Motion to close SCI back on the table

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 or call (705) 734-6363 ext. 11231. A delegation process brochure is available at


Renowned retail consultant speaking in Stayner

Albert C. Plant, a seasoned retail and management consultant, will be the guest speaker at the Clearview Township economic development committee’s (EDC) next Business Exchange session on Wed., May 20. “He’s a friend of mine and so I asked if he’d come and talk to us,” EDC chair Doug Mills said. Mills noted that at past Business Exchange sessions – a chance for merchants to come together and network after hours – people expressed an interest in having a speaker of Plant’s caliber. The Toronto resident, who since 1995 has served as a retail consultant for RBC Royal Bank, will give a speech addressing the “Do’s and Don’ts of Successful Retailing in the Current Economic Climate.” Plant has a total of 35 years retail experience and in 2007 wrote The Retail Game: Playing to Win, a 320-page book published by Douglas and McIntyre. Larry Rosen, the chair and chief executive officer of Harry Rosen Inc., called the book, “A valuable resource, packed with useful information.” Mills said the EDC is hoping for a strong turnout at the upcoming event. He said committee members will be hand-delivering leaflets with information about it to area businesses in the coming days. He said the presentation should be interesting, especially given its timely subject matter. “Fundamentally what we’re doing is education. Hopefully everyone that comes away from it will have learned one useful thing,” Mills said. Catharine Frith of the Greater Collingwood Small Business Enterprise Centre will give a brief presentation before Plant’s speech, Mills noted. Her remarks will outline programs the centre offers to help local businesses improve efficiency and their overall success. The Ontario Ministry of Small Business and Consumer Services operate the centre. There is no cost to attend the EDC event and organizers say registration is not required. They note there will be complimentary light refreshments and a cash bar. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Stayner Community Centre on Regina Street. For more information, call Julie Ellis, Clearview’s communications coordinator, at 428-6230, ext. 264 or e-mail


Break-in at 7th line home

Police visited a house on the 7th Line after the owner reported someone had broken into the residence sometime during the morning of May 7. A brick had been used to smash a side window. Police found mud tracks throughout the house. No items appeared to have been stolen. Anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity is asked to call South Simcoe Police at 431-6121, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. Vehicle stolen, recovered Police found a vehicle reported stolen during the night of May 11 a few blocks away, stuck in the mud a few streets away. Extensive damage had been done. No suspects were found. Several vehicles were also ransacked overnight in an Alcona subdivision. South Simcoe Police reminds residents to keep their vehicles locked at all times.


Alliston LCBO hit Friday, again Sunday

Smash-and-grab thieves hit an Alliston liquor store twice this weekend. The LCBO in the Alliston Mills plaza on the west side of town was first hit at about 1:45 a.m. Friday, said store spokesperson Chris Layton. Police arrived at the store to find a front window smashed in by a rock. Two Texas Mickeys, each of which were three litres and worth $110, were stolen. Witnesses said two males were seen running around the west side of the building. Police patrolled the area but could not find the men. They did however find a grey and blue Coleman jacket, which is believed to belong to one of the suspects. The store was hit once again Sunday, at about 9:30 p.m. This time a hammer was used to smash the front window. Police canine units and the emergency response team were called in but could not locate any suspects. Fingerprints were taken from the scene as well as video surveillance footage. This time two $21 gift boxes were stolen. Police said the suspects didn’t actually enter the store in either incident. The cost to repair the damage is estimated at about $2,000. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.


Over 2,800 attend successful home show

From flooring to fitness, and landscaping to laser therapy, more than 100 diverse vendors displayed their products and services during the successful New Tecumseth Home, Health and Leisure Show. An estimated 2,800 visitors attended the 41st annual event, which was held for the second time at the New Tecumseth Recreational Complex on Industrial Parkway in Alliston. The show was hosted by the Alliston and District Chamber of Commerce. "Wow, what a great home show," said ADCC president Michael Keith. "Every year the show gets bigger and better. On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Alliston and District Chamber of Commerce, I give my sincere thanks to all the exhibitors for participating in the show." The Shop Locally theme is a priority for the ADCC, Keith confirms, and was evident in this year’s show with the strong show of area businesses. The planning committee invited vendors to do more than show up though, they also encouraged them to show off. Based on effectiveness, signage, presentation and creativity, a group of impartial judges awarded the Best Booth Award to the Alliston Home Building Centre for the second year in a row. Alliston Home Building Centre also took home bragging rights for the Greenest Booth, a new award this year that came with a bushy prize from RPN Trees. Picking the winner of the Best Booth and the Greenest Booth was challenging for the judges. All of the vendors who participated did a fantastic job of putting together their booths. With a well-organized and visually appealing booth comprised entirely of environmentally friendly products and services, as well as a ‘Kiddies’ Korner’ to entertain children at the show, the friendly staff of the Alliston Home Building Centre took home both awards. Children attending the show were also entertained by fan favourite clown Smoothie (Don Gates), and by the Ontario Early Years Centre staff, who displayed information for parents and set up a play area for youngsters. The big winner of the weekend, however, was Alliston resident Elaine Tindal who won the grand prize raffle, worth more than $2,000 that was tied into the show’s "green" theme this year. Among the environmentally friendly products she took home were a collection of Energy Star-rated appliances including a ceiling fan, dehumidifier, air purifier, and water cooler. She also received a low-flush toilet, a push lawn mower, a hot water tank jacket, CFL light bulbs, compostable bags, outdoor clothesline kit, yard waste bags, a bucket of eco-friendly cleaning products, and more. Tindal was thrilled, saying she could use everything she had just won. But no one went home empty handed. All attendees were provided with a complimentary re-usable green shopping bag from Sobeys. Volunteers from the Stevenson Memorial Hospital Foundation handed out the bags while welcoming guests and goodwill donations. A total of $2,836.75 was raised for the foundation. The Rotary Club of Alliston presided over the money booth attraction this year where visitors could try to capture air-borne "money" to win prizes. By charging a toonie per try, the club raised a further $300 for the hospital. ADCC president Keith acknowledges the entire team that made the weekend possible, including Encore TeleSolutions, the 24-hour tele-reception service that sponsored the show hotline in the months leading up to the event. "Our congratulations to the show committee for making it such a successful event," said Keith, who added, "a personal thank you to John and Joan McFarland for co-chairing the home show committee. "Another thank you goes out to all the volunteers who worked so hard, and to the staff of the recreation complex who were invaluable." The committee is already planning a meeting to set the foundation for an even better show in 2010.


Window smasher nabbed downtown

Midland police chased, caught and charged a man after a downtown business had its window smashed just after midnight on April 24. Officers arrived at the King Street location and obtained a description of a suspect. About 30 minutes later, a second call brought police to another King Street business where someone was reportedly pounding on a window. Officers tried to speak to a man who matched the earlier description, but he bolted from the scene. A short foot chase later, the 19-year-old Midland man was arrested and charged with mischief under $5,000. He was released with a court date of May 28.


Animal cruelty conviction results in lifetime ownership ban

A Clearview Township woman will not be able to own an animal for the rest of her life after being convicted of animal cruelty in a Barrie courtroom this week. The first-ever lifetime ban was handed down to Patricia Hoel. “A lifetime ban on animal ownership helps to ensure that animals can be protected from abuse and neglect,” said SPCA senior inspector Mindy Hall. “This verdict clearly demonstrates that Ontarians will not tolerate animal cruelty.” Hoel received a three-year probation, with Ontario SPCA inspection rights, and 240 hours of community service. She must also attend an animal empathy course and pay $1,500 in restitution to the Ontario SPCA. Hoel was breeding and selling Shih Tzu puppies and Persian cats through a retail website, and came to the attention of investigators after the Barrie branch of the Ontario SPCA received a complaint about the poor conditions of her property. Investigators found extremely poor sanitation and ventilation on site, and the animals were very dirty and matted. One dog was so badly injured that he required surgery. The animals were seized by the Ontario SPCA and were immediately taken to a local veterinary hospital where they received extensive medical care. Most of the animals will have lifelong health issues, but have all recovered from their initial injuries and were adopted to loving homes, according to the SPCA.


School boards react to code of conduct recommendation

Catholic school board chair John Grise is expecting lively discussion around a provincial report that could mean the mandatory creation of a code of conduct for trustees to define the role of board positions. The Ministry of Education report, School Board Governance: A Focus On Student Achievement, calls for a clarification of the roles of individual trustees, board chairs and directors of education. It also suggests creating a provincial code of conduct for trustees and creating audit committees to oversee school boards. The code of conduct could require trustees to act with integrity, respect others and not speak out against board decisions once made. Trustees violating the code could be censured by the board, lose their honoraria or be barred for up to three meetings, according to the report. Grise said it’s good to define the roles of the board. "There are a lot of positive recommendations and many of them simply serve to define those things that we have been informally doing," said Grise. He said the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board and the Simcoe County District School Board operate in a transparent manner. "I feel that not just on behalf of my board, but for my co-terminus boards, that Simcoe County can be really proud of the trustees in the public and separate boards," said Grise. The public board already has an optional code of ethics trustees can choose to sign. Simcoe County District School Board chair Diane Firman said because the current code is optional, it doesn’t really have any teeth when it comes to enforcement. She said she thinks the recommendations are a step in the right direction in updating the current education policies. "It’s a very important step to modernize archaic legislation," she said. Public board trustee and immediate past chair Mary Anne Wilson said she was happy to see the report included input from the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association. Several school boards, including SCDSB, took part in the development process of the report. Wilson said overall she was pleased with the report, but she did still have some concerns however. She questioned why school board trustees should be held to higher standards than other elected officials. She said if trustees are bound by a code of ethics, so too should municipal, provincial and federal representatives. Wilson was also worried about the recommendation that trustees not speak out against the board after a decision had been made. She said it could keep some trustees from trying to revisit past decisions that they think need to be updated or changed. "Like any other body, we will occasionally make mistakes, or the world will change around us," she said. Wilson said she isn’t necessarily opposed to the entire concept of the provision, but she would like to make sure it was worded carefully to allow trustees and boards to reconsider decisions when necessary. Work on the report started in November 2008, when Education Minister Kathleen Wynne asked the governance review committee to meet with the education sector to look into how the governance system could be modernized. The Ontario Public School Board Association has welcomed the recommendations in the report. A press release from the association said the report includes many of the association’s recommendations, and "affirms the importance of school boards as an effective and vital level of governance for promoting democracy and civic engagement at the local level."


Meaford nurse nominated for bursary

Meaford Hospital nurse Elizabeth Engel has been nominated for a special bursary from the Royal Bank of Canada. As part of its Adopt-a-Nurse program, the Royal Bank awards a nurse that upgrades their skills a $500 bursary. Meaford Hospital nominated Engel for the award. The Royal Bank in Owen Sound has pictures and biographies of the nominated nurses on display at its branch. Members of the public coming into the bank can take a look at the nominees and cast a ballot for the nurse they feel should receive the special award. Meaford Hospital Director of Patient Care Elaine Burns nominated Engel for the award. "Elizabeth is very deserving of the nomination. She has worked very hard over the past year to become fully certified to work in the OR (operating room)," Burns explained in an interview last week. Burns added that Elizabeth’s skill enhancement benefited the hospital and added to its already outstanding roster of medical professionals. "She is a great nurse. She’s very patient focused," said Burns, adding that Elizabeth teaches CPR and often volunteers to sit on special committees. Burns also pointed out that the course Engel completed to upgrade her nursing skills is very difficult and time consuming. "It’s a very tough course. Normally nurses take the course over two years of college on a part-time basis. Elizabeth finished it in six weeks," said Burns, adding that such dedication required sacrifices including: time away from her family, extra traveling and lodging away from home. "I give her great kudos," said Burns. Engel was busy Monday afternoon working at the hospital. She told The Express the nomination is very exciting for her. "It’s really amazing. I’d like to give a lot of the credit to the nurses here at Meaford Hospital. They’re great to work with and they’re very encouraging," she said. "We have a great hospital in Meaford," she added.


Energy board approves rate increase for COLLUS

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has approved a rate increase for what COLLUS Power Corporation can charge its customers. The OEB announced the rate approval on Fri., May 1, for implementation as of that date. COLLUS is based in Collingwood and serves customers in that community, Stayner, Creemore and Thornbury. In a news release issued last week, COLLUS says the rate increase is connected to its $3-million capital budget, “the bulk of which is for a new substation, to be located beside the operation centre on the property at the corner of Stewart Road and Sixth Street, at an estimated cost of $2.2-million.” COLLUS says the addition of the substation will allow for increased reliability and permit the company to accommodate growth. Tim Fryer, the chief financial officer at COLLUS, says the construction of the substation should start this month and be finished in March 2010. The rate approved by the OEB will result in an increase of $1.56 per month for a residential customer consuming 1,000-kilowatt hours of electricity. “This represents a 1.4 per cent change, as the monthly bill is expected to move from $109.01 to $110.57 after May 1, 2009,” the company said. COLLUS says a general consumer of 2,000-kilowatt hours of electricity will see an increase of $5.21, a 2.6 per cent change as the monthly bill is anticipated to move from $203.43 to $208.64. Officials with the local electricity distributor note the rate adjustment will also help recover some costs incurred implementing smart meters, an exercise that COLLUS says is underway. The province has instructed electricity providers to have smart meters in all Ontario homes and businesses by the end of 2010. Smart meters use wireless technology to transmit detailed data about electricity consumption to providers. The meters will allow what’s called a “time-of-use” electricity price structure. The meters will measure hourly electricity use – the province says – so electricity prices can be different at different hours of the day. Conventional meters measure how much electricity is used in total from one reading to the next and have to be read manually. The province and electricity providers hope the change to smart meters and time-of-use pricing will encourage people to think about how and when they use electricity. Once operational in 2010, consumers will be able to see – via the Internet – their electricity consumption each day. Fryer says COLLUS hopes to have all of its smart meters installed by the end of 2009.