacon Herald.

A curmudgeon talks personal finance


The personal finance rotation

Long study has persuaded me that there are only four personal-finance columns in newspapering, which rotate week to week every month:

1. Saving for your children’s college education

No way you can ever save enough. You’re screwed.

2. Saving for your retirement

It’s already too late to catch up. You’re screwed.

3. Investing in stocks

Too risky. You’re screwed.

4. Investing in bonds

Too little return. You’re screwed.


By John E. McIntyre, The Baltimore Sun, March 15, 2013

The story of Easter

Easter is Awesome

April 6, 2012 by saradobie

Allow me to get religious for a moment. Easter is this Sunday, and we all know the Bible-based Easter story. Oh, wait, you don’t? Okay, let me tell you about it.

There was this Jesus guy. (You know, the dude born on Christmas?) According to scripture, he grew up to be an awesome preacher/prophet/healer. The chief priests and scribes didn’t care for him much. They thought he was a fraud, so they wanted him dead. They talked Jesus’ pal, Judas, into betraying Jesus for thirty stinkin’ pieces of silver. I’m sure that was a lot of money back in Bible times, but still, how rude. Thanks to Judas, Jesus was arrested.

They accused him of religious treason, since people claimed he was the Messiah. “Messiah” refers to a spiritual savior, redeemer, and in the case of Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus was brought before Pilate—a Roman prefect and judge. Now, Pilate’s wife was a smart lady. She’d had a dream the night before about some Jesus guy, and she warned her husband to steer clear. Of course, being a politician, Pilate just had to get involved. He gave the people a choice: release Jesus or release a psycho murderer named Barabbas. In true angry mob fashion, the crowd chose to release Barabbas and crucify Jesus.

Crucifixion is an ancient method of painful execution in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead. Uh, gross, right? Jesus being Jesus knew this was coming. He’d prayed about it the night before on the Mount of Olives: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” Thankfully, Jesus was a big picture kind of guy … He was nailed to a cross, yet even in his agony, he said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And the mob didn’t know, did they? They thought they were executing a liar or lunatic. They didn’t realize they were slaughtering the Son of God.

Then, Jesus died. The sky turned black, and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. I imagine the weather resembled those post-nuclear apocalypse skies you see in movies—the clouds black, red, and boiling. I imagine the priests and scribes looked at each other and thought, “Uh-oh,” because I imagine in that moment, they finally got it. They understood what they had done … and that Jesus had already forgiven them for it. But that’s hardly the end of the story.

The tomb is empty!

Days after his death, women came to tend to Jesus’ body and tomb. However, upon their arrival, they found the tomb had been opened. Jesus’ body was gone. In its place were two men in dazzling clothes. No, not drag queens—ANGELS!! Angels were waiting for Jesus’ followers so that they could say, “He is not here, but has risen!” I bet the angels did a little jig when they said it. I wouldn’t have been able to contain my joy. What great news! Jesus appeared to many after his resurrection, showing the nail marks in his hands and performing miracles among the masses. Then, finally, he ascended into Heaven, where he got to hang with good old Dad with a capital “D.”

So what does Easter mean to us? It means we’re saved. Jesus died for you. He died for me. We’re sinners, and we needed His help to get to Heaven. By His blood, we have been redeemed. Today is the day He died. Sunday is the day when He rose from the dead. What will you do in remembrance of Him? You can start by listening to the hippie classic He is Risen. Then, pick up a Bible and read the whole story (I prefer the Book of Luke). Check out your neighborhood church on Sunday. Most of all have a happy and blessed Easter! Celebrate what an ancient dude did for you, out of pure and unconditional love. Hallelujah! Christ is risen, indeed!

Bohemian Rhapsody on a Ukelele!

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