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Orillia hockey league wants new rink

Orillia Minor Hockey is imploring the city to replace the outdated Brian Orser Arena with a new rink at the coming recreation centre.

But a councillor with an affinity for the game says taxpayers’ money is better spent on refurbishing the aging Gill Street facility.

“There is nothing wrong with the building, it’s still good,” said Rob Kloostra. “Oro did the whole renovation on their (rink in Guthrie). It was $3.2 million to do the whole project and they got 20 more years out of it.”

Kloostra’s suggestion that the local facility could be upgraded and perhaps expanded is unlikely to find favour with the local hockey association.

President Fior Tucci is calling on the city to include a twin pad at the recreation centre at 255 West St. S., with a single ice surface constructed as part of the project’s first phase.

Pouring millions into the Brian Orser Arena makes no sense, Tucci recently told council in a letter.

“As an association, we are opposed to spending millions of dollars on an outdated, fledgling building which is cost prohibitive to repair based on its original intention,” he said, adding the city has yet to solicit input on the recreation file from his organization.

Tucci said the local hockey association was forced to cancel games and practices at the arena after the ice plant was shut down in September.

A letter outlining its concerns was sent to council that month.

“We also moved tournament games from Brian Orser over concerns of the reliability of the facility for our popular 26th annual Jim Wilson Tournament, which draws over 1,000 participants to our city,” he added.

The association has had to rely on the arena for its expanded Tyke House League program, as there was no ice available at Rotary Place.

Tucci says the building has ongoing issues and should not be viewed as an optional ice surface.

“We cannot start a program in September in the hopes that Brian Orser can facilitate our program,” he added. “There are no other options and we would be forced to cancel programs.”  

According to Kloostra, the city has no funding commitment from upper levels of government for another rink.

“For this population, how are you going to pay for it?” he said. “You’d have to have it open 24 hours a day to pay for it.”

Council has agreed to repair the refrigeration system at Brian Orser along with any minimal repairs that are required, Kloostra added.

“But there has been no commitment for any major work on it,” he said.

Kloostra intends to push for a larger investment in the decades-old facility, including updated dressing rooms, energy efficient features and increased seating.

“Bring it up to NHL size,” he said, adding a second floor could be erected to accommodate meeting rooms.

“We are talking millions, but it is good money well spent,” he said.

In a previous report, staff said retrofitting the Brian Orser Arena carried a $3.5 million price tag, while a new arena would run $7 to $10 million.

Easter list of city services affected

A number of city services are affected by the Easter holiday weekend.

There will be no Barrie Transit service on Easter Sunday, March 27. For more visit: barrie.ca/TransitNotices.

There will be garbage, organics, recycling and yard waste collection as usual on Easter Monday, March 28, and it will remain on the regular schedule throughout the week. For more visit: barrie.ca/CurbsideCollection.

Allandale Recreation Centre, East Bayfield Community Centre and Holly Community Centre will be open for drop-in activities during normal operating hours throughout the Easter weekend, including fitness centres and drop-in fitness classes.

Holly Community Centre is holding its annual Easter EGGstravaganza on Sunday, March 26 from 10 a.m. until noon. More information is available on the Events Calendar at barrie.ca.

Downtown parking, on-street and in the lots, is free on Easter Monday. Waterfront parking is enforced 24/7/365. Residents must display their permits and visitors are required to pay $3 per hour with a daily maximum of $15.

The 2016/2017 resident waterfront parking passes will be mailed to households in April, via Canada Post. The 2014/15 resident waterfront passes will remain valid for the applicable waterfront lots until April 30. For parking information visit: barrie.ca/DowntownParking or barrie.ca/WaterfrontParking.

Barrie City Hall will also be closed on Monday, March 28.

Collingwood Historical Society to celebrate 40 years

The Collingwood and District Historical Society has been committed to discussing moments and milestones in Collingwood.


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On April 4, the society will celebrate its 40th anniversary at the Leisure Time Club on Minnesota Street at 7 p.m.

The group was founded in 1976 by Dr. Donald McKay and other residents including Jay Alan Blair, John and Ralph Sneyd, Peter Perry, Frank Fisher, Isabel Griffin and Jack Poste.

“The objective of the group was dedicated to the preservation and promotion of all facets of the history of Collingwood and district,” said CDHS member Joan Miller.

The society currently has 124 members.

The members meet monthly and hear presentations from speakers on the history of Collingwood.

On April 4, the speaker will be Robert Leverty, executive director of the Ontario Historical Society. The meeting is open to all and admission is a membership or $3.

Collingwood organization receives $3,500 to enhance community garden

A Collingwood organization is looking to enhance its community garden this summer.

Free Spirit Gardens is one of 30 groups in North America to receive $3,500 as part of the Fiskars Orange Thumb Project. Fiskars, a global supplier of products for the home, garden and outdoors has provided more than $1.6 million to 180 community groups in the 14 years since the program was started.

“Fiskars’ Project Orange Thumb highlights the importance of community collaboration to help make a positive impact on the lives of many people,” said Fiskars Americas President Paul Tonnesen. “We’re excited to celebrate this group of driven organizations that look to better their neighborhoods and create healthier communities for future generations.”

Matt Code of Free Spirit Gardens said the money will go towards the Cook Community Garden near Ste. Marie and Leslie Streets.

“The funds will help us maintain and do some programming at that space,” he said.

The garden is about an acre in size and more than 60 people each rent a 10-by-15-foot plot to grow their own vegetables.

“We staff the gardens with a couple of youth,” Code said. “We do some training for these youth and this is what the main part of the funding is for is to have a summer job for youth and teach them about the importance of healthy food and growing your own food.”

Code said the project also allows the youth to work with other members of the community who have experience in gardening.

Code said the organization is opening a second community garden on Sixth Street this summer, which will also be about an acre.

Polish national arrested after police pursuit

BROCK TWP. — A Polish national is facing a slew of charges after allegedly leading police on a chase early Wednesday (March 16).

According to the OPP, officers were contacted regarding a suspicious vehicle at a home on Ramara Road 47 shortly before 2 a.m. As officers responded, the observed the vehicle travelling north and tried to initiate a traffic stop but the driver sped off.

After a short pursuit, police say the vehicle was located on Ridge Road in Ramara and the driver was taken into custody.

Wojclech Billip, 50, has been charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, flight from police, theft of a motor vehicle and possession of property obtained by crime.

He was held in custody pending a bail hearing.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Barrie bowling event kicks off

Bowlerama Barrie was bursting at the seams with Bigs and Littles on Sunday afternoon.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Barrie and District’s Bowl for Kids Sake 2016 got underway with hundreds of participants who raised more than $14,300 on the first day of the event, which wraps up on April 2.

"That was incredible. We’re off to a great start with that day," said Big Brothers Big Sisters of Barrie executive director Marianne Arbour. "For that day, with the Bigs and Littles and the hospitality teams, that was probably a record amount."

Donaleigh’s Irish Pub House manager Will Gair was throwing for strikes with other staff members of the downtown establishment.

"It’s a chance to give back to the community for a good cause. It’s really important for kids to have someone to talk to," he said.

There are eight major events left in the tournament.

"People are still welcome to register a team or as individuals or family and friends and come out to one of the events," Arbour said. "Even though events are broken up into different sectors, it doesn’t matter. Anybody can come to any event if the date and time works for them. We’d love to have them out.

"They can still participate," she added. "We can put them on a team or they can pledge somebody else or they can donate online and receive a donation receipt."

A minimum of $30 in pledges is required for each person, which includes the bowling and the spot prizes in support of children’s services at Big Brothers Big Sisters.

"We’re grateful to Bowlerama for having us back year after year," she said, thanking owner Tom Christou and his team. "They always do an amazing job for us."

On Wednesday, Barrie firefighters, police and Simcoe County paramedics are challenging each other. And Tuesday night is TD Night (TD is the title sponsor), where TD Canada Trust employees take to the lanes.

To learn more or to contribute, visit www.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca/barrie.

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Orillia OPP search for ‘suspicious’ man who approached children

The Orillia OPP seeks the public’s help in identifying a man involved in an incident at Regent Park Public School on Tuesday.

“On Tuesday, March 22,  between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., an unidentified male approached two children at the school and made inappropriate comments to them,” police reported in a media statement.

“The male made no motion toward the children and was last seen on the property of Regent Park Public School. Similar occurrences have taken place on High Street in April of 2014 and on Simcoe Street in February of 2014. The Orillia OPP is currently investigating the incidents, but is seeking the assistance of the public in identifying the male,” police added.

The suspect is a white male, 30 years old, clean shaven with pimples covering his face and shaved brown hair. He was wearing black boots that folded at the top with black liner, dark jeans with a rip in one of the knees, a black puffy coat/vest, black sweater with hood/red lining on the cuffs, and a black toque under the hood. He may have walked with a limp.

“The OPP would like to remind parents to speak to their children about talking to strangers and to report any contact of this type to police.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800- 222-TIPS. (1-800-222-8477). Or submit your information online at .