Meaford council at its regular meeting last Tuesday night approved a set of fees for residents and businesses to pay when they bring their leaf and yard waste to the new processing facility at the Operations Centre on the 7th Line. During the budget process council instructed municipal staff to achieve $35,000 in revenue from the new leaf and yard waste collection centre at the Operations Centre. The municipality constructed the new facility last year at a significant cost. It became mandatory when the provincial government stepped in and would no longer allow the municipality to simply allow residents to drop off their leaf and yard waste whenever they pleased. The new facility has strict operating standards as required by the province for how to maintain the compost material and collect the run off from the material. Operations Director Stephen Vokes recommended the following fees for the facility: $2 for one bag of material, $5 for small car load of material, $10 for a medium truck or trailer load of material and $20 for a large load of material from a commercial operation. Vokes said based on previous amounts collected by the municipality those fees should generate the $35,000 mandated by council. The leaf and yard waste facility will be open similar hours as the Transfer Station on Miller Street on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings. The report from Vokes generated a lot of discussion around the council table. Councillor Lynda Stephens said she isn’t aware of any leaf and yard waste facility that charges up front fees to collect the material. She said the facilities she has visited charge for the compost material after the fact. Councillor Gerald Shortt said he couldn’t support charging residents to compost their yard waste. Shortt said the facility should be offered to the public free of charge as a service provided by the municipality. Councillor Jim McPherson wondered why a resident would bring their waste to the facility with a minimum charge of $2 per bag. McPherson questioned what incentive local residents would have to compost their yard waste under the suggested fees. "They can put it out at the curb for $2 a bag," noted McPherson. Vokes said McPherson is correct, but pointed out that leaf and yard waste is not allowed to be put out for pick-up at the curb. "The incentive is to do it properly," said Vokes. Council approved the report and the recommended fees in a 5-2 vote with councillors Shortt and Stephens opposed. The facility is presently open on Fridays and Saturdays with no fees being charged. The charges will be collected once a bylaw is passed by council establishing the fee schedule.
This is going to be a banner year for physician recruitment in Southern Georgian Bay, predicts David Gravelle. The physician recruitment officer told The Mirror he already has one family doctor scheduled to start July 1, and several other potential candidates who are currently scoping out the area. “We just sent him a contract this week, and he has confirmed he is coming,” Gravelle said, adding two other doctors will be coming for visits in May to look for homes. “They haven’t signed contracts yet, but I am optimistic the reason they’re coming to look at real estate is because they’re going to move here.” Gravelle noted he had a fourth visit scheduled for April 6, but it was cancelled due to the weather. “We’re very optimistic that this is probably going to be one of our best years for recruitment for our community. We didn’t have a great year last year – it’s a big decision for them to move, and it just didn’t line up – (but) people who were looking at coming last year are probably going to make it in 2009.” The Southern Georgian Bay Physician Recruitment program currently has four incentives to lure prospective doctors to the area: • a paid visit to the community; • a $20,000 financial incentive (spread out over two years); • relocation costs; • a welcome package from the community that includes gym and golf club memberships, boat slips, curling memberships and more. “Our toe is just in the water in terms of incentives,” he pointed out, noting some communities in the province offer no incentives, but have unique attractions like a teaching centre. However, he added, others – such as Brockville and Hastings County – offer a $150,000 cash incentive. “We’ve never contemplated that. We don’t have that kind of money. Those are major county-wide initiatives, and our community has said this is (just) a bit of a helping hand to pay off debt or buy furniture for your home.” Despite the money being spent on incentives, Gravelle said he doesn’t believe the Midland-Penetanguishene area is buying doctors. “We’re basically just helping them get their practice started,” he said. “When a doctor comes to our area, I don’t think the money plays a big role in it. I think it’s the lifestyle, being able to have a diverse career, to do family medicine and ER, or hospitalist…. It’s one of our unique selling points.” The other key selling feature, he said, is the opportunity to live where they would play. “A unique selling feature is the community that we have to offer – that Southern Georgian Bay lifestyle that we all live and love.” It’s because of that, he said, that he doesn’t get frustrated when he “loses” a doctor to another community. “All I try to do is put our best foot forward. If they come, they come,” he said. “If there’s a doctor that’s going just for the money, that’s probably a doctor that we don’t want in our community.” Gravelle said he doesn’t believe any of the doctors that have opted to come to the area did so solely because of a cash incentive. “I don’t think we’ve recruited anyone who is here for the money. The people who have come here have come because they were recruited by me, in conjunction with a colleague that was already here, or they had visited the community and (determined it) was a perfect fit.” As for the ethics behind offering cash incentives to bring a doctor to a community, Gravelle said he looks at the challenge the same as if he were a corporate headhunter. “I look at a physician as a large business owner who has staff, suppliers, etc. (It’s similar to) recruiting a vice-president.” Gravelle has researched what companies do to recruit executives, and he said it’s similar to physician recruitment. “In the corporate world … it’s all about the money, and money is status. We haven’t gotten to that point because, at the end of the day, doctors are civil servants,” he said. “(Offering incentives is) ethical (and) it’s proper, but there has to be a balance. I’ve never gotten into a bidding war with another community. We don’t negotiate it.” The goal for the 2009 fiscal year, he noted, is to recruit four to five doctors, a number he said the program is in line to meet. “We have the financial resources to recruit that many. If we did that, we would be in great shape,” he said, noting the program recruited one family doctor and three emergency room doctors last year. Gravelle will be heading to Halifax next week, where he will lead a session on incentives at the Canadian Association of Staff Physician Recruiters’ fifth annual conference. “It will foster discussion,” he said. “If we all work within (the) code, then what we’re doing in terms of recruitment, we (will be) doing it as ethically and morally as possible.” [email protected]
Midland residents will be lacing up their walking shoes this Sunday for the 19th annual MS Walk. More than 28,000 people across the province are expected to walk to end multiple sclerosis this year, raising $6.7 million in pledges. Locally, organizers are hoping to match last year’s total of a little more than $36,000 – a 74 per cent increase from the year before. “Last year, (participants) were exceptional. Midland won an award for the best walk for overall fundraising,” said volunteer Marilyn Morasse, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a disease of the central nervous system, in 1991 at the age of 34. Despite her diagnosis, Morasse continues to live her life to the fullest, and has spent much of her time recently volunteering and fundraising for the walk. She even plans on taking part in the event. “If the weather is nice, my husband is going to push me in my wheelchair,” she said. People should come out for the walk to support those living with the disease, she noted. “You don’t know who it’s going to hit next (or) what family it’s going to (affect). It’s easier to understand if you’re around us more,” she said. “People think MS is this really scary, debilitating disease, and if they were to come out to something like this to volunteer or take part, they would get a better idea of what the disease is.” Funds raised by the MS Walk help people affected by MS in several ways. “This event helps to fund services for people with MS and their families, which can include providing information and referrals, supportive counselling, and mobility equipment,” Yves Savoie, president and CEO of the MS Society of Canada and president of the MS Society’s Ontario division, stated in a news release. “The MS Walk also helps fund the MS Society’s national research program.” Proceeds from the walk, which will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the North Simcoe Sports and Recreation Centre, will help fund research into the cause and cure of multiple sclerosis, as well as provide services to people with MS and their families. To register for the walk, or for more information, visit or call 1-888-822-8467. [email protected]
A recorded vote secured a new contract for the New Tecumseth Recreation Complex’s pro shop, which was awarded to George’s Arena Sports Monday night. Deputy Mayor Rick Milne was acting mayor for the night and asked for the recorded vote. As Coun. Richard Norcross operates the Hornet’s Nest at the complex and Coun. Jess Prothero works at the Hornet’s Nest, both declared a conflict of interest on the item. Milne was the only member of council opposed to awarding the contract to George’s Arena Sports. George’s Arena Sports is owned by Glenn Tilson, who lives in Tottenham and has operated a similar business in Bolton for about 10 years. At last week’s committee of the whole meeting, Milne raised questions about the pro shop contract and said the town might lose the Basic Hockey Skills camps ice time if the pro shop contract didn’t go to C and C Sports, owned by Clay Birkett and Chris Pilon. C and C had also tendered for the pro shop contract. Manger of Parks, Recreation and Culture Joyce Epstein said she had a request from another private hockey school looking for ice time should Basic Hockey Skills pull out. The pro shop contract is for four years, with the Tilson paying $10,000 plus GST each year for the space. Improvements to the space are expected over June and July and the pro shop is expected to by fully operational for the start of the regular ice season in August. The pro shop was occupied by Hutchinson Sports from October 2007 until this past January.
Summer vacation could have been cut short this year. A calendar anomaly has Labour Day falling on September 7 this year, which forces school boards to begin the school year before the long weekend that characteristically marks the end of summer vacation. However, the Bluewater board has come up with a solution to save the final days of freedom, at least for students in the district. In following the rules of the Education Act, school boards across the province are required to begin the 2009 – 2010 school year prior to Labour Day. The Bluewater board decided to use some of the allowable professional activity (PA) days at the beginning of the year so that students will not have to attend classes until September 8. The school year for staff will begin on September 2. The schedule, which has students in class until June 29 will be submitted to the Ministry of Education for approval on May 1, 2009.