Make a deal: Watson

The message from Municipal Affairs Minister Jim Watson is clear – either Innisfil and Barrie negotiate a boundary deal or the province will do it for them. “He wants us at the table and he wants us to work this out,” Innisfil Mayor Brian Jackson said a few hours after meeting with Watson at Queen’s Park. “He said he’s not going to allow us to let this drag on for another year.” Watson told the Innisfil contingent, which included Conservative MPP Julia Munro, that the province would step in if a settlement can’t be made that gives Barrie more land to develop. Jackson’s meeting with Watson followed a similar meeting the Liberal Cabinet minister had with Barrie. Jackson said he called Barrie Mayor Dave Aspden after his meeting with Watson to set up an initial meeting. “This would be just to lay some ground work,” he said. “We have to see if there is a foundation we can build on.” Talks were aborted last year after Innisfil left the table. A proposed deal brokered by a provincially-appointed facilitator short-changed Innisfil, Jackson said. Innisfil wanted one-acre of its employment zone in Innisfil Heights on the Hwy. 400 corridor serviced by Barrie for every acre it gave the city through boundary adjustments. But the deal would have seen Innisfil give up three acres for every acre of serviced land. There have been no negotiations since. Watson did not give the municipalities a firm deadline, although it was clear he wanted the long-standing issue resolved within the next few months, Jackson said. “He gave us a couple of dates that just weren’t feasible,” Jackson said. “I think he may have been testing us.” Watson did not suggest a provincially-appointed facilitator be used this time, Jackson said. Jackson has suggested Barrie may be stalling the process, hoping for the province to invoke boundary adjustments that would benefit the city. “I guess Barrie must decide if they’ll benefit more from a political solution than a negotiated one,” Jackson said. Coun. Jeff Lehman, Barrie’s chairperson for boundary adjustments, has said the city remains serious about finding a local solution. Watson met with the municipalities after Barrie MPP Aileen Carroll, a Liberal Cabinet minister, asked him to intervene. Carroll complained that the stalemate was stifling Barrie’s ability to develop, especially since the province has designated it as a regional growth centre.


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.


Georgian residence in works

An Orillia developer is under way with plans to build a 200-bed residence that will serve students attending the local campus of Georgian College. Located next to the campus, on lands west of the property line, the $12 million project is a joint venture involving Charter Construction and Mark Rich Homes. “We understand that a student residence needs to be facilitated in the worst way, as students are struggling to find good accommodations,” Angelo Orsi told Orillia Today. Orsi was aiming to have the residence open by September of 2009, but said the project hinges on the province allowing a sewer line to cross a nearby property occupied by OPP General Headquarters. “We anticipate to have (Ontario Realty Corporation) approval by March, which then gets us going on the site servicing this summer,” he added. “It is critical that we get approvals this spring so that we can secure the 2010 school season.” A second phase, proposed for 2011, would make available another 100 to 200 beds, coupled with a supporting neighbourhood commercial development, he added. Approval of an environmental assessment for the all-important sewer line is already in place, “however, it needs to be reviewed through the (province’s) own EA,” Orsi added. Georgian College has “been interested in having residences for well over 10 years,” Cathy Campbell, director of campus services, said in an interview this week.   “It is a common question when we recruit students for open houses and information days,” Campbell said. “It will play a significant role in attracting students to programs at the Orillia campus. We are very excited about it.” Students who would have commuted from neighbouring communities are more likely to live on campus with the addition of a residence, she added. “It brings a different element of student life to the campus and to the community,” she added. Orsi agreed. “We are confident that having a residence right next door to Georgian is a great fit for students, and growing the enrollment at Georgian College,” he added. Many of the college’s students hail from neighbouring towns and cities, with some choosing to commute rather than rent locally. Those who rent within Orillia can choose from a variety of accommodations, including single rooms with kitchen privileges, shared housing and apartments. In existence at its current location since 1979, the Orillia campus has about 1,700 full-time students.


Farmstead falls in demolition

Another one of Innisfil’s old farmsteads has fallen to the wrecker’s ball. A two-storey house at 1438 6th Line, just east of the 20th Sideroad came down in a matter of hours last Thursday. The structure had not been designated as a heritage property but did appear on the “Potential Inventory List of Heritage Sites” prepared by the Innisfil Historical Society last April. The Town of Innisfil issued a demolition permit for the house on Oct. 15, 2008. When contacted by the Innisfil Journal, Heritage Committee chairperson Andrew Cowan was unaware the home had been destroyed. “We had some pictures of it from the outside,” Cowan said. “I asked for permission to go inside but had not heard back from the owners. We were hoping to capture at least some of the architectural features.” Cowan said he had heard rumours that the interior of the property was not in the greatest of shape. Apparently, a previous tenant had kept a variety of exotic animals in the house. “We weren’t sure of the condition of the house, but we would have liked the opportunity to have seen it,” he said. “If it was not in salvageable condition, that’s one thing but we wanted to have a closer look. It’s unfortunate (the demolition) has happened.” Innisfil resident David Steele, whose house is one of four properties now on the town’s heritage registry list, said he was saddened by the destruction of the house. “The owner has the right to demolish the house,” Steele said, “but it’s horrifying to see another part of Innisfil’s history destroyed.” He, like Cowan, had heard the building’s interior was in a state of disrepair. However, contrary to popular opinion, Steele says, “Building a new building would cost more than bringing an old one up to snuff. People think it’s cheaper to demolish than rebuild.” Steele believes more could be done locally to preserve older structures. “Unfortunately, council hasn’t seen fit to have more than a few houses on the registry list,” he says. “East Gwillimbury (council) has passed a bylaw to make the town a ‘No demolition’ zone and their council has accepted a list with more than 400 buildings on it. Even Bradford West Gwillimbury has 30 properties on the registry, even though they dismantled their heritage committee. Springwater has bylaws for older properties and whether they should be designated. They are way ahead of us.” On a positive note, Steele attended a meeting last weekend of the Ontario Architectural Conservancy, where the Simcoe County chapter was formally chartered. “The chapter is now official,” Steele says. “We learned a lot about what we could be doing to protect old houses and buildings. You can’t make a fuss about every old house but there’s a long way to go up here.”


Kings stung by Alliston Hornets in 3-1 playoff road loss

The Penetang Kings showed two different sides of their hockey personality Sunday, in a 3-1 loss to the Alliston Hornets in Game 5 of their 2009 Junior C championship series. After skating out to a 1-0 first-period lead in Alliston, the Kings let the Hornets take the game to them, on their way to the two-goal defeat. With the win Alliston moved into a 3-2 lead in games in the Georgian Bay Mid-Ontario Junior C Hockey League championship series. Penetang was fighting for their playoff lives on Monday night, and forced a seventh and deciding game, when the two teams met Monday evening in Game 6 in Penetanguishene. “We played a strong first period, but I don’t know what happened from there,” said Kings head coach Adam Schaap, speaking with The Mirror after Sunday’s 3-1 loss. Ali Robitaille provided the Kings with a 1-0 lead at the 14:25 mark of the first period, teaming up with Matt Mawdsley to score on a power-play opportunity. But instead of drawing additional energy and motivation from the goal, Schaap said the Kings appeared to fall flat. “We seemed to lose our step in the second and third periods,” he said. Alliston also applied intense offensive pressure, which Schaap said had a definite impact on the final outcome. “I don’t think we got out of our own zone more than once or twice the entire second period,” said Schaap. In the second period Kings netminder Jacob McKendry was under siege, as Alliston held a 23-3 edge in shots. Kyle McPherson scored at the 14:05 mark of the second period to pull Alliston even at 1-1. Chris Brown put the Hornets ahead to stay at 4:51 of the third period, finding room behind McKendry. The goal was a power-play marker, the only extra-strength goal Alliston scored on the night. Both teams scored on one of their five power-play chances. Ryan Algar later sealed the win, scoring with 13 seconds remaining in the third period. “We didn’t have too many really good scoring chances in the games and the ones we did have, we couldn’t capitalize on,” said Schaap. Overall, Alliston out-shot Penetang by a 45-20 margin in the game. Heading into Game 6 on Monday, Schaap said the Kings weren’t about to throw in the towel. “The players knew the importance of winning Game 2 after losing the opening game of this series, and they went out and won that game. They know what they have to do Monday and won’t give up without a fight,” said the head coach.


Wasaga man charged with sexual assault

The Huronia West OPP say they received a report around 5 p.m. last Thursday that a young female in Stayner was sexually assaulted. Const. Mark Kinney says an investigation revealed that a man grabbed the female in the schoolyard at Byng Public School. “Fortunately, this female got away and notified a member of the Clearview Fire Department who immediately called police,” Kinney said. “Members of the Clearview Fire Department located the above male and followed him through several streets, updating police until they arrived and arrested him.” Police have charged Wesley Robinson, 51, of Wasaga Beach with sexual assault.


Ice jams have moderated: NVCA

Officials continue to warn of possible flooding in Wasaga Beach. The Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority advises that flooding from ice jams in the Nottawasaga River have moderated, but remain in place and flooding could return as ice moves downstream, said flood warning coordinator Brian Smith in a flood advisory issued Monday. He said ice jams are difficult to predict and can cause a rapid change in water levels. Smith said weather forecasts call for above-freezing temperatures on Wednesday and Thursday, returning to below-freezing on Friday. "No liquid precipitation is expected. This scenario will result in consolidation of the snowpack but should not cause significant runoff and changes to stream levels," said Smith. People, especially children, are advised to stay away from all bodies of water as unstable ice, slippery banks and cold water may result in life threatening conditions. The Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority continues to monitor the situation. The flood warning advisory is in effect until Friday. Call 424-1479 and dial 1 for the flood information line or visit www.nvca.on.ca.


Female youth charged

A call to an all-girls boarding school on the evening of March 19 in Grey Highlands, south of Meaford, has led to criminal charges against an unruly student. Grey County O.P.P. responded to the call just after 6 pm. A 15-year old female had run away into a nearby wooded area. Concern grew as darkness approached and temperatures dropped because it was known she was not dressed in winter clothing. As the investigator made arrangements for the deployment of an O.P.P. Canine Unit the runaway returned. After returning she became defiant and threatened to leave again. She then physically assaulted her mother and the officer in attendance. Charged with the Criminal Code offenses of Assault and Assault Police is a 15 year-old female with an out of province address. She was held in custody over night but has now been released and is scheduled for first appearance in the Youth Justice Court-Owen Sound on April 21.


Ontario dancers dazzle crowds at Blue Mountain

Young dancers from across Ontario visited Blue Mountain last weekend for the eighth annual Bedazzled Dance Championship competition. Seven hundred and three dancers performed 777 numbers at the Blue Mountain Inn from April 16 to 19. Dancers came from 17 clubs including the Collingwood School of Dance and two clubs in Barrie. This is the fifth year the competition was held at Blue Mountain, and the National championships will return to the same place in July. Bedazzled is one of Canada’s largest Dance competitions, according to director Tracy Covelli. "We are all about fun, healthy dance experience that all dancers will treasure for years to come," said Covelli. For more information about Bedazzled, visit their website at www.bedazzleddance.com.