Infrastructure cash for sewer plant

The federal and provincial government will each provide up to $181,333 to Clearview Township – money that will go towards upgrades at the Creemore sewage treatment plant. Simcoe-Grey MP Helena Guergis made the funding announcement on Wednesday. “The government of Canada is committed to rebuilding infrastructure and stimulating the economy,” Guergis said in a statement. “I know how important this project is to Clearview Township and the residents of Creemore.” Ken Ferguson, the township’s mayor, said he was pleased with the funding news. “This funding will offset capital costs which will benefit all taxpayers,” Ferguson said. “I can only hope the commitment from both upper tier governments to invest in our economy and our municipal infrastructure will continue.” The upgrades at the plant are estimated to cost $543,999, with Clearview contributing the balance. An exact amount won’t be known until the project is tendered and a contract awarded, something that won’t happen until after the township’s budget is approved in March. Richard Spraggs, the township’s director of public works, said Clearview applied for the money in November through the Building Canada Fund. He said the cash will help pay for what’s called an equalization tank at the sewage treatment plant. “What it does is take in high flows and store them and later puts them into the system when the level flowing into the plant slows down. So basically it’s a big storage tank,” Spraggs said. In total, the tank will be able to hold about 1,000 cubic metres of water, he added. The township estimates the tank will cost roughly $500,000. High flows have been a problem at the plant, particularly in the spring. The suspicion among municipal officials is that people are using their sump pumps to transfer water into the system – a practice that’s illegal. They also suspect water could be infiltrating the system along the lines to the plant. Last spring, the high volume of water coming into the plant resulted in officials having to truck sewage water to Stayner’s plant, where it was subsequently processed. The funds from Ottawa will also help pay for what’s called a programmable logic controller – what Spraggs described as a computer system to operate the plant. “There’s one there now – this is a back up,” he said. “The main one we had became inoperable in the summer last year and we had to switch to the back-up. It was just wear-and-tear.” The township estimates the system will cost $43,000. “All in all though we’re pretty happy to have this money,” Spraggs said. He said the work at the 10-year-old plant will begin in September.


Ice conditions changing hourly

Despite repeated warning from police to stay off the ice, many are failing to heed the warning. “Ice conditions are not changing daily, but locally, they are changing hourly,” said Const. Peter Leon in a news release. This past weekend was no exception, he noted, as one snowmobiler could have been a part of what was a tragic weekend with a number of deaths on the ice and one on a closed Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) trail. “On Saturday night, shortly after 9 p.m., a homeowner who lives on Sawlog Point Road in Tiny Township was out walking the family dog when the sound of a snowmobile that was being operated on the ice suddenly stopped. The eerie silence was soon replaced with cries for help as the snowmobiler had gone into the frigid waters of Georgian Bay,” stated Leon, adding the Tiny Township Fire Department responded to the scene along with police and paramedics, beginning what would turn out to be a dangerous ice rescue. The man was safely brought to shore and transported to the Huronia District Hospital in Midland suffering from hypothermia. “This rescue, if not for the actions of the firefighters involved, could have ended tragically if the circumstances were different Saturday night. While attempting the rescue, the firefighters even went through the ice themselves on a number of occasions,” he said. “Life is valuable and the message is simple, please stay off the ice. It is not only unsafe for any type of recreational activity, but puts the lives of rescuers at great risk.”


Developer’s plan could ease chronic flooding

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.


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 (www.facebook.com).


Hospital’s wait times better than the average

Wait times at Stevenson Memorial Hospital’s emergency room are better than the provincial average and the hospital is striving to make services even better, according to president and CEO Gary Ryan. According to a provincial study released last week patients at the Alliston hospital spend 3.8 hours in the emergency room for minor or uncomplicated conditions. The provincial target for these patients is four hours in the ER. The Ontario average is 4.6 hours. For people with more complex conditions such as heart attacks that require more time to be diagnosed, patients visiting SMH are spending 6.6 hours in the ER. The provincial target is eight hours, while the current average is 13.5 hours province wide. Having a good patient turnaround speaks to successes in other areas of the hospital, said Ryan. He said hospitals that have the largest waits are places where there is a long list of people waiting for a long-term care bed. “Our flow is better usually because we’re better at clearing up our beds,” said Ryan. Re-opening the obstetrics unit last year also helped. Ryan said there are more beds for people who need to be admitted when the obstetrics unit isn’t busy. With the provincial government tightening hospital’s budgets, Ryan is happy funding for improving ER services is separate. “The ER is kind of the canary in the coal mine, it sees the problem but is not the cause of the problem,” said Ryan. Over the past two years the province has offered two rounds of funding to improve ERs but Stevenson Memorial didn’t qualify. Ryan said he hopes at some point SMH will be given money for its ER to improve services. In the meantime, the hospital has been approved for a new physician assistant program that Ryan said could help the flow of people through the emergency room. The physician assistant (PA) program is just being introduced to Ontario. Their role is to conduct patient interviews, take medical histories, perform physical examinations and provide counseling on preventative health care. Ryan said a PA could also have the ability to set a fracture and cast a broken leg. Although SMH has been approved for the PA program, funding hasn’t been confirmed. Ryan said the hospital has to sign on to the terms of the program by the second week of March. To further improve ER services in the meantime, Ryan said they are looking at when the department is the busiest and are looking at having two physicians there then. No matter how busy the local ER gets, Ryan doesn’t want people to hesitate to use it. “I’d prefer to have a few people who maybe didn’t have to be there than dissuade people from coming,” said Ryan. “I’d be loath to suggest running our system in a way to discourage people to come.” A comparison of emergency room wait times for all of Ontario’s hospitals is available online at .