Haines Dam in Clarksburg has major issues

The Grey Sauble Conservation Authority Board of Directors received good news and bad news about its dams in Clarksburg at its regular meeting last Wednesday. The Haines Dam in Clarksburg is in very poor shape and may have to be removed by the Conservation Authority in the near future. On the other hand the Clendenan Dam is in strong shape and has no immediate major repairs required. The Grey Sauble Conservation Authority Board of Directors received a full report about all of the Dams it owns and operates throughout the watershed at last Wednesday’s regular meeting. Water Management Director of Operations Doug Hill delivered the report at the meeting. The report detailed purpose and current state of repair of each dam the Authority owns and operates. The Board of Directors discussed the report in significant detail at the meeting (see related story in this issue). The Haines Dam in Clarksburg warranted particular attention in the report because it is in very poor condition and serves very little purpose. Hill said the Haines Dam is in excess of 100 years old. In the 1980s the Authority considered removing the Dam, but significant local opposition to that idea prevented that from happening. At the time a significant investment was made into the structure using provincial funds. "There are still some issues with this dam," Hill told the Board at the meeting. He said the dam in reality serves no useful purpose. The structure is approximately three metres in height and the reservoir behind it is completely filled with sediment. "This is a significant liability for us. The dam has no current purpose or use and if it breaks we will have a serious environmental issue on our hands," said Hill. He said water is currently seeping through the north embankment of the dam resulting in erosion and the risk of the bank eventually failing and releasing the built up sediment behind the dam. Hill said the Authority faces a significant cost with the Haines Dam regardless of how it chooses to proceed in the future. "The dam has no recreational benefit, no wildlife habitat benefit and no flood control benefit. It’s more of a liability," said Hill. In order to remove the dam the Authority would have to incur significant costs to remove the built up sediment in the reservoir. "There’s a significant cost to maintain this dam and there’s significant costs to take it out. Either way, down the road it will require significant costs," he said. The authority built the Clendenan Dam in 1975 immediately upstream of Clarksburg. It cost approximately $1 million and estimated to be worth $5 million now. It is the largest dam the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority owns. Hill said Clendenan Dam is in generally good condition and doesn’t require major repairs. The Authority is monitoring a slight problem with settlement of the earthen berm over the fish way. "The dam has functioned very well in terms of capturing ice during break ups," said Hill. Authority Chair Dick Hibma said eventually the Board of Directors would have to make a decision about the Haines Dam and begin preparing for the financial implications of what will need to be done. He said he leaned towards supporting the removal of the Dam and said that decision will have to be made upfront in order to communicate to member municipalities the financial requirements the maintenance of all the Authority’s dams will require.


Woman guilty of phony sex assault claim

A 38-year-old area woman pleaded guilty Apr. 14 to a charge of public mischief, after she misled police by reporting a sexual assault on herself. The Ontario Court of Justice heard that on Dec. 19, 2007, Huronia West officers were contacted by Lisa Szymanski about an alleged incident at her rural Clearview Township home. The accused told police that "Todd," whom she said was a Barrie City firefighter, had sexually assaulted her. As a result, a full investigation was launched, a sexual assault evidence kit was procured, and a myriad of documents were investigated in the case. Crown attorney Paul Billington said in the course of their investigation officers interviewed a male friend of Szymanski’s who stated the accused was with him in Oshawa on the date in question. As it happened, there was a Todd – who is also a Barrie fireman. He too was interviewed, providing an alibi and having no prior knowledge of Szymanski. On Jan. 26, 2008, the defendant was summoned to the Huronia West detachment for further questioning. This time she was cautioned and decided to confess. When asked about her motivation for lying, the accused said "her family was pressuring her." She was also asked how she could go through the kit. According to the Crown, she replied: "It was just one more step in the process." Defence counsel Gary Picard said Szymanski cancelled a medical appointment to spend the day in Oshawa instead. "She picked a name and a profession, and unfortunately there was a Todd," the lawyer added. Although Picard declined to give his position on sentencing, Billington said the Crown is seeking three to four months behind bars. The case will revisit a court on June 9 for pre-sentence report and for sentencing. Mr. Justice Roland Harris also ordered a transcript of the proceedings for the return date.


Oddfellows support community health centres

The Thornbury Independent Order of Oddfellows received their Charter in October of 1884 and in 1936 they purchased the lodge building on Main Street in Thornbury. The upper level of the building became the lodge hall and half of the main floor has been home to the Thornbury Bakery for many years and the other half in later years Studio 16. Over the years the loge has supported various local charities along with fire and accident victims. For many years the lodge put on a New Year’s Eve dance at the Thornbury High School, which is now the elementary school. At a provincial level, the I.O.O.F. lodges support summer camps for kids with Cancer, one being Camp Trillium. The lodges also support an eye research program through the University of Toronto as well as Leukemia research. In the past few years, membership in the Thornbury lodge started to decline and as existing members started to age, a decision was made in 2008 to close the Thornbury lodge and amalgamate with Spirit Rock lodge in Wiarton. At this time the lodge building was sold. The remaining members of the lodge now had the responsibility to disperse of the lodge assets and the main objective was to keep the money within the community. Donations at this time have been made to the installation of a new audio system in the arena, the Beaver Valley Outreach, the Beaver Valley Athletic Association, the Beaver Valley Pre-school, the Thornbury theatre group, the Marsh St. Centre, the Golden Beavers and the Community Family Health Centres.


Woman hit while trying to call police

Midland police charged a 50-year-old Waubaushene man with assault last week after a woman was shoved and hit in the face. The incident happened March 31 around 10:25 p.m. at a Midland home. After being shoved into a table, the woman tried to call police, only to have the man break the telephone. When she tried another phone, the man grabbed her hand and hit her in the face. The accused – charged with assault, mischief under $5,000 and uttering death threats – was held for a bail hearing in Barrie.


Safety Village unveiled

The gymnasium floor at Regent Park Public School disappeared beneath a brightly coloured mat printed with images of sidewalks, roads, crosswalks, grass, and a pond. It was early Monday afternoon, and the room was buzzing with the anticipation of a long-held dream about to be realized. “It’s been nine years, but we are there,” said a relieved Gerry Dwyer, the Orillia OPP constable who helped champion the portable Children’s Safety Village. Believed to be the only one of its kind in North America, the unique teaching tool relies on interactive displays to educate students on potential dangers, whether in the home, outdoors or online. Scattered about the mat was a collection of tiny buildings constructed of a lightweight but durable material, each piece replicating some aspect of a real-life community. There is a jail, a fire and police station, a hydro box, and a home where children are introduced to the risks posed by household appliances and other everyday items. “It’s everything they need to look out for – shock hazards, fire hazards, the (importance of) smoke alarms,” said Insp. Dave Baker, of the Orillia Fire Department. The mobile village will rotate between 21 area elementary schools, spending a week at each location. Fire fighters, police and other officials will speak on a range of topics from fire hazards and quarry safety to the dangers of carbon monoxide, bullying, and Internet use. CN Police will focus on rail safety. “This (initiative) is being watched across the country,” said safety village board member Carol Ivey, also of the Orillia’s Kiwanis Club. “We have had a lot of interest.” Kiwanis spearheaded the project, shepherding it through various stages and raising close to $100,000 for the purchase of materials. “It feels like all of the hours of hard work and the frustration was worth it, to know it is going to make our community and our children safe,” said Ivey, describing it as “a safety-themed playground.” The Orillia Power Corporation will focus on electrical hazards using a working model that features characters flying kites into overhead wires and sticking knives into toasters. “It is very effective,” said Chris Evans, who performs power line maintenance. “You hear it crackling.” At the end of the program, students are rewarded with rides in battery-powered police and fire vehicles. Communities wishing to replicate the safety village elsewhere will be able to do so through a how-to package now being assembled by the local committee, Ivey said. The village will be unveiled Wednesday at Regent Park Public School.


Council hears Tec North closure supported by ARC

Tec North school closure supported Coun. Jamie Smith gave a verbal report on the Simcoe County District School Board’s Accommodation Review Committee study. Smith said a 15-2 consensus was reached by the group to recommend closing Tecumseth North School, with the bulk of the students being relocated to Tecumseth Beeton Public School. Some students would also go to Cookstown and Alliston Union public schools. The group also agreed that the Alliston Union building should be replaced at the present site and be able to accommodate 500 students. Infrastructure money plans Local projects are on Simcoe County’s shovel-ready infrastructure projects when provincial and federal funding is made available. A county report lists three local projects to be considered. These are County Road 50 from Adjala Sideroad 5 north to Athlone, $1 million. The 5 Sideroad bridge north of Highway 89, $1.4 million. Beeton garage build, $1.9 million. Altogether the county’s infrastructure tally for the projects is $27 million. Once infrastructure money is allocated, county staff will report back to council to determine which projects can be completed with the funding. Earth Hour Returns The countdown is on for the third-annual Earth Hour. Last year more than 150 municipalities across Canada signed on to turn off unnecessary lights for the global event. The goal is to increase awareness about climate change and show how individuals can be part of the solution. This year’s Earth Hour is March 28 from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. To officially register for Earth Hour, log on to www.earthhour.org. According to the website, 77 countries and 680 cities have already committed to this year’s event. Bridge Cleanup Cleaning up the damage at the 13th line CN Railway bridge after a log and ice jam wreaked havoc on it last month will cost $195,140. The damage happened Feb. 11 when the temperature rose 10 C and there was more than 30 millimetres of rain with a 24-hour period. The thaw caused water levels in the Nottawasaga River to rise and washed large pieces of ice, logs and debris downriver. Feb. 13 New Tecumseth was made aware that four of the timbers bracing the abandoned railway bridge were damaged. At that time, an engineer determined that there was no immediate danger, but action should be taken to have the debris removed and bridge repaired or replaced. Monday night council approved having engineer R.J. Burnside and Associates, who were the first engineers to view the damage, draft a plan for what is needed for repair and replacement. In order to get the work done quickly, a contractor is being selected through a quotation process. Three pre-selected contractors will be able to submit quotes for the work. The project has been included in the 2009 budget and will be funded from bridge and road reserves. Hockey Tournament Funding The York Simcoe Express AAA Minor Peewee hockey team has asked the town for $2,000 in order to host the AAA Minor Peewee championship tournament. As winners of the OMHA title last season, the team is holding the championships March 27, 28 and 29 at the Nottawasaga Inn Resort’s Centre Ice Sportsplex. A town report said the money is to help cover expenses such as referees, refreshments for players and timekeepers. Staff recommended that the team be approved for $1,000 because of the high number of grant requests the town is receiving.


Collingwood council pans games bid

Collingwood Council won’t be financially backing The Blue Mountain’s bid to be an event host for the 2015 Pan American Games. At council on Monday evening, a request came forward asking the municipality to be a co-guarantor, along with TBM, for $1.8 million in funds for improvements to the Thornbury Horse Park, which would be used for the equestrian events. Counc. Ian Chadwick felt the event would not only be a great thing for the area but it might also get the municipality on board with the Collingwood Regional Airport. Collingwood has been asking TBM to become a member of the airport services board. Chadwick also felt this was a good chance to participate in a regional event. “Every hotel will be full. Every restaurant will be full,” he said. “I just think we need to look at the regional impact. It will be huge.” Counc. Tim McNabb disagreed and said if they aren’t going to support the Collingwood Airport, he wasn’t going to support their bid for the games. McNabb didn’t feel it was a smart move for the town to “go into debt,” for a piece of property that isn’t in Collingwood. “I’m against this for the airport reason,” he said. “I don’t think it’s appropriate.” Counc. Kathy Jeffery was in favour of offering moral support for the bid but not financial support. Collingwood Mayor Chris Carrier said dealing with Wasaga Beach and Clearview Township on the airport services board gives the municipality a greater comfort level in supporting the bid. “If this was Clearview Township or Wasaga Beach, it might give us more comfort,” he said. Council defeated the motion by a vote of 5-1. Grey County council, however,  endorsed the bid to attract the 2015 Pan Am Games equestrian event to the local area. The Blue Mountains has agreed to support a bid to hold the equestrian event at the Thornbury Horse Park, which is being developed by the Cedar Run Corporation. At county council’s regular meeting last Tuesday, The Blue Mountains Mayor Ellen Anderson updated county council about the bid and asked for an endorsement from county council. “Your support shows the bid committee that the County of Grey is behind the bid. They regard partnerships as very healthy,” Anderson explained. “This is a wonderful opportunity for us and your support does not tie the county into anything specifically,” said Mayor Anderson, who has also invited the Town of Collingwood and the County of Simcoe to offer their support to the bid. Grey County Warden Kevin Eccles met with Mayor Anderson extensively prior to the meeting last Tuesday to discuss the bid proposal. Anderson also brought several pictures of the proposed equestrian centre to the meeting for councillors to take look at. Warden Eccles gave his complete support to the proposal. “If this does go forward it will create a facility that is world renowned,” said the Warden. “There are no financial impacts (for the county) on this going forward,” said Eccles. The Blue Mountains Deputy Mayor Duncan McKinlay said the equestrian centre would create enormous spin-off benefits for the entire region. “The creation of that facility will provide work for local contractors. It will be a permanent, high calibre facility to host a number of events each year that will provide employment in the tourism and agricultural industries,” said McKinlay. Owen Sound Mayor Ruth Lovell-Stanners said the bid could lead to a great opportunity to let the world see the local area. “It sounds like something that would be huge for Grey County and would showcase our area,” she said. County council unanimously voted in favour of supporting the equestrian bid. The Cedar Run big is currently up for consideration by the Toronto bid committee, which is responsible for choosing the various event locations across Ontario for the games. Once the locations are selected the overall Toronto bid committee submits an application to the Pan American Sports Organization for consideration. With files from Chris Fell and Erika Engel


Chamber serves up new business networking opportunity

The Wasaga Beach Chamber of Commerce is launching a business networking breakfast. Dubbed Breakfast at the Beach, the event will take place the second Thursday of each month, with the first taking place on April 9. Sarah Adams, a Wasaga Beach chiropractor, is a member of the chamber’s networking committee, which set out to expand on an existing networking event called After 5. Once a month a business operator hosts After 5 at their place of business, sometimes partnering with another business that does not have a storefront location. During the event people have a chance to network while the host has an opportunity to promote their business. The evening networking sessions, co-sponsored by the Wasaga Beach Women’s Business Association, are held one per month and are so successful among the local business community that there is a one-year waiting list to host the event. Adams said the committee looked at ways to offer more networking opportunities for chamber of commerce members and potential members. But because not everyone was able to attend After 5, which as the name suggests begins after 5 p.m., Adams said the committee decided to offer a morning event. Chamber of commerce president Henning Geiler said morning meetings of any kind have proven to be well attended. Breakfast at the Beach begins at 7 a.m. and breakfast is served at 7:15 a.m. The event will end by 8:30 a.m. so people have time to get to their place of business by 9 a.m. Adams said the first few events will take place at Beverly’s On Main Grill House, located on Main Street, but she is hoping that other restaurants will come on board and, in the future, the event will rotate to other businesses. She said Beverly’s On Main can accommodate about 50 people for this particular event. Adams noted Breakfast at the Beach will be a little more structured than After 5. A guest speaker will give a 20-minute presentation beginning at 7:50 a.m. Speakers will range in expertise and the opportunity is open to chamber of commerce members. The first speaker is Ellen Riches of Indigo Group, an accredited education provider. She will speak about the fear of public speaking. "As small business owners, we are called on to speak in public every day," said Riches. "Communicating about our business at networking events and to potential clients is one of the key ways that we build our business." Adams said she hopes people will be inspired to set aside their fear of public speaking and take the opportunity to share their expertise with the group. Adams said she hopes everyone in attendance will have an opportunity to introduce themselves and say something about their business. Geiler said, like After 5, the networking events are meant to be a fun, relaxed environment and that is why they are so successful. "A big part of business and networking is word-of-mouth advertising," said Geiler. "The stronger your business relationships are, the stronger your business is," said Adams. They say people are more likely to do business with people they know and trust and that often results in referrals. The Wasaga Beach Chamber of Commerce has 258 members. A membership costs between $150 and $200 per year, depending on the type of business. For more information about the chamber and its events, including Breakfast at the Beach, call 429-2247. Members and non-members can also register online before Tues., April 7 at www.wasagainfo.com. Tickets cost $15 for members and $18 for non-members. People are asked to pay at the door by cash or cheque. Beverly’s On Main is located at 140 Main St.