Firefighters battle Baxter house fire

Heavy smoke was pouring from a house on Denney Drive in the tiny hamlet of Baxter last night (Wed., March 25) Essa firefighters responded to the report of a house fire just before 7 p.m. at the residence located at the northwest corner of Denney Drive and Murphy Road (Baxter Road). Fire crews spent some time trying to locate the source of the blaze, which may have been in the walls or ceiling of the home. No word on the cause or damage at this post.


Neighbouring towns talk affordable accommodation

Representatives from Collingwood and The Blue Mountains met to discuss affordable housing solutions and plan joint projects for increasing the amount of units available in each town. The Blue Mountains mayor Ellen Anderson and Collingwod Mayor Chris Carrier both attended the meeting on Friday, March 6, which was chaired by Dawn Myers and Mayor Anderson. The Blue Mountains representatives included Rotarian Steve Schofield, BVO executive director, Carolyn Letourneau, Betty Langford of the centre for business and economic development and councilor John McGee. The Collingwood taskforce includes councilors Ian Chadwick and Norman Sandberg, Matthew Way resident Tom Schaefer, Mayor Carrier, Ralph Sneid, Garry Reid and Keith Hull, who was hired by the town to work on solutions for affordable housing. A majority of the discussion centered on the issue of NIMBYS. (Not In My Back Yard). Referring to residents of both towns who object to affordable housing units in the area saying they would be detrimental to the community. "How do we teach people that it just is not cool to not support affordable housing?" asked Mayor Anderson. "How do we shame them?" Schaefer, a resident of Matthew Way, a housing co-op in Collingwood, said it was important to change people’s perspective of affordable housing, which does not mean socially assisted housing. Keith Hull made a presentation to explain how affordable housing units, with the involvement of a developer and a unit shares program would be feasible in either town. Some discussion also focused on options for development charge (DC) bylaws specific for affordable housing development. Suggestions included waving DC’s, putting them off until the building is sold and offering extra stimulus with programs encouraging environmentally friendly building to counteract the DC costs. Both Carrier and Anderson agreed to keep meeting with their individual taskforces in their own communities, and have joint meetings once in a while to discuss any options for joint projects or Municipal Services Board issues.


Drug-trafficking charges laid

A Midland man caught with cocaine and ecstasy in his vehicle will appear in court next month on drug-trafficking charges. Plainclothes officers with the Midland Police Service stopped a vehicle near Queen and Colborne streets on the evening of April 8. Investigation of an occupant of the vehicle turned up the illegal drugs. Officers arrested a 20-year-old male, charging him with two counts each of drug possession, possession for the purpose of trafficking, and trafficking. He was released with a May 21 court date.


Council approves water rates

Council approved the water and wastewater rate bylaw at last Tuesday’s meeting, solidifying the cost that will be applied to the new water metering system. Wasaga Beach will charge 42 cents per cubic metre of water and 69 cents per cubic metre of wastewater on top of a $26 monthly flat rate this year and rates will increase over time. All councillors except George Watson supported the bylaw. Watson said he supports 99 per cent of the bylaw but not the fee schedule. He asked that the municipality reduce the per-unit charges and phase them in more gradually over several years. "Everywhere you turn, costs seem to be going up yet hardly anyone is immune from the recession that is hitting our investments, our homes and our jobs. I for one cannot condone increases of this magnitude at this time," Watson said.


Jumbo paper shredder coming to Penetang

A briefcase-sized paper shredder will do the job, but it can be time-consuming. For people with a whole lot of paper to dispose of, a truck-sized shredder will pay a visit to Penetanguishene on May 2. The community shredding day is also a fundraiser for the Midland Area Reading Council and Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Simcoe. The truck holds 4.6 tonnes of shredded paper, all of which will be recycled, which organizers say will save about 55 trees. The truck will be at the Village Square Mall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Donations for the two community organizations will be accepted.


Woman shoves attacker from moving car

A 36-year-old woman staved off an attack by pushing a man out of her moving car on Highway 400 Sunday afternoon, according to police. The 55-year-old man, who was treated for minor injuries at Royal Victoria Hospital, was charged with assault and threatening. The woman knew her attacker, the OPP say. Officers responded to the attack while it was in progress on Highway 400 near Innisfil Beach Road. Anyone with information should contact Const. Richardson of the OPP Barrie Highway Safety Division at (705) 726-3930.


Driver flees scene after serious Bradford crash

A driver fled the scene of a serious vehicle collision last night in Bradford. A Chevrolet Equinox travelling north on Simcoe Road pulled to the east shoulder to let a passenger out. A fast-travelling Chevrolet Impala drove into the back of the Equinox. The Impala then skidded off the road, struck a house on the east side and caught fire. The driver and four passengers got out of the Impala and the driver fled on foot. Emergency services were called to the scene at about 11:15 p.m. The driver of the Equinox was taken to hospital with serious injuries to her head, leg and hips. She is expected to survive. Two of the Impala’s passengers were also taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Police closed Simcoe Road for most of the night to investigate the collision. Police identified the driver who fled the scene and urge him to speak to a lawyer and turn himself in. Anyone with information on the collision is asked to call Const. Maxwell Brown at 905-775-3311 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.


Farming group plans to avoid drought

A coalition of local farmers who depend on Innisfil Creek for irrigation are meeting to devise strategies to minimize the damage and future droughts could have on their agricultural enterprises. In the summer of 2007, data collected by the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA) showed that by June 30 of that year, the average water flow in Innisfil Creek, usually estimated to be 5,000 gallons per minute during the dry summer months, had already dropped to 356 gallons per minute. For growers such as Ralph MacKenzie, owner of Nottawasaga Valley Farms, this was potentially disastrous. “We were almost 14 weeks without any measurable rainfall,” MacKenzie recalls. “Irrigation became critical even to keep crops alive, let alone improve crop yield.” MacKenzie and his neighbours quickly realized they could not all irrigate at the same time and they agreed to set up a voluntary water taking schedule to minimize the impact on other water users, and to help reduce the ecological impact of the drought. Wanting to avoid the consequences of another severe drought, a number of growers took part in the development of an integrated water resource management strategy for the Innisfil creek area, headed up by the NVCA with the assistance of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Agri-Food Canada. “As a local producer and an irrigator from Innisfil Creek, I knew I had to be part of the solution,” MacKenzie says. He now serves as chairperson of the Innisfil Creek Water Users Association (ICWUA). During the fall of 2008, members of the ICWUA met with NVCA staff regularly to discuss individual producer irrigation requirements, the extent of existing water supplies and achievable and cost-effective irrigation alternatives. The local association will represent the interests of the irrigation-dependent community and promote best management practices to water users. The ICWUA will also work with the provincial Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Natural Resources on water-related issues and identify opportunities to improve water quality in the Innisfil creek region. “We must all work together to recognize the economic, social and environmental benefit of sharing water resources,” MacKenzie says. “My fellow farmers and I will benefit from local-level management of limited water resources.” The Innisfil Creek district is well known for its high production of potato, sod, carrots and onions, valued at $10 million in 2006. Its part of the larger Nottawasaga watershed that encompasses parts of Simcoe, Dufferin and Grey counties.


Ice jams have moderated: NVCA

Officials continue to warn of possible flooding in Wasaga Beach. The Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority advises that flooding from ice jams in the Nottawasaga River have moderated, but remain in place and flooding could return as ice moves downstream, said flood warning coordinator Brian Smith in a flood advisory issued Monday. He said ice jams are difficult to predict and can cause a rapid change in water levels. Smith said weather forecasts call for above-freezing temperatures on Wednesday and Thursday, returning to below-freezing on Friday. "No liquid precipitation is expected. This scenario will result in consolidation of the snowpack but should not cause significant runoff and changes to stream levels," said Smith. People, especially children, are advised to stay away from all bodies of water as unstable ice, slippery banks and cold water may result in life threatening conditions. The Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority continues to monitor the situation. The flood warning advisory is in effect until Friday. Call 424-1479 and dial 1 for the flood information line or visit www.nvca.on.ca.