Directory






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!’”

$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.

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 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 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 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 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 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.

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.

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 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.

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 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.

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

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 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 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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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 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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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, 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 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.

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.

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.

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?”

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.

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 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 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.

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.

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 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 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 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 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 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’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.

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.

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 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 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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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 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 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 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 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.

csb_1

csb_2

csb_3

csb_4

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’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.

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 finish fourth in first test

2013 has been dubbed “The Year of the Gnome” by Clearview Township’s Cybergnomes Robotics Team 2013, the only Robotics Team in Simcoe County.

This past weekend (March 7, 8 and 9) saw the Cybergnomes compete in their first of three robotics competitions this year. The event, held at Oshawa’s University of Ontario Institute of Technology, played host to teams from across North America.

The weekend got off to a shaky start when the team’s 117-pound robot fell from the eight-foot tower it was trying to climb. Undeterred, the team pressed on, making modifications over the next few matches. Focus, hard work and perseverance paid off and the Cybergnomes brought the stadium to its feet as they completed the day’s first climb to the top of the tower in their fifth match.

By the end of the day, the Cybergnomes had achieved the highest number of climb points of any team on the field, won the Delphi Excellence in Engineering Award and captained their alliance of three teams to a top-four finish, ultimately getting knocked out in the semi-finals by an alliance of two former world champion teams.

The team is working hard over March break adjusting strategy, practicing driving and tweaking designs to be ready for their next match in Boston, Massachussets on March 21, 22 and 23. After that, the Cybergnomes compete in Mississauga from March 28 to 20. The games can be viewed live on the Internet at watchfirstnow.com. Just click on “Live” and choose the regional event you want to watch. Matches are broadcast Friday and Saturday from 8:30 am until 5 pm EST. The finals are broadcast Saturday from 1:30 to 5 pm EST.

Learn more at cybergnomes.ca or find the team on Facebook at Cybergnomes Robotics FRC Team 2013.

Cybergnomes looking for support

The 2013 Cybergnomes Robotics Team will host a fundraising Spaghetti Supper and Silent Auction from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on Thursday, February 7 in the Stayner Collegiate Institute Cafeteria.

Soldiering on as a committee of Clearview Council after its existence for this school year was threatened by the teachers’ labour dispute and the removal of extra-curricular activities at SCI, the Cybergnomes team is planning on attending three First Robotics events in March and April – one in Oshawa, one in Mississauga and one in Boston. A win at any of these competitions would earn them a berth at the world championships, to be held in St. Louis, Missouri at the end of April.

For those who have never seen what these First Robotics teams are capable of, check out the video below describing their challenge for the 2013 season. Team members learn all kinds of valuable skills, from machining to welding to computer programming.

The past few years have seen the SCI team make the quarter finals in Boston, ranking them in the top 100 teams out of thousands across North America. This is quite an achievement, when you consider that most of their competition at that level is sponsored by entities like NASA and General Motors.

Cybergnomes start strong

    By Judah Page

    The Cybergnomes Robotics Team 2013 participated in their first regional competition at Durham College/University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa on March 6 and 7. They played an amazing set of matches, winning seven out of 10 qualifying games. Many of the top robots in the world were present, including the reigning World Champion.

    Every competition involves 80 qualification matches to rank the teams. We finished seventh out of 48 in this ranking. The top eight teams get to choose alliances of three different teams (and their robots), and the alliances compete against one another in the elimination playoffs. The winner of two out of three matches moves on. We seeded seven out of 48 teams, captaining our own alliance into the quarter finals.

    Sadly, we were beaten out of the quarter finals, two to one. But we went in strong and came out strong. Our robot impressed many people, firing two-ft exercise balls through an 11-ft high goal, often clearing the heads of the volunteers standing 20 feet back ready to catch them. Describing our team, the emcee remarked, “They have the strongest shooter, and maybe even the strongest drive train here today!” Our overall highest scoring match was 189 to 111.

    Our next regional competition is in North Bay on Thursday, March 27 to Saturday, March 29. If you would like to cheer us on, please go to www.watchfirstnow.com and follow the links to the North Bay Regional, or come out to Nippissing University in North Bay and support us! For more information, visit www.cybergnomes.ca.

    Dairy Farmers Cheesed Off

    A new trade agreement making it much easier for European cheese manufacturers to sell their products in Canada has set a dangerous precedent that could spell doom for this country’s dairy industry, says Clearview dairy farmer John Miller.

    Last week, Ottawa agreed to allow more than twice the amount of European cheese into this country without tacking on the previous high tariffs of more than 200 per cent.

    Lending his voice to the Dairy Farmers of Canada, which represents Canada’s 12,529 dairy farmers, Miller, owner of Jalon Farms near Creemore, warned that the agreement sets the stage for another deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will further damage Canada’s dairy industry.

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a free-trade agreement that opens up markets between Canada, Mexico, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S. and Vietnam. Canada formally joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations one year ago.

    Once the Europeans have open access to the Canadian market, other countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership will want to follow suit, Miller said.

    “From our perspective, if the EU trade deal is a dark cloud that came over the industry, the Trans-Pacific is the storm that will hit us,” said Miller. “Now that the EU has significant access to the Canadian market, the other countries will want it, too.”

    But Simcoe-Grey MP, Dr. Kellie Leitch, said although there will be changes, the Canadian government will support the farmers through them.

    The government is expected to develop the details of the EU agreement over the next few years.

    At the signing of the EU agreement-in-principle in Brussels last Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Ottawa will compensate dairy farmers if they lose sales.

    “Our farmers will be supported through new markets,” said Dr. Leitch. “This area exports a lot to feed Ontario and Canada, and now that is going to extend to Europe.”

    Unlike European dairy farmers, who are heavily subsidized by the EU, Canadian dairy farmers do not receive government subsidies. As a result, dairy products are much less expensive in Europe than they are in Canada.

    “One hundred per cent of dairy income comes from the marketplace in Canada,” Miller explained. “Our product is more expensive because it’s the actual cost of making it. [Our system] is extremely efficient and competitive, but we can’t compete with the Europeans because they subsidize.”

    “[In the EU deal, Canadians] gave up significant market share for EU cheese,” said Miller, whose 120 Jersey cows produce milk for bottled milk and milk products including cheese. “This will reduce our industry’s quotas by 2¼ per cent. If I’m milking 100 cows, then I’m going to milk 2¼ less cows as a result.

    “By signing this deal, we have moved from a non-subsidized industry to a subsidized industry. Dairy farmers have been fighting these deals for 25 years.”

    Miller is also concerned about declining milk production in this country. With more cheese coming to Canada from Europe, Canada will need less milk to produce its own cheese.

    “[Canadian dairy farmers are] losing the market for cheese made in Canada,” he said. “This is really bad for the dairy industry.”

    In addition, European regulations that prohibit farmers from feeding genetically modified foods to their animals will make it difficult for Canadian farmers to send their products to Europe, Miller said.

    Under Canadian regulations, farmers are permitted to feed their animals genetically modified foods.

    “That is a barrier that is not under the trade agreement,” said Miller. “Europe is very happy to give us access to their market because they know we wouldn’t be able to send it over there.”

    Dance and community at the Avening Hall

    Lorraine Sutton first got involved with country dancing through its community-building aspect, and it’s that side of it that she most treasures today.

    “When you’re doing these dances, you’re touching other people, you’re smiling with them, you’re trusting them – how can you not connect with people when you’re dancing with them?” said Sutton, who will host a good old-fashioned Country Dance at the Avening Hall on Saturday, April 14, starting at 8 pm.

    While she remembers seeing a square dance performed when she was a child and being enthralled by the flow of people, the patterns and the music, Sutton didn’t become seriously involved with the tradition until she was in university. There, she took advantage of a leadership development program sponsored by the Manitoba government that sent her to the International Folk Dance camp in Gimli, Manitoba. There she learned and taught all kinds of folk dances, from Romanian to Israeli, from Turkish to Quebecois.

    In 1983, after moving to Toronto, she helped revive the Toronto Country Dance, and with that organization she got seriously into calling dances.

    “I try to be really clear in my instruction, and I wear a wireless microphone so I can wander among the dancers,” she said. Sutton is now in demand as a caller at folk festivals, weddings, contra dances and community dances.

    She’s been to Avening before on several occasions, and those who’ve attended can attest to what a fun, family evening Saturday night will be.

    “If you’re nine years old and up, you can dance all night,” said Sutton. “As for the younger kids, I usually do a couple of dances for them at the beginning and then encourage their parents to tuck them in to sleep under the benches.”

    Music for the evening will be provided by Murphy’s Law, since as far as Sutton is concerned, a Country Dance should always be accompanied by a live band.

    “It’s like my father used to say,” she said. “Apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze. The same goes for dancing without real people playing the jigs.”

    The evening will be a fundraiser for the Avening Community Hall. Tickets are $15 per person and $40 per family. Lunch will be served and there will be a cash bar. For more information, call 705-466-3024.

    Darci’s latest kids’ book targets bullying

    Creemore author and illustrator darci-que has written several books about her beloved Golden Doodle Mollie, but her latest, making its debut this Saturday, November 10 from 10 am to 2 pm at the Creemore Library, is particularly poignant.

    Entitled “Marvin Bullies Mollie,” the book came to be as a result of inroads darci has been making at several GTA Chapters stores. After hosting a book signing for her last Mollie book at the Square One Chapters last spring, the store’s manager approached darci, complimented her on her books’ popularity with kids, and suggested she tackle the timely subject of bullying.

    “I was a little nervous to do it,” said darci, who along with her daughter Emily has some personal experience with bullying. “But when I sat down to write it, it came out much differently than my other books. It came from my heart.”

    Author/Illustrator darci-que

    In addition to Saturday’s local launch, the book was the subject of an event on Thursday at the Square One Chapters, and darci is excited about the possibility of seeing her books on more shelves in the city.

    “This one has a really good message, and I hope it goes far,” she said.

    Those who attend the book’s Saturday launch will receive “Bark for No Bullying” wristbands to wear with pride.

    Dates set for electoral review town halls

    Dates have been set for a series of four town hall meetings to be hosted by Clearview Township as part of its ongoing electoral review.

    Residents looking for more information about the process or wishing to have their say about the possibility of either redrawing the municipality’s ward boundaries, lessening the number of wards or abolishing the wards altogether in favour of an at-large voting system can attend any or all of the following meetings: Thursday, September 12 at 7 pm at the Nottawa Memorial Community Centre; Saturday, September 14 at 10 am at the Station on the Green in Creemore; Saturday, September 14 at 2 pm at the Brentwood Community Centre; and Tuesday, September 17 at 7 pm at the Stayner Community Centre.

    The consultant hired by the Township to help with the process has been interviewing Councillors and staff; during the meetings, a selection of options will be presented to the public and feedback will be encouraged.

    A recommendation will then come back to Council in time for one final statutory public meeting and a decision by October 21, the Township’s deadline.

    More information can be found by clicking here. set for a series of four town hall meetings to be hosted by Clearview Township as part of its ongoing electoral review.

    Decision on Mulmur Deviation

    Based on four legal opinions Mulmur Council finally made a decision on the ownership of the Third Line deviation lands. The June 5 resolution, differed since March of 2008, deems the lands in question – on Lots 18, 19, 20, just south of County Road 20 and west Terra Nova – will no longer be included in future schedules and publications and Mulmur has relinquished any claim to ownership, effectively handing the land to the adjacent property owner, John Thomson.

    The deviation roadway, as explained by community elder Robert Ireland of Violet Hill, was created out of necessity when early settlers, seeking the easiest route for travel, chose to go around a hill rather than over it as the surveyed road allowance suggested. With the installation of proper roads throughout the area the deviation was abandoned for transport with the land maintaining its popularity as a hiking path trailing through the heart of Mulmur.

    During this time the ownership remained vague. The issue became contentious when Thomson, in the hopes of reducing ATV traffic, requested the closure of the deviation in 2008. Thomson stated he had deed to the land while others, including Councillor Rhonda Campbell Moon, believed the Township had ownership. Currently she claims there is proof Mulmur paid $425 on December 15, 1915 for lots 18 and 19 and obtained proof of purchase on lot 20 prior to that. Mayor Paul Mills however maintains, based on four different legal opinions and lack of a legal deed, the Township would be unable to provide adequate proof of ownership in court.

    Mills says the cost to defend ownership of the land would be between $300,000 and $500,000. Considering the Township has the ability to build on an existing road allowance running parallel to the deviation or expropriate land should there ever be a desire to extend the third line, this would, in his opinion, be a substantial waste of the taxpayersʼ money.

    The decision by the current council was made against the backdrop of frustration and accusations against municipal leadership throughout the years. All discussion on the legal opinions were held in camera with some members of the public frustrated by the secrecy.

    Dick Byford, named Mulmur’s 2012 Senior of the Year has renounced the honour over this issue. He feels that the Council has for years disregarded the input of the public and has made decisions about the deviation without providing proper explanation. “I can no longer stand up and say with pride and, without embarrassment, that I represent Mulmur,” said Byford in his resignation letter to Council.

    In a presentation to council, as recorded in a 2008 article in the Orangeville Citizen by Wes Keller, Roads Advisory Chairman Alan Lyons said, “Many of the taxpayers in the Township feel more than one back room deal has been made by previous council members regarding this property.”

    To date various iterations of Mulmur council have spent $86,000 on opinions from many sources including George H. Rust-D’Eye of Weir Foulds, who is recognized in the resolution. The current council has now released this formerly unpublished opinion on their website hoping to alleviate the concerns and offer some clarity on the situation to all residents.

    Mayor Mills hopes this resolution will bring some closure for everyone, “We needed to get this issue dealt with once and for all and get it off the books.”

    Decision time looms on community halls

    With fire and electrical safety reports now in hand for Clearview Township’s six community halls (excluding the seventh, the Station on the Green), Mayor Ken Ferguson has invited hall board members and the public to a special meeting of Council on Monday, March 18 to once again discuss the future of the six buildings.

    A similar meeting was held last fall, when a report by Township engineering firm R.J. Burnside & Associates revealed it would cost in the neighbourhood of $1 million to bring the halls in Avening, Dunedin, Duntroon, Nottawa, Sunnidale Corners and Brentwood up to the province’s accessibility standards. At that time, Council requested fire and electrical safety reports be done on the buildings as well before any decisions are made on upgrades.

    Township Transportation and Recreation General Manager Steve Sage confirmed to the Echo that those reports have now been received, and that there are “significant orders on both types of inspections.” The lists vary in length for each hall, with some needing basic improvements like new fire alarms and smoke extinguishers, and some needing more drastic work. Cost analysis has yet to be done, said Sage, but he did confirm that the Avening Hall had the longest list of required improvements.

    There are deadlines associated with both reports, but Sage was hesitant to talk about the implications. “There are political decisions that need to be made,” he said.

    The challenge facing Council is to decide whether fulfilling the fire and electrical requirements is contingent on also doing the work outlined in the Burnside report, and whether all of the halls should be improved or if one or more should be closed.

    To that end, Sage said the meeting on March 18 would be important for the purpose of gauging the vision and commitment of each of the hall boards. “We want to know how they feel about the issues,” he said.

    The fire and safety reports were to be given to members of Council and the hall board chairs on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. Details of the reports will be made public after those people are in receipt of the information.

    Deputy Chief to take over as acting chief

    Clearview Deputy Fire Chief Colin Shewell will be appointed the Township’s Acting Fire Chief at the Council meeting on Monday, July 22, according to a press release issued by the municipality on Wednesday.

    “Due to recent events involving the Fire Chief, the Township has found it necessary to initiate a change at this time to ensure complete functional oversight of Fire and Emergency Services is maintained, that operational responsibilities are continued in a seamless manner and that the public safety of the people within the municipality, their businesses and properties are assured in keeping with the good fire prevention and protection practices,” said the statement.

    Mayor Ken Ferguson gave no comment when asked about the current status of Chief Bob McKean, who originally retained his title but was put on desk duty after being charged with impaired and dangerous driving two weeks ago.

    Design firm focuses on creativity

    For Creemore resident Steve Sopinka, the relationships between interior and exterior, between building and landscape and between people and their environment are endlessly fascinating. With his new company, fieldesign, he’s aiming to be contemplating these things for a long time into the future.

    “I’m interested in the different ways that a building can work, both as an entity itself and on the land,” says Sopinka, who holds a Professional degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Guelph and a Master’s of Architecture from the University of Toronto and has been applying his unique combination of skills at architecture firms in Toronto, New Zealand, Iceland and North Bay since graduating.

    Sopinka and his young family moved to Creemore two years ago, and he’s been gearing up to launch his own design firm since arriving here.

    Now that he’s up and running, he’s offering a full suite of design services, from renovations and additions, to house/cottage/outbuilding plans, to exterior space and landscape planning and even furniture design.

    “If people are looking for something creative, and perhaps something more meaningful, I’d love to work with them,” said Sopinka.

    A browse of Sopinka’s website, at fieldesign.ca, confirms the creative aspect of his work. There’s a modern take on a Lake Nipissing ice hut, a stunning Victorian kitchen reno that mixes the vintage and the modern, and an interesting idea for a prefab studio that can be built just about anywhere. All reflect a thoughful approach to efficiency and functionality.

    For more information, visit www.fieldesign.ca or call Sopinka at 705-520-0066.

    Development in plan for Mulmur

    After a year in development, the Township of Mulmur has approved its first-ever Strategic Plan.

    A blueprint for the future, the plan outlines five goals for the Township to achieve by 2018: to grow its residential and industrial/commercial development; increase awareness about Mulmur as a destination for recreation; improve local access to services; establish funding guidelines and cost-efficient purchasing protocols for major and recurring expenses; and increase public participation in Township governance and volunteerism.

    “The Strategic Plan is very important because it is going to give Council direction over the next five years,” said Mulmur Mayor Paul Mills. “It will give the Councillors focus.”

    Titled “Mulmur’s Thriving Future,” the plan sets out a vision of a Township that balances rural life with responsible economic and social development for all residents.

    It contains the goal of increasing business in the area by 2 to 10 per cent and includes the recommendation to form a Development Committee. Whether this will be a Committee of Council or a community group remains to be decided by Council.

    A Steering Committee headed by Keith Lowry and guided by Sue Powell of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, spent the past year gathering public input through surveys and Town Hall meetings. As well, the Committee considered feedback from emails it received and from public meetings held throughout 2013.

    The respondents and participants included long-term residents, newcomers, weekenders, farmers and business people, who voiced opinions on such issues as traffic, agricultural heritage, land-use planning and working with other municipalities.

    “We needed to have a broad-based sense of community values, issues and beliefs,” said Lowry. “We were delighted about the quality and quantity of responses and suggestions.”

    “A key finding from the surveys,” said Lowry, “is that Mulmur’s beauty attracts people and keeps people.” But, he added, “The composition of the Township has changed over the last 15 years. An increasing number of people began as weekenders and became permanent residents.”

    He said that many people come to Mulmur who aren’t totally bound by the area’s agricultural past. However, Lowry says the attitude from the more established families is an open one. “I’ve seen the openness of families who have been here for a long time to have new people come in and take part in the community,” he said.

    The Steering Committee found that while costs of services are rising, tax revenues are projected to remain stable or decline. And it found that meeting the diverse needs of Mulmur’s demographic mix will present a special set of challenges in the coming years.

    The Strategic Plan has been drawn up to meet these challenges.

    One way the Plan addresses the rising cost of delivering services is to integrate resources in Mulmur. For instance, the Honeywood Arena at the North Dufferin Community Centre and the Mansfield baseball park currently have two separate recreational boards. Under the Plan, the two facilities will be centralized under one board; a move that will save money and help integrate the two communities.

    “The idea is to let people from Mansfield know what is going on in Honeywood, what facilities the two areas have, and vice versa,” Mills said.

    The proposed Primrose Business Park, which is located at the intersection of Highway 10 South and Highway 89, has been part of the Township’s Official Plan (which the province mandates) for years. Now, the establishment of the Business Park is part of the Strategic Plan, too.

    Mills said the Plan also includes initiatives intended to get people more involved in the Township by encouraging them to join committees and volunteer for local events.

    “Community spirit has been lost over the years,” said Mills. “Sometimes new people move in and they don’t get to know the older people. We need to get people aware of what’s going on and get them out.”

    He would particularly like to see greater participation from area youth. To that end, the Strategic Plan will hire a Recreational Coordinator or appoint a member of the community to coordinate recreational activities in the Township.
    “We want to get youth involved,” said Mills, adding that he would like to see a 15- or 16-year-old on the Recreational Committee so Council could hear their perspective.

    The new Strategic Plan is the result of Mayor Paul Mills’s promise to create one during his 2010 election campaign.
    Members of the public can read the Strategic Plan at www.mulmurtownship.ca, and join a mailing list to find out about issues in the area.

    Disbelief and joy as Highland withdraws

    For most people, making their thoughts known on social media or on the sidewalk, the initial reaction was disbelief. Over the course of the day though, as the news became real, disbelief became jubilation, albeit tinged with a hint of caution.

    The Creemore Echo received the news at 10 am on Wednesday, with an email from Highland Companies’ public relations firm, Hill & Knowlton. “The Highland Companies announced today that it is withdrawing its application to develop a quarry in Melancthon Township,” it said.

    John Scherer, speaking for Highland in place of John Lowndes, who resigned from his post as company president on Wednesday, explained the rationale behind the decision. “While we believe that the quarry would have brought significant economic benefit to Melancthon Township and served Ontario’s well-documented need for aggregate,” said Scherer, “we acknowledge that the application does not have sufficient support from the community and government to justify proceeding with the approval process.”

    According to the release, Highland plans to continue focusing on its farms and on “supplying its customers with high quality potatoes and other crops.” The company is currently the largest potato producer in the province.

    Mulmur rancher Carl Cosack, who has led the North Dufferin Agricultural Task Force in opposing the quarry since the group was formed in 2009, said he felt “truly humbled” upon hearing the news. “There are a thousand pieces to the puzzle that beat this,” he said, “from the local residents, to the folks at the Creemore Farmers’ Market, to the media, to the chefs, to the politicians who got on board. We have had such tremendous support, and all of it has been courteous, professional and solutions-based. I can’t thank people enough.”

    While Cosack said the news caught him unawares in the moment, the fact Highlands was withdrawing was actually not that surprising to him. The ongoing Environmental Assessment of the project was nearing the peer review stage, and according to Cosack, the sheer size of the proposal was starting to look like too high a risk for the province. “I think Highland was beginning to see the writing on the wall,” he said.

    Cosack also sounded a note of caution, pointing out that the Aggregate Resources Act, which was under review when the provincial government prorogued parliament, remains unchanged. “We need to make sure those changes are made, or else five years from now we could be looking at this thing again,” he said.

    That said, the announcement remained a cause for celebration, said Cosack, and Wednesday would be remembered as a “tremendous day.”

    That thought was echoed by Maple Valley resident Miriam Streiman, who along with Sandi Wong and Donna Baylis worked tirelessly to get word of the quarry application out to Farmers’ Markets and community groups across southern Ontario. Streiman was also a major organizer of Foodstock and Soupstock.

    “This is a very special moment,” she told the Echo. “We never gave up, and today I’m proud to be a member of this community and a resident of Ontario.”

    Dismay for wind farm news

    Opponents to a proposed wind farm near Stayner expressed dismay this week at news the province has accepted as complete wpd Fairview Wind Inc.’s application.

    In an email sent to members of Preserve Clearview, a community group opposing the wind farm, Chuck Magwood, who owns a property near the site, wrote, “We had hoped that this application would be sent back to the applicant as incomplete and not in compliance with the Regulations of Ontario. It should have been, as it is a grossly flawed application.”

    Acceptance of the application means the Ministry of the Environment will now begin its review. The public has 60 days (until Saturday, February 1) to comment on the application.

    “History [shows] they will approve it,” stated Magwood. “We’re on the on-ramp for turbine approval.”

    However, he and his group are not giving up the fight.

    “Clearview is not a willing host for this project,” he said, citing safety concerns about the proposed location of the wind farm near the Collingwood Airport and the project’s adverse effect on property values as two reasons why. “We encourage the public to keep faith. We may have lost a small battle, but we believe we will win. This is one of the most beautiful areas and it will not be tarnished by 500-foot steel wind turbines.”

    Michael Wynia, Director of Community Planning and Development for Clearview, also expressed concern about the progress the application has made in spite of the Township’s concerns that it was not complete and that a required municipal consultation had not been performed.

    In recent letters to the Ministry, Wynia outlined numerous attempts to contact the Ministry, with no response.

    “In my prior correspondence,” he wrote, “I noted that the municipality was not even in a position to complete the mandatory municipal consultation form due to technical errors in that form.”

    However, Kristina Rudzki, Senior Project Evaluator on the Renewable Energy Team at the Ministry, defended the Ministry’s decision saying wpd Fairview Wind Inc.’s application was accepted because it met all Ministry requirements.

    Kevin Surette, Manager of Communications at wpd, told the Echo that his company has requested meetings with the Township but that this meeting hasn’t happened yet. “We are looking to sit down with them and address their concerns,” he said.

    Surette said his company received feedback from the public at the two Ministry-required open houses it held since first announcing the project in spring 2010. “A summary of these issues is in the application to the Ministry of the Environment,” he said. “All the required information has been submitted and [the Ministry] can now move to the technical phase. Municipal consultation is part of that.”

    Despite these assurances, Magwood says the outlook for proponents is not good. “Projects like this one are on some kind of treadmill heading to final approval.”

    He said that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s recent promise not to build projects in municipalities that don’t want them looks like lip service now. He suspects this promise only applies to new projects and that the Fairview wind farm has been caught in the pipeline since its application was first filed with the Ministry in August 2012.

    Magwood claims that like Wynia, his requests for information from the Ministry have not been answered. “We have been frustrated for months to get information from the Ministry and the Ontario Power Association,” Magwood said. “We are worried about our ability to compete in an uneven playing field.”

    The Ministry’s Rudzki said, “It’s important to note that when an application is deemed complete, it marks the beginning of the six-month formal review period. Deeming an application complete does not mean the Ministry has approved the proposal.” And Surette points out that citizens can still submit comments to the Ministry.

    Still, Magwood is concerned that the Ministry’s request for feedback comes at a time when the public could be too busy to give the issue the proper attention. “We almost lose half of the 60-day period due to Christmas and the time of year,” he said.

    But Rudzki said, “The Ministry was aware that the public consultation period would fall over the holiday season, which is why the comment period was extended from the standard 30 days to 60 days.”

    The Ministry of the Environment is accepting comments about this project until February 1, 2014. Individuals can send feedback to Kristina Rudzki, Senior Project Evaluator, Ministry of the Environment, Operations Division, Environmental Approvals Branch, 2 St. Clair Avenue West, Floor 12A, Toronto, Ontario M4V 1L5. Or, they can call 1-800-461-6290 (toll-free).

    Once the Ministry has considered the comments, it will make a decision to accept or reject the application, or to send it back to wpd for more information.

    Divas return for annual holiday show

    It has become a tradition to finish off the seasonal Gift of Music series with a concert featuring female vocalists, our “Divas,” and this year is no exception. Mezzo-soprano Erica Iris Huang, who so charmed us last year, will be joined by lyric soprano Stephanie Yelovich, tenor Andrew Byerlay, and pianist Blair Salter. Our dynamic and gifted young vocalists never fail to delight us with their strong stage presence, their sense of humour, and a selection of music that is a mix of both classical and seasonal repertoire.

    Mezzo soprano Erica Huang engaged us last year with her trademark stage presence of warmth, humour and charm. Praised by conductor and broadcaster Howard Dyck for her “gorgeous big voice, seamless from top to bottom, dramatic and highly expressive,” we are delighted to have Erica back with us again this year. Winner of the 2011 Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition, she was awarded an E-Gré Tour across Canada that was funded by Canada Council for the Arts. For the 2012/2013 season, Erica is touring with the Vancouver Opera’s School Touring Ensemble as their featured mezzo-soprano.

    Pianist Blair Salter is the music director for Metro Youth Opera’s 2012 – 2013 season of one act operas. She has a Master of Music in collaborative piano, and does both collaborative and solo work. Blair has performed with the Niagara Symphony Orchestra as a featured soloist, performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21, and in 2011 was a pianist at La Musica Lirica in Novafeltria, Italy.

    New to St. Luke’s, lyric soprano Stephanie Yelovich has a Bachelor of Music and an Opera Diploma from Wilfred Laurier University and has performed in numerous roles, including performances in Ariadne auf Naxos, Le Nozze di Figaro, Cosi fan tutte, Dvorak’s Rusalka, and Stephen Sondheim’s ‘A Little Night Music,’ On the concert stage, Stephanie has appeared with the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony alongside musician/comedian, Rainer Hersch.

    Returning to perform for the Gift of Music for his third year, tenor Andrew Byerlay is currently in his fourth year of study at the Glenn Gould School of Music. He is a Sidgwick Scholar with the Orpheus Choir of Toronto, and has performed in the Casalmaggiore International Music Festival in Italy, as well as at the International Vocal Arts Institute in Montreal. In addition to his vocal accomplishments, Andrew is also an accomplished oboist, and has performed as principal oboist with the National Concert Band of Canada for several seasons.

    This year our vocalists will perform pieces by Mozart, Donizetti, Bizet and Bach. As always, they will finish off the afternoon with a few familiar seasonal favourites.

    As the 2012 season comes to a close, we would like to thank our loyal audience for their support, as well as our sponsors, the Purple Hills Arts and Heritage Society, the Creemore BIA, Creemore Springs, and Clearview Township. With your support over the years we have been able to bring great music to the village while supporting up-and-coming young musicians, many of whom have gone on to perform on the national and international stage.

    The Gift of Music will be planning its 2013 season early in the New Year. We are exploring a few different options for off-season concerts, such as Celtic music, world music, and jazz, and we would welcome input from our audience.

    Our “Divas and Friends” concert is at St. Luke’s Anglican Church this Sunday, December 16, at 3 pm. Tickets are $15, and may be purchased at the Echo, Curiosity House Books, and at the door.

    Double-edged fiction from Dunedin writer

    Simon Heath’s first novel is aptly named. A doppelganger, in modern parlance, is a double or a look-alike of a person. And while there is surely only one Simon Heath, the Dunedin resident does live a life of duality, with one foot in the business world as a successful communications consultant and the other in the arts world as a playwright, theatre administrator and, since December, a novelist.

    Doppelganger itself has a dual nature as well. On the one hand, it’s a good old-fashioned thrill of a read, a book that posits a question – when a man who habitually throws himself against the window of his 38th floor office as part of a motivational speech about risk-taking one day goes right through the window and plunges to his death, how would that effect the people who are close to him? – and attempts to answer it. On the other hand, it’s a treatise on the quantum mechanics of time, a piece of speculative fiction in the style of The Matrix or Fight Club which contemplates the possibility that time is both particle and wave, allowing more than one reality to exist simultaneously. In this context, a more ancient definition of “doppelganger” comes into play, one that says that if you happen to see your double, as that man with the 38th floor office does on his coffee break moments before his fall, it means your realities are colliding and you’re not long for this world.

    Heath can explain the nuances of quantum theory in depth, and tends to do so in a rapid-fire delivery. Expect a few tangents as well – he might give you a ten-minute history of Toronto’s Rochdale College or throw in a real-world explanation of Zeno’s Paradox during the course of the conversation. All of this is evidence of a curious mind, something that comes through on the pages of Doppelganger as well.

    “I like ideas,” says Heath. “I like to take them apart and put them together again, and hopefully readers go away with a broader understanding of their reality.”

    Many of Heath’s ideas, and some of his characters as well, come from the experiences he’s had as a communications consultant for a veritable who’s who of corporate and government entities. His other literary project, an unpublished trilogy called Power, tells the tale of a family who escapes Toronto during a worldwide power outage caused by a solar storm. An electrical engineer tipped him off to that possibility during a year-long gig working on communications strategies for Hydro One. Apparently, we are about to enter a period of increased solar activity. The last time this happened, in 1859, northern lights were seen over the Caribbean and telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed. This got Heath to thinking, as things usually do, and next thing you know he was half-way through a trilogy of novels.

    “I just asked myself, ‘what would we do without power?,’” he says. “The rest is kind of an intellectual exercise.”

    Heath has been shopping the manuscripts for Doppelganger and Escape, the first novel of the Power trilogy, to agents and publishing houses for the last couple of years. Times are not good for the Canadian publishing industry, however, so last fall he decided to go a different route – to self-publish Doppelganger and hope to rally enough momentum with that book to generate professional interest for the other three.

    “It’s a decision that more and more creative people are being forced to make,” he said of the choice to go it alone. “In one way, the Internet makes it easier than ever to do. But on the other hand, it puts authors in a position they may not be comfortable with, having to market their work themselves. People keep telling me I need to start a blog and start tweeting, for example, but I can’t bring myself to go there.”

    Doppelganger was released in December and is available at Curiosity House Books or online (in book form at lulu.com or as an ebook at smashwords.com/books/view/239943). Heath has since acquired an agent for the Power trilogy, and with any luck (and some significant sales) he may not have to worry about marketing for much longer. There are, after all, many more questions to ask, and countless tangents to explore.

    Drawnonward Goes big for Creemore Festival

    Drawnonward’s show, as the marquee event of the Creemore Festival of the Arts, September 22 and 23 at Station on the Green, is a homecoming of sorts for a group of local artists who have made a national name for themselves capturing the Canadian landscape.

    With over 150,000 km under their belt this touring collective, formed in the 90s by Gordon Kemp, Christopher Roberts, Paul Mantrop, Steve McDonald, Robert Saley and David Marshak, has been everywhere from Florence to the arctic honing their skills as painters. Travelling together by bus, canoe, icebreaker, milk truck, train and foot the artists, five of whom currently live within the Georgian Triangle, strapped on their easels and wandered off to generate not only their work but a well-documented journey of adventure, discovery and friendship.

    The group has elicited comparisons to the Group of Seven, being there are seven members and their enormous love of creating in the great outdoors –sometimes in the same, well-known locales captured by the likes of Tom Thompson and A.Y. Jackson. These artists, all of whom are full-time professionals, have shown their work for almost two decades in galleries including Wagner-Rosenbaum, Arta, and Engine in Toronto as well as Gallerie D’Avingnon in Montreal and many more. They are prominently featured in both private and corporate collections.

    The upcoming show marks Drawnonward’s first-ever collective show in Creemore and is a little different from anything the group has presented before. For this exhibit all of the artists – with the exception of Gord Kemp, who has a sculpture planned – are using an 8’ x 8’ format for their work. This is the single largest piece most of the artists have ever done. This willingness to experiment with a new configuration is a nod to the community support they enjoy.

    “For this show we thought we wanted to offer something a little grander than just a showing of all of our collective works,” says Steve McDonald of Dunedin. “This show was a bit of a stretch for us. We see this as a special display among friends and an opportunity to get some feedback from so many people in the area that we respect.”

    Event organizers were quick to ask for Drawnonward’s participation in the inaugural Creemore Festival of the Arts. “They seemed like a natural fit,” says Simon Heath, a member of the coordinating committee. “Beyond the fact that they are a brilliant local arts collective with a national following and a nearly two decade long history, they perfectly represent the spirit of the festival Purple Hills is looking to build. Whether travelling to the arctic, India, or turning their attention to the hills and valleys that surround us, Drawnonward offers us multiple lenses to see ourselves, our community and the world.  It’s an absolute treat to be able to celebrate their work at this year’s festival.”

    The show will be open for viewing from 10:30 am to 4 pm on both the Saturday and Sunday of the festival. Along with the art there will be an opportunity to view a bit of history on the group with posters, photos, press, pamphlets and more. At the Purple Hills Arts and Heritage ticketed reception for members and their guests on Saturday, September 22 from 5 to 7 pm attendees will have a chance to hear members of the group speak and many of those same members will be available for a more casual conversation at the free community party following at 8 pm. This party will include live music performed by Grand Canyon, a band which performs at many Drawnonward events.

    For more information on Drawnonward or the festival check out www.phahs.ca

    Dunedin Helps Africa

    The story of Lynn Connell and her struggle to establish the Majengo Orphanage in Tanzania has all the trappings of a thrilling Hollywood movie: car and plane crashes; death threats; and a bad guy to be defeated if good is to prevail, with the difference being, of course, that, for the some 114 children orphaned by HIV/AIDS who now make use of the facility, the consequences of these events are very real.

    Now, on the heels of a recent increase in the number of children being cared for by the orphanage, Connell and company are looking to what she refers to as the “original donors” (the first incarnation of the Majengo Orphanage was funded largely by donors from the Creemore area) for help in constructing a new facility, hosting a fundraising party on Sunday, June 17, from noon 3 pm at her Creativity Art Retreat in Dunedin.

    “We’re on the verge,” said Connell of the fundraising effort, referring to a recent Toronto party that raised $12,000 for the new facility.
    Thus far, approximately $110,000 – including a $75,000 donation from Microsoft – has been raised. A further $190,000 is required if construction on the new facility is to begin this September; a large sum to be sure, but Connell is optimistic. (And with good reason: the story of the Majengo Orphanage is synonymous with perseverance and adaptation in the face of trying obstacles.)

    When Connell first travelled to Tanzania in 2006, she taught painting and English at a rickety orphanage that housed 16 children, learning, while she was there, about the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the region and the importance of preventative education.

    Upon returning in early 2008, Connell discovered that, despite the fact that the orphanage was located on a safari route and tourists were routinely brought to visit and encouraged to make donations, conditions had not improved. It was not until later that she discovered the orphanage was intentionally kept in a destitute state, exploiting the impoverished orphans by using them as a lure for tourists and their money.

    The man responsible for this exploitation was named Judica, and, after quitting the orphanage, Connell took up the role of whistle-blower, decrying him in her blog – an action that would, in turn, lead to her life being threatened.

    It was then that Tanzanian Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) member Charles Luoga introduced Connell to 52 children from the Majengo community, all of them orphaned by HIV/AIDS and gathered together on the mud floors and within the leaky walls of a makeshift daycare.

    Seizing the opportunity to make a genuine impact, Connell – with the help of Luoga – raised enough money to renovate two nearby buildings (thanks largely in part to Creemore area donors), ensuring the children would have a “good home” for the next four years.

    Operating costs increased, and it was thanks to the arrival of Matt McKissock of Warren, Pennsylvania – who, upon seeing the squalor in which the children lived, returned home and created the Warren Majengo Foundation to raise money for “food, education, medicine, clothing and accommodation” – that the Majengo Orphanage was able to open officially in 2009 with 55 children under the care of 12 staff.

    All the while, Judica and his threat loomed ominously. That is until September of 2010, when Connell received word from Luoga that Judica was being persecuted on charges of sexual assault.

    While awaiting court, Judica was killed in a car crash. Consequently, the Monduli District Government agreed to shut down the exploitative orphanages that were under his control along the safari route, selecting the Majengo Orphanage as the only officially recognized facility in the region and entrusting them with 86 more children, bringing the total number under their care, as of January 2012, to 114.

    Operating costs rose from $55,000 to $90,000 a year – more than McKissock was capable of fronting – and the existing facilities were no longer large enough to house all of the children. With the 4-year term at the existing facility also ending in 2013, it was decided that a new orphanage be constructed, containing a series of smaller houses on government donated land. This will, in turn, ensure that the children receive more individualized care from their mother figures, as they will be housed in smaller groups. There will also be room for a library with computers, classrooms, art rooms, soccer fields and dining facilities.

    Initially, a man named Tom Eberhardt and his wife agreed to fund the new facility, but, tragically, they died soon after in a plane crash while in Africa.
    And so, it is by means of fundraisers such as that taking place in Dunedin that the Majengo Orphanage must raise the necessary funds.

    Connell will be at the party, along with McKissock, who leaves for Tanzania the very next day to work on the build with the local government.

    Also attending will be Laurie Myles and Kim Hickman of Give Get Go, discussing their plan to organize labour for the construction of the new facility.

    “It’s incredible what it can do for your heart and soul,” said Myles, adding that Give Get Go is also planning on organizing trips for volunteers who want to work with the children once the new facility is complete.

    There will also be a model of the new facility on display at the party, presented by architect Margie Zeidler.

    Those wishing to attend are asked to RSVP by phone at 416-531-6528 or online at Building-Majengo-Creemore.eventbrite.com

    Duntroon bids school farewell

    In the end, the Duntroon that said goodbye to its public school last Saturday was much the same as the one that built it 48 years ago – a close-knit, community-minded, rural hamlet where many families have known each other for generations.

    With nearly 400 current and former residents packed standing-room only into the Duntroon Central Public School gymnasium, a succession of speakers asked for several shows of hands – from former graduates, from former faculty members, from those who were students at one of the several surrounding one-room schoolhouses that were closed when Duntroon Central opened in 1964. With each call, a flock of hands were raised. Regardless of the fate of Duntroon Central, it was clear that this remains a community that deeply cares about its educational institutions.

    That sentiment was confirmed by Caroline Smith, the Simcoe County District School Board trustee for Collingwood, who upon being introduced was applauded for her efforts to try to save the school from closure during the Accommodation Review Committee process last year.

    “I’ve never worked with a group of people who were so focused on saving a school for all the right reasons,” said Smith, noting the special spirit in every Duntroon graduate’s heart, and expressing hope that the opportunity now exists to take some of that spirit and embed it elsewhere.

    The loudest applause of the afternoon came when Mayor Ken Ferguson, a Duntroon graduate himself, took the podium (the fact that DCPS student Jared Young gave him a wrestling-style introduction didn’t hurt: “And now…. the Mayor… of Clearview Township…. Ken… Ferguuussssoooonnn!”).

    “This is a very sad day for me,” said Ferguson. “Usually I’m cutting ribbons or kissing babies. I don’t close schools; that’s not on my agenda.”
    The Mayor went on to praise the community he saw in the audience. “I see many memories out there,” he said. “This is my community – look at all that this school has produced.”

    Also speaking during the official part of Saturday’s program was outgoing DCPS principal Bill Floyd, who said he felt blessed to be part of the Duntroon community, if only for a short time; SCDSB Area 5 superintendent Paul Sloan, who painted a picture of what the world was like in 1964; DCPS students Young, Scott Miller and Sadie Campbell, who spoke of the history of education in Duntroon; and School Council chairperson Robin Ardilla, who spearheaded the organization of Saturday’s Grand Finale celebration.

    The afternoon did feel more like a celebration than a funeral, which is what Ardilla and her committee had hoped for. Following the speeches, guests filed out of the gym to see most of the student population of DCPS assembled in a circle, banging out a rhythm on drums of various sorts and sizes. With help from the drummers of Group Soume, the students increased the intensity of their drumming as a group of Duntroon graduates – one for each decade of the school’s existence – accompanied by several students with multi-generational ties to the school carried a netting full of green and white balloons into the centre of the circle. Just as it seemed the music could not get any more raucous, it stopped dead and the balloons were released, floating up and over the village of Duntroon to the southeast and disappearing into the blue.

    The rest of the day was taken up by a local talent show, a light barbecue dinner and a multi-generational baseball game.

    Duntroon Central Public School will remain open until the last day of the 2011/2012 school year. When school gets underway again in September, its students will be divided between Nottawa Elementary School, Clearview Meadows Elementary School and Nottawasaga & Creemore Public School.

    Duntroon Bowling League says goodbye

    After 57 years in the lanes of the Duntroon Hall, the Duntroon Bowling League disbanded at the end of 2013.

    Originally a league of numerous teams with members from the area, it only had enough participants to form one team of six last year.

    “There was no one to play against,” said Marjorie Ferguson who bowled with the league for about 20 years.

    The Bowling League was started by an interested group of citizens who raised money to build the bowling lanes after the Duntroon Hall was built in 1955, said James Campbell, Chair of the Hall. “Since that time, it has operated as a separate organization from the Hall Board.”

    Ted Wilson, who passed away last year, ran the league and the hall with his mother, Norma. When the Bowling League disbanded, it turned over its savings to the Hall, which will upgrade and operate the bowling alleys.

    “At one time it was full,” said Margaret Hennessy, who started bowling with the league after moving to Duntroon in 1957. “There were four teams playing a night.”

    In fact, there were so many players in the beginning that Hennessy had to wait for a spot on the team for a few years because it was full.

    “I was a spare for a few years,” she explained. “Then, somebody quit and there was a place. But it started dwindling in the late 70s and early 80s, and after that it got smaller and smaller.”

    Ferguson now finds herself missing the exercise and the socializing the bowling games offered.

    Is there is a chance the league will get revived?

    “I don’t think so,” Ferguson said. “It’s hard to make up a league. In the last couple of years the number of people has been going down. More people are playing cards. It can be hard to pick a time to play, and if you work shift work, you can’t be in the league if you are going to be working.”

    If you are interested in using the bowling lanes at the Duntroon Hall for $40, contact 705-446-2506 or jim@rockside.ca.

    Duntroon School readies for its grand finale

    If there’s one thing that the students, staff and parents of Duntroon Central Public School know in this final year before the school is closed is that they will be going out in style.

    A “Grand Finale Celebration” for the school is set to take place on Saturday, May 26, and the Duntroon community has been hard at work making sure the day is a memorable one.

    Festivities will get underway at 1 pm, when guests will be greeted by a performance by the Stayner Collegiate Institute Concert Band. Children’s programming will take place throughout the day.

    The school will be open for tours all afternoon, and several classrooms will be decked out with memorabilia from the various decades the school has been in existence.

    At 2 pm those in attendance will be piped into the school’s gymnasium by the Beinn Gorm Highlanders and an official program will begin. After speeches by the various dignitaries present, the focus will move back outside for what’s sure to be the highlight of the day.

    Students at the school have been hard at work writing messages and inserting them into balloons, which will be set free with the help of one graduate for each decade and one current student from each grade. The current students will all be descendants of other graduates of the school.

    At 3 pm, entertainment will begin, with several talented current and former students taking the stage.

    A light barbecue dinner will be served at 4 pm, and an hour after that several teams representing different decades will battle for supremacy on the baseball diamond.

    Anyone and everyone who’s had anything to do with Duntroon Central Public School over the years is invited to what’s sure to be a bittersweet community occasion.

    Easter Farmers’ Market

    A special Easter Creemore Farmers’ Market will give villagers a taste of what’s to come when the weekly Market resumes in May.

    On Saturday morning, 24 vendors will sell their wares at Station on the Green.

    “There will be baking, pies, jams, honey, maple syrup, plants and seedlings, flowers, cheeses, tea and dog biscuits,” said Pam Black (pictured on home page), who is the new President of the Creemore Farmers’ Market. “We’ve worked hard to give a good cross-section of local vendors.”

    Pam, who owns Pam’s Soaps, took over the event from former President, Sarah Hallett, earlier this year. For now, she doesn’t plan to change much about the Market. “There is no point in changing something that’s not broken! There will always be new vendors and the existing vendors will always do something new.”

    This weekend there will also be a raffle to win a Creemore Farmers’ Market apron. “It’s perfect for cooking Easter dinner!” said Pam.

    Echo food & toy drive

    For Captain Micheline Hardy, this is the “busiest and best” time of year.

    Hardy is the Corps Officer of the Ontario Central – East Division of The Salvation Army at the Hope Acres Community Church in Glencairn.

    For the last few years, she has run a food and toy drive to help bring Christmas to families all over the area in Alliston, Angus, Tottenham — and Creemore, too.

    Members of Hope Acres add toys and food vouchers to the more-than-100 Christmas hampers they provide to families who register for them.

    If you are in the Christmas spirit, you can purchase a new toy or a food voucher from any grocery store, and bring them to the Echo office for pick-up. Although food vouchers are preferred, Hardy says Hope Acres will also accept gifts non-perishable goods such as canned foods and cereals.

    Hardy will be collecting the donations from the Echo on Monday, December 16. However, Hope Acres collects donations of food all year round.

    “This year, we are looking for items for older children, ages 10 to 13,” said Hardy, who suggested gifts of mittens, gloves and age-appropriate games. “It’s hard to get things for that age group for some reason; it used to be the older teenagers that were harder, but now it is this one.”

    Echo picks up three provincial awards

    The Creemore Echo was recognized three times at last weekend’s Ontario Community Newspaper Awards, including a first place nod in the “In House Promotion” category for publisher Sara Hershoff’s subscription campaign featuring milk bottles, carrots and other consumables wrapped in Echo colours. The other two awards were for our website, thecreemoreecho.com, which earned second place in the member’s choice “Surfer’s Selection, circulation under 9,999” category and third place in the “Best Community Website/Webportal, circulation under 9,999” category. Our website was designed and developed by Creemore-based coloveration art & design.

    The Echo's award-winning House Ad.

    The Echo’s award-winning House Ad.

    Echo up for three provincial awards

    The finalists for the Ontario Community Newspaper Association’s 2012 Better Newspaper Awards were announced on Thursday and the Creemore Echo is in the running in three categories.

    In the In-House Promotion category, the Echo is up against the Brant News in Brantford and the Elmira-Woolrich Observer. The Echo is nominated for last year’s subscription drive ad campaign, which featured a local-food theme and dressed up such consumables as an apple, a carrot, a milk bottle and a box of cereal in the newspaper’s colours.

    The nominated ad in the In House Promotion category.

    The Echo’s website, thecreemoreecho.com, received the other two nominations. The website is in contention in the Best Community Newspaper Web Site/Web Portal (circulation under 9,999) category as well as the Surfer`s Selection category, which is not judged but rather the subject of a survey of OCNA members.

    Three finalists were released in all of the Better Newspaper Award categories Thursday; the winners will be announced at the OCNA`s annual spring convention on Friday, March 22.

    EDC to investigate Township rebranding

    Stating that “times have changed” since the last time Clearview attempted to update its image, members of the municipality’s Economic Development Committee came before Council Monday night to request direction to hire a professional design firm to develop a new brand for the Township.

    The Clearview EDC last undertook a branding exercise in 2001, recruiting volunteers within the Township to come up with a new logo for the municipality. But that effort stalled when it came back to Council. Clearview is currently using a logo and slogan – “Friendly People, Beautiful Landscapes” – that was developed at the time of amalgamation in 1996.

    But as EDC member Corey Finkelstein outlined in his portion of the presentation to Council Monday night, a brand is much more than a logo and a slogan. As he put it, “a brand is a living business asset, brought to life across all touchpoints which, if properly managed, creates identification, differentiation and value.”

    If the Township were to hire a professional firm, he said, it could expect to receive a new logo, a brand strategy, a visual identity, a set of brand guidelines, and some form of measurement index that would give feedback on the success of the brand.

    Finkelstein also talked about the difference of “push marketing” and “pull marketing.” Many of today’s successful brands, he said, utilize the latter, incorporating things like social media to make the experience a two-way conversation between the brand-holder and the potential customer.

    The potential cost of hiring a professional brand designer, said Finkelstein would be somewhere between $35,000 and $75,000. At this point, the EDC was looking for direction to come up with a more detailed cost estimate so that the Township could include the ask in its budget deliberations for 2013.

    Councillor Brent Preston, who sits on the EDC, explained that, as the recently struck committee has gone about laying out its priorities and strategizing about how to bring new business and tourism to the Township, the lack of a modernized brand has consistently appeared as a “roadblock.”

    But some members of Council seemed slightly leary about the pricetag, given the tough budget process that awaits them in the coming months.

    “This is on our list of things to do,” said Councillor Thom Paterson. “It’s not at the bottom, but I don’t think it’s at the absolute top either. So we need to do this the smart way – to fully cost it out. And I think we need to be prepared to go at this over several years if that’s all we can afford.”

    Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage seemed to support the initiative, pointing out that she was a member of the EDC the last time a branding exercise was conducted. “After that experience, I agree that hiring a professional is wise,” she said. “This has been an obstacle to a lot of initiatives – I believe we’ve set this aside one too many times.”

    With that, Council passed a motion directing the EDC to create a detailed proposal to be brought forward for evaluation during the 2013 budget process.

    CCC visits Council

    Members of the Clearview Community Coalition came before Council Monday night to request that Council not respond in opposition to the Niagara Escarpment’s request for a judicial review of the joint board decision to approve the Duntroon quarry expansion.

    This request was made in response to a resolution passed at Council’s last meeting, in which Clearview reiterated its support for the expansion and acknowledged “the fairness of the Consolidated Hearing Process.”

    In her remarks, CCC president Janet Gillham noted that the process could only be considered fair if “the right of the NEC to seek a judicial review is respected.” She also pointed out that the terms of the agreement between Clearview and Walker Aggregates, reached prior to the joint board hearing, do not oblige the Township to participate in the judicial review.

    Mayor Ken Ferguson was not moved by the CCC presentation, however, stating that “our position has been the same since the very start of this whole process.”

    Councillor Brent Preston, who has always opposed the quarry expansion and voted against the resolution at the last Council meeting, pointed out that at this point, the process is legally out of the hands of the municipality. “Let’s just hope it’s resolved as quickly as possible,” he said. “We’ve all paid way too much for this.”

    Administrative Restructuring

    In preparation for the upcoming retirements of Township Director of Public Works Richard Spraggs in March 2013 and Clerk Bob Campbell in April 2013, Council created three new administrative positions Monday night. The moves will save the Township $93,500 in 2013 and $152,400 in 2014 and every year after that.

    In the public works department, where up until now Deputy Director of Public Works Steve Sage has worked under Spraggs and Water/Sewer Superintendent Mike Rawn has reported to Sage, the new structure will see Sage become the General Manager of Transportation and Recreation and Rawn become the General Manager of Environmental Services. The Director of Public Works position will be eliminated in March 2013, as will Sage and Rawn’s current positions on November 1, 2012 when the new structure takes effect.

    In the clerk’s department, the part-time Records Management/Freedom of Information Clerk position has been vacant since a resignation in June 2012. Brenda Falls is currently the Executive Assistant to the Clerk. Under the restructuring, the duties of both of these positions will be combined and on November 1, 2012, Falls will become the Township’s Deputy Clerk.

    Councillor Thom Paterson was the lone member of Council to vote against these moves, stating he’d prefer to see the Township’s new pay-for-performance plan, which is currently in the works, in place before decisions such as this are made.

    Council Remuneration Plan

    After several attempts to decide on an ongoing plan for its own pay raises, Council finally voted Monday night to approve an annual cost of living increase for the Mayor and Council members, to be based each year on the previous year’s Consumer Price Index. The first increase is to take place on April 1, 2013. For reference, the CPI in 2011 was 2.3 per cent.

    Stating that he did not like voting for things that would benefit himself, Councillor Paterson offered that the increase should begin at the start of the next Council term. That request was not granted, though, so Paterson voted against the motion.

    The rest of Council voted in favour, with Mayor Ferguson stating that using the CPI was a “very honest way of keeping up with the times.”

    Eggy wrap recipe for Easter eats

    By Elaine Collier

    I had a wonderful birthday this year. Things kicked off with a lovely meal at Creemore Kitchen. Then, Stephen and I headed to New York City. When we left here it was snowing, but when we arrived in NYC, it was a beautiful spring day and it stayed that way the whole time. Sheer bliss!

    I always like to recharge my culinary batteries while on vacation, trying out different restaurants, sampling diverse cuisines and guessing what the ingredients are in particularly tasty dishes. We enjoyed some really great meals including a French onion soup to die for at La Bonne Soupe (with a restaurant name like that it should be good), Turkish tapas at Pierre Loti Park Slope in Brooklyn, and Pici Toscana (pasta with a mouth-watering beef and pork ragu) at Cassa Nonna’s in midtown Manhattan. Pici ressembles fat spaghetti, which the chef then twisted into spirals and cut into bite -sized pieces. We practically had to roll ourselves off the plane in Toronto. Now that we’re back, I guess it’s time to get back on that diet…

    Although it seems rather late this year, Easter is at last upon us. While Easter eggs are most often made out of chocolate, we cannot totally forget the humble Grade A large or extra large either. Eggs are so very versatile – easily cooked in a variety of ways and quickly table-ready. What better time to showcase this humble yet important protein? So, I put my thinking cap on and came up with a breakfast/brunch dish, which I hope you and your family will enjoy. Happy Easter to one and all!

    Until next time, eat and live well… and if you see the Easter Bunny on his way to my house, tell him breakfast is almost ready!

    Easter Egg Wraps – Makes 8 wraps
    4 tablespoons sour cream
    1/4 block cream cheese, softened
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
    200 g smoked salmon or smoked trout
    1 dozen eggs
    Pinch sea salt
    1 tablespoon butter
    8 small flour tortillas

    About one hour ahead of time: in a small bowl mix together the sour cream, softened cream cheese, chopped dill, lemon juice and black pepper until well blended. Set aside. Cut smoked fish into narrow strips and also set aside. Warm up tortillas (you can do this in your toaster oven or microwave).

    In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and salt until frothy. In a medium frying pan over medium low heat, melt butter. Add eggs and gently scramble to desired doneness. You are now ready to assemble your wraps.

    Lay tortillas out flat on your counter top. Spread dilled cream cheese mixture in a thin layer over tortillas to within one inch of edges. Starting at one side, portion out the eggs amongst the warmed tortillas. Carefully fold up the bottom, then gently roll the egg filled tortilla into a wrap. If you need to, the wrap can be secured with a toothpick. Serve immediately.

    Note: Spinach tortillas are great to use if you can find small ones. If you want a bit more zing to your wrap, drizzle some hot sauce over the eggs before rolling. Finally, I would treat a serving size as two wraps, but you can always serve one wrap per person with any leftover smoked fish on the side, or any other additions you might like to make such as tomato wedges or fruit salad.

    Electoral Review Committee gets to work

    Clearview Township’s Electoral Review Committee held its first meeting on Tuesday, outlining the four possible recommendations it could eventually make to Council: to reconfigure the municipality’s existing ward system, to decrease the number of wards, to maintain the status quo, or to dissolve the wards in favour of an at-large system.

    The committee also spent much of the night grappling with how to engage the public at large, across all demographics and the entire municipality, on the subject of electoral review, especially considering that most of the 15 or so residents who sat in the audience at Tuesday’s meeting were of retirement age and from the Creemore area.

    Those members of the public were free to voice their opinions throughout the meeting, as Councillor Brent Preston, who was elected chair by both the committee and a show of hands from the audience, set up a meeting structure that encouraged free discussion among all present.

    An initial move by Councillor Thom Paterson to have two members of the public officially sit on the committee, which also includes Councillor Deb Bronee and Mayor Ken Ferguson as an ex officio member, was rebuffed given the tight time line governing the electoral review process. With the Township’s policy requiring that any public openings on committees of Council be advertised, Preston instead suggested that the entire scope of the electoral review be split in two. The existing Electoral Review Committee, he said, could continue without representation from the public and deal strictly with the question of wards versus no wards, making a recommendation to Council by October 21 and leaving time for any appeals of that decision to occur within the statutory 45-day period before nominations for the 2014 election get underway on January 2.

    A second committee, Preston offered, could be struck to deal with roles, responsibilities and remuneration of Council members. That committee could include representation from the public and could continue its work into the new year if necessary, unhindered by the deadline imposed by the nomination period.

    A motion was then passed by the committee to make a recommendation to Council at its August 12 meeting that it form this second committee.

    Council

    Other decisions made Tuesday night included the setting of the Electoral Review Committee’s terms of reference and the formulation of a communication plan.

    The terms of reference, as passed, state that the committee will evaluate consultants’ responses to the Township’s Request for Proposals and report back to Council on August 12. The extent to which a consultant will be involved in the process will depend on the committee’s recommendation and Council’s decision. Once that decision is made, the Electoral Review Committee will “provide forums for educating and informing the community,” and “collect and compile all information received from the community concerning the four options for consideration.”

    As for the nature of those public forums, it was decided Tuesday night that the Committee will hold four town hall meetings during the first two weeks of September – one in Creemore, one in New Lowell, one in Nottawa and one in Stayner. Two of the meetings will take place on weekends and two will take place on different days of the week, in an effort to give people maximum opportunity to attend.

    How the Township will get the word out to the public about those meetings and what’s to be discussed at them was a topic of great discussion on Tuesday. While Preston and Paterson promised to write columns in the local media and everyone agreed that a concerted effort should be made to communicate to the public on Facebook and Twitter, consensus was also reached on the possibility of a direct mailing or two. A decision on that approach will be made at the Committee’s next meeting, pending a report on the cost of making a Township-wide mail drop.

    Clerk Pamela Fettes also pointed out that a dedicated “Electoral Review” page has been set up on the Township’s website (clearview.ca) and an email address, electoralreview@clearview.ca, has been established to receive comments from the public.

    The Electoral Committee will next meet at 9 am on Tuesday, August 6 in the Clearview Council Chambers. The public is invited to the meeting and will be allowed to participate as the Committee opens and evaluates responses to the Township’s request for proposals from consultants.

    Electoral review heads to committee

    After hearing some agreement from the public about the need for a review of Clearview Township’s ward system and its number of elected representatives, Council formed a committee Monday night that will hold further discussions with ratepayers, review the results of a request for proposals from consultants, and report its findings at the next Council meeting on Monday, August 12.

    The Electoral Review Committee, consisting of Councillors Brent Preston, Thom Paterson and Deb Bronee, will meet on Tuesday, July 30 at 5 pm and Tuesday, August 6 at 9 am in the Clearview Council Chambers. According to Paterson, the first meeting will focus on the make up of the committee, the terms of reference, and a communication plan. The second will review the responses to the request for proposals, which was to be issued this past Tuesday. In forming the committee Monday night, Councillor Preston expressed his hope that members of the public will not only attend the meetings – as all meetings of committees of Council are open to the public – but that the terms of reference will also allow ratepayers to participate in the discussions as they happen.

    About 25 people sat in the audience during Monday’s initial public meeting on the subject, and six of them – Dave Huskinson, Maureen McLeod, Rowland Fleming, Doug Mills, Paul Ruppel and Chris Raible, all from the Creemore area – stood to speak.

    The consensus was that an electoral review was justified, 20 years after amalgamation, but opinion on whether or not the ward system should be abolished was split. While Huskinson and Ruppel both spoke in favour of an at-large system, McLeod and Raible requested that the wards be kept intact.

    “There is a great mix of people in Clearview Township, and part of that mix is a geographical one,” said Raible. “If we are to have appropriate, balanced representation on our Council, it is essential that we continue with a ward system.”

    Concerns were also put forth about the need for any terms of reference to include improving the efficiency of Council and improving accountability to taxpayers, and some expressed doubt that a consultant is actually Councilnecessary to guide the process.

    While Councillor Preston wondered if a consultant might not be needed for the preliminary work, he did agree with Clerk Pamela Fettes that one would be required to redraw ward boundaries and complete any other technicial work, mainly because, should the outcome of the electoral review be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board, the Township would need the consultant to testify as an expert witness.

    Preston, who made the initial call for an electoral review, agreed that the ultimate goal is to make Council more responsible and accountable, but noted he is not looking at the exercise as a money saving opportunity. “Any money saved by reducing the size of Council, in my opinion, should be reinvested to make Council more effective,” he said.

    In their comments after the public portion of the meeting, most Councillors said they would lean toward keeping the ward system. All agreed, though, that more feedback was needed from the public.

    Crossing Guard Changes

    Following the institution of a new crossing guard policy and the observation of several potential and existing locations throughout the Township, Council made several decisions on the subject Monday night.

    In Creemore this September, there will no longer be a crossing guard on Mill Street at Caroline Street, after that location failed to meet the criteria (based on number of students and breaks in traffic) set out in the new policy.

    Two other locations in town, despite not quite meeting the criteria, will receive crossing guards. Collingwood Street will have a crossing at Johnston Street, right in front of the NCPS senior site, and County Road 9 will have a crossing at the western entrance to Jardine Crescent. The latter crossing will be evaluated for one year before it’s made permanent.

    Electoral review to start with the public

    The 2014 municipal election dominated conversation at Clearview Council’s Monday night meeting, with two important decisions being made: first, to proceed with a public review of the Township’s ward system this fall in advance of the election, and second, to utilize Internet and telephone voting when the time comes for residents to make their decision in October 2014.

    Discussion about the electoral review started with a report from clerk Pamela Fettes, requested in a unanimous resolution moved by Councillor Brent Preston two weeks ago.

    In the report, Fettes reiterated her support for conducting a review of Clearview Township’s governance structure, but listed several concerns with timing and funding. With nominations opening for the 2014 election on January 2, Fettes said any bylaw to adjust ward boundaries or abolish the ward system would need to be passed by October 21. That way, the 45-day Ontario Municipal Board appeal period that would follow would be done by December 5, giving staff just under a month to make appropriate changes and be ready for the nomination period. If an appeal were to be filed, she said, the current electoral system would have to be utilized for the 2014 election.

    Given the complexity of the work and the fact that the clerk’s department is already busy preparing for the election, Fettes recommended that Council hire a consultant to guide the process. She estimated that would cost $35,000, and pointed to the Township’s Election Reserve, with a current balance of $37,500, as a source of funding for the initiative. That would mean, however, that the 2014 election, estimated to cost around $50,000, would have to be fully paid for out of the Township’s 2014 budget.

    Despite these hesitations, the consensus of Council remained that the time is right for such an exercise, given its been 20 years since amalgamation and given the growing population disparity between the Township’s seven wards. However, the extent to which a consultant is needed was the subject of some debate.

    Councillor Preston, for one, offered that much of the work could be done by Council, and that a consultant could be hired merely to help with the technical aspect of redrawing ward boundaries.

    Councillor Shawn Davidson, on the other hand, argued that a consultant would be impartial, and would have the skills and expertise to get the job done on a tight time line. “If we don’t hire a consultant, it’s not going to get done,” he said.

    That said, Councillor Thom Paterson pointed out that the public had not yet been approached on such a big question, and that their perspective should be sought before deciding to hire a consultant.

    “What is our objective?” asked Paterson. “What is our problem statement? These are questions that need to be formulated before we go and hire somebody.”

    Eventually, Council decided to have staff issue a request for proposals from consultants, but to hold a public meeting before making the final decision to hire one.

    At that meeting, it’s hoped that members of the public will present their views to Council on what does and doesn’t need to be changed with the current ward system.

    “What this comes down to is wards or no wards,” said Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage. “That’s the bottom line. And if we do stick with wards, we clearly have to make some changes.”

    The public meeting – likely the first of several on the subject throughout the fall – will be held at 7 pm on Monday, July 22.

    It’s anticipated that other aspects of the governance review, including Councillors’ job descriptions and remuneration, will be done in-house by Council and staff.

    For a map of the Township’s current ward system, click here.

    Elliott Brood steps up for the Avening Hall

    The first time Toronto rockers Elliott Brood played the Avening Hall, in March 2010, they pulled into the parking lot with a slight feeling of trepidation.

    Part of it was the location – “It feels pretty far away from everywhere,” said Casey Laforet, the band’s guitarist – and part of it was, let’s say, the general appearance of the place.

    When they walked inside and saw the character of the room, the wood-clad ceiling and matching wood floor, they felt a little better. When they plugged in for sound check, and heard the way music reverberates among all that wood, they felt a little better still.

    But it was what happened next that sold them on the place. “It was like in that movie Roadhouse,” remembered Laforet. “All of a sudden, all these headlights just started making their way up the road and turning into the parking lot.”

    The night was a sell-out, and the show that Elliott Brood put on was a perfect fit for the hall and the crowd that comes out for concerts there.

    Described as anything from “death country” to “frontier rock” to “revival stomp,” Elliott Brood’s music is a little different than most of what’s out there. Drummer Stephen Pitkin keeps the beat, though he’s more often than not joined by the sound of the audience’s feet thumping along. Occasionally, the band hands out pots and pans to the crowd to add to the rhythm. Laforet spends most of his time sitting, switching between a beat-up acoustic and a cranked up Telecaster, feet dancing across an array of pedals laid out before him. Mark Sasso plays the frontman role, strumming a banjo and singing in a raspy voice about old wars, dusty travels and prairie serenades.

    Elliott Brood were so impressed with the Avening Hall that first night that they decided they had to record there. Later that year, they moved into the hall for a week, camping out, laying down tracks during the day, cooking meals in the kitchen behind the stage and bowling a few lanes in the downstairs alley whenever they needed a break. The natural reverb provided by all that wood can be heard on several songs on their Juno-nominated 2011 album Days Into Years.

    These days, as anyone who reads this paper knows, the Avening Hall board is facing an uphill climb, needing to come up with $35,000 to match Clearview Township’s contribution toward needed upgrades. When board member and longtime Avening Hall concert promoter Sara Hershoff put the word out for a band that might help kick off the fundraising campaign, the boys in Elliott Brood were quick to offer their services.

    “We had no trouble saying yes,” said Laforet. “We’ve played a lot of small places and a lot of big places across Canada, the United States and Europe, and I can honestly say, that hall is one of the gems. It would be a shame to see it disappear.”

    Elliott Brood is so enamoured with the hall, in fact, that instead of asking for their usual price for playing the show, they’re going to take a reduced rate along with – you guessed it – more rental time. The band is just getting back to work on a new album after a year and a half of touring Days Into Years, and if all goes well, that Avening Hall wood will be a feature on the next record as well.

    “It’s all about the wood,” said Laforet. “All that great wood.”

    Tickets for Elliott Brood at the Avening Hall on Saturday, April 27 cost $25 in advance and are available at ticketscene.ca and the Creemore Echo. Tickets will be $30 at the door.

    Here’s a video of Elliott Brood at the Avening Hall, covering the White Stripes on that March evening in 2010:

    Empty chair at Authors Fest

    While Creemore is hoping to fill every seat at the International Festival of Authors (IFOA) event on Saturday, one chair will remain conspicuously empty.

    The “Empty Chair,” which is placed onstage alongside the four featured authors, stands for one writer whose voice has been silenced.
    This year, the chair will represent Eskinder Nega, a jailed Ethiopian journalist and blogger who advocates for freedom of expression, publicly calling for an end to political corruption and repression in that country.

    For the last 19 years, Pen Canada has placed an Empty Chair onstage at all IFOA events in place of a writer who is not permitted to travel freely. In the past, IFOA Empty Chairs have “sat” in for Nigerian activist Ken Saro Wiwa and Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan.

    PEN Canada is a nonpartisan organization of writers that promotes literature, fights censorship, helps free persecuted writers from prison, and helps writers living in exile in Canada. It works with others to defend freedom of expression as a basic human right, at home and abroad.

    During Saturday’s event at Station on the Green, Creemore will welcome four writers who are able to travel around the world to attend writer’s festivals, from Ireland, Canada and the U.S. They will read from their new works and participate in a discussion moderated by Curiosity House Books manager, Jenn Hubbs.

    Janet E. Cameron will present her debut novel, Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World. The Halifax-born author has spent the last 10 years in Ireland, where the book won the Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair Competition.  

    Born in South Africa, Lewis De Soto moved to Canada as a teenager. His first novel, A Blade of Grass, was an international bestseller and was longlisted for both the Man Booker Prize and the Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger. He is also the author of a biography of the painter Emily Carr. On Saturday, he will read from his new work, The Restoration Artist.

    Time magazine called American author Sam Lipsyte “the most consistently funny fiction writer working today.” His new short story collection, The Fun Parts, promises even more laughs. Lipsyte is a New York Times-bestselling author and the winner of the first annual Believer Book Award. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House and the Los Angeles Times.

    Newfoundlander Nicole Lundrigan now makes her home just outside of Toronto. At IFOA, she will be reading from her fifth novel, The Widow Tree. Her previous novels have received critical acclaim. Unraveling Arva was selected as a Globe and Mail top ten, and Thaw was longlisted for the Relit Award.

    To purchase tickets for $20, call Curiosity House Books or visit www.litontour.com

    Face off over Fairview Wind Farm

    Last Thursday saw a war of words on multiple fronts regarding wpd Canada’s proposed Fairview Wind Farm. In the afternoon, it was a case of dueling press conferences concerning the effect the turbines might have on the Collingwood Regional Airport; later on, Preserve Clearview’s march ended with a rally outside the Stayner Arena, inside which wpd were holding their mandated second public meeting.

    The day got underway with a press conference at the airport, during which members of the airport’s Municipal Services Board and pilots representing the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association lamented the fact that wpd is proposing to erect four of its eight 150-metre-high turbines within the airport’s “obstacle limitation surface,” a theoretical circle around the facility that is 45 metres off the ground and eight kilometres in diameter. The closest turbine site to the airport is 3.1 kilometres from the end of the runway.

    “You’d think a grade-school kid would understand that you don’t put 50-storey structures next to an airport,” said services board chair Charlie Tatham. “This situation is sad, unfortunate, ill-advised, damaging to the community and just plain dangerous.”

    Tatham pointed out that, while wpd might claim that Transport Canada has no issue with the siting of their turbines, that’s only because Transport Canada’s only role is to regulate aviation activities. In other words, the government body is only able to instruct the airport to adjust its procedures, or even close down, once the turbines are built. It has no power to prevent their construction.

    With the Collingwood Regional Airport currently the site of 12,000 plane “movements” a year, experiencing 10 to 15 per cent growth over the past few years and predicting that rate to increase further with the gradual winding down of Buttonville Airport, Tatham said it was unfortunate that wpd was able to use a “loophole” that would result in the airport becoming less accessible.

    He also reminded those present of the unpredictable winter conditions that can arise suddenly due to the airport’s proximity to Georgian Bay.

    “If these towers are built, there is no doubt in my mind that, at some point, we’ll see a plane crash into one of them,” he said. “It’s inevitable.”

    That opinion, however, was not shared by the two pilot/consultants who spoke at a second aviation-related press conference, held later in the day by wpd Canada. Terry Reilly of SMS Aviation Safety, who officially released his wpd-procured report on the effects of the Fairview Wind Farm on aviation at the press conference, disputed Tatham’s use of the “obstacle limitation surface,” pointing out that that particular regulation does not apply to uncertified aerodromes like Collingwood’s. He also said that several certified aerodromes have been developed in Canada with pre-existing obstacles within the four-kilometre radius prescribed by the obstacle limitation surface. To illustrate his point, two large maps were tacked to the wall behind Reilly and his fellow speakers: one of the Collingwood Regional Airport, with the potential 150-metre-high wind turbine site located 3.1 kilometres from the runway, and one of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport on Toronto Island, with the 550-metre-high CN Tower just 1.26 kilometres from the runway. Under questioning, Reilly did admit however that the CN Tower is located to the side of the Billy Bishop runway, while the turbines would be located forward and to the right of the Collingwood runway, a more critical location when it comes to aborted landings.

    That said, Reilly said that with adjusted operating procedures, the Collingwood Regional Airport would be no less accessible with the turbines present than it is now. And he disputed Tatham’s claim that an accident would be inevitible, pointing out that pilot culture is one of “shared responsibility” and “good airmanship.” Any certified pilot accessing Collingwood airport would have been thoroughly briefed in the facility’s operating procedures, as well as the day’s weather conditions, before take-off.

    “If everybody does what they’re supposed to do, there will be no problem,” he said.

    The wpd aviation press conference ended just as 300 or so protesters began arriving in the Stayner Arena parking lot, following a tractor and car parade down County Road 91 from Preserve Clearview principal Kevin Elwood’s Clearview Nursery.

    Under effigies of Premier Dalton McGuinty and Provincial NDP leader Andrea Horvath hanging from mock turbines, Elwood, fellow Preserve Clearview organizer Chuck Magwood and four Conservative MPPs – local Simcoe-Grey member Jim Wilson, Bill Walker of Bruce-Grey, Lisa Thompson of Huron-Bruce and Energy critic Vic Fedeli of Nipissing – spoke of their criticisms of the Green Energy Act and the need to oust the Liberal party in the next election.

    The final speaker of the rally was radio personality Dale Goldhawk, who summed up the feelings of the crowd.

    “Can somebody please exercise a little bit of common sense when it comes to these things?” he asked, motioning to the mock turbines next to the stage. “It’s not that difficult: don’t put them where they can hurt people, and don’t put them in the path of airplanes.”

    Meanwhile, inside the arena, wpd carried on with its second mandated public meeting, summarizing the detailed contents of its Renewable Energy Application, which it plans to submit to the Ministry of the Environment this fall. Approval could come as early as early 2013. Barring any appeals, which would be heard through the Environmental Review Tribunal, the company plans to begin construction six to 12 months after approval and be up an operating by August, 2014.

    Full details of the wpd REA can be found online at www.canada.wpd.de or at the office of Clearview Township.

    Clearview Council will debate its stance on the wpd proposal at its meeting on Monday, August 13, following the release of a staff report by planning director Michael Wynia that recommends the Township take a stand against the project.

    Opponents to the Fairview Wind Farm are currently collecting signatures on a petition, which will be presented to Council before its deliberations on Monday night. It will also be presented in the Ontario Legislature by MPP Jim Wilson. The petition can be found in Creemore at the Old Mill House Pub, in Stayner at Mac’s Corner Gas, in Nottawa at Dovetail Interiors, in Collingwood at Jim Wilson’s office, at Clearview Nursery and at the Collingwood Regional Airport.

    Family Fun on Mill Street

    The village was overrun by kids, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles during last Saturday’s Creemore Children’s Festival. The event, headed up by volunteer Laurie Copeland, was a resounding success with Clearview Culture and Recreation Department’s Shane Sargant estimating the village welcomed about 7,000 people over the course of the day.

    Enjoy a slideshow of pictures from the day below. For a full-screen version, visit our Flickr site.

    Farmers’ Market accepting applications

    The Creemore Farmers’ Market is currently accepting applications from those interested in becoming part-time or full-time vendors during the May-October season or taking part in the Easter or Christmas markets.

    Applications can be picked up at the Creemore branch of the Public Library or can be downloaded as .PDFs from the Market’s website at creemorefarmersmarket.ca. Once completed they can be mailed to Creemore Farmers’ Market, P.O. Box 2081, Creemore, ON, L0M 1G0 or emailed to pam@pamssoaps.com.

    The Market is also accepting applications in the form of written letters from non-profit groups who would like to use the coffee booth as a fundraising opportunity. Those can be forwarded to the same address, and the Market Board will contact groups with their allocated dates by the end of March.

    In addition, the Market has announced a change of policy regarding the use of the Horticultural Park, which is now under the management of the Station on the Green. That Board, in conjunction with the Horticultural Society, has decided that the park and fountain area should be used solely as a park, and no longer as a venue for non-profit organizations during Market hours. “The park can provide a place of quiet enjoyment in a beautiful setting for all residents at all times, showcasing the year round effort of the Horticultural volunteers,” said a joint statement from the three organizations.

    Non-profit groups wishing to have a presence at the Market should apply to use the coffee booth or to have a full- or part-time vendor’s booth.

    Farmers’ Market grows

    On Saturday, October 12, the Farmers’ Market said farewell to another successful season, one in which new vendors helped it to bloom.

    “The Farmers’ Market really thrived this year,” said Sarah Hallett, President of the Farmers’ Market. Hallett, who sells baked goods from Roseberry Farms said the market had an unprecented 44 vendors on its opening and closing weekends. On the other Saturdays, 28 to 35 vendors participated.

    “It was really busy with lots of new vendors and customers coming and returning,” she said. “As the new vendors come, they bring new people with them.”

    Throughout the spring, summer and fall, visitors came from far and wide – and Creemore – to greet vendors and friends, buy bread, baked goods, cheese, olive oil, crafts and vegetables, handmade soap, rock heads for the garden, and see (and taste!) apples being pressed into cider.

    Next year’s Farmers’ Market begins on Victoria Day weekend in May 2014. If you can’t wait until then, the Christmas Market will take place on Saturday, December 7 at Station on the Green. Stay tuned for a market next Easter, too.

    Farmers’ Market Pres says bye

    The Creemore Farmers’ Market will have a new President this spring when it opens for the 2014 season.

    Sarah Hallett (pictured on home page), who has been President for the past two years, is hanging up her baking apron to pursue a Masters degree in psychology.

    She says it has been her dream to become a clinical psychologist for a long time, since studying psychology when she was 18 in the U.K. (Sarah hails from York in Yorkshire.)

    For the past year, Sarah has been completing Honours Bachelors degree courses through online Athabasca Univerity and The Adler School in Toronto, in addition to running Roseberry Farms bakery in Mulmur, organizing the Farmers’ Market and being mother to Thomas Hallett-Hale, Sam Hallett-Hale and Oliver Hallett.

    Sarah, who came to Canada eight years ago, said her BA-equivalent British qualifications are not recognized in this country.

    At the end of last year, she received the news that she could begin her Masters courses in 2014, while finishing her Honours BA.

    “It came to the point where if I’m really going to do this, I’ve got to commit,” she said.

    With all her schoolwork plus a part-time job at In the Hills magazine, Sarah, who spent five years selling her goods at the Market, said she will have little time to bake.

    The Farmers’ Market President must be a vendor to hold that position.

    But sweet-toothed fans, take heart. Sarah will keep her hand in the baking business by producing limited goodies for the Terra Nova Public House.

    Incoming President Pamela Black of Pam’s Soaps will take over when she returns to Mulmur from Florida in March.
    While the other Board Members are remaining, Sarah said the Farmers’ Market would welcome applications from vendors who would like to join the Board.

    “The Market is in great shape with our biggest-growing year ever last year with the most vendors – about a 30% increase – so I’m sure it will continue to go from strength to strength with Pam’s help,” said Sarah.

    “I’ll desperately miss the people at the Farmers’ Market… the vendors who became close friends, and my customers.”

    Although many of her Masters classes will be held in Toronto on Saturday mornings, Sarah is still hoping she will be able to get to the Market once in a while to see everyone.

    Farmland stays if farmland pays

    Thousands of acres of prime farmland in Melancthon Township – including land once slated for a mega-quarry – now owned by Bonneville Financial Inc. will continue to be farmed for decades to come, says company president Tom Eisenhauer. But, he adds, the only way to ensure preservation of agricultural land is for farming to be profitable.

    “For so long we have looked at farming through a social policy lens but if we really want to protect our farms and the land the best way to do it is make sure farmers make money,” Eisenhauer told a crowd of 200 concerned citizens, who braved blowing snow and road closures last Saturday to attend a Food and Water First meeting sponsored by NDACT at the Shelburne arena.

    Eisenhauer established Bonnefield in 2009 to provide low-risk, long-term investments in the form of Canadian farmland to Canadian citizens and investment groups with a minimum of $150,000 to buy in. With stable lease income, returns driven by trends such as global population growth, land and water scarcity, climate change, changing diets worldwide, as well as an expected increase in property values over the next 20 years, Bonnefield expects the $320 million dollars it has invested to date in more than 40,000 acres across the nation will pay off for his company, investors and for rural communities like Melancthon.

    The Bonnefield President assured his audience that he recognizes community concerns around property flipping, mineral rights, windpower, future quarry development and the land remaining productive as farmland forever.

    Regarding the issues surrounding wind he said Bonnefield has no intention of entering into new agreements, but will honour any existing agreements on their lands. As far as signing over mineral rights and flipping of the property, he said that neither of these are part of Bonnefield’s strategy, and therefore are unlikely to happen while he is managing the investment.

    According to its website the firm aims to keep land for agricultural use by leasing it “to successful, growth-oriented Canadian farm operators” thus helping to reduce mortgage debt, improve cash flow, finance expansion, and facilitate succession planning. The goal, according to Eisenhauer, is to create partnerships with farmers so the land is treated with a sense of stewardship “as if” the farmer does own the land.

    “Our farmers need to do two things – they need to adhere to our Standards of Care and they need to pay the rent. After that how they run their operation is up to them,” he said. Among the standards are regular soil testing; top soil conservation practices; crop rotation, pesticide, nutrient and woodlot management plans as well as surface water and erosion controls. These standards have been put in place by the landowner to ensure “the quality and productivity of the farmlands are protected and enhanced with the goal of long-term returns” as well as protect their trademarked, “Farmland for Farming.”

    Carl Cosack, Chair of NDACT (North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Task Force) told the Echo that the relationship between his group and Bonnefield has been positive to date. He said he believes Eisenhauer’s stated intentions. When asked if the model of purchasing farmland and leasing it back to producers is a good one for those working the land, Cosack said, “I believe that farmers should own their own land, but that is just my personal opinion and it is old-school thinking.”

    The $50 million Melancthon Township land deal was a departure for Bonnefield. Their usual process for land acquisition is to buy appropriate land from individual farmers and lease it back to them. The process with the seller, Highland Companies, was different said Eisenhauer. But he said he thought the deal would be good for everyone.

    “When we heard the news that the mega quarry project was cancelled we saw a huge opportunity.” Bonnefield contacted Highland Companies in December of 2012 and set up a meeting in Mid-January of 2013 with Baupost – the hedge fund involved.
    Negotiations on the land began early February and the deal was official on July 16, 2013. In order to ensure crops were harvested Bonnefield leased the lands backed to Highland Companies while Bonnefield continued accessing and making plans for their new acquisition.

    “Because of restrictions put on us during the process we were a little uncertain of what we bought,” said Eisenhauer who credits Melancthon Mayor Bill Hill, Carl Cosack with helping them work through their planning process.

    Bonnefield’s management practices are focused around farmland only, Eisenhauer said, and to that end the company is working to sell off many of the buildings that came with the purchase. “We are trying to get as many of the buildings back into the hands of the local residents and business owners as we can,” said Eisenhauer at the community meeting.

    To date Bonnefield has sold off or leased about a dozen of the 24 homes and buildings that came with the purchase, and it has liquidated some of the lands that do not fit its investment goals. Thus far it has leased the appropriate farmland it acquired in Melancthon to six different operators. Land is being leased at between $300 and $330 per acre according to Carl Cosack.

    Cosack said he feels that getting people back into the homes and revitalization of the community is important for the ongoing safety of the land, “We need people to live on and care about the land so if this becomes an issue years from now there is still that connection; that this land is not just forgotten… so there are people who will continue to watch.”

    At the April 5 meeting, support for Bonnefield’s vision was prominently voiced by two outside community groups in attendance. One is fighting 800 acres of possible residential development in Midhurst, and the other is the long-battling folks who oppose the Pickering Airport. Members of these groups stood up and asked if Bonnefield would consider buying in their back yard.

    As the meeting wound up Eisenhauer cautioned his audience that nothing is forever.
    “And what happens when Tom Eisenhauer is gone?” he asked. “We hope we can be trusted – but we are only people. Unless this land is profitable there is no guarantee.”

    Fiddle Foot Farm: A reverse farm family

    A farm near Mansfield sat quietly for more than 40 years. Close to the Boyne River on a dead-end road, the 66-acre paradise was populated by weekenders who loved the place but did not work the land. The large barn sat empty. A neighbour grazed cattle on the pastures.

    The property changed hands at the turn of the century. A decade passed and then owners Tom and Mary Ouchterlony found themselves in possession of a newly awakening farm. Their daughter, Amy, and her partner Graham Corbett began to break ground, acre by acre, and started a biodynamic, mixed farm. So, notes Amy, the Toronto-based parents now spend weekends with their farmer children on the family farm, reversing a Canadian trend many decades in the making.

    A couple of city kids who were bitten by the farm bug, Amy and Graham both studied environmental science before they headed for the hills. They spent three seasons together at Whole Village in Caledon, where they managed a three-acre plot and community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. Last summer, they arrived in Mulmur and began with one-and-a-half acres, selling organic vegetables to local restaurants and at the Rosemont Market.

    They fixed up the barn and fences, installed a greenhouse and mobile hoop-houses, and began to bring in animals—Barred Rock and Heavy Red chickens for eggs and meat, shorthorn milking cows, and a few Large Black pigs. The chickens are in moveable coops in the pasture, with the concentrated manure helping to enrich the fertility of the soil.

    This summer, they launched the Fiddle Foot Farm CSA with a broad range of staples such as potatoes, beans, beets, greens, celery, garlic, cabbage, zucchini, leeks, tomatoes, onions, cauliflowers, cucumbers and peppers. The more unusual fare includes patty pan squash, ground cherries and sunflower sprouts. Next year, strawberries will be added to the list.

    A CSA is a seasonal “farm share”. You pay in advance for a selection of produce as it comes ready between June and October. This arrangement allows the farmer to predict sales and plant accordingly, and brings in handy spring cash for seeds, repairs and labour. Over the years, I’ve participated in various weekly CSAs and other “food box” programs. I always enjoy the anticipation of peeking in the box each week and getting to know the people growing my food.
    CSA members share the ups and downs of the season. For example, this year’s challenges included corn that did not do well in the new section of the garden. The spinach bolted repeatedly in the heat. On the other hand, there were heavenly potatoes and beans, and zesty ground cherries inside papery jackets that delighted my small son.

    I pick up my Fiddle Foot share at the Creemore Farmers’ Market, one of several weekly locations. Over the summer, I’ve had the pleasure of chatting each Saturday morning with not only Amy and Graham, but Amy’s father, Tom, and the three apprentices working the farm.

    Visits to Fiddle Foot Farm are a pleasure. The once-silent barn is now home to some handsome, dark pigs and, upstairs, the airy space holds rows of hanging garlic and neatly stacked boxes of curing onions. The days are getting shorter and some of the crops have already been turned into the soil. I am standing with Amy, watching Graham and a neighbour work on a tractor and apprentices Rob Day and Sarah Weinberger pull out weed covers between rows.

    Amy smiles at a memory of her father looking around the farm one morning and turning to her: “Doesn’t it just take your breath away sometimes?”

    “Every day,” she says. “Every day.”

    Fiddle Foot Farm offers large, small and mini-size CSA shares, plus a greens “top-up” share for those who love their salads. The shares are picked up weekly over the 20-week season. Upcoming winter CSA shares will be available in November for vegetables (e.g., onions, carrots, potatoes, beets) and pork.
    You can contact Amy or Graham at 519-925-3225, fiddlefootfarm@gmail.com or through their website www.fiddlefootfarm.com.

    Fine food, music, and awareness of HIV/AIDS

    HIV and AIDS are not topics that are discussed that often in Creemore. For many people in these parts, AIDS is a disease that peaked long ago, or one that thrives in far off places.

    But AIDS exists in Simcoe County. Every year, somewhere between 10 and 15 County residents are reported to be newly infected with the HIV virus. It’s estimated that up to five more are infected without knowing it.

    No statistics are kept on total cases, but there’s no doubt its a growing number.

    Living with HIV or AIDS anywhere involves dealing with an awful lot of stigma, and in Simcoe County there’s no doubt it can be even worse.

    That’s where the AIDS Committee of Simcoe County comes in. Founded in 1995 in a time of tremendous need, the ACSC continues to provide non-judgmental, compassionate and confidential support to individuals infected or affected by HIV/AIDS.

    On Thursday, May 10, the ACSC will hold its second annual fundraising event in Creemore, in conjunction with the Bank Cafe.

    “Creemore Cares: an Evening of Fine Food, Music, Awareness and Giving is a tribute to the open hearts of the town of Creemore,” said ACSC president Marc Cohen. That’s because, despite the previously stated fact that HIV/AIDS is not a frontline issue here in Creemore, last year’s inaugural ACSC fundraiser was a great success, filling the Bank Cafe to capacity.

    In gratitude, this year’s event will be bigger and better. It will take place at the Station on the Green and will feature a three-course dinner prepared by the Bank Cafe, a silent auction and live music by Scott Cooper and Coco Love Alcorn (above). “We are truly taking this to the next level,” said Cohen. “It is communities like Creemore that will help us bring much needed awareness, critically needed funding and an end to stigma and discrimination.”

    Those last two words are well known to Donna, a 63-year-old woman living with HIV in Orillia. Gerry Croteau, the ACSC’s executive director, arranged for us to speak with Donna in an effort to put a face to the disease in Simcoe County.

    “I would not be living here if it wasn’t for the AIDS Committee of Simcoe County,” said Donna, a native of Canada who spent much of her life in the US before relocating to Orillia at the behest of her sister, who is based in the area.

    Twenty years ago, Donna was a recent divorcee when she began a relationship with a man who happened to have had a bad motorcycle accident that had required multiple blood transfusions in the early 1980s. “I suppose I should have realized the risk, but emotions got in the way,” said Donna.

    The pair had a shortlived relationship, and soon after she found out that the man had become sick and been diagnosed with full-blown AIDS. Donna was tested soon after, and received the news she’s still living with today.

    The outlook for HIV sufferers these days, if the diagnosis comes early and the proper diet and drug regime is followed, is a 40-year-lifespan post-diagnosis. Donna’s health is good, but your health is not the only baggage you must carry.

    “For much of my time with HIV, I have felt quite isolated,” she said. “Before I moved here, I rarely had the opportunity to be with other people who have HIV. And I don’t disclose my status to that many people – I’ve had many friends drop out of sight when I did tell them.”

    The ACSC has changed that. Providing one-on-one counselling and general support, the Committee also holds get-togethers and retreats where those with HIV/AIDS can get together. Through those avenues, Donna has become more involved, participating at provincial women’s conferences and working as a research assistant with the Ontario HIV Treatment Network. “Without the ACSC, none of that would be happening,” she said.

    The ACSC has another focus as well, one that’s equally important.

    “Awareness is the key to prevention,” says Cohen, The ACSC is ramping up its education efforts, attempting to get the message out that the disease has never gone away, and it has never stopped spreading.

    “We are all collectively vulnerable,” he said. “It could be any one of us. If you are not monogomous, you need to protect yourself and get tested regularly. And if you are in a monogomous relationship, you need to stay monogomous, for the health of both partners.”

    Tickets for the Creemore Cares events are $50, and can be acquired by contacting 705-722-6778 or emailing acscboard@rogers.com.

    
    														

    Fire calls up this winter

    This winter’s extreme cold weather has resulted in more calls to the Fire Department.

    The Clearview Fire Department has responded to eight calls about structure fires so far this year. Typically, that number is about four by this time.

    “It’s probably the cold weather,” explained Roree Payment, Clearview’s Acting Deputy Fire Chief. “Cold weather plays havoc with a lot of things.”

    When the weather dips to the kinds of temperatures this area has recently experienced, people do all sorts of things to try to keep their homes warm and their pipes from freezing – some of them unsafe such as leaving portable heaters on in barns, Payment said.

    The Fire Department has also noticed an increase in chimney fires. Payment reported that half the reported fires began in chimneys.

    Chimneys should be inspected regularly for cracks and maintained to ensure they are safe.

    Fire Prevention Canada says that winter is the worst season for residential fires in Canada. This is because people heat their homes, eat indoors more often and may smoke inside instead of going out.

    The Canada Safety Council recommendations for minimizing the risk of fire include: keeping at least one metre of space around space heaters; always using a screen in front of a fireplace; developing a fire escape plan and reviewing it with your family; and never overloading electrical outlets.

    For more information on reducing the risk of fire in your home, visit www.canadasafetycouncil.org.

    Fire Chief charged with impaired driving

    Clearview Township Fire Chief Bob McKean will be limited to “administrative duty” after being charged last Saturday night with impaired driving and dangerous driving.

    The Ontario Provincial Police report that at around 10:45 pm, a Ford F150 pickup truck was seen travelling eastbound in the westbound lanes of Highway 407 from Bronte Road to Trafalgar Road at a high rate of speed. Numerous callers reported that the truck had almost collided with several vehicles head-on.

    After making contact with the truck and pursuing it for approximately 500 metres, an OPP officer was able to safely stop the vehicle without incident.

    McKean, who had his three young children in the vehicle at the time, was arrested at the scene and was transported to the Port Credit OPP detachment. He was charged with “Impaired Operation of a Motor Vehicle,” “Operating a Vehicle with Over 80mgs of Alcohol,” and “Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle.”

    Clearview Township Mayor Ken Ferguson, speaking to the Echo on Tuesday, said the situation was an unfortunate one but that McKean is “part of the family,” and that he deserves due process under the law.

    In the meantime, McKean will be confined to desk duty; all other duties relating to Fire and Emergency Services will be assumed by Deputy Fire Chief Colin Shewell.

    McKean’s first appearance in Milton court is scheduled for Monday, July 22.

    Fire rescue support

    Clearview has formalized a relationship with the City of Barrie to ensure that it can provide four kinds of technical rescue services to its citizens.

    For years, Barrie Fire Department has provided services for confined space, chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN), hazardous material, trench or low- or high-angle rescues (such as being trapped on a silo) in Clearview.

    However, this is the first time a memorandum of understanding has been drafted to articulate the relationship.
    While Clearview firefighters are trained in technical rescue services other than the four mentioned above (such as ice water rescue), it is not cost-effective for the municipality to provide the equipment and annual training that is necessary, said Acting Fire Chief Colin Shewell.

    “The Clearview Fire Department provides training [for confined space, CBRN, hazardous material, trench, or low/high angle rescues] to an awareness level,” Shewell explained. “We are able to identify the issue and how it needs to be dealt with. But if you’re not constantly on top of the newer techniques and equipment, you can’t keep up.”

    “We train to a certain level but specialized rescue items are not in the day-to-day operations. It is a substantial investment for training and vehicles. It wouldn’t be cost-effective for us to invest in that type of service, but we still have to provide it.”

    Barrie Fire Department, on the other hand, provides annual training to its firefighters and owns specialized equipment for specific kinds of rescues including devices for removing people from confined spaces and trucks for rescuing individuals from trenches.

    The arrangement will cost Clearview $2000 per year, which breaks down into $500 per rescue service.
    Individuals who require rescue will incur the cost of the rescue. Shewell said the Township is currently reviewing its Fees By-Law to reflect this. “Specialized rescue if not feasible for the municipality or taxpayers,” said Shewell.

    In the agreement, Clearview Fire Department will call Barrie as soon as they arrive on the scene of a rescue that is identified as confined space, CBRN/hazardous material, trench, or low/high angle.

    While waiting for the Barrie Fire Department to arrive, Clearview will secure the area and support the rescue. For instance, if a person digging a water line becomes trapped in a trench, the Fire Department will lower oxygen, remove dirt that has been piled and stop traffic so vibrations don’t cause the trench to fall in.

    “We do all this so when Barrie Fire Department comes in they can actually go in with their harnesses to get the person out,” said Shewell. “This goes for every technical rescue.”

    Clearview prioritizes ice water rescues because of its proximity to the Nottawasaga River, the Minesing Wetlands and the New Lowell Conservation Area, said Shewell. “We would provide support to other Fire Departments for this type of rescue, if called upon.”

    Firefighters head to Philippines

    By Jon Tamlin

    On Thursday, November 8, the Philippines suffered the most powerful and deadliest typhoon in history, Typhoon Haiyan.

    In response to the devastation left by Haiyan, I am one of 14 firefighters who are volunteering to be members of Global Fire’s upcoming Capacity Building Operation from this Wednesday, February 26 to Tuesday, March 11 in the city of Tacloban.

    My 12 years of volunteering with the Rosemont District Fire Department, six years as a full-time firefighter with the City of Toronto and most recently, as an instructor at the Ontario Fire College, have led me to this opportunity. I am looking forward for the chance to share my knowledge in this time of need.

    Our team goal for this operation is to help local fire departments to get back on their feet, through training and delivering equipment donated from Canadian fire departments.

    One of my roles in Tacloban will be teaching Fire Ground Operations and basic fire-fighting skills. Other team members are focused on teaching first aid/CPR, urban search and rescue, water rescue, auto extrication and firefighter survival.

    GlobalFire is a not-for-profit charity with no overhead costs. It is an operational arm of the David McAntony Gibson Foundation (DMGF), which is a registered Canadian charity. DMGF also has GlobalMedic and GlobalWater as operational arms.

    GlobalFire was created, and is organized and equipped to: perform technical searches and conduct technical rescues after natural or man-made disaster environments worldwide; collect and donate fire suppression equipment and train local first responders or an organized group of volunteers in fire fighting and first aid in developing nations; and inspect locations and install simple fire-fighting systems in population-dense areas that lack basic fire protection (such as camps that house refugees and internally displaced persons) and train local volunteers to use these systems.

    I am currently raising funds for fire departments in the Philippines to purchase and repair equipment and to pay for training. If you would like to donate to our team’s mission, visit www.globalfire.ca and enter “Philippines CBO 2014” in the “Messages/Instructions” box. Or, to donate money for future deployments, click “Donate” on the left side of the home page and follow the prompts.

    Pictured on home page: Jon Tamlin.

    First Friday returns at St. John’s Church

    The First Friday Soul Singers, a local, non-ecumenical choir of 13 voices who have been practicing and performing together in various iterations for the past few years, have decided it is time to raise their profile and voices in their own community during three upcoming “Soul Revivals” to take place on the first Fridays of October, November and December at St. John’s United Church.

    The group, which includes Lisa Watson, Juliette Reynolds, Laura Wark, Alta Wilber, Julie Mae Nemeth, Amy Ouchterlony, Laura Walton, Joanna Mackie, Norm Login, Robert Lang, Graham Corbett and Russell Jones under the guidance of Rev. Candice Bist and her musician husband Bruce Ley, had their debut in 2008 during the original First Friday celebration at Knox Presbyterian Church in Dunedin. Due to popular demand, for both their music and for the reflective tone of the First Friday evening, designed as a “joyful celebration of the many gifts we have in life, regardless of our particular circumstances,” the choir is finally heeding the call for another local performance.

    “We’ve been involved in two major concerts in Orangeville in the past few years, and many times people have asked me when we were going to sing in Creemore,” said Laura Walton. “As one individual put it, ‘we know you have a great time singing together, but it’s time to share that energy with the rest of us.’ And that person is right – we need to share what we have with the larger community.”

    For each of the three concerts, the choir will be sharing popular soul and rhythm and blues tunes and original songs written by the choir’s directors, as well as a little taste of the personal satisfaction they get from their time gathering for practice on Monday nights.

    “My hope is that the First Friday concerts will replicate our Monday night experience on a larger scale, as we all come together for music, food and community,” said Walton.

    Fiscal responsibility doesn’t just mean cutting taxes

    The end of the 2013 Clearview Township budget process is finally in sight, and it is decision time. The final budget workshop will take place at 12:30 pm on Monday, March 4 and members of the public are encouraged to attend. The draft budget calls for a 9.53 per cent increase in the Clearview portion of your tax bill, or a 4.02 per cent increase overall, but there is no doubt that Council will make cuts. The question is what to cut, and how much.

    I have heard a lot of criticism of the draft budget over the past few weeks, much of which I agree with, but some of which misses the mark. Here are some misperceptions that I think need to be addressed:

    Our population isn’t increasing, so Township spending shouldn’t be going up, either. The main driver of spending in Clearview isn’t population growth, it’s provincial regulations and the threat of liability. Almost everything the Township does, from road maintenance to snow clearing to the maintenance of firefighting equipment, is subject to provincial regulations that get more stringent and more expensive to implement every year. The penalties for non-compliance are also increasingly draconian. Our community halls are a good example of these problems. Years ago, the Township and residents might have been happy to turn a blind eye to the fact that our halls maybe didn’t quite meet all the relevant codes, but that is no longer an option. Municipal employees and fire officials can literally be thrown in jail for overlooking safety deficiencies, and the cost of a lawsuit could be catastrophic. This is why Council included $50,000 for hall upgrades in the draft budget. The eventual cost will be far higher. For good or bad, increasing municipal taxes are in part a direct result of living in a litigious, safety-obsessed society.

    Businesses are cutting back due to tough economic times, and the Township should, too. Municipal governments are not businesses. Businesses cut back when demand for their services decline, but our need for good roads, clean drinking water and recreational opportunities for our kids doesn’t decline when the economy goes south. If anything, the demand for municipal services increases in tough economic times.

    The Township is over-staffed and the staff are over-paid. When I was first elected, I suspected this was true, and over the past two years Council has worked hard and spent many hours revamping our staff structure and examining our pay scale. We have eliminated several positions and shifted responsibilities in an effort to get the most out of our Township employees. I truly believe that Clearview is now a lean organisation with a staff that is paid fairly for the excellent work that they do. There is always work to be done in this area, but when it comes to staffing, there is very little fat that could be cut.

    Clearview’s taxes are too high, and are pricing us out of the market when it comes to attracting new residents. Nobody likes to pay taxes, but property taxes in Clearview are about average for Simcoe County. We tend to focus on the rate of tax increase at budget time, but our overall tax rate is lower than many of our neighbours. The tax rate in Collingwood is about 20 per cent higher than ours, and they don’t seem to have trouble attracting new residents. In fact, all of the high-growth municipalities in Simcoe have higher taxes than Clearview, with the exception of Wasaga Beach.

    Public input doesn’t make a difference. Council has already made up its mind. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am sure that there will be vigorous debate at the workshop on Monday over what to cut, and that debate will be informed by the public input to date and the thoughts of the public at the workshop. Council deliberately left some questionable expenditures in the draft budget in order to get public input before cutting.

    Municipalities in Ontario are not allowed to run a deficit. The way Clearview, and almost every other municipality in this province, has kept taxes down in the recent past is by putting off necessary work and neglecting to save for future expenses. We have created an infrastructure deficit. Eliminating that deficit will be painful, but the longer we delay, the more painful it will be. The biggest component of the proposed increase in the 2013 Clearview budget is the establishment of reserve funds to pay for the future maintenance or replacement of our roads, bridges, recreational facilities and community halls. Large spending projects predicated on future residential growth, such as the Emergency Services Hub and the Wasaga Beach wastewater hook-up, have contributed to our current financial situation and I have opposed them, but those decisions have been made and we must now live with them. I won’t support a budget that pays for these decisions by ignoring our infrastructure deficit or that refuses to save for costs that we know we will incur, sooner or later. That would not be fiscally responsible. There are things in this budget that can and should be cut, but we must resist the temptation to keep our current taxes low by shifting costs to future generations.

    Brent Preston is Clearview Township’s Councillor for Ward 3.

    Fisherman’s Breakfast at Dunedin Hall

    By Dan Clements

    As they have for the past 27 years, volunteers at the Dunedin Hall will be marking the opening of fishing season by serving some 400 people breakfast.

    The day isn’t just tradition in the village – it’s also the single biggest fundraiser for the Hall.

    Dunedin Hall has used money raised by events like the Fisherman’s Breakfast to operate the facility and build up a cash reserve for a rainy day.

    That rainy day arrived last year when the hall had to address a number of shortcomings to meet fire and electrical code requirements

    Now, with fishing season fast approaching, Dunedin is set to unveil a whole new interior facelift (no more panelling!).

    See the upgrades for yourself, help support the hall, and enjoy a great breakfast on Saturday, April 26.

    The Fisherman’s Breakfast will take place from 7 to 10:30 am at Dunedin Hall on County Road 9.

    Foodstock draws thousands

    In the end, Foodstock did feel a little bit like Woodstock. It could have been the mud. And the intermittent rain. Most of all, though, it was the beatific smiles. Smiles that came not from recreational drug use, as at that other “stock,” but from the joy of breaking bread among an impromptu community of people, united not just because they loved food, but also because they respected the land from which it is harvested.

    The organizers are claiming there were 28,000 people there, but the actual amount hardly matters. They’ve also decided not to reveal how much money was raised, primarily because it’s going into a war chest that will be used to fight the Highland quarry. And really, that doesn’t matter either. What matters is that a movement began last Sunday, one that’s going to fight tooth and nail against those who wish to mine the limestone below those fields. It’s going to be a long, hard fight. At least the food will be good.


    Photo Brad Holden


    Photo Bryan Davies


    Photo Brad Holden


    Photo Chuck Magwood


    Photo Brad Holden


    Photo Brad Holden


    Photo Bryan Davies


    Photo Bryan Davies


    Photo Chuck Magwood


    Photo Brad Holden


    Photo Chuck Magwood


    Photo Bryan Davies


    Photo Bryan Davies


    Photo Brad Holden


    Photo Brad Holden


    Photo Brad Holden


    Photo Bob Holden!

    Foodstock Footwear

    The Echo is grateful to Creemore photographer MK Lynde for taking a different approach to documenting the massive Foodstock event. MK is a good friend of the paper and can always be trusted to find an “out of the box” way of looking at things!

    Foodstock VS. Mega Quarry

    If all this talk of chefs being the new rock stars is true, then you better mark your calendars for Sunday, October 16, because like Woodstock before it, that day could see an event that people will talk about for decades.

    Of course, if you feel strongly about the need to save the beautiful farmland of Melancthon Township from the Highland Companies and its plans to establish a 2,300 acre, 200-foot below water table quarry there, then you’re already planning on going.

    Foodstock, the brainchild of renowned Singhampton chef Michael Stadtlander, could see as many as 20,000 people, if organizers are correct, wandering through a 35-acre bush on a farm south of Redickville, sampling the wood-fire fare of 100 different chefs and watching the likes of Sarah Harmer, Jim Cuddy, Ron Sexmith, Hayden and Cuff the Duke perform on a forest stage.

    “As soon as I heard about this quarry I knew I had to do something about this,” said Stadtlander, who has a history of cooking outside in the woods at Eigensinn Farm, his home and five-and-a half star eating experience.

    Right away, he knew his plan would involve his fellow members of the Canadian Chef’s Congress. “We are concerned about where the food comes from, it’s in our genetic makeup,” he said. “After all, we are the people who stand between the diners and the suppliers, the foragers and the fishermen. In a way, chefs are the green warriors of today’s society.”

    If that indeed is true, then an event of this scale just might prove it. Teaming up with NDACT and its Stop the Quarry troops, who will provide the volunteer labour needed to pull Foodstock off (although more are still necessary – those interested can email davidwaters@remax.net), the chefs are set to put on a show.

    While the event will actually happen on three farms on County Road 124, with the woodlot on Lennox property and parking on both Vander Zaag and Armstrong property. All three farmers turned down offers when Highland was buying up land in the area.

    As for crowd control, Stadtlander promised that order would be priority number one, and that people from the Creemore area who wish to come should just drive up and follow instructions on parking (the event runs from 11 am to 5 pm.) Buses will be travelling from Toronto, Hamilton and Guelph.
    Once in the woodlot, paths will take people to about 100 food stations, featuring local chefs (including Michel Masselin from Chez Michel) as well as chefs from Toronto (including Jamie Kennedy from Jamie Kennedy Kitchens, Anthony Walsh from Canoe and Brad Long from Café Belong). Food is being donated from local farms, both organic and traditional.

    “It will be delightful,” said Stadtlander. “But it’s not just a ticket to eat glorious food, we are also raising money to fight this quarry.”

    Entrance to Foodstock is by donation, with a suggested minimum of $10. BYO plates and cutlery.

    Former resident medals at Pan Ams

    Audra Vair, who grew up in the Creemore area and is still listed as a resident on the Rowing Canada database, was rewarded for years of training last week when she won two rowing medals at the Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

    On Monday, October 17, Vair won bronze in the Women’s Double event with her rowing partner, Elizabeth McCord of Toronto. She and an expanded team then went on to capture a silver medal in the Women’s Quad event on Wednesday, October 19.

    Vair grew up in Shamrock House, the steep-roofed house on the north side of County Road 9 just before Centre Line Road. She attended New Lowell Central Public School and began rowing at the age of fourteen, while attending Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ontario.

    In the summers, she would row at the Barrie Rowing Club with her father, Derek Vair, but moved on to row for the University of Ottawa and the Ottawa Rowing Club. After receiving her Undergraduate Degree in Bio-Pharmaceuticals from the University of Ottawa, she went on to study Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of British Columbia, all the while rowing for UBC. 

    After receiving her Master’s Degree, she came back to London, Ontario to row with the Canadian Development Team, where she remains until after the Nationals in November, at which time the finalists for the 2012 Olympic team will be announced.

    Vair is the daughter of Derek and Egle Vair, previously of Creemore. She is the niece of current residents Anna Narusis and Rita Fransen.

    Frank talk about new Stayner library

    Clearview Council continued its long road to approving a 2012 budget Monday, with its fifth workshop meeting since the process began last November.

    The focus of Monday’s session was on two departments, the Clearview Public Library and the Water and Sewer Department.

    Jennifer LaChappelle, CEO of the Clearview Public Library, took Council members present at the workshop through her requests for this year, which include $28,250 to fix the roof of the Stayner branch and another $28,250 to replace that building’s HVAC system. Both of these, she said, will offset yearly costs associated with the problems, and both are necessary despite the fact that the branch is currently scheduled to be replaced in 2014.

    That eventuality was the subject of most of Monday’s discussion, as Council struggled with the fact that the Library’s current five-year financial plan predicts a 2014 cost of $7.5 million to tear down the Stayner Branch and build a new building on the same property. That number includes an assumed provincial/federal grant of $5 million, something all members at the table agreed was possibly in the realm of fantasy given the current economic situation.

    Given that, Council proceeded to a frank chat about just what can be done about what everyone agrees is a dire capacity and structural problem at the Stayner branch.

    “We need to have a discussion about a 2014 build of some type without funding,” said Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage.

    Councillor Shawn Davidson agreed, citing the need to put a realistic plan in front of the public so that the community can start fundraising if it so chooses.

    Asked where the $7.5 million figure came from, Treasurer Edward Henley said it was based on a 15,000 square foot building, which would offer enough capacity to serve a population envisioned by the Township’s growth forecast. The grant was predicted, he said, because the Build Canada Fund, the last major cultural infrastructure funding from the province and the federal government, was announced in 2007 and at that time was labeled as a seven-year grant program.

    A capacity study of the library done four years ago stated that, given the population at that time, a 10,000 to 12,000 square-foot building would suffice, and that number provided Council a way forward.

    At the end of the discussion, Henley was instructed to work on a rough estimate of what a new building of that size would cost – a figure of $4 million was tossed around by a few Councillors – and what effect such an expenditure would have on Township finances in 2014. He is to report back to Council at its next budget workshop, scheduled for Monday, March 5.

    That workshop will also see a presentation for the Clearview Fire Department and will include time for Council to make changes to the budget before they hold a Town Hall meeting on the evening of Thursday, March 29. After that, Council will hold a seventh and final workshop on Monday, April 16, at which comments gathered at the Town Hall will be considered. The final budget will then be presented to Council for approval on Monday, April 30.

    If all requests presented to Council by Township staff were improved, residents would be looking at an 8.89 per cent increase in Clearview’s portion of their residential tax bill. When you take into consideration Simcoe County’s 1.5 per cent increase and the School Boards’ zero per cent budget, the net increase in Clearview homeowners’ residential taxes would be 4.9 per cent. It’s expected that the budget workshop process will result in a number somewhere lower than that.

    Fred Eaglesmith comes to town

    Alternative country singer Fred Eaglesmith is one of a dying breed of a hard-living troubadours who still believe in the big powers of small town communities.

    When his Travelling Steam Show pulls up outside the Nottawasaga Community Hall on Saturday, November 9, there will be no set designers, lighting crews or fancy refreshment stands. Eaglesmith, his band and crew all work together to tune their own guitars, set up their sound system, work the lights and put out the chairs.

    “Do you know anyone else who does this?” he asks. “It’s how rock and roll was from 1958 to 1963, before big business affected it so much. Our show is just like it was… there is no business involved, no professionals. And at night, we just drive away…”

    With an estimated 5,000 shows under his belt over a 40-year career, Eaglesmith, 56, is still passionate about bringing small music clubs and theatres, community and legion halls alive with songs about hard living and broken dreams – and the spirit of yesteryear.

    Now, with the release of his 19th album, 6 Volts, produced by his ironically named record company, A Major Label, Eaglesmith is bringing his music to Duntroon Hall the old-fashioned way.

    He first discovered the beauty of singing in community halls in small towns in this area about a decade ago. Since then, when he’s on the road in Canada, he prefers to play in community halls and legions.

    Why? “Because it’s civilized!” he laughs. For Eaglesmith, these structures represent a sense of community that is in danger of disappearing. “People should go to their local halls to get married and have supper,” he says.

    By playing in smaller, historical spaces, Eaglesmith says he is able to replicate the rock and roll shows that were happening when he was a child of six or seven, growing up in Caistor Centre, Ontario.

    Never shy about speaking his mind, Eaglesmith blames municipal governments for destroying the community values these old halls represent.
    “The story is the same all over the country. Townships amalgamate so that one mayor becomes the mayor of numerous towns instead of one,” he says. In Eaglesmith’s opinion, this is “baloney.”

    He yearns for simpler times “when there was one mayor who used to be the mayor of one town, and if you didn’t like what he was doing, you’d go and punch him out!”

    That may sound ungenerous, but Eaglesmith is anything but. At each show, he raises $250 to $300 for charity auctioning off pies. Last summer, pie auctions raised $10,000 for flood relief in Alberta. By taking about 10 minutes out of each performance he has raised money for such causes as Operation Smile, an organization that provides free surgeries for children around the world with cleft palates and facial deformities. This year alone, he’s raised $19,000 for the cause.

    Eaglesmith also regularly raises money for “The music industry is a sin,” says Eaglesmith. “As I get older I want to do good things all the time.”

    The Fred Eaglesmith Travelling Steam Show will be at Nottawasaga Community Hall in Duntroon on Saturday, November 9 at 8 pm. Advance tickets are $25 and available from Jim Campbell at 705-446-2506 and online at www.fredeaglesmith.com. Tickets will also be available at the door for $30.

    Fundraiser for Tanya Prentice

    The family of a woman with cancer is hoping to see you on the dance floor at a party to help raise funds to support her during her fight.

    Tanya Schmidt Prentice was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer of the appendix in September 2011. Called the “dandelion cancer,” the tumours spread like seeds when they are touched.

    At the time of her diagnosis, the cancer had already spread to other parts of Tanya’s body. Since then, she has endured five surgeries and six months of chemotherapy, as well as a procedure to pump chemotherapy through her body internally and remove more tumours earlier this month.

    Since being diagnosed, Tanya, who lives in Wasaga Beach with her husband, Kevin Prentice, and two children, Hanna Tesseris, 15, and Sara Tesseris, 11, hasn’t been able to resume her job as a law clerk. As well, her husband, Kevin, receives no paycheque when he takes time off from his job as a contractor to support her.

    “[Having cancer] is financially crippling and creates stress,” Tanya says. “It takes a long time to recover from, especially if you are constantly going through treatment and surgeries… After you pay for gas for trips to Toronto for treatment, parking at the hospital and food for my husband who sleeps beside my bed on the floor because I need help… it just keeps adding up.”

    To help the Prentices with financial support, her family (many of whom live in Mulmur) is organizing a fundraising event at the Creemore Legion Hall. On Saturday, January 11, supporters are invited to come out for a night of dinner and dancing, a silent auction and draws. Admission to the event is a non-perishable food item.

    “We don’t know what to say. It goes beyond words what people are giving us,” says Tanya, about the upcoming event her mother, mother-in-law and cousins are organizing. “Our family never lived in fear; we live in hope.”

    In spite of all she has endured, Tanya remains positive, especially during the recent Christmas season. She credits her faith in God with her positive outlook. She even hopes to have recovered well enough from her latest procedure – a chemotherapy bath and debulking at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto on December 10 – to do the “robot dance” at the Legion Hall on January 11.

    “There is a 0% survival rate, but I’ve already beat it!” says Tanya, who reports she has recovered well from each of the many procedures she has had. “The oncologist has already said I am a miracle. So much could have gone wrong that hasn’t.”

    Fundraiser for Tanzania

    Named for the Swahili word for “success,” three women in the area are hoping an upcoming fundraiser for their not-for-profit Bahati Project to help support children’s initiatives in Africa is just that.

    On Friday, January 31, sisters Megan Kelk, age 23, Jenn Kelk, age 29, and their friend Anne-Marie Montgomery, age 23, will host an evening of music, food, door prizes, crafts and jewellery at Terra Nova Public House in Mulmur.

    The money they raise will go directly to the Bahati Project, which the three women founded last fall after visiting Tanzania in 2011.

    The Bahati Project funds three initiatives: Meru View, a preschool for children whose families can’t afford education themselves; Pippi House, a safe house for girls who have been living on the streets, and Newlands Orphanage.

    “Meru View is funded entirely by donations,” explained Megan, who lives in Mulmur. “These kids (pictured above) wouldn’t be able to go to school otherwise.”

    Since Megan and Anne-Marie’s first visit to Tanzania (see photo on home page), they have raised money to support Meru View through events such as a movie afternoon in Alliston last November, Breakfast with Santa as well as Christmas craft and bake sales at Primrose Elementary School in Mulmur, where Jenn teaches Grades 7 and 8. They also accept private donations for their cause.

    The fundraiser ticket price ($20 at the door) will cover some of the cost of the food, but the rest will be sent directly to Tanzania, said Megan.

    In addition to having a good time, the evening at Terra Nova Public House will also provide an opportunity for Megan, Jenn and Anne-Marie to educate their guests about the three establishments in Africa.

    “It’s so hard for people to understand what they are raising money for without having seen it,” Megan said. “So we try to give them something as well.”

    To find out more about the Bahati Project, visit bahatiproject.weebly.com.

    Fundraising for the Philippines

    Two Clearview residents mobilized their friends, families and coworkers after hearing a call for help from the other side of the world.

    On Monday, December 23, Patricia Cleary Clark, owner of Mountain Ash Farm bed and breakfast in Mulmur, delivered a cheque for $3,500 to Red Cross Emergency Services for typhoon relief in the Philippines.

    That amount was matched, dollar by dollar, by the Canadian government, to provide relief services to people who had been affected by typhoon Haiyan, which took approximately 6,000 lives in early November.

    Clark raised the money by hosting a fundraiser at Mountain Ash’s official invitation-only opening in October. For $35, guests enjoyed food and prizes from local businesses such as Chez Michel, The Sovereign, the 100 Mile Store, Sola’s Side Door Gourmet and Creemore Springs Brewery. Clark also provided music by composer Chris Smith and saxophonist Turner King, and collected private donations from some guests.

    “We have always had a great deal of fun hosting parties and events when my mother and father were alive, so it’s sort of a family tradition…Québecois joie de vivre, I suppose, as my family moved to Toronto from Montreal in the 1950s,” Clark said.

    At the time of her event, she didn’t know which Red Cross initiative she would donate the money to. Then, she read about the typhoon. “There are lots of good causes, but that one did it for me,” she said.

    Creemore resident Matthew Fuller also coordinated a fundraiser for typhoon relief at his workplace, the Creemore Springs Brewery, where he is the Event Coordinator. In spring of 2011, Fuller spent two months living with a family in Tacloban City, which has since been destroyed by the typhoon. While he was living there, Fuller volunteered at the Regional Rehabilitational Centre for Youth in the neighbouring village of Tanauan (see photo, above).

    “While living in Tacloban City, I made many close friends and have only heard news of a few of them since the disaster,” Fuller said. “Life in this Third World country is hard to begin with, and now that families have had what little they had taken from them, life is going to be a struggle for many.”

    To raise money to help, Fuller posted a request for donations at his workplace, explaining his connection to the area. The $770 that the brewery’s employees donated was matched by the brewery itself, before being doubled once again by the Canadian government for a total donation of $3,080 to the Red Cross.

    For Clark, raising money for the Red Cross is something she has been committed to for years. A longtime volunteer for the organization, Clark was as an Emergency Shelter Manager in Oakville for 10 years, coordinating “mock disasters” each year in which members of the police, fire department, Salvation Army and Red Cross worked together to set up a shelter in response to a pretend emergency situation.

    However, her connection to emergency support is also an emotional one. During her first real call for emergency support – the ice storm of 1999, which spread from New York to Kingston – her uncle died in Hudson, Quebec while clearing tree limbs off the roof of his house. And with the recent ice storm in Ontario on her mind, Cleary continues to think of ways to help people through the Red Cross organization.

    “Since the train derailment in Quebec, floods in Alberta and exodus of Syrians to Turkey, in all touch with friends and family I wanted to reacquaint people with the good work Red Cross/Red Crescent does locating lost loved ones, and providing food and shelter here and around the world,” she said.

    Gents, get pumped!

    “Floored.” This is how Alison FitzGerald felt after the first Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event in Collingwood last year. “I was floored at the amount of interest and support the community showed,” she explained.

    The event raised $30,000 for Collingwood women’s shelter, My Friend’s House.

    On Saturday, October 5, FitzGerald, the shelter’s executive director, is hoping that the “men in heels” will raise even more.

    My Friend’s House is Southern Georgian Bay’s only shelter and support program for women and their children escaping violence and abuse.

    Each year, the shelter must raise $175,000 to maintain its existing services. All proceeds from the walk go directly to the shelter.

    “It’s a fun way to talk about a difficult issue,” FitzGerald said. “Since My Friend’s House started engaging men in the conversation about violence against women, it has seen a growth in the third-party and volunteer support men have offered.”

    Rumour has it that even Santa Claus has been practicing walking in heels since his début at the event last year.

    Anyone who is interested in walking, volunteering, sponsoring or pledging can visit www.inherheels.ca.

    Get outside!

    By Drew Gulyas

    Don’t tell my seven-year-old daughter, Charlotte, but I am thinking about giving up on her Grade 2 spelling homework.
    No discredit to her teacher. Since September, I’ve seen my child’s reading ability make a steady climb from a place of total disengagement to near self-sufficiency, and I’m certain it has more to do with the quality of the instruction she has received at school than what she gets at home.

    For my part, I have decided that I’m going to place my focus for my time with her elsewhere. More specifically, outside.

    Sounds pious, right? Maybe. Although it might more accurately be categorized as an act of acceptance. A few years back, after my third daughter was born, a friend and fellow father of daughters told me that of all the things I was responsible for as a recently minted dad, the most important was my daughter’s view of her physical fitness. It was a counter-intuitive instruction for me. Based on gender, shouldn’t her mother be the primary role model in this area? No, he said. Her image of her physical health was up to me.

    I don’t have the data to back that up. Anecdotally though, I’m starting to get the picture. When I try to do homework with her – it’s a grind. Disagreements. Do I have to’s. Grunting. When I ask her if she wants to go build snow forts, toboggan, ski or even do a few chores, it is typically a prompt affirmative and a quick trip out the door.

    Maybe her brain is benefiting from the extra oxygen. Maybe the physical activity is bringing the dendrites and the synapses closer together. Maybe we are both just having more fun when we spend time together. I really don’t know if the time outside and the improved reading skills are even remotely related.

    Here’s the thing: our modern society is ridiculously skewed towards academic achievement. But what if all that desk time really is depriving us of something? What if our predecessor animal selves got hard-wired for reading, counting and thinking because we were constantly immersed in a highly stimulating, ever-changing, full-of-spectacle place called “outside”? What if the reason we can reason is because we grew up in an environment where we had to learn how to make sense of things in the world of cause and effect?

    All I know is that when we were out snowshoeing this weekend, my daughter correctly distinguished a rabbit track from a squirrel track – and if that’s not reading, I don’t know what is.

    Drew Gulyas is the Camp Director at Camp Mansfield, drew@mansfieldoutdoorcentre.ca.

    Pictured on home page (left to right): Ruby Gulyas, Maggie Armstrong, Drew Gulyas, Sam Armstrong and Charlotte Gulyas.

    Getting creative in Dunedin

    For the 17th year in a row, and the 12th in picturesque Dunedin, Lynn Connell is welcoming any and all with a desire to be more creative to a series of workshops this summer.

    The Creativity Art Retreat, Connell’s home and studio on the banks of the Noisy River, is the perfect place to be inspired by a who’s who of painters, both local and from afar.

    “It’s a place that’s not scary,” says Connell of the colourful, loft-like interior of the studio. “That’s important, because these kinds of things can be intimidating.”

    When attendees arrive on the first night of a retreat, the first order of business is to enjoy a glass of wine (or two) together on the back deck. The bonds that are made during those initial meetings tend to grow, to the point that what gets Connell most excited about the retreats is not the art that’s made but the community that’s formed.

    “It’s really all about people meeting each other and passing on their knowledge and experiences,” she said.

    On the roster for this year’s slate of retreats are instructors ranging from local painter John Anderson to renowned international artists Harold Klunder and M. Douglas Walton.

    Connell makes sure to take a class with each instructor herself before inviting them to take part in a retreat, mostly to make sure their teaching style fits with her approach – namely, one that emphasizes creativity and avoids judgment.

    “It’s really miraculous to see what happens here every summer,” she said. “People learn a lot about themselves, and their abilities inevitably catapult, whether they are fresh beginners or veteran painters.”

    Programs at the Creativity Art Retreat range from three days long to six, and vary in price from $325 to $795. Gourmet meals and yoga sessions are included; limited accommodations are available at extra cost. For more information, visit www.lynnconnellart.com or call 416-951-6528 or 705-466-5552.

    Getting off the ground with “Austin Airways”

    For some time now, my good friend Austin Boake has been inviting me to go flying with him in his 1980 Cessna 172. Unfortunately, I have always had other commitments or have been too busy with work to go.

    On a Saturday morning this past winter, Austin called with another invite, this time pointing out that “our wives are going antique shopping all day, so we should go flying.”

    It sounded like a good idea at the time. I had been recovering from a knee injury and surgery, which left me with some time on my hands. I couldn’t do much around the house with my knee strapped up in a brace and limited mobility. Going flying with Austin sounded like a good distraction from my woes. Little did Austin know what he was getting himself in to.

    Austin arrived at my door step all smiles and ready to go, sporting his flight cap with the logo AUSTIN AIRWAYS. We headed up to Collingwood Airport, where he keeps his plane in an enclosed hanger. First we stopped at the snack bar and had a great breakfast of bacon and eggs. It’s a good thing we did, because Austin would need all of his energy to complete the next set of tasks in our escapade of adventure.

    We walked over to the hanger and opened the door to see three or four small planes, with one sitting in the centre of the hanger with tarps covering the wings. As Austin removed the tarps, he proudly announced that this was his baby – a fine looking aircraft in bright white, with blue stripes and numbers on it. I thought at the time of the unveiling that the cockpit area appeared rather small, and wondered how we would both fit in there (I am a rather large, heavyweight kind of guy, running about 275 pounds).

    Well, once the unveiling took place the games began. Austin walked over to the hanger door, where he climbed up on a makeshift two-step stair box and reached up to unlock it. He repeated the process on the other side of the hanger door, he pushed the switch and presto: the large door began to open. There was just one problem, however. When the door opened there was a pile of snow that had blown up against the hanger, creating a small snow drift about 8 inches high, with a large patch of ice covering the interior of the hanger. Not to be discouraged, Austin went looking for a shovel and returned smiling and holding a piece of 2-inch ABS pipe (there was no shovel to be found).

    My determined friend proceeded to kick and poke at the snow drift with his foot and his piece of 2-inch ABS pipe. While slipping and sliding around on the ice, he managed to clear an area that the three wheels of the plane could pass through. Needless to say, I was not much help with my injured knee and restricted manoeuvrability.

    Then Austin suggested I try to get in the plane, and see if my disabled leg and knee would co-operate. “No sense pushing the plane out of the hanger if you can’t get in it,” he pointed out. Austin proceeded to show me the embarking procedure: “don’t put weight on the door, don’t pull on the wing, don’t step there, etc.”

    Unfortunately, my attempt to get in the plane failed. I then decided to try getting in from the pilot side and see if leading with my good leg would have a better result, thinking if I got in from this side I could climb over to the passenger side. Success would once again fail me.

    My dear friend, determined that he was taking me flying that day, walked over to the hanger door and dragged over the makeshift set of stairs. So with both doors open and a friendly push from my buddy, I found myself in the plane, lying face down and sprawled across both seats, with my head sticking out the pilot’s door and my feet sticking out the passenger’s door. After much determination and contortionism, I managed to get my unbendable injured leg and myself up right in the passenger seat.

    “Stay there, I will push the plane out by myself,” declared Austin. I think he thought that if I got out to help, I would never get back in again. So there is Austin pushing the plane out until he hits the ice patch, at which time his feet are slipping like crazy while he makes a valiant effort to get the plane past the door of the hanger. He made it to the snow drift just in front of the door, but there was still enough of a bump from the ice that formed that the landing wheels did not want to go over.

    I, meanwhile, am in the plane, looking at my friend who by this time is holding on to the wing strut and trying to pull the plane out and over the hump. Try after try, the plane would get to the top of the little hump and roll back into the hanger. I sat there, watching Austin grit and grind his teeth so hard at every attempt that his jaw shivered in determination. After one last attempt with Austin pulling with all his might and me sitting in the plane rocking back and forth trying to gain some momentum from my weight, the plane suddenly rolled over top of the ice bump and we were out of the hanger. Within minutes we were airborne and had a wonderful flight over Creemore, circling out over Georgian Bay and along the coast line. It was a wonderful experience and a great day.

    Once we landed, it was a matter of leaning back, swinging my legs out and sliding out on to the makeshift stairs that my friend so graciously dragged over to the side of the plane one more time.

    After all that effort, I treated Austin to the local pub for some lunch and a couple of cold beers as we laughed about that day’s activities.

    Thanks Austin for being a great friend, and making our first flight a truly memorable experience that I will never forget.

    Gift of Music series welcomes Chagall Trio

    The third concert in the 2012 St. Luke’s Gift of Music series will feature the Chagall Trio. Inspired by artist Marc Chagall, the trio’s intent is to bring to their music the same colour and emotional depth that Chagall brought to his art. Chagall often incorporated music or musical instruments into his art, and the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” took its name from “The Fiddler,” one of his better known paintings.

    Violinist Alessia Disimino began playing the violin at the age of two and a half, and went on to perform with her high school at a 2011 showcase concert in Carnegie Hall where she was both concert master and a featured soloist. Alessia is currently entering her second year of Violin Performance at the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto. She has extensive experience performing in solo, orchestral and chamber settings, including performances with The Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute and the Canadian Sinfonietta at the Glenn Gould School. In May 2012 Alessia toured and performed in British Columbia with the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra.

    Beth Silver began studying the cello at the age of four and is currently studying at the University of Toronto. She has participated in numerous festivals, including the Domaine Forget in Quebec, the Summer Institute for Strings held at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, and the Scotia Festival of Music in Halifax. She was the recipient of the Martin Gelber and Yo Yo Ma scholarships from the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, and in the summer of 2011 played with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada during their tour of Atlantic Canada.

    Pianist Jenna Richards earned Associate Diplomas in both piano and violin from the Royal Conservatory of Music while studying in Halifax, and is currently in her final year as a Bachelor of Performance Piano major at the University of Toronto. She has represented Nova Scotia in national music competitions, and has

    participated in events at numerous academies, including the Orford d’Arts Academy (Quebec), the Adamant Music School (Vermont), and the Mozarteum International Academy (Sallsburg, Austria). As an avid promoter of the arts, Richards sees her passion for chamber music as an opportunity to connect with a variety of different communities.

    Recipients of numerous awards and scholarships, these young musicians have promised us an inspired performance, with a repertoire that features the work of Beethoven, Brahms, and Patrick Murray. At this busy time of year, consider slowing down and gifting yourself with an afternoon of soul soothing music followed by time to relax and mingle with the trio, friends and neighbours over complimentary refreshments.

    The Chagall Trio will perform at 3 pm on Sunday, December 9 at St. Luke’s Anglican Church. Gift of Music tickets, at $15, are available at Curiosity House Books, the Echo, and at the door. The following Sunday, December 16, the last concert of our series will be our “Divas and Friends” event, featuring a mix of both classical and seasonal pieces.

    Give them wings and they will fly

    The Cardboard Castles-sponsored Imaginarium tent was a happening place during the Festival of the Arts, with kids of all ages designing their own wings and “learning to fly.”

    Global (and local) thoughts on the status of women

    Hello Creemore!

    I have just returned from the 57th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, held in New York City over the past two weeks. I went as one of about a dozen representatives of The Voice of Women for Peace (VOW-Canada) from across our country, from Halifax to Nelson, British Columbia. And I was one of upwards of 10,000 women from around the globe who showed up to participate.

    I went out of curiosity, and with a professional interest in working with women who are choosing to take a stand for peace in the world. I return home inspired, connected and shocked.
    As with every year, there was a theme. This year’s theme was The Elimination and Prevention of All Forms of Violence against Women and Girls.

    It has been inspiring to meet with so many passionate women, with such a commitment both to women’s security and to our desired collective contribution to society on social and political fronts.

    And it has also been disheartening to learn about so many harsh realities. Besides the seemingly endless stories of seemingly endless ways that women experience violence around the world, both within and outside of our homes, there were also some big picture realities that have stunned, saddened and angered me. Of the many, here are a few:

    • UN Security Council Resolution 1325, passed unanimously in 2000, commits to, among other things, having women be present at the tables where decisions about war and peace are discussed and decided, nationally and internationally. It has, for all intents and purposes, hardly been implemented at all in the 13 years since it was agreed to. Canada’s progress on this is no exception.

    • There is fierce debate among women about whether to hold a 5th UN World Conference for Women. The 4th, and last, was held in 1995, in Beijing. Many recommendations made then still have not been implemented, 18 years later! A central part of the debate has been fear that a 5th World Conference could see those recommendations revisited and put any progress that was made then at risk of being lost because of the prevailing conservatism that currently exists in so many parts of the world.

    • International peacekeeping troops have been and undoubtedly still are at the centre of the trafficking and use of sex slaves – young girls aged 11 and up – in countries where they have been hired to maintain peace and protect the safety of those in the area. The shocking documentary Whistleblower (which I will look to access and show locally) exposes the depth and breadth of the involvement of UN players in this violence-infused underbelly economy. It also informs us that UN employees (including those “hired hands” from third party “private security companies” acting as international peacekeeping troops) have diplomatic immunity from any legal recourse!

    I have not yet decided just how all of this information will influence decisions and choices I will make. What is for certain is that my worldview has been altered.

    At the very least, some of what I now know I need to share widely. It needs exposure. Because what I also know is that when more people know about such transgressions of human dignity, the more likely we are to correct things and hold individuals accountable.

    And what I know is that this information is not separate from the news that I heard on the radio today that every year My Friend’s House, a shelter for survivors of domestic abuse here in our own local neighbourhood, serves 600 women and children annually.

    What I hold out for is that, individually and collectively, we will choose to take a stand for respectful relations that uphold the dignity and security of all. What I hold out for is that we will choose to step in and interrupt, rather than turn a blind eye to beliefs and behaviours that violate these basic human rights.

    I welcome further dialogue and action with others – men, women, boys and girls. We truly are in this boat together.

    GNE Ambassador attends agri-fair “boot camp”

    By Nicole Gowan

    Last week, I had the privilege to represent our municipality as the Senior Ambassador of the Great Northern Exhibition in Toronto at the Ontario Association of Agriculture Societies convention at the Fairmount Royal York hotel.

    Fair Board members attend this convention to generate new ideas for the fairs, examine what is and isn’t working, and think of ways to bring rural and urban communities together.

    The 90-plus Senior Ambassadors in attendance, including myself, focused on creating awareness of the Ambassador Programs that are available to youth, as well as the amazing opportunities they bring.

    The other main focus of the convention was the Canadian National Exhibition, which is held in Toronto in August. This is where most of us will be competing to be crowned ‟Miss CNE” and represent all of Ontario’s agricultural societies.

    During the first day of the convention, there was an ice-breaker party, games, a seminar on public speaking, and, to end the night, an entertainment showcase that was extraordinary! It featured four musical acts, Moo’d Swing, Emily Flack, Ty Baynton and Leah Daniels, an award-winning magician and mentalist, Mike D’Urzo, and a World Champion Juggler who was featured on America’s Got Talent, Charles Peachock. It was a great way to re-energize our minds at the end of an exciting first day.

    The second day started early and was full of things to do. First off was a seminar with the 2013 CNE Ambassador, Claire Milton, where we could ask questions, learn about her duties throughout the year and gain a better understanding of the entire responsibility of Miss CNE. It was a good opportunity to learn and calm some nerves before August.

    There were two other seminars by Heather Hargrave and Gregory Smith. Heather, who represents Farm and Food Care Ontario, spoke about food safety and how to properly addressing agricultural issues when speaking with other people.

    Gregory is a personality specialist whose seminar, “Flipping Your Iceberg,” taught us what to put our drive toward and how to focus our energy on being optimistic and making our efforts successful.

    The last seminar of the day was for the Ambassadors as a group. We discussed more ways to get youth involved in the Ambassador Programs and we are hoping to encourage others to apply to the GNE. I heard that some Ambassadors do presentations in their local high schools, go to local events, and set up tables at their local farmers’ markets. My goal is to get more involved locally within the schools to promote our program and get more contestants for this year’s Fair.

    After the seminars we got an exclusive tour of the Fairmount Royal York, which was amazing and also educational. That evening, there was the President’s Reception where all the Ambassadors got formally dressed to introduce ourselves to members (past and present) of the Ontario Association of Agriculture Societies Board – and everyone else who was there! There was live music and it was another great night for having fun together.

    The last day there was a closing ceremony for the convention and the new OAAS President, Sylvia Parr, was introduced.

    Throughout my time at the convention, I began many new friendships, and developed new ideas to bring to our Fair as well as ways to promote our Ambassador Program. Most importantly, I proudly represented the Great Northern Exhibition.

    I hope to see many faces around the community as I promote this program and prepare for the CNE.

    Going the distance for some special causes

    Already a remarkable young man, 15-year-old Brentwood resident Ayden Green is about to embark on an adventure that will no doubt be even more character-building.

    On Saturday, June 29, Ayden, his mother Sandra and his father Steve will set out for St. John’s, Newfoundland, where he and Sandra will dip the wheels of their three-wheeled recumbent “Catrikes” in the Atlantic Ocean and set off on a cross-Canada ride.

    Ayden, who has dealt with many challenges in his young life, decided a year ago to do the ride as a fundraiser for three organizations that he credits with helping him become the person he is today: the Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy, Autism Ontario, and Toronto’s Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital.

    Ayden and his family have spent a considerable amount of time at Holland Bloorview, undergoing therapy first for a Cerebral Palsy diagnosis received when he was five years old and then an Asberger Syndrome diagnosis that came three years later when it became evident that Ayden had extreme sensitivities to much of what he was being asked to do to deal with his CP.

    “It’s a really amazing place,” said Ayden of the hospital, which provided him the necessary therapy to gain control over both of his afflictions and come into his own as an affable, engaged Grade 9 student at Jean Vanier Catholic High School in Collingwood.

    “Ayden would not be the person he is today without Bloorview and the support of the OFCP and Autism Ontario,” said Sandra.

    For that reason, she wasn’t surprised when Ayden came to her with his cross-Canada idea a year ago – though she admits she expected it to be “one of those ideas that go away over time.”

    It didn’t, and somewhere along the way Sandra herself decided she’d like to ride along beside her son, thinking it could be a long and lonely road to tackle alone. One thing led to another, and Sandra and Steve, both producers at Rogers Television, decided to quit their jobs and devote themselves completely to the ride.

    Now, the plan is for Steve to drive the support RV and the family to cross the country together. And the goal is to raise $50,000 for the three organizations, with funds flowing through the United Way.

    Rogers Corporate has committed to providing media support to the ride as it travels across the country, and Sandra and Steve have used their own marketing savvy to produce a website and a host of sponsorship opportunities for Ayden.

    But all of that will disappear into the background on July 5, the anticipated launch date in St. John’s, when mother and son will start pedalling towards Vancouver Island.

    “I’m not sure either of us know what we’re in for, but I suppose we’ll find out pretty quickly,” said Sandra. Ayden, for his part, has had his Catrike up to 50 kilometres per hour during training sessions and promises to loop back to allow his mom to catch up from time to time.

    For more information or to donate to Ayden’s ride, visit www.aydensride.com. The Greens plan to travel through this area sometime this summer, and will keep us in the loop with regard to their progress.

    Grade 1 student in contest top 10

    A pastel artwork by Cypress Arlt, a Grade 1 student at Hummingbird Montessori School, has been selected as a top 10 finalist in the 2011 TD Friends of the Environment Foundation Earth Day Contest. There were more than 5,000 entries in the contest from across Canada and Cypress (sitting above) was the only Grade 1 student selected for the final round. Contestents were asked to draw something to do with nature.

    All 10 final pieces are now posted online for voting at www.tdfef.com/artcontest. The deadline for voting is Friday, November 11.

    The artwork with the most votes will win the grand prize,which includes a $7,500 TD FEF grant for their school to support the development of an outdoor classroom or a schoolyard naturalization project. The winner will also win a digital camera and a litterless lunch box for each student in their class. Their artwork will also be featured on a limited-edition TD FEF bag which will be distributed at TD Canada Trust branches nationwide in April.

    The nine secondary winners will receive a $500 environmental grant for their school. In addition, the students will each receive a litterless lunch box and $25.

    Grannies give back

    After reaching their $50,000 fundraising goal, Creemore’s “Mad and Noisy Grannies” are disbanding.

    “All good things have to come to an end,” explained Jill Stevenson, who co-founded the group with Carolyn Smith six years ago.

    The two women started Mad and Noisy Grannies after noticing many grandmothers in the area who felt they could “give back” to other people in the world.

    The group of 15 “grannies” raised money for the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s “Grandmother to Grandmother” campaign.

    The campaign supports grandmothers in Africa who are raising grandchildren because their parents have died from AIDS.

    Every year for the past six years, the Mad and Noisy Grannies hosted a bridge luncheon at a different private country home.

    Stevenson says the function was “simple to put on.” She attributed its success to two things women really like: party sandwiches and the chance to visit other people’s homes.

    Guests donated to the Stephen Lewis Foundation and received lunch made by the grannies. Afterward came bridge with the other guests.

    After raising $5,000 at the first bridge luncheon, the grannies realized they were on to something.

    They started out with 60 guests, but that number increased to 80 over the years.

    “People came from all over – Toronto, Collingwood, Thornbury,” said Stevenson.

    When it came to fundraising, these grannies were peristent. This year, Stevenson baked more than 90 chocolate chip cookies for the luncheon. Afterward, she sold the leftovers in bags of 10 for $10. Then, she offered to sell the recipe for $20.

    “The “Granny to Granny” campaign in Canada has been very successful and we feel proud to have been a contributor,” Stevenson said. “We could not have achieved our goal without the generous donations of many ladies over the last six years…We thank you all for supporting such a worthwhile cause.”

    Great turnout to town halls

    Recent town hall meetings drew crowds to discuss proposed changes to Clearview Township’s electoral system.

    During the past week, the Electoral Review Committee hosted four meetings in Nottawa, Brentwood, Creemore and Stayner.

    More than 200 people came to the meetings to learn more about the options for changes, share their thoughts about them and ask questions.

    At the meetings, consultant Dr. Robert J. Williams of Watson & Associates Economists Ltd. outlined the possible changes to the wards. He also discussed the reasons for the electoral review and analyzed the current system.

    “We heard really interesting, constructive comments from the public,” said Brent Preston, Councillor for Ward 3.

    “Very few people said, ‘let’s reduce the size of Council to save money.’ People accept that we need to spend money to maintain a healthy and robust system of local government.”

    More than 60 people attended the meeting in Stayner. Another 72 came out to Nottawa, and about 75 more attended the meetings in Brentwood and Creemore.

    Preston credited the people of Clearview’s engagement in community and local government for the strong numbers.

    He also said that Council’s efforts to promote the town hall meetings through advertisements, posters and mailed post cards paid off.

    “I was really happy with the turnout,” said Preston, who chairs the Electoral Review Committee.

    “The consultants have done a few of these and they said they have never seen so many people attend. They told us that the meeting in Stayner had more people than two town halls in Barrie (when they were doing their own electoral review) combined.”

    If you have any comments about the proposed changes or the electoral process, send your thoughts in writing to the Clerk or Deputy Clerk by mail, email or in-person. You can also call your elected representative or have your say at the Public Meeting on Monday, October 7.

    Council will discuss the consultant’s report and make a final decision about which option to take on October 21.

    Greenhouse fees unfair: Farmer

    A Clearview vegetable grower is urging Council to lower its building fees for greenhouses.

    Zhang Jian Fan wants to build 40 plastic-covered greenhouses on his farm south of the Collingwood Regional Airport to grow “oriental vegetables” to sell at local and surrounding markets.

    However, he feels Council’s latest proposed fee – $300 per structure – is too high.

    Speaking on behalf of Fan at Council’s Monday, October 7 meeting, Rudy Ouwersloot of Niagara greenhouse manufacturer, Paul Boers, where Fan purchased the greenhouses, said, “the proposed reduction (from $437.76 per structure to $300) doesn’t really address the issue. It
    will leave the Township wide open to an unfair fee schedule.”

    Ouwersloot said the fee was unfair because it applies to any size of plastic greenhouse.

    Fan’s greenhouses are 24 feet wide and 96 feet long. Based on the current system, if the greenhouses were larger but there were fewer of them, he would pay fewer fees.

    At the Council meeting, Ward 3 Councillor, Brent Preston called the $300 flat fee “wildly unfair.”

    “With climate change, we need to support this kind of operation in our communities.”

    Ouwersloot suggested that a fair fee for Fan, based on the building permit fees of other municipalities such as Leamington, St. Thomas, Lincoln and Delhi, would be a total of $2,000.

    Fan and Ouwersloot originally aproached the Township in August when they realized Fan would have to pay a total of $17,510.40 for the project. This is based on Clearview’s current fee of 19 cents per square foot of greenhouse.

    In September, Council offered to reduce the fee to $300 per greenhouse.

    Clearview’s building permit fees were calculated in 2008 by Tunnock Consulting Ltd. to reflect the “real costs of running the department,” said Scott McLeod, Clearview’s Chief Building Official. These costs include employees and their benefits, as well as support such as computers, data entry and education.

    “In our mind this [$17,510.40] fee seems extremely high compared to the value of the investment. It is also out of line with other municipalities where greenhouses are more plentiful,” said Ouwersloot, in his original letter to Council on behalf of Fan, who is unable to speak fluently in English.

    Ouwersloot says Fan was “caught off-guard” when he learned the amount of the building permit fees in Clearview. Ouwersloot offered to take the issue to Clearview for him. Fan purchased the greenhouses from Ouwersloot in September.

    But McLeod said “[building fees are] very specific to each municipality. Others may choose to have permits supplemented by taxes.”

    In addition, McLeod believes this is a “one-off” situation. “There has never been a larger scale greenhouse operation that I am aware of,” he said.

    “It’s not the first time someone has requested reduced building permit fees, but it is the first time it’s relative to greenhouses.”
    Ouwersloot believes that Council is working on a solution that will be more fair.

    “You have to be on the same playing field as other jurisdictions or no one is going to build greenhouses in that area,” he said.

    Ouwersloot said that Clearview’s harsh weather and high snowfall have interfered with greenhouse use in the past. However, he is now seeing a new wave of immigrants who want to grow vegetables north of Toronto in places like Clearview, where land is more affordable than in areas such as Niagara.

    At its Monday, October 7 meeting, Council opened the floor to the public. However, Ouwersloot was the only person to speak.

    In the meantime, Fan is prepared to pay the $17,510.40 fee so he can continue with his project.

    Fan says using plastic greenhouses is the most environmentally sustainable way of growing food because it extends the growing season; protects crops from rain, wind or hail; reduces water and fertilizer consumption compared to outdoor growing; is not weather-dependent and has little effect on storm water management. As well, he says it creates less crop damage from insects and fewer weeds.

    Group show at Mad and Noisy Gallery

    By Kara McIntosh

    There’s a new face in the crowd in this weekend’s group show at the Mad and Noisy Gallery.

    Called “Musings,” the show will feature seven artists who work in a variety of media from oil and acrylic painting, to jewellery, photography and ceramics.

    Six of the artists are Mad and Noisy regulars: Peter Adams, Norma Lee, Kaz Jones, Rosemary Hasner, Jennifer Wolfe and Sylvie Deraps.

    New to the gallery is Marcelina Salazar. Originally from Colombia, Marcelina now lives in Chatsworth as a full-time studio potter. She creates pieces with a strong sense of function and a simplicity of form.

    Gallery owner/operator, Lyne Burek, first met Marcelina a year and a half ago when Marcelina visited the Gallery on her way to Toronto. They struck up a conversation and Lyne asked to see some of her work.

    “She had work in her car because she was on her way to deliver it to another gallery, so I was lucky to be able to see it right then and there,” Lyne said.

    Lyne loved Marcelina’s work and vowed to keep in touch with the young artist. Last fall, the two reconnected and now, Marcelina is part of this show.

    The Mad and Noisy Gallery will be mounting four new shows this year which keep Lyne and her husband and business partner, Rick Burek, very busy. It typically takes four to six months to organize this type of show for the gallery.

    “We first decide on the artists and the different mediums we’d like to have in the show. Then, we send the artists requests and ask them to confirm their participation so that we can decide on the overall compatibility of the group,”  explained Lyne.

    It’s up to each artist to choose their own work to display and sell based on a theme. Lyne and Rick prepare the gallery, regularly re-painting or moving art works around the space to set up the shows themselves.

    “We reserve two special walls in the Gallery for shows, as well as the main front window,” explained Lyne. “Otherwise, our Gallery operates as usual with works by the artists we represent on display and for sale.”

    “Musings” officially opens this Saturday, April 19 with a reception from 2 to 4 pm, when the artists will be in attendance. It runs until Sunday, May 18.

    Hallowfest a ghoulish success

    Like the first (annual we hope!) Children’s Festival earlier this year, also organized by Laurie Copeland, Hallowfest drew families from all over south Georgian Bay and beyond. With costume contests, Jack-o-Lantern auctions, spooky science shows and of course, a classic Creemore-style Haunted House which stayed open on Halloween night as well, Hallowfest offered chills and thrills for all. And on top of that, it raised a still-to-be-determined amount of money for the General and Marine Hospital Foundation.

    Click HERE to see a slideshow of all of the images we took at Hallowfest and on Halloween night.

    Also, to see our photographer Fred Mills take a spooky trip through the Hallowfest Haunted House, click HERE!

    Happy birthday, Milton!

    Celebrations are set to get underway for one of Creemore’s most active residents – both on and off the farm.

    When Milton McArthur turns 80 on Sunday, October 6, friends and community members are invited to give him their best wishes at the Creemore Community Recreation Centre.

    For McArthur, farming is “just a way of life.” In fact, he couldn’t imagine any other kind.

    McArthur’s farming roots run deep. His parents farmed, his grandparents farmed and his great-grandparents farmed, he said.

    Born in Stayner, McArthur grew up in Cashtown on the farm his father bought after he returned from World War I.

    McArthur lived there with his parents (who were both born in the Creemore area) and two sisters.

    In grade 10, McArthur left school for good. Why? Because he wanted to farm.

    At 19, a trip to Ottawa for a debating tournament ended with a twist: meeting his wife-to-be, Marion, who was working at the parliament buildings for the local MP.

    Marion was from Elmvale and she returned to the area to marry McArthur in 1956.

    “She must have thought I was alright,” he said.

    McArthur’s career on the land was varied: at different times he raised dairy and Simmental cattle, had a feed lot and grew cash crops including corn, canola and wheat.

    But McArthur was active off the farm, too. He spent 12 years as the Reeve of Nottawasaga from 1963 to 1975. After the amalgamation of Creemore, Stayner, Sunnidale and Nottawasaga, he was elected the first deputy mayor of Clearview.

    He was also active in Lion’s Club activities, helping organize the Santa Claus parade, among other events.

    When it comes to commitment, McArthur sets the bar high. He has never missed a year at the Creemore Curling Club since he started curling when he was 18. He was President of the club in 1961-62, and you can still find him on the ice today.

    A horse enthusiast, McArthur, bought his first horses in 1989, showing them at agricultural fairs. Today, he still has three.

    The McArthurs had four children on the farm: Brenda, Cheryl, Robert and David.

    One of their grandsons, Rusty, now runs the farm full-time. According to McArthur, he “doesn’t give Rusty too much advice about farming.”

    Just over two years ago, McArthur and his wife moved into Creemore.

    Does he miss living on the farm?

    “Not really,” he said. “There are no horses to feed in town.”

    Hayden, among the living, at the ACC North

    With Sarah Harmer, Joel Plaskett, Hawksley Workman and Neko Case all having recently done their thing on its stage, the Avening Hall is developing a reputation among musicians as a little gem, the kind of place where something special happens when songs and audience meet on a Saturday night. On February 9, another iconic if somewhat enigmatic Canadian artist, Hayden, will add his name to the list of musicians in the know.

    Since his emergence from Toronto’s burgeoning alternative scene with 1995’s Everything I Long For, Hayden has intrigued, both for his highly introspective personality and his musical independence, performing most instruments on his records and almost always engineering, mixing, and producing as well as self-releasing on his own label, Hardwood Records.

    The Avening show will be part of a tour of small, unique venues around Ontario that Hayden is embarking on in February before heading out on a North American tour in March. The Toronto-based musician, who also has a place near Collingwood, is releasing his first album in four years on February 19. It’s his first on the Arts & Crafts label, and has the feeling of a new beginning of sorts. He was inspired to return to writing and recording, and to take things more seriously in general, he says, after he was informed by a fan that his Wikipedia page listed him as deceased.

    “I was dead six months before anyone noticed,” he laughs. “Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always taken the music extremely seriously, but I’ve definitely made a few promotional missteps. One example would be not doing a single show or interview for my last record. Really, I put out a record in 2009!”

    With Arts & Crafts behind him and a tour that will see him go from Avening to the Mercury Lounge in New York City, and onward to South by Southwest in Austin and various points across the United States, it’s unlikely that Hayden’s new album will go unnoticed by anyone. Especially given what it sounds like. Entitled Us Alone, the record is a sonically rich, beautifully textured return to form. Lyrically, Hayden continues his strength in crafting stories that range from the highly autobiographical (“Almost Everything”) to strangely unsettling (“Just Give Me A Name”), and goes as far as leaving specific direction of what to do with his body when he dies (“Instructions”).

    “There isn’t a particular recording story around this album,” Hayden explains. “I didn’t go record in a Norwegian village or at the bottom of a shrimp vessel. I walked upstairs where every instrument has a microphone and hit the record button. And, as usual, the songs came together over a long period of time.

    “I was moving away from so many records now, including some of my past work, where every song features an overwhelming number of instruments; it’s often hard to replicate things like that live. I wanted the sound of five people walking into a room and playing a full set. With the exception of some stellar help from friends on a song or two, those five people were mostly just me…”

    Hayden will play the Avening Hall on Saturday, February 9. One of those friends, Lou Canon, will open the show. Tickets, at $25 are available at the Creemore Echo, by contacting sara@creemore.com or 705-466-9906, or online at arts-crafts.com/store. They’ll cost $30 at the door.

    Photos by Vanessa Heins

    Healing from loss

    Betty Schneider knows what it is like to lose a loved one. After each of her two husbands passed away from cancer, she decided to give back to the community for the support they gave her during those difficult times.

    This is why she now runs the Bereavement Support Group for Hospice Georgian Triangle. Registration for this fall’s eight-week program is now open for anyone who is suffering from the death of someone they love.

    After Schneider’s first husband died, she figured she was strong enough to get over it. But she says that the death of her second husband brought out feelings she didn’t know she had.

    To cope with these new emotions, Schneider sought help with a local bereavement support group. The experience was so positive that it convinced her she could help other grieving people, too. Soon afterward, she received training from Hospice Georgian Triangle herself.

    “Participating in a support group such as this helps family members sort out their mixed-up feelings about death,” explained Schneider. “It also helps them work their way through their own personal grief experience from a physical, spiritual and emotional perspective.”

    Schneider knows that everybody grieves differently. So she uses a multi-disciplinary approach in her program.

    “During the group, participants are encouraged to try different ways to grieve, such as crying and even laughing. I try to give them tools and techniques to help them work through their grief.”

    This includes keeping journals, painting pictures, talking, singing and listening to music. “Hopefully, we can open some doors where they can see a future without their loved one,” she said.

    This fall, Bill Crossland plans to participate in the group for a second time. After his wife passed away just over one year ago, he joined the support group led by Schneider.

    “You can’t call anything like that enjoyable, but it was nice to be with people who had similar disasters going on,” he said. “I appreciated talking and hearing other people’s feelings, and knowing you’re not alone in your feelings. Nobody knows what it’s like unless they’ve been through it.”

    Christmas can be a particularly difficult time for people who have endured the loss of someone they love. To help group members be proactive with their emotions, rather than reactive, Schneider organizes a “Blue Christmas” event in December. “It’s to help them get over the loss while everyone else in the world is happy,” she explained.

    Hospice Georgian Triangle is a registered charity that provides trained volunteer and professional care and support for individuals living with a life-threatening illness, individual counseling and small group support for bereaved family members.

    The bereavement support group will meet at Sunset Manor in Collingwood from Thursday, October 10, to Thursday, November 28, from 4 to 6 pm. To register, call Hospice Georgian Triangle at 705-444-2555.

    Health and Leisure Showcase in Creemore this year

    There may not be any tightrope walkers or lion tamers, but there will be plenty for visitors to marvel at during this year’s Clearview Health and Leisure Showcase, which, like a circus, will roll into town on Saturday, February 25 and set up under “The Big Top” that is the Creemore Legion.

    Over 40 of this area’s sports, recreation, and health providers will put their wares on display, giving visitors a chance to sample their products and services.

    “We want to encourage interaction,” said Clearview Township community, culture and recreation programmer Jacqueline Soczka of the event, which is now in its fourth year.

    There will be plenty of chances for visitors to participate, with interactive line dancing, theatre, card-reading, counter-top gardening, and music demonstrations being made available (to name just a few).

    “We’ve had to move to a bigger venue,” said Soczka of this year’s relocation from the Stayner Community Centre to the Creemore Legion, “because the event has grown in terms of the variety of interests represented.”

    A number of area sports teams will also be present at the Showcase, giving parents the opportunity to enroll their children in a number of different sports all in one place.

    Lunch will be made available for those visiting between 11 am and 1 pm, with the Creemore Legion Ladies Auxiliary serving homemade chili and accepting donations for Operation: Leave the Streets Behind, which helps homeless or near-homeless Veterans to escape the streets.

    Visitors will also have a chance to win a 2012-2013 Season Class Pass at The Danceroom, which offers lessons in a variety of different dance styles.

    “We have a number of new exhibits,” said Soczka, “but there are also a number of returning exhibitors. They have found that the Showcase is a valuable thing and are coming back.”

    For more information on the Showcase, visit www.clearview.ca or contact Soczka at 705-428-6230 ext. 249.

    Hearts for Sydney Lowe

    Less than a week after Norma Panzini and her employee Abbey Ewing conceived the Hearts for Sydney campaign, the light coming in the windows of Affairs Bakery and Café is already taking on a rosy hue, passing through a growing number of small, pink, paper hearts and fending off the grey outside.

    For two years now Sydney Lowe, the eight-year-old granddaughter of Creemore residents Lorna May and Doug Lowe, has suffered from a yet-to-be-diagnosed gastrointestinal illness. For a ten-month period she was confined to a bed at Sick Kids’ Hospital, struggling to keep up with her schooling in between treatments. Her mother Megan had to move from Creemore to Toronto to be close to Sick Kids, and Sydney’s now at home and attending Grade 3 at a school in the city, which remains a challenge due to the need for frequent trips back to the hospital for treatment.

    The problem is that the doctors there have no idea what is wrong with Sydney, and have only been able to treat her symptoms as they arise. As a result, they have now decided that she be sent to the Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee for further diagnosis and treatment.

    “They see a lot more kids with gastrointestinal problems there,” said Doug. “They’ll be better able to help her.”

    The Hearts for Sydney campaign hopes to raise funds to help Megan offset the costs of transportation, accommodation and food so that she can afford to be with Sydney and not have to sacrifice their home in Toronto.

    Those wishing to help are encouraged to purchase a heart at any participating Creemore business, where they will be hung in the windows, showcasing that Creemore really is, as the Gaelic translation suggests, a “Village with a Big Heart.”

    “It would be wonderful to have everyone participate,” said Panzini, noting that a friendly competition between local businesses to see who can sell the most hearts might help. “The more people we have participating, the more funds we can raise.”

    “It’s been a rough time,” said Doug, “but this is the best news we’ve had in the past few years.”

    Look for decorated Hearts for Sydney donation jars at participating Mill Street businesses. Any donation is welcome.

    Help preserve Mad and Noisy Rivers

    The Mad River and its Noisy River tributary contain some of the most diverse brook trout habitats in southern Ontario, says the Nottasasaga Valley Conservation Authority. The streams from the Osprey Wetlands to the Niagara escarpment support some of the larger brook trout that is found south of the Canadian Shield.

    However, pressures from expanding agriculture, increasing water use and urban development threaten the health of these watercourses.

    So, the NVCA is organizing a community meeting to find out what local residents and private landowners have observed in the river.

    “Long-term residents will have information for us,” said Fred Dobbs, Manager of Stewardship Services at the NVCA. “We’d like to gauge how the community is looking at the river.”

    The NVCA will also help attendees learn about ways they can contribute to habitat protection and rehabilitation, such as streamside planting projects.

    “Creemore is a diverse community of local farmers, tourists and commuters,” said Dobbs. “We speculate that having a high-quality river that could support (for example) a local fly fishery would complement the community dynamic, local recreation opportunities and tourism revenues.”

    NVCA community meeting to discuss habitat protection for the Mad and Noisy Rivers
    Thursday, March 27, 7 to 9 pm
    Station on the Green
    www.nvca.on.ca

    Helping students

    Every year, thousands of dollars in university scholarship money go wasted because students don’t know the money exists. Ray’s Place, Creemore’s youth centre, wants to change that.

    Ray’s Place is a youth resource centre that helps kids ages 13 to 17 stay in school.

    Beginning this Sunday, grade 12 students and their parents can attend workshops to learn about scholarships, bursaries and grants, budgeting, creating applications, cover letters, essays and resumes. The sessions will also help students develop skills for post-secondary program interviews.

    The workshops are open to all students in Clearview Township who are considering post-secondary education.

    Also, for the third year in a row, Ray’s Place will offer a $20,000 scholarship to one student from Clearview to contribute toward their post-secondary education.

    Last year, the youth centre received 15 applications for the scholarship, which is funded through private donations.

    “That’s a one-in-fifteen shot of winning,” says Corey Finkelstein, Manager of Ray’s Place. “It’s really good – so you may as well apply!”

    Finkelstein also says the Rent-A-Youth program is still in high-gear and is available for fall clean-up projects such as raking leaves, garden work and helping winter tenants move in.

    Rent-A-Youth is a work program in which students are linked with short-term, part-time, hourly jobs in Creemore and the surrounding area.

    “Unlike other employers, Ray’s Place provides support for your family life and work,” said Finkelstein. “We have flexible hours and we look after the kids to make sure they are safe when they go out on a job. The program takes kids off the streets and puts money in their pocket. It also teaches them what it’s like to be working with minimal education.”

    For the first time since it opened in 2007, Rent-A-Youth will continue during the winter months and year round “This is our most successful Rent-A-Youth year to date,” Finkelstein said.

    The centre also offers activities throughout the school year. Learn how to refurbish a 1951 Ford pick-up truck by joining the car restoration club; make a Christmas greeting card at one of the photography workshops starting in November; get in shape with the Running Club; or try theatre improvisation.

    Ray’s Place also offers one-on-one tutoring in a variety of subjects at no cost for kids in grade 6 and up.

    “Ray’s Place takes kids out of their normal social circle and exposes them to different ideas, opportunities and people with different backgrounds,” says Finkelstein. “There’s more out there than what’s at the dinner table.”

    Heritage plaques unveiled this Saturday

    Creemore’s Heritage Plaque program, the brainchild of Purple Hills Arts & Heritage Society member Aiken Scherberger and made possible through the work of that organization and a generous donation from Creemore Springs Brewery, will have its grand unveiling at 11 am on Saturday, October 6 at the brewery.

    This first phase of the program will see 13 plaques erected throughout Creemore, each commemorating a person or event significant to the history and development of the village. The plaques and their stories cover the entire span of Creemore’s existence, from its pre-history to the present day.

    “We hope the plaques will provide an ‘experience,’ a quick hit of village life,” said Scherberger. “Each of these 13 stories provides a little window onto the world that is Creemore.”

    All are welcome to attend the ceremony and follow it up with an informative walk around town.

    Highland sells mega quarry land

    Those who opposed the Highland Companies mega quarry proposal got some surprising news this week when it was announced that Highland had sold its 6,500 acres of Melancthon property to Bonnefield Canadian Farmland LP, an investment partnership whose slogan is “farmland for farming.”

    “We are pleased to close this transaction with Bonnefield and believe it represents a good outcome for all parties,” said John Scherer of Highland, which will now lease the land back from Bonnefield and continue farming potatoes.

    “The Dufferin County transaction is the realization of a long-held dream,” said Tom Eisenhauer, president of Bonnefield. “Here we have Canadian investors, supporting Canadian farmers to ensure that one of our most precious resources – farmland – continues to be used for farming. We look forward to working with local farmers who will operate this land on a long-term basis and to ensure that it is preserved and enhanced for farming use.”

    Bonnefield has secured about 35,000 acres of farmland in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick since its inception in April of 2010. That doesn’t include the recent purchase in Melancthon.

    According to Bonnefield’s website, Canadian farmland has produced attractive total returns for at least 50 years and continues to offer investors an attractive return, excellent capital preservation, low risk and broad portfolio diversification. With farmers facing increased need for capital-intensive operations and larger tracts of farmland, there is more and more interest in the long-term leasing of agricultural land rather than ownership.

    The North Dufferin Agricultural Community Taskforce (NDACT), which led the fight that caused Highlands to withdraw its aggregate application, is cautiously optimistic that Bonnefield is legitimately interested in agricultural operations only. The group continues to lobby the provincial government for stricter land-use restrictions in the Aggregate Resources Act, which is now under review.

    “We knew it was up for sale,” NDACT chair Carl Cosack told the Orangeville Banner. “Ownership has never really been the crucial part. It has always been what they do with it.”

    History of Creemore high school

    By Helen Blackburn

    As sad as it is to know the school on Caroline Street (Nottawasaga and Creemore Annex) is closing, it is good to know that something is being planned to mark the occasion. I was happy to attend the Public Meeting for making plans. But while there, I was completely surprised to learn that many of the people didn’t know that the upstairs of the school was once Creemore Continuation School. Indeed, they didn’t know what a continuation school was. So, it is my intent to review what Creemore had in the way of high school education over the years.

    The first school, as I chronicled in this paper recently, was the log school. It was quickly replaced by what was called the Cottage School, which was on Cemetery Hill. My grandfather obtained his elementary education there but was required to attend Collingwood Collegiate to obtain further education. This would be been in the early 1880s not many years after the Beeton-Collingwood railway made its way through our village. He probably took the train to Collingwood, stayed with relatives and returned home only occasionally. There he took Grades 9 and 10, which was enough to qualify him to attend Ontario Agricultural College (now the University of Guelph) for one year.

    When a larger school was built in Creemore in 1881, there was room for some high school instruction, called Fifth Class at the time. Unfortunately, I don’t have the date when this started. The class was never very big. A picture from one of the years shows about 15 young men and women.

    By 1917 the decision had been made to build another school, bigger and better. The old one was too drafty and dusty with no washroom facilities and was bulging at the seams with students. This is the school that will now be closed in June. The three rooms upstairs were to be the Creemore Continuation School with the three rooms on the first floor to be Creemore Public School. Ontario was dotted with continuation schools in almost every small town and village. These schools mainly taught academic subjects. Larger schools such as Collingwood Collegiate Institute had a broader array of academic classes plus a few commercial and tech classes. The new Creemore School now had classes up to Grade 12. The high school grades were called First Form, Second Form, Third Form and Fourth Form. Successfully passing the provincial examinations at the end of the Fourth Form resulted in a Senior Matriculation certificate.

    In 1933 or 1934, the provincial government decided that Grade 13 (or Fifth Form) should be taught in the continuation schools. This grade was considered the first year of university and allowed students to complete a B.A. degree in three years. This plan was a great advantage to people in the country, not usually the richest people in the world, to continue their education at minimum cost. Grade 13 was taught successfully in Creemore Continuation School until the 1950-51 term was over. For the next three years, Creemore’s Grade 13 students were transported to Collingwood and when Creemore’s school finally closed in March 1954, we all went to the new collegiate in Collingwood.

    The affection for Creemore Continuation School runs strong and deep. For the next installment, I plan to write about the happy years there.

    History renewed at Meat Market

    The Creemore Meat Market, in business since 1881 before 50-year-owner Noel Van Walleghan (left) retired last month, will reopen on Thursday, November 10 under the new ownership of Mark (right) and Darcy (middle) Thomson.

    Mark, most recently the butcher at Creemore Foodland, has been in the meat business since he was 13, when he worked at his dad’s butcher shop in Oak Ridges. His grandfather and great-grandfather were in the business as well. Mark plans to respect history and keep the Creemore Meat Market name (it’s on the building, afterall), but he plans to update the store’s selection and feature his infamous sausages, which come in four varieties. The couple’s 13-year-old daughter Bailey will be in charge of a specialty candy section as well.

    Home from typhoon

    A Creemore native has been given a glimpse into the enduring strength of another culture after finding herself stranded on an island in the Philippines by Typhoon Haiyan.

    Melissa Striegl, 28,was staying on the island of Coron in the South China Sea when she began hearing rumours of an oncoming typhoon.

    Striegl, who was visiting Asia for the first time, was capping off a two-week-long business trip in Manila with a week of touring the islands by boat.

    On November 7, she was having dinner with friends and preparing to return home to Toronto the next day.

    However, when the owner of her hotel tried calling for a van service to drive her to the airport the next morning, none was available because of the typhoon.

    Haiyan is the deadliest typhoon to hit the Philippines since Typhoon Thelma killed 8,000 people in 1991. It has caused catastrophic destruction; the death toll is now estimated at more than 4,000 people.

    At first, Striegl tried thinking of other ways to get to the airport because she didn’t want to miss her flight. But then she learned there were no more flights leaving the island.

    In a demonstration of hospitality, the hotel owner assured her the hotel was a safe place and invited her to stay there free of charge until the airports were running again. At the time, Striegl was the only tourist checked into the hotel.

    “At first, it seemed like a normal thunderstorm,” Striegl said, of the wind and the rain. Although the Internet wasn’t working, she derived some comfort from being able to send text messages to her boss in Manila.

    “The Filipino people were acting normal. I felt that if this were any other place people would be putting down bags of sand and storing water, but here, nobody seemed to care; stores were even still open.”
    At the Centro Coro hotel, where Striegl was staying, she noticed that the the owner had hammered planks across the windows. But still, Striegl wasn’t afraid. “I didn’t feel nervous because no one else seemed nervous.”

    Then, the electricity went out. Luckily, the owner of the hotel had a generator with a light. That night, he kept his staff on and invited his friends and family to inhabit the unoccupied rooms. Together with Striegl, they ate a big dinner of fish and rice. For her part, Striegl provided some entertainment by astonishing her company with tales of freezing Canadian temperatures.

    “They couldn’t believe it could be 5 degrees here!” she said. “Every day in the Philippines is about 30 degrees plus!”

    At about 9 pm, Striegl headed to her room, which was located upstairs and had an outside walk-up. For the next hour she endured the worst of the storm there alone, attempting to read a book and spending regular intervals inching the door open to see what was going on.

    “The winds were howling,” she said. “Every time I opened the door, I saw something new. One time there were flip flops – one pink, one black. Another time, I saw that the hotel banner from the top of the roof was whipping around the balcony. Because it was nighttime, you could just hear the storm and not see what was happening outside, which was scary. It felt like the building was shaking. I could hear pieces of debris banging into the doors and walls outside. There were about 30 minutes where I was pretty freaked out.”

    In the end, she got out her ear plugs and went to bed.

    The next morning Striegl went outside. She saw leaves and pieces of metal everywhere, telephone lines on the ground and boats floating upside down in the harbour. The local farmers’ market had been ripped apart and one house had so much siding torn off it that she could see inside.

    “Anything that wasn’t concrete was pretty much missing pieces,” she reported.

    However, what she noticed most was the resilient attitude of the people, she said.

    “The funny thing is the people seemed to be happy. They were still smiling even though their houses and businesses were destroyed.” Striegl was so surprised at this that she even took a video of a man giving her the “thumbs up” amid the devastation.

    Striegl spent one day helping dole out family meals of rice and sauce for a relief camp.

    For the next few days she stayed at the hotel without electricity, eating at restaurants whose menus were becoming shorter and shorter as they ran out of food, and washing with water from a bucket the owner of the hotel brought to her.

    The water ran out on Sunday. The next bucket the owner brought her smelled like sewage. “That was my tipping point,” she admitted. Striegl felt an urgent need to come home.

    On Tuesday, after two days of waiting with more than 200 people to catch a standby flight to Manila, she began the journey back to Canada. “As soon as I got on the airplane, I was happy. Everyone was so happy about the air conditioning.”

    She spent the next 24 hours making the trip from Manila to Tokyo, Minneapolis and finally, Toronto, where her boyfriend was waiting at the airport to drive her home.

    Striegl, who felt relief upon landing in Canada, says she learned a lot from the experience. “I didn’t really realize how people lived in other countries. I’m happy to have what we have here. I saw how it took longer for the Filipino people to recover and function than it would do here in Canada.”

    Home safe with RIDE

    Constable Mark Kinney is concerned you might not get it.

    Kinney, who works with the Huronia West detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in Wasaga Beach, would like to remind citizens not to avoid any Reduced Impaired Driving Everywhere (RIDE) programs they encounter during the holidays.

    “I don’t think people grasp the concept of RIDE,” he says. “If the OPP stops you at a RIDE, you will get home. But if you circumvent a RIDE program and you have had too much to drink, you could get into a collision and even kill yourself.”

    The repercussions of drunk driving go past the person behind the wheel of the car, Kinney says. “It goes beyond the criminal aspect. It’s about your safety, the safety of your neighbours and of your community.”

    On Friday, November 29, the OPP held a RIDE program on Frances Street West in Creemore at 3:30 pm. Of the 60 vehicles the OPP officers checked, not one driver was found to be under the influence of alcohol.

    “It’s a success,” says Kinney. “It is very positive that we checked so many vehicles and found that everybody was conscious of being safe on the road and not drinking and driving.”

    Afternoon checks are just as important as having RIDE programs at night, Kinney says. “People drink at different times of the day. One-year results from our research showed that almost as many individuals drink in the morning as in the afternoon and at night.”

    Kinney also mentioned that alcohol addiction or substance abuse issues can rear their ugly heads at any time of the day. As well, some people might consume alcohol until the early morning hours, and still have it in their system when they wake up.

    “At this time of year, it is not uncommon for people in the holiday spirit drink at lunch or in the afternoon,” adds Kinney. “It can be easy to consume too much alcohol at a festive event before realizing you shouldn’t drive home.”

    House fire provides training ground

    The owner of a house in Avening that caught fire last week graciously allowed the site to serve as a training ground for new fire inspectors.

    At 11:30 pm on Thursday, January 23, Clearview Fire Department received a call about a structure fire at a residence in Avening.

    Acting Deputy Fire Chief Roree Payment arrived first on the scene where resident Brian Carruthers and his two sons were safely out of the house.

    By 1:30 am, 24 firefighters (plus Acting Fire Chief, Colin Shewell, and Payment) had the fire under control using eight pumpers and tankers from all five fire halls in Clearview.

    The next day, eight fire investigators-in-training from the Office of the Fire Marshall in Midhurst arrived on the scene for a mock investigation.

    The OFM had approached Clearview Fire Department in December about providing teaching opportunities for people learning to be fire investigators.

    “Thanks to the Fire Department and the graciousness of the homeowner, we were able to provide training about fire patterns and development,” said Jeff Minton, Fire Investigator Supervisor at the OFM. “Our guys need these opportunities for training.”

    On Friday, January 24, Minton led the students (most of whom are police officers) through a systematic process of gathering evidence to determine the cause of the fire.

    “There was nothing abnormal about this fire,” said Shewell. “it went the way a fire ‘should’ go. We attacked it the way we would any other, so it was a good learning experience for them.”

    The cause of the fire appeared to be a damaged chimney, Shewell said. The fire had extended from the fireplace into the walls, where it climbed from the main floor to the attic, Shewell said. He estimated the fire caused about $250,000 in damage to the home.

    “Because it is an older construction, it had no fire stops,” explained Shewell. “It was the seventh generation of the family who lived in that home.”

    The Fire Department was called after a passing motorist who noticed flames behind the building stopped her car, knocked on the door of the home and called 911. Smoke alarms activated as soon as the woman arrived at the door.

    Airport Road was closed from3/4 Sideroad to the south and 6/7 Sideroad to the north from 11:30 pm to 5:30 am so the Fire Department could transport water to the fire.

    The trucks made 10 trips carrying water from the south end of Creemore to the house in Avening.

    Due to the extreme cold weather (-26 degrees at the scene), the Fire Department used circulating crews of firefighters.

    How cold is it?

    By Al Clarke

    How cold is it?

    It’s colder than a pig’s butt in a sleet storm out there, or so it seems, and a lot of the evidence is pointing to this becoming the new normal.

    Winnipeg is having the coldest winter in 35 years, Saskatoon in 18 years, Windsor in 35 years, Toronto and St. John’s in 20 years, and much of the U.S. is also experiencing record lows and record snow falls, with Detroit having the worst winter in 50 years.

    Strangely, we haven’t yet set new all-time lows for the coldest places in Canada. Here are the five coldest Canadian records: Snag, Yukon -63; Fort Vermilion, Alberta -60.6; Old Crow, Yukon -59.4; Smith River, B.C. -58.9; and Iroquois Falls, -58.3. These are all old records – the only new one is from Eureka, Nunavut on December 17, 2013: -42 – and who do you know who has ever been there? Well, actually I have, in July in the late 70s, and it felt almost that cold then as last December.

    Closer to home, anyone who has been up to Georgian Bay this winter must have noticed that there is no open water – in fact, this winter the Great Lakes reached 91% freeze over, which is the second-greatest ice extension on record. This is quite remarkable considering that 2012 saw only 5% coverage.

    Why, might you ask, could this be good news? Last year at this time, the water levels in Lake Huron and Lake Michigan were at historic lows. While there are a number of reasons for this, the leading culprit is lack of winter ice coverage and the resulting evaporation (second is the aggressive dredging of the St. Clair River by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but that’s another article).

    So with winter evaporation at a minimum, plenty of rain last year and high moisture-laden snow this winter, the estimate is that we could see Georgian Bay water levels up 14+ inches, and Lake Superior up 13+; that’s a lot of new water. So if you’re a boater, this long cold winter is just the ticket, assuming it eventually thaws so you can launch the boat.

    The most interesting question is whether this winter is a foreboding of winters to come, and could long cold snowy winters really become the new normal? To throw light on this question, I suggest we get Mr. Peabody and Sherman to set the “Wayback Machine” to the mid- 1600s . This was when the Earth was entering the worst of a prolonged cool period from 1350 to 1850, which is referred to as “The Mini Ice Age,” with three particularly cold periods around 1650, 1770 and 1850. Cold that decimated crops caused the great famine of 1315 to 17 in Europe. Norse colonies in Greenland starved and vanished in the early 1400s, and Iceland was completely surrounded by miles of ice.

    In 1608, Samuel de Champlain encountered ice in Lake Superior in June. In 1683, the River Thames froze for two months to almost a foot thick, and James Bay remained ice clogged for the entire summer of 1686. In the winter of 1780, New York harbour froze and people walked to Staten Island, Swiss villages were destroyed by advancing glaciers, and the Bosphorus Strait in Turkey and the Baltic Sea froze over, allowing invading armies to invade across the ice. During this period, the once-promising vineyards of England were destroyed – and we anxiously await the fate of our local vineyards after this winter.

    These events would be confined the pages of history if it were not for some unsettling similarities of recent solar events to the Maunder Period from 1645 to 1715; which was a period of very low sunspot activity that signaled the worst of the Mini Ice Age. Much scientific research points to this present solar quieting as foreshadowing a real possibility that this winter truly is the new normal and is a glimpse of what is in store for us.

    “How could this be?” you ask. It’s because, as some Sun scientists (heliophysicists) believe, our Sun is “falling asleep.” Scientists have over 400 years of good solar observations to draw from, and for some unknown reason, the Sun has recently become quite inactive. In fact, there have only been half of the sunspot activities that had been predicted for this year, and these are the lowest levels in over 100 years. Historically, this has correlated to a cooler climate, particularly colder winters.

    Normally, I don’t get too excited about correlated events because many times they lack a cause-and-effect relationship, but in this case the evidence is very convincing. We’ve heard this before, in the mid 1950s, when Isaac Asimov, the great science fiction writer, first wrote that burning fossil fuels might raise the Earth’s temperature via “greenhouse effect.” During the new Ice Age scare in the 1970s, it was seriously suggested that we might deliberately generate electricity with just coal to reverse the Earth’s cooling, giving birth to the science of geoengineering; the science of man screwing with Mother Nature.

    The signs of this spring aren’t encouraging – while there are no polar bear sightings in the area, Labrador wolves not seen in Newfoundland since the 1930s have again made the trek across the ice, Wiarton Willie went back underground, local landscapers have put forward the return of seasonal works, snow banks up on the 30th Sideroad are still more than 10 feet high, the ice fishing guys on Lake Simcoe have homesteaded out there, everyone’s out of ice salt, and it’s
    -20 C in March.

    I am looking forward to spring more than ever, but there can’t be a Creemorite out there who, after this winter, isn’t asking,“Where’s global warming when we need it?”

    How to choose a summer camp

    By Drew Gulyas

    Starry nights, talent shows, bus rides, new friends, old friends, cannon balls, canoe trips, sing songs, letters home, cookouts… for those that were fortunate enough to go to camp, the memories are endless and everlasting.

    In many ways, summer camp hasn’t changed since camps first started operating in Ontario about 100 years ago. Camp is still a place where kids learn new skills, have an adventure, make friends, and develop self-confidence. Camps have gone through an incredible transformation in order to adapt to life in the 21st century. For example, summer camps now offer an incredible array of specialized experiences to campers, the lonely payphone in the basement of the dining hall has been replaced with the increasingly present smartphone, and camp kitchens are working hard to accommodate a wide range of dietary restrictions. One other thing that remains true about camp: it is an incredibly life enriching experience to give a child.

    Choosing the best camp for your child is no small task. When considering the range of options available to families, there are a few ways to narrow down your search:

    1. Choose a camp that is accredited by the Ontario Camps Association (www.ontariocampsassociation.ca). Accredited camps voluntarily comply with over 400 standards that address the safety and well being of campers and staff.
    2. Speak to the Camp Director. This person is the individual who is responsible for your child for her or his entire camp experience. Ask the Camp Director every question you can possibly think of.

    3. Visit. See the camp for yourself. Check out the kitchen, the washrooms and the cabins. Observe a meal, talk to the staff, take an archery lesson. Visiting the camp is the best way for you and your camper to learn what the experience will be like when it actually happens.

    4. Include your child in the process. If your child is going to be spending time away from home, whether it is day camp or overnight camp, it is important that he or she feels good about that decision.

    5. Stick to your values. Maybe you believe that all campers should be the same gender, maybe you want a camp with a particular religious affiliation or maybe you are looking for a particular area of skill development. Ask yourself what details matter the most to you and seek out a camp that will match those expectations.

    Regardless of what camp you select for your child(ren), know that providing them with the opportunity to go to summer camp is an experience that will last a lifetime!

    Hub will have grand opening on June 16

    The Clearview Emergency Hub and Fire Administration Centre, the first building in Simcoe County to combine local fire service, County paramedics and a satellite office of the Ontario Provincial Police, will have its official grand opening on Saturday, June 16.

    That was announced by Mayor Ken Ferguson at Monday’s Council meeting after Council had a look at a video about the facility that’s been produced by the County’s public relations department. The video will be part of an application for the Peter J. Marshall Award for Innovative Projects, which is handed out annually by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

    The Hub has been up and operating since late winter.

    Budget Passed

    After voting unanimously for a 3.91 per cent net tax increase at its last meeting, Council made things official Monday night by officially adopting the 2012 budget and setting this year’s tax rates.

    Procedural Bylaw Passed

    Council also gave the nod to its procedural bylaw, which has been in the works since this term began at the start of 2011. Township Clerk Bob Campbell thanked his assistant, Brenda Falls, for her work on the document.

    Housing Presentation

    Council was visited by Gail Michalenko of the Georgian Triangle Housing Centre, who presented that organization’s recent housing study. Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage said the findings would be valuable as the Township works on its new Official Plan.

    Images of the 2012 Santa Claus Parade

    This year’s Santa Claus Parade was the fifth and final one to be organized by John and Marie Blohm. The Echo sends many thanks to the Blohms, on behalf of the entire community, for their hard work and dedication to this great annual event. Enjoy this slideshow of pictures from the day – the success of the parade is evident in the countless smiles on peoples’ faces!

    Impaired driving charges down

    The Ontario Provincial Police reported significantly fewer impaired driving charges and warn range suspensions during their 2013 Festive RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) campaign.

    While RIDE programs occur throughout the year, the Festive RIDE, held from November 23, 2013 to January 2, 2014, is a campaign intended to increase awareness about drinking and driving during the holiday season.

    Across the province, the OPP issued 578 impaired driving charges and 481 warn range suspensions during the Festive RIDE. (Warn range suspensions are given when individuals register a blood alcohol reading of .05 to .08 on an approved screening device.)

    These numbers are down from last year’s campaign, when 693 impaired driving charges and 625 warn range suspensions were laid.

    In a press release, the OPP stated that, “While the OPP is pleased to see the numbers significantly lower in both categories, this year’s charges still serve as a reminder that a small number of impaired drivers threatened the lives of other road users over the holidays.”

    In Clearview, the OPP conducted 58 RIDE checks this year. Altogether, 3,044 vehicles were stopped including 53 snowmobiles. Only one roadside test was conducted.

    In Clearview, Wasaga Beach and Springwater Township, OPP laid 13 impaired driving charges and issued seven warnings. In Simcoe County, OPP laid 74 driving-related charges and issued 36 warnings. (The statistics for Clearview alone were not available.)

    “These numbers are all lower than last year’s,” said Provincial Constable Mark Kinney of the Huronia West OPP. “I see a positive trend towards the reduction of drinking and driving. However, all it takes is one driver making a bad choice to cause tragedy. As such, we as a community must stay vigilant and do our part to stop drinking and driving.

    Improving voter turnout

    Clearview Township is on a mission to increase the number of voters in next fall’s municipal election with five innovations, including telephone and Internet voting.

    “In 2010, 45 per cent of the population came out to vote for its Council members,” said Pamela Fettes, Clerk at Clearview Township. “This is pretty high, but we would still like to see it higher. That is why we have embarked on some new changes.”

    For one, citizens will be voting by telephone and online this year, she said. Last June, Council voted unanimously to support telephone and Internet voting. Citizens will no longer be able to mail in their votes, as they did during the last election.

    “The purpose is to make voting more accessible to everyone no matter where you are,” said Fettes. “If you have a disability, it can be hard to leave your home. It is critical for us to support that segment of the population by allowing people to vote in the comfort of their own home. Some people will miss the paper ballot, but this is about accessibility. The end goal is to make sure that anybody can vote who do not.”

    Fettes said that 44 municipalities in Ontario including Meaford used telephone and Internet voting for the first time in the 2010 election. “They were the guinea pigs,” she explained. “We learned that the voting turnout didn’t decline and in a lot of cases it improved. It worked really well the first time, so now other municipalities are jumping on the bandwagon, as they have progressed technologically in the four-year time frame.”

    Along with Clearview, Wasaga Beach and the Township of Springwater will also be employing telephone and Internet voting for the first time this year.

    The Township has not finalized details about the telephone and Internet voting process. In fact, it still has yet to select a vendor.

    “All information will be forthcoming in the summer or early fall,” said Fettes. “We will have voter information centres set up at the local libraries. If you don’t have the Internet at home and you don’t want to use your phone, you will be able to go to the library to use the computer there on voting day.”

    “As well, the vendor we choose will be going out into the community to provide information on how to use the system. We will also be hosting a series of four Public Meetings about telephone and Internet voting, likely in Creemore, Stayner, Nottawa and Brentwood.”

    For those who have concerns about privacy and confidentiality when voting by telephone or Internet, Fettes assures voters that the process will be secure. “Everything will be placed in a secured format. It has to be because we have to follow the Municipal Elections Act. If you have questions about security, come to the Public Meetings; the vendors will be there to answer all the high-tech questions.”

    The Township is also employing virtual tactics to reach out to its citizens with social media. Find information for voters and candidates, as well as key dates, in the “Municipal Election 2014 section” of www.clearview.ca, and by following “Vote Clearview” on Facebook and Twitter. As the election date draws nearer, more information will be posted, Fettes said.

    The coming election will also mark the début of the Township’s new ward system. Clearview’s seven-ward system was revised last year to improve the the representation of the rural population.

    While some of the candidate’s ward numbers will remain the same, others will change. For instance, Councillor Thom Paterson has already filed his papers to run for the new ward 5, which is the re-drawn ward 4 that he currently represents.

    For citizens who are interested in running for Council, or who are just plain interested in the process, the Township will be hosting a candidate information session on Tuesday, May 6 at 7 pm. At the session, a representative from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing will present information about running for office and answer questions from potential candidates.

    If, after these new efforts, people still aren’t getting the “get out to vote” message, then the Township is hoping their children will. In the coming months, Fettes is planning to talk to elementary and high school students about the upcoming election. “It’s important for students to understand the democratic process. By talking about it, they can get their parents interested in the election and voting.”

    The election will be held on Monday, October 27. Candidates have until Friday, September 12 at 2 pm to file their papers.

    In search of the spirit bear

    In the northwest corner of British Columbia is the Great Bear Rainforest, five times the size of Banff National Park and twice the size of the Serengeti. Covering eight million acres, the rainforest boasts a biomass of 500 tonnes per acre, 40 per cent greater than the Amazon. It is the largest temperate rainforest in the world and has some of the most spectacular flora, fauna and vistas to been seen any where on the planet – yet most Canadians don’t know it even exists. In fact, more Canadians have visited the Serengeti and the Amazon than the Great Bear Rainforest, which is a a real shame.

    What excites me most about the place is that it’s home to the elusive Kermode Bear, otherwise known as the Spirit Bear, a rare black bear with a genetic anomaly that sometimes makes it white. Less than 10 per cent of this isolated black bear population is white, and their remoteness in this impermeable old growth forest makes a Spirit Bear sighting very rare and special. They inhabit a small and remote area of northwestern British Columbia, principally on Princess Royal Island, which is why my daughter Tory and I journeyed there last fall. We flew to Vancouver, took a small plane north to Bella Bella, stayed over night in Shearwater and on the next day took a four-hour boat ride north to Klemtu on Princess Royal Island.

    The Spirit Bear Lodge was to be our base for the next five days. Owned and operated by the Kitasoo people, the lodge is very modern and wonderfully located at the water’s edge. As for guests, there was an Australian family of six, two French veterinarian couples, a German BMW CEO and his wife, two unusual women from Vermont who were travelling the world in an attempt to observe every bear species, and Tory and I, the only Canadians.

    Sometimes things turn out to be better than anyone could ever have hoped for – so it was for my trip to the Great Bear Rainforest. I purposely chose a date in mid-September to coincide with the salmon runs and maximize our chances of sighting Spirit and grizzly bears. At this time of year bears come out of the dense forest and feed on the spawning salmon in the shallow waters of the mountain streams. It also happens that my anniversary falls during that time, so I incorporated the trip as an anniversary gift. Surprisingly, I don’t have a good track record when it comes to anniversary presents – in fact the Leafs probably have a better win-loss record than I do – yet I have remained married for some 34 years. I think the secret is that like most Leaf supporters, Jacquie has adjusted her expectations to avoid disappointment. Unfortunately, events transpired to prevent Jacquie from being able to go, but in the end that turned out to be the best anniversary present I could have gotten her, and Tory was able to take her spot. This pleased Jacquie, because Tory and I have shared an avid interest in the Spirit Bears for decades, since long before their existence was common knowledge outside of the lands of Kitasoo people.

    The trip up was spectacular, but nothing compared to the five-day experience we had once there. On the first night we were invited to a potluck dinner in the native village and Tory and I had the honour of sitting with the Hereditary Chief Charlie Mason. He guided us through the many fish dishes and personally recommended the sea urchin and the herring roe; thankfully, we took small portions. The Kitasoo people are a marine culture and eat very few terrestrial foods. In fact, they take a strong anti-hunting stance, particularly with regard to the trophy hunting of bears, and there are very few deer and no moose in the area. Over dinner, the chief shared some traditional stories about the Spirit Bears and, to our delight, the Sasquatch.

    The Sasquatch has always played a vibrant and important role in Kitasoo oral history. To them they are very real, and to laugh or snicker is to be disrespectful. In Tory and me they found kindred spirits, which opened us to a number of fascinating stories of first-hand encounters. Most of the stories relate to the disappearance of natives after being taken by Sasquatch, and we were warned that, should we encounter one, never to look directly into their eyes as they have spiritual powers that can possess you. One island in particular seemed to be a hotbed of activity, and after a very compelling account of a large manlike figure emerging in the glow of a campfire sent chills down our spines, they offered to take us to camp out there. Our status as true believers spread and the name and location of the island was subsequently entrusted to us and the camping invitation repeated. On the way home several guides went out of their way to intercept our boat to present Tory with a book on Sasquatch and thank us for our sincere interest.

    Sensing smirks of derision on the faces of my readers, I leave you one thought: there could very easily be more hairy things in eight million acres of primordial Great Bear Rainforest, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

    In my next column in the Echo, I’ll tell you about some of the wonderful experiences Tory and I had while staying at the Spirit Bear Lodge, including our encounter with the great bear itself.

    See a video of Al’s encounter HERE.

    In Search of the Spirit Bear, Part 2

    The following is a continuation of last week’s column on the Great Spirit Rainforest.

    During our stay at the Great Spirit Lodge, my daughter Tory and I took five different excursions into the surrounding rainforest. Each was incredible. Here are some of the highlights:

    When a humpback whale surfaced beside the boat, our guide told us that they track the big animals by recording the patterns on their flukes. As the whale made its terminal dive, we were told its specific pattern was in the registry – the whale’s name was Susan.

    Walking into the rainforest along a stream, we came across enormous, moss-covered, old-growth cedars six feet in diameter. We saw a giant, six-inch banana slug, a plant with a five-foot leaves, and streams with so many salmon you could walk across them. Everything in the rainforest seems prehistoric and larger than life.

    On our second day, up the Princess Royal Channel, we waited all day in the rain. We saw no bears but we did enjoy a very rare sighting of the elusive wolverine. Tory spotted it first and got a very good look at it. The rarity of the sighting was brought home to us when one of the Kitasoo elders told Tory that he had never seen one.

    Up Mussel Inlet on day three, we watched a mother grizzly and her cub feed in the stream for an hour before wandering away. Unexpectedly, a large male grizzly weighing at least 900 pounds came directly toward us. He was upwind and didn’t notice us until the last minute – their eyesight is notoriously bad – and he turned and crossed 15 yards in front of us. Doug Neasloss, our guide, told us there was a 1,200-pound male in the area but he hadn’t seen him in a few days. We also observed two or three other grizzlies with older cubs 100 yards upstream. A good day for grizzlies.

    The guides don’t carry guns but large pepper spray containers. The week before our adventure, Doug was “false-charged” by a large male grizzly. This is where the bear charges to establish dominance, and we were assured that they always stop short of you. In Doug’s case, the bear stopped just four feet from him. We were instructed that should this happen, we were to assume a submissive pose and back away slowly. There was no advice on lower bowel activity, but I assume that’s optional. Regardless, never turn and run – this triggers a predator-prey response in the bear and you’re toast. The ranger confirmed the false charge, and suggested that the best use of the pepper spray is to forget the bear and spray it all over yourself – that way, it would at least act as a marinade and add flavour when the bear ate you. Personally, I found it difficult to enjoy bear humour while I was afoot in bear country armed with only pepper spay.

    Grizzlies are actually herbivores – they principally eat sedge grass and starchy tubers, but come fall and the salmon run they gorge themselves on fish to build up winter fat reserves, spending their days eating, sleeping and defecating. There’s no mistaking an active bear area, as the ground is littered with salmon carcasses and bear feces and it’s odoriferous. I can’t remember which day we spent crawling through underbrush in such an area in a relentless drizzle, fruitlessly searching for grizzlies, but I do remember that as soon we got a cell signal, Tory called her mom and explained that missing this trip was her best anniversary present ever. Finally, I got an anniversary present in the plus column.

    Our best day was day four, when we got special permission from a neighbouring band to travel up to Gribbell Island where a Spirit Bear has been seen. It was a long boat ride, but it proved to be worth it. We walked quite far upstream and had just settled in when the first Spirit Bear arrived. Weighing about 350 pounds, he strolled slowly upstream, fishing for salmon and passing 10 feet in front of Tory, a very rare and special encounter. The water was crystal clear – you could see all the salmon spawning and so could the bears. Unfortunately, you can’t drink the water as “Beaver Fever” or “Giardiasis” is a nasty parasite to be avoided at all cost. A pair of martins arrived to play in the stream, and almost ran Tory over on their exit. Then a black bear came downstream, again fishing for salmon, and passed us by without notice. A short while later another black bear seemed upset by our presence, and turned away into the forest. The setting sun was breaking through the canopy of the rain forest and the light was dancing on the stream when another Spirit Bear charged downstream in front of Tory, water splashing in all directions, backlit by the sun like some mystical apparition. The sight was far too beautiful for words to properly describe. It too was fishing for salmon and lingered right in front of us for a time before attending to an itch and moving downstream without any acknowledgement. We were left breathless.

    Tory and I know how lucky we were to see Spirit Bears, but to spend the week together, father and daughter, one on one, searching for the Spirit Bears in the Great Bear Rainforest – that’s as good as it ever gets. We’re thinking of returning to the land of the Spirit Bear to take the Kitasoo up on their offer to camp out on that secret island in search of the Sasquatch. Perhaps that could be Jacquie’s anniversary present next year.

    If you’re interested in learning more about the Spirit Bear Lodge, visit www.spiritbear.com. Below, enjoy a selection of photos and some great video footage of our encounter with the bear.

    CLICK HERE to see a video of the Spirit Bear, up close and personal.

    Inaugural Ray’s Place scholar to study at U of T

    Creemore’s Galen Yates, who will study engineering science at the University of Toronto in the fall, has been chosen as the inaugural recipient of the Ray’s Place Scholarship.

    The stakes were high and the competition stiff, with a total of 15 qualified students applying for the lucrative prize.

    “I was thrilled,” said Yates of hearing the news. “The program I’ve chosen is so expensive – it’s a relief knowing that I’ll have that help.”

    The award has a potential total value of $20,000, payable at $5,000 a year over four years of study, provided that Yates maintains particular academic averages in his courses.

    According to Laurie Copeland, who chairs the Ray’s Place Board, the award is instrumental in realizing the organization’s goal of increasing the number of students who acquire post-secondary education.

    In order to qualify, students had to be residents of Clearview Township and graduate from a high school in Simcoe County. They also had to exhibit both leadership qualities and financial need.

    Yates was the exceptional candidate, having, in addition to playing bass for the Jazz, R&B, and Concert bands at Stayner Collegiate Institute, been a member of basketball, volleyball, tennis, badminton, alpine skiing, and curling teams over the course of his four years at the school.

    Yates has partnered with Ray’s Place in the past, spearheading a local youth basketball program, and was in fact instrumental in the community initiative that, in aiming but ultimately failing to secure a town-owned building for local youth, led indirectly to the formation of Ray’s Place.

    Copeland was sure to point out that no one involved in the day-to-day operations of Ray’s Place was involved in the selection of Yates for the scholarship, with the decision being made by an independent committee based on his academic merit and exemplary leadership skills.

    Yates is enthusiastic at the prospect of making positive change in the world, stating on his application that he “has always wanted to play a role in developing new technologies and making new discoveries” – a goal that his attendance at the University of Toronto will no doubt help bring to fruition.

    Interim and intern help at Echo

    It’s no secret to many of you that Brad Holden, the Echo’s illustrious editor, is facing some significant health challenges in the next couple of months. The good news is that despite the fact he will undergo at least a couple surgeries, his condition is not life-threatening and we expect that Brad will recover fully and be back in the saddle soon. The not-so-good news is that the Echo is going to have to muddle along without him until then.

    To that end, with her typical ingenuity, publisher Sara Hershoff has come up with a Three Part Plan to ensure that you, dear reader, are as well served as ever during these trying times.

    The first part of the plan involves a talented young intern, Christopher Greer, who, while taking a break from his studies at University of Toronto, is eager to learn what he can about journalism at one of the few independent community newspapers left in the country. Christopher (yes, he’s a local; see his brief bio below) will be reporting and writing on news and events in and around Creemore.

    Part two will see yours truly, Cecily Ross, (experienced editor or longtime hack depending on your point of view) guiding Christopher as he explores this exciting new career possibility.

    The third part of the plan involves all of you – from Bryan Davies photos, to Thom Paterson’s news tips to Elaine Colliers’ recipes. Because cliché or not, it does take a village, a village like Creemore to produce a newspaper like this one. So all of us here at the Echo ­– Sara, Georgi, Fred, and for the next little while, Christopher and I – would like to thank all of you for everything you do to make this community better.
    And to Brad, Nandi and the twins, our very, very heartfelt good wishes.

    Christopher Greer Auto-Biography -

    I was born in Brampton and lived in Mulmur Township in the hamlet of Terra Nova until I was five before moving with my family to Creemore, which I have called home ever since.

    I remember being sorry to leave my Terra Nova home, where a brook babbled through the front yard and the trails in the surrounding woods were filled with the promise of adventure (and cut knees). But, in Creemore, I have found a real a sense of community.

    During my not-so-many years here, I attended both public schools; was a minor soccer referee; participated in the Creemore Mocks film festival; played hockey and soccer; and worked as a bus boy at Chez Michel. Still, you may not recognize me as I have spent a good deal of time away from Creemore, both in Toronto – working on a (yet to be completed) degree in English and cultural anthropology at Trinity College ­– and Paris, where, like countless others before me, I went chasing the ghost of Hemingway this past summer.

    I hope that by working at the Echo I will become all the more involved in the community, and I invite all of you to approach me with your stories.
    I realize now that there are trails (and adventures to be had) in Creemore too, if only you know where to look.

    Is this the last word on the bridge?

    Simcoe County is set to release a final report on the Environmental Assessment of the Collingwood Street Bridge today (Friday, February 3), and while the Echo was not able to see the document before press time, we were able to confirm that the EA points to the same preferred solution as the first EA done on the subject, in December 2010.

    That solution will come as a disappointment – though perhaps not a surprise – to the citizens’ committee that’s dedicated itself to saving the steel truss bridge that’s crossed that section of the Mad River since 1913. In no uncertain terms, County engineer and project overseer Julie Scruton told us, the report concludes that the option that best deals with all of the bridge’s “noted deficiencies” – its deteriorated condition, its low load capacity, the fact that it’s one lane only with no sidewalk, the fact that the approach grades to the bridge no longer fit MTO regulations, among others – is to replace it with a two-lane concrete span, similar to the one on Caroline Street West.

    What might be surprising, considering Barry Burton, who has led the effort to save the bridge, told us his group has never been told this flat out, is that the conclusion of the EA will not have to pass through County Council again before the bridge replacement enters the design phase.

    “Schedule ‘B’ EAs do not need to go back to County Council for direction,” said Scruton. “The Collingwood Street Bridge is following the Schedule ‘B’ EA. Only Schedule ‘C’ EAs [the next level up] go to Council prior to the notice of completion.”

    Clearview Mayor Ken Ferguson, who sits on County Council and chairs the County’s Corporate Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over bridges and roads, agreed with Scruton’s statement.

    “The decision has been made,” he said. “It’s been brought forward, it’s in the budget, and it’s gone through due process.”

    The County originally estimated the cost of replacing the bridge at $2.5 million, but in recent budget talks that number came down to $1.75 million, said Scruton. Burton’s committee, which includes local residents John Hillier, a landscape architect who has worked on the architectural design of several historical bridges, John Boote, an architectural engineer who oversaw the construction of the Bluewater Bridge in Sarnia, and Jack Mesley, a steel bridge construction expert, has made a proposal to the Corporate Services Committee detailing a plan to rehabilitate the bridge for about $900,000.

    According to Ferguson, however, the money slated to replace the bridge is to come from County Development Charges, which cover only bridge replacements. If rehabilitation were the option, funds would have to come from general taxation.

    But Ferguson’s real issue is a different one. “This is all about the safety aspect,” he said. “County staff, which I have to trust, has spent the time and the money to study this thing, and the bridge is not safe – not just because its in deteriorated condition but because of the angles of approach and because it’s one lane.”

    Another fear, he said, is that if the County doesn’t bring it up to standard, responsibility for the bridge might be downloaded to Clearview. “It would be a liability that I don’t want,” he said.

    Burton’s group is arguing not just on cost but on heritage value as well, and last year they collected a petition of 182 names asking for it to be saved because it’s an important visual reminder of Creemore’s history. That petition was sent to the County in early 2011 along with a request to “bump up” the original EA to a Schedule ‘C’ version. The Ministry of Environment at that point decided that Schedule ‘B’ was sufficient, but that the County should go into more detail on several fronts. That report, the second one, is what is being released today.

    While the new report apparently includes more detail as required, Scruton said its conclusions on heritage value remain the same. In the 2010 report, the bridge was measured using two assessment tools, the Ontario Heritage Bridge Guidelines for Provincially Owned Bridges (OHBG) and the Ontario Heritage Bridge Program (OHBP). Both rubrics measured the bridge on such things as structural integrity, functional design, visual appeal, landmark value, reputation of designer/builder and historical association. The Collingwood Street Bridge scored 44/100 on the OHBG with a required passing score of 60, and 58/100 on the OHBP with an assumed passing score of 60. Both of these rubrics can be found in detail on www.simcoe.ca; a link to the EA report is also posted on thecreemoreecho.com.

    “Those numbers come from the County’s consultants,” was Burton’s response to the scores. “In our view, that bridge is important, and worth saving.”

    There will now be a 30-day review period on the EA report, although the only comment that would matter at this point would be another request for a “bump-up,” something Burton said he is prepared to do.

    The County will also hold a “public information night” in Creemore at some point during the 30 days, although a place and date has not yet been set. Comments received would not go into the EA, said Scruton. The night is planned more for explanation purposes. Burton said he’s hoping to see as many people out as possible, and he’ll be encouraging people to make official comments as well.

    While the design of the bridge is included in the County’s 2012 budget, the build cost is technically not, although Scruton and Ferguson both said the direction to complete an EA was in essence a nod from County Council.

    The EA predicts a project completion date in the fall of 2013, so the actual build cost would be included in next year’s budget. That will have to be passed by Council in the fall, although County Council does not tend to debate line items as thoroughly as municipal-level Councils.

    It’s Farmers’ Market time again!

    The 2013 Creemore Farmers’ Market Season is about to begin! It’s always exciting to re-connect with everyone and enjoy being back with our market family every Saturday.

    This Saturday we will have a record 41 vendors at the market! We welcome back established vendors alongside new producers and craftspeople. Non-profit organisations are also working alongside us this year, raising money, taking subscriptions and even treating our taste buds; look out for Tin Roof Global’s smoothies alongside their rain barrels this week!

    We have well-known and new producers. Lists of produce coming to market are on our website, updated weekly on our ‘In Season’ page. Some of the new producer items this week include young trees, organic lamb, yogurt and cheese, alpaca wool mitts, slippers and bags. These, of course, will be alongside traditional favourites like seedlings, tomato plants, sprouts, herbs, salad greens, wild leeks, green garlic, kale, rhubarb, asparagus, over-wintered parsnips, maple syrup, honey, organic pork and Highland beef, planters and perennials. It’s quite a list!

    Our wonderful hot food vendors Lori and Pet will be back with Perogies and Jamaican food and will be joined full time this season by Ali’s Kitchen. Sherina came to market last year part time and garnered great reviews so we’re happy to have her East Indian cooking available every week.

    Our food vendors, including myself, are back with breads, focaccia, cakes, baking, desserts, treats, cookies, savoury pies, salad dressings, pesto, preserves, pickles and marmalades. Many are made using fresh local produce.

    One of our new food vendors is Under the Ginger Tree. Megan and Brandon are both great cooks and have travelled extensively. Ginger is a natural medicine and a great cooking ingredient and we’re looking forward to seeing what Brandon and Megan will bring with them.

    We are so lucky to have our Artisans, bringing stained glass, wooden carvings, pottery, jewellery, soaps, candles, tea, George and Gracie’s wonderful dog and horse biscuits, sewing by Marlene and, new this year, handmade dolls’ clothing.

    The Horticultural Society will be joining us throughout the season, selling plants and giving out wise gardening advice every week. We’re also looking forward to four book signings in conjunction with Jenn at the Curiosity House bookstore, with a possible two more – watch the website for details.

    Our hugely successful “Sample the Market” event will take place again this year on Saturday, July 20. We think of it as our own “Customer Appreciation Day” and it’s a great way to try out new vendors. Of course, we’ll also be celebrating our 16th Birthday on Saturday, September 7 and will help with the Children’s Festival on Saturday, August 3.

    The very best place to keep up to date with all things Farmers’ Market is on our website, www.creemorefarmersmarket.ca. We update it every week. You can find out what produce is coming to market as well as recipes, vendor profiles and contact information, special event news and don’t forget to have a look at our photo galleries. If anyone has images of our market, we’re always grateful to receive them. We are also on Facebook and have a twitter feed @CreemoreFM.

    Our customers are the reason we turn out every week, rain or shine, so any feedback or suggestions for the future are warmly welcomed. See you at the market, Saturday mornings from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm in the Station on the Green parking lot.

     

    It’s market time again!

    After a long winter, the Creemore Farmers’ Market will return this Saturday, May 19, and all will once again be right with the world.

    That may be a slight exaggeration, we suppose, but it does kind of feel that way during that first stroll into the market on a sunny opening day. And this year, the 15-year-old institution is aiming to be bigger and better than ever, under the guidance of new president Sarah Hallett.

    Hallett is replacing Jean Brownfield, who has led the market from the very beginning (along with co-founder Sandra Lackie, who left the board a few years ago to start the 100 Mile Store), and she’s a little concerned about following in such large footsteps.

    “Jean did everything; I really don’t know how she managed,” said Hallett this week. “We’re really going to miss her.”

    Not one to pass up a challenge, Hallett has been working hard over the off-season, and market-goers will notice a few changes on Saturday morning.

    First off is the sheer number of vendors. While last year saw about 25 booths on average, Hallett has signed up 32, the maximum capacity, and has had to turn down an extra seven.

    Among the new full-time vendors are three new vegetable producers, one certified organic and the other two operating in an organic manner; a meat and cheese operation; a jam-maker; a tea company; and a savoury baker.

    Showing up on a part-time basis for the first time this year will be a gardener, a pie-maker, a furniture-maker, an “upcycled” clothing booth and a maker of cold-pressed oils.

    In an effort to make the vendors more visible, they will all be wearing green aprons branded with the Creemore Farmers’ Market logo.

    The marquee event this year will also work towards developing relationships between vendors and market-goers. Taking place on July 21, the event will be entitled “Sample the Market.” You might want to skip breakfast that day, as each booth will be offering samples of their wares.

    “The plan is to encourage people to talk to the stall-holders,” said Hallett. “The more people know each other, the more people see the market as a community place.”

    In general, the event schedule will be lighter this year, with more emphasis on the vendors and their goods. Curiosity House will still be partnering with the market, hosting book signings there, and the area around the fountain will still be designated for community organizations (there are seven signed up for this Saturday, including the Creemore BIA, which will have a booth there all summer, acting as a tourist information stop for those wishing to explore the village).

    As is tradition, market-goers will still have the opportunity to take home a free plant on opening day, but this year, that honour will go to the first three customers at each booth.

    For more information about the market, or to find out what fresh goods are available from its vendors on a week-to-week basis, people can now go to the new Farmers’ Market website, developed by Shane Durnford and found at www.creemorefarmersmarket.ca.

    “All in all, it’s going to be a busy year, and hopefully we’ll see everyone out at the market,” said Hallett, who of course will also be offering her trademark delectable baked goods at her Roseberry Farm booth. Drop in and say hi, she’d love to have a chat with you.

    Jason Collett’s Basement Revue

    For the past seven years, singer-songwriter Jason Collett has hosted the variety show he calls his “Basement Revue” at the Dakota Tavern in Toronto. Now, he is about to bring it to Avening.

    On Friday, October 4 and Saturday, October 5, you can join him for two nights of music, literature and performance at Avening Hall – you just won’t know what kind of show it will be until you get there.

    Collett curates his show with a roster of “mystery guests” that he keeps secret until the very last minute. Not only does it keep the audience on its toes, he says that it keeps the performers fresh, too.

    “The whole point of this kind of show is that we all go somewhere together,” Collett said on the telephone from Toronto. “There’s a vulnerability when an artist who’s known for doing one thing,
    does another, or when groups of musicians who haven’t played together before get in front of a crowd.”

    Collett revels in this element of risk that he says makes the shows so special. “Artists are privy to what happens in the rehearsal space. But when it is shared with everyone in the room, everyone’s aware it could become a train wreck. Or, the audience can witness the joy that happens when something clicks.”

    The revues grew out of dinner parties Collett hosted at home with friends. “It’s a variety show with a kitchen table atmosphere, complete with passing the guitar around. There is a particular intimacy when songs or stories are shared.”

    A vaudevillian twist
    The Toronto Basement Revue has become a December tradition because that is when most of Collett’s musician friends find themselves debarking from a tour bus after a fall spent travelling from show to show.

    Collett is no stranger to the inside of a tour bus himself. As a member of acclaimed musical collective Broken Social Scene and a solo performer, he has given his fair share of performances over the years.
    The shows are contemporary art with a vaudevillian twist. They have featured bands, poetry readings, burlesque and even cooking demonstrations. Through such variety, Collett hopes to bring different forms of art and performance, such as poetry, to “people who might not go to poetry readings themselves.”

    “Rock and roll knows how to put on a show,” explained Collett, who lived for two years in Flesherton, Thornbury and Markdale. “Poetry does not!”

    To manage the literary end of things, he gets help from editors at Toronto publishing houses Coach House Books and House of Anansi.

    In spite of, or perhaps because of, the element of surprise around the revues, Collett is careful about how he plans them. Usually, he invites about 12 guests and pays particular attention to the flow of the night. If all goes well, “There is an element of real listening and ass shaking!” he promised.

    Junior Braves are provincial champions

    The Junior Creemore Braves are provincial champions for the first time since 1996, after winning the OBA Junior “C” Championship last weekend in Richmond Hill. Impressively, the team accomplished this feat in its first season of operation, the original Junior team having folded in 1999.

    In the first game of the tournament, Creemore beat Ancaster by a score of 8-6. With the Braves up 8-3 after the fifth inning and the bases loaded, starting pitcher Kurt Roy ran into some difficulties for the first time in the game. A base hit by Ancaster scored two runs. After a walk by Roy a pitching change was made. Adam Van der Heyden managed to get out of the inning with only one other additional run scored. In the seventh inning Van der Heyden walked the first batter and then struck out the next three batters to end the game. Dyer Boyne blasted a solo home run to centre field.

    Creemore then went on to beat Tillsonburg 12-2 with Liam Jacques getting the win and Kurt Roy and Spencer Beelen hitting home runs.

    Creemore handily won their third game, against Cambridge, by a score of 9-2. Luke Weir was the winning pitcher.

    With that win the Junior Braves moved to the semi finals, where they defeated Vaughn 10-7. Liam Jacques was the winning pitcher.
    The Braves were the only undefeated team heading into the final, a rematch against Tillsonburg. If Tillsonburg won this game, another game would have been needed as Tillsonburg had a loss and it was a double loss knock out.

    Tillsonburg took an early 4-0 lead in the first inning. A pitching change brought Dyer Boyne into the game in the second inning, and the Braves were able to hold the score at 4-0. In the sixth inning the Braves scored four runs to tie the game. After seven innings the score remained knotted at 4, sending the championship game to extra innings. Boyne had no trouble shutting down Tillsonburg in the eighth inning. In the bottom of the eighth the Braves managed to load the bases, and with only one out Ryan Lachappelle hit a single to score Ricky Darrell. The team finished the tournament undefeated.

    Congratulations to all the players and coaches for a job well done. A special mention and congratulations to Andy Van der Heyden, who brought the team back to the field this season after a 13-year hiatus.

    The Junior Braves’ NDBL playoff series against the Richmond Hill resumed Monday, but unfortunately Creemore lost 15-2 on Monday night in Richmond Hill and 7-2 in Creemore on Tuesday night to end their season.

    Just be honest – hilarity will ensue

    The path to humour is through honesty.

    In fact, forget all about humour. Just be honest. And listen well. If you do those two things, you’ll build something true and authentic – and that, believe it or not, will be funny. According to Peter Madore, this is the essence of improv comedy.

    Madore is nuts about improv. Since stumbling onto it 10 years ago, when someone told him he was a funny guy who should be on TV, he says it has literally changed his life in several ways. After first taking classes at Toronto’s Second City, he followed his passion to Chicago, where he studied at the world-renowned IO Theater, the launching point for all kinds of famous comedians, from Mike Myers and Bill Murray to Gilda Radner and Tina Fey. Madore’s desire to be a television star faded, but his fascination for pure improv grew and grew. After returning home, he met his wife Tara McGee at one of the countless improv classes he attended and later taught at Toronto’s Impatient Theatre Company. Many, if not most, of his friends have some connection to the improv scene.

    Madore and McGee moved to Creemore three months ago, after McGee accepted a position as a psychotherapist at Mulmur’s Pine River Institute. Creemore had long been “on the map” for the couple, as several friends were always raving about the place. So the prospect of moving their young children – Griffin, 3, and Lily, 1 – to the village was exciting for Madore and McGee, except for one small detail.

    “I knew this is where I’d be homesick,” said Madore of the lack of improv in the area. So rather than go down that route, he’s decided to do something about it. Starting Thursday, September 5, Madore will offer an eight-week introductory course at the Station on the Green, the first step in a grand plan to turn us all into practising improv-aholics.

    “I just feel so good about it – I love it so much. I want everyone to experience it, to feel empowered by it, to own it. And mostly, I want to build a community around it, right here in Creemore,” he said.

    The empowerment thing is key – among other benefits, Madore says improv can provide its students with all kinds of insight, as well as a general comfort in their own skin. There’s also, of course, the pride that comes with building something out of nothing, using only your trust in those you’re working with and your commitment to being honest.

    Peter Madore

    Peter Madore

    Madore realizes newcomers will be scared, and said he has techniques to help people overcome their fears. The key, he said, is to make sure everyone in class treats everyone else like they’re briliant – “treat someone like a genius and they’ll find their genius,” is how he puts it.

    The improv that Madore focuses on in his classes is the long-form, scene-setting variety. It begins with an idea, and all it takes is for someone else to react truthfully to that idea. The term used in improv circles is “Yes, and…” and according to Madore, that’s the only skill you need – to be able to listen to someone, to not shut them down, and to react truthfully with whatever thought their idea has planted in your head.

    You don’t even have to be funny, says Madore. Although you are, even if you don’t know it.

    “Ordinary people are actually really funny, though they tend to think that title is reserved for others,” he said. “There’s so much humour in people’s honesty and authenticity. In improv, truth is the comedy we’re striving for.”

    Madore’s class will take place at Station on the Green at 7 pm on Thursdays, running from September 5 to October 24. The cost is $150 for all eight sessions. For more information or to sign up, call 705-994-3008 or visit facebook.com/manicimprov.

    Keep the wards

    The consultants Clearview Township hired to help with the Electoral Review process recommend it make minimal changes to the current system.

    “The cautious preference would probably be to keep change to a minimum,” the report said. “In that context, the three Options that were deemed to be most successful at respecting the principles established for this Review are the least disruptive to Clearview’s present electoral.”

    “The Consultant Team has concluded, however, that the existing ward system has a number of shortcomings that can be overcome by adopting a new system of representation.”

    To improve the current ward system, Watson and Associated Economists Ltd. proposes four options: two for the current seven-ward system, and two for reducing to a five-ward system.

    The report examines Clearview’s existing population and forecasts its population and housing growth. It also analyzes alternatives to the current system including an at-large system, which does not use electoral districts.

    In an at-large system, nine or seven officials would be elected on the same basis and work from a mandate from the “entire” community.

    However, the Township is made up of a geographically large area with distinct communities. This does not lend itself well to effective representation of the population in an at-large system of voting, the report said.

    “Most importantly, hardly any members of the public said they wanted it,” said Brent Preston, Councillor for Ward 3.

    At four town hall meetings held in September, not one person spoke for the at-large system.

    More than 200 members of the public attended the town hall meetings held in Stayner, Nottawa, Brentwood and Creemore last month.

    Members of the public can listen to the consultants’ report at a public meeting on Monday, October 7 at the Stayner Community Centre at 7 pm. There will also be time for public input and comments from Council.

    Council will discuss the different options and make a final decision about which option to take at its Monday, October 21 meeting.

    To read the report, visit www.clearview.ca.

    Kevin Sylvester creates with kids

    Inspired by his own fictional protagonist, Neil Flambé – a child chef who solves mysteries – author, illustrator and broadcaster Kevin Sylvester is bringing a workshop for kids to Maple Valley in February.

    On Sunday, February 16, Sylvester will work with kids ages 7 to 13 to create stories and drawings at Mad Maple Inn, with food provided by owners Miriam Streimen and Neil Epstein.

    “Food is central to [Sylvester’s] writing,” said Streimen. “And Mad Maple is not just a boutique inn and a food studio, but also a hub for community arts and culture for people of all ages.”

    According to Sylvester, kids love writing, drawing and cooking because all three are rooted in creativity.

    “Authors and chefs are kind of similar,” he said. “You have the exact same ingredients as anybody else, but what makes you be a writer or a cook is how differently and critically you combine them.”

    Children will play games based on words and participate in a “lightning” story session. Then they will eat (freshly and locally, of course) before moving on to the drawing portion of the day.

    The activities will be food-themed, explained Sylvester, who aims to encourage kids to think more critically about food.

    The main character of his four award-winning children’s books, Neil Flambé, is a 14-year-old chef who thinks he can cook anything better than anyone else. Using his knowledge of cooking – especially his incredible sense of smell – Neil starts helping the local Police Inspector solve crimes.

    In his own house, Sylvester said he is the cook in the family. And yes, he does enjoy a good flambé: steak Diane, fig and brandy liqueur or even a traditional plum pudding.

    But don’t worry, parents. When he comes to Mad Maple on February 16, Sylvester says he’ll leave the matches behind.

    Kid’s race to happen alongside Centurion

    The Centurion 100-mile cycling race will again roll through town on Sunday, September 16, with the top racers reaching Mill Street at around 9:30 am. But this year, the big race will not be the only show in town. The Creemore BIA is presenting the “Creemore Kids Cent Ride,” so named because the ride’s one-mile distance is one one-hundredth of the Centurion.

    The kid’s ride will begin at 11:45 am at Mad River Park. The one-mile circuit will take the kids north on Mill to Elizabeth, east on Elizabeth to Library, north on Library to Caroline, west on Caroline back to Mill, and south on Mill back to the park.

    Children who will be between five and nine years old on December 31, 2012 will ride the loop once; those who will be between 10 and 13 will ride it twice.
    The first 50 registrants will receive a special event t-shirt. There will be other prizes and giveaways throughout the day.

    Registration is free; to sign up call Thom Paterson at 705-466-6321 or Corey Finkelstein at 705-520-0110 or email them at tpaterson@clearview.ca or corey@inzaneplanet.com.

    Kids experience winter at its best

    By Drew Gulyas

    We spent our March Break outside.

    From March 10 to 14, winter was at her best. The sun shone, the snow squalled, the campfires crackled and the kids explored.

    During the 2014 March Break, Camp Mansfield partnered with the Dufferin Arts Council to run a March Break Arts Camp at the Mansfield Outdoor Centre. It was an incredible week of winter activities that we spent exploring everything from the art of fire building to mixed media wax painting to duct taping. The creativity flowed!

    Children from Nottawasaga and Creemore Public School, Centennial Highlands Public School, Hyland Heights Public School and Primrose Elementary School all participated in, and thoroughly enjoyed, the week of camp.

    At the very first planning meeting for this project in January, representatives from the Dufferin Arts Council and Camp Mansfield settled on two goals: to provide campers with artistic experiences that they don’t typically encounter in school, and to immerse campers in a natural environment where they can be inspired.

    To achieve the first goal, we turned to two local artists who are both members of the Dufferin Arts Council. Creemore resident Jordan Eveland ran a two-day program at the camp. Her mixed media wax painting project introduced campers to the array of possibilities available to artists when working with wax. Campers discovered that wax is a flexible medium that let them carve designs, pictures and patterns into their work and layer their creations with paint, collage and natural materials.

    Steve Baker from Melancthon ran an afternoon of magic. Campers learned about the history of magic, practiced their slight of hand, and developed at least one trick that they could take home with them.

    To achieve our second goal, we ventured out into the 300-plus acres of forest and field at the Mansfield Outdoor Centre. Every child who attended camp was given a cross country ski lesson and, by the end of the week, kids who had never skied before had travelled over 35 km on cross country ski trails. On the Wednesday, the snow returned in a big way and provided us with perfect snowshoeing conditions for our day hike. We travelled along the northern bank of the Pine River to a sheltered spot beneath some cedar trees where we set to work building with sticks and twine, cooking bannock over the open fire, and enjoying that bannock with generous helpings of butter and strawberry jam.

    Camp Mansfield has six weeks of day and overnight camps running this summer.

    For more information, visit www.mansfieldoutdoorcentre.ca.

    Pictured on home page: Anna Camilleri and Sam Brendish.

    Kids! Submit your art

    Are you a creative kid? If so, submit your artwork to an upcoming exhibition at the Collingwood Public Library.

    Now in its 20th year, the Magic of Children has grown over the years along with its mission to inspire and encourage children to create, exhibit and celebrate art. Its first show in 1994 contained 250 pieces. Last year, there were 425.

    The art show was started by Collingwood painter Lory MacDonald, who ran a children’s art program for 10 years. “I felt it was sad that no one ever saw these amazing pieces of art by kids except for their parents and friends,” she explained.

    So, she approached the Collingwood Library Arts Advisory Board as well as sponsors (including Clearview Township), and the Magic of Children was born.

    The exhibit is not a competition. Entry is free and works are reviewed by two professional artists who, Lory said, “identify anything in it that is spectacular.” Exhibitors are given art supplies as prizes at an awards reception on Saturday, March 22 from 1 to 4 pm.

    If you are a kid who is in need of a little inspiration for your creation, come to a free art workshop at Cardboard Castles on Sunday, February 9 from 1 to 3 pm (parents must accompany children under 7). Pre-register by contacting 705-466-9998 or info@cardboardcastles.ca.

    Children up to Grade 8 who live in Clearview Township or Collingwood can enter the exhibit by bringing their artwork to the Collingwood Public Library on Saturday, February 22 from 12 to 4 pm and Sunday, February 23 from 1 to 3 pm.

    Know when to mow

    With summer comes the sound of chirping birds and crickets, but also that of lawn mowers and hammers hitting nails, prompting a reminder of local by-laws regulating lawn maintenance and noise limits, which, according to Clearview By-Law Enforcement and Canine Control Officer Phil Snape, serve a twofold purpose: ensuring both the aesthetic appeal of the community and respectful practice between neighbours.

    Property owners are required to keep grass and other herbage (be it dead or living) from exceeding 30 centimetres in height, in turn preventing the harbouring of mosquitoes and weeds, which oftentimes spread to neighbouring properties.

    There are also restrictions with regards to the noise made by property maintenance equipment, which are deemed likely to disturb if used within 100 feet of an occupied dwelling between 9 pm and 7 the next morning, except on Saturdays, when the restriction is extended to 9 am, and Sundays, when it is extended to noon.
    Creemore resident Tim Talbot, who, as part of the Ontario Summer Company program, formerly operated local lawn care business Talbot Lawn Care, said that, though he appreciates the rights of residents to enjoy their property and understands that noisy equipment can hamper that enjoyment, by-laws are not the only things that restrict the use of lawn care equipment.

    “Weather factors heavily,” said Talbot. “You can’t cut when it’s raining, or very much when it’s too hot. Businesses still need to survive, so you take advantage of conditions while you can.”

    There are similar laws restricting the erection, demolition, alteration or repair of a building and the use of construction or earth moving equipment within 500 feet of an occupied dwelling, with no noise to be made between 10 pm at night and 7 am on all days except for Sunday, when no noise is to be made between 9 at night and noon the next day.

    Property owners must also ensure there exists no refuse or debris in unsafe condition on their property, unless it is held in an appropriate storage facility.
    “It’s not fair to someone who keeps their yard pristine if their neighbour’s yard is in a state of disarray,” said Snape.

    “We all want to live somewhere that is pleasant,” said Creemore Horticultural Society President Charlotte Vorstermans, adding that keeping Creemore aesthetically appealing is important for local businesses, as doing so helps to attract tourists.

    Vorstermans also noted, however, that lawns are not generally environmentally friendly, requiring a great deal of water to maintain, as well as encouraging the use of potentially hazardous chemicals and fertilizers that eventually make their way into local water systems.

    “I would much rather see vegetable gardens than lawns,” said Vorstermans.

    There are by-laws regulating the watering of lawns, with even-numbered houses permitted to do so on even-numbered days and odd-numbered houses on odd-numbered days.
    “If someone resists or neglects to bring the situation into compliance, then we would proceed with charges under the Provincial Offences Act,” said Snape of the Township’s attempts to enforce the by-laws, adding that the maximum penalty for infractions is $5000.

    Last-minute Farmers’ Market

    The Farmers’ Market capped off a successful season by reuniting for its Christmas Market earlier this month. On Saturday, December 7, hundreds of people flocked to the Station on the Green to taste jellies, smell soaps, try on jewelry, buy buns, bread and winterwear, and experience numerous other delights.

    “The Christmas Farmers’ Market is the culmination of our season,” said Sarah Hallett, who organizes the Farmers’ Market year-round. “We see hundreds of people, a good majority of whom regularly visit us throughout the year. They tend to come in to see us in the morning and stay on to see the Santa Claus Parade.”

    “Most of us have our busiest market at Christmas and we are always hugely oversubscribed,” Hallett continued. “With over 30 full-time vendors this year and only 23 spaces inside the Station on the Green, we had 15 people still on our waiting list on market day! Many thanks to Drew Gulyas from the Mansfield Outdoor Centre, who braved the cold from 9 am to provide free activities for the children, keeping them busy until the parade began.”

    If you haven’t yet finished your Christmas shopping, never fear! Come to the last-minute Farmers’ Market on Saturday, December 21 at the Station on the Green from 9 am to 1 pm.

    Late in the game, budget numbers climb

    Members of Clearview Council met for a sixth working session on the 2012 budget Monday afternoon, intending to discuss ways of whittling the proposed 4.9 per cent combined tax increase down a few notches before the budget is presented in draft form at a public town hall meeting on Thursday, March 29.

    But before they could get to that discussion, Township Treasurer Edward Henley presented them with updated numbers showing that the proposed combined tax increase, previous to any cuts made by Council, is actually 6.3 per cent – encompassing a 10.49 per cent increase for Clearview, a 3.55 per cent increase for Simcoe County and a zero per cent increase for the School Boards.

    The higher number is a result of two pieces of new information received by the treasury department in the weeks since the preliminary budget numbers were compiled. One, from Simcoe County, showed that the levy the Township pays to have the upper-tier municipality take care of waste-collection duties will be about $150,000 higher than the $800,000 that had been budgeted. This is a result of several things, including an increase in tipping fees and the roll-out of an expanded blue box program.In general, the waste collection levy has been rising at an average rate of 10.6 per cent since 2006, when it sat at $681,000.

    The other new information presented by Henley was a prediction that, with competetive bargaining between the OPP, Toronto Police and York Region Police over the next two years, it’s anticipated that the OPP will receive an 8.6 per cent salary hike in 2014. That would work out to an extra $176,000 owed for Clearview’s portion of the Huronia West officers’ salaries, which represents a 1.8 per cent tax increase. To be prudent, Henley offered that Council should break that into a 0.9 per cent increase over the next two years.

    With this new information and the time it took to receive it, Council decided to postpone its discussion on budget cuts to another working session, now scheduled for Monday, March 12 at 4 pm. Following that, the public will have a chance to comment on the proposed budget at the March 29 town hall meeting. There will then be one more working session, on April 16, during which Council will take public comments into consideration before finally passing the budget at the Council meeting on April 30.

    Legion awards night

    By Norma Friest

    Royal Canadian Legion Branch 397 Creemore held its Honours and Awards and Ladies night on Saturday, January 18.

    After grace was said by Comrade Dawn Craven, we enjoyed a beautiful roast beef dinner served by the United Church Women. Comrade Norma Friest chaired the meeting along with Comrade Laura Earles.

    They introduced the Ladies Auxiliary President, Dee Hanson, and the Branch President, Jim Richards. Comrade Nancy Willoughby from the Ladies Auxiliary presented the ladies’ year pins.

    Comrade Marg Falls received her 40-year membership pin and a bouquet of flowers.

    The Legionnaire of the Year for the Ladies went to Comrade Marie Blohm. Comrades Friest and Earles presented Comrade Howard Hanson with his 50-year Long Service Medal, and Comrades Dave Smith and Ed Stephenson with their 65-year pins.

    This year, two Legionnaire of the Year awards were presented by President Jim Richards: one to Mary Underhill for her volunteer service, and one to the Ladies Auxiliary for their continuing efforts in support of the Branch.

    Mary Mugford was introduced as the only widow of a Second World War veteran present.

    As in previous years, Branch 397 Creemore presented money to representatives of the town’s youth groups. Recipients were: figure skating, minor hockey, the Nottawasaga and Creemore Public School band and breakfast programs,1944 EME Cadet Corps, Ray’s Place, soccer and the three Scouting units.

    Following the presentations, a social time was held in the Lounge.

    Lest we forget: a local boy’s story

    Stanley Royal was a young man in 1914. He grew up on the Sixth Line, south of County Road 9 and west of Creemore. As he was out of work he enlisted with the 48th Highlanders under Col. J.A. Currie. On his return home after the Armistice he spent many evenings with his neighbours, Frank and Alice Webster, recounting his experiences. They compiled his accounts of the war and made a typed copy.

    Last year in November I wrote of his enlistment, trip across the Atlantic, and the enthusiastic welcome give to Stanley and his comrades in England. He was in England for a time, training on the Salisbury Plains near Stonehenge. We begin today with his description of his trip to France.

    “When we embarked at Birkenhead going to France we went around by the Bay of Biscay to avoid submarines and landed at Saint-Nazaire. It was a frightfully rough trip in an old CPR cattle boat called the Mount Temple.

    “We were all sick. As the boat rolled and took nose dives, we were pitched from side to side, unable to help ourselves. Someone said, ‘Let her go down, she doesn’t belong to me.’ This raised the only laugh we had on the trip.

    “The machine guns and mules were on the upper deck. The guns and lifeboats were swept overboard and some of the boats went ashore. When they were found, our boat was reported lost. We were four days making the journey.

    “At Saint-Nazaire we were loaded onto some little boxcars and were packed in so tightly that some of us had to stand to let others lie down and try to sleep.

    “We were on that train four days making the trip to Hazebrouck, where we detrained and remained overnight, being billeted in a piggery. Next morning we marched four miles to Castres. Here we were billeted in a barn for two days.

    “From there we marched 17 miles in new Kitchener army boots over cobblestones to Armentières. That was one of the hardest marches we ever had. When we got within half-a-mile of Armentières, there was a railing along an embankment, and the men, staggering under heavy packs, dumped them over the rail to roll down the bank. Here we were billeted in a cow barn.

    “We remained [in this area] until we were taken to the Ypres salient in April.”

    Royal goes on to describe the organization of the various Canadian brigades. The battle with the Germans at Ypres was one of the First World War’s famous battles and was disastrous for the Canadians. He continues describing what happened at Ypres.

    “The first day was uneventful. We further consolidated our parapets with sandbags. The trenches were only half manned. The ground was low and swampy. The trenches could not be dug more than a foot deep and at that point there was water in them. We had to creep from one parapet to the next, about 50 or 60 feet apart.

    “On April 22 we saw the greenish yellow fog coming towards us. This was the gas attack. Along with it came a heavy bombardment of artillery from the German front. It was the gas that played havoc with us. We all felt the smothering, deadening effect of it. We soaked our handkerchiefs in the trench water and held them over our faces. It was of some help.”

    At first the Canadians were able to repulse the German attack but in a day the Canadians were under fire from both the front and the flanks. There was no communication from headquarters. Brigadier General Turner was eight or ten miles away and wasn’t aware of what was happening or able to give orders, leaving Royal’s group open to fire. On the third day of battle Royal and a fellow soldier were out guiding back wounded parties. Before they got back the bombardment began. They had to dive into a shell hole. After a time the men made it back to headquarters.

    Royal tells of his feelings. “I was so depressed with gas that I did not want to be disturbed. I felt that death would be welcome. However, my pals didn’t take that view of it and helped me back to a dressing station. There, after a spell of vomiting, I felt better and made my way back to where the straggling units of the 15th were gathering together by ones and twos in a hedged enclosure. We had starved for 50 hours. We were blackened with the effects of gas. We were sick, bedraggled, worn-out men who didn’t care whether we lived or not.

    “When Col. Currie arrived to join his men and saw the dilapidated handful that remained of his fine battalion, he broke down. He and Major Marshall were the only officers left.

    “In our company only 13 remained. Every officer was a casualty. Only 90 of our battalion were left to answer roll call. There were over 900 casualties in the battalion.”

    Little philosophers wanted

    Lisa Kristine Arlt believes there is more to picture books than meets the eye. That is why she is organizing a new interactive storytelling group for kids that incorporates movement, reading, writing, drawing and discussion.

    Called “A Junior Philosopher’s Walk,” Lisa Kristine will read stories and poetry that explore different perspectives from around the world, as well as the natural world around us, to children ages 6 to 10, starting on Tuesday, March 18.

    “The inspiration for the Philosopher’s Walk came from the many children’s story books I have collected, some of them during times when I had no little ones around,” explains Lisa Kristine, who now has four children. “Many of them are stories from different cultures and have been around for a long time.”

    “Some of the stories prompt us to take a look inward, guiding us to develop, with consciousness, our person. Others are more immediate teachings, looking at our environment, encouraging contemplation of how we wish to engage in life and to consider the impact we have on each other and the planet.”

    The group will begin with tea, snack and stretches before the readings. Each child will receive a sketchbook for writing or drawing their thoughts and ideas. Lisa Kristine will facilitate a group discussion and hopes to hold the activity outside once the weather warms up.

    “Myths, stories, poems and songs have long been used as powerful learning tools. They provide understandings which sharpen our sight. I think of them like a trail of crumbs which lead us back home, each one containing clues that assure us we are on the right path. Or like water that nourishes our inner seeds of knowing.”

    Jenn Hubbs, manager at Curiosity House, agrees. She has been working with Lisa Kristine to find books for the group.

    “A study in California showed that reading to children drops off after Grade 3, but that while this happens, the children miss the connecting that comes with it,” explains Jenn.

    Jenn, who taught Grades 6 to 8 at Montessori schools in the U.K. and Canada for five years before coming to Creemore, says she always read aloud to her students, no matter what their age.

    “Reading a picture book out loud is not a solitary practice,” Jenn explains. “You are constantly asking, what do you think? You are asking kids to build connections to the story and the world around them. What a picture book can do in 50 words, great novels can take 400 pages to get to.”
    To register your child ($75 for five weeks), contact 705-520-0103 or email lisakristine.om@gmail.com

    Living the dream, simply

    There’s a word that comes up often in conversation with Sam Holwell and Caesar Guinto, especially when they’re talking about Creemore Kitchen, the restaurant they opened five weeks ago on Mill Street.

    It’s there when Holwell recalls the reaction he and Guinto had to their architect’s original idea for the building – he wanted to blow out the front wall and replace it with a wall of glass, until it became evident that Holwell and Guinto wanted to keep it simple rather than make a big splash – and it’s there when Caesar describes his approach to cooking. “People kept asking me what kind of cuisine we’d be featuring while the building was under construction – would it be Cal-Ital, would it be fusion, would it be whatever,” he remembers, “and all I could tell them was, ‘I’m making good food. Local, seasonal, simple, good food.’”

    The word that makes its presence known again and again, of course, is “simple,” and it’s remarkable how that’s also the first word that comes to mind upon entering Creemore Kitchen, despite the fact that the building has undergone extensive renovations since its previous incarnation as the former home of the Curiosity House bookstore. There’s a soaring vaulted ceiling with a recessed skylight, there’s a gleaming white kitchen visible from the entrance, and there are all kinds of unique design elements, from the bar front made of antique doors to the reclaimed workbench used as a counter in the coffee and retail shop tucked off to the left of the front door. It’s a grand transformation, and yet it all feels so… simple.

    It’s all the result of a lot of dreaming on the part of Holwell and Guinto, who met six years ago when Sam was “cater-waitering” for the company that Guinto was cheffing for. “I was in the kitchen screaming and yelling at the wait staff and Sam was one of them,” is how Guinto remembers it.

    The pair began thinking about ways of combining Guinto’s expertise in the kitchen – he’s been a chef for 25 years and was most recently the executive chef at the Royal Ontario Museum – with Holwell’s long-standing passion for design and his newfound love for the “front of the house,” restaurant-speak for everything that goes into the dining experience outside of what happens in the kitchen.

    They also harboured a shared desire to move out of Toronto, and after a short-lived stint helping a fine-foods market get off the ground in Barrie, their daily Kijiji searches for restaurant possibilities brought them to Creemore. The first building they looked at, the current home of Mad River Veterinary Services, wasn’t exactly what they were looking for, but during a stop at the Old Mill House Pub for a bite to eat, they discovered that the village of Creemore definitely was.

    “There’s a wonderful atmosphere here that most small towns don’t have,” explained Guinto. “Especially as a gay couple – you can feel it right away when you’re not wanted somewhere, and there was none of that at all when we were in the pub that day. I said, ‘Sam, I think this is the place.’”

    Not long after that, they found the old bookstore, again on Kijiji, and after realizing the extent of what they’d have to do and convincing some old friends to come on board as investors, they took the plunge and bought the building.

    Nearly a year of renovation later, the restaurant – dubbed Creemore Kitchen to keep things simple, of course, and staffed with a team of local faces to ensure an “all in the family” feel – opened its doors. In order to get to know people in the community during the long wait, Holwell and Guinto made several appearances at last summer’s Farmers’ Market, using produce from other vendors to come up with various country-style treats, and with little promotion other than the relationships made during those Saturday mornings, the tables at Creemore Kitchen have been full, and diners have been raving about the food on offer.

    “Sam and I truly believe in silent success,” said Guinto. “We don’t want Toronto Life to come here, we don’t want the Globe & Mail to come here, we just want people to enjoy our food and let word-of-mouth do the rest.”

    They also want their restaurant to be a place where everyone feels comfortable, from parents with toddlers to seniors, from locals to weekenders. Make good food, and they will come.

    “A good portion of Ontario’s produce comes from this area,” said Holwell. “We want to use that produce and make something nice, something well-presented that doesn’t cost much more. We just want to take simple food, and elevate it a little bit.”

    Creemore Kitchen, at 134 Mill Street, is open every day but Tuesday from 11 am to 11 pm. Reservations can be made at 705-466-2900. Coffee, baked goods and homemade ice cream are also available in the retail shop.

    Local cadets hit their mark

    Five local residents from Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps 1944 participated in two days of fierce competition in Trenton this past weekend at the Regional Marksman Championship.

    These cadets had an impressive performance competing against the most elite athletes from across the province, having beaten out over 200 other teams from across Ontario for this opportunity.

    One of the cadets, Devlyn Lohnes, placed second overall to win a silver medal and earn the right to represent Ontario at the National Championships in Valcartier, Quebec next month.

    “This was an amazing competition, and a very close race. Each year, the cadets of Central Region raise the bar,” said Captain Peter Westlake, Common Training Officer for Central Region Cadet Support Unit Headquarters.

    The cadet marksmanship program is based upon Olympic-style competition, with the focus on teaching cadets the proper use and safe handling of firearms. Air rifle training is an activity that builds confidence, self-discipline and respect through a progressively challenging, gender-neutral recreational sport.

    Pictured above is the 1944 EME RC(Army)CC Air Rifle Team: Coach Tracy Galati, Taylor Jones, Shawn Banks-Stanton, Devlyn Lohnes, Cole McArthur, and Matthew Parkes.

    Local fundraising: a grand tradition

    Trying to decide among an endless list of summer fundraisers? Here’s how I see it: You can send your cash to a far-off charity and never really know where your money went. Or you can hand it over to your neighbours and watch it grow. On July 28, two community groups—one old and one new—will be joining forces for a big day in Honeywood.

    For nearly half a century, neighbours have gathered over a mid-summer meal in support of the North Dufferin Community Centre. The first fundraiser, following a winter fire that razed the wooden building, was held in August 1965 and everything on the table was donated: beef, salads and pies. Diners sat on straw bales in the parking lot. Even the barbecue was borrowed.

    That first dinner raised $2,200. When you consider that last year’s event raised about $6,000, it’s clear that the early gathering was remarkable for its generosity. (For cost comparison: Ontario Hydro erected six miles of high-power lines to serve the new ice plant for $2,500.) Along with talent and materials donated by neighbours, the funds raised were pooled with government contributions to rebuild by the following winter, with the improvements of artificial ice and a new party room.

    For many years, the fundraiser was an all-day event, including baseball and other outdoor fun, followed by the dinner. Recent years have been quieter, though, with people showing up for the barbecue and heading right back to the car. Donations have declined. Volunteers are getting thin on the ground. But the need has not diminished. Maintenance costs for the large building are high. A replacement Zamboni is on the horizon. And a few bucks would freshen up that now-aging party room.

    “Times have changed,” notes Mayor Paul Mills. “We need younger people to work with us now to keep the community centre going.”

    Enter Stomp the Mega Quarry, a “first-annual” upstart devised to benefit the Melancthon-Mulmur citizens’ group, NDACT. Rather than compete, the event organizers decided to share the spotlight for a day.

    The idea behind the Stomp is to get people out on the roads and trails to deepen their knowledge of the region that would be most affected by the proposed quarry. The focus is on food and water, and maintaining oversight on resource use in the region. The “Stomp” will include a lookout point where a large picture frame will capture the view – ideal for photographs and for contemplation on how that view may change in the future.

    “This is not a short fight,” says race director Maria Burton. “We need young people to care about this issue because it will transcend generations.”

    The races are set up to suit all generations, from a 5-kilometre stroll to a full marathon. You can walk or run the 5-kilometre, 10-kilometre, half- or full-marathon course. Or you can ride your bike on a 10-kilometre or 20-kilometre course. There is also a kids’ mad dash in the centre of the village.

    The kick-off happens before the heat of the day, with the first bikers heading out at 7 am. Those who prefer a more leisurely start can sign up for the shorter walk or run starting about 9 am. With all that action, appetites should be keen for a Honeywood-style barbecue lunch and an afternoon of live music in the outdoor tent. Following the race ceremonies, the party will keep on going with the traditional dinner in the arena.

    This year, the party starts early and it’s going to take a big crowd to pull this thing off. Sounds like we’ve come full circle in a half-century. Won’t you join the party?

    “I think we can make a difference,” says Maria. “And it’s a great way to celebrate the area.”

    Get your registration from the NDACT website (ndact.com) and sign up online, by email (stomp@ndact.com) or fax (519 925-2866). You can pick up registration forms from Shelburne Physiotherapy (167 Centre St., Shelburne) or French’s Flowers (124 Main St., Shelburne). Dinner tickets are also available at the door. If you think you’d like to join, as a stroller or racer, sign up today and help your neighbours plan this awesome day.

    Local liberals claim voter suppression

    The Simcoe-Grey Federal Liberal Riding Association has added its voice to those in 56 other Canadian ridings who allege they were the target of voter suppression during the last federal election.

    While no phony “robocalls” are alleged to have taken place here, Nathan Grundy, the campaign manager for Liberal candidate Alex Smardenka during the election, released a statement Thursday that said he received reports of several people receiving calls late on the evening of April 13, 2011 from someone claiming to be calling on behalf of Smardenka.

    The tone of the calls was “rude and disturbing,” according to the reports, with the caller angrily chastising the person on the receiving end if they said they hadn’t yet made up their mind on who they were voting for.

    People who received the calls also reported hearing background noise that sounded like several other people asking the same questions as they were being asked.
    According to Grundy’s statement, the local Liberals have confirmed that the calls did not originate from their campaign, from the Liberal central campaign or Prime Contact, the third party voter ID company contracted by the Smardenka campaign.

    The local Liberal Riding Association has contacted Elections Canada, but was told that any complaints had to be lodged by the people who received the calls. Grundy, however, said that none of the complainants were prepared to go on the record.

    Reached for comment, Simcoe-Grey MP Kellie Leitch denied any knowledge of or connection to the calls. “I ran a clean and positive campaign, and that’s reflected in the numbers,” she said. “If they have any real evidence of these calls, I encourage them to take it to Elections Canada.”

    Local school moving out

    Next fall, Hummingbird Montessori students will travel outside of Creemore to go to school.
    This week, school owner Sherri Jackson announced to parents that the school will be moving to Brethren in Christ Church north of Creemore (pictured on home page) for September 2014.

    “With an influx of new students, we have outgrown our space, and have added an upper elementary program,” explained Jackson. “Next year is our sixth year and we anticipate significant growth.”
    Hummingbird has grown from five students to 21 (in preschool to Grade 4) since it first opened in 2009.

    Jackson said the new space contains all the elements needed to provide a holistic and enriching program to students. The modern church has large, separate classrooms, a large kitchen for cooking and science experiments, new washrooms and a separate staff room. There is also a huge yard with space for gardens, a sport field and a fully equipped gymnasium.

    “[The outdoor facilities] were major considerations because Montessori encompasses the development of the whole child, so being physically active is very important – not just in gym class, but throughout the day,” Jackson said.

    Last year, the school had hoped to expand but remain in Creemore by moving into the former manse on County Road 9 at Collingwood Street. However, the Township required the area to be rezoned, which involved too many factors and was too costly, Jackson said.

    “The Township’s vision for what they required for that property to be rezoned were extreme and in conflict with our philosophy for our school. We felt the reason we were drawn to the property for our school would have been compromised if we had complied with the Township’s requirements,” Jackson explained.

    “There is no facility in Creemore that is as suited to our school as this location is, and there is no possibility for such a facility to be built without insurmountable cost. Though we love Creemore and are grateful for the years we have had here, there is no way for us to fulfill our vision for the school if we remain in town.”

    Local skaters are Canadian Champions

    Creemore’s Hannah Whitley and Angus’s Elliott Graham, or “Whitley and Graham” as they may one day be called on an Olympic broadcast, were crowned the Pre-Novice Canadian Ice Dance Champions at the 2013 Skate Canada Challenge, held December 5 and 6 in Regina, Saskatchewan.

    Pre-Novice is the third of six levels of competitive figure skating, open to girls up to the age of 16 and boys up to the age of 18. Whitley and Graham, now 12 and 14 respectively, finished eighth when they entered the Skate Canada Challenge for the first time last year.

    This year, they were on fire, placing first in both of the technical dances, a fox trot and a tango, held on the first day of the competition. On the second day, they finished a very close second on their free dance, a 1920s Charlie Chaplin routine, and their combined score was enough to give them the championship.

    “It was really exciting, and really surprising,” said Hannah this week, reflecting on their big win.

    The pair, who skate out of the Mariposa School of Skating in Barrie, will now take some time off and face some big decisions.

    “This is what they’ve been working toward for five years, so it’s a good time to think about the future,” said Hannah’s mom Kathy. The next step, if the pair decide to keep skating, would be to move up to the Novice level. Should they win at that level at next year’s Skate Canada Challenge, they would move on to Canadian Figure Skating Championships.

    For Hannah, it seems the decision might already be made. “I can’t wait to get back at it,” she said.

    Kathy, by the way, wouldn’t let us write this article without sending a thank you to the community for their support – apparently Hannah and Elliott have been flooded with cards and phone calls since their win – as well as to Bev Stableforth for designing the dress that Hannah wore during the competition.

    “This is one of those moments that makes you proud to be from a place like Creemore,” she said.

    Pictured with Elliott and Hannah above are Mariposa School of Skating director of dance David Islam and their coach, Tyler Myles.

    Local tea company is steeped in tradition

    Sometimes you can rack your brain trying to come up with a name for your business. And really, names are easy, compared to the careful branding exercise that must follow. And then there are times when it all falls into place, like it was meant to be. The Clearview Tea Company, which will celebrate its first anniversary in April, is an example of the latter.

    A tea drinker all her life, Rebecca Brown was laid up with a hip injury three years ago when she got to thinking – over a cup of tea, of course – what she might like to do with the rest of her life. Her daughter Maggie was about to finish high school, she and her husband Glenn were contemplating a move back to the country after a few years in Toronto, and it seemed like the right time to try something different.

    Inspired by her longtime passion, she enrolled in the Tea Sommelier program at George Brown College, and soon after that she made a day trip to Creemore with Glenn and Maggie and they all fell in love. They bought an old house on Mill Street, and by the time they moved in Rebecca had decided to start her own tea company.

    Recognizing similarities between her new home and the age-old ritual of drinking tea – “In a busy world, it’s an intentional thing to do… to boil the kettle, to have a cup of tea and to just pause. And coming to Creemore feels like that too – it’s got a bit of yesteryear to it, a bit of the old world,” she says – she originally contemplated calling her venture the Creemore Tea Company. But since there was already a Creemore Coffee Company, she cast her sights to the wider municipality.

    “I think it’s perfect,” she said of the name that she chose. “When you sit down and have a cup of tea, you have time to think about your life – and if you’re lucky, or if the tea is really good, you might see things clearly for a few moments.”

    So Clearview Tea Company it is, and the logo on the Victorian-looking labels she chose – another throwback to an older time – also fell into her lap. “When we bought this house, they gave us an antique key,” she said. Hence the logo – two keys crossed, a vintage image that also hints at the insights that your few moments of contemplation might unlock.

    Rebecca incorporated the company in April 2012, after several conversations with Sarah Hallett of the Creemore Farmers’ Market. Hallett helped her through much of the branding, and encouraged her to set up shop on Saturday mornings at Station on the Green.

    Maggie and Rebecca Brown of the Clearview Tea Company.

    That’s where most people have got to know the product, at a booth manned by Rebecca and Maggie (who decided to take a year off between high school and university, and has thrown herself right into the company’s operations). Displayed in little “smell jars,” the large and eclectic display of teas has enchanted many a market-goer.

    There’s the basic Creemore Market Blend, a Sri Lankan variation on Earl Grey that’s won many fans. There’s the Mad River Black Currant, a black tea from Ceylon mixed with black currant leaves that’s great with milk. There are three different green teas, one from Japan, one from China and one with Siberian ginseng mixed in for good measure. There are white teas, including the fantastic Purity White, which has flavours of vanilla and pomegranate. There’s the Lapsang Souchong, a tea that’s dried over pine fires in China and boasts an intense smoky fragrance and flavour. There’s Oolong and Pu-erh and Chai, and non-caffeinated Rooibos.

    In all, there are more than 40 varieties, and Rebecca and Maggie can tell you the history of each one. “We’ve had a blast,” said Maggie of the past nine months. When the market’s not on, Clearview Tea can be purchased at the 100 Mile Store and the Bank Café, as well as a couple of small shops in Collingwood and Barrie. There’s also a great website, www.clearviewtea.ca, with a full online shop.

    But more than anything, Rebecca and Maggie are looking forward to getting back to the market, where they can talk one-on-one with customers about their tea. “The best thing about starting this company is that we’ve managed to introduce ourselves to this community,” said Rebecca. “We’ve met so many great people, and we’re thrilled to be a part of Creemore.”

    Log Cabin a “magic thing”

    Clifford Barnard, whose great-grandfather James Scarrow Jr. lived in what is now the Creemore Log Cabin well over 100 years ago, summed up last Saturday’s grand opening event in a beautiful speech, in which he reminded the Creemore residents in the crowd just how “magic” our village is.

    “Creemore is a magic place,” said Barnard, who was being supported by his middle-aged son while he spoke. “When I grew up here, there was a train that came in twice a day, and I was there both times to greet it. That was magic. My childhood here was magic. And when I was older and I lost touch with the town, in about 1940, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I come back to visit every chance I get.

    “And when Paul (Vorstermans, a Log Cabin Service Board member) tracked me down, that felt like magic, too. And look at this cabin now… really, it’s a magical thing.”

    Following that speech and some remarks by Log Cabin Service Board chair Chris Raible – in front of several of James Scarrow’s descendents; Marlyn Shaw, who was the last resident of the cabin, moving out in 2004; and a large crowd of onlookers and cabin supporters – Barnard accompanied Mayor Ken Ferguson as he knocked on the cabin door with a piece of wood. Opening the door was a bearded man dressed in period costume, courtesy of the Dufferin County Museum, and as a fiddler in the crowd started up an old Irish reel as everyone slowly entered the cabin to view the interior for the first time.

    Shaw, who piloted his wheelchair up a ramp and into the building, was beaming as he was greeted by many of the village residents inside.

    Two days later, Raible and his wife Pat, treasurer of the Log Cabin Board, braved the cold and received trick-or-treaters at the cabin, while candles burned in the windows, marking the first of many community uses for the building in the years to come.

    Click HERE to see a slideshow of images from the Log Cabin opening.

    Logos and public input for Council

    By Thom Paterson

    There are two important matters coming before Council on Monday, April 28: the branding exercise and the effective representation review.

    There has been a lot of effort, and unfortunately too much money, spent on producing a new logo; a new visual identity for Clearview Township. The logo design was presented and approved at the last Council meeting. Most residents saw the new logo for the first time in the local media last week. The next and final step is to approve the brand implementation plan on April 28.

    In marketing terms, a place brand for our municipality is not something concrete. Rather, it is what people think and feel when they experience Clearview Township. It is our story: who we are and what we aspire to be as a community. This was not created for us; it is how we see ourselves and how those residents who were invited to take part in the logo creation process described their community.

    I was proud to hear residents talk about our agricultural roots, sense of history, respect for the land and the peaceful, natural beauty of our landscapes. Residents described our distinctive small-town Ontario lifestyle as one they wanted to remain safe, connected and affordable. These are values that have been consistently identified in many of the planning exercises over the past few years.

    A logo by itself is just a graphic element. A good logo can represent these values visually. However, and more importantly, a good brand has to deliver on the implied promise to live up to these values in all we do as a municipality. A logo alone cannot deliver on this promise.

    It is fundamentally more important to have a very clear understanding of who we are, to reach agreement on what we aspire to be as a community in Clearview Township, and then to put a plan in place to support these values, than it is to create a new logo.

    The plan Council will see on April 28 is simply the implementation plan to launch the new logo and to guide its use on signage, merchandise, brochures, vehicles, etc. What’s needed are policies and a decision-making framework to ensure that the values we identify with are maintained.

    Preparing an economic development strategy that embraces these values is one way to maintain their relevance long after the excitement about a logo has faded. It would outline the strategies to govern Township decisions when approving the pending residential and industrial growth in Clearview in line with our stated values such as affordability, respect for the land and the preservation of our beautiful landscapes.

    Council should not approve any more expense towards logo implementation until there is a firm commitment to put in place plans to support the values identified and agreed to by our residents.

    Deadline for public input extended
    The other issue coming to Council on April 28 is the final recommendation from the Effective Representation Advisory Committee (ERAC). The Committee has been looking for input from the public to help make Council more effective and help make communication to and from the public more responsive. To date, only 13 input forms have been received, so the deadline has been extended to Friday, April 25.

    Find the input form at www.clearview.ca under Committees/Effective Representation Committee, at the Creemore and Stayner branches of the Clearview Public Library or at the Administration Centre in Stayner. Please take the time to participate and send in your comments.

    Long-overdue award

    When David Allister MacDonald (pictured above, left) opened his mail last month at home in Stayner, he got a start. There, among the bills and notices was a long-overdue award for service in World War II: a Bomber Command Clasp.

    “I was surprised,” said MacDonald, who was an aero engineer with #429 (Bison) Squadron stationed at Leeming, Yorkshire, England from March 1943 until October 1945. “I’d heard that some of the air crew guys had received this, but they had been to a presentation in Ottawa.”

    Because MacDonald worked as ground crew, he originally didn’t think he qualified for the award. “There were thousands of us,” he said. “The air crew guys carried the ball and suffered 90 per cent of the losses, even though the other guys toyed with pretty dangerous stuff.”

    But after receiving an email notice from the Royal Air Force Bomber Command Association last spring advising him to contact Veterans Affairs Canada, he applied for the award.

    The Bomber Command Clasp arrived in his mailbox in October without any prior notification.

    RCAF 411 (Huronia) Wing President Robert Coxon (right) of Stayner found out about the award and visited MacDonald at his home to take the picture on page 1.

    “I knew MacDonald from his involvement in municipal politics,” said Coxon. (MacDonald was the Mayor of Stayner from 1973-76 and 1980-82.) “I wasn’t enamoured with the fact that he got the award in the mail.”

    After MacDonald was discharged from service just before Christmas in 1945, he worked as a local garage mechanic until 1950. He continued his career as a construction engineer at Base Borden for 30 years. MacDonald celebrated his 90th birthday on Saturday, November 2.

    Lynn’s Majengo needs money to grow

    It’s been a few years since we checked in with Lynn Connell’s activities in Africa, but that doesn’t mean that things haven’t been eventful.

    This month, she’ll be back in the limelight, with two events planned, one in Toronto on Sunday, December 18 and one in Creemore on Friday, December 30, which aim to celebrate the success of the Majengo orphanage in Mto Wa Mbu, a town in the Arusha region of Tanzania. They will also kick off Connell’s biggest fundraising effort yet, as she and the orphanage’s other organizers get set to raise $300,000 to build an entirely new facility on six acres given to them by the district government.

    For those of you who need a refresher on Connell’s story, we can give you a quick run-through.

    Back in 2006, Connell decided to shut the doors on her Creativity Art Retreat Centre in Dunedin for one summer and travel to Tanzania with an organization called ICA Tanzania. She spent several months working at an HIV/AIDS centre operated by that organization, using her creative talents to deliver arts therapy to the many HIV sufferers who dropped into the centre.

    When that experience ended, Connell toured Tanzania for a couple of months, visiting the Masai tribes (where she eventually set up a foundation that would pay for Masai girls’ high school studies) and going on safari. But before she did that, she visited the “Blessed Comfort Orphanage,” a run down place on the Safari Trail (there were several orphanages along this trail, set up there in hopes of receiving donations from tourists who pass through.) The children’s clothes were torn, the floors on the orphanage were muddy, and food was scarce. Connell spent several days in the vicinity of the orphanage, and even took ten kids on safari with her. Weeks later, she was back in Canada.

    She could not stop thinking of Africa though. In January 2008, she was back. She spent a few months working at the same orphanage, trying hard to raise money and find donations of supplies; anything to bring up the standard of life of the children living there.

    That’s when Africa dealt Lynn a serious blow. One day she found a hidden closet at the orphanage, full of supplies that were not being used. One thing led to another, and it was found out that the man who ran the place was keeping the kids in squalor, in hopes of getting more money from passing tourists – money that was being funneled straight into his personal bank account.

    It was a low point, a time that Lynn now says she can’t think about without crying. But soon after, Charles Luoga, the ICA Tanzania director who had been overseeing Connell’s work at the AIDS Centre, took her to Mto Wa Mbu to visit 52 children squeezed into the dark and leaking mud-floored foyer of someone’s house, which was set up as a makeshift daycare. It was an orphanage of sorts, but in such terrible condition it had been refused official orphanage status. They had no furniture, no books or resources except for one teacher offering his time voluntarily, and a few neighbour women who came by to cook lunch – which in most cases was the only food the children would receive all day.

    Connell and Luoga found a half-built house down the road, and committed themselves to starting an orphanage for these children. Then Connell came back to Canada and raised about $25,000 to renovate and refurbish the house.

    In March 2009, 27 children moved into the “Majengo Orphanage,” with new beds, sheets, towels, an outdoor kitchen, showers, toilets, a playground and an on-site pre-school for the children under age 7. The older kids attend local primary schools in the area.

    All was going great, especially with the serendipitous addition of Pennsylvania resident Matt McKissock to the fundraising and organizing team.

    In the spring of 2009, McKissock was looking to rent a cottage in Muskoka for his family, and came across an ad for one owned by Connell’s family. During a brief conversation about keys and deposits and such, Connell mentioned she was heading off for Africa in the next few days. McKissock was interested and asked more. The following discussion led him to wonder about the nature of what Connell had done: faced with an intolerable situation, she stood up and did something about it, when others would likely have walked away. Seeing the same reaction in himself, he flew to Tanzania weeks later and before long created a fundraising foundation that his family would administer in their hometown of Warren, Pennsylvania. For the last two years, that foundation has covered the operating fees of the Majengo Orphanage.

    Then, in September 2010, something happened that nobody expected. The district government made a decision that all five of the corrupt orphanages along the Safari Trail, including the one that Connell had started out at, would be closed down. And the 67 children at those places, most of them without clothes, shoes or belongings and many of them malnourished and sick, were dropped off at the Majengo Orphanage.

    Operating costs went up and conditions became more crowded – “it’s a bit of a mob situation,” explains Connell with a laugh – but the orphanage continued its work.

    Today, the orphanage supports the needs of 114 children, between the ages of 1 and 14, with food, housing, medical needs, education and clothing. Seventy-seven children live inside the orphanage, and 37 live out with relatives and friends, spending every day at Majengo.

    And now, with the new land available to them and plans for a whole new facility, Connell has been charged with fundraising. She recently set up Majengo Canada, a registered charity that can issue tax receipts, and in January she will travel to Tanzania with a large group of people with “connections,” she says, hoping one or several of them will be as taken with the project as McKissock was.

    On this Sunday, December 18, she will host a reception at her Toronto home (284 Major Street in the Annex; all are welcome), and on Friday, December 30, she will be at an opening reception for a January show of her latest artwork at Curiosity House. Connell can also be reached on her cell phone at 416-951-6528 if anyone has questions or fundraising ideas.

    As for Connell herself, she is a woman transformed. “I have my kids, my grandkids, my art, and everything else is Africa,” she says.

    The Majengo Orphanage can be found online HERE and Lynn Connell’s blog about her African journey can be found HERE.

    Mad & Noisy announces new owners

    Creemore’s Mad & Noisy Gallery entered a new era on Thursday, becoming a privately owned for-profit business for the first time in its nine-year history.

    Lyne Burek, who has worked as the gallery’s administrator for the past three years, has now assumed ownership in partnership with her husband Richard.

    Signing over the business to the Bureks were departing board members Gail Caswell, Jim Stacey and Peter Adams. The gallery, until now a non-profit artist’s co-operative, announced last November that it was interested in selling the business.

    “This feels like a natural evolution, to go from a co-op to a for-profit gallery,” said Adams, one of the gallery’s founding artists. “Nine years ago, we had all these ideas of a community gallery that also offered workshops, and concerts, and all kinds of outreach. None of that would have been possible without Trillium funding, and the Purple Hills Arts & Heritage Society, and a bunch of great volunteers. But these days, there are so many arts events and happenings in the village – it feels like the right time to have someone who can focus on the business of the gallery and selling art.”

    With Richard in semi-retirement from a career with Rogers Communications and Lyne having spent three years getting to know the gallery and its artists, the Stayner-based Bureks said this seemed like the perfect opportunity for them.

    “There are a lot of positives,” said Richard. “Lyne knows the artists and has a keen sense of art itself, and I’ll be supporting her in the background. We’ve been thinking about starting some sort of business in this area, and we decided we could do this – especially because the investment is a lot of hard work as opposed to a great deal of money.”

    The Bureks will be contacting the 50 or so artists on the gallery roster this week, and hope to retain as many as possible under a new membership agreement and a 50/50 commission structure. They also said they planned to continue with many of the gallery’s community-based programs, including CreemoreCentric, the annual January show and silent auction that will be the subject of an auction-ending cocktail party this Saturday, January 26.

    As a parting comment, Adams made sure to mention three people who were essential in the founding of the gallery nine years ago – Jim Vandewater, Paul Ruppel and Ernie Purkis. “There are countless people who contributed to this effort over the years, from board members to artists to community members at large,” he said. “But if I had to pick three names, it would be those three.”

    The official date for the transfer of the business will be Friday, February 1. An official announcement and introduction will take place at this Saturday’s CreemoreCentric cocktail party, taking place from 5 to 7 pm. Bidding on the CreemoreCentric art ends at 3 pm on Sunday, January 27.

    Pictured above are new Mad & Noisy owners Richard and Lyne Burek and departing board members Gail Caswell, Peter Adams and Jim Stacey.

    Mad and Noisy Gallery looking for buyer

    After eight successful years of operation, the Creemore Artists’ Centre has decided to seek a buyer for the Mad and Noisy Gallery.

    “We’re pleased with what the gallery has become,” said founding member Peter Adams in a press release issued Wednesday afternoon. “But if the gallery is to continue growing, it needs the energy and vision of an art-loving entrepreneur.”

    Founded in 2004 by eight local artists, the co-operative now represents over 50 area painters, sculptors, photographers, and jewelers. According to Adams, the gallery is on track for its best sales year ever. “The co-op model works well when you’re small, but we’ve grown beyond that, and a new business model is a logical step in the gallery’s growth.”

    The ideal candidate, according to Adams, is “someone who will continue to build on our connection with the community.” The gallery’s past community initiatives have included CreemoreCentric, a popular local amateur art exhibition, art classes in local schools, children’s summer art programs and adult art workshops.

    Members approved a motion to seek offers from interested parties at the gallery’s annual general meeting, held on Wednesday morning. The deadline for submission of expressions of interest was set for November 23. Further information can be obtained from the gallery website at www.madandnoisy.com.

    (all photos by Bryan Davies)

    Make “Messy Art” at the library

    By Michele McKenzie

    Calling all young artists in Clearview!

    Mark Saturday, February 15 on your calendar and plan to join the Big Heart Days festival fun as we experiment at The Clearview Public Library with Messy Art from 10 am to 4 pm. darci-que will be creating some “Big Heart” masterpieces whilst Michele McKenzie, a firm believer in finger painting, will be demonstrating her artistic abilities. Kids of all ages are welcome to participate in this free family friendly creative action!

    If you wish, use this opportunity to create and submit your child’s artwork for the 20th anniversary of the Magic of Children art exhibition, which will be held at The Collingwood Public Library. We will transport the artwork and artist’s statements completed in our library on this date to the gallery space, where they will be on display from Monday, March 3 to Sunday, March 30.

    Please note that every piece and its story will be reviewed by professional artists and each child (from kindergarten to Grade 8) will receive a positive comment and a prize of art materials. Choose from the following themes: portraits, nature and animals, imaginary worlds or landscapes.

    Pop by the Creemore Branch of The Clearview Public Library or check out www.magicofchildren.ca to find out more about this wonderful celebration of the arts.

    The Clearview Public Library’s programs are designed to inspire your child’s imagination and to encourage their sense of discovery as they learn the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in school and later in life.

    See you at the library soon.

    Maple Valley wind proposal is back

    Skyway 124 Wind Energy Inc., the company that was halfway through the environmental screening process for a wind turbine proposal in Maple Valley when it withdrew in September 2009 after the Green Energy Act was introduced, has now returned with a FIT contract and notice of a proposal to build five turbines in the same area.

    According to the Notice of Proposal, issued Tuesday, the Skyway 124 turbines will be located on the east side of County Road 124, in an area between Nottawasaga’s 6/7 Sideroad and 12/13 Sideroad, with 10th Concession being the eastern boundary. The notice can be seen on page 8, and a more detailed map of the project can be seen on page 12.

    In total, should the project be approved, it would produce a total maximum capacity of 10 MWh.

    In order to inform area residents about the proposed project, Skyway 124 will be holding a “public meeting” on Monday, December 19 from 5 to 9:30 pm at the Creemore Arena Hall. We put public meeting in quotation marks because, despite being called this on the notice, public meetings under the Green Energy Act are traditionally more like public information sessions, with information boards on the walls and company representatives milling about answering questions. Hopefully the December 19 meeting will be more informative than Skyway 124’s last public meeting, curiously held in Dundalk back in 2009, which featured police at the door and almost no information on the boards, and ended in a shouting match.

    A detailed draft of the project’s Description Report can be found online at skyway124.com, though you’ll have to dig for it as most of the site remains under construction.

    The Echo admits it is editorializing a bit with these comments. But the fact is that most people who remember the previous public meeting hosted by Skyway 124, whether they’re for or against wind turbines, will be hoping alongside us that this time around we’ll see a more informative, civil affair.

    Math Night for parents

    Martina Leimgardt always thought she was good at math. That is, until a few years ago when she started helping her son do his homework.

    “When he was in Grade 6, I was trying to help him with his math homework,” said Martina, of her son James Watt, who is now in Grade 10 at Stayner Collegiate Institute. (Her children Janneke and Xander Watt are in Grade 7 at Nottawasaga and Creemore Public School.) “I showed him how to do division on paper and he said, ‘Mom, that’s not how we do it!’ I was surprised because I had always been good in math at school.”

    Martina is not alone. There is indeed a difference in the way math is now taught than when today’s parents were students themselves. To help parents understand the “new math,” which came into the classroom about 20 years ago, NCPS will host a Math Night next Monday.

    “The focus in math has changed since we were kids,” said Heather Birchall, Principal of Nottawasaga and Creemore Public School. “It is now about the thinking processes in math. Kids need to know how to communicate in math, just as they do in English. So they are being taught how to explain their thinking; how did they arrive at the answer? Which (of several) strategies did they use? It’s trying to bring it up from simple memorization (which some people are good at and some people aren’t) to understanding what multiplication is.”

    Math is no longer a matter of a + b = c. Math lessons are now taught in three parts with a focus on collaboration, Birchall explained. First, children learn the “big idea” of the lesson. Then, they start to solve the problem, usually in groups, building on each other’s results using discussion. Finally, they pool their ideas, share their strategies and articulate what they have learned. Then, the whole group discusses which answer worked best and why.

    On Monday, January 27, parents are invited to the senior site of NCPS at 240 Collingwood Street from 6 to 7:30 pm. There, math “guru” Trevor Brown will facilitate a workshop so parents can become familiar with their children’s way of doing math.

    This is not NCPS’ first time educating parents in the new ways of math. In spring 2010, Troy Comish (a former math consultant with the Simcoe County District School Board who is now principal at Nottawa Elementary School) visited NCPS to explain the system.

    “He taught the new way of performing multiplication and division,” said Martina, who is Secretary on the NCPS Parent Council. “It gave me the understanding to be able to help my children at home. It was a big learning curve and I am glad that I went.”

    May 6 info night for election hopefuls

    Thinking about running in this fall’s municipal election? Come to Clearview Township’s Candidate Information Session to find out more about what it involves.

    On Tuesday, May 6, individuals who are considering running for a seat in municipal office or for school board trustee; people who are helping candidates; or those who are already elected are invited to the Stayner Community Centre to learn more about the election process.

    At the session, representatives from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing will discuss the role of elected officials, the Municipal Elections Act and election finances.

    “It’s a chance for people to learn more about the process and ask questions,” said Pamela Fettes, Director of Legislative Services/Municipal Clerk.

    Fettes has extended the invitation to candidates from all over the region in neighbouring municipalities such as Wasaga Beach.

    “We’ve opened it up because sometimes you learn more from the questions that are asked and the discourse that follows,” said Fettes. “Some people who have run in previous elections can provide insight into their experience as well.”

    Clearview will host the Candidate Information Session on Tuesday, May 6 at 7 pm at the Stayner Community Centre (269 Regina Street). RSVP by contacting voteclearview@clearview.ca or 705-428-6230 by Monday, May 5.

    Medical Centre doing phone survey

    In September, the Board of the Creemore Medical Centre was notified that their submission t