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Orillia native travels globe for CP

It’s 4 p.m. on a Monday and Orillia native Terry Pedwell is juggling a list of stories he’s pursuing for the Canadian Press (CP) newsroom.

“My day started with covering the beginning of closing arguments in the Mike Duffy fraud case, and then moved on to the finance minister (Bill Moreau) announcing the federal deficit is going to be billions more than originally estimated,” Pedwell told

He was so busy he missed covering Question Period in the House of Commons.

“Now, I’ve moved on to an interview with two RCMP officers who have come back from Jordan, after assisting Syrian refugees,” he added.

No two days are the same for the 53-year-old graduate of Couchiching Heights Public School and ODCVI. Pedwell likes it that way.

Change “is part of it, and things change all the time,” he said.

“Sometimes that can be confusing, because there are so many things happening all at once.”

He notes that with today’s rapid-fire approach to news, CP clients want to access material as quickly as possible.

“The drive is still there because there are so many interesting stories to tell and events to cover, and the bigger they get, the more complicated they get,” said Pedwell.

Looking back, Pedwell vividly remembers being in an English class at ODCVI, where his teacher first planted the seeds of journalism in his head in his early teens.

“Mary Masterson was my English teacher at the time and she was probably the most important influence on me,” said Pedwell.

Through conversations, she suggested he abandon thoughts of becoming an eye doctor and instead pursue journalism.

“Looking back, there might be some fascination in becoming an eye doctor, but you end up being stuck in an office, looking at people’s eyes all day,” he said. “That’s something I could find tedious after a while.”

Now 26 years into his career with Canadian Press, his assignments have taken him to the far reaches of the globe.

“I’ve been on every continent except for South America, and I plan on going there later this year,” he said. Pedwell has so many memories of trips abroad, but one trip to Israel with then Prime Minister Jean Chretien has special meaning. He had just a short window of time before he had to board the plane “and I was bound and determined I was going to go out and see something,” he recalls.

He ran as fast as his body would carry him from the King David Hotel to the Wailing Wall in the old section of Jerusalem.

“I saw what I needed to see, bought a souvenir off a vendor, ran back to the hotel, packed my bags and jumped on the plane,” said Pedwell.  “I also saw the pyramids in Egypt through my hotel room,” he jokes.

Working as a war correspondent for CP, he did three tours of Afghanistan.

“My third time in Afghanistan, I was sitting in my tent in the Canadian base in Kandahar, two days into my assignment and saying to myself, ‘what the hell am I doing back here?’” he said.

But what he saw there paled in comparison to the atrocities he witnessed in Haiti.

The ousting of Jean Betrand-Aristide unleashed full-blown violence.

“It (Haiti) was probably one of the toughest experiences of my life and there were mobs of people who were moving around like flocks of birds,” he said.

At one point, a young man was shot and killed right beside him.

“At that moment I froze and the gunman who shot the boy came up to me and just smiled. I froze and watched him reach down and pull the running shoes off the dead man and he just took off,” he said.  

Pedwell’s news partner and photographer was yelling frantically at him to run for his life.

“It was the strangest and most horrifying situation I’ve ever encountered,” he remembers.

The images and memories of that day have never left him.

“There were situations I saw there, that I will never be able to un-see,” he said.

On Parliament Hill, Pedwell has seen governments come and go in his time.

The change in federal governments last fall from Conservative to Liberal has altered the relationship between members of the media and MPs.

“During the Harper years, we didn’t really rely on information from any of the communications people in the various departments or the ministers, because they all clammed up,” said Pedwell.

“So you had to find other ways of getting information.”

During the first 100 days of the Trudeau Liberals, the exact opposite has happened.

“There is more access to ministers and department officials now, but the problem with that is that you are inundated with information from so many sources you have to sift through it and figure out what is important to people,” he said.

Pedwell says the relationship between politicians and reporters is sometimes rocky.

“If they’re not in hot water, they’ll get to know you and want to talk to you,” he said. “If they are in hot water and they know you, they want to avoid you like the plague because they know you are going to ask the tough questions.”

New Tecumseth participating in Earth Hour

For the ninth-straight year, the Town of New Tecumseth will be going dark in recognition of Earth Hour.

On Saturday, March 19, all non-essential lighting and equipment at the town’s facilities will be powered down for one hour between 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Earth Hour is an international initiative started by the World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness about climate change.

The town encourages all residents and businesses to participate in this year’s event.

Last year, the town had the third highest power reduction rate in Power Stream’s service area.

The town’s power consumption rate dropped 7.7 per cent compared to the typical day.

For more information, visit

Alliston church starting free after-school program for girls

The age old saying it takes a village to raise a kid has inspired an Alliston church to create a new initiative to teach girls valuable skills and life lessons.

Next month, St. Andrew’s Anglican Church is starting up a free after-school program for girls age seven to 13 called the Village Kids Club.

Rev. Kim McArthur said the goal of the club is to offer children an “upbeat and inspiring” experience through a variety of activities taught by mentors, such as cooking, scrap booking, woodworking, jewelry making, crafts, and even etiquette lessons.

The children will also receive help with their homework and class assignments if needed.

McArthur said the program is designed to give parents a helping hand as well.

“There’s so much stress in life in trying to keep a roof over your head, in clothing and feeding your children,” she said. “We can’t do everything.”

The club is run by a number of volunteer retired professionals, from former teachers, a police officer, a lawyer and even a butler instructor.

McArthur said there is going to be two mentors for every four children to ensure they get one-on-one attention.

Each session will end with home-cooked meal, prepared by the students and their mentor.

“These are practical things that are fun and good to learn,” she said.

When organizers came up with the idea, she said they took a “back to basics” approach.

“Years ago, everybody looked out for everyone else and took care of each other’s kids,” she said.

The club starts April 6 and runs for four months, with sessions taking place Wednesdays from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Registration is March 30 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the church located at 125 Wellington St. W.

The program has a capacity for 20 girls and spaces will be filled on first come, first serve basis.

The church also plans to start a similar program for boys in the fall.

Organizers are also interested in speaking with other professionals in the community that can volunteer as mentors.

For more information, call the church at 705-435-9711 or visit .

Online Easter dessert auction being held to raise money for Bradford man

If you’re a fan of sweet treats, be sure to log onto Facebook this weekend for a great cause.

On March 24, 25 and 26, and online Easter dessert auction will take place in support of Bradford resident James Franckzyk, 23, who suffers from Hydro Cephalous and Cerebral Palsy – bounding him to the use of a wheelchair.

Franckzyk’s family is currently trying to purchase a new accessible van, as theirs is now 16 years old and becoming quite unsafe, according to mom Lisa.

So, that’s where event organizer Theresa Worthington comes in. After hearing about Franckzyk’s story and his needs, she felt it was only right to try and help in any way she could. Having known the family for a number of years, Worthington though that an online Easter auction would be a great way to involve the community, while giving away some yummy treats donated through Bonnie Agiuar of Sweet B’s Catering and Confectionary.

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on each day this Easter weekend, participants can bid on an Easter cake and dessert tray, with all proceeds going toward a new van for Franckzyk.

On March 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Worthington will host another auction with additional donated items, as the response from local businesses has been overwhelming.

“I am so excited to do this and help out amazing friends of mine,” said Worthington.

This is the second fundraiser that Worthington has taken on within nine months – the first being in September for Bradford’s Arjoon family, who were raising funds to build an accessible home for their daughter, Millie.

“I just love to help out in anyway that I can and I will always put someone else before me. If there is anything I can possibly do to help out in any situation, I am always here.”

Worthington says a big thank you is deserved to Agiuar for all of the donated desserts, Ad-Dictive Designs for the donation of flyers and posters and to all of the sponsors that are making the event possible.

If you would like to take part in this weekend’s auction, visit Facebook and search “Easter Dessert Auction” to get your hands on some great food, while giving back to a deserving family.

Clearview Township reviewing building permit fees

Building fees in Clearview Township could be on the rise, after the municipality’s building department posted a $33,000 deficit in 2015.

According to the township’s chief building official Scott McLeod, the department has a $319,000 deficit over the last eight years.

Related: Looking ahead:

The deficit is the result of the department’s direct and indirect costs to review permits and administer and enforce the Building Code Act, versus the revenue from building and septic permits.

From 2007 through 2015, the department brought in more than $360,000 in fee revenue, with $332,000 in direct costs, and another $61,000 in indirect costs.

The numbers raised the eyebrows of council members, some who questioned whether it was time to review fees to bring them in line with the department’s administrative costs.

Deputy Mayor Barry Burton questioned whether the township could hike the fee for a wind turbine installation; McLeod said the current fee would work out to approximately $20,000 per turbine, while the deputy mayor suggested a fee five times that.

“We would have to be reasonable and prepared to defend the fees in court” if challenged, said McLeod.

Burton responded that if the province was intent on approving the turbines with little input from the municipality, then the municipality should be at liberty to charge what it feels is reasonable.

Council approved a motion asking McLeod to report back on whether the municipality should consider raising fees.

Redevelopment of Mountainview Mall in Midland expected to begin soon

MIDLAND – The Mountainview Mall may currently be a patchwork of empty storefronts and big-box stores, but the property’s new owners say change is coming very soon.

James Petrie of Plaza Retail, which purchased the mall in August 2015, said he expects shovels to be in the ground by late spring or early summer.

“People will see a lot of change at the property over the next six months,” he said.

Petrie estimated the project will be completed over the next 18-24 months.

“We don’t want to put a fine date on completion,” he said. “It’s going to be completed in several phases.”

Petrie said “nothing is coming down” at the property, with no demolitions except for the interior part of the mall to create storefronts facing County Road 93.

“There’s going to be a brand-new façade for the properties,” he said.

The current plan will not affect the existing Galaxy Cinemas, Food Basics or Dollar Tree properties, Petrie said.

“They’re already the ‘big box’-style frontages we’re looking for,” he said. “Dollar Tree is a good example of the style the mall will take.”

Petrie said the back of the property will likely include office space and room for storage, with the possibility of a gym, as well.

“These are things that don’t need to be around the front,” he said.

Petrie said there will be a mix of new and existing businesses taking space in the mall when completed.

“Interest in the leases (has) exceeded expectations,” he said. “Consumers in Midland will be very happy when the project is complete.”

Some of the mall’s current tenants are pleased with movement on the new construction, but are struggling with getting the word out that the mall is still open for business.

Debbie McNamara, district manager for women’s clothing store Maurices, said the store has had “some challenges” in keeping foot traffic going.

“Word has gotten out that the mall is closed or closing,” she said. “That misconception is hurting our bottom line a little bit.”

McNamara said Maurices will be relocating into one of the new spaces once construction is finished.

“We’re going to remain open until everything is done,” she said.

More information on the development can be found at .