Heritage homeowners get more say

Owners of properties that don’t want a “heritage” label placed on their buildings may soon get the undivided attention of Innisfil council. Coun. Rod Boynton wants to give owners of potentially designated heritage sites the opportunity to make a deputation to council if they object to a designation. His motion passed 4-2 at last week’s council meeting. Last month, council placed a century old home in Barclay, next to the new recreation centre, on the town’s heritage registry even though the owner objected. Since the commercial property is for sale, the owners aren’t in favour of the heritage designation. Being placed on the registry means the owners would have to apply to council for a demolition permit, or to move the house. A property owner can still appeal any municipal decision to the conservation review board, or, if necessary, to the Ontario Municipal Board. The OMB has the authority to overturn a local council’s decision. Presently, the town-appointed Innisfil Heritage Committee is working on a heritage inventory list that may eventually contain a couple of dozen private homes, businesses and other sites throughout the municipality. “I am aware of the process and how the Heritage Act works,” said Boynton last week. “I think where it falls down is the notices in the paper. The people (affected) don’t see it until the last minute. I think it is prudent that council, not just the (Heritage) committee, speaks to homeowners.” Coun. Lynn Dollin, who voted against the proposal, believes it would undermine the Heritage Committee. “I’m a little concerned about asking a volunteer committee to do a job, and then take part of it away from them,” Dollin said. “I think the committee should be consulted on how we can do this better. If they are volunteering, they should be part of the process.” “I’m not second guessing the committee,” Boynton countered. “They bring recommendations and council makes the decision. I want council to talk to the residents to better understand the full picture. We’re not reassessing the Heritage Committee’s work. We should have the option of talking to the residents and I don’t think the recommendations of the committee should overrule the rights of our citizens.” “I see this as council over-controlling a committee,” Dollin responded. “We have the final say. I’m afraid if we take this step with this committee, it could affect all of our other committees.” When put to the vote, council directed staff to report to council whenever a heritage registration is contested so the owners could address council before a decision is made. “It’s important we get people with heritage homes out to council,” said Deputy Mayor Gord Wauchope. Some of the people don’t understand what’s going on.”


Trustees leave CCI questions unanswered

Simcoe County District School Board trustees have voted to keep four of five area high schools open, leaving existing enrolment gaps at some schools and possibly creating new ones at Collingwood Collegiate Institute. 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 nine staff recommendations during a four-and-a-half hour period Tuesday, in the end, defeating a motion to close the 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 an accommodation review committee (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 Stayner Collegiate Institute. But 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. Collingwood Mayor Chris Carrier said the decision to close Elmvale High School wasn’t the best one. "I supported a six school option, one for each community," he said.  "This is devastating news for the people of Elmvale," he said. "I sympathize with them. I’m shocked that this is one of these recommendations." Carrier said there continues to problems with education funding in Ontario. "I don’t think the board folks are the bad people," he said. "It shows how under-funded education is." Carrier disagrees with the idea that if a school is built in Wasaga Beach, CCI will lose programming. He said it is likely that CCI could lose 300 students, but he can’t see them going from 1,250 students to 850 students overnight. "If they are going to close Elmvale, the school will likely be located in the east end of Wasaga Beach. It still might be advantageous for kids to hop the bus and come to Collingwood," he said. Carrier said they expect huge growth in Nottawa and those kids would likely attend CCI. He said the growth in Collingwood will also add more students to CCI. "Where is the growth going to be in Simcoe County – it’s going to be in Collingwood, Clearview and Wasaga Beach," he said.


Ready, aim … bowl

Allen Kidd, 9, and Jason Hurdle participate in the Bowl for Kids Sake event Sunday at Knight Haven Lanes in Penetanguishene. The fundraiser, which kicked off the previous evening at Midland’s Bayshore Lanes, benefits Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Simcoe. The annual campaign ends March 28.


Everett residents want playground

A group of Everett residents is pushing for park equipment for their neighbourhood. Maureen Nixon has lived on Dekker Street for the past five years. During that time, she has stared a nearby seemingly empty field, wondering why the township hasn’t built any playground equipment. The area is designated as parkland and currently has water and waste treatment facilities underneath. Nixon, like many people on the street, has small children. Hers are ages three and five, but she said there are about 120 more children in the subdivision younger than 12. She said they need a place to play, and with the economy in a recession, affordable recreation needs to be accessible. "Now, more than ever, families need somewhere to go where it doesn’t cost money. We need to become more of a community," she said. Nixon said all of the existing playground equipment in Everett is found north of County Road 5, making it a long and dangerous walk for young children. At an Adjala-Tosorontio council meeting last week, the group of residents pitched a proposal to work with the township to get the equipment installed. Coun. Joy Webster said she was impressed with the initiative the group has shown. "They want to see a partnership. They didn’t come banging on the door looking for money," Webster said. The group, which is a subcommittee of the Everett Parks and Improvement Committee, is more interested in getting the ball rolling now, Nixon said. Nixon said the group is willing to look at fundraising and other necessary steps to make the park a reality. Council directed staff to meet with the group to determine how and where equipment could be placed on the land. The group has set up a Facebook page to keep the community advised as to how the project is progressing. It is called "Neighbours for a Park on Dekker Street" and can be found by typing the name into the search bar at the popular social networking site (


Store window smashed by thieves

The owners of a convenience store in Tiny Township were left cleaning up a bit of a mess when they arrived at work Saturday morning. Just after 4 a.m. on Feb. 28, Southern Georgian Bay OPP officers responded to a call of mischief at the Jug City store at 594 Champlain Rd. “Police met the operators of the store, who had arrived only to find that the large front window had been smashed,” said Const. Peter Leon in a news release. Damage to the window is estimated at $3,500. A quantity of merchandise was also stolen. Police are asking anyone with information to contact the OPP at 526-3761 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).


Students trapped on crashed bus for two hours

Students were trapped in a school bus for about two hours after it crashed into a hydro pole near Utopia this afternoon. The crash occurred on the 6th Line of Essa between the 25th and 30th Sideroads just after 3 p.m. when the bus entered the ditch and struck a hydro pole, downing power lines and preventing them from leaving the vehicle. Emergency crews had to wait until the hydro lines were shut down before they could remove the students. By about 5 p.m., the students were transferred to another school bus. The bus that crashed was from St. Joan of Arc High School in Barrie.  Police and Essa firefighters are currently on the scene. It is still unclear how many students were on the bus. One person was seen being taken off the bus on a stretcher, and will be taken to Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie. There is no word yet on the extent of the injuries. Police blocked the 6th Line at both the 30th and 25th and are not allowing anyone in. Parents started arriving at the barricades while the children were still in the bus. One woman reported that her daughter was a passenger on the bus and that she called her on her cell phone. The girl reported the bus was “on its side” in the ditch and the students were being kept on the bus at the time.


Funds for daycare

A daycare being displaced from OPP Headquarters will own the new building that will serve as its home, thanks to a $1.4 million gift from the province. “No landlord will ever be able to shut us down again,” said Lucille Desjardins, director of Treasure Island Daycare. Desjardins has learned the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is committing $1.4 million toward the construction of a new facility in West Ridge. “They are putting up the bricks and mortar,” she said. The announcement followed months of uncertainty, as the non-profit daycare sought to secure funding based on a commitment of support from the Minister of Children and Youth Services. Desjardins persisted with regular e-mails to the government and the media, determined to keep the issue front and centre. This week she learned that another ministry would instead provide the all-important funding. “We are very, very happy,” she said. The $1.4 million grant will be administered through the County of Simcoe, but falls $300,000 short of the total building cost. As a result, the daycare will finish the basement on its own and cover a portion of the start-up costs, Desjardins added. Officials are now working with builder Angelo Orsi to determine a construction timeline, saying the funding delay will push the opening date to November or December. The daycare was to leave OPP Headquarters by the end of June. “We will need an extension, and the ministries are prepared to deal with that without my having to go to the (the province),” Desjardins added. “I am very happy about that.” The daycare serves more than 120 clients and has another 100 families on a waiting list. In September it was ordered to vacate OPP Headquarters by Jan. 31 following a security review, but won an extension after daycare officials made public their concerns. The new, 8,500 square foot facility will be named the West Ridge Early Education Centre. It will sit on a two-acre property west of Highway 11, along Harvie Settlement Road.


Council members raise concerns over special meeting

Two members of Collingwood council have raised concerns over the calling of a special meeting of council that is slated for this Monday. Mayor Chris Carrier has called a special meeting of council for Monday at 9 a.m., at the Royal Canadian Legion. The meeting is to hear a presentation from Brig-Gen. Denis Thompson and Chief Warrant Officer Christopher White about Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. Deputy Mayor Sandra Cooper said the content of the meeting isn’t the issue but she is concerned that once again the mayor has scheduled a meeting and announced it to the public without the rest of council having any knowledge. "Council wasn’t aware of it until he sent out the press release," she said. Cooper said when special meetings are called, it would be nice if "we could see the agenda before it goes out to the media. You pick up the newspaper and you read it." This is the second time in the past several weeks that Cooper has raised concerns about not receiving information before it’s released to the public. Cooper voiced her displeasure with Carrier sending out a press release on Collingwood Ethanol before it was sent to council. She said the meeting on Monday should have been scheduled as an informal session, open to the public, but not a special meeting of council. "I would look at it a different way. I think I would have had it informal," she said. "It’s not questions of us being asked." Carrier said the representatives from the military contacted the municipality to do a deputation but were unable to make the regular 5 p.m. council meeting. He said this would allow them to make their presentation to council and the community. Carrier said he had only received concerns from Counc. Ian Chadwick. Chadwick was concerned with the timing of the meeting, saying he will be unable to attend because of work commitments. However, he said he thinks special meetings should only be called to deal with municipal business. "Special meetings should be held for matters of urgent municipal business," he said. "This is nothing against the military."


Proposed break for businesses rebuffed

MIDHURST – Simcoe County councillors opted not to give employers a tax break this year for fear of the impact on homeowners. Instead, county councillors will contemplate how to reduce the tax burden for business and industry at a strategic planning session Tuesday. And they’ll have a year to consider how to implement any ideas that may emerge as the county sets tax ratios – how to allocate the tax levy among the various property classes, such as residential, commercial, farm, pipeline and industrial. Collingwood Mayor Chris Carrier had urged the mayors and deputy mayors of the county’s 16 member municipalities to give business extra care this year, as the recession stresses companies. He said the county has room to move to make its tax ratios more fair, as businesses bear not only a large share of the municipal tax, but also six to 10 times more than a residential taxpayer in education taxes. “We have significant employers looking toward all levels of government to offer stimulus and be more fair,” he said Tuesday. “We’re a long, long way from the (provincially recommended) range of fairness. What I’m asking is the moving forward of the bylaw (setting taxes) be held off until we collectively discuss this.” His motion, however, failed, and county councillors set the new taxes effective March 24. “I’m not opposed to what Coun. Carrier is suggesting, (but) we really need to see the actual effect on a number of municipalities. My community is 95 per cent residential,” said Tiny Township Mayor Peggy Breckenridge. “It’s probably not too bad, but without the numbers, how can we move forward?” Switching the ratio slightly would cost residents a few dollars more, while sparing companies with higher assessments much more. It would impact municipalities differently, depending on their makeup. Collingwood, with its diverse employment and industrial base, would benefit, while Tiny, which is largely residential, would see its support to the county rise. Two weeks ago, Essa Township Mayor David Guergis highlighted a Barrie company that was poised to build two plants in Essa, but went to the United States instead, where taxes were lower and municipal regulations fewer. [email protected]