New way for a new day

At the Wasaga Sun we are constantly exploring new trends and innovations in our industry to better serve readers and advertisers. The Sun and its sister papers in Simcoe County are part of the Metroland Media Group, proprietor of more than 100 papers throughout southern Ontario. On March 1 all Metroland tabloid papers converted to a modular format, resulting in some significant changes. The first, and most obvious, is the size. We have gone with a shorter tab that has proven popular with readers and advertisers in other communities. Why? First, and foremost, it’s easier to read, more manageable to handle. But that’s not all. The change in size comes with a switch to modular layout. Without boring you with industry chatter, it means the layout of the paper will be cleaner, allowing for more creative design of both editorial content and advertising. The change has wider ramifications. Most notably, it reduces the company’s carbon footprint because it requires the use of fewer resources to meet business needs. Change is ongoing and constant. We are committed to meeting the challenges, and also opportunities, presented by change to better serve the community. If you have comments about the new format send them to John Devine, group editor, at [email protected]


Dancor project inches ahead

One of the largest residential and commercial developments proposed for Stayner in years moved a step forward last Monday night. Clearview Township council approved an Official Plan amendment and a subdivision draft plan for the Dancor project, located on the eastern edge of Stayner on the north side of Highway 26. Council approved the Official Plan amendment and subdivision draft plan – before the municipality since June 2006 – after receiving a recommendation to do so from township planner Jim Uram. Voting against granting approval to the amendment and the subdivision draft plan was Councillor John Crispo and Councillor Thom Paterson, who both questioned whether the township had dealt with all of the issues in connection with the development. Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage thanked Dancor officials for being patient with the municipality while it reviewed the project, noting the subdivision draft plan contains several changes to what was initially presented. The approvals granted by Clearview will allow Dancor to build a total of 998 dwelling units on its 72-hectare site. There will be 615 detached units, 64 semi-detached units, 115 townhouse units and 204 apartment units. The project includes 7.13 hectares of commercial lands designed for future mixed commercial and residential functions. While council dealt with the Official Plan amendment and subdivision draft plan last week, the project still must clear several other approvals. The Official Plan amendment is now contingent upon approval from the County of Simcoe. In his report to council, Uram also said the project will need a zoning bylaw amendment, subdivision agreements, site plan approvals and so forth from Clearview. The matter of sewer servicing for the site must also be determined still. The sewer plant in Stayner can’t accommodate the project and so municipal officials are looking at running a pipe to the sewer treatment facility in Wasaga Beach. The cost of that measure and others connected with the site, such as street lighting, will be the responsibility of Dancor – with funds for the work collected by the municipality through development charges. The Official Plan amendment and the subdivision draft plan approved by Clearview contain several changes and stipulations that Dancor must adhere to when going ahead. For example, a stipulation in the subdivision draft plan requires Dancor to develop an architectural control plan. Another stipulation in the subdivision draft plan requires Dancor to conduct an archaeological assessment of the property – which for many years has been farmland. In connection with the archaeological assessment, Clearview states in its draft plan approval conditions that: “Any impact on identified resources shall be mitigated, through preservation or resource removal and documentation. No demolition, grading or other soil disturbances shall take place on the subject property prior to the municipality and the Ministry of Culture confirming that all archaeological resource concerns have met licensing and resource conservation requirements.” Dancor has five years to meet the conditions attached to its subdivision draft plan, including the completion of various reports, such as a traffic impact study and an environmental site assessment. Sean Ford, a representative for Dancor, was at council’s meeting last Monday night. He told The Stayner Sun afterwards he is happy with council’s decision. Ford said Dancor will now focus on meeting all of the project conditions required by Clearview. “We’d like to start building houses in two years,” he said. Ford added that once construction does start, the project will take some time to finish. “We’re probably looking at a 10-year build out,” he said. Mayor Ken Ferguson said Thursday he is glad to see the Dancor project moving ahead. “Clearview, to me, needs development and so I think this is a good thing,” he said.


A dream come true

Like many of his childhood friends in the tiny Northern Ireland community of Omagh, Martin Monteith left school early to pursue an apprenticeship and soon married the woman who is still by his side today. Unlike many of his childhood friends, he had dreams beyond a life of employment in the local auto-body shop. He wanted to use his automotive experience to propel me to business ownership. “I wanted to provide a bigger and better life for my family. Barely 20 years ago, we brought our young family to Canada and, in 1992, I opened my first 2,500-square-foot accident-repair shop on Barrie’s Hart Drive,” Monteith recalls. “At the time, I employed one part-time technician, but I knew it was just the beginning.” After several expansions, he outgrew the space entirely. Zenetec Collision Centre, built in 2000, is the result of his business ambitions to date. It is a state-of-the-art 22,500-square-foot facility on Barrie’s Tiffin Street. “The new centre was built to accommodate growth and, as anticipated, sales have doubled since we opened,” he reports. “I attribute our massive recent growth to exceptional customer service, quality workmanship and a corporate culture of courtesy.” Like many of those childhood friends, his own children (for the most part) haven’t strayed too far from home. Son William now oversees most of the daily operations of Zenetec, while daughter Diane tends the front-line as the key customer-service representative. Meanwhile, Monteith’s younger son William spends his working hours in the paint department on the shop floor. Daughter Alison, who recently completed her schooling, is currently travelling and working in Australia. “I am blessed to have my wife and children working alongside me,” says the soft-spoken Irishman. “I now have 35 employees who correct small dents and perform large repairs to restore nearly 200 vehicles per month.” Although he spends most of his time these days in the front offices, he’s been known to put on a pair of coveralls when work requires extra hands. His background plays well among the other tradespeople in the shop and has led to an environment of camaraderie. Several members of his staff have been with Zenetec for more than 10 years – with three crossing that threshold last year alone. One, prepper Rob Diedenhofen, who is the workers’ representative on the company health and safety committee, celebrated his 15-year anniversary with Monteith in September. The complement of staff is expected to continue to grow to keep up with ever-expanded sales. “Over 90 per cent of our business comes from insurance claims,” he says. “The rest are mostly return customers with minor damage they’d rather not claim.” He credits customer service and the strong team environment in the centre. “We do really look after our customers – it’s a top priority,” he says. “We’ve always treated customers with respect, even difficult ones.” The new centre was built to accommodate growth, but it’s already working at near capacity. Monteith continues to look ahead. “As the centre evolves, I continue to consider my options as I lead my team through further growth,” he considers. “I’d hoped I’d grow to a decent-sized shop,” he recalls. “I don’t intend to just finish with it here.”


History buffs ‘enrich communities’

Three local residents are among more than 200 volunteers honoured recently by the Ontario Heritage Trust. Tiny Township resident T. Philip Adams, Midland’s Dennis Brabant and Tay Township’s Ray DesChenes were honoured through the Heritage Community Recognition Program for significant contributions to built, cultural and natural heritage preservation.     “Through their work to conserve Ontario’s heritage, these volunteers have enriched our communities, and we are grateful for their efforts,” David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, stated in a news release. “I am pleased that they are being celebrated for their tremendous accomplishments.” Wes Crown, Midland’s director of planning and development, said Brabant was nominated because of his commitment to maintaining the cultural heritage of the downtown. “He was the chair of the BIA, and it was during his tenure that the murals went up. He was instrumental in launching and supporting the historic mural program,” said Crown, adding Brabant was also critical in the celebration of the 125th-anniversary celebration for the post office and landing grants for tourism operators. “He was a big booster of downtown Midland and promoting everything (to do with) heritage.” Brabant has also served on the Huronia Museum board of directors, helping modernize the museum to better tell the story of its collection and the native history of the region. Tay’s Ray DesChenes is an artist and illustrator by trade, but became an avid conservator working on projects both in his community and overseas, Mara Burton, director of planning and development for the township, told The Mirror. “He aided in the restoration in two of the township’s heritage buildings … most notably the hardware store in Victoria Harbour, and he also works on the old municipal office,” she said. DesChenes, who was nominated by the heritage committee, was one of the original members of the local architectural conservation advisory committee (now known as the heritage committee) in 1979, noted Burton, who works with DesChenes on the committee. “He is the nicest man. He’s gentle, passionate, caring…. He’s a fantastic man (and) a very valuable resource to us because of his knowledge.” Described as the man who formed the backbone of the Township of Tiny historical and heritage committee for more than five years, Adams in known for his love of local history and his enthusiasm to promote, preserve and protect it. Adams, who has served as chair of the committee, is described as a driving force in preserving the heritage of the community. He is also the author of two books on the history of the township. “He is very dedicated to heritage in his township,” said Coun. André Claire. “He is a very knowledgeable person, too.” The annual Heritage Community Recognition Program helps communities recognize volunteers for their work to preserve, protect and promote Ontario’s heritage. [email protected]


MS Walk has tough act to follow

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]


Trillium Foundation hands out $475,000

Three local organizations received a total of nearly $475,000 in Ontario Trillium Foundation grants Friday. Quest Art School and Gallery, the Boys and Girls Clubs of North Simcoe and the Midland Area Reading Council (MARC) celebrated their grants at a reception at Quest’s Penetanguishene location. Quest will be getting $200,000 over four years to hire staff, grow programs, foster community support and develop a long-term vision for the arts in the area. President Tim Laurin said the funding will allow the arts group to hire more staff and continue to develop programming – specifically education and exhibition initiatives that help foster artists. “We’re overwhelmed with the support we’ve received from Trillium,” Laurin told The Mirror. “It really validates all the hard work of the board and all the volunteers over the years. We’re just really excited that we will be able to continue to bring arts to the general public.” The Boys and Girls Clubs will receive $145,000 over three years to help boost the organization’s internal fundraising capacity. Staff will be hired to work with volunteer teams to raise operating funds and increase awareness of recreation programs. Ron Shaw, president of the board of directors, said the grant will go a long way toward providing programming in the future. “We tried (applying to Trillium) last year unsuccessfully, so this year it was really a pleasure,” he said. Added vice-president David Rew: “It’s going to allow us to really solidify the fundraising plans and help out over the long term to provide more programs to children and youth across Simcoe County.” MARC will receive $128,300 over two years to increase the availability of literacy, numeracy and skills training in North Simcoe. Executive director Sue Bannon said she was overjoyed to learn her organization will be able to maintain its programs. “I’m terribly excited. This two-year grant is going to go a long way for the organization to enable us to help our students and ease our volunteer workload by hiring two staff members,” she said. “It’s going to boost our organizational capacity and help us get young people – and people of all ages – back to work.” The level of commitment and initiative demonstrated by each of the three organizations is incredible, Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop stated in a news release. “I’m pleased that the Ontario Trillium Foundation has recognized their potential to grow. The impact of the three multi-year grants will benefit the area for many years to come.” [email protected]


Wasaga Beach can tap into more spending, study finds

A recent municipal study found that almost half of the money Wasaga Beach residents spend on goods and services goes outside the community. A Commercial Needs Study completed recently by John Winter and Associates found Wasaga Beach residents spend about $130 million within the municipality each year and spend another $110 million in other urban centres. The consultant calls it leakage – money that is leaking outside of the local economy. According to the report, Wasaga Beach has 45 per cent leakage. That leakage, however, has declined from 58 per cent in 1999, when John Winter and Associates did a similar study. Last year, the Toronto-based consultant was commissioned to update the Commercial Needs Study.   The municipality set out to learn how much more commercial development local shoppers could support, what type of commercial development is lacking in Wasaga Beach, what types of businesses are missing and what types of businesses will be needed in the future. John Winter and Associates updated the municipality’s commercial inventory, examined where non-resident shoppers are coming from and conducted 315 telephone interviews with Wasaga Beach residents in October. Winter recommends Wasaga Beach expand its commercial sector in order to recapture the money being spent outside the community, primarily in Barrie and Collingwood. He said adding 212,250 square feet of commercial space would mean the addition of 650 jobs, 55 per cent of which should be full-time. Commercial space has grown from 366,779 square feet in 1999 to 772,124 square feet in 2008. Winter says two-thirds of the growth was due to the construction of three box stores: Wal-Mart, Canadian Tire and The Real Canadian Superstore. The commercial vacancy rate is 3.9 per cent, down from 6.5 per cent in 1999. "The increase in commercial space means that Wasaga Beach commerce is now retaining 55 per cent of its residents’ expenditures, compared to 42 per cent in 1999," said Winter. He said considerable leakage remains to be recaptured, particularly in automotive sales and service, furniture and furnishings, home improvements, apparel and restaurants. "The spending potential of its residents is the greatest sustainable resource that any municipality has. Due to the anticipated population growth, the continuing considerable amounts of leakage, the low vacancy, the proven track record, etc… there is opportunity for more commercial space, more professional offices, more assessment and more jobs," reported Winter. "There is still the opportunity to provide more commercial space. At least another 20 acres can be expected by 2016, particularly in smaller store and service modules." Leakage could grow to a possible $164 million in 2016 if no additions are made to the town’s commercial inventory, said Winter. "Leakage recapture should propel significant commercial building even in a recessionary environment," states the report. The calculations are based on Wasaga Beach currently having a permanent population of 16,770 and a full-time equivalent population of 21,130 – Winter used an adjusted 2006 Statistics Canada figure placing the population at 15,234, then added a portion of seasonal residents and subtracted a portion of residents who go south for the winter. Winter notes Wasaga Beach has an unusually high population of seniors and seniors are not the prime consumers – young families are.


Former employee charged with vandalism

A former employee of a Lefroy business was charged after two vehicles were vandalized last Friday. A vandal smashed the windshields and headlights and scratched and dented a pick up truck and a car at the business. The forensic identification unit with South Simcoe Police collected physical evidence at the scene, which led to a suspect. Police arrested a 17-year-old former employee of the business a short time later. He was charged with 2 counts of mischief to property over $5,000. He will be appearing in a Youth Court in May to answer to these charges.