Month: January 2021

New Orillia high school opens

More than 1,000 students and staff trekked to the newly opened Orillia Secondary School on Collegiate Drive today, after embarking en masse from their former school on Borland Street at about 10 a.m. The group was accompanied by a police escort and the school band, which belted out ‘Louie, Louie’ and other classics while seated on a flatbed truck.

Spread over 150,000 square feet, the two-and-a-half storey building features an expansive front entrance, a health sciences facility, mini-theatre and cafetorium, both with a central stage, a triple gymnasium, specialized music, drama and dance rooms, and a learning commons. Environmentally friendly features include LED lighting and reflective roofing material to reduce the ‘heat island’ effect. Costing $28.6 million, the school will accommodate 1,110 students.

Dresses at Collingwood’s Georgian College hang for a reason

There are red dresses hanging in the halls of the John DiPoce South Georgian Bay Campus of Georgian College, and they are there for a reason.

The Red Dress project is inspired by artist Jamie Black’s ReDress Project, which is an aesthetic piece created to bring awareness to the more than 4,000 missing and murdered First Nations, Metis and Inuit women in Canada.

The Georgian College installation was put up by the Umbrella Collective, a group built on the promotion of social justice. The local group was founded by three social service worker students – Kayla Anscomb, Emily-Anne Gibson and Jason Knoester – to provide students with support in their social action projects.

This is the Umbrella Collective’s first project. The installation opened March 15 and will be in place until March 29 with visiting hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays. There’s a community launch on March 23 from noon to 1 p.m.

Downtown Barrie parking lot has been declared surplus to city’s needs

It was close, but city council put another downtown Barrie parking lot on the block Monday.

The lot behind Barrie Public Library has been declared surplus to the city’s needs and is on the market. By a recorded vote, the motion to do this passed by a 5-4 margin.

Mayor Jeff Lehman and Couns. Arif Khan, Rose Romita – who represents the downtown – Peter Silveira and Michael Prowse voted in favour.

Couns. Andrew Prince, Sergio Morales, Mike McCann and Barry Ward voted against the motion.

Couns. Bonnie Ainsworth and Doug Shipley were absent from Monday’s meeting.

“We have five additional parking lots that we are declaring ‘surplus’, That is a good chunk of real estate to put on the market,” Prince said. “I feel on this location, 60 Worsley, if we put out to market for development it may significantly impair the accessibility to the library and the programs offered.

“Whenever I have driven by the lot is at least three-quarters full. I don’t see any harm in getting interest in the other locations first, seeing what the potential may be and how it fits into the bigger downtown strategy before we make any final decision on the library lot.”

Ward had argued previously that this parking lot was needed for library patrons, a position supported by the library board. He argued that if this lot is sold, there isn’t enough on-street parking near the library and the walk would be too long for library users from other lots.

Library board chairman Ray Duhamel has also expressed concerns in a letter to council, saying losing the lot could harm the library’s ability to offer programs and affect access to the building.

He noted parents, caregivers and car pools bring about 35 children to the library each weekday morning, but that increases to 80 on Saturdays and close to 100 each morning during the summer.

The library board asked council not to declare 60 Worsley surplus.

But city staff say there is interest in this lot, for residential, employment and education use development.

The address of this lot is 60 Worsley St., also the library’s, but it’s actually on the northwest corner of McDonald and Owen streets.

While this lot is close to the library, patrons still have to walk all the way around the building to enter it by the front door.

It has 65 parking spots, but city staff say excess capacity exists within the lots surrounding the library – so the 60 Worsley lot can be declared surplus.

This parking lot is surrounded on its east and west side by two other city lots expected to be marketed as part of Barrie’s critical mass category, for residential density growth.

The motion declares it surplus and puts the property on the block; it also contains a clause that in any staff report regarding a proposed development proposal for 60 Worsley, staff identify an appropriate number of parking stalls in the nearby H-Block and designate them as short-term parking for library patrons.

The city has a strategy for selling its surplus parking lots, and the suitability of each lot for particular forms of development.

City staff have determined, for example, the lot at 58 Maple Ave. is best suited for affordable housing, while 23 Collier St. is best for assembly, for larger developments.

The lots at 55-67 McDonald St./61 Owen St. and 76-78 Maple Ave. would be for high-density residential, while 26 Mary St. should be considered for affordable housing and for other purposes to help maximize the downtown’s residential and/or employment density.

A Barrie bylaw states that any city property to be sold must first be declared surplus and there must be public notice about the city’s intention to sell it.

Selling these surplus downtown parking lots is not without cost to the city, however. It would spend a maximum of $35,000 to appraise the value of the new surplus properties. There’s another $110,000 needed for marketing.

Revenues from sales of these parking lots would reimburse the above costs, then go into the city’s parking reserve.

Staff has identified a number of other downtown city-owned land parcels that could be redeveloped, but it’s recommended they be on temporary hold for any sale for a variety of reasons.

These parcels include 50 Worsley St., 24 Maple Ave., 19 Bradford St., 52 Maple Ave., 1-15 Bayfield St., 9 Simcoe St. and 2-15 Simcoe St.

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About 130 homes in area still without power

Hydro One crews were still working Sunday afternoon to restore power to the last 130 or so homes in Grey-Bruce that were plunged into darkness during last week’s ice storm.

The company anticipated that all customers in the region would be back online by Sunday night.

Hydro One spokesperson Ani Bekmezian said crews have been working “tirelessly throughout the cold and icy conditions” since the storm, which knocked out power to thousands of customers in Grey-Bruce.

“Efforts have been all hands on deck all around,” she said Sunday in an interview.

About 63 Hydro One customers north of Allenford as well as with a few homes east of Chatsworth and several customers in eastern and southern Grey County were still without electricity as of Sunday afternoon, according to the Hydro One Storm Center Outage map.

Restoration times ranged from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

At its peak, about 105,000 customers across southern Ontario were without power following the ice storm that moved across the area Thursday night.

The hardest hit areas were Orangeville, Alliston and Guelph, Bekmezian said.

About 16,000 Hydro One customers in the province were still without power Sunday afternoon.

“We still have 1,200 crews on duty over this holiday weekend, including crews from neighbouring utilities to ensure that all customers are powered back as quickly and safely as possible,” she said.

Restoration efforts have been hampered, in some cases, by the damage left by the storm as well as falling ice.

“So, while we’re fixing power in certain areas, tree limbs are snapping back and creating further damage to the lines, creating new incidences,” she said.

Large mobile crane that will be lifting equipment

Lakeshore Drive will be closed in both directions Tuesday, March 29 from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m., from Victoria to Tiffin streets.

The closure is required to accommodate a large mobile crane that will be lifting equipment into the Wastewater Treatment Facility.

The mobile crane needs to occupy the southbound lane of Lakeshore Drive to do the work. In order to ensure public safety in the work zone, it’s necessary to close the northbound lane of Lakeshore Drive as well.

The Centennial Beach south parking lot and the Tiffin Boat Launch parking lot will also be closed.

The detour route will be along Bradford Street, via Tiffin Street and Simcoe Street/Victoria Street.

Signs have already been posted. 

‘March Mudness’ in Penetanguishene raises $35,000 for new CT scanner

PENETANGUISHENE – Simcoe North MPP Patrick Brown scrambles over a stack of hay bales Sunday during “March Mudness” in Penetanguishene.

About 150 participants tackled 10 obstacles set up on a five-kilometre course in Rotary Champlain-Wendat Park, raising $35,000 for a new CT scanner at Georgian Bay General Hospital.

York Region Tories outspent rivals in federal campaign

Money doesn’t always guarantee success in life.

The same can be said for the federal Newmarket-Aurora candidates in the 2015 election.

Campaign expenses for three of the riding’s five candidates — then Conservative MP Lois Brown, Liberal Kyle Peterson and New Democrat Yvonne Kelly — have been released on the Elections Canada website.

According to the document, Brown spent $117,630.33, while Peterson had $52,313.75 in expenses and Kelly put $21,163.04 into her campaign.

“We ran a lean campaign,” Peterson, now the MP for the riding, said from Parliament Hill Thursday. “It was an effective one, in hindsight. We had a lot of volunteers making phone calls and door knocking, which means you don’t have to spend so much producing pieces to mail. It’s not unusual for the sitting MP to spend more money than the challenger.”

The spending limit in the riding was $219,830. That amount is higher than in past campaigns, due to the historic length of the 2015 election period, he said.

Peterson unseated Brown, the riding’s two-term incumbent, in one of the closest races in the Greater Toronto Area. He had 25,513 votes to Brown’s 24,059. Kelly finished third with 4,806 votes, while Green Party candidate Vanessa Long earned 1,331 and Progressive Canadian candidate Dorian Baxter received 762.

“All expenses are audited; that’s an important part of the process,” Brown said. “This campaign was much longer than any other I’ve run. It was almost three times the length of (a normal) campaign. Obviously, there’s going to be more costs incurred, just from that perspective alone. But I had a wonderful team and I don’t know that we would have done anything differently. When you (compare) my expenses to the length of the campaign, they’re correspondingly higher.”

Brown says her campaign money was spent locally, giving a boost to many Newmarket-Aurora businesses.  

Spending limits differ in ridings across Canada, but mostly range from the $190,000s to mid-$200,000s.

Overall in York Region, money did not necessarily translate into victory. Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill MP Leona Alleslev ($76,512.44), King-Vaughan MP Deb Schulte ($90,450.38), Markham-Thornhill MP John McCallum ($81,558.04) and Vaughan-Woodbridge MP Francesco Sorbara ($77,179) all ran for the Liberals and were outspent by their Conservative opponents. Financial statements for Markham-Stouffville Liberal MP Jane Philpott were not available on the Elections Canada website.

Conservatives who did win local ridings also seem to have spent more than their opponents during the campaign. Markham-Unionville MP Bob Saroya poured in $159,700.05 and Thornhill MP Peter Kent spent $125,312.34. York-Simcoe MP Peter Van Loan dropped $139,541.66, but none of his opponents’ expense reports were listed on the website.

It appears the gap in spending has grown between the Liberals and Conservatives over the past three elections in Newmarket-Aurora.

In 2008, Liberal candidate Tim Jones actually outspent Brown, $64,059.63 to $57,855.59. During the 2011 campaign, Brown put $77,006.38 in, compared to Peterson’s $69,749.79.

“The limits were really high this time, because of the length of the campaign; it was artificially high,” Peterson said. “Even if we had that money to spend, I don’t know what we’d spend it on. We can’t buy TV commercials. (The campaign) was unnecessarily long, though we were the benefactors.”  

Candidates had four months from the date of the election to file their campaign expenses, though Elections Canada can grant extensions. Statements for Long and Baxter were not online, as of the publication of this article.

Ontario funds bike paths in Orillia, Midland and Collingwood

Ontario will provide $475,000 to Orillia, Midland and Collingwood over the next two years to help build new bike paths through the Ontario Municipal Cycling Infrastructure Program.

“Building cycling infrastructure is important in helping us make Ontario a great place to ride a bike,” said transportation minister Steven Del Duca, during a visit to an Orillia bike shop Tuesday. “Working together with our partners, the cycling community and local municipalities like Orillia, Midland and Collingwood, I know we will succeed in making Ontario a cycling leader in North America.”

The City of Orillia will receive $325,000 to build a 1 kilometre off-road pathway that the province said will allow cyclists and pedestrians to safely travel across Highway 11 and alongside a busy road with multiple intersections. “This new pathway will also help cyclists travel to work, school and recreation destinations in the west end of the city,” the transportation ministry noted in a media statement.

Midland receives $90,000 to create a new 2.4-kilometre bike loop around the downtown area.

The loop “will include separated bicycle lanes with physical barriers, raised cycle tracks and signed bike routes on shared roadways. The new loop will create cycling routes within the downtown commercial area that connect to existing trails and to destinations outside downtown,” the ministry noted.

Collingwood receives $60,000 to install a cycling and walking path “to help cyclists travel to Millennium Park and make this recreation and tourism destination more accessible for cyclist of all ages.”

The cycling infrastructure program is a $10-million fund, with the province covering 50 per cent of eligible project costs, up to a maximum of $325,000.

Eligible projects for funding include the installation or improvement of on-road cycling lanes, off-road cycling and walking paths, cycling-specific traffic signals and signs, active transportation bridges and bike racks.

New Tecumseth residents warned about misleading salespeople

New Tecumseth is warning residents about misleading salespeople going door-to-door posing as town employees offering to inspect or install equipment in people’s homes.

The town has received complaints from residents about these individuals, who use “aggressive sales tactics” while claiming to be conducting water sampling and water metre testing on behalf of the municipality.

“The town has no affiliations with such individuals or companies and does not endorse such activity,” reads a press release.

 If the town sends an employee to your home, the worker will present proper identification and will typically use a town vehicle.

The town suggests the following tips to stay protected:

·      Do not invite the person(s) inside

·      Do not sign any documents under pressure

·      If you are not interested in what is being offered or if they use aggressive tactics, ask them to leave your property ·      If you are suspicious, contact the OPP at 1-888-310-1122

·      If you have questions or concerns about any door-to-door experience, call the Ministry of Government and            Consumer Services at 1-800-889-9768.

For more information, visit

Police seek suspicious male

Police are reminding parents to talk to their children about the danger of strangers after an incident Wednesday afternoon at Regent Park Public School.

Between 4 and 4:30 p.m., an unidentified male approached two children at the school and made inappropriate comments to them.

The male in question walked toward the youths, but did not attempt any physical contact with them, Orillia OPP Const. Jim Edwards said.

The incidents are similar in nature – and location – to one that occurred on High Street in April 2014 and one on Simcoe Street in February of that same year. The suspect in those incidents was never arrested and could be the person police are looking for in this case.

“We’re definitely looking at that possibility,” Edwards said. “(The incidents featured) the same type of circumstances, other than this one was actually on school property.”

The suspect is described as a white male, approximately 30 years old, clean shaven with pimples covering his face and shaved brown hair.

He was last seen wearing black boots that folded at the top with black liner, dark jeans with a rip in one of the knees, black puffy coat/vest, black sweater with hood/red lining on the cuffs and a black toque under the hood.

He may also walk with a limp.

Anyone with information is asked to contact OPP at 888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.