Penetanguishene bans sale of bottled water at arena

Visitors to the Penetanguishene Arena looking for an ice-cold bottle of water are going to have to rely on other beverages to quench their thirst. Town council has approved a recreation and cultural services section recommendation for the renewal of a contract with Coca-Cola for a five-year term. Included in the recommendation is a stipulation that the arena’s snack bar be informed that bottled water is to be removed from the items for sale. “We were renewing our contract with either Coke or Pepsi this year, and (that meant) signing up for a five-year deal,” Coun. Dan LaRose told The Mirror. “Knowing what’s coming down from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) … a request to all municipalities to not sell bottled water in municipal facilities … we wanted to include that in our new contract. ” LaRose said although the recommendations from FCM and AMO have yet to come before council for a vote, not modifying the contract now would have made it difficult to ban bottled water for the next five years. LaRose added if council decides to ban the sale of bottled water in all municipally run facilities, it will have to come up with a healthy alternative to soft drinks. “You don’t want to say to a kid … “No, you can’t go have a bottle of water, but you can have a can of pop.’ That’s kind of wrong,” he said, adding a possible solution could be selling inexpensive Town of Penetanguishene water bottles that can be refilled for free at a water fountain. Despite considerable dissent and publicity in Midland regarding the issue, LaRose said Penetanguishene’s decision had nothing to do with its neighbour’s recent discussions to ban bottled water. “(There) was not one mention of it. Not one person even batted an eye,” he said. “(We) just included it in the contract for the sake of it being there because it would be harder to take it out later.” [email protected]


Tornados win OMHA Spirit of Hockey contest

TNT Tornados Minor Hockey Association has won the grand prize for the Spirit of Hockey contest. TNT entered the contest earlier this year to help celebrate the Ontario Minor Hockey Association’s (OMHA) 75th anniversary. As the winning association, TNT fundraising director Sandra Castelijn said the group wins a $7,500 credit for OMHA programming, and barbecue for up to 5,000 people, up to 500 passes for players to the Hockey Hall of Fame and a visit from an NHL alumni. The club also gets a Hometown Hockey Spirit Contest banner, a commemorative print from Frameworth and TNT will be recognized at the OMHA annual general meeting. She said the approximate retail value of the contest is $10,000. For TNT’s entry it held a skate-a-thon fundraiser in January. At the event players sang happy birthday to the OMHA on the ice and served anniversary cake. Players also wrote 500 word essays about their hometown hockey spirit, passion for hockey, and example of how TNT has demonstrated sportsmanship or how the association celebrated the OMHA’s anniversary. Castelijn said she has just received word that TNT won the grand prize. More information will be available soon.


Knight’s blind sided by council’s decision

The future of a proposed expansion to a Highway 26 location for the Knights’ Home Building Centre is now up in the air after Meaford council passed a bylaw dictating take-it-or-leave-it financial terms for a development agreement with Knights’ at Monday night’s regular council meeting. Knights’ representatives Scott and Tyler Knight were caught completely off guard when council passed a bylaw dictating the terms of a development agreement for the Knights’ proposal. The bylaw passed by council will force Knights’ to pay – up front – in excess of $110,000 for municipal servicing requirements at the new location. The Knights’ proponents were stunned when council passed the bylaw at Monday’s meeting without even discussing the report during its committee of the whole session. Neither Tyler or Scott Knight addressed the situation during council’s public question period earlier in the night because they had been told by municipal staff they would have an opportunity to present their case during committee of the whole. Only as the meeting appeared to be coming to a conclusion – with council preparing to move -in-camera to discuss an unrelated topic – did the Knights’ speak. "We were blind-sided tonight," Tyler told council. "We were told by your staff we would get a chance to speak and plead our case," he told council. Earlier in the meeting council rammed through a development agreement bylaw in a 6-1 recorded vote that will force the Knights’ to pay the municipality more than $110,000 for future servicing. The municipality has not provided any guarantees when servicing will be extended to the new Knights’ location on Highway 26. Only councillor Gerald Shortt voted against the bylaw. Councillor Jim McPherson asked if the Knights’ were satisfied with the agreement. In response Mayor Francis Richardson said the municipality is satisfied. "We’ve come to what we believe is a fair agreement," said Richardson. Tyler and Scott Knight said they were both caught completely off guard when the agreement was not discussed during the committee of the whole portion of the meeting. "I thought the direction (at the last meeting) was to talk to us and listen to us. There have been no negotiations. It’s all been one-sided. Our lawyer was told what has been decided," Scott Knight told council. "I feel like this was done behind our backs to get it over with," he added. Mayor Richardson made it clear council was not going to negotiate the situation with Knights’ any further. "It’s a bylaw now. What happens from that point I don’t know. Council has passed a bylaw and we now look for your reaction," said the Mayor. "That’s as fair as we can be," he said. Only councillor Gerald Shortt opposed the dictated bylaw. "It’s wrong to do what we did tonight. It’s a pretty good slam (for Knights’)," said Shortt. Scott Knight asked council to provide a copy of the guidelines it used to arrive at the $110,000 servicing costs Knights’ will be required to pay. After the meeting both Tyler and Scott told The Express they will have to carefully consider all their options in light of council’s decision. Scott Knight said not going forward with the proposed expansion is possible. "It’s obviously an option, but that’s still the best place for us. We wouldn’t have bought the property if it wasn’t," he said, noting that an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board is possible, but unlikely due to the expense of such a venture. "To me the town is supposed to work with us. It seems to me that it was their objective to get the highest amount of money out of us they could," he said. He said he couldn’t comment on what the company’s next move on will be. "We have shareholders we need to talk to and update," he said. Both Tyler and Scott said they have never disputed that their development will have to help pay to have services extended to that area of the town. He said they are being asked to pay over $100,000 up front with no guarantee when services will be installed. "They can’t even tell us when the services are coming. It could be 10 years or 20 years," he said. Tyler Knight told The Express a lot had changed at the council table in a short time. "Two months ago (council) was adamant that agreement wouldn’t even come before council unless we had signed it," he said.


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.


Area real estate shows improvement: Board

The Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board says March brought forth improved property showing and sales activity throughout the region. The board says that in the most active price range – homes up to $249,000 – there was “an increase in the number of instances where multiple or competing offers were present.” The board says that, “low interest rates, a wide selection of properties available to choose from and stable pricing have many buyers realizing now is the time to buy.” Still, the board says the number of real estate listings is down for the first quarter of 2009 when compared with the same period a year ago. There were 1,317 listings between January and the end of March, compared to 1,342 last year. The board says the number of sales for the first quarter was 238, compared to 394 in 2008. The corresponding total dollar sales was $55-million, compared to $105-million for the first quarter last year. A breakdown by price range reveals that 168 listings were sold in the first quarter in the up to $249,000 range, compared to 243 a year ago. In the 250,000 to $499,000 range, 56 sales occurred, compared to 124 during the first quarter of 2008. In the $500,000 to $1-million range, there were 13 sales, compared to 21 a year ago. In the $1-million and up rage, there has only been one sale the first quarter of this year, compared to six a year ago. The Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board is comprised of agents from across the Georgian Triangle.


Pressure on Liberal budget to deliver

Ontario’s Finance Minister, Dwight Duncan, will deliver his government’s much-anticipated provincial budget on Thursday and area officials will be watching closely to see what goodies it contains. Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson told The Stayner Sun he will be looking for the Liberals to deliver several key things for Ontarians, who are struggling to survive the economic downturn. For starters, Wilson said the government should implement a three-month sales tax holiday for the purchase of new cars. He said the move would help people wanting to buy a new vehicle and aid the automotive industry. Continuing on the vehicle theme, Wilson said the government should introduce an incentive to get old cars off the road. He suggested a $2,000 rebate towards the purchase or lease of a new car, when an older vehicle – say 10 years or more – is turned in. He said the move would stimulate the economy and help the environment. As well, the Conservative MPP said the government should "implement broad-based relief to Ontario businesses, including, but not limited to, moving the corporate tax rate down from 14 per cent to 10 per cent. Doing so means all provinces in Canada have the same rate, which would result in Canada having the lowest corporate taxes in the G8. Other provinces are doing it. We should too." The Liberals would also be wise to implement a retail sales tax holiday on hotels and attractions to promote Ontario tourism, a move that would benefit everywhere, Wilson said. Another smart move the government could make would be to introduce a "five per cent annual cap on property assessment increases and send MPAC assessors back into the field immediately to bring assessments inline with actual property values," Wilson said. In other areas, Wilson said he would like to see the government fast track the Highway 26 redevelopment and start planning for the highway to be redeveloped all the way to Barrie. He also wants to see the government "introduce an initiative to immediately begin [building] new long-term care beds throughout Simcoe and Grey counties to bring the exceptionally high waiting lists down." Clearview Township Mayor Ken Ferguson said he wants the budget to provide funding for municipal infrastructure but also for other areas. "There are bigger things than just infrastructure [money] for municipalities," he told The Stayner Sun. "Farmers, entrepreneurs, small business owners – they all need help right now. All of these groups interest me." Despite wanting the Liberal government to loosen its purse strings, Ferguson said he questions whether such a move will have any long-term impact on the struggling economy, a thought he said many others are mulling over. "You can throw money at a lot of things but what if it doesn’t work? What about next year and the year after that?" Ferguson said that whatever funding the government does announce with Thursday’s budget, it needs to make sure the details are communicated. "Show people how you’re going to do things. Tell them. Don’t dribble out announcement after announcement after the budget for the next four or six weeks," he said. "Whatever you’re doing, get the information out on the street fast so people can start accessing things." He said Clearview has lots of projects on which it could spend provincial dollars. He said funds could be put towards improving another bridge in the municipality. Also, funds could be used to rebuild Nottawasaga Concession 10, to County Road 91 – a project that Ferguson said will cost $3-million to $4-million. Clearview could also use money to help pay for the new emergency centre hub – a facility that will house the fire department, police and ambulance – on the eastern edge of Stayner. And, he said, funding could also be put towards the new library branch that’s needed in Stayner. "We have lots of spots where we can spend money," the mayor said. Premier Dalton McGuinty announced Monday that his government will spend $27.5-billion on roads, schools, hospitals and public transit over the next two years in an effort to create 300,000 new jobs. McGuinty said the huge infrastructure investment – which he said will be detailed in Thursday’s budget – will be topped up with another $5-bilion from the federal government. Finance Minister Duncan has indicated that this week’s budget will include a deficit of about $18-billion over two years. Doug Mills is on Clearview Township’s economic development committee. He said he expects the Liberal budget to focus on helping the automotive industry because of its huge presence in Ontario. "Help for small and medium size business – I’m not holding my breath. You’ve got to remember tax revenues are down," Mills said. He added that with more Ontarians out of work and an aging population, the government might focus attention on health care and education. Debbie Kesheshian is the executive director of the United Way of South Georgian Bay, an agency that helps fund various social organizations and programs. She said the budget should include funding for an array of social programs, in particular the Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy. "It’s fine to have these strategies but they need to be funded," she said. The strategy, announced in 2008, aims to reduce youth poverty by 25 per cent in five years, Kesheshian said. She said the Liberals should present a budget that does more to help the disabled and unemployed. And the budget should include stipulations that allow for more tax benefits for people and corporations that are donating to charities. The Liberals should also invest in proven charitable organizations. Kesheshian said charitable organizations can often deliver services and programs far more cost effectively than government. A budget that included more Ontario child benefits and an increased minimum wage would also be helpful, she said.


Easter ritual

The Huronia and District Ministerial Association began its Walk of the Cross at about noon Friday, making its way through Midland’s downtown core and stopping at various locations, including the cenotaph, where participants bowed their heads in prayer and reflection. The group ended its Easter walk at the flagpole in Little Lake Park.


Another breakthrough in cold murders

Police have made another breakthrough in a 41-year-old murder investigation with local ties. Using facial reconstruction technology police in 2006 released busts of the remains of two men found naked and bound in rural areas in the late 1960s. One of the bodies was found in a farmer’s field on the 17th Sideroad near the 3rd Line of New Tecumseth. Relatives of a young man, who had been missing since the late 1960s, recognized the bust and called police. Now relatives of the second victim have come forward and that body too has been positively identified. The first breakthrough came late in 2006, shortly after the release of the busts. Family members of a teen, who had been missing since 1967 provided DNA samples, and the remains found near Schomberg were positively identified as belonging to Richard Hovey. Police believed Hovey’s murder was connected to another unsolved homocide near Coboconk, Ontario. The identity of the second victim was  announced yesterday. It belongs to Eric Jones, who was also reported missing from Toronto in 1967. The body was discovered by a hunter in Balsam Lake Provincial Park later that year. "It’s huge. Now that we have the victim (Jones) we can now start filling in the blanks," said OPP Sgt. Pierre Chamberland. Police originally linked the two murders because of the similarities of the crime scenes. Both bodies were found naked, with bound wrists. Hovey’s body was found with his wrists tied together by a shoelace. When Jones’ body was found, there was a three-metre length of twine tied in a noose near his wrists. Along with the similar nature of the deaths, Hovey and Jones are also connected by similar circumstances – both were living in downtown Toronto at the times of their disappearances. Hovey, who was about 17 at the time of his disappearance, had moved to Toronto from Fredericton, N.B. to pursue a music career, police said. He was last seen getting into a Chevrolet Corvair with a muscular black man. Police are now hopeful that people who knew Jones will come forward with more information about him. Police also say the murders could be linked to a similar one in Markham in the late 1970s. The bones of a man were found in a wooded area there in 1980. The body, which was found with clothes nearby, was believed to have been there for a couple of years. The remains of that man are still unidentified. Police say the three murders are similar to two solved cases from 1967. That summer, two young men were picked up in downtown Toronto, and taken to rural areas where they were attacked, police said. One man was found dead, while another was still alive when he was found in a field near Barrie. James Henry Greenidge was convicted for manslaughter and attempted murder in those cases. After serving about 10 years in prison, he was released. He moved to western Canada, where he was later convicted in the rape and murder of a woman there. He is currently serving a life-sentence for those crimes, but is now eligible for parole. Police have called Greenidge "a person of interest," in the Hovey-Jones murders. "He was an active sexual predator in 1967 that lived in downtown Toronto," said Chamberland. Anyone who has any information about the victims or the case is asked to call police at 1-888-310-1122. -With files from Metroland North Media and Torstar