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Knights of Columbus hosting ball hockey tournament in New Tecumseth

It’s time to get your ball hockey gear out and help raise money for charity.

The Knights of Columbus is hosting an indoor ball hockey tournament April 9 and 10. They are looking for players to make the tournament a success. It is open to people ages 14 and up. Players are guaranteed four games, and there will be prizes, barbecue, shoot-out competition, and sweaters for the first place team.

You can register as an individual, or team. Teams must have at least 11 players (including a goalie). The cost is $40 per player. The registration deadline is March 31.

The tournament is being played at the Tottenham Community and Fitness Centre, but may be played at the Beeton arena if needed.

Proceeds of the tournament will be donated to the Special Olympics, Tottenham Food Bank, and Knights of Columbus winter coat drive with St. Vincent du Paul.

To register, email or call the St. James Parish at 905-936-4266.

Springwater’s Nicholyn Farms wins Farm Market Award

Nicholyn Farms has been given an Outstanding Farm Market award by the Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association.

The farm, run by the Van Casteren family, specializes in locally produced, certified organic and traditionally raised products, such as pork, beef and chicken.

“Local home-grown organic food at affordable prices is something many Simcoe County families long for,” Springwater Township Mayor Bill French said.

“We’re very proud that Nicholyn Farms calls Springwater home and that the foundation of their business is organic.”

The Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association promotes the direct farm sales industry, which includes on-farm markets and pick-your-own operations, and encourages improvements and maintaining integrity in the industry.

Nicholyn Farms is at 3088 Horseshoe Valley Rd. W. and also has a booth at the Barrie Farmer’s Market.

Wasaga mayor, deputy mayor clash on beachfront bar leases

The decision to approve the leases for two of the town-owned beachfront bar properties sparked a war of words, as the mayor and deputy mayor went toe-to-toe on the process of awarding the bids.

Deputy Mayor Nina Bifolchi, who has been vocal throughout the debate on the purchase of the beachfront and the subsequent awarding of leases for the bar operations, claimed at council’s Tuesday night meeting the process has been flawed.


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Bifolchi pointed out about 20 differences in what she felt should be standard clauses with regard to rent arrears, realty taxes, insurance, and the liquor licence between the leases for Bananas Beach Club, and the Copa Cabana.

“There are some (differences between the leases) that are significant,” she told reporters.

During the meeting, Bifolchi questioned the process that saw Mayor Brian Smith approach the successful bidder for Bananas in order to get a higher lease rate than what council had previously approved.

“More rent is beneficial, but … it feels contrary to council’s direction. I can’t support that,” she said.

Council had initially supported a lease that would see Phoenix Hospitality pay $85,000 in the first year of a five-year deal. However, after that decision Smith, with CAO George Vadeboncoeur, talked the company – which ran all three bars last year – into increasing the rent in the first year to $102,000.

Smith defended his actions, saying Phoenix paid $100,000 last year to operate the bar and its principal, Enzo Grossi, had stated his company would be willing to pay more.

“I did feel we could do better, and I will not apologize for doing what I thought was best,” said Smith. “It was the right thing to do and I would do it again.”

Coun. Ron Anderson, in supporting the motion to award the lease to Bananas, said he was against the process that was followed. He did join Bifolchi and Bray later in the meeting to oppose the motion to award the lease for the Copa to Recreation Leisure Services.

“The process is very flawed … we have to set a process and follow it,” said Anderson, who pointed out that Phoenix had scored higher in the RFP process for the Copa, though it was being awarded to Recreation Leisure Services. He scoffed at the idea the operation of three bars – Bananas, Copa, and The Dard – should go to separate companies.”

Anderson added it’s historically typical for a company to operate more than one bar on the beachfront.

Bifolchi and Coun. Sylvia Bray both echoed Anderson’s comment that the process was flawed, but Coun. Bonnie Smith countered, saying staff had been directed by council to reach the best deal possible.

The mayor also fired back, rebuking his councillors for what he saw as the berating of municipal staff.

“The unfair accusations or statements, or anything else for that matter, being pointed at our staff, needs to stop, especially in a public forum,” he said. “I’m surprised any of our staff want to do anything for us at this point, and I’m sure, and heard from staff, they don’t want to even pose a question because of what the results might be and what might come at them.

“As long as I sit here as mayor, or I sit as the chairperson of committee of the whole, I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen, and if it happens at any other meeting I’ll certainly be asking for a point of order, and an apology,” he said. “I understand the frustration that is happening here and will continue to occur, but at the end of the day we have to keep in mind that our staff are doing the best they can.”

While Smith denied his comments were directed at any council members specifically, Bifolchi said she felt targeted.

“The mayor seemed to think I was berating staff, but I’m quoting comments made in a public forum or staff reports … I don’t consider that to be belittling anybody,” she said after the meeting. “It was absolutely directed at me. If I am not able to share comments made by staff in a public meeting, or from a staff report that is a public document, and point out inconsistencies, I personally don’t call that belittling.

“We were discussing moving forward with a lease that we did not have all the information, and the point I made was the information kept changing … I was pointing out where the differences were.”

Road salt threatening waterways: Lake Simcoe Regional Conservation Authority

Those handfuls of salt scattered in front of big-box stores during the winter are doing more harm than good, according to the Lake Simcoe Regional Conservation Authority.

The organization is now spreading the word that the tonnes of salt used by private businesses every year is deadly for local waterways.

“Salt is the new phosphorus,” said Mike Walters, the conservation authority’s CAO. “(Road salt is appearing in) acute and toxic levels in the winters.”

Similar to how phosphorus, which can be found in fertilizers, was once seeping into groundwater in concerning levels, salt liberally tossed on walkways outside big-box stores is now the big culprit, he said.

“Anyone can buy a pick-up truck with a salt spreader on the back and go into business,” Walters said in a presentation to Barrie council Feb. 29. “It’s important to know how to apply, when to apply and how much to apply.”

The conservation authority has recently been working with five county businesses on a Smart about Salt program.

The program, which originated in Kitchener, shows workers how to properly treat the roads while limiting harm to the environment, he said.

“I think people want to do the right thing,” he said.

Although road salt helps people not slip and fall, in high levels it can seep into waterways and make drinking water taste salty, according to the Smart about Salt website.

It can also damage the hardiness of plants, crack pets’ skin, attract more animals to roadways to eat the salt, damage organisms in soil and freshwater plants, and lower water oxygen levels needed for aquatic life to survive.

Walters added the problem of road salt overuse is not confined to winter because it takes time for salt to work its way through the ecosystem.

“The effects are not just seasonal. That translates from the winter into the summer,” he said.

Municipalities also have a role to play in combating road salt overuse.

Across Canada, five million tonnes of road salts are used every year, according to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.

In Simcoe County, 22,000 tonnes of salt is spread on roads.

“Almost all chloride ions from road salts eventually find their way into waterways, whether by direct runoff into surface water or by moving through the soil and groundwater,” read the ministry’s website.

Anyone who uses road salt must follow the ministry’s Code of Practice, which recommends developing a management plan to improve storage and application of these salts and disposal of snow containing salts to protect the environment.

Walters said municipalities and businesses can look at using salt alternatives, including slow-release salt and other chloride-based products, some of which do not contain sodium.

Barrie is “doing a great job” at dealing with road salt, Walters said, but it is not harmless. As the city has “very, very low variant soil, anything you put down does go through the system,” he said.

Mayor Jeff Lehman noted an issue many communities have is finding the right balance between protecting the environment and guarding itself against claims if people slip and fall on city property.

“(It’s) the fear of not doing enough, with the overuse of materials and maintenance,” he said.

Mayors continue talking about future of Midland’s Georgian Bay General Hospital

NORTH SIMCOE – Midland Mayor Gord McKay said local officials are on the same page when it comes to ensuring Georgian Bay General Hospital doesn’t become a “glorified emergency room.”

McKay and the mayors of the three other north Simcoe municipalities have held a series of meetings since March 15 to discuss the issues plaguing GBGH.

The mayors have met with representatives of the North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) and GBGH to share their concerns about the future of the hospital.

McKay said the recent report on the raised questions about where the hospital is headed.

“People fear it’s just going to be a glorified emergency room,” he said. “The mayors don’t see it that way and neither do representatives of the hospital.”

McKay said the provincial funding formula hasn’t worked for the hospital for a long time.

“We want to see a modification in that funding formula that will ensure a sustainable hospital,” he said.

As for the recent discussions on the future of the hospital, McKay said he rejects any suggestion they are a waste of time.

“I don’t believe that,” he said. “You’ve got to talk, and I think we’ll get to have the hospital we need in our area.”

Mississauga man had Facebook contact with her

A Mississauga man faces multiple charges, including threatening death, in connection with a Barrie woman he’d been in contact with on Facebook.

At 1:30 a.m. Sunday, a woman working at a Barrie club told city police she was concerned about a man trying to break into her home.

She had been in contact with a 30-year-old man by Facebook during the past two days.

They has met at her workplace, where the woman told him she wanted no further contact.

Police said the man had become abusive and threatening, both in person and with text messages.

When officers went to the woman’s home, a man was found sitting in his vehicle.

He was arrested and charged with making death threats, threatening, attempted breaking and entering, several counts of mischief and impaired driving.

The man was held for a bail hearing.