Sledder goes through ice while ‘puddle jumping’

An area snowmobiler put himself in harm’s way for the sake of a little “fun” on Tuesday. Just before 2 p.m., Southern Georgian Bay OPP officers responded to a report that a snowmobile had gone through the ice in the Hog Bay area between Port McNicoll and Victoria Harbour. “The snowmobiler readily admitted to police that he was ‘puddle jumping,’” Const. Peter Leon stated in a press release, “and that he would continue to do so after he got the sled out of the water.” However, the boat the man employed to fetch his sled was not equipped with lifejackets, so police charged the 20-year-old Midland resident under the small-vessel regulations of the Canada Shipping Act. The OPP also echoed its warning to stay off the ice.


Honda hits 20-million mark

Honda has produced its 20-millionth automobile in North America.  Of that number, nearly 25 per cent were manufactured in Canada by the Honda of Canada Mfg. assembly plants in Alliston. Honda began local North American auto production in Marysville, Ohio, in 1982, and in Alliston in 1986. "The production of 20 million cars and light trucks in North America was achieved through the ultimate in teamwork by our suppliers, business partners and dealers working together with Honda associates to create joy for our customers," said Tsuneo Tanai, president and CEO of Honda of America Mfg. Inc. and head of Honda’s production operations in North America. In a letter thanking the more than 34,000 associates working in Honda manufacturing, sales, marketing and R&D operations in North America, Tanai said, "Most importantly, we owe our deepest appreciation to our customers, as none of our accomplishments would be possible without the loyalty they have shown to their Honda and Acura products." Honda has two Canadian vehicle assembly plants in Alliston that produce approximately 390,000 vehicles annually. In the U.S., Honda has vehicle assembly plants in Alabama and Indiana, and two assembly plants in Ohio. There also is a vehicle assembly plant in Jalisco, El Salto, Mexico.  In addition to the production of 20-million passenger cars and light trucks, Honda’s cumulative North American production of automobile engines exceeds 18.4 million units, and its automatic transmission production exceeds 13 million units. From the start-up of automobile exports in 1987 through 2008, Honda has exported 922,668 vehicles made in North America to global markets.  Honda has invested more than (U.S.) $10.6 billion in its North America operations, including 16 major manufacturing facilities employing more than 27,000 associates, to produce Honda and Acura passenger cars and light trucks, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, personal watercraft, lawn mowers, general-purpose engines, and other power equipment products. The Honda of Canada Mfg. facility in Alliston, which opened in 1986, represents an investment in Canada of $2.6 billion. With 4,600 workers, Honda builds the Honda Civic sedan and coupe, and the Acura CSX sedan and MDX luxury utility vehicle at its two plants in Alliston and produces fuel-efficient four-cylinder engines at its new engine plant adjacent to its Canadian manufacturing facilities.   Nearly half of all Honda and Acura vehicles sold in Canada in 2008 were made in Canada – a higher percentage than any other Canadian vehicle manufacturer.


Fed gas tax money helps smooth Centre Street

Federal gas tax money is being injected into local municipalities and it could take some of the bumps out of the ride for motorists traveling on Alliston’s Centre Street. For 2009-2010, New Tecumseth is getting $849,403, up from $424,702 in 2008-2009. Municipalities can use the gas tax money for roads, water treatment plants, sewers, bridges and improving buses and transit systems. Because of restrictions on how the funding can be used, New Tecumseth Mayor Mike MacEachern said the town has been saving the gas tax since it started receiving payments in 2005. This year, $1.7 million worth of projects is being completed with the accumulated money. MacEachern said water main and sewer components for the Centre Street upgrades in Alliston are on the list. Other projects include work at the Beeton reservoir, disinfecting treatments for Tottenham water and replacing a water main on Lily Street in Beeton he said. Simcoe-Grey MP Helena Guergis said the federal government has doubled its gas tax transfers to municipalities and is providing the money sooner. "Our government is proud to be working with provinces and municipalities to deliver stable, predictable funding for infrastructure that Canadians use and depend on every day," stated Guergis in a release. This year Essa Township is also getting $546,145 and Adjala-Tosorontio’s payment is $327,596.


Town will light up stop signs

A memorial for Brandon Pugh remains near the intersection of 9th Line and 20th Sideroad. Pugh was killed Nov. 11 when his car was struck by a 17-year-old northbound driver who disobeyed a stop sign. Innisfil council has approved the installation of hazard beacons on two stop signs at the intersection. The intersection has been the scene of numerous accidents, including the fatality, in recent months. Town staff is also investigating the feasibility of placing rumble strips on the roadways approaching the crossing.


Area real estate shows improvement: Board

The Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board says March brought forth improved property showing and sales activity throughout the region. The board says that in the most active price range – homes up to $249,000 – there was “an increase in the number of instances where multiple or competing offers were present.” The board says that, “low interest rates, a wide selection of properties available to choose from and stable pricing have many buyers realizing now is the time to buy.” Still, the board says the number of real estate listings is down for the first quarter of 2009 when compared with the same period a year ago. There were 1,317 listings between January and the end of March, compared to 1,342 last year. The board says the number of sales for the first quarter was 238, compared to 394 in 2008. The corresponding total dollar sales was $55-million, compared to $105-million for the first quarter last year. A breakdown by price range reveals that 168 listings were sold in the first quarter in the up to $249,000 range, compared to 243 a year ago. In the 250,000 to $499,000 range, 56 sales occurred, compared to 124 during the first quarter of 2008. In the $500,000 to $1-million range, there were 13 sales, compared to 21 a year ago. In the $1-million and up rage, there has only been one sale the first quarter of this year, compared to six a year ago. The Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board is comprised of agents from across the Georgian Triangle.


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.


No more flouride in Tottenham taps

Flouride Turned Off Tottenham’s drinking water could soon flow without fluoride if a motion by Coun. Jim Stone gains momentum. Stone first brought the hazards of fluoride in drinking water to New Tecumseth council’s attention last week. He said fluoride has been linked to some cancers and that there is no proof of people having less cavities in areas where fluoride is added to the water. Tottenham is currently the only community in Simcoe County that adds fluoride to its water. It’s a practice that started in the 1973 when the Walkem Drive Well was constructed, according to a town report. Although the fluorination system was moved to the Mill Street Reservoir at one point, the primary system was moved back to Walkem Drive Well. Currently Walkem Drive Well houses the main fluoride treatment system, with the Coventry Park Well housing a backup system. Removing fluoride from the water can be done without approval from the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. The only process for the town to end the treatment would be amending a certificate of approval for the fluoride practice from the Ministry of Environment. Public Works promotion Chad Horan has been appointed to manager of public works, effective March 31. Horan was promoted from his position of superintendent of utilities.


CAW greeted with hostility at Honda plant

One of Canada’s largest labour unions was met with open hostility by Honda workers after picketers set up outside the Alliston plants today. Members from the Canadian Auto Workers union were outside the Honda of Canada Mfg. plant entrances during the afternoon shift change handing out information leaflets and looking for support. While most Honda workers leaving the plant simply kept their windows rolled up, some yelled insults and obscenities at the picketers. "You already put Ford and Chrysler out of work," one man yelled as he drove by. Another woman shouted to the picketers to "go home." Some Honda workers opened their windows and took the leaflets, while a few honked their horns. CAW representatives said the picket was to inform Honda workers of the difficulties autoworkers are currently facing. They want them to back the CAW as it fights cuts in the sector caused by the current recession. "It’s a solidarity message from the CAW with respect to what’s going on in the auto industry, the cause of it, and that it’s affecting all auto workers, not just GM, Ford, (and) Chrysler, but Honda and Toyota as well," said Dan MacPherson, of the CAW. The union had also scheduled information pickets outside the Toyota plants in southern Ontario. While Honda is not unionized, the CAW argues in the leaflet that wages and benefits of unionized employees have a direct impact on those of Honda workers. Karen Clark is part of the CAW Local 222 and works at the General Motors plant in Oshawa. She made the trip to Alliston for the picket. She said the media, among others, has given the public the impression that the union is to blame for the current financial trouble of the Big Three automakers. She suspects that’s part of the reason some Honda associates were acting hostile. "It’s a scary time for people, because they don’t know where to turn," she said. "If you actually look at the facts, I could work for free now and it wouldn’t sell another car." As Honda associates rolled into a local Tim Hortons after their shift, the reaction was a little more muted. Most didn’t want to comment on the picket. One man said the union was wasting its time and that the CAW doesn’t have a place in Honda. Another woman said she wasn’t allowed to talk about it. The issues for the CAW include layoffs, wage reductions, and recent reports that the province doesn’t have the money to back private pension plans should General Motors, or any of the Big Three automakers, file for bankruptcy protection. Ontario’s Pension Benefit Guarantee Fund provides pensioners with up to $1,000 a month if a private plan falters. Premier Dalton McGuinty said last week there was not enough money in the fund to cover pensions should GM  go bankrupt. The fund is currently worth about $100 million. If that happens, the CAW argues, retirees from all sectors across the province could find themselves in financial jeopardy. The union is staging a large rally at Queen’s Park April 23 to push the government to do more to guarantee workers’ pensions. Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan has said the province’s priority is to work with GM to make sure the situation never gets that far. Honda in Alliston had no comment on the union action. Honda communications spokesperson Colin Fisher wouldn’t release any details regarding Honda’s pension plan, but he said there have been no changes to it during the economic turbulence of the past six months. Honda has however significantly cut production in the past months, cancelling the Plant 2 afternoon shift, buying out all temporary worker contracts, and at times cutting production to four days a week. -With files from Torstar


Flyerland.ca is going multicultural

Flyerland.ca, the online product produced by Metroland, is launching a Chinese version of its website. “It’s (one of) Canada’s largest ethnic groups and just as Chinese newspapers are very popular, Chinese people like to read a lot of their information in their first language,” said Alvin Brouwer, vice-president of advertising and product development with Metroland. Flyerland.ca is now available in both traditional and simplified Chinese. A French version is being launched next week, and Punjabi and Hindi are expected to follow in the future. To view the Chinese version, go to , , or . Flyerland.ca launched March 17, 2008 and gets more than 10 million page views a month. “It’s national so you can search for 10,000 cities and towns across Canada and get not only national retail offerings, deals and coupons, but offerings from local retailers, too.” Given the current situation of the economy, Brouwer said it’s good timing to launch a multi-lingual product offering flyers and coupons.


Building a ‘greener’ greenhouse

A Wyevale business is being infested with bugs in an attempt to go green. Robert and Laura Moon, owners of Wye Nursery, are reducing their greenhouse practice of pesticide spraying, instead choosing to use a biological approach that introduces one insect into the greenhouse that will prey on other insects known for eating or destroying plants. Robert Moon said the alternative to this “green” way of ridding plants of pests includes sprays, chemicals and pesticides. “It’s bad for us and it’s bad for the customer,” he said. “The pesticides are left on the leaf, and (most) people don’t know that.” Added Laura Moon: “With all the recalls of fruits and vegetables, you don’t know if a tomato is from Mexico, what they’re spraying on them, where they’re growing them or how they’re growing them.” The nursery started using the new method last year with its fall mums, noted Robert Moon. He added the bugs – which come as both mature bugs and eggs – live in sacks providing them with enough food for a number of weeks. “The more you use a spray, the more a plant becomes immune to it. They weren’t being effective,” he said. With 90 per cent of the plants sold at the nursery being grown there from seed, using this new process can also be a bit time-consuming, they noted. “We’re still at the early stages, and you definitely have to keep on top of it,” said Laura Moon. “You’ve got to get it managed,” added her husband. “(If) you find a few, you’ve got to get right on top of it because, if you just let it go and they’re everywhere, then these (bugs) aren’t going to work. You have to bring these in early.” The couple said even though the bugs cost about 50 per cent more than chemical sprays, the benefits are priceless. “It’s just a better way of doing things,” Laura Moon said. “For us, doing what we’re doing and moving to the next level, it just seems like the logical thing to do … like it’s the right next step.” [email protected]