Month: October 2021

Midland hospital celebrates $750,000 in community donations

MIDLAND – Georgian Bay General Hospital received $750,000 in community donations in 2015 to purchase hospital equipment.

The GBGH Foundation presented the money to the hospital in a ceremony March 18.

“We are very grateful to our communities for their generosity and support,” said Karen McGrath, the hospital’s president and CEO. “The equipment funded by our community in 2015 represents some of the essential tools our physicians and staff need to do their work.”

The hospital said the money will go toward 40 essential pieces of equipment, such as patient beds, medication carts and ventilators.

“Each year as our equipment gets older and technology forges ahead, the list of needs gets longer at GBGH and we rely on our community to provide the funds for equipment purchases because the government does not,” said McGrath.

The GBGH Foundation is the charitable body that connects the community to the hospital. Each year, it commits to raising $750,000 for equipment needs at the hospital.

“All those who donate to support our hospital are heroes in our eyes,” said foundation president Carey Moran. “It is a remarkable story when a community works so hard to keep our hospital strong.”

For more information, visit or call 705-526-GIVE (4483).

Tempers flare during council debate

Collingwood’s CAO was offered an extension of his contract at town council Monday night, but it wasn’t pretty.

There has been a split opinion on council as to whether to extend CAO John Brown’s contract or to begin the search for a permanent executive manager.

However there seemed to be a bigger split in what Mayor Sandra Cooper and Deputy Mayor Brian Saunderson think is fair play.

The two squared off over Saunderson’s motion two weeks ago as a notice of motion to extend John Brown’s contract by a year.

Mayor Cooper, reading from notes, accused the deputy mayor and some members of council of pushing her aside and not affording her office the level of respect and engagement it requires.

"People who know me would suggest that I am a consensus builder and try, whenever possible, to avoid creating a caustic environment, sometimes at a fault," said Cooper. "This long-standing approach creates an atmosphere where some individuals feel they can aggressively push me aside or not engage my office with the opinion that there will be little consequence."

Mayor Cooper felt that the CAO’s contract should have been discussed in-camera before bringing it before the public.

Deputy Mayor Saunderson didn’t see it that way.

"We are doing our business where you can all see it," Saunderson said, addressing the public. "If you can point me to one aspect of the procedural bylaw that somehow I might have fallen aside or astray of, I’d like you to point it out."

Tension continued to grow between the two as Cooper continued to air her grievances while Saunderson tried to rebut.

"We have chosen a different path that is divisive and shows a complete, in my view, disrespect for the mayor’s office," she said. "Hopefully, once a decision is made, we will put this matter behind us and enter into a new era of co-operation and respect."

As Saunderson continued to protest, the mayor refused to give him the floor.

"This is going under objection," he said. "I have made a point of privilege that you refuse to rule on. You went ahead and accused myself and other members of this council of disrespect with process."

Cooper ended the conversation by calling for a recess of nearly 40 minutes.

In the end, council voted 5-4 to offer Brown an extension of his contract, which will run to October, 2017. Cooper and councillors Tim Fryer, Mike Edwards and Kevin Lloyd voted against the extension, while Saunders, Kathy Jeffery, Deb Doherty, Cam Ecclestone and Bob Madigan voted for the motion.

Brown was brought in on an interim basis in July, 2013, where council approved a two-year contract in September of that year. His contract was extended again in early 2015 that was to cover the role until October, 2016.

Councillor Mike Edwards spoke against the motion, feeling that there was greater savings to be had searching for a new executive manager.

"My comments aren’t meant to be divisive, but in the best interest of the community," Edwards said. "I think that it is time that council appointed a full time CAO and not one on contract that seems to continue and continue and paying the premium rate."

Edwards argued that with a search for an applicant expected to take six or seven months, that the timeline for hiring the new person would fit nicely with the fall, giving the new person time to become conversant with Collingwood’s policies and processes by the time the new council is appointed in 2018.

Tim Fryer followed that point by saying that when he agreed to the last extension of Brown’s contract, it was with the understanding that council would begin the search for a permanent CAO.

"At the time I stated that it would be best to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the extension and to seek out whether a strong successor candidate could be found and convinced to join our team," said Fryer. "Perhaps if the process had been followed, a successor would now be involved and maintain continuity of the important CAO work at hand."

The question of salaries as well proved to be a sore point.

Brown’s salary for 2015 was $225,000 which includes a retirement fund (OMERS) cash payout.

Saunderson listed neighbouring communities whose CAO’s all earn approximately the same as Brown, excluding the OMERS retirement fund, while others, Edwards included had his own list of neighbouring CAO’s who come in significantly less.

Saunderson cited communities such as New Tecumseth, Innisil and Bradford-West Gwillimbury as paying their CAO’s between $192,000 to $194,000, while Mike Edwards listed The Blue Mountains, Meaford and Orillia ranging from $151,000 to $167,000 as identified in the most recent Sunshine list released by the province.

Pensions paid by employers is not identified on the list.

Salary ranges, generally, are based on experience.

[email protected] 

Alliston bonspiel raises money for Habitat for Humanity

The Rock the House Bonspiel in Alliston over the weekend raised cash for the Habitat for Humanity New Tecumseth Chapter.

Thirty-two curlers on eight teams made the tournament a success, raising $1,220 for the local chapter of the not-for-profit.

The winning team at the event was the Concrete Blockheads, with the members being Brian Dallyn, Dave Gandy, Margo Gandy and Nenad Stetic.

Injuries are non-life-threatening

A Barrie teen was struck by a vehicle in the city’s downtown Sunday night.

She was taken by ambulance to Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, where her injuries were determined to be non-life-threatening.

City police were called to the corner of Toronto and Dunlop streets at 8:30 p.m. for the collision with a 15-year-old.

The driver remained at the scene and was co-operative with police.

The intersection remained closed until 9:30 p.m. and police say the investigation is continuing. 

Simcoe County approves organics waste site in Springwater Township

Whether residents like it or not, Simcoe County council voted Tuesday to approve a site in Springwater Township for its new organics waste facility.

“Approving the best location was an important milestone in this process as we look to manage and control our waste in a more responsible way,” said county Warden Gerry Marshall.

“Our staff will now focus their efforts on determining site-specific requirements, work to identify technology and continue to engage our neighbours and stakeholders in an open and transparent manner.”

The site for a combined organics processing and materials management facility was selected from 502 potential locations.

Springwater residents who live near the 84-hectare site, at 2976 Horseshoe Valley Rd., have spoken voiced concerns about odours, traffic and potential effects on groundwater and nature.

The facility will be built on five hectares of the Freele Tract of Simcoe County Forests, about two kilometres east of County Road 27.

“Everybody in the community is very disappointed about this. Not only for it going our backyard per say, but we’re pretty disappointed how the county wants to change the zoning. It’s a huge self-sustaining forest,” said Karen White, who lives near the site.

“Industrial land or an old landfill site or an old gravel pit would be better. That would (fit) the county’s example of reduce, reuse and recycle.”

For the project to move forward, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and Springwater Township will each need to approve planning and zoning changes.

The county is hosting public information sessions April 19 at 2 and 6 p.m. at the Simcoe County Museum.


TIMELINE

Spring/summer 2016

• Environmental, geotechnical and engineering studies begin

• Procurement process and request for proposals (RFP) for organics processing technology to start

• Council and public input on procurement process

Fall 2016

• RFP to be released

Early 2017

• RFP and business case to be presented to council for direction on next steps

Wasaga Beach council flip-flops on nude beach issue

A clothing-optional beach area in Wasaga will not be an option for naturists, according to Ontario Parks.

Naturists also won’t find support in Wasaga Beach council. On Tuesday, council reversed itself, and declined to endorse a recommendation from its committee of the whole – which is made up of the same members as council – the previous week to back a clothing-optional section on the beachfront.


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As committee of the whole, councillors supported the idea of a three-year trial period for a 520-metre section northeast of the piping plover nesting area to be clothing optional, and encouraging Ontario Parks to allow a group pushing the idea to put up temporary signs warning other beach users they could encounter folks in a “natural state.”

While council’s change of heart did nothing to dissuade John Cropper, the founder of the naturist group Wasagabares, from believing local naturists will be able to continue to sunbathe au naturale on an informal basis, the local park superintendent said the province is not prepared to accept the use – officially or not – on park property.

“The enjoyment and comfort of all visitors to Ontario’s provincial parks is important to Ontario Parks (and the) Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Ontario Parks is not considering a change to our current policy of not permitting clothing optional areas in any provincial park, including Wasaga Beach Provincial Park,” John Fisher told Simcoe.com. “There has not been any discussion about either an informal or formal agreement with Wasagabares.”

Cropper cited a report to Wasaga Beach’s committee of the whole by CAO George Vadeboncoeur that Ontario Parks is not prepared to “formally” designate the area.

Cropper claimed that was a tacit acknowledgement the activity would be accepted on an informal basis.

“All this means is we don’t have the backing of council,” Cropper told Simcoe.com the morning after council made its final decision. “It really doesn’t change anything for Wasagabares … we just have to do it without the support of council.

“(Fisher) has never said ‘no’ in the past, he’s just never said ‘yes,’ and the fact we have something in writing (in Vadeboncoeur’s report) really helps.”

On Tuesday, Deputy Mayor Nina Bifolchi pointed out she couldn’t support the recommendation because it was outside of the municipality’s jurisdiction to encourage a use on Ontario Parks property that could be considered illegal.

She also noted the ‘temporary signs’ being asked for by the naturist group Wasagabares would also not be allowed, noting such signs are for one-time activities such as a wedding.

Fisher backed up the comment, telling Simcoe.com a clothing-optional area is not permitted, and there has been no consideration or agreement from Ontario Parks to allow temporary signage.

Coun. Sylvia Bray noted the news of committee’s recommendation was of provincial significance.

“We should determine if this is legal or illegal. Other municipalities are watching what we’re doing, and we should probably get it right,” she said.

Council turned down the recommendation in a 3-4 vote, with councillors Ron Anderson, Ron Ego, and Bill Stockwell supporting it.

There is an ongoing management planning process for the park, and Cropper said his group, with the support of the Federation of Canadian Naturists, will get involved in order to have an official clothing-optional section considered as part of the future of the park.

Fisher said the management planning process is a chance for all stakeholders and local interest groups to provide input.

“For the integrity of the planning process we keep it as open as possible and do not set restrictions on what the public may propose or comment on in terms of future uses and management of the provincial park,” he said.

Vacant buildings in Barrie to get facelifts

Vacant downtown buildings in Barrie may soon get makeovers to attract new businesses.

The Downtown Barrie BIA is partnering with Communities in Bloom to connect property owners with artists to gain attention and attract new leases, said Craig Stevens, the BIA’s managing director.

One property owner has so far agreed to the project, which was first discussed at a Communities in Bloom Committee meeting earlier this month.

“The idea of beautifying vacant windows has come up over the years,” Stevens said. “At one point in time … during the economic downfall … we had 24 vacancies along Dunlop. We’re now down to less than six.”

Along with dressing up the buildings, Stevens said there is also potential for pop-up shops or temporary artist spaces while the stores are vacant.

Beautifying the store windows also meets the criteria for Communities in Bloom for maintaining its status.

Jian Ghomeshi found not guilty on all charges

UPDATED: March 24, 2016, 1:49 PM

A judge has found former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi not guilty of sex assault and choking charges.

Ontario Court Justice William Horkins delivered his decision at the Old City Hall courthouse this morning.

Ghomeshi pleaded not guilty to four counts of sexual assault and one count choking to overcome resistance.

 

In his decision, Horkins pointed to what he said were serious inconsistencies in the complainants’ testimony, and a “carelessness with the truth.”

He said he had no hesitation in concluding that Ghomeshi was not guilty.

When he delivered the decision, Ghomeshi and defence lawyer Marie Heinen hugged Ghomeshi’s mother and sister, who had both attended the entire trial.

The three complainants all left the courtroom with tears in their eyes.

Ghomeshi’s sister Jila gave a brief statement outside the courtroom.

“We are relieved but not surprised by the court’s decision today. It can only be surprising to those who rushed to judgment before the trial even started and before a single word of evidence had been heard,” she said.

Speaking outside the courthouse, Crown attorney Michael Callaghan said he would take the long weekend to consider the decision and discuss an appeal.

Callaghan’s statement was interrupted by a distraught protester, who was topless and had the words “Women declare Ghomeshi guilty” written on her back.

She could be heard screaming Ghomeshi’s name before she was tackled by police and dragged into the courthouse.

Ghomeshi later left through the back door of the courthouse with Heinen, looking down and walking quickly to a waiting car without responding to questions from reporters.

Two of the complainants have their identities protected by a publication ban. The other is Lucy DeCoutere, the Trailer Park Boys actor and a captain in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

At the heart of the case, Horkins said, was the reliability of the witnesses and the assumption of innocence at the start of trial. Probably guilty is not enough, he told the court.

Horkins went through the accounts of the three complainants, who said Ghomeshi punched them, pulled their hair, or choked them during dates. Significant inconsistencies clouded their evidence, Horkins said.

The first complainant, who met Ghomeshi in 2002-2003, recalled Ghomeshi drove a “love bug”-style Volkswagen Beetle – an account later shown to be “demonstrably wrong,” Horkins said.

“In a case that turns entirely on the reliability of complainant this otherwise innocuous error takes on great significance,” Horkins said.

The judge said he found it difficult to believe DeCoutere, who he said showed a “carelessness with the truth.”

DeCoutere did not reveal information about emails, love letters and kissing after the alleged choking until right before her day in court.

“What is troubling is not lack of clarity but the shifting of facts from one telling to the next,” Horkins said.

Horkins said the third complainant was imprecise, unable to recollect whether Ghomeshi had his hands on her neck for a few seconds or 10 seconds. The third complainant had also exchanged about 5,000 messages with DeCoutere, where they said they wanted to “sink the prick.”

She also failed to tell police about a sexual encounter with Ghomeshi after the alleged assault, Horkins noted.

Ghomeshi may be acquitted, but he won’t get his job back at the CBC, said public broadcaster.

“The charges that were before the court in this trial and the judge’s ruling are unrelated to our decision to end Jian Ghomeshi’s employment with CBC. Based on the evidence that came to our attention, Mr. Ghomeshi’s actions were not in line with the values of the public broadcaster nor with our employee code of conduct,” said Chuck Thompson, head of public affairs for CBC English Services, said in a written statement.

“We stand by our decision.”

Not even freezing rain could put a damper on the intense interest surrounding the trial.

Dozens of journalists and bystanders lined up outside the court early this morning, hoping to get a seat.

Demonstrators outside the courthouse carried signs that read “Stop victim blaming” and police are on hand to keep the peace.

Some said the complainants were unfairly scrutinized by Ghomeshi’s lawyer, who used correspondence between the complainants and Ghomeshi following the alleged assaults to contradict their testimony and undermine their credibility.

The demonstrators said they had hoped to block Ghomeshi’s entrance into the court.

“We don’t want to make it easy for him,” said protester Cynamin Maxwell.

Horkins delivered his ruling on five charges related to incidents that the complainants had alleged occurred between 2002 and 2003:

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Count 1, sexual assault: The first complainant testified Ghomeshi forcefully pulled her hair as they were kissing in his car after she attended a taping of his CBC TV show >play.

Count 2, sexual assault: She also testified Ghomeshi pulled her hair again and struck her on the side of her head while they were kissing at his home on another occasion weeks later.

Count 3, sexual assault: DeCoutere testified that while at his home, Ghomeshi suddenly began kissing her and almost immediately put his hands on her throat, pushed her against the wall and slapped her twice, paused, then slapped her again.

Count 4, choking to overcome resistance: DeCoutere testified the choking left her struggling to breathe.

Count 5, sexual assault: The third complainant testified she and Ghomeshi were kissing on a park bench when he suddenly began roughly squeezing her neck.

Horkins was not asked to find a pattern between the accounts of the three women as the Crown did not make a similar-fact application, likely due to communication between two of the complainants.

Ghomeshi initially faced a total of eight charges.

Two sexual assault charges were withdrawn ahead of the trial after the Crown found no reasonable prospect of conviction.

Ghomeshi faces another trial in June on the one remaining count of sexual assault relating to a workplace incident.

With files from Dan Taekema

Toronto Star

Orillia Festival of Banners needs sponsors

The Orillia Museum of Art and History is seeking sponsorships to support local children wishing to participate in the annual ‘Festival of Banners’.

The community art project enhances the culture and beauty of the downtown and waterfront with displays of hand-painted banners.

This year’s theme is ‘Past to Present and Tomorrow’, and explores the heritage and history of the Orillia-area.

A $50 donation will enable a child or youth under 18 to participate, covering the cost of the material and the entry fee.

To donate online, go to

For more information, call 705-326-2159.

Clearview council backs option to keep Stayner high school open, close Byng

Clearview Township council is backing the preferred option for the future of Stayner’s three schools, which includes closing Byng Public School.

On Monday, councillors voted in favour of so-called ‘option C’, one of three alternatives under consideration by an Accommodation Review Committee examining the future of elementary schools Byng Public and Clearview Meadows, and Stayner Collegiate Institute (SCI).


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Option C, which is the preferred option for the Simcoe County District School Board, would see Byng closed, Clearview Meadows used as a school serving students in Kindergarten through Grade 6, and SCI as a school for students in Grades 7 through 12.

In his report to council, CAO Stephen Sage said while it would be preferable that all three schools remain open, the capital requirements needed to keep Byng open – and enhance SCI – make that option “unrealistic.”

In his report, Sage noted some of the discussion about the future of Byng in the community, and what could happen to the property if and when the school closes.

“The existing Byng School property is one of the anchors of the community, and Clearview needs to ensure if Byng is closed, there is a plan by the community, and the school board, to ensure that the property does not fall into disrepair,” he wrote. “Staff do not have any recommendations at this time detailing a possible plan for the property, however we think it is imperative that the school board act swiftly to allow options to be considered.”

“Option ‘C’ is the best to maintain a secondary school presence in the community,” said Ward 4 Coun. Shawn Davidson, who has spoken at both public meetings hosted by the ARC.

Davidson suggested the township should lobby the province on amending the section of the Education Act that deals with surplus school board property in order to make a transfer of such land affordable for a municipality. The current rules require the school board to sell surplus land at market value – though other public entities such as school boards and municipalities get first option on buying.

“If we could get the property for the cost of legal fees, with the condition that we’re not going to flip it, that would make the legacy question more affordable,” he said.

The final public meeting by the ARC before a report goes to the school board will be April 20 at Stayner Collegiate.