A 10-inch fish netted a Bradford man a hefty jackpot on Friday afternoon, after he landed a tagged fish worth $2,500 during the Orillia Perch Festival. The Casino Rama-sponsored fish was plucked from the waters of Lake Simcoe near the Narrows by Steve Clark, recently laid off from his job at an auto parts manufacturer. “The money will come in very handy, that’s for sure,” the exuberant 49 year old said. Clark was fishing with his friend Dave Norgrove when he felt a tug at his line and reeled in the fish with its bright yellow tag. “I flung it in the boat like any little perch,” he recalled. “I might have used a net if I had known it was worth $2,500.” Clark said he planned to take his wife to dinner. “We might go to the casino for a little while, but they’re not getting all (of the winnings) back,” he added jokingly.
When Wayne Ezekiel started out in the construction industry years ago, he was fitting in the work around his job delivering mail for Canada Post. “I ran my route every day so I could get finished in time to go to work,” recalls the Innisfil entrepreneur. “We started off renovating at a young age and just kept the company growing.” Approximately 15 years ago, he left the post office to focus on A.N.T. Construction full time. The initials not only indicate the industrious insect shown in Ezekiel’s logo, it also stands for Aaryn, Norm and Tracy – the names of his two children and wife. While the company continues to do renovations in both the residential and commercial sectors, but its primary focus is custom homes. Ezekiel literally worked his way up in the industry. “I always had a keen interest in construction and working with people,” he says. “So I took it upon myself to start a strong interest. I got my real estate licence, took business in college, took courses for Tarion and through the years took other courses, like Energy Star.” He remembers being the one holding the stick in the hole while the concrete footings were being poured. He also assisted the framers and cleaned up the site. “I was the jack-of-all traces in the house while I watched the trades do the work,” he relays. While he learned and started to manage the projects, he never assumed he could do the tasks himself. “Whether it was building a deck or finishing a basement, you need to call in the professionals to get the job done professionally,” he says. “You get a plumber to do the plumbing and an electrician to do the electrical – not a handyman. They’re not licensed to do it, so they shouldn’t be doing it.” As a result he built a reputation for quality workmanship even while building houses. “When you use the trades, you really get an expert in their field,” he says seriously. “So, we’ve had good growth because we’ve brought in the experts.” His projects currently span modest renovations up to an 8,000 square-foot home he’s currently looking at. Most recently, he worked on homes in the Innisbrook Estates development that sold in the $800,000 range. He tends to buy the building lots and design-build the custom homes according to the specific wants and needs of the home owner. “But about 25 per cent of our business is building for other people,” he says. Regardless, the clients are all treated with care, he says. “It’s all about trust,” he says about his relationships with his clients. “In the end, we want them to have confidence they got treated fairly and feel great about their home.” That’s why he’s registered with the Tarion Warranty Program and Energy Star, he explains – to demonstrate his commitment to quality. He credits his steady growth to constantly looking for new opportunities. “Today you have to be innovative,” he says. “You have to look around corners.” The market isn’t great right now, he acknowledges, but there are opportunities to continue growing. With an obvious excitement for his work, he says a positive mental attitude is a great asset as well. His company tag line might be “Bring us your dream and we will build it”, but even while he’s building his clients’ dreams, he’s own are coming true.
Catholic schools are getting greener. This year, 16 schools in the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board are applying for eco-school certifications. SMCDSB EcoSchools project lead Audrey Hamilton delivered the news to trustees at Wednesday’s board meeting. Last year, five schools in the board were certified as EcoSchools. "It’s great the way it’s driving and the way people are going," said Hamilton. The Ontario EcoSchools program is an environmental education program to address how schools run and what students learn. Its aim is to influence students to take what they learn about energy conservation and waste reduction at school and apply it at home and into their lives. The program uses benchmarks and a scoring system to grade environmental performances. Scores are based on energy conservation, waste minimization, school ground greening and ecology literacy.
Hunting within Innisfil’s urban communities will likely be banned next month if council updates its 54-year-old firearms bylaw. Councillors are poised to pass a new bylaw, which would outlaw the use of firearms and hunting bows within Alcona, Stroud, Cookstown, Churchill, Lefroy/Belle Ewart, Gilford, Fennels Corners, Innisfil Heights, St. Paul’s and sections of Big Bay Point. The new bylaw would also increase safety zones from 100 metres to 200 metres around public buildings within rural areas, such as Innisfil Central Public School on Conc. 5. The outdated bylaw was first raised in May 2008 by development lawyer Marvin Geist, who wanted council to ban hunting within Leonard’s Wetlands in north Alcona. If hunting were banned in the wetlands it could end its “provincial significance” status. The Ministry of Natural Resources uses a scoring system to determine provincial significance, with a threshold of 600 points. The Leonard’s Beach Wetland scored 618, with 20 points given for hunting. If hunting were banned, developers who own land in the wetlands could be given more leeway to encroach on the area. But planning director Robert McAuley told council last week safety was the primary goal of the proposed bylaw not whether it would make development easier. “We looked at the question of updating the bylaw, not whether the MNR would reduce the wetland significance,” McAuley said. “We’ve steered clear of that issue because it is not essential to this bylaw.” When council debated the bylaw last summer, residents who live near Leonard’s Wetlands said they were more concerned about development than hunters in the area. Leslie Street Deborah McGrath, whose home backs onto the wetland, told the Journal last October that hunters have never bothered her. “I’ve never seen anyone, it’s never been a concern for us,” she said. “The greater concern we have is maintaining the value of the wetland. The developers want to encroach on it. This is a very transparent end run to push the development through.” However, Geist has argued that the development issue is being “blown out of proportion.” “You still can’t build on wetlands. The town won’t let you, the Conservation Authority won’t let you, the County won’t let you and the province won’t let you.” Council is expected to consider the updated bylaw at its May 6 meeting.
The Beaver Valley Community School received special recognition at the last Bluewater District School board meeting for their fundraising efforts for the 2008 Terry Fox Run. BVCS raised $19,864.24, making them number 11 on the top 50 list for Ontario elementary schools. The total funds raised by all schools in the Bluewater board amount to $43,978.26. BVCS was the top school for the board, which includes about 40 schools – elementary and secondary. In 2008, 3,700 schools across Ontario participated in the National School Run Day to raise a total of $6.6 million for Cancer research and the Terry Fox Foundation. BVCS grade eight students thanked event organizer, Elise Feltrin as well as staff, students, parent volunteers and the entire community for their support. At the board meeting on Tuesday, April 21, Chair of the BWDSB, Jennifer Yenssen offered her congratulations and encouraged BVCS to "keep up the good work."
The process to implement a new comprehensive zoning bylaw for the Municipality of Meaford is nearly complete. The municipality will hold a public open house about the proposed bylaw at Meaford Hall on Thursday May 7 from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8:30 p.m. Meaford planning staff are encouraging members of the public to take a look at the proposed comprehensive zoning bylaw (it is available on the municipality’s website at www.meaford.ca or in printed form at the municipal office) in order to have an understanding of the process that is nearing its completion. The purpose of the new zoning bylaw is to implement the Official Plan for the Municipality of Meaford and to ensure that zoning regulations are consistent across the entire municipality. The municipality has held public open houses about the document in the past, but significant changes were made to the document due to concerns about environmental protection policies. Meaford Planner Liz Buckton said it’s important for local citizens to be aware that the zoning bylaw is ready for public comments and questions. The new zoning bylaw is the key document that regulates development in the entire municipality. "It’s important that residents get involved. The last open houses were poorly attended and a lot of people haven’t been heavily involved," Buckton explained during an interview last week. "The zoning bylaw implements the new Official Plan and sets out what goes where," she said. Buckton said the new zoning bylaw includes several new concepts that are explained in the document’s preamble. New concepts include: – Setback regulations for properties located on Georgian Bay. – Allowing denser development in urban areas and increased lot coverage in order to comply with provincial policy directing residential development to urban areas. – More flexible rules governing Bed and Breakfasts. – Elimination of the requirement for commercial parking space to be provided by businesses in the downtown core – in an effort to promote urban area commercial development. – A prohibition on agricultural operations within 500 metres of an urban area. – New policies for accessory use wind turbines (does not include commercial generating projects) and solar power collectors. The completion of the zoning bylaw will end a long process to fully update the municipality’s planning documents. The Official Plan was actually approved at the end of 2005 and municipal planners have been working diligently on the preparation of the zoning bylaw since that time. "It’s exciting from my perspective to be involved in this process all the way through. To be able to modernize this bylaw is very important," Buckton explained. "Meaford’s (current) bylaw is from 1974. Things have certainly changed a lot since then and we need to be reactive to that reality," she said. Buckton said she is always available to answer questions about the new zoning bylaw. She encourages local residents with an interest in the matter to study the document and familiarize themselves with what the bylaw is proposing for the municipality. "If you want to get a flavour of the bylaw the preamble covers most of the new concepts in the bylaw," she said. Following the public open houses planning staff will review comments and make one final draft of the document. Following that process a formal public meeting with council will be scheduled. At a later meeting the bylaw will be officially adopted by council. Once it is adopted a 20-day appeal period begins. The bylaw does not require approval from Grey County or the province – since those agencies have already approved the Official Plan. Buckton said she hopes the entire process is complete by late summer.
The Olympic torch won’t arrive in Midland for another eight months, but town officials are already in an Olympic mood. A celebration May 15 will include a Canadian Olympian, an actual torch from the last Olympic Games, a native “fire keepers” ceremony, interactive displays and live entertainment. Area residents will also be able to sign a banner wishing Canadian athletes good luck at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The event will take place from 10 a.m. to noon at Little Lake Park. In a double shot of good news, the town will announce at the same time that it has achieved its official designation from Safe Communities Canada.