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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).

Woman says she was assaulted

INNISFIL – A Barrie man faces an assault charge after a woman told police about an incident that took place several years ago.

South Simcoe police were told about the incident Tuesday when a woman told an investigator about being assaulted by her husband.

They have since separated and are living apart.

Police contacted a man and he turned himself in.

A 48-year-old man was arrested, charged and has an April court date.

He was released on conditions he stay away from the woman. 

Event kicks off new MacLaren exhibitions in Barrie

It’s a Friday morning and every single table in the lobby of the MacLaren Art Centre is full of people chatting and drinking coffee.

A woman browses in the centre’s boutique while a student does homework by the fireplace.

This is not your average art gallery.


“We really are a hub in the Barrie community,” said associate currator/registar Renee van der Avoird.

“Some people might think we just have art, but we have so much more. We even hold music events. Last night, BarrieFolk held a concert here.”

And if you’ve never been to the MacLaren before, she said there’s no better time to visit than now.

“We aren’t scary,” she said, adding volunteers are always on duty to answer questions and even give tours.

The art centre hosts a reception for its spring 2016 exhibitions March 24 from 7 to 9 p.m. You are invited to come in, check out the art and meet the artists.  

Associate curator/collections manager Emily McKibbon said the MacLaren strives to make art accessible to everyone.

“In every gallery we have wall texts and binders that explain the art,” she said.

This year, the MacLaren has added iPads to help you learn even more about the artists and exhibitions. McKibbon said the iPads are helping visitors connect with the art in a deeper way.

“Maybe you aren’t a big art fan. But maybe you like working with your hands and you can appreciate the welding techniques that the artist used. You can read about that on the iPad.”

And it’s not just established artists who get to shine at The MacLaren.

Among the spring exhibitions is a joint exhibit featuring the work of Georgian College students and Wasaga Beach residents Libby Mourant and Ryan Sobkovich.

“This is a great honour to show my work in a proper gallery like this while I’m still a student,” Mourant said.

She will graduate from the  School of Design and Visual Arts program at Georgian College in April. Her exhibition at the MacLaren focuses on motherhood and pregnancy, a subject with which the pregnant artist is very familiar

She and Sobkovich will be at the MacLaren March 24 to answer questions about their work.

For more, visit

Angus man charged after near-miss with Barrie Police cruiser

A man and woman got out of their car and walked away after backing out of a driveway and almost hitting a cruiser early this morning.

A Barrie Police officer got the names of the couple, which both turned out to be fake.

The officer learned the 29-year-old Angus driver had been convicted of impaired driving last September and was disqualified.

He was charged with five counts of failing to comply with probation, driving while disqualified, possession of a controlled substance, obstructing police and identity fraud.

Police later identified him as the same man who drove through a construction barricade in August, nearly hitting construction workers and an officer — again using his brother’s name to hide his true identity.

As a result, he also faces more charges: of driving while disqualified, obstruct police, identity fraud and breach of probation.

The 27-year-old female passenger was charged with failing to comply with probation, obstructing police and possession of a controlled substance.

Both were held for bail hearings.

Police investigate fatal accident in Essa

Police are investigating a fatal collision in Essa Township.

Nottawasaga OPP say a female driver is dead and four other people are injured after two vehicles collided just after 4 p.m.

OPP say the 9th Line of Essa between Hwy 89 and the 5th Sideroad and the 5th Sideroad between the 8th Line and 10th Line will be closed for sometime.

Reports say multiple people have been injured.

More to come.


The Creative Space launches small business competition

Three babies will be nurtured to success during the 2016 smOffice competition.

Dubbed as one of Canada’s most innovative incubation programs, the smOffice competition will provide three budding entrepreneurs with the chance to receive more than $60,000 in prizes, professional advice, office space and seed funding to fuel their startup or small-business dream.

Applications are being accepted from across Canada until April 15.

"We’re looking for creative entrepreneurs who want to launch their great idea within a collaborative startup community," said Chad Ballantyne, owner of The Creative Space, which is hosting the contest. "We can accelerate their business in ways they could never do on their own."

Last year’s contest saw entrepreneur Shelby Taylor take her organic line of pasta — Chickapea Pasta — from concept through to manufacturing.

Today the Stayner woman is hiring staff and working to fulfill orders for a growing base of new customers, including eight local retailers who pre-ordered the product.

"We have been moving along like crazy. We’ve gone from an idea to production in just six months," Taylor said.

"The smOffice contest was instrumental in connecting me with mentors, sponsors and just giving me the confidence to go forward and connect with the people I needed to make this happen," she added.

Ballantyne said there will be three winners this year, one out-of-towner and two locals, as opposed to last year’s inaugural contest, which had just one.

"We originally wanted to do the out-of-towner just to bring someone in from the outside and roll out the red carpet and show what our community could offer," he said. "So this year we decided to add the locals and make it Barrie-focused as well."

Each 2016 contest winner will be set up in the smOffice entrepreneur centre location at 12 Dunlop St. E., along with $1,000 in seed funding, mentorship from Profit Top 50 companies, access to a Sonders e-bike for transportation and deliveries of Topper’s Pizza to fuel the creative process.

In addition, the out-of-town winner will be set up with six months of free accommodations.

The Creative Space is also adding four six-month memberships for those who don’t quite make the cut, Ballantyne said.

The contest is intended to grow more start-ups and entrepreneur companies, he added.

"The goal is to spark the start-up culture of businesses, which are slightly different than a service-based or lifestyle-based company," he said. "They are high value, high return (types of businesses), something that can probably scale pretty fast. We’re trying to be that platform that can launch these companies in six months."

Visit to learn more.

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Volunteer firefighter takes the stand as Brooks trial begins to wrap up

Volunteer firefighter Timothy Armstrong was just getting his kids ready for bed on a Friday night when suddenly his pager went off.

“Female shot in struggle over a gun. Gunshot wound to the chest."

Armstrong jumped in his car and headed to the New Lowell fire station.

Arriving at the Brooks home minutes later, he waited for police to give the all-clear signal, then went in the front door.

On the floor of the foyer beside a gun, 50-year-old Deena Brooks was not moving.

“She lay on her back, I could see the small hole in her upper right chest,” Armstrong told a jury Friday in a trial that is nearing its end.

On trial for first-degree murder, 52-year-old Mitchell Brooks has told the jury that he meant to commit suicide, but his wife tried to get the gun from him when it accidentally went off May 24, 2013.

But the Crown alleges Brooks deliberately shot his wife, a lab technologist, because he was enraged that she wanted a divorce.

Armstrong said he and two other volunteer firefighters took turns performing CPR for several minutes. He said he noticed the woman’s husband in the hallway.

“The only thing he said was something about his daughter at a prom,” Armstrong said. “He seemed more calm than expected. … I’ve been to a lot of VSAs (vital signs absent) and if there are family members around, usually they are hanging over our shoulders shouting at us to save the person.”

It was the night of their daughter’s high-school prom and the jury has heard that the couple’s daughter had texted her mother an hour earlier, asking for a ride home.

“On my way,” Deena Brooks answered her.

But she never made it out of the house.

Mitchell Brooks’s doctor, Maureen Heitzner, of Newmarket, also testified. She told the jury she was treating him for depression in the weeks before his wife was shot.

“Mitchell was crying and he continued to be teary throughout the visits. He said things were terrible at home,” Heitzner said.

But she said Brooks promised her that he wouldn’t go through with suicide.

“He said he had suicidal thoughts about dying, but then he thinks about his daughters,” Heitzner said. “He said he had a phenomenal relationship with his kids.”

Earlier this week, Brooks wept on the witness stand as he told the jury that he meant to shoot himself.

“I wish I had committed suicide because if I had then my girls would still be with their mother,” said Brooks, tearful as he spoke.

“Did you plan to kill Deena that night?” asked his lawyer, Kim Miles.

“No. Never. I would never take her away from our kids,” Brooks answered. “The only person I intended to die that night was me.”

But Crown attorney David Russell questioned Brooks about why, just weeks before, he renewed a life-insurance policy, which stipulated suicide would negate the contract.

“It was just a diversion from the way I was feeling,” Brooks explained.

“I don’t get it,” said the Crown. “That sounds like a person who wants to live.”

“It meant nothing,” Brooks replied.

The accused told the jury that on the night of the shooting, he went to his shop and loaded a handgun with a plan to shoot himself, but his wife asked him to come back into the house.

Brooks said he quickly shoved the gun, with safety switch undone, into his back pocket and went into the house. In the foyer, he said his wife noticed the gun and tried to get it away from him.

“I held it over my head so she couldn’t get it,” Brooks said. “She grabbed my arm and she tried to bite me … we fell off balance and the gun had gone off.”

“Who pulled the trigger?” the Crown asked.

“I didn’t pull the trigger … it must have been her thumb.”

The trial is expected to wrap up on Monday.

Barrie’s budget shows more than $16M in capital spending for fire stations

There’s significant investment coming to Barrie’s current and future fire stations.

The city’s capital plan from 2016-2022 identifies more than $16 million in capital spending on current Fire Stations 3 and 4, along with future stations 5 and 6.

The majority of this spending still requires city council approval on an annual basis, but Barrie’s growth – especially in the south-end – necessitates that much of it will be required.

“That’s part of planning for the future, looking ahead, to maintain that high level of service,” said Barrie Fire Chief Bill Boyes.

Barrie Fire and Emergency Service (BFES) has a response mandate of one truck on- scene within six minutes, 90% of the time. Last year that response level was 93.25%, Boyes said.

This capital spending will help meet these levels in the future as well.

Fire Station No. 3, which opened in 1995, has bay expansion and interior renovations scheduled in 2017 and 2018, for $2.05 million and $2.25 -million respectively, for example.

Boyes said the Big Bay Point Road station is simply full, with a pumper, aerial and hazardous materials truck, along with spare apparatus.

“There’s literally no room in there to store any vehicles,” he said. “I mean, it’s very cramped and we’re looking at expanding the bay there to have the additional third bay.

“It just needs to catch up with the growth.”

What started as a one-truck station with four to five staff on duty, now has 8-10 staff on duty at all times.

Station No. 3’s living quarters will also be renovated to meet all of the required accessibility standards, and facilitate both men and women.

While BFES has three female firefighters out of its total compliment of 144, there are a significant number of women who are in fire prevention, communication and dispatch.

The city’s capital budget also contains $940,000 for renovations to Fire Station No. 4 in 2017-2018. It opened in 2000 on Ardagh Road; renovations there include better facilities for women, re-doing the parking lot and upgrading the generator.

Barrie has a temporary Fire Station No. 5 on King Street, land being leased from Innisfil Hydro. But the city is looking for a permanent location elsewhere, and there’s nearly $5.7 million in the capital budget between 2019 and 2022 for its construction.

“We’re assessing the growth and the future build-out of the city, to find exactly where that ideal location will be that works the best in terms of response time,” Boyes said.

The city and BFES are also looking at a permanent fire training centre. Right now property is being leased on Saunders Road as a temporary training ground.

And there’s more; a sixth Barrie fire hall is also planned.

The capital budget contains $5.2 million between 2016 and 2019 for a station at an undetermined location – although Boyes expects one new hall in south-east Barrie, the other in the south-west.

“That (funding) is all dependent on the growth and development of the city as well, so it will coincide with the city development,” he said. “Obviously we will need the infrastructure and services in place (roads, pipes, utilities, etc.) before that station could be (built).”

Barrie’s fire chief said new stations are about one main thing.

“It will definitely improve our response time, which will be needed as the infrastructure comes into play,” he said, “and citizens and businesses move into the neighbourhoods, as the traffic gets busier.”

Barrie also has Fire Station No. 1 on Dunlop Street West and Fire Station No. 2 on Bell Farm Road.

The province approved Barrie’s southern boundary extension into Innisfil and it was enacted by the Barrie-Innisfil Boundary Adjustment Act, 2009. It came into effect Jan. 1, 2010 and expanded the city by about 5,700 acres.

City planning department figures show not only a population of 154,283 people in Barrie now that will increase to 210,000 by 2031 – but a city of 253,000 residents by 2041.

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