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2021-11-10

Daycare plea rejected by council

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.

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2021-10-20

Trustees spare SCI

Simcoe County District School Board trustees have voted to keep Stayner Collegiate Institute open. During a year-long process, an accommodation review committee (ARC) found that Stayner Collegiate Institute (SCI) is a growing school but needs improvements to properly accommodate that growth. Onlookers spilled into the atrium at the school board’s administration centre in Midhurst Tuesday as members of the facility standing committee, comprised of trustees, voted at a special meeting called to deal with nine staff recommendations about how to resolve high school enrolment issues. "Before us there are nine recommendations that are basically going to tear our communities apart," said Peter Beacock, trustee for Springwater Township and Oro-Medonte. Trustees poured over the recommendations during a four-and-a-half hour period Tuesday, in the end, defeating a motion to close high schools in Stayner and Penetanguishene. A motion to recommend improvements to Collingwood Collegiate Institute was also defeated. They did approve the closure of Elmvale District High School and the construction of a new secondary school to serve Wasaga Beach and Elmvale. Caroline Smith, the trustee representing Collingwood and Clearview Township, spoke in favour of following the recommendations made by the ARC last month. "There was never a direction from the ARC that they wanted a mega school," said Smith. "This was as close to a consensus as any of the ARCs ever got." She said the board is not allowed to close one school to get growth to build another school, speaking in defense of SCI. Members of the school community have throughout the process made the case that SCI has among the highest graduation rates and test scores in the county. The ARC recommended the board keep its small schools open for that reason. Lou Brandes, the school board’s associate director and superintendent of facility services, said staff does not consider schools of 1,200 students to be large schools and that small schools do not necessarily produce better results. Brad Saunders, trustee for Midland, Penetanguishene, Wasaga Beach and Tiny Township, spoke highly of SCI. He said although it would have been easier for him to have found SCI was in disrepair, instead he found a very nice school with great staff and students. "I think it’s a sustainable school," said Saunders. He said he found it difficult to go along with the recommendations made by staff. "It troubles me that we have a different set of recommendations from administration than from the ARC," said Saunders. "If we go with staff we will have trouble finding people to sit on an ARC… That is a situation, as a trustee, I am very, very uncomfortable with." Saunders tabled two recommendations with regard to high schools in Midland and Penetanguishene derived directly from the ARC and both passed. The decisions made by trustees Tuesday are far from final. Jodi Lloyd, trustee for Severn, Tay and Ramara, chairs the facility standing committee. She said by approving some recommendations and not others, the three-school solution recommended by staff has been altered and there are now holes that need to be filled. Redirecting the 450 Wasaga Beach secondary school students to a new high school will result in capacity issues at Collingwood Collegiate Institute. Lloyd said that problem has yet to be dealt with. She said things are sure to change as trustees go through another wave of public delegations in May before they make their final decision at a board meeting on June 17. She said although all school trustees sit on the facility standing committee, there will certainly be changes in opinion as they go through the process. The board embarked on the review one year ago to seek solutions to declining enrolment in the area, creating a surplus of so-called pupil places. Staff recommendations, contained in a report dated April 14, differ from the recommendations made by the ARC last month. High schools in Stayner, Collingwood, Elmvale, Penetanguishene and Midland are included in the review. Wasaga Beach was also included as a possible school site. The ARC, a committee made up of school and community representatives, recommended a five-school solution, to keep all five schools open and fund necessary improvements and upgrades to solve capacity issues. Board staff recommended a three-school solution, which would result in the closure of Penetanguishene Secondary School, Stayner Collegiate Institute and Elmvale District High School and the construction of a central school for Wasaga Beach and Elmvale.

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2021-10-19

Developer’s plan could ease chronic flooding

It’s an offer Innisfil councillors are finding difficult to refuse. The Cortel development group says it can fix chronic flooding problems in the Belle Ewart area through state-of-the art stormwater management. But first it needs to see more of its land included the town’s official plan so the company can create a series of over-sized stormwater ponds to catch run-off before it floods properties near Lake Simcoe. “This would be real public benefit,” Cortel spokesperson Terry Geddes told council. “It’s been proven by our engineering team that it will reduce the flooding.” However, to include Cortel land south of Killarney Beach Road east of the 20th Sideroad, council would have to exclude land in north Alcona near Conc. 9. The majority of council appeared to be leaning in that direction last Wednesday. “If the flooding problem can be fixed — boy — let’s get at it,” Coun. Bill Pring said. Coun. Bill Van Berkel made an passionate plea for the Cortel proposal, saying it may be the only hope for residents who put up with flooding during winter and spring thaws. “Anyone who would take this (proposal) out has never been flooded four or five times a year,” he said. “They’ve never had their cars frozen into their driveways; they’ve never been without drinking water.” With a proposed population increase of 33,000 in the next 23 years, the town must limit where it places new residents. It is restricted by the province’s Places to Grow policy, Simcoe County’s official plan and Lake Simcoe Protection Act. To allow more growth in the south, a development proposed by Pratt near Conc. 9 and the 20th Sideroad, which would include a commercial and industrial sector, would have to be sacrificed. Several councillors are uncomfortable with Alcona north proposal because it is so close to the environmentally sensitive Leonard’s Wetlands area. “If there was ever an industrial spill in that area it would have a huge impact,” Coun. Dan Davidson said. “We’d have transport trucks coming all the way down IBR and so close to the shores of Lake Simcoe. I’m just not comfortable developing in that area.” A planning report also states it would be difficult to build large stormwater management ponds in north Alcona to stop flooding near the lake because of the proximity to Leonard’s Wetlands. Deputy Mayor Gord Wauchope pushed for a vote, recommending the Cortel land be included in the town’s official plan by removing the north Alcona development areas. “We keep trying to fix the flooding problem, but all we keep doing is pump water from people’s properties into Lake Simcoe,” Wauchope said. “This is something that could finally fix it.” But council balked, calling for more engineering data to prove Cortel’s stormwater management system would prevent flooding in the Belle Ewart area. “If we are basing this entire decision on whether this is going to stop flooding, than we better make darn sure that it is going to stop flooding,” Coun. Lynn Dollin said. Planning director Robert McAuley said he would report back to council with a more detailed analysis of the proposed flooding solution.

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2021-10-06

Trustees spare PSS

MIDHURST – Simcoe County District School Board trustees have voted to keep Penetanguishene Secondary School open. Despite a recommendation by an accommodation review committee (ARC) last month to keep PSS open, board staff recommended closing the school and transferring its students to Midland Secondary School to fill excess capacity. “Just because you have excess capacity at MSS doesn’t mean we should close PSS and close the only English-language high school in Penetang,” said Brad Saunders, trustee for Midland, Penetanguishene, Wasaga Beach and Tiny Township. “Leave PSS alone.” Onlookers spilled into the atrium at the school board’s administration centre in Midhurst on Tuesday as members of the facility standing committee, comprised of trustees, voted at a special meeting called to deal with nine staff recommendations about how to resolve high school enrolment issues. “Before us there are nine recommendations that are basically going to tear our communities apart,” said Peter Beacock, trustee for Springwater Township and Oro-Medonte. After pouring over the recommendations during the four-and-a-half-hour session, trustees defeated a motion to close high schools in Penetanguishene and Stayner. A motion to recommend improvements to Collingwood Collegiate Institute was also defeated, although trustees did approve the closure of Elmvale District High School and the construction of a new secondary school to serve Wasaga Beach and Elmvale. “It troubles me that we have a different set of recommendations from administration than from the ARC,” said Saunders, who noted he found it difficult to go along with the staff proposal. “If we go with staff, we will have trouble finding people to sit on an ARC…. That is a situation, as a trustee, I am very, very uncomfortable with.” Saunders tabled two recommendations derived from the ARC, and both passed. Trustees supported recommending board staff investigate all means of removing capacity from MSS, including, but not restricted to, demolition, leasing and community and/or joint-use partnerships. They also recommended that, subject to funding, renovations be undertaken to MSS as a direct result of removing excess capacity. The decisions made by trustees Tuesday are far from final. Jodi Lloyd, trustee for Severn, Tay and Ramara, chairs the facility standing committee. She said by approving some recommendations and not others, the three-school solution recommended by staff has been altered and there are now holes that need to be filled. Redirecting 450 Wasaga Beach secondary school students to a new high school, for example, will result in capacity issues at Collingwood Collegiate Institute. Lloyd said things are sure to change as trustees go through another wave of public delegations in May before making a final decision at a board meeting June 17. The board embarked on the review a year ago to seek solutions to declining enrolment in the area. Staff recommendations, contained in a report dated April 14, differ from the recommendations made by the ARC last month. High schools in Penetanguishene, Midland, Elmvale, Stayner and Collingwood were included in the review. Wasaga Beach was also included as a possible school site. The ARC, a committee made up of school and community representatives, recommended a solution that would keep all five schools open and fund necessary improvements and upgrades to solve capacity issues. Board staff recommended a three-school solution that would result in the closure of PSS, Stayner Collegiate Institute and Elmvale District High School, and the construction of a central school for Wasaga Beach and Elmvale. tberlo@simcoe.com

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2021-09-07

Barrie shows poor Earth Hour participation

Barrie residents continued to suck power from the grid Saturday during Earth Hour. Barrie had the lowest participation in the global event, compared to surrounding municipalities. Created by the World Wildlife Fund in 2007, Earth Hour encourages people around the world to turn their lights off for an hour to conserve energy and fight climate change. Barrie only produced a 4 per-cent-reduction in its energy use between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. During Earth Hour 2008, Barrie saw an 8 per-cent reduction, and the event was also on a Saturday. This year, Vaughan’s participation was also low, only marking a 5 per-cent reduction. Both Bradford West Gwillimbury and Penetanguishene marked a 13 per-cent reduction in power use, while Essa Township had an 11 per-cent-reduction. The statistics were reported by PowerStream, which saw an overall savings in Simcoe County and York Region of 88.3 megawatts, which is enough electricity to power 1,471 homes over a 24-hour period.  For more on the story, read Tuesday’s edition of The Barrie Advance.

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2021-03-31

Francophone group says ‘merci’ for funding

A Penetanguishene organization will use $17,000 in federal funding to stage a series of performances called La Vague francophone avec Franco-Simcoe. “La Clé d’la Baie en Huronie is pleased with the support of the Government of Canada, which allows us to offer Simcoe’s francophone community a variety of cultural performances,” Peter Hominuk, director general of La Clé d’la Baie, stated in a press release. “This funding will provide francophones in our community with access to quality French-language performances that they would not otherwise have a chance to experience.” Simcoe North MP Bruce Stanton announced the funding Tuesday on behalf of James Moore, minister of Canadian heritage and official languages. “I am very pleased that our government is working with La Clé d’la Baie en Huronie to ensure that our francophone communities are able to share and express their rich cultural heritage,” said Stanton. La Clé d’la Baie is a francophone cultural association devoted to promoting the French language and culture, and enhancing the cultural life of the minority francophone community in Simcoe County. The funding was made through the Arts Presentation Canada Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage. This program gives Canadians increased access to the nation’s culture through arts festivals, live performances and other artistic experiences.

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2021-03-29

Meaford man dies after car crashes into harbour

A Meaford man is dead after the vehicle he was in jumped a parking curb and went over the edge of the breakwall into the Meaford Harbour. On Sunday morning, March 22, at 10 a.m., someone observed a dark SUV, which seemed to be parking on Bayfield Street near the intersection of Nelson and Bayfield, when the vehicle suddenly accelerated and dove into the harbour water, according to police. Meaford Fire Department, Grey County OPP and Grey County EMS responded to pull 65-year-old Philip Butler out of his car and out of the harbour. He was brought to the Meaford hospital where he was pronounced dead. Constable Steve Starr, Grey County OPP, said the investigation is ongoing, and may take a while, adding that there are three areas the police are studying: the mechanical state of the vehicle, Butler’s medical condition and whether or not the act was deliberate. Starr commended the Meaford Fire Department on their swift and efficient response to the situation. Grey County OPP asks that anyone with information contact the investigating officer, Constable Alina Grelik.

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2021-03-11

City schools battle at OFSAA

Facing tough competition this week at the OFSAA (Ontario) Girls’ Secondary School Hockey Championships this week, the three Orillia schools had a tough time posting wins. But they still basked in the glow of participating in a provincial championship in their own hometown. Play began Monday with 32 teams from across Ontario taking part in A-AA and AAA-AAAA Division tournament games at the Rama MASK, Brian Orser Arena and the Coldwater and District Community Centre. “There have been no problems and we have received some very good feedback from the visiting teams,” said tournament chairman Murray Eckstein, speaking with Orillia Today on Wednesday morning. The Patrick Fogarty Flames, Twin Lakes Thunderbirds and Park Street Trojans all hit the ice for the opening three games of the tournament. In an all-Orillia battle Wednesday morning, Patrick Fogarty picked up three goals from Danielle Jeffreys in an 8-3 win over Park Street. Michelle Donoghue added two goals and two assists, as did Laura Kennedy. Cleo Duffy added a single goal. Brittany Yoisten, Adrienne Robinson and Carley Gill tallied single goals for the Trojans. During a jam-packed week, Eckstein said visiting teams have enjoyed the activities at the 2009 OFSAA finals. “Many of the teams said the opening ceremonies we had at the Rama MASK were the best they have ever attended,” he said. Eckstein said teams were especially excited about the skills competition and the addition of a consolation round to tournament action. “Those two items were received warmly. With teams like Windsor it wasn’t just a matter of driving all that way to Orillia to play three games and then go home. The players had a chance to participate in the Skills Competition and also maybe get in an extra game in the consolation round,” he said. In between looking after numerous tournament details, Eckstein said he has enjoyed watching the calibre of hockey on display this week. “There is a lot of great talent out there,” he said. In their opening game Park Street lost 7-0 to St. Clair Secondary School, while Patrick Fogarty lost 5-3 to Courtice Secondary School. Jeffreys collected two goals and one assist for the Flames, while Donoghue added a single goal. Kayla Lacroix, Lindsay Shoniker and Taylor Brown added assists in a losing cause. Patrick Fogarty also went down to defeat 3-2 to Dryden High School with Jessica Hierons and Donoghue collecting one goal each. Carly Heitzner and Brown added assists. Dryden held a 2-1 lead after one period and extended their margin to 3-1 after two periods. But the Fogarty Flames rebounded to post a narrow 2-1 win over Bishop MacDonell of Guelph, led by single goals from Donoghue and Jeffreys. Myriah Kay collected two assists, with singles to Kayla Lacroix and Krista Catania. The two teams battled to a 1-1 tie after the second period, before the Flames noted the winning marker in the final period. Park Street later ran into an potent College Notre-Dame squad and lost by a 9-1 score, Haylee Lawlor scored the lone Trojans goal, while Sarah Conway and Carley Gill added assists. Notre Dame led 3-1 after one period and extended their lead to 7-1 after the second period. The Trojans also lost to Lester B. Pearson of Burlington by a 4-2 score. Haylee Lawlor and Madison Finlay tallied single goals in a losing cause, while Gill added two assists. Janette Conway added a single assist. In AAA-AAAA Division action, the Twin Lakes Thunderbirds lost 2-0 to Birchmont Park Secondary School from Burlington, also losing later to Our Lady of Mount Carmal (Mississauga) by a 5-0 score. Action at the finals continues until March 27 at all three area arenas, with AAA-AAAA Division teams taking to the ice Thursday and Friday.

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2021-03-03

Development charges increase for Everett

It’s going to cost more money to build new developments in Everett. Adjala-Tosorontio council passed an area-specific development charge bylaw at a meeting April 14. There will be an additional development charge of $1,203 for single and semi-detached units. The charge for apartments is $607 and $679 for one and two-bedroom apartments respectively. The charge is 94 cents per square foot of floor area for non-residential units. The charges are specifically for the extension of the 6th Line maintenance of roads needed to accommodate new development. In this case, most is needed for the construction of the road. The amount will be added to the road development charges applied to the rest of the municipality, which is $2,271 for a single dwelling or semi-detached unit, $1,271 for a one-bedroom apartment, and $1,420 for a two-bedroom development. For non-residential developments, the existing charge is $2.09 per square foot. A study by Watson and Associates pegged the expected cost of the road project at $1.66 million. Everett developer Silvo Meridiani isn’t happy with the new charges and questioned whether the road would cost that much to build. He said his own studies have put the cost at about $600,000. He said Watson and Associates’ figure is inflated. He wants to see additional estimates and wants to know what will happen if the cost comes in considerably lower when it is time to build. "How are we going to know that number (actual cost) and how can we rely on or trust that number when at the onset we are going through one estimate, not three or five," he said. There are currently about 1,200 homes proposed for the Everett area. $11,000 in Donations From Townships Adjala-Tosorontio is handing out over $11,000 to local not for profit groups and charities this year. The Stevenson Memorial Hospital physician recruitment committee is the main beneficiary, receiving $5,000. Other main recipients include the Lisle Community Hall, which is getting $1,500, and Crime Stoppers and Matthews House Hospice, both of which are getting $1,000. The Nottawasaga Foundation and South Simcoe Arts Council are both getting $500. The Everett and Lisle legions are both being exempted from paying property taxes, and Poppy funds at three legion branches are being funded for $65. South Simcoe 4H and the Door received $250 each, and the Beeton Fall Fair and Simcoe County Farm Fresh got $200 each. The Everett Fire Fighters Association received $250. The amount is up about $2,000 from last year. The Gibson Centre was one of the only organizations that requested money and was shut out of the funding. The Gibson Centre asked for $4,000, but council opted not to donate this year. Deputy Mayor Doug Little said the township has already made significant donations to the centre in the past. "They came and met with us, and they told us at that time that they would be self-sufficient in the operation expenses of that building," he said. He said if the centre is having difficulty operating with its current funding, it should consider reorganizing. The donation awards are part of the township’s ongoing budget process.

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2021-02-25

Merging the sales tax could get costly

Harmonizing the federal and provincial sales tax that was proposed by the Ontario government in its budget Thursday could cost the average family $3,000 per year, according to Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson. The proposed budget gives Ontario a $3.9 billion deficit for 2008-2009 and a $14.1 billion in 2009-2010. It also projects the next balanced budget in Ontario will be 2015-2016. Wilson said it’s not the right time to be merging the provincial and federal sales tax, which would create on 13 per cent sales tax. There are some exemptions from the new tax, such as children’s clothing and car seats, and new homes under $400,000. But fast food under meals under $4, haircuts and gasoline are among the items and services that will cost more with a harmonized tax. To help people adjust to the taxes, a tax relief will be handed out over three years to low and middle-income people. Families with an income less than $160,000 would get three payments of $1,000. Single people with an income less than $80,000 would get three payments of $300. The payments would be made in June 2010, December 2010 and June 2011. Wilson noted that the final payment comes right before the next provincial election. "People will see through the fact that he’s trying to bribe us with our own money," said Wilson. The sales tax isn’t the only thing not sitting well with Wilson. Aside from a corporate tax cut, which has the rates going from 14 per cent to 10 per cent by 2013, there is little that satisfies Wilson in the budget. For Simcoe-Grey, Wilson said there is no commitment to create more long-term care beds, nor is there help for hospital expansions. The budget allows for some tax relief in manufacturing industry as a whole, but a provincial tax holiday Wilson and the Progressive Conservative caucus are pushing for on new car sales is absent. Wilson told The Connection before the budget that a tax holiday on new vehicles could help get cars off the dealerships lots and make room for more, which would help workers on the manufacturing factories. Wilson said a similar provincial tax holiday on accommodations would help promote tourism destinations like the Nottawasaga Inn Resort in Alliston or Blue Mountain in the north end of the riding. The budget does include infrastructure money, with $32.5 billion set aside for projects in the next two years. Wilson said there is no proof that anything has been done to remove the provincial red tape that holds up the infrastructure projects when municipalities try to get the work done. Other highlights of the budget include: • $32.5 billion for infrastructure projects over the next two years. • $1.2 billion to renovate 50,000 social housing units and build 4,500 new affordable housing units for low-income seniors and people with disabilities. • $400 million more in children’s benefits over the next three years. Low and middle-income families will receive up to $1,100 annually per child in Ontario Child Benefit payments starting in July. • $700 million over the next two years for new skills training and literacy initiatives, including enhancements to existing programs. • $4.5 billion in business tax cuts over three years.

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