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Coalition wants second public meeting on quarry

A group called the Clearview Community Coalition (CCC) wants Clearview Township council to hold a second public meeting regarding Walker Industries’ proposal to expand its quarry west of Duntroon. In a March 25 letter to township clerk Bob Campbell, CCC member Janet Gillham says notice of the first public meeting – held Tues., Jan. 27 – wasn’t as well advertised as it could have been. She said while the township followed the minimum notice requirements in the province’s Planning Act by mailing notice to people in the immediate area and by posting notice on the proposed site and on the township’s website, notice should have been placed in the newspaper as well so that residents throughout the municipality would have known of the meeting. People beyond the immediate area of the proposed expansion site will be impacted if the project goes ahead, in particular by truck traffic going to and from the quarry and so they should be given a chance to comment, the CCC says. “Since there was no notification of this meeting in the local newspapers…we believe that the residents of Clearview Township should be given an opportunity to attend a public meeting after notice is given in the local newspaper(s),” Gillham wrote. “By doing so, the residents of Clearview will have an opportunity to hear the issues and give input, and the members of council will have an opportunity to more accurately gage public support.” The CCC – a month-old organization comprised of residents who live near the quarry – would like the meeting to be held before council takes a position on the project. For the project to go ahead the proposed site will require a Clearview Official Plan amendment. About 120 people attended the first public meeting, held at the Stayner Community Centre. People were both for and against the expansion of the quarry – but it appeared as if most who spoke at the meeting supported the project. People against the project cited concerns about noise, traffic and pollution, while those in favour touted the economic benefit – in particular jobs created by the quarry and the support that Walker Industries provides to the community. A spokesperson for the CCC, Neill Lanz, said the organization plans to attend the April 20 meeting of Clearview Township council to ask that a second public meeting be scheduled. The matter was to be dealt with at council’s meeting last Monday night but that meeting was cancelled due to bad weather. Mayor Ken Ferguson said that while he hasn’t spoken to council about whether a second meeting should be scheduled he personally doesn’t think one is needed. “I can’t see the point of it,” he said. “I can’t see what new information they could put before us.” Ferguson said that council is well aware of the concerns residents have regarding the quarry expansion. The CCC canvassed parts of Stayner, Duntroon and Nottawa on Sat., April 4, talking to people about the proposed quarry expansion. Gillham said many people in Stayner were unaware of the project and the fact that Main Street (Highway 26) would see much of the truck traffic going to and from the quarry. Canvassers passed out a flyer outlining what the CCC would like to happen with the proposal. According to the literature, the group wants Walker Industries to “extract gravel at a rate that reduces the potential for negative impacts on the communities of Clearview.” As well, the group wants Walker Industries to adhere to stipulations in the Niagara Escarpment Official Plan that say asphalt plants aren’t allowed on escarpment land. A plant is something the company wants to have at the new site. The group also wants the company to address concerns about truck traffic in and out of the plant and along local roads. The group wants limited hours of operation at the quarry and protection of area wells and air as well. The CCC said that Walker should preserve the aggregate at the quarry for at least 90 years – not deplete it in 29, as the company says could potentially happen. The coalition said local employment at the quarry should be maintained without compromising the environment. “We are not looking to kill employment or business but at the same time we want a situation that’s livable,” Lanz said. “We think we’re being reasonable. We’re not anti-aggregate.” Walker Industries wants to expand its existing 142-acre quarry, located on the south side of County Road 91, west of Duntroon, because it’s running out of aggregate. Brent Clarkson, a planning consultant for Walker Industries, said at the last public meeting that the lifespan of the existing quarry is about three years. The plan is to expand the quarry to the north side of the county road to a 362-acre parcel of land. Company officials have said the want to extract aggregate from 168 acres on the property. They say there is a strong demand for aggregate in Ontario and that as a result the company wants to continue serving its customers. About 82 full-time jobs, the company said, are connected to the operation. Officials with Walker Industries say that if approvals can be obtained the company will mine the site in three phases, going to a depth of 128 feet. They said at the last public meeting the total tonnage the company expects to mine is 43-million tonnes and that depending on demand the life expectancy of the quarry is 14 to 29 years. The company is estimating that during peak operating times there will be 345 trucks going in and out of the quarry each day. Hours of operation at the expanded site would be Monday to Saturday and closed on Sunday, except for maintenance work. At the end of the quarry’s lifespan, the company plans to rehabilitate the site, with the dominant feature being a lake. Walker Industries has been working on the expansion of its quarry since 2002, when it began related studies and started purchasing land. In 2005, the company filed an expansion application with the township because the proposed site requires an Official Plan amendment. An application was also filed with the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) because a NEC Plan amendment is needed, as is an NEC development permit. As well, the company filed an application with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for an aggregate extraction licence. Because the process has gone on so long, the company in November 2008 asked the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) to rule on its proposal. Since then the applicant requested that the appeal be moved to the province’s Consolidated Hearings Board (CHB). The provincial board conducts hearings when issues pertain to more than one board. The board will hold a preliminary hearing on Thurs., April 30 at 10 a.m. at the Stayner Community Centre. Formal notice of the hearing appeared in an advertisement in last week’s Stayner Sun. The board will be comprised of members from the Environmental Review Tribunal and the OMB. The board says the purpose of the preliminary hearing is to hear submissions “from those who will be seeking status to participate,” plus “identify the issues to be considered at the hearing.” Lanz said the CCC is one of the groups that will ask for status. He noted the coalition has retained a lawyer.


Up in flames

Firefighters from Midland, Penetanguishene, Tay and Tiny Township Fire Departments fought this fully involved fire, which started around 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 15 in a home on Fuller Avenue near Penetanguishene. No one was injured in the fire but the home was destroyed – Fire Chief Paul Ryan is estimating damage to be approximately $175,000. A quick thinking neighbour made the 911 call and firefighters responded immediately to begin battling the blaze. Ryan said the fire, which took several hours to bring under control, likely started in the kitchen, however no cause has been determined. Here, firefighters try to quench the remnants of the blaze in the roof section.


Group advocates for Midland seniors

The Midland Seniors Council has spent months collecting information on how to accommodate the town’s growing population of older people. Elizabeth O’Connor, a spokesperson for the group, addressed Midland council Monday night outlining the results of a needs assessment of vulnerable seniors in town. Several key needs surfaced, she pointed out. They included transportation, a seniors facility and recreational opportunities, safety, opportunities to interact with children and youths, and accessibility. “We feel very fortunate to have this type of representation in our community,” O’Connor said of the seniors council. “Since we are an arm of council, we are your people on the ground.” O’Connor said there are two categories of seniors residing in the area: recently retired individuals in good health, and a more frail and needy group that cannot speak for itself. It’s the second group the seniors council would like to focus on, she said. “Seniors have said they would like to have a facility,” she said. “We have Askennonia (Senior Centre), which is great … but (many) don’t feel it offers a space where they can just go and have coffee.” O’Connor said the assessment pinpointed a number of desires, but the seniors council has selected four to focus on: transit, a seniors facility, safety and information. The organization recommended: • expanding Midland Transit to key community locations, such as the malls, big-box stores and the hospital; • creating a drop-in facility for seniors where they could gather informally; • improving pedestrian safety by increasing the number of crossings and slowing traffic in senior facility areas. O’Connor also requested council support the efforts of the seniors council to find and establish an ongoing method to communicate with area seniors. “We want to put the message out there that we are working with (town) council,” she said. Coun. Gord McKay said, “Many of us (know what it’s like) to deal with aged parents. You see the isolation they have to deal with…. (The seniors council) gives us an arm to be able to reach out to that population.” [email protected]


Ex-cop’s undercover experiences basis for book

Usually, new retirees spend a little time smelling the roses. For one former police officer, however, that just wasn’t an option. Instead, Greg Quesnelle – who recently wrapped up a 30-year career with the Ontario Provincial Police – opted to get right back to work writing his first book. “Undercover: My Story” is a fictional account of a young man who gets hired by a major provincial police department and quickly climbs the ranks to become an undercover officer with the drug squad. The story, Quesnelle said, describes noteworthy events throughout the character’s undercover career. The Penetanguishene resident told The Mirror despite always dreaming of police work, he actually started off as a nurse in training at the Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene. “I was too young to be a policeman and was fortunate enough to be hired by the province of Ontario (for the) practical nursing program,” he said. While he enjoyed that job, it wasn’t long before Quesnelle realized he just couldn’t let his fate pass him by. At the age of 21, he applied to both the OPP and RCMP. “I was probably drawn to (policing) by the adventure and the excitement,” he said. “You get to help people, do things, travel …  plus it’s a very honest and sincere career.” Quesnelle officially retired March 1, 2008, and has spent the past year drafting and writing his “fictional memoir.” Although he found himself confronted with a few unique challenges, he got through it thanks to a number of motivating factors. “The motivation for me to write book, was threefold,” he said. “(The first) is in memory of my friend Bill. He is one of the only OPP undercover officers that I know that was ever killed in the performance of his duty and recognized as such,” he said, adding Bill was one of the first friends and cohorts he got to know when he first joined the undercover unit. “His death is still unsolved. In time, people forget. It very easily could have been me there…. I wanted to keep the story alive of the people that are there to protect society.” The rest of his motivation, he said, came from his wife for “putting up with (his) career for 30 years” and his daughter for urging him to write the book. Quesnelle said his job provided most of the inspiration for the book and, although it is a work of fiction, there are many parallels to his own career. “I’ve been there (and) done it. I’ve bought the heroin, bought the coke, bought the grass, the LSD, stolen property,” he said. “I did an undercover jail job where I was in jail with a suspected double murderer … so (it is) loosely based on (my) own experiences,” he said. “It’s a different twist to have a fictional memoir. Usually, books are categorized as one of the other … but there are a lot of (parallels) with the story line and my career.” Quesnelle noted society doesn’t often get to see the covert side of policing. “It’s not your everyday-type job. It’s a real challenge (that requires) living with honesty and integrity,” he said, adding the story also shows the dangerous elements of the job – something he’s hoping readers will be able to appreciate a little more after reading the book. “I hope (readers) will understand that there are people out there in specialized services that are doing a lot of good, dangerous work for society,” he said. “A lot of times (we) are the unsung heroes. We don’t advertise who we are; we just do things because it’s the right thing to do.” The book, which was published March 11, is available online at and . [email protected]


ATV riders caught on snowmobile trail

Two off-road enthusiasts were caught riding their ATVs where they didn’t belong on Saturday. A Southern Georgian Bay OPP officer spotted the men on an Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs trail in Tiny Township. The off-roaders were stopped and charged under the Trespass to Property Act after being told they could not operate their vehicles on snowmobile trails during the winter months. One of the men was also charged with driving with a blood-alcohol content over 80 milligrams.


Hospitals’ new boss likes what he sees

The reins have officially changed hands again at the North Simcoe Hospital Alliance (NSHA). New interim CEO Barry Monaghan is close to three weeks into the job and, so far, he said everything is going smoothly. Monaghan made his first visit to NSHA’s two sites on Feb. 2, and told The Mirror the first thing that struck him was how well-maintained they are. “I’ve spent all of my career in hospitals, and I recognized a very good feeling at both sites,” he said. “I’ve walked into some hospitals in the province that don’t hold a candle to these sites.” While he acknowledged his first day at the helm was a whirlwind, he said he immediately felt welcomed. “You often hear and see an unhappiness, but I didn’t see that here,” he said. Monaghan is the NSHA’s third interim CEO in as many years, but said he had no reservations stepping into the role. “I have spent my career in hospitals and health care, and I have been a CEO in a number of (situations). I know the environment and I like the challenge,” he said. “I’m not here to save the hospital or turn it upside-down…. I am bringing my knowledge to the table to help the board and staff continue with their functions.” Monaghan, the former CEO of the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network, has been a health-care executive for more than 30 years, with stops in St. Catharines and Montreal. He said it’s important to recognize he is stepping in as interim CEO while the board searches for a permanent leader. That search, he said, is expected to take three to four months. Monaghan said he expects to spend three days a week in Midland. While here, he said, he plans to take full advantage of everything the community has to offer. “I am delighted there is a YMCA here,” he noted, adding he also enjoys skiing and is an avid reader of mystery novels. [email protected]


Home-care workers demand travel pay

BARRIE – Barrie Red Cross home-care workers – including some working in the Midland-Penetanguishene area – hit the picket line April 2 for a local one-day strike. Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have been holding rotating strikes across the province since March 24, demanding their travel expenses be paid. “We have been trying to get this through negotiations, and lobbying the provincial government on the issue,” said Cathy Carroll, secretary-treasurer for SEIU Local 1. “Essentially, they have to travel between their clients and they aren’t paid for it.” While the home-care workers are paid mileage, they are not paid for the time spent on the road. Carroll said they should be compensated. “There is not a person in this province that I can think of that, if their job requires them to travel, that they don’t get compensated for that time,” she said. “Even pizza delivery guys get compensated. It’s just not fair.” Last summer, workers voted 88 per cent in support of a strike. Red Cross personal support workers have been in a legal strike position since March 23. The home-care workers ensured essential clients continued to receive the care they need during the strike. [email protected]


Volunteer award results announced

The 2009 winners of the Order The Blue Mountains awards for 2009 have been announced and the winners will be honoured at a special reception next weekend. Steve Hoffman, a former resident of The Blue Mountains and community enthusiast, was nominated for a volunteer award posthumously by his wife. His contributions to the town were recognized and applauded by the judges. He will be awarded a lifetime achievement award, one not given out by the town before. Bill Abbotts and Rob Potter both achieved the Order of The Blue Mountains for their volunteer efforts in the arts and culture community. Abbotts was nominated for his efforts behind the scenes at countless community events such as Georgian Sound performances and Marsh Street Centre activities. Potter was nominated for his contributions to the Craigleith Depot, the Marsh Street Centre and other community campaigns. Joan Gaudet will be honoured with the order in the category of community service. Gaudet is a volunteer with Beaver Valley Outreach and a friendly neighbour. Sharon Dinsmore, active member of the Beaver Valley Outreach, earned an order award in sports and recreation for her commitment to the BVAA, organizing big events and countless hours she put in to local sports in the past. Ayla Tymczuk earned the first ever order in the youth category. She works with local youth organizations and was nominated for her actions over the past year to make The Blue Mountains more youth friendly and aware. The reception to present the orders will be Sunday, May 3 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Beaver Valley Community Centre in Thornbury. For more information on the event or to RSVP, contact Lisa Kidd at 599-3131 ext. 282.


Trillium Foundation hands out $475,000

Three local organizations received a total of nearly $475,000 in Ontario Trillium Foundation grants Friday. Quest Art School and Gallery, the Boys and Girls Clubs of North Simcoe and the Midland Area Reading Council (MARC) celebrated their grants at a reception at Quest’s Penetanguishene location. Quest will be getting $200,000 over four years to hire staff, grow programs, foster community support and develop a long-term vision for the arts in the area. President Tim Laurin said the funding will allow the arts group to hire more staff and continue to develop programming – specifically education and exhibition initiatives that help foster artists. “We’re overwhelmed with the support we’ve received from Trillium,” Laurin told The Mirror. “It really validates all the hard work of the board and all the volunteers over the years. We’re just really excited that we will be able to continue to bring arts to the general public.” The Boys and Girls Clubs will receive $145,000 over three years to help boost the organization’s internal fundraising capacity. Staff will be hired to work with volunteer teams to raise operating funds and increase awareness of recreation programs. Ron Shaw, president of the board of directors, said the grant will go a long way toward providing programming in the future. “We tried (applying to Trillium) last year unsuccessfully, so this year it was really a pleasure,” he said. Added vice-president David Rew: “It’s going to allow us to really solidify the fundraising plans and help out over the long term to provide more programs to children and youth across Simcoe County.” MARC will receive $128,300 over two years to increase the availability of literacy, numeracy and skills training in North Simcoe. Executive director Sue Bannon said she was overjoyed to learn her organization will be able to maintain its programs. “I’m terribly excited. This two-year grant is going to go a long way for the organization to enable us to help our students and ease our volunteer workload by hiring two staff members,” she said. “It’s going to boost our organizational capacity and help us get young people – and people of all ages – back to work.” The level of commitment and initiative demonstrated by each of the three organizations is incredible, Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop stated in a news release. “I’m pleased that the Ontario Trillium Foundation has recognized their potential to grow. The impact of the three multi-year grants will benefit the area for many years to come.” [email protected]