Car club could be forced to put it in park

Midland’s Memory Lane Cruisers may soon be just that – a memory. The car club, which has been cruising around town for the past 15 years, is in jeopardy of having to turn off its engines for good as the once-popular club’s numbers continue to dwindle. Treasurer Sue Miller said with the current president and executive committee preparing to step down, the Cruisers are desperately seeking new and interested parties to help save the club. “We can’t run it by ourselves. We need someone to step in,” she said. “You can’t run it with just two people.” Miller and her husband joined the club 10 years ago as a way to get to know other car lovers, she recalled. “We used to stop at the show and see all the old cars, and then my husband decided to buy one,” she said, adding the club allows members to get together with their old cars and chat with other owners. The club meets every Sunday at 6:30 p.m. in the Canadian Tire parking lot in Midland, where an array of hot rods, classics and new cars attract attention. “This is a tradition that should be kept alive,” she said. “(The club is) a place to make new friends among the members and the onlookers who come by to admire, dream and reminisce.” The group is also active in raising money for a variety of local charities, including the Salvation Army Food Bank and the North Simcoe Hospital Alliance dialysis unit. For more information, contact Sue Miller at 549-7893 or [email protected], or Phyllis Morrow at 770-3367 or [email protected]. [email protected]


Frosty the Snow… Bunny?

Alliston’s Reyes family made the best of this week’s weather when they made a snow Easter bunny on their front lawn. The family took advantage of the cancelled school buses, and built the six-foot-tall snow sculpture in about two-and-a-half hours Monday afternoon. The snow is expected to taper off this week, but the cold temperatures will remain with us through the Easter long weekend, meaning the Reyes’ bunny likely will too. The lows through to Easter Monday will drop to -3 to -5 C each night and the highest temperature we can expect is on Friday at 9 C with an average of about 5 C the rest of the weekend. Tomorrow (Wednesday) temperatures are only expected to climb to about 2 C and more light snow is on the way.


Gas Tax funds doubling

Larry Miller, MP for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, is glad to announce that the Federal Government is doubling the portion of gas tax funding that goes to municipalities. "Municipalities will see their share of the Federal Gas Tax double," said Miller, "These funds can be used to improve local roads, bridges, and wastewater systems," the MP said last week. On April 1st, 2009, the federal Gas Tax Transfer to the provinces and territories to support better municipal infrastructure doubled to $2 billion annually. The Gas Tax Fund (GTF) will remain at that level beyond 2014, when the Government makes it a permanent measure, providing Ontario municipalities with stable and predictable funding for their long-term infrastructure priorities.  Accelerating the first payment of the Gas Tax Fund by almost three months, the federal government is making up to $1 billion available to municipalities almost three months early. "This will stimulate our local economy and allow our towns and municipalities to repair our infrastructure," commented Miller, "Our government is putting the funding and decision making power back where it belongs; at the local level," concluded Miller. The Gas Tax Fund is part of an ongoing commitment from the Government of Canada to create jobs and stimulate the economy through modern public infrastructure. It is also an example of all levels of government working together to improve infrastructure and the quality of life of Canadians. Meaford Mayor Francis Richardson said his municipality was aware that the new money was coming forward. He said his municipality already has plans in place to use the extra Gas Tax money to "leverage" more infrastructure funds from other provincial and federal programs using the Gas Tax funds as the municipality’s one-third share. "It is part of the money ($1 million) that (Financial Consultant David Kennedy said we have available to leverage more from the province and feds. That is one of the reasons that amount is so significant," said Mayor Richardson. "The better news is that it is guaranteed until 2014 at that level," he added. The GTF makes capital investments in water, wastewater and solid waste infrastructure, public transit, community energy systems, and local roads and bridges. The Fund combines predictable, long-term funding with local decision making and planning to enable municipalities to build and rehabilitate their core public infrastructure. Gas Tax funding is provided nationwide and the money is allocated based on population. There is a separate agreement between Canada and the City of Toronto for the City’s Gas Tax Fund allocation. The Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the City of Toronto, partner with the federal government to deliver the funds to Ontario municipalities and the City of Toronto on behalf of the federal government.  The first payment will be made in April, in the past, payments have been made in July and then November. The Gas Tax Fund is providing Ontarians with stable funding that will have a tangible impact on their quality of life and the long-term sustainability of their communities.   The GTF has already provided funding towards various projects that support community energy systems, water and wastewater treatment and local roads and bridges. Funds coming to Grey County will increase as follows: Chatsworth from $102,028 to $204,057 Georgian Bluffs from $164,935 to $329,870 Grey County from $1,447,131 to $2,894,261 Grey Highlands from $149,403 to $298,807 Hanover from $111,598 to $223,195 Meaford from $168,656 to $337,311 Owen Sound from $348,180 to $696,360 Southgate from $112,215 to $224,430 West Grey from $190,751 to $381,502 The Blue Mountains from $99,364 to $198,728


OPP Auxiliary welcomes 16 new recruits

ORILLIA – The Ontario Provincial Police welcomed more than a dozen recruits into its auxiliary program during a graduation ceremony held at OPP General Headquarters on Feb. 27. Formed in 1969, the OPP Auxiliary consists of unpaid volunteers who perform duties ranging from traffic control and seatbelt clinics to helping with road patrols and victim assistance. Among the new recruits is Andrew Dubbin of Midland, who became an auxiliary member of the Southern Georgian Bay OPP. Members hail from a variety of backgrounds, and have included lawyers, farmers, paramedics, pilots, bus drivers and homemakers, among others. Of the 16 recruits who graduated last week, three will serve the aboriginal community of Lac Seul First Nation, northwest of Sioux Lookout.


Dancor project inches ahead

One of the largest residential and commercial developments proposed for Stayner in years moved a step forward last Monday night. Clearview Township council approved an Official Plan amendment and a subdivision draft plan for the Dancor project, located on the eastern edge of Stayner on the north side of Highway 26. Council approved the Official Plan amendment and subdivision draft plan – before the municipality since June 2006 – after receiving a recommendation to do so from township planner Jim Uram. Voting against granting approval to the amendment and the subdivision draft plan was Councillor John Crispo and Councillor Thom Paterson, who both questioned whether the township had dealt with all of the issues in connection with the development. Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage thanked Dancor officials for being patient with the municipality while it reviewed the project, noting the subdivision draft plan contains several changes to what was initially presented. The approvals granted by Clearview will allow Dancor to build a total of 998 dwelling units on its 72-hectare site. There will be 615 detached units, 64 semi-detached units, 115 townhouse units and 204 apartment units. The project includes 7.13 hectares of commercial lands designed for future mixed commercial and residential functions. While council dealt with the Official Plan amendment and subdivision draft plan last week, the project still must clear several other approvals. The Official Plan amendment is now contingent upon approval from the County of Simcoe. In his report to council, Uram also said the project will need a zoning bylaw amendment, subdivision agreements, site plan approvals and so forth from Clearview. The matter of sewer servicing for the site must also be determined still. The sewer plant in Stayner can’t accommodate the project and so municipal officials are looking at running a pipe to the sewer treatment facility in Wasaga Beach. The cost of that measure and others connected with the site, such as street lighting, will be the responsibility of Dancor – with funds for the work collected by the municipality through development charges. The Official Plan amendment and the subdivision draft plan approved by Clearview contain several changes and stipulations that Dancor must adhere to when going ahead. For example, a stipulation in the subdivision draft plan requires Dancor to develop an architectural control plan. Another stipulation in the subdivision draft plan requires Dancor to conduct an archaeological assessment of the property – which for many years has been farmland. In connection with the archaeological assessment, Clearview states in its draft plan approval conditions that: “Any impact on identified resources shall be mitigated, through preservation or resource removal and documentation. No demolition, grading or other soil disturbances shall take place on the subject property prior to the municipality and the Ministry of Culture confirming that all archaeological resource concerns have met licensing and resource conservation requirements.” Dancor has five years to meet the conditions attached to its subdivision draft plan, including the completion of various reports, such as a traffic impact study and an environmental site assessment. Sean Ford, a representative for Dancor, was at council’s meeting last Monday night. He told The Stayner Sun afterwards he is happy with council’s decision. Ford said Dancor will now focus on meeting all of the project conditions required by Clearview. “We’d like to start building houses in two years,” he said. Ford added that once construction does start, the project will take some time to finish. “We’re probably looking at a 10-year build out,” he said. Mayor Ken Ferguson said Thursday he is glad to see the Dancor project moving ahead. “Clearview, to me, needs development and so I think this is a good thing,” he said.


Library design moves forward

Limestone sills, terracotta columns and expansive windows will greet visitors to a new library planned for the downtown. Representatives of Shore Tilbe Irwin and Partners this week outlined the firm’s progress in designing the two-storey facility that will replace Orillia’s cramped and outdated library. Alternating bands of glass along the south and east sides of the building will feature etchings inspired by the elaborate designs that adorned book bindings in the age of Stephen Leacock. “That would also be cutting heat gain and glare,” said Andrew Frontini, a partner in the firm. Skylights, a fireplace, and an “Orilliana” room stocked with rare books are among the features planned for the interior, while outdoor components include a terraced garden, trees, a water feature, and public art. “We want people to come to this place as a destination,” said Pat Bollenberghe, landscape architect. The firm, which is working to an estimated cost of $18.6 million, is aiming to submit a site plan for approval in early June. “They could be having the shovel in the ground by fall,” Frontini added. A reconfigured farmers’ market would include 96 stalls for vendors – as is now the case – as well as 27 water and power hookups. Also planned is a 900 square foot market hall inside the library, and 2,800 square feet of indoor space for use on market days. While applauded by many in the community, the plan has its detractors, with some objecting to the modern design and the loss of parking spaces. On-site parking would be reduced from 145 spots to 86 spots under the proposed design. In a deputation, resident John Connor urged council to consider locating the library in the former Orillia Central School. The historic building, which was recently declared surplus by the public board, currently houses a preschool on the ground floor. Connor envisions adding a single storey library to the rear of the building, while using the ground floor of the existing structure as a heritage display. The upper level could house reading or meeting rooms, he added. “You gentleman have the opportunity to make this happen,” said Connor, a mechanical engineer. “It won’t be there five years from now.” Coun. Maurice McMillan said the proposal was worth exploring. “I think it’s got merit and should at least be looked at,” said McMillan.


Orillia man faces porn charges

An Orillia man is under arrest in connection with what police are describing as Canada’s largest coordinated investigation into Internet-based child-abuse. Fifty-four people have been arrested and face charges ranging from sexual assault and sexual interference to possessing, making and distributing child pornography. Among them was a 19-year-old Orillia man, who was arrested March 25 and charged with two counts of possessing child pornography, one count of making available child pornography and one count of breaching his probation. Police seized one computer, alleged to contain images of child sexual abuse. The man’s arrest followed a joint investigation involving the OPP Electronic Crimes Section and the Orillia OPP detachment. He was scheduled to appear in Barrie court for a bail hearing on Wednesday. A 34-year-old Innisfil man was also arrested and charged with two counts of possessing child pornography and one count of making available child pornography. The RCMP and the Ottawa-based National Child Exploitation Centre coordinated the investigations in conjunction with law enforcement partners across the country. Police say they targeted individuals who met online to exchange pornographic images of children.


Farming group plans to avoid drought

A coalition of local farmers who depend on Innisfil Creek for irrigation are meeting to devise strategies to minimize the damage and future droughts could have on their agricultural enterprises. In the summer of 2007, data collected by the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA) showed that by June 30 of that year, the average water flow in Innisfil Creek, usually estimated to be 5,000 gallons per minute during the dry summer months, had already dropped to 356 gallons per minute. For growers such as Ralph MacKenzie, owner of Nottawasaga Valley Farms, this was potentially disastrous. “We were almost 14 weeks without any measurable rainfall,” MacKenzie recalls. “Irrigation became critical even to keep crops alive, let alone improve crop yield.” MacKenzie and his neighbours quickly realized they could not all irrigate at the same time and they agreed to set up a voluntary water taking schedule to minimize the impact on other water users, and to help reduce the ecological impact of the drought. Wanting to avoid the consequences of another severe drought, a number of growers took part in the development of an integrated water resource management strategy for the Innisfil creek area, headed up by the NVCA with the assistance of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Agri-Food Canada. “As a local producer and an irrigator from Innisfil Creek, I knew I had to be part of the solution,” MacKenzie says. He now serves as chairperson of the Innisfil Creek Water Users Association (ICWUA). During the fall of 2008, members of the ICWUA met with NVCA staff regularly to discuss individual producer irrigation requirements, the extent of existing water supplies and achievable and cost-effective irrigation alternatives. The local association will represent the interests of the irrigation-dependent community and promote best management practices to water users. The ICWUA will also work with the provincial Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Natural Resources on water-related issues and identify opportunities to improve water quality in the Innisfil creek region. “We must all work together to recognize the economic, social and environmental benefit of sharing water resources,” MacKenzie says. “My fellow farmers and I will benefit from local-level management of limited water resources.” The Innisfil Creek district is well known for its high production of potato, sod, carrots and onions, valued at $10 million in 2006. Its part of the larger Nottawasaga watershed that encompasses parts of Simcoe, Dufferin and Grey counties.


Blue Mountains, Collingwood to discuss affordable housing

The Collingwood and The Blue Mountains Affordable Housing Task Force will hold its first meeting this Friday. The session is open to the public and takes place at the Collingwood Town Hall at 1:30 p.m. Counc. Ian Chadwick said representatives from Collingwood’s task force have wanted to meet with The Blue Mountains for several years. "We’ve wanted to get together with TBM to discuss issues," he said. Chadwick said Intrawest is one of the largest employers in the area but there isn’t enough low-cost housing for the workers. "It puts them at a great disadvantage if housing prices continue to soar," he said. Chadwick said the problem of affordable housing is bigger than just Collingwood and it’s something both communities need to work on. The announcement of the meeting comes on the heels that the developer of an apartment complex on High Street – 18 units are affordable housing – is interested in making the entire building an affordable housing project. Town CAO Gordon Norris made the announcement on Monday and said the item would be up for discussion at the March 9 council meeting.


Ross Beattie joining hall of fame

Clearview Township’s Ross Beattie will be inducted into the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame in June, the organization announced last week. The hall of fame said that Beattie will be recognized for his work in rural youth development, beef cattle marketing, Belgian horse breed improvement and rural economic development. The well-respected local man is one of five who will be inducted during a special ceremony at Country Heritage Park in Milton on June 14. “I only recently found out it was confirmed,” the 84-year-old said in an interview from his home, just west of Stayner. “You never know what to expect when you get to be my age.” His wife of 58 years, Marjorie, echoed similar remarks. “Over the years all the things you do just kind of accumulate and you don’t expect to get this kind of recognition,” she said. Local dairy farmer Burton Somerville nominated Beattie last year. Helping prepare the nomination paperwork was Somerville’s wife, Fran, and another local resident, Cathy Dunlop. “We’ve attended the induction ceremony for a number of years because people we know have been inducted and Burton always said that Ross should be in the hall of fame because he’s done so many things,” Fran Somerville said in a telephone interview. “So last year we finally decided to get on it. We talked to Marjorie and other family members to get information on everything that Ross has done. Burton has always admired Ross. He’s been so forward thinking.” The Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame Association, a not-for-profit organization, said that to qualify for induction a person “must have demonstrated visionary leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship in the advancement of agriculture in Ontario.” And Beattie has done just that. The hall of fame association says that in 1944 Beattie became a director of the newly formed Ontario Junior Farmers’ Association (OJFA). Four years later, he became the association’s president and according to hall of fame officials was “instrumental in organizing leadership training schools and the very first leadership training camp,” for OJFA members. The hall of fame says Beattie went on to promote OJFA exchange programs between Canadian provinces and the United States – programs that gave many rural youth the background needed to create successful careers. In the 1960s, the association says that Beattie became president of the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association and that during his tenure he was key in getting the Beef Cattle Marketing Act established. He later was a founding member of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and as president – from 1967 to 1968 – he worked to improve grading and livestock transportation systems. The hall of fame association says that in the 1970s Beattie turned his hand to Belgian horses. He’s been a breeder of champion Belgian horses, president of the Ontario Belgian Horse Association and a judge at Canadian and American horse shows. And he was a founding director of the Georgian Triangle Economic Development Centre (GTEDC) in Collingwood, serving the organization from 1985 to 1989. The association noted that in his role as chair of the GTEDC’s investment review committee he helped businesses with such things as start-up loans and strategic planning. The association said one of the most notable organizations to receive funding was Miss Vickie’s Chips, which at the time was based in New Lowell. Beattie, who still lives on the family farm where he was born, said that he’s enjoyed his career in agriculture. He said that when he and his brother, Irvine, took over the farm they had just a couple hundred acres, but kept adding land to grow the operation. In 1962, he said, they bought Stayner Feed, the mill that’s on Gideon Street. Today, he said Beattie Brothers has 1,300 acres, on which they grow corn, soybean, and wheat and raise beef cattle. He said his son, John, and his brother’s son, Les, now oversee the operation, adding he began easing into retirement about 20 years ago. His brother, Irvine, he said died about eight years ago. Beattie said that he and his wife will be at the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame Association’s induction ceremony in June and that friends and family have indicated they want to attend as well. “We’re just delighted that he got accepted,” Fran Somerville said. “He’s just so deserving.” Also being inducted is Watford’s Ralph Ferguson, a farmer who co-found the Lambton Pork Producers Association. He also helped develop Canadian agricultural policy and in 1980 was elected to the House of Commons as a Member of Parliament for Lambton-Middlesex, serving briefly in 1984 as Prime Minister John Turner’s agriculture minister. He retired from federal politics in 1993. Three others will be inducted into the hall of fame posthumously. They are London’s John Hughes (1879 to 1949), Guelph’s Gintarius (Ginty) Jocius (1946 to 2008) and Ilderton’s Peter Lewington (1923 to 1992).