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2023: The year in review,  part 2

JULY

The last of the COVID-19 public health measures and directives were officially lifted in Quebec.

The Express 57 Restaurant reopened its take-out counter in Ormstown, almost one year after a devastating fire destroyed the beloved diner.

Crowds flocked to Saint-Chrysostome as the area’s largest demolition derby made a much-anticipated return following a few years’ hiatus.

 

PHOTO Sarah Rennie

 

Tornado warnings were issued for much of the Haut-Saint-Laurent and surrounding areas as a powerful storm tore through the region on July 13. A microburst with maximum wind speeds of 125 km/h struck Saint-Anicet, flattening corn fields and causing severe damage to trees and properties. The storm produced four tornadoes earlier in the day near Ottawa, while two tornadoes were recorded in Quebec as well as several downbursts.

An appeal filed by the municipality of Havelock to stop the operation of an asphalt factory installed on Covey Hill was rejected by the Quebec Court of Appeal on July 25.

AUGUST

The Quebec Superior Court handed English school boards a big win by ruling that parts of Bill 40, the government’s education reform law, are unconstitutional. The ruling upheld arguments by English school boards that the bill violates minority-language education rights. The government announced several weeks later that it would appeal the decision.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs awarded $1.14 million to the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent for the creation of a network of painted murals on silos illustrating the history and culture of the region and its farmers.

Students across the Valley returned to schools amid media reports about teacher and school staff shortages. Both the New Frontiers School Board and the Centre de services scolaires de la Vallée-des-Tisserands started the year will most positions filled and on a very positive note.

The owners and publishers behind seven local and regional media outlets, including The Gleaner, joined with Salaberry-Suroît MP Claude DeBellefeuille to issue a joint statement denouncing pressure tactics by Meta, which blocked access to news for Canadian users of its Facebook and Instagram platforms.

The Barrie Memorial Hospital Foundation celebrated its 50th anniversary during an event on August 28. The organization was honoured by the federal and provincial governments in recognition of its many initiatives over the years to benefit the Ormstown-based hospital and health services in the Haut-Saint-Laurent.

SEPTEMBER

PHOTO The Gleaner

 

The Gleaner toasted its 160th anniversary with a special newspaper edition and celebration at the Salle Culturelle Alfred-Langevin in Huntingdon. Special guests included local elected officials, representatives from different community groups and organizations, longtime advertisers and supporters of the newspaper, and several past employees. A commemorative plaque to mark the milestone and a permanent display in the lobby of the Chateau building was unveiled during the event.

News broke that the Huntingdon BMO would be closing its doors for good on April 26th. The decision confused many, as the town is booming with new residential and commercial development. The Bank offered little in the way of explanation, other than to say banking habits are changing. Local BMO clients will be transferred to the Salaberry-de-Valleyfield branch.

The Association des members et amis pour la protection de la Réserve nationale de faune du Lac Saint-François celebrated its 30th anniversary by toasting three decades of conservation management and wildlife protection in Dundee.

The last remaining RCMP building at the Roxham Road crossing point was demolished on September 25. Around 113,000 asylum seekers crossed into Canada at Roxham Road since since 2017.

Howick Elementary School raised over $11,000 for the Terry Fox Foundation in support of a resilient Grade 5 student currently battling cancer.

OCTOBER

The Centre Sportif Promutuel and the committee for the intermunicipal arena in Huntingdon inaugurated the home-team dressing room as the Heather L’Heureux room in recognition of her years of dedication to the arena and the development of minor hockey in the area.

Teachers and support staff at local schools voted overwhelmingly in favour of initiating strike action to protest stalled contract negotiations with the government. Area unions representing both the French and English sector were part of the alliance known as the Front commun, which brought four major labour federations together to negotiate collectively with the government.

The Commission municipale du Québec announced it would audit the municipality of Franklin, following an investigation into irregularities in the taxation process and the establishment of municipal tax rates. A report will be issued at the end of the fiscal year with the results of the audit.

The town of Huntingdon, as well as the municipalities of Ormstown, Saint-Chrysostome, Howick, and Hemmingford, were all included in the Fondation Rivières annual ranking of untreated wastewater spills amongst Quebec municipalities. Combined, the five municipalities recorded 430 wastewater spills in 2022.

Students at École Arthur-Pigeon in Huntingdon planted some of the 280 trees, edible plants, berry bushes, and shrubs that will grow to become the school’s food forest. The secondary school won the “L’Écocitoyenneté, j’en mange!” contest, which included a $25,000 grant to fund the development of the food forest over the next three years.

NOVEMBER

Anderson Farms of Très-Saint-Sacrement finished in third place in the gold category of the 2023 Ordre nationale de mérite Agricole (ONMA) competition which largely spotlighted farms in the Montérégie region. Five area farms were awarded gold, silver, or bronze medals during the awards ceremony on November 2.

Howick’s Geordie Woods and his calf were crowned Grand Champion Ayrshire in the TD Canadian 4-H Dairy Classic during the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. Several other members of the South-West Quebec team were recognized in their categories. Also from Howick, the Money Making Ayrshires farm was named Premier Exhibitor and Premier Breeder at the Royal.

 

PHOTO Sarah Rennie

 

Public sector employees from the health, education, and social services sectors walked off the job at midnight on November 6 as part of an innovative strike that saw employees return to work at 10:30 a.m.

A second strike sequence took place between November 21-23, which resulted in school closures. Nurses, nurse practitioners, and other care professionals also walked off the job for 48 hours on November 8-9, and again between November 23-24. Teachers with the Fédération autonome de l’enseignement (FAE) walked off the job indefinitely on November 23.

The Betty Riel Foundation and its namesake received a $10,000 award as a grand prize winner of the “Sunlight Helping Canadians Shine” contest, which was sponsored by Sunlight laundry soap in collaboration with Global TV’s The Morning Show. The contest rewarded people who make their community a better place.

The municipality of Elgin confirmed that the historic Taillefer Bridge (also known as the Gilmore Bridge) which spans the Chateauguay River between Elgin and Hinchinbrooke will be restored and eventually reopened to small vehicle traffic.

Public consultations took place on proposed changes to the Huntingdon provincial riding that recommend adding five municipalities to the constituency.

An amendment was tabled in the National Assembly that delayed the application of 13 sections of Bill 23, which impacts school board governance within the English education network. The government adopted the bill in December, but these sections do not apply to English school boards.

The Gleaner published an exclusive interview with musician and Ormstown resident Nanette Workman and introduced the internationally renowned artist as a new columnist for 2024.

DECEMBER

A seven-day public sector strike closed schools from December 8 to the 14. The Front commun threatened a general walkout in January if an agreement was not reached by the end of the year.

Sainte-Barbe unveiled an updated logo and slogan for the municipality.

Local farmers participated in a one-day demonstration in front of the National Assembly in Quebec city on December 6, to demand the government update its programs to better support the province’s farms.

 

PHOTO Sarah Rennie

 

Holiday activities transformed the Valley into a magical landscape as festive activities and events took place throughout the month of December, including the 16th edition of the Santa Claus Parade in Howick, the LBA’s Christmas Village, and Ormstown’s Enchanted Christmas.

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