Probation for wallet theft

A 40-year-old Collingwood man entered a guilty plea Apr. 14 to the offence of theft under $5,000, receiving a suspended sentence as 12 months on probation. Craig Fawcett was also ordered to pay $200 restitution to the victim within seven days. Crown attorney Paul Billington told the court that on Dec. 22, 2008, Collingwood officers were called by the Meridian Credit Union on Ste. Marie Street about a customer’s stolen wallet. The complainant allegedly "set the wallet down while doing business" before Fawcett snatched and and concealed it . Examination of the bank’s video surveillance ultimately showed the accused wearing a blue ski jacket as he committed the crime. "Did he get away with the wallet?" asked Mr. Justice Roland Harris. "Yes", replied the Crown. "Did the victim get any of it back?" "Not yet," said the prosecutor. Fawcett can’t be near the Credit Union or the victim, and he was ordered to write a letter of apology to the latter within the week.


Funds for daycare

A daycare being displaced from OPP Headquarters will own the new building that will serve as its home, thanks to a $1.4 million gift from the province. “No landlord will ever be able to shut us down again,” said Lucille Desjardins, director of Treasure Island Daycare. Desjardins has learned the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is committing $1.4 million toward the construction of a new facility in West Ridge. “They are putting up the bricks and mortar,” she said. The announcement followed months of uncertainty, as the non-profit daycare sought to secure funding based on a commitment of support from the Minister of Children and Youth Services. Desjardins persisted with regular e-mails to the government and the media, determined to keep the issue front and centre. This week she learned that another ministry would instead provide the all-important funding. “We are very, very happy,” she said. The $1.4 million grant will be administered through the County of Simcoe, but falls $300,000 short of the total building cost. As a result, the daycare will finish the basement on its own and cover a portion of the start-up costs, Desjardins added. Officials are now working with builder Angelo Orsi to determine a construction timeline, saying the funding delay will push the opening date to November or December. The daycare was to leave OPP Headquarters by the end of June. “We will need an extension, and the ministries are prepared to deal with that without my having to go to the (the province),” Desjardins added. “I am very happy about that.” The daycare serves more than 120 clients and has another 100 families on a waiting list. In September it was ordered to vacate OPP Headquarters by Jan. 31 following a security review, but won an extension after daycare officials made public their concerns. The new, 8,500 square foot facility will be named the West Ridge Early Education Centre. It will sit on a two-acre property west of Highway 11, along Harvie Settlement Road.


Midland police get three per cent pay hike

After months of contract negotiations, Midland police officers will be receiving a three per cent pay hike. After talks stalled and the two sides were forced to go before a conciliator, the Midland Police Services Board and the Midland Police Association came to an agreement and finalized a new contract on March 24. Board chair Rob McKenzie said the only change in the new contract was a three per cent wage increase for the three-year contract – which is retroactive to 2008 and extends to the end of 2010. “Other than that, there were no dollar increases in any other areas,” he said, adding there were also some language changes that don’t affect the contract, as well as some small changes for clarification. The holdup, he acknowledged, was a proposed change in vacation time. Midland police officers work 12-hour shifts for four days, and had wanted to keep the vacation program currently in place, which is tied to that 48-hour workweek. The board had been trying to change it to a 40-hour week. “(The Midland Police Service has) a different vacation schedule than most other services in the province. We were trying to bring us in line with that,” McKenzie said, adding the board had offered an extensive package of fringe benefits, but they were ultimately withdrawn. “We felt it came out OK as far as the community is concerned. In light of the economic situation, the average is around three per cent increase for police services,” he said. “We have a great police service in town and a very dedicated personnel, and the leadership is excellent.” McKenzie said the board and the rank-and-file officers are satisfied by the deal: “I have no reason to feel anyone was disgruntled about it.” Calls to police association president Sgt. Mike Burrows were not returned. [email protected]


Merging the sales tax could get costly

Harmonizing the federal and provincial sales tax that was proposed by the Ontario government in its budget Thursday could cost the average family $3,000 per year, according to Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson. The proposed budget gives Ontario a $3.9 billion deficit for 2008-2009 and a $14.1 billion in 2009-2010. It also projects the next balanced budget in Ontario will be 2015-2016. Wilson said it’s not the right time to be merging the provincial and federal sales tax, which would create on 13 per cent sales tax. There are some exemptions from the new tax, such as children’s clothing and car seats, and new homes under $400,000. But fast food under meals under $4, haircuts and gasoline are among the items and services that will cost more with a harmonized tax. To help people adjust to the taxes, a tax relief will be handed out over three years to low and middle-income people. Families with an income less than $160,000 would get three payments of $1,000. Single people with an income less than $80,000 would get three payments of $300. The payments would be made in June 2010, December 2010 and June 2011. Wilson noted that the final payment comes right before the next provincial election. "People will see through the fact that he’s trying to bribe us with our own money," said Wilson. The sales tax isn’t the only thing not sitting well with Wilson. Aside from a corporate tax cut, which has the rates going from 14 per cent to 10 per cent by 2013, there is little that satisfies Wilson in the budget. For Simcoe-Grey, Wilson said there is no commitment to create more long-term care beds, nor is there help for hospital expansions. The budget allows for some tax relief in manufacturing industry as a whole, but a provincial tax holiday Wilson and the Progressive Conservative caucus are pushing for on new car sales is absent. Wilson told The Connection before the budget that a tax holiday on new vehicles could help get cars off the dealerships lots and make room for more, which would help workers on the manufacturing factories. Wilson said a similar provincial tax holiday on accommodations would help promote tourism destinations like the Nottawasaga Inn Resort in Alliston or Blue Mountain in the north end of the riding. The budget does include infrastructure money, with $32.5 billion set aside for projects in the next two years. Wilson said there is no proof that anything has been done to remove the provincial red tape that holds up the infrastructure projects when municipalities try to get the work done. Other highlights of the budget include: • $32.5 billion for infrastructure projects over the next two years. • $1.2 billion to renovate 50,000 social housing units and build 4,500 new affordable housing units for low-income seniors and people with disabilities. • $400 million more in children’s benefits over the next three years. Low and middle-income families will receive up to $1,100 annually per child in Ontario Child Benefit payments starting in July. • $700 million over the next two years for new skills training and literacy initiatives, including enhancements to existing programs. • $4.5 billion in business tax cuts over three years.


Property home to commercial building

A public meeting held last Monday night regarding a property immediately east of The Beer Store on Main Street in Stayner shed little clue as to what will be situated on the site if developers get the go-ahead from Clearview Township. Clinton Stredwick, a planner with D.C. Slade Consultants Inc., a Collingwood firm representing the applicant, said the plan is to construct a one-storey commercial building. The property is owned by a Savvas Koundouros. “We’re trying to build a commercial building that a tenant can rent or take over,” Stredwick told Clearview council last Monday night. According to township documents, the building would be roughly 2,800 square feet. The parking lot on the property would have space for 16 vehicles, including one handicap spot, Stredwick said. The public meeting was held under the province’s Planning Act because the property requires a zoning bylaw amendment for the project to go ahead. The amendment, if approved, would rezone the property to general commercial exception three from general commercial. The change would impact setbacks, allow parking to be located in front of the building, permit snow storage to be located in the landscaping buffer area and reduce the front yard landscaping requirement. Rossalyn Workman, a planner for Clearview, gave an overview of the property at the start of the public meeting last week. She noted the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA) wants drainage and stormwater management issues on the site resolved before any approval is granted. Workman said the township is working on addressing the NVCA’s concerns. As well, she told council a neighbour has submitted a letter to the township, wanting a privacy fence built at the developer’s expense. Stredwick said he hasn’t spoken to the developer about the request for a fence but noted, “I can’t see it being a huge issue.” Michael Wynia, Clearview’s director of planning, was also at the meeting last week. He said that staff would do a thorough analysis of the application and bring a report back to council – one that recommends whether the zoning amendment should be approved or rejected.