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Merry Christmas to you and yours

You never know who might be lurking on your roof…


photo by Helen Chung (with a few liberties taken!)

“Food and Water First” comes to Mulmur

The North Dufferin Agricultural Task Force is rolling out its next phase of advocacy following its successful, if precarious, defeat of the mega quarry proposal in Melancthon. On Wednesday, spokesperson Shirley Boxem brought NDACT’s new “Food and Water First” message to Mulmur Council, hoping that the municipality will lend its support to the new campaign once it gets fully underway.

“The main goal of Food and Water First is to ensure that farmers across Ontario are never again in the position of having to defend their precious land and water against inappropriate development,” said Boxem.

The new campaign, she said, would “augment and expand” the successful communications framework that NDACT built during the Stop the Mega Quarry fight.

A new website, foodandwaterfirst.com, will go live in mid-April, and businesses, organizations and municipal governments will be encouraged to put a “Food and Water First” button on their own websites, linking them to the new NDACT site. In doing so, they will also be asked to sign a pledge. In a municipality’s case, Boxem said this would let developers know in advance that “this is a community that has planning in place,” that weighs the benefits of all development versus its potential impact on prime farmland and source water.

Boxem said the campaign would also utilize social media, which played a key role in growing the movement during the quarry fight, and involve a “spring planting” of Food and Water First signs across the province in May.

Mayor Paul Mills followed Boxem’s presentation by asserting Mulmur’s continuing support for NDACT’s work, and said Council would debate the inclusion of the button on the Township’s website when the time came.

“Hooked” the play

Soon, you can see seven dead women come to life at Mad Maple Country Inn.

The parade of writers, artists, socialites and at least one murderer inhabit the play “Hooked” by Carolyn Smart. On Sunday, October 6 at 2 pm, two-time Gemini Award-winning actor Nicky Guadagni will resurrect them.

“Hooked,” is about seven obsessed women. Judging from the cast of characters (Unity Mitford, Elizabeth Smart, Zelda Fitzgerald, Dora Carrington, Carson McCullers, Myra Hindley and Jane Bowles), it is not hard to see why.

Written as a traditional play, Guadagni created “Hooked in House,” an intimate performance in a private home that includes food, drink and discussion.

In Creemore, Guadagni will perform each woman’s monologue, in a different costume, in a different room of Mad Maple Country Inn, as the audience moves through the house with her.

Each character lends herself to particular rooms in a house, Guadagni explains. Before each performance, Guadagni chooses which room goes best with the character she will be portraying. Canadian author Elizabeth Smart had four children, so she’s usually in the kitchen or garden, she said. You’ll usually find an ill Carson McCullers lying down in the master bedroom, and 1960s murderer Myra Hindley often gets the “grottiest” part of the house, such as the garage or an unfinished basement.

From such a colourful collection of women (some darker than others), Guadagni says she feels most comfortable in the skin of artist Dora Carrington, who committed suicide after falling in love with Lytton Strachey, a member of the Bloomsbury Group.

“Many women of my generation met and fell in love with at least one homosexual,” she explained. “The guy who was awesome to be with, wants nothing from you and who doesn’t want to change you.”

Guadagni feels that being in the room with the characters helps the audience members develop an “affinity” for them. “They often leave the performance intending to order the characters’ books or find out more about them.”

Tickets,which include food and drink for the afternoon, are $125. Only 15 will be sold in advance. Contact Simon Heath at 705-466-6180 or simon@simonheath.ca.

“It was cold, and it was flowing”

Last-minute Christmas shopping is always a bit of an adventure, but luckily it’s not often as extreme as what Creemore resident Angie Cook and her 11-year-old twin sons Jack and Alex Sprecker experienced on December 23.

Like many of us, the trio headed out on a final dash to pick up a few gifts, in their case at about 1 pm with Collingwood as their destination. Unlike the rest of us, the vehicle they were in ended up lying on its side in the Batteaux River, its windows smashed out and many of its contents floating downstream.

“We were going up the Sixth Line, and the road was covered in slush,” remembered Cook this week. “There was a lot of traffic, more than you usually see on that road, and I kept pulling over to the right to let people pass. Just as we got close to the little hill that takes you up to County Road 91, I pulled over to the right again and suddenly the car was fishtailing all over the place.”

At the bottom of the hill she’s talking about, of course, is a bridge over the Batteaux River. Cook’s SUV, a GMC Acadia, slid into the oncoming lane and struck the signpost alerting drivers that they’re about to cross a bridge. It then flipped and plunged 15 feet into the river.

“It was cold, and it was flowing,” said Cook. “I remember the airbags popping and smashing the windows, and then I remember water rushing in.”

Quickly ascertaining the state of her boys – both were alright but could not get out – Cook tried to open the passenger door, which was facing skyward, and found that it was pinned under several tree branches.

At top: Alex, Angie and James. Above: the GMC Acadia, on its side in the Batteaux River.

Just then, help arrived. Two men, who remain nameless, arrived on the scene and were able to clear the branches and open the passenger door. Cook and her sons were helped out of the car, out of the knee-deep water and up the bank to the road.

Another car stopped, and it was the mother of Taylor Dodd, one of the boys’ classmates. Cook doesn’t know the woman’s first name, but is extremely grateful for what she did. Discovering that Cook’s son James has diabetes, the woman – a diabetic herself – jumped into action, putting Jack in her car and helping him use his glucometer to test his blood sugar.

To the boys’ dismay, several of their school library books were seen disappearing down the river, and a Christmas ornament that Jack had made for his dad also disappeared. But their hockey equipment was recovered, a little on the damp side but still in good shape.

For Cook, the fact that all three people in the car came out of the crash without so much as a cut or a bruise was an early Christmas gift, and she admits that when December 25 arrived two days later, the family’s celebrations were a little more emotional than usual, despite the lack of a few last-minute gifts.

“I’m so thankful that we weren’t hurt, and I’m also so indebted to the people who helped us out in the river and on the road,” she said. “We were very lucky that day.”

“Temporary” art

Pipes, traffic cones, road signs, caution tape. Is it art? Ralph Hicks thinks so.

Hicks is set to give Creemore a glimpse into his artistic process when he creates – and disassembles – an installation before viewers’ eyes.

The piece, titled “Public Works,” will appear at the Horticultural Garden as part of the Creemore Festival of the Arts on Saturday, October 5.

As for the form of the project, that remains a mystery – even to its creator.

Hicks, who lives in Mulmur, draws his inspiration from the materials he works with.

“I get infatuated with materials: wire, clay, styrofoam, etc., to get as many ideas as I can.”

In this case, he won’t know what these materials will be until he visits the Clearview Township supply yard on Friday, October 4, the day before he is scheduled to start work on the piece.
“What I do won’t really be defined until the day before,” Hicks explained. “It is based on what the Township won’t be using on that day.”

With the help of one assistant, Hicks will use the materials to build the installation. At the end of the day, they will take everything down and return the materials to the Township.

This kind of art is not about making money. “It’s about process. It’s about using what you’ve got to make something that surprises and intrigues people. There is something fun about building something that’s temporary,” Hicks said.

The idea for “Public Works” sprang from the sight of a pile of bright yellow sewer pipes, which Hicks noticed at the side of the road one day.

When Clearview Township gave him permission to borrow materials for the installation, he visited the supply yard and saw “all sorts of neat stuff, such as road signs and traffic pylons,” he said.

Hicks hopes that the piece inspires other people to create art using a similar process next year.

“I’d like people to say, ‘Hey, I can do that in my own backyard!’”

“Wasaga Canadians” take Italy

By Brianna Perry-Schalle

In April, I was lucky enough to be one of 17 female soccer players who travelled to Italy to play in an international soccer tournament.

Our 17-member team, called the Wasaga Canadians, was comprised of 15- and 16-year-old girls from Collingwood Collegiate Institute, Stayner Collegiate Institute, John Vanier Catholic High School and St. Theresa’s Catholic High School.

This amazing trip took place from April 11 to 22. The tournament included teams from all over the world and was held in Agropoli, on the west coast of Italy. Here, we were privileged not only to represent our community – but our country, as well. We proudly wore red and white with the Canadian maple leaf on our uniforms. This was a trip of a lifetime and every day since returning I have wished I could go back.

During our stay, we played four tournament games and eight exhibition games. We even played basketball against a girls’ team from Columbia. We had two wins and two losses in the International Agropoli Tournament, and finished a proud third. The opening ceremonies were an amazing experience as countries from around the world crowded around our Canadian red and white for many photos. We stood for our national anthem and threw red frisbees into the cheering crowd.

Although the main focus of this trip was to experience international soccer, we benefitted and learned from the educational and cultural experience of Italy and its people. We toured Rome and visited many historical and inspiring sites including the Coliseum, Trevi foundation, Spanish Steps, Bridge of Angels and St. Peter’s Basilica. Our tour took us south along the Amalfi coast where we visited Pompei, the Island of Capri, the temples of Paesum, and the towns of Salerno and Sorrento.

After the tournament we continued further south and up into the mountains of Calabria for more soccer and Easter celebrations in the towns of San Giorgese and Cita Nova. Here, we spent Easter Sunday in church, watched the procession of the rebirth of Jesus and participated in Easter celebrations.

We were taken into the homes of local Italians and treated with warm hospitality and great Italian food. We met other girls our age living in this small Italian community, where Internet access had just become available two years before on a handful of computers in a community centre. It was an opportunity for personal growth and a cultural education that many children never experience.

From start to finish, we travelled halfway across Italy! We were greeted in the streets and cheered on for being Canadian. We played great soccer and ate fabulous Italian food. We saw places of great history and met a warm and welcoming people.

It was a gift of education that couldn’t happen in a classroom, and it was an opportunity I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Brianna Perry-Schalle is the Co-Captain of the Wasaga Canadians.

$1 million plus needed for community halls

Clearview’s community halls are in need of more than $1 million in repairs according to an engineering report presented at a special meeting of Council last Thursday and, after further discussion that evening between the Council, Township staff and hall board members, that appears to be just the beginning of what it would take to have the halls meet provincial standards.

The report, a Facility Assessment presented by Mina Tesseris of Burnside and Associates, outlined the costs of meeting current accessibility standards as well as structural and fire protection systems that are in need of major repair at the Sunnidale, Avening, Nottawa, Duntroon, Brentwood and Dunedin Halls and Community Centres.

“The buildings are more than 50 years old and have not undergone recent major renovations with the exception of the Sunnidale Corners Community Centre,” said the report. “All of the buildings do not meet current standards for barrier-free accessibility.” Though accessibility improvements are not mandatory at this point, hall boards have been advised that any major renewals could trigger the need to comply with them. The estimated price for suggested upgrades spans from $58,000 in Brentwood to $293,000 in Avening.

And that could be just the beginning. A full assessment by the Clearview Fire Department and the Electrical Safety Authority, which was ordered by Council Thursday night and will begin immediately, could find more pressing repairs at hand.
Currently the hall boards, which operate as Committees of Council, maintain break-even budgets, have small reserves and no money allotted to them in the Township budget. This leaves major renewal projects a near impossibility without significant fundraising and preparations. Long term project planning, however, does not seem to be an option at this time.

“These are issues we have to address immediately,” said Deputy Director of Public Works Steve Sage, outlining the safety and liability concerns of the Township.
Clearview Deputy Fire Chief Colin Shewell said the worst case scenario could see the locks go on the doors and hall operations stop immediately. “It is not our desire to see this happen,” he said, “but we have very strict guidelines and if we see a serious life safety issue we have no choice. For all other issues we will create a list and a timeline and work with halls to help them comply to any orders.”

Hall board members, who maintain the aging buildings, appear acutely aware of their facilities’ needs but are also profoundly concerned about the prospects for their halls and the resources required to keep a tradition alive.

“There is so much history and community spirit that is centred on our hall, as in all the community halls in Clearview Township,” said Carol Rowbotham, Chair of the Avening Hall Board. “My grandfather, father, uncles, all helped to bring the hall to this community, and worked hard to provide for the future for the families of this community.  My mom and dad, aunts and uncles, cousins, siblings, niece, nephews, my husband, my kids and myself have continued this work, with eons of volunteer hours to keep the doors open. I’m not sure how to look positively to the future. The labour and time required to oversee these renos would be more than one full time job to complete. But this is our community. What do we do?”

According to the Township’s Recreation Master Plan, created in 2007, the thing to do is build a new central multi-purpose facility in 2017 and to consider “the ongoing viability of smaller community halls.” But with growth currently stalled and several capital projects on the Township’s wish list, including a new Stayner library, Council seems open to finding a creative way to keep the individual halls open.

“Our halls are a very important part of our community,” said Mayor Ken Ferguson, stressing that Council is committed to working with the various boards to figure out what the community wants for these buildings. As to whether they are viable or not is going to have to be decided through a yet-to-be-determined process.

Karen Cubitt, also from the Avening Hall Board, was able to outline a process she was personally comfortable with. “I think it is important to affirm that the health and safety of our community members, and those who utilize our hall, is of critical importance to us,” she said. “The value of the facility – its uses, and its role in community engagement – and maintaining these in some form is our next priority.”

She continued, “I think the Hall Board needs to be afforded the time to consult with our community to discuss why we value the hall, identify specific community needs that this civic space addresses, and determine how to best meet these needs in the long term. There are clearly a lot of uncertainties still at play. What I am certain of is that this community won’t put forth any recommendation that doesn’t honour the legacy of our families and neighbours who taught us the importance of community and who gave us this space to celebrate and foster it.”

$10 million in infrastructure cash for Stayner

Monday’s meeting of Clearview Council saw Mayor Ken Ferguson dance with joy.

His moves were inspired by a visit from MP Dr. Kellie Leitch with an announcement of the Federal Government’s $5 million commitment to the Stayner wastewater project. The province will also step up and match these funds for a total investment of $10 million into the community from other levels of government.

“This guarantees our future,’’ said Ferguson after a heartfelt “yippee’’ and a standing ovation from Council.

Council chose to go ahead with the first phase of this project last November before money from sources other than Development Charges were confirmed knowing the future development of Clearview, and Stayner in particular, depends on greater sewage capacity. The announcement will mean the project will be funded without debt or cost to existing taxpayers.

Other good news at Monday’s meeting was the approval for the Creemore Medical Centre to proceed to the building phase of their expansion project, a water rebate for home dialysis patients and the formation of a municipal heritage program.

See this column by Councillor Thom Paterson for more on Monday’s meeting.

‘Hotwired’ truck causes fire at Stayner business

A fire broke out at Huronia Auto Service in Stayner Friday, April 3 when a flaming vehicle rolled into the building.

“The call came in as a vehicle fire,” said Clearview Township deputy fire chief Roree Payment. “When I arrived the vehicle was actually inside of the building.”

He said a flatbed tow truck caught fire and then the engine started and the vehicle, which was in gear, drove through the overhead door, igniting the building.

A man who was working alone at the time attempted to put out the flames using two fire extinguishers.

Crews were just finishing their ice water rescue skills training when they were called to the business, located at 207 Industrial Rd.

Initially two trucks responded to the call just before 4 p.m.

Once the scale of the fire was known, crews from all five Clearview fire stations attended and had the fire under control in about 45 minutes.

The male worker was transported to hospital to be assessed for smoke inhalation.

The damage to the building, primarily in the garage area, and the tow truck is estimated at $400,000 to $500,000.

Because of the high cost of the damages, the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal was called and the Ministry of Labour was also contacted.

1-in-3 bites of the food made possible by pollinators

As part of North America’s National Pollinator Week June 15-21, Mulmur’s own Not So Hollow Farm and their event partner, The North American Native Plant Society, are hosting the first, and hopefully annual, “Bees to Butterflies and Beyond” event. It is an all-day affair from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 20.

The event will be all about pollinators: who they are, why they are so important to our food supply and overall well-being and what we can do to alleviate the many negative influences on our pollinators. The event will appeal to the whole family with many activities for children and adults alike. Guests are invited to come for the whole day or drop in when they can.

According to organizer Ian Payne, “Many people have little to no idea about pollinators in general. For example, one in three bites of the food we eat everyday is made possible by pollinators. There are many threats to pollinators. Many of the commercially available plants are pre-treated with pesticides that are toxic to insects, including bees. So, if people plant pollinator-friendly flowers that have been treated with these chemicals, they are potentially harming the insects they are trying to help. If we can help people better understand the basics, we can help everyone do their part to promote, preserve and protect our native pollinators”.

Scheduled activities include children’s art projects, puppet shows and a “Dance of the Bees”. There will be a honey tasting bar where guests can discover the different flavours and intensities of honey, along with a first-hand account of how beekeeping works. Several guest speakers will discuss the world of pollinators and many of the challenges facing these vital animals today. Two films will run throughout the day and all the food and treats on-site will be prepared by local establishments featuring ingredients made possible by Ontario pollinators. A marketplace of educational booths and vendors selling pollinator-friendly goods will also be part of the event.

Payne, a landscape architect, and his wife Viki Reynolds, started Not So Hollow Farm in 2003. The farm has specialized in the production of container grown trees and shrubs that are native to Ontario. Almost everything they grow and sell is pollinator-friendly and now includes a selection of native perennials.

“At first, we saw a need for a source of ethically propagated native plants. We helped people become more informed about and interested in planting native species instead of invasive species. However, as we learned more about pollinators and how at risk they are, their promotion has become a big part of what we do. We have been to several pollinator events and now we want to have something in Dufferin County to help spread the word locally,” said Payne.

With a playful approach, Ian and Viki describe themselves on their website as “passionate people perpetually providing provincially propagated pollinator preferred plants for a positive planet”.

For more information about Not So Hollow Farm and pollinators or to register for the Bees to Butterflies and beyond event, go to www.notsohollowfarm.ca. Registration is strongly encouraged. Admission costs $10 per person or $20 per family.

10th Jim Cuddy Jamboree

A tried-and-true recipe of food, wine and song continued to raise tens of thousands of dollars for environmental preservation at the 10th anniversary of the Jim Cuddy All-Star Jamboree in Honeywood last weekend.

On July 12, 350 guests paid $200 per ticket to enjoy food, beverages and a musical lineup led by Blue Rodeo vocalist vocalist and guitarist, Jim Cuddy.

The annual event, which is organized by Conserve Our Rural Environment (CORE), nets $30,000 to $35,000, said Bill Duron, who hosts the event with his wife Melody and fellow CORE member Norm MacEachern at the Duron’s property on Lyric Pond.

CORE is a group that focuses on prioritizing agriculture, water resources, wildlife protection and recreation in Mulmur and Melancthon.

This year, the money will pay for legal fees CORE incurred during its 2012 fight against the Highland Companies’ megaquarry and its ongoing battle against the Arbour Farms gravel pit. It will also be put toward advising policymakers on maintaining land use for water and food production, wildlife and recreation.

“We still need to pay back some professionals who worked on the megaquarry,” said Duron. “We also pay people with scientific backgrounds, professional planners and for legal advice.”

Thirty volunteers kept the event going along with local sponsors such as Creemore Springs, Creemore Foodland and The New Farm, as well as wines by Fleur du Cap and Place in the Sun.

Cuddy, a resident of Mulmur, has been involved in the event for the last seven years.

“The event helps give voice to our concerns up here,” said Cuddy. “It’s critical to keep agrarian land close to the city. I don’t have a problem with gravel pits [in general] but you can’t screw around with water.”

Cuddy and his band featured guests Justin Rutledge and the Romney Getty Band.

“Jim brought his son, Sam, and Norm MacEachern’s son, Andrew, played drums,” added Duron. “It was a jamboree in every respect.”

The annual concert is one of CORE’s major fundraisers, which also include private gourmet dinners that members host in their homes. Learn more about CORE and its work at www.corecares.ca

142 years at Avening church

By Sandra Bednarek

Sunday morning church service was very special for the congregation of Avening United Church as they celebrated their 142nd anniversary. This will be one of the last services, as this little country church will close at the end of June 2014.

The service was full of memories, joyous music and reflections, and it was a time for all to gather to celebrate the past and look into the future. They will continue on their journey of faith as this church is part of the Creemore United Church Pastoral Charge (with St. John’s United Church in Creemore and New Lowell United Church). So the members will be welcome to come to one of these other United Churches.

One of the highlights of the service was when Ellen Whitley told of the memorial events (scribed by historian Myrtle Carruthers) of the church through the years. There were tears and laughter. which was a strong testament of the faith that has endured in this community. St. John’s United Church told the Avening congregation that they will hang a stained glass plaque in St. John’s, and the New Lowell Congregation will plant a tree on their grounds to represent all of the years that this church has given to all that entered. God bless the congregation of this beautiful church, as this is a time for a full faith reflection.

It looks like spring is finally here to stay with warmer days and nights. Time for planting and the neverending grass cutting. It surely is nice to have that rough winter behind us for this year.

Every Wednesday evening from 6 pm til dusk you can visit the Recreation Park for the Market Garden. There are a variety of things to purchase such as plants, crafts and home baking. A good way to say hello to friends and neighbours after a very long winter inside.
The communities of New Lowell and Brentwood offer sympathy to the family of Jean Mansbridge who passed away in late May. Jean and her late husband, Harry, were very active in both communities. Her funeral was directed by Reverend Tony Rennett, with burial at Stayner.

The Brownie Troupe of New Lowell, under the leadership of Tammy Samuels, had a successful fun camp at the Girl Guide Campsite in New Lowell. By the comments from the children, a good time was had by all, but there are some very tired leaders and volunteers!

If you have news for our community please call 705-424-6497 (4 to 6 pm) or email me at sandra@bednarek.ca.

17th century car chase, modern man

This month, Giller Award-winning author Joseph Boyden’s latest book tour pulls into town. On Monday, September 16, he will be reading from his new novel, The Orenda, at Avening Hall. Best-selling author and Mulmur resident Cathy Gildiner will be leading a conversation with Boyden and Michael Winter, author of Minister Without Portfolio.

Boyden and Winter are not new friends; they’ve known each other since 2001 and have travelled extensively together. They’ve already run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, so spending 30 days together on a cross-Canada book tour shouldn’t be too much of a strain.

The Orenda is a historical 17th-century epic. The story is told through the voices of three people: a Huron man whose family was murdered by the Iroquois; an Iroquois girl he has kidnapped; and a Jesuit priest from New France. So how does a boy from North York come to write a story like that?

For starters, Boyden, who has métis, Micmac, Scottish and Irish ancestry, identifies strongly with his First Nations heritage.

“I think Canada needs stories about native people,” said the author, who counts Native American author Louise Erdich as a major influence on his work. “They are the First People and they don’t get a fair shake.”

Growing up among myths about his own family history, Boyden doesn’t have to reach far for inspiration. In fact, stories about his father, uncle and grandfather’s service in World War I and World War II inspired his first novel, Three Day Road. To develop The Orenda, he drew from his life experience on Georgian Bay, and from the Jesuit education he received at Brebeuf College School.

Today, Boyden divides his time between New Orleans, the town east of Parry Sound where his mother lives, and James Bay where he visits friends. In his own life, Boyden bridges geographical extremes, just as many of the characters in his novels struggle to do.

Tensions between modern and traditional ways of living crop up at every level in Boyden’s work. His books are rife with contrasts about formal and bush education, and city and wilderness lifestyles. These varied settings provide the background for subjects that can be so light and so dark at the same time.

Can literature serve to ease this kind of strain that exists between the old and the new? Boyden certainly thinks so. The greatest compliment he receives is from readers who tell him that his stories helped them understand Native people in a better way than before. Over the telephone from his home in New Orleans, he told the story of one reader who gave her father, whom she described as being racist, Three Day Road. She reported that the book had changed his views.

“It’s my duty and obligation to tell these stories,” Boyden explained. “We have to know our history if we’re going to be able to figure things out.”

History in the making
To help with the process of telling historical tales, it helps that Boyden is a history buff. His writing process involves diving right into a topic and performing the research as he goes.
In the case of The Orenda, he started writing with “the most exciting scene,” which is where the novel begins. “It’s a seventeenth-century car chase,” he said, adding humourously, “snowshoes through the wilderness.”

So how does a post-millenial writer make history relate so well to a modern Canadian audience? So much so, that each passing publication leaves bookstores and fans hungry for more? “My philosophy of writing is to tell a good story first,” he explained. “One that gets the reader involved.”

First, he establishes his characters. “Good characters,” he said, “need to want or pursue something.” Next, he lets them to lead him through the story. “My characters choose me more than I choose them. I’m not always sure what will happen – it’s as much of a journey for me as it is for the reader. I jump into my characters and go on my way.”

It took Boyden two-and-a-half months to write the first 60 pages of his new book. Then, only 13 months to write the next 450.

Winning Canada’s largest literary award for fiction – the $50,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize, in 2008 – for his second novel, Through Black Spruce, was “a big deal,” he said. “It makes you worry about your next book.”

In fact, part of the reason he lives part-time in New Orleans is to keep a bit of distance from “the noise” there is in Canada while he writes.

Fans of books and movies should stay tuned. Film pro-ductions of Three-Day Road and Through Black Spruce are in the works.

And for anyone left wondering, what is an orenda? Says Boyden: “You should read the book.”

Tickets to the event are $25 (which includes a $5 credit toward a book purchase), or $15 for students. Purchase them at Curiosity House or through www.ticketscene.ca.

191 collective years of wisdom and positivity

In life, there are negative people and there are positive people. And then there are people who are so positive, they make the positive people look negative.

And in these parts, we are luckier than most, because we have two amazing people who fall into that third category who also happen to be, believe it or not, 94 and 97 years old.

This Friday, July 12, from 7 to 9:30 pm, local life coach Shelley Hannah (who could also qualify for the third category) will host an installment in her “Inspiration Convention” speaker series at the Mad & Noisy Gallery, and the guests of honour will be the aforementioned beacons of positivity – 94-year-old Creemore resident Ken Thornton and 97-year-old Mulmur resident Ruth Durance.

Readers of the Creemore Echo will be familiar with some of Ken Thornton’s story – his habit of picking up a completely new hobby every five years, be it motorcycle touring, bagpiping, writing novels, playing the harp or ventriloquism, and his absolute refusal to stop learning new things and having new experiences. They might be less familiar with Ruth Durrance, but she too has a tale to tell, of a life of travel and the steadfast insistence that there are so many good things about life, you merely have to look for them.

Both Ken and Ruth are avid members of the Creemore branch of the Taoist Tai Chi Society, and can be seen keeping their bodies limber once a week at the Station on the Green.

As with past installments of the Inspiration Convention, Friday’s event will start with the two speakers talking about their life stories and the wisdom they’ve picked up along the way, and will end with a participatory discussion about how the lessons Ken and Ruth have learned can be applied to the lives of all of those present.

“This will be a celebration of two people who have lived life well,” said Hannah. “And hopefully we can glean something for our own lives.”

Admission to the event is by donation.

2012: Our “News Moment” of the Year

HIGHLAND WITHDRAWS

While it’s been our tradition the past few years to pick an individual as our Newsmaker of the Year, we found that no one, or nothing, eclipsed the moment on Wednesday, November 21, when the public relations firm under contract with the Highland Companies sent out an innocent little email, stating that the company was withdrawing its application to quarry 2,400 acres of prime farmland in Melancthon Township.

The ramifications of that “moment” are sure to be many, and remain to be seen. Will Highland be back with a different proposal in the future? Will the Aggregate Act be changed to scale back the primacy of this resource over all others? And perhaps most interestingly of all, what will happen to the strong coalition of local people who have come of age as activists as a result of this issue?

All of these are things to watch in the future; for now, we celebrate that Wednesday morning as our “News Moment of the Year.”

2012: Our Volunteer of the Year

JOHN BLOHM

Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes, and all demeanors too. John Blohm, the Creemore Echo’s choice for our 2012 Volunteer of the Year, could be described as gruff, perhaps. On the wrong day, you might even call him grumpy. But get on the right side of his smile, which you’ll easily do if you match his passion for our annual Santa Claus Parade, and you’ll quickly see he has a heart of gold.

John has been almost single-handedly running the Creemore Santa Claus Parade for the past five years, since the Creemore Lions disbanded and handed the event off to the Creemore Legion. We say “almost” because his family – his wife Marie, daughters Katharine and Joanne and others – have lent their hands as well.

For John, parades are a long-standing passion. He organized his first one in Shelburne in the late 70s. A trained pastry chef from Hanover, Germany who had emigrated to Canada on a whim in the late 50s, John had a ten-year career in the bread business before opting for the “simple” life in Terra Nova, where he and Marie purchased the general store in 1967. Ten years later, as a member of the Shelburne Kinsmen Club (he joined the club for its late-night poker games), John volunteered to organize that community’s Fiddle Fest parade when no one else was stepping up to run it.

In his typical style, John immediately set out to make the parade better than ever. After finding out that Premier Bill Davis had never been to the Shelburne Fiddle Contest, John made a wager with a fellow Kinsman that he would get Davis to lead the parade that year. We can only imagine the phone calls that followed, and sure enough, that year’s Fiddle Fest parade featured a convertible at the front with the Premier riding in the back seat. Beside him was none other than John Blohm himself.

“That was a damn good parade,” remembers John now. In addition to the VIP at the front, John had used his connections at Base Borden to have a couple of tanks delivered to Shelburne by train, where they were unloaded and marshalled into the parade. He also had the Golden Helmets, the OPP precision motorcycle team that folks will remember from the golden age of community parades, weaving their way down the main street. And of course, there were bands.

Bands are important, says John. Perhaps most important.

In 1980, the Blohms sold the general store in Terra Nova and moved into Creemore, and John joined the Lions Club. With his experience in Shelburne, it wasn’t long until he was running the Creemore Santa Claus Parade. He was in charge of seven parades during the 1980s, and eventually quit over a budgetary decision that made it impossible for him to hire a band. “Without a band, you have no parade,” he says, recalling that time.

John then joined the Legion, and five years ago, when the Lions disbanded, that organization moved to take over the Santa Claus Parade. Preferring to work alone, it wasn’t long until John was running the show.

Under John’s command, the Santa Claus Parade has had five great years, growing in scale and now featuring two bands, of course – the Beinn Gorm Highlanders and the Collingwood Collegiate Marching Band, a big-time operation that perennially includes a few kids from Creemore.

What people don’t see when they line Mill Street to watch the parade is the countless hours spent raising funds and encouraging participants, a process which John typically starts in June. Last year, when he was sidelined by a surgery, Marie and his daughters and son-in-laws took over, although John was still wheeled into the Simcoe County works yard on County Road 9 on the day of the parade, where he sat in his wheelchair and marshalled the floats into the ideal order.

“I can see the perfect parade in my mind, and I’m always trying to create it in real life,” says John, who takes great pride in the blend of horses, bands, floats and walkers that get viewers excited for the annual visit from Santa himself.

With health concerns growing and the insurance landscape changing in Ontario, John decided this year that the 2012 parade would be his last. Next year, the Creemore BIA will take over the event, and John has already devoted several hours to meeting with Creemore BIA president Corey Finkelstein, hoping to pass on the expertise he’s gathered over the years.

“You never know, I might have a hard time staying away from it next year,” he says with a grin, and its clear that he remains as passionate about parades as ever.

But was that passion alone what drove him to put so many hours into our parade over the past five years and on other occasions in the past? Not quite. John is also a believer in Creemore, and loves the feeling this town gives him when it is gathered in celebration on its main street (or at the Legion on July 1 – we mustn’t forget that John organized two huge Canada Day extravaganzas in 2010 and 2011 as well) .

“There’s a cohesion in this town that you don’t see in other places,” he says. “People are inclined to work together, and help each other. It’s a special place, and that’s why I’ve tried to do my part.”

2nd Annual Canada Day Street Hockey Tournament

The Old Mill House Pub and Shawn Hughson of the Creemore Sunday Night Hockey League hosted the 2nd Annual Street Hockey Tournament on Canada Day. In all, 12 teams competed on three surfaces on Elizabeth Street East, complete with four-foot endboards built by Gary Kramers. “A” Division champs were “The Hasbins,” sponsored by Charlie Coates of CBJ Heating; Mixed Division champs were “Downtown Creemore,” organized by local MMA fighter Lonnie Smith; and winning the shootout competition was “Hardware” Dave Dillon.

For an action-packed slideshow depicting this great community event, featuring photographs by David Dillon, CLICK HERE.

30 honoured with Queen’s Jubilee Medal

Simcoe-Grey MP Kellie Leitch was in Collingwood and Alliston last weekend to hand out 30 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medals. In total, 60,000 Canadians will receive the medals this year in commemoration of their outstanding community achievements and contributions. Similar medals were handed out during the Queen’s coronation year in 1953, her Silver Jubilee year in 1977 and her Golden Jubilee year in 2002.

Honorees of local note were Paul Ruppel of Creemore (above photo, standing third from right), Sandra Bednarek of New Lowell (below photo, seated second from left) and Scott Anderson of Lisle (below photo, standing second from right).

Paul Ruppel has been a champion for volunteering in the Creemore community for years. His volunteer endeavours range from playing a central role in the creation of the Mad & Noisy Gallery to serving on the Management Committee of the Probus Club of Blue Mountain. For more than ten years, Paul has been involved with the Station on the Green, playing a key role in its development and opening. Paul serves on the Station’s Board of Directors and is involved in all aspects of its activities, from running the Creemore Art Auction fundraiser to maintaining the skating rink. In 2009, Paul received a Community Builder Award from the Township of Clearview for his work with the Station.

Sandra Bednarek epitomizes the true spirit of community volunteerism. She is a retired school teacher and is deeply involved with youth and education initiatives. Sandra is a Community Representative on the council of New Lowell Public School, where she also helps children with reading and other core subjects. For over ten years, she has been a member of the Clearview Public Library Volunteer Team, running the weekly Sunnidale Branch Story Hour Program for preschool children. She received the 10 Year Ontario Volunteer Service Award from the Minister of Citizenship for her work with the Library.

A parishioner at New Lowell United Church, Sandra coordinates a week-long Bible School every August as well as a pancake breakfast every February. She is involved with many church committees and local charities, including the food bank and the Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organization which runs the annual Operation Christmas Child shoebox program. In addition to her work with New Lowell United Church, Sandra volunteers with the 1st New Lowell Brownies and Girl Guides, offering her time to help with everything from fundraisers to food drives to parades.

In addition to being a tireless volunteer herself, Sandra encourages others to get involved in volunteer efforts. She writes for the Creemore Echo and the Stayner Sun, offering a regular guide to upcoming charity events and fundraisers and promoting community spirit.

Although only 25, Scott Anderson has been a committed volunteer in the Lisle community for many years. From 2000 to 2009, he was a Member and later the Secretary-Treasurer of the Lisle Recreation Committee. He is currently the Treasurer of the Lisle Community Hall, having served as Chairman from 2005 to 2010. As Chairman, he created a public outdoor ice rink at the Hall, which he continues to operate each winter.

Passionate about baseball, he manages and plays with the Lisle Astros Baseball Club and volunteers as Secretary of the North Dufferin Baseball League. Scott has dedicated much of his teens and early adulthood to volunteer work, and he currently serves his community as a municipal councillor of the Township of Adjala-Tosorontio.

Also honoured were Jan Trude, Lynette Morley, Major the Reverend Francis Beasley, Warrant Officer Camille-Marie Boucher, Gord Canning, George Christie, Stanley McNutt, Mary Eveline Lennox, Dr. Jack Crawford, Detective-Sergeant Charles Michael Dougall, Sharilyn Hawkins, John Orr Irwin, Warrant Officer Allan Mark Kendall, Frank and Sally Taylor, Brian Whittaker, John Milne, Walter Kowalski, Ann Bell, Orville Jenkins, John Kennedy, Rob Holliday, Corporal Hart Holmstrom, Second Lieutenant Daniel Copeland, Leonard Francis Gibson, Commander Terry Goddard and Honorary Colonel Kenneth Hedges.

40 years of camaraderie and fair play

The Quebec International Bonspiel is one of the oldest uninterrupted amateur sporting competitions in the world, having run each year since 1913 in the city known as the cradle of curling in North America.

Two teams from the Creemore Curling Club embarked to Quebec to compete in the 99th Quebec International Bonspiel two weeks ago. Creemore has sent at least one team every year since 1969. This year’s teams did exceptionally well, receiving a gold medal and a silver medal in their respective divisions.

The gold medal team, which had a fabulous 7-2 record, consisted of Paul Crevier, Gord Fuller, Bruce Folkard from Guelph, Paul Millsap, Ernie Purkis and Dennis Millsap.

The Silver Medal team, who had an impressive record of 6-3, was made up of Howard Walker, Robert McArthur, Steve Lindsay and rookies Kevin Degroot and Jamie Brown

On an impressive individual note, Paul Millsap was recognized for 40 years of attendance. In addition to being awarded with what’s known as the “Ironman” pin, he also received a a letter from Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“The curling rink is a place where many wonderful friendships begin,” wrote the Prime Minister. “Your longstanding involvement in competetive curling has garnered you many friends and admirers over the years. This is because you exemplify the spirit of cameraderie and fair play that are the trademarks of this wonderfully Canadian sport.”

Harper also credited Millsap for his 53 years of membership at the Creemore Curling Club.

A special thank you goes out to Gord Fuller and Creemore Springs Brewery for their continued support of the Creemore teams and their sponsorship of the “Ontario Cup.”

75 Kilometres For The G&M

First of all, let’s get one thing out of the way. Forty-nine-year-old Nick Brindisi, a Collingwood native who works at Inzane Planet in Creemore, has been running since Grade 7 and has completed about 50 marathons, some official and some unofficial. And Nottawa resident Claudia Johnston, his partner on the endeavour that this article is about, has placed 6th in her 35-39 age group in the last two Ford Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. As you read this, she will have just finished this year’s race.

So neither of them are crazy to be planning a 75-kilometre run to raise funds for the General and Marine Hospital Foundation. (Okay, maybe a little bit!)
But Nick’s been training for it since the spring, and Claudia, well, Nick says she can do it with her eyes closed.

The idea first formed in Nick’s brain last August, when Johnston asked Nick, an old friend, to kayak beside her on a swim from Wasaga Beach Area 1 to the Collingwood Grain Terminals. That swim was also a fundraiser for the hospital, and when Nick saw the effort that Claudia put out for a cause that was also important to himself, he was inspired to do something similar. And Claudia was happy to pay back the favour and run with him.

And why not just run a 42-kilometre marathon? “I wanted to make it a bit more like a human circus,” said Nick. The most distance he’s ever covered, he said, was 73 kilometres, back in his 20s. And while Nick can run a 3.5 hour marathon, he figures this run will take him about eight to eight and a half hours. “It may not be pretty, but I’ll get through it,” he said.

The run will take place on Saturday, October 15, starting at 7 am. Starting at the grain elevators and running down 6th Line, Nick and Claudia will run down Mill Street at the 27-kilometre mark, likely between 10 and 10:30 am.

If people would like to donate to the hospital foundation in support of Nick’s run, they can visit www.cgmhf.com, click on donate online, and mention the run in the notes when they fill out the form. They can also search for “75 kilometre run” on Facebook or call Nick during the day at 705-520-0110.

“For me, the G&M hospital is amazing,” he said. “I’ve grown up with it, and myself and many family members have used it in trying times. If anything, I want to raise awareness that it needs the community’s support.”

A big 50/50 winner!

Ken Thornton had the honour of drawing the final winner of the Station on the Green Big Greens 50/50 draw this week in the comforts of Laurie Copeland’s Cardboard Castles store (it was snowing outside!). The winner, who will receive $4,670, is… drum roll please… wait for it… none other than… Pat Prime!

A brand new Clearview?

Fulfillment. That is the essence of Clearview Township according to the branding and design experts Cundari. And fulfilled was how the majority of Council felt about the visual concept brought forth at Monday’s meeting while Councillors Doug Measures and Thom Paterson expressed anything but that.

Councillor Brent Preston who made the presentation on behalf of the Economic Development Committee said he was very proud of the process.

“I think we have done it right and I am happy with the outcome,” said Preston sighting the brand key as the most exciting part of the report for him. This key laid out the concepts on which the brand will be established and states the Township’s promise and aspiration as, “In Clearview you can live your best life.”
Mayor Ken Ferguson was the first to comment, “I think they really listened to us and really helped us to understand who we are.”

His satisfaction was seconded by the Deputy Mayor.

“I am so pleased with this,” said Alicia Savage who sited her past experience as a newspaper publisher as a qualifier for her understanding of visual communications and marketing.

“I have never experienced anything so comprehensive and grass roots-based and I think the outcome reflects the work that has been done.” She continued to comment about the diversity of the stakeholders, the level of engagement from the community as well as the excitement of the youth involved in the process and the future of their community, “This illustrates that we do know who we are. We have found our identity and it is an exciting time to be part of Clearview.”

Measures was the next to speak to the presentation. “I am not happy with this process or this outcome.” He voiced concerns not only about the look of the logo but technical application of the colours and the cost to apply the new look. He said he did not approve of the method which, according to the report before Council is now in its sixth month, has included over 100 volunteers and dozens of open meetings, working sessions and presentations.

“When everyone saw this logo they were so excited by the look of it that they did not consider any of these other factors,” said Measures refering to the logo’s initial reveal to the working group.

Preston responded to Councillor Measure’s criticism, “I can’t really speak to the specifics of your concerns at this point and there is more work to be done to address the technical aspects of this but I think what you said about the excitement is the most telling. People are excited about this visual and with Council’s approval we can move forward to the next step and finish off this process.”

“As a decision maker for this Township I do not understand my role in the process here. I cannot make a decision when I am given only one choice and without choice I cannot fully represent the population of Clearview,” countered Measures before saying he would vote against the EDC recommendation of approving the visual concept so the tag line, applied look and feel, creative validation, style guide and implementation plan can be worked on and brought back to Council.

Councillor Paterson also said he was going to vote against the resolution because he still thinks there is not the comprehensive economic strategy and implementation portion in place – a concern which he has held, and has been discussed on several occasions since the start of the $65,500 branding project.

Discussion ended with a 6 to 2 vote and the process will continue by coming before Council for final approval at the April 28 meeting.

A broken record; local gal talks her way to the top

Creemore native Sue Maynard has broken the Guinness World Record for the longest uninterrupted live video webcast.

She and co-host Tim Rideout broadcast their online talk show, The Mind Reels, for 48 consecutive hours last November from the lobby of the InterContinental Toronto Centre.

The achievement was officially recognized by Guinness World Records this month.

Maynard and Rideout spent two days interviewing almost 100 guests to beat the existing record of 43 hours.

“Our blog and podcast, The Mind Reels, has grown to be a kind of champion of Canadian film and television, among other things, and it was really an amazing experience to bring so many of those involved in that industry together for a weekend, to create something really special,” said Maynard in an email to The Echo.

Their guests included stars from Canadian film and television shows including Orphan Black, Lost Girl, Murdoch Mysteries, The Strain, Defiance, Bitten, Saving Hope, Degrassi, The Listener and Hannibal. There were also a few musical performances, a representative from the MS Society of Canada, a therapy dog/actor, a sword-fighting demo, and two Skype chats, including one with feline internet sensation, Lil Bub. They also interviewed Anne of Green Gables star Jonathan Crombie before his death in April. That segment is already posted online but the rest of the marathon broadcast is forthcoming.

Maynard said the broadcast marathon was “insane”.

Having done a lot of work to prepare for the event, she said she became ill just as the broadcast was to begin.

“I was pretty sick for a while there, and wasn’t sure I’d make it through one hour, let alone 48,” said Maynard. “But I’d also done a lot of research into how to stay awake for long periods of time naturally, as opposed to just staying hopped up on sugar and caffeine. I have MS, and knew that my body was going to be unhappy with me anyway, so I made sure I had a lot of high protein foods on hand, and I drank a ton of water to stay hydrated. I actually got stronger after that first night, and was still feeling pretty good by the time I went to bed two days later.

She said breaking the Guinness World Record was a bucket list type of goal but now that she has it, she is prepared to defend it should it be beat by someone else.

“It’s funny, too, when I went to bed finally, I was able to get a decent sleep, but my mind kept going over everything and coming up with what I would do differently next time. Even now that the record is officially in my name and I can cross it off the bucket list, it still feels kind of like a dream. One that I intend to make even bigger and better should the need ever arise for me to do it all again. Because I absolutely would – in a heartbeat,” she said.

A Burns Day fit for a poet

Creemore’s Poet Laureate Tim Armour recently marked the end of a bagpiping tour of Clearview for Robbie Burns Day, which was celebrated on Saturday, January 25.

Tim’s visits began with a dinner at the Collingwood Legion Hall on Saturday, January 18, where he played with 14 pipers and nine drummers.

Then, on Friday, January 24, Tim embarked on an itinerary that included the Blue Mountain Manor Retirement Residence, Clearview Township’s Administration Building, the Stayner Nursing Home, Sunset Manor and Village in Collingwood and a Robbie Burns dinner at Marsh Street Community Centre in Clarksburg.

The next day he had a date at the Alpine Ski Club to “toast the haggis” with about 300 people where Tim recited Burns’ famous poem, “Ode to a Haggis” – from memory, of course.

“It is written in old Scottish dialect and nobody understands a word you’re saying, so I ham it up like crazy!” Tim explained.

The tour concluded with a medley of tunes at the Bay Haven Senior Care Community in Collingwood that Tim played with four pipers and a drummer.

This is the eleventh year that Tim has undertaken such a circuit of stanzas in honour of the Scottish bard.

A seventh-generation Canadian, Tim started playing the bagpipes when he turned 50. He says it was something he always wanted to do.

He said he has always loved the poetry of Robbie Burns, and his wife, Marie Armour, hails from Scotland.

In spite of all the recent Burns-themed activity, Tim insists he isn’t tired. The only thing he might be a little tired of, he admits, is the haggis dinner, which he has eaten five times in the last two weeks.

A chance to buy some real “local” beef

Local 4H boys Zach, Clay and Luke Whitley are winding up their 4H year in style this year at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, where they will show their calves at the Queen’s Guineas Show and Sale on Friday, November 2 and Saturday, November 3.

All of the boys, along with their sister Jessica, have been involved in the Clearview 4H Beef Club from the time they turned 10, which is the minimum age for a 4H member. Each member has to raise and train a beef calf from the spring to the fall and then show the calf at their achievement day, held at the Great Northern Exhibition.

In order to be able to qualify to show at the Royal/Queens Guineas, 4H members must participate and succeed at a minimum of two other shows. The three Whitley boys actually participated in five fairs, from Barrie to Arthur, and brought home 1st, 2nd and 3rd at many of the competitions.

The 4H members are evaluated on both the conformation of the animal as well as their specific showmanship skills. The members must carefully monitor the feed rate and composition of the intake to assure the animal looks appropriate for the judges. Since the Whitleys do not use any hormones or steroids to feed their animals, the feeding has to be just right in order to be competitive. The showmanship is a result of the amount of training the animal has received as well as the presentation of the animal for the judges. The boys start in June and spend a multitude of hours to train the animals slowly, in a caring and humane way, so they can control the 1,500-pound animals in the show ring. The judges can easily tell if an animal is not enjoying the experience in the show ring, and the member will place at the bottom of the class.

Although many people might think that 4H is a thing of the past, the Clearview Beef Club is alive and well, with over 15 members this year showing a mix of breeding females and market steer cattle. The members meet monthly and have specific skills they have to learn throughout the season in order to be successful. Along with raising and training their respective calves, they have to participate in judging competitions that require the members to make a decision and explain the rationale for the decision. This life skill can be applied to any situation from buying clothes to purchasing a house.

4H Canada offers many opportunities to its members to help them expand their viewpoint and interaction with members across the country. All four Whitleys have participated in Youth Leadership camps as well as Discovery Days for the younger members.

This past summer, Zach had an opportunity to live with a 4H member from Red Deer, Alberta and then have the same 4H member live with his family. This exchange opportunity was funded by Heritage Canada. The members get a real sense of the similarities across the country, along with the unique local differences as well. The Alberta exchangee who came to the Whitleys had never witnessed a drainage machine operate or seen cattle in a barn (as opposed to outdoor yards). The most amazing thing, however, was milk in a bag!

The Whitley boys have been quite successful with the local fairs and are looking forward to the higher level of competition at the Royal next week. They will compete against approximately 50 top notch cattle from across the province. The Queen’s Guineas has a heritage that goes back to the beginning of the Royal Winter Fair, when it was established to encourage farmers to improve their genetics and thus the output at a lower cost from this necessary food source.

The reality of the beef industry is that these animals are raised for one purpose, and that is to provide food for someone. Although the boys have worked very closely with the animals to train and prepare them, they also know that this is their opportunity to turn their hard work into financial benefit. The boys are true farmers and each of them have plans for the money they will receive for their animal. Clayton is saving for a three-month education exchange to Australia from January to April 2013. Zach is saving for his tuition for an Engineering degree starting next year, and Luke is looking forward to expanding his own cow herd.

Since this is the first time the Whitleys have qualified to attend the Queen’s Guineas they need to arrange buyers for the beef. The organizers provide members with free passes to the Royal for their buyers, in addition to taking care of the details related to processing of the beef. There is a premium typically paid by the buyers at the Royal, with full knowledge that the money is going to support hardworking, grass-roots young adults get started with their life pursuits. If you would like to support these local boys by purchasing some or all of the beef, please contact them at 705-466-3541.

A Christmas store “pops up” on Mill Street

Pop-up retail has been a growing trend in cities around the world, and this Christmas, it’s arrived in Creemore.

Marcy Stewart’s original plan was to open up in the old Creemore Meat Market space for the Santa Claus Parade weekend only, and to use it to sell not much more than the boughs and Christmas decorations that she’s become known for over the past few years (her company, msdesign.ca, is responsible for the festive lights and greenery on the front of many of Creemore’s stores at this time of year).

But business was brisk, and the Dunedin community that Stewart is a part of is full of artisans and craftspeople, and in a very short amount of time the “store” has evolved into a full-on “Dunedin Christmas Shop,” of sorts.

Visitors can now peruse paintings by Peter Taylor and members of Drawnonward, wood carvings by Jim Leithead, jewellery and homemade dresses by Jordan DeRuiter, soaps by Jennifer Jansen, woolly children’s clothes by Lisa Christine Aarlt, and much more.

Stewart also continues to sell her decorations, as well as potted Christmas trees and festive centrepieces.

“It’s all come together quickly, and we’ve had lots of fun,” said Stewart. The question now is, what becomes of the idea once Christmas has come and gone? “We’re going to regroup and give it some thought,” said Stewart, though she did say the “pop-up” model continues to have some appeal, as long as there is space available.

In the meantime, the nameless shop (just look for the copious amounts of greenery on the east side of Mill Street!) will be open for one more weekend. For those needing last-minute Christmas presents, it’s worth a visit.

A clarification on hall financing

Following up on last week’s decision on community hall upgrades, Councillor Shawn Davidson led off Monday’s Council meeting by asking for clarification on how the Township will fund the $110,000 it has pledged to the halls.

Treasurer Ed Henley told Davidson that the $50,000 being put into a reserve fund for the purpose in this year’s budget will be used, and another $60,000 will be taken from that reserve, leaving it in a deficit position of $60,000. That money will then be put back into the reserve in 2014, bringing it back to zero. As a result, no amendments need to be made to this year’s budget.

Community Grants Passed

Council passed the Community Assistance section of the 2013 budget Monday night, approving grants totalling $20,250 to community groups and non-profit organizations operating within the Township. A full list of recipients can be found by clicking on the “Budget Workshop #4” link at www.clearview.ca/home/budget.

New Pumper Truck

Council approved an expenditure of $258,000 Monday night for the purchase of a new stock pumper truck, to be housed in Clearview Fire Department Station #5 in Singhampton.

A Creemore Community Christmas Dinner

The 11th Annual Creemore Community Christmas Dinner was once again a resounding success. Generous monetary gifts made it possible for the coordinators to purchase quality gifts from the community for 13 elderly folk without family who reside at Creedan Valley Nursing Home.

Upon their arrival at the festively decorated Station on the Green, dinner guests were welcomed by Karen Johnson and Ken Thornton. After each guest received a gift from Santa and his beautiful elves (who bore a striking resemblance to Ken Robertson, Rebecca Gee and Gabriella Thompson) all enjoyed the social hour with the talented Wipper family leading them in singing carols and other seasonal songs.

At 5:45 pm five take-away meals were packed for delivery by volunteers to four households in Creemore. Then, at 6 pm, master of ceremonies Murray Firth invited the 150 dinner guests to enjoy the delicious traditional hot buffet meal skillfully prepared by Chef Matthew Flett and his assistants Chef Malcolm Muth from Terra Nova Public House and Natalie Seltzer and Charlene Nero from the Bank Cafe, along with Andy Patrick and Ali Woodley. As always, all who wished to do so took home a reusable dish of their favourite part of the meal to enjoy the next day.

After clean-up by a large group of enthusiastic volunteers, all of the event’s equipment and decorations were packed up for storage at the home of Kate and Rowland Fleming.

The event coordinators are grateful to corporate donor Village Builders Inc. and to the New Farm and Hamilton Brothers and all the local businesses and individuals who donated funds, gift certificates, turkeys, vegetables and tasty home-baked desserts. The coordinators are especially grateful to all the volunteers ages 7 to 94 who generously gave of their time and effort to ensure this event would be successful. A list of the numerous donors will be published in next week’s edition of the Echo.

On Boxing Day Brian and Diane McKay loaded their van with the non-perishable food items the guests had brought to the event for delivery to the Salvation Army’s Hope Acres in Glencairn.

The above picture shows the coordinators of the 2012 Creemore Community Christmas Dinner, who have been volunteering together on this annual event for the past six years. From left to right are Murray Firth and his wife Karen Johnson, Ali Woodley and her partner Chef Matthew Flett, and Diane and Brian McKay. Absent from the team this year awaiting a hip replacement was Tim Armour, who played a big role in the event’s success over the past five years. Matthew and Ali have announced that they will be leaving the team to spend more time with family. Diane and the group thank them for generously sharing their cooking and serving expertise, advice, camaraderie and humour. Their participation will be greatly missed.

All photos are by Bryan Davies Photography.

A day of fun for the kids

When Laurie Copeland called on the community to pitch in and help out with the inaugural Creemore Children’s Festival two years ago, she was totally unprepared for how successful the venture would be.

When the day came, Mill Street was teeming with children, all of them eager to take part in the countless activities being hosted by a host of organizations and community members.

“I call this my button soup event,” said Copeland, referring to the old folk story in which a traveller comes to a village with nothing more than a pocket full of buttons and an empty pot. He puts some water and a button in the pot and starts making “button soup,” a tasty treat that would be tastier with just a little bit of onion. One of the villagers then gives up an onion to the cause. The next, a carrot, and on and on, until the traveller and villagers are sharing a communal feast.

So it goes with the Creemore Children’s Festival, which will happen again this year on Saturday, August 3. Copeland puts the word out, the generous and hospitable nature of Creemore kicks in, and next think you know you have hundreds of kids on the street, having the time of their lives.

“It’s all about creating a grassroots, back-to-basics, family festival, and keeping it free of charge,” said Copeland of the original philosophy behind the event, which also strove to give families an opportunity to spend a day together free from the usual high-tech distractions of the modern world.

Details about this year’s installment, which will be bigger and better than the inaugural event, can be found at creemorechildrensfestival.com. This year, all of the festivities will take place on Mill Street (closed from 9 am to 4 pm between the Horticultural Park and the Creemore House of Stitches), including the children’s market and a full slate of children’s entertainers.

Any kids who’d like to take part in the market, or perform in the “Gleemore” talent show, or any businesses or organizations that would like to take part, or anyone at all who’d like to add something to the “button soup” can email info@creemorechildrensfestival.com or call Copeland at 705-466-9998.

A difference of opinion

With the release of its Environmental Assessment Report on the subject last week, Simcoe County has asserted its position that the best solution for the ailing Collingwood Street Bridge is to remove and replace it. Local resident Barry Burton and the committee he has formed in response to the County’s plans, however, are equally convinced that the bridge should be saved and rehabilitated. And despite the fact that the fight is reaching its eleventh hour, Burton’s group has no intention of backing down.

Last Sunday, the committee held a strategy meeting in Burton’s living room. Those sitting in just the right position could almost catch a glimpse of the 99-year-old one-lane bridge through a window. Gathered to discuss a response to the EA report were Burton; Clearview Councillor Thom Paterson; Brentwood resident Chris Vanderkruys, whose great-grandfather built the bridge; Ingrid Schilling, who wrote a letter to the Echo on the subject a few weeks ago; and three individuals who have spent their careers in and around steel bridge construction: John Hillier, John Boote and Jack Mesley.

Boote, a structural engineer who oversaw the construction of the Blue Water Bridge in Sarnia – a massive steel truss structure – presented a costing estimate to the County last year, which said that the Collingwood Street Bridge could be rehabilitated and equipped with a new steel deck and one sidewalk positioned on the outside of the superstructure for approximately $900,000. The work would include the removal of a hump in the road on the north side of the bridge which causes the bridge’s approach angle to be unsafe by today’s standard. Once restored in this fashion, Boote said the bridge would have a 100-year lifespan, with the steel needing a recoat every 25 years.

With that in mind, the committee was surprised to see the opinion of AECOM, the engineering firm that authored the EA, printed in the report. In the section on cost estimates and life cycles, the report states a rehabilitation cost of $971,000 versus a replacement cost of $1,470,000 (the $1.75 million previously reported includes engineering fees). But 30 years out, it states that the rehabbed bridge will have to be replaced completely at a cost of $1,770,000, while the new bridge would only incur $50,000 in maintenance costs.

“I don’t know where they’re getting that idea,” Boote told the group. “If we do the work we’ve proposed, we’re putting 100 years back into the bridge.”

The EA’s cost and lifestyle section compares the costs of both options over a 75-year period. Converted into today’s dollars (making the supposed $1.7 million replacement cost for the rehabbed bridge in 30 years more like $729,000), and taking into account the fact that the new bridge wouldn’t have to be replaced, the final tally comes to $1.715 million for the “rehabilitate now” option and $1.69 million for the “replace now” option. Subtract from those numbers the estimated value of the bridges in the state they’ll be 75 years from now, and the numbers get a little closer – $1.54 million for the “rehab now” option and $1.58 million for the “replace now” option. Essentially, the financial argument is a wash, according to the EA.

But again, Burton’s group disagrees, and its members claim they have the bona fide expertise and knowledge to know, for sure, that a rehabilitated bridge using the process described in Boote’s cost estimate will not need replacing for 100 years. “They’re ignoring us for political reasons,” said Burton, convinced that County politicians and staff are so “hell-bent” to replace the bridge that they’re not listening to his group of residents.

The report also does not include the elimination of the hump on the north side of the bridge in the cost estimate for rehabilitation; it continues to note the existing unsafe geometry of the road as a deficiency should the bridge be restored. Boote, however, maintains the problem could be dealt with and has included it in his cost estimate.

It’s Burton’s group’s opinion that the difference in costs between plans is their biggest avenue to gaining further support from residents. The County maintains that half the $1.75 million cost of replacing the bridge would be eligible to come from Development Charges, and should they require $900,000 instead to rehabilitate the existing structure, all of that money would have to come from general taxation. But to Burton, that’s like “saying the money has to come from the Chequing account rather than the Savings account.” It’s a little more complicated than that, but Paterson gave his opinion at Sunday’s meeting that the argument is essentially an accounting exercise. Either way, a decision on the bridge frees up funding from the other source for something else.

Perhaps the most interesting section of the EA report is the Cultural Heritage Evaluation and Heritage Impact Assessment, which is a revised version of what was included in the original EA report on the bridge, submitted in 2010. That report was the subject of a “bump-up” request by Burton, and while the MOE decided not to upgrade the EA from a Schedule “B” to a Schedule “C,” it did instruct the County to redo the report in greater detail. As part of those instructions, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture commented on the original Heritage Impact Assessment, stating that the two rubrics used to judge whether the Collingwood Street Bridge was a “Heritage Bridge” were both irrelevant, as one was designed only for Provincially owned bridges and the other was associated with a heritage program that no longer exists. Instead, the County’s heritage consultants were instructed to assess the bridge using the current Criteria for Determining Cultural Heritage Value or Interest.

The results are much more encouraging to Burton and his crew. While the bridge failed the two rubrics last time, this time the report concludes that the bridge meets the criterion for rarity and, as a gateway feature on the edge of an urban settlement, it meets the criterion as a landmark feature. The fact that Burton presented a petition to save the bridge that included 182 names proved that a third criterion was also met: the bridge is significant to its community.

On this basis, the heritage study (which is just one element of the whole EA) concludes that the bridge is eligible for heritage protection, and that its preferred solution is to leave it where it is. However, it also notes its many deficiencies – its one-lane width, corrosion on its underlying trusses, the bad approach angle, its lack of proper barricades and its low load limit – and says that if the current amount of traffic is to continue using Collingwood Street, then other options would be sufficient. The options include twinning the bridge or moving it somewhere else so it could be used as a pedestrian bridge. If it must be destroyed, the study asks at least that a plaque be placed on the new bridge, recording what had been there before.

Boote’s proposal claims it would fix all of those issues except for the width of the bridge – with a new steel deck, the load limit could be returned to its original level, he said. As for the fact that the bridge is one lane, Burton’s argument is that there are only 40 residents on its south side, and that all are accessible by an alternate route. “If ever there was a place to retain a historical one-lane bridge, this is it,” he said.

All of this said, the final recommendation of the EA maintains that the preferred solution for the County is to replace the existing Collingwood Street Bridge with a two-lane concrete span. Paying lip service to the new heritage report, it adds that “the County should also consider the possibility of relocating the existing bridge structure or mounting the existing main bridge trusses to the new bridge.”

“That would be just wrong,” said Jack Mesley of the latter suggestion at Sunday’s meeting. Boote and Hillier, bridge purists both, were quick to agree.

The County is adamant that the EA is the last word on the bridge, and that the replacement plan will proceed to the design phase this summer. The report is under a 30-day review period until March 5, however, and Burton is talking about requesting another “bump-up.” Before that, however, the committee is hoping to take another measure of its community support. On Saturday, February 18, at 11 am at the Station on the Green, the committee will host a public meeting, during which a presentation will be made detailing the contrasts between its plan and the County’s report.

The County is also planning a Public Information Centre in Creemore, from 4 to 7 pm on Tuesday, February 21 at the Creemore Arena. The meeting is not mandated, and any information gathered will not result in a staff report to County Council. It is intended as a chance for County staff to explain its rationale.

The full EA report can be viewed here.

Note: the above picture is a mock up of what the rehabilitated bridge could look like, provided to us by Barry Burton’s committee.

A different kind of chamber music

When we think of chamber music, there is a tendency to expect stringed instruments, but for the opening concert of the 2011 Gift of Music season, taking place at 3 pm on Sunday, November 20 at St. Luke’s Anglican Church, there will not be a violin, viola or cello in sight. No Strings Attached, a wind quintet, is composed of musicians who are graduates and students of either the Glenn Gould School of Music or the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music. A wind quintet is a group of five woodwind players, and is a standard chamber ensemble. It is valued for its versatility and variety of tone colour, which is very different from the more homogeneous blend of colour that a string quartet provides.

Mor Shargall, flute and piccolo, performs regularly in the greater Toronto area with various orchestras and chamber groups, including the Kindred Spirits Orchestra and the Scarborough Philharmonic. She has also studied with and played for members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Clarinetist Peter Pinteric performs regularly with a variety of ensembles in the Toronto area and is currently in his final year of the Artist Diploma Program at the Glenn Gould School of Music, where he is studying with Joaquin Valdepenas, principal clarinetist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Emily Willmon, oboe, performs with the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and various chamber ensembles.

Bassoonist Sheba Thibideau is active in the Toronto music community in the areas of chamber, solo and orchestral music. She is currently principal bassoonist of the Celebrity Symphony Orchestra and Opera Bel Canto. Sheba is a member of Triceratonin, a trio for Bassoon, oboe and piano, and also performs in frequent new music and jazz fusion projects.

Tina Shapero, French horn, traveled to Prague with the Kitchener-Waterloo Community Orchestra in 2006 and has since played with the Oakville Symphony, Hamilton Symphony, Stratford Civic Orchestra, London Community Orchestra, Scarborough Philharmonic, and the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

The quintet will be playing work by Mozart, Muczynski, Mussorgsky and Taffanel, bringing a balance between older compositions and newer, more modern selections to the afternoon.
All of the Gift of Music Sunday concerts are at 3 pm at St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Creemore. Complimentary refreshments follow the concerts, providing an opportunity to connect with musicians, friends and neighbours.

The following Sunday, November 27, will feature Tariq Harb, classical guitarist and winner of the 2011 Montreal International Classical Guitar Competition.

A dining room with a view

At a scenic crossroads in Mulmur Township, hikers and drivers enjoying the beauty of the Niagara Escarpment may be surprised to stumble upon a thriving restaurant in the village of Terra Nova.

The Terra Nova Public House has been open for business since August 20th and is already – thanks to the perseverance of its staff and the support of the local community – experiencing a great deal of success.

Owners Anna Alonso and her husband Troy Gallimore have lived in the building where the restaurant is housed for 16 years. “I fell in love with the house the first time I saw it,” says Anna, although she admits it was in fairly rough shape at the time. “It was basically just a dirt floor and clapboard walls, but I always had the idea that I wanted to do something with the space.”

The building has a storied history, serving at different times as a general store, antique shop, gas station, and post office. Now, as a restaurant, it has a rustic charm, the most prominent feature being the original wooden roof beams.

“We didn’t want too much affectation,” Anna says of the décor, which includes walnut tables and a wall made of refurbished stones, “because the beauty is in the nature all around.”

The renovation was not an easy process, involving “a lot more red tape” than expected, says Anna. “There were a lot of times we thought we couldn’t do it,” but thanks to Troy, who did much of the work himself, and the help of friends and neighbours, they were able to overcome the obstacles.

The couple also had misgivings about the rural location of the restaurant, but it seems that those fears were unfounded. The breathtaking natural beauty surrounding the Public House is part of the attraction and the experience of eating there. Located in the tiny hamlet, in a clearing of sorts, the Public House is surrounded by hills and trees – a warm, welcoming light at the end of the trail.

“When you live in a place like this, it’s hard not to be an environmentalist,” says Anna, looking out of the window at the nearby escarpment. “People want to know where their food comes from, and whether it has travelled 10,000 miles to get to them.”

Not at the Public House: all items on the menu are made from scratch by Anna’s brother, Malcolm Muth, using fresh, local ingredients. Muth, who has over 20 years of experience in the food service industry, has worked in such area restaurants as the Mono Cliffs Inn, Oliver and Bonacini, and Hiding in Hockley.

Anna adds that in addition to their use of local ingredients, they also compost, have their own herb garden, and have installed a state-of-the-art, eco-friendly septic system.
Clearly, the people at the Public House respect the environment, but the restaurant’s success is not solely due to the natural beauty that surrounds it.

“We wanted to be a place that anyone could come to,” says Anna, discussing the menu, which ranges from typical pub fare such as roast chicken wings and braised pork ribs, to fine-dining entrees like braised lamb shanks with sweet potato dumplings.

“I’ve met all kinds of people,” says Anna, “and it’s been a great experience. A lot of work, but a great experience.”

“On New Year’s Eve, there was one car in the parking lot, and some people driving by thought we were dead,” she says, “but really we were very busy. It was all just people who had walked over.”

The Public House hopes to recreate the success of New Year’s on Thursday, January 26, when they will be hosting live music for the first time with Mark Crissinger, whose combination of folk and blues should complement the rustic charm of the restaurant nicely.
Also, the Jim Muth Invitation Cribbage Tournament (named after Anna’s grandfather, a former bartender) is set to take place in March.

“You realize after living here for a while that you’re not in the middle of nowhere.” The local community knows about the Public House and, says Anna, they have been extremely supportive.

“I fell in love with the place, and I’m not going anywhere.”

A dinner for First Nations water project

The youth group at Duntroon’s Emmanuel Presbyterian Church will host a homemade lasagna dinner starting at 5:30 pm on Saturday, May 25, with all proceeds going to support a new initiative by Creemore-based non-profit Tin Roof Global.

Emmanuel Presbyterian Church youth group members Karen Lemon, Taylor Dodd, Jourdan Gravel, Liam Gravel, Emily Lemon and Dalton Howard are busy preparing to host a lasagna dinner in support of Tin Roof Global. Absent from the photo are Ayla Howard and Hunter McIntyre.

Emmanuel Presbyterian Church youth group members Karen Lemon, Taylor Dodd, Jourdan Gravel, Liam Gravel, Emily Lemon and Dalton Howard are busy preparing to host a lasagna dinner in support of Tin Roof Global. Absent from the photo are Ayla Howard and Hunter McIntyre.

Tin Roof, which focuses its efforts on water stewardship around the world, is helping to bring water solutions to the Shawanaga First Nation, just north of Parry Sound. With no water in its wells, the community has been trucking in its water from neighbouring Parry Sound for years. Even newly drilled wells haven’t found water, so treating surface water from local lakes is the only long-term solution for the community’s water needs. With support from Health Canada and hydrologist Murray Richardson of Carleton University (a former Creemore resident), Tin Roof will be working with Shawanaga’s youth to help identify the cleanest water in the area, which will soon be drawn from, providing a much needed water source for the community.

The Emmanuel Presbyterian youth group hopes to raise $2,000 toward the project. The cost for the lasagna dinner is $15 for adults and teens and $8 for children under 12. Additional donations can be made at the dinner. To purchase tickets, call 705-444-6823.

A dominating performance

Creemore native Regan Millsap (left), here seen with Canadian Special Olympics Team honourary coach Catriona Le May Doan, put in a performance worthy of the Olympic speed skating hero at last week’s Special Olympics World Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Manitoulin Island resident won silver medals in the 100-metre and 200-metre snowshoeing event and was a member of the gold-medal-winning 4×400-metre snowshoe relay.

A dream and a dog, both elusive

Two of Creemore’s finest people, Ken Thornton and darci-que, will host a launch party on Saturday, November 19 for their respective new books.

Ken, at 93 an inspiration to us all, has completed his first novel after previously publishing a book of short stories. Entitled The Elusive Dream, this book follows a young farmboy from the prairies as he becomes a journalist, dresses up as a hobo for a story and takes to the trains, winds up in the hospital, meets a Mountie, and through this relationship finally becomes a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a dream of his since childhood.

The suspicion of many who hear of Ken’s book is that it is semi-autobiographical, and he does concede that the character in the book has some similarities to himself. Certainly, they both had the same dream, and had climbed over several obstacles to reach it. Ken, of course, had the Second World War stand in the way of his dream to be a Mountie. After serving in the air force for five years and getting married, he settled down to a more sensible existence. But famously (at least in Creemore), he learned to play the bagpipes at age 83 and was eventually made a member of the RCMP pipe band, playing at several functions every year including the Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill.

“Parts of this book parallel my life, but much of it doesn’t,” said Ken, who starting writing the 350-page tome about 20 years ago. After all that work, he’s proud of the outcome. “I think it has such a lovely twist at the end,” he says with his trademark smile. “Something happens that I am so proud of.”

darci-que, on the other hand, has finished another installment in her popular series of children’s books about The Adventures of Mollie Doodle, her loyal Labradoodle. This one, called Mollie’s Birthday Party, must come with a caveat from Creemore Echo: the protaganist in the book is a bearded collie owned by this newspaper’s editor, also the writer of this story. His name is Findlay and, following a habit that he has in real life, he runs away from Mollie’s birthday party, causing all the other canine invitees to have to chase him around town. Eventually, he is returned to the party and Mollie is able to share her cake with her friends (a group which includes all of the dogs she’s ever baby sat.)

The launch party is taking place from 11 am to 2 pm on Saturday, November 19 at the Station on the Green. Refreshments will be served.

A dream flight in a legendary jet

There is an aircraft on a pedestal over top of the Creemore Legion. That aircraft is a Canadair T-33 Silver Star, Production Serial #070. It was built by Canadair, Montreal in approximately February of 1952 and entered service with the Royal Canadian Air Force directly off the assembly line, designated as CT 133070. These were the heady days of the RCAF leading up to the Korean War, and the T-Bird, as it was known, played an active role in that conflict.

I was born “plane crazy” in February of 1962. Any time an airplane went over, I looked up, and have been that way ever since. I went through the Air Cadet program and earned both my Glider and Power Pilot Scholarships. During this time, the T-33 was still in very active service with what was now known as the Canadian Forces (CF). Every time I saw a T-Bird, I thought, “That’s such a graceful airplane. I would really love to fly one of those.” As luck would have it, after I flew military transports for 20 years, the venerable T-Bird was retired from active service with the CF in 2005. As such, the T-33 has the longest service record of any aircraft in the history of our country. I was disappointed that my dream of flying that graceful aircraft would likely never be. Canada has a history of cutting up its military aircraft and selling them for scrap, and I figured that those that were not saved as “Gate Guardians,” like our Legion’s Serial 070, would meet that destructive fate. I went on flying professionally, but I never stopped thinking about the beauty and grace of the T-33.

But four years ago, the Canadian government put a block of six of the latest and best T-Birds ever to fly up for auction at CFD Mountainview. A small group of people, several who had flown the T-Bird in their youth, jumped at the chance and bought them outright, including a slew of spare Rolls-Royce Nene 10 engines and other parts. Thus was born the Jet Aircraft Museum (JAM) in London, Ontario. JAM is a bona-fide flying Museum, and the focus is on early jets.

Each aircraft, which had been “mothballed” outside was inspected and prepared for ferry back to CYXU (London, Ontario). Flown by some of the “best of the best” jet fighter pilots our country has ever produced, these aircraft were ferried out of Mountainview one by one and all landed safely at London. Next came the tedious and expensive process of dismantling the aircraft and doing a full “import inspection” by which to place them onto the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register.

During this time, I became aware of JAM and joined as a member, and possibly because of my Test Pilot credentials, was asked to become the Director of Flight Operations. Hope springs eternal for flying a T-Bird!

After four years of meticulous work and many inspections by Transport Canada, our first jet, Serial 346, was made ready to fly in late 2011. This aircraft is now in active service with the Jet Aircraft Museum. With my 50th birthday fast approaching this past February, my objective became clear: I wanted to fly a T-33 in my “half century” year and in the 60th anniversary year of the T-33 entering service. I took the JAM T-33 Pilot Ground School, wrote the exams, did the blindfold tests and met all the licensing requirements. Finally, on February 10 and 11, I flew the jet, completing my Type Rating only four days after my birthday.

What a thrill, but very humbling too! Was it worth it? Absolutely. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my wife, Jacqueline, who has tended the home fires many weekends and evenings while I got ready to “blast off” in the T-Bird.

So here’s what I’ve learned in my first 50 years: dream large, never lose focus and never give up hope. What may seem impossible one moment may fall into your lap the next.

For those other “plane nuts” out in the Hills who have an interest in flying the T-Bird or riding in the back seat as trained crew, don’t just sit there… call me, and let’s make your dreams come true too!

And next time you’re by the Legion, tip your hat to that beautiful 60-year-old lady on the pedestal, who has served our country so long and so well.

A garden for the whole community

Last week a dozen or more Creemore residents, aged three weeks to let’s say “middle age,” gathered behind the Log Cabin to begin a project we hope will not only change the local landscape but change local diets as well.

Stakes were hammered into place and string was stretched across hard packed soil, delineating the first eight beds of what will soon become the Creemore Community Garden. The initiative is a humble one, but the vision of our group is anything but.

When we began talking about a community garden over the winter months, our reasons were as numerous as the people involved. For some, a community garden is a means of improving the family harvest. For others, their own backyards are too shady or their beautiful black walnuts have unfortunately left their soil too toxic to grow some vegetables. For others, apartment living means limited access to soil. Some wanted to involve local schools by creating demonstration gardens. Others simply wanted to have company as they garden. But for all, one objective seemed clear: let’s grow food for those who can’t and hopefully, in the process, engage them to join in.

Food security is an issue facing millions of Canadians. Food banks are running at full speed and often have limited access to fresh food.

In Stayner, Earl Hoover began the Clearview Community Garden and successfully harvests over an acre solely for the Clearview Stayner Food Bank. In Wasaga Beach 52 community plots were reserved before the season started, with several groups and individuals growing solely for local food banks. The same is happening in Thornbury, Collingwood and Meaford.

This past Sunday at an event hosted by Curiosity House and the 100 Mile Store, Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis, authors of The STOP: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement, provided us with even more inspiration with their talk on revolutionizing food security systems, including the food bank model, across Canada.

“This is the equivalent of the civil rights movement and women’s fight for the vote,” said an impassioned Saul of the movement to secure good food for all in an equitable way.

When he asked the room of 40 or more people who had ever visited their local MP, only three raised their hands. It is up to us to act, he said, and demand more when it comes to the nutrition of our nation.

“It’s organics for the rich and diabetes for the poor,” said Saul of a food bank system that is antiquated, based on a flawed belief of charity as handouts, and which supplies primarily non-perishable food.

Until our own initiative began here in Creemore, many of us were unaware that families in our own village needed support. We also learned that Teddy Bears Picnic Children’s Centre collects food anonymously for several of its families who, for so many different reasons, can’t make ends meet.

Food banks don’t have to be anonymous spaces in church basements says Saul, who transformed the STOP food bank in Toronto into a community space of greenhouses, gardens, kitchens, classrooms and gathering areas.
Saul’s new initiative, Community Food Centres Canada, provides ideas and resources to organizations across Canada who want to establish food centres focusing on growing, cooking, sharing and advocating for good food rather than handouts.

Community Food Centres encourage participation in all aspects of acquiring food; in the process patrons can overcome the embarrassment of being hungry.

Bringing food insecurity out of the dark and into the open air and green spaces of our town means together we can celebrate food, nourishment and a healthy planet for all.

The Creemore Community Garden is looking for donations and volunteers. We are also looking for untreated wood to line our eight beds, tools, hose, compost, ideas, muscle and support of all kinds… words of encouragement go a long way!

The STOP, available at Curiosity House, is a fantastic read that is gripping, inspirational and informative all at the same time.

For more information on the Creemore Community Garden, feel free to contact me at emilyworts@hotmail.com.

A gift of guitar talent

This Sunday, November 27, the Gift of Music concert series features award winning classical guitarist Tariq Harb, the winner of the 2011 Montreal International Classical Guitar Competition, and finalist at one of the world’s most exciting classical guitar competitions, the Barrios WorldWideWeb 2011.

After high school Harb, moved to Montreal from Jordan to study finance at Concordia University. After graduating with a degree in Commerce and working as a financial advisor, Harb, proficient in both violin and guitar, decided to pursue his true passion and went on to obtain a Masters in Performance degree from McGill University. He is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Musical Arts from the University of Toronto.

Harb’s playing has been described as “effortless and thoughtful… a must see guitarist” (Dr. Garry Antonio), with “exceptional musicianship and technical accuracy” (Dr. Alexander Dunn). John Wiens, Montreal’s Live Music Examiner’s critic, said of Harb’s playing that he appeared to be “reaching out with music to touch and feel what cannot be said,” and that he was a “musical master of melancholy!”

Enjoy The Gift of Music at St. Luke’s this Sunday, November 27 at 3 pm to hear an exciting classical guitarist who is well on his way to becoming a major player on the world stage. Tickets are $15 at Curiosity House Books, The Creemore Echo, or at the door. Following the concert you can meet Tariq in person as everyone relaxes with friends and neighbours over complimentary refreshments.

A glimpse of those who lived here 400 years ago

PETUN TO WYANDOT: The Ontario Petun from the Sixteenth Century.
By Charles Garrad

Reviewed by Pat Raible

In his foreword to this newly published book, Charles Garrad says, “My hope and purpose is to record something of what I think and know at this time about the Petun Indians when they lived in their Ontario homeland, the ‘Petun Country,’ for about seventy years, ca. A.D. 1580-1650, and to trace their Wyandot descendants to the present day.” (And, indeed, Garrad has traced these descendants to where they now live in Oklahoma, Kansas and the Detroit area.)

What Garrad “thinks and knows,” as evidenced in this book, is astounding. He claims that it is an impossible task “to reconstruct the Petun beliefs, world view, and way of life as it was four centuries ago.” Nevertheless, he has undertaken this “impossible task,” and we are the beneficiaries of his almost sixty years of research and interpretative wisdom, here distilled into 656 pages of text, illustrations, maps and tables.

We in Creemore think of the Petun as especially ours. Of course, we are not really entitled to do so – their 17th-century villages stretched from the present-day Nottawasaga River to the east and the Niagara Escarpment to the west, in the whole area immediately south of the Georgian Bay. Still, in support of our claim, two early Petun villages were indeed located a bit west and bit north of our present-day Village of Creemore, Sidey-Mackay being to the west and Melville to the north. (Clearly, these are not their Petun names, but Garrad explains that archaeological sites are usually named after the owner(s) of the property at the time of their excavation.)

Who were these Petun who lived and worked and traded in these villages long before Edward Webster and family members arrived in the 1840s and planned the Creemore we know today? And how do we know what we think we know? Our two “sources” are, first, what the Petun left behind: stone chips, pottery chards, bits of metal, bones and beads, etc., etc. (discovered when farmers dug up their fields for planting and then, later, by archaeological teams.) And, second, the accounts written by Champlain and, later, by the Jesuit and Recollet fathers who came with the prime purpose of converting the native peoples to Christianity.

Little is known about the “Petun” and their forebears before European contact and the expansion of the fur trade. The Petun were Iroquoian-Wendat [Wyandot] peoples. (The nickname “Petun” or “Nation du Petun” [Tobacco Nation] was first recorded by Samuel de Champlain, although Garrad says the name did not necessarily originate with Champlain and was not exclusive to this particular group of people.) They apparently came to our area from southern Ontario, and were a confederacy of two distinct Wyandot “nations,” the Wolf and the Deer. Their first village here was at the Sidey-Mackay site, which Garrad and his team excavated. From this excavation and other researches, the principal occupation of the Petun was beaver hunting, processing and trading – the tobacco crop for which they are named may well have been for their own use.

By the time Champlain arrived in 1616, the Petun were heavily involved in the fur trade, trapping and preparing beaver pelts, to be exchanged (through their Huron Rock and other trading partners) with the French for European goods. Access to local beavers in the Mad, Noisy and other rivers was surely a significant factor in the Petuns’ choice of homeland. Garrad says, “From the Niagara Escarpment flowed an almost countless number of small streams and some major rivers that had been the undisturbed playgrounds of beavers for centuries.” The beavers also handily provided construction materials, since trees cut down for beaver lodges could also be used for houses and pallisades.

The Petun were hunters and gatherers but also very successful farmers. Maize [corn] and other horticultural products, such as beans and squash, were of high importance, as was the gathering of wild food plants. (Wild and cultivated plant remains which were recovered from Petun sites range from acorns to wild plums, with maize predominating.) Maize was the basic component in all their meals, with the addition of other vegetables or wild plants and pieces of fish or meat. (Once again those beavers were all-important in providing meat.)

The Petun villages were quite possibly pallisaded, like those of their “Huron” (another French nickname) cousins, about whom more is known (or conjectured). Excavations suggest that the Petun lived in wooden houses (longhouses), with two or often more families living on opposite sides and sharing the same fire-hearths.

By the time of Champlain’s visit in January 1616 there were (according to him) eight Petun villages and two more under construction. Garrad, having studied Samuel de Champlain’s own account of his visit, believes that the Petun village Champlain visited in January 1616 was the north-of-Creemore (Melville) site, by then the principal Petun Village. Champlain noted admiringly in his Voyages et Decouvertures … “The country is full of hill slopes and little level stretches which make it a pleasant country.” Garrad says this observation is particularly appropriate to the view seen by looking south from the Melville site on Ten Hill (towards what is now Creemore).

New villages were built after Champlain’s visit, but Garrad says these should be interpreted as villages moved from previous locations.

What happened to the Petun? As we know, sadly, the Jesuit and Recollet missionaries brought more than their religion, and the traders (whether French or Indian) brought more than trade goods. With them, came a variety of European diseases against which the native peoples had no natural resistance. Iroquois raids, which in 1640, 1647 and 1649 brought war into the Petun Country, also took their toll. Garrad says credible estimates of Petun population are 10,000-10,600 at the time of Champlain’s visit, reduced by disease and war to 1,000 at the time of the Dispersal ca. 1650.

Garrad points out that the 1650 Dispersal of the Petun was not a unique event but part of the general Dispersal at that time. Together with other dispossessed peoples (Huron and Neutral) the Petun fled from their homeland, henceforth to be known under the modernized name of “Wyandot.”

Twelve years ago Mr. Garrad gave a “standing-room-only” talk about Champlain and the Petun in the Station-on-the-Green. Soon after, he conducted two seminars here for the Purple Hills Arts & Heritage Society, including visits to the Sidey-Mackay site. Let’s hope we can lure him back to take part in our quatercentenary celebration of Champlain’s January 1616 visit!

Garrad’s book is co-published by the Canadian Museum of History and the University of Ottawa Press. Copies may be obtained from Curiosity House Books or from Clearview Public Library, Creemore Branch.

A grant application for the medical centre

Clearview Council instructed its staff Monday night to submit an application for a grant under Human Resources and Skills Development Canada’s Enabling Accessibility Fund, hoping the Township might receive $50,000 to put toward the expansion of the Creemore Medical Centre.

The grant, which has an application deadline of October 5, will provide “up to $50,000 per project to construct, renovate or retrofit buildings; modify vehicles for community use; or enhance information and communication technologies to make them more accessible.” At least 25 percent of the total eligible project costs must come from non-federal government sources.

In the Medical Centre’s case, the total cost of the expansion is predicted to be $450,000. The Medical Centre Board has pledged to raise $350,000 from the community, and Council has agreed to debenture $150,000 to cover the rest of the cost plus $50,000 in contingency. Should the grant application be successful, the funding would alleviate some of these costs.
Accessibility upgrades planned for the Medical Centre include a chair lift to access the lower level, two automatic door openers and a reconstructed ramp/sidewalk/handrail at the entrance of the building.

In other Medical Centre expansion news, Board chair Bill Mann made a presentation to Mulmur Council two weeks ago, bringing that body up to date on Clearview’s plans for the facility and asking that Mulmur consider making a financial contribution to the project.

Market research completed by the Board during the expansion’s planning stages showed that one third of the Centre’s patients hail from Mulmur Township. “Indeed, it is as much Mulmur’s medical centre as it is Clearview’s medical centre,” Mann told the Council members.

At the end of his presentation, he requested three things of Mulmur Township: conceptual support for the project in the form of a letter of support to accompany the grant application; a contribution toward the construction costs of the facility; and a financial contribution. Mann suggested $30,000 as a possible amount.

Mulmur Council received Mann’s presentation as an information item and promised to discuss the matter at its next meeting.

A great kickoff to Farmers’ Market season

Wow! What a fantastic day we had last Saturday for our first market.

We had so many positive comments about our largest market ever; some new vendor highlights were our lamb producer Andrew and his range of sheep’s cheeses, the lovely pine trees that Braeden and his friends brought, the refreshing ginger lemonade by Under The Ginger Tree and the return of Sherina at Ali’s Kitchen. All these new stalls backed by our large core of familiar, skilled producers and artisans, including Matthew’s bread, Marie’s herbs, Pam’s soaps, Shirley’s glass, hot food by Pet and Lori, Nancy’s preserves and produce by Orie, Mulberry Moon, Willowlane, Cut & Dried and Fiddlefoot Farm among others too many to mention.

We received a comment on Saturday regarding the withdrawal of space for non-profit organizations at the top of the market. While we understand the complaint, quite apart from the ability for us all to have clearer access to the Horticultural Park, it pays to bear in mind that the Station on The Green board and all of us at the Market are volunteers. We fit the entire organization of the market, board meetings and promotions alongside our full time work and families. There was an extraordinary amount of extra work involved in organizing 18-plus non-profit groups and allocating four per week into each Saturday, especially when many want to attend at the same time. The Market board agreed with the Station board that incorporating non-profit organizations within the Market was a good solution, being of minimal cost and enabling organizations to attend on any date.

On a more personal note, I feel proud to be carrying on the strong tradition started by Jean Brownfield and Sandra Lackie almost 16 years ago. The Creemore Market is one to celebrate, filled with skilled vendors who grow, bake and make all their own product, bringing the best locally sourced food and crafts to Creemore every Saturday morning. The Market is a team effort and happens every week with the help of Orie Johnston, Marie Boyce, Sandra Lackie, Bill Mann, Pam Black, Janet Fletcher, Linda Mills and Nancy DeGorter. Market enquiries can be made to any one of us. If you haven’t yet visited the market, please consider coming to downtown Creemore on Saturday morning to meet our community of stall holders, you’ll be assured of a very warm welcome.

You can find us online, as well, at www.creemorefarmersmarket.ca.

A great weekend at the fair

Despite some muddy conditions, last weekend’s 157th annual Great Northern Exhibition was, as always, a wonderful celebration of rural life past and present.

See a full slideshow of pictures from the fair below.

A hike to protect the Escarpment

A group of community organizers and Bruce Trail fans is calling out to hikers in communities along Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment to lace up their hiking boots and help stomp out quarrying in the renowned world biosphere.

The Peak to Peak Escarpment Challenge, a hike-a-thon taking place on Saturday, May 12, invites hikers of all ages and abilities to challenge themselves, the Escarpment, and the idea that this unique natural environment is a good place for new quarries.

“People think the Niagara Escarpment is more protected than it really is,” said hike-a-thon organizer Janet Gillham, whose group, the Clearview Community Coalition, has spent the last several years battling the expansion of the Walker Aggregates quarry west of Duntroon. “It’s easy to take this natural wonder in our own backyard for granted. We have to fight to protect it, and this is a chance for weekend hikers and families to vote with their feet – join the fight to protect the Escarpment and have a lot of fun in the process.”

The hike-a-thon offers trail routes suited to all ages and abilities (from the full 26 kilometres to an easy-going 6.5 kilometres), plus expert trail guides and an after-party featuring barbeque and buffet, luxury draw prizes, live music, food, an art auction and more. It takes place starting at Highlands Nordic, south of Collingwood. Details are available online at www.peaktopeakhike.com.

The hike-a-thon also has a children’s program and offers a continental breakfast and refreshment stations along the trail, as well as an after-hike buffet.
“Our bus will take you to the trailhead, and you can choose a trail that suits your style,” said Gillham. “No matter which trail you take, you’ll end up back at our host venue on the Escarpment overlooking Georgian Bay for food, music, prizes and partying.”

The Peak to Peak Escarpment Challenge is a non-profit fundraiser to support the Clearview Community Coalition. For more information, visit www.peaktopeakhike.com, or call 705-445-6095.

A Hort Park memorial we can all enjoy

Creemore’s newest public sculpture is a beautiful rendition of one of Chess’s most endearing game pieces, the Knight.

Carved by local sculptor David Bruce Johnson out of the base of a maple tree in the Horticultural Park, the sculpture was commissioned by Eric West in honour of his father Don West, who passed away this past March.

Don and his wife Audrey owned a farmhouse at the top of Ten Hill from the mid-1980s until the mid-1990s, and like many who came to the area during those years, they fell in love with the local lifestyle and the people of Creemore. Health concerns eventually warranted a move to Collingwood, but according to Eric, Don’s heart remained here.

An avid chess player, Don’s favourite strategy was to use the Knight, the game’s most unorthodox piece, to surprise his opponents. “He was devastating with Knights,” remembered Eric. Don and Eric played thousands of games over the years, and Eric beat his father only four times.

Station on the Green board member Paul Ruppel, sculptor David Bruce Johnson, Eric West and Audrey West

Eric and Audrey visited Creemore last Saturday to view the sculpture for the first time, and were pleased with Johnson’s work. Johnson, in turn, donated the money he made from the commission to the Station on the Green.

A last Christmas for Duntroon School

With a light dusting of snow setting the scene, gently foretelling of the season to come, both tire stores and ‘The One Stop Christmas Shop’ at Duntroon School enjoyed crowds getting ready for what lies ahead. A sold out bake table (is there any other kind?) and chili dinner, bustling atmosphere, and responses from various vendors indicated that Duntroon’s event was a resounding success. Congratulations to the School Council group, particularly Robin Ardila and Jenn McCarl, who were able to pull it all together so quickly and so well. In the 100 mile style, it was gratifying to see and support so many different local artisans and entrepreneurs in Duntroon, an excellent opportunity for stocking up on handknit dishcloths (an old family friend who used to keep us well stocked moved way up north: we miss you Wanda!), finding handmade bedwarmer teddy bears, and some lovely baby items, all locally made. It was also a great chance to source some interesting holiday ideas, from cookie masters Creative Ginger: (I’m hoping to order some of her homemade, reasonably priced, beautiful and tasty gingerbreads, shaped as a large ivy wreath as well as innovative candy cane- and star-shaped teacup hangers), to balloon experts (Rise UP: from full size balloon Santa sculptures – the Duntroon Hall won an auctioned one for the family Christmas parties there – to very popular individual balloon corsages), and cool crafted creations for children (smitten with the flag banners from Polly Taylor, whose 3 Peas in a Pod is unfortunately closing, but is now offering her design services privately,). Dopey Kid Originals, an educational toy store in Stayner (the name, regrettably, does not say it all) was on stage keeping kids engaged with seasonal crafts, and offering an array of interesting gift ideas.

The success and spirit of the evening is tempered by the sadness that it was a first and last for the school, which will be shuttering up as Duntroon’s public school this coming June. All of the funds raised from the evening are earmarked for the final commemorative party and reunion of Duntroon students, slated for the end of May 2012 – more details will be provided as planning progresses. In preparation for the festivities, the School Council is seeking photos and images (any originals can be copied onsite at the school and returned), stories and legends, and memorabilia for display. With a recently uncovered stash of old yearbooks providing additional inspiration, a final yearbook may also be in the offing, if there is sufficient volunteer interest and items to warrant it.

The Ontario Ministry of Education, after an extension to their own deadline that conveniently pushed its response until after the recent provincial election, has now summarily dismissed a request for a review of the Duntroon School ARC. Spearheaded by Councillor Thom Paterson, the request had lofty and admirable goals, items which will now have to be addressed through other forums. Key to the request were identifying improvements for the school consolidation/ARC process, to encourage school board staff and trustees to be more transparent, responsive and accountable to the volunteers working together on ARCs, and also seeking changes in the provincial rural education policy, where funding makes supporting small local community schools a burden on many school boards.

Councillor Paterson remains concerned about the future of our Clearview schools, especially those with 200 or less students, as neither the current provincial funding formula, nor the Simcoe School Board’s own policies support these schools’ continuing operation. With returned MPP Jim Wilson’s election pledge “to fight to ensure the funding formula meets the needs of single school communities” – schools such as Duntroon, Creemore and Nottawa – Councillor Paterson is seeking the MPP’s renewed support in highlighting rural school issues at the provincial level. With the spotlight on green energy issues after the last election results, when many media identified turbine conflicts as costing Liberals critical seats, rural education policy has had a lesser profile. This even though the education policy can be similar in its disruptive and divisive impact on communities, and counters ‘green’ government initiatives by removing local schools from communities, thereby increasing bussing. Hopefully an invigorated PC opposition including MPP Wilson will bring attention to and work with the government to achieve rural education reforms during the upcoming session, as local school boards are ill-equipped to resolve these issues themselves.

Any updates and news you’d like noted, or questions you may have, please email me at Suzanne@rockside.ca.

A long weekend of community fun

The Canada Day long weekend is always a busy one in Creemore, and this one looks especially so. In addition to the Creemore Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning, here’s a run down of a few other events to check out.

A Bridge Turns 100

The Collingwood Street Bridge is a century old this year and the committee that’s devoted to saving it is inviting the community to celebrate on Saturday, June 29.

From 11:45 am until 4 pm, a portion of Collingwood Street between Edward and Elizabeth Streets will be closed for a good, old-fashioned street party, with free hot dogs and hamburgers, entertainment by the “Rusty Nuts,” and face painting by darci-que. Piper Tim Armour will be on hand to lead a procession over the old bridge at high noon, and a historical display will outline the reasons the committee thinks the bridge should be given heritage designation.

May the Best Duck Win

Ray’s Place, Creemore’s youth resource centre, is partnering with the Creemore Legion to hold a duck race on the Mad River on Monday, July 1. Proceeds will be split between Ray’s Place and the Legion’s Canada Day festivities. The race ends at Mad River Park at 10:30 am. Ducks, at $5, are available at Ray’s Place and Cardboard Castles.

Celebrate Canada

For a full schedule of Canada Day festivities, click here.

A message from the Medical Centre

The Creemore Medical Centre expansion is about to reach an important milestone: the sending out of bid tender documents to area contractors, with the June 24th Clearview Council meeting targeted for the announcement of the winning bid. Our fundraising effort has been very successful, with cash received and future commitments coming close to our target, which has recently been revised upwards modestly to reflect our view of current costs. Well over 300 donations have been received from individuals and organizations large and small. Thank you all for your generous support!

In the course of our fundraising, some questions have arisen which deserve a response that everyone can see. The first question related to the project’s estimated cost: approximately $450,000 for only 900 square feet of new space on the main floor. It seems like a lot of money per square foot, some said. The basic explanation is that we are doing much more than just adding new space. We will be spending over $90,000 to improve the building’s accessibility for handicapped patients, for example, and we are making significant changes to the existing building as well. Our cost estimates have been reviewed by several construction professionals, who found them reasonable for the work being done.

“How much is this costing taxpayers?” was another common question. While the Township staff has been enormously helpful in the planning process, all project and operating costs will be paid out of funds we have raised or through rent paid by future tenants, just the way it has been for more than 25 years with the existing building. Township taxpayers have not been and will not be asked to pay anything toward the expansion.

We told potential donors that only 25 per cent of Creemore area residents said in our survey that they used current Medical Centre services. This caused people to ask why we were expanding, when no one wanted to use the facility. But our survey also told us emphatically that residents wanted very much to use the doctors in the Centre; sadly, these people had found that the doctors already had full rosters and were not taking new patients. Hence the only way to provide additional physician services is to build space for new ones to move into – which is what our project will do.

Other residents complained that they were promised a doctor 25 years ago, when they gave their donation to the original building fund. Understandably, perhaps, they felt disinclined to give this time. The irony in their reaction to not give now is that providing new space might well provide the medical services they felt they were promised long ago. This expansion is an enabling investment to enhance physician availability.

Why don’t the Medical Centre physicians respond to local emergencies, since they are much closer than any hospital? All our doctors, when called in these situations, recommend that the patient go to Emergency at the nearest hospital. Hospitals have a broad range of diagnostic and treatment equipment and tools which a centre like ours simply cannot offer. The patient in these cases needs two things: a quick and well-informed diagnosis and modern, efficient treatments. Hospitals do these things best.

Lastly, we are often asked whether the expansion and new physicians will lead to extended hours – evenings or perhaps weekends, or even a clinic structure. Newly trained doctors come well-trained in the skills required to work in a flexible family health team structure. One way of building their practice quickly would be to offer broader services, including expanded hours. As the Medical Centre Board, we are not in a position to require that this occur, but we will do our best to encourage it. However, in the end it is the individual doctor’s decision, since each of them runs his or her own business.

It is exciting and a relief to be near the start of construction. If it can occur by early July (our fond hope!), the project should be largely complete by Christmas. During the construction period, there will be some noise and temporary parking arrangements. We will work hard to keep these inconveniences to a minimum.

What are we getting for all this money? In addition to the space for a new physician, the building’s accessibility will be considerably improved. Parking and wide entrances at the front of the building will shorten the walk to the building for everyone, especially those dealing with mobility issues. Push-button doors will eliminate the need for a strong right arm on entry and a stair lift will make descending to the basement both safe and easy.

While discussions are still at a very early stage, we hope to attract a lab to the Centre for, perhaps, a couple of half-days per week. A new large meeting room in the basement will allow us to bring medical specialists to Creemore for patient group meetings, rather than requiring these patients to drive to Collingwood, Wasaga Beach or beyond. It will be a more comfortable building to be in. A lot of positive changes! Thanks again for your support, which makes all these improved services possible.

A mile in high heels for a good cause

On Saturday, October 6, dozens of men will don bright red stilletos and walk a mile-long route in downtown Collingwood to raise funds for My Friend’s House, southern Georgian Bay’s only shelter and support program for women and their children escaping violence and abuse.

The event is part of the worldwide “Walk A Mile In Her Shoes International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence,” and we’re proud to inform you that the Creemore Echo’s own Fred Mills has graciously, and somewhat bravely, volunteered to take part.

All funds raised during the event will go to My Friend’s House, which every year must raise large sums of money to cover its funding shortfall. This year, the organization’s fundraising goal is $175,000.

The Echo has pledged $100 to Fred’s high-heeled walk, and we encourage our readers to support him as well. To donate, CLICK HERE.

A modern-day barn raising

The times may have changed, but it still takes a community to build a barn.

That’s what artist Peter Mitchell learned as he spent the winter constructing a barn on the Mulmur property he purchased with his family last year.

After pricing out how much it would cost to have someone build the road and bridge necessary to lead to the construction site, Peter decided to buy a backhoe and do the work himself.

And work he did. For the next four-and-half months, Peter constructed a twin-culvert bridge over Walker’s Creek and 2,400 feet of road leading to the back of the 22-acre lot.

“A bunch of those days were solo days,” said Peter. “It was just me and a backhoe.”

Finally, at the end November, Peter was ready to start building the barn. But temperatures were beginning to fall and he needed to make sure the concrete foundation didn’t freeze within 24 hours of pouring it.

“I took the advice of [local builder] Jamie Korthals and brought in Lorne Grierson of GBI Construction who prescribed extra straw and insulated tarps on the footings, and foundation and heat in the concrete, to help stay ahead of the frost despite an early onset of winter. It was a race to keep frost out from underneath the footings, but I was properly motivated because the family needed a home.”

Although he has no formal training in building, Peter learned a lot from his father and stepfather, who were both builders. Years ago, Peter built a cabin for his family in Algonquin Park. “I also watched a lot of YouTube videos,” he said.

But Peter had no shortage of assistance from members of the community. Creemore resident and builder Josh Dempsey braved January’s plummeting temperatures to help frame and stand up the walls. At the same time, Don Brearey and his staff at Howie Welding made plate steel fasteners for the Douglas Fir trusses from Barrie’s Millar Lumber, while Peter sourced the thick ash flooring from a local Mennonite farmer.

Armed with good advice after a friendly site visit from local timber frame expert John Gordon, Peter assembled the trusses, which he installed in early February. Josh returned to help him strap, sheath and install the steel roofing by the end of the month.

Was getting the roof on a highlight? “More like a lowlight,” laughed Peter. “It was so cold with crazy winds. We didn’t come off the roof until the stars were out.”

Other locals provided support along the way, too. Many hours were spent trying to keep machines operating in the deep cold, so Peter was grateful for Diesel mechanic Willie Quibel’s help fixing the backhoe when it needed repairs. Neighbour Hen Kurvits helped Peter and his family out of a stuck car once, taking his wife, Sara Sniderhan, and children, Jackson, 6, and Isobel, 5, to his cabin to warm up.

“It was a good way to meet people,” Peter said. “We got lots of advice from local builders. People would offer their expertise for backhoe and auto repairs. I’m very thankful for all the local residents whose time and expertise made it possible to build through this crazy winter.”
On a typical day, Peter would stop by Affairs Café for breakfast before heading out to the farm to build. He wouldn’t eat anything more all day until returning when it got dark.

How cold was it? “It was so cold you can’t stop moving,” Peter said, who spent many hours alone on the property in the sole company of CBC Radio’s Jian Ghomeshi, whose voice was pumped into his ears through a pair Peltor headphones covered in ear protectors. On those lonely days, there were also frequent sightings of deer, hawks, bald eagles and rabbits, and coyotes including one with only three legs who ran by.

It was a harrowing experience, but one he is happy to have had. In a short while, the barn will be ready for use as a studio, as well as arable farmland including an apple orchard and, more recently, maple syrup. “Now I’ve built both of our places and it feels comforting to know every detail about the place we have.”

A musical journey around the world

Classical pianist Mathew Walton, a favourite performer in these parts, will return to St. Luke’s Anglican Church at 3 pm on Sunday, April 22 for a special Gift of Music Concert. With him will be trumpet player Peter Crouch, a longtime collaborator, and together the pair will take the audience on a musical tour around the world.

Walton, whose mother Laura is well-known in this community, has studied piano intensively for 15 years and has two Masters degrees, one in Piano Performance and one in Musicology, both from the University of Ottawa. He’ll begin a PhD in Piano Performance at the University of Alberta in the fall, but in the meantime he’s working hard as an accompanist.

Crouch also has a Masters of Music in Trumpet Performance from the University of Ottawa. The “Around the World” show is something the pair have been working on and performing for the past year or so. The first half will take listeners around Europe, displaying the classical traditions of Italy, the grandiose music of Germany, the many styles of France and traditional music from the British Isles. The second half will travel further afield, to Russia, Georgia, Japan, Brazil, Mexico and finally Canada, with an original composition by Crouch.

Tickets, at $15, are available at Curiosity House, the Echo and at the door.

A need for affordable housing

According to a January study conducted by the Collingwood-based Housing Resource Centre, the price of housing in the Southern Georgian Bay region has increased to a point where it is no longer affordable for a significant portion of residents.

The problem is due in large part to population growth and the market-driven nature of the region’s housing market. Put simply, there is a high demand for a low supply of available units. Real estate sales have been strong over the past several years, but developers are pressured to build what the market is demanding – typically moderately priced, single family homes – rather than increase the affordability of housing by constructing units of various type and cost. As a result, those units that are available – many of which are considered to be substandard in quality by the study – do not meet the “definition of housing affordability” for much of the population, especially young people, seniors, and those with low paying jobs.

According to Statscan census data collected in 2001 and 2006, the gap between income levels and home values is growing. In that time, the median household income in Clearview Township decreased 3.69 per cent. Conversely, the average value of dwellings increased 59.3 per cent and the average rental rate increased 22.6 per cent. These statistics closely mirror those seen throughout the Southern Georgian Bay region as a whole. According to Gail Michalenko, executive director of the Housing Resource Centre, 45 to 49 per cent of people in the Southern Georgian Bay region are putting more than 30 per cent – the limit in terms of affordability – of their income toward housing costs.

If nothing is done to fix the problem, the Housing Resource Centre report predicts home ownership will become more unattainable and that those who rely on affordable rental units will potentially be without housing.

“Affordable housing is one of the most fundamental requirements for good health,” states the study. “Poor housing and homelessness shatters communities.”

The study proposes that municipalities and counties introduce by-laws and tax methods that encourage developers to accommodate diverse housing needs.

Alicia Savage, deputy mayor of Clearview, said that the Township is aware of the study and expects that it will be a subject of discussion on an upcoming agenda. Already, residential zoning policies have been put in place that make adding accessory housing – such as basement apartments and duplexes – automatic.

Council is also in the process of developing a new Official Plan, and Savage said that staff are working to establish inclusionary zoning policies that require development projects to include a special component desired by the municipality, usually affordable housing.

“We can’t force developers,” said Savage, noting that most of the muscle lies with the Province, “but we can encourage them.”

“The objective for the long-term is to have healthy communities,” said Michalenko, emphasizing the importance of strategic planning. “If diverse housing is not made available, the Municipality is not meeting the needs of the community.”

A new BIA for 2012

For the first time in several years, the Creemore Business Improvement Association will enter 2012 with a brand new executive, featuring not one holdover from the previous term.

The transition, however, did not result from revolt, but rather from natural evolution. The last executive, while completing a new website for the BIA and addressing a lot of the internal communication of the past, gradually saw all four members resign for various personal reasons – president Aiken Scherberger to travel and then return to his career after a short retirement, vice president Harold Elston to put more focus on his law career, secretary Lily White to make room for a refashioned job at Creemore Springs Brewery, and treasurer John Millar to make way for a new teaching job at University of Guelph.

BIA members were asked to nominate people for the four positions by November 30 by a December 13 election. Lo and behold, only one person was nominated for each job but the president. Both Corey Finkelstein and his wife Laurie Copeland were nominated for the top job, but Copeland immediately declined to run.

So the BIA for 2012 is: President Corey Finkelstein (Inzane Planet); Vice President Karen Gaudino (Creemore Springs Brewery); Secretary Cheryl Robertson (Creemore House of Stitches); and Treasurer Michelle Zorychta (Just Push Play).

Talking to the new president this week at his web and graphic design office above Affairs Bakery, Finkelstein said he intends to “continue the great work that Aiken did.” He also hopes to encourage more participation among BIA and associate BIA members, explore the possibility of giving charitable receipts for support of the BIA, and strike a balance between promoting Creemore in other markets and helping out with the great events already on the Creemore calendar.

“My main focus will be on helping both building and business owners on the main street in any way I can,” he said.

A new kind of Love Note

By Kara McIntosh

You might think you know all about Shelley Hannah’s Love Notes, but this Valentine’s Day could change that.

Shelley, a life coach, creates those tiny scrolls of brightly coloured paper, wrapped with sparkly pipe cleaner that are displayed in many shops and restaurants in Creemore – and beyond. 

In the past, the notes have contained messages of affirmation and acknowledgement, but this Valentine’s Day, there is a saucier kind of Love Note in town.

Instead of the general, inspirational messages of the earlier Love Notes, or the youth-focused notes of the children’s line, the new messages focus on positive body image, playful actions and exploring interactions with others.

“They are sexy and playful, always positive,” said Shelley. “They could be considered edgy if you’re in company you wouldn’t want to share these messages with, but if you are with your friends or partner, they are not.”

Love Notes began in the winter of 2001, when Shelley started gathering words of affirmation on paper. She gave them out to friends and family, and then more randomly in the Blue Mountain and Creemore areas. A friend asked her to make a small set that she could give away. Word caught on and she was asked for another set and then another. 
Each piece of paper has a note such as, “You sprout love and joy wherever you go” or “You are magical! You have the ability to create new possibilities for yourself and others, yay!”

After hearing for years that people were interested in a sexier version of Love Note, Shelley decided to create the new line.

“I like being able to do something that puts a smile on someone’s face,” says Hannah. “The unexpected part is the fun part for me. Everything I do is about looking to create the world I want to live in.”

Shelley loves hearing the stories of people receiving a Love Note, how they react and of being able to make someone’s day. She recently received a note from a woman in the U.S. who had been given a scroll, thanking her for making her feel good every time she looked at her Love Note.

A cousin of Shelley’s was giving out Notes to customers at a market in Alberta. A woman opened her scroll, started to cry and then went behind the table to hug her and say thank you. The woman left without showing which Love Note she had received, but Shelley’s cousin knew how much it had touched her.

These days, Shelley keeps a stash in her purse at all times, sets them out at events she attends, hands them out to random strangers or slips one to the person who lets her go first in the grocery store check-out line.

Love Notes are available online at www.shelleyhannah.ca, as well as in Creemore at Cardboard Castles and the 100 Mile Store and in Collingwood, at Hearts and Crafts. If you shop at Curiosity House in Creemore, you may just get one as a gift with your purchase.

According to Shelley’s website, “Like it or not, we all leave a ripple. Why not consciously choose the ripple you will leave?” With Love Notes, Shelly is both choosing and making ripples wherever she goes.

A new veterinarian in town

“Creemore is a pet-loving community,” said Jacquie Pankatz, owner of the recently opened Mad River Veterinary Hospital. “Everywhere you look there are people walking their dogs.”

In keeping with that pet-loving spirit, the Mad River Veterinary Hospital Open House, which will take place on Saturday, July 14, from 10 am to 4 pm, will feature a pet costume contest, with the winner to receive a prize packet. There will also be tours of the clinic, free draws, and refreshments in a tent outside the building, which the Mad River staff hopes will attract passersby in town for Creemore Dairy Day.

“We came here because the area seemed to be underserved,” said Pankatz, who also owns Mountain Vista Veterinary Hospital in Collingwood. “Jason [of Creemore Veterinary Services] does a great job with larger animals, but people with small companion animals in need of treatment were travelling as far as Shelburne.”

The transformation of the building in which Mad River Veterinary Hospital is housed has been quite drastic – long gone are the bright purple-blue and yellow of the Mad River Tea House.
“We’re very happy with the outcome,” said Pankatz of the renovations, the various stages of which were documented on the Mad River website (www.madrivervet.com). “We wanted to fit in with the quaintness of downtown Creemore.”

Clearview Mayor Ken Ferguson, who will also be in town for Creemore Dairy Day, will perform the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Open House.

A night of crime on streets of Creemore

The Huronia West OPP are encouraging people to make sure their doors are locked after a series of crimes that took place in Creemore on the night of Tuesday, May 8.

A total of 22 unlocked cars were entered all over town, and several of them had their contents stolen. Incidents took place on Mary Street, George Street, Elizabeth Street East, Elizabeth Street West, Wellington Street East, Wellington Street West, King Street, Nelson Street and Jardine Crescent. Among the stolen goods were quantities of cash, credit cards, gift cards, CDs, a masonry saw, two GPS units, a cell phone and a Blackberry Playbook.

In addition, a motor vehicle parked at a residence on Elizabeth Street West had a window broken and a purse stolen from it. At another house on that street, a garage was entered and keys were stolen.

If you have any information in regards to these crimes, please contact the Huronia West OPP at 705-429-3575, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (1-800-222-8477) or submit your information online at www.sdm-crimestoppers.com. Crime Stoppers does not subscribe to call display, and callers will remain anonymous. Being anonymous, you will not testify in court and your information may lead to a cash reward of up to $2,000.

A night to be proud of

We all know that governments at all levels get their fair share of criticism and more often than not contribute to the growing cynicism directed at politicians and public officials. There are days when politicians and bureaucrats just can’t seem to do anything right. Clearview Township has not been spared.

Monday evening at Clearview Council was not one of those days.

The night was highlighted by the announcement from both the Provincial and Federal governments, that Clearview would be receiving a combined grant of $10 million towards the Stayner wastewater project. This grant secures the promise by Council that the agreement to share facilities with Wasaga Beach would proceed, funded largely through grants and development contributions with no impact on residential taxes.

Not to be lost in the excitement of the grant announcements, Council moved on several other important community initiatives.

The Township approved the creation of a service board to ensure the continuation of The Robotics Team at Stayner Collegiate Institute. The team was notified by the school in December that the program would not be continued. The Cyber Gnomes have been competing successfully in robotic competitions for several years. The program encourages students to further their education and aspire to careers in related science and technology fields. In the resolution passed on Monday the Council stated “a desire to ensure that the youth involved in this program continue to compete and develop skills that are crucial to today’s fast paced society”. This service board will bring together a student team and parent volunteers to oversee the teams activities. The team will benefit from banking and insurance support from the Township, while continuing to raise funds from the community to cover all their expenses.

Monday night also saw the initiation of the Clearview Heritage Conservation Project, a project focussed on identifying and protecting our naural landscapes and our distinct heritage structures. Council approved the first step to consult with the public and interested community partners to seek their input. A public meeting will be scheduled to make the residents aware of the Township’s interest in identifying significant heritage resources and to assess the public desire to move forward on this initiative.

Creemore Medical Centre was given Council approval to proceed with the expansion of its building. Having access to a medical centre in the village has been an essential part of life in Creemore. Its expansion is necessary to ensure that health care will continue to be available locally and that the facility will be made more flexible to accommodate additional health care professionals and services such as laboratory, physiotherapy and clinic services. The expansion will also ensure that the building will meet new accessibility standards and is provided with a much needed face-lift.

On Monday night, the Township also responded to a request from residents who depend on kidney dialysis for their continued health and who use a hemodialysis machine in their homes. The daily use of this machine consumes a large amount of water and a request was made for a water bill subsidy. Council approved a 90% rebate to qualifying residents, a savings of approximately $150 per month.
There was even a discussion at Council about the real possibility of a bus route linking Clearview to Wasaga Beach and Collingwood and our volunteer firefighters were praised for their performance from the Fire Marshall’s office and thanked for their help with the Stayner Food Bank Christmas Hamper distribution.

Overall a good night’s work for Council and Staff and one that I hope you can be as proud of as I was to be a Council member.

Thom Paterson is Clearview Township’s Councillor for Ward 4.

A pair of outdoor anti-quarry fundraisers

Whether you prefer snowshoeing or hiking, there will be an opportunity for you to explore and potentially help to save some of our area’s natural landscapes on either side of the spring thaw this year.

On Sunday, March 11, from 10 am to 2 pm, a Family Snowshoe Fundraiser will be held at Highlands Nordic in Duntroon in support of Grey Matters’ opposition to a proposed MAQ Aggregates quarry development. Participation is free, with snowshoes being available for rent for $9. There will be a free hot lunch for both children and all those who donate over $100, hot chocolate stops along the trails, live local bands, and prizes for those with the biggest pledges. All those who donate will receive a tax receipt. Registration and pledge forms are available at www.stopthequarrysnowshoe.ca.

The proposed MAQ quarry would be located in the Municipality of Grey Highlands, directly west of the proposed Walker Duntroon quarry expansion and northwest of the existing Walker quarry. A third Walker site, which the company promises would go undeveloped if its current settlement with the Township of Clearview is approved at the OMB, lies immediately south of the MAQ site. Taken together, the four sites form what opponents are warning would be something of a “quarry complex.”

The MAQ quarry itself would be 60 feet below the water table on 247 acres of land at the headwaters of the Beaver, Pretty, and Batteaux rivers, and would operate from 6 am to 8 pm six days a week, extracting approximately one million tons annually for at least 46 years.

“We believe that the proposed quarry could permanently damage the local ecosystem,” say the event organizers on www.stopthequarrysnowshoe.ca. “It could have a serious impact on the water supply for the local community who, being rural, rely solely on wells.”

Registration is also open for the Peak to Peak Escarpment Challenge on Saturday, May 12, a hike-a-thon to support the Clearview Community Coalition and their partner, Environmental Defense, in their legal struggle to prevent the Walker quarry expansion, which is proposed for land that falls under the Niagara Escarpment Plan. There is no fee for registration, but those wishing to participate are challenged to raise a minimum of $200 (or $50 for those under 12). Registrants will be given a personal page online for accepting donations that can be shared with friends and family. Environmental Defense will issue a charitable donation tax receipt to all donors.

The event starts with a free continental breakfast at 6:30 am. Buses will then be available to take participants to the trailhead from 7:30 to 11:30 am. The hike will take place along the Bruce Trail, and participants can choose to travel the full distance, from the Osler Bluffs through the Pretty River Valley to the Duntroon Highlands, or take a shorter trail more “to their style.” Following the hike there will be a celebratory barbeque, live music from Aaron Garner and an Escarpment Art silent auction at the host venue, a century farm located across from Highlands Nordic that overlooks Georgian Bay. Parking will be available at that location.

Participants are asked to bring sturdy hiking footwear, hiking poles (recommended, but not necessary), a reusable water bottle, and a folding chair for the post-hike celebrations.

“The Niagara Escarpment is recognized as one of the world’s unique natural wonders. It’s designation as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve should not be taken lightly,” says the Peak to Peak website, www.peaktopeakhike.com. “Biosphere reserves are select ecosystems that effectively balance development with conservation of biodiversity. In Ontario, over-development and quarrying is tipping that balance.”

A passing of the torch at Home Hardware

For the new owners of the Creemore Home Hardware, both the store and the village they now call home are dreams come true.

Rick and Trish Miles come to Creemore from Durham, where Rick spent the past 15 years managing McLean’s Home Hardware. High-school sweethearts who have been married for 28 years, the couple have long planned to someday purchase their own small-town Home Hardware store.

“We really love the company,” said Rick, “and we’ve been saving every penny for a long time.”

When they became aware internally that Brian Doran was looking to sell the Creemore store, the Miles’ paid the village a visit and immediately fell in love.

“The people, the atmosphere, the fact that it’s off the beaten path – it was exactly what we were hoping for,” said Rick.

After buying both the store and a house in town, Rick and Trish officially took over the business on Monday, June 18, and have been working hard ever since to put their own spin on things. Staff member David Dillon has been promoted to store manager, and the store’s other two staffers have been retained. New siding has been erected on the exterior of the 140-year-old building. An expanded line of electronics is gradually being introduced. The service counter and front-of-store is being refurbished, and local contractors are being contacted and signed up for priority service.

“It’s just a few changes,” said Rick, who was quick to credit Doran for his stewardship of the business for more than 20 years. “Brian has been really helpful – the transition could not have been easier.”

The Miles’, who play competitive Frisbee and enter agility competitions with their two Australian Shepherds in their free time (Rick and one of their dogs were the Canadian Frisbee Champions in 2008), plan to continue settling in for the rest of the summer before hosting a grand opening celebration, likely on the Saturday of the Copper Kettle Festival.

In the meantime, their dream come true is every bit as exciting as they had hoped.

“We haven’t regretted it for one minute,” said Rick of the purchase. “Everyone has been very welcoming, the staff has been great, and we’re thrilled to be here.”

A perfect homecoming at Skate Carnival

Canadian pre-novice ice dance champions Hannah Whitley of Creemore and Elliott Graham of Angus came home to Creemore last Sunday, performing two routines at the Creemore Skating Club’s annual Carnival and wowing the crowd in the process. Enjoy a slideshow of pictures from this great annual event.

Thanks to Steve Hepburn of The Perfect Image Photography for the first four pictures of Hannah and Elliott.

A perfect place to improve your swing

Smith Brothers Baseball Central has been going strong in New Lowell for a year now, offering practice space and training sessions for young ball players from far and wide.

But for an hour each on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the swings are of a different variety at the 12,600-square-foot indoor sports facility.

Debbie Clum, the longtime head golf pro at the Mad River Golf Club, has been conducting drop-in golf lessons on those days for the past couple of months, and will continue to do so until the end of April.

For $20 a session, attendees get what amounts to a semi-private lesson on the intricacies of their golf swings. On the day we were there, frequent customers Fred Prosser, Brian Doran, Anne Emerton and George Berry could not say enough good things about Clum’s teaching style and the Smith Brothers facility in general.

For Clum, the chance to teach indoors in the area is a great one, as she finds people can really zero in on learning when they’re away from the distractions of being outdoors. “You’re not so focused on where the ball is going, so you can really get a feel for what you’re doing,” she says.

Smith Brothers is located at 9 Greengage Road in New Lowell. Drop-in times for Clum’s lessons are Tuesdays at 2 pm, Thursdays at 11 am, Fridays at 10 am and Saturdays at 1 pm. It’s asked that you call 705-424-0427 the day before to book your spot.

Smith Brothers has a whole host of other things going on this spring, including a gala dinner featuring former Blue Jay and New York Met Mookie Wilson as the keynote speaker on April 12. For more on this and many other programs, call 704-424-0427 or visit smithbrothersbaseballcentral.com.

A place of honour at WWI centenary

Patrons of the Terra Nova Public House will be familiar with the portrait of a World War I soldier that hangs in a place of honour by the pub’s entrance. Anna Muth, who owns the establishment, was lucky to spend a great deal of the first seven years of her life with the soldier in the picture, her grandfather James Ernest Muth.

A Lance Corporal with the 133rd Engineer Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Canada, Muth didn’t talk much about the war, but Anna knew he’d had an eventful one. He was injured and returned to the front three times, he was gassed and hit with shrapnel, and he fought heroically at Vimy Ridge.

She also knew that he’d been introduced to embroidery as a form of shell-shock therapy during a stay at a Sheffield military hospital. Some of his work had even been included in a collage of soldiers’ embroidery that had served as a frontal at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England, until that church’s altar was destroyed during the Battle of Britain in the Second World War.

“He continued to do embroidery throughout his life,” said Anna of her grandfather, who returned to his home of Port Dover after the war and went on to became a father to seven children, a carpenter, a church elder and a village councillor before his death at 83 in 1976.

Anna and her family didn’t need anything else to respect and honour the life of James Muth; their own fond memories and the story of his life were enough. But this past May, a surprise email arrived from a team of British researchers, and three months later, earlier this month, Anna and her brother James (himself named after their grandfather) found themselves in the front row of pews at St. Paul’s Cathedral, guests of honour at the great church’s celebrations of the centenary of the First World War.

It turns out that the frontal survived World War II after all, but it was put into storage because the new altar, replacing the one damaged by German bombers, was built to different dimensions. When it was decided in 2013 that the frontal would be restored to its original glory and used as a centrepiece at this year’s 100th anniversary service, work began to find information on and track down descendents of the 138 wounded Commonwealth soldiers who had contributed embroidery to it.

Those family members found, descendants of about 60 of the soldiers, were invited to London to take part in the August 3 service marking the outbreak of the war.

“We couldn’t not go,” said Anna of her and her brother James, who inherited not only their grandfather’s name but also his military blood – he is a Lieutenant Colonel in the same Royal Canadian Regiment as his namesake and works as an instructor at the Canadian Army Command and Staff College at Fort Frontenac, Kingston. With those credentials, the younger James Muth was invited to read the Lesson during the service, standing at the altar in front of the more than 1,000 people in attendance.

Sitting in the front row with Anna and her brother was the Lord Mayor of London, various Ambassadors to England and even some “lesser royalty,” according to Anna. “It was unbelievable how well we were treated,” she said. “I run a pub in Terra Nova – I’m not used to that kind of treatment!”

Anna and James spent a whirlwind three days in London, and the pomp and circumstance surrounding the First World War centenary was “everywhere,” she said. Upon her return, she took a few days to process what had happened, and to reflect on the life of her beloved grandfather, before tucking a picture of the newly restored frontal into his portrait at the door and getting back to work.

After the service, the altar frontal was transferred to a display case in the sanctuary of St. Paul’s, where it will be on public display until the centenary service commemorating the end of the First World War on November 11, 2018. More information can be found at www.stpauls.co.uk.

A place to dance your Big Heart out

For the past four years, something magical has been happening in the Pine River valley every June.

Big Heart Dance Camp, celebrating its fifth anniversary this year from June 19 to 23, is a multi-faceted, inter-generational get-together that founder Ayrlie MacEachern has modeled after Dance New England. MacEachern first travelled to that 30-year-old institution, which draws hundreds every summer, in her late 20s, and was struck by the openness and creativity she saw there.

Big Heart Dance Camp, which takes place on the Unicamp property in Mulmur Township, had over 70 attendees last year. Guests can come for one day or all five, and a variety of workshops – from yoga to rattle-making to barefoot boogieing, with all manners of body movement in between – are available each day.

“People can attend four workshops in a day or none,” explained MacEachern. “The vibe is all about everyone creating their own unique experiences. You might just get into a good conversation at breakfast, and still be sitting at the table at lunch.”

Speaking of breakfast and lunch, the entire five days are catered by a vegetarian chef friend of MacEachern’s, and the food is an attraction itself.

Local resident Kathy McCleary attended the camp last year for the first time, and was so impressed that she’s heading back this year. “It was a great mix of people, from small children upward, and everyone was in a relaxed mood,” she said.

Another local resident, Julia Petrisor, fell enough in love with Big Heart Dance Camp to join ranks with MacEachern, and this year has taken on some of the organizational load. With the help of a Robert G. Kemp Award from the Blue Mountain Foundation of the Arts, MacEachern and Petrisor are ready to make this year’s camp bigger and better than ever.

“As far as I know, there is nothing else like this in all of Ontario,” said MacEachern. “We’re creating a community around this camp, and it’s happening in a really beautiful way.”

For more information about Big Heart Dance Camp, visit www.ayrlie.ca, email bigheartdancecamp@gmail.com or call 705-444-0550.

A plea for more control over GEA projects

Weeks after Premier Dalton McGuinty and his cohorts seemingly dug in their heels on the issue at Queen’s Park, Clearview Council passed a resolution Monday night requesting, as many municipalities have before them, that the Ontario government rethink its position on municipalities having no ability to zone or issue building permits for green energy projects within their boundaries.

The resolution, crafted by Councillor Thom Paterson after Council received a similar one from Mulmur Township two weeks ago that didn’t encompass all of Clearview’s concerns, read as such:

“Whereas the Province of Ontario, through the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), is moving forward with its commitment to review the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) Program; and whereas the stated purpose of the review includes the consideration of issues related to local consultation and the renewable energy approval process (REA); And whereas the Township of Clearview is in general support of the concerns expressed by the Township of Mulmur in their resolution passed on November 01, 2011 and forwarded on to the Minister of Energy for consideration as part of the OPA review of the FIT program; And whereas the REA process, as currently being implemented, limits the ability of Municipalities to comprehensively review and comment on matters normally within their purview and now specifically excluded as they pertain to alternative energy projects.

“Therefore be it resolved that the Province of Ontario be requested to establish limited, complementary responsibilities for Municipalities under the Green Energy Act, thereby ensuring that alternative energy projects address local municipal issues to better balance the interests of ratepayers with the needs of the Province to encourage investments in new clean energy in Ontario.

“And further that the Province be requested to establish direct consultation with municipalities, perhaps through the offices of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, AMO, to discuss concerns regarding building permitting and zoning matters with the objective of better addressing these issues in the Provincial process.

“And further that the Township staff be directed to circulate this resolution to the appropriate Provincial agencies, our local MPP, AMO, the NEC, NVCA, Mulmur Township and to the other rural and small urban municipalities in Ontario.”

While the resolution is correct that the province is currently undergoing a two-year review of its Green Energy Act, with one of the goals being to an “assessment of government policies and tools to ensure that Ontario remains a center of manufacturing excellence and clean energy job creation,” the digging in of heels has been happening on several fronts lately, including the Liberals’ recent quashing of the Local Municipal Democracy Act, a private-members bill put forth by a member of the PC caucus that would have placed jurisdiction over green energy programs back in municipal hands. Even more recently, Premier McGuinty balked at his government’s 2011 Auditor’s Report, which was heavily critical of the way the Green Energy Act has been administered.

This information led Clearview Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage, always one to speak bluntly about sensitive subjects, to signal her hesitation in passing Paterson’s motion Monday night. While she said she’d be alright with a request for more building permit control to ensure the safety of infrastructure, she noted that including a request for zoning control sounded like a “backdoor” approach to obstructing the development of industrial wind turbines. To that, she registered not only her disapproval, but also her belief in the futility of such a motion.

“This isn’t going to go anywhere,” said Savage. “The province has been so clear. If you really think, Councillors, that we’re going to be able to zone for wind turbines in this municipality, you’re sadly mistaken.”

Paterson, however, stressed the inclusion of the words “complementary” and “limited” in the resolution, and explained his view that zoning is a positive thing, not a bad thing. “This just asks that we can give these projects passage through our zoning bylaw,” he said, “and that bylaw would be able to test the suitability of a project on a given piece of land.”

When asked for his opinion of the resolution’s wording, Clearview planning director Michael Wynia approved, saying that “a focussed effort” on behalf of the Township would lead to better siting. “This would give us a greater role,” he said. “Maybe not a full role, but at least a greater role.”

With that, the resolution was passed by a slim margin, with Councillors Paterson, Shawn Davidson, Doug Measures and Brent Preston and Mayor Ken Ferguson casting their votes in favour of the motion, resulting in a 5-4 vote.

A Visit from Collus

Ed Houghton, president and CEO of Collus (Collingwood Utility Services), paid a visit to Clearview Council Monday night to bring everyone up to date on the company’s quest to sell 50 per cent of itself to a larger electricity delivery company. Currently, the town of Collingwood owns 100 per cent of Collus.
The situation is of interest to Clearview because Collus delivers electricity to Creemore and Stayner, pipes water to Alliston through the pipeline that also services New Lowell, and runs the sewage treatment plants in Creemore and Stayner.

Houghton explained that, foreseeing a time in the near future when the provincial government would decide to cut down on the number of local distribution companies, the company decided that it needed to merge with someone to become bigger.

He also noted that part of the criteria in the company’s Request for Proposal was that the new investing company would have a similar culture as Collus.

Burn Permits to cost $10 in 2012

Council debated long and hard Monday night about how much annual burn permits should cost beginning next year.

Up until now, burn permits have been free, but Clearview Fire Chief Bob McKean explained that his department now hoped to use the permits to pay for the administration and occasional fire calls required to deal with permitted fires.

McKean’s proposal was for permits to cost $15 per year, but Mayor Ken Ferguson, Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage and Councillor Brent Preston predicted a sizable backlash at that price. (Last year, by the way, there were 1,200 permits handed out.)

Others, however, felt that the higher cost was in line with neighbouring municipalities and was suitable.

Eventually, Savage introduced an amendment to the original motion, adjusting the price from $15 to $5. That amendment did not pass. Councillor Shawn Davidson then proposed $10, and that amount was passed.

A plea from Mulmur Township

Clearview Council was circulated a resolution of Mulmur Council Monday night, in which Mulmur urged the Province of Ontario to either adopt a standardized compliance checklist of requirements to ensure that Green Energy projects are being installed appropriately, or amend the requirements of the Green Energy Act so that all such facilities are subject to the municipal consultation/approval process.

Roof-mount solar panels currently require building permits from municipalities. Pose-mount panels and wind turbines require no building permits and exist completely outside of the muncipal approvals process.

Mulmur Township has learned this the hard way, as the resolution told of a recent pose-mounted solar array being built on a municipal road allowance. The mistake was likely an honest one, as the fence line of the farm had included some of the road allowance for decades, but the Township would never have found out had not one of their roads employees noticed the problem while driving past. The future of the offending array remains under discussion.

Upon receiving the motion, members of Clearview Council agreed with it in principle but wondered if a corresponding resolution could be made in Clearview’s own wording. Councillor Brent Preston indicated he would bring a new motion to Council at its next meeting.

Maple Valley Turbine Talk

Councillor Preston also brought Council up to date on the mood in his ward since the announcement (or re-announcement) of a five-turbine wind development north of Maple Valley and east of County Road 124.

There has been a lot of knocking on doors in the past two weeks he said, and “there is a pretty solid consensus that residents in the area don’t want this kind of development.”

Preston also told Council that the residents have a “very good understanding of the Township’s lack of decision-making power, but they will be looking to Council for support.”

Growth Facilitator Speaks

Simcoe County’s long-standing limbo regarding growth took a step toward its conclusion in November, but the final solution is still impossible to predict.
Mayor Ferguson brought a copy of a letter to Council Monday night, written by the Minister of Infrastructure and addressed to him. It reported that the Provincial Development Facilitator, who had been assigned to study the controversial Places to Grow amendment that dictated the numbers of new residents each Simcoe County municipality would be allowed to plan for, has come back to the Minister with her final recommendations.

What those recommendations are, though, remain a mystery. The letter stated that they “focus on addressing three issues in particular” and that those issues were the distributions of growth forecasts among the lower tier municipalities; alternative approaches to manage the oversupply of land designated for urban development in the County; and appropriate targets for intensification and greenfield density for the lower tier municipalities.

The article stated that the Minister and his staff are currently reviewing the facilitator’s recommendations, and will “respond in due course to ensure the Simcoe area benefits from sustainable, planned growth.

Procedural Bylaw Reviewed

One year into their term, members of Clearview Council looked over their procedural by-law and discovered not much wrong with it Monday night. There was a suggestion that public meetings could be moved from 7 pm to 5:30 or 6 pm, so as to avoid the occasional break between short Council meetings and 7 pm public meetings. It was decided to leave things the way they are, however, to give people a chance to get to public meetings after work.

A plea to save historic bridge

<Contributed> The Collingwood Street Bridge is 99 years old this year. Will it be around for the residents of Creemore to celebrate its 100th anniversary? Not if the County of Simcoe has its way. The County has the bridge scheduled for destruction later this year, to be replaced by a concrete overpass.

This steel structure that has serviced our community for almost a century was built in 1913 by J. J. Dummond of Brentwood, who was a local contractor and Justice Of The Peace for the County of Simcoe. This unique structure is one of the few steel riveted bridges remaining in Ontario. The cement foundation still bares the impression of “JJ Dummond Contractor June 1913.” His great grandson Chris Vanderkeys of Brentwood still possesses the metal letters used to create the impression. Until recently, the bridge maintained its required load rating. It has since been reduced to a 5 ton limit because of its age.

When I got wind of the scheduled concrete replacement, I helped form a committee to try to save the bridge and to find ways to restore the structure to its original grandeur and load capabilities.

It may surprise some to learn that the Creemore area is home to several people with world-class expertise in steel bridge engineering, construction and restoration, and several of them enthusiastically joined our committee: John Hillier, a landscape architect and principal for du Toit Allsop Hillier, whose company provides architectural design to structural engineers for heritage and landmark bridges including the Laurier and Corktown Bridges crossing the Rideau Canal in Ottawa; John Boote, a structural engineer who oversaw the construction of the Bluewater Bridge from Sarnia, Ontario to Port Huron, Michigan; and Jack Mesley, a steel bridge construction expert and consultant with years of bridge building experience from all over the world. Chris Vanderkeys got involved from a historical point of view as it was his great grandfather who built the bridge, and Clearview councillors Thom Paterson and Brent Preston also joined the group.

In September of 2010 the County filed a Notice of Assessment to the Ministry of the Environment outlining their intention to replace the bridge with a two-lane concrete structure. I filed an official objection with the Ministry, and started a petition for local residents to sign. Within a short time there were over 200 signatures on the petition. MPP Jim Wilson threw his support behind having the bridge declared a heritage structure and personally added his signature as he presented our petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. The Legislative Assembly later told us that declaring the bridge a heritage structure is the responsibility of our municipal government.

The MOE concluded that the Environmental Assessment was incomplete and so the County temporarily withdrew their notice. What the experts in our group found was that the Collingwood Street bridge could be restored to modern load capabilities, a sidewalk could be added and this piece of our heritage preserved for half of the over two million dollars that the County has budgeted for replacement. We went before Clearview Council to tell them about this alternative, and they passed a motion for us to meet with the County. We made a presentation to the County Corporate Services Committee which is chaired by Clearview Mayor Ken Ferguson, but it was clear that County staff had already made up their mind.

We met individually with the County engineers and consultants who are overseeing the project and laid out our plan for a cost effective restoration. The more we studied the bridge and the more we met with people involved in the plan to replace it, the more we were convinced that restoration would be as safe, cheaper and would be less environmentally intrusive than replacement, and maintain the heritage value of this local landmark, compared to an ugly generic concrete overpass. Unfortunately, our efforts have failed to convince County staff.

We were recently informed that the County intends to proceed with demolition and replacement. But the fight is far from over. Restoration is supported by the 200 plus Creemore residents who signed our petition, by our local members of Council, and by our provincial MPP. All we need to do is convince our County representatives to save this piece of our history.

The great thing is that saving our bridge will also save us, the taxpayers, a lot of money.

Watch for meetings in the near future and please let our County reps know how you feel about our bridge.

For more info contact Barry Burton at 705-466-2718 or burtonmobile@sympatico.caor John Hillier at 705-466-5510 or jhillier@dtah.com.

A raise for non-union Township employees

Clearview Council adopted a new salary structure for its non-union employees Monday night, adjusting its overall market pay position up 13 percentage points to the 50th percentile when looking at a comparator group of municipalities.

The move comes after a compensation market review conducted by the consulting firm Gazda, Houlne & Associates and several in camera meetings between Council, CAO Sue McKenzie and Human Resources Manager Pavlina Thompson to discuss the results of the study.

Contrary to the opinion of some members of the public during last spring’s budget consultation, the consultants’ analysis showed that Clearview has four full-time employees per 1,000 population as compared to 4.5 employees as the average of the comparator group – according to the report, meaning that the Township is delivering services similar to the other municipalities with 11 per cent less full-time staff. The analysis also showed that in 2011, Clearview was staffed 10 per cent lower than the comparator municipalities in terms of its management team.

In terms of pay, the report showed that the Township’s overall pay position was at the 37th percentile, with nearly half of its full-time non-union positions below the 45th percentile.

The new pay structure passed Monday night will adjust pay rates to the 50th percentile and provide a more evenly stepped grid structure. The Township will now have 15 pay grades, with the lowest base salary starting at $32,279 and increasing by five steps of five per cent each to a maximum of $39,221 and the highest starting at $108,835 and increasing by five steps of five per cent each to a maximum of $132,241.

The annual cost of the increased salary structure works out to $69,905.80, plus 30 per cent for benefits equaling a total of $90,877.54. However, recent staffing changes have resulted in 2012 savings of almost $40,000, and further efficiencies are in the planning stages for 2013 and beyond. According to Thompson, the savings as a result of those efficiencies are expected to more than offset the increased annual payroll expenses.

The resolution to institute the new salary grid was moved Monday night by Councillor Brent Preston, who spoke on behalf of Council before the vote.

“We’ve been working on this for a long time in camera,” said Preston. “When I first arrived on Council, there were a lot of questions that couldn’t be answered about how much value we were getting for the money we were spending. This is the first public indication of the progress we’ve made, and I’m really happy with the results.”

Preston emphasized three points in his comments – that the Township has found and continues to find efficiencies, that it can now say that it is paying fairly for good service, and that the next step is to develop a performance management plan that sets out a framework for pay increases and promotions based on performance.

With that, the motion was passed unanimously by Council.

Duntroon Quarry Resolution

With about 30 employees of Walker Aggregates’ Duntroon Quarry looking on, Clearview Council passed a motion Monday night reiterating its support for the quarry’s proposed expansion, in the face of the Niagara Escarpment Commission’s recent decision to request a judicial review of the Consolidated Hearing Board’s decision to approve the project.

Monday night’s motion came after a deputation from Walker employee Mike Saunders, who noted that many of the quarry employees will face layoffs if the judicial review extends into next year.

The motion based its support on “the fairness of the Consolidated Hearing Process,” and noted that the expansion will “provide important revenues to the Township of Clearview, promote the local economy while contributing generously to the benefit of all the community, all the while proposing state of the art protection of the environment.”

Councillor Brent Preston provided the sole vote against the motion, noting that while he agreed that it’s time to move on on the quarry file, he felt he had to stay true to his opposition to the project, voiced during his campaign. Councillor Thom Paterson was absent from Monday’s meeting.

Council’s motion will be forwarded to Simcoe County, the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Attorney General and the other Niagara Escarpment Commission member municipalities.

A second look at Skyway 124

A steady crowd of people attended last Thursday’s Skyway 124 Wind Farm public meeting at the Singhampton Hall, and just as many, it appeared, left still feeling unsettled about the proposal to build three Industrial Wind Turbines along the 11th Concession of Nottawasaga (or Blind Line, as it’s known), east of County Road 124.

Contrary to Skyway 124’s first public meeting, held in Creemore in late December, 2011, this meeting did feature a map marking the locations of the three proposed turbines and one associated substation.

According to John Nicholson, president of Environmental Business Consultants, the consulting firm that’s guiding Skyway through the Renewable Energy Approval process, the reason for the lack of a map at the last meeting, and also for the fact that the project has been downsized from five turbines to three in the months since, is that shortly before the December meeting, a new building permit was discovered within the mandated 550-metre setback allowance of two of the turbines.

As a result, what was proposed to be a 10 MW project has now become a 7.5 MW project. According to the project’s draft description, heights and makes of turbines are yet to be determined. The units being considered range in height from 139.5 metres to 150 metres.

According to Nicholson, Skyway hopes to have its draft REA reports done sometime this spring. That will trigger a 60-day Public Review and Comment Period, which will conclude with a third public meeting. Following that, the company hopes to make its formal REA application this summer. An approval, if it comes, can be expected six months after submission, putting Skyway 124 on schedule for a 2013 construction date.

The project’s draft description report can be read here.

A shift of focus for NDACT

Members and supporters of the North Dufferin Community Agricultural Taskforce will gather this Saturday night in Honeywood to celebrate their victory against the Highland Companies, which withdrew its application to develop a “mega quarry” in Melancthon Township last fall.

But beyond some great local food and a plethora of live music, the night will feature something else as well: the unveiling of a new vision for NDACT, of which the group`s president, Carl Cosack, gave us a sneak preview this week.

“We’ve always seen our task as two-fold,” said Cosack. “Job one was to stop the mega quarry, and now we can tick that off. Job two is to make sure the legislation is changed so that food and water are the first priorities. On that subject, our demand for change is as strong as ever.”

Two pieces of Ontario legislation, the Aggregate Resources Act and the Provincial Policy Statement, have always allowed aggregate extraction to trump agriculture, even on prime agricultural land. Both the ARA and the Policy Statement are currently under review, and for the next 18 months, until Cosack is finished his three-year term as head of NDACT, he intends to fight to make sure that situation is changed.

NDACT’s “Stop the Mega Quarry” signs, which have been visible all over Ontario for the past few years, are gradually being replaced by “Food and Water First” signs, and an upcoming “spring planting,” as Cosack calls it, will soon see many more dotting the landscape.

In addition, NDACT will be approaching businesses and organizations across the province who are involved in agriculture in any way at all and encouraging them to sign a pledge, the wording of which is still in the works, and make their commitment to food and water known in their literature, at their storefronts and on their websites.

Meanwhile, NDACT members will be lobbying politicians and bureaucrats, many of whom have made connections locally during the mega quarry fight, and encouraging them to fight to make sure prime agricultural land and specialty crop areas are made sacrosanct in legislation.

“Food and water need to be prioritized,” said Cosack, noting that he was still working on his exact speech for Saturday night. “Once the foodland is gone, it’s gone, and a society that cannot feed itself cannot claim to be a sovereign society.”

Tickets for Saturday night’s party, at $20, are available at ndact.com.

Photo by Jason van Bruggen.

A snowblower’s saga

“It’s been a good year for snow,” says Bob Ransier (pictured on home page), in what could be the understatement of the season.

Bob should know. He blows snow from the driveways of 150 of Creemore’s houses and businesses these days.

“What I like about snow is it makes me money,” says Bob. “It’s liquid gold! Pennies from heaven!”

Bob, who runs a handyman business, has been clearing snow in Creemore for the past 29 years. This winter, he has been known to plow from 5 am to 7 pm.

“It’s a long day. By the time you get to the end of it, you could [drive] to Cashtown and back.”

Bob says he has loved clearing snow since he was a seven-year-old kid, growing up on 10 Hill. In his day, Bob says students would miss two or three days of school at a time during the winter because the buses couldn’t get through.

Back then, when the main roads were closed, snowplows weren’t allowed to drive either. Bob recalls that once, in the middle of a snowstorm in the early 1960s, he was asked to deliver medication from the Creemore Pharmacy to the hospital in Collingwood by snowmobile, which was the only way to get around.

“You’d dress warmly enough and have your pockets full of food and water,” Bob said. “There were no cell phones back then and you didn’t know where you were going. But if the snowmobile quit, you could walk to the nearest farm. These days, people don’t live at every farm any more, so you wouldn’t know if you could get anyone.”

To clear snow, Bob rides in one of two Kubota snowblowers, which he keeps in a garage behind his house. One of them, which he calls “Lemonade,” has a chute that is painted with brightly coloured lemons (courtesy of darci-que) because the original, a “lemon,” kept breaking down.

But the snowblowers, which cost $30,000 to $50,000, usually don’t require much maintenance, says Bob.

“The number one problem is shear pins,” he says. A shear pin is a safety device designed to separate if there is mechanical overload, preventing other parts from being damaged. “If you get something caught in the cross auger or chain, the pin gets sheared off. Newspapers [in driveways] are the worst. You have to stop and get out and replace the shear pin.”

To overcome this problem, Bob puts a zamboni blade at the bottom of the chute, so the blade can chew up the newspaper and spray it out without the paper getting caught.

These days, even Bob says he has seen enough snow for one winter. “I’m waiting for summer now. Even I’ve had enough of blowing snow.”

A summer of kids and entrepreneurship

Emily Deslippe has been running her Kids of Creemore day camp all summer with the help of Summer Company, a youth entrepreneurship program of the provincial Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation.

Administered locally through the South Georgian Bay Small Business Enterprise Centre in Collingwood, the Summer Company program provides young entrepreneurs with up to $3,000 in funding, as well as advice and mentoring from local business leaders. Students are given $1,500 in start-up funding at the outset of the summer and another $1,500 in the fall, should they meet all the objectives of their business plan.

As a student at teacher’s college, Deslippe has added elements of the school curriculum to her camp schedule, allowing kids to brush up on their studies while having summer fun.

If you have a child you’d like to send to Deslippe’s camp, there’s still a couple weeks left this summer. You can contact her at 705-888-1002 or kidsocsc@gmail.com.

Avening resident Zachary Whitley is also participating in the Summer Company program this year, selling hay under the business name “Zach’s Quality Hay.” Should you have a need for hay, he’d welcome an email at zach7540@hotmail.com.

A sweet for your sweetheart

By Elaine Collier

Aaah…Valentine’s Day is upon us once again, as well as the Family Day weekend.

As per usual, there is lots going on in the village this weekend with Creemore’s Big Heart Days. We’ll be enjoying some delicious Valentine treats from Affairs Bakery. While I certainly like to bake myself, Norma and the girls always have such a beautiful array of goodies on display that I can’t help myself. I never limit myself to just one – part of the fun is trying to narrow down my sweet selection. I tell you, I just can’t help myself!

For some culinary inspiration this week, I turned to a bit of poetry:
There is a garden in her face, where roses and white lilies blow;
A heavenly paradise is that place, wherein all pleasant fruits do flow:
There cherries grow which none may buy, till “Cherry-ripe” themselves do cry.

This is taken from “Cherry-Ripe” by Thomas Campion, who lived in Elizabethan times. The references to flowers and luscious red fruit are so fitting, and rather à propos given this romantic occasion.

Cherries – coming somewhat back to Earth – are not in season right now, but are available frozen or canned. What could be a better ending to a perfect Valentine’s Day meal than something deliciously red and sweet served with a bit of artistic flair – or should I say flare?

For those of you who have never tried it before, Cherries Jubilee is a relatively quick and easy way of making a dessert that will “wow” everyone. If you have never flambéed anything before, do it in the kitchen. If you have, it is great to bring to the dining table and ignite.

They say that Cherries Jubilee was originally invented by Auguste Escoffier for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. He was the grand old French chef responsible for streamlining professional kitchens with his brigade system, which is still in use today. He also created Peach Melba in honour of Dame Nellie Melba, the famous Australian opera singer. Monsieur Escoffier once commented that his success was a result of the fact that his best dishes were created for the ladies. What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than my take on the original kitchen romantic’s dreamy dessert?

Feedback is great and I would love to hear from you. Just email me at elaine@avalonclearview.com.
Until next time… eat well, live well and Happy Valentine’s Day to one and all….

Cherries Jubilee with almonds – Serves 4 – 6

1 600-g bag frozen dark sweet cherries (in summer use fresh pitted cherries)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water (if needed)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup brandy
4 to 6 tablespoons sliced almonds, lightly toasted
Premium French vanilla ice cream

Defrost cherries in their bag until soft, retaining juice. In a medium-sized skillet over medium heat, melt two tablespoons unsalted butter. Add white sugar and stir until smooth. Add cherries with most of their juice, cinnamon and salt. Stir gently to incorporate. Reduce heat to a simmer, let mixture cook until bubbly. Whisk cornstarch with reserved cherry juice and water. Add to cherries and cook until slightly thickened. Next is the tricky but fun part… pour brandy over top of the cherries and light with a match. The alcohol in the brandy will flare up and quickly burn off. This is called flambéeing. Warning: do not lean over the pan during this process or you will lose your eyebrows (I speak from personal experience)!
Place two scoops of ice cream into individual dessert bowls. Top with cherries and sprinkle with toasted almonds. Serve immediately.

A symbolic flight for food and water

Last Sunday’s Celebrate Food & Water First event culminated with a fly-by and landing by Bill Lishman, the ultralight pilot who famously led flocks of geese and storks on migratory routes throughout the United States.

Lately, Lishman has been fighting to preserve 18,600 acres of prime farmland that is slated to become the site of the new Pickering Airport. On Sunday, Lishman made a two-hour flight from those lands to Honeywood, symbolically linking land still under threat to the farmland saved from the now-defunct mega quarry proposal.

Attendees of the event also enjoyed a huge farmers’ market in the Honeywood Arena featuring lots of local produce and morsels prepared by several local chefs.

Above photo by Dan Sinclair.

Photo Blaine Van Bruggen

Photo Blaine Van Bruggen

Photo Donna Tranquada

Photo Donna Tranquada

Photo Bill LIshman

Photo Bill Lishman

Photo Bill Lishman

Photo Bill Lishman

Photo Bill Lishman

Photo Donna Tranquada

Photo Donna Tranquada

Photo Blaine Van Bruggen

Photo Blaine Van Bruggen

Photo Juli Lyons

Photo Juli Lyons

Photo Blaine Von Bruggen

Photo Blaine Van Bruggen

A taste of autumn at apple pie contest

Mulmur resident Karen Scully (right) captured judge’s hearts with this beautiful entry during last Saturday’s Creemore Apple Pie Contest.  Rounding out the top six were Carrie Archibald (2nd), Stephen Loewg and Catherine Morissey (3rd), Lily White and Keri-Lynn Lammle (4th), Peggy Hutchinson (5th) and Gayle Millsap (6th). Tasked with the difficult job of judging the contest’s 19 entries were (above) Clive Vanderburg, contest organizer Al Clarke, Sara Hershoff, John Golding, Marilyn Chenier (last year’s winner) and Pat Prime.

A Toronto base (sort of) for Creemore Springs

In the days since a Toronto Life magazine reporter strolled by the former Duggan’s brew pub at the corner of Victoria and Lombard Streets in downtown Toronto, noticed a building permit in the window with Creemore Springs Brewery written on it and published a picture of it on the magazine’s blog earlier this week, the beer world has been abuzz with possibilities. A Creemore Springs brew pub? A new branch of the brewery? A new home for the brewery?

To find out more, the Echo sat down with Creemore Springs executive vice president and brewmaster Gordon Fuller and communications director Karen Gaudino, and discovered a project that is in a way still very much in the conceptual stage, despite the fact that renovation work has begun.

The one thing that is for sure, though, and was stressed several times by Gaudino, is that Creemore Springs beer itself would never be brewed anywhere but Creemore. “It can’t be,” said Gaudino. “It wouldn’t be Creemore Springs without the spring water we use here.”

The building, in fact, won’t even be branded with the Creemore Springs logo, though you will be able to find plenty of our local beer in the fridges in the retail store that will be one component of it. The basement of the building will provide offices for the Six Pints Specialty Beer Company, the selling wing of Creemore Springs that was set up by Molson to focus on that company’s craft beers – currently Creemore Springs and Granville Island, though a few craft imports will soon join the fold. But even though those offices are one of the main reasons for acquiring the building, the Six Pints logo is also unlikely to grace the side of the building.

There won’t be a pub or a restaurant either, despite the fact the building came equipped for both. One of its two kitchens will be preserved and used for events and event rentals, but the decision to stay away from a dining and drinking establishment was easy, said Gaudino. “There are too many of our clients in the area, and we don’t want to step on their toes.”

So what will the main floor of the building be used for? Well, here’s where it gets interesting. There is a small brewing facility that will be kept and used, but the beer that’s brewed there won’t be Creemore Springs or Granville Island. “Maybe it will be called the Victoria Street Brewery, or something like that,” offered Gaudino, letting Fuller explain that the facility will be used as an “experimental lab,” you could say, where different types of craft beer will be brewed, each one available for a limited time in the retail facility. “We tossed around the idea of just calling them “Number 1,” Number 2,” and so on,” said Fuller. If they hit on a good one, he continued, there’s a possibility the recipe could be brought up to Creemore or out to Kelowna to be brewed as a seasonal special.

As mentioned, the limited edition beers will be available in bottles on site (there’s a small bottling plant in the basement of the building), plus there will be a small “tasting lounge,” where people can come off the street, sit at a table or on a couch, and buy one pint of whatever is being brewed. That’s it though – it’s not a pub, just a place to stop in and taste the latest.

The rest of the building will feature two large areas – one, accessible from a different entrance off the street, will be a sort of “beer museum.” Visitors, as well as employees and clients undergoing training, can wander the area and experience several interactive exhibits telling the story of good beer. “It will be ‘brand agnostic,’” said Gaudino, meaning it will not tell only the Creemore Springs and Granville Island stories, although we’re sure they will be in the mix somewhere. “Really, it will be a celebration of craft brewing, a way of showing people a different view of what beer can be,” she explained.

The other room will be an events room, available for rent. Large events can use the beer museum space as well.

So that’s what the building will contain, but the question remains is, what will it be called? “It will be something like ‘The Beer Academy,’ although that’s definitely not set in stone.”

It’s obvious that Gaudino and Fuller are excited about the project (though Fuller will remain the brewmaster in Creemore, working with a different brewmaster at the new facility), even if they and parent company Molson are still working through the details.

“It will be a sort of beachhead for Creemore Springs in Toronto, although we still have to figure out how we connect the place to Creemore Springs,” said Gaudino, wondering if it might be as subtle as having the fridge stocked with Creemore, letting people know that in a place that celebrates good beer, that’s the one of choice.

“It gives us an interesting way to sell and merchandise beer outside the LCBO,” she said. “And beyond that, we want it to be an innovative, incubative kind of place. We like to do things a little differently, and this place will allow us to play a little bit without necessarily changing what Creemore Springs is.”

A touch of Majengo coming to Dunedin

The annual holiday party to benefit Majengo Children’s Home in Africa will be held on Sunday, Dec. 14.

The biannual fundraiser is organized by Lynn Connell and held at her Dunedin art retreat.

Majengo is an orphanage in Tanzania. It is locally run and supported by a network of donors.

Connell was teaching painting in Africa in 2007 when she was taken to visit a makeshift daycare and saw 52 starving children huddled together on a mud floor. With cofounder Charles Luoga, an HIV/AIDS project coordinator, she made a commitment to help those children.

Connell spread the word throughout the Creemore community and $23,000 was raised, enough to see the orphanage’s door open the following year.

Connell said many people in the Creemore area have supported the children’s home since it was founded in 2007.

“It’s been going for seven years and it’s pretty magical. It just keeps going,” said Connell.

The organization cares for 165 kids, 84 of whom are residents at a new home constructed on 10 acres of land donated by the local government.

The others benefit from programs that provide basic needs.

The children are cared for by a staff of 20 local people and the organization is managed by an NGO set up in Tanzania.

“It’s all local. Our whole thing is to support them in their own culture and not to go over there and tell them what to do,” said Connell. 

She said the event is to raise money for basic needs of the children such as education, medical, clothing, sports, accommodation and staffing.

Toronto chef Lyndon Wiebe will be preparing an African inspired meal.

His sister is in Tanzania and, just over one year ago, Wiebe spent two weeks at the orphanage, where he collected recipes.

Simone Lee-Hamilton, who has been teaching at the school attended by the orphans, will be at the event, sharing stories.

There will also be live music by guitarist Cody McMillan.

The event takes place at Lynn’s Creativity Art Retreat inn Dunedin, located at 8961 County Road 9, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. There is no set fee for admission.

Donations are encouraged. All donations are tax deductible.

Everyone is welcome.

Anyone not able to attend the event but would like to support the project is welcome to donate online at www.majengo.org or send a cheque payable to Majengo Canada to 284 Major Street, Toronto, M5S 2L6.

A trip with a purpose

Dunedin resident and Nottawasaga Midwives staff member Lilly Martin expected that working as a midwife in Haiti would be hard. She just didn’t quite realize what hard meant. Or that it could be so satisfying.

“I’ve travelled to impoverished countries before, but I’ve always kind of felt like an observer, or even a voyeur,” said Martin, in an interview meant to update all of those who generously gave to the trip she took last month with Kelly Metheral. “The experience in Haiti was intense, but it also felt so great to be actually participating in something.”

Metheral wasn’t able to sit in on our interview last week, but as Martin pointed out, her experience as a non-midwife was much different and deserves a story of its own. She did tell us though, of the pair’s first arrival at the hospital that Midwives for Haiti do their work out of.

The nurse who greeted them had a woman in labour in the delivery room, and in that instant was glad to have the sudden assistance of “two midwives!” Minutes later, and with Martin making sure the situation merited it, Metheral had the chance to catch a baby for the first time in her life.

“She was a little pale, but she did a great job,” said Martin, laughing.

Later on in the trip, when Martin was doing her required night shift on the hospital floor, things weren’t so frivolous. The electricity was on but dim, and Martin did her work with a headlamp on. The three wards – one for prenatal, one for postpartum and one for post op, all of them with several beds and little in the way of curtains – were busy, and in the delivery area, also boasting several beds but this time at least with curtains, several women gave birth.

Not all were without complications, either. People almost universally suffer from anemia in Haiti, and so many pregnant women are put on bedrest for complications early in their terms. High-risk births tend to follow.

Every time Lilly heard a car pull up during the night, she felt a hint of dread, wondering what complication might be about to walk in the door.

Systemic problems abound as well. All pregnant women must bring all their own supplies, right down to a bucket to cleanse themselves with. And should they need drugs, family members are sent to the nearby drug store to buy them, often at prices that equal several weeks’ salary.

But through all this heaviness, Lilly found light as well, especially through the work of the non-governmental organization that brought her to Haiti. Besides operating mobile clinics (in a pink jeep) and covering shifts at the nearby hospital, Midwives for Haiti’s main focus is a school that helps Haitian women to become “skilled birth attendants.” A step below midwifes, skilled birth attendants are still equipped to help babies come into the world in a country where most of them just arrive with no professional help.

Martin showed us pictures on Facebook of the current class graduating, which was happening a few days before this article was written. She also showed us a picture of the long line of women lining up, wearing their finest clothes, hoping to gain a position in next year’s class. One of those women will be accepted, and will have her year’s tuition paid by members of the Creemore community who bought raffle tickets before Martin and Metheral left in late October.

The travellers also dropped off more than 200 pounds worth of medical supplies and linens at Midwives for Haiti and at the orphanage down the road, where Metheral spent some of her time volunteering.

In the time that Martin has been back, she’s been reflecting quite a bit on her experience, “letting it kind of settle,” she said, before she thinks about returning next year. She’s heading in that direction, though, you can see it in her eyes.

“It’s just really unfair that these women and babies have to suffer so much, simply because they and, even more so, their country are poor,” she said. “It felt good to help them, even if it was for a short time. And I’m grateful that people here did their part as well.”

A way forward on Skyway 124?

Last Monday’s public meeting for the Skyway 124 wind energy proposal illustrates what happens when a public consultation process is designed simply to give the appearance of public input, rather than truly seeking to engage local citizens in the decision-making process. The poster boards arranged around the Creemore arena hall gave absolutely no information on the specifics of the proposal for five industrial-scale wind turbines in the Blind Line/Singhampton/Maple Valley area. There was no map of proposed turbine locations, no information on who exactly is behind the project, and no suggestion that there would be any benefit to our community. To their credit, some representatives of Skyway 124 actually showed up, rather than just sending their consultants. There were no police, no one was videotaping the crowd, and when a local resident stood up to read an angry speech, no one tried to stop her. This is an improvement over previous public meetings in our area, but in the end, Skyway 124 didn’t even follow the minimum requirements of a public meeting under the Green Energy Act, requirements that are already woefully inadequate. Why is it that not a single representative of the company or one of their many consultants has bothered to contact anyone in our community or our local government before now, when they are well into the process of planning a multi-million dollar project that will impact our landscape and community for decades to come? When I asked this question to the Skyway representatives at the meeting, they looked as if it had never crossed their minds.

The conversations I had with company representatives and consultants during the meeting were cordial and polite. They didn’t seem like bad people or as if they had anything to hide, but it was clear that they had not thought through the many ramifications of the proposal for our community. We were told that Skyway 124 doesn’t really have any employees – the company is just a consortium of investors set up to construct this one project. Everyone at the meeting was either a contractor or a consultant, other than Ken Zuckerman, who was described alternatively as an investor and a company representative. Mr. Zuckerman and John Nicholson, the lead consultant on the project, pledged to keep in touch with the Clearview councillors who were at the meeting, and said they would be willing to sit down with local residents to discuss their concerns. They promised to share information and to keep our local government informed. These pledges are admirable and appreciated, and it is our responsibility as a community to be as active and engaged as possible.

However, the proponents also made it clear that their primary motivation is to make money, which should come as no surprise. When a small group of wealthy investors with no connection to our community wants to build a large industrial project in our midst, and doesn’t even attempt to make the argument that there will be any local economic benefit, we must be skeptical of their motivations. We must ask if they will really take local interests into consideration. We must wonder if they will be around in 20 years when it comes time to dismantle the turbines and restore our landscape. We must question if colossal windmills are compatible with our rural environment and economy. These questions would normally be answered through the municipal zoning process, with its public hearings, opportunities for local input and right to appeal, but the provincial government has effectively erased any municipal role in the approvals process. So it is up to us, as landowners and community members, to do whatever we can to ensure that the decision makers at the Ministry of the Environment and other provincial agencies listen to our concerns. Residents in our community are educating themselves, organizing and getting involved. We need others to join us so that public participation becomes more than just a box to tick on Skyway’s application form.

If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, I can be reached at bpreston@clearview.ca.

A wind meeting without a map

A steady crowd of people showed up at the Skyway 124 wind proposal public meeting Monday night, where they discovered, as per usual with projects under the Green Energy Act, that the event was more of a public information night than a meeting. The only problem this time around was that there wasn’t much information to be had at all.

Now, before we go on, it must be said that Skyway 124, which we understand is basically a group of investors, did a far better job Monday night than they did in 2009, when the first iteration of their project was up for approval. On that occasion, there were police at the door, limited answers from representatives, and boards on the walls with no writing at all, only pictures of smiling people running through fields of wind turbines.

This time, representatives of Environmental Business Consultants (EBC), the consulting company for Skyway 124, were approachable and seemingly open about the process and whatever information they knew. The only problem was, there were some critical things that they didn’t know.

Chief among them was any idea of where the five wind turbines are slated to be built. Unlike the map that was circulated in the mandated advertisement for the meeting (which still appears on the Skyway 124 website), the map that was presented on Monday night showed only the project’s “study area,” a large area of land within which Skyway has conducted its preliminary studies.

When asked why the turbine locations were not on display, EBC President John Nicholson would only say that the locations “have not been finalized.” As to why they have changed from the original map, he was not talking.

The Echo has learned that there are a couple of new residences being built in the area, which could be affecting setbacks, but Nicholson was vague about that being a possible reason.

As for the process going forward, Nicholson was straightforward. The plan, he said, was for his biologists to begin a year-long Environmental Screening Report (ESR) immediately. Then, in March 2012, all other required reports, plus an outline for the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Natural Resources on how the ESR will eventually deal with worst-case-scenarios, will be presented to the province. There will then be a 90-day commenting period for the municipality and a 60 day period for the public. At the end of that time there will be another public meeting, which would have a format that has not been decided yet, according to Nicholson. It may even be a sit-down question and answer, he said, although he noted that that format usually ends up in a shouting match.

The project could then be given conditional approval. Final approval would come a year from now, if the ESR is completed is completed with no unforeseen issues.
Jan Minduik, who lives adjacent to one of the proposed sites (according to the original map), and who has been leading a group of area residents who oppose the turbines, predicts that the ESR is where the company will have trouble.

“This is a hugely environmental area,” she said. “The Osprey Wetlands are just across County Road 124, and there is a 10-kilometre-long woodland running right through the study area.”

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the night (and the most frustrating for those trying to get information) was the presence of three people who would only identify themselves as “representatives of Skyway 124.” When the Echo approached them for comment, the tallest one of them told us that “John Nicholson is doing the talking tonight.” Nicholson told us only that they were from Skyway 124.

It was later found out by Councillors Thom Paterson and Brent Preston, who relayed the information to us, that the tall man was named Ken Zuckerman, and that he is one of the investors that make up the Skyway 124 Investor’s Group. The relationship of the other two people remained a mystery.

All in all, it was a frustrating night, especially for members of Minduik’s group, who have so far been doing all the right things in response to this application. They have met twice with Clearview staff and have developed a good relationship and understanding of each other’s roles in this process, and they came to the meeting in a polite way, prepared to get as much information as possible.

“I drove up from Toronto tonight,” said Sarah Banquier, who weekends in the area. “It’s a three-and-a-half hour roundtrip drive, and I feel like I have learned absolutely nothing.”

A year at NCPS, 1950

By Helen Blackburn

The Grade 8 graduating classes in recent years typically go on overnight trips to some far away city. Ottawa is one of the places often visited, sometimes Quebec City. Once I even heard of New York, and this spring, some Nottawa students went to France!

This is a far cry from the graduating Grade 8s of 1950. We had a ballgame with Dunedin, which was then a one-room school on Lavender Hill. We thought it the height of excitement.

We had no lavish graduating exercise, no lovely dress or elegant hair-dos, no speeches. On the last day of school, the bell didn’t go until about 10 am. We trooped in, sat expectantly, and the teacher said a few pleasant words and passed out report cards. For the Grade 8s, we received a certificate that stated we had passed the “Entrance” (meaning the entrance to high school). At our school, we were given a bottle of pop, which we drank, chattering all the while. We were dismissed and off we went, the happiest creatures on the planet.

The school year at Creemore Public School on Caroline Street, now called the Annex, was considerably duller than it appears to be in 2014.
For many of the school’s years, there were three rooms at the elementary level. There was no kindergarten, and Grades 1 and 2 were in the north room on the first level. Grades 3, 4 and 5 were in the southwest room, and Grades 6, 7 and 8 were in the southeast room. In the fall of 1948, a fourth room was added in what had been the girls’ playroom in the basement. The Grades were now neatly divided into two’s.

Although I said the school year seems to have been considerably duller than now, we did have some excitement. The first event of the school year was the School Fair. It was held in mid-September. There were two in Nottawasaga Township; one in Duntroon and one in Creemore. First thing in the morning, the children and their parents brought in items for judging. Entries ran from beets and carrots and annual flowers to grain samples and poultry. At about 10:30 am, the exhibit hall was closed so the judges could get to work.

The pupils then went to the park where there were races of all kind. Lunch was picnic-style followed by excited preparation for the parade. The students from Creemore had been drilled in marching. Those from one-room rural schools dressed up in parade attire, often made of crêpe paper. There was an award for the Best Dressed, Best Marching School. For many years, the parade was led by Hughie McLaughlin playing his bagpipes. We marched from the school on Caroline Street to Mill Street where we turned right, left onto Elizabeth Street and right into the park. We then lined up on the ball diamond. There, we did a ridiculous set of exercises called the Strathcona exercise. Various dignitaries made speeches and each school gave its school yell.

Next came a set of contests such as spelling, public speaking, and board sawing for boys and darning for girls. Also there was calf and sheep judging. By mid-afternoon we ran to the exhibit hall to check on the prizes we may have won, then to collect everything and go home.

Hard on the heels of the Fair came Field Day. This was serious business, with the racetrack marked in lanes. The primary grades had only a few events, but eventually all the events were available to the older pupils. We had shot put; ball throw; hop, step and jump; standing broad jump; running broad jump; high jump; and of course, races. We did our best and wore our winning ribbons proudly.

About the end of November, preparation began for the Christmas concert. Each room prepared for choir, plays, recitations and dances. The concert was held in the Town Hall, the building now partly used by Curiosity House Books. Our concerts were nights to remember. Last December, I wrote about the Christmas concerts in the Echo in more detail, so now I will move on to Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day was mainly about the Valentine’s box, which was emptied on the big day. A couple of designated postmen delivered the cards as we sat at our desks and decided how popular we were.

Easter vacation always came at Easter. There was no March Break. Often the winter term was unbearably long and students grew weary and unmotivated. The move to March Break was an excellent idea.

There was more excitement in June besides the Dunedin ballgame. The School Picnic was held on the last June Saturday before school closing. All the schools in Nottawasaga Township participated (this did not include Stayner). We went one year to the park in Creemore, the next to Sunset Point in Collingwood. There were races and hotly contested ballgames. Some of the schools were small so they were in their own league. Even though we are so proud of our Creemore Braves, the team doesn’t hold a candle to some of the school teams. Reporters for the local papers wrote about the home runs, errors and pitchers with tricky pitches. Races were held, the playground equipment was well used and the refreshment booth had long line-ups.

At Sunset Point, we were all thrilled to go swimming in the Bay, but found it to be icy cold – not at all like the warm waters of the Mad River. Many families took the day off from farm work and drove to the Picnic, often taking along neighbours. In Creemore at least, the local drover cleaned out his cattle truck, packed it with children and drove off to Collingwood. We’d never think of doing that now, but at the time it worked well.

Thursday, June 19 has now been designated for the closing ceremonies of the Caroline Street School. I certainly plan to be there and I hope you come and share your memories.

A Young Entrepreneur

If you`re looking for comfortable, locally made patio furniture, look no further than Nick Dymond, a Ray`s Place Rent-A-Youth veteran who is branching out this year thanks to the provincial government`s “Summer Company” program, which provides students with a $1,500 grant up front in exchange for a credible business plan and another $1,500 in September, should they meet all the program’s requirements.

Dymond, who calls himself a “hands-on guy” who has been building things since he was a young child, came up with the idea for his company, “Dymond Finish,” after achieving a high mark for a Muskoka Chair he built during a Grade 12 tech class at Stayner Collegiate Institute.

He now plans to take orders for them and build them all summer, selling them for $90 per chair, $120 if you want it stained and $150 if you want it painted. He’s also experimenting with a bench design as well as an outdoor coffee table that features a polished concrete top and wooden legs. Should business take off, he’s willing to do custom orders as well; to that end, he’s building up a reference binder of different DIY outdoor furniture projects that customers can browse and choose from.

The Summer Company program, which Dymond heard about through his involvement with Ray’s Place, is administered by the Greater Collingwood Small Business Enterprise Centre. In all, five students in the area were awarded with grants this year. Besides the money, the program also offers mentoring opportunities; Creemore’s Doug Mills has been Dymond’s mentor, helping him with his business plan and other arrangements.

Throughout the summer, Dymond will have examples of his work on display at the Ray’s Place booth at the Creemore Farmers’ Market. He can also be reached at 705-984-6969 or by emailing nick_dymond@hotmail.com.

Abandoned house fire under investigation

A fire at an abandoned house on the border of Clearview Township and Collingwood is considered to be suspicious and is under investigation.

Clearview Township Fire Chief Colin Shewell said the OPP and the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal deemed the fire suspicious, prompting an investigation.

Fire crews from Clearview and Collingwood were called to the Sixth Street home, located between 10th Concession and Grey County Road 19, at about 8:30 p.m. July 2.

Shewell said crews had left the scene at about 11:30 p.m. but when police were securing the scene small fires began to burn again so firefighters were called back to the fire and stayed to control those hotspots.

Most firefighters were on site for about 12 hours with some staying longer to assist with the investigation. They used 75,000 to 100,000 gallons of water to extinguish the fire.

“It was an old house and it had sawdust insulation and newspaper and a number of additions so the fire was hard to fight. We did it through an offensive attack. We didn’t want to injure any firefighters so it was all done from the outside which is why it probably took more water than normal,” said Shewell.

“Because it was an abandoned building, we didn’t feel it was necessary to jeopardize the safety of our firefighters.”

The house had been scheduled for demolition about two weeks from the time of the blaze but it was demolished the day after the fire at the request of the fire chief for safety reasons.

Anyone with any information about the cause of the fire is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. Tips can also be submitted online at www.crimestopperssdm.com.

ABCs of family literacy

By Michele McKenzie

What would life be like without those permutations of the 26 letters and 10 numbers in the English language?
Although Family Literacy Day takes place on Monday, January 27, we at The Clearview Public Library believe that every day is literacy day.

Take a moment (15 minutes is recommended) to play with the possibilities of words each and every day.

The ABC’s of Family Literacy start with:
Act out a story with your child.
Babies enjoy looking at pictures with bright colours and faces.
Connect what happens in the book to your child’s life.
Decide to make time to share a book with your child every day.
Encourage your child to tell you about their drawings.
Find comfortable places to read.
Go for a walk and talk about the signs along the way.
Help your child build language by singing, rhyming and talking every day.
Include everyone in sharing family stories.
Jump in and play with your child.
Keep TV time to no more than one hour a day.
Let your child see you reading and writing.
Make a batch of cookies and count how many there are.
Newborns benefit from reading too.
Open a book and make up a story just using the pictures.
Play a game together.
Questions your child asks help her learn.
Recognize and reward your child’s early attempts at reading and writing.
Scribbles are the first step in becoming a writer.
Tell your child stories about your day.
Use events that happen every day to teach your child about the world.
Visit your local library and let your child choose a book (or many books).
Write a letter or a shopping list together.
Xpect your child to be active. Count how many times they can hop or jump.
Your child loves to hear you talk, sing and read with him.
ZZZ – a good time to read can be just before bed.

Enjoy playing with words in the comfort of your home or come spend some time with us at the Creemore Branch of The Clearview Public Library. Join Miss Margie from Ontario Early Years as she hosts Step into Stories every Tuesday at 1 pm and Baby Time every Wednesday at 11 am.

Or book our Active Living Kit and teach a rubber chicken a thing or two about the power of words.

Accepting donations for Stayner fire victims

A midnight fire in downtown Stayner displaced seven people from five apartments and affected three businesses.

The fire started at Perfect Sense Home and Spa, said Clearview Township Fire Chief Colin Shewell, but also affected Barb’s Clothes Closet and a business that was being renovated (formerly Petal Pushers).

Investigators from the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal were one scene for two days. The investigation continues and there is extensive damage but the cost of the damages remains unknown, said Shewell.

Firefighters were called to 7279 Highway 26 at 12:40 a.m. on April 10. Everyone was out of the apartments on the second level, with assistance from OPP officers, who were in the neighbourhood conducting a RIDE check.

Six fire apparatus, one tower and about 25 firefighters were on scene.

Crews quickly extinguished the fire on the main floor, however there is excessive smoke damage to three buildings. Barb’s Clothes Closet sustained light to moderate smoke damage, said Shewell.

Shewell organized a meeting at town hall in Stayner Friday morning to connect fire victims with the Canadian Red Cross and help them figure out next steps in terms of building permits.

Kerry Woodward, disaster management coordinator for the Simcoe Muskoka branch of the Canadian Red Cross, and three volunteers from the agency were assessing the needs of the people who were put out of their homes.

The agency provides emergency shelter, food and water for 72 hours, or longer if necessary, in the case of an emergency. Clothing and gift cards for groceries were also made available.

Woodward said there was also a lot of support offered from other community groups, businesses and individuals.

Anyone wishing to donate cash or gifts to those affected by the fire are asked to contact Reinhart Foods at 705-428-2422 ext. 133.

 

Agripharm hopes to offset energy consumption with biogas

Peter Miller told Clearview Township council Monday he hopes to offset the energy needs of his marijuana production facility with a 500-kilowatt anaerobic digester that would convert biogas to renewable electrical energy.

Miller said the facility, Agripharm, uses a lot of electricity and the plan is to offset that energy consumption with the biogas facility using animal waste from his family’s dairy operation and other sources. Both the dairy farm and marijuana facility are located at Cashtown Corners.

“We are looking at ways of reducing the environmental impact,” said Miller.

The application will be made to the Ontario Power Authority’s Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) program.

“We are very early in this process and we thought it would be best to speak to the community first in case there were any concerns,” said Miller. “This is good for the environment and very exciting for us.”

It was explained that manure goes into the 40 foot, self-enclosed, insulated steel container and is converted to methane. The by-product is a liquid fertilizer that can be used on fields and inside the marijuana growth facility and is even more efficient as a fertilizer than manure.

Miller said he will be asking for council support as they go through the FIT application process, with PlanET Biogas Solutions.

All candidates in Terra Nova Oct. 18

An all candidates meeting hosted by Mono Mulmur Citizen’s Coalition (MC2) will take place at the Mulmur Township Office, 758070 2nd Line East, in Terra Nova from 10 a.m. until noon on Saturday, Oct. 18.

For more information, visit www.monomulmur.com.

All Our Dreams hopes to build school in DR

A Honeywood woman has a dream of building a school in Dominican Republic.

Naomi Jackman, founder of All Our Dreams, is raising funds to build a school in the Santo Domingo Norte district that will benefit 3,000 school-aged children living in the area.

Jackman first visited the area last year while volunteering in an orphanage. Her team has been holding classes wherever possible, even outdoors, and are preparing to start this fall in a rented space. Ultimately, Jackman would like to establish a proper school.

She said statistics show that 80 per cent of the children living in the rural areas of the Dominican Republic are illiterate. Even more distressing, the figures reflect that only 38 per cent of school-aged children are enrolled in primary school.

In Santo Domingo Norte, only four in 10 children aged 5-18 are enrolled in school and only 27 per cent of boys and 23 per cent of girls complete their education.

“I became inspired to start a school after meeting a single mother of 5 children that wanted to put her children in school, but didn’t have the resources to. I was 23 at the time and I helped her in her quest to put all of her children in school. It was an incredible, life changing experience. Since then, I’ve had this pressing desire to help the lesser fortunate children of the Dominican Republic to overcome their economic status by helping them to acquire a solid education,” said Jackman.

All Our Dreams has set a $10,000 fundraising target, enough to fund 32 students for the year.

Jackman said she recently received an offer of land from a Canadian working in the Dominican Republic so if the organization is able to meet its target, the money collected will be used to build a school and not just student fees.

Anyone who donates $50 or more will have their names engraved on the school building.

Visit www.allourdreams.org.

All-candidates event in Creemore Oct. 19

Creemore Area Residents’ Association (CARA) is hosting an event for municipal election candidates on Sunday, Oct. 19.
Candidates for mayor, deputy mayor and councillors in Ward 2 (Dunedin, Glen Huron and Duntroon) and Ward 5 (Creemore) are invited to meet voters and answer questions from the public.
There will also be an opportunity for the candidates to briefly introduce their platforms.
The event, moderated by Greg Young and Valerie Dyer of CARA, will take place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Station on the Green. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Alliston takes last regular season Siskins game in shoot-out

Alas, the real hockey season begins this Thursday night for a very good Stayner Siskins Junior C hockey team. That’s right, you guessed it – the playoffs begin Thursday night at the igloo in Stayner.

Stayner improved dramatically from beginning to the regular season’s end, finishing second in the league, four points behind the perennial champion Alliston Hornets.

November, December, and January were phenomenal months for the Siskins with the club only losing once in regulation time.

Friday night in Alliston, with both clubs cementing their top positions, they had nothing to play for but testosterone rights. As it turned out, with all the bumping and hitting aside, these two teams are very comparable. It took a shoot-out to determine a winner in this one, 5-4, for Alliston.

Both clubs turned the jets on in the second period scoring three times each after a 0-0 first period. After 60 minutes, the game ended in a 4-4 draw with Sean Healy giving Stayner a lead 6:32 into the third. Two minutes later, Alliston tied it up. Neither team scored in overtime meaning a shoot-out was required. Alliston won this competition from the third shooter scoring. As I said the clubs are equal. Let’s hope they don’t get knocked off and we get to see a fan-pumping final.

Scoring Stayner’s other goals in the second period were notched by Christian Papineau, Ricky Darrell, with his 31st goal, and Ben Lougheed.

Coach Steve Walker has three goalies at his disposal now. Walker said that he was going to rotate the three goalies and true to his word he gave Portelance the start, using Trevor Bloch, who played two games prior, as the back up. Portelance played with poise blocking 29 shots.

The night before, newly signed goalie Nick Keleher got the call to go between the pipes against Fergus. The Devils were not happy with Walker’s decision, as they were unable to get one by the 20-year-old in 27 chances.

Meanwhile, Stayner shooters had little trouble finding the mesh against Fergus winning 8-0. Kyle Lafreniere, Darrell, 2, Lougheed, Quinten Bruce, Griffin Pearce, Brandon Watson, Jameison Buck, and Lucas Jeffery all scored in the romp.

Bruce, by the way, finished third in the league in scoring with 25 goals and 42 assists for 67 points. Winning the scoring title was Hornets’ Nic Archibald, 74 points from 25 goals and 49 assists. Erin’s Adam Gibson was runner-up scoring the most goals in the league, 37, and assisting on 31 for 68 points. Darrell was seventh, 31-26-57. Siskins’ Sean Healy was ranked number 21 with 14 goals and 26 assists.

By winning the league, Alliston, 32-6-1-1, gets home ice advantage all the way through the playoffs. As well, they get the eighth seed in the first round. Fergus, 16-20-2-2 nipped into the last playoff spot with 36 points, one shootout loss more than Erin, 35 points.

Stayner, 28-6-3-3 plays seventh seed Orillia Terriers, 17-20-0-3, beginning this Thursday in Stayner. 8:10 start. The second game is back in Orillia Saturday with a 1:30 puck drop for game 3 in Stayner. The fourth game is in Orillia Wednesday.

Huntsville, 24-14-2-0, finished third and earned Schomberg Cougars, 18-19-1-2 as its opponent. The finals series pits Penetang Kings, 20-15-1-4, against the Caledon Golden Hawks, 18-8-2-2.

Midland was the other team not to make the playoffs.

 

 

An “unwilling host” to existing wind proposals

Clearview Council declared the Township an unwilling host to the two wind farm proposals that are planned for within its boundaries Monday night, but stopped short of making a broad statement regarding any and all future proposals.

Councillor Thom Paterson’s initial motion, which was supplied to his colleagues two weeks ago, before the province’s recent announcement that it plans to change the Feed-In-Tariff application process to give municipalities some level of input when it comes to large scale renewable energy projects, called for an all-encompassing statement that Clearview Township is an “unwilling host” to Industrial Wind Turbines.

It was written in response to incoming Premier Kathleen Wynne’s throne-speech statement that “our economy can benefit from [things such as wind farms], but only if we have willing hosts.”
Since that statement was made, 43 Ontario municipalities have passed resolutions stating they are unwilling to host Industrial Wind Turbines within their boundaries. In a subsequent radio interview, Wynne seemed to imply that these resolutions would have little effect on wind proposals that are already being considered.

Wynne’s Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli also announced last week that the province intends to rejig the application process for large-scale renewable energy projects to give municipalities more say on locations and site requirements. How exactly that will play out is still up in the air. The one thing Chiarelli has been clear on is that municipalities will not be given veto power over wind proposals.

The fact that the situation is in flux, however, was enough to give the majority of Clearview Council pause when considering a blanket “unwilling host” resolution.

“I think it’s a little too broad myself,” said Councillor Shawn Davidson, who put forward an amendment to Paterson’s motion limiting the Township’s objection to the proposals – wpd Canada’s Fairview Wind Farm in the vicinity of Fairgrounds Road and County Road 91 and the Skyway 124 proposal south of Singhampton – that have already been discussed by Council.

Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage, who seconded Davidson’s amendment, echoed his concerns, pointing out that the Township had only consulted with the public on those two projects.

“We need to have a more fulsome consultation with the entire municipality,” said Savage. She also said she anticipated the province will be consulting with municipalities on the still-to-be-finalized changes to the renewable energy application process, and that any broad statement at this point could be alienating.

Paterson, however, protested that Davidson’s amendment changed the intent of his motion, and pointed out that the Township’s past positions with regard to the Fairview and Skyway 124 projects – protesting the absence of municipal planning authority in the Green Energy Act, calling for greater separations between turbines and residences and requesting a moratorium on all installations until the completion of the ongoing Health Canada study – would be applicable to any future applications as well.

“This applies to every project that might come our way,” said Paterson. “It’s about stating that industrial wind turbines are not acceptable to us as a form of renewable energy.”

In the end, Davidson’s amendment limiting the statement to the two existing proposals was passed by a vote of 7-2, with only Paterson and Councillor Brent Preston in opposition.

The ensuing vote, on the amended motion, passed by a vote of 8-1, with Deputy Mayor Savage noting before the vote that she would be against it due to her continued support for wind energy in general.

New Renewable Energy Protocol

Council gave Planning Director Michael Wynia the go-ahead Monday night to finalize an application form and protocol for developers seeking municipal support for renewable energy projects over 500 megawatts. Under the province’s FIT 2.0 program, currently in place for renewable energy applications, a points system determines what preference proposals will be given by the Ministry of Energy. Projects with “municipal support” can earn an extra two points toward their total (this system has been in place since the beginning of 2012 and could be subject to change given the recent announcements referenced above).

Wynia’s new protocol, presented in draft form Monday night, establishes the minimum information to be provided by a proponent seeking a municipal resolution of support, sets out the process for consideration of the granting of a resolution of support, sets out the minimum information requirements, and sets out applicable fees.
The first application that could be subject to the protocol is the Bondfield NCC Solar LP project, planned for the southeast corner of the Township. The proponents visited Council recently to apprise them of their plans and to request a resolution of support.

Heritage Conservation Open House

Planning director Wynia informed Council Monday night that his department will host an open house on the subject of Heritage Conservation in Clearview Township from 3 to 7 pm on Tuesday, June 25 in the Clearview Council Chambers.

The event will seek input from the public on three questions: Should Clearview Township initiate a heritage conservation program?; What would a heritage conservation program look like and what would its focus be?; and what type of approach should be taken to protect the Township’s viewscapes and its natural, cultural, and archaeological resources?

Criteria for Municipal Significance

Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage put forth a resolution Monday night requesting staff to draft a protocol for deciding what constitutes a “municipally significant event” with regard to the granting of liquor licenses.

Council has been inundated with requests for such designation since the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario tightened its policies regarding the granting of Special Occasion Permits, requiring organizations without charitable status to obtain a resolution from Council stating that their event is municipally significant before applying for their permit.

So far, Council has been granting the status on an ad-hoc basis; with Savage’s motion, Council will have some criteria with which to measure events.

Before Savage made her motion Monday night, Council voted to grant “municipally significant” status to two events, the New Lowell Knights Civic Holiday Baseball Tournament and the 32nd annual Adelphotis Arahoviton Greek Heritage Festival, which takes place at the Karyai Village Park outside New Lowell.

An all-natural fundraiser for med centre

Another local artisan has come forward with a work of art to be auctioned off, with all proceeds going toward the Creemore Medical Centre’s expansion fund.

Mulmur resident Michael Monahan has a unique mirror in his front hall that always attracts compliments from visitors. Made with pine culled from his property and garnished with actual beech leaves, fixed to the surface with a hardy applique, the piece is a lovely tribute to the beauty of local forests.

A member of the Medical Centre Service Board for the past two years, Monahan has now made another mirror and put it on display in the window of Seasons in Creemore, at the corner of Mill and Caroline Streets.

Those interesting in purchasing the mirror can make silent auction bids at Seasons until Saturday, January 19. A reserve bid of $300 has been set.

An equine autumn tradition on Mill Street

Mill Street was lined last Saturday morning for the annual parade of the Mulmur-based Toronto and North York Hunt.

An extra special tractor rally

Antique tractor enthusiasts and friends of Jamie Adam came out in full force for last weekend’s Dunedin Tractor Rally, which ended at the Great Northern Exhibition grounds with a memorial service for Adam, who founded the event seven years ago and died earlier this year. Adam was fondly remembered in speeches by Neil Metheral, Gary Milne, Dan Needles, Mayor Ken Ferguson and others.

An ill wind blows…

The winds of public opinion blow hot and cold on the issues surrounding wind energy. But one thing most observers can agree on is that there’s something fundamentally wrong with a process in which small communities and individuals are expected to fend for themselves against big companies like Skyway and wpd Canada.

That’s why we applaud the Federation of Agriculture’s desire to help rural and farm families maintain peace within our communities. Although the Federation’s call to “suspend further developments” seems an unlikely prospect, their concern that wind projects “are causing tremendous tension among rural residents and community neighbours” is well founded.

The OFA, which represents 37,000 farm families across the province, states that many issues, such as the pitfalls of wind leases and concerns about pricing, have not been adequately addressed by government. And that this has created dissension and unease in many rural areas.

Indeed, this has come to pass in our own community with Sylvia Wiggins’ recent launch of a lawsuit against her neighbours, the Beattie Brothers, who have signed lease agreements with wind energy giant wpd Canada Corporation.

“The wind turbine situation is coming to a head,” the OFA stated, “seriously dividing rural communities, even jeopardizing farm succession planning.”

Like the OFA, we are in favour of building a strong, cooperative and prosperous countryside. This is hard when people are faced with economic uncertainty and the fear of losing everything they have worked so hard for. This fear, combined with the frustration of powerlessness in the decision making process can result is every man for himself attitude. There must be a better way.

An update from the “save the bridge” committee

I have recently been approached by many concerned residents about the status of the Collingwood Street Bridge. Our committee understands that as a result of the many residents who signed our petitions and mailed in letters in support of restoring this old landmark, the County of Simcoe delayed their planned start of the destruction and replacement of the Collingwood Street Bridge in 2012.

Following our first petition the Ministry of Environment did not grant the County their approval to proceed due to incomplete information, resulting in the County withdrawing their original application.

Since that time, the County has resubmitted their Notice of Assessment . The bridge committee, along with many residents, also filed their objections to the County’s new Notice of Assessment which continues to recommend replacement of the bridge. As a result of these efforts, the Ministry is reviewing all the facts very carefully and as of this date has not formally responded. It appears from our latest correspondence with the Ministry that they are in no hurry to grant approval for the bridge replacement given the significant community support for the preservation and rehabilitation option.

In the meantime, Simcoe County has moved the funds for this project to be reviewed in the 2014 budget with an estimated cost of $1.2 million.

I still find it odd that the County is sticking to their budget of $1.2 million to remove and replace the Collingwood Street Bridge when they have just spent $1.3 million to rehab the Websterville Bridge on County Road 9. This concrete bridge was refitted 35 years ago and still needed a new superstructure and bridge deck in the current rehab. The original abutments are not part of the rehab.

This just helps to support our position that concrete bridges do not last longer than steel bridges. It also reinforces our position that the County has underestimated their maintenance costs over the life of the concrete bridge proposed in their EA submission.

However, the team of experts on the bridge committee still support restoration costs of under $1 million. This is also supported by a quote obtained from a professional bridge contractor who provided an estimate of approximately $750,000 to restore the existing bridge.

The committee has been in contact with the Ontario Heritage Trust, who were surprised about the difficulty we are having convincing both the County and Clearview Township that the bridge warrants protection as a heritage structure and deserves restoration. In fact, this position is supported by the County’s own consultants in the Heritage Report undertaken for their Environmental Assessment. Their consultant’s recommendations are to restore the bridge in its original historical location. (There are no historical designated bridges in Simcoe County).

The Collingwood Street Bridge will turn 100 years old in June 2013. The bridge committee will be planning a celebration in support of obtaining a heritage designation for the bridge and would appreciate all the support we can get. Anyone with information, photos or artifacts related to the bridge and interest in becoming involved in the bridge celebration please contact Barry Burton at 705-466-2718 or burtonmobile@sympatico.ca; John Hillier at 705-466-551 or jhillier@dtah.com; Jack Mesley at jack@ontarioerectors.com; or Thom Patterson at tpaterson@clearview.ca.

Anti quarry workshop gains new focus

With the mega quarry application suddenly off the table, some wondered whether Digging Deeper, the ongoing effort to create a community play about the project, would continue. It was decided at an art workshop held last weekend that the show will go on, with the focus now on telling the story of the community`s victory (while organizers also keep an eye on the future actions of the Highland Companies). The art workshop was the last planned event for this year, but organizer Dale Hamilton told the Echo that people should watch for more preparations in the new year.

Anti-wind group plans second rally

Preserve Clearview, the ratepayers’ group that has been actively plotting against wpd Canada’s plans to build an eight-turbine wind farm near the intersection of Fairgrounds Road and County Road 91, put out a call this week for another protest to coincide with wpd’s second public meeting, scheduled for Thursday, August 2 from 5:30 to 8 pm.

When wpd held its first public meeting in July, 2011, several hundred people paraded along Country Road 91 from Preserve Clearview member Kevin Elwood’s Clearview Nursery to the Stayner Community Centre, where the meeting was held. Once there, an impromptu rally in the parking lot effectively distracted from much that was going on inside.

The August 2 meeting is the last event that wpd is mandated to hold before a decision is made on the wind farm.

Preserve Clearview is requesting that protestors gather at Clearview Nursery at 3:30 pm, and that they bring their “tractors, trucks, posters, floats, family and friends.”

Anti-wind lawsuit dismissed… for now

Local opponents to the proposed Fairview Wind Farm will not be able to go ahead with a lawsuit against wpd Canada and the landowners who would host the turbines, at least until the project is actually granted approval.

That was the decision of Superior Court Madam Justice S.E. Healey on Monday, after a preliminary hearing which saw counsel for wpd Canada, Beattie Brothers Farms Limited and Ed Beattie & Sons Limited request that the judge decide whether the claims of the defendents gave rise to a genuine issue requiring a trial.

Two actions were dealt with at the prehearing, one brought by Sylvia Wiggins and 15 neighbouring landowners against wpd and Beattie Brothers Farms Limited, which aims to host turbines on Fairgrounds Road north of County Road 91, and one brought by Mary Skelton and four neighbouring landowners against wpd and Ed Beattie & Son Limited, which owns land south of County Road 91 where turbines are proposed to be sited.

The Wiggins claim was seeking $11.8 million in compensatory damages for negligence, nuisance, trespass and strict liability, as well as an injunction against any construction of turbines; the Skelton claim was seeking damages of $4.8 million for the same four reasons.

For the purpose of the pre-hearing, counsel for wpd Canada invited the court to take the plaintiff’s evidence as proven, and no counter evidence was brought forth by the wind company or the host landowners. This was hailed as a minor victory in a statement released by wpd Canada lawyer Eric Gillespie after the decision, though wpd spokesperson Kevin Surette disagreed.

“This was just the first stage in the proceedings,” said Surette. “Had the judge found that a trial was necessary, we would have obviously countered with our own evidence.”

Counsel for the plaintiffs put three experts on the stand – real estate appraiser Ben Lansink, who testified that the plaintiffs’ properties are likely presently devalued by between 22 to 50 per cent or more, based on the proposed wind farm; Dr. Robert McMurtry, who noted a high probability that the turbines will produce some combination of audible noise, low frequency noise, infrasound, visual impact and shadow flicker, and that these elements will likely cause such things as sleep disturbance, annoyance, headache, tinnitus, ear pressure, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, visual blurring, tachycardia, irritability, problems with concentration and memory, and panic episodes; and acoustician Richard James, who gave his professional opinion that there is a “very strong probability, almost amounting to a mathematical certainty,” that the project will exceed the Ministry of Environment thresholds of 40 decibels for wind turbine noise.

The judge did seem to give some weight to the evidence regarding property devaluation, noting that “in this case the court accepts that the plaintiffs have suffered, and are currently suffering, losses culminating in diminished property values.”

After hearing all of the evidence, however, Madam Justice Healey ruled that all claims in each action should be dismissed, primarily because the project has not yet been approved by the Ministry of Environment, and therefore it is impossible to know exactly what the final project design might look like, and if any of the effects referred to in the plaintiffs’ evidence will in fact occur.

The judge did, however, note that her decision was made without prejudice to the plaintiffs’ right to commence “an action for identical or similar relief when and if the Fairview Wind Project receives the necessary approvals to be constructed.”

That caveat is being celebrated by Gillespie and the plaintiffs, who say it paves the way for lawsuits across Ontario wherever wind farm proposals have been approved.

“There are many people who have been waiting to see how the courts would respond to these types of claims, said Gillespie. “It now seems clear that as soon as a project is approved residents can start a claim. This appears to be a major step forward for people with concerns about industrial wind projects across Ontario.”

While Surette, the wpd Canada spokesperson, labeled Monday’s decision a “decisive victory,” he did agree that the potential for future lawsuits remains.

“Certainly, the decision did leave the door open for them to bring action forth at a different stage,” he said.

Arbour Farms responds to residents

By Julie Pollock

Last Saturday’s Public Information Session on Arbour Farms, organized by Mulmur Township, brought 60 or so attendees up to date on the progress of its applications since last summer.

Arbour Farms has applied to extract and haul aggregate from an estimated 9 million-tonne deposit on the east side of busy, two-lane Airport Road south of County Road 21.

Attended by all of Mulmur’s Councillors and some staff, the meeting was led by third-party consultants: Don Scott(Cuesta Planning) for Mulmur Township, Brian Zeman (MHBC Planning) for Arbour Farms, and Dan Cherepacha (Read, Voorhees & Associates) for the County.

Arbour Farms has made changes to address concerns about the natural environment, noise and truck traffic. These include environmental setback area and reduced transportation hours (including Friday afternoon and weekend cessation). At the County’s behest, Arbour Farms has vastly improved the proposed truck entrance and access area. Safety lights will alert southbound drivers to loaded trucks leaving the property.

The question period provided a platform for residents to ask about issues such as cost-bearing for by-law enforcement and the effectiveness of site “self-monitoring.” But the main theme was Dufferin County’s Airport Road. No one from the County came to answer questions, so it remained unclear at the meeting who will decide what needs to be done and who will pay for these long-term needs.

Mulmur’s Planning Advisory Committee Chair Keith Lowry asked, “Where the hell is the County?”

Even with plans to build truck climbing and pullover lanes near the site, significant upgrades and maintenance will be required to accommodate up to 20 lumbering gravel trucks per hour along the hilly haul route. According to Cherepacha, a traffic expert, trucks may be expected to slow to about 40 kilometres per hour on some grades.

Mayor Paul Mills suggested that residents approach Dufferin County Council for clarity on the future of Airport Road. Mulmur Council must now decide on Arbour Farms’ municipal applications for rezoning and amendment to the Official Plan to accommodate the operation.

Arbour Farms seeks changes to Mulmur Official Plan

A planner for Arbour Farms, the company that has been attempting to establish a sand and gravel pit on Airport Road just south of Dufferin County Road 21 for the past 12 years, came before Mulmur Council Tuesday to suggest several wording changes to the Township’s 2009 Official Plan, which is currently being appealed by the company.

Council was also informed by Arbour Farms principal Adam Krehm that the company is days away from submitting a new application for an aggregate licence under the Aggregate Resources Act. Arbour Farms’ previous ARA application, submitted in 2001, was judged by the Ministry of Natural Resources to have lapsed in 2011.

Should Mulmur Council not agree to the new Official Plan wording suggested Tuesday, or should some other settlement not be reached, the Ontario Municipal Board has scheduled three days in October to begin hearing the Arbour Farms appeal.

The four suggested revisions, outlined Tuesday by Brian Zeman of MHBC Planning, all have to do with Section 9.04 of Mulmur’s plan, which deals with general policies concerning natural resources. According to Zeman, the changes would bring the Official Plan in line with the current Provincial Policy Statement. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has seen the revised wording, and according to Zeman has “confirmed that they are in agreement” with the changes. Mulmur planner Ron Mills was quick to point out, however, that the Ministry had also approved the Township’s original wording.

“This is not a case of one being acceptable, and one not,” said Mills. “We’re at loggerheads, and the Ministry’s position would be one of neutrality.”

The first of Arbour Farms’ four suggestions involved the following sentence: “The Township’s long-term prosperity, environmental health, and social well-being depend on protecting natural features, water, soil and minerals for their economic, environmental and social benefits.” Zeman requested that “mineral aggregate resources” be added to that list, pointing out that there is a difference between those and “minerals.” When all of Arbour Farms’ proposed changes were presented to Mulmur’s Planning Advisory Committee on August 1, this is the only one that caused no objection.

The second proposed revision dealt with a paragraph that says when aggregate extraction is taking place, it is the intent of the Township to ensure that “its interests and those of local residents are recognized and protected, and that an appropriate balance between competing and often conflicting interests is achieved.” Arbour Farms is requesting that the word “protected” be removed, and that the following sentence be added to the end of the paragraph: “To achieve this, extraction shall be undertaken in a manner which minimizes social and environmental impacts.”

The third revision would remove a sentence that says “Human health and safety and environmental protection shall take priority over resource use proposals” and replace it with “Resource extraction activities and sensitive land uses are to be appropriately designed, buffered and/or separated to prevent adverse effects and minimize risk to public health and safety.”

The fourth and final revision would alter a sentence that currently says “Proposals should not result in a negative impact on the rural character or the scenic resources and features of the Township.” Arbour Farms is requesting that the word “negative” be replaced with “substantial” and that the following be added to the end of that sentence: “taking into account mitigation measures including progressive and final rehabilitation of the site.”

Following Zeman’s presentation, Council instructed staff to consult with the Township’s lawyer, and bring a report on the suggested revisions back to the next Council meeting.
“I want to see this thing get resolved, sooner or later, without costing us or Arbour Farms any more money,” said Mayor Paul Mills in closing.

There is one other outstanding appeal of Mulmur’s Official Plan. Conserving Our Rural Environment (CORE), the ratepayers group that has led the fight against Arbour Farms over the past decade, is asking that the mapping on the Arbour Farms property be adjusted so that only the area the company plans to quarry be zoned for aggregate extraction. Zeman indicated on Tuesday that Arbour Farms would not object to such a move, and Mulmur planner Ron Mills said he was hopeful that CORE’s appeal could be settled.

A Question for Integrity Commissioner

Mulmur Council will consult with its Integrity Commissioner as to whether Councillor Lynn Hilchey should continue in her roles as a member of the Property Standards Committee and the Committee of Adjustment and as vice-chair of the Planning Advisory Committee while her own property is being investigated for several property standards and zoning violations.
The decision came after Mulmur resident John Thomson, who asked whether the Integrity Commissioner should be consulted during question period at Council’s August meeting, asked to have the same question included on the official agenda for Tuesday’s meeting.

At the outset of the meeting, Hilchey requested that the Thomson question be deferred until Council receives a report from the Dufferin County building and planning departments on whether there are zoning violations on the property, but a motion to that effect failed with only Hilchey and Deputy Mayor Rhonda Campbell Moon voting for a deferral. There was some confusion as to whether Hilchey was in conflict in voting for the deferral, but no decision was made on that. She did remove herself from the Council chambers during the actual discussion regarding Thomson’s question.

At that point, it became clear that Campbell Moon was the only member of Council not in favour of going to the Integrity Commissioner. “She did not break our code of conduct,” said the Deputy Mayor. “She breached a property standard. I won’t support this.”

The rest of Council, however, reached a consensus that a recommendation from the Integrity Commissioner would be suitable.

The original complaints about Hilchey’s property were made anonymously. At its last meeting, Council voted to order Hilchey and her husband to remove a large greenhouse that was erected without a building permit and is not permitted under the property’s zoning. Several other possible zoning and property standards violations are being investigated by the County.

ARC Nemesis

Clearview is joining the Town of Penetanguishene and other municipalities to voice its dissatisfaction with a system that determines whether small and rural schools stay open.
At its last meeting on July 14, Council voted to support Penetaguishene’s call for “clear and direct communication” with the province about the Accommodation Review Committee (ARC) process.
Ontario school boards conduct Accommodation Reviews to address issues of enrollment, the ability to deliver programming or facility conditions at specific schools.

The reviews are conducted with members of the public including parents or guardians, teachers, principals, and municipal and business representatives. These people form a volunteer committee that makes recommendations to the regional school board.

A resolution passed at Penetanguishene’s June 25 Council meeting states that “there is a lack of public trust in the review process because school boards are not held accountable for the ARC’s recommendations.”
It also blames the provincial government for not directly consulting or communicating with small town rural municipalities that are serviced by the school boards about the closures.

By giving Penetanguishene its support, Clearview will join other Ontario municipalities that are requesting a moratorium on all school closures until the provincial government completes reviews of the schools.
Penetanguishene Mayor Gerry Marshall said the Small and Rural School Alliance will request meetings with Minister of Education Liz Sandals and Minister of Rural Affairs Jeff Leal at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference next month.

In Clearview, Ward 4 Councillor Thom Paterson forwarded the motion to support Penetaguishene’s initiative. It was seconded by Shawn Davidson, who represents Ward 7.
Only Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage voted against the motion. She pointed out the existence of the Community Schools Alliance, whose mandate is to communicate concerns about the ARC process to the provincial government.

“There is a Community Schools Alliance that came about as a result of rural school closures,” Savage told Council. “I hesitate to support this because I don’t want to duplicate.”
The Community Schools Alliance formed in 2009 to address concerns about ARC that municipalities felt school boards had disregarded, explained Doug Reycraft, Chair of the Community Schools Alliance and Southwest Middlesex Mayor.

“We need to change the process,” said Reycraft. “We need to move away from the continuing dictatorship of school administrators.”

He said that although his group has not been active in the last 16 months, it could revive or even join the new alliance.

“The goals and objectives of the proposed alliance are similar to the Community Schools Alliance,” said Reycraft. He told the Echo he would be participating in a conference call with the new Rural and Small School Alliance to discuss the mandates of both groups.

Last month, Penetaguishene sent Premier Kathleen Wynne a copy of its resolution to form the new alliance.

These days, small and rural areas face the challenges of school closures in their communities, due to declining enrollment.

Recently, the Simcoe County District School Board conducted an accommodation review that led to the closure of Duntroon Central Public School in 2012.

Area Remembrance Day services

There are five Remembrance Day services taking place in the area on Nov. 11.

The Creemore Legion’s Remembrance Day service at the Creemore Cenotaph begins at 10 a.m.

Military members will then march to the Legion, where a service begins at 10:45 a.m.

Anyone wishing to place a wreath is asked to call the Legion at 705-466-2330.

New Lowell Legion’s Remembrance Day service begins at the New Lowell cenotaph at 11 a.m.

A parade from fire hall to the cenotaph begins at 10:30 a.m. with a reception to follow at the Legion.

In Stayner, the parade will form at town hall at 10:30 a.m. before marching to the cenotaph where veterans from the war in Afghanistan will be present for a special rededication service.

The regular Remembrance Day will follow. The service will end with a reception at the Stayner Legion.

There is a service planned at the cenotaph at Singhampton Memorial Park Cenotaph beginning at 10:45 a.m.

The Mansfield Women’s Institute has organized a Remembrance Day Service at the Mansfield Cenotaph at 10:30 a.m.

Everyone is invited to the cenotaph, located just north of Mansfield.

A reception will follow at St. Andrew’s Church with guest speaker John Franklin, who will be talking about  First World War veteran  Dalton Ferris.

Arson suspect sought by OPP

The Huronia West OPP have released a sketch of the man they are looking for in connection to an arson that destroyed a house on the Mulmur-Nottawasaga Townline south of Creemore on October 12.

The “person of interest” is described as a white male in the range of 38 to 42 years old, around six feet in height and 190 pounds in weight, with a fit build, sandy coloured blond hair with brown accents and grey/blue eyes. He was clean shaven, wearing a brown leather vest and pants, brown cowboy boots and a brown flannel shirt, and was carrying a crossbow on his back. He was driving a tan-coloured extended-cab pickup similar in style to a Toyota model.

The police are requesting the assistance of the public in solving this investigation. If you know the suspect or his whereabouts, or have any information in regards to this crime, please contact the Huronia West OPP at (705) 429-3575, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit your information online at www.crimestoppers.com.

Crime Stoppers does not subscribe to call display, and you will remain anonymous. You will not testify in court and your information may lead to a cash reward of up to $2,000. 

Art at breakneck speed

For Lucas Gordon, who grew up in Creemore and is now in his fourth year at the Ontario College of Art and Design, the biggest problem with his latest artistic passion is finding the right canvas.

In the lead up to this weekend’s Creemore Festival of the Arts, he found a perfect one at Ray’s Place, the local student resource centre that happened to have a wall that needed painting and is always eager to support the aspirations of young people.

So on Monday morning, armed with drop cloths, painter’s tape and a cardboard box full of spray paint, Gordon showed up at Ray’s Place with a vague idea of what he wanted to do. He donned an industrial-strength breathing mask and some surgical gloves, and over the next 10 hours or so he let the paint do the talking.

What emerged at the end of the day was a fantastical vision, of a boy floating in space, suspended in the cosmos by large, colourful blobs of an unidentified substance.

Words don’t do it justice, obviously, so thankfully people will have a chance to view the work in person, this Saturday and Sunday during the Festival of the Arts. Gordon will have more of his work on display as well, confined to prints and computer screens this time but still showing inspiration from the world of street art and graffiti.

Forty years since a destitute New York saw the first “tags” of the hip hop movement, graffiti has matured, with international artists like Banksy, Aryz and Os Gemeos creating large-scale and, more and more frequently, legal creations all over the world. The latter two, Aryz and Os Gemeos, who create massive murals with spray paint, are specific inspirations for Gordon.

Also inspiring is the speed at which spray paint can be applied, with shading and gradients that take hours in more conventional styles possible with a slight tilt of the spray can.

“I get restless,” says Gordon, who churns out art on a daily basis. “So this is great for me… you can create something in a really short time frame.”

A literal demonstration of that time frame can be seen in a time lapse video that Gordon created on Monday, showing the creation of the mural from start to finish and set to an appropriate punk rock soundtrack. The video will be on display at Ray`s Place over the weekend, and can also be seen below.

Ray’s Place is located on the north side of Caroline Street, just a few steps west of Mill Street.

Ray’s Place Mural from MediaFriendsy on Vimeo.

Art beat: Ernie Herzig

By Martha Bull

I have known Ernie Herzig for many years as an associate of valued friends and neighbours. We met at parties celebrating this or that, and I have skiied the extensive cross country trails behind the house in Mulmur he shares with his wife, Rivette. I noted his gentle relationship with his horses, which is an interest we share. Not everyone cares for their horses with the kind of reverence I like to see, so I was always fond of him for that elevated devotion.

Recently, I found another side to Ernie that had escaped me over the last 35 years. Sculpture has been a quiet preoccupation and passion that he has devoted thousands of hours to through a demanding career as a publisher, many social pursuits and a close family life. His fabulous sculptures were on display at the Station on the Green at the Creemore Festival of the Arts last fall.

Because I have known Ernie socially and not professionally, I was surprised to find he has a long list of artistic accomplishments, which is unusual in a part-time artist. Since studying at Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto in 1995, Ernie has taken part in several group exhibitions including shows at the Beau-xi and John B. Aird Galleries. He had a one-man show at the Canadian Sculpture Society in April 2002. His major work, “Two Visions,” was unveiled in Ken Williams Square in Brampton, and coincided with a major show at Brampton City Hall.

Ernie’s sculptures are mathematically precise, elegant and beguiling. They are beautiful, but also engaging. And they all speak to the balance between male and female. They are all a meditation on the theme of “different but equal.”

This preoccupation comes from his despair over the sad reality in our world of the intransigence of mysogeny. Ernie feels strongly that it is the black force that propels most of the world’s problems. Ernie was moved by Shelley Hannah’s wonderful article in the Echo (Friday, March 28 edition) on this subject. He also said that the book, Ascent of Women by Canadian Sally Armstrong (available at Curiosity House), has inspired him. Armstrong is a visionary journalist who exposes the fight for equality in every corner of the globe. The fight of our times is an equal voice for women that will also heal the planet. Ernie wants his sculptural vision to be part of the solution.

Ernie is an unlikely candidate for sculpting. He and Rivette owned a renowned printing house in Toronto called Herzig Somerville where the two-dimensional image is king. Ernie showed me reproductions of photographs with the kind of resolutions reserved for the Ed Burtynskys of the world. Their company printed many art catalogues, posters, art books and limited edition reproductions, and Ernie himself has worked side-by-side with many eminent Canadian artists to produce these reproductions

So, it seems unusual to me that Ernie would be taken hostage by sculpture rather than by photography or painting. His colour sensibilities are sophisticated and nuanced from years of working in print. Of course, the two-dimensional preoccupations of line, texture, composition, value and colour come to play in sculpture, but with the added dimension of mass being preeminent.

As a watercolour artist, I am preoccupied artistically with two-dimensional work. Sculpture falls firmly outside my expertise. So it is with these uneducated eyes that I viewed Ernie’s body of work, which spans 40 years.

Ernie, who has an elegant mind and generous spirit, took the time to answer my questions without flinching. I had such a good time with him as the hours unfolded, revelling in his skill and vision. I learned about many things I had never thought about like resins, plasters, granite, alabaster and wood, wire assemblages and reductive carving, bronze casting and mold-making. But mostly, I was deeply engaged in his vision.

I hope that Ernie’s sculptures will find a large audience soon. They deserve a place in our consciousness.

Art gets industrial at the Mad & Noisy

Industrimental, the August show at the Mad & Noisy Gallery, focuses on the impact industrialization has had on industry and innovation. The six participation artists are painters Mark Hope, Peter Adams and David Scott, photographer MK Lynde and sculptors Kyle Thornley and Al Matchett.

Working with a special camera rig, MK Lynde’s equirectangular panorama photographs capture local industry – including many from the Creemore area. “They reflect our connection to the past, a time when people earned their keep with their hands,” says Lynde. “Yet they are modern representations of scenes that could have been taken years ago.”

After taking multiple shots in a panoramic sweep, Lynde seams together the images on her computer. “Once the images are stitched I must further edit them to remove errors of parallax or misalignment,” she explains. “It’s a time-consuming and sometimes frustrating process, but I do enjoy the satisfaction of completing a difficult stitch.”

Mark Hope describes himself as an oil painter of landscapes of all kinds, from rugged backcountry to junkyards. For Industrimental, his paintings will focus on what we leave behind after we’ve used the environment. One of the paintings is based on a photo he took in his twenties of a hydro pole. “I’ve always loved the photo and now have the skills to paint it. What excites me are the interesting shapes and colours that come from something most people wouldn’t give a second thought to,” explains Hope.

In response to the proposed Melancthon quarry controversy, Peter Adams has created a new series Earth Scars. “Open pit mines and quarries are perhaps the most visibly graphic reference to humankind’s ongoing hunger for resources. I have focused on painting some the largest open-pit mines in the world, including the Eraki and Diavik diamond mines in northern Canada,” says Adams. “There is a strange beauty to these aerial views, and it’s been a great series for me to further experiment with mixed-media techniques.

“I don’t see this series as specifically anti-quarry or anti-mining,” he continues. “We are all responsible for fueling the aggressive extraction of a multitude of resources all over this planet. This series is largely an opportunity to contemplate what our most important “resources” are. What are they used for? Which of them do we really need and at what cost?”

Kyle Thornley is a metal artist who combines ancient forging techniques with modern processes to create distinct works of art.

“The pieces I’ve made for this exhibition show a contrasting relationship between formal materials and the natural curvilinear shapes that can be creatively composed with the metal,” explains Thornley. “Many raw industrial materials are metal as it is the foundation of past and present from the most basic of tools to innovative machinery and everyday necessities. But art allows me to extend the use of metal beyond implements of industry to the celebration of beauty in sculpture and jewellery.”

There will be an opening reception for Industrimental on Saturday, August 4 between 2 and 5 pm. For more information go to www.madandnoisy.com or call 705-466-5555.

Art will abound at new Purple Hills festival

On the weekend of September 22 and 23, 2012, the Purple Hills Arts and Heritage Society is proud to present the first annual Creemore Festival of the Arts. Highlights of the event will include:

• DrawnOnward Exhibition (Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 am to 4 pm):   A new exhibition by nationally-acclaimed local arts collective all weekend, at the Station on the Green.
• Juried Art Show (Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 am to 4 pm):  Selected works by local artists will be on display at  Creemore Springs Brewery and Maplestone Gallery.
• Live Theatre Performance (Saturday September 22):   Knowlton Nash Never Wore a Speedo, a performance in three parts at the Creemore Log Cabin.  1:00 to 1:20 pm – Swimming; 2:00 to 2:20 pm –  Floating; and 3:00 to 3:20 pm – Bathing.
• Children’s Creativity Areas (Give them wings and watch them fly: Expressive activities for kids on Saturday from 10:45 am to 1:45 pm at Station on the Green) and (Heritage Crafts: Step back in time with darci-que and create a piece of history on Sunday from 11 am to 1:30 pm at the Creemore Log Cabin).
• Art Appreciation with Judy Singer  (Saturday  – 12:30 to 2 pm, at St. John’s United Church Hall):  The Visual Language of Art: How to Look at Paintings.
​• The Creemore Mosaic Project (Saturday and Sunday – 10:30 am to 4 pm at  195 Mill St.):  An interactive community photo project that needs your face.
• Purple Hills Reception (Saturday – 5 to 7 pm, at Station on the Green – tickets are $25)  A members’ event with a presentation by members of DrawnOnward.
​• A Community Party with music by Grand Canyon (Saturday – 8 pm to 11 pm, at Station on the Green)  A fun night for everyone with art, music and food. Admission is free.
• The Amity Trio (Sunday – 3 pm, at St. Luke’s Anglican Church):  A classical piano trio presented by the Gift of Music. Tickets are $15 and are available at the Creemore  Echo and Curiosity House Bookstore.
•The Barrie County Chordsmen (Sunday from 7 to 9 pm at St. John’s United Church):  Enjoy a 40-person chorus singing four part harmony in a unique a cappella style.
• Open Studios and Art Exhibits throughout Creemore and Area: Enjoy a wide variety of art in business and studio locations throughout the village, Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 am to 4 pm.

The goal of the Creemore Festival of the Arts is to offer artists, audiences, tourists and locals alike an experience unlike any other.  The festival kicks off on Saturday at 10:30 am at the Creemore Farmers’ Market, in conjunction with the launch of Clearview Culture Days which continue across Clearview Township until September 30. For more information on the timing and location of events, please visit the Purple Hills website at www.phahs.ca.  Information will be posted as it becomes available.

Artist from tiny hamlets goes big on cities

Dunedin artist, Steve McDonald, has published his first book – Fantastic Cities: A Colouring Book of Amazing Places Real and Imagined.

An adult colouring book, it is filled with 48 pages of McDonald’s detailed cityscape drawings. From cities as diverse as Tokyo to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia to Amsterdam and Creemore, the book offers detailed aerials, mandalas and streetscapes that represent the unique characteristics of each location. There are hundreds of nooks and crannies in which to lose both your pencil crayons and thoughts.

McDonald explains that he didn’t set out to create a colouring book when he started to focus his work on groups of buildings and aerial views of cityscapes.

“My daughters are always hovering in my studio, offering their thoughts and suggestions. Looking at my cityscapes, they thought it would be fun to colour in the lines and shapes themselves. This is what planted the seed to do the book.”

His timing is perfect and Fantastic Cities has dropped right into an international frenzy around adult colouring books. Part of what fuels the trend is what many tout as the therapeutic attributes of colouring, that it helps relieve stress and decrease anxiety.

McDonald points out, that for him it’s more about the art and his exposure as an artist.

“A colouring book is a great way for so many more people to see my drawings which I believe stand on their own. It’s a little bizarre to be part of the adult colouring craze, but it enhances my exposure. If the book helps to enable any sort of creativity for people and provides a way to decrease stress, then that’s a great feeling.”

Once McDonald is finished with all the press and interviews associated with this book, he will continue to draw and create, building his art into an evolving body of work. Some of the same drawings that are in the book will eventually end up on art gallery walls.

There are two more books in the works, coming out in Spring and Fall 2016. Fantastic Structures will be architectural and include buildings, monuments and bridges. The third book has a working title of Fantastic Collections and will feature drawings of things like toolboxes, medicine cabinets, piles of Lego and store shelves.

Published by Chronicle Books and with an initial print run of over 100,000 copies, Fantastic Cities has received a lot of positive attention. It’s been featured by Architectural Digest and The Atlantic’s web platform City Labs. Yahoo World News is working on an online spot that may also run on TV. It has been named one of the best books of the summer by both Indigo and Amazon. Pretty impressive for a book that didn’t even officially launch until mid-August.

Reflecting on the process of making a colouring book, McDonald says, “All the attention is unexpected and awesome. There is less pomp than I’m used to as an artist, I don’t have to play the game, discuss the work standing in a gallery. This doesn’t seem as serious a project and to see how it has unfolded has been a riot. I’m having a lot of fun.”

Locally, McDonald is planning an opening and launch in September at Curiosity House in Creemore. During the party, there will be one of the large printed drawings for everyone to colour together.

McDonald’s work will be on display at Curiosity House Books art gallery from Sept. 5 until Oct. 4.

The opening reception is Saturday, Sept. 5 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The show closes with the Arts Festival where McDonald will be present for some fun interactive pieces. The show will include large limited edition prints from the book.

During the show a large format print from the book will be left out as a community colouring project. Kids and adults are welcome to drop by any time to help colour the print.

Curiosity House Books now has copies of the book for sale and signed copies will be available during the show.

Arts Festival to replace Studio Tour

For the first time in more than two decades, the Purple Hills Arts and Heritage Society will not run its annual Fall Colours Studio Tour this September. In place of the stalwart event, this year the organization will try something new – something that, with the right amount of support from the community, could become a defining feature of the area’s cultural calendar.

The Creemore Festival of the Arts, taking place from Friday, September 21 to Sunday, September 23, is being spearheaded by Simon Heath, a theatre and arts administration veteran who moved to Dunedin three years ago and was immediately struck by two things: the sheer number of artistic types in the area and the strong sense of community on display here.

Jaded by the competitive nature of the arts scene in Toronto, where he’d most recently spent time as acting artistic director and board member at Theatre Passe Murraille, Heath was attending the inaugural Harvest Festival at the New Farm in Maple Valley when inspiration hit. “There was a play, followed by a concert, and it all took place in a barnyard, and there were kids running around, and there were chickens and turkeys, and I thought: this is how art should be,” he recalled. “It should be about community.”

Since joining with the Purple Hills Arts and Heritage Society, which happened to be contemplating a new direction for its annual autumn event, Heath has taken that sentiment and designed the Festival of the Arts to be, above all, multi-disciplinary and community-based.

The festival will have three main components. Throughout the weekend, the Station on the Green will play host to a marquee exhibit by Drawnonward, the nationally celebrated Collingwood/Toronto artist collective that features local artists Steve McDonald and Gordon Kemp. From 5 to 7 pm on Saturday night, the Purple Hills Arts and Heritage Society will host a cocktail reception at the show; following that, the venue will play host to a community party, complete with live music.

The second component of the festival will be a juried art show, on display at Creemore Springs and one other still-to-be-determined location. A panel consisting of one member of the Purple Hills Arts and Heritage Society, one Toronto-based gallery curator, one specialist in non-painting forms, one youth and one local artist is currently selecting pieces for this show.

The third component, and the one Heath is perhaps most excited about, will hopefully come from the community at large. “We’re hoping that anyone and everyone with a creative instinct will come forward, and basically fill the town with art,” he said. To that end, a few things are already planned: some sort of theatre performance at the Log Cabin courtesy of Heath’s connections in the city; a Sunday Gift of Music performance at St. Luke’s Anglican Church; a children’s arts/dance activity at Cardboard Castles; and author signings at Curiosity House, the library and the Farmers’ Market. Beyond that, Heath is hoping that as many artists as possible will open their studios to the public, as many businesses as possible will offer up something arts-related; and as many artistically inclined people as possible will find creative ways to engage the public – through public installations, street improv, busking, interactive exhibits… anything goes.

“We’d like to see a real outpouring of creativity,” said Heath. “The more community buy-in this festival has, the more successful it will be in the long run.”

Those wanting to participate in some way can call Heath for more information at 705-466-6180. The 2012 Creemore Festival of the Arts will also be the kick-off event for Clearview Township’s participation in the Canada-wide Culture Days initiative. For more information on that event, see www.culturedays.ca.

Ask Lance

The Echo would like to introduce you to our new advice columnist, Lance Gablehowser. A local man with a large world view, Lance will answer your questions about any problems you are having. Who is Lance? He is a pseudonym for someone you might know. He is a true individual and an everyman, all at once; a peon of positivity and a man with a plan. Lance has a penchant for problem-solving, a life mission to help others and decades of experience to draw from. Send him your questions at info@creemore.com.

Grabby grandson
Dear Lance,
My 18-year-old grandson just finished college, for which I was happy to pay his tuition. I am 82 years old and currently living in a retirement home, which is expensive. I still drive and I plan to trade in my six-year-old car for a better one. My grandson thinks I should give him the trade-in because I can afford to. Although I think he should accept a sense of responsibility, I have agreed to his proposal on the condition that he pay me back at a fair price on a regular basis. At this point, he doesn’t have a job, nor does he think my terms are fair. What should I do?
Crabby Gramma

Dear Gramma,
You are indeed between a rock and a hard place, and cast to the wolves regardless of either decision. However, I tend to agree with you, and your plan makes a lot of sense. It sounds to me as if the boy has had a free ride, and should be more appreciative of the offer his Gramma has made. You sound like my grandmother who was a very sweet lady – and very wise! Good luck to you and stick to your guns! Your grandson will be the better for it.
Lance Gablehowser

Musical moxie
Dear Lance,
Since I was a child, I have always wanted to be on Broadway. The trouble is, I had a job, then a family and house, and I have let life get in the way.
However, I just can’t stop thinking about this dream. How can I satisfy my yearning to be a musical star? Thank you for your help,
Artistic and Aging

Dear Artistic and Aging,
I admire your zest and determination to become a Broadway celebrity. Admittedly, it seems unrealistic at the moment, as many obstacles are in your path, but above all else, never give up on your dream.
During my years in the Royal Canadian Air Force, we had a slogan: “Nothing is impossible, it just takes a little longer.” There is an element of truth in that logic. I was 83 when I took up a new instrument, and although I realize your desire to accomplish your goal in a much earlier time frame, we never know where the road of life takes us.
Contact those in the business, discuss your hopes and dreams, keeps contacts alive – and who knows! One day, I will be standing in line to procure a ticket for your opening performance. Break a leg!
Lance Gablehowser

Ask Lance: Cat confusion

Dear Lance,
I have a 16-year-old cat who has developed a lump on her underside.
According to the vet, tests would need to be done to determine whether the lump is cancerous. If the lump needs to be removed, it would mean surgery and radiation.
Given the age of my cat and no sign of stress or discomfort, would you advise surgery?
At first I thought it was an easy decision… let nature take its course and don’t submit her to the stress and effects of surgery. Now I’m not so sure.
What would you do?
Confused about the Cat

Dear CC,
I can personally identify with your dilemma and I realize you are faced with a perplexing decision. However, due to the age factor and exorbitant costs involving surgical fees with no positive outlook, I would allow the privilege of enjoying life until such time that you become aware of any discomfort.
Why not follow your idea and let nature take its course? There could be months of enjoyment ahead, and when the time comes, you can then arrange for a quiet farewell. In any event, I would be reluctant to subject this precious kitty to surgery due to the variables involved.
With happy thoughts,
Lance Gablehowser

At long last, a mobile vending bylaw

Clearview Council passed its licensing bylaw Monday night, giving the Creemore BIA veto power over any applications from mobile vendors looking to set up in an area bounded by Collingwood Street, Wellington Street, Library Street and the Mad River.

That provision was one of several amendments to the proposed bylaw negotiated by Council members during Monday’s meeting, after a months-long process that saw the Creemore BIA and the Stayner Chamber of Commerce submit a number of proposed revisions to the first draft of the bylaw. These recommendations were reviewed in July by a committee comprised of Councillors Thom Paterson, Shawn Davidson and Doug Measures, and a second draft of the bylaw came to the table Monday night.

Debate on the subject was preceded by a deputation from BIA president Corey Finkelstein, who noted that downtown businesses in Creemore are “still not in favour of the bylaw in general,” and that they’d seen “no evidence that mobile vendors will have any kind of positive impact” on their bottom lines. Those points made, he repeated the BIA’s request to be made commenters on any applications within its geographic area should the bylaw be passed.

An amendment fulfilling that request, stating that no vending would be permitted within a specified BIA commenting area without a recommendation from the BIA approving the location, was passed unanimously after being moved by Councillor Davidson and seconded by Councillor Paterson. Councillor Measures noted an objection to allowing the BIA to comment on areas outside its specific jurisdiction, but conceded that the wider designated area was still relevant to the downtown area and said he would support the amendment in order to get the bylaw passed.

The Stayner Chamber of Commerce notified the Township previous to the meeting that it did not wish to have the ability to comment on applications.

Further amendments were passed prohibiting mobile vending on municipal land except during special events and removing a clause that exempted wholesale vendors from the bylaw. With that, the bylaw was approved by a unanimous vote of Council.

Under the new bylaw, mobile vendors are designated as Class ‘A’ (for profit, or commercial, motorized sales) and Class ‘B’ (for profit, or commercial, non-motorized sales). Not for profit sales, where the majority of proceeds benefit the municipality, a community organization, or a registered charitable organization, are exempt. Class ‘A’ vendors will pay the Township $50 per day to a maximum of $1,000 over a calendar year, while Class ‘B’ vendors will pay $25 per day to a maximum of $500. Vendors will be subject to annual inspections and will need to provide the Township with drawings showing the proposed location of their vehicle or structure.

Applications will flow through the clerk’s office, and in the case of the BIA commenting area, they will then be forwarded to the BIA for approval or denial before coming back to the Township.

Speaking to the Echo after Monday’s meeting, BIA president Finkelstein said he was happy with the bylaw as passed.

Atoms finish hockey season

By Steve and Shannon Hepburn

The Creemore Atom local hockey team finished their season last week.

After a slow start, they began growing as a team, improving both individually and as a whole throughout the year. In their playoff pool, they went 6-12 in the round robin earning them a place in the finals against Elmvale.

Game 1 was a hard 7-2 loss, but the kids bounced back for a 3-1 win in game 2. Final game, back in the opponent’s rink, they battled hard to a 1-1 tie after regulation.

Both teams gave it their all, but alas, our team faced defeat by a well-earned goal in over time by Elmvale.

They finished the season as the Georgian Bay Triangle LL atom D finalists.

Way to go, team!

Pictured on home page: Creemore Atom hockey team.

Authors Fest coming

For the first time ever, the Toronto-based International Festival of Authors has put Creemore on its map.

On Saturday, October 26, authors Nicole Lundrigan, Janet E. Cameron, Lewis De Soto, and Sam Lipsyte will read from their new works at
Station on the Green at 7 pm. Tickets are on sale for $20 at Curiosity House Books or online at www.litontour.com.

Jenn Hubbs, Manager of Curiosity House Books, has been planning the event since the spring. Back then, she was making calls, filling out application forms and enduring telephone conference call interviews to ensure that the IFOA would include Creemore as part of its “Lit On Tour” program.

Now in its seventh year, “Lit On Tour” links IFOA authors with bookstores, libraries, universities and communities to present their work across Ontario.

“It’s a chance for authors who wouldn’t normally come to the area, to have their work seen and heard here,” said Hubbs.

Nicole Lundrigan (pictured) is one of those authors who is coming to town to read from her new book, The Widow Tree.

For Lundrigan, this fifth novel marks a departure from her earlier work. For one, The Widow Tree is set in the former Yugoslavia in 1953, rather than in Newfoundland, where Lundrigan was raised. And while her other books all contained elements of suspense, she characterizes this one as a mystery.

Seeds for The Widow Tree were sewn when Lundrigan’s father-in-law told her a story about his uncle in Yugoslavia, who found a handful of gold Roman coins in a field one day. Instead of giving the 2,000-year-old coins to the authorities, he kept them.

While the story fascinated her, Lundrigan wasn’t sure she could pull off the fictional relocation.

“It was unnerving to write a book about someone else’s culture, especially with Yugoslavia’s complicated history and political situation,” she explained. But instead of being dissuaded, she kept her focus on the universal theme of human emotion.

Where does she get her inspiration? “I have no idea,” Lundrigan said. “I used to think of clever answers to that question when I first started writing [in 2000], but now it’s the little things, the everyday things. If I waited for massive inspiration, then I would never write.”

For Lundrigan, the way to be a writer is to persist. A former graduate student, Lundrigan intended to pursue a PhD in anthropology. But after her daughter was born in 1998, she published a story about her water birth in Mothering magazine. She continued to write for magazines while caring for her daughter before deciding to embark on a novel.

“I didn’t intend to be a writer,” she explained. “I think if I had known how difficult it would be, I would have been a little more nervous. Instead, I told myself, somewhat naively, ‘I’m going to write a book and someone will publish it’.”

Writing a book was harder than she imagined because it took a “huge amount of discipline,” she said. Lundrigan made sure she took time out of every day – usually late at night – to sit at the computer and write, while balancing the demands of family life including homeschooling her daughter.

“You need to be disciplined and write what feels honest,” she said. “If you want to be a writer, you have to make a choice to write.”

Free tickets for students

When Creemore resident Tony Fry learned that the International Festival of Authors (IFOA) was sending four writers to Creemore as part of its “Lit On Tour” initiative, he thought the youth of Clearview should know about it, too.

So, Fry, who founded Ray’s Place with Jim Vandewater in Creemore eight years ago, visited guidance counsellors at Clearview’s four high schools in Stayner, Collingwood and Angus to offer students free tickets to the Saturday, October 26 event.

Ray’s Place is a youth resource centre that encourages kids ages 13 to 17 to continue their education beyond high school, enter post-secondary education or earn a trade license, college diploma or a university degree.

The Creemore Area Residents’ Association is paying for the cost of the students’ tickets.

“We’re trying to raise the intellectual level of the youth in Clearview,” said Fry, who is also on the board of the Creemore Area Residents’ Association. “More than one-third of the high school graduates in this Township do not go on to receive post-secondary education here. Anything we can do to encourage intellectual involvement for kids is fantastic.”

On Saturday, October 26, 19-year-old Christa Rowe will be one of those students in the audience. An aspiring writer who has already had her work published, she is most looking forward to finding out how the authors balance writing with a job.

“I’d like to make a living as a writer, but I am not sure how,” explained Rowe, who graduated from Stayner Collegiate Institute last spring. “I don’t want to be rude about it, but I need to make a living, so I want to know how to survive.”

Are you a student who is interested in going to the IFOA reading on Thursday, October 26? Contact Ray’s Place at 705-466-3663 or info@raysplaceyrc.com.

Avening church’s last service

By Myrtle Carruthers

The Avening Church has had a long and interesting history during the past 142 years.

The Avening community was established in 1860. There was no church in the village at that time, so the children met for Sunday School under the Superintendent John Pengelly at the Banda Methodist Church built in 1863.

It was reported by Reverend James Woodsworth in his 1870-71 report that “the Friends of Avening Village have determined to erect a church to cost about $700.”

Avening was first a separate mission in 1872. The Church was opened in February of that year with Reverend V. Wilson as Minister.

The present building is on the same site and is the original Church, except that it was raised and bricked in 1924.

In 1925, the Methodist Church became the United Church of Canada.

In 1937, the Church was wired for electricity. Previously, it had been illuminated by Duncan Carruthers’ power plant at the mill.

Over the years, we have celebrated many happy occasions. A most important one was the installation of our beautiful eight stained glass windows in 1948 and 1948, when Reverend A. G. Eagle was our Minister. It is interesting to note here that the “Young People’s” window will find its new home in the Eagle Chapel at Mt. Zion, which was built in 1978.

Since 1903, Garden Parties (or Strawberry Suppers as we call them today), were the highlight of fundraising and social gatherings each June.

Did you know that on June 28, 1947, a ticket for Supper and Program was only 75 cents? And children were 40 cents?

Avening will hold its last service on Sunday, June 22 at 9 am, with Reverend Tony Rennett officiating and Ben Tupling playing piano. (Reverend Tony has been with us for 10 years.)

We will miss our special place of worship each Sunday, but let us always remember:
“The Church is wherever
God’s people are helping,
Caring for neighbours
in sickness and need.
The Church is wherever
God’s people are sharing
The words of the Bible
in gift and in deed.”

– Carol Rose Ikeler, 1959

We have been truly blessed and give thanks to everyone who shared in our 142-year Faith Journey.

Avening Hall gets $110,000 grant

Avening Community Centre has received a $110,000 grant  as part of the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program.

The announcement was made at the Avening hall on Thursday by Simcoe-Grey MP Kellie Leitch.

“This grant is designed to support infrastructure projects that reflect each community’s needs,” said Leitch, endorsing the value of all of the small halls throughout Clearview and the role they play within the township.

The Government of Canada launched the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program last May and will provide $150 million over two years to support the rehabilitation, renovation and expansion of existing community infrastructure. It is part of the federal government’s activities to honour Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.

The application was made by township staff last June. Avening Hall was selected because it had the greatest deficiencies of all the Clearview halls according to a report created by Burnside and Associates in 2012. The application outlines a $215,000 budget. $4000 is expected to be raised by the community and staff will place the remaining requirements into the 2016 budget for the consideration of council. Original estimates in the Burnside report to address safety, structural and accessibility needs at Avening Hall were $293,000. Some of the items in the report have already been repaired.

“The Avening Community Centre has always existed to serve the whole community and this grant will help the hall in ensuring the whole community has access to this wonderful building,” said hall board chair Bill Hewitt, upon hearing of the grant.

FedDev Ontario received more than 1,100 applications, requesting more than $260 million in funding.

Avening Hall wants five years to show its potential

Faced with structural deficiencies, failed fire and electrical inspections and a Council that may or may not be inclined to shut the doors rather than fix the situation, members of the Avening Hall board have decided to stand up and fight for the future of their building.

For 60 years, the Avening Hall has served as a focal point for the community that surrounds it, hosting weddings, euchre tournaments, bowling leagues and Women’s Institute meetings. More recently, its wood-clad acoustics and from-the-last-century feel have made the hall a cherished tour stop for some of Canada’s most respected musicians.

Taken over by Clearview Township along with five other community halls when Nottawasaga and Sunnidale Townships amalgamated with Creemore and Stayner in 1996, the Avening Hall has been patiently waiting its turn for municipal upgrades that have already taken place, to varying extents, at the Nottawa, Duntroon, Sunnidale Corners and Brentwood Halls.

So it was with shock that members of the board received a recent double-dose of news from the Township, firstly that an engineering report found that $250,000 is needed for the hall to meet provincial accessibility guidelines set to come into effect in 2025, and secondly (and more pressingly) that roughly $50,000 in immediate upgrades are needed to prevent the hall being shut down for fire and electrical safety violations.

While Avening is worse-off than the other five halls on the fire and electrical front, the accessibility problem is widespread, with the total potential bill for bringing all six into compliance hovering around the $1 million mark. As a result, a political decision on the fate of some or all of the halls looms, and Council has called a special meeting for the hall boards to voice their opinions on Monday, March 18.

The Avening board, for one, has decided not to go down without a fight. Its members will make a presentation to Council at the March 18 meeting, proposing that the board will draw on its reserves and fundraise some portion of the $50,000 needed for the hall to meet fire and electrical safety standards if the Township will provide the rest and promise to keep the facility open for at least five years.

Over the course of those five years, the hall board will then do its best to cement the Avening Hall’s growing reputation as a concert venue and tourist destination, while at the same time bolstering its traditional role as a community gathering place. The hope is that five years down the road, both facets will be thriving enough to convince the Township to invest further in the hall’s future.

“This is not just about preserving the hall, it’s about making sure it remains as, and is recognized as, a meaningful part of the Township’s identity moving forward,” said Sara Hershoff, who has been a member of the Avening Hall board since 2009 and has been promoting concerts there since 2001.

Those concerts have grown from not much more than glorified parties for Hershoff’s circle of friends to full-fledged sold-out events that attract concert-goers from a wide swath of southern Ontario and beyond. The most recent, a mid-February show by Toronto singer-songwriter Hayden, saw only 30 per cent of the 200 tickets sold purchased by residents of Clearview Township.

Lifetime Aveningite Rene Whitley shows off her new "SAVEning" t-shirt.

Lifetime Aveningite Rene Whitley shows off her new “SAVEning” t-shirt.

Hershoff has done some number-crunching on that show, conservatively estimating that beyond the $2,300 made by the Avening Hall board from bar sales, the concert generated a minimum of $4,000 in immediate financial spinoffs to the community, in the form of things like bed and breakfast accommodations, catering fees and advertising and printing costs. In addition, since putting the word out about the hall’s precarious situation Hershoff has received letters from two different couples whose experiences at Avening Hall shows have either factored into or validated their decisions to purchase homes in the area.

The hall has also received a heap of glowing praise from many of the musicians who have graced its stage over the past decade. Joel Plaskett said it was “a beautiful room with great hospitality and community spirit.” Sarah Harmer called it “one of the best venues in the country,” noting that “the spirit of small-town Canadian culture and hospitality is in the walls and wood floor there, and it needs to be kept alive and thriving.” Casey LaForet of the Toronto rockers Elliott Brood remembered that his band loved playing the hall so much that they subsequently rented it for a week to record some of their most recent album there. And Hayden, a man of few words, said he was so impressed with both the venue and the spirit in the room that he would be recommending a stop at Avening to all of his musician friends.

It’s this kind of potential that the board wants to make sure Council understands – especially in the case of the Avening Hall, but potentially with regard to all of the Township’s halls. “It would be terrible to see the doors closed on these facilities without identifying, and trying to utilize them, to their full potential,” said Hershoff.

Should the Avening Hall board get the go-ahead for the next five years, you can trust that there will be a few concerts to contribute to the fundraising, but that’s not all the board has up their sleeve. A full slate of events is still in the planning stage, but it’s intended that whatever happens will illustrate the various usage possibilities for the hall. Currently in the works are a ticketed gourmet dinner with “Canada’s Top Chef,” a free community potluck with special guest speaker and, of course, the venerable Avening Beef Barbecue. The board will also be soliciting donations from the community and service organizations, and “SAVEning” t-shirts are available at the Creemore Echo or by contacting aveningcc@gmail.com.

Avening Hall president Carol Rowbotham said she was unsure about how much support she could rely on from the community until the hall’s Annual General Meeting last week, which saw a large turnout from the families who have used the facility for generations.

“The Avening Hall has always been a meeting place, and the people that came out to that meeting inspired me,” said Rowbotham. “It showed me that there is still a lot of community spirit – that this hall really means something to the people in the immediate area, as well as people in the greater community.”

Avening Hall, first stop on Buck 65 tour

Avening Hall will be the first stop on a Buck 65 tour in promotion of the new album Neverlove, to be released Sept. 30.
Buck 65 is Rich Terfry, Canadian east coaster, rapper and CBC Radio 2 host.
Terfry is playing Avening Oct. 4 as part of the Small Halls Festival before embarking on a two-month tour. From Avening, he is heading to Australia, Paris and the United Kingdom before continuing across Canada.
Terfry has a unique rap style, sometimes crude, sometimes sentimental, ranging in style from urban hip hop to spoken word.
The musician grew up in Mount Uniacke, Nova Scotia.
“Through the years, I played some of my most memorable shows in small town halls. Small towns need places where people can come together, meet, share ideas and experiences… I know that where I grew up, we only had one such place. Without it, you could hardly have called us a community,” Terfry told The Echo.
He said his first exposure to hip hop was on television in about 1980.
“I was hooked right away. In the next few years, I heard a lot of it at the roller skating rink where I spent most of my weekends,” said Terfry.
He said his babysitter’s boyfriend was the DJ at the rink, 30 minutes from his home, and taught him about records.
“Growing up in a small rural place, I consumed hip hop music in a different way from my friends who grew up in cities. For the most part, especially after the roller rink closed, I was listening in my bedroom. I was analyzing it. I wasn’t dancing to it in clubs. It wasn’t part of a social activity. For that reason, I think I interpreted the music in a different way. And I gravitated to different aspects of the music. I didn’t know what the singles or hits were and I didn’t care. I was drawn to the songs that challenged my imagination most. I was drawn to the weird and dark songs. I liked the weird songs. They made me feel like less of a weirdo myself. So I went I started making music, I wasn’t trying to be different. I was trying to make music the way I had been hearing it all along. My take on things was skewed and I had no idea. I’m grateful for that.”
Being the only hip hop fan among his friends, Terfry said he felt a bit lonely. He said he eventually found a community through music and online.
Terfry said it wasn’t until he left his hometown and moved to the city – Halifax and later Paris – that he started writing about his rural roots.
“I didn’t realize how much of an influence it was on me until I started living in the city,” he said.
The new Buck 65 album Neverlove is an album about divorce, penned after his wife left him three years ago.
“I’ve come a long way. But I still have bad dreams sometimes. I still wonder if I’m really ready to move on sometimes. I’ve made a few feeble and failed attempts at relationships in the last few years. In some ways, I figure I’ll never really be the same. But I also hope that I’m stronger and smarter and better than ever,” said Terfry.
Out of the cathartic album comes Super Pretty Naughty, a light-hearted dance song.
Terfry said it is the silliest, happiest song he could possibly write.
“I was really at rock bottom when I wrote this one and when you are at rock bottom something’s gotta give. So what choice do you have? Either you just start to switch off the lights altogether or you start to say okay, I gotta turn this thing around,” Terfry says during an online narrated tour of the album. “You just gotta look in the mirror and try to figure out a way to smile again after not laughing for a very, very long time. It’s something that I needed to do and I gotta tell you, it felt good.”
He said the song almost didn’t make it onto the new album but it has been well received and now he is glad it was included.
To see the video for Super Pretty Naughty, visit www.buck65.com.
Tickets cost $30 in advance and $35 door. Purchase tickets at http://aveninghall.com/

Avening United celebrates 140 years

Avening United Church welcomed almost 200 people to a special 140th Anniversary service held on Sunday, September 16. Here, Revs. Tony Rennett and Glen Eagle Jr. receive congregants as they exit the church and head over to the Community Centre for a luncheon. For a full slideshow of pictures of the event, provided to the Echo by Russ Talbot and Maureen Andersen of Forever Yours Photography, click HERE.

BA Johnston makes Polaris long list

Creemore resident B.A. Johnston’s 2015 album has been long-listed for the Polaris Music Prize.

Johnston’s music is comedy, performance art, poetry and social commentary.

The album cover is an illustration of Johnston in the place of Princess Leia, posed in chains in front of Jabba the Hutt.

The Polaris Music Prize is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to honour, celebrate and reward creativity and diversity in Canadian recorded music by recognizing and marketing albums “of the highest artistic integrity, without regard to musical genre, professional affiliation, or sales history, as judged by a panel of selected music critics.”

The 40-album long list was announced in Halifax on June 16. The list will be “scrutinized” at panels across Canada, including Toronto on June 19.

Ten albums will be selected as finalists, announced July 16, before the winner is announced at a gala on Sept. 21.

Song titles from the 2015 album  include I Remember Skinny Jeans the Last Time Around, I Don’t Want to Go to the No Frills, Gonna End Up Working in Fort McMurray and Ikea Hotdog. The album also includes two answering machine messages, baby crying and more baby crying – which are straight recordings of a crying baby.

Other song titles include Deep Fryer in My Bedroom, Raised by the Wooden Spoon, Sesame Street Fight, Hobo 4 Life,You Will Miss Me When the Zombies Come, How Many T-Bone Steaks Can I fit in My Pants, Death Rides a Fat Horse, I Almost Stole Your Pants, Luck be a Playstation, I Dream in Poutine, Your Roommate’s a Couchetard and You Had Me at Montreal Steak Spice.

Visit www.bajohnston.ca.

Bantams look to ’83 team for inspiration

The first home game of the Creemore Bantam Valley Hawks’ OMHA ‘D’ final series against Zurich got off to a poignant start last Sunday. In attendance were members of Creemore’s 1982/83 Bantam team, who 30 years ago claimed the village’s first-ever OMHA title. The puck for the game’s ceremonial face-off, taken by Creemore captain Austin Hamilton and Zurich captain John Cooke, was dropped by three representatives of the 82/83 team – Brent Trott, Jordan Trott in honour of his deceased father Bryan, and Chris Noonan. Unfortunately, the weekend did not go well for the Creemore team, who lost Game 1 in Zurich by a score of 4-0 and game 2 in Creemore by a score of 2-1. Game 3 goes in Zurich at 4 pm on Saturday, March 23, Game 4 in Creemore at 7 pm on Wednesday, March 27, Game 5 in Zurich on Saturday, March 30 and Game 6 in Creemore at 7 pm on Monday, April 1.

Baseball showcase in New Lowell

By Vince Trama

This past Sunday, Smith Brothers Baseball Central in New Lowell hosted their first annual College, University and Major League Baseball showcase.

There were 50 players in attendance to showcase their baseball talents in front of three Major League Baseball scouts and five colleges and universities from Canada and the U.S. The players came from as far away as Ottawa, Sudbury and Windsor, as well as much local talent.

The three scouts represented the Colorado Rookies, the Kansas City Royals and the Milwaukee Brewers. The schools in attendance were University of Toronto, Seneca College, Durham College, Humber College and Delta College in Michigan.

All of the players in attendance were excited to show off their skills and they didn’t disappoint! The players showed maturity beyond their years and the coaches and scouts were blown away by the talent crops that were present.

The day kicked off with pitchers and catchers. The pitchers’ velocities were clocked for all the different types of pitches in their arsenal. After all the pitchers had blasted their hardest pitches at the catchers, it was the catchers’ turn to show off their pop times.

After the pitchers and catchers wrapped up, we welcomed our positional players to start the batting practice portion of the showcase. Once everyone had a chance at batting practice, the players wasted no time getting stretched out to put their foot speed to the test in the timed 90-yard run.

The last scheduled portion of the showcase was the infield and outfield throws. Players were hit ground balls and were forced to mimic throws to second base or to the cut-off. The infielders and outfielders showed off their accuracy and velocity trying to throw out imaginary base runners.

The event was capped off with coaches and scouts speaking to the players who were eligible to attend their schools next year, as well as to younger players about the importance of developing their skills to achieve the next level.

Bear sighting in Mulmur

The Neville family had a surprising visit from a black bear on August 6.

Patti Neville said it was the first time in 30 years she had seen a bear in the vicinity of her Mulmur home, at the 2nd Line East Mulmur and the Nottawasaga/Mulmur Townline.

“It was very scary as it was only about 30 feet from the house and it demolished one of our birdfeeders. We made some noise and it departed,” said Neville.

She said at the advice of police, the sighting was reported to Bear Wise reporting line, as they record all sightings and can assist with problem bears.

Both the OPP and Bear Wise advised Neville to remove all birdfeeders including hummingbird feeders, not to put dog food or water outside, keep garbage and barbecues in a garage or shed and not to put fruit waste into an outside compost pile and to pick up any fallen fruit from trees. It was also recommended that Neville obtain an air horn and keep some pots handy to make a lot of noise to deter the visiting bear.

She wants to make sure that her neighbours are aware there could be a bear in the area and to take necessary precautions.

For more information, visit www.ontario.ca and search Bear Wise or call the reporting line at 1-866-514-2327. In case of emergency call 9-1-1 or the OPP’s non-emergency number at 1-888-310-1122.

Beating Parkinson’s, one joke at a time

Winston Ferguson does not use the phone like ordinary people. But then, Winston Ferguson is far from ordinary.

“Where can someone find a henway around here?” he’ll ask as soon as the person he is calling picks up the line.

“What’s a henway?”, the inevitable retort from the uninitiated, sets Ferguson up for the thing he likes most in life – a good laugh.

“Oh, about six or eight pounds,” he deadpans back, completing the joke with panache.

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of such a phone call, or heard Ferguson pull something from the massive pile of jokes inside his head and recite it at the drop of a hat, you won’t be surprised that the 71-year-old Glen Huron native and brand-new Stayner resident has compiled some of what exists in that pile into a book, entitled Isn’t It Scantamanious?

If you don’t know Ferguson, you might find this slightly surprising, considering that he has suffered from Parkinson’s disease for the past quarter century. For the past 10 years the symptoms have become so bad they’ve affected his ability to write things down. In fact, a first volume of jokes and humorous stories written out longhand by Ferguson is still being interpreted by his sister. This second version – “Book 2, as Book 1 is still in the making,” according to its back cover – was typed out this past spring on an iPad that Ferguson received from his son last Christmas.

Proceeds from Isn’t It Scantamanious will go toward Parkinson Society Canada, which is Winston’s contribution to a cure he’s convinced he’ll live to see. “I have Parkinson’s, but it doesn’t have me,” he says, and you have to believe him.

Ranging from one-line quotes (“Rich people miss out on one of the greatest joys of life – paying the last instalment,” for example, or “A ship in harbour is safe but that’s not what ships are for.”) to longer jokes and stories (some of which, it must be said, are a little on the ‘blue’ side), the book is great for opening at random and finding a chuckle or something to chew on. And that, says Winston, was the goal. “I’ve always enjoyed a bit of humour,” he says, “and I will go to great lengths, if necessary, to make an individual smile.”

“Scantimanious,” by the way, is a word that Winston’s father, J. Roy Ferguson, used to say when Winston was a child. “It has no meaning,” he says with a twinkle in his eye, “and that’s a surprise because my father was a man who meant what he said.”

Isn’t It Scantamanious – Collected Fun and Wisdom can be purchased for $20 at the Creemore Echo or by contacting the author himself at winston@rifeequipment.com. Be prepared to receive a humorous email in return.

Beaver leader dedicates three decades to Scouting

Volunteer of the year 2014

Cathy Traverse has hung up her wings.

In June, Traverse retired from her role as Beaver leader after 32 years.

The Creemore resident is known to many as Malak, named after the owl in the Friends of the Forest story, the basis for the Beavers program.

While Traverse is reluctant to talk about all of her accomplishments in Scouting, her husband Wayne Traverse reveals her wall of fame. The certificates and plaques take up two walls. They include certificates for years of volunteer service, from officials inside and outside of Scouts Canada. Traverse was also the first person in Ontario to receive a medal for volunteer service issued to mark the 100th anniversary of Scouting.

Traverse said she first became involved with the organization in 1982 when she enrolled her youngest son, Tim.

“He was getting ready to go to school and he was very attached to his mom,” she said.

Someone recommended she try Scouts as a way of preparing her young son for school.

Traverse said there were about 20 children enrolled in Beavers at the time and she was recruited as a parent helper.

“I enjoy working with the kids, and the adults,” said Traverse. “The look on their faces when they try something new or when they make something to take home.”

The program is all about learning to share and working together. There’s no competition in Beavers, for children between the ages of five and seven, it’s about having fun while learning about Scouts.

She was schooled in Scouting and the following year, Traverse took a one-week course about how to deal with children with specific behavioral issues and was promoted to Beaver leader.

Even after her sons left Scouting, Traverse continued to volunteer with the organization. She held many positions on the regional council, was district commissioner and eventually became Beaver coordinator for the province of Ontario.

She has helped coordinate jamborees in Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Quebec, was site supervisor at the 100th anniversary campout at Burl’s Creek in 2007, attended by 3,000 youth and adults from the region.

To mark the 20th anniversary of the Beavers program, Traverse helped organize a sleepover at the SkyDome in Toronto with 10,000 people. She said it was close to beating a world record, but not quite.

Various agencies and companies offered activities during the day and at night, children rolled out sleeping bags on the turf and the first level. She said it was a long sleepless night of watching over children who were too excited to go to sleep.

Traverse is also the recipient of the medal of merit, awarded to her in 1999 after coming upon a fatal crash while en route to a Scouting event. She was among those who cared for the injured passenger. The driver was killed.

Traverse, who has operated a home daycare since 1977, said she has cared for many local children throughout the years. She has seen somewhere between 250 and 300 children come through her home and now she is caring for the children of the children she looked after in the early days.

She said there was some cross over with people from the daycare joining Beavers and vice versa.

Now, her granddaughter and two grandsons are in Cubs.

“It’s like a big circle,” said Traverse. “Do I miss it? Sometimes. And sometimes I don’t,” she says with a chuckle.

Ultimately Traverse said her decision to leave the organization was due to the fact that she needed to have surgery on her knee and found she couldn’t move around as well and couldn’t get down on the floor, necessary for some of the Beavers’ ceremonies.

“I figured if I couldn’t do it properly, it was time to get out,” she said.

But she has not totally severed ties with Scouting. She is still quartermaster for Gilwell, an annual reunion for leaders.

Beavers Leaders bid goodbye

With Creemore’s longtime volunteer Beavers Leaders retiring from the position, Scouts Canada is looking for new Leaders to run the group.

Cathy Traverse (known to her Beavers as “Malick”) first got involved with Scouting Canada when her younger son, Tim, was five. He was about to start school, but Cathy thought he was a little too attached to his mother. So, she enrolled him in Beavers at the Creemore Legion Hall to help the little guy with separation.

One week in, the Leader said the program could close without help from parent volunteers. So, Cathy signed up for some training and started helping out.

“I thought, OK, I’ll be a parent volunteer and that’s it,” Cathy explained.

Later that year, the Leader quit the group for good, leaving Cathy with a colony of little Beavers on her hands.

Thirty-two years – and about 100 overnight camping trips – later, Cathy has guided about 500 Beavers through the program.
In that time, she has witnessed many changes to the Scouting organization. One of the most major changes was welcoming girls to the group about 20 years ago, which Cathy describes as being “great.”

Over the years, Cathy’s involvement with the organization bloomed. She became Group Chair for Creemore’s Beavers, Cubs and Scouts in 2009.

The next year, she organized the 100th Anniversary of Scouting celebrations at Burl’s Creek, which featured parachuters jumping out of the sky and military tanks rolling up the road.

She has also clocked many volunteer hours, with planning meetings, weekly Beaver meetings, sleepovers, special events and fundraising activities.

“It was a lot of time, but it was worth it,” Cathy said. “It was all pretty special.”

Cathy is quick to point out that she hasn’t done it alone. Fellow Leaders Leah Bailey (known to the Beavers as “Rainbow”) and Lyle Noble (“Hawkeye”) have been at her side for the last 15 and 17 years, respectively. Once the program finishes next week, Leah will also retire and Lyle will take on a new position with the organization.

“We’re like a family,” said Cathy of her co-Leaders. “We have such a bond; we feed off each other’s feelings.”

Cathy also credits her husband, Wayne, and the others’ spouses, for their support.

This weekend, Cathy, Leah and Lyle will take their group of eight Beaver boys and girls to Acton for their last overnight camping trip. For Cathy, the highlight of these trips is seeing kids overcome things they didn’t think they could do.

“On a hike, they’ll say they can’t cross a rope bridge, and we’ll say, yes, you can! And their faces will light up when they reach the end,” explained Cathy. “But I won’t miss waking up every couple of hours to make sure they haven’t fallen out of their bunk beds!”

While Cathy says she’ll miss the kids, she is looking forward to catching up on episodes of “Duck Dynasty” and spending more time with her four grandchildren who live in Barrie.

With the departure of its Leaders, the Creemore Beavers is now looking for a new leader. If you are interested, call Betsey Wright, Group Chair at 705-466-2654.

Beginners welcome at Curling Club

The Creemore Curling Club is starting a new season.

Doug Quanbury was new to curling when he joined the club in 1998.

With two artificial knees, he wasn’t sure if he could curl but he able to use a stick to push the rocks so he doesn’t haven’t to crouch.

“I wouldn’t enjoy my winter without my curling,” said Quanbury. “It’s a good way to meet new people, there’s a social aspect to it, and it’s good exercise.”

The club offers evening and daytime curling. Sessions are for men and women and some are mixed gender.

“We have beginner classes, we are really encouraging new people to come out,” said Quanbury. “Don’t be afraid if you’ve never curled before, it’s a fun sport, it’s quite easy to learn.”

He said club members are really good at mentoring new curlers.

The club is also planning to offer a junior program and is planning a provincial competition for curlers 70 and older in December.

A registration session takes place at the curling club on Friday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m.

Bell tower to be functional this month

Long-suffering Bell Mobility customers can expect some relief from the notoriously spotty cell phone coverage they experience in Creemore by the end of this month.

A new short-scale cellular tower has now been erected on Bell’s property on Wellington Street West and, according to Bell Canada media relations representative Jason Laszlo, the company “expects to have enhanced high-speed mobile coverage for downtown Creemore in place in June.”

At right are two maps provided by Bell to Clearview Township when the company was notifying the municipality of its plans last fall. The above map shows Bell cell coverage in the Creemore area as it currently exists; at bottom is what’s anticipated once the tower is operational.

Beloved dental hygienist retires

To Jeanette Poste, you were never just a mouth.

The dental hygienist who retired recently from almost 25 years of service at Dr. William Hawthorne’s dental office in Creemore prided herself on the friendships she made with the people she calls her “dental family.”

“I loved my profession,” said Jeanette. “I loved the interpersonal relationships I had with people over a long time. I got to know people in one place and ask how their kids and families are. You could build relationships with people and see them grown up and have kids of their own.”

For Poste, who hung up her scrubs for the last time at the end of December, leaving the people she met through her work was the hardest part of deciding to retire. But a yearning to do more volunteer work, coupled with her husband, Russell’s, recent retirement, led her to make the decision.

“My dental family became my friends. I say thank you to my dental family for making my job what it was.”

Jeanette, who grew up in Brampton, has worked in the field of dentistry – first as a dental assistant, then as a dental hygienist – for almost 38 years. She and Russell came to Creemore in 1981 for a job with Noble Insurance. A few years later, their three children, Jordan, Taylor and Hillary, were born in the village. She went to see Dr. Hawthorne after hearing about an opening at the Creemore Medical Centre.

What drew Jeanette to dentistry? “I decided I didn’t want to be a nurse,” she laughed. “I wanted to do something in health care and not burn out emotionally. It felt good to think I could help someone with their health. Oral health is connected to overall health. Of course, I also had to be able to afford to take myself through school.”

With one whole week of retirement under her belt at the time of her conversation with the Echo, Jeanette reported, “So far, so good.” She says the most surprising thing about being retired is having the flexibility to be able to do things.

“I can wake up in the morning and say ‘I’d like to go skiiing.’ And then… I can do it!” she exclaimed.
In her new life as a retiree, Jeanette plans to volunteer more at Leisureworld long-term care home in Creemore. She is also a member of the Horticultural Society and is excited to do more gardening. First up, however, is a “big trip” to visit her son, Jordan, in New Zealand.

But in spite of all the mouths – and lives – she has touched over the years, Jeanette remains humble about her milestone.

“To me, a million people retire. I don’t think it’s a super big deal. I have been fortunate to live and work in the community for almost 25 years. It is a privilege and an honour to be able to do that.”

BIA adds marketing position

Five people were acclaimed to the Creemore Business Improvement Area (BIA) committee at its election Wednesday.

They are Rick Burek, owner of Mad and Noisy Gallery, Chris Dunk, owner of Curiosity House Books and Gallery. Also on the committee are Clearview residents Jim Pearse, Elise Beauregard and John Shore.

Corey Finkelstein will move into the role of past president and Clearview Councillor Thom Paterson will remain on as council representative.

The next step is for Clearview council to appoint those elected to the board in January and then the members will elect people to the various executive positions.

Finkelstein said the board has been expanded to seven members, adding a new director of marketing position.

“The energy was great, people were really enthusiastic,” said Finkelstein.

BIA goes into elections without nominees

The Creemore BIA has yet to receive any nominations for its executive and the election is coming up on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

There are five openings: president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and one director at large.

Outgoing president Corey Finkelstein said if no one is nominated, Clearview Township council could appoint members and there is a risk that the organization could lose momentum and funding.

The BIA – Business Improvement Area – works to attract business and tourists to the area, works on beautification projects and helps organize local events.

Finkelstein said the Creemore BIA manages a $20,000 budget and in the last two years has received another $26,000 from Creemore Springs Brewery.

He said that money has helped to pay for new garbage cans for Mill Street that have recycling compartments, refurbish tree beds and replace street signs.

The BIA also produced tourism guides and maps and hired a person to do social media for one year.

The 70-member association is made up of property owners and tenants in the village.

There are also associate members inside the village and partners from outside the village.

The president oversees the various BIA committees, marketing, beautification and special events.

Finkelstein said he focused on marketing because that’s what he does professionally but new members would bring their own strengths to the role.

The vice president deals with membership and supports the president.

“We are very much a working board and everyone pitches in,” said Finkelstein. “It’s not a very demanding position.”

The BIA usually meets monthly.

Candidates are required to have two nominations in order to be considered for election.

Anyone interested is asked to contact Finkelstein at 705-466-6593 or Thom Paterson at 705-466-6321.

BIA puts bounty on vandal

An anonymous donor has put up a $1000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Creemore’s unknown vandal.

B.I.A. member Corey Finkelstein, who announced the reward, said he believes a single person is responsible for the majority of the graffiti, which consists of spray painting the word “Haze” perhaps as a tribute of sorts to Eric Haze, a famous graffiti artist from the 1970s.

The vandal has “tagged” a number of local businesses, among them Cardboard Castles, Creemore Springs, the Creemore Public Library, Village Builders, the Sovereign, Home Hardware, the Old Mill Pub, Maplestone Gallery, Pizza Perfect, the Meat Market, and the car wash. Although the graffiti is primarily in locations that are not particularly visible, Finkelstein said the vandals have moved from using wood stains and sponge brushes to using spray paint, a sign that the problem is escalating.
“The defacing of our historic buildings costs everyone in Creemore,” said Finkelstein. “It takes time and money to continually clean off the graffiti and it destabilizes the economic health of our town by driving away tourists and visitors.”

If you have information regarding those responsible for the graffiti, contact Corey at 705-520-0110 ext. 201 or bia@creemore.com or the Wasaga Beach OPP detachment at 1-888-310-1122.

BIA requests changes to vendor by-law

As the only community in Clearview with a Business Improvement Area (BIA), Creemore could receive special approval status for a new by-law that would permit mobile vendors in the Township, if Council OKs it.

On June 11, members of Clearview Township met with local business owners to address concerns about the proposed by-law.
At the meeting, BIA members aired their concerns about the possible threat mobile vendors posed to their businesses.

“Creemore doesn’t have many stores left and we need to protect what we’ve got,” said Cheryl Robertson, owner of House of Stitches.

However, Township Clerk Pamela Fettes pointed out that as the only BIA in Clearview, the Township might be able to include special concessions for Creemore in the by-law, if they are approved by Council.

“Creemore is unique in that it is the only community in all of Clearview that has a BIA district,” explained Fettes. “Because you have a BIA, [the by-law] could make provisions around the BIA district.”

Fettes suggested that Council could make the BIA a commenting agency for enforcing the by-law.

In an email to the Echo after the meeting, BIA President Corey Finkelstein said, “We don’t think there is anything wrong with the current by-law… The BIA is not opposed to food trucks in Clearview Township, however, we are very concerned about the impact mobile vendors may have on our members or our ability to control special events.”

Finkelstein also confirmed the BIA would seek special status as a recommending agency for the by-law.

The Creemore BIA is a Committee of Council that consists of 70 business and property owners. It was established in 1987 to promote, maintain and beautify the downtown area.

The BIA district consists of a stretch of Mill Street from north of Francis Street to Edward Street, as well as Caroline Street West.

To date, no other groups in Clearview have contacted the Township with concerns about the by-law.

Ward 6 Councillor Deb Bronée said that while the prospect of mobile vendors might not jive with Creemore’s vision of itself, other areas of the Township (such as the baseball park in New Lowell) could benefit from having them.

“We have a huge municipality… and this could be good for other areas of the Township such as New Lowell,” Bronée said.

Fettes agreed, telling the BIA members: “We need to develop something that’s palatable for you but that works for other communities, as well.”

Clearview’s Deputy Clerk Brenda Falls said the Planning Department gets many calls every year from people requesting permission for mobile vendors to sell food and goods in the Township.

“There are just as many people in other parts of Clearview who want it as people who don’t want it,” she said. “The by-law is to allow for vending intended to provide basic health and safety procedures to the public and to protect the municipality from potential associated liabilities.”

At the BIA meeting, some members expressed concern that the look and smell of food trucks would detract from the charm of the village.

Others were worried about the proximity of mobile vendors to their businesses.

“That wouldn’t be allowed under this by-law,” said Joe Paddock, Clearview’s Senior By-Law Enforcement Officer. “They would have to be 200 metres away.”

“That’s too close!” countered Robertson.

But not all members see the issue as being so black and white. The 100 Mile Store’s Jackie Durnford pointed out that a critical mass of vendors will attract more people to the village.

The BIA has registered a delegation with the Township at its Monday, July 14 Council meeting.

Until then, a subcommittee will conduct meetings to fine tune proposed amendments to the by-law. Then it is up to Council to decide which amendments are made.

Bidding begins for art show

By Martha Bull

The 7th annual Creemore Centric community art free-for-all is upon us. The official submission date was last Monday and the show started being hung during the week so all entries can be on the wall ready for bidding on Saturday, January 4 at 2 pm. So, if you haven’t already, run as fast as you can to drop off your canvas to the ever-affable and accommodating Lyne Burek, co-owner of the Mad and Noisy Gallery. The strength of Creemore Centric is that it is a broad-based community event that contributes in many ways to the community at a slow time of year. It helps all established and budding artists, retailers in town, collectors and all community-minded Creemorians.

Traditionally a fundraiser for the Mad and Noisy Gallery, which, until last year, was a not-for-profit artist-run collective, Creemore Centric now benefits the Mad and Noisy Gallery and participating artists. On Sunday, February 2 at 2 pm sharp, the final live auction begins. Please circle these dates on your calendar because you don’t want to miss a ton of fun. You might also lose the opportunity to start collecting art at a fraction of the price of a retail gallery.

This is a chance for collectors to find and encourage new talent. Part of Lyne’s job is to help budding artists get over their fear of showing for the first time. It can be scary to put your heart and soul before the public, and then watch it be auctioned off to the highest bidder. However, it is also a good proving ground and a great opportunity to talk to others about what they see in your piece. And because Creemore has a large community of “friends of the arts,” this is a fine place for a beginner painter to share their vision.

Painter Peter Adams’s son, Arran, bought a painting last year from a new artist. He “just had to have it” and thus began collecting art at the age of 10. This is exactly the kind mind-broadening experience that Creemore Centric brings us. There are some in town who have built sizeable collections of exquisite art from local artists by attending this event. The auction prices run from $25 to about $300 and there are no reserve bids allowed over $100.

Creemore Centric was started to fill the post-Christmas void when people traditionally hunker down and stop looking for buying opportunities. It encourages artists to get working again, even through the dark days. It helps all artists and would-be artists who are usually natural optimists to start thinking about the coming year… and spring is really close.

Like all fabulous traditions, the Creemore Centric art event hit a friendly nerve in the community right away, to the gratified surprise of participating artists; from 60 submissions in 2007 to about 115 in 2012. The event has had a strong steady growth. The auction always has an excited crowd – usually over 60 strong. There are submissions from kids as well, which usually are fought over by parents and grandparents. I am hoping to see some more wild and woolly submissions from the very talented kid-pool in town. As we saw at the Creemore Arts Festival in October, there are a great number of accomplished artists in this area whose work I am excited to see again.

I will let you know what happens at the auction. If you have any lovely or harrowing stories about your submissions, please let me know. I myself am staring at my submission, which is just short of done. Is it ready? Did I mess up the finishing coat? Should I have put an extra glaze on it? Will I have to buy it back because no one will bid on it?

But really… I am just excited to see how you all like it.

Please come.

[Featured image: “Hoot” by Laurie Foote, a 2014 Creemore Centric submission]

Bidini, Books & Beers

Author and musician Dave Bidini has a long tradition of hockey in his work. His latest book, Keon and Me, is no different.

Join Bidini for “Bidini, Books and Beer,” at Avening Hall on Sunday, October 6 at 2 pm. To get us in the sporting mood, Mark Ruzylo, a founding member of the Creemore Men’s Book Club, which is hosting the event, asked Bidini these questions:

Ruzylo: Rate the following Toronto Maple Leafs captains in order of greatness: 13 (Sundin), 27 (Sittler), 17 (Clarke) and 14 (Keon).

Bidini: 14, 17, 27,13.

Ruzylo: Dave Keon has been called a “gentleman hockey player.” What other skills did he have, which set him apart from other players of the time?

Bidini: If you were behind by a goal, you’d put him on the ice. If you were ahead by a goal, you’d put him on the ice. If you needed to score or defend, you’d play him. He was equally adept with both aspects of the goal.

Ruzylo: Does fighting have a place in hockey?

Bidini: Fighting is part of hockey as it exists. But if it were removed from the game, I don’t think people would miss it.

Ruzylo: Is there a Keon curse? Does a banner with #14 need to be hung up in the rafters of the Air Canada Centre before the Toronto Maple Leafs win another cup?

Bidini: I think it would help. I think the karma is a little bent.

Ruzylo: Imagine if Dave Keon were playing game 7 of the Stanley Cup final tomorrow night. What tunes would you download for him to listen to as he was getting ready for the game?

Bidini: Keon liked Stompin’ Tom Connors.

Ruzylo: Is being an unequivocal, diehard Toronto Maple Leaf fan a liability when promoting your book across the country?

Bidini: I think people are attracted by the drama and I think they are curious about it. I guess I’ll find out.

Ruzylo: To what degree is Keon and Me payback or retribution to the bully in your life?

Bidini: It started out as a bit of revenge, but by the end of the book it doesn’t feel like that. It’s more of an attempt to understand myself at that age and to understand who he was. Revenge is a great motivating factor for art. It’s a good way to get even!

Ruzylo: You have a tendency to construct imaginary conversations with the people you write about. Is this something you do often?

Bidini: No, it just started in the last two books. I never thought I would do that. It’s kind of fun. It’s a way that people who write non-fiction can incorporate elements of fiction in their work.

Ruzylo: Both Keon and Me and Writing Gordon Lightfoot are more autobiographical than biographical. What do you think it is about Dave Bidini – his perspective, his journey – that appeals to readers?

Bidini: The writing is pretty naked and unfiltered. I think that has something to do with it. It’s all a bid on exorcism. I think we’re drawn to art and artists who express what we are thinking but cannot say.

Ruzylo: Dave Keon and Gordon Lightfoot are both iconic Canadians who, once off the stage, are private people. Why is it important for you as a writer to tell us their stories, even when they are reluctant to do so themselves?

Bidini: I think the people who are private are more interesting. I think they’re the stories that need to be told. And unless someone takes it upon themselves to tell these stories, they might never be heard. It’s always more interesting to tell about the person you know less about than the one that you do.

Ruzylo: Rock star, hockey great or Nobel Prize for Literature winner – which would you rather be?

Bidini: I had a taste of what it’s like to be a popular musician. And I’ve played a lot of hockey all around the world, so I guess it leaves the Nobel.

Big adventure for lost mini horses

It was a small oversight that could have turned into a nightmare.

At 3 am on Thursday morning, Doug White was roused from his sleep by the sound of 40 tiny hooves beating in the dirt around his farmhouse just north of Creemore.
His daughter’s 10 miniature horses had got out of their pasture after leaning on an improperly latched gate.

Doug rushed outside where he caught two of the escapees and secured them in the barn.

Unfortunately, at that hour it was too dark to see the rest of the horses. So, Doug headed back to the house to wait until daybreak.

“Because there were two in the barn, Doug figured the rest would stay around the building,” explained his wife Brenda, who was out of town with their children at the time. “They like to be in a herd.”

However, when Doug left the house a second time in search of the horses, they were gone. Luckily, a trail of droppings led him to the group.

Four miles later, Doug managed to slip a halter over the nose of one horse, which he led home, followed by five more.

With seven of the horses back in the barn, Doug was relieved. However, there were still three miniature horses out there in the big wide world, missing.

“He couldn’t find them anywhere,” Brenda said.

Sophia, 11, her two-year-old son Blaze, and their friend Trixie, 3, had become separated from the rest of the group. Brenda wondered if perhaps a car had frightened them away from the farm at some point.

At 29.5 inches high, Trixie is the smallest member of the herd, but that has never stopped her from making a sight of herself. In recent years, visitors to Creemore may have spotted her at the Canada Day and Santa Claus parades.

But that morning, Trixie’s public appearance was unplanned. Doug’s mane concern was that if the horses were on the road, a car could hit them and injure both animals and people.

By 7 am, there had been a number of sightings in the village of the tiny trio. The horses had headed south on Fair Grounds Road into Creemore. One driver even posted a photo of the three ponies on Facebook when he spotted them running back up Fair Grounds Road (above).

After a door-to-door search of the area, Doug and his friends finally located the runaways in a neighbouring paddock where a mysterious and kind stranger had enclosed them.

“No one was home there,” explained Brenda, who still hasn’t been able to thank personally whoever led the horses to safety. “We were so thankful to be able to find them.”

Blaze, Trixie and Sophia are now back at Nature View Farm where Doug, Brenda and their children (Gloria, Sarah and Timothy) have lived for 26 years.

“The ponies are fine but tired,” Brenda said. “It was a lot of walking for all three of them.”

Hopefully, now that the horses are safely home, they won’t stirrup any more trouble for a while.

Big Book Bash coming up

The Big Book Bash is coming up on Saturday, Sept. 27.

Donations of clean, gently read books are being accepted daily at the Creemore Curling Club from 10 a.m. to noon and at The Creemore Echo office during regular business hours.

Organizers are looking for all types of books, with trade paperbacks being the bestsellers.

On the day of the sale, thousands of books will be laid out at Station on the Green. The sale is open from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m.

The biennial book sale is the main fundraising event for the community centre.

Volunteer Marg Purkis said the past two sales have raised more than $12,000 for ongoing operational costs.

The curling club is located at 218 Collingwood St. The Creemore Echo office is located at 3 Caroline St. W.

Big Heart Days round-up

By Thom Paterson

Our first Big Heart Days, themed to encourage residents and visitors alike to make the best of our long winter days, generated a lot of enthusiasm during the weekend, and produced many ideas and much support for repeating the event next year.

It takes a team of dedicated volunteers to put on the many events offered throughout the weekend.The organizing committee would like to thank all those who helped make Big Heart Days a success.

Some of the highlights of the weekend included junior curlers playing on the outdoor rink (pictured, below right), hundreds of sliders enjoying the toboggan hill, more than 90 visitors to the Log Cabin warming station, and 50 skaters who took advantage of the free Family Day skate at the Creemore Arena.

A new event this year, the creation of ice lanterns, helped to light up the winter night for the Sweetheart Skate on Valentine’s evening. The Library’s “Messy Art” event kept the Mess Mistresses busy all day. And the Sugar Shack was a popular warming station to take the chill off and get a stick of maple taffy.

The opening ceremony was made special with the appearance of three local residents, Gertie Gowan, Tom Wilson and Paul Ruppel, in their full Olympic torch-bearing uniforms (see Gertie and Tom, below, centre), complete with their torches from when they participated in the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay. Three of our local bagpipers and emilie que added their unique flare to the ceremony.

With seven wonderful entries in the snowman-making contest, judging was not easy. This year’s winning creation is the brilliant yellow Minions on Mary Street (below, left), a combined effort of neighbours Jill and Mike MacAlpine, Peter Madore and Tara McGee. Congratulations! Honourable mentions go to the creators of the dragon on Mill Street and the firetruck on County Road 9.

The Chili Challenge will no doubt become an annual event at Big Heart Days. This year, seven of our restaurants took part in the Challenge, most selling out of their chili. This may have been the most talked-about event of the weekend, with the organizing committee receiving many suggestions for next year’s challenge. We do like to eat and talk about our chili on a cold winter’s day.

A challenge with any new event is to get the word out to a broader audience. The organizing committee is already pulling together ideas to bring more visitors into the village to join us during next year’s Big Heart Days weekend. Additional changes may include the location of the main event venues, the need for road closures and the addition of several new events. If you have suggestions for next year, please email them to tpaterson@clearview.ca. With a winning format, the organizing committe is confident attendance will grow as more visitors become aware of the Big Heart Days weekend.

This year’s Big Heart Days events would not have been successful without the generous support of our sponsors: the Creemore BIA, The Creemore Echo, izaneplanet, the Tree Society of Creemore, the Creemore Public Library, the Township of Clearview, the 100 Mile Store, Affairs Catering Bakery and Café, the Old Mill House Pub, the Creemore Log Cabin Service Board, the Station on the Green, Ray’s Place, J & R Firewood, Eric Miller and the Iron Butterfly.

Pictured on home page: Lisa Kristine Arlt and Ayrlie MacEachern.

Big infrastructure decision to be made Monday night

Next Monday evening, my colleagues and I will make what will be by far the most important decision of this term of Council. Our choice could lead to the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars and fundamentally alter the character of our community for a generation to come. The choice we face is not an easy one. It is vital that as many people in our community as possible make their views heard and contribute to this decision before or during Monday’s meeting, despite the very short notice given to the public.

The sewage works that serve the town of Stayner are nearing capacity. Without a way to treat sewage, Stayner cannot grow. Several years ago, Clearview Township decided that the most economical and environmentally responsible way to increase sewage capacity for Stayner would be to hook up to the treatment plant in Wasaga Beach, an option that would eventually cost our Township a grand total of close to $30 million. Clearview staff, Council and the Mayor explained very clearly that it was developers, through the payment of development charges, or DCs, who would ultimately pay for this infrastructure, as they do everywhere in Ontario. Since that time, the Township has aggressively pursued funding from other levels of government and has repeatedly assured residents that we won’t go ahead without government grants or contributions from developers.

Wasaga Beach is getting ready to start building a pumping station that is a key component in our plans to hook into their system. We have a deadline of December 1 to put up our share of the money for this station, or we forever lose our ability to send Stayner’s sewage to the Beach. Over the past months, there have been intense negotiations with developers who plan to build houses in Stayner. The Township has asked them contribute their fair share to the costs of this sewage infrastructure. The developers have been offered what I think is a very good deal, but they have all turned it down. These negotiations had to be conducted behind closed doors, but Council has been involved every step of the way. Our attempts to secure grants from the federal and provincial governments are yet to bear fruit. We are hopeful that these grants will still be forthcoming, but we have no guarantees.

We, as a community, are now faced with a choice. We have no up-front contributions from developers. We have no guarantee of federal or provincial funding. We must pay Wasaga Beach $616,000 by December 1 and another $2,284,000 by July 2014 or our deal with them is dead. Do we borrow the money and pay those costs ourselves? Or do we walk away from the deal?

Clearview Council and staff are clearly leaning toward the first option. If we go it alone, we would expect to recover all the eventual costs of the infrastructure from developers through the payment of development charges. But if development does not occur, if the developers continue to sit on their hands, it could eventually be the taxpayers who foot the bill. And once we pay this initial $2.9 million, I think it is almost certain that we will carry out the entire $30 million project. We now have an almost $600,000 deficit in our Stayner sewer DC account. We need the equivalent of 122 new houses built in Stayner just to get out of the hole we are already in. How much growth can we realistically expect in Stayner in the near future, especially when none of our developers are willing to front a dollar of their own money to build the necessary infrastructure? If we walk away from the deal, we have enough capacity left in the system to build about 500 new houses. After that, it is very difficult to see how any growth could occur for a very long time. We would also lose our ability to service our industrial and commercial lands, which could severely limit our ability to attract new businesses and create jobs.

As I said at the outset, this is not an easy decision. Forging ahead means the opportunity for substantial growth and new jobs, but it carries what I think are very worrying risks. Walking away means Stayner stays much as it is for a long time to come. I honestly don’t know what is best for our community, and I am asking residents of Ward 3 and all of Clearview to lend me their thoughts, opinions and expertise. Council needs to hear from you. This decision is too important for us to make on our own.

bpreston@clearview.ca
705-466-6302

Brent Preston is Clearview Township’s Ward 3 Councillor

Big plans for Clearview’s small halls

Clearview Township’s community centres are banding together during the Small Halls Festival for a weekend packed with activities and entertainment.
Events are planned at community halls in Avening, Brentwood, Creemore, Dunedin, Nottawa, Duntroon, Singhampton and Sunnidale Corners, and the Stayner arena, on Oct. 2-5.
On the heels of a branding exercise and a community hall revitalization project, the Small Halls Festival is meant to showcase Clearview’s facilities, provide programing for township residents and attract tourists.
Last year, Clearview Township’s community centres underwent facility reviews and after a little soul searching hall board members decided to go full bore and do whatever it took to keep the halls open. The volunteers that run the halls raised funds to help pay for the renovations.
With a commitment to maintaining the halls, attention turned to ensuring the future vitality of the halls.
Duntroon Hall board chair Jim Campbell and Avening hall board member Sara Hershoff had been dreaming of an event that brought all the halls together for one event and the Small Halls Festival was born.
“This is our opportunity to let people step back in time and experience what their grandparents might have experienced before rural communities were gutted,” said Hershoff. “The halls are a touchstone to our past.”
She said it’s about celebrating a rural resource that other communities have lost and protecting it for future users.
“Although the community changes, the halls are constant,” said Hershoff. “We still need a place to meet and the halls are there to use in any way that we want.”
Campbell said it’s not just about the immediate community, also welcoming people from elsewhere who want to come in and be a part of the Clearview community.
“It’s to bring community together and help find the breadth of Clearview and create a definition in people’s minds,” said Campbell.
Event planning is coordinated by the Township of Clearview’s community culture and recreation coordinator Shane Sargant.
Sargant said $45,000 has been allocated for the festival with $20,000 coming from the township, $20,000 coming a County of Simcoe grant and $5,000 coming from a provincial grant. With the exception of $10,000 in township funds earmarked for programming, the other funds are for marketing purposes.
Sargant also secured three contract staff members to work on the event whose wages are paid for through Employment Insurance and thousands of dollars in sponsorships and in-kind donations.
“We’re hoping that it’s a signature event for Clearview. Our objective is more about bringing the halls together, promoting Clearview Township as a community that can work together and host significant tourist events,” said Sargant.
“We think that the quality of the event is worthy of people travelling from out of market to visit the event. Each hall does have an event that would bring people from out of town.”
Of note, he said, is the scotch nosing and dinner in Singhampton, Friday and Saturday night concerts in Avening, the Rib Tickler and Yuk Yuk’s in Nottawa, brunch with Dan Needles in Duntroon, celebrity chef Carl Heinrich cooking in Dunedin, a bluegrass concert in Brentwood and two of the top classical guitar players in the world at Sunnidale Corners.
For details, visit www.smallhallsfestival.ca.

Big plans for New Lowell United Church

With the province’s 2025 accessibility deadline for public buildings in mind, members of the New Lowell United Church are fundraising to put a large addition on the front of their 103-year-old building.

The plans call for just over 1,000 square feet of new space, which would include a new foyer/meeting room, an accessible washroom and a lift that would service both the sanctuary and the meeting area in the basement.

The decision to go ahead with the project did not come without a fair amount of soul-searching. The work started with a visioning committee that met for two years, discussing the importance of the church to its community and brainstorming what needed to be done to make the building accessible.

“It became clear very quickly that putting a simple ramp on the side of the building was not going to work,” said Jennifer Ferguson-Meijs, who currently sits on the church’s fundraising committee. The church’s main floor sits so high off the ground, she said, that a ramp would have to zig and zag for hundreds of feet to reach the front door. In addition, the church’s only two bathrooms are in the basement, and are far too small to allow wheelchair access. The steep stairs that lead up to the sanctuary have also long been a problem for pallbearers at funerals.

“We’ve had people who have been members of this church for 90 years, and their funerals have had to be held elsewhere,” said June Robinson, another member of the fundraising committee. The same goes for baptisms and weddings, whenever guests are unable to climb the necessary stairs.

Deciding that the church is the very heart of the greater New Lowell community – “it’s a place of worship on Sundays and a community gathering place the rest of the week,” said Robinson – the committee eventually decided to go ahead with the expansion.

June Robinson, Jennifer Ferguson-Meijs and Tom Macham, members of the New Lowell United Church fundraising committee.

June Robinson, Jennifer Ferguson-Meijs and Tom Macham, members of the New Lowell United Church fundraising committee.

A building committee was struck, and esteemed church renovation company Hawkey Church Management was retained for the design-build. The resulting plans were warmly received by the congregation, primarily because the exterior of the addition retains much of the character of the 1910 church. One interesting feature is that the large stained glass window on the front of the old structure would become an interior window between the sanctuary and the new foyer.

Importantly, the planned elevator is also big enough to transport pallbearers and coffins.

The church’s fundraising committee is now actively raising money for the addition, which they hope to see completed within three years. The total pricetag is a big one – the quote came in at $350,000 not including blueprints, municipal fees and sitework on the parking lot – but the committee has already raised $121,000 and hopes that the community will see fit to keep giving.

“This church deserves a lot of credit for taking on a task like this,” said Robinson. “We’re really trying to be proactive about this – we want to make this building an accessible place for the whole community to use.”

The committee has a whole bunch of events planned for the remainder of the year, including movie nights (The Life of Pi is showing at 7 pm on Friday, April 26), a yard sale and heritage tea on May 25 and several concerts to be held at the New Lowell Legion (which is generously waiving its rental fees for the church’s events). For more information on events or to donate, visit http://newlowellunitedchurch.weebly.com or call Jen at (705)424-8687 or Marilyn at (705)424-1034.

Big support for small halls fest

Clearview has received a provincial grant to hire three people to help coordinate October’s first Small Halls Festival.

The Township will receive $13,800 from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities through its Job Creation Partnerships program, which provides community work experience to people who are unemployed.
Clearview will use the money to purchase office work stations, computers and software for the new hires.

The new employees will be paid directly by the Ministry throughout a 10-month contract.

“The jobs will be Special Events Coordinators for the Small Halls Festival. Each one will take on three halls,” said Shane Sargant, Clearview’s Community Culture and Recreation Coordinator. “They will also create a volunteer and recruitment handbook.”

The Coordinators will spend the five months following the festival collecting data and planning for next year’s event.

“After October, they will follow up on the event,” said Sargant. “We’re going to do surveys, have feedback and reports to all levels of government and to our sponsors.”

The Township advertised the positions earlier this spring. At press time, it had received six applications. Sargant hopes the new recruits will start work at the end of next week.

The Small Halls Festival will be held from Thursday, October 2 to Sunday, October 5. It will celebrate various activities at eight of Clearview’s community halls.

Bike park proposed as Creemore attraction

Creemore resident Jon Tamlin was before Clearview Township council July 13 asking members to support the creation of a bike park.

Tamlin said a 10-member committee of parents with school-age children has been brainstorming ideas for the design and the location of the park.

Tamlin told council members that the ideal location is within an area west of the skatepark at the Creemore arena that is less than one acre in size.

He said there are already many children in the vicinity during sporting events and it would be an added attraction in Creemore.

In the first phase of development, the committee is proposing dirt ramps and berms to create the course then adding obstacles made of wood and rock. 

Council agreed to refer the proposal to the parks and recreation committee at its next meeting in September.

Anyone interested in getting involved or for more information, e-mail Tamlin at jonnytabc@yahoo.com.

Black History Month

Award-winning historian, Jane Cooper-Wilson will speak in Stayner this month about the migration of African-Canadians in this area –including seven generations of her own family – in honour of Black History Month.

The lecturer and author, who won the Ontario Historical Society’s Carnochan Award in 2012 for her outstanding service to Ontario heritage communities, says her goal is to “enlighten people on the contribution of the original racial makeup of our province.”

This “original racial makeup” includes her own ancestors, John Morgan Sr. (born in 1763 in Madagascar) and his wife, Elizabeth, who were former slaves from Virginia who escaped to Canada during the American Revolution and who settled in Sunnidale Township around 1829.

Cooper-Wilson’s novel, Morgan’s Seed, tells the story of her ancestors, who are buried in the Bethel-Union Pioneer Cemetery in New Lowell. She is also the author of Echoes in the Hills: My Search for John Brown’s Legacy and her work has appeared in Northern Terminus: The African Canadian History Journal, as well as in documentaries and on television.

In 1997, Cooper-Wilson joined the SilverShoe Historical Society, a group of 25 people who formed in 1997 to restore the Bethel-Union Pioneer Cemetery, to “honour the ancestry of the people who lived in the Silver Shoe community.” She is now the group’s Executive Director.

Silver Shoe is the name of the local settlement where many Black settlers lived. It was bordered by present-day Concession 7, Creemore Avenue, County Road 10 (Sunnidale Road) and Concession 5, Cooper-Wilson says. The SilverShoe Historical Society was incorporated as an affiliate of the Ontario Historical Society in 2007.

For Cooper-Wilson, history has a definite role in the lives of the living. “We can learn a great deal about ourselves by learning about our ancestors – we are who they were,” she says.

She fears that history is lost when buildings such as the Oro African Methodist Episcopal Church, built in 1849 in Oro-Medonte, are left to deteriorate. “It needs serious refurbishing or it won’t be around,” says Cooper-Wilson, of the church where her ancestors were married. “This is our hereditary home.”

“It is important that people understand the past, so they don’t make the same mistakes in the future. We need to understand the collective history of our province and our nation in order that the ‘true’ history can be handed down to younger generations. The presence and contributions of African-Canadians and First Nations to the development of our great Nation can no longer be swept under the rug. It is not about blame – it is all about truth and accountability.”

This Black History Month event is one of three major events the Stayner Heritage Society organizes each year, along with its Heritage Day in the summer and Remembrance Day breakfast.

The free event will also feature music by trumpet player Don Doner, who will tell the stories of the spirituals that he will play.

Blue House soap shop opens in Creemore

From the Blue House with Love comes a line of natural body care products to Creemore.

Jenn Jansen has set up a retail space in the village, where she will make and sell her handmade soaps, bath salts, body butters, balms and bars, all infused with oils and herbs. Her signature soap scents include chai spice, oats and honey, goodness of goats, peace love and patchouli, cocoamint, fruit salad, lavender hill and mint java scrub in addition to special seasonal soaps. She also makes bath salt, lotion bars, body butter, bath bombs, foot butter and balms.

The products are named for the first home she and her husband purchased in the area after moving from Toronto. The original blue house, located near Shelburne, was where she began making soap five years ago.

Jansen said she was compelled to switch to natural products while preparing for the birth of her first child.

“It was during a prenatal class that we started thinking about the products we were using in the home,” she said.

Having made the switch, Jansen took a one-day course to learn how to make soap.

“I started making it and posting photos on Facebook, just to show my friends and suddenly everyone wanted to buy soap,” she said.

Until now, Jansen has been working out of her home, having moved from the blue house to a converted barn in Dunedin. She said it’s fitting that underneath the siding is blue barnboard, a motif that has been carried through to the new retail location.

Having had secured a contract to supply soap and bath salts to a health food store chain, Jansen said her operation has outgrown her home and she began looking for a retail space that also provided space to work.

Making soap is a month-long process. Jansen’s soaps are made using a traditional cold process, combining melted oils and water with lye. The mixture is poured into molds and left for 24 hours, during which all the lye is used up in a chemical process, leaving only the oils, explains Jansen. The soap is then sliced into bars and left to dry for one month, until it is fully dry.

Jansen has been busy making products for the One of a Kind Show at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto where she will be selling her skin care products from March 25-29.

The new retail store, located at the corner of Mill Street and Caroline West, will open on Saturday, April 4 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Jansen is planning to open the retail store on Thursdays, Friday and Saturdays. She said there is a possibility that she will offer workshops in the future, as people have been asking for them.

Jansen said she will also carry a line of natural cleaning products and hopes to carry natural shampoos and bubble bath.

Visit www.fromthebluehouse.com.

Blue Jay great gives back in New Lowell

By Vince Trama

On April 5, Smith Brothers Baseball Central held its second annual “Wine and Dine with a Sports Celebrity” in New Lowell. The emcee of the evening was one half of the Smith Brothers, Konar Smith.

After a delectable buffet meal, the evening began with a quick recap of what has happened here over the year. SBBC is much more than a training facility for baseball, although that’s its main purpose. The building also houses an exercise room, dance studio, meeting rooms and a parents’ lounge. Besides baseball clinics, tryouts and team practices, we have had winter golf, birthday parties and a winter bocce ball league. The U16 Wasaga Canadian girls’ soccer team practiced at SBBC all winter to prepare for their recent tournament in Italy. In February, SBBC hosted our first annual College, University and MLB showcase where 50 baseball players came to impress three Major League Baseball scouts, as well as representatives from five colleges and universities from Canada and the U.S.

At the “Wine and Dine” event, there was a live and silent auction, with many worthwhile items up for grabs. The big- ticket item was a 30” x 40” painting of the baseball card of former Blue Jay relief pitcher, Duane Ward, who was our guest of honour. It was painted live in two-and-a-half hours by artist Mark Grice. The beautiful painting sold for a whopping $450! There were great items being raffled off, including the highly coveted Melky Cabrera-signed baseball bat. There was also the opportunity to have a picture taken with Duane, with the prints produced right on the spot.
A portion of the money raised was donated to Candlelighters Simcoe, a support organization for parents whose child or teenager has been diagnosed with cancer.

Duane was the keynote speaker for the event. While playing for the Blue Jays, Duane was a part of the World Series-winning teams in 1992 and 1993, respectively. He pitched the ninth inning to set up the iconic Joe Carter walk-off home run. Duane also set the single-season Blue Jays Save record in 1993, with 45 saves in his first year as the team’s closer.

Duane was charming and entertaining when he took to the mound to address everyone. He told interesting stories about his career experiences and about his former teammates. He was very humble and was hesitant to bring up his personal accomplishments. Instead, he insisted on sharing his involvement in the Blue Jays Care Foundation and Blue Jays kid’s camps. Duane feels that since his baseball career is over, the best stories to share are about how much he enjoys giving back to the baseball community.

On the morning of April 6, Duane got back to his current passion: passing on his baseball knowledge to the younger generation. Duane performed a pitching clinic for kids ages 10 to 15 where he went over pitching mechanics while incorporating his personal experiences from the Major Leagues. The clinic was a great success with every participant receiving an autographed picture of Duane. The parents also got their chance to rush onto the field to get their Blue Jays memorabilia signed when the clinic was complete.

Blundstone backs Tin Roof with $40,000

Creemore-based charity Tin Roof Global recently received a significant funding boost from Collingwood-based Blundstone Footwear. Here, Blundstone Canada CEO Ian Heaps (left) poses with Tin Roof president John Millar after committing $40,000 to support Tin Roof’s efforts. Tin Roof will use the money to expand its local and international water initiatives. Locally, its Roof It H2O program takes Canadian elementary and high school students for a tour of global water issues and encourages local student action. Tin Roof’s new GUSH program for elementary schools explores local water issues related to development, quarries and landfills. And at the university level, Tin Roof will continue to expand its campus clubs initiative, which began at the University of Guelph and is currently expanding to Dalhousie University in Halifax, with more campuses across Canada in its sights. In Uganda, Tin Roof will expand its rural water source initiatives.

BMFA welcomes photo show submissions

Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts is inviting photographers to submit images for its 23rd annual Juried Photo Show beginning July 15.

The foundation will be accepting entries in four categories until August 21.

Categories: Altered Reality – significantly and noticeably modified with post processing; The Natural World – anything in nature with no hand-of-man showing; Embracing Humanity – How we feel, what we do, what makes us uniquely human, or the imprint we leave behind; Collingwood Downtown – Special category this year for local subject matter to showcase people and events in Historic Downtown Collingwood.

For the first time, there will be a digital intake for pre-acceptance to the gallery show.

Also new this year, feedback will be given to photographers in the form of a report card and the student division is being expanded and redefined as ‘emerging photographer’.

If accepted, printed photos are due by the weekend of Sept. 26-27. The work will be on display at the Arts Centre, located at 163 Hurontario St. in Collingwood, from Sept. 30 to Oct. 31. The opening reception and awards ceremony will be held on Sunday, Oct. 4.

Jurors for the 2015 show are Lance Gitter and Ross Chevalier.

For more information, visit bmfa.on.ca.

Bob Campbell says goodbye after 48 years

When Bob Campbell took a job as deputy clerk-treasurer with Nottawasaga Township in 1965, at the tender age of 23, the municipality’s administration staff numbered two – Campbell and his new boss, clerk-treasurer Harry Little – and the pair put in their days working at desks in the garage of Little’s Glen Huron home.

At the end of April, Campbell will officially retire from his position as clerk of Clearview Township, the municipality that was created when Nottawasaga amalgamated with the towns of Creemore and Stayner and the Township of Sunnidale.

Over the 48 years between those two milestones, Campbell has witnessed this area transform from a purely agricultural community to one with a diverse mix of old-timers, newcomers and weekenders, and watched municipal politics change from a situation where local people were primarily making decisions about local issues to one where higher levels of government have much more involvement.

He’s also, over the years, “met many excellent people,” he says. That includes, he stresses, the great majority of politicians he’s worked with. While they may have had different styles of working, and while some lasted longer than others, they all tried to do their best for the municipality they served.

A native of Glen Huron, Campbell worked for the Toronto Dominion Bank and Kauffman’s Furniture before taking the job with Nottawasaga Township. When Harry Little retired in 1972, Campbell replaced him as clerk-treasurer. By that time, Nottawasaga’s municipal staff had moved into the old Duntroon School, and Council had begun meeting in the same building (in the old days, Little and Campbell had to lug all of their files from Glen Huron to the Nottawasaga Community Centre for Council’s monthly meeting).

Campbell saw many changes over the years, but none so huge as the 1996 amalgamation of the four original municipalities. Most were wary of the move – in fact, the Councils of Nottawasaga, Sunnidale and Creemore had publicly stated their opposition – and no one was quite sure how smooth the transition would be, especially with all four Councils (totalling 23 members) meeting jointly for the first year. The four clerk-treasurers divvied up their work once they’d all moved into the old Stayner Town Hall, with Campbell taking the clerk’s position, the Sunnidale representative taking the administrator’s position, Stayner’s representative becoming the treasurer and Creemore’s representative taking on the relatively new role of planner. Together, the four of them managed to merge all four staffs, with every employee landing either their first or second preference when it came to their new role.

“Those were interesting times,” remembers Campbell. “We all had a lot to learn, but I think it all worked out alright.”

These days, though he says he still slips up and says the words “Nottawasaga Township” during the odd Council meeting, Campbell has come fully around to the concept of Clearview Township. So it was a tough decision to retire – though he’s been at peace with it since making the announcement, he says.
He and his wife Betty have four grandchildren, aged six to 17, who all live close by. Campbell says he’s looking forward to making it to all of their hockey games next winter. Summers will be ideal for impromptu camping trips with their fifth wheel trailer. And what Campbell is perhaps looking forward to most, as a confessed political junkie, is watching a municipal election from the comfort of his couch for a change. “I really enjoy watching the provincial and federal elections, but I’m always so busy during the municipal ones,” he laughs, before adding a final assessment of his 48 years of municipal service.

“It’s been a good life,” he says, and you can tell he means it.

Boogie down at Dufferin Dance Weekend

The Dufferin Dance Network will present Dufferin Dance Weekend ’15 in conjunction with Dance Ontario’s Dance Weekend ‘15.

The dance celebration will begin with opening night performances on Friday, Jan. 16 from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., with a Q&A to follow, at the Rosemont Hall, located at 995722 Mono Adjala Townline, in Rosemont.

Dance workshops, performances and live streaming from Dance Ontario’s Weekend ’15 will follow the next day, Jan. 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Dufferin County Museum and Archives, located at 936029 Airport Road, in Mulmur.

Dufferin Dance Weekend ’15 will be the first time ever that Dance Ontario’s Dance Weekend will be streamed live to rural Ontario. 

The weekend will also feature local dance talent in a variety of dance disciplines.

The Saturday will be interactive with various dance workshops for all ages and abilities.

The goal of Dufferin Dance Weekend ’15 is to celebrate dance and provide an opportunity for a rural community to have access to view the performances that Dance Ontario Weekend ’15 is showcasing.

The weekend is geared to everyone, from dancers to spectators.

Tickets cost $10 per person or $25 per family per day (cash only). Lunch is available at a cost of $15.

Dufferin Dance Weekend ’15 $100 sponsorships include a weekend pass including two tickets to the opening night performances, two tickets to the Saturday events including two lunches, a raffle ticket and a free gift. 

Sponsorship also recognition and status as a patron of Dufferin Dance Weekend ’15, including acknowledgement of support on all printed materials and on Facebook.

Visit www.ticketpro.ca or call 1-888-655-9090.

Regular tickets will be available at the door but sponsorship tickets must be purchased in advance.

Book profiles 10 long-time Creemore area residents

Trina Berlo photo: Sara Sniderhan and Donna Lowe look through an album of photos, some of which will be included in a new book about long time area residents.

The stories and portraits of 10 lifelong area residents are being compiled in a book to be published in the fall, entitled The Village and I: Ten Life Stories.

The collection portrays an earlier time in the village, when family and community were paramount, trips into the village from outlying hamlets were a big deal and winters were brutal.

The book is a result of a $5,000 Robert F. Kemp Award given to portrait artist Sara Sniderhan last year through the Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts, with additional support from the Purple Hills Arts and Heritage Society and The Creemore Echo.

The book is being published by Curiosity House Books; owner Rina Barone is the editor.

Sniderhan said the project is about documenting the stories of a certain generation who she thinks of as having seen more change in their lifetime than any other generation before them and possibly after them.

“It’s a way of collecting community history and life experiences that are no longer very relatable,” she said.

The book includes the life stories of Maurice Weatherall, Donna (Millsap) Lowe, Gerry Blackburn, Noel Van Walleghan, Helen Blackburn, Gertie Gowan, Dorothy (Timmons) Shropshire, Jerry Jordan and the Rowbotham sisters; Barb Cudmore and Norma Johnston.

“It was hard to chose just 10,” said Sniderhan. “There are lots more people who should have been in the book but we had more potential subjects than we could have put in the book and a limited budget.”

She said she feels at some point there will have to be a second volume produced.

Those included represent different life experiences – teachers, farmers, a firefighter, an insurance salesman, a creamery owner, butcher and carpenter.

The 10 portraits have been created by Sniderhan, Peter Adams, Martha Bull, Christopher Roberts, Peter Mitchell, Juliet Jancso, Jim Paget, Andrej Kovacs and David Bruce Johnson.

The stories have been penned by former CBC Metro Morning host Andy Barrie, best selling novelist Cathy Gildiner, former Globe and Mail writer and editor Cecily Ross, author Stephen Smith and published writers Barone, Kristi Green, Emily Worts, Trina Berlo and Julie Pollock, with a forward by playwright Dan Needles.

Book orders will open June 27. Place orders at Curiosity House Books, located at 178 Mill St. in Creemore, or online at www.curiosityhousebooks.com. The price is $35 for a softcover copy or $75 for a limited hardcover copy. The latter includes two tickets to a pre-launch cocktail party, with complimentary drinks and appetizers, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Avening Hall on Saturday, Sept. 19. That same evening, the launch is open to the public from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will include a panel discussion, appetizers and a cash bar.

Bookstore ready for resale

Two years after saving the venerable Curiosity House bookstore from an uncertain future, owner Ralph Hicks has announced it’s time for him to move on.

In an email sent out to friends and supporters this week, Hicks said he had accomplished his objectives of relocating the bookstore, keeping it alive and “building it into a worthwhile centre of intelligent activity in the community.” It’s now time, he said, for a new owner to come in with some “new ideas and new energy.”

Bookstore manager Jenn Hubbs, who Hicks credits with much of the work that has gone into the revitalization, recently accepted a position with Hatchette Book Group, and Hicks said her imminent departure (she leaves next week, though she has promised to stay involved in some capacity) prompted him to reflect on his and the store’s future.

“I would therefore be interested in talking to anyone who loves books and loves Creemore and could be interested in buying this lovely little enterprise,” said Hicks.

Anyone whose “curiosity” has been piqued can reach Hicks at ralph@ralphhicks.ca.

Borden gymnasts compete this weekend

By Michelle Pothier

This weekend, Windsor, Ontario will be temporary home to thousands of the province’s best male and female gymnasts. Until Sunday, April 6, the 2014 Ontario Provincial Gymnastics Championships are hitting the stage in a very tough competition.

Borden Gymnastics has nine talented athletes attending this meet. They have worked extremely hard all season representing themselves and their club proudly. Now, they are entering their biggest meet of the year.

Women’s Team leaders Emily Flood (level 7, age 17) and Sarah Carlton (level 7, age 17) are both top contenders in their category. They are looking to make their mark as they finish off their competitive gymnastics careers.

Hannah Carpentier-Wiggins (level 5, age 11), Katelyn Harrison (level 5, age 9) and Sadie Finkelstein (alternate level 5, age 9), make up Borden’s very strong entry-level Provincial Squad. Savanna Inman (Canadian Pre-Novice, age 9) is in a very elite and challenging category. On the men’s team are Ethan Farr (level 2, age 9) and Colton Carpentier-Wiggins (level 2, age 13+) have shown their best all year and look forward to championships, as does new team member Aidan Scott (level 1, age 9).

Borrowing to buy

Council has approved a by-law to borrow almost $200,000 to purchase land north of Stayner.

At its last meeting on July 14, Council voted unanimously to authorize the borrowing of $188,039.85 to pay for the land.

The area is located at 5825 Nottawasaga 27/28 Sideroad, beside the Sewage Treatment Plant and adjacent to the Public Works Building.

It will be the location of the new sewer pumping station that will connect Stayner to Wasaga Beach, plus the sewer mains as well as parkland.

The Township will borrow the money from the Toronto Dominion Bank at 2.45 per cent interest over a period of five years, in accordance with the terms of the Ontario Municipal Act, 2001.

This interest rate is lower than the 5 per cent for which the Township originally budgeted. This means that Clearview will save approximately $15,000, Treasurer Edward Henley said.

Brewery inches closer to expansion

Geoff Davies, the new project manager at Creemore Springs Brewery, has the infectious energy of a man who has found his dream job. He’ll need it, as the next few years at the brewery are shaping up to be busy ones.

Davies was hired by Creemore Springs in May, shortly after the brewery’s expansion plans were approved in principle by the Ontario Municipal Board. The Collingwood resident is now responsible for overseeing all aspects of the expansion, and has been working hard to meet a couple of benchmarks required by the OMB before construction can begin.

The first is to complete a site plan agreement for the project and have it approved by all parties to the OMB hearing. Such a document was not finalized at the time of the OMB decision due to the fact that the brewery still had to gain approval for the expansion from the Ministry of the Environment; at the time, it was acknowledged that process might result in changes to the brewery’s plans, and that site plan approval should wait until those changes were clear.

Working concurrently with the MOE, Creemore Springs submitted detailed drawings to Clearview Township in the summer, and received comments back from the municipality soon after. According to Davies, those comments were minimal, asking mostly for aesthetic things like wider sidewalks and wrought-iron fencing on the corners of the property to enhance visibility for drivers making turns. The brewery has since modified its drawings to meet the Township’s demands, and a final site plan application is expected to be submitted at the beginning of November. At that point, copies of the proposed site plan will also be distributed to the other parties to the hearing, Simcoe County and neighbours Paul Vorstermans and Christine and Austin Boake.

If all parties agree to the final site plan, they must then present it to the OMB, likely during a teleconference. Davies is hoping – “You have to work toward something,” he says of his habit of making optimistic predictions – that this can all be done by the end of the year.

The second requirement of the OMB decision, one that’s taken considerable time and investment over the past few months, was for the brewery to obtain two Environmental Compliance Approvals from the Ministry of the Environment – one for its existing operation and one for the proposed expanded facility. As Creemore Springs vice president and brewmaster Gordon Fuller explained during the OMB hearing, the brewery had always operated with a Ministry of Environment Certificate of Approval for its air emissions, but had never been aware it needed one for noise and odour until it started planning the expansion.

On the noise side, consultants for the brewery determined all potential “points of impact” in the neighbourhood around the brewery and have since satisfied the Ministry of Environment that all sources of offending noise have been dealt with, save one – the loading of the malt silo, which is currently situated on the front of the building. That operation will be moved to the rear of the building as part of the expansion, so the brewery has been given a temporary pass with regard to that source.

The odour issue was a more difficult one, with the MOE requiring that no smell coming from the brewery be greater than one Odour Unit in scale, with an Odour Unit defined as the point when 50 per cent of the population cannot detect the smell. After first flirting with the idea of a tall stack, the brewery instead installed a $250,000 odour abatement and heat recycling unit on the building’s roof in July. Capturing all vapours discharged from the brewhouse, the unit separates out all odour-causing elements and reroutes them back under the kettle, where they are fed into the combustion chamber and burnt. Additionally, the unit captures previously wasted heat and allows it to be re-used in the brewing process, increasing the plant’s energy efficiency.

With the addition of the odour abatement unit, the Ministry of Environment now agrees with the brewery’s consultants that all emissions from Creemore Springs’ current operations measure less than one Odour Unit. Davies also pointed out that the brewery is in the process of taking voluntary measures to further mitigate odour, in an effort to be a good neighbour.

With both noise and odour taken care of with regard to existing operations, Davies has now moved on to the future, and in mid-September the brewery submitted an application to the Ministry of Environment for an amended Environmental Compliance Approval to cover the planned expanded operation. The MOE does have a backlog of these applications, and the brewery was informed that it may take three to eight months before the new ECA can be granted.

“Obviously, we’re hoping for three, so we can get everything wrapped up by the end of the year,” said Davies. “And the reason why is that Creemore Springs is doing really well. There would be great harmony with our business plan were we able to get going by the end of the first quarter of next year.”

The project’s first phase, which Davies is optimistic could get underway as early as mid-January, would include the new and relocated infrastructure at the back of the building (including six new 45,000-litre fermentation tanks, indoor spent-grain offloading, covered malt delivery and an indoor silo, water and CO2 tanks and garbage storage); the new 450-square-metre warehouse with four rear-side truck bays on the south side of the existing building; the water and sewer site works; and parking and landscaping on the south and east sides of the property. The goal is to have the infrastructure on the back finished and beer in the new fermenters by April 1, the site works, parking and landscaping done by summer and the warehouse done by fall.

The project’s second phase, encompassing new office space, a new facade on Mill Street, and three more fermentation tanks, would be completed in 2014 and 2015. In the meantime, Clearview Township is requiring an “interim appearance plan” featuring temporary landscaping and reusable trees and flower pots in order to maintain a pleasing view from Mill Street until the second phase is completed.

Another component of the brewery’s plans fell into place on September 17, when the company’s new distribution facility opened on Airport Road just south of Stayner. Seven full-time staff, whose duties relate primarily to distribution, have relocated to that location, and all of the small delivery trucks that have traditionally picked up beer directly from the brewery are now operating out of the new facility.

Davies also said a great deal has been done to improve drivers’ behaviours around the brewery. A strict no-idling rule has been put in place, trucks are parked in front of Creemore Springs only, and when drivers arrive in Creemore in the early morning before the brewery is open for business, they are now asked to wait outside of town.

“We’ve tried to encourage an overall culture of courteousness, rather than just impose a list of rules,” said Davies. “And that goes for all of our staff. We know this expansion is going to be disruptive, and the best thing we can do is be good citizens and good neighbours.”

To that end, Davies and Fuller continue to sit on an advisory committee set up by the OMB that includes representation from all the parties to the hearing. That committee has been kept abreast of all of the brewery’s developments and has had some good input into how things are proceeding.

“The committee will really become a liaison with the community once the construction gets started,” said Davies.

Brewery OMB Hearing Begins

The Ontario Municipal Board held a prehearing regarding the appeal of the Creemore Springs Brewery expansion on Wednesday, and by the end of the day all parties were booked for two days of OMB-led mediation in January. If a settlement is not reached then, the Board has booked a five-week hearing starting March 19, 2012.

The day led with all parties identifying themselves; they are Paul Vorstermans and Christine and Austin Boake on the appellant’s side and Creemore Springs Brewery, Simcoe County and Clearview Township on the respondent’s side. Parties are able to present and cross-examine evidence at the hearing.

Also identifying themselves were those wishing to be participants, who will be limited to making a statement about the application. Standing up were Rowland Fleming, Michael Bennett, David Huskinson and Corey Finkelstein for the expansion and Donald Boake, Roy Symes, Cheryl Robertson and Norma Panzine against the expansion.

Brewery lawyer Marshall Greene told the Board that the parties were willing to mediate, but in order to schedule mediation, Board member M.C. Denhez undertook a confidential “mediation assessment” over the course of the day.

Following that, Denhez booked January 10 and 11 as mediation days. Parties are scheduled to speak informally several times before that date as well.

Brewery settlement gets nod from OMB

All five parties to the Creemore Springs OMB hearing – the Brewery, Clearview Township, Simcoe County and appellants Paul Vorstermans and Christine and Austin Boake – gathered before the Board on Monday morning to present their recently reached minutes of settlement to OMB member Sylvia Sutherland.

The result of two sessions with OMB mediator James McKenzie as well as countless unofficial meetings and discussions, the settlement provides for substantial changes to the expanded brewery’s façade, site plan, trucking schedule and shipping/receiving practices. It also calls for the creation of a “Brewery Liaison Committee” that will serve as a conduit between local residents, businesses and the brewery throughout the construction phase and beyond.

“This is a very complex, very fair settlement,” said Marshall Greene, the lawyer for both Creemore Springs Brewery and Simcoe County at the outset of Monday’s hearing. “I want to thank all of the parties for their spirit of co-operation.”

After hearing from participants Dave Huskinson and Michael Bennett, both of whom spoke in favour of the settlement, Greene called Brewery planner Jim Dyment to the stand to speak to the new proposal’s planning merits.

A new site plan, which has now been submitted to the Township for consideration, shows several of the changes that came about as a result of mediation. The vast majority of the site’s 60 parking spaces have been moved from the south portion along Edward Street to the eastern boundary of the brewery property, which was made bigger with the purchase of two additional houses after the expansion process was underway. This allows for greater buffering along Edward Street, where Vorstermans and several neighbours had been concerned about their proximity to an expanded industrial site.

A sound wall now blocks the southern boundary of the warehouse loading/unloading area. Water and malt delivery and spent grains removal, which currently take place on Mill Street and Elizabeth Street, are now set in behind the brewery, with the malt and spent grain operations proposed to be done inside a garage.

The Mill Street façade of the building will now feature of mix of brick, board and batten and textured pre-cast wall panels, all colour-matched to the original Creemore Springs building at the corner of Mill and Elizabeth Streets. Through a mixture of wood frame entrances, faux doors, display box windows, cornice mouldings and banding, the entire façade will have the appearance of a stretch of Victorian commercial storefronts. Additions on the north and south sides of the building will also be given suitable windows and, on the north side, board and batten siding.

To ensure that the façade is a priority, a provision in the terms of settlement states that, no matter what phase of construction the Brewery is completing, it must recognize its obligation to “respect and enhance the streetscape of Mill Street as a commercial core with aesthetic attributes, providing a retail, public open space or high quality architectural façade along Mill Street, and to use landscaping and building architecture to enhance the downtown core while providing for a combined commercial/industrial brewery use.”

The Brewery has also agreed to provide a meeting room, fronting on Mill Street, available for BIA meetings on a minimum of 12 days per year.

On the subject of traffic, the Brewery has promised that, from Monday to Thursday, no shipments or deliveries other than water will take place before 8 am or after 5 pm. On Fridays, those hours would change to 8 am and 3 pm. Water deliveries can take place from 7 am to 7 pm between Monday and Friday.

On weekends, the Brewery has promised to receive just three deliveries of water on Saturday and one delivery of water on Sunday. One removal of spent grain will take place on the weekend, and no beer shipments will take place.

All trucks owned and operated by the Brewery will also be equipped with directional back-up beepers, and all trucks delivering materials to and from the site will be instructed to avoid idling and prohibited from overnight parking.

The Brewery Liaison Committee, which will meet frequently during the construction phase and less frequently once construction is complete, will consist of one staff person from the Brewery, one member of the Creemore BIA, Paul Vorstermans or his designate, Christine Boake or her designate, and any other member of the community as selected by the members above, up to a maximum of seven members. The Brewery will also have at least one staff person on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to deal on an immediate basis with the handling of any serious and time sensitive complaints regarding noise, odour or traffic. That person’s cell phone number will be provided to all members of the Liaison Committee.

The final section of the settlement, dealing with noise and odour, is where the complexity comes in. As explained by Brewery vice president of operations Gordon Fuller, who took the stand after Dyment, Creemore Springs has always operated with a Ministry of Environment Certificate of Approval for its air emissions, but had never been aware it needed one for noise and odour until it started planning the expansion. The MOE has since told the Brewery that an Environmental Compliance Approval (the new term for a Certificate of Approval) must be issued for the existing operation before the plans for facility’s expansion will be considered.

Noise issues have been mostly dealt with, but the Brewery is still working on a way to reduce its odour emissions. A few potential solutions have been filed with the MOE, including one, a 24-metre-high exhaust stack, which the Boakes and Vorstermans had concerns with. It has now been written in the terms of settlement that “such a solution, if approved by the MOE, is not acceptable to either [the Brewery or the Appellants], and will not be considered unless all other reasonable alternatives have proven not to be viable.”

The preferred solution at this point, said Fuller, is an exhaust recycling system which would recover much of the energy lost and prevent odour from leaving the building.

Given that the MOE approvals are still not resolved, it was decided on Monday that the OMB would allow the appeal and approve the new zoning bylaw and official plan amendments, but hold off on approving the site plan agreement. If the Brewery needs to make changes to the site plan as presented on Monday in order to be granted its Environmental Certificate of Approval, it may do so, but once the MOE is satisfied and the site plan is finalized, all parties will be allowed to review it before it is approved by the Township. If all are happy with it, then the OMB will be notified and will issue its final order on the appeal. If, however, one or more parties are unsatisfied with a change, the OMB will call a teleconference between all parties and deal with the issue as it sees fit.

Given a chance to make general comments before he left the stand, Fuller commented that the process to this point had been “somewhat long and arduous,” but noted that it had never been acrimonious.“That, in no small part, is why we were able to sit down together and reach a settlement,” he said, thanking everyone involved in the settlement for their hard work.

He also said that the expansion would secure the Brewery’s future in Creemore. “We are intrinisically tied to this village,” he said. “We position ourselves as much for Creemore, the place, as Creemore Springs, the beer. We firmly believe that if people come visit us, if they see the town and tour the brewery, we’ll have a customer for life. So we have an enormous vested interest in our brewery looking like it fits here.”

Vanessa Bacher, the lawyer for Christine and Austin Boake, also spoke, noting that her clients, as real estate agents who work across the road from the Brewery, felt like they needed to appeal the application, no matter what the risk was to them, in order to ensure that Mill Street would remain a comfortable pedestrian experience.

“This settlement is the result of a lot of hard work,” she said. “There’s still a lot more to be done, but my clients are happy.”

With that, Sutherland allowed the appeal, noting her opinion that such a civil settlement was “due in no small part to the corporate citizenship of Creemore Springs Brewery, which is clearly sensitive to the built environment in which it finds itself.”

The hearing then ended, with all parties invited back to the Brewery for lunch.

TO SEE THE NEW SITE PLAN, CLICK HERE.

TO SEE THE NEW ELEVATION DIAGRAMS, CLICK HERE.

Bridge’s character to be kept

Simcoe County says it will bridge the gap between the old and the new when they make public designs for the new Collingwood Street bridge next spring.

Last month, Clearview Township accepted a motion to rebuild the Collingwood Street bridge, which spans the Mad River on the way south out of Creemore. The bridge is owned by Simcoe County but lies on a Clearview Road.

“We have heard the concerns of people interested in preserving the bridge and we plan to incorporate some of their concerns and preserve some of the heritage features of the bridge when rebuilding,” said Debbie Korolnek, General Manager of Engineering, Planning and Environment at Simcoe County. “The trusses of the existing bridge will be refurbished and incorporated into the new bridge so it looks similar to the current one.”

Other changes, such as expanding the bridge from one to two lanes are necessary to address safety issues, she said.

Julie Scruton, Project Engineer at Simcoe County provided The Creemore Echo with a list of safety concerns. The bridge has no sidewalk for pedestrians, it has a deficient vertical curve and it does not meet provincial standards for vertical geometry, Scruton said. “If you are driving north, you can’t see a car approaching in time to stop safely.”

A routine inspection of the bridge in 2006 found it to be “sufficiently deficient,” Korolnek said. “It’s one hundred years old and it’s a safety concern. Like a car, you can only fix it so many times before you have to redo.”

But Barry Burton, who heads a community group that wants to save the bridge in its original form, thinks this is a load of hooey. “It’s a single-lane bridge on a dead-end road. It’s the bridge to nowhere. It doesn’t service any more than 30 homes.”

Because the bridge stands on a Clearview road, Clearview Township could stop the rebuild by declaring it to be a heritage structure. However, on Monday, October 21, Council voted against such a decision.

Currently, there are no heritage-designated bridges in Simcoe County and Clearview Township.

Simcoe County estimates it will cost $2.28 million to rebuild the bridge. Burton argued that it will cost $1 million less to maintain the existing bridge than it will to build a new one.

Clearview Mayor Ken Ferguson doesn’t see it that way. “It’s a difference of opinion, but I think they’re under as much as we’re over,” he said.

“If it was a heritage bridge, then it would be paid for 100% by taxpayers’ money. I thought this was a great compromise,” Ferguson said, of rebuilding the bridge while preserving some of its features. “We listened, engaged, put lots of time into it, and now it’s crunch time.”

“I understand they want to preserve part of the history of Canada and that’s why we’ve gone to this extreme,” said Korolnek. “We think we have done as much as we can to try to within the approved conditions. For us it’s not a question of saving the bridge or not saving the bridge. For us it’s how to make it safe and preserve the character for the neighbourhood.”

Construction on the new bridge is planned for 2015. In the meantime, Burton said his group hasn’t given up; its members are still hoping to change Council’s mind.

Bring back the layaway!

By Andy Barrie

Every weekend I go and visit a piece of stereo equipment I really have the hots for. It’s currently living at an appliance store, waiting for me to save up the money to bring it home. In the meanwhile, I drop by to croon over it, twiddle its knobs and just generally fantasize about how nice it will look and sound on my shelf.

In other words, I am behaving like a complete jerk; a throwback to the days before plastic credit and instant gratification. Because, let’s face it, I could take this thing home tonight if I wanted to. I could slip the clerk a credit card and my waiting would be over. This is exactly what a friend of mine says I ought to do. He can’t imagine why on earth I would pine for something that a piece of plastic could instantly make mine.

It took his teasing to make me realize that I am subconsciously acting out one of the major dramas of my childhood. This is the now-forgotten concept of the layaway. These days of course, they give credit to cocker spaniels, but there was a time, friends, when you didn’t get the goods until the store got its money – period. The unspeakable fear was that by the time you scratched together the cash, the thing would be gone. So the store would hold it, while you sort of ransomed it on the installment plan. 

I think I was nine when I spotted a – can you believe this? – ventriloquist dummy that had to be mine. It cost 15 bucks. I made a deal to pay it off at about a dollar a week. I’d go down every Saturday with my single, crumpled bill. In return, I had visiting rights. I could take the dummy down from the shelf and play with it. But eventually, it would have to go back. One day, almost four months after I started, it was mine.

Well, I never learned to throw my voice. I forgot about the dummy. But I still remember those months of longing. 

Now I’m a grown-up and the credit card folks say I can have anything I want, as soon as I want it. Just sign right here. But it’s hard for me to put away the layaway mentality. I have this idea that most things ought to live in your imagination for a while before you bring them home. 

So, I’ll leave you now. There’s a toy in a store down the street that’s waiting for my weekly visit.

Bringing it all back home

Anyone who knows Dunedin artist and ultra-marathon runner Peter Taylor won’t be surprised that the birth of his first child eight months ago didn’t keep him from continuing to explore the roads and trails of the Noisy River valley – in fact, his closest friends in Dunedin purchased him and partner Leslie Evans an off-road running stroller as a baby shower present, knowing that Taylor wouldn’t be able to slow down.

What did come as a surprise, for Taylor himself at least, was the way he was able to translate his off-road experiences, and the wild vistas he came upon, into art. Traditionally an oil-on-large-canvas guy, he quickly found that daddy daycare – baby Isla spent a lot of time in Taylor’s studio afterall, napping in a Pack and Play after joining him on a morning run – did not always gel with spending long hours on big paintings.

“I tried it a few times, but it was really hard to maintain focus without becoming a really bad dad,” he said.

In the 13 years he’d been painting for a living, though, Taylor had always had an image in the back of his head, of a whole bunch of small-format work on one wall. He’d also had a growing desire to return to drawing, a skill he’d used during the 10-year illustration career that predated his decision to become a full-time artist.

“I also had some beautiful paper that had been given to me as a gift,” said Taylor, “so I started experimenting with smaller sketches.”

The result is “Project 50,” a self-curated show of 50 eight-by-eight works in mixed media – some use pen and ink, some use pastels, some use paint. All of them depict places that Taylor has visited and fallen in love with. From Crowsnest Pass in the Rockies to the lakes of Temagami in Ontario to Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, the sketches span the width of Canada.

The show, which will take place this weekend only – Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26 from 10 am to 5 pm – marks the first major local exhibit for Taylor since he and Evans moved to the area in 2006. For the past 13 years, Taylor has focused on doing one large show a year in Toronto, all of which have benefited Amici, a not-for-profit organization which sends underprivileged children to Ontario summer camps.

This show is a whole different thing, inspired by the birth of Isla, worked on in spurts between child care duties, and staged in Taylor’s own studio in the village that’s now his home.

“I’m a bit nervous this time, because it’s all so close to home,” said Taylor. “But I’m excited also, to share this work in the place that I love.”

“Project 50” can be found at 10 Lavender Hill Road in Dunedin – look for Taylor’s extensive front-yard vegetable gardens. For more information call 705-466-5424 or visit www.petertaylorpaintings.com.

Bruce Trail’s first Hike-a-thon

This August, you can help expand the Bruce Trail by participating in the first-ever Bruce Trail Hike-a-thon.

The Hike-a-thon is a month-long fundraising event to secure, steward and open to the public 5,000 additional acres of Niagara Escarpment land, including the Bruce Trail, by 2017.

Participants set a personal hiking goal, collect donations, and then hike the Trail throughout the month of August.

The event is part of the Bruce Trail Conservancy’s 50th Anniversary Milestones Project and is hosted by the Toronto Bruce Trail Club.

Visit www.brucetrail.org for more information.

Budget out of touch with local economy

Clearview Council presented the draft 2013 budget for public comment on Monday evening. About 30 residents attended, seven spoke and one sent in written comments. Some expressed their appreciation for the difficult work crafting a budget. All made suggestions to improve the process and the acceptability of the budget draft.

While the prevailing view was that the proposed 9.53 per cent increase in the Clearview tax levy was too high, suggestions ranged from the need to improve the public process, attendance and input, to adding and removing specific projects, reducing operating costs, reviewing staff salary levels, cutting services, adding to the reserve funds and spending more in line with actual growth.

I will be holding a Townhall Meeting on Saturday, February 23, at 1 pm at the Station on the Green during which I will review the draft budget to receive further comments from residents, as well as update residents on other local projects and concerns.

More work is planned before a final budget is approved by Council. The current schedule is to have one more budget workshop on Monday, March 4. The public is encouraged to attend. Final budget approval is expected at the March 25 Council meeting.

In my view, Council has an opportunity to bring the 2013 budget into line with our local economy. We are spending at a much higher annual rate than we are bringing in new revenue. We have been doing this for the past few years in anticipation of growth. That growth has not happened. The slower than anticipated growth in the Township’s assessed base means that essentially the same number of households are being asked year over year to support increasing spending as if Clearview Township is actually growing. It’s not. We have to rebalance our spending to our actual growth.

In fact, our population has declined 2.5 per cent since the last census in 2006. Census families have declined 1.9 per cent while family dwellings have stayed essentially the same, up only 0.6 per cent. The median age of our residents has risen; those of us 65 and older are up 7.4 per cent. These statistics are in marked contrast to our neighbouring communities of Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, Springwater, Essa and Mulmur, our usual comparators when justifying spending increases.

Combined with our aging demographics, median family after-tax incomes peaked in 2008 and have remained unchanged. More residents are entering into retirement and onto fixed incomes. Ratepayers’ ability and tolerance to pay rising taxes is maxing out.

In the private sector, businesses facing stagnant or declining customer numbers look to creative ways to reduce costs, maintain service and quality and increase their competiveness and sales.

Shouldn’t the Township, facing a stagnant tax base and increasing demands for program spending, find innovative ways to control its costs? I think we should. Municipalities who raise taxes, user fees and development charges without assessing the impact on its current and future homeowners, will evenutually price themselves out of the competitive residential growth market.

This is not a philosophical argument, it is an economic reality. We have the staff resources to take up the challenge of rebalancing sustainable spending in line with our growth outlook. A multi-year plan will position us well to encourage and realize future growth. Council needs to find the political will to set this plan in motion.

We need growth in this Township to support our families and our businesses. This cannot be done by simply branding over what is an unsustainable business plan.

I invite you to the Ward 4 Townhall on Saturday, February 23 to make your commments known. Feel free to contact me at (705) 466-6321, or tpaterson@clearview.ca.

Budget passes at 1.94% increase

Clearview council passed the 2015 municipal budget Monday but not before restoring a $25,000 transfer to the library building reserve.

The transfer was only one of four budget amendments proposed by Councillor Thom Paterson to be approved.

Paterson also attempted to restore a transfer to the township’s halls reserve fund, eliminate a new communications and marketing staff position and further reduce the $2.4 million administration budget by one per cent.

The library fund transfer passed with support from all council members except Deputy Mayor Barry Burton but Paterson couldn’t even get a seconder for his motion to restore the halls fund, earmarked for future accessibility renos.

Council was split on whether or not to hire a communications officer. With councillors Deborah Bronée, Shawn Davidson and Connie Leishman absent, the motion failed in a 3-3 tie vote (Mayor Chris Vanderkruys and councillors Robert Walker and Doug Measures voted in favour of hiring the communications specialist while Paterson, Burton and Councillor Kevin Elwood voted against).

In the case of the last amendment, to quell what he referred to as crisis-like overspending by reducing the administration budget by $240,000, Paterson could only find support from Elwood.

In the end, Paterson and Elwood did not support the budget, reflecting a 4.12 per cent increase, although it is expected the increase will be down to 1.94 per cent or less once education and county taxes are factored in.

Elwood said he does not support hiring any new staff members at this time because it doesn’t seem like the township is clear on what is needed.

“I think we are jumping the gun,” he said.

Elwood said while there is a perceived benefit to township administration, the public doesn’t see the need.

The discussion, throughout budget deliberations, has been about whether to hire an economic development officer first and if the township can afford more staff at all.

Walker said he hopes a communications officer will help streamline the township’s flow of information and get back to some of the forms of communication the township used to use, like a newsletter.

Burton said he would rather see emphasis on economic development.

“My biggest concern is the lack of income. We need to get development going,” he said, adding that revenue from taxes should cover 60-70 per cent of the budget.

“People are against a new hire. The communication they are looking for is with individual council members.

Burton said he would rather see $25,000 of the library reserve allocation go toward hiring an economic development officer and revisit communication needs later.

“We need one down the road, just not right now. We need economic development.”

When it came to reducing the overall budget, Elwood said it would be beneficial to create a low taxation environment.

“We have to demonstrate further restraint and it’s not a big request. We can’t have it all,” he said.

But some council members felt it was not possible to hack away at the administration budget.

Vanderkruys said it is too late this year, as the township is already into the first quarter and contracts have been signed.

He said the past council should have been looking at reducing spending and a full spending analysis could be conducted as part of a service review. Paterson has given notice that he will be proposing a review before the next budget process.

Treasurer Edward Henley will be bringing forward a bylaw to set the tax rate based on the final budget at a later date.

He said it is estimated taxpayers will see an increase of $55 per household based on a home assessed at $255,783, the average in Clearview Township.

Budget passes, finally, with 3.91% increase

Clearview Council passed its 2012 budget Monday night, agreeing unanimously to a 3.91 per cent net tax increase and a 5.44 per cent increase in tax-supported Township spending.
The decision came after six months of discussion, taking place over eight working sessions and one town hall public meeting. Nearly every member of Council who commented before the vote said it had been a long, arduous process, but ultimately a rewarding one.

“Every year we get better at this,” said Councillor Thom Paterson, summarizing his reasons for supporting the budget while stressing his opinion that there’s still work to be done.
With increases to the police budget and Simcoe County waste management fees accounting for more than two percentage points and remaining outside of Council’s control, the sentiment among most Councillors was that there was little more that could be done to bring the increase further down.

“There’s always going to be a segment of our population that believes we can do it for less, but I believe this municipality is already running very bare bones,” said Councillor Shawn Davidson. “We did this without making any major service cuts, and I’m proud of that.”

Councillor Robert Walker echoed that thought, saying that Council could have gone further and started cutting services, but that “you have to be careful what you wish for.”
Mayor Ken Ferguson, meanwhile, reiterated his opinion that this is a “maintenance budget – survival without cutting services.”

There was one final debate on Monday night, regarding the now infamous organizational study, which was unanimously inserted into the budget early on in the process, only to be removed, then put back in, and finally removed at the last minute.

With three members of the Township’s senior staff – Clerk Robert Campbell, Director of Public Works Richard Spraggs and Chief Administrative Officer Sue McKenzie – all set to retire within the next two years, most Councillors had supported the organizational study at various times throughout the budget discussions as a way of discovering the most efficient way of moving forward, not just with senior staff but with the Township’s workforce as a whole.

The study, with a predicted cost of $25,000, had been left in the budget after the final Council workshop, but in the days since a memo from McKenzie had circulated stating that enough preliminary work needed to be done by staff that, should Council desire, the organizational study could be put off until early 2013.

Councillor Brent Preston, however, was eager for Council to include the cost in this year’s budget to provide flexibility in case staff was ready to put the study to tender in the fall. He also expressed concern that, if the decision were to be left until next year, it may fall victim to the same pressures that it did this year. “Now is the time,” he said, “for us to vote on this once and for all.”

The inclusion of the study in the 2012 budget would have brought this year’s net increase up to 4.04 per cent, with Clearview’s tax-funded spending going up by 5.66 per cent. The spectre of a four-per-cent-plus tax increase seemed to dissuade most on Council however, and Preston’s amendment to reinsert the study failed to pass, with only Preston and Councillors Doug Measures and Deb Bronnee voting in favour of it.

There still seemed to be a will at the table to make a final commitment to the study, however, so after the budget vote passed unanimously at 3.91 per cent, Councillor Paterson made a motion that Council instruct staff to do all the necessary preliminary work this year so that the organizational study can be done early in 2013. That motion passed unanimously.

Clearview’s 2012 operating budget now sits at $18.7 million, compared to $18.2 million in 2011. The capital budget is $45 million, compared to $35.6 million in 2011, though much of that money will only be spent if the Township secures grants.

The 3.91 per cent net tax increase means that the average family home in Clearview will see an increase of $106 on their 2012 tax bill.

As for the work yet to be completed alluded to by Councillor Paterson, he told Council he still intends to bring forth a motion sometime in May regarding the creation of a budget/finance committee (or “working group,” as he called it on Monday night). That subject did not receive much debate during the meeting, although Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage did note her support for such a mechanism.

Budget starts with 3.2% increase

Clearview Township council tackled the 2015 municipal budget Dec. 8 as its first order of business for the new term of council.

During the first budget workshop, council members reviewed the budget proposed by staff, which will be discussed, revised and finally approved after several more meetings and public consultation.

Township staff has drafted a budget with a working target that would require a 3.22 per cent tax increase, once county and school board taxes are factored in.

That would translate into an estimated increase of $91 based on a home assessed at $255,783, the average in Clearview Township.

The estimated residential tax rate increase includes an estimated municipal tax levy increase of 5.18 per cent (6.44 per cent municipal less 1.26 per cent policing), an estimated Simcoe County tax levy increase of 2 per cent, and no increase estimated for the school board.

Staff also proposed a 2016 budget with a potential 3.09 per cent increase, or a $90 increase for the average home.

“Two of the main factors behind the increase are a large reduction in a long-standing provincial grant (the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund) that helps rural municipalities operate and increases to municipal reserves to replace aging infrastructure,” said treasurer Edward Henley.

In addition to the $183,000 reduction in OMPF funding, the main factors for the tax increase are due to a $234,200 increase in transfers to reserves, $60,882 for new staffing and a reduction in reliance on a $243,191 surplus last year.

As for new staff, a full-time communications and marketing coordinator is proposed in the budget, starting July 1, 2015 and the addition of an economic development officer is proposed the following July.

Mayor Chris VanderKruys invites all Clearview residents to contact him and the other members of council to offer feedback and advice.

“We want to hear from you. Clearview council wants to ensure that Clearview residents have a say in how their tax dollars are spent, what services are important to them and where they would like to see savings,” said Vanderkruys.

Another budget workshop is planned for Jan. 12 and 26 before going to a public meeting on Feb. 9. A final budget workshop is scheduled for March 2 before going up for council approval that same evening.

Budget talks start with 8.48% increase

Clearview Council got a first look at its 2013 budget Monday, during an introductory working session that saw staff present its proposed operating revenues and expenses for the year.

Council was also given staff’s proposed capital budget, with orders to go over the numbers in preparation for the next budget workshop, scheduled for Monday, January 14, during which staff will review that part of the budget with Council.

A third workshop, scheduled for Monday, January 28, will see Council make changes to the budget, in hopes of presenting a draft version at a public meeting on Monday, February 11. Public comments will be considered at a final workshop on Monday, March 4, paving the way for a final budget approval at the Monday, March 25 Council meeting.

As it stands, the current proposed budget includes a total Clearview Township levy increase of 8.48 per cent. Combined with a 0.61 per cent Simcoe County increase, approved at the end of November, and estimated OPP and Education increases of 071 per cent and 0 per cent respectively, the net tax increase for Clearview Township residents should the budget remain unchanged would be 3.66 per cent.

The majority of the Township’s 8.48 per cent increase currently lies on the operating side, with 7.71 per cent, or $771,364, more being required from this year’s levy than last year’s. More than half of that, an increase of $466,855, is required for the administration department, where several new projects are proposed to be funded by taxation. Those include the EDC branding project at $52,000, a pay equity review at $30,000 and municipal asset management plan public consultation at $20,000. Salaries, wages and benefits are set to increase by $121,241.

Elsewhere in the operating budget, the Clearview Fire Department is proposing hiring a part-time administrative assistant at a cost of $30,000 per year and a part-time fire prevention officer at $18,500 per year, and the Clearview Library is proposing keeping the Stayner branch open for an extra hour from Tuesday to Friday at a cost of $9,300 per year.

In total, the budget now calls for a $9.1 million municipal tax levy, with $7.3 million going to operating expenditures and $1.8 million to capital expenditures. That’s $957,155 more than last year. With the average Clearview residence now assessed at $250,750, that means the owner of a home worth that much would pay a tax bill of $2,844.16 this year, with $1,197.13 of that going to Clearview Township coffers and the rest being divided between Simcoe County, the Boards of Education and the OPP. That’s an increase of $100.47 over last year’s tax bill.

Monday’s meeting ended with several Councillors commenting that it was a “great start,” but that there was more work to be done.

“No one here is comfortable with an 8.48 per cent budget increase,” said Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage.

Clearview Township is posting its budget documents here as it works through this year’s deliberations.

Budget to go to before Council with 3.91% increase

The 2012 Budget will be put before Council for final approval this Monday, April 30 at our regular Council Meeting. Based on the final property tax calculations, the 2012 net increase proposed is 3.91 per cent (Clearview, County and School Board combined) representing a 5.66 per cent increase in Clearview’s tax-funded spending.

This latest reduction in the 2012 property tax increase is pimarily as a result of the Township Management Team recommending deferral of a $25,000 Organization Study until next year, giving time for both Staff and Council to better prepare for this review.

While it has been a long and some would say arduous process, progress has been made in producing a budget more in line with our residents’ needs and ability to pay, as well as the economic climate regionally.

As in every budget, there is more work that needs to be done and improvements to be made in both process and outcomes. On balance, however, this year’s series of eight budget workshops and a Township townhall, and the public participation they have generated, has raised the awareness on several  longstanding concerns. Residents have made it clear at public meetings, in the media and to Council members one-on-one that they have real concerns about the ability to maintain a household in Clearview Township given the trend of rising municipal costs.

Residents have been vocal in unprecedented numbers about their concerns. Property taxes have to be affordable, while at the same time continuing to support an expected level of municipal services. At the same time, not all services are viewed as equally necessary by all our residents. Some want new and improved services, expecting value for taxes paid.

Many have said they have reached their limit, not wanting to pay more taxes for more new services, especially those they do not use. Residents want to know how the size and cost of the Township’s employee base will be contained and how large capital projects can be better planned to mitigate the impact of growth on their municipal fees and taxes.

The work on many of these issues needs to continue and a proposal will be coming to Council in May to form a working group to build on the discussions started during this year’s budget process.

Above all, Budget 2012 stands out as the year in which a growing number of Clearview residents decided to get involved in the process and demand to be listened to.

To the credit of our Township staff, the level of departmental discussion available to both Council and the public continues to improve each year. In particular the Finance Department, through the leadership of Treasurer Edward Henley, and the personal efforts of his staff to prepare and present the series of informative budget packages, made working through the budget details productive.

Residents played an imprtant role in both persistently pointing out where the consultation process can be improved and by offering their opinions, in near real time, on the decisions being made by Council and staff throughout the 2012 Budget process.

So, consider attending the Council meeting on Monday evening to hear the discussion to approve the proposed 2012 Budget, remembering that it is a regular meeting format and the opportunity for public comment is limited to the Public Participation Period. The public portion of the meeting begins immediately after a 5:30 pm In Camera session that is expected to last about 30 minutes.

Budget to go to public with 4% increase

Clearview Council will present a draft budget to the public on February 11, looking for feedback on a potential 9.53 per cent increase in the Township levy and an overall property tax increase of 4.02 per cent.

Those numbers stand after a third budget workshop on Monday, held theoretically so members of Council could whittle the increase down, but which instead saw more money added to the budget than taken away.

The meeting began with Treasurer Edward Henley pitching a 3.45 per cent overall tax increase, comprised of a 0.15 per cent OPP increase, a 0.61 per cent Simcoe County increase, a zero per cent School Board increase and an 8.1 per cent Township increase. To achieve that number, staff had made $352,000 worth of cuts to the budget’s first iteration, including a $75,000 reduction in the transfer to the Township’s working reserve, a $50,000 reduction in the transfer to the library reserve and deferrals of several projects, including improvements to Gowan Park ($30,000), upgrades at Avening Hall ($40,000), resurfacing of the tennis courts in Stayner’s Ives Park ($30,000) and installing new fire protection measures at the Dunedin Hall ($15,000).

Council made only two more deductions over the course of Monday’s workshop, changing the amount budgeted for the Economic Development Committee branding project from $59,000 to $50,000 and spreading an upgrade to the Township’s municipal management software over two years, reducing this year’s cost from $16,500 to $8,250.

Then, reflecting on the fact that the Township’s reserves are getting low in the face of several large expenditures on the horizon, Council agreed to add $150,000 in savings to the budget. New reserves dedicated to community hall upgrades and library expansion will receive $50,000 each, and the bridge reconstruction reserve, which was scheduled to receive $250,000 this year, will instead receive $300,000.

Council also added $10,000 to the budget to partner with Collingwood and Wasaga Beach on a pilot transportation project that could eventually result in bus service to Stayner.

In addition to the aforementioned decisions, Monday’s meeting also included a lengthy discussion about the philosophy of municipal budgetting, with Councillor Thom Paterson pushing hard for Council to take a look at the possibility of service cuts to bring the municipal levy increase down. But he couldn’t sway his colleagues in that direction.

“It doesn’t make sense for Council to get into the kind of detail needed to analyze the entire budget line by line,” said Councillor Brent Preston. “If we want service cuts, it would be better just to ask staff for a percentage decrease across the board. What’s more concerning for me is the constant deferring and underfunding. What we need is a fiscally responsible budget – and that could mean service cuts but it could also mean higher taxes and putting more money in reserves.”

With the 4.02 per cent overall increase, the average home in Clearview Township (currently assessed at $250,750) would pay $2,854.02 in taxes, an increase of $110.34 over 2012. Of that amount, $1,208.74 would go to the Township, $312.77 to the OPP, $778.36 to Simcoe County and $554.16 to the School Boards.

Every $100,000 added to the Clearview Township budget increases the Township levy by one per cent.

The next step in the 2013 Clearview budget process is a public meeting, scheduled for Monday, February 11 at 7:15 pm in the Council Chambers. Following that, Council will meet for one more workshop on Monday, March 4 to make any final changes to the budget. It’s anticipated the budget will then be passed on Monday, March 25.

Clearview Township budget documents are available online here.

Budget trimmed again

Clearview Council will take a proposed tax increase of 4.5 per cent to the public at its Town Hall meeting on Monday, April 30, after four months of workshops and a final day of cuts and deferrals this past Monday.

That 4.5 per cent would be a net effect increase to residents’ municipal taxes, encompassing a 6.79 per cent increase to Clearview Township’s levy, a 3.55 per cent increase in Simcoe County’s take and no increase to the education portion. Simcoe County’s tax increase is actually 1.5 per cent for 2012, but the amount that Clearview pays the County to deal with its residents’ waste and recycling has increased by $150,000, which is equivalent to two extra percentage points.

The 4.5 per cent figure is still not set in stone, as members of the public will have the chance to comment on the budget at the Town Hall Meeting, and Council will deliberate once more following that before passing its 2012 budget on April 30.

But if the number were to stick, it would mean the owner of the average home in Clearview Township would pay an extra $129 in taxes this year – a total of $3,033 compared to $2,904 in 2011.

In order to bring the increase down from 6.3 per cent, the number which had been predicted the week before, Council made several tweaks on Monday. A $40,000 organizational study, inserted into the budget earlier this year in light of the fact that three Township senior staff members are set to retire in the next two years, was taken out; the repaving of Sunnidale 3-4 Sideroad from Concession 9 to Concession 7, estimated at $125,000, was deferred to 2013; renovations to the Avening Hall, budgeted at $40,000, were deferred to next year; a replacement of the administration centre’s telephone system, at a cost of $35,000, was deferred to 2014; and the $28,250 repairs to the Stayner Library’s roof was deferred to 2013. Several other smaller changes were made; in total, $327,850 was taken out of this year’s budget, $185,850 was moved to next year and $55,000 was pushed off until 2014.

That raised the concern among some at the table that this year’s hefty tax increase was merely being postponed until next year.

Councillor Thom Paterson then raised the topic of service cuts, saying “there’s millions of dollars we’re spending that we never look at.” Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage agreed that the Township’s base level costs should be looked at, and a discussion ensued about whether next year’s budget process could be started even earlier, in order to look more closely at things like contract services and staffing.

It was then agreed that the 4.5 per cent increase should be taken to the public for input, before one last working session on April 16.

Building community one face at a time

In a town the size of Creemore, it’s impossible to walk down the street without recognizing many of the faces you encounter. It’s also impossible, in conversations about what’s going on around town, to not hear the same names over and over again.

What’s sometimes harder to do, however, is to attach all of the faces you know to all of the names you know.

That’s the inspiration behind Creemore photographer and artist MK Lynde’s latest project, which will have its home base in René Petitjean’s studio at 195 Mill Street during the Creemore Festival of the Arts.

Lynde is hoping that each and every one of you – and ideally, everyone in town – will drop by to see her and pose for a simple photograph, holding a sign which says your name. In the long term, Lynde envisions a sort of Creemore database, perhaps at the library or perhaps at the Creemore Echo, where people can drop in and search for a name or scroll through faces to find one they are curious about.

“Creemore is the perfect size for this,” says Lynde. “We’re all part of this community, and we’re small enough that we can all know each other.”

To further illustrate the fact that we’re all in this together, Lynde will be feeding all of the photographs she takes into a piece of software she’s fond of, known as the Mosaic Generator. Capable of creating large-scale photographs using thousands of smaller photographs as its pixels, the software played a large part in Lynde’s last Creemore show, which saw her using seductive Facebook profile pictures to create large-scale iconic photos of pin-up girls.

This time, she has a tamer goal in mind – to use photographs of Creemore residents to create larger representations of the village we all love. Visitors to the studio will be able to watch the Mosaic Generator do its work in real time, which should make for an interesting and literal illustration of community building.

Building community through arts

Local carver David Bruce Johnson is giving back to the area’s arts community by coordinating the Artists on Location event at the Creemore Festival of the Arts. The festival takes place during the first weekend in October.

“Creemore is conducive to being artistic,” said Johnson, whose wood and stone carvings of abstract shapes, and human and animal figures have been exhibited in Toronto, Vancouver and the U.S. “I have peace of mind here.”

But Johnson wasn’t always an artist. In fact, his career began in the armed forces. But after 35 years working for the federal government, Johnson felt he needed a change.

First, he took up wood carving full-time. Then, he and his wife, Tracey Kolowska, moved from their Ottawa home to Creemore seven years ago.

On October 5 and 6, from 10 am to 4 pm, you can meet Johnson and more than 40 other artists in the area at the Artists on Location event. Formerly the Fall Studio Tour, Artists on Location gives members of the public a chance to meet artists in their studios and see their work throughout Creemore. It’s one of many events taking place as part of the three-day Creemore Festival of the Arts, which begins on October 4.

According to Miriam Vince, one of the event organizers, the festival has something for everyone: music, dance, fine art, craft, literature, theatre and children’s programming. “It represents all of the different cultural and heritage interests of this community,” she said.

Have a drink at the Old Mill House Pub and view Nicolee A. Miller’s watercolour paintings and photography. Take a foray out to Country Road 9 to witness the creation of a chainsaw carving by Jim Leithead. Visit the horticultural garden to see an Roy Hickling’s installation and performance art by Ralph Hicks. See how a portrait is painted with a live demonstration by Sara Sniderhan at the
Mad & Noisy Gallery on Mill Street.

Check the Purple Hills Arts and Heritage Society website, www.phahs.ca, for a list of artists and locations, closer to the date.

Buy banned books

By Jenn Hubbs

“Something will be offensive to someone in every book, so you’ve got to fight it.” ― Judy Blume

February is strange. Although it has the fewest days of any month, it can feel like the longest after a winter already filled with storms, snow and cold snaps.

We celebrate all kinds of love with Valentine’s Day and Family Day, ongoing strength and perseverance with Black History Month, but also censorship and dissent with “Freedom to Read Week,” which runs from February 23 to March 1.

Great works of literature – and some not-so-great – have encountered challenges and censorship throughout history. “Freedom to Read Week” is an annual event that encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. During this time, we invite readers to explore some historically challenged works and examine why they might have caused offense.

Sometimes the challenges are due to the time period in which the books are released. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee have both been under scrutiny by numerous school boards over the past 20 years.

The books, classics of North American literature that are set in the Deep South, contain language and racial descriptions that are no longer considered acceptable in today’s society. As a result, school boards must consider if the books are accurate portrayals of a specific period in time, and therefore where they are best suited in the curriculum.

Similarly, Margaret Lawrence’s A Jest of God was challenged and considered for removal in the 1970s because the teacher carries on an unmarried relationship while still teaching – grounds for dismissal in some conservative school districts.

Famed horse story, Black Beauty, was challenged and removed from schools in South Africa during the Apartheid era because the government at the time felt that the title expressed inappropriate sentiments about non-white people of Africa – that is, that “black” could be “beautiful.” It would have been difficult to find a copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in China in the 1930s, as the government there banned the book because of “unnaturally talking animals,” and because humans and animals were portrayed on the same level of understanding and intellect.

Other book challenges can be more personal. J.K. Rowling herself has been under fire from no less than at least 19 U.S. states and Canadian provinces, where parents were concerned that Harry Potter was engaged in wizardry, witchcraft and magic – all inappropriate for young readers from devout religious backgrounds.
The Lord of the Rings was removed and burned by schools in New Mexico in the early 2000s because of its so-called “satanic” nature – a fact that is a little ironic when you consider that Tolkien was a committed Christian, and that much is made about the Christian symbolism within his work.

Children’s books are often a popular target for challenge and removal, but sometimes the reasons can be a little difficult to understand. Beatrix Potter’s famous Tale of Peter Rabbit was briefly removed from London City Council schools in the U.K. in the 1980s because it was felt that the rabbits were too “middle class.” Maurice Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen continues to be challenged across the U.S., simply because the main character goes through the story naked. (Sendak explained that Mickey just didn’t want to get his clothes dirty.)

Everyone has the right to make personal decisions about what we choose to read or not read in our lives. It’s important to remember that this decision is a part of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that it is a right that many in the world do not have at this time.

Show your support for your personal “freedom to read,” by stopping by the bookstore and your local library to find your favourite “banned” books.

Jenn Hubbs is pictured on the home page with Joanne McLachlan holding their favourite “banned books,” Roald Dahl’s The Witches and Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov, respectively.

Bylaw exemption allows for first food cart approval

Clearview councillors have made an exception to the rule in the case of a new vending bylaw to allow for approval of the first application.

The township received an application from Todd Jackson, requesting to set up a year-round food cart that would serve hot dogs, sausages and French fries at 7458 Highway 26.

The original bylaw, which was passed in August, states that food carts cannot be approved within 200 metres of a competitive business.

In this case, the hot dog cart will be located 181 metres from Stayner Beef Burger.

The restaurant’s owners, Terry and Magda Stefanidis, and two employees spoke in opposition to the exemption at an Oct. 6 council meeting saying it would hurt business. They said they fear business from high school students and Reinhart employees could be lost to the food cart.

Magda Stefanidis said no one from the township informed the family of the proposal, they happened to find out and showed up at council Monday to voice their opposition.

“This will hurt our business,” she told The Echo. “I know it will.”

The bylaw is in a one-year trial period.

Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage said because it is only a deficiency of 19 metres and there was a lot of discussion over the summer about how the 200-metre setback was an arbitrary number set for the purpose of the bylaw, it doesn’t make sense to push the cart back on the property to a less suitable location in terms of traffic flow and visibility.

“The best thing is to approve this exemption to see the overall outcome,” said Savage.

With the exception of Thom Paterson and Deb Bronée, all other council members agreed to allow for the vending cart in order to assess the commercial use during the trial period.

Paterson said, as it is a newly passed bylaw, it should be enforced as is.

Cabin fundraiser to honour a great gardener

Mary Robertson, an avid gardener and community volunteer who left us in 2010, will be honoured posthumously later this month when her lifelong collection of botanical prints is offered for silent auction at the Creemore Log Cabin, with all proceeds going toward the development of gardens and landscaping at that new facility.

“It’s quite an impressive collection,” said John Ferris, the Log Cabin Committee member who’s organizing the event. In total, there are about 55 matted and framed prints, all presenting the latin name of whatever flower, vegetable or herb is illustrated in its botanically correct form. The prints are of varying sizes and ages, with some dating as far back as the late 19th Century.

The collection will be on public display at the Log Cabin on Saturday, May 19 from 9 am to 2 pm; Sunday, May 20 from 12 to 3 pm; and Saturday, May 26 from 9 am to 2 pm. Silent auction bids can be made at any time during those three periods. The exhibition will then end with a public reception from 2 to 3 pm on Saturday, May 26, during which time any final bidding will be done in live auction style.

The landscaping around the Cabin that will take place this summer using funds raised during the auction will be a lasting tribute to Robertson, and will include period-style perennial beds around the building and several heritage vegetable plots out back.

“Mary would be delighted that her prints are going to help out the Log Cabin,” said her friend and business partner Kathy Meeser, who encouraged Mary’s husband Stuart to donate them to that cause. “She was tremendously excited about the cabin when it was discovered.”

Many of the plants in Robertson’s gardens were sold during last year’s Horticultural Society Plant Sale, benefitting her other great passion. It was Robertson and Meeser who did the original gardening work in the Horticultural Park, and she spent many years volunteering for that organization.

Cadets receive $3,000 grant

The 1944 EME Cadet Corps has been selected as one of four cadet corps across Canada to receive a $3,000 grant from the Gerard Buckley Cadet Fund (GBCF). Gerard Buckley was in attendance Monday night in Creemore to make the presentation personally, along with Lt. Don McCumber, president of The Army Cadet League of Canada (Ontario).

The awards fund, created jointly by former Army Cadet Buckley, the Army Cadet League of Canada and Scotiabank, is used to support optional training for Canadian army cadets.

The Gerard Buckley Cadet Fund (GBCF) has welcomed applications from Army Cadet Corps across Canada since 2001 to support activities and training expenses in Canada, not funded by the Government of Canada. These activities may include biathlon equipment, local music programs, ceremonial equipment, marksmanship and hunter safety training, facilities, slings, scopes, local adventure training and expeditions.

The local 1944 EME Cadet Corps will be using the money to replace worn equipment for their biathlon and marksmanship teams, as well as Corp Sports equipment. The Corps has had many successes in the past few years with these teams and will welcome the equipment.

Pictured above are Former Army Cadet Gerard Buckley, Patrick Belford, Victoria Banks, Lt. Don McCumber, Devlyn Lohnes, Anthony Flack and Lt. Steve Connor.

Cadets visit veterans

By Carol Parkes

As a fun, year-end field trip, the Creemore Army Cadets said they wanted to visit the veterans at Sunnybrook Veterans hospital in Toronto. Our trip took place on May 3, and we spent time chatting with the residents who are all veterans from WWII and the Korean War. Eighteen Cadets visited and enjoyed talking to true heroes of living history. We ended our day with dinner at Medieval Times.

The cadets spoke to a number of veterans about their experiences. We found a gentleman named Nelson Earle who was born in Collingwood and raised in Glen Huron. He enlisted in the army at age 18. He was assigned to a tank platoon and was involved in battles that destroyed four different tanks he was riding in.

Earle served in France, Holland and Belgium, and is now in his 90s. He suffered a gunshot wound to his left hand and burns to his legs, but remained in the army until he was 23. After the war he went on to become the General Manager of a large car dealership in civilian life. More recently, he lost the use of his legs and is confined to a wheelchair, but he says he is blessed to be living in Sunnybrook.

The cadets presented Earle with a quilt made by Creemore resident Sandy Van Laar. Earle was thrilled by the quilt and admired its workmanship; Earle did warn me that publishing his photo in the newspaper would possibly bring old girlfriends out of the woodwork! Can you imagine being 90 plus, in a wheelchair and still joking about old sweethearts?

This was an amazing opportunity for the generations to meet and for the Cadets to show respect for those who served. It was an experience all of us will remember for a long time. 

Carol Parkes is 1944 RCEME Army Cadets Creemore Support Committee Chairperson.

Call for Arts Fest entries

By Miriam Vince

The 2014 Creemore Festival of the Arts is now accepting applications from artists who wish to participate in its Artist on Location program on Saturday, October 4 and Sunday, October 5. Artist on Location is a two-day opportunity for artists to show and sell their art by displaying their art local businesses, studios, galleries and homes, throughout the village of Creemore.
 
One new aspect of this year’s Artist on Location program will be a Group Art Show, which will be held in the north room of the Station on the Green. Participating artists will be invited to display a small representative piece of art and the show will be open to the public throughout the Festival weekend.

The Artist on Location program is key to the overall success of the Festival. We are hoping to encourage artistically inclined people to find creative ways to express themselves and engage the public – through open studios, public installations, interactive exhibits – the sky is the limit!

Interested artists must complete an online application form found at www.phahs.ca. A nominal registration fee of $20 will create a small fund to cover costs for signage and printing. A list of businesses that are willing to host an artist for this event is available upon request.

The deadline for entry to Artists on Location is Friday, August 1. It is really important for artists to make their application by this deadline so they can be included in Festival resources, such as an artist map of the area.

For more information about participating in this event, go to the Purple Hills Arts and Heritage Society website (www.phahs.ca), contact David Bruce Johnson at 705-466-6317 or david@dbj.ca, or email the organizing committee at phahs.artsfestival@gmail.com.  

Miriam Vince is Co-Chair of the Creemore Festival of the Arts.

Pictured on home page: “Fall Woods” by Jane Wynne

Call to action from Mulmur candidates

Saturday’s rain did not deter people from an all-candidates town hall for Mulmur Township. The meeting brought about 80 voters face-to-face with the four would-be Mulmur councillors. Many of the township’s current concerns came up, allowing each candidate a good chance to express their priorities and plans for the next four years.
At the candidates’ table were acclaimed Mayor Paul Mills and Heather Hayes, acclaimed deputy mayor, joined by candidates Earl Hawkins (incumbent), Lynn Hilchey (incumbent), Janet Horner and Keith Lowry. The meeting, held at the township offices, was hosted by the Mono Mulmur Citizens’ Coalition and facilitated by Don MacFarlane.
Following candidate statements, the question-and-answer period covered many of Mulmur’s standing issues including the proposed Arbour Farms gravel pit on Airport Road, proposed motorcycle access to the Dufferin County forest, weekend traffic speeding on paved roads and other concerns such as public access to road allowances.
Questions from voters drew out some frustration with the Dufferin County council’s perceived indifference to priorities in the rural townships.
Mills, Hayes and several candidates stressed the value of public action – such as attending meetings as a delegation – to support local council in their appeals to other levels of government.
Mills reminded the crowd of the public’s impact on the outcome of the Melancthon mega-quarry application and praised the work of local citizens’ groups.

Camp bursary in child’s memory

A local resident is sending a child to summer camp in memory of a girl who lost her life in a tragic accident in Toronto.

Eight-year-old Georgia Grace Walsh was struck and killed by a van in Toronto on July 16.

A Creemore resident who knows her family has decided to commemorate the little girl by naming a bursary after her at the Imaginarium Adventures in Art summer camp.

“I think it is really important for children to experience something special in the summer,” said the donor, who prefers to remain anonymous.

“I recognize that a single parent has difficulty keeping kids busy in the summer, and if kids can attend camp then that’s a good thing.”

Last week, the donor called Ayrlie MacEachern, one of Imaginarium’s founders, with the idea.

“She said she wanted to donate this bursary and future bursaries in Georgia’s name,” Ayrlie explained.
The donor added, “Lots of kids want to go to camp but can’t afford it. I can, so I did.”

Imaginarium offers bursaries to families who need financial help sending their children to the day camp.

Bursaries are arranged by various community members and groups, and are supported by Imaginarium’s fundraising efforts.

“We post on Facebook and in emails and are able to offer this to families in financial need,” Ayrlie said.

Imaginarium was founded by Ayrlie MacEachern, Jordan Eveland, Shelley Hannah and Patrick Keating three years ago.

The group’s mission is to cultivate a love of the arts and confidence in self-expression in kids of all ages.

If you are interested in setting up a bursary to send a child to camp, contact Ayrlie at 705-444-0550 or creemoreimaginarium@gmail.com.

Pictured on home page: Kids in costume at Imaginarium Adventures in Art summer camp.

Campers rescued from the Bruce Trail

Clearview firefighters were called to rescue a camper suffering from hypothermia on the weekend during a winter camping trip on the Bruce Trail.

Deputy Fire Chief Roree Payment said one of 11 people in a group of University of Toronto students snowshoeing on the trail was showing signs of hypothermia Sunday when 911 was called.

“When he woke up in the morning, he was shaking uncontrollably, very, very cold,” said Payment.

The campers were travelling toward Blue Mountain where they were to be picked up Monday.

The group was camping about 45 minutes’ walk north of an access point near Glen Huron, on Concession 10 at the 12/13 Sidåeråoad Nottawasåaga.

Firefighters used the department’s ATV to drive along the trail where they met the campers who were coming out.

The man with hypothermia was met by paramedics and taken to hospital in Collingwood by ambulance.

The other people did not require medical attention.

Payment said firefighters helped the other travellers remove their gear from the campsite and took them to the fire hall in Singhampton, where they had created a warming centre.

“We allowed them to recharge their batteries and get warm,” said Payment.

From there, they arranged transportation home.

Payment said the hikers had some winter camping experience and had all the right gear but the temperatures reached into the -40˚C range with the wind chill.

Campfires: hot topic

With a citizen petition in hand, Doug Measures, Councillor for Ward 1, re-opened the debate about open-air burning in the settlement areas of Creemore, New Lowell, Stayner and Nottawa.
Council revisited Clearview’s Open-Air Burning Bylaw at its Monday, September 23 meeting.

Council last amended the Open-Air Burning Bylaw in December 2011. Currently, rural residents can purchase a burn permit to have an open-air fire. The bylaw prohibits residents of settlement areas from having open-air fires.

The petition, which two citizens from New Lowell and Nottawa created, contains 278 signatures from Clearview, said Measures. In total, about 300 people signed the petition, he said.

In the petition, the citizens ask Council to bring back the bylaw allowing residents of settlement areas to hold burning permits.

“People want a background campfire or barbecue,” explained Councillor Measures. “It’s part of our heritage as Canadians.”

Alicia Savage, Deputy Mayor, disagreed. “I am against re-opening this,” she stated. Savage cited improved health and air quality, and reduced pollution in the settlement areas as proof that the bylaw is working.

Acting Fire Chief Colin Shewell reported that about 2 per cent of open-air fires in rural areas result in complaints to the Clearview Township Fire Department. In 2012, the Fire Department issued 1,058 burn permits and received 23 complaints. So far this year, the Fire Department has received 13 complaints and issued 939 burn permits.

Council will use traditional and social media to engage the public on this issue, It will review the Open-Air Burning Bylaw at an upcoming meeting this fall.

Canada Day Street Hockey

By Shawn Hughson

As July 1 falls on a Tuesday this year, the Canada Day Street Hockey Fundraiser will take place the Saturday prior, on June 28.

Creemore’s Elizabeth Street East will be shut down to Library Street to become 3-on-3 street hockey rinks complete with plywood endboards and hay bale borders.

The Old Mill House Pub and the Creemore Sunday Night Hockey League sponsor the event, which includes a beer garden, live music (from 12:30 to 4:30 pm), raffles, a kid’s corner and a 50/50 draw in the form of a shootout competition (at 5 pm).

Register individually or as a team at the Old Mill House Pub, or by contacting Shawn Hughson at 705-796-7536. The fee is $10 per player.

Proceeds raised from this event will go to the Cybergnomes robotics program, which will have a demonstration at the event at 4:30 pm. This year, the Cybergnomes placed within the top 64 out of 2,720 teams from around the world.

The Cybergnomes program is geared to local high school students. The benefits to the students are enormous. Along with things like engineering skills development, mathematics, computer-assisted design, programming, wiring, machining and welding, students learn teamwork, leadership skills, communication, design and more. Students broaden their experiences and increase confidence by travelling outside our communities to compete.

New students are always welcome! Building and meetings happen at JT Snowmobile in New Lowell. Anyone interested can check out www.cybergnomes.c

Candidates lined up for Simcoe-Grey

Canadians will go to the polls Monday, Oct. 19.

An election was called Sunday after Prime Minister Stephen Harper asked the governor general to dissolve Parliament. The 78-day campaign is said to be the longest campaign since the 1800s.

Taking on Simcoe-Grey Conservative MP Kellie Leitch is former New Tecumseth mayor Mike MacEachern, standing for the Liberals, David Matthews for the NDP and JoAnne Fleming-Valin for the Green Party.

Leitch, a physician, was first elected in 2011. She is the Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women.

MacEachern was on New Tecumseth council for 17 years, and was mayor for 11 years.

Matthews, a retired steamfitter and Wasaga Beach resident, ran for the NDP locally in provincial elections in 2011 and 2014.

Fleming-Valin is a first-time candidate. She is a keynote speaker and workshop facilitator specializing in topics relating to sustainable environmental topics.

CARA presses candidates on special interest topics

Candidates for mayor, deputy mayor and council members for Ward 2 and 5 had an opportunity to present themselves to the voters on Sunday during an all candidates meeting in Creemore.

The event was hosted by the Creemore and Area Residents Association.

The association kept the themes of the meeting to a specific agenda by asking very pointed questions about wind turbines, the Collingwood Street Bridge, township spending and staffing levels.

When asked if they had a chance to vote on wind turbines would they vote in favour or against, candidates were instructed to give a yes or no answer.

Acknowledging that is was a hypothetical question, most answered no, to roaring applause. Ward 5 candidate Robert McArthur and mayoral candidate Alicia Savage were the only two to say they would support wind turbines.

When pressed, most candidates also said they agree that the township has overspent and is overstaffed.

Asked to state one key issue, Savage said financial sustainability and planning for rising outside financial pressures is a priority. Her opponent Chris Vanderkruys said community engagement and communication is key.

Deputy mayor candidate Larry Culham said rebuilding trust in council through communication is key with opponent Barry Burton citing growth and development as the top priority.

Ward 2 candidate Kevin Elwood said development is the number one issue with his opponent Donna Baylis, who put herself out as a Green candidate, said it is the right to a healthy environment.

Ward 5 candidate Thom Paterson said long-term financial planning is key with his opponent McArthur going with economic development.

On Creemore’s Collingwood Street Bridge, Savage and Culham said, if elected, as county councillors they would support the reconstruction project and see it widened to two lanes and brought up to standard while finding some way to incorporate the steel arches into the trail system or find some other use.

Vanderkruys and Burton said they would see the bridge preserved and restored.

On track with Thursday’s debate in Stayner (see http://www.thecreemoreecho.com/2014/10/clearview-debate-centres-on-growth-economic-develpment/) growth and development were among the hot topics.

Many candidates are talking about how to diversify the tax base and how to encourage residential growth in order to take some of the burden off current taxpayers.

“Sometimes we need to get out of the way,” said Thom Paterson, of streamlining the bureaucratic process for those wanting to develop in Clearview Township.

Many candidates have addressed the perceived public perception that Clearview Township is not ‘open for business’.

Elwood said, in his experience there were fewer hurdles back in the 1990s when he was opening a business.

McArthur said his agricultural background is his main drive.

“With Ken [Ferguson] stepping down, there’s going to be a void in agriculture, which is the largest economic driver in the township,” said McArthur. “We need to overhaul the planning department. We like our little village here but as a group we have to go ahead.”

 

Carbon monoxide alarms now required in some homes

As of Nov. 1, carbon monoxide alarms are required in certain homes in Ontario.

“If your home has a fuel-burning appliance or an attached garage, you must have a working carbon monoxide alarm adjacent to each sleeping area of the home,” said Clearview Fire Chief Colin Shewell. “For added protection, install a carbon monoxide alarm on every storey of the home according to manufacturer’s instructions.” Fuel-burning appliances include, but are not limited to, furnaces, hot water heaters, gas or wood fireplaces, portable fuel-burning heaters and generators, barbecues, stoves and vehicles. 

Single-family homeowners and owners of residential buildings that contain no more than six suites have until April 15 to comply with the law. Owners of residential buildings with more than six suites have until Oct. 15 to comply.

The law will be enforced by Clearview Fire and Emergency Services. Failure to comply with the carbon monoxide alarm requirements could result in a fine of up to $50,000 for individuals or $100,000 for corporations.

The Ontario Fire Code was amended Oct. 15 to require the alarms after the provincial government passed Bill 77, the Hawkins Gignac Act, in December 2013. Bill 77 is named after OPP Const. Laurie Hawkins, who died along with her husband and two children from carbon monoxide poisoning in 2008. 

The Ontario Fire Code also requires that condo and apartment buildings with a service room, must install the alarms. In condo or apartment buildings that have a garage, alarms must be installed adjacent to each sleeping area above, below and beside the garage. 

“In Ontario, more than 80 per cent of injuries and deaths from carbon monoxide occur in the home,” said Shewell. “We want to make sure everyone is safe from carbon monoxide. Install carbon monoxide alarms, and do everything you can to prevent carbon monoxide in your home in the first place.”

Carolyn Mark at Dunedin Hall

With all of her acerbic wit in tow, Canadian indie virtuoso Carolyn Mark will soon roll into town alongside Joey Wright and Tuxedo, who will themselves contribute their brand of “lyrically dreamy and poetic” acoustic bluegrass to a musical collaboration that is sure to yield entertaining results.

“It makes me feel like a somebody that he wants to play with me,” said Mark of Wright. “And there is the matter of his wife, Jenny Whiteley, who is singing harmonies on this tour. Her pitch is incredible. They inspire me to really play and sing.”

Both Mark and Wright are no strangers to such collaboration, with Mark having worked in the past with both Canadian darling – and former member of The New Pornographers – Neko Case, and Wright having partnered with various members of Stars, the Montreal-based band who will soon play The New Farm.

Now, on June 30, they are coming to play the Dunedin Hall.

For Mark, who has been playing solo since 2000 and recently completed a new album, The Queen of Vancouver, there was a time – after the breaking up of her first band, “all-girl surfy twang popsters” The Vinaigrettes – when her musical future was in doubt.

“I thought I was only ever going to have one band, and when my first band broke up, I thought my musical career was over,” said Mark. “But then I took up the guitar and got a weekly gig at The Hootenanny, which I still have. I find if you know where you’re going people want to come along. Now I’ll play with anyone.”

It was only recently that Wright took the vocals on his own compositions, having acted as co-writer for years alongside Whiteley.
Critics and fans alike have been enthusiastic about the results.

“Christine Bougie is one of my musical heroes,” said Mark of the Tuxedo guitarist. “So calm, so brave, so tasteful – not bad for a girl, eh?”

Cashtown Corners development to include Tim Hortons

A redeveloped Cashtown Corners could include a Tim Hortons and Esso gas bar, if approved.

A meeting was held at town hall in Stayner Monday, Jan. 26 to hear public input on the proposed redevelopment of the existing gas station and coffee shop.

Architect Lloyd Hunt presented plans for a Tim Hortons with eight tables and convenience store, gas bar and garden market.

Hunt showed plans for a drive-through that would have room for 15 vehicles in the queue and more than 30 parking spaces.

The property is owned by Richview Orchard but the Tim Hortons would be owned by Ann Murphy, who owns the Stayner location.

She said she hopes the Cashtown Corners location would help to alleviate some of the traffic congestion at the intersection of Highway 26 and County Road 91 caused by vehicles waiting to enter the drive-through.

Creemore BIA president Rick Burek said some members have expressed concern about directing traffic away from Creemore. Past president Corey Finkelstein said the BIA is showing support for the project through an agreement with Murphy to promote the village.

Murphy said she has agreed to incorporate some type of gateway sign in the form of a map or kiosk to direct travellers to Creemore.

“I see this as a positive development because it is an eyesore right now,” said Murphy.

Hunt outlined plans to possibly renovate an existing barn on the property to house the market, replacing the tent structure that is set up each summer as a satellite for Giffen’s. Other vendors could be represented at the market as well.

“It will be an important landmark,” said Hunt.

Lifelong Cashtown Corners resident Robert McArthur spoke in favour of the development, saying he is in full support of the plans and hasn’t liked seeing the property left derelict for many years.

Dunedin resident Donna Baylis asked if consideration could be given to snowmobile traffic as it is close to the trails.

Hunt said he would plan for snowmobile parking.

The developer is looking to rezone the property, located at the corner of Airport Road and County Road 9, from highway commercial and hazard land to highway commercial exception and hazard land.  The exception is required to allow for a full-fledged convenience store, a restaurant with indoor seating and the outdoor market, which is not currently a permitted use.

Hunt said all parties are hoping to get the development going in the spring.

The BIA was denied permission to close Mill Street on the night of Feb. 14, during the Creemore Big Heart Days event.

The organization was given permission to close the street throughout the day until 5 p.m.

Councillor Connie Leishman suggested maybe there is another location for the evening portion of the event, adding she is not in favour of the nighttime road closure.

CAO Steve Sage said closing the road after dark would require the rental of special equipment – standards with flashing lights – and the presence of a staff person, which could cost more than $300.

The cost could have been passed on to the event organizers.

There was also a concern about timing as the request for a road closure should be made 60 days in advance of an event.

New members of the BIA – the business improvement area – committee were appointed in January and are working within a tight timeframe to pull off the event.

Cashtown Corners zoning change approved

Clearview council approved a rezoning Monday for the redevelopment of a gas station, convenience store and Tim Hortons coffee shop at Cashtown Corners.

Architect Lloyd Hunt, the agent for property owner Richview Orchard, said the tanks had to be removed in order to move on to the next step.

The project has received approvals from the county and the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority but there are some final steps to be taken before the site plan is approved.

Hunt said it is still the hope that the project begins this summer.

In the meantime, the project is out to tender and some work is being done on site.

The existing gas tanks were being removed last week.

“It’s not an environmental issue. The site is completely clean. The county is taking the opportunity to widen both County Road 9 and 42 from the site and those tanks would have been in the county setback after the widening happens,” said Hunt.

Thom Paterson was the only council members to vote against the zoning approval. He said given discussion with Creemore business owners, he is opposed to the development because it includes a gas station and a franchise.

Hunt said it is within the site plan design to include directional signs for Creemore and other parts of Clearview and it is Tim Hortons’ intention to provide other methods of communicating.

He said since the public meeting in January there have been meetings with members of the Creemore BIA.

The Tim Hortons, which will be owned by Ann Murphy who owns the Stayner location, will have only eight seats, not eight tables as previously reported.

The drive-through will accommodate at least 13 cars and the site itself will accommodate 26 cars without ever backing up onto either county roads, said Hunt. Also parking for 12 snowmobiles is incorporated in the plan.

Casino debate to take place November 12

With time ticking toward the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s “sometime-in-November” deadline for the four municipalities in Zone C7 to decide their position on a local casino, Clearview Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage announced at Council Monday night that she will bring a motion on the subject to Council’s November 12 meeting.

The motion, which Savage distributed to the press on Tuesday, reads as such:

“Whereas OLG has created Zone C7 which encompasses four separate municipalities and the County of Simcoe for the purpose of considering a possible host community for a new slots facility;

“And whereas OLG has confirmed that if only one of the four municipalities expresses interest it will continue the process directly with that municipality;

“And whereas through a Memorandum of Understanding entered into by all four potential host communities it has been acknowledged that establishing a slots facility in Zone C7 affects the entire region;

“And whereas significant concern has been expressed by members of the health care community regarding problem gambling and its potential impact on families and supports in our municipalities;

“Be it resolved that the Council of the Corporation of the Township of Clearview does not support a slots facility in this municipality;

“And further that the Council of the Corporation of the Township of Clearview does not support a slots facility in Zone C7;

“And further that should a slots facility be approved within Zone C7, the Council of the Corporation of the Township of Clearview will seek financial compensation as per the Memorandum of Understanding;

“And further that recognizing the transportation challenges in the area, OLG and the C7 Municipalities take specific steps to ensure additional resources are made available within the zone to respond to the increased incidents and resulting issues of problem gambling in the four municipalities.”

Over the past few months, Savage has made her opposition to a casino clear. Councillors Thom Paterson and Brent Preston have echoed her views for the most part; what the rest of Council thinks remains to be seen.

The one question that remains is whether Council will engage the public for any direct feedback on the subject before debating the issue on November 12. While the four municipalities in Zone C7 (Clearview, Collingwood, Wasaga Beach and Springwater) held a joint public meeting two weeks ago, Collingwood and Wasaga Beach have since held their own public nights within their municipalities.

Councillor Thom Paterson told the Echo after Monday’s meeting that he has been working on achieving a consensus among Council members regarding the need for public input. With no legislation bounding them to an official public meeting in this situation, Paterson said the input could take several forms, such as an online survey, an opportunity for ratepayers to send emails to the Township stating their position, or even an extended public participation period at the outset of the November 12 meeting. No decision has been made at this point.

Library Strategic Plan

Clearview Public Library CEO Jennifer LaChapelle presented Council with that organization’s new strategic plan Monday night, which focuses on the building of a new Stayner branch.

The plan has five main goals: to develop a capital fundraising campaign for the building of the new branch; to initiate the design and construction of the new branch; to advocate and plan for additional funding for staff, board and volunteer training; to seek partnerships and funding that ensure a sustainable future for the library; and to work towards making the Clearview library system as “green” as possible.

This is the third strategic plan for the Clearview library since amalgamation. The first was instituted in 2006 and the second in 2009. This one covers the time period from 2013 to 2016.

Amended Licence for Walker Quarry

Council voted unanimously in favour of submitting a letter to the Ministry of Natural Resources, supporting a proposed amendment to the licence for the existing Duntroon Quarry that would permit the extraction of 600,000 additional tonnes of aggregate. In order to do this, Walker Aggregates plans to extract a lower bench of material that was initially left intact at the north end of the quarry. The activity will result in a vertical rock face in that area, rather than the existing 2:1 slope.

Planning Director Michael Wynia said that 600,000 tonnes is a “modest year’s worth” of aggregate for the quarry, and will enable Walker to stay in business while its expansion application goes before a judical review.

 

Casino decision to wait until September

Clearview Council will wait until early September to debate its position on the establishment of a casino in the region, allowing time for a behind-closed-doors information meeting with representatives of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and the Councils of the four municipalities the province has named as possible sites for a local gaming establishment. It’s also hoped that the four municipalities – Clearview, Collingwood, Wasaga Beach and Springwater – will host some sort of joint public information session in August.

The discussion that takes place in September will be framed by a motion from Councillor Thom Paterson, which was originally brought forward at Council’s June 11 meeting. Worded to express Council’s lack of support for a casino in the region, the motion was deferred at that meeting to give Mayor Ken Ferguson and Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage time to meet with Mayors and Deputy Mayors from the other three municipalities to discuss a regional response to the province’s move.

That meeting took place on Thursday, June 21, and resulted in plans for the in camera meeting with OLG in July as well as tentative talk of some public engagement in August.

At Monday night’s Council meeting, Paterson was eager to nail down a date at which his deferred motion would be brought back to the table, and suggested that it might be best to do it sooner rather than later, in order to let the other municipalities know exactly where Clearview stands on the matter.

But Ferguson was adamant that Council should wait until more information is available, both from OLG and the public. “I don’t want to fight with my neighbours,” he said.

So far, Wasaga Beach is the only one of the four municipalities that has expressed an interest in a casino, and the indication from the province is that, should only one municipality be in favour of hosting a facility, OLG will be ready to deal with that municipality exclusively, regardless of the other three opinions. For that reason, Ferguson advised caution at this point.
In the end, it was decided that Clearview Council will debate Paterson’s motion on September 10, just before the province’s deadline for commenting.

And in the meantime Savage, who has made her objection to a casino clear from the start of discussions, said she would personally be doing whatever she could to “convince Wasaga Beach that this is not our vision for the region.”

Vending Policy Deferred

A new policy brought forward by the planning department dealing with vending on public lands ran into trouble Monday night when no one on Council was willing to make a motion to put it on the table. That didn’t prevent an extensive discussion on the topic, however, during which several possible glitches with the policy were brought up.

The problem which needs to be solved in some way or other is that Clearview Township’s insurance does not cover private vendors on public lands. Even during large events like Stayner’s Heritage Day or Creemore’s Copper Kettle Festival, private vendors are not covered by the event organizers’ insurance. That means Clearview Township is essentially “self-insuring” these vendors, and in the event of a lawsuit, taxpayers would be on the hook to pay for any damages.

The proposed policy would charge vendors an annual permit fee – $500 for motorized sales not associated with a municipally approved event; $250 for non-motorized sales not associated with a municipally approved event; $60 for a private vendor at a municipally approved event; or $30 for a non-profit vendor at a municipally approved event – as well as require them to comply with health and safety regulations and provide third party liability insurance in the sum of $2 million.

Vendors at community halls, arenas or the Creemore Farmers’ Market would be exempt.

When some on Council balked at the fees, Planning Director Michael Wynia said that they weren’t the most important element of the policy, although they would address the workload generated by the permitting process. What’s more important, he said, is ensuring that the vendors have the proper insurance.

That led Councillor Shawn Davidson to loft some hypothetical situations, like for instance the church ladies who sell pie by the slice during Heritage Day festivities. According to Wynia, they would have to comply with the policy and present an insurance policy in the sum of $2 million.

“This is not a feel-good issue, but it is nonetheless an issue,” said Wynia. “Every day that goes by without a policy, you are self-insured.”

Several on Council objected to being presented with the policy without time to give it much thought – Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage said there would be “ramifications that we aren’t even aware of tonight” and Councillor Thom Paterson said he was reluctant to vote until he talked with vendors and other stakeholders.

With that, Council voted to receive the proposed policy for information and asked for it to be brought back at its July 9 meeting.

A Request for Skyway 124

Council unanimously passed a motion brought forward by Councillor Brent Preston Monday night, officially calling on Skyway 124, the developers aiming to erect a wind farm south of Singhampton, to hold another “first” public meeting that meets the requirements of the Green Energy Act.

This is the second time this request has been made of Skyway 124. The company first held a meeting in December, and then “redid” the meeting in March after residents complained that requirements were not met.

According to Preston, the draft plan at the second “first” meeting included several misplaced noise receptors, all landowners within the statutory 160 metres were not notified, and all but one representative of Skyway 124 left the meeting a half-hour before it was scheduled to end.

Council’s resolution will be forwarded to the Minister of Energy.

Casino public meeting set

The long-awaited public information meeting regarding the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s plans to build a 300-slot casino somewhere in Collingwood, Clearview Township, Wasaga Beach or the Township of Springwater (an area the OLG calls Zone C7) will take place at 7 pm on Tuesday, October 16 at the Wasaga Beach RecPlex.

OLG officials will be in attendance at the meeting to provide information on the proposed gaming facility opportunity and to take questions from members of the four municipality’s Councils. However, while the public is encouraged to attend, there will not be an opportunity for ratepayers to ask questions directly of the OLG. According to a joint press release issued this week from the four municipalities, those who have questions should submit them to their Councillors before the meeting. Contact details for the members of Clearview Council can be found at www.clearview.ca/home/government/council.

Casinos for Clearview?

Clearview Mayor Ken Ferguson, with the support of the majority of council, will invite everyone to the table and play the Township’s cards close to the chest during upcoming discussions around the establishment of a casino in what has been designated as Zone 7 by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

Zone 7, one of 29 possible gaming zones identified by the OLG in their current strategic plan, encompasses Clearview, Wasaga Beach, Collingwood and a portion of Tiny Township. A new facility, if located in one of the four townships, could house up to 300 slot machines adding 5 per cent of the take to the coffers of the host municipality while leaving other communities within the zone dependant on negotiation with the casino’s home town if they would like a portion of the revenue.
Ferguson relayed this information to Council after attending a meeting hosted by OLG. He also said that while the OLG maintains they will not force a facility on a community the creation of the zone leaves opportunity for strife within the area should the townships have different views on a project.

In order to maintain cohesive communications Ferguson will host a gathering of Mayors, Deputy Mayors and CAOs. Ferguson, knowing Clearview will bear the costs of roads and emergency services required to transport gamblers through the Township regardless of the location within the zone, feels it is vital to maintain an open mind on the topic of gambling in order to communicate appropriately and create provisions for compensation should any of the four municipalities accept the OLG’s plan.

And the OLG does have plans. Showing a net profit of between $1.7 billion to $2.0 billion in each of the last 7 years, the Corporation is concerned about future revenue and states the current business model is not sustainable. According to the Corporation “advances in technology, changes to shopping patterns, aging demographics, and declining visits from the U.S. have combined to threaten the industry.” In order to “modernize” what they call responsible gaming within the province, OLG has made a multitude of recommendations, including the expansion and consolidation of gaming sites, located close to where the customers are.
Though all of Council very much agreed with the importance of communication and cooperation among the municipalities prior to the OLG’s July 4 deadline for feedback, Councillor Brent Preston and Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage differed with the Mayor’s open-minded approach. They implored Council to take a strong message to the table.

“We need to go into the meeting to convince them that this is a bad idea,” said Preston. “This is one of the issues where the facts are very clear. The benefits never outweigh the cost. This is an absolutely cynical and destructive means of taxation and we should have nothing to do with it.”
Alicia Savage agreed with this, “I am actually feeling sick – for a provincial entity to use that kind of financial planning to deal with a deficit is disgusting. The costs are too great. If we really believe and want to protect the future and the infrastructure and the demand on our budget in Clearview we need to work as hard as we can to convince the other municipalities that this in not a good idea.”

She continued, “My message is adamantly no. I will respect my neighbours but I will do everything in my power to educate and influence my neighbours to say no.”
Thom Paterson tabled a verbal motion for Clearview to oppose the creation of a casino in Zone 7 however all but the three vocal opponents chose to defer the decision on a resolution on gaming until a later date.

Catherine Gildiner comes ashore in third memoir

In the third and final installment of her memoirs, Catherine Gildiner is coming of age in Coming Ashore.

Gildiner writes about her formative years as a child in Lewiston, New York in Too Close to the Falls, followed by an account of life in the civil rights-charged 1960s in After the Falls.

In Coming Ashore, Gildiner writes of her launch into adulthood.

“The first book is about leaving childhood and the second book is about leaving adolescence and this one is about becoming an adult,” said Gildiner, who splits her time between Creemore and Toronto. “It’s really about all the things that happen to you that make you into an adult.”

She said, like most people, she can’t remember everything that happened in her life but certain experiences are etched in her mind.

“I think that people have personal growth moments, moments when you actually have some clarity in your life and they stand out really vividly,” said Gildiner. “A memoir is whatever gets filtered through your unconscious. Your unconscious changes things, I know that and I don’t even worry about that.”

Coming Ashore begins as Gildiner leaves her parents’ home and heads for Oxford University in England.

Gildiner said she wrote letters to her mother, which she saved.

“Of my three memoirs this is the only one of which I actually have a record,” said Gildiner.

She said she had completely forgotten about some of the stories she had written about in the letters, including a very hilarious recount of the author going through a post office window on a bicycle.

Gildiner’s misadventures continue with a run in with a herd of mountain goats and tracking down Jimi Hendrix.

The book spans seven years in three countries, landing Gildiner at graduate school in Toronto, which she said was the best time of her life because of the time she had to dedicate to her studies while doing a PhD.

“I’m locked in a tiny office all day long with Darwin and Freud,” said Gildiner, a clinical physiologist. “I thought it was wonderful. It was the only time in my life when I got to say, what makes the world work?”

She said being able to be on the outside of the real world, looking in, an adult who hasn’t yet entered the real world.

“To me, that’s the best time of my life and I thought it was everybody’s best time but it wasn’t,” said Gildiner.

The book ends when Gildiner is married at the age of 27.

She said she now turns her attention to writing fiction as her husband and sons have forbade her to write about their lives.

In 2005 Gildiner published the novel Seduction. All three of her books are best-sellers.

There will be a book launch in promotion of Coming Ashore at the Avening Hall on Saturday, Oct. 18 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Gildiner will be interviewed by radio personality Terry O’Reilly at 5 p.m.

She will also read from the book, take questions from the audience and sign books.

Admission is free.

Coming Ashore is available at Curiosity House Books in Creemore and online.

The book, released Oct. 1, is published by ECW Press.

Catholic kids stay put at Vanier

Local elementary school students who attend Our Lady of Grace Catholic School in Angus will continue to graduate to Jean Vanier Catholic High School in Collingwood, the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board has announced.

The Board made the decision earlier this week after hearing recommendations from a committee charged with conducting a boundary review for Jean Vanier.

During the review, the School Board proposed directing Our Lady of Grace students to St. Joan of Arc Catholic High School in Barrie, instead of to Jean Vanier next year.

However, in its recommendations to the Board on March 26, the Boundary Review Committee suggested making no changes to the current system.

The recommendations were based on comments from the public, as well as account research, and current and future enrollment projections.

The boundary review began last October to address decreasing enrollment by merging school populations. It involved Open Houses, meetings, and consultations with families, staff members and community members. Approximately 40 children from Creemore, New Lowell and Glencairn attend Our Lady of Grace.

Catholic schools review boundaries

Clearview elementary school students at Our Lady of Grace Catholic School in Angus will likely still graduate to Jean Vanier Catholic High School in Collingwood next year, pending the results of a boundary review by the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board.

During the boundary review, the School Board proposed routing Our Lady of Grace students to St. Joan of Arc Catholic High School in Barrie, instead of Vanier in Collingwood, next year.

However, Creemore parents should not be concerned, Lonnie Bolton, Superintendent of Education – Secondary Schools, told the Echo.

He said the School Board is also considering making Our Lady of Grace a “split-feeder school,” meaning that children from Clearview would continue to go to Jean Vanier from Our Lady of Grace, while children from Angus would be routed to St. Joan in Barrie.

“The new boundaries will be grandfathered in,” said Bolton. This means that students who are already enrolled at Jean Vanier in Collingwood will not need to change schools.

About 40 children from Creemore, New Lowell and Glencairn attend the Angus Catholic school.

The boundary review is part of the Catholic School Board’s goal to merge the elementary school populations of Our Lady of Grace, Prince of Peace School on Base Borden in Angus and Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic School in New Lowell due to dwindling enrollment, Bolton said.

Prince of Peace and Our Lady of the Assumption schools closed in 2013. Children from both schools now attend Our Lady of Grace.

The School Board held Open Houses for parents at the end of January. Parents and students have been encouraged to provide feedback about the changes through an online survey and at Boundary Review Committee meetings.

“We had a really good turnout,” said Bolton. “We had almost a 100% of input from families. I’m confident that parents have been informed along the way to provide input.”

The last Boundary Review Committee meeting was held on Monday, February 10. Next, the Board will make its recommendations to its Board of Trustees on Wednesday, March 5. The Committee has a final deadline of Wednesday, March 26 to incorporate feedback and make its final recommendations to the Board, who will make a decision after that date.

Parents who would like to provide more feedback should call the Board at 705-722-3555.

Celebrate Canada Day in Creemore

There’s a full day of fun planned for Creemore’s Canada Day festivities on Wednesday, July 1.

Activities begin at 10:30 a.m. and don’t end until the fireworks at dusk.

Head to the Legion for brunch before the bike parade on Mill Street. There will be many games and activities throughout the day. There will also be lots of food and entertainment throughout the afternoon and evening.

Full schedule of events:

10:30 a.m. to noon – Creemore Ladies Auxiliary Canada Day Brunch at the Legion

12:30 p.m. – Registration for 3-0n-3 Ball Hockey

12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. – Olde Thyme Games by the Legion three-legged, egg-and-spoon and sack races, scavenger hunt, water balloon toss, lawn bowling, ring toss and bean bag toss, 1st Creemore Scouting selling popcorn.

12:45 p.m. – Harold Crawford Memorial Kids Bike Parade starts Mad River Park and heads to the Legion.

1 p.m. to 3 p.m. – 3-on-3 ball hockey games begin, barbecue at Legion

6 p.m. ­– Firefighters’ barbecue on the west side of the arena

8 p.m. – Lady and Man of the year presentations, cake cutting, boot drive to help fund the fireworks

8:30 p.m. – The Baker Magic Show, emilie-que leads the singing of O Canada

Fireworks at dusk. Please donate to the boot drive to help cover the cost of the fireworks or contact Norm at 705-466-6748.

Celebrate our new dairy like they did in the old days

The soon to be operational Miller’s Dairy harkens back to a simpler time when, following the passing of a law in 1938 that made pasteurization mandatory in Ontario, most towns had a dairy (or two) all their own (including Creemore, which was home to both the Creemore Creamery and Hilltop Dairy). Back then, milk was deposited on doorsteps in glass bottles, to be retrieved with the morning paper while, on turntables in the living room, Chuck Berry riffs and Fats Domino melodies evolved over time into the psychedelic sounds of the Beach Boys and the Beatles.

Fittingly, the celebrations surrounding the opening of the facility will be awash in nostalgia, with antique delivery trucks and 50s and 60s themed music from Frankie D & the Dreamers providing the backdrop to the festivities.

What has been dubbed Creemore Dairy Day, taking place on Saturday, July 14, will also feature children’s activities, including a bouncy farm, face painting and balloon animals; themed meals offered by local businesses, including burgers and floats at the Old Mill House, “healthy milkshakes” from the 100 Mile Store and milk and cookies from the Bank Café (the latter two using Miller’s Dairy products). There will also be tours of the $800,000 Miller’s Dairy processing plant, with a bus being made available to carry passengers back and forth from town to the farm of John and Marie Miller each half-hour.

The facility, which is itself outfitted with retro equipment, will produce approximately 60,000 litres of cream, 1%, 2%, skim and chocolate milk each month, to be sold locally in reusable glass bottles.

“We are producing as much milk in a year as some dairies do in a day,” said John. “What we require equipment-wise is not readily available in Canada.”

Miller’s Dairy is the pilot project of the Dairy Farmer’s of Ontario’s Project Farmgate, which aims to encourage “on-farm fluid milk processing.”  In setting up the business, they enlisted the help of a mentor, who advised the Millers against purchasing lower-quality offshore equipment and investing instead in refurbished equipment from the time when smaller dairies were more common.

In addition to the use of glass bottles, Miller’s Dairy will also make use of a water recovery system, which retains 80 per cent of water used when washing the bottles, in an attempt to reduce their carbon footprint.

Another environmentally friendly feature of Miller’s Dairy is the fact that deliveries will be made to only 25 (for now) local vendors, cutting down on emissions related to the transportation of products.

“The demand for locally produced food is strong in our area,” said John. “Large, corporate dairies impose disciplines and procedures on producers that are not sustainable, forcing us to sell our milk to them at lower and lower prices.”

Operating independently allows the Millers to retain control, and they believe the fact that they exclusively use Jersey cows – the farm has 120 producing milk – offers them an advantage: Jerseys have a 20 per cent smaller carbon footprint than any other dairy breed, and the milk they produce has higher contents of protein, fats, and calcium.

“The response from both the community and the market has been unbelievable,” said Miller, adding that Miller’s Dairy aims to sell 100 per cent of the milk they produce by the end of their second year of operations.

Creemore Dairy Day commences at 10 am with a ribbon cutting ceremony to take place on Mill Street, which will be closed to traffic.

All are invited to come out and “play, dine and dance the day away.”

Celebrate the Majengo miracle

By Lynn Connell

In Swahili, the word majengo means “a building up.” But for me, what has happened in the last six years, means a miracle.

Six years ago, while teaching painting in Africa, I was taken to visit 52 little kids, ages two to nine, huddled together on a wet, mud floor in a leaking, dark foyer set up as a makeshift daycare, with virtually no resources: no food, no furniture, no teaching supplies – and, in most cases, no one on the planet left to care for them.

Ragged, starving, and in some cases wandering from farm to farm begging for food and lodging, they’d been gathered together by local farmers, their wives cooking out back over fire, serving the children the only meal they would have in a day.

That day, I, along with Charles Luoga, the HIV/AIDS Project Coordinator of the local NGO, Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) Tanzania, made a commitment to help those kids in whatever way we could. Miraculously and amazingly, from that moment on, with the help of many generous people, Majengo now thrives.

Building Majengo
Charles found a half-built home down the road and made a deal with the owner: we finance the building of the house and get to use it for four years. I came back to Canada and brought Majengo to Creemore. Creemore folks, family and friends raised $23,000. One year later, the kids moved in, along with a hard-working, local staff of 12, all of whom had cooked for the kids for free that whole first year. They are still there.

Two years later, the government shut down five corrupt orphanages on the safari route. These had been set up as businesses with a steady stream of money going into the pockets of their owners, while the kids were overcrowded, sick and starving. In one day, the government dropped off 67 new kids to Majengo. I even had my life threatened by one Director whose orphanage had been closed.

At Majengo, we went into rescue mode. Our cooks were now feeding more than 100 people per meal, three times a day. Terrified and starving children who had been torn from shocking, indescribable circumstances, were now thrown together after eating leaves off the trees and garbage from the street, stampeding the kitchen with other equally frightened children, who were forced into a new cohabitation with each other.

Total chaos. Yet our staff pulled through, and within a month the security, health and well-being of those kids changed radically. Today, they live as one huge happy family… the older kids look after the younger, and a staff of 17 cooks, cleaners, watchmen and teachers are committed to raising them, lovingly, as their own.

Majengo grows
We’ve come a long way in such a short time. Matt McKissock and his family from Warren, Pennsylvania came on as a third partner, joining Majengo Canada and ICA Tanzania, (which each have official charitable status), to issue tax receipts for donations.

Two years ago, the local Majengo community government gifted us 10 acres of open clean land just outside the village of MtoWaMbu, which is an hour’s drive from the famous NgoroNgoro Crater safari. With the help of many supporters, we built three big houses, a dining hall, kitchen and soccer field. Last June, we relocated 83 kids, plus chickens, goats, sheep and puppies into their own brand new Majengo Children’s Home. Your money has been put to tremendous use.

Just this year, we hand-drilled 40 metres down to flourish unlimited fresh water to Majengo and equipped the kitchen with two top-notch stoves to help relieve our cook’s respiratory/eye problems. We also planted three huge vegetable gardens, with each child choosing, planting and watering their own tree, and we built a security fence dancing with bougainvillea.

Since January, 73 Majengo kids have been sponsored into Mama Anna’s English Medium School where Susan Lee’s daughter Simone just returned from six months of teaching. Simone will be at Sunday’s party, regaling you with fascinating stories of working and living on the ground at Majengo.

We strive to improve the lives of the surrounding Majengo community. We do this by offering education to vulnerable children who do not live at Majengo, at our onsite preschool. The school is staffed by three trained teachers who work side by side under the direction of our ICA Tanzanian ground support and village leaders.

What do we need?
Since we started, our operating costs have risen from $55,000 to $135,000. This covers food, medical, education, accommodation, sports and local staffing. Other than the required bookkeeping and government auditing, postal costs and photocopying, every cent that we raise goes directly to supporting the children. Our directors and volunteers do so entirely at their own expense.

Can you imagine feeding 83 kids and putting them to bed… in the dark? This year, on top of our operating expenses, we’re aiming to raise $50,000 for solar energy. We’re wired for electricity, but it could be years before we get connected to the grid. For more information, check out www.smilemajengo.com.

Simply put, we need your continuing enthusiasm and support, as founders and in a way, “surrogate parents,” to give these kids a chance and help them grow through childhood until the day they leave Majengo.

Without your help, Majengo would still be only a dream. To make a donation, visit www.majengo.org or send a cheque (payable to Majengo Canada) to 284 Major Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2L6.

Since Majengo opened, the lives of 83 vulnerable, orphaned and displaced children, many of whom lost their parents to HIV/AIDS, have changed astoundingly. Today, they thrive – because of you.

Here is to you – our friends and family in the Creemore area, who have supported the magical Majengo Children’s Home, in central Tanzania, since our beginning in 2008.

Please join us on Sunday, June 1 to celebrate Majengo and to celebrate you. The event is free; all are welcome.

Celebrate the Majengo Children’s Home
Sunday, June 1, 2 to 5 pm
Creativity Art Retreat, 8961 County Road 9, Dunedin
Food, bar and live music with Rusty McCarthy
Free
www.majengo.org

Lynn Connell is Majengo Canada Director and Co-Founder.

Celebrate trails in Creemore

For the fourth year in a row, Clearview Township will celebrate International Trails Day, and for the first time, the festivities will take place in Creemore, this Saturday, June 1.

As the “Clearview Trail Link,” the municipality’s own network of recreation trails, gradually becomes reality, previous celebrations have taken place in Stayner and New Lowell. This year, the trail-building effort will focus on connecting New Lowell to Creemore, so it seemed like the right time to bring the party to Creemore.

A joint effort of the Township Trails Committee, the Creemore BIA and the Creemore Farmers’ Market, the event will have a home base on Caroline Street East in front of the Station on the Green. In addition to mainstage entertainment from the likes of Zero Gravity Circus, the Danceroom and the Clearview Community Theatre (taking place between 9 am and 12:30 pm), there will be a healthy breakfast, a Kids’ Penny Carnival courtesy of Cardboard Castles, a downtown scavenger hunt hosted by the Clearview Library, the Clearview Fire Department dunk tank, an OPP bike rodeo, face painting and much more.

The main event, of course, will be a three-kilometre run, walk and wheel event, leaving the library at 10 am. Participants will head down Mary Street to George Street and onward to the Clearview 6/7 Sideroad before turning around and heading back.

At 6/7 Sideroad, people will get a good look at the most recent addition to the Clearview Trail Link, a trail that follows the back way out of town from Creemore to the Simcoe County Forest on the other side of Airport Road. While still a work in progress – the section awaits final grading – the trail will eventually take walkers and bikers to where the bulk of this summer’s trail work will take place. With the help of some federal grant money, the Township will be building a trail through the County Forest. Eventually, once some property issues are worked out, this trail will meet up with an already completed section just west of New Lowell.

The eventual goal of the Clearview Trails Committee, which includes chairperson Alex Hargrave, Peggy Hargrave, Ruth McArthur, Marie Leroux and Clearview Community, Culture, Recreation Co-ordinator Shane Sargent, is to link up all of the municipality’s settlement areas with each other and with neighbouring communities. Stayner and Collingwood were joined initially using the old rail bed, and an extension from Stayner to New Lowell is in the planning stage. Combine those two rail trails with the work being done now between New Lowell and Creemore, and the full picture starts to become clear.

“This is all about fitness, recreation and safety,” said Hargrave.“We’re pretty charged up about it.”

Celebrating 100 years of crossings

Nearly 200 people came out for last Saturday’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Collingwood Street Bridge. In addition to a piped procession over the bridge led by Tim Armour, festivities included the casting of a commemorative 100-year plaque using cast-iron letter stamps owned by Chris Vanderkruys, a descendent of J.J. Dumond, who built the bridge in 1913. Various dignitaries helped out with the stamping. Above are Barry Burton, chair of the committe that’s trying to save the bridge, Simcoe-Grey MP Kellie Leitch, Savage, committee member John Hillier, Clearview Ward 4 Councillor Thom Paterson, Vanderkruys and committee member John Boote. Below is a slideshow of photos of the event, provided to us by Creemore photographer Bryan Davies.

Celebrating 20 years of keeping families safe

One of this area’s essential services will celebrate 20 years of being a safe haven for women and children who are the victims of domestic violence this month, and they will do it in Creemore.

My Friend’s House, which has serviced about 12,000 women and children since its inception, will celebrate the milestone on Saturday, March 3 at the Station on the Green, with a performance by Dan Needles at 7:30 pm. Tickets cost $20 and are available at Curiosity House Books. There will also be refreshments for purchase and silent auction.

Needles is, of course, the Nottawa-based author of the award-winning series of Wingfield plays. The cause is an important one for Dan; he also performed at the organization’s 10th anniversary celebration.

“My Friend’s House serves a great need in the community,” he said, adding that, though the subject is not a funny one, he will be attempting to amuse his audience. “When you get to know a place, you begin to feel affection for it and start looking after it. In our neighborhood, the ability to pull together and overcome crises is alive and well.”

Allison FitzGerald, who has been with My Friend’s House for 19 of its 20 years and now acts as the organization’s executive director, is proud of all that has been achieved. She’s also a realist about the ongoing challenges.

“The issues are not going away,” she said, “but the response and help that is available has improved.”

My Friend’s House is based out of Collingwood and Wasaga Beach. Their services, including a free, confidential crisis line, emergency transportation and short-term housing accommodations, are available at all hours, every day of the week.

“We can accommodate the needs of any woman that phones or walks through the door,” said FitzGerald, adding that the organization’s service area includes all of Clearview Township and beyond.
The shelter has a great local champion in Ursula Abbot of Village Builders, who, in addition to acting as treasurer for My Friend’s House, is part of the Creemore-based fundraising sub-committee that was instrumental in organizing the Dan Needles event.

Three years ago, with the help of a property donation and a grant from Status of Woman Canada, My Friend’s House initiated a pilot project called the Next Door Transitional Support Program for Woman, offering therapeutic counselling and a safe place to stay for up to one year. The new program allowed the My Friend’s House to move from crisis management alone to something more lasting.

“Over the years we have found that victims of abuse have difficulty moving forward,” said FitzGerald, noting that abuse makes it difficult for women to be optimistic about the future. “We help them to realize that there is hope.”

For more about My Friend’s House, visit their website at www.myfriendshouse.ca. If you are a woman in need of their services, call their 24-hour crisis and information line at 705-444-2511, or toll free at 1-800-265-2511.

Celebrating an amazing African adventure

Part-time Dunedin resident Lynn Connell’s African story has been well-documented over the years in the Creemore Echo, and for good reason – what Connell and a dedicated group of fellow volunteers have accomplished with the Majengo Children’s Home in Mto Wa Mbu, Tanzania has been nothing short of miraculous, and very little of it could have happened without the significant amount of support Connell has received from the Creemore community

On Sunday, September 22 from 2 to 5 pm, Connell will host a Majengo party at her Creativity Art Retreat in Dunedin, and she’s hoping that all who have played a part in the story, as well as any inspired to become involved, will join her in celebrating her African successes.

To recap what’s happened to date: Connell first travelled to Tanzania in 2008 to teach art to HIV/AIDS sufferers with ICA Canada, a non-governmental organization that works to better the lives of vulnerable people throughout Africa. Following that experience, she was so enthralled with the country that she volunteered at an orphanage, an experience that turned traumatic when she discovered the level of corruption surrounding orphanages in Tanzania, many of which are set up near tourist areas as a means of extorting sympathetic money from western visitors.

Upset but wanting to do something about the situation, Connell was taken by an ICA Tanzania worker named Charles Luoga to the Home Comfort Orphanage, a squalid, mud-floored building that was home to 52 children. The conditions at Home Comfort were so bad, it had been refused official orphanage status by the Tanzanian government – even though the official orphanages were little more than tourist money traps.

Luoga told Connell that someone was willing to rent their house to Home Comfort so that the orphans could be kept in better conditions, but that an investment would be required. So Connell returned home and raised $23,000, much of it from donors in the Creemore/Dunedin area.

The children were moved, the orphanage was renamed Majengo, the name of the agricultural community where the new house was located, and Connell and her growing team of volunteers never looked back.
With the help of two American families who have performed some major fundraising in their own hometowns, Connell has been able to raise $100,000 per year in operating costs and an additional $130,000 to build three new residences and a dining hall on 10 acres gifted to Majengo by the local government. Last September, the Majengo kids – now 72 of them – moved in. In addition, the orphanage supports 56 more children who live out in the community, attending public school. All of the children range in age from 3 to 14.

“It’s been an amazing adventure all the way through,” said Connell last week. “And it’s been a truly collective effort.”

The adventure, as Connell accurately refers to it, continues. In addition to ongoing operating costs, Connell and her partners are now determined to raise a further $80,000 to build a soccer field, a playground and a resource library on the Majengo property. These assets would be available to the wider community as well as the Majengo children.

The library has Connell particularly excited. In a country where a lack of access to education is the main factor contributing to systemic poverty, the chance to provide a place where children and adults alike can study English and access information is a tantalizing prospect.

The Majengo project is not without other financial stressors as well, especially given its focus on education. As the children progress into their teen years, they will be faced with the fact that high school education costs money in Tanzania – about $650 per year per student. In addition to the aforementioned fundraising, Connell, said, her team is always on the lookout for people who would like to sponsor secondary students.

“The nice thing about us is that none of the administrators are getting paid,” she said. “All of the money that’s donated goes directly to real operating costs and the real cost of students’ educations.”

The 18 staff on site are under the direct supervision of Luoga and are handpicked for their professionalism. Connell and her two American partners are hands-on involved as well – her most recent trip involved painting the new residences by hand as part of her duties – so local corruption is not an issue.

“We’re really like one big happy family over there,” she said.

It’s hoped that Luoga will be in Canada and in attendance at the September 22 party, so attendees will have a chance to talk directly with the man in charge in Africa.
“It will be a celebration and a catchup,” said Connell. “Of course, we might be doing a little fundraising as well!”

For more information about Majengo, visit majengo.org or Connell’s personal Majengo blog at lynnconnell.blogspot.ca.

As an aside, American artist Douglas Walton was attending Connell’s Creativity Art Retreat in Dunedin two weeks ago and, upon receiving an update on her Majengo activities, announced that he’d be putting her name forward for the 2014 CNN Heroes Project, an initiative by the US broadcaster that aims to highlight ordinary people who have accomplished extraordinary things. The other attendees at that week’s retreat announced that they’d be putting in nominations for her as well. Connell is uncomfortable with the prospect, pointing out that she’s just one of many who have contributed to Majengo’s success, but she also realizes that such exposure would be great for the organization. If you’d like to put Connell’s name forward as well, you can do so at cnn.com/specials/cnn.heroes.

Celebrating Canada Day Creemore-style

The Harold Crawford Memorial Parade is a grand Canada Day tradition in Creemore, and this year was no different, with about 80 youngsters travelling the length of Mill Street under the guidance of kid-at-heart Corey Finkelstein (above centre). The parade ended at the Legion, where the riders were entertained by old-time games and all kinds of patriotic fun.

The Legion’s Canada Day festivities spanned both the afternoon and the evening, with a large crowd gathered to watch the fireworks display. Before the fireworks got underway, Pat and Chris Raible were awarded this year’s “Person of the Year” awards. For photos of that presentation as well as the rest of the day’s festivities, check out the slideshow below.

Celebrating one victory and setting sights on another

This Sunday’s annual NDACT party at the Honeywood Arena is sure to have a celebratory tone, given the recent blockbuster news that the Highland Companies had sold the Melancthon land formerly slated for a mega quarry development to an investment company that specializes in leasing farmland to farmers.

But NDACT (the North Dufferin Agricultural Task Force, originally set up to counter the mega quarry threat) has spent most of this year morphing into a different organization altogether, and Sunday’s party, while sure to feature some pats on the back about the former issue, will also be a call to action on a new one – the need to protect prime farmland and water resources right across this province, so that we can continue to put food on our tables.

“Canadians really have a false sense of security when it comes to how much good land we have in this country,” said Shirley Boxem, one of the organizer’s of Sunday’s event. “That’s one of the main things that came out of the mega quarry situation. We think we have all this land to the north of us, but it’s all rock. There’s only so much good soil, and you can’t just make more of it.”

To that end, Food & Water First, the new campaign that’s grown out of NDACT’s initial mandate, is seeking to have Class 1, 2 and 3 farmland and important sourcewater regions protected from aggregate development in both the Aggregate Resources Act and the Provincial Policy Statement. To do this, they’re building a broad coalition of businesses, organizations, municipal governments and individuals, all signing a “Food & Water First” pledge and promising to make their opinion heard.

Getting involved is as easy as visiting foodandwaterfirst.com and signing the pledge there. “It’s really picking up steam,” said Boxem of the campaign. “In a sense, we feel that everyone’s already signed on, they just don’t know it yet. If you like to eat fresh and local food, if you like to see your farmers supported, then you’re on board.”

Another way to show your support, of course, will be to attend the Food and Water First party this Sunday, August 18, taking place from 11 am to 3 pm. Admission is $5, with kids under 5 attending for free.

The Honeywood Arena will be transformed into a massive farmers’ market, with all kinds of local produce and goods for sale. Several chefs will be in attendance, providing local morsels for $2 a pop.

The Artists Against the Mega Quarry, a group that staged several important “paint-ins” during the mega quarry battle, will be set up on the Second Line south of Honeywood. Guests of the Food & Water First event will be able to take wagon rides to the site, watch the artists at work, and enjoy a vista to the west that encompasses much of the land that would have been transformed forever had the Highland Companies plans been approved.

Besides some quality live music entertainment by Big Whiskey and Harlan Pepper, there will also be speeches by NDACT chair Carl Cosack and radio personality Dale Goldhawk.

And should the weather cooperate, the event will see a special visit from “Father Goose” Bill Lishman, who 20 years ago led a flock of Canada Geese on a migration route to the United States using his ultralight plane, an adventure that inspired the movie Fly Away Home. Lishman will speak in the Honeywood arena at noon and then conduct a flypast over the Hills of Headwaters to show his support for Food & Water First, and to symbolically link the Class 1 farmland in Dufferin County to the Class 1 farmland in his hometown of Pickering that’s slated for a new airport.

“The most precious thing we have is the land that sustains us,” says Lishman of his participation in the event. “To permanently destroy prime growing land, for whatever cause, is tantamount to theft from our offspring.”

Those who attend Sunday’s event are asked to bring their own plate, fork and cup. The event will be bottled-water-free, with a “Quench Buggy” on site.

Cenotaph renewal project proceeds brick by brick

Volunteers restoring the cenotaph in Creemore are getting ready to brick the pad around the memorial, in time for Remembrance Day.

The Cenotaph Renewal Project team has raised $2,000 toward its $3,600 goal.

There is now a push to raise the funds to pay for the interlocking brick. The installation is scheduled to begin today.

“To me, remembrance is an issue that should be important to everyone in our community. I don’t think we can do enough to draw attention to acknowledging, admiring, and respecting the sacrifice that our armed forces personnel have made, and are making, to preserve our way of life. Lest We Forget should not be just a one-day event,” said David Johnson.

Volunteers have received in-kind donations of topsoil from Triple J Tree Farm, wood for framing from Hamilton Brothers and the use of a compactor from Stayner Rental.

Johnson said Clearview Township, specifically CAO Stephen Sage, has been very responsive, contributing labour and Bob Ransier, Creemore’s handyman, and Stewie Patterson provided essential support with equipment and expertise when it was needed most. It is expected that sod will be laid in the spring.

2014 is the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the start of the Second World War.

The cenotaph displays some of the names of the Creemore and area men who died in the first and second world wars.

Anyone who would like to make a donation can do so at the TD Bank (account 5208418) or call 705-466-6317.

Changes at the top in Clearview

The Clearview Township Administration Centre was a newsy location Friday morning, with Mayor Ken Ferguson announcing that Steve Sage, the municipality’s current General Manager of Recreation and Transportation, had topped a list of more than 50 applicants to be chosen as Clearview’s new Chief Administrative Officer.

Then, almost offhandedly, he made another announcement that came as a surprise to some: he will not be running for a third term as Mayor.

“It was the hardest decision I’ve made in my life,” said Ferguson, who has served on Clearview Council for 20 years – as a Councillor from 1994 to 2003, as Deputy Mayor from 2003 to 2006, and as Mayor from 2006 to the present. “On Friday morning, it was like a 30-watt lightbulb went off. We’re in a good place right now – I heard that over and over again from the people who were interviewing for the CAO position – and it suddenly made sense to me, that maybe I could go out on top.”

While the news came as a surprise to Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage – Ferguson said even his wife didn’t know of his decision until he made his announcement – by Monday morning she had done what she has been promising to do all year if Ferguson decided not to run.

“I know he’s been struggling with the decision all year,” said Savage, who has now withdrawn her bid for re-election as Deputy Mayor and instead registered to run for Mayor against Brentwood resident Chris Vanderkruys. “So I have been prepared for this. There is such a learning curve, especially at County Council (where the Mayor and Deputy Mayor have seats), I just think that with all the irons we have in the fire right now, stability is what we need.”

Steve Sage inherits the CAO position from now retired Sue McKenzie, after a 24-year career with Sunnidale and Clearview Townships as Roads Superintendent, Deputy Director of Public Works and General Manager of Recreation and Transportation.

Changes proposed to Dunedin cell tower

Bell has revised the look, location and size of its proposed cell phone tower in response to community feedback, its representative told Clearview Council at a Public Meeting on Monday night.

Ferdinand Staab presented changes to the Bell Mobility telecommunications tower, which is intended to improve cell phone service for 275 residents in Dunedin and Websterville.

Bell is now proposing to reduce the height of the tower from 61 m to 30 m; move it 350 m closer to the coverage area and further away from potential aeronautical interference; and change the style of the tower from a lattice self-support role to a lattice tri-pole or monopole, or disguise it to look like a pine tree.

To compensate for any coverage issues a shorter tower would pose, Bell is proposing to add other communications equipment – such as a smaller tower – in the Dunedin or Websterville valleys in the future.

Addressing public concerns

In his presentation, Staab led the audience through the comments Bell received during its public consultation period in February and March, including the Public Meeting on March 17.

He said residents’ top concerns were: the visual impact of the tower, as well as its height and lights, in that order.

Other issues residents raised were: the type of the tower, property values, the Niagara Escarpment and the environment, coverage, health, aeronautical safety, tower sharing and Bell’s notification process.

Staab said that more than 70% of public comments concerned the tower’s visual effect. He acknowledged that the ground elevation at the tower’s proposed location on Ten Hill increases its visibility in the area.

Bell originally proposed the 61 m tower to meet the ideal coverage objective, which is prescribed by the Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC). A tower of this height would meet more than 95% of the 275 households identified in the CRTC’s coverage objective, Staab said.

Bell also proposed this height to make co-location with other communications carriers or government emergency services possible.

In their comments, many residents asked Bell to consider changing the style of the tower from “lattice self-support” to “mono-pine,” to make it less of an eyesore. A mono-pine tower – popular in Muskoka – is disguised as a pine tree.

Although Bell would not recommend the mono-pine tower because there are few trees in the immediate area for it to blend in with, Staab said Bell would consider this and other styles of tower if the Township supported it.

Staab said Bell would address concerns from the Niagara Escarpment Commission and residents about the tower’s potential impact on the local environment by reducing its height, and complying with all applicable regulations as well as local conservation authority conditions.

In the thirty-five per cent of comments that concerned lighting, Staab said about one-half of commenters wanted the tower to have lights for safety reasons, while the other half did not want to see lights at all.

Less than 10 per cent of the comments specifically mentioned aeronautical safety concerns, Staab said. However, he emphasized that all Bell Mobility structures comply with federal aviation regulations.

Last year, the tower’s potential effect on flight operations in the area was assessed by Transport Canada and NAV Canada. Both organizations had no objections to the tower or comments about safety lighting.

But to address citizens’ remarks, Staab said Bell could move the tower further away from a nearby airstrip and reduce its height.

While more than 20 per cent of commenters were concerned about the tower’s effect on property values, Staab said there is no evidence to suggest that telecommunications installations have any effect – positive or negative – on property values.

Some residents felt that Bell should have circulated their documents proposing the tower to people more than 500 m away from the tower location. Staab said that Bell followed Clearview’s policy for broadcasting endeavours, which significantly exceeds the Industry Canada default notification radius.

When it came to disputes about coverage, Staab said Bell was not able to verify the results of residents who conducted their own cell coverage tests in the area. He added that residents of Dunedin and Websterville had describing having inadequate coverage and expressed support for the project. He also said the tower is needed to fulfill the CRTC’s mandate to connect all Canadians on an equal, high-speed broadband basis – not simply to make a call.

Health concerns were unwarranted, Staab maintained. He said all Bell Mobility installations comply with Health Canada’s regulations, which limit electro-magnetic frequency emissions from towers to 5.83 W per metre2. He explained that the signal from 30 m away from the tower is more than 10,000 times lower than the standard; and would be more than 40,000,000 times lower by the time it reached a residence, which is less than a cordless phone, baby monitor or television signals, Bell reports.

Some residents asked to abolish the need for a new tower altogether. They proposed that Bell share a structure with an existing Rogers tower that is east of Creemore. However, Staab said that this would not meet Bell’s coverage requirements.

Although Bell has consulted with the municipality and its residents, as per the Township’s protocol, Michael Wynia, Director of Planning, Development and Information Services, reminded the attendees that the municipality is not the approval authority for this cell phone tower.

If the municipality chooses not to concur with Bell, then the matter will be in the hands of Industry Canada, which manages this country’s air waves.

Next, Township staff will prepare a report to present to Council at a future date.

Charting the future of food and agriculture

Do you have an interest in the future of our local food system? If so, the Food Partners Alliance of Simcoe County wants to hear from you.

On Tuesday, February 21 the organization will host a “Visioning Day” at Lakehead University in Orillia, to both gather feedback and educate the public about the importance of creating a “truly sustainable food system.” The information collected will be used in combination with the results of an online survey, which was completed last week, to create a first draft of a made-in Simcoe County Food and Agriculture Charter.

“It’s about supporting the local economy by trying to get people to eat foods sourced from Ontario and Simcoe County,” says John Miller, a Creemore dairy farmer, adding that “locally sourced food is more nutritious because it hasn’t been plucked before maturity and travelled long distances to get here.”

The event takes place from 8:30 am to 4 pm. Registration costs $25 and includes a locally sourced lunch and refreshments. Space is limited and those interested in attending are encouraged to register online at fpa.simcoe.ca by Friday, February 10.

County Council approved both staff and monetary support for the Charter on April 18, 2011, establishing a partnership between Simcoe County and a number of organizations including the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, the Barrie Community Health Centre, the Simcoe Federation of Agriculture, Simcoe County Farm Fresh, and the Food Partnership Alliance.

“The goal in the end is to create a Charter that reflects all aspects of food in Simcoe County, from producer to consumer,” said Councillor Basil Clarke of Ramara Township at the time of the decision.

Christmas in the Valley happening this weekend

Creemore kicks off the festive season with Christmas in the Valley this weekend.

Festivities begin tonight with the annual tree lighting ceremony at Station on the Green.

From 6:20 p.m., those arriving at the event, sponsored by the Tree Society of Creemore and the Creemore and Area Residents’ Association (CARA), will be treated to a carol sing before the official start at 6:30 p.m.

As in previous years, children are invited to don a festive chapeau and enter the Crazy Christmas Hat Contest, sponsored by Cardboard Castles.

The winner of the contest gets to flip the switch, lighting up the tree.

There will be carol singing throughout the evening.

In the morning, Nottawasaga and Creemore Public School will be hosting its annual breakfast with Santa from 9 a.m. until noon.

The event includes a shopping room for the children, treasure tray raffles, craft room, silent auction and a visit from Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus.

Santa is then beckoned to the staging area for the parade.

At 1:30 p.m. the big man will be ushered down Mill Street, lead by local clubs, businesses, politicians and youth.

The parade travels south on Mill Street, east on Edward Street and north of Mary Street, passing by Leisureworld Creedan Valley.

After the parade everyone is welcome to go to the Station on the Green to warm up, have hot chocolate and visit with Santa.

A parade after party is planned at the Creemore branch of the Clearview Public Library on Saturday, Dec. 6 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

People are invited to head to the library for soup and free family activities.

The library is offering a number of Christmas craft tables and displays. Meet our special guests, Dana Mailhot and Ariel from Therapy Tails, and learn about their encouraging and non-judgmental reading program, which entices children to be more comfortable with the written word.

Citizens speak against cell tower

Members of the public urged Bell to alter plans to build a cell phone tower north of Creemore, and questioned whether one is even necessary at a meeting on Monday night.

About 40 citizens attended the Public Meeting about the tower, which Bell proposed in January.

Ferdinand Staab, consultant land-use planner with Bell Mobility, explained that Bell selected the tower’s 10 Hill location because: it is the highest point in the area; has a willing landlord; is 450 m away from the nearest residence; has road access; and is close to a power line.

He was then put on the spot by nine members of the public who urged Council to direct Bell to consider more options, citing a variety of concerns including the height of the tower and its effect on property values.

A few citizens disputed the accuracy of the maps Staab presented showing quality of cell phone service in the area. One person said that when he took a Bell Mobility phone and a Rogers phone to all the places on the map that Bell purports had no coverage, he received good service with no problems. Councillor Brent Preston, who is a Bell subscriber, said he also had good service in areas that the map says has none.

Another Bell user admitted that he was “totally unaware and baffled” about the issue, because he hadn’t had any problems with his reception.

The location of the proposed tower was also questioned. Two citizens voiced concerns about aviation safety, as the tower is not lit in an area where ORNGE helicopters and private aircraft pass through.

When asked about the effects of such a tower on migratory bird patterns, Staab said that studies haven’t been extensive and he didn’t believe it affected them. However, another citizen took the microphone to counter that hundreds of birds in the area fly over the proposed location.

One speaker said the tower went against everything the Township had to offer. “This town is called Clearview for a reason,” he said.

Councillor Thom Paterson asked Bell to consider erecting a smaller tower similar to the 15-m construction in Creemore. Staab said a smaller tower wouldn’t have all the technology Dunedin needs.

But where was Dunedin in the discussion? When the Mayor asked Staab how many customers Bell has in Dunedin, he didn’t know.

Preston mentioned the Dunedin residents he had spoken with hadn’t expressed “an overwhelming joy” at the thought of improved cell service. He added that no one thought having broadband Internet was a great change because it is so costly with cell service. The people who need it – including himself – use satellite service, Preston said.

“It is not well balanced with the concerns that we have. We need to find some alternative,” Preston said.

Currently, the Township is waiting for Staab to address the public’s concerns before meeting again about other options. In the meantime, the Township will continue to send public comments to Bell.

If you have something to say, contact: Rossalyn Workman at rworkman@clearview.ca, 705-428-6230 or Clearview Township, 217 Gideon Street, Stayner, ON L0M 1S0.

Clean up the wetlands

Earlier this month, volunteers for the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) removed more than 750 pounds of garbage from the banks of the Mad River. Now, the NCC is looking for more people to help prepare the area for a new nature trail.

“This is the perfect way to contribute to a conservation project in your own neighbourhood,” said Erica Thompson, National Conservation Engagement Manager at the NCC. “The wetlands are just a 15-minute drive from Creemore.”

To further clear the area for public use, the NCC has planned two upcoming volunteer events. On Friday, October 18, it will help people canoe out into the wetlands to “lop, chop, anchor and clear out” trees and branches along the river. On Saturday, November 9, groups will be planting trees along the Mad River to help prevent soil erosion.

“We work with thousands of Canadians on projects like this so people can get out and spend time in nature,” said Thompson. “By volunteering, you can learn about natural history while helping to preserve it.”

Minesing Wetlands is one of the largest and most diverse wetland complexes in southern Ontario. It provides habitat for several significant species, including at-risk turtles and the eastern prairie white-fringed orchid. Minesing Wetlands is also home to one of the largest and oldest great blue heron colonies in the province.

The Wetlands is located 20 km west of Barrie. Once it is completed, the nature trail will provide a new entrance to the wetlands. It will also feature signs so members of the public can read about the significance of the area.

The Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA), which owns the conservation, will complete preparation work on the trail. The NVCA is dedicated to preserving a healthy environment to protect, conserve and enhance water, wetlands, forests and lands.

“The NCC’s mandate is to preserve and protect ecologically significant areas in southern Ontario,” explained Thompson. These areas include the Creemore Nature Preserve, which many local people have already played a role in caring for, she said.

Clearview adopts alternative energy protocol

The Township of Clearview has been inundated with inquiries from applicants interested in large-scale renewable energy projects since a provincial request-for-proposal submission stage opened this month.

As a result, council has approved a protocol and criteria for dealing with such requests.

“The phone has been ringing off the hook with people who want to do solar projects,” said the township’s director of planning and development, Michael Wynia.

The procurement process, through the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), relates to wind, solar and biogas generating 500 kw or more. Smaller projects are handled through other programs.

The submission deadline is Sept. 1. So far, the township has not received any inquiries about wind projects or biogas, just solar.

The protocol approved by Clearview councillors Monday aims to ensure the township is informed and in control of where projects would be located, preserving prime agricultural lands and diversifying underused or contaminated lands.

“What we hope we are doing is getting fair information so that when they go back to the province to get points, the township has been consulted. Given the township’s past experience, this is a good practice,” said Wynia.

IESO has attached a point system to the approval process. Applicants are awarded points for consultation with the township or a group within the township and the more points they get, the more likely they are to get a contract, said Wynia. Through the protocol, council will decide whether or not points are awarded.

“The province kicks these things out and they give little time to respond,” said Wynia.

He said Clearview has been working to prepare for this process but other municipalities may be taken off guard.

Council Shawn Davidson was the only councillor to oppose the protocol saying that he didn’t want to create another layer of bureaucracy to slow development.

At the same meeting Monday, council renewed its blanket endorsement of rooftop solar projects, removing a layer of red tape for those doing small scale projects.

Clearview appoints livestock kill investigators

The Township of Clearview has hired a roster of new livestock valuers.

Through the Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program, financial assistance is offered to producers whose livestock, poultry and honey bees have been damaged by wildlife. The program is part of Growing Forward, a federal, provincial and territorial initiative.

The valuers investigate livestock kills or injuries and file detailed reports and photographs to the clerk’s office. The valuer must be available to investigate within 24 hours of a reported incident.

The Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program and Section 4.1 of the Protection of Livestock and Poultry from Dogs Act, requires council to appoint one or more persons as valuers of livestock and poultry.

The valuers are Allan Fisher, Erika Hovius, Kimberly Patterson, Richard Metheral, Chris Monaghan, Russel Flack and the municipality’s bylaw enforcement officer.

The Township of Clearview receives on average 25-30 reports of livestock kills or injuries per year.

Valuers are paid $35 plus mileage each time they are called out.

Clearview approves aviation centre OPA

Clearview council has approved an Official Plan Amendment (OPA) allowing plans for the development of the Clearview Aviation Commerce Centre to proceed to the next step.

The amendment changes the designation on four properties adjacent to the Collingwood Regional Airport, located in Clearview Township, from agricultural to a special policy employment area serving the existing airport use. The lands are within a special policy area designated for such a use. Even with the amendment, a rezoning is still required.

“We are very pleased to get through this stage,” said project coordinator Paul Bonwick, adding it is the first of three steps in getting to final approval. “It’s a critical piece.”

A special council meeting was held July 10 to hold a vote on the amendment, which passed unanimously.

Clearview CAO Steve Sage said there are important timelines associated with the project and staff made a commitment one year ago to be mindful of timing. Now that it has been approved, the application moves to the County of Simcoe for final approval. A public meeting was held in March.

“Due to the timing constraints of both Clearview and Simcoe County council the applicant and Clearview staff have made completing the attached OPA a high priority,” reported Sage. “The file has been moving through the necessary processes for a period of more than six months and as indicated within the Planning Act, six months should be sufficient time to process the file.”

Sage is signing off on the application after manager of planning Ray Kelso left the township under circumstance not disclosed to the public. Sage said it is his opinion and that of the planning staff that the development should go forward, keeping in mind there are many items that still need to be addressed through the rezoning process.

Mayor Chris Vanderkruys said he supports the amendment.

“We want to stress the idea that we are open for business. We have to change what we have, for business to move forward,” he said.

As stated in the OPA, permitted uses are limited to industrial and commercial uses that are directly supportive and related to the adjacent Collingwood Regional Airport business and operations including, for example aircraft sales and service, manufacturing, maintenance, shipping, storage, research establishments, commercial flight schools, including associated short-term accommodation, business offices and small-scale accessory uses.

At the public meeting in March, landowners Remo Niceforo and Tony Bellissimo outlined their plans to develop a world-class commerce centre on about 300 acres that would result in more than $1.2 million in tax revenue for Clearview and 400 jobs.

Councillors were in support of proceeding with the amendment and expressed interest in getting down to the details about what businesses may locate there.

“The concern is ensuring there is definition between this project and the industrial lands project,” said Councillor Shawn Davidson adding that the uses should not compete too severely with the other development. “I am fully in support of the OPA and I hope the county will approve it so we can get to the details and get to the heart of the development…”

He said the development could have a great impact on the entire region.

After the meeting, Bonwick said in an ideal world there is hope of attracting one, two or three large aviation businesses as anchors and many ancillary operations. He said if they a attract a Bombardier type of business, they would get into “serious employment”.

Clearview approves Stayner servicing tender

Clearview Township council has approved a $4.5-million tender for the industrial servicing project in Stayner.

The contract goes to Moorefield Excavating, the lowest of six bidders.

The industrial park is located south of County Rd. 91 and west of County Rd. 42.

The work is subject to Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Environmental Compliance approvals and permit to take water.

The project is mostly funded through government grants. One-third of the cost will fall on the individual landowners, about 35, some of which are residential located with the parcel.

The work will include sanitary service, water, storm water and roads.

“There is a small portion, about $400,000 that will be an upgraded water main that is coming out of our general revenue but the remainder of it is coming from a multitude of locations being the grant, the landowners, development charges and user fees,” said Steve Sage.

It is hoped that once the lands are serviced, they will be developed and create jobs.

He said the township thinks there is potential for the lands to be developed but it is also a condition of the grant.

“We would not have got the grant if we had not put in an employment lands servicing portion into the application,” said Sage adding it has been part of the 2008 strategic plan. “So there are a lot of reasons why we are doing it.”

The total tender price is $4,527,463.65 including tax.

At the same meeting on Oct. 6, council also approved an $84,750 tender for winter sand submitted by MacDonald Construction. Three tenders were received. MacDonald Construction was the lowest bidder.

Clearview awards million-dollar sewer contracts

Two major contracts were awarded by Clearview to increase sanitary sewer capacity in Stayner and Wasaga Beach at its Council meeting on Monday night.

First, Councillors unanimously voted for Matheson Construction’s contract for $5,337,103 to construct the Stayner sewage pumping station #2 and associated pipe work.

Then, they agreed to award the contract to construct the dual forcemains and associated chambers between Stayner and Wasaga Beach to Cedarwell Excavating in the amount of $4,255,966.05.

The entire construction, which is called the Stayner-Wasaga Beach Sanitary Servicing Project, will be funded by grant money and contributions from developers. No funds will be used from general taxation.

Matheson’s tender bid on the contract includes HST. With Clearview’s HST rebate factored in, the total tender dollar value is $4,806,229.87.

This is less than the $5,543,000 that Clearview budgeted for this project. The budgeted amount breaks down into $5,230,000 for the pumping station, $239,000 for the water main and $74,000 for installing gravity sewer mains.

Sixteen companies bid for the pumping station contract. R. J. Burnside & Associates, an environmental and engineering consulting group, reviewed the three lowest bidders’ tender documents. Burnside staff members performed references checks before recommending Matheson Construction, which bid the lowest amount.

Burnside received 13 bids for constructing the forcemains and reviewed the tenders of the three lowest bidders before recommending the second-lowest bidder, Cedarwell Excavating.

With its HST rebate, it will cost the Township $3,832,631.89, which is $341,368.11 less than it originally budgeted for the project.

“This project will help provide additional sanitary sewer capacity that will allow growth and development in the Town of Stayner for years to come,” said Mike Rawn, General Manager of Environmental Services in the Public Works department in a memo to Council.

“By working with our municipal neighbours, the Town of Wasaga Beach, we have secured efficient environmentally sound sewage treatment at a reasonable cost for present and future residents.”

Clearview borrows to pay for Creemore Medical Centre reno

Clearview Township is borrowing $428,078 to pay for the expansion of the Creemore Medical Centre, $100,000 more than originally approved by council.

The municipality will be applying for a loan for an amount not to exceed $445,000 with an annual servicing cost not to exceed $22,000.

In 2013, council approved the expansion and funding of the project through a 30-year debenture of up to $330,000 to be funded by increases in the rental revenue of the facility.

The total cost of the renovation came in at $987,829.

Community donations received to date, needed to support the estimated project costs, exceeded the fundraising goal of $350,000 by $186,615. The current balance in the donations account is $526,614 with a $10,000 pledged amount outstanding and expected to be received in 2015.

The increased cost can be attributed in part to “29 approved contract change orders amounting to $158,676 in additions to the final construction costs”. (Additional costs were incurred by basement renovations not in the original design ($32,066), dental suite renovations not in the original design ($78,537) and unforeseen work in progress additions ($48,073).

Recruitment of new health care providers is ongoing to establish a practice in the 875 square feet of new space now available to lease, providing close-to-home primary care services to the 75 per cent of those in the Creemore Medical Centre catchment area that are currently served elsewhere. In addition, the project provides 800 square feet of additional unfinished new space for future health care service growth.

The project as completed will remain financially self-supporting, requiring no tax supported funding.

The medical centre board is in the process of identifying the area as underserviced to assist with attracting newly graduated doctors.

The board is also pursuing the possibility of a nurse practitioner for the centre. With the addition of alternate medical/wellness services, lease revenues will offset our operating costs and replenish reserves.

Clearview budget amended to allow land purchase

Clearview Township is amending its 2015 budget to add the purchase of industrial lands in Stayner.

Council approved the $260,000 purchase and an additional $140,000 for servicing and other improvements plus $41,000 in annual loan payments to be paid by a transfer from the land sale reserve.

It also authorized the treasurer to apply for a loan with TD Bank for an amount of up to $350,000 with a term of up to five years and a 10-year amortization.

The purchase will be financed with a $50,000 transfer from the roads capital grant reserve and a $350,000 loan.

Council approved the expenditures at a council meeting July 6 after an in-camera session without any public discussion.

The purchase of the lands permits the servicing of a road in the Industrial Servicing area, located in the southwest portion of Stayner, by way of providing a sufficiently sized road right of way, reported treasurer Edward Henley.

“The lands that are necessary to be purchased exceed the amount of land required for the right of way. The land not required for the right of way will be severed into approximately five lots. These lots will be serviced and then be available for sale at a suitable point in time,” writes Henley.

“It is the intention that the approximate five parcels of subdivided land would be sold at or above cost, including estimated financing charges within the 10-year amortization period of the loan. The proceeds of the sale of the five parcels would go to replenish the land sale reserve.”

Henley recommends borrowing from the bank instead of Infrastructure Ontario so the loans can be repaid more aggressively as the lands are sold, hopefully within five years. The money would also be used to replenish the reserve.

Clearview budget talks reveal long needed spending

Clearview Township council continued to wade through the 2015 municipal budget Monday.

Department heads presented portions of the staff-proposed budget during a second workshop that took up the first half of an eight-hour meeting.

Council members got a first look at the $60.9-million budget last month, comprised of $22.4 million in operating expenses and $38.5 million in capital spending, reflecting a 6.4 per cent tax increase. The numbers have changed slightly since last month and will continue to change as councillors begin debating the budget at a third workshop on Jan. 26.

The draft budget would require a 3.22 per cent tax increase, once county and school board taxes are factored in, which translates into an estimated increase of $91 based on a home assessed at $255,783, the average in Clearview Township.

New growth in the township will account for $94,020 in township revenue, up from the $85,620 originally projected.

Public works projects, including bridges, roadwork and sidewalks, account for $14.5 million, wastewater capital projects are pegged at $17 million and waterworks, including projects in Stayner and Creemore, are expected to cost $5.6 million.

Another $287,000 is being earmarked for parks and recreation. Capital projects include $40,000 for trail construction, $25,000 for bleachers at parks in New Lowell and Creemore, $8,000 to sandblast the pool in Stayner, $85,000 of work at the Creemore arena (for flooder and west wall insulation) and $85,000 of work at Stayner parks (Ives Park tennis court resurfacing and Station Park expansion).

As part of the Clearview Fire and Emergency Services’ $568,000 capital projects budget, Fire Chief Colin Shewell is proposing the purchase of a pumper truck valued at $360,000 to be stationed in Creemore but used throughout the township, $50,000 to replace a pickup truck and $30,000 worth of replacement bunker gear, among the top expenditures. Shewell said the department is made up of 100 part-time or volunteer firefighters, which the township employs for the cost of three full-time unionized firefighters.

Salaries, wages and benefits account for $611,285 of the department’s expenses.

Clearview Public Library CEO Jennifer LaChapelle highlighted in her budget presentation a plan to install Little Free Libraries at a cost of $750. Following a popular concept, small structures would be installed and stocked with books and people would be welcome to take and leave books free of charge.

LaChapelle is also proposing to increase staff hours to add Saturday programs and activities and fill in for sick days and vacations at just over $19,000.

An $85,000 expenditure for a cargo van to be used as a mobile library has been removed from the budget because the library has been offered use of an existing township vehicle.

The library is also budgeting $5,000 to replace the roof at the Stayner branch.

The building has undergone several repairs in recent years. It was closed for one month in 2014 to accommodate an emergency floor repair.

LaChapelle said there is currently a bat hole that needs to be dealt with.

“I am not afraid of bats but I don’t think having them fly around the library would be a good thing,” said LaChapelle. “You don’t always have a patron willing to club them and take them outside.”

Councillor Shawn Davidson said, the current council has to decide what it is going to do with the library by the end of 2016, before going into the 2017 budget process.

“We have to have the intestinal fortitude to make that decision,” said Davidson.

He urged council members to commit to a decision as to whether or not the township can afford to absorb the debt to build a new library.

Mayor Chris Vanderkruys said that new members of council are about fiscal management.

Michael Wynia presented highlights from planning, building and information services.

In terms of the latter, Wynia talked more about what isn’t included in the $89,500 capital budget. He said the township is in need of proper computer servers and a temperature controlled room in which to store them. He said the township is using old servers that are being cooled by a household fan.

Wynia said he also hopes to re-launch the walkability study that was shelved last year at a cost of $20,000.

“I know we’ve heard today a number of times that we need to show fiscal restraint but we need to move forward,” said Davidson.

Wynia is proposing a reserve be established to start saving for improvements.

As for Clearview’s community halls, a reserve fund has been established to address accessibility issues and future upgrades and staff is asking for $20,000 again this year to plan for the second annual Small Halls Festival.

How one tax dollar is spent:

43 cents of every tax dollar goes to Clearview

22 cents – public works

.09 cents – policing

.07 cents – fire

.05 cents – parks

0.03 cents – library

.03 cents – administration

.02 cents – planning

.012 cents – IT

.005 cents – NVCA

.004 cents – bylaw

The other half of each cent is divided between the school board and the County of Simcoe.

Clearview buys downtown Stayner property

Clearview Township finalized the purchase of property in downtown Stayner on Monday, August 12. Located at 220 Huron Street, the 1.5 acre parcel is adjacent to Station Park and is the former site of the Stayner Railway Station and United Farmers Co-op.

According to a Township press release, the $150,000 purchase of the site will allow the municipality to provide additional services and facilities in the downtown core of the largest settlement area in Clearview. The municipality will be able to increase parking capacity in the downtown, as well as expand park space and the scale of events hosted in the Station Park gazebo.

“Staff is currently working on a redevelopment plan for the entire site,” said Steve Sage, the Township’s general manager of transportation and recreation. “The redevelopment plan will include interior remodeling and expansion of the asphalt parking lot which will be presented to Council for consideration in the 2014 budget.”

Additional opportunities for the site include a space for the four-year Trillium PARC Project, a tourism kiosk, a storage solution for community events and organizations, and a local farmers market.

The existing fertilizer operation on the property will be leased back to FS Partners for a period of seven years, retaining local employment in the Stayner area.

Clearview candidates for mayor and deputy mayor take Q&A

The Creemore Echo posed three questions to the candidates running for mayor and deputy mayor:
1. As county councillor, how would you raise Clearview’s regional profile?
2. What is the best strategy for economic development in Clearview Township?
3. How do you choose between adding services and reducing/maintaining tax rates?

Mayoral candidates

Alicia Savage
1. Over the last eight years, I have worked closely with the mayor and together we have established strong relationships with county staff and council resulting in Clearview’s recognition as a leader in Simcoe. As chair of human services, I have played a key role in policy development, advocacy at the provincial and federal levels, new initiatives in long-term care, housing, paramedic services and other areas as well as actively providing input into all sectors of County responsibilities.
I will continue to build on the strong relationships in place with our neighbouring and regional municipal partners, seeking opportunities to share resources and find synergies. My experience at other county stakeholder organizations such as the Simcoe Muskoka Board of Health, Simcoe County Alliance to End Homelessness, and Simcoe County District School Board Bridges out of Poverty will continue to benefit Clearview directly and indirectly.

2. One of the priorities of the next term of council is to develop an economic development strategy, a task that must include all sectors and stakeholders. Thanks to the recent success of our branding initiative and the funding that has been and can be leveraged as a result, we will be able to define an economic development strategy that has tangible actions and goals. The strategy must define the municipality’s role, specifically as it relates to facilitating development on the newly serviced industrial/commercial lands.
A likely outcome of the strategy will be a focus on supporting our current small business community and creating an environment that will promote new entrepreneurs while ensuring we can maintain and retain mid-size companies as they expand.
We will also be able to capitalize on the County of Simcoe’s ongoing investment in Economic Development including staff resources, county-wide initiatives and dedicated funding.

3. This is the challenge facing all municipalities as other levels of government continue to cut back funding while adding regulations and requirements in addition to downloading more responsibilities. In a growth-based economy like Canada, we have to facilitate new development in order to expand the assessment base simply to maintain the status quo. At some point, however, this becomes unsustainable.
Therefore, we continue to seek out cost savings by utilizing new technology, entering into partnerships and considering service levels. I view taxes as an investment in the quality of life I enjoy in my community, province and country. As investors, residents need assurance that funds are being spent responsibly and so we continue to improve our budget process, accountability and communication.
It will be increasingly difficult to add or increase services in this economic climate so we will have to approach these opportunities cautiously, considering all options including sharing with neighbouring municipalities and determining whether the benefit is worth the investment.

Chris Vanderkruys
1. I would strongly advocate for more fund distribution (from provincial and federal governments) as we struggle with very little industrial and commercial tax base as we are known for our farming community and don’t want to change that. We need the tax base that is from industrial and commercial usage but have not been successful in attracting them and may not as many businesses choose to locate in certain areas and focus on market area models and profit maximizing. We need business leadership and also community leadership tied into one. The leadership group, not just individuals can be drawn from all parts of the community and they can make change happen. Effective leadership is a discipline and a major commitment to action. I will lead Clearview with the help of all residents to create our vision, breaking bottlenecks, establishing tough but achievable goals, and leveraging community interest and involvement.

2. Clearview needs to consider completing township-wide improvement plans such as many of our neighbours have. This will help to identify and develop an incentive program that will offer investment opportunities to public and private companies. This will also ensure that all growth associated with it will create a positive impact on Clearview’s economy and social needs for the future.
3. Reducing taxes is not an option with our challenges we face but we do need to review our staffing levels and ensure our resources are best situated to reflect our current needs and that our spending is justified. We had anticipated much growth since 2010 but many factors have delayed it and now that growth does need to happen to assist covering the costs that we have incurred in planning for it. Many say that our township has been closed for business and the time has come to ensure we are open and ready to grow where possible. We need to ensure that the residents are aware of the spending consistently, and also ensure that residents have more say in the future projects we plan. We need to be more accountable with the dollars raised through taxation and ensure they are being spent and invested with our vision in mind always.

Candidates for deputy mayor

Barry Burton
1. As a county councillor there are decisions that will affect Clearview directly and those that will affect the other townships and towns. It is important that Clearview is seen as having a strong position on issues that affect Clearview directly. As a county councillor I would ensure that major financial decisions are based on strong factual information and are beneficial to the county as a whole. Through our willingness to work with the other members of county council and challenging decisions that are not in the best interest of the County we will demonstrate the leadership of Clearview. By tapping into the unique talents of the people that reside in Clearview we can become known as one of the more innovative members of Simcoe County Council.

2. Clearview needs a strong but realistic economic development plan. By streamlining the financial and bureaucratic obstacle course hindering development we can encourage both residential and commercial development. I want an economic development officer who will be responsible to actively source out potential industrial and commercial opportunities for growth. There is such an amazing collection of people with world-class skills living in Clearview that we need to have a small business committee that can assist and encourage entrepreneurs to start up in Clearview. This committee would also be dedicated to help existing businesses to maintain success. The airport is now a regional airport and a port of entry into Canada. This is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of the airport being in Clearview Township. It will allow international goods to be transported in and out and entice future development in the Airport area.

3. In order to maintain existing services and tax rates we must increase our tax base not property taxes. Only through development is this possible. That is why growth is imperative to bring some financial stability to Clearview. Adding services at this time would be difficult without reviewing and reducing existing operational costs. However, we have some very well educated and experienced staff and together with their input we can find ways to reduce operational costs and reduce budgets. We need to be more innovative in the way we are managing township services and departments. Only by working together with staff will we be able to achieve acceptable solutions.

Larry Culham
1. I believe the profile of Clearview Township is being raised and will continue to be raised by natural market impetus that has been building for the past few years.
But I can accelerate that as deputy mayor and county councillor. Clearview benefits directly from strong advocacy at the County Council and I have the skills, experience and commitment to make that happen.
We can build on the momentum by using the office of the deputy mayor to champion our “brand”.
Right here, we have agricultural innovation in genetics, medicinal cannabis production, community supported agriculture, wine and hops production and more.
The township and partner agencies are using provincial grants deliver new community development.
Our multi-use trail system that is emerging as a destination network.
The work with Creemore Springs to preserve the local streetscape has elicited widespread acclaim.
I know every corner of this community. If elected, I’ll continue to promote Clearview’s best.

2. I think the best strategy for municipal government is to remove obstacles and then get out of the way.
Reality says our approach has to be lawful, organized, planned and thoughtful so that our communities remain sustainable.
I think we need to work on several fronts at the same time.
But I know we can create livelihoods in the community fastest when we first encourage the growth and development of existing small businesses.
In addition, we’ve got to leverage the newly serviced industrial lands to go after new job generators for Clearview.
I’ve been a member of the Economic Development Committee for three years and the work on marketing these assets is beginning.
The development of a tourism strategy that leverages partnerships is a third important opportunity.
I’ll dig in to ensure that Clearview moves forward.

3. The people decide, through their elected council, which services we want, how they will be delivered and how they are paid for.
I want to have confidence that waste, duplication and inefficiencies are in check. And if elected I can revisit the issue with council colleagues and staff.
Then it will come down to values. The choices have a historical context and we will have to plan out into the future so that our descendants will still want to live here too.
Adding or eliminating services will have a direct impact not just on the tax rate but also on people’s lives.
Higher taxes or lack of services will make our communities less desirable places to live.
Ultimately there will be a lot of factors and not a great deal of “wiggle room”.
If elected, I have the ability to analyze the data, research the approaches, formulate the solutions and find the balance the people will support.

Clearview catches minister’s ear

A four-person delegation from Clearview Township will have an audience with the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Bill Mauro, Monday during a municipal government conference in Toronto.

The meeting was granted as part of the annual Ontario Good Roads Association and Rural Ontario Municipal Association combined conference, taking place at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel Feb. 22-25.

The meeting is regarding a change in regulation by the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) that could result in a costly delay for Clearview Township.

Clearview currently has an application before the NEC for a development permit to upgrade two municipal roads (Concession 10 and 26/27 Sideroad) as part of the agreement for the expansion of Walker Industries’ Duntroon quarry.

“The legislation changed on the requirement for us to get a permit after the hearing board ruled on the quarry. We’re going to meet with the minister to ask for an exemption from that amended regulation,” said Clearview CAO Steve Sage.

The change means that a permit is now necessary to improve roads within the NEC area, which could mean the township would have to go through a second public process.

“At this point in time, we have probably invested about $130,000 and we have nothing,” said Sage adding that there may be additional costs.

“Where the huge cost could come in is if we have to go through another public process and I can’t estimate those costs.”

All members of Clearview council will be attending the conference, with the exception of Councillor Shawn Davidson.

Davidson has been asked to attend the meeting, because he is the appointed NEC member for Simcoe County.

In addition to Sage and Davidson, the delegation also includes Mayor Chris Vanderkruys and Councillor Robert Walker.

The road upgrades are part of an agreement that would lead to the eventual closure of County Road 91 at Grey Road 31.

“Not only will it cost us money but also time,” said Vanderkruys adding the road closure is meant to alleviate truck traffic.

“They changed the regulation but there wasn’t any timeframe around the change.”

It is at the mayor’s discretion, with advice from the CAO, which meetings with ministers will be requested.

Clearview Township also requested a meeting with the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Glen Murray, to discuss the wpd Fairview wind project but the minister’s office declined.

Clearview Community Radio to host live music

After a one-month closure the Bank Café has reopened with a new vibe.

The café is the new home of Clearview Community Radio.

Owner Natalie Seltzer has partnered with Sandra and Steve Green, who are operating the community radio station out of the café, while also making coffee and acting as support staff.

The radio station is already broadcasting online and the Greens are in the process of applying to Industry Canada and the CRTC – Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission – for a developmental licence that would allow them to broadcast on radio with a low wattage.

“We have to stay local, promote local and have local content,” said Sandra.

In order to create local content they are hosting live performances by local musicians at the café beginning Saturday, Nov. 8 with singer-songwriter Ian Duffy, a Glencairn resident, at 7 p.m. and later jazz singer Sharon Beeler will perform with accompanist David Chun.

The performances will be recorded and played on air.

The Greens both have a background in broadcast community television but Steve has always loved radio.

The radio station won’t be a money-maker, it’s all about community, said Sandra.

“There is no want or need for this but we think there is because community is so important,” she said.

They left their jobs to go on a cycling trip with their teenage son the summer before last and it was during the trip that the idea of starting the radio station developed into a solid plan.

The family lives in Brentwood but thought Creemore would be a good community in which to launch the radio project. Sandra said they dreamed of having a storefront location.

Eventually they plan to branch out to the rest of Clearview Township.

The radio station would not be competing with commercial radio as it will not sell advertising.

“It needs to make money to sustain itself,” said Sandra.

She said they are exploring revenue options such as grants, memberships and in-kind partnerships.

They have received status as a non-profit and they are committed to local content, focusing on talk radio and opinion.

They are also hosting a monthly community potluck at 5:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month, beginning on Nov. 19.

Musicians interested in performing at the café are asked to contact the Greens through the website, clearviewcommunityradio.org.

Clearview council opts for 4-way stop

Clearview council has agreed to install a four-way stop at the intersection of Concession 10 and the 33/34 Sideroad Nottawasaga, near Nottawa.

Council members opted for the additional stop signs at its Nov. 24 meeting.

The four-way stop is preferable to rumble strips, as recommended by staff, because it is believed that problems at the intersection aren’t caused by poor visibility as much as driver behaviour.

“For some reason it just feels like a four-way stop and I think that’s the problem. I think there’s an expectation the people coming the other way are going to stop,” said councillor Brent Preston. “It’s not a perfect solution but it’s the best solution of all the ones before us.”

Staff recommended rumble strips be placed on Concession 10 on both the northbound and southbound lanes approaching the intersection in the spring, that the two-way tab be removed from the existing stop signs and that the signs be replaced with bigger ones.

Council unanimously agreed to proceed with converting the intersection to a four-way stop, which will require a bylaw be brought back to council for consideration.

Councillor Doug Measures said during the election campaign speeding was identified as the top issue. He said  the township should go for the gusto by adding bigger signs, signs that indicate stop signs ahead and even look into what it would cost to install flashing lights.

Councillor Shawn Davidson said the same issue was raised about nine years ago and changes made at that time weren’t enough so more needs to be done.

“It’s time to try to slow the intersection down,” he said.

CAO Steve Sage reported that there have been two fatal crashes at the intersection in recent history and collisions have been on the increase during the past decade. In all instances, the driver traveling northbound or southbound has been found to be at fault.

“Both staff, the OPP, and Clearview’s municipal engineers have had difficulty determining why drivers do not respect the rules of the road at this location,” reported Sage.

“Very serious charges have been laid as a result of these catastrophic collisions.

Unfortunately the occupants of the vehicles traveling eastbound and westbound who are not required to stop, have also been injured. Particularly in one instance where Clearview is now in litigation as a result of a personal injury.”

Larry Jackson spoke in support of converting to a four-way stop during public participation period Monday.

He said he was nearly killed when he was travelling west on the 33/34 Sideroad when a driver, heading north, failed to stop.

The financial implications will be examined as part of the process of implementing the bylaw.

Clearview council puts Creemore bridge back in county’s court

It looks like Creemore may have lost its bridge after council essentially rejected an offer from the County of Simcoe to transfer ownership of the Collingwood Street Bridge.

Clearview council was willing to take over the bridge and restore it if there was enough money downloaded along with it.

Clearview was hoping to get $1.5 million from the county they gave the mayor and deputy mayor some room to negotiate but on Tuesday, county councillors agreed to a payment of $934,000. The figure reflects the amount equivalent to the tax levy portion of the construction and contract administration cost based on acceptance of the recommended tender – what the county tax levy impact for reconstruction would have been if the County had proceeded as planned.

Clearview Mayor Chris Vanderkruys called an emergency meeting Wednesday morning to give council members a chance to consider the deal.

There wasn’t enough support around the table to accept the deal with several council members speaking in opposition and others concerned about how the township would make up the funding shortfall.

“Where is this money going to come from?” asked Councillor Robert Walker. “It’s not in the best interest of Clearview. I don’t see us taking it on when we don’t know what the bottom line is. That’s the scary part for me.”

Similar comments were echoed by councillors Deborah Bronée, Shawn Davidson and Doug Measures.

They say council set a price, and it wasn’t met.

“I can’t support this motion,” said Bronée. “We gave clear direction… We don’t have the money for that. We have bigger fish to fry. We need to move ahead and let the county do their job.”

Councillors Thom Paterson and Kevin Elwood expressed concern that the county hadn’t done enough to explore the possible rehabilitation of the bridge.

Elwood said the option was overlooked.

He commended the mayor and deputy mayor for their efforts, adding the people of Clearview want to preserve their heritage, a factor in the economic development of the township, adding it is difficult to support it because of the cost.

Elwood was among those to support Paterson’s motion to reject the county proposal on procedural grounds, asking the county to present an estimate on the bridge restoration and delay the tender process.

The motion did pass in a 5-4 vote Wednesday morning but it may be too late.

The county offer came with an April 30 deadline.

If Clearview did not accept the deal by that date, the county would continue with the tender process in order to replace the bridge with a two-lane concrete structure this summer.

“I love this bridge,” said Councillor Connie Leishman, choking up a little. “I’d love to save it but I have a real problem with the money. I don’t want to do anything that would put this township in jeopardy.”

Burton, who has championed the save-the-bridge campaign, said this week has brought many disappointments.

“I do appreciate what councillors are willing to do but I think it’s a moot point,” said Burton.

“In my opinion, I feel we just lost the bridge,” he said after the meeting. He said he wouldn’t have supported a tax increase to make up any shortfall in funds needed to restore the bridge. He would have looked to grants and reserves and taken up offers of fundraising efforts from people in Creemore.

“It’s a disappointing day for Clearview,” said Burton.

Clearview council resists ditching prayer

Councillors in Clearview are not convinced they should remove allocated prayer time at the beginning of each meeting just because a recent Supreme Court ruling found the practice violated the rights of council members in Saguenay, Quebec.

The court upheld a decision in April, that reciting a Catholic prayer at a council meeting was a violation of religious rights after a complaint by Alain Simoneau, an atheist who attended meetings.

At council’s June 1 meeting, Clearview clerk Pamela Fettes recommended the prayer at the beginning of the meeting be removed.

“In light of the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision concerning prayer at municipal council meetings, it is recommended that this item be taken out of the procedural bylaw,” reported Fettes.

“The mayor and clerk held a meeting with the chair of the Ministerial Association to discuss this matter. Clearview’s support of the churches as part of our community is still recognized and recommendations will be forthcoming at a later date as to how council can still show its support of our vibrant church community.”

It has been the township’s practice to allow time for a representative of the ministerial association to address council and offer a blessing and prayer.

Since the court ruling several councils have cut out prayers. The township did get a legal opinion on the matter in support of removing the prayer.

Councillor Shawn Davidson asked if it is necessary to cancel the prayer if Clearview hasn’t been challenged.

“It is the path of least resistance to say someone else got their hands slapped so we should stop,” he said, adding parliament opens with a prayer.

“If it’s good for Steve, why is it not good for us?”

Thom Paterson said he agrees with Davidson.

“We are jumping on this thing almost as a reflex,” said Paterson.

He said the Clearview Ministerial Association has been praying for council for nine years and “with tongue planted firmly in cheek, we need to give them a little more time.”   

Others on council also agreed and said they look forward to hearing from the association on ways to incorporate the church community into meetings.

“This political correctness just drives you crazy sometimes,” said Deputy Mayor Barry Burton.

Clearview council tells staff to trim budget

Clearview Township staff has been tasked with trimming the budget in order to offer a more palatable tax increase to residents.

Council has directed staff to rework the budget and come back with an overall increase of 1.95 per cent or less, down from the 3.2 per cent originally presented.

The increase is to be calculated using assumed tax rates from the county and school boards.

Council approved the direction adding a caveat that staff is to use no more than $120,000 from reserves to balance the budget.

The motion was tabled by Deputy Mayor Barry Burton toward the end of a four-hour budget meeting Monday afternoon at town hall in Stayner.

“At the end of the day, people look at the net increase,” said Burton…“Budgets are budgets and we have to be fiscally responsible here.”

He said council should rely on staff to come up with the reductions.

In order to reach the 1.95 per cent increase threshold, staff will need to come up with a $140,000 reduction in spending or added revenue from non-tax sources.

Staff and council went back and forth trying to get the other to identify areas where cuts could be made.

Council members came up with a list of suggestions on items that could be removed from the budget including forgoing added library hours, not hiring a full-time communications and marketing coordinator this year and a reduction in transfer to reserves. Fire Chief Colin Shewell also identified a reduction in new equipment purchases and council didn’t show much support for a $10,000 expenditure for camera equipment to record council meetings. The omissions would add up to just over $300,000.

Councillor Thom Paterson was the only person to oppose the motion. He too wanted to reduce the budget and have staff identify reduced spending but through a two per cent decrease in tax-supported spending, as a review of services, while keeping reserve allocations intact.

In the initial draft budget, Clearview Township staff projects just over $23 million in revenues, 56 per cent of which is from property taxes. Paterson was proposing to reduce that $12.9-million in property tax revenue by two per cent.

Councillor Kevin Elwood was the only person to support his motion that asked staff to identify about $259,000 in reduced spending of taxation dollars.

“We should get ourselves in the mindset of controlling our spending,” said Paterson. “It’s easy to spend money when times are good. It’s harder to control in times like these.”

In 2015, Clearview Township is facing a reduction in provincial funding, through the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund and is attempting to reduce its reliance on reserves.

Councillor Shawn Davidson acknowledged that staff has already trimmed the budget in an attempt to make up for the shortfall.

“You did good, you just haven’t done great so trim it up,” said Davidson.

Because of the municipal election, council got a late start on the budget and staff was feeling the crunch as the public meeting date is fast approaching.

Paterson is hoping to get support for a service review this spring, in planning for next year’s budget and the next several years.

The next time council sees the draft budget is when it goes before the public on Feb. 9.

The public meeting is at 7 p.m. at town hall in Stayner. Council will make revisions based on public input at a fourth and final budget workshop on March 2 before voting on the final document that night.

Council hashes out community assistance grants

Councillors debated allocations of $22,800 in community assistance grants as part of budget deliberations Monday.

A sub-committee of council had total allocations down to $19,900 but council added recipients, bringing it up to $20,650.

• Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Georgian Triangle $1,000

• Breaking Down Barriers $500

• Brentwood Horticultural Society $700

• Bruce Trail kiln project $1,000

• Clearview Community Radio $250

• Clearview Community Theatre $1,750

• Clearview Stayner Food Bank $2,000

• Creemore Cats $250

• Creemore Horticultural Society $700

• Crime Stoppers Simcoe-Dufferin-Muskoka $250

• Duntroon Stayner Road Race $500

• Georgian Triangle Anglers Association $250

• Georgian Triangle Housing Resource Centre $1,500

• Highlands Youth for Christ/The Door $2,000

• Hospice Georgian Triangle $1,000

• Magic of Children in the Arts $250

• Mathew Buie – rower $250

• My Friend’s House $1,000

• Creemore Legion – Canada Day event $500

• Singhampton Park Committee $500

• South Simcoe 4-H $250

• St. Luke’s Gift of Music $250

• Stayner Chamber of Commerce $500

• Stayner Heritage Society $300

• Stayner Horticultural Society $700

• Teddy Bears Picnic Children’s Centre $1,000

• Tin Roof Global $500

Council also entertained a late request for $1,000 from the Cybergnomes competitive robotics team.

Council agreed to move a $1,000 request for roof repairs to the Stayner Lawn Bowling facility under general maintenance.

Many organizations were not granted all of the money they requested.

Council denied Clearview Community Policing $15,878 for radar speed signs, $1,000 for Clearview Soccer Club, saying the club is already subsidized through park and recreation, $1,000 for Theatre Collingwood, $500 for Imaginarium art camp, $500 for the Creemore Santa Claus parade and $500 for the Clearview Sheep Club.

The balance of the fund, $2,150, will be used to address requests that come up throughout the year.

  

Clearview council to consider proclamations

Clearview Township council is reconsidering its policy on making declarations and proclamations on behalf of interest groups.

At its meeting Monday, council voted to have all requests placed on the agenda for council approval.

The issue came to light in January when a request from Simcoe Pride to fly the Pride flag at town hall in Stayner from July 31 to August 8 ended up on the agenda.

Council made an exception to the rule the year prior and the rainbow flag was hoisted at town hall for the first time despite a policy passed in 1996 that states, “the township cease to declare special weeks, months and days because the requests became “redundant due to overuse”.

CAO Steve Sage said it also takes up significant staff time to process the requests and organize flag-raisings.

When it came up this year, Councillor Robert Walker voiced opposition to flying the flag again, saying he wouldn’t support it because of his Christian beliefs.

Councillor Thom Paterson then asked for a review of the policy.

During an April 13 discussion, Walker moved that council stick to its policy and fly only three flags at town hall; the federal, provincial and municipal flags.

There was enough council support to overturn the policy.

“It’s a friendly thing to do,” said Councillor Connie Leishman.

Councillor Deborah Bronée suggested that guidelines be developed. It was decided that all requests would go through the mayor’s office and be included on the agenda.

Clearview councillors vow representation for all

Four newly-elected members of Clearview council and five returning members took the oath of office in front of a tightly packed audience Monday.

Members of the 2014-2018 term of council were sworn in at the Clearview Township Administration Centre in Stayner.

One by one, elected officials were called to the podium where they gave the oath of office before signing it.

“I thank you for taking upon your shoulders and hearts the oath of public service. I pray you strength to carry its tasks of good governance forward with passion,” said Rev. Tony Rennett in his blessing. “…There is one piece that without, there is no good governance. It is the citizen taking the oath upon him or herself for the wellbeing of the whole community.”

Chris Vanderkruys was presented the chain of office and the gavel, inscribed with his name, to use during his term as mayor.

Members were then called to their council seats to address family, friends, staff, supporters, media and other community members.

“I am grateful to all of those who voted for me and helped to elevate me to this place realizing that my greatest service is not to them alone, but to every individual within Clearview,” said Vanderkruys in his inaugural address as mayor. “The citizens of Clearview are why we are here and it is my desire to ensure that every one of them, every one of you, is treated with the utmost respect and that every request receives a response.”

He said voters have made a clear decision; they want better fiscal management, more communication and to appear open for business.

“Our residents ask for many different things throughout Clearview as each ward is distinct in nature so it will take collaborative councillors to think outside the box to ensure we can meet the expectations of all the residents over the next four years,” said Vanderkruys.

“Clearview is one township made up of smaller communities through amalgamation many years ago and it is time for us to work together in addressing problems that are common to us all. One Clearview means one clear view for all.”

Deputy Mayor Barry Burton also spoke of teamwork.

“I feel so privileged to be a member of the team that will guide Clearview Township through the next four years,” he said.

“Let me be the first to use the title in congratulating his worship Mayor Vanderkruys. We all look forward to his leadership. I want to also congratulate all the members of council on their success on being elected to represent their wards and I look forward to working with them in creating the future of Clearview.”

Burton said this is a time for growth, harmonization, new ideas and vision.

Shawn Davidson thanked his family for the sacrifices they make that allow him to sit on council adding, he looks forward to serving on council as it continues to build upon greatness.

Like Davidson, Robert Walker is embarking on his fourth term of council.

“We are a team that will represent the township as a team. We will go forward with the direction of this township,” said Walker.

Doug Measures said he looks forward to working with the new leaders.

“I hope our council recognizes that we are here to support all of the community,” he said.

Deb Bronée thanked family who travelled from outside the community to attend the inauguration and the volunteers that work within the municipality.

“We may all seem very different but in the end we all want the same thing and that is some growth, economic development and to preserve our rural roots,” she said.

Thom Paterson acknowledged members of past council, especially those not returning.

“As with any new term of council, there are adjustments to be made as the new council forms and reshapes itself to reflect the wishes of the people of Clearview Township,” he said.

“I believe we have a real opportunity during this term to be more than a business as usual municipality. We have an exciting mix of experience and new energy in both senior staff and council. Working together, we can challenge ourselves to find new ways to provide and improve efficient service delivery and plan our long term development and financial outlook within an ability to pay fiscal framework for the benefit of all sectors of our local economies.”

Council newcomers Connie Leishman and Kevin Elwood both thanked supporters and those who encouraged them to run in the election.

“They know my passion for this township and it runs very deep,” said Leishman.

Elwood specifically thanked outgoing councillor Orville Brown for his encouragement.

“I look forward to representing the residents and addressing their concerns while keeping the interests of the community, and the township as a whole, at heart,” said Elwood.

Most council members took the opportunity Monday evening to thank their spouses and family members for their support.

Clearview debate centres on growth, economic develpment

Growth and development were the main themes of an election campaign debate in Stayner last night.

Candidates for mayor and deputy mayor faced off at the debate, hosted by the Stayner Chamber of Commerce.

Mayoral candidates Alicia Savage and Chris Vanderkruys, in response to a question posed by moderator Michael Gennings, agreed that growth and financial stability are among the most pressing issues facing Clearview Township over the next four years.

They agreed Clearview needs to diversify its tax base by adding commercial and industrial.

Savage referred to the Stayner industrial servicing project saying council has laid the groundwork for that land adding now’s the time make sure development happens.

“We need an economic development strategy specific to those lands to attract business,” said Savage. “The hard work of the last seven years has allowed for services at one-third of the cost. We will continue to work with [landowners] so the lands can be developed.

“We have been talking for four years and we haven’t moved on those things,” said Vanderkruys.

He talked about how development charges will make diversifying the tax base difficult.

“Why do we create such hurdles for our residents?” asked Vanderkruys.

The mayoral debate revolved around experience, with Savage saying if she isn’t elected there won’t be an experienced council member in either the mayor’s chair or the deputy mayor’s chair, or sitting on county council.

She said she has already made connections with people at the county, provincial and federal levels of government and without those relationships, Clearview could “fall behind”.

“I can dig deeper, analyze the options and make decisions based on an informed debate,” said Savage.

“I have a proven track record.”

Vanderkruys said he has experience that is relevant to the mayor’s position. He is a former entrepreneur, manages a $7.3-million budget in his current job, is a long-time volunteer and is the lead on a large-scale event.

He said he would be sure not to fall behind.

Deputy mayoral candidates Barry Burton and Larry Culham agreed that Clearview has to be smart when it comes to growth.

“It’ll take some innovation to ensure growth has a positive impact,” said Burton.

He said there’s opportunity to incorporate small business in a way that is complementary to communities, making sure larger businesses locate on commercial and industrial lands. He said a bypass would help keep commercial vehicle traffic out of town.

“Growth has to come in a balanced way to preserve our lifestyle,” said Culham.

He said agricultural innovations are needed, in addition to other development.

“Community development is economic development,” he said adding it’s important to form partnerships so Clearview doesn’t have to pay for it all on its own.

“We need to get development happening now,” said Burton. “We can’t wait another few years.”

Culham said there’s evidence that there’s more confidence in the economy now that developers are putting down money.

During the two-hour meeting, candidates also took questions from the floor.

Question topics included youth services, the future of the Collingwood Street Bridge in Creemore, tax increases and water quality in Nottawa.

Berton Somerville asked about agriculture, saying it is after all the biggest industry in Clearview.

Savage said Clearview has protected farmland by establishing settlement boundaries and has learned a lot from consulting with farmers.

Vanderkruys said there is opportunity for niche farming and more consultation.

Burton proposes forming an agricultural committee for ongoing consultation.

“It is the number one source of job creation. It’s being integrated into the understanding of the region,” said Culham.

Candidates for mayor, deputy mayor and wards 2 and 5 will take part is an all candidates meeting hosted by the Creemore Area Residents’ Association at Station on the Green in Creemore on Sunday, Oct. 19 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Clearview driver charged with stunt driving

Police caught a driver going 135 km per hour in an 80 km per hour zone on Centre Line Road near Concession 7 on Sept. 28.
The driver, a 20-year-old Clearview Township resident, has a G2 licence and there were three other young people in the vehicle.
“At that speed a simple lack of attention could have caused a serious collision with tragic consequences. Fortunately for this driver and his passengers, police did stop them and instead of a possible disastrous outcome, all made it home safely,” said Const. Mark Kinney.
The driver is charged with stunt driving for going more than 50 km above the speed limit and the vehicle was taken away for seven days.
The young man is to appear in court in Wasaga Beach on Nov. 13.

Clearview fire chief urges children to ‘push the button’

Clearview Fire and Emergency Services is teaming up with the Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal and TVO Kids to raise awareness about testing smoke alarms during the Push the Button campaign.

Fire officials are challenging children to test as many smoke alarms as possible in Clearview Township until March 8.

“Clearview Fire and Emergency Service is encouraging children and their families to think about fire safety in their home by testing the fire alarm,” said Fire Chief Colin Shewell. “Also every home must have a working smoke alarm on every level and near sleeping areas.”

Parents are encouraged to give their children permission to push the bottom on the smoke alarms to hear if the alarms are working.

Once they’ve tested their smoke alarms, children are encouraged to go online at www.tvokids.com and register the number of alarms they have tested and print a certificate. The number will be added to TVO Kids’ counter.

 

 

Clearview fire department distributes alarms during Project Zero

The Clearview Fire Department has received 376 smoke and carbon monoxide alarms as part of Project Zero.
In partnership with Enbridge Gas Distribution and the Fire Marshal’s Public Fire Safety Council they are working to bring the number of fire and carbon monoxide-related deaths down to zero.
“This is an excellent opportunity to work with our safety partners and enhance our smoke alarm and carbon monoxide program. Early detection is key and this program will be a valuable initiative to achieve this,” said Clearview Township Fire Chief Colin Shewell.
Locally, the fire department will install the alarms for those who need assistance. The devices can also be picked up at the hub.
During the campaign, more than 4,500 alarms are being provided to residents in 15 municipalities in Ontario. Enbridge invested $100,000 this year in Project Zero.
The alarms will be distributed to homes in neighbourhoods where the number of residential fires and fire-related deaths and injuries have been higher than average.
“Safety is our top priority at Enbridge, and we’re committed to helping ensure there are no deaths in Ontario due to carbon monoxide exposure,” said Enbridge Gas director of construction Frank Smith. “Educating customers about the importance of installing a combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarm and properly maintaining fuel-burning equipment is an ongoing priority.”
Since 2009, Project Zero has been launched in 64 Ontario communities.
“Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are critical life safety devices. They detect the presence of smoke and deadly gas and provide those precious seconds for occupants to escape. Everyone needs to have them in their homes,” said Ontario Fire Marshal Ted Wieclawek.
In Ontario, it is the law that every home must have a working smoke alarm on every storey and outside all sleeping areas. While regulations on Bill 77 – the Hawkins Gignac Act, which gives the government the authority to make having a carbon monoxide detector mandatory – have not yet been finalized, a carbon monoxide detector is highly recommended by the Ontario Fire Marshal.
Combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, when properly installed and maintained, help provide the early warning that is needed to safely escape from a house fire or carbon monoxide exposure.
Carbon monoxide is a toxic, odourless gas that is a by-product of incomplete combustion of many types of common fuels. It is important that all fuel-burning equipment be properly maintained to prevent carbon monoxide buildup.
Carbon monoxide alarms are recommended as a second line of defense to protect against the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The hub is located at 6993 Highway 26, in Stayner.
People can call the fire department if they need assistance with the installation of the alarms. Call 705-428-4355.
The department has until Nov. 15 to distribute all of the devices.

Clearview Fire gets Enbridge grant for training

Trina Berlo photo: Deputy Fire Chief Roree Payment, Fire Chief Colin Shewell, Mayor Chris Vanderkrys, Chief Jim Sales, of the Fire Marshal’s Public Fire Safety Council, with Curtis Fink and Mike Sangregorio of Enbridge Gas Distribution.

Clearview Fire and Emergency Services has received a $5,000 donation from Enbridge Gas for firefighter training through Project Assist.

Project Assist is a program that supplements existing training for Ontario fire departments in the communities where Enbridge operates.

“This is an excellent opportunity to enhance our resources for training and continue to develop our frontline firefighters. This funding will enable the firefighter’s access to the most up-to-date educational material and will assist us to continue our exceptional service to our residents and visitors in our community,” said Clearview Township Fire Chief Colin Shewell.

Chief Jim Sales, of the Fire Marshal’s Public Fire Safety Council, was present for the presentation at Clearview Township council Monday and said the council has partnered with Enbridge to assist in its mission to prevent injuries and support firefighter training.

He said the funding announcement is especially timely after Clearview firefighters assisted in a dangerous rescue alongside his staff from Toronto.

In the program’s fourth year, Enbridge has donated a total of $100,000 to be divided among 20 fire departments.

The money is allocated through the Fire Marshal’s Public Fire Safety Council.

Clearview flies with pride

For the first time, the rainbow flag will fly in Clearview for Simcoe Pride Week, which runs from Friday, August 1 to Saturday, August 9.

Clearview’s flag will join 13 other municipalities across Simcoe County.

Council approved the flag raising at its meeting on June 2.

Simcoe Pride was founded in 2012 to provide a safe and inclusive County that supports the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Allied community.

The 10-day long festival will feature events across Simcoe.

For more information, visit www.simcoepride.com.

Clearview food bank coordinator retires

Photo: A retirement party was held for Clearview Stayner Food Bank coordinator Wendy Jeffries (second from right) Saturday. Pictured is Larry Culham (from left), Clearview Township councillor Robert Walker and Tamara Culham.

Clearview Stayner Food Bank coordinator Wendy Jeffries is retiring from her volunteer position.

Jeffries said after 10 years with the food bank, seven years as coordinator, she is stepping back to take a break. She said she is planning to take six months off before considering returning to the food bank as a volunteer.

After an injury and the loss of her son, she said she needs a break.

“I feel like I have been doing the last two years almost on auto pilot,” said Jeffries. “It’s just time to take a break.”

During the last decade, Jeffries said she has seen the food bank’s client list triple.

“When we first started, we would see about 30 families in a month and now we are seeing about 90 families in a month,” said Jeffries.

She said those people come from all over Clearview Township.

The food bank was taken on by the Stayner Ministerial Association in 2008, from the Salvation Army. Jeffries oversaw a move to the food bank’s new Main Street location in Stayner in 2013.

The new coordinator is Pam Royal.

Clearview gets $2 mill for old landfills

Clearview’s reserve fund is about to get fatter.

On Monday, Simcoe County will pay Clearview $2 million for two landfills it took over during amalgamation.

In 1991, Simcoe took over the ownership and operation of two landfills in Nottawasaga and Sunnidale, when they amalgamated into Clearview. The value of the sites was left to be determined in the future.

In 1995, the landfill sites were determined to be worth $10,283,000. Based on that amount, annual payments would take approximately 70 or 80 years to pay out. Recent estimates show the payback period to be 115 years.

A report from the Finance Department said that Clearview would benefit from a quicker payback to avoid an increase in interest rates in the future.

Clearview will receive one installment of $2,010,864 on Monday, June 30. It will keep the money in reserve to be considered in next year’s budget.

Council approved the deal at its May 26 meeting.

Clearview gets branded

A brand is more than a logo.

With that statement, two representatives from the Cundari “concept company” presented the brand strategy they had spent six months developing for Clearview, which Council approved on Monday night.

“A brand,” explained Dean Martin, Cundari’s Creative Director of Branding and Design, “is the sum total of the experiences created for stakeholders.”

According to Cundari, the essence of Clearview is fulfillment. That is why the brand they have developed makes this promise: “In Clearview Township, you’ll live your best life.”

The new logo is merely a stand-in for the entire brand, Martin explained.

Martin and his colleagues developed the brand using information they gathered from workshops with stakeholders and input from members of the public.

From those meetings, they learned what Clearview thinks of itself. Residents said that the area is community-minded, family-oriented and respectful of the land. It also values integrity and is accepting and welcoming to people who bring new ways of thinking and living to Clearview.

As part of the process, residents were asked to describe the character of the place. The results pointed to a people who are proud of their roots; grounded in responsibility, authenticity, honesty and practicality; uncomplicated due to a clarity of purpose; spirited and energetic; as well as warm.

“These are the emotional connections that are implicit in the brand,” Martin explained.

He went on to present standards and guidelines for using the logo in print, and on signs and vehicles.

He and his colleague, Jamie Walters, Account Director, proposed that Clearview start using the new logo immediately on its website, tourism brochure, entry signs, trail signs, and internal and external communications. They also suggested that festivals and events be identified, promoted and marketed using the new brand.

Martin and Walters recommended that in 2015, Clearview’s budget include funds for marking all Township vehicles with the new brand, redesigning logos and crests to incorporate the new logo, and creating welcome signs for each settlement area. They suggested that the Township consider developing a program for businesses to promote products that are made in Clearview using the new logo, too.

During the public participation period, Nottawa resident Christine Davidson questioned the cost of repainting and decalling signs and trucks, calling the expense “a waste of money.”

However, Counsellor Brent Preston, who initiated the branding exercise and chairs the Economic Development Committee, said that all brands have a life cycle. He maintained that after using the current logo for 20 years, the Township would be revising its look at this time anyway.

After two years of using the new brand, Cundari recommended that Clearview commission research to measure its effectiveness. This would include quantifying brand awareness, community satisfaction, tourism and business growth.

They also proposed using research findings to update the brand strategy by identifying marketing, tourism and economic development opportunities associated with the Clearview brand.

When confronted by members of the public who did not support the new brand or the process the Township used to develop it, Preston asked people to remember that Clearview didn’t have a brand before. “We had a logo,” he said, “but not a brand.”

While Mayor Ken Ferguson admitted he had voted against the branding exercise in the past, he said he was impressed by the public participation in the process.

“Tonight, [Cundari] presented what we told them. There is much more to it than this picture you see on the wall,” he said, referring to the new logo.

“What got me was the input from the public, the youth, the workshops,” Ferguson continued.

“Tonight, [Cundari] presented what we told them. They listened to who we are. It didn’t come from them, it came from us.”

After a lengthy comment period from the Counsellors, Clearview voted 5 to 3 to adopt the new brand strategy, with Thom Paterson, Doug Measures and Orville Brown opposed. (Counsellor Robert Walker was absent).

Clearview hosts Ontario Winter Games

The Ontario Winter Games are taking place in the South Georgian Bay area this weekend, from Thursday, March 8 to Sunday, March 11. Some 2,200 young athletes from around Ontario, participating in 23 different sports, will come together in a multi-sport event that has been the stepping stone for our national, international and olympic athletes in the past.

Clearview Township will host the Biathlon at Duntroon Highlands Nordic and Ringette at the Creemore Arena.

Creemore will host 105 Ringette athletes, 35 coaches and officials and an equally large contigent of family and friends over the four days of the competition.

Three Creemore groups have assembled 30 volunteers to ensure visitors feel welcomed and enjoy their stay during the competition. The Legion will be serving lunch to the athletes each day and providing a hospitality/rest area for them. Ray’s Place will be acting as Creemore’s youth and adult ambassadors and the BIA will provide an information and tour guide service to visitors.

The Ringette events started on Thursday and will continue on Friday, from 9 am to 7 pm, Saturday from 9 am to 7 pm and Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm. The Biathlon event started on Thursday and continues on Friday from 10:30 am to 2:15 pm.

Single-event passes are $10 and Ontario Winter Game all-access passes are $25. In addition, the Ontario Ringette Association is running a food drive at the Creemore arena, benefiting St. Luke’s Deacon’s Pantry and the Clearview Stayner Food Bank.

For more about the Games, visit ontariowintergames.com.

Clearview in good financial shape

Clearview’s finances are in good shape, its Auditor told Council at its last meeting where she presented the 2013 financial report.

Reserves, reserve funds and general surplus were up to $8.7 million by December 31, 2013, said Sue Bragg, partner at Gaviller and Company LLP Chartered Accountants.

This does not include $2 million, which Simcoe County will pay Clearview for landfills later this year.

Bragg said the big change in revenues came from government grants. Clearview budgeted $3.6 million in grants in 2013, but didn’t receive or use all of that money.

Due to delays in the Clearview-Wasaga Waste Water Project, Clearview spent only $400,000 of a $10 million grant from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

“It’s hard to set a budget on capital projects,” Bragg said.

The unspent grant affected other numbers including accumulated surplus, cash, capital revenue and expenses.

The municipality now has $18 million in cash, compared to $8 million last year, and capital revenue was down to $915,000, compared to the budgeted $26.5 million.

Last year, accumulated surplus rose to $89 million, compared to $86 million in 2012. This included more than $80 million invested in land, buildings, roads, equipment and water or sewer infrastructure.

2013 expenses remained stable since the previous year, totalling almost $17 million. The $24 million budgeted for expenses last year included $8.9 million for the waste water project.

Clearview’s $8.1 million debt is not of concern to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Bragg added.

“Your debts could be four times that amount… Much is related to water and sewer projects, so it’s necessary.”

Water and sewer billings increased by more than $60,000 compared to last year. This was due to recent increases in the water rate and due to the extra seven days at year end in the 2013 billing year compared to 2012.

Revenue rose slightly last year to $19 million compared to $18.2 million in 2012, and taxes receivable remained similar to last year at $3 million.

Accounts receivable rose due to recovered HST from the federal government. The HST receivable at the end of 2013 was $360,000 higher than at the end of 2012.

Accounts payable and accruals increased to $182,000 due to payroll-related accruals (amounts owing from the year before).

According to the Ministry, the Township’s additional borrowing capacity is between $27 million and $37 million, depending on the interest rate and amortization period. This would be in addition to the balance of long-term debt at the end of 2013, which was $8.1 million.

Bragg put her stamp of approval on the audited financial report on June 23.

Clearview installs LED streetlights

A Township wide energy savings program will see the installation of over 850 LED streetlights throughout Clearview.

The township is expected to save over $65,112 in annual combined energy and maintenance savings.

“We are excited to undertake this environmentally responsible project that will significantly reduce our annual utility costs,” said Mayor Christopher Vanderkruys. “Reducing our energy consumption and impact on the environment aligns well with Clearview’s sustainability goals.”

The new LED street lighting technology consumes less electricity, requires less maintenance and has a longer asset life resulting in less frequent replacement.

The upgrades will begin in July and continue through the fall, using the existing poles and arms. There will be minimal disruption to the public during the installation period and lighting on roadways will not be affected.

The lights are dark sky compliant, producing light that does not project skyward, or outside the roadway and towards residences. The light distribution patterns will be chosen to minimize existing dark spots between fixtures.

The township borrowed almost $2-million to pay for the new lights and the municipality will start to see a return in 7.5 years, said Chief Building Official Scott McLeod during a demonstration of the new lights at Monday’s council meeting.

The upgrades are part of the Clearview Energy Infrastructure Improvement Plan projects with Honeywell.

The projects are expected to save approximately $163,000 in utility and operational costs annually. These savings are guaranteed by Honeywell under an energy-savings performance contract. The program will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 197 metric tonnes per year, the equivalent to removing close to 66 medium sized cars from the road on an annual basis.

Clearview library offers March Break activities

Are you looking for some free family fun over the upcoming March Break?

We have plenty of activity – both formal and informal – here at The Clearview Public Library that will amuse, educate and entertain every member of your family.

On Tuesday, March 17 at 11 a.m. at the Stayner Community Hall at the Stayner Arena, we are presenting The Incredible Adventures of Jugglerboy and his Quest for Laughs.

This frenetic and kinetic comedy show features juggling superhero Craig Douglas and his collection of ping-pong balls, flaming torches and an unicycle plus more. Tickets (free but required and limited) are available at all three branches located in Creemore, New Lowell and Stayner.

For Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the March Break vacation period, we are offering free Messy Art Programs for one hour throughout the day at 10:30 a.m. in Stayner, 1 p.m. in Sunnidale and 3 p.m. in Creemore. Our themes rotate around Jigsaw Puzzle Art, Sealscapes and Mixed Media Drawing Lessons. These holiday programs are open to kids and caretakers of all ages and no registration (or homework) is required.

If you can’t make it in to the library to play with us during this week, make a point to visit the Health and Leisure Showcase taking place on Saturday, March 21 at the Stayner Community Hall between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to visit our Craft Corner.

Our Artist in Action, Frieda Linke, will be hosting a huge craft table full of complimentary activities that should encourage the secret artist in everyone to blossom.

Although our regularly scheduled Story Hour and Tween Clubs are “on holiday” from March 17-20, our friends from the Ontario Early Years will be keeping class to their regular scheduled times.

If you are inspired to do some spring cleaning, think of us as we happily accept donations of dead batteries for our proper recycling program. Gently loved books, movies, CDs and complete jigsaw puzzles are also appreciated. Yarn and other craft supplies are very welcome too.

The current term of CAP (the Community Access Program) is coming to its end on March 31. If you wish a tutorial about how to use any aspect of the internet, don’t be disappointed and miss out of this wonderful opportunity to learn how to navigate in cyberspace. Book a lesson with our expert teachers, Hannah Allen or Kyle Knight, who are available at select timings at all three branches of the Clearview Public Library.

Please consider this your personal invitation to visit the library over the March Break to see what is new and what has stood the test of time. We are looking forward to seeing you as the snow finally starts to melt and the flowers begin to bloom.

Clearview marijuana producer recalls product

The Clearview Township based medical marijuana company, Peace Naturals Project Inc., is voluntarily recalling one of its product.

During the course of a regular inspection, conducted under the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, Health Canada said its inspectors determined the ‘Nyce N’ EZ’ product was, “labelled with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) of 9.07 per cent with a product specification of +/- 2 per cent of THC. However, when retested from a third party laboratory, the product demonstrated that the content of THC may be as high as 13.7 per cent.”

“While exposure to high levels of THC may be associated with increased risks of experiencing certain adverse effects, the level of THC in this product does not appear to have been high enough to trigger an increased risk to the health and safety of clients,” states a Health Canada notice dated Feb. 10.

“The company has not received reports of any adverse events or complaints associated with the use of this product, nor has Health Canada received any reports of adverse reactions. Therefore, the impact of this mislabelling represents a low risk to the health and safety of clients.”

Peace Naturals Project is instructing clients to immediately discontinue use of any marijuana from lot numbers 12-NAE-003-14 and 12-NAE-003-14-A.

Clients should return the marijuana by contacting Peace Naturals Project to obtain appropriate packaging and postage paid shipping container. If clients wish to destroy the product at home, they should add water to the marijuana to render it unusable, mix it with cat litter to mask the odour and dispose of it with regular household waste.

Clearview men do some ‘Real fishing’ with Bob Izumi

Photo: Tim Young (from left), and Ed Stephens fishing with Bob Izumi of The Real Fishing Show with guide Grant Neilson.

“Chance of a lifetime.”

That’s what local outdoorsman and successful businessman Tim Young told his father when he learned that he was invited on a fishing trip with Bob Izumi of The Real Fishing Show.

Young received the invite from his brother-in-law Ed Stephens, who won the fishing trip from Toro; his Highland Fuels company acts as a Toro dealership among other things.

Initially when Stephens received the call to learn he won the prize he “thought it was one of those win-a-cruise phone calls.” The Toro contact had to send him an e-mail and phone a second time before he realized he’d won.

He says, “I didn’t think it was real.”

The one condition to receive the prize was that the dealer principle had to go on the trip with the option of inviting a guest. Stephens is not a fisherman but he knows a good deal when he sees one. He knew Young liked to fish and hunt and thought he was a good choice to go along.

“It’s one thing to go to a fishing lodge but another thing to be there with Izumi,” says Young.

A few weeks ago, the two men were met at Pearson International Airport by Wayne Izumi and flew to Winnipeg before being bussed 150 km east to the northwestern Ontario village of Minaki. Two kilometres away, on an island in the Winnipeg River they reached their destination, Reid’s Birch Island Resort. The lodge itself is an elegant century-old building that for most of its life served as a private and corporate retreat for the Timothy Eaton family.

Stephens and Young were given the special treatment. Everything was supplied for them. They ate the food provided by an executive chef, fished with the best gear, had a guide, and enjoyed the experience of fishing with Bob and Wayne Izumi.

In their first 30 minutes on the river, Young hooked onto a 40-inch Northern Pike. Young thought, “what am I in for” after catching that fish. Almost everyday they each caught about 20 Pike and Walleye, although Bob Izumi caught about a 5-to-1 ratio to them.

He was amazing to watch, says Young. He could put the line exactly where he wanted it.

Wayne and Bob Izumi are more than just fishermen. They are also extremely successful businessmen. They own several Tim Hortons franchises, involved in agricultural businesses, invested in Elliot Lake condominiums and operate their fishing enterprises. Bob spent 310 days on the road alone last year.

Both men enjoyed their time with the Izumis who they say are humble people and a lot of fun to be with.

Although Young exclaims that the whole thing was “surreal”.

Turns out Young also brought home some money. Before they started their three days of fishing, a $20 wager was placed among the 14 men on the trip with the pot being split for the one who caught the biggest Walleye and biggest Pike. Young took the honours for his 26-inch Walleye and the other Toro dealership winner caught the largest Pike at 42 inches.

Stephens says he had the biggest Walleye with his 21.5-inch catch but his brother-in-law caught one bigger with about two hours to go on their last day of fishing. Each day they fished from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a two-hour shore lunch.

“I was the virgin fisherman,” says Stephens. “They were giving me a hard time the last day because I didn’t want to go to shore for lunch. I was having such a good time.”

The Izumis were filming on this trip. There’s a good chance you will be able to see Young and his catch on one of The Real Fishing Show airings in 2016. Stephens doesn’t think he’ll be on but who knows.

He’s not known as ‘Lucky Eddie’ for nothing.

Clearview opens blessings to all faiths

Members of the Clearview Ministerial Association are welcome to continue to bestow blessings on council, if they so wish.

Council voted June 22 to not only continue its practice of opening each meeting with an address from a member of the association, but also to extend the opportunity to people of all faiths.

The vote was prompted by a recommendation from the township clerk earlier this month to remove the prayer from council’s agenda after a recent Supreme Court ruling.

In April, the court upheld a lower court decision that reciting Catholic prayers at council meetings in Saguenay, Quebec was a violation of religious rights after complaints from an atheist who attended meetings.

Council members have voted against the clerk’s recommendation to remove the allocated time for members of the faith community.

Officials say, the practice of praying before council has not yet been called into question by any of the citizens of Clearview Township.

A June 1 vote was deferred to give the Ministerial Association a chance to respond.

The association’s secretary Rob Harwood made a presentation Monday to council members and supporters from the faith community.

He said the Bible calls for them to pray for elected officials to make good decisions for the community.

He urged council to be inclusive in its decision about the practice, rather than risk isolating members of the community. He noted, in Saguenay, the Catholic prayer was forced through a bylaw, despite complaints.

Councillor Thom Paterson said the conundrum is, how to continue the practice without showing favour to one faith?

He said the court ruling makes reference to religious neutrality in the public sphere, without giving prevalence to religion or atheism.

There was discussion about how specific to be about faith groups.

The original motion included wiccans, atheists, Buddhists and Muslims but councillors decided to leave it open ended.

Clearview planning director no longer with township

Michael Wynia is no longer employed with Clearview Township.

Clearview Township CAO Steve Sage confirmed that the director of planning, development and information services position was vacated as of April 14.

Sage said he could not comment further except to say, “we wish Michael well.”

Clearview radio plans to broadcast council meetings

Clearview Community Radio plans to broadcast council meetings once it is fully licensed.

Sandra Green was before Clearview council recently seeking permission to record meetings beginning in September, which will be broadcast live and unedited.

“This has been a tough go,” said Green. “We would love council support because we love Clearview…We found hat Clearview doesn’t have as strong of a voice as Barrie, Collingwood and Wasaga Beach.”

Council members approved of the idea in principle and directed staff to work out the details.

The non-commercial community radio station is based in Creemore and is operated by Green and her husband Steve. They currently broadcast online but are in the process of getting permission to get on radio.

Green said by the fall, Clearview Community Radio will find out if its CRTC application is approved.

Green said if approved the station would operate at 90.1 and its call letters would be CKAW. The station is run by a board of directors and the content would be dictated by strict CRTC rules and will be tailored to suit listeners.

Since the fall, the Greens have been operating out of the Bank Café in Creemore but they are now looking for a new home. Green said although the station is based out of Creemore and hopes to continue to operate in Creemore, it serves all of Clearview.

Several council members expressed their full support for the proposal.

Councillor Connie Leishman asked if the radio station is really going to broadcast the meetings in their entirety, even when they go for up to five hours.

Green said the station will broadcast the meetings unedited, and that they are mandated to provide a certain number of hours of spoken work programming and the meetings would help fulfill the requirement.

“We need you to talk for a very long time,” said Green laughing.

“Oh, there is no problem there,” replied Leishman.

Clearview residents ask council to fly pride flag at town hall

Two people addressed Clearview council Monday, asking members to recognize Pride Week and fly the rainbow flag.

The plea, made by Brenda Cleary and Alyssa Nesbitt, is in response to a request from Simcoe Pride to recognize Pride Week from July 31 to August 8 and raise the pride flag on August 4, tabled Jan. 12.

Clearview council has a policy, passed in 1996, that states, the township cease to declare special weeks, months and days because the requests became “redundant due to overuse”.

Last year, council made an exception to the policy and flew the pride flag at town hall for the first time.

Cleary said she has seen adults make the lives of young gay people in the community difficult and feels the flag promotes inclusion. A foster child in her care left town because of discrimination.

“I want to live in Clearview, not no view, Clearview,” she told council.

Nesbitt said as a lesbian and mother living in Stayner last year’s flag raising meant to her that she and other LGBT are welcome members of the community and that the gesture helps fight discrimination.

Mayor Chris Vanderkruys said council will review the policy.

“We will try to get it on the agenda as soon as possible,” he said.

Clearview saves big with energy plan

Clearview Township is the first municipality in Simcoe County to launch an energy and infrastructure renewal program that will save approximately $163,000 annually.

The $2 million, 11-year program conducted by Honeywell is a series of energy-savings projects, which will pay for itself, said Scott McLeod, Chief Building Official at the Township.

The program will reduce operating costs by $46,000 per year and energy savings by $117,000, totalling $163,000.
“It’s a little more than a 1 per cent tax increase,” said Clearview Chief Administrative Office Sue McKenzie. “It’s a big deal.”

Honeywell guarantees the return on savings.

“It’s an iron-clad guarantee,” emphasized Luis Rodriguez, Vice President at Honeywell. “If there is a savings shortfall, we’ll write a cheque in 30 days.”

The program will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 197 metric tonnes per year. This is equivalent to taking almost 66 medium-sized cars off the road.

The building improvements and infrastructure upgrades will be implemented in various facilities across the municipality.

Under the program, the Creemore Arena will receive an energy overhaul. A new low-emissivity ceiling will be installed beneath the existing structure to lower the amount of heat that is emitted through the roof, which will keep the ice cooler. Meters will be installed on zambonis to cut down on wasted water when they are filled, and the oil heating system will be replaced by an efficient gas boiler system.

The program also includes aeration system upgrades at the Creemore and Stayner wastewater treatment plants, and LED technology in streetlights across the Township and at the Creemore branch of the Clearview Public Library.

Clearview sees decrease in policing costs

Clearview Township will benefit from a new method of billing for policing costs.

In 2015, the township’s bill will decrease by $150,272.

Clearview treasurer Edward Henley said the change is because of a new methodology for calculating costs.

Based on more of a user-pay model of billing, the cost is $2,225,668, down from $2,375,940, as stated in the 2014 OPP budget.

The cost is based on the number of properties, calls for service and base service costs and salaries.

Clearview’s calls for service are lower than the provincial average.

Any adjustments at the end of the year will be added to the next year’s bill, reported Henley to council on Nov. 10.

“For example, the 2015 billing statement is for 2015. The reconciliation occurs in spring 2016, which is after the 2016 billing statement has already been provided to municipalities. So, any 2015 adjustments will appear on the 2017 billing statement. This provides municipalities with an assured current year cost,” reported Henley.

In the past, Clearview received a budget that was reconciled to the actual numbers the following year.

The new billing method is a result of a recommendation from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario’s OPP Billing Steering Committee in response to growing concerns over the costs of policing.

The Township of Clearview is policed by Huronia West OPP, a shared service with Wasaga Beach and Springwater Township.

A portion of the savings is being allocated to community halls reserve fund to pay for accessibility upgrades.

Clearview shortlisted for organics processing plant

Clearview Township has made the shortlist of places to locate an organics processing facility.

A county-owned property at 1637 Fairgrounds Road North (landfill site 42) is one of seven sites identified by the County of Simcoe as a possible location for its solid waste management infrastructure projects.

The plan is to build local processing facilities for the county’s garbage, recycling and compost. The organics facility would process green bin waste and the materials management facility would process the rest.

The Clearview site is being considered only for an organics processing facility. Earlier this month, county council, as committee of the whole, agreed to proceed with additional consideration to locating both the organics facility and the materials management facility on the same site, which would but Clearview out of the running.

The issue will go before county council on Tuesday.

“Committee did agree to the recommendation, not that we co-locate but that we look at the possibility of co-locating as part of the process of going from the shortlist down to the preferred site,” said County of Simcoe director of solid waste management Rob McCullough.

He said council will consider which is the best site for the organics, the best site for the materials management facility and which would be the preferred site if it were to accommodate both.

Five of the shortlisted sites, located in Springwater Township and Oro-Medonte, could accommodate both facilities.

Garbage, organics, and recycling are currently transferred from a private facility in Barrie. About 10,000 tonnes of green bin material each year goes to a processing facility in Hamilton.

The locations were chosen by a consultant out of 505 possible sites – 302 county landfill site properties and forest tracts and 203 potential willing vendor sites (196 from the MLS search and seven responses to a request for expressions of interest).

The Solid Waste Management Strategy, approved by County Council in 2010 recommended the development of such the facilities as an alternative to developing landfills.

The intent is to process organic waste closer to home to reduce costs in the long term, cut down on haulage, create local jobs, benefit from compost and fertilizer and incorporate more types of waste, such as diapers and pet waste.

The county will be facilitating a community engagement process to give members of the public a chance to comment and learn more. Those meetings are being planned for the fall and details will be publicized when they become available.

Early next year, a final preferred site will be presented to county council for approval.

​County officials estimate the capital cost of the materials management facility to be $4.7 million with $1.15 million of funding coming from a grant. The cost of the organics processing plant could range from $10 to $35 million, depending on which processing technology is used.

Clearview Small Halls Festival wins award

The Small Halls Festival has been named Best New Festival or Event in the $100,000-$500,000 budget category by Festivals and Events Ontario.

The Woodstock based not-for-profit handed out awards to its members at its conference in Niagara Falls on March 6.

The first Small Halls Festival took place last year from Oct. 3-5, with many events at the township’s small halls and community centres. This year’s festival is planned for Oct. 1-4.

“Our community is well served by a talented and motivated group of volunteers that find ways to work together and have fun doing so, making Clearview our home”, said event chair Doug Measures.

Also on the list of Festivals and Events Ontario winners is the Apple Harvest Festival and Apple Pie Trail, in the Best Community Partner Outreach Program category.

Joining Clearview in the best new event category is Canada’s only Guitar Trail in Blue Mountains and Oktoberfest in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Clearview talks casinos

A recent announcement by the provincial government that the south Georgian Bay area – and specifically one of Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, Springwater Township or Clearview Township – might be a good place for a casino was included on the Clearview Council agenda Monday night and generated some interesting discussion.
While the item was included at the request of Mayor Ken Ferguson so that Council would start thinking about a response before debating the subject at a later date, two members of Council were quick to stake out their positions right away.

“I am adamantly, fundamentally convinced that casinos do more harm than good to communities,” said Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage, who apologized for taking a stand before Council has an official debate, but pointed out the need for haste.

On May 17, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission issued a Request for Information (RFI) regarding the expansion of private-sector gaming in Ontario. It outlined 29 “gaming zones” across the province where new casinos could potentially be established. The zone that includes Clearview has been identified as having the potential for one new gaming facility with up to 300 slot machines and a “to be determined” range of table games.

What prompted Savage’s warning about haste was the timeline the government has laid out for decisions to be made. The RFI, which is intended to gauge private sector interest and obtain related information for a subsequent process to establish and regulate new casinos, will close on July 7. Following that, the province plans to move quickly to tender on the new establishments, most likely by the fall.

In a short staff report accompanying the announcement on the agenda, Planning Director Michael Wynia said Council had three choices at this point: to sit still and do nothing; to take pro-active action to potentially attract a gaming facility; or to take pro-active action to negate the potential for a gaming facility within the municipality (by reviewing its planning instruments and informing the OLG that the municipality is not interested).

Council decided to debate the issue and come to a conclusion at its next meeting, but not before Savage and Councillor Thom Paterson had a bit more to say on the subject.

“This is just another example of the province’s disrespect for municipalities,” said Savage. “They don’t really give a hoot what we think.”
Paterson said he completely agreed with Savage, especially on the need to set a tone early. “A casino is completely out of character with my view of Clearview Township,” he said. “This has no place here.”

After months of planning, Council approved the creation of a Simcoe County District School Board environmental learning centre at the former Nottawasaga Gravel Pit located on the Sixth Line. To be called the “Clearview Eco Park,” the facility will be home base for a new special environmental program at Stayner Collegiate Institute.

While the Township will retain full ownership of the property, school use of the property will be covered under school liability plans and insurance.
With Council’s decision Monday night, staff was directed to prepare a site management and development program with SCI and the SCDSB; to negotiate a program allowing students to complete the rehabilitation of the site (tree and shrub planting and soil remediation without heavy equipment, etc.) with the Ministry of Natural Resources; to negotiate long-term access to the site; and to consult with surrounding neighbouring property owners regarding the long-term security, use and development of the site as an outdoor learning and eco centre.

With SCI constantly struggling to keep its enrolment up to stave off closure, all members of Council were enthusiastically behind the plan, hoping that the new environment program at the school might provide a draw for students from further afield. Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage made sure to give credit to Clearview Planning Director Michael Wynia, who had the original idea to partner with SCI on the rehabilitation of the site.

Clearview tax increase down to 1.85%

Clearview Township staff managed to get the overall tax increase down to 1.85 per cent while increasing the budget by $300,000.

The budget was presented at a public meeting at town hall in Stayner Monday evening, to an audience of 10.

At a Jan. 26 budget workshop, council members directed staff to rework the budget and come back with an overall increase of 1.95 per cent or less, down from the 3.2 per cent originally presented.

Council directed staff to dip into a tax stabilization reserve, using no more than $120,000 to offset tax revenue. The reserve is made up of surpluses from past years.

When considering only the township’s tax levy, the increase is down to 3.92 per cent, from 6.44 per cent.

The overall tax increase went down thanks in part to a one per cent increase at the County of Simcoe and no increase expected in education taxes.

The operating budget went up $500,000 and the capital budget went down $200,000, making for an overall increase of $300,000.

The changes are a result of taking money from reserves, using grant money to pay for a road paving project carrying forward incomplete 2014 projects that were funded by 2014 tax dollars, and other minor changes such as a slightly higher than expected NVCA levy, all of which affect the bottom line.

“We put in the $120,000 transfer from the tax stabilization reserve so that added to the revenues,” said treasurer Edward Henley.

“That $120,000 isn’t coming from taxes. It’s actually reducing the amount of taxes that have to be paid.”

Only a few people commented on the budget during the public meeting.

Clearview Public Library board chair Bob Charlton said he would not argue that the budget should be changed but has concerns about a reduction in transfer to library reserve by $25,000.

He said the reserve is meant to serve as a down payment for a loan to build a new library one day.

“I am concerned the reserve is going to be easy pickings next year,” said Charlton. “We are on a slippery slope. The point was to make sure the funds would be available when we need it.”

Dave Huskinson said the budget does not reflect a true reduction, it reflects a lowered tax increase made possible only by low county and education increases.

“The public was not in favour of a communications officer,” said Huskinson. “If you are not communicating, what is a communications officer going to do? I’d rather have the economic development officer.”

Deputy Mayor Barry Burton is happy with the overall outcome.

He is the one who originally proposed that staff be directed to take the original draft budget and get the overall tax increase down to 1.95 per cent or less.

“I’m happy with what we have accomplished so far. I would still like to see further reductions,” said Burton. “I think we’re close.”

He said he is looking at specific ways to reduce the tax levy.

He would also like to see the communications officer position, which remains in the budget at $36,628 for six months (the position would pay $56,000 plus benefits), replaced with the hiring of an economic development officer.

“I struggle with bringing on more staff but we do need a communications officer, however you are constantly trying to find that balance of what we need and trying to keep the tax levy down. I still think an economic development officer is a priority.”

The budget could be discussed one more time at a workshop meeting on March 2 or it could go directly to council that same evening for final approval.

Clearview teen caught driving 86km/h over speed limit

A 17-year-old Clearview Township man was caught driving 86 kilometres over the speed limit Monday evening.

Police stopped the teenager while travelling 176km/h in a 90km/h zone on Highway 26 in Wasaga Beach with three teenage girls in the vehicle.

The driver was charged with stunt driving and his vehicle was seized for seven days. His licence was also suspended for seven days.

“At that speed you would travel a kilometre every 20 seconds or the length of a football field in two seconds,” said police.

Clearview Township hires new clerk

Clearview Township announced on Monday that Clerk Robert Campbell is retiring after 48 years of municipal service with the Township of Nottawasaga and, after amalgamation in 1994, Clearview Township.

Pamela Fettes, currently the Clerk of the Town of Meaford, will take over Campbell’s position on March 18.

Fettes brings with her 10 years of municipal experience. She is a Certified Municipal Officer (CMO) and possesses a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Diploma in Municipal Administration.
As a function of municipal administration services, the Clerk’s Office is responsible for a variety of corporate, administrative and legal functions requiring continual contact with all municipal departments, elected officials and other levels of government and the general public. The statutory duties of the municipal clerk include legislative support to Council and its subcommittees; maintenance of municipal records; administration of municipal elections; processing of official correspondence to and from Council; coordination of all requests received under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act; and processing of a broad range of inquiries from the public.

Campbell will remain on the job until the end of April to help train his replacement.

Bob Campbell

Pamela Fettes

Clearview Township public works yard is for the birds

A colony of bank swallows has made condominiums out of a pile of topsoil at the Clearview Township public works yard near Stayner.

The birds have made holes, perhaps hundreds of holes, in a large deposit of soil.

The bank swallow is considered a threatened species in Ontario.

Their territories usually include vertical cliffs or banks where they nest in colonies of 10 to 2,000 nests, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Bank Swallows were most commonly found around natural bluffs or eroding streamside banks, more and more often these swallows populate human-made sites, such as sand and gravel quarries or road cuts.

The swallows set up residence in the spring and are now nesting. It is expected they will vacate the soil mound by September or October.

Roads crews are waiting until the chicks have fledged before they use the topsoil.

The swallows have been at the yard for the past few years. Just recently, the Ontario Field Ornithologists gave Clearview Township roads manager Tony Clarke a certificate of appreciation for protecting a sand pile in which bank swallows were nesting in 2014.

The organization said, “This is a prime example of our ability to help species at risk.”

Clearview voting system is safe and secure: Officials

Clearview Township officials are hoping to curb any concerns about the way people will vote next month.
In the 2014 municipal election, voters in Clearview and Mulmur will have a choice to vote online or using the telephone.
Voting will be facilitated by Nova Scotia-based Intelivote Systems. President and founder Dean Smith said the system is secure and easy to navigate.
Smith said the system is encrypted and secured through Bell Canada.
During the upcoming election, 97 municipalities will be voting online or by telephone, 48 of which will use the Intelivote system, including Wasaga Beach.
Smith said, although voter turnout depends greatly on the excitement of the race, election results have shown that voter participation increased 71 per cent. He noted women used the system 10 per cent more than men.
“You do get more young voters than in the paper world but you do get an increase in the older population,” said Smith. “They may go to the telephone if they don’t have a computer.”
Voters 60 and older are the most active users, with 30-40 per cent using the phone, and 60-70 per cent opting for the web.
Of voters under 60, 12-15 per cent used the phone and 85-88 per cent used the web.
With weather, transportation, illness and disability being factors in getting out to polls, voting from home or a mobile device anywhere in the world makes the process convenient, said Smith.
“It’s sheer convenience, most people don’t think of it as risky,” he said.
Eligible voters will get a letter in the mail containing a web address, a toll free phone number and a pin number.
Once on the phone or website, voters follow the prompts.
People can skip certain fields if they choose or spoil the ballot.
Smith said it is common for people to start the voting process, then exit the system to research candidates before logging back in and completing the process.
Results, as required by the Municipal Elections Act, are kept for 120 days, longer if there is a contest.
Letters containing voting instructions will be mailed out on Oct. 7.
People should call the township office if they have not received their pin number by Oct. 14.
The 1996 Municipal Elections Act allowed for alternative voting methods.
Clearview voters last went to the polls in 2000.
In 2003, 2006 and 2010, the township used a mail-in ballot system.
Online and telephone voting will be open from Oct. 17-27.

For information and assistance

Friday, Sept. 19
• Noon at Nottawa Community Centre, located at 4129 County Road 124 in Nottawa.
• 3 p.m. at Brentwood Community Centre, located at 9926 County Road 10 in Brentwood.
Wednesday, Oct. 1
• 7 p.m. at the RecPlex in Wasaga Beach, located at 1724 Mosley St.
Thursday, Oct. 2
• 5:30 p.m. at Creemore Community Centre, located at 220 Collingwood Street in Creemore.
• 7:30 p.m. at Clearview Township Administration Centre, located at 217 Gideon Street in Stayner.

Anyone who does not have a touchtone telephone or access to the internet or needs assistance voting is welcome to attend voter assistance centres set up at all three branches of the Clearview Public Library on Election Day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Clearview Township Administration Centre will be extending office hours for people who need to be added to the voters list. Extended hours are Wednesday, Oct. 15 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 22 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Election Day, Monday, Oct. 27, from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. For information contact the township clerk at 705-428-6230.

Clearview youth recognized for volunteerism, leadership

Four local students were presented the Collingwood Optimist Club’s Friends of Youth awards last week.

The club recognized students from Collingwood, Wasaga Beach and Clearview Township who have been involved in their school, church, community club or sports team. The students are chosen by teachers for showing commitment to community service and leadership ability.

Stayner Collegiate Institute Grade 12 students Amanda Dixon, of New Lowell, and Judah Page, of Creemore, were among those recognized for their leadership in the school and the broader community along with Nottawasaga and Creemore Public School Grade 8 students Jordan Carruthers, of Avening, and Jared Young, of Singhampton.

The students were invited to attend an appreciation dinner at the Cranberry Resort on Nov. 19.

Dixon, an honour student, is recognized for her kindness, compassion, dedication and hard work.

She is a Link Crew leader, helping to integrate newcomers to the school, a facilitator for the board’s elementary German language school camp and has won several academic and character trait awards, including last year’s Stayner Awesomeness Award.

Dixon, who is working to overcome her shyness, had the lead in the school play.

She is also involved in her church and many other community and school initiatives.

Page is recognized for his passion for engaging people and recognizing diversity, drawing in students, for which he has received a school character award for caring and inclusiveness.

Page is a member of the Clearview Cybergnomes competitive robotics team, a Link Crew member, a Timbit soccer coach and math tutor.

In Grade 8 he delivered an anti-bullying speech, which took him to a speech competition provincial finals and earned him a school board trustee award.

Page is off to university next year to study engineering.

Carruthers is recognized for his volunteerism.

He helps out at his church’s strawberry socials, with Creemore Minor Hockey and assists with the Avening community park clean up. At school, Carruthers volunteers with the kindergarten reading program, on the bus, at the school barbecue, assists teachers around the school and is a member of the Green Team.

His suggestion to wrap Christmas gifts in newspaper was used in the Simcoe County calendar, distributed to each household in the county.

Carruthers has played on many school sports teams including hockey, volleyball, basketball and cross-country.

Young, also recognized for his volunteerism and community involvement, is a member of the school spirit squad, 4H Mechanics, Creemore Minor Hockey.

He raises chickens and sells them at the Singhampton Farmers’ Market and through the Chef’s Forum.

Clearview’s 2014 budget

This year’s municipal budget includes a rise in property taxes as government funding for rural communities goes down.

The budget, which is still in draft form, contains an estimated residential tax increase of 2.03 per cent.

This includes a municipal tax levy increase of 3.39 per cent, OPP policing increase of 0.28 per cent and Simcoe County tax levy increase of 2 per cent. The amount of tax that goes toward the school boards will remain the same.

Based on these increases, the estimated property tax increase on a $253,250 home would be $55: $39 for the municipality; $1 for policing; and $16 for the County.

The $25.9 million operating budget for 2014 includes repairs on George Street, new water mains south of Mill Street and improvements to the Creemore Arena.

The budget also includes a total of $22,800 in grants to Clearview Community Radio Station, Copper Kettle Classics Car Show, Creemore Cats, Creemore Horticultural Society, Creemore Legion, Creemore Santa Claus Parade, Cybergnomes Team 2013, Imaginarium, Purple Hills Arts and Heritage Society, St. Luke’s Gift of Music and South Simcoe 4-H Association.

Continuing its downward trend is funding from the Ontario Municipal Protection Fund.

The OMPF provides unconditional funding to rural and northern municipalities for general operations and services for taxpayers.

The amount the OMPF has provided to municipalities has been decreasing since 2008, said Edward Henley, Director of Finance/Treasurer.

From 2003 to 2010, the OMPF essentially gave $1.4 million to Clearview, Henley said. This amount increased in 2011 and 2012 to $1.5 million.

However, in 2013, it was cut by $137,000 and this year, it will again reduce by $195,000.

Henley estimated the grant will continue to decrease until 2016, when it will be about half of what Clearview received in 2012.

“I think that will be a huge impact on our finances. It will take almost a 3 per cent tax increase just to address those changes, which is a real challenge.”

Henley presented the draft budget at a Public Meeting at Clearview Township on Monday night. No members of the public spoke at the meeting.

For full details on the budget, visit www.clearview.ca/home/budget.

Clearview’s new logo

With the unveiling of the new brand at Clearview Council last week, residents of the Township got a glimpse of what one Torontonian “concept” company (Cundari) sees as our future.

The logo – a thick sans serif “C” in soft blues, greens and yellows – suggests the natural world, farming tradition and stunning landscapes with its depiction of furrowed hills, sunshine and clear skies for which the Township is named.

But to some, it’s just a couple of watermelons left in the sun.

Over the past week, the Echo has received a number a comments from individuals expressing their thoughts about the new logo in person, by email, in letters and on Facebook. The opinions we heard fell squarely into positive and negative camps.

“Love, love the logo!” wrote Carolyn Smith. “Beautiful and represents Clearview perfectly! Very well designed! Vibrant, fresh and exciting. Very forward looking!”

Nick Haley, who lives in Mulmur, agreed, saying the image looked “modern and progressive.”

Others weren’t so keen, wishing that Clearview had spent $65,000 on something other than what they viewed as nothing more than a shiny new bauble for the Township.

What the heck does it mean?” asked Robert Biggs of Creemore. “[It’s] just a big ‘C’. The old logo made sense at least.” Another person thought it reminded her of a logo for cancer care – or, again, those watermelons.

Some people asked to see the logo designs that didn’t make it to the approval stage. Pictured above are the five logos Cundari developed for Clearview Township. The logo at the top left is the one that Council approved last week.

You can’t please everybody, especially when it comes to design. And it’s important to remember that the logo is only one part of an entire brand – which will include an inspirational slogan – that will be used to promote Clearview’s identity. In fact, many comments about the logo weren’t about the logo itself, but about the process the Township followed to develop it, as well as its spending habits.

All valid points to be expected from a community that contains so many different kinds of people.

Collingwood hospice under construction

By Kara McIntosh

Construction of a new $3.6 million residential hospice is well underway in downtown Collingwood.

Hospice Georgian Triangle (HGT)’s Campbell House will provide six palliative care beds in a non-institutional setting for both patients requiring end of life care, and their families.

Campbell House is named in honour of the Donald and Audrey Campbell Family Foundation. Donald and Audrey Campbell were long-time Collingwood residents who established the foundation to support different charities.

Located on Erie Street (behind Sunset Manor), the hospice is situated behind Sunset Manor long-term care home and close to the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital. Construction began in August of this year and it is expected that the facility will open its doors in August 2014.

The need for a residential hospice in this area where the population of over 65 year olds is double the provincial average is staggering. Campbell House has been a long-term dream of HGT,which began to explore opportunities for building the facility in 2007.

“Campbell House will give people in our community a place to die with dignity in a comfortable home-like setting with their loved ones surrounding them,” said Bruce West, Chair and CEO of HGT.

Patients will be looked after by professional nursing staff. HGT’s 200 volunteers will support both patients and family members by taking care of what West calls the “front of the house” areas such as reception, common living areas and the gardens, as well as providing their existing outreach programs.

Since 1987, HGT has been providing outreach services and programs for people facing terminal illness. They will continue to run their home and hospital visiting and bereavement support programs out of Campbell House once the facility is open next summer, but they are expecting to become busier.

“Once we are in Campbell House and have a physical presence there, we know that the demands for our outreach programs, the home visiting care and bereavement care, will grow exponentially and we are prepared to handle that,” says West.

The $3.6 million capital budget for constructing Campbell House includes the cost of land, site preparation and all start-up costs, such as furnishing and equipping the building for patient care. Every penny of the money raised has come from the community – from private, individual and local business donations and community fundraising events such as the Hike for Hospice.

West cannot stress enough how much this project has been needed and driven by the community. “This is a community-driven project as evidenced by the excess of $3.1 million that we have been able to raise exclusively through the community.”

Once the facility is built, the region’s Local Health Integration Network, an arm of the Ontario Government, will cover the costs associated with the professional nursing care at Campbell House. Responsibility for the occupancy and administration costs, however, rests with HGT and the community.

West acknowledged that the last mile of fundraising is always the most difficult. To push them through the final stages of building, HGT has published a Wish List Gift Registry on its website, www.hospicegeorgiantriangle.com. With a few clicks of the mouse, individuals can make a donation to cover the costs of specific furniture or equipment that will provide comfort and care to Campbell House patients and their families.

Collingwood man killed in Clearview crash Saturday

A 57-year-old man was killed in a car crash in Clearview Township on Saturday, Jan. 10.

Deceased is Edouard Bakissa, of Collingwood.

The crash happened on Highway 26 near 30/31 Sideroad Nottawasaga at about 5:30 p.m.

Police say a grey Chevrolet Cavalier, operated by Bakissa, was northbound on Highway 26 when it veered into the southbound lane striking a southbound black Ford F150 pickup, operated by a 29-year-old man from New Tecumseth.

All four occupants of the Ford F150 were transported to hospital with serious injuries.

A 34-year-old Ottawa woman, who was in the backseat of the Ford F150, was later airlifted to hospital in Toronto.

A post mortem is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 12.

A police investigation is ongoing with the assistance of the Central Region Technical Traffic Collision Investigation Unit.

Collingwood skier advances to Canada Winter Games

Three skiers belonging to the Highland Trailblazers ski club out of Highlands Nordic in Duntroon have been named to Team Ontario after the world junior trials earlier this month.

Collingwood resident Heidi Ohrling will be competing at the Canada Winter Games in Prince George, B.C in March.

Alex Stukator and Shelby Dickey were named as alternates.

Ohrling and Stukator are students at Collingwood Collegiate Institute and Dickey is a graduate of the school.

At the Haywood NorAm Buff Sprints and Ontario Cup races held at Highlands Nordic Jan 8-11, Ohrling ended the weekend with ninth, 16th and 14th place finishes in the junior women’s division.

A total of 28 racers representing Highlands Nordic competed in the four-day event. 

Erik Ohrling, Heidi’s brother, earned a spot on the podium with a third place finish on Jan. 8.

Oliver Grocott had the fastest qualifying time for juvenile boys Ontario Cup sprint race and finished first in the B finals or seventh overall. 

Just days before the event race organizers were on conference calls deciding if the series would have to be moved to Quebec or Thunder Bay but in the end they got the snow needed to host more than 400 athletes at Highlands Nordic for the competition.

The top skiers were competing for invitations to represent Canada at the 2015 World Junior and U23 World Championships in Kazakhstan.  Selections were also being made for provincial entries to the Canada Winter Games. 

While no athletes dominated all three events, the Haywood NorAm and Buff sprints, Haywood NorAm 30 km skiathlon, and 15 km skate, look for the following gold medal winners as possible future Olympians: Kevin Sandau and Graeme KillickKatherine Stewart Jones and Emiley Nishikawa, and from Georgian Bay Nordic in Owen Sound, David Askwith and Julian Smith

For full results see www.zone4.ca. 

Come out and curl!

Curious about curling? Now is your chance to give it a whirl.

Next month, the Creemore Curling Club is offering training at no cost to anyone who is thinking of trying the sport. Come to the Club’s Sign-Up and Social Night on Friday, October 18 at 7 pm to see what it has to offer.

The Club provides all the equipment needed to play. Interested players need only bring a pair of clean running shoes.

There will be free clinics on Saturday, November 2 and on Thursday, November 5, 12 and 19. Would-be members can also buy a six-week trial membership for $80.

There is a daytime league and a number of evening leagues: Ladies on Monday, Men on Tuesday, and Mixed on Wednesday and Fridays.

For the younger generation, the Club will continue to host the after-school programs it has run for the last 30 years. It also offers curling to grade 6 students through the Nottawasaga and Creemore Public School elective program.

A sport for all ages

Today, the Club has about 95 members whose ages range from 10 to the 80s. “It’s a sport for all ages and can be started at any time of life,” says David Millsap, President of the Creemore Curling Club.

Millsap should know. His family boasts four generations of curlers. His two uncles and grandfather were Past-Presidents of the Curling Club before him. Millsap was introduced to the sport in elementary school and he doesn’t intend the tradition to stop: his two sons, Tate and Jack, have both taken up curling, too.

“Curling is about community,” explains Millsap. “You meet lots of people you wouldn’t otherwise have met. It’s also a great way to shorten the winter and get out.”

Often underestimated in the fitness department, curling can offer health benefits, too. “A lot of people say ‘I didn’t realize that I will feel muscles after doing this’,” says Millsap. “It’s more physical than they thought.”

The Canadian Curling Association advocates curling as good exercise for both body and mind. For two hours, you can burn a lot of calories and work a number of muscles moving up and down the ice, sweeping and making shots.

If those reasons aren’t enough, curling is one of the few sports after which players socialize with the competition. Typically, after a game, both teams come into the clubhouse where the winning team is obligated to buy the losing team a drink, Millsap says.

A curling community

The Creemore Curling Club has been part of this community since the 1920s. It was first mentioned in The Creemore Star on December 15, 1927.

In an article written by Mr. C.B. Smith in that issue, “Creemore has been and will be curlers convened in the local Council Chamber on Thursday evening to discuss the advisability of organizing a club in the village. The pros and cons of the ancient Scotch game were considerably discussed amid curls of smoke.”

According to the Star, local curling enthusiasts had played “pretty crude” games on the village’s rinks on Mill Street.

On November 1, 1928, the newspaper reported that the first sod had been broken for a new rink on Elizabeth Street with two sheets of ice for curling.

The first local bonspiel was held at the end of that first season followed by a party at Harry Woods’ cafe. “Probably twenty pairs of rocks are now owned in the village and considerable enthusiasm prevails,” reported the Star.

The Elizabeth Street arena closed in 1977. One year later, the village celebrated the opening of the Creemore and District Recreation Centre, which is where the community curls today.

Come out to the Ramp Romp!

By Brad Bremner

Each spring for the past 30 years, hundreds of individuals and thousands of wild leeks come together in Singhampton. They do so at the village’s Ramp Romp, a celebration of wild leeks for a very worthy cause.

The Ramp Romp started as a response to a fire emergency in Singhampton in 1983. A group of concerned local residents created the Fire Prevention Committee. The Committee established the Ramp Romp to raise funds and awareness for timely fire and emergency response for the community.
Ramp Romp funds initially provided for emergency relief and emergency response for the community. Since those first steps, the energy and perseverance of countless community minded individuals have helped to make the dream of better fire protection a reality.

The earthly ritual
How does the annual ritual of the Ramp Romp happen? Spring arrives in the Singhampton area, usually twice. A date is set for the Ramp Romp, usually twice. The brave and tireless leek pickers enter the moist maple forest, more than twice. And the leeks they dig. And the leeks they pick. And the leek digging and picking is a task, for sure. But it is a task with purpose. And they return to the village with nature’s springtime treasure.

The green treasure’s aroma begins to permeate the village. The ritual of harvesting the ramps is complete.

In the evening, for many evenings, the brave treasure cleaners carefully clean and wash thousands of leeks. And the leeks they do wash. And the cleaning and washing are tasks, no doubt. But they are tasks with purpose. The pungent aroma of the clean, green treasure, the wild leeks, gets carried farther around the village.

The aromatic event
A typical Ramp Romp dinner feeds more than 300 folk. To do this, statistically speaking, requires 154 lbs of roast pork, 59 kgs of scallopized potatoes, 1,300 oz of beans, 8.5 L of applesauce, 5.25 cubic feet of dinner rolls, hundreds of pickles, and variable volumes of mustard, apple juice and so forth.

Central to the meal are an estimated 24,626 steamed leeks and 2,802 marinated ramps. For dessert – more than 60 homemade pies.

To feed 330 at the Singhampton Community Centre also requires many servers, cleaners and the like, and a healthy amount of cooperation. This culinary collaboration always takes place in an atmosphere of distinction – the aroma of the ramps has reached a peak.

Folk young and old, from the local community and far away, join in this springtime feast. Then feast gives way to frolic as the dance, the Romp, begins. Many take this Romp opportunity to socialize further. Many just like to dance. Some seem to dance with purpose. Others imagine that it is a way to wear off some pie. Romp purpose aside, one thing is certain: the sweet aroma is now deeply rooted in the Community Centre and neighbourhood. The proceeds, too, shall go to the Centre and neighbourhood, in the form of better fire protection.

The superb effect
Singhampton’s volunteer firefighters of Fire Station #5, have been on call since 1992. Since that time, many additions have been made to firefighting and emergency equipment that these community members use including the “Jaws of Life,” an electrical generator and a portable water pump, as well as training for each firefighter.

The greater Singhampton community has realized the dream of better fire protection. This accomplishment has taken the tireless effort of countless individuals, working as a team. As you raise that forkful of leeks or pie to your lips, think. Think of the dreamers. Think of the many who have made this event successful, and who have helped make the dream a reality. Think of the volunteer firefighters. Enjoy that forkful and give thanks.

30th Singhampton Ramp Romp Dinner and Silent Auction

Saturday, May 10, 4:30 to 7:30 pm at Singhampton Community Centre
Adults $15, students $13, children ages 6 to 12 $7, children under 6, free.

Come run or hike for clean water

Almost nothing could be better than hiking outside, enjoying lunch with your family and listening to good music – unless you’re doing it for a good cause, of course.

On Sunday, June 8, Tin Roof Global will host a fundraiser at the Scenic Caves in Collingwood.

Called “GUSH Run or Hike for Water,” the day will kick off with 5 km and 10 km trail races, and a 5 km family fun hike. For those who are less interested in physical exertion but who would still like to support the charity, there is even a registration category called “relax.”

“It’s a family friendly day with a heavy emphasis on local food and, of course, water,” said John Millar, founder of Tin Roof, a non-profit organization that promotes clean water. At lunchtime, local food suppliers Miller’s Dairy, Hoffman’s Meat and European Deli, Giffen’s Country Market and the New Farm will supply dishes at accessible costs, Millar said. There will also be a Creemore Springs beer garden for those who need to cool off.

Children can play educational games that are designed to teach them about water quality and accessibility.

African dance troupe, The Shangaza Performers, will be on hand to provide musical entertainment.

The fundraiser originated when the owners of the Scenic Caves suggested John hold an event on the property about one year ago. With a beautiful forest to work with, John said, “It was pretty obvious what to do.”

The cost is $20 for adults and $10 for kids ages six to 15 (children five and under are free).

Proceeds will benefit Tin Roof’s three main water projects: two First Nations communities in Canada, Ugandan schools in Africa, and a local water education program for Grade 7 and 8 students in southern Ontario.

Gush Run or Hike for Water
Sunday, June 8
11 am to 3 pm
Register at www.tinroofgobal/events/gush

Comedians on stage at Sunnidale Winterama

Sunnidale Winterama, the annual winter carnival in New Lowell, is happening Feb. 5-8.

In its 39th year, the event celebrates winter with a spaghetti supper, burning of the green, parade and sno-pitch tournament among other events.

The event kicks off Thursday, Feb. 5 with the Winterama Snow Court at New Lowell Central Public School from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. when contestants between the ages of eight and 12 compete for the title of snow queen or king.

Friday’s activities will wrap up with a comedy night at the New Lowell Legion, beginning at 9 p.m. with comedians Patrick Haye and Matt O’Brien.

O’Brien is a Toronto-based comedian who has been featured on MTV, CTV, Fuse TV, MuchMusic and The Comedy Network. He recently performed a live taping at Just For Laughs in Montreal, and was one of the prestigious 42 at JFL42 in Toronto. In 2014 he was nominated for Best Break Out Artist at the Canadian Comedy Awards and he has won the Best Standup award at the LA Comedy Festival and has also been named Sirius XM Radio’s Next Top Comic. He hosts and films his own late night talk show, and his six-second Vine sketches have garnered more than 17,000 followers.

Patrick Haye is definitely one of the new breed of comedians to keep your eye out for. His cool, smooth style, with hilarious observations and storytelling has him busy performing at campuses, clubs and corporate events all over the country.

He was a runner up for the prestigious 2007 Tim Sims Encouragement Fund Award, which was televised on the Comedy Network and a finalist in the 2010 $25,000 Yuk Yuk’s Great Canadian Laugh Off, also on the Comedy Network.

Saturday’s events begin at 8 a.m. with a pancake breakfast at the Legion and continue through the day at New Lowell Recreation Park and other venues. The parade begins at 10:30 a.m. and opening ceremonies are planned for 11 a.m. Games begin at 11:30 a.m. Saturday’s festivities will end with a dance at the Legion, beginning at 9 p.m.

Admission to many of the events is by purchase of a collectable Winterama button. Some events have set admission prices.

For more details visit the Sunnidale Winterama page on Facebook. To register for the snow court contest e-mail winteramasnowcourt@gmail.com.

Comfort in communication

It’s a cold and windy November day, but inside Leisureworld on Mary Street in Creemore, 32-year-old Matthew Vorstermans is sitting on a big sofa in a warm room, reading from The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery in a clear voice.

The elderly residents sit quietly and listen to the stories, surrounded by the bright colours of the handpainted woodland mural that wraps around the room. They have come specifically to hear Matthew, who reads at the long-term care home every Tuesday morning.

Matthew says he volunteers here in honour of his grandmother, but she passed away seven years ago in Nova Scotia after developing Alzheimer’s Disease. Even though they lived far apart – she in Massachussetts and then Nova Scotia, and he in Creemore – they were very close, regularly writing and talking on the phone.

“All my life I looked to her for comfort. Anytime we talked she could make me feel better. When she developed Alzheimer’s, the situation was reversed and now she needed the comfort. Now that she is gone, I’d love to give her comfort, but I can’t, so I will give it to someone else.”

Matthew has Cerebral Palsy, which affects his legs and feet. On Friday, November 29, he will be speaking about what it is like to have a disability – among other things – as part of the Collingwood and Creemore Speaker Series.

“I don’t see why it’s extraordinary,” says Matthew, about his life story. “But people are moved by it.”

Matthew started volunteering for the Alzheimer Society of Canada while his grandmother was still alive. Today, he is an Alzheimer Society Ambassador, which means that he speaks to groups about Alzheimer’s, volunteers at fundraising activities and attends events throughout the year.

All this for his Dutch Oma, the woman who helped him see who he was – instead of what he says others think they see.

“She didn’t care that I had a disability. Others may have pampered, overprotected, smothered or underestimated me, but she didn’t do any of that. She encouraged me and told me that she loved me.”

Matthew says his grandmother has had a lifelong effect on him.

“[She] made me feel like a special and normal person. She helped me develop my attitude toward life. I have a permanent disability and I don’t let it get in the way of things and I don’t let people pre-judge me.”

Matthew explains that when new people meet him, they often assume they know what his problems are before they get to know him. They might try to do everything for him or talk too loudly, assuming he can’t hear well or even understand.

“People think physical and mental disabilities go hand-in-hand,” explains Matthew, who graduated from Stayner Collegiate Institute in 2001, has completed online courses through the University of Western Ontario and works at Discover the Path Wellness Centre in Creemore.

“When I explain what I am able to do and people listen, they become more rational and open.”

That is why communication is key, and it is one reason why Matthew continues to speak at events, auditoriums and care facilities.

“Communication helps to get rid of some negative stereotypes,” he says.

Matthew will be the featured speaker at the Mad and Noisy Gallery on Friday, November 29 at 7 pm. RSVP at www.inspirationconvention.ca or 705-432-7375. Admission is by donation.

Comment on Fairview Wind Project

On Wednesday, December 4, the Ministry of the Environment deemed wpd’s project application for Clearview “complete.”

This means that the wind energy company has submitted the required forms and applications to the Ministry, and a full technical review of the application has begun, said Kevin Surette, a spokesperson for wpd.

The Fairview Wind Project, which consists of eight turbines west of Stayner (see map, below), will produce an estimated 39,838,000 kWh annually for the local electricity grid, which is equivalent to the average annual power use of 2,276 homes, wpd’s website says.

This application was posted on the Ministry of the Environment’s Environmental Registry website on Tuesday, December 3 for a 60-day public review and comment period.

If you have any questions, or if you would like to submit comments, send them to: Kristina Rudzki, Senior Project Evaluator, Ministry of the Environment, Operations Division, Environmental Approvals Branch, 2 St. Clair Avenue W, floor 12A, Toronto, Ontario M4V 1L5. Or, you can call 1-800-461-6290 (toll-free).

The Ministry must receive comments by Saturday, February 1.

For wpd’s report summary of the Fairview Wind Project, visit: http://canada.wpd.de/fileadmin/pdfs/Fairview/FAIR%20%281-41 002%29%20Summary%20of%20Draft%20Project%20Reports%2029May2012%20sml.pdf

Communicate with your Council

A Committee tasked with suggesting ways for Clearview Council to improve communication with its citizens recommends hiring a new staff person whose role is devoted to this area.

The recommendation was one of many the Effective Representation Advisory Committee made during a one-and-a-half-hour long Public Meeting at Stayner’s municipal building on Wednesday night.

Council established the Committee earlier this year to consider Council’s roles and responsibilities, as well as best practice guidelines for tools of communication.

The Committee is made up of three members of the public (Yvonne Hamlin, Bob Charlton and Heidi Sterrenburg) and Councillors Deb Bronée, Brent Preston and Thom Paterson, with Mayor Ken Ferguson acting as an ex officio member.

The group has met almost weekly since the end of January to develop the recommendations. “We asked, how would it be better for me to receive Council communication?” Committee Chair Hamlin said.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the Committee advised hiring a communications professional to inform media outlets about Council activities, use social media, maintain websites, prepare press releases and facilitate education sessions.

“We feel this is a logical suggestion for our committee to suggest given our committee’s mandate. A person with expertise in this area would help close the gap,” Hamlin explained.

Other suggestions included creating two voluntary and private evaluation tools to identify Councillors’ education needs and evaluate the effectiveness of Council as a group. The Committee also recommended creating a Code of Conduct for Council.

The Committee also proposed using social media, developing a Council newsletter, and revamping the Clearview website to include ward maps and pages devoted to specific applications to Council so they are easy for web users to find.

Upgrades to Township facilities to create virtual offices for Councillors were suggested. These could be as simple as adding voicemail to every Councillor’s phone line, Hamlin said. She advised replacing Council members’ tablets with laptops so they can make more productive use of their time by using software such as Microsoft Office and keep track of email.

Recommendations for this year included having the Mayor speak regularly on the radio to highlight the goings-on at Council meetings as well as the current issues of the day. In addition, Councillors could hold ward Town Hall meetings to find out what is on their constituents’ minds.

In addition, the Committee recommended that staff reports to Council include methods of engaging the public as soon as May 2014.

Creemore resident Paul Ruppel asked Council to publicize the reasons for the way it votes. “It’s frustrating,” said Ruppel. “How can we have effective representation when some Councillors don’t speak at Council meetings or have laptops or use email?”

“I think what we need is a communications by-law with some teeth in it,” suggested another citizen, who called for legislation requiring Councillors to respond to queries within a specific timeframe.

Mad Maple Country Inn owner Miriam Streiman suggested that dialogue between Council and Clearview’s citizens could be increased by forming a board made up of people from different industries such as farming, arts and culture, and food and beverage.

While most of the recommendations outline ways for Council to communicate with residents, one person wondered if the Committee could make suggestions for ways citizens could reach their Councillors.

Other members of the audience discussed recording Council meetings so community members could know how specific Councillors voted.

To see the Committee’s recommendations for Council, read the March 17 Council meeting agenda at www.clearview.ca. To provide feedback for Council, fill out a survey at www.clearview.ca, at the municipal office in Stayner or at the Creemore or Sunnidale branches of the Clearview Public Library. The Committee has extended the deadline for commentary to Friday, April 4 for those who would still like to comment.

Community cleans up after storm

The community had a big mess to clean up after a severe thunderstorm came through Creemore Sunday, taking out several trees and causing a power outage.

The storm toppled two maple trees on Collingwood Street, which were blocking the road for a short period of time.

Cheryl Miller said she was at home when the two trees in her front yard fell.

“The wind and the rain got really bad. It came across really fast,” said Miller.

She said she looked out the window and happened to notice her granddaughter’s pink swing that was hanging from the tree fall from the sky.

“I saw the one branch from the tree hit the ground and both trees fell pretty much simultaneously,” said Miller.

The trees, about 60 feet tall, stretched all the way across the street.

Miller said they went out to survey the damage and take photos before doing a tour of the neighbourhood to see if any other trees had come down.

She said there were downed trees at Gowan Memorial Park and on a couple of other streets.

“By the time we got back there were some good Samaritans there and they were just sawing away,” said Miller.

People came from New Lowell and Mulmur to help open the road.

“The next day, we cleaned it all up,” said Miller.

She said the one tree will have to come down entirely because of the damage but the other tree may survive.

A community clean-up effort was under way Monday and chainsaws could be heard all over town.

Clearview Township’s Fire Chief Colin Shewell said firefighters were called to George Street where a tree had taken out hydro wires to be sure there were no hazards. It was one of four calls that day, including hydro lines arcing at County Road 9 and Riverside Drive, which was less of a hazard and more of a visual distraction, said Shewell.

He said Clearview wasn’t hit hard by the storm compared to its neighbouring municipalities and that the fire department’s dispatch agency serving the greater Barrie area received 287 9-1-1 calls that afternoon.

Councillor Thom Paterson was also out surveying the damage after the storm. He said there were trees down in the park. On Monday, he removed debris from the playground area.

As a member of the Tree Society of Creemore, he has been assessing the damage throughout town, both on township and private property. Paterson said there are more than 20 trees down. With the majority of the damage occurring on Fairgrounds Road, Elizabeth Street, Caroline Street, Mill Street and a tree fell on a home on Edward Street but there doesn’t appear to be any significant damage.

Paterson is hoping the township will help support the clean up effort and said he may bring the issue up at a council meeting Monday.

“I wish the township had used the same go get ‘em attitude that the residents had,” said Paterson.

Anyone wishing to contact the Tree Society to arrange for a replacement tree is asked to contact Liz Smith at 705-466-6171 or Tracey Kolowska at 705-466-6317 or tracey@treesocietyofcreemore.com.

Community helps Walkers after fire

The community continues to come together to help the Walker family rebuild after the tragic fire that destroyed their barn on November 15.

It took 30 Clearview firefighters two and a half hours to put out the blaze, which resulted in more than $500,000 in damages. Ten emergency vehicles from five stations battled the flames and prevented them from spreading from the barn to the other buildings nearby.

“We are very grateful,” said Colin Walker of the help his family received in the wake of the fire. “When you have so many losses like we did, you feel helpless.”
The Walker family was in the middle of harvesting their crops when the fire occurred. However, a number of the Walker’s neighbours brought their equipment to the farm, working together to finish the harvest in one afternoon.

Others helped with the cleanup after the fire.

“It’s amazing the amount of help we had,” said Colin. Now the Walker family’s main concern is rebuilding. They have been meeting with builders and hoped to submit blueprints for a new barn to the township this week. The insurance collected from the destroyed barn – which was quite old, with all of its beams being axe-cut – has helped, said Colin, but has by no means compensated entirely for their losses. Time is of the essence and the sooner a new barn is built, the sooner the losses resulting from the fire will stop accumulating.

On Saturday, January 28 from 5 pm until 7 pm, the Stayner Evangelical Missionary Church – of which both Colin and his wife Tanya are members – will be hosting a beef dinner in support of the Walker family. Tickets for this dinner are sold out but organizers are still gratefully accepting donations for the family. For further information about donating call 705-428-3741.
“It’s great that the church could help,” said Colin, “and that they are reaching out to the community. We’ve put so much time in; it’s nice to be getting it back when we need it most.”
Tanya has also long been a member of the Creemore Skating Club. In a show of support, the club is selling tickets and contributing food for the fundraiser.

According to Lynn Gowan, who is with the club, members of the Skating Club and the local Minor Hockey Association were quick to fill the list requesting foods for the fundraiser.
For those who would like to support the Walkers but could not get tickets for the dinner a dance is being planned for Saturday, February 25 at the Stayner Arena, which will raise further funds for the family.

“We are trying to look past this,” said Colin. “The kids have calmed down finally; they are able to sleep through the night now.”

Community loses lifelong friend

On Monday, January 20, this community lost an old friend. Jim Steed, a lifelong resident of Creemore, was born south of the village on June 4, 1938. He passed away at his home on 10 Hill, just north of Creemore, where he lived with his wife, Marilyn, and raised two daughters, Barb and Shirley.

Reverend Glen Eagle, who presided over Jim’s funeral service at St. John’s United Church on Thursday, January 23, told the congregation that Jim had two goals: one was to farm for 50 years and the other was to make it to 50 years of marriage. Last summer, he celebrated both.

With Jim’s passing came many stories about his life, his farm and this community. In his eulogy, Jim’s friend John Miller said:

Monday, January 20 was 50-and-a-half years to the day that Jim and Marilyn moved onto their new farm and started their farming career. Purchased in 1963, they started milking cows and shipping fluid milk for nine years before selling the herd in 1972 and changing to beef. Jim even had pigs for a short time, but Jim and the pigs didn’t see eye to eye – and the pigs left!

Jim loved the beef industry. He grew his beef enterprise with great ambition and hard work. He was very good at finishing steers. He entered into the cow and calf business with purebred Limisin cattle and sat on the Board of Directors for the Limisin association. At the Stock Yard, Jim won several championships for his quality cattle.

Jim was a community leader who was on the Executive of Junior Farmers, both local and county, President of the SCFA, a founding member of the Creemore Lions Club and a 4-H leader of the Beef Club. When bovine spongiform encephalopathy hit the area, Jim organized a meeting to bring media and political attention to the crisis.

Jim was known far and wide. You couldn’t find a machinery dealer in Ontario who didn’t know Jim. He was not afraid of trying something different. He harvested hay for silage, he did square bails for a while, he round-baled hay and in the past few years he also wrapped his hay. However, Marilyn said if his machinery didn’t run right in the first fifteen minutes, then it was gone.

This past corn harvest was trouble-free. He commented to Marilyn that the combine ran well and he didn’t get a wagon stuck. He was very pleased. Maybe that had a lot to do with how proud Jim was to have his grandson, Cameron, working on the farm with him. Jim was immensely proud of all of his grandchildren.

Jim was a horse lover, a fence viewer for the Township and he loved to curl at the Creemore Curling Club. Apparently, Jim was also a speeder in the car. I think he also thought rules were made to be broken.
On Monday, Jim headed up to heaven to be with his best farmer buddies. There is a lot to talk about…and the stories that will be told will be out of this world.

After the funeral, Paul Dyck, a neighbour of the Steeds, sent this message to the Echo:

I wasn’t surprised that there was such a large crowd at the Fawcett Funeral Home to pay their respects to Jim Steed on Wednesday night, or that it took an hour in the reception line before getting a chance to give his wife, Marilyn, a hug. In his quiet way, he must have touched a lot of people in the 75 years he lived in the Creemore area, including our family.

We have known the Steeds for two and half years since we bought the school house next to their property. They made us feel welcome right away, inviting us to the annual 10 Hill party that they were hosting at their farm a few weeks after we moved in. Our young son Liam took to Jim because he let him feed snacks to the dog, and had big farm machinery and cows in his yard. Liam often waved to “Farmer Steed” as he drove by on one of his machines, either alone or with his dog, Max, beside him to keep him company.

I’m sure we provided Jim with fodder for stories to share with his buddies about “those folks from the city.” Last summer, my son and I wanted to grow some giant pumpkins so we went next door to the Steed’s farm looking for fertilizer. We knocked on the door and asked him if we could have a bucket of manure. Not a problem. He went into the barn, started up the skid and gave my son a lift to the far side of the barn where he took a big scoop of his best dung.

“I’ll run it up to your place,” Jim said, “Where do you want it?” That’s when I held up my plastic five-gallon “bucket” and proceeded to fill it with a few scoops of my spade. He was too polite to make any jokes or even roll his eyes. He just turned that skid around and dumped the rest back on the pile.

We came to Creemore not only because of the beautiful scenery and year-round things to do, but also to give our son an appreciation for rural life, where our food comes from, and the hard-working people who grow and raise it. We could not have asked for a kinder, better role model for a neighbour than Jim Steed. We’ll miss him greatly

Community radio station coming

A new radio station is about to make waves – from Creemore. Clearview Community Radio will launch in January from Ray’s Place Youth Resource Centre. At first, it will be available online. Eventually, it will become a full-fledged on-air station that the audience can tune into, organizers say.

“Clearview is a really vibrant and rich community, and we feel we need to have a service that will reflect that and serve everybody,” says Steve Green, who is leading the project with his wife, Sandra Green.

Steve, who has worked in television and radio in the past, including at local radio station 97.7 The Beach FM, says starting a community radio station has been his dream “forever.”

After signing their son up for a Ray’s Place program earlier this year, he and Sandra thought the youth centre would be a good place to realize that dream. Sandra will become the Executive Director of Ray’s Place in the New Year.

“We teamed up with Ray’s Place because we’d like the radio station to be youth-oriented,” says Steve. Clearview kids 13 to 17 years old will be able to learn how a radio show gets broadcast. Some might even get their own show.

Programming will reflect the diverse interests of the audience, Steve says. “The content will be anything and everything. Not only is this a great resource for Clearview, but the community has a say in what they want to hear. Want to hear more about fixing old cars? Pitch a show. Love poetry? Come on down to Ray’s Place and talk to me about scheduling more spoken word. The possibilities are endless.”

Community support keeps Creemore bookstore open 20 years

Trina Berlo photo: Curiosity House Books owner Rina Barone (centre) will welcome past owners, including Chris and Pat Raible, and patrons to a birthday party Saturday. Local authors will also be in the house, as the anniversary coincides with Authors for Indies day.

Creemore’s bookstore has been saved many times.

At each junction in its 20-year history, Curiosity House Books has attracted new owners, determined to keep the doors open.

Since the fall, the bookstore is owned by Rina Barone and Chris Dunk, the hosts of an anniversary party Saturday that will bring together authors, patrons and former owners, including The Raibles, the original proprietors.

“Chris and I are honoured to be a part of something that has been in the community so long and is so appreciated,” said Barone. “We are sort of continuing the tradition that Pat and Chris [Raible] started 20 years ago. We are the stewards of the store, taking it into the next chapter.”

The bookstore’s story begins in 1991 when the Raibles were in Creemore one weekend, while staying at their vacation home in Mulmur, when they spotted the century-old red brick house on Mill Street that would become Curiosity House Books.

“We were in town doing some shopping and saw a for sale sign,” said Chris. “Pat looked at it and said, ‘That would make a nice bookstore’.”

Chris went in to the real estate office and said, “I am going to see about your bookstore”, said Pat.

Within two weeks they had a signed offer on the building.

Three years later, the house was completely renovated and the Raibles moved north from Toronto after retirement and straight into the business of books.

The bookstore was an early part of the renaissance of Creemore, said Pat. “It was crazy to start a bookstore in a town of 1,200 people but we did.”

“We opened the bookstore as a retirement venture,” said Chris, “but it was much more venture than it was retirement.”

They say they built a reputation on customer service and customer relations, stocking the right books, special ordering, before the advent of the internet and box stores. They started bringing in national newspapers for people, attaching clothespins with the customer’s name, a tradition that continues. They also started the gallery, calling on artist friends from Toronto to hang their work on consignment and several pieces sold.

“We started with our friends because they were willing to support us and before long people were knocking on our door,” said Pat.

“Our very first customers were our friends,” said Pat, “but as time went by, our customers became our friends.”

They weren’t necessarily looking to sell the bookstore, but in 2000 an offer presented itself. The shop was sold to Louise and Tim Richardson.

Catherine Randall was working for Louise six years later when the building was sold and the Richardsons were going to close the store.

Randall said Rowland Fleming and the late Jim Vandewater, faced with the possibility that the village could lose the bookstore, decided to buy the business. Randall managed the store and became a partner in the business.

They set about fixing up their new home, a rented space where Creemore Kitchen restaurant is now.

“I remember moving the boxes of books down the street in Rolie’s trailer… We got kids to help and we moved all the stock down the road,” said Randall.

She said she realized very quickly that there was a need to extend the hours so the store began opening seven days per week.

Miriam Vince, who was part of the staff, later became the fourth partner, with she and Randall as the faces of the shop.

“The e-book came along and that was challenging but we made it through that thanks to the community,” said Randall. “It’s an amazing community. People who come to the area from Toronto would go into stores or libraries and write down the books they wanted and then they would either e-mail me or come to the store on weekends and order books, like lots of books. They really kept the store viable. It was really very heartwarming and amazing and we tried to provide the best service that we could and I think we did.”

In 2012, the owners of the building decided to sell, prompting a lot of soul searching, said Randall.

The Creemore Echo published an article announcing that the business would close and in less than a week, a savior was found.

Ralph Hicks had called me over the weekend and said ‘you know, I think I am going to buy the store because I don’t want it to close’,” said Randall.

They met with a lawyer and worked out the details and by the time the newspaper went to press the following week, it was done. They moved to the shop’s current location at 178 Mill Street.

“I think it’s really nice that it keeps reinventing itself in, I would say, a different and positive way,” said Randall. “I really think there is a very good future for the bookstore in Creemore because of the community.”

The Raibles agree and are very pleased with the bookstore at 20.

“Each phase the bookstore has gone through has continued its strength,” said Chris.

“How delighted we are with the present owners,” said Pat. “That store is an institution now and Rina and Chris are doing wonders to keep it in place and keep it thriving.”

The anniversary this Saturday coincides with Authors for Indies so during the day Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. six authors will be in the store, including Dan Needles, Elly MacKay, Catherine Gildiner, Cecily Ross, Claire Cameron and Nicole Lundrigan. Cake will be served at noon and there will be an evening reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. All are welcome.

Community youth choir

Organized in October, the Creemore Community Youth Choir is now 24 members strong. Singers ages eight to 13 from Creemore, Dunedin, New Lowell and Glencairn meet every Tuesday evening at St. John’s United Church in Creemore.

“The idea came out of wanting to attract young people to the church,” said Corporal Glen Keefe, who is the choir conductor. In fact, he said the choir is not affiliated with any church and the singers come from mixed faith backgrounds.

Lynn and Carlee Gowan first approached Glen to be the conductor earlier this year. As the organist and Choir Director at St. John’s, it seemed like he would be a good fit.

“I wanted to bring a group of kids together who had never sung before, to teach them the basics of song and their parts in it,” said Glen.

The choir made its first performance at the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Creemore Legion on Monday, November 11. It also performs for the congregation at St. John’s. On Saturday, December 14, the choir will be a special guest at “The Winter Rose” Christmas concert at St. John’s United Church at 7:30 pm.

Condolence book for Jim Flaherty

Simcoe-Grey MP, Dr. Kellie Leitch, has set up a book of condolences on her website for the late Jim Flaherty, Canada’s Minister of Finance who died on April 10.

In a statement from her office, Leitch credited Flaherty with her entrance into politics. “Jim encouraged me to get involved in politics and was the most dedicated mentor that a person could ask for… He was my champion.”

Leitch, who lives in the same Ottawa condominium building as Flaherty did, attempted to resuscitate him from the heart attack that killed him. Both Leitch and Flaherty also have properties in the Creemore area.

In a tribute to Flaherty in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Leitch, who is also the Minister of Labour and Status of Women, said: “For me, I can speak to him being my champion on two specific occasions. I was at a conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico of all places in 2006. He was a newly minted Finance Minister. He called me and asked me if I would chair a panel on the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit. He said to me that they needed some health expertise, and that did not exist at Finance Canada. He wanted someone from the health care profession.

“The opportunity that he granted me in doing that, a young Canadian, a Canadian who was but 35 years of age, was that I had my first experience of the development of excellent public policy. I could take my professional background and apply it to public policy, and millions of Canadians became the beneficiary.”

She went on to explain how Flaherty’s persistence led to her decision to run for office, which was, she admitted, “not something I was wont to do.”

Flaherty held the federal Finance post since 2003, but retired in March to return to the private sector after experiencing health issues. To sign Leitch’s book of condolences, visit www.kellieleitchmp.com

Congrats New Lowell grads!

By Sandra Bednarek

On June 25, the Grade 8 graduating class of New Lowell Central Public School walked into a beautifully decorated gymnasium as parents and friends wore bright smiles and flashed many pictures for the memory book. The staff and students had turned the gym into a twinklelight fairy tale place full of flowers, and most of all, good wishes.

The Valedictorian’s Address was given by Zoe Delorme who did an outstanding job delivering this speech. She expressed very well all the ups and downs that most grads had during their time at the school. Zoe made special mention of the senior teachers who went on the long bus trip last year to Quebec. She paid a tribute to all of the parents and grandparents for helping the children get to this special evening.

After the ceremony and numerous pictures, and just before the dance, the graduates and guests were invited to an informal reception put on by the Grade 7 parents. Mrs. Michalchuk is to be congratulated for putting together a lovely display of yummy treats, along with the Graduation Cake.

Then, the visitors were asked to leave so the real party could begin with dancing!

Grads of 2014:
Krystal Belknap
Sterling Campbell
Jaden Chipman
Zoe Delorme
Quinn Eggleton
Ryan Elliot
Jason Hendry
Britney Henson
Amy Hinchey
Tyler Hopping
Jess Jones-Brake
Thomas Karvounis
Jessica-Lynn Kelly
Roy Lambert
Allison Lancaster
Meghan MacCan
Julia Sarcinella
Kristen Scott
Caleigh Sentner
Tyler Stevens
Amanda Thomas
Kameron Thompson
Karen Van Leeuwen

Awards:
Highest Proficiency in English: Amy Hinchey
Highest Proficiency in French: Kristen Scott
Highest Proficiency in Math Skills: Zoe Delorme
Science and Technology Award: Allison Lancaster
History Award: Zoe Delorme
Geography Award: Zoe Delorme
Art Award: Zoe Delorme, Allison Lancaster
Music Award: Krystal Belknap
Creative Writing Award: Amy Hinchey
Highest Academic Average (Male and Female): Jaden Chipman, Zoe Delorme, Thomas Karvounis
Most Improved Grade 8 Student: Jessica Kelly
Ryan Clarke Memorial for Top Athlete (Male and Female): Quinn Eggleton, Kameron Thompson
Best All-Around Student: Zoe Delorme
Citizenship Award: Zoe Delorme, Quinn Eggleton, Amy Hinchey, Jessica Kelly, Allison Lancaster
Honour Graduates: Zoe Delorme, Amy Hinchey, Allison Lancaster
Ontario Principal’s Award: Allison Lancaster

Construction brewing!

As Creemore Springs Brewery embarks on a second year-long expansion, it is taking steps to reduce disruption on Mill Street.

On June 1, the Brewery will begin constructing a new retail store, maintenance area, laboratory and staff room, plus a board room that will be available for community use at its current site.

Initially, this will require heavy equipment to access the site to excavate foundations, pour concrete and place steel until the middle of June.

“Due to their large size, some vehicles will have to enter the work site through Mill Street,” said Geoff Davies, Head of Operations at Creemore Springs Brewery. “However, Creemore Springs will strive to minimize the frequency of such access.”

While summer in Creemore is a season that many feel could do without a construction site on the main street, Davies said the Brewery planned to start the construction at this time to increase efficiency.

For one, the better weather will help increase productivity, he said. As well, truckload weights (which are restricted in winter and spring to protect roads) are no longer limited in the summer.

With construction starting in June, trucks will be able to carry more to the construction site at one time, instead of making multiple trips, Davies explained.

“Half-load restrictions increase the number of truck movements in and out of the site,” Davies said. “If we had started in March, then the disruption would have been significantly longer.”

Davies said the brewery is taking steps to lessen the disruption to its neighbours. This includes erecting a temporary fence to separate construction activities from Mill Street. There will also be a fence along the west side of the sidewalk from the northwest corner of the warehouse to the southwest corner of the existing brick brewery building, and a barrier to separate pedestrians from traffic.

“It is inevitable that some things are going to happen, but you have to be responsive,” said Davies. “We are trying to find the way to be the most efficient and provide the least obstruction. We are going to do the best we can.”

Once the structural steel is in place, construction work will be staged in the west side of the south parking lot. Access to the work area will be through the west side, inside the fence.

All other construction traffic will be required to enter the site through the existing Elizabeth Street entrance, Davies said.

Chef Caesar Guinto, who co-owns Creemore Kitchen across the street from the brewery, is concerned about the effect the construction could have on his business.

In particular, four parking spots on Mill Street, will be lost to the construction barrier the Brewery will build. He is also worried about dust blowing onto his restaurant’s front patio.

However, Guinto said communication with the Brewery has been good. Creemore Springs will address his concerns by installing signs advertising parking on nearby streets and watering down dust, he said.

“We feel lucky to be involved in the plans,” said Guinto. “We are always willing to work with the Brewery.”

Guinto recently learned more about the construction plans at a meeting hosted by the Brewery Liaison Committee in April. At the meeting, the Brewery’s general contractor, architect and landscape architect were on hand to answer questions.

The Brewery Liaison Committee was established after a 2009 settlement with local residents and business owners who had initially appealed Creemore Spring’s initial zoning application to the Ontario Municipal Board.

The Committee, which is chaired by Councillor Thom Paterson, includes Davies, Gordon Fuller, Brewmaster at Creemore Springs, Brewery neighbours Christine Boake and Paul Vorstermans, and Creemore Business Improvement Association (BIA) President, Corey Finkelstein.

The Committee’s purpose is to communicate between the Brewery and its neighbours, and to ensure the construction goes as smoothly as possible, Vorstermans explained.

Vorstermans, who was one of the individuals who appealed the Brewery’s initial application, said the Committee has lived up to its mandate.

“It has kept us involved in the discussion and is keeping us informed,” he said.

The Brewery plans to have the foundations and steel completed by the end of August. Construction workers should finish the exterior of the building and the landscaping in the fall, Davies said. Work on the interior will continue until next spring.

“The goal is to have the exterior and all landscaping completed by the end of the year,” said Davies. “We will keep working inside in 2015.”

Consultant hired for electoral review

Clearview Township’s electoral review will take place over the next two months, with the help of a consultant and despite several concerns about timing and the level of public interest voiced by Mayor Ken Ferguson at Monday night’s Council meeting.

By unanimous vote, Council decided Monday night to hire the Mississauga-based Watson & Associates Economists Ltd. to conduct the technical aspects of the electoral review, including a population growth forecast through to the year 2022 that will be spatially displayed on a map of Clearview. The firm will also interview members of Council, develop several ward boundary alternatives that will be presented to the public at four town hall meetings in September, and report back to Council before the Township’s October 21 deadline for making a decision on the future electoral makeup of the municipality.

The company has previously completed ward boundary reviews for the City of Barrie and the Towns of Bradford West Gwillimbury, Gravenhurst and Pelham.

The cost for Watson & Associates’ services is $31,800, which will come from the Township’s $37,500 Election Reserve Fund. Council also voted Monday night to commit another $4,000 from the reserve to carry out communications with regard to the review, including a possible mail out, posters, a social media campaign, and the four public town hall meetings, to be held in Stayner, Creemore, Duntroon/Nottawa and New Lowell.

While the decision to hire the consultant and move forward was a unanimous one, it was not made without some trepidation on behalf of some on Council, especially the Mayor, who spoke frankly about his concerns before the vote.

Throughout a busy weekend of public events and brisk business at his welding shop, Ferguson said he had not talked to one person who was in favour of changing the ward boundaries or the number of members on Council. “All I heard was, ‘it’s working, leave it alone,’” said Ferguson. He also pointed out that the agricultural community would be so busy with harvesting over the next two months, it would be very difficult to get them engaged. “I’m distraught,” he said. “I thought this was going to be a good thing, but now I’m really worried.”

Councillor Doug Measures said he’d heard from only two constituents, both of whom had asked why Council was bothering with the initiative at this time. “I told them that it’s important to always review what you’re doing,” he said.

Other members of Council were more confident that the review was the right move.

“The most important thing that needs to be addressed is the inequality,” said Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage. “If nothing else, we need to reconfigure the wards.”

Councillor Thom Paterson said he’d heard a lot of comments about the need for the review, and while he had concerns about the tight time frame, he said he was confident Council could get it done.
With that, Council voted to hire the consultant and kick-start the process.

In a second unanimous vote, Council decided follow the recommendation of the Electoral Review Committee and strike a second committee, which will include both members of Council and members of the public, that will sit into the new year and deal with things like Councillors’ job descriptions and remuneration.

Request for Building Fee Review

Monday night’s Council meeting featured a deputation from Zhang Jian Fan, who has purchased a farm on Nottawasaga Concession 6 and plans to build 40 greenhouses (for a total of 92,160 square feet) for the purpose of growing Asian vegetables.

Speaking on behalf of Zhang, who is a new immigrant and speaks little English, was Rudy Ouwersloot, a representative of the company that will build the greenhouses. Growing outdoor food for human consumption under a sheltered roof is the most environmentally friendly method of growing food, he said, because it allows an extended growing season, the crop is protected from heavy rain, wind, and hail storms, there is less evaporation and fertilizer consumption, less crop damage from insects and no need for herbicides. With a growing population of immigrant families in the GTA and surrounding areas, Ouwersloot said the market for Asian vegetables was growing by leaps and bounds.

The only problem, he pointed out, is that Clearview Township’s building permit schedule currently groups greenhouses in with other agricultural buildings. At $0.19 per square foot, the fee required to build the 40 greenhouses would be $17,510.40, almost 10 per cent of the total investment. Ouwersloot listed the fees for a similar structure in several municipalities more used to seeing greenhouse-type construction: in Leamington the total fee would be $1,843.20; in Lincoln, $2,121.60; in St. Thomas, $1,400.00; and in Delhi, $1,200.00.

With greenhouses becoming more durable and suitable for higher snow loads, Ouwersloot said Clearview Township would be missing out on significant business if its rates were not adjusted for this type of construction.

After hearing the deputation, Council directed staff to bring a report on the subject to its September 10 meeting. If fees are to be changed after that, a public meeting would be required to change the building fees bylaw.

Cookies and a place to stay!

The owners of the four bed and breakfasts that make up the Creemore and Area Bed and Breakfast Association met recently to share their best cookie recipes, in preparation for their second annual Open House and Cookie Tasting Tour, scheduled for Sunday, December 2 from 1 to 4 pm.

Angel House, Creemore Comforts, the Clearview Station & Caboose and Cedar Pond have been working together as an association since 2009, producing a website and promotional materials and co-operating to make sure guests to the area find the booking that works for them.

In a way, they work as ambassadors for the village, and cite a recent study that found that day tourists to an area spend an average of $60, while overnight tourists average $300.

They don’t just serve tourists, though… a lot of their business comes from friends and families of local people, up for a visit and needing a place to stay.

For that reason, they encourage anyone and everyone to pay them a visit on December 2, to sample their delicious Christmas baking and to see what sort of accommodations they offer.

“We’d love to see the whole village out,” said Pat Steer of Angel House.

Cooling stations open in Clearview

 

In response to the heat warning issued by Environment Canada, cooling stations are open today and tomorrow in Clearview Township.

Monday, August 17:

Stayner Arena and Community Centre open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Council Chambers (Clearview Township Administration Building, 217 Gideon Street in Stayner) open until 4:30 p.m.

Stayner Pool (Reduced Rate: $1.50 per person) open swim from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Tuesday, August 18:

Stayner Pool (Reduced Rate: $1.50 per person) open swim from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Stayner Library open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Creemore Library open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

New Lowell Library open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Copper Kettle Classics honours car clubs

More than 500 classic vehicles and 100 vintage motorcycles are expected at Copper Kettle Classics, taking place during the Copper Kettle Festival on August 22.

Clubs will get a special welcome at this year’s show and members will display their vehicles in groups.

“This year it’s more about the clubs because the clubs are such a big part of the car collecting industry. They are what keep it going and keep people enthusiastic and there are lots of volunteers and support so we want to celebrate that this year,” said organizer Corey Finkelstein.

He said there will be a big showing from the Wasaga Beach Cruisers and also the Barrie Thunder Car Club, Alliston Recycled Teenagers, the Georgian Bay British Car Club, the Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group and a visit from a Miata club.

Some rat rods and custom cars will also be on display.

The show takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. along Mill Street and Caroline Street East, towards the library.

The car show links Creemore Springs’ Copper Kettle festivities at Mad River to the commercial district on Mill Street.

Awards will be given out in seven categories, including the brewmaster’s choice and people’s choice.

“It is growing every year,” said Finkelstein. “We started out with 78 cars the first year and had well over 500 last year.”

The streets will be closed to vehicles, other than those in the show. Some local businesses will be bringing their services into the street.

Participants should come early, said Finkelstein, as the street is often packed before the 10 a.m. start.

Registration is still open. Advance registration is encouraged. Visit www.copperkettleclassics.com.

Council agrees to restore Creemore bridge

A majority of Clearview councillors have agreed to take ownership of the Collingwood Street Bridge in Creemore, if they can get enough money from the county to restore it.

During a two-hour council meeting Monday, April 13 councillors heard six deputations and discussed the fate of the 102-year-old steel bridge.

The discussion was prompted by a report tabled by Deputy Mayor Barry Burton recommending that the township take on the bridge in order to restore it, rather than leave it in the hands of the County of Simcoe. The county has already issued a tender to replace the bridge this summer.

Burton said the bridge replacement was scheduled for 2016 but it was moved up, creating an urgency to save the bridge.

Burton has been working for many years to stop the county from replacing the bridge, which is located close to his home. Through the campaign, Burton became engaged in local politics, prompting him to run for office. In the previous term of council members voted twice against designating the bridge as a heritage feature, as a way of stopping its replacement with a two-lane concrete bridge. 

Burton asked fellow council members to support a recommendation that would see the bridge transferred to the township as long as the county also transfers $1.3 million to pay for the restoration, a cantilevered walkway and other works associated with the project. The initial offer from Simcoe County was $900,000 based on the tax portion of the project to be expensed in 2015, reported Burton. Other funds, such as development charges, may not be applied to a project if there is no expansion.

In the opinion of local experts who have been advocating for the restoration in an effort to see the historic bridge preserved, the money will be enough to cover the expenses but not all council members and township staff have confidence in the estimates.

John Boote of Burnco Manufacturing and John Hillier, a landscape architect with DTAH, presented a restoration estimate of $1,302,945.

“We’re quite comfortable the total value of the restoration is appropriate,” said Boote.

He said, as a steel manufacturer, his company would not bid on the job if and when it is tendered.

That made Councillor Shawn Davidson question the validity of the estimate, saying it would make him more confident knowing for sure someone could do the job for $1.3 million. Nevertheless, he suggested the resolution be amended to $1.5 million to build in a bit of a buffer, which was supported by the majority of council.

The county had slated $2.5 million to replace the bridge.

Those advocating for the restoration argue that more than $1 million of taxpayer dollars will be saved and a historic landmark and tourist attraction will be preserved.

“Normally, the conversation is about how much extra are we willing to spend to save it,” said Hiller. “The fact here is that we are saving money.”

And there are other costs. Another environmental assessment is needed, or an amendment, to proceed with the restoration.

Councillor Deborah Bronée did not support the recommendation, saying that the township already has a number of bridges it cannot afford to maintain. She was also critical of the way the issue was brought before council.

“I am somewhat dismayed that the deputy mayor brought this forward without notice,” said Bronée adding discussions have taken place without input from staff and council members.

“I support the county and I do not want future taxpayers burdened with another structure they cannot afford.”

Councillor Robert Walker agreed, saying taking on the bridge carries the burden forward and he was surprised to see the issue on the agenda and to find out that Burton was meeting privately with the county.

“We talked about communication, being open and transparent,” said Walker.

Burton said Mayor Chris Vanderkruys was with him when meeting with the warden and the deputy warden.

“They put the offer on the table,” said Burton.

He said he sent the report to councillors two weeks earlier when they found out the county tender was closing and also discussed the matter with Clearview CAO Steve Sage and left it up to him to involve what staff he needed to involve.

Councillor Doug Measures said he too supports the county’s plan.

“We have to look at publically owned transportation infrastructure. It has to be maintained,” he said.

Councillor Kevin Elwood says he sees this as a second chance.

“There has been a disconnect at the county level. The county hasn’t listened to the residents. They didn’t respect the county’s wishes as a whole,” said Elwood.

“I think we should take the opportunity and renegotiate but I wouldn’t want to accept the outcome until we know what they are,” he said, adding he wants all of the information before making a decision. “I do support preservation of our heritage and we have been given a second chance.”

“Why can’t county council direct staff to restore the bridge? I will put my hand up when they want to download it to us,” said Davidson. “If everybody’s wrong about the numbers, it’s just us in Clearview that will have to pay. Get them to fix it, once it’s fixed, with a little reserve for maintenance, I’ll gladly accept it… We already have 78 bridges, I don’t want 79.”

Councillor Connie Leishman said she supports the recommendation as written, as she has always been in favour of preserving the bridge, even if it means not doing other projects because of the cost of taking on the bridge.

“I may not know bridges but if we lose it, it’s gone and I have a problem with that,” she said.

Thom Paterson said, in the end, what makes the restoration practical is that it is supposed to save taxpayers $1 million.

At a county council meeting on Tuesday, council members agreed to hold off on proceeding with the bridge tender, which closed Thursday, and bring the issue back on April 28.

Council commits $2.9 million for Stayner servicing

Clearview Council solidified its long-term vision for the community of Stayner Monday night, voting to contribute $2.9 million over the next two years to the construction of a wastewater pumping station at Knox Road East in Wasaga Beach.

The decision implements the first phase of a plan of action that the municipalities of Clearview and Wasaga Beach formally agreed upon in 2010. Should it be carried through to completion, the second phase of the project would see Clearview spend a further $9.4 million to build a pumping station of its own and install a sewer line connecting the Stayner pumping station to the Knox Road facility. Clearview would then have the option of purchasing two allotments of 2,500 cubic metres of sewage capacity from Wasaga Beach, at a cost of $6 million each. One cubic metre of capacity roughly corresponds to the capacity needed to service one residential home.

The 2010 agreement between the two municipalities was reached after an Environmental Assessment, initiated by Clearview Township in 2004, concluded that hooking into the Wasaga Beach sewage treatment plant represented the most environmentally and economically feasible option for servicing Stayner’s future growth. Currently, the Stayner sewage plant has enough remaining capacity for about 500 residential units. The agreement between Wasaga Beach and Clearview stipulated a deadline of December 1, 2012 for Clearview to decide whether it was in or out.

There was a hitch to Monday night’s decision however, one that led Councillor Brent Preston to pen a column in last week’s Echo questioning how quickly it was being made and whether there had been enough public input. While all indications from the Township since the 2010 agreement have been that the cost of hooking up to the Wasaga Beach system would be front-ended by developers – who currently have 1,680 units in Stayner in draft or final approval and 2,500 more in the initial application stage – it was revealed last week (and discussed further in an in camera session at the outset of Monday’s meeting) that negotiations with the several developers looking to build in Stayner had proven fruitless.

That meant the decision before Council was to debenture the $2.9 million, with $616,000 being borrowed immediately to meet the December 1 deadline imposed by Wasaga Beach, and the remaining $2.3 million being drawn down as needed on July 1, 2014, a second deadline outlined in the agreement. In the meantime, staff proposed that Clearview make 620 units of Stayner wastewater development charges immediately available for pre-purchase at the current price, in hopes that developers will take advantage of the offer and provide an influx of cash that can be used to pay down the debenture quickly.

At press time, the Echo received a statement from the Township indicating that this plan had begun to pay off, with developers committing to purchase more than $1 million in development charge credits in the three days since Monday’s meeting. More were expected to sign on in the coming weeks.

It’s intended that the entire debenture will be paid off using income from development charges, and in fact government legislation prohibits any sewer/water infrastructure being paid for by general taxation, so even if the development charges failed to materialize, taxpayers would not be on the hook for the money. Preston had said differently in his column, but commented on Monday night that after discussing the matter with Treasurer Edward Henley, he had realized his statement had been incorrect. In the eventuality that development charges were not able to pay down the debt, he said, it would actually be existing sewer users who would have to cover the difference.

That said, Henley’s report to Council pointed out that in a worst-case scenario, the development charges from 15 new houses a year over the next 40 years would be enough to service the $2.9 million loan.

Clearview has also made a grant application to the federal and provincial governments to help fund the project, but no decision has been made on the file. Included in the grant application was an additional $4 million to provide much-needed municipal services to Stayner’s industrial lands.

Leading off Monday night’s discussion of the issue was Councillor Thom Paterson, who attempted to allay the concerns held by some in the audience after reading Preston’s column.

“This is the culmination of many discussions we’ve had over the past six years I’ve been on Council and before that,” said Paterson. “If you believe there’s going to be growth, then this is the right decision.”

Paterson went on to point out how the growth number for Stayner – an extra 6,000 people if the first 2,500 cubic metres of capacity are purchased, likely over the next 20 to 25 years – fits in with the number in the Township’s growth plan, which was derived with public input, as well as the Strategic Plan and the County Official Plan. “This is what we’ve been putting in place,” he said.

As far as the investments necessary down the road to bring the plan to fruition, Paterson stressed that those decisions were not a fait accompli as a result of Monday’s decision, but instead would be made when the time came “based on the Township’s ability to pay and on the stimulus for growth.”

Speaking next, Preston stated that his column was not an attempt to “stir the pot,” but rather a genuine plea for help in making a decision on the matter. And of the many people he spoke to and corresponded with over the weekend, he said none felt that Clearview should be borrowing $2.9 million and counting on growth to pay it back in the current economic climate. “This is a question of risk, and for me, there’s too much uncertainty,” he said.

Mayor Ken Ferguson took an opposite view, responding to Preston’s comments by drawing a parallel to his own life. “As a farmer and a businessman, if I don’t take risks, I get nowhere,” he said. “I look at it this way: if we miss this opportunity, we’re setting ourselves back eight years. This is an investment in the future of Clearview Township.”

Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage echoed Ferguson’s comments, admitting that it might have been hard for the general public to follow the evolution of the Stayner servicing issue for the past eight years, but that there had been plenty of opportunities for public comment, as well as two municipal elections where the issue had been a major part of the discourse. “The message that I have continually received is that we have to invest in our primary urban area,” she said. “This is a milestone decision, and we should be celebrating the progress we’ve made to get to this point.”

Councillor Shawn Davidson agreed with Savage in his comments, calling the decision a “fundamental” one, and stating that “making any other decision would be erasing a decade of work.”

Davidson did express frustration that the development community had not come forward with some front-end money for the project, but maintained that the amount of risk involved in the decision was minimal, given the scale of investment that developers have already made to get the various Stayner applications to where they currently stand.

Voting on the issue was separated into three parts. Motions to borrow the $2.9 million and to amend the 2012 budget to state the source of that money as a debenture as opposed to a developer contribution passed by a count of 8-1, with only Preston voting against them. A third motion, to make the 620 units of Stayner wastewater development charges available for pre-purchase at the current price, passed unanimously.

Though Councillor Paterson supported all three motions, he did note his concern that the public had not been kept up to date on the issue as well as it might have been. To that end, he introduced a motion at the end of the meeting calling on staff to host a public information session, sometime in the new year, to review the Township’s work on the file over the past eight years and to explain the municipality’s options moving forward. “This is arguably the most significant decision this Council will make, and it is vital that Council and staff communicate with residents to review how we arrived at this point and why it is the right plan for Stayner and Clearview,” he said. His motion then passed unanimously.

Council hopeful wins volunteer award

One of Clearview’s candidates for the municipal election has won a volunteer service award.

John Broderick, who filed his nomination papers for the new Ward 6 in March, has been honoured by the Huronia West Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police for his service with the Huronia West Snowmobile Trail Officer Patrol (S.T.O.P.).

S.T.O.P. is a partnership between the OPP and the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs. Through “community policing,” volunteers such as Broderick improve snowmobiling by increasing public awareness of drinking and riding, educating riders about safety and promoting voluntary compliance with snowmobile laws.

“In 1995, I lost one of my younger sisters to a drinking and driving accident,” said Broderick, who has been a member of S.T.O.P. for 15 years. “So, when the program came along, I wanted to prevent another family from going through what our family did.”

In 1997, Broderick began two years of training from the OPP to be a S.T.O.P. volunteer. He said he is one of three members of his graduating class who still volunteer.

Broderick feels strongly about the role that S.T.O.P. volunteers play in keeping community members safe. “Patrols come across people putting themselves at risk and they may not realize it until you bring it to their attention,” he said.

Given his experience as a snowmobile expert, this election hopeful feels that Clearview’s future lies in tourism.

“I’d like to see a multi-use trail system expanded upon. I think there is so much potential in Clearview and I think we could do better in tourism,” he emphasized.

Broderick owns J&R Cycle power sports store outside of Wasaga Beach with his wife, Rhonda. He and his wife raised their four daughters within 25 miles of the home where his family has lived since the 1830s.

“I’ve spent my entire life in this industry,” explained Broderick. He believes that his business experience, as well as his involvement with every motorized trails group in the area (“in some fashion or another,”) will help him in a role on Council.

Broderick’s leadership experience includes stints as President of the Central Ontario ATV Club, Past President of the Ontario Federation of ATV Clubs and Board Member of Huronia Trails and Greenways.

“I’m a team player and I know how to work with a group,” he said. “I know how to make groups successful.”

This won’t be Broderick’s first kick at the can; in the last municipal election he ran for Ward 5, which was won by Councillor Robert Walker.

This time, however, he has decided to run for the new Ward 6, because he feels his experience better reflects its rural population, instead of half of Stayner’s, which the new Ward 5 includes.

Former Simcoe County District School Board Trustee Connie Leishman is the only other candidate who has filed for election in Ward 6 so far.

Broderick will receive his Ontario Volunteer Service Award at a ceremony hosted by the Ontario Honours and Awards Secretariat in June in Barrie.

Council says no to a Clearview casino

Clearview Council unanimously voted against hosting an OLG gaming facility in the municipality Monday night, but stopped a couple votes short of opposing such a facility anywhere within the four municipalities that make up the OLG’s Zone C7.

Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage’s motion on the subject, introduced through a notice of motion two weeks ago, included opposition on both of those fronts, but an amendment put forward by Councillor Doug Measures to remove the clause about opposing a casino anywhere in Zone C7 was passed in a 5-4 vote, with Councillors Deb Bronée, Shawn Davidson, Orville Brown and Mayor Ken Ferguson joining Measures in voting for it.

After that Council supported the amended motion en masse, with Savage noting that, though she had hoped for a stronger stand against a casino anywhere in the area, she would still support the motion due to its opposition to a facility within Clearview, as well as its demand, should a casino be built in Zone C7, that all four municipalities and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation take “specific steps to ensure additional resources are made available within the zone to respond to the increased incidents and resulting issues of problem gambling.”

Those issues were the focus of two deputations at the outset of the meeting, from Collingwood physician Dr. Mark Quigg and Stayner minister Rev. Jim Seagram. Both men stressed the damage that gambling addiction can do to families and their greater communities, and reminded Council that 40 per cent of the revenues at OLG casinos come from the 3.4 per cent of the population who are addicted to gambling.

Those sentiments held sway over much of Council, with the first three Councillors to speak on the issue, Thom Paterson, Brent Preston and Robert Walker, indicating they would support Savage’s request for a stand against any gaming facilities in the entire zone.

“This is a cynical and destructive form of taxation,” said Preston. “It will result in a huge amount of money leaving our community and a pittance coming back to help deal with the problems.”

The rest of Council, however, agreed with Measures’ opinion that Clearview should only be making decisions about what happens within its own borders, and that good relationships with its neighbouring communities depend on staying true to that.

“I guarantee you, if we say no, we’ll be out of the picture now and in the future,” said Mayor Ken Ferguson. “And this affects us all. We have to be at the table in the future.”

The Town of Wasaga Beach is the only one of the four municipalities which has voted in favour of hosting a casino. OLG will now entertain proposals from private operators interested in opening a facility in that community.

Council says no to bridge

Amid a chorus of boos from the public gallery at Council’s Monday night meeting, Clearview Township voted – for the second time – not to save the 100-year-old Collingwood Street bridge.

The vote was 5 to 3 not to direct Clearview Staff (in consultation with the County of Simcoe) to review the request to make the bridge a culturally significant heritage property. Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage and Councillors Thom Paterson and Shawn Davidson voted against replacing the single-lane steel truss bridge with a two-lane concrete structure.

Although the bridge falls under the jurisdiction of Simcoe County, according to the provincial Heritage Act, Clearview Township could have designated it a heritage site. However, it voted not to do so on Monday, October 21 without hearing a planned presentation from a community group trying to save the bridge.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Barry Burton, who made the presentation at this week’s meeting urging Council to change its mind and give the bridge a heritage designation. “I’m disappointed,” said Burton after the vote. “But the committee is going to meet and we’re going to figure out our next plan of attack.”

About 65 members of the public attended Monday’s meeting to show their support. During Burton’s presentation, one supporter held up a “Save our bridge” sign.

“What is so aggravating about this whole thing,” said Christine Boake,“is that they passed this before even seeing the presentation.”

Earlier, Boake had told Council, “This was your opportunity to show County and the community and prove that you care. You have the power to do it and the support of the people, as well.”

“Council made a decision on October 21,” said Mayor Ken Ferguson. “We’ve been working on this for two years. We’ve had public meetings and listened to difference of opinion. I thought [Simcoe County’s proposal to replace the bridge] was a reasonably good solution that represented both sides.”

Mayor Ferguson stuck to the Simcoe County report that recommended the bridge be rebuilt to address safety concerns. “I think what the County has come up with is the right thing.”

Burton began his presentation by introducing members of his committee who have professional, international experience in bridge building including urban designer, John Hillier, and structural engineer, John Boote.

He then set out to debunk some myths about the Collingwood Street bridge saying steel bridges do not require more maintenance than concrete bridges; single-lane bridges are permitted by the Ministry of Transportation; and the Collingwood Street bridge meets heritage requirements.

Showing photographs of the more than 250 people who came to celebrate the bridge’s 100th birthday last June 29, Burton said the movement to save the bridge had “huge public support,” which included original builder J.J. Dumond’s grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

Burton also presented letters of support from the Purple Hills Arts and Heritage Society, Creemore Area Residents’ Association (CARA), MPP Jim Wilson and MP Kellie Leitch.

His presentation was followed by comments from a number of community members who spoke in favour of giving the bridge a heritage designation.

John Wiggins implored the Council members to “look with their conscience and their hearts, because governance is both of those things.”

Greg Young of CARA said the bridge’s “single lane causes us to slow down and appreciate Creemore and the community and reflect on the role it plays.”

In a poetic treatise, Chris Raible asked the Councillors “not to rush or be ‘mad’,” referring to the Mad River, named for its fast-rushing waters, he explained. “Pause a little longer, explore some of the issues… so that everyone here fully understands. Lots of people haven’t discussed the bridge for two years; even you are still learning.”

The Township’s Procedural By-law prohibits Council from reconsidering a topic it has already made a decision about, unless the majority of Council members vote to reconsider the topic. The motion to reconsider the October 21 decision was made by Councillor Paterson, seconded by Deputy Mayor Savage, and accepted.

Councillor Paterson urged his fellow Council members not to rush into a decision. “There is reason to consider what this committee is doing. Don’t jump into a final decision without taking into account their points and going back to the County, if necessary.”

But in the end, Council decided not to go that route. Councillor Paterson’s motion to consider the residents’ desire to preserve the bridge, the bridge’s 100-year history, the Ministry’s acknowledgement of the merits of its conservation, Clearview’s new heritage conversation project and that the deficiencies can be addressed under Ministry of Transportation guidelines, did not pass.

“The discussion leading up to the vote demonstrated a clear need on the part of Council to better understand the heritage conservation process and the facts of the local committee’s proposal,” Councillor Paterson wrote in a follow-up email to the Echo. “It will take the open and innovative participation of all parties to see this project through to full restoration of the bridge. That Council decided on Monday night not to engage with their residents only strengthens public resolve to see the Collingwood Street Bridge restored.”

“This is a perfect example of how Council doesn’t listen to the public,” said Burton. “It’s not rocket science: spend a million, save a million, make the residents of Creemore happy and save a bridge.”

Council sets eye to electoral reform

In the 20 years since amalgamation, Clearview Township’s electoral model has remained the same – a Mayor and Deputy Mayor are elected by the entire municipality, and the populations of seven wards, roughly centred on Nottawa, Duntroon, Dunedin, Creemore, New Lowell, Sunnidale Corners and Stayner, each elect a Councillor to join them.

On Monday night, Council indicated the time might have come for a change, directing staff to bring a report back to the table setting out a process for a comprehensive review of Council’s structure, which would consider possible changes to ward boundaries, the size of Council, the election method (either by ward or at large), Councillor remuneration and the job descriptions of the Township’s elected representatives.

Councillor Brent Preston brought the motion to the table after indicating his plans to do so at the last meeting, and there was unanimous support for the idea on Monday night.

Preston said he was primarily motivated by the growing population inequality between the Township’s wards – in the last election, Ward 3 (Dunedin) had the least electors with 1,259, while Ward 6 (New Lowell) had the most with 2,199. Current development patterns will only exacerbate these differences, said Preston, threatening a fundamental tenet of democracy, that each vote should carry more or less equal weight.

Municipal governance has also become far more complex over the past two decades, said Preston, and the responsibilities of Council and demands on individual Councillors have changed significantly. “A review of ward boundaries presents an opportunity to examine the role of Council in Clearview Township in a comprehensive way, to ensure that our democratic governance model is suited to the changing nature of our municipal government,” he wrote in the backgrounder accompanying his motion.

Township clerk Pamela Fettes, who Preston joked he had bonded with over a “mutual love of electoral process,” told Council she supported the initiative, despite some concerns about timing and funding.

Any decisions would have to be made before the end of the year, she said, as nominations open for the next municipal election in January 2014. She also predicted that some expert help might be needed to deal with the complexities of such reform, and warned that any changes could be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board. Despite those caveats, however, Fettes agreed with Preston that a review is warranted.

Others on Council agreed, with Mayor Ken Ferguson pointing out that he’d brought the idea up before on occasion. “Hopefully, we’ll be provided with many avenues, and we can pick and choose what works best for us.”

Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage also voiced her support, stressing that anything done in the name of efficiency is a worthwhile endeavour. “If we don’t do it now, it’s another five years until the opportunity comes back,” she said.

With that, Preston’s motion passed unanimously. It’s anticipated that a staff report will come back to Council by September. Whatever process unfolds after that, Preston’s motion pointed out, will include some measure of public consultation.

For a look at the current Ward Map of Clearview Township, click here.

Council takes over SCI Robotics

Threatened with having to take the year off due to the teachers labour dispute, the Stayner Collegiate Institute Cybergnomes robotics team will instead compete this year as a special committee of Clearview Township Council.

That decision was made unanimously at last week’s Council meeting, after a motion was made by Councillor Robert Walker and seconded by Councillor Doug Measures.

The team, which has competed in robotics competitions in Boston the past few years and has been a successful incubator of technical talent at the high school, had been notified the week before that it would not be operating in 2013, as the teachers who run the program are refraining from any extracurricular activities for the duration of the current labour dispute.

With several students counting on experience with the team for university and scholarship applications, Walker brought his motion to Council.

After a brief discussion about insurance implications, the motion was passed unanimously. The team will have to operate like other committees of Council, by incorporating proper resolutions and bylaws at its meetings and publishing minutes. The team will now be supervised by parent volunteers.

Council takes stand against wind farm

Wpd Canada’s Fairview Wind Farm application will not have the support of Clearview Township when it goes before the Ministry of Environment this fall. Whether that will have any effect on the province’s ultimate decision, however, is anyone’s guess.

Clearview Council made its defiant position on the proposed wind farm official Monday night, voting by a count of 7-2 in favour of Planning Director Michael Wynia’s staff report, which was released two weeks ago and offered a multi-pronged approach to blocking the construction of turbines in the vicinity of County Road 91 and Fairgrounds Road.

Following Wynia’s recommendations in full, Council voted Monday night to request a moratorium on all wind development until the outcome of the recently announced federal health study is known; to approve the initiation of the Clearview Heritage Landscape Conservation Project, which will seek heritage landscape designation for the viewscape that exists when looking down towards Georgian Bay from the Niagara Escarpment; to have staff draft a Nuisance Bylaw to deal with potential nuisance and annoyance impacts of turbines; to investigate amending the Township’s development charges bylaw to apply to industrial wind turbine and other green energy project construction; and to request and endorse an application by the Collingwood Regional Airport Committee for federal aerodrome zoning.

Going around the horn before the vote, several Councillors expressed their gratitude to the planning department for producing such an all-encompassing document and to members of the public – many of whom were seated in the audience – for their work in researching and educating the community about wind energy over the past several years.

“This report truly reflects the sentiment of our community,” said Councillor Brent Preston, noting that throughout his election campaign and during his last year and a half on Council, he had not met a single person in favour of industrial wind turbines. Despite once contemplating signing a wind contract on his own farm, Preston said in the years since he had come to realize that the province’s version of wind energy was not actually about green energy at all. “These turbines would contribute virtually nothing to our community, and would bring huge costs with them.”

Councillor Doug Measures said the safety of the airport was critical in his mind, while Councillor Orville Brown said he’d received over 230 emails and phone calls and none had been in favour of the proposed wind farm.

Councillor Deb Bronee said she was motivated by the Township’s desire for sustainable employment, noting that the wind farm would not create any long-term jobs. “At the same time, there are established businesses in this municipality who feel they would be affected negatively by this,” she said. “I think we have to listen to them.”

Before signalling his support, Councillor Robert Walker questioned Wynia about the scope of the heritage designation and the nuisance bylaw, and was told that both would likely attempt to block things that are “out of context to what occurs within the present landscape.” Before either instrument was adopted, Wynia said, there would be extensive public consultation and further debate at the Council table.

That was enough for Walker, but Councillor Shawn Davidson remained skeptical of the nuisance bylaw. Confirming that Wynia had not been able to find a similar existing bylaw anywhere in the province, Davidson said he had talked to elected representatives at several municipalities who had considered similar avenues, but had been told that the bylaws had not come to fruition because they were essentially unenforceable. “I’m afraid I can’t support something that, to me, seems like a huge waste of time.”

Supportive of the rest of Wynia’s recommendations, Davidson then made a motion to have the direction regarding the nuisance bylaw removed from the overall motion. Davidson’s motion was seconded by Councillor Bronee, but was defeated in a 5-4 vote (with Councillor Walker and Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage joining Davidson and Bronee on the yea side).
With the original motion intact, Councillor Thom Paterson was next to voice his support, stating that in his mind, no issue had been clearer in the community during his six years on Council. He also rejected the commonly held notion that the Green Energy Act has removed all municipal say when it comes to renewable energy projects. “That just makes me want to speak up louder,” he said. “In my opinion, this is what a Council does – it represents the people who elected it. We need to speak up, and we need to speak clearly.”

Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage was the lone member of Council who spoke in favour of the proposed wind farm, reading from prepared comments and stating that the wind issue had been the most divisive and personal subject she’d encountered on Council – one, she said, that would leave “a bitter legacy which will linger long after the Province makes its decision.”

Savage went on to say she believed there was a silent majority in the Township who supported “the values around” green energy, and that she would represent that group by voting against the Wynia report. “The bottom line for me is that there are no insurmountable arguments against green energy,” she said. “I cannot say I support it in principle and then find ways to oppose a project simply because I don’t want it here. If we truly are concerned for our environment, for air quality, for the exhaustion of natural resources, for our never-ending thirst for energy, then we have to do something, sometime, somewhere.”

Mayor Ken Ferguson, who had the final word before the vote, said there were too many unanswered questions regarding industrial wind turbines for them to win his support. “I’m all for change – I believe in it and I know it’s coming,” he said. “But is this it? I’m not convinced.”

With that, Council voted to approve Wynia’s report in full, with Savage and Davidson voting against it. The result was met with applause from the gallery.

As part of the resolution, Council also approved the 12 conditions put forward by Wynia that Clearview will request that the Province require of wpd should the MOE ignore the municipality’s objections and approve the Fairview Wind Farm. These include the following: that building permits be required for each turbine; that applicable development charges be paid to the Township; that security for the decommissioning of the turbines be provided to the Township; that necessary permits be required from the NVCA and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans; that easements be established and entrance permits be obtained from the Township; that a bird migration study be completed and that a commitment to appropriate bird or bat conservation funds/programs be established in the approvals process should any significant species succumb to the operation of the turbines; that funds be allocated to the Clearview Heritage Conservation Program; that wpd confirm with Transport Canada, NAV Canada and the Department of National Defense that there are no issues with the turbines’s proximity to public and private airstrips located in the Township; and that wpd set out a “municipal compensation package and/or local economic participation program that reflects an appropriate contribution to the local economy in light of the scale and range of impacts of the proposal beyond the limited construction and decommissioning periods of the project.”

That last point was the subject of a subsequent motion Monday night, put forward by Deputy Mayor Savage. With wpd aiming to submit its final Renewable Energy Application to the Ministry of the Environment in mid-September and a financial plan required as part of that submission, Savage argued that Mayor Ferguson should meet with the company in the next four to six weeks to ensure that some sort of municipal compensation or community investment is included in their plans.

Councillors Davidson and Paterson both expressed discomfort with the prospect of the Mayor asking wpd for money immediately after Council had gone public with its non-support of the company’s project, with Paterson in particular worried that it would look like the Township “is doing one thing in public, and another behind closed doors.”

Savage disagreed however, stating that Ferguson would just be doing Council’s due diligence, particularly since it had just voted to seek compensation from wpd should the Province ignore the Township’s objection to the project. She then asked for a recorded vote, and the motion passed, with only Councillors Davidson, Paterson and Preston voting against it.

Council to consider a budget/finance committee

Possibly because Council members had just spent all afternoon at the final budget workshop, the Township’s finances were at the top of everyone’s mind at Monday evening’s Council meeting.

Most interesting was a notice of motion put forth by Councillor Thom Paterson, indicating that he will bring the concept of a new budget/finance committee to Council for debate at its April 30 meeting.

According to Paterson’s proposal, the committee would be comprised of members of Council, Township staff and representation from the community. It would be a standing committee of Council, open to the public, meeting monthly and reporting to Council on a regular basis.

The committee would act on behalf of Council to provide advice and oversight on matters related to the annual budget process as well as the multi-year financial outlook of the Township.

Roles would include working closely with the Township management team to recommend annual pre-budget departmental estimates, the setting of realistic revenue projections, an overview of the economic state of the Township, the prioritization of planned capital and operating projects, the establishing of necessary contingency funding policies and the reviewing and advising on current and planned levels of service.

Responsibilities would include, but not necessarily be limited to, developing budget policies and processes, regularly monitoring and reporting on actual spending to budget, consulting with the public to obtain feedback on the type and level of services received and requested, as well as providing information on the associated costs of providing these services. As a precursor to the annual budget review process, the committee would prepare a preliminary list of tax-funded programs in consultation with the management team as well as their expected impact on the tax levy.

In accepting the notice of motion, Councillor Shawn Davidson wondered how members would be chosen from the public, as well as how much extra staff work would be required. Paterson said he had not considered a method for selecting public members, but said that if that was to be a stumbling block, he’d be happy for the committee to not include members of the public but to call on them for advice when needed.

Earlier in the meeting, Council accepted the new four-year negotiated contract for its unionized workers, but when it came time to approve the same pay increases for its non-unionized staff, which has always been Township policy, much discussion ensued. Councillor Paterson tried to persuade Council that the decision should be deferred until the new budget/finance committee, should it be created, can investigate whether automatic increases are warranted in the current economic climate. The possibility of a pay increase system based on merit was also discussed. In the end, Paterson’s deferral did not win support from Council, but when Councillor Brent Preston then moved that the union-equitable pay raise be insitituted for the period from April, 2012 to April, 2013 only at this point, with a decision on the next three years to come later, the motion passed, with only Mayor Ken Ferguson and Councillor Deb Bronnee not voting for Preston’s amendment.

Council to cover half of hall repair costs

Clearview Council agreed Monday night to contribute half the cost of bringing six of its community halls up to code, as long as the total cost doesn’t exceed $220,000. A decision on making all of the halls accessible, which the province is pushing for by 2025 and would cost upwards of $1 million, has been deferred until the Township completes its capital asset management plan later this year or early in 2014.

The future of the halls in Dunedin, Avening, Duntroon, Nottawa, Sunnidale Corners and Brentwood has been uncertain since an engineering report commissioned by Council last fall found varying degrees of structural deficiencies in the buildings, as well as the big potential price tag if they are to be made accessible. While the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act doesn’t make compliance mandatory by 2025, it’s the provincial government’s plan to update the Building Code to apply accessibility standards to all public and private sector organizations constructing new buildings or renovating existing ones.

The engineering report also recommended that the halls undergo fire and electrical safety inspections immediately to determine the scope of work that needs to be done. The results of those inspections were presented to Council Monday night. The “elephant in the room,” as Mayor Ken Ferguson called it, was addressed right off the start, with correspondence from Township Chief Building Official Scott McLeod stating that any work on the halls to fix the fire, electrical and structural deficiencies would not constitute a “substantial renovation under the Building Code,” and could therefore be done without any obligation to comply with the AODA, should the accessibility standards come into effect in the near future.

About 60 members of the public were in attendance at Monday’s meeting, including members of all six hall boards. They sat grimly as Township Transportation and Recreation Manager Steve Sage went over the fire and electrical reports for each hall and estimated the cost of correcting all of the listed problems, as well as fixing the pressing structural problems laid out in the engineering report.

The estimates were as follows: $73,000 for the Avening Community Centre ($48,500 to meet the fire code, $2,500 to meet the electrical safety code and $22,000 to fix structural deficiencies); $25,500 for the Brentwood Community Hall ($7,500 to meet the fire code and $18,000 to fix structural deficiencies); $25,500 for the Dunedin Community Hall ($17,500 to meet the fire code and $8,000 to fix structural deficiencies); $50,000 for the Nottawa Memorial Community Hall ($33,000 to meet the fire code and $17,000 to fix structural deficiencies), $37,500 for the Nottawasaga (Duntroon) Community Hall ($28,500 to meet the fire code, $2,000 to meet the electrical safety code and $7,000 to fix structural deficiencies); and $4,500 for the Sunnidale Corners Community Hall ($4,500 to meet the fire code).

The estimated grand total for short-term repairs, therefore, was $216,000. To be made accessible, another $1,011,000 would be needed ($298,000 for Avening, $60,500 for Brentwood, $135,500 for Dunedin, $200,000 for Nottawa, $187,500 for Nottawasaga and $129,500 for Sunnidale Corners).

Council heard several impassioned arguments in favour of community halls from members of the audience, most notably from Bill Hewitt of the Avening Hall Board and Marc Den Bok of the Nottawa Hall Board, each of whom spoke of their respective hall’s long history in the community, noted the importance of continuing to have meeting places like these in each of Clearview’s rural settlement areas and talked about the potential for raising the halls’ profiles – and therefore revenue – in the greater community.

Discussion among Council then centred on the long-term feasibility of the buildings, with two members of Council, Councillor Shawn Davidson and Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage, asking some tough questions about how the halls fit into the Township’s slate of priorities.

“We are blessed with a lot of meeting space in this municipality,” said Davidson, noting that in addition to the six halls in question, Clearview boasts the Station on the Green, several church halls, three Legions and two arena halls. Councillor Brent Preston, however, responded that many of the events that take place in community halls won’t migrate elsewhere if those facilities cease to exist. “It will alter the fabric of our entire community if those halls are closed,” he said.

Davidson also questioned whether the buildings themselves, regardless of their community function, are worth putting large sums of money into, particularly given the potential for an even greater price tag in the not-so-distant future. And while the accessibility requirement has no teeth at the moment, Savage noted that in most cases, provincial initiatives eventually do come to fruition.

Davidson’s final concern was one of logistics – if the short-term work needs to be done immediately to avoid the halls being shut down for fire and electrical infractions, that means the Township will have to front-end the total cost of repairs. That would leave the hall boards attempting to raise 50 per cent of the money in a situation where the work is already done. Davidson suggested it might be more difficult to encourage people to donate money given those circumstances.

The hall board representatives, however, disagreed, with Hewitt promising that Avening, who he noted was not in the habit of coming to Council “cap in hand,” would come through with the money, and Sage noting that the hall boards have a long track record of coming through on their commitments.

With that, Davidson made a motion, seconded by Councillor Deb Bronee, to have Council commit to half the cost of the short-term repairs and have the hall boards raise the rest. He included a clause, however, which generated some controversy. Rounding up the total estimated cost from $216,000 to $220,000, Davidson’s motion put a cap of $110,000 on the Township’s contribution. Sage questioned whether this was necessary, noting that both the Township’s engineering firm and he himself had had a good look at the numbers and, if anything, had estimated conservatively, but he deferred to Council on the matter.

That left Councillor Thom Paterson as the main objector to the notion of a cap, stating his opinion that the hall boards had come to the meeting prepared to raise whatever it takes to save their buildings, and that Council should meet them in the same spirit and be willing to offer the same. When Davidson characterized that as “writing a blank cheque” and questioned how fiscally responsible such a move would be, Paterson responded that the fiscal responsibility for the Township in this situation was to “spend money in a manner that is good for the community.”

Council then passed Davidson’s motion unanimously, directing staff to work with the hall boards to acquire firm quotes for the work that needs to be done.

Several Councillors noted that with the decision made, the onus is now on the hall boards and their respective communities to decide whether their halls are worth saving. Should they decide not to fundraise for the work, the halls could either be sold as-is or after the repair work is completed.

There is one more “elephant in the room,” so to speak, which may influence the decision to move forward by at least two of the hall boards. One of the failures on the fire reports was that several of the halls did not have their occupancy loads posted. In the absence of that information, Clearview Fire Chief Bob McKean has calculated new occupancy loads for the six buildings. The Avening Hall and the Sunnidale Corners Community Centre now have upstairs capacities of 107 and 76 persons respectively – barely half of what their boards previously understood to be their limits.

Representatives of both hall boards noted Monday night that their abilities to raise money for ongoing operating costs, let alone capital repairs, would be seriously hampered if the new numbers were to remain in effect. While McKean defended his calculations on Monday night, he told the Echo on Tuesday that he was willing to work with the hall boards to try to find a solution to the problem.

Council to debate its willingness to host wind turbines

Councillor Thom Paterson signalled another move in the local maneouvering against wind turbines Monday night, giving Council notice that he intends to bring a motion forward that would have Clearview Township declare itself an unwilling host for industrial wind farms.

Being just a notice of motion at this point, Paterson’s announcement occurred without any discussion Monday night, but he later explained to the Echo that the move was inspired by new Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Throne Speech, which stated that “our economy can benefit from [things such as wind farms], but only if we have willing hosts.”

“If adopted,” Paterson told the Echo in an email, “this motion will express our appreciation to Premier Wynne for listening to rural municipalities such as Clearview who have voiced consistent and sustained concerns with current policies related specifically to Industrial Wind Turbine project application and approvals.”

It will also, he said, request such things as greater municipal planning authority over wind applications and greater separation from residences and infrastructure such as airports, and reiterate Clearview’s support for a moratorium on all wind approvals until the completion of an ongoing Health Canada study on the effects of living in close proximity to wind turbines.

“Based on the consistent position of the Township of Clearview as well as the input received from the community regarding Industrial Wind Turbines,” Paterson said, his motion will conclude that Clearview is an unwilling host for wind projects.

With Paterson planning to be absent from the next Council meeting on Monday, May 27, he told his colleagues that he will table the motion for debate on Monday, June 10.

In several different resolutions, Clearview has previously voiced its concerns about the Green Energy Act’s lack of municipal authority, called for a moratorium on approvals until the results of the Health Canada study are known, and contemplated a series of policy changes that would seriously hinder the ability of wind developers to build within the municipality.

2013 Budget Gets Official Nod

Council officially adopted its 2013 budget Monday night and passed a bylaw to set this year’s tax rate.

With some minor amendments since the final budget workshop, including the insertion of the Stayner PARC grant and the renovations to the community halls, the increase to residents’ 2013 tax bill now stands at 2 per cent overall. That increase incorporates a 0.14 per cent increase in OPP costs, a 0.64 per cent decrease in the Simcoe County levy, a 4.07 per cent decrease in the Education levy and a 7.44 per cent increase in Clearview Township’s portion.

With the average home in Clearview valued at $250,750, the overall tax bill on that residence will increase from $2,743 in 2012 to $2,800 in 2013. Clearview Township will collect $1,186 of that total for itself this year, compared to $1,104 last year.

Councillor Thom Paterson was the only member of Council to vote against the budget, citing his continued disappointment that the budget process does not include a more comprehensive departmental review, as well as a multi-year outlook.

“I also think there is a disregard for the weakness in the local economy, as well as the stalled housing market,” said Paterson. “For those reasons, I cannot support a budget that includes a 7.44 per cent increase in Clearview Township spending.”

Crossing Guard Review

Responding to previous direction from Council, Township Senior Bylaw Officer Phil Snape brought a new Crossing Guard Policy to Council Monday night, and will now proceed to evaluate the Township’s four existing guided crossings and five potential new ones to see where crossing guards are most warranted.

Clearview Township currently operates four school crossings, in Creemore at the intersection of Mill and Caroline Streets, and in Stayner at the intersection of William and Oak Streets, the intersection of Highway 26 and North Street, and on Locke Avenue.

Council has identified five potential new sites: two in Creemore, at Collingwood and Johnston Streets and at County Road 9 and Jardine Crescent; one in New Lowell at County Road 9 and Lamers Road; one in Nottawa at County Road 124 and Batteaux Road; and one in Stayner at County Road 42 and William Street.

According to the new policy, a crossing guard is warranted if there are less than four safe gaps in traffic in 50 per cent of several five-minute timed intervals on a road having a posted speed limit of not more than 60 kilometres per hour, and the number of students crossing the road meets or exceeds 10 elementary school children. If there are slightly more than four safe gaps but student-vehicle conflict has been observed, an intersection can also qualify.

Once Snape is finished evaluating the nine crossing sites, Council will have the final say on where crossing guards are assigned. Currently, the Creemore crossing pays one hour a day and is usually difficult to fill when someone leaves. The Stayner crossings pay two hours a day and are easier to fill. The Township currently employs four permanent and three spare crossing guards.

Council urged to “sharpen their pencils”

About 25 people sat in the gallery during Monday’s public meeting on the 2013 Clearview Township budget, and seven of them stood to address Council on what, at this point, could be a 9.53-per-cent increase in the Township levy and a 4.02 per cent overall tax increase.

Of the seven ratepayers who spoke, four characterized the proposed tax increase as too high or unsustainable, and appealed to Council members to “sharpen their pencils” and search for ways to bring it down. One person specifically asked for Council to cut services to residents in order to reduce the level of taxation.

One person complimented Council on its “fiscally responsible” move to put an extra $50,000 each into reserves for bridge construction, library construction and community hall upgrades, despite the fact the decision adds 1.5 per cent to the Township levy. Other reserves have been increased as well, with a total increase in savings of $215,000. There was, however, criticism from two audience members regarding the $50,000 currently budgeted for a Township branding exercise. “I just don’t know what we’re getting for that,” said Bob Charleton.

The $50,000 associated with the branding exercise is part of $483,634 in extra operating funds being required for the administration department, accounting for 4.84 per cent of the 9.53 per cent municipal levy increase. Salaries, wages and benefits have increased $121,241, though that is attributed to an extra month of salary for the Clerk’s position so that Bob Campbell can train his replacement, and the conversion of the Human Resources manager position from contracted services, where it was in last year’s budget, to salaries. Even with that adjustment, however, the budget for contracted services is up over $200,000, with money earmarked for the branding exercise ($50,000), an update of the development charges study ($40,000), an energy management program ($35,000, with predicted payback in energy savings in future years) and a pay equity review ($30,000).

Also affecting the administration budget is a reduction in the annual Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund grant, the Province’s main transfer payment to municipalities, from $1.5 million to $1.404 million. This source of revenue is scheduled to decline even further in coming years as the Province tightens its purse strings.

In total, Clearview Township’s 2013 budget currently stands at $65,709,928, with $22.4 million going to operating expenses and $45.3 million going to capital expenses.

One comment from the public that generated some discussion came from Ingrid Schilling, who questioned why the Township does its budgeting based on last year’s budgeted numbers, as opposed to last year’s actual numbers, as is done in the private sector. The answer from Treasurer Edward Henley was that at this point, the Township only has actual numbers up until November. To wait for final audited numbers for 2012 would mean that the budget could not be passed until well into the summer.

At the end of the meeting, Councillor Thom Paterson made another plea to Council to focus on efficiencies in order to bring spending down.

“We have an opportunity to do something this year, and we’re not fully embracing it yet,” he said. “We’ve done some good investment work, and we’re in a good position to finally realize some growth. The problem is, we’re still spending at a much faster rate than we bring in revenue.”

Members of Council know how to manage their household finances, he said – they just need to find the political will to do the same with the Township’s spending.

Council will hold one more budget workshop, at 12:30 pm on Monday, March 4, and hopes to have a final budget ready for voting at the March 25 Council meeting.

Full budget documents can be found online here.

Couple finds new home at Curiosity House Books

Curiosity House Books has new owners.

Rina Barone and Chris Dunk have taken over the Creemore bookstore as of today, Oct. 31.

The couple has purchased the business from Ralph Hicks, who has owned it for two years.

“We didn’t want to see it close. We thought we could continue to do what Ralph has done,” said Dunk.

“We feel like we’re stewards of the bookstore because it’s been in so many hands,” he said acknowledging the contributions of those who started the business and managed it over the years. Now the bookstore is celebrating its 20th anniversary in the spring.

There aren’t any big changes planned for the store in the immediate future.

Barone commended the talented staff who will remain working at the store, including former manager Jennifer Hubbs who will continue to plan events that have been known to attract well-known authors to the area.

Exhibitions of artwork will also continue with Martha Bull in the month of November.

Barone said the store will also continue to support local authors and be engaged in the community.

Having visited the area for most of their lives, Barone and Dunk purchased a house in Lavender more than three years ago with the intention of one day making it their primary residence.

In June they made the move from Toronto and in the summer started talking with Hicks about purchasing the bookstore.

“It’s not the impossible dream but a far fetched dream, we always thought it would be great to have a bookstore,” said Barone.

The couple has some experience in retail but they are new to the bookstore business. Barone has a journalism background and spent most of her career working in television. Dunk has worked as a contractor.

They plan to keep a steady stream of new stock at the store and Barone said books can be ordered in if they aren’t in stock. She said they are open to suggestions.

The bookstore hosts a book club the first Wednesday of each month and can order books for other book clubs.

“The support from the community has been great,” said Barone.

People are invited to come to the store Sunday to meet the new owners. An open house will take place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

Curiosity House Books is organizing two events in November.

Children’s author Jon Klassen will be at the Collingwood Public Library on Monday, Nov. 17 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. promoting his new book Sam and Dave Dig a Hole. Admission is free but reservations are required by calling the bookstore at 705-466-3400 or the library at 705-445-1571.

Authors Michael Winter and Linden MacIntyre will be at Avening Hall on Monday, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $20 ($10 for students and members of the armed forces) and are available at the bookstore and online at ticketscene.ca.

Curiosity House Books is located at 178 Mill St.

Creedan Valley employees picket over staffing changes

Several front line employees of Leisureworld Creedan Valley staged an information picket line Tuesday to spread the word about staffing changes scheduled to take place on September 13 at the extended care facility.

On that date, Creedan Valley’s Restorative Care Program will be cancelled, and the seven staff members who deliver that service will be reassigned to other jobs within the facility. In addition, there are plans to cut four Personal Support Worker positions, with those people also moving to other roles.

The Restorative Care Program is a fairly rare one among nursing homes, and according to the picketing workers it is Creedan Valley’s “jewel in the crown,” a service that attracts many families to the facility. The program aims to help restore residents’ independence and self-esteem, through avenues like exercise, physiotherapy and foot care.

“It is baffling to us that management would cut off our signature program,” said Jodi Hawthorne, a Creedan Valley staff member and president of CUPE local 3114.
While no jobs are set to be lost when the changes come into effect, it’s the position of CUPE that residents of the facility will suffer from the loss of the Restorative Care Program. Employees in that program are also frequently called upon to cover other areas when the facility is short-staffed, an option that will no longer be available according to Hawthorne.

“Our workload continues to increase with not enough time in the day to perform all duties,” she said. “The home is understaffed because of retention problems due mainly to workload and lack of regular full-time positions. We have offered management different solutions to resolve some of the challenges, but they have not been receptive to our input.”

Leisureworld regional vice-president Diane Green and vice-president of human resources Josephine Deslauriers were in town Tuesday to take part in celebrations to mark Creedan Valley’s 40th anniversary, which were taking place at the same time as the picket line. When asked about the employee’s concerns, they promised that the organizational changes would not result in any decrease in services for residents.

“Restorative Care is not being eliminated, it is just going to be delivered through a new model,” said Green. Leisureworld is now contracting out physiotherapy services, and the other aspects of the program – daily walking exercise and personal grooming among them – will now be taken care of on a one-on-one basis by Personal Support Workers.

That method is the new standard model of care that’s being funded by the Ontario government, said Green, and Leisureworld is in the process of switching over all of its facilities to reflect that.

“This is an example of change putting people on edge,” said Deslauriers. “We are absolutely committed to maintaining the level of safe, quality care that our residents are accustomed to.”

Because workers at long-term care facilities are considered providers of essential services under the province’s Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act, the Creedan Valley employees are prohibited from staging an actual strike. Hawthorne did say that if management doesn’t change its plans, another information picket line can be expected before the September 13 date.

Such a move would have the support of administration – “They are within their rights to do what they’re doing,” said Deslauriers – but both representatives of Leisureworld said it was unlikely the company’s plans would change at this point.

Creedan Valley gets iced for one of their own

Leisureworld Creedan Valley staff raised more than $3,000 for fellow employee Debbie Armstrong and her husband Ken Armstrong.
Ken was diagnosed with ALS in June.
“It’s an ugly disease but it’s because of things like this that we are able to get through. These people are amazing,” said Ken.
The money is being donated directly to the Angus couple. Debbie has been working as a personal support worker at Creedan Valley for 29 years.
“It’s great that the ice bucket challenge is raising funds and awareness around the world and we felt it was important to support those in our own community too. So we decided to hold this event for Debbie and Ken to help them with things like medical appointments and equipment,” said Creedan Valley director of resident programing and admissions Mary Jane Watson.
Staff collected pledges, held draws, sold ribbons and T-shirts. The right to be the one to dump the ice water on one of their fellow employee’s head went to the highest bidder.
Draw prizes and ice were donated by local businesses.
The donation includes a cheque for $1,000 from the employees’ union.
As a group, the eight participants challenged all of the other Leisureworld homes.

Creemore apartment project deadline extended

Wendy Schellenberg said a deadline to purchase a Francis Street property eyed for seniors’ apartments has been extended.

“We have a couple of irons in the fire,” she said, adding that some people have come forward with offers to invest and several avenues are being explored.

Shellenberg is among those working to build 14-16 rental units for seniors that would be owned by a not-for-profit organization.

She said they now know the enthusiasm is there but it will take time to bring the project to fruition.

“The Gordons have generously extended the deadline until July 6,” said Schellenberg. She said it is the preferred location but it’s not the only possibility.

“In my heart, I know it is going to happen somewhere.”

Anyone interested in offering financial contributions, expertise and volunteer services is welcome to call Schellenberg at 705-466-5221.

Creemore artist shows array of this year’s work

An array of art by Ruth Ann Pearce is on display in the gallery at Curiosity House Books this month.

Pearce is showing a range of works in three sets, each with a different style. From her artistic roots in high realism pencil drawings to stylized ink drawings and fully digital creations, the 46 pieces in Array are the product of the past year’s work for the Creemore based artist.

Pearce said realism was the focus of her studies at university.

“It wasn’t until after university that I started experimenting with inks and graphics,” said Pearce. She said she is also influenced by her husband, graphic designer Michael L’Ecuyer, and has been branching out into illustration and graphic design.

Together, the couple established a business in Creemore five years ago named coloveration.

As Pearce and L’Ecuyer were expecting their first child, Pearce worked away at creating an alphabet with digital bird illustrations for their son’s room. The birds, one for each letter of the alphabet, are included in the show as Bird Type, but without the letters. The images proved to be very popular with several of the pieces selling in the first hour of the show.

Pearce said she began drawing with ink, as shown in the Petite Fruit and Petite Vegetable series, as a way of relaxing.

“My [realism] work is so highly detailed that it’s painstaking,” she said. “I have to build covers for every piece that I do because if dust lands on it, it could mess up my entire piece. You have to work in a very sterile environment for my high realism stuff and I wanted to counteract that part of my brain and relax a little bit and be able to make mistakes and have fun with ink dropping all over the place and getting dirty.”

The realistic drawings of wildlife in the Forest Shadow series are created in layers using coloured pencils. Done completely by hand, each piece takes 60-70 hours, building layers of colour in sections from lightest to darkest.

The show continues until August 30.

Creemore artist’s community portrait project receives Kemp award

Sara Sniderhan is the recipient of this year’s Robert G. Kemp Arts Award.

The Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts has awarded $5,000 to Sniderhan’s portrait project proposal.

The project will result in a book containing 10 portraits of life-long area residents and their stories.

Sniderhan will work with nine other artists and community partners to create the portraits and gather the stories.

Sniderhan recently moved to the area from Toronto. Her work has been shown across Canada and the United States and one of her paintings is included in the National Portrait Gallery of Canada’s permanent collection. She recently curated the Inspired show for Creemore Festival of the Arts.

“It’s an exciting prospect to jump right in and do work in the community,” said Sniderhan who is fairly new to the Creemore area. “I respect the work Robert Kemp did, how integrated he was in the community. I find it very inspiring and it’s nice that the award is in his name.”

Robert was a celebrated local artist who did portraits of many of the long-time residents of Clearview, specifically Duntroon.

When he died 25 years ago, said his widow Barb Kemp, an award was created in his honour for Georgian Triangle artists.

Sniderhan’s portrait project was chosen out of six proposals because of its scope and community impact, said Barb.

“It has to benefit the community,” she said. “It is given to Sara as the curator to produce a book and a show. It’s a big undertaking for her but she has quite a few partners.”

Sniderhan is working with Purple Hills Arts and Heritage Society, The Creemore Echo and Clearview Community Radio.

Money was initially raised for the award through the sale of a book of Robert’s work published by the foundation, in addition to an auction of some of his paintings and prints.

Two years ago, an anonymous donor added to the fund, allowing for the award to be increased to $5,000 and sustaining it well into the next decade.

Over the years, 22 local artists have received the award.

“It’s phenomenal to see what has happened to some of these people,” said Barb. “Some of the dreams and projects didn’t quite work but on the whole it’s just been amazing.”

It will be launched next October during the Creemore Festival of the Arts and Small Halls Festival.

Creemore Atoms are OMHA Champs

The Creemore Valley Hawks Atom Rep Team completed an absolutely dominant season last Friday by claiming the OMHA Atom D championship. The team, sponsored by Talbot Carpentry, went undefeated in the regular season with a record of 20 wins, 0 losses and 0 ties. Their playoff record was almost as good, finishing with 12 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie. Celebrating after their final win against Woodville are  Tyler Bryan, Ben Carter, Ryan Groves, Zac Hayward, Cody Marles,  Justin Morby, Melissa Morby (assistant trainer), Garet McMahon, George Mikaczo (manager), Jordan Carruthers, Paul Carruthers (head coach), Gavin Mikaczo, Jon Greer, Shawn Marles (assistant coach), Ryan Patton, Xander Watt and Dave Patton (trainer). To see pictures of the team taking its traditional victory ride down Mill Street in the old fire wagon, click HERE.

Creemore based Tin Roof Global gets federal funding

Bryan Davies photo: Tin Roof Global executive director John Millar shows MP Kellie Leitch some of the hands-on education tools we put in the hands of children in First Nations communities. These battery-powered microscopes are used to take zooplankton samples from remote lakes and examine the live specimens with students in the field.

Simcoe-Grey MP Kellie Leitch was in Creemore June 20 to announce $88,500 in funding for Tin Roof Global.

The Creemore-based NGO received $12,000 through the Science Horizons and $76,500 through the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada PromoScience Fund.

The $12,000 will be used to pay an intern to work in Temagami First Nation, educating school aged First Nations youth about water science. The aim of the project is to develop professional and study skills among high school graduates from First Nations communities.

The $76,500 is to be disbursed over the next three years, to support future work with indigenous communities experiencing water challenges across Canada.

One-in-five First Nations communities in Canada are under a boil-water advisory.

Tin Roof Global executive director John Millar said the money will be used in all aspects of delivering the program, including equipment, staff, travel and research costs.

“It allows us to meet a really big demand,” said Millar.

He said First Nations communities are very anxious to help bring the programs to their communities.

“The needs of the program versus the resources that we have to meet the needs, there’s a pretty big disparity there so it gets us closer,” said Millar.

“Tin Roof Global is committed to the future development of not only water sciences but educating our youth,” said Leitch. “This funding will help provide First Nations youth hands-on science based activities in class and in a field setting as well”.

Creemore BIA launches billboard slogan contest

The Creemore BIA wants to hear from people what they think would catch the attention of potential visitors.

The committee has launched a contest asking people to submit slogans that encapsulate Creemore’s character. The winning slogan, or two or possibly three, will be posted on the BIA’s two existing billboards on Airport Road, one just south of 6/7 Sideroad and one at County Road 21.

The BIA’s new president,

Elise Beauregard, said the community should be involved in creating a slogan because they hear from their friends and family who are visiting what makes Creemore worth a return visit, aside from their loved ones, or a recommended destination.

Beauregard said they are looking for slogans that sum up the Creemore experience as a whole but they don’t have to be polished, people are welcome to submit concepts, even bullet points, that can be wordsmithed afterwards.

The deadline for submissions is Sept. 11 and then the community will be invited to vote for their favourite.

Prizes will be awarded to the top three, and depending on the submissions, the winner and possibly the second place winner will go on the billboards.

Beauregard said if they get lots of good submissions there is a chance they could rent more billboard space to post a third.

People of all ages are encouraged to participate. Submit ideas by e-mail to marketing@experiencecreemore.com or write your slogan on the blank billboard (above) and drop it off at The Creemore Echo, located at 3 Caroline St. W.

The BIA is also installing photo frames in town this week, in time for the Copper Kettle Festival, designed so people take photos of each other or selfies and post them to social media with #creemoreontario.

The Creemore BIA – Business Improvement Area – is designated by the municipality to oversee the improvement, beautification and maintenance of municipally owned land, buildings and structures in the area beyond that provided at the expense of the municipality generally and to promote the area as a business or shopping area.

Creemore Big Heart Days event schedule

Creemore Big Heart Days is coming up this weekend. There will be many outdoor activities to enjoy on Mill Street this Saturday, Feb. 14. Local restaurants will be serving up tantalizing treats and local businesses are making special offerings, all with a Valentine’s theme.

Feb. 14-16 – Creemore Big Heart Days schedule of events 

Beginning at 8 a.m., Valentine’s Breakfast at Affairs Bakery

Beginning at 9 a.m., Pancake Breakfast at The Bank Café

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. – Heart-Shaped Brownies at The 100 Mile Store

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Heart-Shaped Balloons & Balloon Animals by darci-que at Hillview Cellars Winery

9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Visit with Geronimo Stilton at Curiosity House Books

9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Pilates Class at The Sanctuary

10 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Valentine’s Heart Design Face Painting at Home Hardware

10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Brunch, Hot Cocoa with Chocolate-Covered Marshmallow Hearts, Famous CK Fries in a Cone with Flavoured Mayos and Warming Station at Creemore Kitchen

10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Roses, Apple Cider and Warming Station at Flowers by MS Design

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Beer Tasting and Beer Chocolate at Creemore Springs Brewery

11 a.m. Opening Ceremony on Mill Street

11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Children’s Market at Cardboard Castles

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Valentine’s Day Story Time and Crafts with Carolyn Morris at Curiosity House Books

11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Passport to Creemore activities on Mill Street: S’mores, Warming Station, Graffiti Ice Wall, Pin the Nose on the Snowman, Tic Tac Snow, Crafts Tent, Games Tent

Win a $50 gift certificate to a Creemore store or restaurant at Re/Max Creemore Hills

11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Showcase of Health & Wellness in Creemore: Tea from Clearview Tea Company at The Sanctuary

Lunchtime:

Valentine’s Lunch Featuring Heart-Shaped Ravioli at Affairs Bakery

Henry’s Renowned Chili at Pizza Perfect

Valentine’s Lunch at Chez Michel

Brunch at Creemore Kitchen

Lunch at The Old Mill House Pub

Beef Stew at Life’s A Slice

Noon to 1 p.m., Mocktails served at Creemore General Store

Noon to 1 p.m., Social Media Trivia Question facebook.com/CreemoreOntario

1 p.m. start, Kids’ Three-Legged Race on Mill Street

2 p.m. start, Kids’ Snowball Race on Mill Street

2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Horse-Drawn Sleigh Rides from Victorian Values

4 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., Yoga Class at The Sanctuary

7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Outdoor Venue Including Food and Bar, Live Music by “PJ & Oli” at Creemore Kitchen.

On Monday, Feb. 16, there will be free skating at the Creemore Arena from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

 

Creemore Big Heart Days planned for Family Day weekend

Big Heart Days, being organized by the Business Improvement Area (BIA) committee, will take place in Creemore on Feb. 14-16.

The event takes its name from the Gaelic roots of Creemore, meaning big heart, and takes place on Valentine’s Day weekend.

Most of the events will happen on Mill Street on Saturday, Feb. 14.

The BIA is also encouraging main street businesses to plan for something special to offer people during the event.

Organizers are looking for volunteers to help plan and run the events. Anyone interested in getting involved is asked to e-mail creemorebigheartdays@gmail.com.

Creemore Blooms garden contest

Open your garden gates! The Creemore Blooms contest returns for the second year, with a few changes this time around.

This year the judges will be marking back gardens, unlike last year which focused on front gardens.

“We had trouble getting judges to drive around for two-and-a-half hours in the village,” said June Reed, Chairperson of Creemore Blooms, which puts on the event.

“If you do the front, then the problem is the same people will likely win, so this year we are doing back gardens. Next year it might be something else.”

To get into the back gardens for judging, the Horticultural Society requires entrants to fill out an application form.

Entry is open to residents of the village of Creemore, excluding Board Members of the Creemore Horticultural Society.

Gardens must be maintained by the resident of the property. Those that are professionally designed, constructed or maintained are not permitted in the competition.

Applications will be accepted at The Creemore Echo (3 Caroline Street West), the Creemore Branch of the Clearview Public Library and at the Horticultural Society’s stall at the Farmers’ Market (Saturdays from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm) until Friday, June 20.

From Wednesday, July 2 to Saturday, July 5, contest judges will visit the back gardens of registered contestants.

They will rate the garden using criteria that includes use of colour, shape and texture; harmony and balance; good selection of plant material; and use of focal point.

Judges will name five winners and five honourable mentions. The prize will be membership to the Creemore Horticultural Society.

Creemore Blooms garden contest
Wednesday, July 2 to Saturday, July 5
Pick up an application form at The Creemore Echo until Friday, June 20
www.chs.gardenontario.org/application.htm

Creemore blooms in June

The Creemore Horticultural Society is sending a crew around town at the end of June to check out the talents of local gardeners.

Creemore gardeners are encouraged to make sure their beds are looking their best for the third annual Creemore Blooms.

From June 22-26, a panel of three independent assessors will pick the best front gardens based on curb appeal, maintenance, use of colour, shape and texture, balance, selection and use of a focal point. Extra points will be awarded for those gardens that complement the style of the home.

There is no need to enter the contest, all of Creemore’s gardens will be assessed in the first round.

Prior to the final judging, members of the Horticultural Society will create a long list of Creemore’s top 15 gardens. Those gardeners will be asked permission for the judges to go onto the property if necessary.

The top five gardens will be announced and the gardeners will be presented stakes to display.

Creemore Blooms names top 5 gardens

The Creemore Horticultural Society has announced the top five local gardens as chosen by Creemore Blooms judges.

In no particular order, the winners are Catharine Sumner, Pat and Chris Raible, Maggie Sears, Bob Ransier and Cheryl Miller.

The winning gardens are located at 31 Wellington St. E, 122 Collingwood St., 56 George St., 2889 Fairgrounds Rd. and 17 Wellington St. W.

A panel of three independent assessors toured the Creemore area last month and picked the best front gardens based on curb appeal, maintenance, use of colour, shape and texture, balance, selection, use of a focal point and style.

Winners were presented stakes to display in their gardens.

Creemore Blooms top gardens

The Creemore Horticultural Society’s inaugural Creemore Blooms contest was held last week, and five gardens were deemed worthy of note and commendation. In no particular order, the winners are (pictured below) 122 Collingwood Street, 22 Francis Street, 16 Jardine Crescent, 7632 County Road 9 and 7612 County Road 9.

In total, 53 gardens were deemed worthy of assessment by three independent judges, who viewed every garden in Creemore.

In addition to the aforementioned winners, five gardens were singled out for “honourable mention.” They are, in no particular order, 24 Elizabeth Street East, 31 Elizabeth Street East, 4 George Street, 62 George Street and 224 Mill Street.

Our congratulations to all of the winning gardeners.

122 Collingwood Street

122 Collingwood Street

22 Francis Street

22 Francis Street

16 Jardine Crescent

16 Jardine Crescent

7632 County Road 9

7632 County Road 9

7612 County Road 9

7612 County Road 9

Creemore Cadet heads to U.K.

A Creemore Cadet has earned a position on the Royal Canadian Army Cadet National Rifle Team.

At the end of June, Cadet Sergeant Cole McArthur, 15, will travel to Bisley, U.K. to compete against hundreds of other individuals and teams at the international level for large bore marksmanship shooting.

Cole, who is a member of the 1944 E. M. E. Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps, is one of 18 Cadets chosen from across Canada.

“I’m looking forward to the matches in England; it will be a new level of competition,” said Cole.

He developed his skills during past summers training at the Connaught National Army Cadet Summer Training Centre in Ottawa.

Creemore Choral Festival gets start with June 13 concert

Alex Miller, a member of the St. Paul’s Anglican Church choir, has a dream of bringing more choral music to his hometown.

Miller, who grew up in Creemore and still owns a local farm, said he likes the idea of bringing choral music to the area to enhance the village experience.

“We see this festival as a way to bring more music to Creemore,” said Miller.

The choir of St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Toronto has visited Creemore each fall for the past three years singing Evensong at St. Luke’s Anglican Church. St. Paul’s Choir is one of Toronto’s top church choirs with a core of professional singers leading a talented group of volunteer choristers.

Many of those singers, and others, will form the Creemore Choral Festival Singers during a June 13 performance at St. John’s United Church.

The Creemore Choral Festival Singers will be directed by Thomas Bell, who is also the musical director of the St. Paul’s choir.

Miller said he and Bell came up with the concept for the festival with some encouragement from fellow choir members.

He said the idea bubbled up over drinks at the end of last year’s season and reminiscing about how much the choir had enjoyed coming to Creemore.

The idea of a weekend-long choral music was born but with tight timelines, organizers decided to start with a concert this year and expand on programming for next year.

“We’d like to see more people involved in choral singing, in schools, perhaps strengthen the church choirs. People need to get introduced in choral singing… the reality is many people do have the raw talent they just need the training,” said Miller. 

Bell is also artistic director and founder of the Aslan Boys Choir and teaches music at the Toronto French School. 

Bell studied music at Durham University, continuing his instrumental studies with teachers from the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Northern Sinfonia of England. He later taught music at schools in Oxford and London. Since moving to Toronto in 1992, Bell has directed many professional and amateur choirs, including the 150-voice Mississauga Children’s Choir. Touring internationally, the choir won many awards, including the CBC choral competition.

The first performance of the Creemore Choral Festival presents works by composer George Frederick Handel, including the Coronation Anthems, written in 1727 for the coronation of King George II. These works have been performed at every British coronation since their first stirring performance in Westminster Abbey. The concert begins with one of Handel’s most famous anthems, Zadok the Priest, and concludes with the perennially popular Halleluia Chorus.

The performance will also include The Festival Orchestra and solos by soprano Claire de Sévigné and tenor Stephen McClare.

The inaugural Creemore Choral Festival, on Saturday, June 13, starts at 7:30 p.m.

General admission costs $20, reserved seating costs $30 and students and seniors are admitted for $10. For more information and tickets, visit creemorechoralfestival.ca. Tickets are also available at Curiosity House Books.

Creemore Clams victorious

On Saturday, Sept. 6, the ladies concluded their Slo-Pitch season with an all day tournament.

The weather cooperated and the day was perfect, especially for the Creemore Clams who went undefeated for the day and ending the day defeating See You Next Thursday by one run.

In the consolation final between the Creemore Springs and the Slo Pokes with Slo Pokes winning.

Everyone had a great day and lots of fun and can’t wait till next May for the season to begin.

Team members: Kelly Pirk (back row, from left), Brooke Fraser, Elaine White, Kristen McGregor. Amanda Santia (middle row, from left), Jamie McKeen, Tammy Robinson, Jen Lack, Laura Mann. Monica Kinghan (front row, from left), Michelle Lemmon, Joyce Clement, Sara More and Helen Chung. Missing: Lee Ann Trott.

Creemore Classic celebrates hockey

The area’s young hockey players will face off at the Creemore Winter Classic Sunday.

The event takes place at the outdoor rink at Station on the Green, beginning at 1 p.m.

Everyone is invited to don their favourite hockey sweater and bring their skates to take part in an event modeled after the popular NHL game played outdoors annually.

Curiosity House Books is organizing the event around a visit from Stephen Smith, author of Puckstruck: Distracted, Delighted and Distressed by Canada’s Hockey Obsession, who will be visiting the bookstore on Saturday and attending the Sunday event.

Smith will be signing books at the bookstore from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and will be reading from Puckstruck on Sunday. The book was long-listed for the 2015 RBC Taylor Prize.

The winner of the bookstore’s hockey sweater contest will be announced at the event and will be invited to drop the puck for a game between Creemore Minor Hockey players aged 3-5.

“The Classic is really about us as a community coming together to celebrate our favourite national sport, whether as a fan or a player. We have great hockey teams and great hockey families and it’s a good opportunity to have the community engage with the sport for those of us who aren’t directly involved with hockey and to take it outside the arena,” said Curiosity House Books owner Rina Barone.

“We’re hoping it will take and that we can continue the tradition each year adding on to it so more players and teams can be involved.”

Affairs Bakery will be providing free hot chocolate for children and selling hot beverages and treats.

Creemore co-op shop, home for area artisans and collectors

The Creemore Shop and Co-op is a mix of art gallery and carefully curated flea market.

Its treasures are too many to name but each of the vendors bring their creativity to their assigned nook.

There are currently 10 partners peddling their wares out of the shop that is structured as a cooperative. The business was established in the fall by Alicia Lawson and Ashley Doucette. Instead of setting up as a consignment shop, they decided to bring in vendors who would share in the monthly rent.

Lawson, a photographer, was selling her work out of the back room at My Pullover when it closed. She wanted to stay in the same location, at 145 Mill Street, but needed financial partners. She partnered with Doucette, who sells hand-painted furniture and crocheted items, and went about recruiting other vendors.

Lawson said there was a high turnover at first but this spring, things stabilized with 10 core vendors selling vintage home décor and clothing, paintings, jewellery, wood carvings, sewing and furnishings made from reclaimed wood. The vendors make their own products within a fairly local area.

When Lawson moved back home to Creemore after graduating from college a few years ago she joined a co-op in Collingwood. She said the members bounced ideas off of each other and others acted as mentors.

“It was a great support system and this is a throw back to that,” said Lawson. “It allows people to have a storefront without consignment fees… When you are selling on your own it can be a bit discouraging.”

New vendors are now being added and on weekends in the summer months, the co-op will open up an outdoor market space beside the shop.

For more information about vendor space inside the shop or in the new outdoor market, e-mail mill.street.mashup@gmail.com or call 705-532-4716.

Creemore Community Christmas Dinner moves to bigger venue

A CD of Christmas music performed by area musicians is in the works.

The recording is a project of those who help pull together the annual Creemore Community Christmas Dinner.

For several years the Christmas Day dinner has included live entertainment by the Wipper family and other performers. This year, the Wippers brought those performers into their studio, just outside of Creemore, for a recording session. All profits from the sale of the CDs, entitled Christmas in the Valley, will go to support the dinner.

David and Hazel Wipper are joined by their daughter Karina, Ken Robertson, Tim Armour, Jim Fraser from the Beinn Gorm Highlanders, John Boswell, Mike McDonald, Jeff Williams, Neil and Dawn Van Alstine.

Students at Hummingbird Montessori, who study with Hazel Wipper, also sing on a few tracks.

Diane McKay, the coordinator of the community dinner, said it is hoped the CDs will be ready by the Christmas in the Valley celebrations Dec. 5 and 6.

The dinner, now in its 13th year, is free and open to everyone.

McKay said it has grown from 20 people to more than 150, so for the first time this year, the dinner is moving to the Creemore Legion.

She said it all started as a community effort to provide a place at the Christmas dinner table for those who had nowhere else to go.

“It’s an opportunity for everyone in Creemore to share in the experience of the traditional Christmas dinner,” said McKay.

“There are lots of reasons why people are alone at Christmas. Their children may be away at school or there has been a break up in the family.”

The event has evolved over the years to provide hot meals to those who can’t get out of the house, and their caregivers.

Volunteers do prep work on Christmas Eve day and the cooks, coordinated by head cook Jim Henderson, do the rest on Christmas day in order to serve a dinner of turkey and ham with all the fixings.

In past years, gifts have been given out to everyone in attendance.

McKay said the committee this year decided that because of the increase in attendees and because some people have indicated they don’t really need gifts they will be reserved for the people in nursing homes, children and those in need.

Organizers rely on donations for the food and gifts. She said many local farmers and businesses donate and Village Builders is the corporate sponsor.

McKay and her team want to make sure that everyone has a place to be on Christmas.

“We want to let them know the community is thinking about them,” she said.

Anyone wishing to attend is asked to reserve a seat by Dec. 23. Admission is a donation of a non-perishable food item for the food bank.

It takes about 50 volunteers to make the event happen and McKay notes, the volunteers are well fed.

People are welcome to donate their unused turkey bucks at the checkout at the Creemore Foodland.

McKay gets a lot of help from the event’s organizing committee including her husband Brian, Jim Henderson, Tim Armour, Dianne Kelly, Kathy Meeser, Ken Robertson, Natalie Seltzer, Ken Thornton, Gertrude King and David, Hazel and Karina Wipper.

For more information, to volunteer, donate and to reserve a spot at the dinner, call the McKays at 705-466-3126 or e-mail diane.9lives@yahoo.ca.

Monetary donations are accepted at the TD Bank trust account 0330 5202657.

Christmas in the Valley CDs will be sold for $15 each.

Creemore Echo launches annual toy, food drive

The Creemore Echo is once again holding its annual food and toy drive.

The Echo is now collecting non-perishable food items, unwrapped toys for all age groups, cash and grocery store gift cards to be distributed through the Salvation Army and the Clearview-Stayner Food Bank.

“As the community newspaper, it’s our way of helping the community by being the local drop off spot for holiday donations,” said Echo office manager Georgi Denison.

Bring all donations to the office, located at 3 Caroline St. W., during regular business hours.

The Echo has been collecting items for those in need since the newspaper began publishing in 2001.

Creemore Echo nominated for awards

The Creemore Echo has been nominated for two Better Newspaper Competition Awards by the Ontario Community Newspaper Association.

The Creemore Echo is a finalist in the in-house promotion category for its “Prescription Time is Here” subscription campaign and in the photo layout category for a double page photo feature containing old images and quotes about the old school site at the time of its closing ceremony titled “The Writing on the Wall”.

The awards will be presented at the association’s spring conference in Toronto on May 22.

Creemore event kicks off 400th anniversary of Champlain’s visit to area

Author Douglas Hunter says there’s more to Samuel de Champlain than his legend as an explorer who discovered Georgian Bay.

It is the topic of a talk he will give in Creemore this month as the guest speaker at the Tea and History event hosted by Purple Hills Arts and Heritage Society.

The event is a kick-off to society events marking the 400th anniversary of Champlain’s visit to the area.

Hunter aims to help people get past the image of an explorer cutting a trail thorough the woods and finding Georgian Bay.

“That’s not how the times worked,” he said.

Champlain visited the area, then Huronia, as a guest of the Huron Wendat. He wasn’t the first European to come here.

Champlain went where his hosts allowed him to go, said Hunter. “There were strategic benefits to both of them and it really was a trade relationship that they had.”

He said many European countries were positioning themselves as commercial players in the trade.

“The Dutch were major financial backers of Champlain. That’s where the money was that controlled the fur trade. It was a very complicated commercial relationship between Dutch and the French,” said Hunter adding that indigenous groups were aligned with different people and there was a lot of maneuvering to take advantage of the trade industry.

“I just want people to think a little different from what they may have grown up with in textbooks, with guys strutting up on shore, planting flags and claiming things for the king of France,” he said.

Hunter, a journalist, is the author of more than one dozen books on business, history and sports, in addition to other freelance writing.

He first delved into Champlain’s story while researching God’s Mercies, published in 2007. He came to the topic through research for another book about the Canadian experience that never came to fruition because he got sucked into the story of Champlain.

God’s Mercies was a finalist for both the Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize and the Governor-General’s Literary Award.

Hunter lives between Port McNicoll and Midland, not far from the Native villages that Champlain visited 400 years ago. He also sails in Georgian Bay, the same waters crossed by Champlain.

Hunter received a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship from the federal government in 2012, in support of my doctoral research currently under way and was awarded the William E. Taylor Fellowship as the outstanding doctoral award recipient by Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Champlain left Huronia in May 1616. He never returned to Ontario, but his observations and writings are said to have shaped the early European history of the province.

Fran Breithaupt, one of the event organizers, said the event is meant to fulfill in part the heritage portion of the Purple Hills Arts and Heritage Society’s mandate.

Tea and History is a free event taking place at Station on the Green on Sunday, Jan. 18 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Creemore Farmers’ Market opens Saturday

The Creemore Farmers’ Market opens this Saturday and although asparagus may be the only fresh produce in season, vendors will still have a lot to offer.

Almost 30 vendors have signed up to peddle their wares, including plants, fruits and veggies, hot meals, smoothies, baked goods, crafts, clothing, jewellery, woodworking, preserves, coffee, tea, honey, cheese, soap and treats for horses and dogs.

The market runs every Saturday until Thanksgiving, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It is located at Station on the Green.

This year’s vendors:

Helen Martin – Valley View Farm – Alpaca Duvet, balls tea cozy

Bonnie Ash – Bjuna Designs – scarves shawls etc.

Tom and Julie Wilson – Nottawasaga Daylillies

Cut and Dried Flower Farm –  plants baskets and planters

Pumpkin Patch Kids – pumpkins and gourds

The Creemore Echo – subscriptions

Petronella Bell – Angie’s Place – Hot food

Creemore Tennis Club – memberships

Rebecca Brown – Clearview Tea Co. – green teas, scones, shortbread

Lana Grainger – Grainger Bows and Things

Dan Edwards – Hypertufa Gardens

Sonja MacDonald – homemade baking

Jess Strongman – pepperettes. Summer sausage

Hannah Paquette – The Jamstress, preserves, chutney relish etc.

Justin’s Oven – Justin Howe – granola canning dried foods baked goods

Peter Sinnott – baking, honey

Jean Brownfield – quilted items, lettuces, kale, fresh berries

David Maxwell – Maxwell Apple Orchards – vegetables

Saskia Sloeserwij – Say Cheese, – cheeses yogurt

Orie Johnston – veggies and wooden items

Graham Corbett – Fiddle Foot Farm – vegetables

Pam Black – Pam’s Soaps – soaps, shampoos, bug spray

Matthew Flett – breads, flatbreads

Janet Fletcher – George and Gracies – dog biscuits, horse treats

Nancy Goshens – Nusha Designs, jewellery

Marlene Blakely – hand crocheted items

Lori Soychak – perogies, poultry

Visit creemorefarmersmarket.ca.

Creemore gets in the mood for love with Big Heart Days

Big Heart Days will take over Creemore on Feb. 14.

The BIA is planning a long weekend of events, encouraging people to get outside and enjoy winter while supporting local businesses.

The events are happening on Family Day weekend, with most activities concentrated on the Saturday, which is also Valentine’s Day. On that day, the street will be closed and fun family activities are in the works.

Start the day off right with breakfast offered at Mill Street restaurants.

An opening ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the corner of Mill Street and Caroline Street.

Throughout the day businesses are encouraged to offer something special on theme with Valentine’s Day and in honour of the village with the big heart.

Enjoy the outdoors during events and activities such as street hockey, snowshoeing and horse-drawn sleigh rides, all on Mill Street, which will be closed to vehicles until 5 p.m. Warm up with hot chocolate and wood fired warming stations.

In the evening, there will be live music, outdoors at Creemore Kitchen from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Beer will be sold. Enjoy a cold one around a hot fire.

The BIA was denied permission to close Mill Street on the night of Feb. 14, during a Clearview Township council meeting Monday.

The organization was given permission to close the street throughout the day until 5 p.m.

Councillor Connie Leishman suggested another location for the evening portion of the event would be better, adding she is not in favour of the nighttime road closure.

CAO Steve Sage said closing the road after dark would require the rental of special equipment – standards with flashing lights – and the presence of a staff person, which could cost more than $300.

The cost could have been passed on to the event organizers.

There was also a concern about timing as the request for a road closure should be made 60 days in advance of an event.

New members of the BIA – the business improvement area – committee were appointed in January and are working within a tight timeframe to pull off the event.

Anyone interested in volunteering on the Saturday is asked to e-mail CreemoreBigHeartDays@gmail.com.

Creemore gymnast competes at provincials

Sadie Finkelstein, 11, will be showing off her skills this weekend in Windsor at the Ontario Women’s Provincial Gymnastics Championships.

Finkelstein, along with seven teammates from Infinity Gymnastics in Utopia qualified during the past season in the top 32 of their age and skill level categories.

They will now face off against the best gymnasts in the province.

“It’s quite an accomplishment for Infinity Gymnastics in their first year of operation,” said head coach Michelle Pothier.

The women’s provincial team trains 18-20 hours per week for 48 weeks of the year, a serious commitment for some very young and very talented athletes.

Athletes will be looking for personal bests, top finishes and good all around scores, which will enable them to move up levels for the next season.

“It’s a very remarkable thing these girls do, I think all children should have this kind of passion for something, art, music, sport. The drive to move forward makes them truly inspiring,” said Pothier.

The Ontario Provincial Championships take place at the St. Denis Sports Centre in Windsor April 9-12.

Creemore Hallowfest a scary good time

Last Sunday’s second annual Creemore Hallowfest, a fundraiser for the General & Marine Hospital Foundation, was another great example of how much this community likes a party.

There’s a slideshow of pictures from the event below; to view them full-screen, CLICK HERE.

And to witness just how amazing Creemore kids are at replicating the Michael Jackson “Thriller” dance, check out the video below the slideshow!

Creemore hip hop dancers take first prize

Creemore hip-hop dancers Evan Durish and Deacon Gunn-Gauthier, along with Jacob Lindsay of Alliston, competed at the Fever International Dance Championship March 29 and walked away with first place in their category and third overall for their “Knights of Shame” hip-hop routine, choreographed by Jennifer Brinston from The Dance Workshop in Alliston. Durish and Gunn-Gauthier have been competing in various genres of dance for a few years but this was their first competition outside of Simcoe County and their first international competition, made possible thanks to the leadership and hard work of Colleen Brinston, new owner of The Dance Workshop.

Creemore Home Hardware open for business

Home Hardware is now open.

The store opened its doors Monday after a six-month closure.

It is now under the ownership of Ross Lotto.

He said taking ownership of the store has been a long process and he was officially approved as a dealer in September.

Lotto worked for 12 years at Home Depot in Barrie and then in Collingwood when the store opened there. He started as a sales associate and then moved into a supervisor’s role.

He said he has a background in building maintenance and used to own a general appliance repair service in the village, Ross Appliance Service, from 1995 to 2001.

“I’ve always been interested in hardware, since I was a child when my grandfather owned hardware stores in Toronto,” said Lotto.

He said he has been coming to the Creemore store since he was a child, when it was owned by John Harper.

At this time, Lotto has two full-time employees and one part timer. People will recognize Jeff Lamondin and Jen Lyons. Marion Dyce, who worked with Lotto at Home Depot, has also joined the staff.

“We are looking at improving the selection of stock,” said Lotto.

He said the store will be carrying a new line of Moen faucets and Home Hardware is also promoting a fairly new service that allows people to order products online and pick them up at the Creemore store.

The store is open Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and closed Sundays.

Creemore knitters make turkey sweaters

By April Phule

Local knitters are getting out their needles to help local turkeys suffering from cold this winter.

The eastern wild turkey, which populates this area, has had a tough time surviving the year’s enduring cold snap.

Although their feathers and body structure are designed to provide warmth, the turkeys have been found to be suffering in the extreme temperatures.

One Dunedin resident caught a flock of hens shivering together in her back shed.

“Their teeth were chattering and they appeared to have goose bumps on their skin,” she said. “At first, I thought I might put them in a nice, warm pot of water to warm them up… but then I decided to knit them sweaters instead!”

Now, residents gather in coffee shops, bookstores and at each other’s homes to knit the sweaters for the turkeys. They have designed their own patterns for the birds, which usually weigh about 10 to 19 lbs.

They got the idea from an Australian organization that issued a global call for warm pullovers to help penguins affected by oil spills. Wearing the sweaters prevents the penguins from preening and ingesting toxic substances.

While the turkeys in Clearview don’t have to worry about oil in their feathers, they do have chillier temperatures to contend with than their friends in the southern hemisphere.

In recent years, the turkey population in the Creemore area has grown as a result of provincial initiatives to restore eastern wild turkeys.

To find out how to get involved or to see the latest designs in sweaters for turkeys, visit www.turkeysloveaprilfools.ca.

Creemore Legion presents two life memberships

Creemore Legion members and their guests gathered Saturday, Jan. 10 to pay tribute to community members and the branch membership alike for the efforts that were given threw out this past year.

Everyone pitched in to provide a wonderful dinner for all.

Special thanks to Mark Madill and the ladies who prepared the tasty meal. 

Several awards were given to members of the both the Legion and the Ladies Auxiliary. Life memberships were given out to Dee Hanson, presented by Debbie Knott from Zone Command, and Mark Madill, presented by Deputy District Commander Bob LaDasure.

These two individuals have served the Legion and their community tirelessly for many years. 

Carol Percy was honored with a bouquet of flowers for her 50 years of service to the ladies auxiliary.

Ed Stevens and Dave Smith were recognized for 65 years, Mike Sears for 30 years and Mike Loranger was presented an executive bar and poppy pin.  

All of these people have served diligently at the Legion and for the community.

Mike Loranger also received the Legionnaire of the year. You can’t go very far at the Legion and not bump into Mike, at any event. 

His award was well deserved.     

The following groups received donations from the Legion: Ray’s place, Creemore Minor Hockey, Creemore Figure Skating Club, Creemore Minor Soccer, Cadets, Cubs, Scouts, and the Nottawasaga Creemore Public School band.

The Creemore Legion takes great pride in helping the youth in our community.

Creemore Legion, St. John’s team up to make butter tarts

Trina Berlo photo: Marilyn Steed (top, from left), Lynn Bell, Gayle Millsap and Gail Martens can’t stop rolling after two days of making butter tarts to be sold at Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival in Midland June 13. 

The Creemore Legion Ladies Auxiliary and the St. John’s United Church choir “Holy Rollers” teamed up to make more than 200 dozen butter tarts for last weekend’s Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival in Midland.

About 25 volunteers spent all day June 11 and 12 baking up a storm. They were broken out into stations; mixing, rolling, cutting, panning, filling, baking, packing and washing.

Proceeds from the sale of the tarts will go toward church and Legion community initiatives.

The effort was organized by Jim Henderson. Last year, the church made 100 dozen butter tarts using a recipe from Mother Parker’s, a Henderson family restaurant that used to be in Stayner.

A partnership seemed prudent to add manpower and in order to make use of the spacious kitchen facilities at the Legion.

One hundred dozen didn’t last long. They sold out in one hour and 15 minutes.

So, Henderson recruited helpers from the Legion, thinking they could double the yield. They went to this year’s event with 200 dozen tarts loaded into vans in the wee hours Saturday before being trucked to Midland.

Henderson said it was a great day but not all the tarts sold because there was more product on the street than last year, during the inaugural event, when 50,000 tarts were sold. This year, organizers were promising more than 70,000.

The Legion-St. John’s team came home with several dozen tarts, which will be for sale at Creemore’s Canada Day celebrations.

With the Henderson family having donated the ingredients, about $1,800 will be raised to split between the two organizations once they are all sold.

Creemore loses to Bolton Dodgers in home opener

Creemore Tennis Club enthusiast Geoff Ayton and other club members reached and kneeled for several hours to get the nets and wind breakers installed for the upcoming tennis season for the folks of Creemore and area to enjoy.

For anyone wanting to play the game here the cost is incredibly reasonable. A single membership is $30 and only $60 for a family membership.

It’s a fun sport, which kids can learn and play for a lifetime besides getting them outdoors and some exercise.

Starting May 23, the tennis club is offering programs for children and adults. Lessons for children are for two group ages – under 9 and under 14. Lessons are also available for adults: learning the basics and stroke techniques for the beginner or intermediate level player, and adult cardio tennis.

July 6-10, a summer camp for tennis players aged 9-12 is available.

Every Thursday evening and Sunday morning round robins are played at the courts situated at Gowan Memorial Park. All you have to do is show up and participate.

Contact Geoff Ayton in Creemore for more information or go to Curiosity House Books in Creemore to get your membership.

The 2015 season of the North Dufferin Baseball League officially got underway last weekend.

On Sunday three senior division games were played including a game for the new senior team in Creemore, the Barons. Creemore also have the Braves who play in the senior league and a junior club.

Creemore lost to the Bolton Dodgers 10-9 in their home opener.

The defending league champion Ivy Leafs beat the Midland Indians with the league’s best pitcher Brad Grieveson, who grew up playing ball in Creemore playing on several championship Braves’ teams, throwing a 10 strike-out victory. Grieveson, by the way, was the winning pitcher on a college world series team when he played ball on a NCAA scholarship. He also starred for the Barrie Baycats.

Another local team, the Mansfield Cubs got the season going with a loss, 3-1, to the Barrie Angels.

Sunday is ‘Baseball Day in Creemore’ as the Creemore Braves play at home to the Nobleton Cornhuskers starting at 10:30 a.m., followed by a 1 p.m. start for their game against the Angus Black Sox. The Cornhuskers are staying in town for a while. They play the Creemore Barons at 4.

The Braves also play the Astros in Lisle Friday night beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The Junior Creemore Barons played at home Wednesday, May 6 against Orillia Juniors and Monday, May 11 against the Ivy Junior Rangers. Both games are 6:30 p.m. starts.

New Knights travel to Midland Saturday afternoon and are at home to the Mansfield Cubs Sunday at 1 p.m.

Finally, the Essex 73s won the Junior C provincial hockey championship and the Schmaltz Cup defeating the Port Hope Panthers 1-0 in the 7th game there. The 73s held a 3-0 series lead at one point. This is Essex third straight final losing the previous encounters to Picton in 2013 and Lakefield in 2014.

For a full schedule and game results visit www.ndbl.ca.

Creemore painter among national art prize finalists

Creemore’s Peter Adams is among 52 artists from across Canada selected as finalists for the inaugural Salt Spring National Art Prize.

“There aren’t many competitions in Canada that offer the kind of exposure that the Salt Spring National Art Prize can offer to Canadian artists. So it is indeed an honour to be chosen as a finalist for this prize,” said Adams.

Adams submitted a painting entitled Earth Scars #12: Mirny Diamond Mine (above), which depicts a massive open-pit mine in Siberia. He said the impetus for this series was much closer to home.

“When the proposed Melancthon Mega Quarry was on everyone’s mind several years ago, I began to research and paint some of the largest holes in the earth. The series has since featured mines in Russia, Africa, South America, the US and northern Canada.”

The piece will be part of a month-long exhibition of the finalists’ work in Salt Spring Island, British Columbia beginning Sept. 26.

The finalist will receive a $25,000 cash prize.

“For our first finalist exhibition we are extremely pleased with the number and quality of work submitted by artists from across the country,” said Salt Spring National Art Prize founding director Ronald T. Crawford. “The work chosen from over 800 artists and 1,367 works, successfully reflects our goals of showing the strength and diversity of Canadian visual arts while encouraging dialogue and exposure for the 52 featured artists. The jury selected works blind to any geographical, cultural or gender information; this has given us an amazing cross section of works for our exhibition. I congratulate the finalists and applaud the decisions made by our jury.”

In addition to the money, officials say the finalists have an opportunity to elevate their careers by gleaning exposure and valuable industry recognition. The inaugural Salt Spring National Art Prize has a mandate of encouraging artists whose work demonstrates a visual impact and a depth of meaning. 

Jurors are artists and art instructors Holger Kalberg, of Winnipeg, Ian Thomas, of Salt Spring Island, and curator Vicky Chainey Gagnon, of St. John’s.

Creemore parade secures title sponsor

The Creemore Santa Claus Parade has received a title sponsorship from Creemore Hills Winery.

Parade planning committee member Corey Finkelstein said he has secured a $5,000 sponsorship to cover a portion of the parade costs.

“Nothing has changed. It is still the Creemore Santa Claus Parade but what we have is some people who are investing heavily in the community who are very interested in the parade and have contributed a large sum of money and for that they want recognition to help promote their business,” said Finkelstein.

The deal was brokered with the support of the planning committee and the BIA executive, said Finkelstein.

He said the winery has indicated a commitment to contribute $5,000 each year for the next three years.

The winery is owned by Catherine and Steve Morrissey and is not yet selling wine as it is still in the growing phase of the operation.

The title sponsorship will be used to pay for the Collingwood Collegiate Institute marching band, a banner and advertisements.

The marching band’s fee is $3,500 and there are costs associated with other performers in the parade.

“If they’re going to foot the bill like that and they’re prepared to cover the cost going forward for a number of years, taking the pressure off, I think they have earned the right to become the title sponsor,” said Finkelstein.

“We still hope that businesses and individuals would contribute to the parade… Everyone knows that the parade costs money and you have to beg every year and so did those before us to cover the costs. It seemed like a good solution.”

The parade takes place on Saturday, Dec. 6.

Creemore photographer has eye to the sky

While most people are taking refuge from the storm, Creemore photographer Alicia Lawson is watching through the lens of her camera.

Lawson is showing nine stormscapes taken last summer and this spring at the Curiosity House Books gallery.

“With all the crazy weather we started to have it was kind of hard to not grab the camera and run out after the storms because the clouds were so amazing,” said Lawson. “There has always been something that fascinated me about clouds and the way they affect the landscape and the way things look after a big rain.”

Lawson began taking photos as a teenager and eventually developed her artistic style. After studying psychology at university, Lawson went back to school to study photography, graduating in 2008.

Upon moving back to her hometown of Creemore three years ago, Lawson started a photography business at the age of 27.

Lawson is part of the Creemore Shop and Co-op and displays her work at the Mill Street store under the name of Abandoned Echoes Photography.

Her subjects of choice are landscapes and derelict buildings, especially farmhouses and barns she finds while touring the Simcoe County.

Curiosity is what first drew Lawson to investigate those forsaken spaces. She wondered what was inside, why did the people leave and why did they leave items behind?

“What’s the story here? I get a lot of feedback from people who say that they feel that my photos do tell a story. It’s like telling a story after the story, just a little piece of the mystery of the place or a certain house or a building,” said Lawson. “There’s a certain feeling I get in certain places where it kind of feels like home to me in a strange way. The mystery and the curiosity is a huge draw.”

Lawson’s show continues until May 31.

Visit www.abandoned-echoes.com.

Creemore pop-up shop makes move permanent

Marcy Stewart has decided to set up shop permanently in Creemore’s downtown.

Stewart operated her seasonal pop-up shop at the Florist Fairy over the Christmas season with no intention of making it a permanent location for her business, Ms. Design, known for its greenery and seasonal décor.

After the holidays, she had a change of heart and decided to stay on in the retail space, renamed Flowers by Ms. Design, saying it just felt right and it is a good fit with her business and a good fit for the community.

“It’s a great addition, to have a place to go and people know they can always have fresh, beautiful flowers,” said Stewart.

She is expanding on her past floral work, having made floral bouquets and centerpieces for events.

She said she enjoys creating with the flowers and botanicals and finds it therapeutic.

With a certified florist on staff, Flowers by Ms. Design will be doing flowers for weddings, funerals and special events. It will also have flowers available on demand, by special order within two days and will be taking custom orders.

Flowers can be sent locally and Stewart is also working with darci-que to offer a balloon service.

Floral arrangements can be sent around the world from the Creemore shop through FTD.

The store carries seasonal décor, gifts and local art and during Creemore Big Heart Days, encompassing Valentine’s Day, the shop will have bouquets of roses and other flowers ready for quick pick-up.

Flowers by Ms. Design offers daily service at 5 Francis Street East, Unit 1, behind Foodland.

Creemore Skating Club hands out award

Grace Millsap photo: Creemore Skating Club held its award banquet Saturday. Back row, from left: Rylee MacGregor, Karine Talbot, Ashley Dunn, Harley Sacerty, Natalie Hepburn. Middle row, from left: Gracie Martin, Zoey McQueen, Kaia Harbec, Eden Harbec, Libby Millsap, Ava Hogben, Ella Hayward, Joanne Gregson, Annelle Belkosky. Front row, from left: Rosalyn Martin, Ella Duits, Kylynn Acsai and Isabelle Co’Dyre.

Isabelle Co’Dyre was awarded the MacIntosh Family Trophy for the most improved pre-CanSkate skater.

Kaia Harbec and Eden Harbec were awarded the Ransier Trophy for passing the most badges in one season (four stage badges).

Kylynn Acsai and Katsandra McCleary were awarded the AJ Skate Sharpening Trophy for the most improved CanSkate skaters.

Libby Millsap, Ella Hayward and Ava Hogben were awarded the Ceramic Enterprises Trophy for passing the most Skate Canada tests in one winter season of skaters in their second year or more with the Creemore Club and the Tanya Walker Trophy, for the STARSkate skaters who pass the most Skate Canada tests throughout the year, including off-season skating. Millsap passed Fiesta and Willow while Hayward and Hogben passed Baby Blues and Preliminary Skills.

Keira Whitley and Zoey McQueen were awarded the John Van Zant Memorial Trophy for the most improved skater in the club with group lessons only (STARSkate).

Gracie Martin was awarded the Creemore Village IDA Pharmacy Trophy for the most improved STARSkate skater.

Rylee MacGregor was awarded the Willene Stewart Trophy, given to the most improved skater taking into consideration hard work, marked skating improvement and club interests (advanced STARSkate).

Three skaters were awarded the Margaret Rose (Stoutenberg) Kusiar Trophy for passing the highest number of Skate Canada tests; Karine Talbot (European, Foxtrot, preliminary elements, preliminary freeskate program, senior bronze skills), Rylee MacGregor (senior silver skills, gold skills, starlight, senior bronze elements, senior bronze program) and Ashley Dunn (Willow, tenfox, preliminary elements, preliminary program, junior bronze skills). Dunn was also awarded the Anita Verstraten Trophy as the advanced STARSkate skater who passed the most Skate Canada tests (five tests).

Rosalyn Martin and Ella Duits were awarded the Valley Auto and Tech (Stamp Family) Trophy, awarded to the skaters who displayed best effort, hard work and determination.

During the volunteer recognition portion of the program, Natalie Hepburn and Hailey Sacerty were presented the Alta Vista Trophy, awarded by the executive to the skater who does the most for the Creemore Club during the season, recognizing members for their volunteer efforts on behalf of the rest of the club members.

Annette Belkosky was awarded the Jan (Rowbotham) Hulme Trophy, going to the member of the club executive in recognition for their volunteer efforts and contribution to the club.

Joanne Gregson was presented the Jane Ivits Memorial Trophy, awarded to a past or current volunteer member that has given more than 10 years of service and dedication to the Creemore Skating Club.

Creemore smoothie bar energy boosters adapt to the season

Tucked in beside the Creemore 100 Mile Store there’s a window to health and energy.

The store’s owners, Jackie Durnford and Sandra Lackie, have opened the Creemore Power Company, specializing in smoothies.

Durnford said they wanted to offer nutritionally balanced, healthy grab-and-go meals and snacks for people with an active lifestyle.

“In keeping with the philosophy of the store, everything that can be sourced locally is,” said Durnford.

The Creemore Power Company is managed by Durnford’s daughter Holly, who is developing different smoothie flavour combos.

The smoothie bar opened in May with four flavours on the menu, including the Farmer Earl, made with Clearview Tea Company’s market blend.

As produce comes into season, more will be added. Durnford said they plan to offer nine different smoothies optimized to be rich in nutrients.

All of the bases, including the almond milk, are made from scratch. Whether it’s seabuckthorn juice, edamame, rhubarb, heirloom carrots, all of the ingredients are raw, vegan, gluten-free and not genetically modified.

In addition to smoothies, they make and sell power breakfast cookies and stacked salads and fresh juices are coming soon to the menu.

Durnford said it’s a good fit because they are incorporating foods they already carry in the store.

They tested recipes at the Creemore Famers’ Market last season and Durnford said the positive feedback was enough encouragement to open the smoothie bar.

It is open Friday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Creemore 100 Mile Store is located at 176 Mill St.

Creemore Springs Brewery patio, Cashtown gas bar approved

Trina Berlo photo: The original Creemore Springs Brewery copper kettle juts out onto the new Mill Street patio.

Site plans have been approved for the development of Cashtown Corners and Creemore Springs Brewery.

Clearview planner Rossalyn Workman reported to council June 22 that all is in order to proceed with the construction of an Esso On the Run gas station and convenience store, Tim Hortons, seasonal market and associated retail.

The approval is conditional upon written confirmation that all wells to be abandoned have been properly decommissioned.

Creemore Springs Brewery was also given the go-ahead for its outdoor patio as part of its new retail store and tasting bar.

Creemore Springs expansion takes shape

The first phase of the Creemore Springs Brewery expansion started to take shape this week, with builder Cowden Woods on site to erect the steel frame of the addition on the back of the building, which will house several new fermenting tanks and a covered grain silo. Geoff Davies, the brewery’s project and facilities manager, hopes to have this part of the building functional, with beer in the tanks, by June 24. Site works will follow throughout the summer, and the new warehouse will be built on the south end of the building in the fall. Davies said he’s been pleased with the community’s reaction to the construction so far, and encouraged anyone with concerns to get in touch with him. While portions of the site look fairly messy at the moment, with piles of debris left over from the house demolition that occurred earlier this spring, Davies said that will all be cleaned up as soon as half-load limits are removed from area roads, which typically occurs around the beginning of May.

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Creemore Springs gets reality show treatment

On Thursday, March 8, Creemore Springs Brewery was featured on the W Network show Undercover Boss Canada, in which high ranking officials from some of Canada’s biggest corporations – in this case Kelly Brown, the chief legal officer of Molson Coors Canada – stealthily join the ranks of their unsuspecting workforce.

Brown and the Undercover Boss camera crew travelled to Creemore Springs last August to film a portion of the program (they also filmed at breweries in Moncton and Vancouver for the episode), working alongside employees Mike Isaac of Singhampton and Janice Stevens of Creemore under the guise of documentarians filming a training video.

While driving with Brown to the place just outside of town where Creemore Springs collects the spring water that is its namesake, Isaac, who in addition to being a brewmaster is also a hockey coach and volunteer firefighter, divulged that he had hopes of sending his children, Alex (11), Meghan (9), Sara (6) and Charlie (5) to school, but was unsure of being able to afford the expense.

Brown was touched by Isaac’s hopes for his children, and after revealing her true identity to him at the conclusion of the show, announced that Molson Coors would be donating $10,000 for the education of his children.

Isaac, who also revealed to Brown that he is a Toronto Maple Leafs fan but has never been to the Air Canada Centre, was given tickets for him and his family to see a game there against the New York Rangers on Saturday, March 24.

“Its nice to know that, even though you feel you’re further down in rank, your work is appreciated and you’re thought of as an important part of the process,” Isaac told the Echo.

Brown and Molson Coors also expressed their gratitude for the hard work being done by Stevens at the packaging plant, agreeing to pay for a trip to Scotland for her and her husband after Stevens revealed that she had hopes of visiting the homeland of her ancestors. The Stevens have not yet taken the trip, as they are trying to find the time in their busy farming schedule.

Stevens was also given $10,000 by Molson Coors to be spent on a community cause in the name of her father Donald Walker, who recently passed away. Walker worked for over 25 years as a farmer and school bus driver in the Creemore area. Stevens has not yet decided what she intends to do with the money, but is taking suggestions from both her family and staff at the brewery.

“It was an experience, to be sure,” said Stevens, adding that she was genuinely shocked to discover Brown’s true identity. “It was hard to get my head around, but I’m grateful for what they’ve done.”

In an interview on Global’s The Morning Show, Brown shared an anecdote about Stevens, who upon seeing a slightly peeled label passing by on the assembly line, promptly pulled the bottle off and fixed the problem.

“I always suspected our employers were great,” said Brown, “but this [experience] just validated it. They are so conscious about the quality of our product.”

Creemore Springs set to go on expansion

Eight years after Creemore Springs started planning internally for an expansion, the brewery is ready to begin construction.

Cowden Woods, the Barrie-based builders selected by the brewery to complete the work, is scheduled to begin staging on site the week of February 11. Construction is set to begin on February 19, and a groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Friday, February 22.

Creemore Springs vice president and brewmaster Gordon Fuller and project and facilities manager Geoff Davies are pleased to be getting things underway so early in 2013, given all of the hurdles of the past few months. An application for an Environmental Compliance Approval for the expanded operation was submitted last October, with the Ministry of Environment predicting a turnaround time of three to eight months. That approval arrived on January 17, just three months after it was applied for. In the meantime, a final site plan was passed by the Liaison Committee and on January 23, a teleconference was held with the Ontario Municipal Board, resulting in a go-ahead order and a statement that the OMB member was “impressed with the atmosphere of the meeting.” Final site plan approval and a building permit came from Township this past Monday, and a pre-construction meeting was held with the Liaison Committee on Tuesday to determine things like haul routes and hours of construction operation.

It’s been determined that work will take place between the hours of 7 am and 7 pm on weekdays, with limited activity on Saturdays, and that trucks will access the site using County Road 9, Mary Street and Elizabeth Street. For safety reasons, the entire area of construction will be fenced.

From February until the end of May, work will be concentrated on the back of the brewery, where a number of new fermentation cellars are being added along with several other pieces of large infrastructure. Site work on the property – the “key sensitivity,” according to Davies, as it will involve major digging and earth-moving – will take place from May until the end of July, and the construction of the new warehouse on the south end of the building is scheduled for July to October. Ideally, landscaping will be completed in September, the best time for establishing new plants and trees.

The final site plan for the Creemore Springs expansion, set to begin on February 19.

The expansion’s second phase, which will see new office space and a new facade built on the front of the building, will enter the detailed design phase by the end of this year, with construction scheduled for late 2014 and early 2015.

If all goes well, the brewery will have its extra capacity online by May of this year. The move to 24-hour brewing will wait for the granting of a revised water-taking permit, which is still in the application phase. When all is said and done, the brewery will be able to complete 55 brews per week, up from the 27 it currently achieves.

The Liaison Committee, which includes Fuller, Davies and OMB appellants Paul Vorstermans and Austin and Christine Boake, as well as Councillor Thom Paterson and BIA president Corey Finkelstein, will take on a communications role with the village once construction begins. Watch the pages of the Echo for more on how that will work.

“All in all, I think this is a real success story for the community,” said Davies, who has been working extensively with brewery neighbours since starting with the company last year.

Creemore Springs to serve flights of beer

The original copper kettle, where the magic began for Creemore Springs, will be incorporated into the brewery expansion.

It will be the focal piece of a new retail store and tasting bar, where people will be able to order beer by the glass or in a flight – a sampler of Creemore Springs’ brews served in small glasses on a wooden tray.

The copper kettle has been restored and will be placed in the window, half in the store and half in a new licensed patio. There will be 17 seats inside and 24 on the patio.

“The concept is to enhance the tourism experience for people coming to the brewery and Creemore,” said Creemore Springs Brewery operations manager Geoff Davies. “To diversify the experience and get them to stay longer.”

The brewery is currently allowed to serve small samples of beer but with a new manufacturer’s limited liquor sales licence it will be allowed to sell 12-ounce servings.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, the agency that issues the licences, says licensees under a Manufacturer’s Limited Liquor Sales Licence are not required to serve food because of the limited intent and nature of “by-the-glass” licensing.

Although exempt from this requirement, licensees are still encouraged to provide snacks and other food to guests whenever possible and in appropriate circumstances.

Davies has been speaking with Creemore’s restaurateurs to see if any of them wish to provide food to tour groups and other visitors when requested.

“We don’t want to compete with people in town,” said Davies. “We have no interest in making money from serving food.”

Inspired by beer gardens in Germany, people will be allowed to bring a picnic or take-out food to the brewery if they wish.

Outside of the licensed area, there will also be three landscaped public spaces where people can hang out. Davies said there will also be a bike repair stand for those cycling in to the village.

The existing retail store will eventually be adapted as a museum stop on the brewery tour.

The brewery is also moving ahead with the new cellar on Elizabeth Street, with work beginning in June to install five new tanks. For a time, traffic will access the brewery off Edward Street. That will be the end of the work until another five tanks are added in 2017. 

“Throughout the expansion, we have done our best to do what we said we were going to do,” said Davies.

As a result of the expansion, including the distribution centre in Stayner, the brewery has added more than a dozen full-time permanent jobs in the past two years. Some senior positions but mostly good paying entry level jobs that seem to appeal to young people who are new to the full-time workforce and looking to stay in the community, negating the need to leave town to find good jobs.

The expansion has also resulted in the addition of part-time and seasonal staff, creating jobs for students who are home for the summer and others.

Creemore students to dig in to freshness come harvest

Young minds aren’t the only things growing at Nottawasaga and Creemore Public School these days.

Students are building and growing gardens as part of a school project that is extending to the community at large.

The project began with a group of parents who pitched the idea to parent council and school staff.

Juliette Reynolds said she visited Huntsville last summer where a friend had initiated a program called farmers in the playground.

“They were doing a lot of farm-to-cafeteria, so the food that they were growing, they were eating it at school,” said Reynolds.

The program inspired Reynolds to reach out to her friends and a seed was planted. From there, it became a community project and a way to bridge a gap between the school and the rest of the community.

Students have been building raised bed frames, preparing soil and planting a square-foot style garden.

Some of the plants will be getting a head start at Stayner Collegiate Institute’s greenhouse.

Reynolds said the hope is that by establishing the gardens, the school will be inspired to incorporate them into the existing curriculum.

She said there has already been a lot of enthusiasm from staff.

“So many people want this,” said Reynolds. “Whenever I see a school with a garden, I think, they are progressive, they are doing something that really matters.”

On Tuesdays and Thursdays between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. parent volunteers will be available to help students in the garden during allocated daily physical activity time.

During the summer months, students are encouraged to continue caring for the garden and certain community groups have offered to help.

The garden has received a commitment of a three-year donation from Jon Hogben of Jerrico Industrial Maintenance, who has children at the school.

The New Farm is donating soil and compost and others businesses are donating money and supplies. Individual gardeners are encouraged to donate plants, so that the money can be earmarked for education programs and guest speakers.

Toward the end of the year, students will celebrate the first harvest and be given a chance to vote on what to name the garden. At that time, the Grade 8 students will plant a legacy fruit tree, a gift for their teachers and future students.

Anyone wishing to donate or sign up as a parent volunteer is asked to e-mail creemore.school.garden@gmail.com.

Creemore Tennis Club gets swinging

The Creemore Tennis Club continues to promote the game.

Local tennis enthusiast Geoff Ayton is the chief organizer and is the contact if you are interested in learning more about playing tennis here or enrolling in programs. His e-mail is gwayton@rogers.com. May 23 is the starting date for the six-week program at the Creemore courts. The club is working with Simcoe Tennis again this year to provide certified coaches for all of the programs.

Junior Play n’ Learn

Junior Play n’ Learn Under 9 and Under 14 play on full court using modified tennis balls. The 60-minute lesson includes technique, tactic, physical development and actual match play.

The game based approach is used in allowing players to find their own solutions to challenges. It’s held Saturday from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. for Under 9 and from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. for Under 14.

Adult Play n’ Learn

For beginners and Intermediates. Learn basic fundamentals in an active environment. Coaches will focus on all basic strokes in terms of grip, setup, impact and follow through as well as footwork and basic singles and doubles tactic. Offered Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Adult Cardio Tennis

Set to music players will be run through a series of high tempo hitting and running drills. Cardio tennis is a fun way for players of every level to get their heart racing and improve their fitness. Offered Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Summer Camp

Kids aged 6-13 enjoy a half-day of action on the courts in our all-new Smash Tennis Camps. Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until noon with wet weather planning in place so we never miss a day. Week one is July 6-10.

Individual lessons can be arranged with the coach.

Nets at the Creemore courts are planned to go up Saturday, April 18. Anyone interested in helping set up should contact Geoff or show up at the courts with tennis racquet in hand.

Simcoe County Tennis also has a mixed adult tennis league playing around the region Thursdays this summer, starting June 4. Go to simcoetennis.ca for more information.

In provincial hockey, Alliston Hornets find themselves in trouble once again. The Hornets are contesting for an Ontario Junior C hockey championship against the Port Hope Panthers in semi-final action but have lost the first three games, 4-1, 5-3, and 2-1. A fourth win by the Panthers move them to the finals against either Essex 73s or Ayr Centennials. Essex leads 3-1 and appears destined to reach the finals.

The Panthers, on the other hand, need to finish Alliston off or they could be in trouble. Alliston was down 3-0 to against the Walkerton Hawks in the previous round. They won the series 4-3. Port Hope played Wednesday night so the outcome will be know before this report is published.

At the Junior B level, four teams remain in the hunt for a Sutherland Cup: Elmira versus Lasalle and Caledonia against Leamington.

A league higher, OJHL, Kingston Voyageurs and Toronto Patriots play off in the finals.

Creemore Vertical Challenge

On Saturday, nearly 200 ultra runners will descend on Creemore for the ninth annual Creemore Vertical Challenge (CVC).

There will be three different races run along a combination of private trails and roads – a 25-km, 50-km or 75-km.

The 25-km is part of the Ontario Trails Series and the 50-km and 75-km races are part of the Ontario Ultra Series and are designated Bronze Races for the International Association of Ultra Runners.

Race organizers, Pierre Marcoux and Lee Anne Cohen have been Ultra runners since 2002 and according to Marcoux, the Creemore race evolved from his own training.

“The races in the series were very tough, but I found many of the courses were easier than my training runs in Creemore. I thought that other runners should be sharing my pain so I linked three of my hill training runs together and that became the beginning of the CVC course.”

The course is demanding with varied terrain and lots of hills and because it is in August, it can be extremely hot and humid.

There are eight landowners who allow the race to be run on their properties and the remainder of the course takes place on country roads.

This year, there will be several international competitors from Nepal, Texas, England and Scotland.

Run entirely by a team of 28 volunteers, the CVC takes place over an entire day, with the different distances having staggered starts from the home of Marcoux and Cohen. “This race has a different vibe from the others in the series because it starts and finishes from our home, it takes place throughout the countryside and competitors finish their day by soaking in the Mad River, eating pizza and drinking a pint of Creemore Springs.”

The race is also known for its great SWAG – there are 60 age category prizes that include pottery made by Cohen and jugs of maple syrup produced by Marcoux in his sugar bush near Singhampton.

For more information on the CVC and other musings on the running life, check out Marcoux’s blog runnningchallenged.blogspot.ca.

Creemore youth compete for ambassadorship

Three young ladies from Creemore are taking part in the ambassador program at the Great Northern Exhibition.
Rebecca Redpath, 17, is competing for the title of senior ambassador. Sarah Crawford, 10, and Grace Millsap, 12, are competing in the junior ambassador category.
Contestants are judged on interviews, a written biography, speeches and a Q-and-A.
There are four competitors in each category.
Redpath, a Grade 12 Collingwood Collegiate Institute student, won the junior title in 2011.
Fair ambassadors represent the region throughout the year, making special appearances at event and parades.
The winner of the senior ambassador competition goes on to compete at the CNE.
The ladies will be on stage at the agricultural building Friday, opening day of the 159th annual fall fair running from Sept. 19-21 at the GNE.
The junior ambassadors present speeches at 6 p.m. and the senior ambassadors present after the opening ceremonies, which begin at about
7 p.m.
The ambassador competition is interspersed with the junior talent show during the opening ceremonies, kicking off a weekend celebrating all things rural.
During the ceremony, fair organizers will officially flip the switch on the 100-kilowatt solar project. Solar panels were installed on the roof of the exhibition hall and the agricultural building.
Local band Midnight Low will be performing on the outdoor stage Friday night.
There is a full line up of entertainment including bands, a fiddle and step dance contest, double toe cloggers and the midway.
Also on Friday is the 4-H achievement day.
“That’s the future of agriculture and the fair, is those kids,” said Garry Milne, a past president of the Collingwood Agricultural Society.
Throughout the weekend farmers will show off their talents and livestock during the horse and cattle shows and sheep shearing demonstrations, tractor and machinery shows, a tractor pull and horse pull.
In terms of food, there will be competitions for vegetables, preserves and, new this year, a pie contest.
The pies will be sold during a silent auction with all proceeds going to the fair.
Anyone submitting a pie will get free admission. Pies must be registered Saturday between 10 a.m. to noon at the agricultural building. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top four pies.
“There’s all kinds of indoor events and event under the tent if the weather’s not good,” said Milne. “Everybody’s going to be shy after last year’s mud bath and I don’t blame them but there’s a lot events that are under cover.”
Area elementary school students will visit the fair on Friday.
The Collingwood Agricultural Society owns and maintains the GNE fairgrounds.
For a full schedule of events and pie contest rules, visit www.greatnorthernex.com.
The Great Northern Exhibition is located at 2220 Fairgrounds Rd.

Creemore’s Community Christmas

This Christmas, on the big day itself and for the 10th year in a row, 150 or so folks from all walks of life will sit down together for a holiday feast with all the fixings. There will be a beautifully lit tree, presents for everyone, musicians leading carols and a visit from Santa himself. But most of all, there will be the spirit of Christmas, and trust me, that spirit will be strong, because what happens at the Station on the Green every Christmas Day is something that happens in few other places.

“People have told me they’ve tried to do the same thing in other places, but they’ve had trouble,” said Diane McKay, who has been overseeing the Creemore Community Christmas Dinner for eight of those 10 years (the original event was run by Carol Levenick of Stayner, who worked at the Egg Plant Cafe at the time. Diane helped her the second year, and soon after she took it on herself).

For Diane, the reason why it works so well in Creemore is that people here really think of themselves as part of a community. So if they have nothing else to do on Christmas, or they can’t travel, or they can’t afford to cook their own meal, or they just feel like doing something different, they think of their community.
The key to the event, stresses Diane, is that it is not just for the needy. It’s for anyone who, for whatever reason, doesn’t have any other plans for the holidays.
Even if you can’t make it out of your house, the event has you covered, every year a team of volunteers is ready to deliver food and cheer to people who have called to pre-book.

Over the past 10 years, the number of people attending the event has grown steadily, and last year it hit 150, the capacity for the Station on the Green. Credit for the event’s growth can be attributed to a solid team of organizers that joined McKay and her husband Brian about five years ago. Since then, Matthew Flett, Ali Woodley, Tim Armour, Karen Johnston, and Murray Firth and the McKays have streamlined things, developing a thee-day schedule that sees volunteers gathering for food prep on December 23.

The captain of the kitchen is, of course, Flett, who owned and operated the Purple Hills Bistro for several years where Chez Michel currently is. He now teaches cooking and baking at Georgian College, and has been known to bring some of his students along to help.

“I put out a nice spread,” said Flett, who surely must, being a guy who never does anything halfway when it comes to food.

Everything culminates on the big day. People arrive to a festive Station, and children are welcome to help decorate the bottom branches of the large tree, which is always donated by Tim Armour. After a meet and greet period, guests are seated and progress through a full Christmas Dinner, culminating with a visit from Santa.

“It really is a special thing,” said Flett. “That’s why Ali (his partner, also an organizer) and I keep coming back.”

This year, Hazel, David and Karina Wipper will also become permanent members of the team, after playing music at last year’s event.

To RSVP that you will be attending this year’s Community Christmas, please call Diane McKay at 705-466-3126. New volunteers are always welcome as well. People who are shut in for whatever reason, or are confined to Creedan Valley, are also encouraged to book a delivery. Finally, if you wish to donate money to help the event continue to exist, ask about the Creemore Community Christmas Fund at the TD Bank.

Creemore’s Creedan Valley changes name

Leisureworld Caregiving Centre – Creedan Valley has changed the name of their home to Creedan Valley Care Community, effective May 1st, 2015 to celebrate their connection to the area and local community. The change was inspired by the organization`s new vision, to awaken our communities to the positive possibilities of life`s next chapters, and involved input from residents, families and employees.

“We are very proud of our home, our community, and of the strong foundation and reputation we have built; and wanted to honour this in our new name,” said executive director Paula Rentner.

This new identity follows an announcement from Creedan Valley Care Community’s parent company, Leisureworld Senior Care Corporation, regarding its decision to rebrand itself as Sienna Senior Living, This rebranding is accompanied by the launch of the organization’s new brand positioning statement: the warmth of human connection.

Creedan Valley Care Community opened in 1975 and serves 95 residents each day, committed to quality care and service while promoting resident choice. Their parent organization is one of Canada’s largest owners of seniors housing, and the largest licensed long-term care provider in Ontario with 35 long-term care homes, and 10 retirement residences across Ontario and British Columbia.

 

Creemore’s NCPS gets new principal

Nottawasaga Creemore Public School will have a new principal in the fall.

Alison Golding, a vice principal at Alliston Union Public School, will take over for Heather Birchall, who is moving to Cameron Street Public School in Collingwood.

New Lowell principal Cathy Bell is retiring. Clearview Meadows Elementary School principal Jo-Ann White-McKenna will be her replacement. Mountain View Elementary School principal Doug Paul is moving to Clearview Meadows.

Collingwood Collegiate Institute principal Peter Stone is moving to Bradford District High School. Elmvale District High School principal Charlene Scime from Elmvale District High School will replace him.

The Simcoe County District School Board trustees approved the transfers and appointments on May 27.

Creemore’s winning apple pie

Hayley AvRuskin was awarded first place in the eighth annual Creemore Apple Pie Contest Saturday.

AvRuskin said she combined several recipes to make her winning Salted Caramel Apple Pie. She thanks her husband Phil Richmond for his artistic handiwork in creating the decorative vents in the upper crust.

In total 10 pies were entered in the contest and ribbons were awarded for the top six. Beth Mallory won second place and Gayle Millsap won third. Rose Tiley won fourth, Annette Chiasson won fifth and Judy Johnston won sixth place.

The judges were, Patrick Prime, John Golding, Sara Hershoff and Robert Hyland.

Organizer Allen Clarke thanks everyone who participated and Hershoff for her help in organizing the event.

Winners who did not pick up their ribbons can do so at The Creemore Echo office.

Hayley AvRuskin’s winning Salted Caramel Apple Pie recipe:

Pastry:

2 cups flour

1/4 cup butter (chilled)

2/3 cup shortening (chilled)

1 tsp salt

1/3 cup ice cold water

Mix flour and salt in a bowl.

Cut in butter and shortening with pastry knife until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Pour water over flour mixture and blend together with pastry knife until dough comes together. Gather together gently and split dough in two. Make 2 discs, wrap in plastic and put in fridge.

Caramel Sauce:

1 cup sugar

6 tbsp butter, cut into 6 pieces

1/2 cup heavy cream or whipping cream

1 tsp salt

Heat sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar melts and turns an amber colour.

Add butter gently, as mixture will bubble up. Stir until melted.

Very slowly, whisk in the cream, being careful as mixture will bubble up and splatter.

Allow mixture to boil for 1 minute.

Remove from heat, stir in salt and let cool before using.

Filling:

2 tsp fresh lemon zest

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

6 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I used a mix of Spartan and Cortland)

1/4 cup flour

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 and 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar

Put lemon zest and juice in bowl.

Add apples and gently mix.

Add dry ingredients to apples and gently toss.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Assemble and bake the pie:

Roll out one disc of dough, and place in pie dish.

Put apple filling in bottom crust.

Pour 1/2 cup of caramel sauce on filling.

Roll out top crust and place over filling.

Pinch the top and bottom crust together and finish decoratively.

Make vent holes in top crust.

Brush with lightly beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Place on baking sheet and bake at 400F for 20 min.

Turn temp down to 375F and bake an additional 40 minutes.

If pie looks too brown, cover loosely with foil.

To serve, drizzle pie with extra caramel sauce (I omitted this step for the contest).

Enjoy!

 AvRuskin based her recipe on this: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/07/04/salted-caramel-apple-pie/

Crime Stoppers helps clear 139 cases in 2014

Crime Stoppers of Simcoe-Dufferin-Muskoka received 1,896 new tips and 2,609 follow-up tips in 2014, a combination of calls to the tip line, web tips and mobile text tips.

Tips assisted police in clearing 139 cases resulting in 108 arrests and 306 charges being laid for a variety of offences including Criminal Code, Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and Highway Traffic Act.

Tips also assisted police in recovering just over $600,000 worth of property and illicit drugs, up from $400,000 in 2013. Since inception in 1987, that number has grown to over $68 million.

Last year saw a drastic increase in the number of cases solved, arrests made and charges laid over 2013. This increase is thanks to great tips from the public, media partners and local police agencies.

During the year, Crime Stoppers has also increased the use of social media to get information out, such as crimes, suspects and missing or wanted persons in the public eye quickly so tipsters can easily access the information.

The Crime Stoppers of Simcoe-Dufferin-Muskoka Board approved more than $21,000 in reward payments in 2014. The money is raised by the board and committee volunteers at a number of local fundraising events. Locally focused committees exist in Barrie, Orillia, Muskoka, Dufferin, South Simcoe, Southern Georgian Bay and the Georgian Triangle.

Crime Stoppers provides a safe, secure and anonymous way for citizens to report crime. Tipsters will never be required to reveal their name, make a statement or appear in court. Phone calls to Crime Stoppers are not recorded and the organization does not use call display. Information could lead to a cash reward of up to $2,000.

Anyone with information about a crime is asked to call 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or go to www.tipsubmit.com to send a web tip.

For more information about how to volunteer, visit www.crimestopperssdm.com or call 705-726-2237.

Crowning tradition

The GNE’s new Senior Ambassador hopes to get more people involved in the agricultural fair.

Creemore resident Nicole Gowan took home the crown on Friday, September 20 after making a speech about the history of her family farm.

“I know I made a lot of people proud,” said Gowan, making special mention of her grandmother who was in the audience when she won the competition, as well as of her grandfather, who passed away last year.

Gowan is the third member of her family to become GNE royalty. Her mother, Lynn Gowan, and her sister, Carlee Gowan, won the competition in years past.

As the 2013-2014 Senior Ambassador, Gowan plans to spread the word about farm life in her speaking engagements and when she meets new people.

She is also excited to practice public and impromptu speaking, as well as to learn more about agricultural issues.

Currently, Gowan attends Georgian College in Orillia, where she is working to become a developmental service worker. In her new role, she will return home every month to attend events.

Of everything in her calendar, Gowan is most looking forward to competing with all of the fair ambassadors at the Canadian National Exhibition next in Toronto next August.

“I hope the ambassadors learn to participate in the community,” said Maureen McLeod, who ran the Ambassador program this year. “The ability to present as well-rounded people will lead to a well-rounded community.”

Curiosity House finds its saviour

It’s said that Yogi Berra, the great New York Yankee, didn’t have much time for books. But he is known for his ability to coin a phrase, and we’d like to borrow one of his best-known ones here. For when we reported the long-feared and recently announced closure of Curiosity House Books last week, it turns out we should have added a caveat: that, as Yogi said, “it ain’t over ’till it’s over!”

In a surprise turn of events, Creemore’s bookstore found a buyer this week, and will now continue its operations at a new location next month.

“The partners of Curiosity House Books & Gallery are delighted to announce that Ralph Hicks will become the new owner of the bookstore on May 25, 2012,” said a statement from current owners Catherine Randall, Miriam Vince, Rowland Fleming and Tom Vandewater, delivered to the Echo on Thursday afternoon. “The business will then move to a new location further up the street at 178 Mill Street (in the space formerly occupied by Cottonwood Historic Trim and Moulding).”

Although Hicks is best known in Creemore as the sculptor of the Dress Up Dance fountain in the horticultural park, he does have an extensive background in the retail industry. Before coming to Canada, he was a buyer in London, England for one of the largest drugstore chains in the world; later, he became a successful consultant to the Canadian retail industry. Since closing his consultancy business seven years ago, Hicks has been focusing on his sculpting full-time at his Mulmur home and studio.

That is, until early this week, when he had a revelation. “At about 9:30 on Monday morning, I was driving in Toronto, and I started to think about the bookstore’s imminent demise,” he told the Echo. “I simply thought that someone should save it, and then I realized: why not me?”

A half an hour later he was on the phone with Randall, and on Tuesday they met and came to an agreement. On Wednesday, a lease was signed at the new location. “It’s really quite amazing how things can move along when there’s only one person making the investment decision,” he said.

While Hicks will need a few weeks to acquaint himself with the store and the publishing industry, he said his objective for his new business will be simple. “I aim to make this the best little bookstore in Canada,” he said. “It’s already been voted one of the ten best, and I want to build on that. I really believe that if you are determined to be the best in your field, commercial success can follow.”

After a long hunt for someone to take over the business, the current owners of Curiosity House greeted Hicks’ purchase with a mixture of excitement and relief.

“We are thrilled by the amazing commitment Ralph is making to ensure that the store continues to be a worthwhile contributor to the cultural health of the community,” they said in their joint statement. “We anticipate that his business acumen will ensure that Curiosity House will be a vital and viable business enterprise for many years to come. And to this end, we encourage all of our friends and supporters to support Ralph and his staff as they enter this new phase of operation.”

Curiosity House longlisted for Libris Award

Creemore’s own Curiosity House Books has been longlisted for an award that celebrates excellence in Canada’s book industry.

On Monday, the Retail Council of Canada announced that Curiosity House was one of 14 book stores nominated for the 2014 Libris Awards.

The annual Libris Awards honour outstanding achievements made in every part of the book industry, from authors and editors to sales representatives, distributors and booksellers of all kinds.

Book stores are nominated and voted on by members of the Canadian bookselling community.

Curiosity House is nominated in the “Bookseller of the Year” category. Other categories include Campus Bookseller of the Year, Specialty Bookseller of the Year, Small Press Publisher of the Year, Young Readers Book of the Year and Editor of the Year.

“This year’s list of nominees in all categories is truly a “who’s who” of all things bookish, from coast to coast,” said Curiosity House Manager, Jenn Hubbs. “We are so fortunate to be part of a supportive independent bookselling community, and it’s an honour to see our name on the long list with such other notable independent bookstores across Canada.”

This year, the Retail Council received a record number of nominations for consideration. “[The longlist is] diverse and showcases the talent working across the country to connect Canadian readers with meaningful books,” said Lesley Fletcher of the Retail Council.

Members of Canada’s book industry will vote on the long list and announce the finalists in April.
The winners will be announced at the Libris Awards Gala on Monday, June 2 at the Retail Council of Canada’s annual conference.

“We could not have made the list without the support of our local community, and we cannot thank our patrons enough for their loyalty and continued support,” added Hubbs. “The shortlist will come out in April – cross your fingers for us!”

Curiosity House reaches its final chapter

Dear Echo readers:

The past six months have been a rollercoaster ride for the staff and partners of Curiosity House.

In November of 2011, we learned that the building which houses our business had been sold and that we would not have an option to renew our lease. Catherine and Miriam were also committed to taking their lives into new directions, which would allow more time for family and travel as well as volunteer and artistic pursuits. To that end, we have spent the past six months working hard to find affordable new rental space and energetic new owners to take up our mission of connecting our customers with the best possible offerings in the world of books and local art. Unfortunately, our efforts have not been successful and we are saddened to announce that Curiosity House Bookstore & Gallery will be closing its doors at the end of May.

The current partners of Curiosity House have walked in the very impressive footsteps of such illustrious people as founding partners Pat and Chris Raible, and their successor, Louise Richardson. We are proud to have spent the past six years working hard to bring our customers the best selection, service and programming possible and we are happy to have been chosen one of Canada’s Top Ten Independent Bookstores, by the CBC Radio book club. We have worked hard to be a valuable contributor to the cultural landscape of the village and we have tried to expand our outreach efforts to connect with a larger portion of the local population.

No business can become a success without the considerable efforts of talented and enthusiastic staff.  We have been very lucky to have wonderful employees who understand that excellent service is key to the success of any small business. We would like to express our thanks to them for a job very well done.

We also take this opportunity to thank our customers for their continued patronage, during a time when independent booksellers face the dual challenges of online and discount retailers and ebooks. You have kept this business moving forward during a very difficult time in the retail and publishing industry and it has been a real privilege to have served you over the past six years.

When the outcome of a situation is not what we hoped for, we have two options. We can either view it as failure or, as we believe, we can take it as an opportunity to acknowledge our successes. To that end, the partners at Curiosity House have decided to spend the month of May celebrating the wonderful relationships that have sustained us over the years. Beginning May 4, we are having a storewide sale. On Saturday, May 19, we invite you to join us at our “Farewell to Curiosity House” party. This will be our way of saying, “Thank you!” to our customers, staff, family and friends for their loyalty and support over the past six years.

The Partners of Curiosity House Bookstore & Gallery: Catherine Randall, Miriam Vince, Rowlie Fleming, Tom Vandewater and with the memory of our dear friend, Jim Vandewater.

Curiosity House waits for a little magic

Once upon a time there was a bookstore, a small shop in a pleasant village, a place where people could buy books and newspapers, meet their friends, listen to stories and celebrate art. The people have loved their bookstore and can’t imagine life in the village without it.

So far this has been a happy story, but it is no fairy tale. Because there are clouds on the horizon and if this story is to have a happy ending, it’s going to need more than magic.
This coming spring, Creemore’s Curiosity House Bookstore will close its doors for good if some book-loving soul doesn’t come forward to take it over.

“We are open to anything,” says part owner and proprietor Catherine Randall who, with Miriam Vince and silent partners Rowland Fleming and Tom Vandewater, has co-owned the bookstore for the past six years. “Our main concern is to keep the bookstore open, but right now we have two choices: to close it or sell it.”

Randall, who at 68 is ready to retire, has been trying to come up with a succession plan for the past year. But last fall’s sale of the bookstore’s Mill Street location has forced the issue. The new owners, who plan to open a restaurant at the site, will take possession at the end of April. The Curiosity House’s lease is up in June.

Randall says that she has had a few expressions of interest, but so far new owners have not materialized. And although she did not reveal numbers, she says the price is very negotiable.
“We are committed to keeping the bookstore in in the village,” says Vince, “and to that end, we are willing to sell for lower than market value.” As well, both Randall and Vince say they will help in any way they can to “transition and mentor the new owners.”

“It is a successful business,” says Randall. “It is profitable; someone could make a modest living.” And despite the fact that bookstores these days are under siege with the advent of e-readers and other electronic devices, sales at Curiosity House have “at least doubled” since Randall and her partners took over. “We have an incredibly loyal customer base. All our staff members read. The service you get here you can’t get anywhere else.”

But business considerations aside, Curiosity House is also “an invaluable asset to this town,” says Vince. “It’s become a hub for cultural activity and interactions between people.” Indeed many residents use it as a meeting place and as an informal pick up and drop off centre for communications and small packages. The bookstore provides community liaison, it acts as an information centre and a small tourism bureau.

“ ‘I’ll leave it at the bookstore,’ has become a familiar phrase,” Vince says. “It has become a touchstone in peoples’ lives.”

Last fall, Curiosity House was named one of Canada’s 10 favourite bookstores by CBC Radio listeners. In addition to selling books, there is a thriving art gallery with regular exhibitions of local artists; there is a book club, a knitting group and a children’s reading hour. Randall and Vince regularly hold book signings, art openings, special author lunches and other literary events in Creemore.

Chris and Pat Raible opened the Curiosity House in 1995 at 191 Mill Street (now the office of Ferris and Celhoffer) because the couple felt Creemore “needed a bookstore. We wanted it to be a place where interesting people could visit and buy books,” says Chris. And that’s exactly what happened.

“We were delighted to see the interest,” adds Pat. “Creemore was not exactly a hotbed of intellectual activity,” she says, adding it was difficult to find a Globe and Mail at the time. The Raibles began the tradition, still carried on today, of reserving clients’ newspapers with wooden clothespins. “We brought authors in and connected with the artists’ community. Sue Miller had her very first showing at our bookstore,” says Chris.

“We have been delighted that for more than 15 years the store has not only survived but flourished,” says Chris. “We dearly hope someone will continue it in their own way because it is so important to the community.”

Director and part owner Rowland Fleming remembers the day six years ago when he and the late Jim Vandewater had lunch at Chez Michel and speculated what would happen if the bookstore closed. At the time, then owner Louise Richardson had put the business up for sale. “We didn’t want that to happen,” says Fleming. “Now we are again hoping that a way might be found to keep Curiosity House open.” Fleming assured the Echo that he and his partners are willing to “create a very attractive arrangement. Let’s make a deal,” he says. “This is not a usual circumstance where we’re selling a business and want to get our money back.”

Randall and Vince say it has been a fantastic job but both are ready for a break. “You do it for love,” Vince says. “But it’s time for some new life in this business, for someone who has fresh ideas and enthusiasm.”

A fairy godmother perhaps?

Cybergnomes building new robot

The FIRST Robotics Team 2013, the Cybergnomes have begun building this year’s bot.

During a six-week build period 22 students from Grades 9-12 will work as a team to construct a competitive robot.

Team members have different positions and jobs to complete.

The Cybergnomes have participated in many other events prior to build season, such as off-season events, Robots Rule, a public exhibit at the Ontario Science Centre, and the GNE  The team has had weekly meetings since the beginning of September, where new build members have learned how to operate machinery and programs. The team has also been working hard fundraising and raising awareness in the community for their team.

The Cybergnome bui