Four-year-old Josh Gorecki, a junior kindergarten student at Monsignor Castex School, walks using snowshoes during Aboriginal Games Day on Feb. 26. The event, a partnership between the school and the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre, was led by Grade 8 students as part of a larger initiative promoting awareness of the aboriginal community.
A growing community means a growing demand for police services. That’s the basic rationale behind Innisfil Council’s approval of a $4.75 million renovation and addition to the South Simcoe Police headquarters on Innisfil Beach Road. After months of sometimes acrimonious debate, council finally accepted a proposal by Innisfil-Bradford West Gwillimbury Police Services Board for a much larger, and modern facility. A second floor addition of approximately 7,000 square feet will be built, bringing the total area of the building to 14,000 square feet – for a cost of $4.5 million. A last minute modification was to add another $250,000 for an exterior elevator and stairwell to give more interior space. Originally, the police board had requested $6.6 million for a brand new building to replace the 30-year-old structure. In a presentation to council, director of community services Kerry Columbus reminded council of the controversy surrounding the proposed $6.6 million cost. “Actually, council had a conniption fit,” replied Coun. Lynn Dollin. An adhoc committee composed of council, South Simcoe Police, and members of the police board met frequently in the ensuing months to come up with the compromise solution. Last December, council received a $2.3 million provincial grant, which will be used to offset the cost of the police station as well as new sewers in Big Cedar. Police Chief Bruce Davis said every inch of the new station will be well-utilized by South Simcoe Police units such as criminal investigation, traffic, community services and court services. Both Coun. Dollin and Rod Boynton questioned the need for a separate chief’s office, with private washroom facilities, as part of the plan. Chief Davis has an office at the new headquarters in Bradford, which opened last year. Coun. Dan Davidson said he would be watching diligently for any cost overruns on the project. Boynton also wanted assurances the station would be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Davis replied he would do his best to meet Boynton’s request, but occasionally, illness and staff pressures may force the station to be closed to the public. “The police station we have now is basically useless,” Deputy Mayor Gord Wauchope added. “There are poor working conditions. I think the modified (option) is workable.” “This committee has looked diligently at the many options,” said Mayor Brian Jackson. “We have to move forward to support our police services.” It’s expected the new building would be able to serve police needs for the next 10 years. The architectural firm of McKnight, Charron, Laurin Inc. will continue to develop the project. Only Dollin and Davidson opposed the recommended design for the new police station.
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.
Meaford council cost the taxpayers less than $150,000 in 2008. The municipality recently released the annual Council Remuneration report that details how much council cost the taxpayers in 2008. Council’s total cost in 2008 was $149,092.67. Significant cutbacks to the travel and conferences budget led to savings in the report. Total travel claimed by the nine members of council that served in 2008 (two members of council resigned early in the year and were replaced by two new appointments) was just $659.61. Conference spending was also down significantly from previous years. Members of council spent just $1,603.99 on conferences in 2008. Total remuneration for council came to $146,829.07. The break down for remuneration is as follows (which includes total remuneration, travel and conference spending): Mayor/Deputy Mayor Francis Richardson – $25,569.42 Deputy Mayor/councillor Mike Traynor – $22,019.08 Councillor Jim McPherson – $21,533.17 Councillor Cynthia Lemon – $20,000 Councillor Lynda Stephens – $20,000 Councillor Gerald Shortt (appointed part way through the year) – $15,376.26 Councillor Harley Greenfield (appointed part way through the year) – $14,197.46. Mayor Wally Reif (resigned) – $6,387.09 Councillor Gunter Neumann (resigned) – $4,010.19 Across the county Meaford was the third least expensive council in Grey (not including Owen Sound, or Grey County council). Other total council costs in Grey County were as follows: The Blue Mountains – $235,361.79 West Grey – $198,643.08 Grey Highlands – $195,336.24 Georgian Bluffs – $180,305.05 Meaford – $149,092.67 Southgate – $128,825.74 Chatsworth – $98,492.20
The Municipality of Meaford has begun the process to cut its 2009 proposed operating budget. Meaford council at a special meeting last Thursday afternoon received an update about the 2009 budget from municipal staff. The initial budget included an 18% increase in local taxes. Council deemed that amount too high and asked staff to bring back a budget with an 8% local increase. At Thursday’s meeting, members of staff brought forward a budget update that identified more than $800,000 in proposed cuts to the budget that if implemented will achieve the 8% increase council asked for. "We have worked very hard to make sure you have a budget before you at 8%," said CAO Frank Miele. "We focused on cutting services not mandated by the provincial government," said the CAO. Council looked over the list of proposed cuts and made general comments and suggestions about the overall budget. No lengthy debate or discussions about the proposed cuts was held at Thursday’s meeting. Many of the proposed cuts will be controversial with the public. They include: eliminating dust suppression on rural gravel roads to save $100,000, reducing the gravel maintenance budget by $70,000, cutting the municipality’s subsidy for organized sports at the ball park and the arena to save a combined $55,000, eliminate the service to collect leaf and yard waste to save $71,400 and re-organizing the planning department in order to reduce costs in that area by $31,000. The update also proposed cutting staff salary increases proposed in 2009 by $200,000. "You’re going in the right direction. Thank you, but I’m convinced we can continue. I can see some other areas to cut," said Deputy Mayor Mike Traynor. "We need to set the tone. We’re being told loud and clear that we need to do something here to make the pendulum swing the other way in order to get out of the rut we’re in," said Traynor. The proposed elimination of the leaf and yard waste collection program generated a significant discussion. The municipality spent a significant amount of money in 2008 upgrading the leaf and yard waste collection station at the 7th Line Operations Centre. The money was spent in order to ensure the collection of that waste material is done within Ministry of the Environment guidelines. Staff are now proposing not to activate that facility and instead leave it unused. Councillors were concerned about the optics of constructing a facility one year and then keeping it closed the next year. Several councillors suggested the municipality look at a user fee for the collection of leaf and yard waste as a means to add revenue to municipal coffers. CAO Miele said the administration would explore that avenue and report to council about its implications. The spectre of user fees to collect leaf and yard waste led Mayor Francis Richardson to suggest examining user fees for overall garbage collection. "Maybe it’s time to eliminate all the free bags and make it a user pay system," said Richardson. "Municipalities are going more and more to user pay systems where they can. We need to look at that," said the Mayor. Other suggestions to raise money include implementing a business licensing fee for the municipality and bringing in a dog license fee. CAO Miele said staff would investigate the logistics of those ideas.
Council has rejected a last-ditch attempt to have the city waive development fees on a new building planned for a soon-to-be displaced daycare. A week after council committee turned down a request to waive development fees on a facility planned for west Orillia, Treasure Island Daycare Centre director Lucille Desjardins appeared before council to plead for reconsideration. Desjardins stressed that the non-profit operation was being forced from its long-time home at OPP General Headquarters due to security concerns. “This request is in response to a unique situation,” she said. “Had we not had to move from GHQ, we would not be here asking.” The agency is seeking $1.7 million in provincial funding to assist with the relocation, and has launched fundraising initiative that has garnered more than $5,000. Development charges and other fees would amount to about $120,000, a portion of which – about $50,000 – is already covered by the municipality. As an alternative, Desjardins suggested that council consider paying for an elevator that will allow children with disabilities to access a gymnasium in the basement of the new daycare. ••• Defending a significant planning decision before the Ontario Municipal Board cost the city more than $113,000 in fees, council heard this week. Residents of a waterfront neighbourhood cheered when council rejected a triple tower condominium complex proposed for Orchard Point. The decision was challenged and defeated at the OMB, allowing the developer to proceed with the project. Fees shouldered by taxpayers during the hearing include $55,000 for planning consultants, $47,000 in legal costs and $10,000 for archeological experts. Councillors Ralph Cipolla and Wayne Gardy said the figures fail to reflect the time spent by staff involved in the hearing. “It was a cost to the city because it took them away from their normal duties,” Gardy added. ••• Ensuring ample parking is available for vendors and customers alike is crucial to the success of Orillia’s historic farmers’ market, council heard this week. Farmers’ Market Vendors’ Association chair Kevin Scott warned that losing 37 parking spaces when a new library is erected would lead to frustration among shoppers and sellers of produce and other goods. “Good vendors will disappear if they don’t have an opportunity to make money,” Scott said. Mayor Ron Stevens in a letter to market representatives said council is “actively pursuing” options to address the parking problem. Stevens was not present at council this week. “We have to be united and work together to make it happen,” added Coun. Ralph Cipolla, who was raised near the market. “Every Saturday morning, it was the place to go and the thing to do.” Council has additionally agreed to include a room within the new library for use by the market, Stevens added. Scott wants an answer on the group’s parking concerns sooner than later. “The bottom line is, parking has been taken away due to the expansion of the library,” he said. ••• Out of order. That was Coun. Michael Fogarty’s blunt assessment of a committee motion last week, when members affirmed a decision to build a new library on the site of the existing facility. According to parliamentary procedure, “council cannot reaffirm a position taken,” said Fogarty, who chaired this week’s meeting. The motion to affirm was deleted. ••• City staff will investigate the cost of adding fluoride to Orillia’s drinking water, following a report by the health unit on the poor state of dental health in Simcoe County. Coun. Joe Fecht requested information on fluoridation after reading “alarming statistics” about oral health in the region. Early childhood tooth decay is more prevalent in Simcoe County and Muskoka than in most parts of Ontario, the report said. “I think this would be a first step in looking at this issue,” Fecht said.
Simcoe County District School Board trustees have voted to keep Stayner Collegiate Institute open. During a year-long process, an accommodation review committee (ARC) found that Stayner Collegiate Institute (SCI) is a growing school but needs improvements to properly accommodate that growth. Onlookers spilled into the atrium at the school board’s administration centre in Midhurst Tuesday as members of the facility standing committee, comprised of trustees, voted at a special meeting called to deal with nine staff recommendations about how to resolve high school enrolment issues. "Before us there are nine recommendations that are basically going to tear our communities apart," said Peter Beacock, trustee for Springwater Township and Oro-Medonte. Trustees poured over the recommendations during a four-and-a-half hour period Tuesday, in the end, defeating a motion to close high schools in Stayner and Penetanguishene. A motion to recommend improvements to Collingwood Collegiate Institute was also defeated. They did approve the closure of Elmvale District High School and the construction of a new secondary school to serve Wasaga Beach and Elmvale. Caroline Smith, the trustee representing Collingwood and Clearview Township, spoke in favour of following the recommendations made by the ARC last month. "There was never a direction from the ARC that they wanted a mega school," said Smith. "This was as close to a consensus as any of the ARCs ever got." She said the board is not allowed to close one school to get growth to build another school, speaking in defense of SCI. Members of the school community have throughout the process made the case that SCI has among the highest graduation rates and test scores in the county. The ARC recommended the board keep its small schools open for that reason. Lou Brandes, the school board’s associate director and superintendent of facility services, said staff does not consider schools of 1,200 students to be large schools and that small schools do not necessarily produce better results. Brad Saunders, trustee for Midland, Penetanguishene, Wasaga Beach and Tiny Township, spoke highly of SCI. He said although it would have been easier for him to have found SCI was in disrepair, instead he found a very nice school with great staff and students. "I think it’s a sustainable school," said Saunders. He said he found it difficult to go along with the recommendations made by staff. "It troubles me that we have a different set of recommendations from administration than from the ARC," said Saunders. "If we go with staff we will have trouble finding people to sit on an ARC… That is a situation, as a trustee, I am very, very uncomfortable with." Saunders tabled two recommendations with regard to high schools in Midland and Penetanguishene derived directly from the ARC and both passed. The decisions made by trustees Tuesday are far from final. Jodi Lloyd, trustee for Severn, Tay and Ramara, chairs the facility standing committee. She said by approving some recommendations and not others, the three-school solution recommended by staff has been altered and there are now holes that need to be filled. Redirecting the 450 Wasaga Beach secondary school students to a new high school will result in capacity issues at Collingwood Collegiate Institute. Lloyd said that problem has yet to be dealt with. She said things are sure to change as trustees go through another wave of public delegations in May before they make their final decision at a board meeting on June 17. She said although all school trustees sit on the facility standing committee, there will certainly be changes in opinion as they go through the process. The board embarked on the review one year ago to seek solutions to declining enrolment in the area, creating a surplus of so-called pupil places. Staff recommendations, contained in a report dated April 14, differ from the recommendations made by the ARC last month. High schools in Stayner, Collingwood, Elmvale, Penetanguishene and Midland are included in the review. Wasaga Beach was also included as a possible school site. The ARC, a committee made up of school and community representatives, recommended a five-school solution, to keep all five schools open and fund necessary improvements and upgrades to solve capacity issues. Board staff recommended a three-school solution, which would result in the closure of Penetanguishene Secondary School, Stayner Collegiate Institute and Elmvale District High School and the construction of a central school for Wasaga Beach and Elmvale.
It’s an offer Innisfil councillors are finding difficult to refuse. The Cortel development group says it can fix chronic flooding problems in the Belle Ewart area through state-of-the art stormwater management. But first it needs to see more of its land included the town’s official plan so the company can create a series of over-sized stormwater ponds to catch run-off before it floods properties near Lake Simcoe. “This would be real public benefit,” Cortel spokesperson Terry Geddes told council. “It’s been proven by our engineering team that it will reduce the flooding.” However, to include Cortel land south of Killarney Beach Road east of the 20th Sideroad, council would have to exclude land in north Alcona near Conc. 9. The majority of council appeared to be leaning in that direction last Wednesday. “If the flooding problem can be fixed — boy — let’s get at it,” Coun. Bill Pring said. Coun. Bill Van Berkel made an passionate plea for the Cortel proposal, saying it may be the only hope for residents who put up with flooding during winter and spring thaws. “Anyone who would take this (proposal) out has never been flooded four or five times a year,” he said. “They’ve never had their cars frozen into their driveways; they’ve never been without drinking water.” With a proposed population increase of 33,000 in the next 23 years, the town must limit where it places new residents. It is restricted by the province’s Places to Grow policy, Simcoe County’s official plan and Lake Simcoe Protection Act. To allow more growth in the south, a development proposed by Pratt near Conc. 9 and the 20th Sideroad, which would include a commercial and industrial sector, would have to be sacrificed. Several councillors are uncomfortable with Alcona north proposal because it is so close to the environmentally sensitive Leonard’s Wetlands area. “If there was ever an industrial spill in that area it would have a huge impact,” Coun. Dan Davidson said. “We’d have transport trucks coming all the way down IBR and so close to the shores of Lake Simcoe. I’m just not comfortable developing in that area.” A planning report also states it would be difficult to build large stormwater management ponds in north Alcona to stop flooding near the lake because of the proximity to Leonard’s Wetlands. Deputy Mayor Gord Wauchope pushed for a vote, recommending the Cortel land be included in the town’s official plan by removing the north Alcona development areas. “We keep trying to fix the flooding problem, but all we keep doing is pump water from people’s properties into Lake Simcoe,” Wauchope said. “This is something that could finally fix it.” But council balked, calling for more engineering data to prove Cortel’s stormwater management system would prevent flooding in the Belle Ewart area. “If we are basing this entire decision on whether this is going to stop flooding, than we better make darn sure that it is going to stop flooding,” Coun. Lynn Dollin said. Planning director Robert McAuley said he would report back to council with a more detailed analysis of the proposed flooding solution.
MIDHURST – Simcoe County District School Board trustees have voted to keep Penetanguishene Secondary School open. Despite a recommendation by an accommodation review committee (ARC) last month to keep PSS open, board staff recommended closing the school and transferring its students to Midland Secondary School to fill excess capacity. “Just because you have excess capacity at MSS doesn’t mean we should close PSS and close the only English-language high school in Penetang,” said Brad Saunders, trustee for Midland, Penetanguishene, Wasaga Beach and Tiny Township. “Leave PSS alone.” Onlookers spilled into the atrium at the school board’s administration centre in Midhurst on Tuesday as members of the facility standing committee, comprised of trustees, voted at a special meeting called to deal with nine staff recommendations about how to resolve high school enrolment issues. “Before us there are nine recommendations that are basically going to tear our communities apart,” said Peter Beacock, trustee for Springwater Township and Oro-Medonte. After pouring over the recommendations during the four-and-a-half-hour session, trustees defeated a motion to close high schools in Penetanguishene and Stayner. A motion to recommend improvements to Collingwood Collegiate Institute was also defeated, although trustees did approve the closure of Elmvale District High School and the construction of a new secondary school to serve Wasaga Beach and Elmvale. “It troubles me that we have a different set of recommendations from administration than from the ARC,” said Saunders, who noted he found it difficult to go along with the staff proposal. “If we go with staff, we will have trouble finding people to sit on an ARC…. That is a situation, as a trustee, I am very, very uncomfortable with.” Saunders tabled two recommendations derived from the ARC, and both passed. Trustees supported recommending board staff investigate all means of removing capacity from MSS, including, but not restricted to, demolition, leasing and community and/or joint-use partnerships. They also recommended that, subject to funding, renovations be undertaken to MSS as a direct result of removing excess capacity. The decisions made by trustees Tuesday are far from final. Jodi Lloyd, trustee for Severn, Tay and Ramara, chairs the facility standing committee. She said by approving some recommendations and not others, the three-school solution recommended by staff has been altered and there are now holes that need to be filled. Redirecting 450 Wasaga Beach secondary school students to a new high school, for example, will result in capacity issues at Collingwood Collegiate Institute. Lloyd said things are sure to change as trustees go through another wave of public delegations in May before making a final decision at a board meeting June 17. The board embarked on the review a year ago to seek solutions to declining enrolment in the area. Staff recommendations, contained in a report dated April 14, differ from the recommendations made by the ARC last month. High schools in Penetanguishene, Midland, Elmvale, Stayner and Collingwood were included in the review. Wasaga Beach was also included as a possible school site. The ARC, a committee made up of school and community representatives, recommended a solution that would keep all five schools open and fund necessary improvements and upgrades to solve capacity issues. Board staff recommended a three-school solution that would result in the closure of PSS, Stayner Collegiate Institute and Elmvale District High School, and the construction of a central school for Wasaga Beach and Elmvale. [email protected]