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Global News: Kitchener

Western University Chancellor Linda Hasenfratz to keep position after out-of-country vacation

Western University’s Board of Directors says Linda Hasenfratz will keep her position as chancellor after new broke she travelled out of Canada for a vacation during the pandemic.

Global News: Kitchener

Health officials unable to confirm London, Ont., teen died from COVID-19

When Yassin Dabeh's death was announced on Saturday, it was reported as the youngest coronavirus-related death in London and Middlesex County.

CTV News Kitchener

London, Ont. teen's cause of death will remain classified as COVID-19-related

The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) says questions about the exact cause of 19-year-old Yassin Dabeh's death will not be answered.

Global News: Kitchener

All long-term care, retirement home residents in Waterloo Region have received 1st dose of COVID-19

Waterloo Region says a first round of COVID-19 vaccines have now been administered to all local long-term care and retirement home residents in the area.

CTV News Kitchener

First round of vaccines have been given to eligible LTC, retirement home residents in Waterloo Region

Region of Waterloo officials announced Monday that they had completed the first round of vaccination for all eligible residents of long-term care and retirement homes.

Observer Extra

Maryhill Historical Society

The first meeting of the Maryhill Historical Society was held virtually on Sunday January 17th at 2 p.m. …

The post Maryhill Historical Society appeared first on OBSERVER.


Global News: Kitchener

Coronavirus: Ontario’s top doctor reflects on pandemic 1 year after first COVID-19 case

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams on Monday reflected on the pandemic one year after the province saw its first COVID-19 case. Williams said the difference from last year until now is that COVID-19 vaccines are “on the horizon” and urged Ontarians to continue doing their part to overcome this wave of...

CTV News Kitchener

Timeline: Woolwich Township church continues operating under lockdown

A church in Woolwich Township is facing multiple charges for gatherings exceeding the provincial limit over the past few weeks.

Global News: Kitchener

Police make 4th arrest in 2020 shooting on Westwood Drive in Kitchener

A 23-year-old man is the fourth person charged in connection with a shooting in Kitchener last November.

Global News: Kitchener

2 men impersonate police officers in attempt to access Kitchener apartment building

Waterloo Regional Police say the two men tried to get into an apartment on Belmont Avenue West at around 8:35 p.m. on Sunday.

Global News: Kitchener

80 new COVID-19 cases reported in Waterloo as total rises past 9,000

Waterloo Public Health announced 80 new positive tests for the novel coronavirus, but it was third day in a row the agency has announced fewer than 100 new cases.

Global News: Kitchener

Coronavirus: Ford says COVID-19 vaccinations for vulnerable seniors, caretakers running ‘well ahead of schedule’

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Monday that the province is accelerating COVID-19 vaccinations for vulnerable seniors and those who take care of them, stating they are running “well ahead of schedule.” Ford said he has asked Gen. Rick Hillier of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force to complete all long-term care homes and high-risk...

CTV News Kitchener

Officials report 80 new COVID-19 cases in Waterloo Region as active cases continue to drop

Public health officials in Waterloo Region reported another 80 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, a significant jump from Sunday's numbers but still fewer than average over the last few weeks.

CTV News Kitchener

Ontario officially extends state of emergency and stay-at-home order by 14 days

Ontario has officially extended the province's state of emergency and all orders associated with it, including the stay-at-home order, for an additional 14 days.

Global News: Kitchener

Guelph reports 95 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths from the weekend

Wellington County reported another death related to COVID-19 on Monday, bringing its death toll to 15.

CTV News Kitchener

Church defies stay-at-home order, holds in-person services; police call it a 'complex issue'

There have been new developments related to a Woolwich Township church that defied the provincial stay-at-home order.

CTV News Kitchener

Kitchener art piece hit with graffiti months after $27K facelift

The Region of Waterloo spent $27,000 on restoring a unique art piece outside downtown Kitchener last year. Now, someone has hit it with graffiti.

Global News: Kitchener

University of Guelph COVID-19 outbreak grows to 31 cases

The COVID-19 outbreak was declared following unsanctioned social gatherings held at University of Guelph residences on Jan. 15 and 16. 

Global News: Kitchener

Ontario reports under 2,000 new coronavirus cases, 43 more deaths

"Locally, there are 727 new cases in Toronto, 365 in Peel and 157 in York Region," Health Minister Christine Elliott said.

Global News: Kitchener

Ontario updates COVID-19 vaccine plan as Pfizer delays continue

There will be no Pfizer vaccinations delivered the week of Jan. 25 and only 26,325 the week of Feb. 1 for Ontario.

CTV News Kitchener

Ontario reports fewer than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases on anniversary of first infection

Ontario is reporting fewer than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases Monday as the province marks the anniversary of detecting its first infection.

Global News: Kitchener

Waterloo Region church held in person service despite court order: police

Waterloo Regional Police say a church allegedly held an in-person service Sunday despite a court order compelling it to comply with provincial pandemic rules.

The Record

Fine art in your mailbox: local artist creates unique postcards


WATERLOO — A new postcard art project will use snail mail to rekindle memories of travel while sharing evocative original artwork.

Art galleries are closed due to the pandemic, and opportunities for local artists like Paul Roorda to display and sell their artwork are sparse.

“I just wanted to find a way to get my art out there so people can see it,” Roorda said.

His project “Somewhere Anywhere Postcards” is a series of hand-printed postcards that feature abstract landscapes, vintage stamps and messages of hope.

Roorda photographed different parts of an old, weathered wall. The lines and markings reminded him of beautiful landscapes, the ones you typically see on postcards from tourist destinations.

The postcards are small works of fine art, Roorda said, from the imagined landscape of the weathered wall he photographed, down to the vintage stamps he found and attached to each individual postcard.

The photographs were processed using an age-old technique known as cyanotype. Roorda mixes chemicals and brushes them onto paper. He then exposes the photographs in the sun and develops each photograph in water. The result of this process creates cyan-blue prints.

“I wanted to stay true to the vintage nature of the art,” Roorda said.

He has also written hopeful messages on the back of each postcard to uplift people during the pandemic as it keeps everyone indoors this winter.

“Right now with COVID we are surrounded by our walls, and we can see walls around us as barriers. I wanted to write something about seeing past those barriers at a time when people are feeling discouraged.”

Roorda is fascinated with vintage and antique items as well as found objects. Three years ago he created mini art galleries out of metal cash boxes and attached them to utility poles throughout Waterloo.

Roorda was ordered to remove them by bylaw officers, but was later granted permission by the city to temporarily display his art. The project was called “Time Stops” and each piece featured a musical element, found objects and messages.

Roorda’s postcard project is supported by a grant from the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund. He launched “Somewhere Anywhere Postcards” last week and has already mailed postcards to addresses across Ontario and to Europe.

Roorda’s postcards can be found in his online shop at www.paulroorda.com.

Anam Latif is a Waterloo Region-based general assignment reporter for The Record. Reach her via email: alatif@therecord.com


The Record

Coming soon: A less wasteful way to treat wastewaster


CAMBRIDGE — Innovative new technology to treat sewage at the Hespeler wastewater treatment plant will be the largest project of its kind in North America.

Starting next year, the Hespeler plant will use a new technology called membrane aerated biofilm reactors, or MABR. The new technology is cheaper to build and to operate, uses less energy and improves the water quality of the effluent. It’s also less smelly and quieter.

In conventional sewage treatment, bacteria need oxygen to digest the waste and convert ammonia into nitrates. Conventional systems deliver the oxygen through air bubbles, which uses a lot of energy and requires a lot of space.

The new MABR technology lets oxygen circulate passively, which cuts energy by as much as 90 per cent.

The oxygen is delivered through strings of biofilm, hundreds of which are strung on metal frames called cassettes that are immersed into the sewage.

“It looks like a whole whack of spaghetti noodles stretched on these frames,” said Trevor Brown, the region’s manager of engineering and wastewater.

“Wastewater treatment plants are high energy users,” Brown said, and about 60 per cent of that energy is used to run blowers that deliver bubbles through the waste. “We spend around $5 million a year on hydro. By reducing our air requirements, that’s a huge impact on our operating costs.”

Engineering firm Stantec, which was involved in the project, says “the MABR process is significantly more efficient than conventional activated sludge, with the potential to save tens of thousands of dollars per year in operating costs, while also using a smaller footprint.”

The biofilm technology also makes it easy to expand the treatment capacity at a sewage plant, just by adding more membrane cassettes, Brown said. “The region has designed this system to eventually be able to double our secondary treatment capacity when required down the road without major construction and at approximately one-quarter of the physical footprint of the original tankage.

“Space is always at a premium at wastewater facilities.”

The MABR is now being installed and should be operating by summer. SUEZ, which makes the biofilm used at the Hespeler plant, says it will be the largest project of its kind in the world. Brown isn’t prepared to go that far, but says it’s definitely a first for Canada and the largest such project in North America.

The region isn’t usually keen to be so cutting-edge, but it’s confident of the merits of this project, because it tested the technology in a pilot project for a year, to ensure it worked well in all seasons, Brown says. “We did our homework on this.”

The project also includes another innovation. Starting in spring 2022, Hespeler will use peracetic acid, a food-grade acid, instead of chlorine to disinfect the treated water discharged to the Speed River.

Residual chlorine from the treatment plant can kill aquatic life, but peracetic acid decomposes quickly into harmless products and doesn’t accumulate in wildlife.

The Hespeler upgrades cost about $7.5 million, but grants from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Green Municipal Fund and the Independent Electricity System Operator brought that down to $6.8 million.

The region is also looking at using MABR in its Elmira plant, another of the region’s 13 sewage treatment plants, where there isn’t much room to expand.

Catherine Thompson is a Waterloo Region-based reporter focusing on urban affairs for The Record. Reach her via email: cthompson@therecord.com


The Record

‘I give them back their dignity’


KITCHENER — While many are confined to their homes under lockdown orders, people experiencing homelessness or are precariously housed struggle to survive the winter.

To keep people on the streets fed and warm, Nadine Green and volunteers from Beautiful Souls KW go out every night, seven days a week, to deliver warm meals and supplies, such as blankets and winter clothes.

Beautiful Souls KW is a facebook group with over 1,600 members. Tammy Gervais, who first met Green when they were younger and living on the streets, helps by preparing meals and gathering donations.

“We’re just everyday people helping each other,” Gervais said.

Many community-led mutual aid initiatives like Beautiful Souls KW started in response to the pandemic, though Green has been doing work like this her entire life.

Green referring to the convenience store she ran on Water Street. She was evicted from the store for using it as a de facto haven and shelter for street-involved people. After being evicted, Green said that people were impacted.

“I’d see guys on the street asking when are you opening a new store?” Green said.

Green sees these nightly deliveries as a mobile version of her store. She said that despite health risks involved by being in contact with so many people (their group has permission from public health to continue their work) so many people depend on these deliveries.

Green said she doesn’t care if people swear or are rough around the edges, which often leads to them getting kicked out of other shelters. “I just come out and talk to people. I give them back their dignity.”

Fitsum Areguy’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. The funding allows her to report on stories about the Grand River Watershed. Email lgerber@therecord.com


CTV News Kitchener

University of Guelph COVID-19 outbreak connected to more than 40 COVID-19 cases

A COVID-19 outbreak at the University of Guelph, which has been linked to an unsanctioned gathering, is now connected to more than 40 cases.

The Record

Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario reporting 1,958 new cases, 43 more deaths; Merck ends development of two potential COVID-19 vaccines


The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Monday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

10:15 a.m.: Ontario is reporting 1,958 COVID-19 cases, 43 more deaths and nearly 36,000 tests completed.

Locally, there are 727 new cases in Toronto, 365 in Peel and 157 in York Region.

9:38 a.m.: Dozens gathered inside Trinity Bible Chapel for two services Sunday morning near the St. Jacob’s farmers market in Waterloo region, despite a provincial shutdown that prohibits more than 10 people from gathering inside a place of worship.

The church also defied a Superior Court of Justice order issued on Friday, compelling them to comply with the Reopening Ontario Act or risk being held in contempt of court.

About 50 cars were parked in the church’s parking lot on Lobsinger Line. People were seen filing into the church ahead of a 9 a.m. service. The parking lot was full for the second service at 11:15 a.m. as well. Families with young children were seen going into the church building.

A Region of Waterloo bylaw officer was parked across the street to monitor the situation ahead of the church’s first morning service. Bylaw was not present throughout the second service. Waterloo Regional Police officers were not outside the church Sunday morning as they have been in the past.

Police said regional bylaw officials would be responsible for observing activity at the church.

9:08 a.m.: A day after Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced he had tested positive for COVID-19, he was absent for the first time in his two years in office from his daily news conference.

Having shaped an administration so reliant on himself for everything from setting priorities to making public statements, López Obrador’s absence felt all the greater. It comes as his country registers its highest levels of infections and deaths to date.

López Obrador, who has been criticized for his handling of Mexico’s pandemic and for not setting an example of prevention in public, announced the diagnosis Sunday on his official Twitter account, saying, “The symptoms are mild but I am already under medical treatment.”

José Luis Alomía Zegarra, Mexico’s director of epidemiology, said the 67-year-old López Obrador had a “light” case of COVID-19 and was “isolating at home.”

On Monday, Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero said the president had designated her to hold the daily briefings until his return. She said López Obrador was well and strong.

8:48 a.m.: Although we don’t usually see the full extent of it until the spring melt, this city’s streets get pretty grungy in the winter.

Thanks to this year’s lack of snow (thus far), we’re getting the full picture of just how bad it is, from pandemic puppy poop to discarded take-out containers and plenty of scattered masks, antiseptic wipes and plastic gloves.

Several University of Guelph researchers are warning us, though, that it’s more than just an eyesore. This small avalanche of discarded personal protective equipment (PPE) we’re experiencing — once you realize the long-term repercussions — is actually far worse than it looks.

Read the full story by Christine Sismondo

8:46 a.m. Merck is giving up on two potential COVID-19 vaccines following poor results in early-stage studies.

The drugmaker said Monday that it will focus instead on studying two possible treatments for the virus that also have yet to be approved by regulators. The company said its potential vaccines were well tolerated by patients, but they generated an inferior immune system response compared with other vaccines.

Merck entered the race to fight COVID-19 later than other top drugmakers.

It said last fall that it had started early-stage research in volunteers on potential vaccines that require only one dose. Vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna were already in late-stage research at that point.

The Food and Drug Administration allowed emergency use of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines late last year. Each requires two shots.

8:10 a.m.: Scientists and health experts are launching a nationwide campaign to counter misinformation about COVID-19 and related vaccines.

The #ScienceUpFirst initiative is an awareness and engagement campaign that will use social media to debunk incorrect information and boost science-based content.

The campaign team says in a news release that it emerged from conversations between Nova Scotia Sen. Stan Kutcher and Timothy Caulfield, Canadian research chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta.

The initiative is now being led by the Canadian Association of Science Centres, COVID-19 Resources Canada, and the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta.

Anyone interested in participating can follow @scienceupfirst and use the #ScienceUpFirst hashtag on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and tag the account to amplify science-based posts and alert it to misinformation posts.

8:05 a.m.: Politicians and local leaders on Monday condemned rioters who clashed with police in about 10 towns and cities across the Netherlands a day earlier, on the second night of a coronavirus curfew.

“It is unacceptable,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said. “This has nothing to do with protesting, this is criminal violence and that’s how we’ll treat it.”

Worst hit was Eindhoven, where police clashed with hundreds of rioters who torched a car, threw rocks and fireworks at officers, smashed windows and looted a supermarket at the southern city’s railway station.

“My city is crying, and so am I,” Eindhoven Mayor John Jorritsma told media Sunday night. In an emotional impromptu press conference, he called the rioters “the scum of the earth” and added “I am afraid that if we continue down this path, we’re on our way to civil war.”

The rioting coincided with the first weekend of the new national coronavirus 9 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. curfew, but mayors stressed that the violence was not the work of citizens concerned about their civil liberties.

“These demonstrations are being hijacked by people who only want one thing and that is to riot,” Hubert Bruls, mayor of the city of Nijmegen and leader of a group of local security organizations, told news talk show Op1 on Sunday night.

Amsterdam police arrested 190 people amid rioting at a banned demonstration Sunday.

7:56 a.m.: Canada Post has asked 350 of its employees and contractors who work the afternoon shift to self isolate after a COVID-19 outbreak at their largest facility, located in Mississauga, it confirmed Sunday.

Spokesperson Phil Legault confirmed the number to the Star in an email, and also noted that they are following other recommendations from the Peel Public Health unit as well, including voluntary rapid testing of employees as well as safety protocols focused on washrooms, lunchrooms and locker rooms.

In a statement released on Jan. 23, the postal service said that the public health unit recommended the precautionary measure as the most effective way to control further spread at the Gateway East facility on Dixie Road.

Read the full story from the Star’s Akrit Michael

7:08 a.m. Nearly five years ago, Yassin Dabeh’s family fled war-torn Syria for a better life in Canada.

Now the family has been confronted with the unspeakable horror of watching Dabeh become the youngest person in the Middlesex-London area to die after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

Dabeh, 19, worked as a contract cleaner at the Middlesex Terrace Long Term Care home in Delaware, Ont., just west of London, and died after contracting the virus, said Mohamad Fakih, a businessman and philanthropist, who spoke with the young man’s father.

Read the full story from the Star’s Kenyon Wallace

6:20 a.m.: It’s been one year since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Canada — and a lot has changed. Here are some pieces from the Star to mark the anniversary:

  • How a grieving son, a displaced student and a retired nurse have found their way through 12 months of COVID-19

  • Canada’s first COVID-19 patient was at Sunnybrook. Today his treatment would have been by video

  • The year of epidemiologist: 12 months of COVID have turned health experts into the reluctant heroes of our pandemic

  • How we’ve tried to meet the challenge of Canada’s COVID year through our journalism

6:18 a.m.: Australia has suspended its partial travel bubble with New Zealand after New Zealand reported its first coronavirus case outside of a quarantine facility in two months. Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said Monday the suspension would last for three days and was being implemented out of an abundance of caution. Travellers affected need to cancel or face two weeks in quarantine upon arrival.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she’d told Morrison she had confidence in New Zealand’s systems and processes, but it was up to Australia to decide how they managed their borders.

Health officials in New Zealand say genome tests indicate the woman contracted the virus from another returning traveller just before leaving quarantine. However, there was no evidence the virus has spread further. Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the 56-year-old woman had recently returned from Europe.

During her mandatory two weeks in quarantine, she tested negative twice. She developed symptoms at home later and tested positive. Officials say the woman appears to have caught the more infectious South African variant of the virus from another traveller on her second-to-last day in quarantine, and they’re investigating how the health breach happened.

6:17 a.m.: Australia’s medical regulator has approved use of its first coronavirus vaccine, paving the way for inoculations to begin next month.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration on Monday gave provisional approval for people aged 16 and over to use the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. Residents and workers at aged-care facilities, front-line health care workers and quarantine workers are among the groups being prioritized for the first doses.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the development. He said Australia was among the first countries to complete a comprehensive process to formally approve a vaccine rather than just grant an emergency approval.

Australia has an agreement for 10 million doses of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine and an option to buy more if supplies allow.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said Monday the country overall had secured 140 million vaccines, one of the highest dosing rates per head of population in the world.

The biggest of the preorders, conditional on regulatory approval, is 53.8 million doses of the vaccine made by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, 50 million of which would be made in Australia in a partnership with Melbourne-based biopharmaceutical company CSL.

Australia is aiming to complete inoculations by October. The nation of 26 million people has reported fewer than 30,000 virus cases and a little over 900 deaths.

6:16 a.m.: Schools in seven public health units across southern Ontario reopen for in-person classes today.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce says that means 100,000 students will be returning to the classroom for the first time since before the winter break.

The province is implementing more safety measures in areas where schools are reopening, including requiring students in grades 1 through 3 to wear masks indoors and when physical distancing isn’t possible outside as well.

It’s also introducing “targeted asymptomatic testing” and enhanced screening protocols in those regions.

While it’s been more than a month since students in southern Ontario have been in the classroom, classes resumed in the northern part of the province on Jan. 11.

The provincial government has said the chief medical officer of health is keeping a close eye on the COVID-19 situation in public health units where schools remain closed to decide when it’s safe for them to reopen.

But the province has said that in five hot spot regions — Windsor-Essex, Peel, York, Toronto and Hamilton — that won’t happen until at least Feb. 10.

The public health units where schools are reopening today are the Grey Bruce Health Unit; the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit; the Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Health Unit; the Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Health Unit; the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit; Peterborough Public Health and Renfrew County and District Health Unit.

6:14 a.m.: The federal government’s handling of the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign is set to dominate the agenda when Parliament resumes today.

Members of Parliament are expected to work together to allow virtual attendance in the House of Commons once again as many provinces remain in lockdown during the second wave of the pandemic.

Yet that show of unity will be the exception, as opposition parties say they plan to press the minority Liberal government on several fronts.

That starts with grilling the government on delays in the delivery and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, including Pfizer’s decision to deliver only a fraction of the shots it promised over the next few weeks.

The government has also pledged to close a loophole that currently allows people who leave the country on non-essential trips to collect a sick-leave benefit while they quarantine.

Opposition parties, meanwhile, want to see more support for families and businesses.

Looming in the background will be the ever-present threat of a snap spring election.

4 a.m.: The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 25, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 15,213 new vaccinations administered for a total of 816,451 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 2,154.265 per 100,000.

There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 1,122,450 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 72.74 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

4 a.m.: The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 25, 2021.

There are 747,383 confirmed cases in Canada (63,668 active, 664,621 resolved, 19,094 deaths).The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 4,852 new cases Sunday from 51,308 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 9.5 per cent. The rate of active cases is 169.38 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 37,536 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 5,362.

There were 120 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,054 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 151. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.4 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 50.8 per 100,000 people.

There have been 17,050,539 tests completed.


Global News: Kitchener

Schools reopen in 7 public health units across southern Ontario

Education Minister Stephen Lecce says that means 100,000 students will be returning to the classroom for the first time since before the winter break.

The Record

Lifetimes: Victor Snieckus revered for innovative work


For Naomi and Darius Snieckus, spending time with their father, Victor Snieckus, meant hanging out in his lab and watching the brilliant chemist as he immersed himself in work.

“He was a scientist and had a deeply held passion,” said Darius, who described his father as warm and affectionate, a man quick to drop everything when his children needed him.

The former University of Waterloo and Queen’s University professor was revered around the world for his innovative work in organic chemistry. Did his kids know about his reputation?

“I remember him at conference halls: he had scientific rock-star status,” said Naomi. “We were aware of his accomplishments.”

In a tribute, Queen’s University noted that Victor, who had been the school’s inaugural Bader Chair of Chemistry in 1998, was “one of the most internationally-respected synthetic organic chemists in the world.”

It was lofty, albeit warranted praise.

Victor was an only child, born Aug. 1, 1937, in Kaunas, Lithuania, the son of veterinary surgeons.

During the Second World War, the family lived in a displaced persons camp in Germany, immigrating to Alberta in 1948. His traumatic early life did not impede Victor’s desire to create a meaningful life for himself, though he hadn’t thought of chemistry until one life-altering day at school.

He once told a reporter that his love of chemistry started in the early 1950s after a teacher demonstrated a chemical reaction, turning dull grey cobalt a bright blue. What strange magic was this? Victor would spend a lifetime seeking the secrets of organic chemistry.

Victor, who spoke five languages, did his undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta, his master’s degree at the University of California, Berkley and a PhD at the University of Oregon, graduating in 1965 at age 28.

Victor’s career flourished after completing one year at the National Research Council of Canada as a post-doctoral scholar.

He was only 30 when he joined the University of Waterloo’s faculty as an assistant professor and by 1979, he was a tenured professor.

“He wasn’t just a great chemist, he was a great guy,” said Naomi. “He made people feel special.”

Victor and his wife Anne, who he married in 1966, opened their Waterloo home to dozens of young people.

“Our house was always full of interesting students,” said Naomi. “My mom was a big part of welcoming students.”

Anne died last February, following a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. She had always been kind to students under her husband’s tutelage, helping them set up their apartments, acquiring anything they needed.

Victor had a coveted tenure position at the University of Waterloo until 1992 when he accepted a position as the Monsanto/NRC Industrial Research Chair, where he stayed until 1998. Victor’s next position was at Queen’s University when he was offered the Bader Chair of Chemistry position and with it, a professorship.

His kids said Victor’s office was cluttered with awards and he served as editor for various professional publications. His research led to several new pharmaceuticals with real-world applications such as an anti-inflammatory drug and an agricultural fungicide.

Intense and driven, Victor also knew how to reduce stress, often through music. He particularly loved jazz and though he was a man who was good at pretty much everything, let’s just say his clarinet playing wouldn’t land him a spot in any symphony. He played hockey and was a devoted runner, finding great stress relief in the rhythmic pounding of running shoes on pavement.

Naomi said when her dad travelled “the first thing he’d do is strap on his shoes and go for a run.” It wasn’t always stress-free, like the time he had to outrun muggers in Dallas. There were also street dog attacks in Pakistan, resulting in shredded shorts which he’d continue to wear, a trophy for his determination. Victor was also nearly arrested more than once by suspicious police.

When on a plane and unwilling to just sit, he’d do pushups in the aisle which didn’t endear him to flight attendants.

Despite Victor’s remarkable success as a scientist, he encouraged his children to follow their passions. Darius moved to England and works as a journalist. Naomi is a writer and actor, most recently known for her role as Bobby on CBC’s “Mr. D.”

Victor kept up on all things cultural, from books to movies to music and he was the one who introduced Naomi to live theatre which set her future in motion.

As a Queen University professor emeritus, he had officially retired in 2009 but never stopped working, right up until he died of lung cancer on Dec. 21, 2020. Victor wasn’t a smoker.

“He was a one-of-a-kind person,” said Naomi.

“He was a Renaissance man,” added Darius.

Freelance writer Valerie Hill is a former Record reporter. She can be reached by email at vmhill296@gmail.com


The Record

Waterloo Regional Police follow stolen backhoe for 60 kilometres, arrest suspect


WATERLOO REGION — Police officers followed tire tracks for 60 kilometres to track down a backhoe that was stolen from a Kitchener construction site.

Waterloo Regional Police received a call from a construction site that was being monitored on Bleams Road just before 7 a.m. to report a stolen piece of equipment, Sgt. Michael Mercer said.

Police officers followed the backhoe’s tire tracks in the snow down Fischer-Hallman Road all the way to Embro, a small village in Oxford County just minutes away from Woodstock.

Mercer said Waterloo Regional Police officers called Ontario Provincial Police for assistance as they were outside of their jurisdiction.

“Officers found the suspect driving the backhoe in a field,” Mercer said. When the man saw police vehicles, he jumped off the slow-moving backhoe and fled on foot, Mercer said.

“It was good to recover the vehicle for the owner,” Mercer said, noting the backhoe is worth about $60,000.

A 36-year-old Stratford man has been charged with theft over $5,000, possession over $5,000, breach of probation, and two failures to comply. He was expected to appear in bail court Sunday.

Anam Latif is a Waterloo Region-based general assignment reporter for The Record. Reach her via email: alatif@therecord.com


The Record

COVID-19 hits Lot42, Kitchener’s grassroots homeless settlement


KITCHENER — A grassroots settlement for the homeless at Lot42 has tightened public health measures after two people tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

Udanapher (Nadine) Green informally runs A Better Tent City in Kitchener and said the two people are a couple who are now staying at one of the region’s isolation centres.

A Better Tent City is located on property at Lot42, a large event space on Ardelt Place, and consists of heated one-room cabins as well as a communal kitchen and washroom facilities.

“It’s here, it has hit us. It is at our door,” Green said of the community’s first COVID-19 infections.

She said the common area that houses the community kitchen and washroom facilities will now require masks to be worn inside at all times and visitors will no longer be allowed at Lot42. Residents are also asked to take their meals to their cabins.

Green said masks were not required in common areas before, because A Better Tent City is like home.

Green said more homeless individuals have come to Lot42 since cold weather hit, and now she worries about how she will accommodate those who come in need of shelter.

“We always welcome people but now we can’t take in anybody else because we don’t know who has COVID,” she said with dismay.

“It’s going to be hard.”

Region of Waterloo Public Health said increased testing is taking place in the region’s homeless populations with the help of agencies who support them. Green said Sanguen Health’s mobile community health van visits Lot42 several times a week and is testing residents regularly.

Lot42 is a large event space owned by Ron Doyle. He invited Green to help create a grassroots community for the city’s vulnerable homeless population last year in response to a need to shelter homeless individuals during the pandemic.

Also behind the project is Jeff Willmer, a former city planner and former chief administrative officer of the City of Kitchener.

Green said Lot42 is a place for people who are either not welcome at traditional shelters or those who don’t want to use traditional shelters.

Green used to operate a convenience store in downtown Kitchener where she also offered people living homeless a place to sleep and eat. She was evicted last year and now has a cabin at the settlement.

A Better Tent City is a place where people feel comfortable, she explained.

“It’s like home for them.”

Green said the couple who tested positive last week were not residents at Lot42, but were just passing through as many people usually do. She said they will be welcome to return if they want to after their isolation period ends and they receive negative COVID-19 test results.

Kitchener city council has temporarily allowed the site to continue to operate even though residential housing is not permitted at Lot42, which is zoned as industrial land.

With files from Laura Booth

Anam Latif is a Waterloo Region-based general assignment reporter for The Record. Reach her via email: alatif@therecord.com

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Kitchener gym challenges provincial shutdown rule


KITCHENER — A Kitchener gym is set to challenge the province’s shutdown and stay-at-home order, according to a lawyer representing NorthXFitness.

Ryan O’Connor said the gym wants an exemption from shutdown rules, just as training facilities for elite athletes have. He claims the province’s shutdown order violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Gyms are important for physical and mental health of those who use them in the broader community so that is certainly important to my client and one of the reasons she wants to reopen,” he said.

NorthXFitness is located on Shoemaker Street and also caters to clients with disabilities. It is owned by Sascha King, according to the gym’s website. The gym was closed when the province went into shutdown on Dec. 26.

O’Connor said he has filed a notice of application in court.

“We are waiting to hear back from the court on further dates. There may be an injunction hearing in the next couple of weeks,” he said.

“It’s not completely legal to operate a gym right now, and the Senators and Maple Leafs are allowed to operate gyms, and Olympic and Paralympic athlete gyms are open legally,” O’Connor said, citing NHL hockey teams who are currently allowed to train under the province’s shutdown.

“My clients are only asking if it can apply to elite athletes, it should also apply to her and her clients,” O’Connor said.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation is seeking intervener status in the legal challenge. It is a non-profit organization that defends the constitutional freedoms of Canadians through education, communication and litigation.

“The harm of closing gyms for individuals who rely on them for mental and physical health, including the management of a disability, is arbitrary and discriminatory,” said Canadian Constitution Foundation Litigation Director, Christine Van Geyn in a statement.

She pointed out that NorthXFitness has a special focus on serving individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities.

“Many of these individuals rely on fitness training to manage their disabilities, and are unable to work out without assistance or supervision,” she said.

A Go Fund Me campaign has been launched to help King pay for legal fees as she fights the province to allow her gym to reopen during the provincial shutdown.

With files from Leah Gerber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Anam Latif is a Waterloo Region-based general assignment reporter for The Record. Reach her via email: alatif@therecord.com


The Record

Rangers’ Pinelli receives top ranking from NHL Central Scouting


Francesco Pinelli has A-game, according to NHL Central Scouting.

The Kitchener Rangers forward was one of four Ontario Hockey League players to receive an A-grade in the scouting services’ latest list of players to watch ahead of this year’s NHL draft.

The list, which was released this past Saturday, also dished out A-ratings to Guelph Storm defenceman Daniil Chayka, Barrie Colts rearguard Brandt Clarke and Peterborough Petes forward Mason McTavish. An A-Grade means a player has the potential to go in the first round of the draft.

Pinelli had 18 goals and 23 assists in 59 games for the Rangers last season, which was third most among OHL freshmen.

The 17-year-old is currently playing for HDD Jesenice, a Slovenian team in the Alps Hockey League.

Cambridge goalie Tristan Lennox, who plays for the Saginaw Spirit, earned a B-rating, pegged for players expected to go in rounds two or three.

Lennox was invited to try out for Canada’s world junior hockey squad late last year, even though he’s still just 18 years old, but was cut. He’ll man the crease for the Spirit if the OHL season, which is currently on hiatus, returns.

Flint Firebirds forward Braeden Kressler and Kitchener Rangers forward Matt Sop, both of Kitchener, picked up C-ratings, meaning they fall into the range of rounds four to six.

Kressler is coming off a rookie season that saw him score nine goals and add nine helpers in 46 games for the Firebirds.

Sop had one assist in two games for the Rangers this past season but potted 23 goals in 54 games for the Mississauga Chargers in the Ontario Junior Hockey League.

Meanwhile, Rangers import goalie Pavel Cajan, who was selected in the first round of last year’s Canadian Hockey League import draft, also received a C-rating.

At least one player from all 20 OHL squads appeared on the list, which evaluates players from North America and Europe. The London Knights and Ottawa 67’s led the pack with five players each.

The Rangers haven’t had a player go in the first round of the NHL draft since Radek Faksa went 13th overall in 2012.

Josh Brown is a Waterloo Region-based reporter focusing on sports for The Record. Reach him via email: jbrown@therecord.com


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Public Health also reported only 34 more cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the lowest case count increase seen in Waterloo Region recently.

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Trinity Bible Chapel defies lockdown and court order with in-person services Sunday


WOOLWICH TOWNSHIP — Dozens gathered inside Trinity Bible Chapel for two services Sunday morning, despite a provincial shutdown that prohibits more than 10 people from gathering inside a place of worship.

The church also defied a Superior Court of Justice order issued on Friday, compelling them to comply with the Reopening Ontario Act or risk being held in contempt of court.

About 50 cars were parked in the church’s parking lot on Lobsinger Line, just down the road from the St. Jacobs farmers’ market. People were seen filing into the church ahead of a 9 a.m. service. The parking lot was full for the second service at 11:15 a.m. as well. Families with young children were seen going into the church building.

A Region of Waterloo bylaw officer was parked across the street to monitor the situation ahead of the church’s first morning service. Bylaw was not present throughout the second service. Waterloo Regional Police officers were not outside the church Sunday morning as they have been in the past.

Police said regional bylaw officials would be responsible for observing activity at the church.

Asked for a response, a Region of Waterloo spokesperson, TJ Flynn, said in an email statement: “The Superior Court of Justice Order obtained by the Attorney General compels Trinity Bible Chapel to comply with the applicable requirements of the Reopening Ontario Act and if the respondents failed to comply, they may be held in contempt of Court.

“Region of Waterloo Licensing and Enforcement Service was on location to observe activities and we continue to work closely with and support our provincial enforcement partners.”

When Regional Chair Karen Redman was asked why bylaw and police officers did not enforce shutdown rules on Sunday, she did not respond with a specific comment, but said she supported a statement from Flynn issued on behalf of the region: “the Region is unable to comment further with regard to these enforcement and legal proceedings as they are currently before the Courts.

We continue to thank the many places of worship that continue to comply with the Reopening Ontario Act and these actions help protect the health of our residents.”

Waterloo Regional Police wrote a similar statement on Twitter, and said the police service is working closely with Region of Waterloo and Region of Waterloo Public Health to ensure appropriate action is taken.

“We ask for your patience, as these are complex issues that require proper engagement of the judicial process,” the statement said.

The Record also reached out to Ontario Premier Doug Ford and asked if he thinks police and bylaw should shut down the services.

“The government does not direct police services,” said Ford’s representative, Ivana Yelich, in an email Sunday afternoon.

“We know this pandemic has been very difficult for people, but we can’t let the sacrifices of so many Ontarians be for nothing.

“As our battle against this virus continues, our government will continue taking action based on the advice of public health. At the same time, we need all Ontarians to do their part, stay home and stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Independent MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston Randy Hillier said in a tweet that he planned to attend the 9 a.m. service at Trinity Bible Chapel.

On Sunday morning, Hillier tweeted a photo from inside the church which shows seats to be about half full and groups of people sitting together in clusters. No one appears to be wearing a mask.

Hillier was recently in the spotlight for sharing photos of his family’s large Christmas gathering. The anti-lockdown MPP has been outspoken about his views on the province’s lockdown measures.

The Record reached out to Hillier for comment Sunday, but did not receive a response.

Trinity pastor Jacob Reaume had earlier invited people to attend in-person services Sunday.

In a lengthy blog post he wrote for the church’s website , Reaume said the invitation comes “out of neighbourly love.”

“Jesus visited the sick and lonely because He loves them. Jesus asks us to welcome the destitute because He is full of mercy. Jesus taught us to show hospitality to our neighbours because people need our presence. Jesus desires for us to gather together for worship because the church is a gathering. Jesus commands us to be together because He became a man to be with us. Not once did Jesus ever tell us to love our neighbours with saying, ‘Stay home. Stay safe,’” Reaume wrote.

Trinity Bible Chapel has defied gathering limits during the provincewide shutdown twice before, once on Jan. 3 and also on Dec. 27, the day after the provincial shutdown went into effect.

Police handed out six tickets after the Dec. 27 services, and another nine tickets were handed out following services on Jan. 3.

Reaume said church elders are facing penalties close to $11 million and potential jail time after several members of Trinity Bible Chapel were charged under the Reopening Ontario Act.

Trinity Bible Chapel appeared in court earlier this week, and a judicial pretrial hearing date has been set for Feb. 26.

After the church was slapped with penalties, Reaume decided to host drive-in services on Jan. 17. Attendees listened to his sermon broadcast live over radio from inside their cars in the church’s parking lot.

Reaume notes the church has a mitigation strategy for Sunday services in effect, which includes asking attendees to self-screen for symptoms before coming to in-person services.

Reaume has not responded to requests for an interview with the Record.

Anam Latif is a Waterloo Region-based general assignment reporter for The Record. Reach her via email: alatif@therecord.com


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