Town refuses to reconsider Shelter Now decision

Midland council has decided against waiving development charges for Shelter Now, a 12-unit transitional housing project. Shelter Now officials had approached council in 2008 requesting fees for the project be waived. The town also received a letter late last year from the County of Simcoe indicating it would provide funding to offset county development charges to assist with the development, contingent on the town providing a similar contribution. When council decided earlier this year not to waive its portion of the fee, a Shelter Now benefactor advised he might reduce a separate financial pledge to the Midland Public Library by the amount of development charges levied against Shelter Now. Last week, Midland Mayor Jim Downer asked for direction on whether to bring a motion forward to the next regular council meeting to reconsider the original request. While some councillors appeared open to the idea, others said they couldn’t support such a motion. “I can’t see the taxpayers picking up the tab for it,” said Coun. Jack Charlebois. Coun. Zena Pendlebury agreed, saying the town simply does not have the funds. “We don’t have money to put into our own programs,” she said. “I would have difficulty supporting this – despite recognizing the importance of it – but it sends a message out there that, if you miscalculate, you can just come to us and we will fix it.” Development charges are merely part of the cost of doing business, added Coun. Judy Contin. “You just don’t find money in a budget if it’s not set aside for that reason,” she said. “I think Shelter Now will be quite successful, and I don’t think it’s fair for the people of Midland to pay out of their tax dollars for the development charges.” Coun. Gord McKay said if council feels social housing is important to the community, it should reconsider its earlier decision. “These people live on our streets,” he said. “Even though we don’t have an official responsibility … they’re still our brothers and sisters.” The request to bring a motion forward to the April 27 meeting was defeated. [email protected]


Grey County supports equestrian bid

Grey County council has endorsed an attempt by The Blue Mountains 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 Erika Engel


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.


Federal Health Minister in Owen Sound

Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq believes doctor recruitment and retention across the country is improving and will only get better. Aglukkaq was in Owen Sound last Thursday afternoon for a special public luncheon/reception organized by MP Larry Miller. Tickets were sold for the event with proceeds going towards local efforts to recruit doctors to the area. Aglukkaq, the first person of Inuit descent ever to be a member of the federal cabinet, was the guest of honour and speaker at the event. Aglukkaq is the Member of Parliament for Nunavut and she has first hand knowledge of the challenges in health care across the country. "I come from an outpost camp. We had no doctors, no nurses and no hospital. I understand the challenges rural communities face in delivering health care," she told reporters at the meeting. She stressed that health care solutions have to involve partnerships between all levels of government and said she is confident that recent investments in health care are making a difference. "I believe measurable improvements have been made. We have steadily increased medical school enrolments," she said. Aglukkaq said in 2007 there were 7,500 more practicing physicians across the country than a decade earlier. She also noted that the number of registered nurses in Canada has increased 12% over the same period. Aglukkaq said the recruitment and retention of health care professionals remains a challenge for jurisdictions across the country. She said the federal government is willing to participate in that process wherever it can. "Every jurisdiction is challenged with recruitment. What we’re looking at is: how can we improve the system so it’s easier for nurses to go back and forth between provinces? How can we make it easier for doctors to return to our country? Those challenges are still there, but we are improving," she said. During her speech Aglukkaq emphasized long-term planning in health care, cooperation between governments, promotion of healthy lifestyles to advance the cause of prevention and the use of emerging technology to link the health care network across the country. "Technology is the great equalizer for our health care system," she said. Aglukkaq has one of the most interesting career biographies of any current federal cabinet minister. Prior to entering federal politics she represented the district of Nattilik in the Nunavut Legislative Assembly. She served as territorial Minister of Finance and House Leader. She also held the post of Minister of Health and Social Services. She has a wide range of experience across the political spectrum. "In Nunavut we spent $50 million transporting patients before we treated them," she noted, explaining that every community in the north is connected to Tele Health to allow medical records to be accessed instantly. She advocates getting Tele Health in place across Canada. "E-health is not the way of the future, it’s the way of today. We must complete the construction of the system. The federal government is listening to the concerns that are out there and based on what we’re hearing we’re acting," she said. The Minister enjoyed a lunch prepared by the Green Door Café in Wiarton. Local growers and producers donated the majority of the food served at the reception. The meeting, which included attendance from several area Mayors and the wardens of Grey and Bruce counties, was Aglukkaq’s first opportunity to visit the local area. "There is a great natural beauty to this area and you have relatively mild winters – at least compared to my riding," she joked. Following the luncheon Minister Aglukkaq was scheduled to sit down with local doctors in a round table discussion to hear their concerns. MP Larry Miller said he invited the Minister to visit the riding to speak about health care issues some months ago and he was thrilled when she agreed. "I feel very honoured that she accepted my invitation. We wanted to keep her busy the entire day she is here," he said. The visit from Aglukkaq is the third visit to Miller’s riding by a high profile cabinet minister during the past several weeks.


Howard steals Brier win

There won’t be a police investigation, but Glenn Howard was guilty of theft on Thursday morning in Calgary. Facing yet another possible loss at the Tim Hortons Brier Men’s Curling Championships, Howard and his Coldwater and District Curling Club foursome made out like bandits against the Mark Dacey rink from Nova Scotia. With the game tied at 6-6 after eight ends and Dacey holding last rock advantage in the ninth, Dacey missed on his final shot of the end, thereby delivering three points to Howard, the three-time world champion. Holding the three-point cushion, Howard and teammates Richard Hart, Brent Laing and Craig Savill ran Dacey’s rink out of rocks in the final end and registered the 9-6 win. The victory over Dacey improved Ontario’s record at the Brier to 9-1 in round-robin play. With Dacey scheduled to take on Kevin Martin’s Alberta rink on Thursday afternoon, Howard needed the win to keep pace with Martin, who was at 9-0. A win over Martin in Thursday evening’s showdown and the Howard rink can still claim first place in the standings and the all-important last-rock advantage in the weekend playoffs. Howard’s battle with Dacey was a seesaw affair throughout, with the lead changing numerous times. As he has been doing in recent games at the Brier, Howard and his Coldwater foursome fell behind early, 2-0 to Dacey after one end, but rebounded with two points of their own in the second end. Dacey then jumped back out to a 3-2 lead in the third end, before Howard responded with one point of his own in the fourth end to tie the game at 3-3. Dacey grabbed a single point in the fifth end to retake the lead at 4-3, before Howard countered with two points of his own to pull into a 5-4 lead after six ends. In the seventh end, Dacey scored two to pull in front 6-5, followed by a single point from Howard in the eighth end to tie the game at 6-6. That set the stage for the three-point steal by Howard for the win. Ontario and Alberta have secured playoff berths for the weekend action, while teams including Newfound/Labrador and New Brunswick continued to fight it out for the remaining playoff berths on Thursday afternoon.


Over $100,000 in drugs seized in Alliston Raid

A drug raid by police in Alliston last night (Thurs., April 16) netted more than $100,000 in illegal drugs and two arrests. Nottawasaga OPP’s Street Crime Unit teamed up with the OPP’s Central Drug Unit and executed a search warrant on the apartment located on Church Street North in Alliston at 8:45 p.m. last night. Police seized just over two hundred marijuana plants in various stages of growth with a potential street value of $500 dollars per plant; 16 grams of cocaine with a street value of $1,600 along with a small amount of cash and growing equipment. Arrested and charged are two Alliston men, a 24-year-old and a 23-year-old. Charges include production of marijuana, possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of cocaine. Both accused were released on promise to appear’s for court in June in Bradford. Police ask anyone with information relating to any crime to contact the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).


A healthy show

Lory MacDonald of Nottawa, a painter who runs art classes, at her booth at Clearview Township’s Health and Leisure Showcase on Saturday at the Stayner Community Centre. The event was an opportunity for locals to learn what recreational opportunities are available in the municipality.