Local reps visit Ontario’s capital to discuss Green Act

Mayors and staff from The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands visited Queen’s Park last week to make a presentation to the government standing committee on the Green Energy Act. The Act, through two readings and in the review process, proposes that any project falling under the standards for a renewable energy project, not be subject to municipal bylaws or process, and instead be a provincial matter. Mayor Ellen Anderson of The Blue Mountains was part of the delegation at Queen’s Park on Wednesday, April 8. "I think we were really successful in expressing that municipalities are very capable in working with natural energy projects," she said. "We were very adamant that we need to have a hand in it." While admitting that she understands the pressure on the province to move quickly with projects, especially of an environmental nature, she expressed concern that the decision might be made too quickly. "I’m pleased that we went," she said. "It was really worthwhile. I got the feeling that the review committee was really listening to our concerns." Grey Highlands municipal planner, Lorelie Spencer also made a presentation during the delegation. Grey Highlands Mayor Brian Mullin said he felt the presentation to the committee was successful. "I think we had a good presentation that was well received by the members. We listened to a few other delegations and I thought our presentation went over well," said Mayor Mullin. The Municipality of Grey Highlands spent in excess of $70,000 developing alternative energy policies for its Official Plan and is concerned its money and efforts will be wasted if the government passes the Green Energy Act. "The members of the committee had some knowledge of our policies. I think by the time (the government) roles out the regulations we will have influenced (the Bill)," Mullin said. Her report recommended that the bill not remove power from the local municipality, conservation authority and Niagara Escarpment Commission, that the existing Planning Act still apply to smaller renewable energy projects, that the requirement for a Conservation and Demand Management Plan mandated in the existing bill be modified to ease the cost for smaller municipalities and that the clause requiring a mandatory home energy audit for all Ontario homes prior to being sold be reviewed and an alternative, lower cost option chosen to ease the burden on tax payers.


Ready, set … fish!

You can almost hear the boat engines warming up just over the horizon. A long and sometimes brutal winter has wetted the appetite of anglers this spring, and organizers of the Orillia Perch Festival hope this translates into big attendance numbers. “Spring fever is here and people want to get out and fish, so I think that will go a long way to bolstering our numbers,” said festival committee member Doug Bunker. The opening ceremonies are scheduled for this Friday at 7 p.m. at the ODAS Park Fairgrounds community hall. Children and adults alike will have an opportunity to win draw prizes at the ceremony, all donated by Orillia and area businesses, Fishing in the 28th edition of the festival will get underway Saturday at 7 a.m. One of the highlights of this year’s festival will be the Kids Day event on May 2 at Tudhope Park. In addition to having the opportunity to win prizes, visitors will have the opportunity to check out displays staffed by various groups, including the Ontario Provincial Police. Kids Day runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 2, with the rain date set for May 3. As part of the live release portion of the festival, anglers are encouraged to return their live perch to the Perch Festival office, located at Tudhope Park on Atherley Road. Bunker said preparations for the weekend opening are right on schedule and the response from the public has been strong. Despite a heavy April snowfall recently, wind and mild temperatures have cleared most of the ice off both Lake Couchiching and Lake Simcoe. Prior to Saturday’s opening day, Bunker and a select group of fellow anglers will have released more than 60 specially tagged perch into the lake, worth $500 each to those who reel them in. Grand prize in the festival is a Mercury-Lund fishing package, including a boat, motor and trailer. A cash prize of $5,000 will be awarded to the lucky angler who reels in the perch with the Kings Buffet King Size Tag. The angler hooking into the Casino Rama Jackpot Tag will be awarded $2,500. Over the course of the past few months, Bunker and other members of the festival committee have attended sports and recreation trade shows in various parts of Ontario, drumming up interest in the 2009 festival. “One thing we noticed at the trade shows we were at was the response we got to the entry fee. People couldn’t believe it when they heard that kids could fish in the entire festival for only $6. They feel it is very affordable,” he said. Daily prizes will be awarded daily during the festival. Fishing during the 22-day event will take place daily between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., from April 18-May 9.


Safety blitz removes trucks from road

Officers from South Simcoe Police (SSP) and the OPP worked with enforcement personnel from the Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of the Environment on March 11 to conduct a commercial motor vehicle blitz in the Town of Innisfil and the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury. In all, 18 officers set up in three locations, including County Rd. 89 near Cookstown. Out of 14 vehicles inspected, 10 were removed from service, reports Sgt. Steve Wilson of SSP, a failure rate of 71 per cent. A total of 20 charges were laid under the Highway Traffic Act. On Dissette Street in Bradford, 13 out of 17 vehicles inspected didn’t make the grade, a 76 per cent failure rate. There were 35 infractions of the Highway Traffic act uncovered. Only seven out of 27 vehicles stopped on the 10th Sideroad in Bradford were found to be not roadworthy, according to Wilson. In this instance, police issued 16 Highway Traffic Act charges.


Browse at business show on March 29

More than 70 local businesses are set to promote themselves at the Wasaga Beach Business Show on March 29. The business show was created in 2007. It is now in its third year and is presented by the Wasaga Beach Women’s Business Association and the Wasaga Beach Chamber of Commerce. Wasaga Beach Women’s Business Association president and Wasaga Sun sales representative Wendy Sherk said this year’s show sold out weeks ago and they now have a waiting list. "We’ve had a tremendous response to this year’s business show," said Sherk. "The success of the past two shows proves that it is well attended and well received in the community. This year’s show will be even bigger and better." The trade show offers local businesses an opportunity to promote their services and products during an event that offers the public an opportunity for one-stop browsing. The show will feature several business sectors, including real estate, financial institutions, restaurants, trades, healthcare workers, media, insurance agents, home improvement specialists and much more. Sherk said the show will feature many new businesses and some that are well established in the community. She said each vendor will have a 10-by-six-foot space to offer demonstrations and feature products. Sherk said the show also offers people an opportunity to meet some of the business owners. Jennifer Campbell is among those who will be manning a booth at the show. At age 14, Campbell started teaching dance lessons. It was the beginning of The Danceroom, as it would come to be known. The first lessons were held in the basement of her parents’ Wasaga Beach home with only five students. Several years later the business has grown to have more than 180 dance students and program participants. "The explosive population at the dance studio has been exciting and it has been wonderful to constantly establish and build on relationships with dancers and parents," said Campbell. "It’s also been a bit of a crystal ball for what may be in store for the future." Campbell, 19, is at York University where she studies modern dance in her first year of a three- to four-your program. While she is away her mom Juliet manages The Danceroom and they have hired an artistic director and seven instructors. They also have three assistant instructors and three volunteer instructors. On March 25, The Danceroom is moving to the Sunnidale Corners Hall, having outgrown its rented space at Centennial United Church in Stayner. Campbell hopes to one day have a permanent location. The Danceroom now offers a number of dance and fitness programs and is introducing a number of new programs, including ballroom dancing for youth and baton, in addition to body sculpting and an abdominal program to enhance yoga. For more on The Danceroom visit www.the-danceroom.com. ReMax agent Marilyn Ruttan will be promoting a new venture at the show. She, along with website designer Henning Geiler of Pinpoint Graphics, have developed ClosingContacts.com, which is designed to provide people all the information they need to get their property ready to sell or close a deal on a new property. The site lists contact information for mortgage brokers, surveyors, appraisers, movers, home inspectors, lawyers and others sought out by homebuyers and sellers in the Georgian Triangle. Visit www.closingcontacts.com. Juergen Keller will be promoting Aqua Formations, a company that creates water gardens, aquatic landscapes, rock gardens, waterfalls, pondless streams and eco pond systems. He also creates rainwater harvest systems which collect rainwater that can be dispersed through a sprinkler system to water the lawn, something he said will be very valuable to people once Wasaga Beach’s water meters start being read. Visit www.AquaFormations.com. The Business Show takes place at the RecPlex on Sun., March 29 from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Free admission. Many businesses will be offering draws and promotions throughout the day. The Lioness Club will be operating a canteen offering lunch and refreshments.


Home dream comes true for Stayner family

Thirteen-year-old Devlyn Lohnes seemed delighted Saturday that his family is one of two chosen this year from approximately 30 applicants for a Habitat for Humanity (HFH) home. The Stayner duplex is to be built by volunteers from the South Georgian Bay affiliate of HFH. "I think it’s just great that we’re going to finally have our own home with a backyard," he told The Stayner Sun on Saturday at the Collingwood ReStore, run by HFH volunteers. "It’ll have more chores and stuff but at least we’ll have our own place," Devlyn said as his four-year-old brother, Dustyn, by turns, dozed and wandered about the store. The boys’ mother, Carrie, was there to donate some of the 400 hours of "sweat equity" the family is required to contribute in addition to paying the interest-free mortgage held by the HDH. Carrie, a Stayner native, said she was acting on a suggestion from her mother when she filled out an application for HFH consideration. After three interviews and months of hoping, she got the call that meant she would finally get a home for her family. "The Habitat for Humanity logo is absolutely perfect for us," Carrie said. "It’s not a handout it’s a hand up." Stressing that she’s not looking for charity, Carrie said, "I don’t want that. That’s not me. I want to work." "We will be paying a mortgage," she said, "but it is set up to make it attainable." A conventional mortgage was something "the banks said I couldn’t have because a sole support parent is considered a high risk," she said. "I would have to come up with a 10 percent down payment." The HDH holds two mortgages on the property, explained director Ralph Sneyd. The first represents the costs of land and materials that go into the home construction, although most of these costs are donated. The second represents the value of donated labour, plus the difference between the hard costs and the estimated market value as determined by a real estate appraiser. After they pay off the first interest-free mortgage, the homeowners are not required to pay the second. It is held by HDH, Sneyd explained, only to ensure that the owners do not sell the home unless it is sold back to HDH for a price representing the actual cost plus interest. That way, the HDH can provide the home to another family needing housing. Built by some of the 350 volunteers of the South Georgian Bay affiliate of HFH, the house is to take shape Aug. 8 to 15. Following a June groundbreaking, the foundation will be laid and the walls prefabricated, Sneyd said. The Lohnes should be able to move in by Thanksgiving. The name of the other family chosen for the Stayner duplex had not been announced by press time. For Devlyn, good grades in school also count toward the sweat equity, he explained, as does time spent in any volunteer activity by his cadet corps. "The whole family needs to be involved," said another director and affiliate secretary, Anne Marie Wright. "We’re concerned about the whole family, that they’re comfortable." "That’s the way to put it – comfortable," Carrie agreed. "We will be first time homeowners and it’s a relief to find out that they (HFH  volunteers) don’t just leave you alone," Carrie said, adding that the whole process is not so daunting when there is someone there to provide guidance. "We enter into an agreement," Wright said. "It’s like a mini-marriage." Income from the Collingwood ReStore, along with corporate and private donations and receipts of fund-raising activities, provides money to build the homes. "Monies raised here (in this area) stay here," said Wright. All of the labour and many of the materials are donated. Carrie had applied previously for an HFH home built in Wasaga Beach but was not chosen at that time. She explained that she had been working only two days a week and would not have been able to handle the mortgage payments The Lohnes family "shone so well that the interviewers remembered them," Wright recalled. Carrie is now working full time as a 911 dispatcher in Collingwood. Of the HFH organization, Carrie said, "it’s phenomenal. It all started with a man who had a dream." That man was Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity International, who passed away in February. His life and work were celebrated at a ceremony in Atlanta, Georgia on March 14, 2009. Anyone wishing to know more about HFH and the home to be constructed at Sutherland Street and County Road 91 is invited to attend a meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wed., March 25 at the Clearview Community Church across from the Stayner Foodland.


Students get head start on trade certification

While not a completely new concept for Ontario, the carpentry apprenticeship program offered at Bradford District High School is the first of its kind in Simcoe County, Dan Barrett of the Local 27 Carpenters’ Union said. The apprenticeship program for Grade 12 students is a four-credit co-operative education course. It allows many students seeking to start a career in carpentry a head start on their apprenticeship for certification. “To be certified, it’s a three-part series,” Mr. Barrett said. “The students do their first part here in school and then are required to spend some time out in the field, before moving on to getting their Red Seal certification.” For many of the students in the class of 14 (with seven coming from Nantyr Shores Secondary School in Innisfil), it’s an opportunity to learn something outside the normal classroom structure and start their career goals a year earlier than many others, while still completing their high school education. For the carpenter’s union, it’s another way of ensuring people are using more certified workers in the labour force, Mr. Barrett said. “The students do not come out of this as a member of the union at all,” Mr. Barrett said. “When they are done, we will help them find work, either with a private practice or with union work. It is completely up to them what they want to do.” The course is about ensuring the students are given the proper skills to go out and join the workforce, something the construction business has not always done in the past, Mr. Barrett said. Carpentry is unlike any other skilled profession, as their is no license needed, unlike electrical work and plumbing. “Because we only have certification and are not a licensed trade, anyone can throw on a pouch and call themselves a carpenter,” Mr. Barrett said. “This is a way that we can ensure that those with a pouch are indeed skilled carpenters.” It’s a much different setting for most of the students in the class, who have spent years learning from a desk and reading off a chalkboard, Mr. Barrett said. “For many of these kids, they never would have gone to college or university,” Mr. Barrett said. “This gives them an opportunity to still get their education and start to work on their careers.” The students are essentially isolated from many of their peers in the school, with strict guidelines on how many hours are required throughout the semester. Each student can only miss 24 hours or they will lose out on the apprenticeship program. “I had one student who went away early for March break and now he is already down 11 hours,” Mr. Barrett said. “Not only that, but there is not a lot of time to get the projects done, as the class moves on without him and he is left to try and catch up.” As part of the apprenticeship program, students study the background of the trade, complete a machinery how-to course and safety certifications. They will also build an L-shaped wall. “The most important thing that they must learn is the discipline,” Mr. Barrett said. “If they are late more than six times, they will be removed from the program, much like they would on a site.” Teachers Sean Griffin and Jon Sweeny helped launch the program at the school. Mr. Sweeny is a certified carpenter and has worked hard in partnership with schools in the area to make the program known as one for the whole county, as it will accept students from any of the region’s schools. “A great deal of credit for our success needs to go to Glenda Galliford from Nantyr Shores,” Mr. Sweeny said. “She is a guidance counsellor there and has been a strong advocate for our program and promotes it very effectively.”


Snow Day across Simcoe

School buses across Simcoe County remained parked this morning thanks to another spring snowfall. The weather not only left children with a much appreciated snow day, it also created treacherous road conditions during the early morning commute. The snow is expected to continue into Tuesday with a high of -4 C.


Man jailed 61 days on multiple charges

Former B.C. resident Michael James O’Hara, 27, pleaded guilty from the prisoner’s box in the Collingwood Ontario Court of Justice Feb. 3 to several charges including disobeying a probation order, drive witth excess alcohol and failing to attend court. The defendant received 45 days behind bars for failing to show, with 16 further days on the breach and was fined $1,000 for blowing over the legal limit. Crown attorney Judy Bielefeld said as of July 1, 2003 the defendant had neglected to make $1,114 in restitution to the State Farm Insurance company from a prior conviction. On Oct. 11, 2003 Collingwood police made a traffic stop with O’Hara at the wheel. He later blew breathalyzer readings of 130 and 140 mg per cent said the Crown. The accused will be a prohibited driver for a year, with three months to pay the fine.


A vision in red

A young woman models a bright and beautiful gown before a packed audience at the Spring Extravaganza, held April 5 at the North Simcoe Sports and Recreation Centre. The show featured fashions and ideas for weddings, graduations and other special events.


ARC puts forward three recommendations

Members of the Accommodation Review Committee agreed to disagree Monday night. The committee, convened by the Simcoe County District School Board to come up with solutions regarding declining enrolment in the area, initially set out to come to a consensus on one solution but instead it is sending three recommendations to school board trustees. The 38-member committee first met one year ago. It set out to review high schools in Stayner, Collingwood, Elmvale, Penetanguishene and Midland and to make a suggestion about how to solve enrolment issues. Wasaga Beach was included in the process as a possible school site. Wasaga Beach does not have a high school and parents and politicians have been lobbying for one for many years. On Monday, the committee approved the three recommendations that will be presented to the board’s senior administrative staff this morning by committee co-chair and superintendent of education Janis Medysky. The recommendation that received the most support is a five-school scenario defined as status quo with upgrades. The committee recommends that all five existing high schools remain open and receive the renovations they require to properly serve the student population, whether its removing capacity in schools that have too few students or adding to schools that are over crowded and require facility upgrades. A second recommendation that was supported by three committee members is a four-school scenario that would see Elmvale District High School remain in operation, one high school remain in Midland and Penetanguishene with two schools to serve the catchment areas of Collingwood Collegiate Institute and Stayner Collegiate Institute. The scenario could include the construction of a high school in Wasaga Beach. A third recommendation supported by three committee members is a six-school scenario that would see all five existing high schools remain in operation and a school built in Wasaga Beach. The decision to finalize the three recommendations came right after a public meeting held Monday in the gymnasium of Stayner Collegiate Institute. More than 200 people attended the meeting, many coming to the microphone one by one for one-and-a-half hours to make a plea in support of Stayner Collegiate or voice their opinion that a high school in Wasaga Beach is long overdue. Educators said small schools have the highest graduation rate and politicians said Stayner Collegiate is pivotal to the community. People speaking on behalf of Wasaga Beach said they want their children to go to school in their own community and have a chance to reap all the benefits. Although the accommodation review committee was established to assess the physical structures of the schools – the bricks and mortar as it is often referred to – community members continually brought the discussion back to community and quality of student life. Throughout the process, Wasaga Beach and Clearview demonstrated their growth potential and community members defended their threatened schools as Clearview Township residents and politicians pleaded with the school board to protect their school and not allow Wasaga Beach to construct a school at the expense of theirs. "There is no reason a community of 16,000 should lose its school so a community of 16,000 can have one," said one Grade 11 student at Stayner Collegiate. With a lot of public support voiced for the five-school status quo scenario, Shawn Davidson, a Clearview Township municipal councillor who operates businesses in Stayner and Wasaga Beach, asked the committee after the public meeting if members would consider voting to reprioritize the recommendations. He said the committee could distance itself from the four-school scenario a little further by strengthening its support for the six-school scenario. Stayner Collegiate teacher Jared Singleton asked the committee to consider putting only the five-school recommendation to school trustees, saying the committee came close to a consensus on the option than members ever thought they would and it received a clear majority. But the committee did not vote on Monday night except to finalize its draft report containing three recommendations. The report will go to a special facility standing committee meeting on Apr. 14 and a special board meeting on May 14. The public is allowed to make scheduled delegations at both meetings by contacting Rita England at 734-6363. School trustees are expected to make a final decision on June 17.