World Suicide Prevention Day
Council members proclaimed September 7, 2023 as “World Suicide Prevention Day” in the City of Brantford.
Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone regardless of gender, race, orientation, religion or background, income level and age. Approximately 11 people end their lives by suicide in Canada every day, and another 210 will attempt suicide. For each death by suicide, it is estimated that the lives of seven to ten grieving survivors are affected.
World Suicide Prevention Day was created to and strongly encourage all members of the community to become educated about suicide, recognize the signs and encourage conversations about mental health in order to break the stigma and promote hope and healing to everyone in the community.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Day
The City of Brantford has once again declared September 9, 2023 as “Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Day.” Brantford City Council has observed this day since 2018.
FASD is a term used to describe impacts on the brain and body of those prenatally exposed to alcohol that persists throughout their life. Prenatal alcohol exposure is the leading preventable cause of developmental disabilities in Canada and while the exact number of people affected by FASD is unknown, it is estimated that four out every 100 children are born with effects of prenatal alcohol exposure.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Day was created to acknowledge that during the nine months of pregnancy, it is important to abstain from alcohol and to raise awareness that there is no safe type, safe amount or a safe time to drink alcohol during pregnancy.
City of Brantford council proclaimed September 22 to October 15, 2023 as “Culture Days.”
Culture Days is a national Canadian celebration of arts, culture, and heritage.
Culture often connects individuals and creators while enriching and defining the identity of Brantford and beyond. It contributes to the development and well-being of the community while eliminating social barriers.
The goal of Culture Days is to encourage the understanding and appreciation of arts, culture and heritage while enhancing the connections between those with diverse interests, abilities and cultures.
North West Rubber (NWR) shares safety improvements
Leighton Friesen, CEO of NWR and Joe Olejarz, Plant Manager of NWR, were both in attendance during Tuesday’s council meeting to address the safety improvements made since the companies two fire incidents.
Friesen noted that despite the fire incidents, they have tried to do things the right way throughout the manufacturer’s 55 years of operation.
“We’ve tried to do things the right way, not cutting corners and we’ve tried to be a good corporate citizen,” he said. “Clearly we’ve had a couple of incidents that have happened here in Branford that we’re not happy about and we know you’re not happy about and prior to our 2019 incident we really had not sustained any significant fire loss in our – at that time – 51-year history, so really we were entering uncharted territory.”
The CEO said that they have since employed an “army of engineers” and professionals to determine the root cause.
“Based on those learnings, we initiated a bunch of changes that I will bucket into two primary streams,” he said. “One being around equipment and systems, the other being around procedures and people.”
Friesen noted that they have invested in significantly upgrading their controls and have added sensors and alarms, as well as changes to cooling equipment since the both the 2019 and 2022 incidents.
On the procedures and people side, the company has adjusted standard operating procedures as well have retrained staff and added supervision.
He said the biggest focus since the 2022 fire has been the elimination of manual process that they had been managing including temperature checks.
“The systems that we have in place now send out alerts and push alerts, whereas prior to that an operator would need to check something and ensure that it was as it should be,” said Friesen. “Now have a lot more eyes on that and have removed a lot of the manual nature of that.”
He said that in collaboration with the Brantford Fire Department and insurers, they have made layout changes to the yard and put up concrete wind barriers. He said additionally they are working to introduce a new mat cooling process come February or March of 2024.
“We’ve done a lot and we are committed to investing in the things that we’re being told and that we believe we need to do to further reduce risk,” he said. “We’re very motivated. This has cost us a lot of money and as well as our ability to service our customers and all the things that we are about as a business. I want you to know that you have a corporate citizen that cares, that’s trying to do things the right way and that’s committed to investing in our business to reduce this risk.”
Mayor Kevin Davis asked them to briefly describe how the new automated technology works.
“Using a sophisticated control system, if something is not perfect it will now automatically pause and alert employees in the forms of colours and alarms,” said Olejarz. “Employees will know that this specific cycle is not perfect and automatically this will trigger the process of checking, quarantining and moving product into the section of the site that is under real time surveillance for the temperature.”
Olejarz said that this will help to eliminate human error.
“We are adding those layers of protection and focusing on technology in the sense of alarming reliability,” he said. “Another layer of protection is a plan created with the fire department for proper storage, controlling and inspecting.”