Simcoe County Council Notes

More Seniors Wait Longer For Housing As of Dec. 31, 2008, the County of Simcoe had 3,224 families on the waiting list for assisted housing, which is down slightly from 2007’s 3,317 families. However, although applications fell last year, the number of seniors rose; the older residents made up 25 per cent of the waitlist. Their number has grown to 787, up from 566 in 2005. Seniors waited on average 3.2 years, while singles waited 2.3 years and families 1.5 years. Demand for housing rose in Elmvale, Stayner and Wasaga Beach. WiFi Traffic Up At Libraries Almost 600 people accessed wireless internet at Simcoe County libraries in December. The highest usage was recorded in libraries in Tay Township, where 159 people logged onto the service. County Museum Cashes In The Simcoe County Museum saw its donations rise almost $104,000 in 2008; donations totaled $161,775. The museum’s strategy features more grassroots public relations and appearances at lower-tier municipal events to raise awareness and donations.


Francophone group says ‘merci’ for funding

A Penetanguishene organization will use $17,000 in federal funding to stage a series of performances called La Vague francophone avec Franco-Simcoe. “La Clé d’la Baie en Huronie is pleased with the support of the Government of Canada, which allows us to offer Simcoe’s francophone community a variety of cultural performances,” Peter Hominuk, director general of La Clé d’la Baie, stated in a press release. “This funding will provide francophones in our community with access to quality French-language performances that they would not otherwise have a chance to experience.” Simcoe North MP Bruce Stanton announced the funding Tuesday on behalf of James Moore, minister of Canadian heritage and official languages. “I am very pleased that our government is working with La Clé d’la Baie en Huronie to ensure that our francophone communities are able to share and express their rich cultural heritage,” said Stanton. La Clé d’la Baie is a francophone cultural association devoted to promoting the French language and culture, and enhancing the cultural life of the minority francophone community in Simcoe County. The funding was made through the Arts Presentation Canada Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage. This program gives Canadians increased access to the nation’s culture through arts festivals, live performances and other artistic experiences.


Teen steals then crashes pickup truck

Teen steals then crashes truck A 16-year-old Beeton teen is facing charges of theft over $5,000 after stealing and then crashing a pickup truck Friday. A Second Street resident in Beeton called police to report a truck had driven into a tree on their front lawn at about 11 p.m. two males running from the scene. The next morning, the owners of the 2001 black GMC reported to police the vehicle had been stolen from their Dayfoot Street home in Beeton. Further investigation identified a local 16-year-old male as the culprit who had allegedly stolen and crashed the vehicle. The young offender, who cannot be named, is charged with Theft over $5,000, and three counts of Breach of Probation. Electronics and booze stolen Electronics and booze were stolen from a Beeton residence after a break-in some time Thursday night or Friday. Police were called at about 7:40 p.m. Friday, after the Smyth Crescent resident noticed the break-in. An Acer Espire 5500 laptop computer and a Bell HTC touch phone were stolen. The computer has a 15-inch monitor, silver sides and a black top. It has a gauge out of the right side, and is valued at $899. The phone is worth $399, police said. There was also an assortment of alcohol missing, including Woody’s cooler, Inniskillin wine, and other ice wine of various brands. Footprints found at the scene indicate there might be two suspects, police said. It is believed they left through a side patio door, before exiting through the back of the property. An OPP crime scene investigator took photographs of the prints. Statue Grabbed A 40-centimetre resin statue was stolen from the front lawn of a Darling Crescent in Alliston Sunday. Police were called just before 4 p.m. after a resident noticed someone had stolen the statue, which was of a girl. It is about 7 kilograms. The resident said there have been several small thefts on the street recently. Can’t Find It Anywhere An Angus resident woke up Sunday morning to find their GPS unit stolen from their car. The car was parked at the resident’s house on Tree Top Street. Missing is a Garmin Nuvi 200 GPS unit, valued at $250. There was also a plug and play North American map card, which is used the system, stolen from the car. The map card is valued at $150. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.


Snowarama raises $9,000-plus

The Snowarama for Easter Seals Kids event in Clearview Township on Jan. 31 raised more than $9,000. Event spokesperson Charlene Myke made the announcement last week, saying that in total the event brought in $9,570. The annual event involves snowmobilers in the area collecting pledges and then going for a ride on their machines. The fundraiser, which includes events province-wide, was founded in 1975 by Whipper Billy Watson, a famous Canadian wrestler from the 1940s to the 1970s. The money that’s raised allows Easter Seals to help physically disabled children by providing them with funds to purchase mobility devices such as wheelchairs. Easter Seals, founded in 1922 by a handful of Rotary clubs, also runs summer camps and other recreational programs for youth with disabilities. The Blue Mountain Snowdrifters, the local chapter of the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs and the Collingwood Progress Club, presented the local event. Sledders traveled on trails maintained by the club. The event was based in a parking lot off Nottawasaga Sideroad 33/34. Participants included Clearview Township mayor Ken Ferguson, a long-time snowmobiler. The mayor said he’s taken part in the fundraiser for roughly 20 years.


CAW greeted with hostility at Honda plant

One of Canada’s largest labour unions was met with open hostility by Honda workers after picketers set up outside the Alliston plants today. Members from the Canadian Auto Workers union were outside the Honda of Canada Mfg. plant entrances during the afternoon shift change handing out information leaflets and looking for support. While most Honda workers leaving the plant simply kept their windows rolled up, some yelled insults and obscenities at the picketers. "You already put Ford and Chrysler out of work," one man yelled as he drove by. Another woman shouted to the picketers to "go home." Some Honda workers opened their windows and took the leaflets, while a few honked their horns. CAW representatives said the picket was to inform Honda workers of the difficulties autoworkers are currently facing. They want them to back the CAW as it fights cuts in the sector caused by the current recession. "It’s a solidarity message from the CAW with respect to what’s going on in the auto industry, the cause of it, and that it’s affecting all auto workers, not just GM, Ford, (and) Chrysler, but Honda and Toyota as well," said Dan MacPherson, of the CAW. The union had also scheduled information pickets outside the Toyota plants in southern Ontario. While Honda is not unionized, the CAW argues in the leaflet that wages and benefits of unionized employees have a direct impact on those of Honda workers. Karen Clark is part of the CAW Local 222 and works at the General Motors plant in Oshawa. She made the trip to Alliston for the picket. She said the media, among others, has given the public the impression that the union is to blame for the current financial trouble of the Big Three automakers. She suspects that’s part of the reason some Honda associates were acting hostile. "It’s a scary time for people, because they don’t know where to turn," she said. "If you actually look at the facts, I could work for free now and it wouldn’t sell another car." As Honda associates rolled into a local Tim Hortons after their shift, the reaction was a little more muted. Most didn’t want to comment on the picket. One man said the union was wasting its time and that the CAW doesn’t have a place in Honda. Another woman said she wasn’t allowed to talk about it. The issues for the CAW include layoffs, wage reductions, and recent reports that the province doesn’t have the money to back private pension plans should General Motors, or any of the Big Three automakers, file for bankruptcy protection. Ontario’s Pension Benefit Guarantee Fund provides pensioners with up to $1,000 a month if a private plan falters. Premier Dalton McGuinty said last week there was not enough money in the fund to cover pensions should GM  go bankrupt. The fund is currently worth about $100 million. If that happens, the CAW argues, retirees from all sectors across the province could find themselves in financial jeopardy. The union is staging a large rally at Queen’s Park April 23 to push the government to do more to guarantee workers’ pensions. Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan has said the province’s priority is to work with GM to make sure the situation never gets that far. Honda in Alliston had no comment on the union action. Honda communications spokesperson Colin Fisher wouldn’t release any details regarding Honda’s pension plan, but he said there have been no changes to it during the economic turbulence of the past six months. Honda has however significantly cut production in the past months, cancelling the Plant 2 afternoon shift, buying out all temporary worker contracts, and at times cutting production to four days a week. -With files from Torstar


Bye-bye pesticides

This week’s wild winter weather may have pushed away thoughts of gardening and lawn care, but consumers will also find a drastically different landscape when they shop for pesticide products later this month. Retail shelves have been stripped of many familiar brands and labels to comply with Ontario’s new cosmetic pesticide ban, which takes effect, appropriately, on April 22, Earth Day. Birth defects, prostate cancer, asthma, developmental delays, Parkinson’s, nervous system disruption and immuno-toxicity have all been linked to pesticide use. In 1991, the tiny town of Hudson, Que., became the first municipality to pass a bylaw banning the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes. After a decade of legal battles, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the municipality’s right to implement the ban. Ontario’s legislation was passed into law March 4. It bans more than 250 pesticides and replaces a patchwork of municipal bylaws, meaning homeowners, landscapers, retailers and lawn-care companies will all be treated equally wherever they are in the province. Although it’s likely to create some initial confusion, Bill Norman of Norman’s Garden Gallery said, “We think it’s a move in the right direction. I believe it can be done. You can have a very abundant garden and lawn (without the banned chemical pesticides). We have to learn new methods and techniques.” There is still a bit of confusion, said Norman, and the timing of the ban didn’t help. “The only negative thing from our point of view is we’ve got some inventory we’ve now got to dispose of,” he said, noting it will have to be handled as hazardous waste. They’re also dealing with supplies that have already been shipped to the store this spring. “The government left it rather late, and so we’re working with our suppliers as we’ve received supplies of products that are now banned.” Despite those bumps along the road, Norman said it’s sometimes necessary to take action to force people to change their habits. “We’ve had natural fertilizer in the store for several years, but, except for the most dedicated gardener, most people will go for the sure thing,” he said, referring to chemical pesticides. “By banning it, more of us will be forced to look at alternative ways of getting results.” Advocates predict continued concern for the environment will create new products and options for both commercial businesses and homeowners. To help consumers understand available options, Norman’s Garden Gallery is running seminars on April 17, 18 and 19 with information on controlling bugs, weeds and new water retention products. No registration is required, but Norman suggests people call for exact times and topics for the upcoming workshops. Sara Gardner has been fielding questions from consumers, as well. The owner of the local Weedman franchise said they’ve been busy preparing for the ban, experimenting with alternatives over the past few seasons. Her family has owned Weedman since 1996. Throughout that time, she has seen a shift in the products available. “There are new products regularly, and the new products that come out are better for the environment and you usually have to use less of them.” Last year, they tried a natural weed-control product called Sarritor in Georgian Bay Township, and this year will expand its use. “We are going to be using all-natural organic products this year for the most part.” The granular, biological herbicide was developed by a professor at McGill University, and is effective on broadleaf weeds such as dandelions and plantain. Gardner said there are pros and cons to the new methods. “It’s good because people and pets can go on the lawn right away. You don’t have to wait until it’s dry like the old way. It’s very low in toxicity.” However, she pointed out, it is more expensive and a more complicated process. “It’s more costly for us, and we have to pass some of that increase on to the customer. It’s more time-consuming and more labour-intensive, too,” she explained. “It’s a granular product which has to be applied directly on the weed. After it’s applied, it needs to be watered in. It’s also very sensitive to environmental conditions. The temperature has to be ideal.” Gardner said they will be using other products for natural pest control, such as nemotoads to combat white grubs. “Nemotoads have been around for a while. It’s a biological control.” The microscopic worms are mixed with water and then sprayed on the lawn. “After we do apply it, the customer has to water the lawn to help it go down into the soil where they search for grubs. They penetrate the grubs, turning it into a food source and (killing) it.” Again, it’s a little more complex, as temperature plays a factor and the soil has to be moist, but it is a healthier alternative to chemical pesticides. She said Weedman started using an organic top dressing several years ago; a new grass seed containing endophytes, which enhances resistance to insects, is also available. “We welcome the new legislation, and we’re ready for it. Our business is growing, and we’re looking forward to a great season.” Weedman will be at the Midland Home Show at the North Simcoe Sports and Recreation Centre from April 24-26 to help customers learn more.


Assault charges laid against superjail guard

A guard at the Central North Correctional Centre has been charged with assaulting an inmate. Const. Peter Leon of Southern Georgian Bay OPP said he could not elaborate on specifics, including the exact nature of the alleged assault. “It is an ongoing investigation, so we’re really not in a position to disclose those particulars right now,” he said. “(The victim) did sustain an injury that was consistent with the level of assault charges that were laid,” he added, noting the person “is experiencing significant discomfort as a result of the injury.” Detectives from the detachment’s crime unit arrested a corrections officer on March 7 after receiving a complaint from an inmate. A 25-year-old Penetanguishene man has been charged with assault and assault causing bodily harm. The alleged incident occurred Feb. 9 at the facility commonly referred to as the superjail. Stuart McGetrick, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, which has responsibility for the superjail, said he is unaware of any previous cases where assault charges were laid against a guard there. “What I can tell you is, any time we receive a complaint from an inmate, it’s something that we take seriously,” he said. “It’s something that is always thoroughly investigated.” The nature of the complaint determines if it is handled in-house or if police need to be involved, he added. “I can’t talk about this specific case because it’s still under investigation,” McGetrick said. “If it’s a serious complaint, then we will inform the police straight away, but we always conduct our own investigation, as well.” In this case, the decision was made to contact the OPP. The local detachment has a team of detectives whose primary responsibility is investigating incidents at the provincially run jail. Leon, meanwhile, said there is no difference between how police treat an incident behind bars and how they respond to something that occurs in a more public setting. “(Detectives) conducted an investigation, thorough and detailed, of course, as any investigation would be,” he said. “They would go through the exact same procedure they would with any other member of the public.” Leon said he hopes the investigation will be completed by Monday, at which time more information may be released. In the meantime, the accused is scheduled to appear in Midland court on April 16.


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.


Police arrest five in Tottenham brawl/stabbing

The Nottawasaga OPP Crime Unit arrested two young offenders and two men from the Tottenham and Innisfil areas March 4 and 5 in relation to brawl and stabbing in Tottenham Feb. 28. On that night at about 1 a.m. police were called to the report of a large fight on Mill Street in Tottenham. Officers learned that the fight involved a group of males. One victim had been stabbed in the stomach and another suffered a broken arm in the altercation. Several others sustained minor injuries. The two most seriously injured males were transported to hospital for non-life threatening injuries. One was taken to Sunnybrook Medical Centre in Toronto for treatment of injuries to his torso and he underwent surgery. He is expected to make a full recovery. Although the incident remains under investigation by members of the Nottawasaga OPP assisted by the Nottawasaga Crime Unit, police announced the five arrests late today (Fri., March 6). To date five are facing eight criminal charges including Breach of Recognizance, Breach of Probation, and Mischief under $5,000. In addition, one youth was arrested on an outstanding warrant held by South Simcoe Police and another young person is facing charges of Aggravated Assault. No names or ages of those charged were released by police.  Police are asking anyone with information relating to crimes to contact the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers is completely anonymous and does not subscribe to call display. You will not have to testify in court and you maybe eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.