Skating carnival on this weekend

Samantha Stewart, Brittany Gill and Hannah Skelton from the Collingwood Skating Club are gearing up for the 2009 Carnival. The carnival – which has a theme of an Afternoon at the Movies – takes place this Sunday at the Eddie Bush Memorial Arena. Doors open at 12:15 p.m., with the show starting at 1 p.m. Tickets are $10 with children under five being free. Tickets are available at the door.


Neighbouring towns talk affordable accommodation

Representatives from Collingwood and The Blue Mountains met to discuss affordable housing solutions and plan joint projects for increasing the amount of units available in each town. The Blue Mountains mayor Ellen Anderson and Collingwod Mayor Chris Carrier both attended the meeting on Friday, March 6, which was chaired by Dawn Myers and Mayor Anderson. The Blue Mountains representatives included Rotarian Steve Schofield, BVO executive director, Carolyn Letourneau, Betty Langford of the centre for business and economic development and councilor John McGee. The Collingwood taskforce includes councilors Ian Chadwick and Norman Sandberg, Matthew Way resident Tom Schaefer, Mayor Carrier, Ralph Sneid, Garry Reid and Keith Hull, who was hired by the town to work on solutions for affordable housing. A majority of the discussion centered on the issue of NIMBYS. (Not In My Back Yard). Referring to residents of both towns who object to affordable housing units in the area saying they would be detrimental to the community. "How do we teach people that it just is not cool to not support affordable housing?" asked Mayor Anderson. "How do we shame them?" Schaefer, a resident of Matthew Way, a housing co-op in Collingwood, said it was important to change people’s perspective of affordable housing, which does not mean socially assisted housing. Keith Hull made a presentation to explain how affordable housing units, with the involvement of a developer and a unit shares program would be feasible in either town. Some discussion also focused on options for development charge (DC) bylaws specific for affordable housing development. Suggestions included waving DC’s, putting them off until the building is sold and offering extra stimulus with programs encouraging environmentally friendly building to counteract the DC costs. Both Carrier and Anderson agreed to keep meeting with their individual taskforces in their own communities, and have joint meetings once in a while to discuss any options for joint projects or Municipal Services Board issues.


Town looking for comments on burning bylaw

The Town of Collingwood is looking for public comment on its newly proposed open-air burning bylaw. Those wishing to speak to the proposed bylaw are asked to contact the clerk’s department. The town is currently mulling over the bylaw to replace the bylaw passed last year, which was considered restrictive and was passed without public comment. The previous bylaw didn’t allow the use of outdoor fireplaces, campfires and allowed very little outdoor burning. "I don’t wish to delay it," said Collingwood Mayor Chris Carrier. "I’m hoping we can deal with it a little more quietly. But not as quietly as we dealt with it last year." Under the proposed bylaw, residents must get a fire permit for $25, and all fires must meet fire department specifications. Residents will be allowed: • A fire for an outdoor fireplace with a spark arrestor – 15 feet away from any building, structure, property line, tree, hedge, fence, roadway, overhead wires or combustible article. • Cooking fire between sunrise and midnight that measures .3 metres in each direction and must be no less than 25 metres from any building, structure, property line, hedge, fence, roadway or overhead wires. • Special event permit, regulations will be set and agreed by the fire department. Collingwood Fire Chief Trent Elyea said the department prefers to have people use chimineas and commercial fire places, rather than just an open-air fire. "As long as it meets the requirements that we set out," Elyea said. He said people are having fires without a permit and said this bylaw will allow them to control it. "People are doing it anyway, this will allow us to regulate it," he said. If you are caught without a permit, you could be required to pay the cost of the fire department if they are called to your home. For more information visit www.collingwood.ca


Split council passes 2009 budget

Collingwood council narrowly passed its $59 million budget on Tuesday. By a vote of 5-4, council passed a budget that will leave taxpayers with a 1.12 per cent increase on the town portion of their tax bills. This is equal to $8.75 for every $100,000 of assessed value. According to treasurer Marjory Leonard this is up from $52 million from 2008. Mayor Chris Carrier and Councillors Norman Sandberg, Ian Chadwick, Mike Edwards and Dave Labelle voted in favour of the budget, while Deputy Mayor Sandra Cooper and Councillors Tim McNabb, Kathy Jeffery and Sonny Foley voted against the budget. Cooper said she was against the current budget process and felt the budget meetings should be held as their own separate meetings. She said it concerned her that the public was not able to comment on the budget. She said the other reason she wasn’t voting in favour of the budget was the cost of legal fees. According to Cooper, the town is slated to spend about $700,000 on legal fees. "That is more than an increase in 2009," she said. "I remember when $250,000 was a lot." Chadwick said there was a lot in the budget he was against. Chadwick wanted to see more money for the Georgian Bay Animal Rescue and he wasn’t in favour of the Heritage Park revitalization but said politics are about comprise and voted in favour of the budget. "There are a whole lot of things I didn’t like in it," he said. McNabb, who last year said those who voted against the budget were "grandstanding," voted against the budget. He said the sticking point for him is not putting money aside to offset future spending. "I’m not happy we’re not putting away money to offset money we’re spending this year," he said. Foley said he wasn’t supporting the budget, because he was against the Heritage Park plan. "I will not support the budget because of Heritage Park," he said. Jeffery – who said she has never voted against the budget in the past – felt it was a bad decision to not put money away to offset debentures. "I honestly feel we have missed our mark," she said. "This is a stick your head in the sand budget." Sandberg also disagreed with the removal of the minimum 2.5 per cent increase but said he would be voting in favour of the budget. "We did go through a process and as much as I think we are being really shortsighted, it was a democratic process and for that reason and that reason only, I will be supporting the budget," he said. Edwards – who voted against the budget in 2008 – voted for it 2009. He questioned those councillors who voted against, saying people can’t "pick and choose," and should look at the budget as a whole. Edwards then asked CAO Gordon Norris for his opinion on the budget. Norris said he would like to see multi-year budgeting, but overall felt this was a good budget that he could work with. "I don’t see a lot of growth in our assessment," he said. "This is an acceptable rate on a one-off basis." Carrier had predicted the vote would be 6-3 and was surprised by Cooper’s position considering she voted in favour of the First Street project and the Heritage Park revitalization. Carrier said the idea that some councillors wanted to raise taxes to put money into reserves, "doesn’t make sense." "I think it’s silly to say what the tax increase will be next year," he said. "If you don’t want to spend reserves, don’t spend reserves." Carrier is pleased with the budget, and said the town is making some capital investments and he’s confident they will see some growth.


Dentist part of medical mission

Stayner dentist Ted Proctor is part of a 26-member team heading to the Dominican Republic on March 29 for a one-week medical mission trip. Proctor, a Wasaga Beach resident, said the trip marks his fifth time to the impoverished country in the last three years. While in the Dominican Republic, Proctor will provide dentistry to Haitian refugees who have come to the country looking for work. He said that it was through long-time friends who visit the country for mission purposes that he learned of the opportunity to help. Proctor said he takes part as a way to give back. “Our country is so blessed – it’s our responsibility to help people and to share,” he explained. Spearheading the trip at this end are members New Life Brethren in Christ Church in Collingwood. But once the team arrives in the Dominican, they will work with Dominican Crossroads, a Christian ministry that operates in the hills outside Puerto Plata, a city in the northern part of the country. Proctor, a member of New Life church, said that Dr. Leslie Hutchings who practices in Stayner and Dr. Janet Clark who practices in Collingwood are also taking part in the trip, as are two nurses and several others who will work as medical support staff. “We’ll have people doing blood pressures, counting pills, that type of thing,” he said. Members of the mission trip will be traveling light in terms of personal items, he said. Each person going will bring what he or she needs for the trip in a carry-on bag. However, each person will also bring two 50-pound bags filled with supplies and items to give away, such as personal hygiene products, to those in need. Each person who is part of the team is responsible for covering his or her expenses. In total, the cost is about $1,200 for each person. Proctor said they will arrive in Puerto Plata and then take a roughly 30-minute bus ride to Crossroads, where the team will stay while in the country. Each day they will rise early and meet for breakfast at 7 a.m. and then board a bus at 8 a.m. and head to a village. “Every day we’ll be working in a different village,” Proctor noted. The Haitian refugees they will help have come to the country in search of a better life. Many harvest sugar cane or scavenge in dumps for materials they can sell. All are poor. Proctor said the homes people live in are primitive, made of scrap metal and wood. “These are Haitians who’ve left their country. They have no benefits, very little money and no help except for what outside organizations provide,” he said. Despite the incredibly tough existence the Haitians face, they are a beautiful and warm people, Proctor said. “They are spontaneous, loud, they’re happy, their needs and wants are very simple,” he said. In the villages, the team will provide basic care to people. For Proctor, that means doing emergency extractions without a proper dental chair, x-rays and lighting. “It’s the same standard of care, just in a primitive environment,” he said. At lunchtime each day, the workers will visit a local restaurant and then spend the afternoon distributing things such soap, toothbrushes, children’s shoes, baby clothes and school supplies to refugees. “Last year we took down over 1,000 pairs of shoes,” he noted. People wanting to help the group are asked to donate new or gently used items, such as baseballs, deflated soccer balls, children’s running shoes, plastic toys that don’t require batteries, school supplies, hygiene items and baby clothing. Items can be left at Proctor’s office at the Stayner Medical Centre on King Street or at Major’s Guardian Pharmacy – at the 45th Street or River Road location – in Wasaga Beach or at New Life Brethren in Christ Church, off County Road 124 in Collingwood. Monetary donations will also be accepted at Proctor’s office. Cheques can be made payable to New Life Brethren in Christ Church and a tax receipt can be issued. Last year, between Proctor’s team and another team comprised of Elmvale-area people, more than $20,000 in donations was collected – money that went towards such things as food and education supplies for the Haitians. Thanks to the financial support that mission trips to the country have received, Proctor said he’s seen progress, with schools and medical centres and churches getting built. He said that people who go on the mission trips are often changed by what they see. “When you can actually go, smell, taste and feel it – it changes your life,” he said.


Texting and driving don’t mix, say police

Police pulled over a suspected drunk driver in Tay Township last week, but it turned out she hadn’t had a drop to drink. She was, however, trying to send a text message while driving. Southern Georgian Bay OPP report the incident happened on Highway 12, near Rumney Road, around 6:30 p.m. on April 16. A 45-year-old Brampton resident was charged with careless driving. Police, in addition to reminding motorists to always focus on the road, credited the concerned citizen who reported this driver with averting a potential tragedy.


Council approves water rates

Council approved the water and wastewater rate bylaw at last Tuesday’s meeting, solidifying the cost that will be applied to the new water metering system. Wasaga Beach will charge 42 cents per cubic metre of water and 69 cents per cubic metre of wastewater on top of a $26 monthly flat rate this year and rates will increase over time. All councillors except George Watson supported the bylaw. Watson said he supports 99 per cent of the bylaw but not the fee schedule. He asked that the municipality reduce the per-unit charges and phase them in more gradually over several years. "Everywhere you turn, costs seem to be going up yet hardly anyone is immune from the recession that is hitting our investments, our homes and our jobs. I for one cannot condone increases of this magnitude at this time," Watson said.


New technology in Byng classrooms

New equipment at Byng Public School in Stayner is changing the way students learn in the classroom. The electronic devices, called Smart Boards, are essentially modern day, interactive chalkboards. Grade 1 teacher Shannon Gulley said the boards – Byng has three – are a wonderful addition to the classroom. She said she can load interactive exercises into a computer and then with an LCD projector transmit the material to the Smart Board for the whole class to see. The screen, when connected to a computer, can also be used to access educational sites, complete with movies, on the Internet. Students can also use the boards on their own or in small groups to complete tasks. The Smart Board’s screen is touch sensitive, meaning various applications can be operated by tapping the screen with a finger or a pointer. “Your finger basically acts as a mouse,” Gulley said. The interactive exercises and educational websites are colourful and sometimes feature cartoon characters that talk, making the process of learning more engaging, she said. Along with being interactive, the boards have an environmental benefit because they reduce the amount of paper used for lesson plans and worksheets, Gulley said. Smart Boards have been around for a few years but only arrived at Byng Public School about a month ago. The items were purchased with funds raised by the school’s parent council. Gulley said each screen is worth about $2,000. “We hope to get more so we can mount one in each room,” she said, adding the parent council plans to fundraise over the long-term so it can purchase additional screens. Right now the classes are sharing the three Smart Boards. “They are really spreading in popularity – it’s really nice to have them in the school,” Gulley said.


Park pavilion to memorialize Michael Worrod

The family of Michael Worrod is trying keeping his memory alive in Tottenham. At a New Tecumseth council meeting Monday night, the Worrods offered the town $4,000 towards renovations at Coventry Park Pavilion and volunteers to help keep up the park. They also asked the town to rename the pavilion the Michael Worrod Pavilion. Worrod was 25 when he died in a motor vehicle collision in December 2007. In a letter to council, Worrod’s fiancée Lindsay Fleischer said he played baseball with the Tottenham Young Merchants for many years and Coventry Park was his home field. Worrod was also a member of Tottenham hardball teams that won two Ontario titles. She said supporting upgrades to the pavilion is the perfect way to honour Worrod and ensure that other young players continue to have great experiences at the park. Over the past year the Worrod family has held several fundraisers in Michael’s honour, raising money for the Children’s Wish Foundation and other charities. After seeing that New Tecumseth is looking to rejuvenate the Coventry Park Pavilion they decided to donate the money raised at a golf tournament last year to the efforts. "We’re anxious and hopeful to start distributing money that has been collected from the community over the last year," said Tim Kane, Worrod’s brother-in-law. New Tecumseth has $75,000 in the 2009 budget to rebuild the pavilion. A report from Parks, Recreation and Culture manager Joyce Epstein said the donation enhances the project and allow for new pavilion signage.


Woman battling town over damage to car

A Victoria Harbour woman has found herself fighting an uphill battle after incurring more than $600 in damage to her car while driving on a Penetanguishene street late last year. April Herron, who works in Penetanguishene, was driving west on Robert Street near Georgian Manor when she hit a rough spot on the road. “There was no signage posted that there was a big dip in the road, so I didn’t adjust my speed,” she said. “The car bottomed out and (my) muffler and everything fell off.” Herron called the Town of Penetanguishene to inform officials about what had happened. “I told them there was no signage posted and that my car wasn’t drivable,” she said. “I wanted answers.” Herron said she was told to call a tow truck and to submit the bill for damages and the tow truck, both of which would be paid by either the town or the contractor. “It’s been since the end of October, and I have contacted the town several times. They have washed their hands clean of it and said it’s in the contractor’s care because they are the ones responsible for the signage.” Herron has also contacted the contractor, but said she isn’t getting any answers there, either. “I (want) the town to be culpable because they are the ones that hired the contractors. The fact that they told me this would get taken care of right away … this is not good business practice,” she said. “Nobody is taking responsibility for it. It’s going around in circles and I’m not getting my calls or e-mails returned.” Bryan Murray, manager of capital projects for the town, said because the accident was caused as part of a construction project, it would be the construction company’s responsibility. “It was out of the town’s hands because it’s not technically the town’s site. If she thought we were going to take care of it, she probably misunderstood us,” he said, adding he did get in touch with the company and forwarded all the documentation received from Herron. “When I said we’d take care of it, I meant (we would) get it to the right person to handle it, but not that we would pay it. From what I hear, (Corm Construction) is saying they’re not responsible, and I guess she’s looking for someone to take blame for this.” Penetanguishene CAO Eleanor Rath said Ontario is a no-fault province for insurance purposes, and all vehicles are covered by their owners’ insurance, so drivers are required to go through their own insurance when damage occurs. “In the event that someone is alleging damage to their vehicle as a result of a town road … they’re advised to notify their insurers. In the event their insurers feel there is a claim against the town, then it would flow through their insurers to our insurers,” she said, adding while she can’t comment on specific matters, in the event the town has a contractor on site, that company is required to carry insurance. “If someone alleges their vehicle is damaged, and it’s in an area of construction, they should have been referred to the insurance for that company,” she said, adding it is not the town’s policy to agree to cover such damages. “If anyone notifies us of any type of damage – particularly to vehicles – we notify them they should contact their own insurance company.” For Herron, having to cover the cost of the repairs has been a bit of a hardship. “It’s been very hard on us to make ends meet as it is, and then to have this unplanned thing pop up … it’s hard,” she said. “It’s anxiety-provoking.” Herron said she has learned an unexpected lesson, adding anyone in a similar situation should make sure to keep some important things in mind. “Bring a camera with you to take pictures of what’s happening, and get statements from everyone to submit at a later time,” she said. “I wish I hadn’t been so trusting at the time. I should have asked for something in writing.” Calls to Corm Construction were not returned. nmillion@simcoe.com