New Tecumseth council is planning to pass the 2009 budget Monday night. Currently the tax increase sits at 1.49 per cent. For the average home assessed at $255,159 that represents an increase of $27.14 annually. Because the town signed onto the OPP contract last year and it included an increase in funding for additional officers, 1.03 per cent of the increase can’t be reduced. That means the portion of the budget council can control is increasing .43 per cent. Monday night, Coun. Dennis Egan proposed the town use a portion of the tax stabilization fund to pay for the controllable impact on residents this year. While Egan had the support of Coun. Jim Stone, the remainder of council was not in favour of depleting the stabilization fund. Mayor Mike MacEachern said that the economic challenges are going to continue and cautioned against tapping into the stabilization fund. Coun. Jamie Smith said if the town covered the .43 per cent, essentially they are spending their savings account. He said a slight increase in taxes is not unconscionable and thinks the budget as it is right now is reasonable. There are some budget items that are still to be hashed out Monday. The most contentious so far has been the field house at the Mel Mitchell playing fields in Beeton. When the field house project was proposed it had a $100,000 price tag, half coming from the town and half from fundraising and in-kind donations. At a January budget meeting a decision on the field house was put off until February, when council could see designs. At that meeting the project cost was $200,000. When the designs were brought forward at a February budget meeting, a new cost estimate of $331,250 was attached to the two-phase project. Several options for the field house project are going to be presented at the March 9 committee of the whole meeting, including a scaled back version of the project. Depending upon which design council chooses, it could mean an increase in the budget. Irrigation of the 14th Line sports fields is the other item up for discussion at the meeting.
A man alleged to have robbed a convenience store clerk with a knife suffered hypothermia while hiding from police in a wooded area, the OPP has reported. Police say a lone male armed with a knife entered the Cumberland Beach store on Highway 11 near Bayou Road on Tuesday, at about 9:30 p.m. His face was hidden behind a black mask and he was wearing a hoodie. After demanding money from the clerk, a struggle ensued and the clerk suffered a small cut to one hand. The suspect took an undisclosed quantity of cash before fleeing the store, only to be located by an emergency response team and a K-9 unit two hours later in a wooded area. He was taken to Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital and treated for hypothermia before being transported to the Orillia OPP detachment. A 19-year-old Cumberland Beach man is charged with robbery with a weapon and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose. He was to attend a bail hearing in Barrie court on Thursday.
The message from Municipal Affairs Minister Jim Watson is clear – either Innisfil and Barrie negotiate a boundary deal or the province will do it for them. “He wants us at the table and he wants us to work this out,” Innisfil Mayor Brian Jackson said a few hours after meeting with Watson at Queen’s Park. “He said he’s not going to allow us to let this drag on for another year.” Watson told the Innisfil contingent, which included Conservative MPP Julia Munro, that the province would step in if a settlement can’t be made that gives Barrie more land to develop. Jackson’s meeting with Watson followed a similar meeting the Liberal Cabinet minister had with Barrie. Jackson said he called Barrie Mayor Dave Aspden after his meeting with Watson to set up an initial meeting. “This would be just to lay some ground work,” he said. “We have to see if there is a foundation we can build on.” Talks were aborted last year after Innisfil left the table. A proposed deal brokered by a provincially-appointed facilitator short-changed Innisfil, Jackson said. Innisfil wanted one-acre of its employment zone in Innisfil Heights on the Hwy. 400 corridor serviced by Barrie for every acre it gave the city through boundary adjustments. But the deal would have seen Innisfil give up three acres for every acre of serviced land. There have been no negotiations since. Watson did not give the municipalities a firm deadline, although it was clear he wanted the long-standing issue resolved within the next few months, Jackson said. “He gave us a couple of dates that just weren’t feasible,” Jackson said. “I think he may have been testing us.” Watson did not suggest a provincially-appointed facilitator be used this time, Jackson said. Jackson has suggested Barrie may be stalling the process, hoping for the province to invoke boundary adjustments that would benefit the city. “I guess Barrie must decide if they’ll benefit more from a political solution than a negotiated one,” Jackson said. Coun. Jeff Lehman, Barrie’s chairperson for boundary adjustments, has said the city remains serious about finding a local solution. Watson met with the municipalities after Barrie MPP Aileen Carroll, a Liberal Cabinet minister, asked him to intervene. Carroll complained that the stalemate was stifling Barrie’s ability to develop, especially since the province has designated it as a regional growth centre.
Samantha Stewart, Brittany Gill and Hannah Skelton from the Collingwood Skating Club are gearing up for the 2009 Carnival. The carnival – which has a theme of an Afternoon at the Movies – takes place this Sunday at the Eddie Bush Memorial Arena. Doors open at 12:15 p.m., with the show starting at 1 p.m. Tickets are $10 with children under five being free. Tickets are available at the door.
Police and tow truck crews pulled a brand new, Ford F-150 pickup truck from the depths of the Nottawasaga River at about 6 p.m. tonight (Thurs., April 16, 2009). The truck was found submerged in the river where it crosses the 5th Line of Essa just north of Nicolston Dam on Highway 89. It had apparently been spotted a couple of days ago by a young fisherman, but he didn’t think anything of it at the time. However, another passerby today spotted it and called police. Prior to that, high water levels from rain and spring runoff likely kept the vehicle hidden from view in the deeper, murky water. There was some initial concern that the driver might have still been inside, but it quickly became clear the vehicle was empty. The ignition had been punched out and a check by Nottawasaga OPP revealed the 2010 model, four-door pickup truck had been reported stolen from Toronto April 1. Police believe the truck has been in the river ever since. Access to the water was apparently gained by a rough driveway just north of the river used by fisherman to park. All the windows in the vehicle had been rolled down. It took two tow trucks and a Jeep with a winch to pull the soggy vehicle up the steep embankment onto dry ground.
Brig.-Gen. Denis Thompson of the Canadian Armed Forces will visit Stayner Collegiate Institute on Mon., March 23 as part of a public outreach tour he is conducting. He will be at the school from 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m., giving a talk about the role of Canada’s Armed Forces in Afghanistan. From May 2008 to February 2009, Thompson was commander of the Canadian joint task force in Afghanistan. The visit to Stayner Collegiate is a coming home of sorts for Thompson, who attended the high school in the 1970s after graduating from New Lowell Central Public School. Pam Jeffrey, a teacher-librarian at SCI, invited Thompson to the school. “How it all happened is kind of a funny story,” she said in an interview Monday. Jeffrey said her husband, Dayn Leyshon, went to high school with Thompson but the two had lost touch. She said in May 2008, her husband read a newspaper story about Thompson and thought it might be the same guy he knew from high school. She said he compared a current photograph of Thompson with an old yearbook picture and determined it was indeed the same person. In February of this year, Jeffrey said she sent an e-mail to the Canadian Armed Forces, trying to reach Thompson. She said she was thinking he or a designate might be able to do some type of web-cam presentation on Afghanistan that would be of interest to students. Four days after she sent the e-mail, Thompson personally replied and through e-mail the two were able to arrange his visit to the high school. Jeffrey said the entire student body will be on hand to hear Thompson’s presentation, plus Grade 8 students from public schools in Clearview Township. Jeffrey said the public is invited as well, but she asks that people contact the school ahead of time to arrange a seat. To contact the school, call 428-2639.
The Bluewater District School Board announced this week that they will host a public meeting as part of its outreach plan to work on the board’s communication and accountability. The Board will meet at West Hill Secondary School in Owen Sound on May 20 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and again on June 1 at Walkerton District Secondary School in Walkerton at the same times. According to a press release from the board, the meetings will focus on obtaining feedback on three themes – communication, responsiveness to complaints and public satisfaction. The board also recently released a discussion guide, available on their website, at Bluewater school offices and at the public meetings. The seven-page document focuses on the three themes identified by the board with a survey for each and a space for general comments. "The public should view the guide as a means of prompting discussion, not limiting it," said Chair Jennifer Yenssen. "To be responsive to the public, we need to hear from them. We need to know how well the board is doing and where and how to improve." Suggestions and comments from the public will be used to prepare a preliminary report for the board proposing concrete changes and improvements, according to a May 8 news release. The guide, and the board announcements are available at www.bwdsb.on.ca.
The Collingwood Hanna Motors Atom AE Blackhawks were crowned OMHA Champions last week by defeating New Hamburg in the finals. The members of the team are: Tyler Atkinson, Hazen Mercer, Ethan Parent, Morgan Lewis, Joesph Sammon, Justin Mills, Brandon Piroli, Jarryd Ling, Nicholas Sammons, Adam Leal, Jaden Dankevy Jacob Kranjec, William Hanna, David Evans and Dylan Demers. The coaching staff is Peter Sammon, Steve Sammons, Adam Parent, Peter Atkinson and Steve Lewis. Contributed Photo/Tempo Photography
Council has rejected a last-ditch attempt to have the city waive development fees on a new building planned for a soon-to-be displaced daycare. A week after council committee turned down a request to waive development fees on a facility planned for west Orillia, Treasure Island Daycare Centre director Lucille Desjardins appeared before council to plead for reconsideration. Desjardins stressed that the non-profit operation was being forced from its long-time home at OPP General Headquarters due to security concerns. “This request is in response to a unique situation,” she said. “Had we not had to move from GHQ, we would not be here asking.” The agency is seeking $1.7 million in provincial funding to assist with the relocation, and has launched fundraising initiative that has garnered more than $5,000. Development charges and other fees would amount to about $120,000, a portion of which – about $50,000 – is already covered by the municipality. As an alternative, Desjardins suggested that council consider paying for an elevator that will allow children with disabilities to access a gymnasium in the basement of the new daycare. ••• Defending a significant planning decision before the Ontario Municipal Board cost the city more than $113,000 in fees, council heard this week. Residents of a waterfront neighbourhood cheered when council rejected a triple tower condominium complex proposed for Orchard Point. The decision was challenged and defeated at the OMB, allowing the developer to proceed with the project. Fees shouldered by taxpayers during the hearing include $55,000 for planning consultants, $47,000 in legal costs and $10,000 for archeological experts. Councillors Ralph Cipolla and Wayne Gardy said the figures fail to reflect the time spent by staff involved in the hearing. “It was a cost to the city because it took them away from their normal duties,” Gardy added. ••• Ensuring ample parking is available for vendors and customers alike is crucial to the success of Orillia’s historic farmers’ market, council heard this week. Farmers’ Market Vendors’ Association chair Kevin Scott warned that losing 37 parking spaces when a new library is erected would lead to frustration among shoppers and sellers of produce and other goods. “Good vendors will disappear if they don’t have an opportunity to make money,” Scott said. Mayor Ron Stevens in a letter to market representatives said council is “actively pursuing” options to address the parking problem. Stevens was not present at council this week. “We have to be united and work together to make it happen,” added Coun. Ralph Cipolla, who was raised near the market. “Every Saturday morning, it was the place to go and the thing to do.” Council has additionally agreed to include a room within the new library for use by the market, Stevens added. Scott wants an answer on the group’s parking concerns sooner than later. “The bottom line is, parking has been taken away due to the expansion of the library,” he said. ••• Out of order. That was Coun. Michael Fogarty’s blunt assessment of a committee motion last week, when members affirmed a decision to build a new library on the site of the existing facility. According to parliamentary procedure, “council cannot reaffirm a position taken,” said Fogarty, who chaired this week’s meeting. The motion to affirm was deleted. ••• City staff will investigate the cost of adding fluoride to Orillia’s drinking water, following a report by the health unit on the poor state of dental health in Simcoe County. Coun. Joe Fecht requested information on fluoridation after reading “alarming statistics” about oral health in the region. Early childhood tooth decay is more prevalent in Simcoe County and Muskoka than in most parts of Ontario, the report said. “I think this would be a first step in looking at this issue,” Fecht said.
An item that contradicts recommendations regarding a review of area high schools has been added to the agenda of an upcoming Simcoe County District School Board meeting. But trustee Caroline Smith says addition of the item is unusual and is in contravention of the board’s bylaws. Orillia trustee Debra Edwards put forward a notice of motion at the end of an April 22 board meeting – the motion that is now on the agenda of the board’s June meeting. The motion calls for the closure of Stayner Collegiate Institute, planning for improvements to Collingwood Collegiate Institute and Midland Secondary School and conducting an attendance review of the catchment areas of all schools included in the review. "Rather than be a maverick and make motion at the June regular board meeting I am attempting to be very transparent and forthcoming and the notice of motion would publicize the intention," said Edwards told The Sun. "The committee recommendations don’t mean you are out of the woods." She said she will be bringing forward another notice of motion at this month’s board meeting to add the closure of Penetanguishene Secondary School. Edwards said she meant to bring it forward at the last meeting but it was overlooked. She said she would have been in her right to put forward the motions at the June meeting but she wanted people to know that the closure of the three schools would be back on the table. However, Smith, the trustee for Collingwood and Clearview, believes the tabling of the notice of motion at the last meeting contravened the board’s bylaws. She said there’s no substance to the notice of motion and she is concerned people are trying to skirt the area high school accommodation review process that’s playing out. At a special facility standing committee held April 14, trustees voted on recommendations regarding area high schools under review, made by school board staff. Smith and other trustees took issue with voting at the meeting because originally the staff report was only to be received for information. The accommodation review committee (ARC), a volunteer community committee struck to find solutions to enrolment issues in the area, also believed no voting would take place that night. Staff said the timeline had been changed during the process. Board staff have recommended closing Stayner Collegiate, Penetanguishene Secondary School and Elmvale District High School in favour of building a central school for Wasaga Beach and parts of Springwater Township, where Elmvale is located, transferring Penetanguishene students to Midland and expanding Collingwood Collegiate, to accommodate students who attend Stayner Collegiate. The scenario would see three schools serve the entire area. "The end output was kind of a mixture of things," said Smith. But trustees voted to keep Stayner Collegiate and Penetanguishene Secondary School open and voted in favour of closing Elmvale in favour of a central school that would also serve Wasaga Beach. They also voted for two of the recommendations made by the ARC. Trustees recommended renovating and removing excess capacity at Midland Secondary School. "Some people walked away thinking they were out of the woods and that is not the case," said Edwards adding that the final decision is the one made by trustees on June 17. Edwards’ motion reflects the recommendations made by school board staff. Providing notice of motion allows the item to be placed on the next agenda. Severn, Ramara and Tay trustee Jodi Lloyd, who chairs the facility standing committee, seconded Edwards’ notice of motion. "This is completely out of order if these motions are tied to the ARCs because the business of the ARC is going through a process which is in gear already," said Smith. "In a way it’s usurping the whole process – that the ARC provides its recommendation, the staff provide its recommendation, the board makes its recommendation from that information, the public then knows where the board is going and can come and deputate and then the board makes its final decision." Smith said the notice of motion was not disclosed before it was seconded, despite having asked what it contained. She said Adjala-Tosorontio and Essa trustee Robert North asked that it be read aloud and it was. Before she knew what was contained in the notice of motion, Smith gave notice of another motion that renovations be made to Stayner Collegiate Institute to replace the portable complex located at the school with a permanent addition. Smith said she knew her motion was out of order, as she believes Edwards’ motion to be, but both passed. "I object vehemently that this could be tied to any thought of giving notice. This is nothing other than one trustee giving her opinion as to a motion. And what’s even worse is that our bylaws say a motion has to go to the next meeting and in her motion she says she wants it to go to the June 17 meeting," said Smith. Smith said according to procedure, the motion will put the item at the top of the agenda and dealt with at the beginning of the meeting. Trustees are still waiting to hear public input at the last round of delegations on May 14. Depending on how many people schedule a delegation, it is possible other meeting could be added. Smith said procedure can be a dry topic but it’s not to be taken lightly. "Because we are in a bigger process, we’re in a guideline process from the government and a guideline has the same value as a regulation so it’s a very powerful thing when you get a set of guidelines from any ministry," said Smith. "There is lot of legalese in here that people don’t actually recognize but things have to be done and markers have to be hit. And one of the things that has to be done is that once the ARC came in then we have this meeting and allow a certain amount of time for people to know where we were going so that they could deputate – its very hard to deputate when you haven’t got a clue where they are going." Anyone to make a delegation regarding ARC B must provide a copy of his or her presentation outline by 1 p.m. on Thurs., May 7 for the May 14 special board meeting. Delegations will also be accepted for the board decision meeting on June 17. Individuals requesting to make a delegation at the June 17 meeting must provide a copy of their presentation outline by 1 p.m. one week prior to the meeting. Both meetings take place at the board’s administration centre in Midhurst, located at 1170 Hwy. 26. Delegation requests should be directed to Lena Robyn at email@example.com or call (705) 734-6363 ext. 11231. A delegation process brochure is available at www.scdsb.on.ca.
Used to heading out of the house to work, plumber Che MacInnis was curious when his own toilet refused to flush a couple of years ago. “Cow,” said his three-year-old son Colbin. “Cow.” Indeed, further investigation revealed the plastic toy farm animal. During his 25-year career, the president of CRM Mechanical has fished a variety of toy cars and stuffed animals out of drains, but spends more time constructing new plumbing systems than maintaining existing ones. “I work throughout Simcoe County and down into the northern GTA (Greater Toronto Area),” MacInnis says about his Innisfil-based company. Although he does service and renovation projects for the residential and light-commercial markets, the Newfoundland native works mostly on new custom-home sites. That’s where he gets to source out and install interesting products you usually only see in magazines, he says, recalling a $3,000 faucet for one such home. Other specialty items have included hydronic heating systems (like radiant floor or towel rack heaters), showers with built-in vertical spas, multiple shower heads and body sprays, and dog washes which incorporate a shower base and hand-held faucet into the garage. Having grown up with a father in the construction industry, he spent most summers on site as a labourer. “I always had an interest in the trades,” he recalls. “I had the opportunity for plumbing, stuck with it and didn’t look back.” When he and wife Michelle, who is currently finishing up her accounting designation, first came to Ontario, they landed in a basement apartment in Toronto. Between jobs, he asked his neighbour (a plumber) for work. To test him out, he gave him a shovel and told him to spend the day backfilling a trench. The next day, when he showed up sore but willing to work, he was hired. Soon thereafter his five-year apprenticeship began. MacInnis opted for the additional two years required to obtain his Masters designation, which authorizes him to do additional design and consultation. That big-picture outlook would come in handy to home owners, he says, when they’re in the planning stage of a renovation project. “Unfortunately, plumbing often goes last, after the walls are finished,” he says. “If the plumber was consulted earlier in the process, some design catastrophes could be avoided.” He remembers, for example, coming into a project where the home-owner had no choice but to put the tub up against the vanity – an untraditional choice. “But without ripping something out, they’re stuck,” he adds. Originally working for another plumber, he saw an opportunity about six years ago to begin his own business full time, so he took it. With a college education in business, he went forward with expertise in both sides of the company. Having been working on some job sites in the Innisfil area, MacInnis and his wife, who hadn’t yet had their son or Regan, their daughter (now seven), moved up here as quickly as they could. “I like the slower pace and the outdoors,” he says of his adopted home. “It also feels a little bit closer to where I grew up.” Now well established (he gets so many referrals he doesn’t need to advertise), MacInnis works hard to further his reputation by infusing integrity and quality workmanship in every project. For more information, call MacInnis at 705-720-0747.