Collingwood airport continues to climb

Nearly a decade ago, the Collingwood Regional Airport was sputtering and about to crash. The provincial and federal governments – which had been funding small airports – had pulled out and the municipalities were left holding the bag. "It left a lot of these airports, standing at the end of a plank," said Charlie Tatham, who serves as chair of the Collingwood Regional Airport services board. The Town of Collingwood was footing the bill for the airport. Former Mayor Terry Geddes said it was Mayor Doug Garbutt and former CAO Jay Courier, who had a vision for the airport. "Mayor Garbutt had a belief in the airport," he recalled. "Our focus was to establish the Collingwood Airport as a strong entity." When he was elected Mayor, Geddes said the first priority was putting together a strong board for the airport – which included representation from other municipalities. Geddes said he gave council an ultimatum. "If the other municipalities didn’t buy into a sense of ownership, we were going to shut it down," he said. Geddes said there were other proposals for the property, which included a golf course, business development and a repair depot for a major airline. "It would have been a tragic loss for Collingwood," he said, if the airport would have been closed. He credited Tatham and then-Counillor Joe Gardhouse with getting the plan back on track. "Other municipalities had citizens who were using the airport," he said.  "Joe Gardhouse did an extremely good job on bringing those municipalities on board." Clearview Township and Wasaga Beach came on board. Each municipality would contribute financially – about $25,000 annually – and would each have a seat on the board. Collingwood has two board members, but only one vote. The board is currently made up of Peter Dunbar, director of leisure services for the Town of Collingwood, Charlie Tatham, Collingwood Councillors Ian Chadwick and Mike Edwards, Clearview Councillor Doug Measures and Wasaga Beach Councillor George Watson. "Clearview’s stance is that it’s a cooperative effort between municipalities," said Measures. "It’s a major economic engine. The trend has been that there has been steady growth." Tatham said around this time, the runway had been expanded to 4,000 feet. "He (Geddes) became a little frustrated with the neighbours. It was recommended that the airport was a regional airport," Tatham said. "I took that as a bit of a challenge." Since 2002, Tatham said more than 120,000 square feet of hangar space has been built at the airport. "In 2001, we’ve put a hangar information package for people who we knew were interested in building hangars," said airport manager Pierre Lajoie. "It’s snowballed since." In 2008, more than 238 corporate aircraft landed at the airport as well as 2,800 local aircraft and 50 military aircraft. The airport also saw a rise in fuel sales to 230,000 litres in 2008, up from 221,000 litres in 2007. Tatham said the airport made a profit of about $70,000 from fuel sales in 2008. He said the next step for the airport is to encourage more corporations to locate planes in Collingwood. He said it’s expensive to house planes at Pearson International Airport and it could save companies a lot of money to locate in Collingwood. "We’ve always looked at getting corporate aircraft located here," he said. "We can take any corporate jet that is likely to come here. It doesn’t take long for it to become really attractive." Tatham says Barrick Gold houses one of its planes in Collingwood. Measures said he would like to see more air freight service coming from the airport. Tatham said the airport was built for companies such as Pilkington and Goodyear to transport goods. Recently, the airport received about $880,000 from the government to re-pave its 5,000-metre runway, which will make it stronger. A challenge still facing the airport is getting customs service in Collingwood. Currently, if a plane is coming to Collingwood it must go to another airport to clear customs. Tatham said if the government would send a customs officer from Barrie to Collingwood to clear planes, it would mean a lot of business for the Collingwood airport. "It’s lost potential for us," he said. "There are customs services at some of the smaller airports that don’t have a fraction of the business that we have. That would be a real asset to have that service here." Lajoie said the airport continues to grow and expects two-three hangars to built in the next year. He said the airport gets a lot of business from military aircraft, Ministry of Natural Resources and local golf tournaments. "We’ve made a name for ourselves," he said.


Beach woman missing for two weeks

Penny Warne has been now been missing for two weeks. Police have been looking for the 57-year-old woman since she was reported missing by her friend on Sun., Feb. 15. OPP spokesperson Const. Peter Leon said the police have searched by air, land and sea and are using every resource at their disposal in the search for Warne. In the last week-and-a-half, the OPP have used a helicopter to search the shoreline and divers to search waterways but Leon said there is no sign of Warne.   Warne was last seen leaving work at Wal-Mart in the beach when her shift ended at 10 p.m. on Feb. 11. When Warne missed her shift on Feb. 13, Sally McCarthy, a co-worker and friend, became worried. She went to Warne’s Mosley Street apartment on Feb. 15 to see if she could find her. She found the back door unlocked and her dog was tied up outside, possibly for quite a while. McCarthy said that is when she notified the police. The police then notified Warne’s son and daughter. Amy Warne said she first learned her mother was missing at 11 p.m. Sunday. She drove to Wasaga Beach from Windsor, where she lives, with her fiancé on Monday morning. Upon searching the apartment, Amy said the only thing that was missing was her mother’s winter boots. Her car was in the driveway, her purse, cell phone and winter coats were all inside the apartment. Amy said she fears the worst but hopes she is wrong. "I am hoping that she bought a winter jacket and she is wearing it," said Amy. As police continue their investigation, Warne’s family have been in Wasaga Beach putting up posters and seeking information as to the whereabouts of the missing woman. Leon said last week police have no specific reason to believe Warne is in the water but it is important to exhaust every possibility.   "My mom is very cautious and particular about being around the water," said Amy. Amy said Warne is very well known in Wasaga Beach. Originally from Michigan, she has lived in Wasaga Beach for more than 20 years. She said her mother is very outgoing socially but is really a homebody at heart. She worked for many years in the cleaning industry – at one point running her own business – and has met many people through her business and working at other jobs. Warne is twice divorced but Amy said she had been doing some Internet dating and had been in conversation with a few men. Amy said her mother had a date with a man scheduled for Thursday. "We love her and hope for her safe return," said Amy. She said she and her mother had recently been dress shopping for Amy’s upcoming wedding and her mother was really looking forward to that. Amy and her fiancé said they are grateful to Wal-Mart for putting them up in a motel while they are in town. The managers there have also provided them with money and gift cards for food and supplies. Amy’s brother and father are also taking part in the search. "If anybody has any information about where she is or what she was doing after last Wednesday, call the police immediately, please," urged McCarthy. Warne is described as white, five feet and five inches tall with a medium build, blonde, wavy hair, a fair complexion and wearing glasses. Leon said the investigation will continue until the police have exhausted every possibility but the reality is that at some point police resources will have to be redistributed elsewhere. He said that will be up to the investigators. Anyone with information is asked to contact Huronia West OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or 429-3575.  


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.


Angus library denied federal funding

People waiting for a new library branch in Angus are going to have to wait a little longer. The township was turned down in its application for Build Canada funding. The $3.4 million project was included in Essa’s 2009 budget, but it was dependent on success of the grant. Essa Mayor David Guergis said he was disappointed the township wasn’t successful, but congratulated other municipalities that received major grants. Coun. Sandie Macdonald said grassroots fundraising efforts would continue. Macdonald, who represents the Angus ward, has been a major proponent and fundraiser in the effort to build a new library. This is the second straight year Essa has been turned down for grant money to build the library.


New leaf/yard waste program for seniors

The town of New Tecumseth is making it easier for seniors and disabled to have their leaves, yard waste and brush picked up. Rather than having to bag leaves like all residents currently have to do for the county pick-up days, disabled people and seniors in New Tecumseth can now apply for a special new town pick-up  program. If approved, they can simply rake the leaves to the boulevard in front of their homes for pickup. The program is for seniors and people with a disability. This is the first time the town assistance program is being offered. This year’s collections will be during the weeks of May 11, Nov. 2 and Nov. 23. There may have been some confusion from a previous article published in the Herald. The town will not rake up the leaves. The leaves and yard waste must be raked up or collected and left on the boulevard. People wanting to sign onto the town’s assistance program must fill out an application before May 4. It is open to people over 65 years with no able bodied person living in the residence. People under 65 are also eligible with a doctor’s note. Note, you must apply and be approved for the program before pick up will take place. Applications are available online at or by calling 905-729-1260.


Stolen backhoe turns up in Tiny Township

Police have charged a Tiny Township man after a backhoe stolen 16 months ago was found on his property. Southern Georgian Bay OPP officers and members of the OPP’s rural agricultural crime team recovered the Case 580 backhoe on March 11. The machine was stolen from an address on Highway 89 in Adjala-Tosorontio Township in November 2007. Armed with a search warrant, police attended a Dundee Drive residence in Tiny Township and located the $30,000 backhoe. A 56-year-old man has been charged with possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000. He is scheduled to appear in Midland court on June 4.


Merging the sales tax could get costly

Harmonizing the federal and provincial sales tax that was proposed by the Ontario government in its budget Thursday could cost the average family $3,000 per year, according to Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson. The proposed budget gives Ontario a $3.9 billion deficit for 2008-2009 and a $14.1 billion in 2009-2010. It also projects the next balanced budget in Ontario will be 2015-2016. Wilson said it’s not the right time to be merging the provincial and federal sales tax, which would create on 13 per cent sales tax. There are some exemptions from the new tax, such as children’s clothing and car seats, and new homes under $400,000. But fast food under meals under $4, haircuts and gasoline are among the items and services that will cost more with a harmonized tax. To help people adjust to the taxes, a tax relief will be handed out over three years to low and middle-income people. Families with an income less than $160,000 would get three payments of $1,000. Single people with an income less than $80,000 would get three payments of $300. The payments would be made in June 2010, December 2010 and June 2011. Wilson noted that the final payment comes right before the next provincial election. "People will see through the fact that he’s trying to bribe us with our own money," said Wilson. The sales tax isn’t the only thing not sitting well with Wilson. Aside from a corporate tax cut, which has the rates going from 14 per cent to 10 per cent by 2013, there is little that satisfies Wilson in the budget. For Simcoe-Grey, Wilson said there is no commitment to create more long-term care beds, nor is there help for hospital expansions. The budget allows for some tax relief in manufacturing industry as a whole, but a provincial tax holiday Wilson and the Progressive Conservative caucus are pushing for on new car sales is absent. Wilson told The Connection before the budget that a tax holiday on new vehicles could help get cars off the dealerships lots and make room for more, which would help workers on the manufacturing factories. Wilson said a similar provincial tax holiday on accommodations would help promote tourism destinations like the Nottawasaga Inn Resort in Alliston or Blue Mountain in the north end of the riding. The budget does include infrastructure money, with $32.5 billion set aside for projects in the next two years. Wilson said there is no proof that anything has been done to remove the provincial red tape that holds up the infrastructure projects when municipalities try to get the work done. Other highlights of the budget include: • $32.5 billion for infrastructure projects over the next two years. • $1.2 billion to renovate 50,000 social housing units and build 4,500 new affordable housing units for low-income seniors and people with disabilities. • $400 million more in children’s benefits over the next three years. Low and middle-income families will receive up to $1,100 annually per child in Ontario Child Benefit payments starting in July. • $700 million over the next two years for new skills training and literacy initiatives, including enhancements to existing programs. • $4.5 billion in business tax cuts over three years.


New Acura to be built in Alliston

A new luxury vehicle is going to be made at Honda of Canada Manufacturing’s plants "It looks like it is going to be a spectacular vehicle that we will be proud to be producing," said Colin Fisher spokesperson for Alliston’s Honda plants. "HCM is quite proud that it has been the introducing factory of a number of new vehicles." Fisher said the company isn’t yet releasing how the new vehicle will affect the local plant’s production numbers. During the past four months, production in Alliston has been repeatedly scaled back. Fisher said that production on the ZDX will likely begin by summer or early fall. The Alliston Honda plant already produces the CSX sedan and MDX sport utility vehicle. The new ZDX is designed to be the next step in the company’s luxury line, complete with high performance and comfort. The all-wheel drive, six-cylinder vehicle will include a rear camera to make parking easier, a navigation system and leather seats and trim. "The new Acura ZDX is designed to be a luxury performance coupe, plus," said Jerry Chenkin, executive vice president of Honda Canada Inc. "The dynamic coupe styling combined with a luxurious and dramatic interior and surprising versatility, will allow the ZDX to define its own segment and attract a new customer to the Acura brand." The announcement was made at the New York International Auto Show.


Developers give RVH land for Innisfil satellite

It’s official and they’ve signed on the dotted line. Royal Victoria Hospital now holds title to 50 acres of prime Innisfil agricultural land to some day be used for a satellite health facility. Developers Mario Cortellucci and David Braley of the Cortel Group were joined by Innisfil politicians, County warden Tony Guergis, Barrie Mayor Dave Aspden, RVH president and CEO Janice Skot and assorted other dignitaries at a ceremony Friday morning on Innisfil’s 6th Line, just west of Yonge Street. The land is part of a105-acre parcel the Cortel Group is giving away for the proposed health care centre, health sciences facility and a centre for excellence to study water purification. “It may be a chilly day, but the announcement warms our hearts. This gift of land demonstrates not just outstanding philanthropy, but also a tremendous vision, not just for Innisfil, but the region,” said Skot. “Securing land for additional health care services in the southern area of Simcoe County has been part of the hospital’s strategic plan for many years. In planning for health care, we must plan more than five years into the future.” RVH has already embarked on a massive Phase1 expansion that will double the existing hospital’s size by 2011. However, as the region’s population grows, the larger hospital is expected to be operating at full capacity by the time the project is complete. “By 2011, we will have exhausted all the land at the Georgian site,” Skot said. Braley said the Cortel group hopes the hospital satellite will be built on the site within the next eight to 12 years. “The gift of land is the best investment we can make. Our dream is that Innisfil residents will be able to access health care close to home, when they need it,” Braley said. According to Town CAO Larry Allison, the proposal is doable. “The site is on a potential servicing corridor,” said Allison. “It sits between the lakeshore facilities and the Hwy. 400 employment corridor. As we advance the final approvals for the employment lands, the land becomes viable from a servicing perspective. It’s congruent with the Town’s number one priority of creating employment lands along Hwy. 400.” Innisfil Mayor Brian Jackson said he was aware the hospital has been seeking additional property for several years. “We met with Janice Skot last year,” he said. “She met with the Cortel Group and there’s been ongoing discussions. Obviously, we’re very excited Innisfil would be considered for a hospital site. It’s long range planning but councils have always looked at building a sustainable community.” “The donation of land is an amazing gift,” said RVH chairperson Steve Blanchet, “which will allow the hospital to pursue its strategic plan, that identifies the need for a secondary site south of Barrie.” For Simcoe County Warden Tony Guergis, “the County of Simcoe is all about partnerships. This is exciting for all of us. We are fortunate to have developers who can see the future.”


Baby girl fighting serious immune system problem

The congregation at The Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd in Stayner is rallying behind a local family that attends the church and asking that others in the community do the same. Brygette Park, the one-year-old daughter of Warrington Road residents Penny Lambert, 39, and Trevor Park, 36, is battling what appears to be some type of immune system problem. Born at Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie in December 2007, the little girl returned to the hospital at just five days old because she was dehydrated and lethargic. Eight days later she was discharged but the next day returned to RVH with what turned out to be rotavirus. She was then in and out of hospital in Barrie throughout the month of January 2008 and at the end of the month went to The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto with meningitis. Since then Brygette, a beautiful girl with golden blonde hair and blue eyes, has battled a number of infections, including periorbital celulitis, an infection in the eyes and skin. Her mother says that several tests have been done to find out what’s causing the little girl so many problems but so far doctors have been unsuccessful in making a diagnosis. She says Brygette currently suffers from ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and inflammation on her hips. In total, Brygette has been admitted to hospital 11 times and spent – off and on – about six months at The Hospital for Sick Children. The most recent stay was from Dec. 19 to Jan. 30. “It’s been exhausting – terrifying. You’re just so afraid for her because of what she’s going through,” Lambert said. She said the girl’s doctors are consulting with physicians in the United States and are awaiting the results of genetic testing to see if they shed any light on what’s wrong. With so much time spent at The Hospital for Sick Children the family has found things financially tough – especially since December when Lambert’s maternity benefits came to an end. The licensed insurance agent, who is employed at State Farm in Barrie, has not returned to work yet because she needs to care for her daughter. Her husband is self-employed as a home renovator but with only him working their finances are tight, she said. And then there’s the expensive cost of the special food Brygette needs due to a milk allergy. The formula is called Neocate and it costs $45 a can. Brygette goes through one can a day. If it weren’t for the help and support of family and friends, Lambert said she doesn’t know what they’d do. She said her mother, Doris Waddell, has moved in with them to help care for Brygette. The Church of the Good Shepherd has offered prayers and recently set up a trust account for the family at the TD-Canada Trust branch in Stayner. Gren Bray, a member at the church, said he encourages people in town to financially help the family if possible. He said the church is planning a special music night, at which a free will offering for the family will be collected. A date for the event, however, hasn’t been set. Bray said it will likely be in the next few weeks though. “They’re a part of our church family and we need to do what we can to help,” he said. Meanwhile, friends of the family have organized what’s being dubbed the Baby B.O.P. (Brygette Olivia Park) Fundraiser at The Five Restaurant on Dunlop Street in Barrie. The event is Thurs., March 26 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are $25 and available through Brygette’s parents. There will be several live musical acts performing. Lambert plays guitar in a band called Gearl Jam and it’s among the groups slated to perform that night.   For tickets to the event call 428-5452.