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Barrie police looking for man

City police are looking for a man in connection with thefts from Barrie Sports Dome on March 19.

Just after 5 p.m., a man entered the Hanmer Street facility and walked into the men’s change room. Items were taken from unlocked lockers and a man left the building.

Two of the victims’ credit cards were used, at Macs Convenience and Ultramar Gas Bar on Bayfield Street in Midhurst.

The man is described as white, in his mid-30s, with black-framed glasses. He was wearing a black hat, a red hoodie, a black jacket, jeans and black running shoes.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Const. J. Frouws at 705-725-7025, ext. 2504 or [email protected] or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or visit

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.


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 “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 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 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.

Robert Munsch books inspiration for family-friendly show at Midland Cultural Centre

MIDLAND – The world of children’s author Robert Munsch will come to life Saturday morning at the Midland Cultural Centre.

The latest offering by the Family Scene series is the Solar Stage Children’s Theatre production of “Munsch Mash” starting at 10:30 a.m.

The show is based on the shenanigans from such books as “PIGS,” “David’s Father,” “Angela’s Airplane” and “Jonathan Cleaned Up and Then He Heard a Sound.”

Tickets are $10 each or $30 for a family of four. They can be purchased online (), by phone (705-527-4420) or in person at the MCC box office (333 King St.).

`It actually feels like we belong here,? student says of new Orillia Secondary School

An event eight years in the making happened Monday morning, as students entered the new Orillia Secondary School for the first time.

The two-and-a-half-storey, 150,000-square-foot facility was embraced by students and staff who have been housed at the former Orillia District Collegiate and Vocational Institute (ODCVI) campus for the past two-and-a-half years. The teenagers stormed through the doors around 10:15 a.m. As they walked around the halls, they hoisted their smart phones, taking photos and videos of the new building, sharing the experience through social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.

For some Grade 12 students, Monday was a bit of a homecoming. Some students still at Orillia Secondary School, including students’ council co-presidents Christy Scott and Victoria Bartlett, were in Grade 9 at the former Park Street Collegiate Institute.

The differences between the former building on the site and the new school that opened Monday were profound.

"Park Street was two boxes on top of each other; you’d walk around and you were there," Bartlett said. "This is insane. Windows everywhere. It’s nice."

Students and staff moving to Orillia Secondary School on March…

Check out our drone footage of students and staff walking to the new Orillia Secondary School this morning!

Posted by Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) on Monday, 21 March 2016

"I never could have imagined going to school in a place like this," Scott added.

Eric Holmes is also a Park Street alumnus. He, too, remained true to his old school, but was impressed by where he’d be spending his last few weeks as a high-school student.

"I love Park, but this is a huge step up as far as everything goes," he said.

The council presidents both pinpointed the school’s newness as a highlight in their initial walk-through, with Scott remarking about the brightness of the facility, thanks to the plethora of windows found throughout the school.

The flood of natural light was high on principal Jim Sammon’s list as well.

"It’s not factory learning," he said. "It’s about creativity and openness — meaningful learning for our kids."

The opening of the building was delayed several times, before the final date of the first day back from March break was set. Following the 2008 accommodation review, which recommended the merger of Park Street and ODCVI at a rebuilt facility at the Park Street site, the project lingered as the Simcoe County District School Board’s No. 1 capital priority, until finally receiving provincial funding in early 2013.

The approximately $30-million facility is a state-of-the-art building, featuring 45 classrooms, a triple gym and many other amenities. But those components aren’t going to make the first new public secondary school in Orillia in almost 45 years a great school.

"The building isn’t what makes a school great," Sammon said. "When you start with a great building, you’re 100 steps ahead."

What will make the school great is the people who populate it, both teachers and students. For some of those teachers, such as Sheena Penfold, the building will provide new ways to reach some of the school’s more vulnerable students. Confined to a portable at the old school, she now has a main-floor classroom devoted to her three daily periods, during which she focuses on aboriginal issues.

Along with teaching two aboriginal-focused classes, Penfold has a section of her day for student success, dealing with the Orillia Secondary School students who identify as First Nation, Métis or Inuit. She’s the first teacher at Orillia Secondary School to be devoted to such a discipline and is hopeful the courses will become more popular.

"It’s nice to have space for the students to go to and actually recognize," she said. "Other students in the school, too, can be more aware of it and recognize that it’s an important part of history in our school and our community."

Staff, including Penfold and Sammon, joined the students as they marched from the school’s former home to the new site. More than 1,000 members of the school community took part in the walk along North Street behind the school band, which played a selection of songs on the back of a flatbed transport truck.

From Scott’s vantage point in the band, she saw her fellow students coming together as one cohesive unit as they entered their new academic home.

"It actually feels like we belong here," Bartlett added. "We’re all together. It’s new for everyone."

The school could be as welcoming as possible, with all the features neither Park Street nor ODCVI had. But, for most teenagers, what will make or break the new school is located on the ground floor: the cafeteria. Early results indicate it is a winner.

"I couldn’t eat down there," Melody Holloway said of the cafeteria at the old school. "The food here is way better."

[email protected] 

Dresses at Collingwood’s Georgian College hang for a reason

There are red dresses hanging in the halls of the John DiPoce South Georgian Bay Campus of Georgian College, and they are there for a reason.

The Red Dress project is inspired by artist Jamie Black’s ReDress Project, which is an aesthetic piece created to bring awareness to the more than 4,000 missing and murdered First Nations, Metis and Inuit women in Canada.

The Georgian College installation was put up by the Umbrella Collective, a group built on the promotion of social justice. The local group was founded by three social service worker students – Kayla Anscomb, Emily-Anne Gibson and Jason Knoester – to provide students with support in their social action projects.

This is the Umbrella Collective’s first project. The installation opened March 15 and will be in place until March 29 with visiting hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays. There’s a community launch on March 23 from noon to 1 p.m.

Local Earth Hour results see decrease

Barrie powered down by 5.4% during Earth Hour on Saturday night.

This is less than 2015, when PowerStream recorded a drop of 6%.

The biggest reduction was in Essa (Thornton), which experienced a 16.9% reduction.

PowerStream reports that electricity consumption between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday dropped overall by 4.2% in the nine municipalities which received hydro from the utility company.

This was a decrease from the 6% reduction achieved collectively in these areas in 2015.

The 2016 results represented a total savings of 43.0 megawatts in peak demand, or enough electricity to power 1,303 average-sized homes over a 24-hour period.

The break down:

Aurora – 5.9% reduction (2.98 MW)

Barrie – 5.4% reduction (7.42 MW)

Bradford West Gwillimbury – 7.8% reduction (1.66 MW)

Essa (Thornton) – 16.9% reduction (0.17 MW)

Markham – 4.1% reduction (11.07 MW)

New Tecumseth – 5.3% reduction (1.53 MW)

Penetanguishene – 4.3% reduction (0.47 MW)

Richmond Hill – 4.1% reduction (5.67 MW)

Vaughan – 3.7% reduction (12.04 MW)

PowerStream has more than 375,000 residential and business customers. It it jointly owned by the cities of Barrie, Markham and Vaughan.

Still no decision made regarding Sunday hunting in Bradford

Local hunters have been left without answers after council voted to defer a decision regarding Sunday gun hunting within Bradford West Gwillimbury.

The hot topic – which was originally brought forth as an idea to council just before Christmas of last year – will go back to town staff in order to determine if a more specific hunting boundary map can be created.

Currently, hunters are allowed to roam rural areas in the northern portion of the municipality six days a week. These areas include the Welsh tract, Hodson tract, Sinclair tract and main area near Coulson’s Hill along Hwy. 11, which are all used regularly for recreational activities such as hiking and biking by residents.

Homeowner Nancy Halbery, who spoke against Sunday hunting in November, returned during council’s March 15 meeting to highlight ongoing issues she and her family continue to face with unwanted hunters roaming her property.

Though she is not against hunting, she says Sunday should be left as a day of peace for the somewhat 5,000 residents living in hunting territory.

“We deserve a level of safety and enjoyment of our property, where we don’t have to worry about someone shooting guns at any time of the year,” she said.

“Hunters have six days a week. We are just asking for one. We still have problems with hunters trespassing onto our property and a number of items have bullet holes in them. That’s not acceptable.”

Council members shared their true confliction with the issue, batting ideas back and forth – some saying they would be for Sunday gun hunting, others against.

Councillor Gary Lamb eventually threw out what seemed to be the most agreed upon conclusion, to defer the topic until more information could be gathered.

Lamb inquired to the town’s manager of enforcement, Brent Lee, about whether the town could look into designating certain rural areas for gun hunting on Sundays – essentially eliminating trails and high-frequency parks that residents commonly use on a weekly basis.

Lee explained that it could be done, though it would require a lengthier process through the Ministry of Natural Resources. The idea seemed to be the best route, as council moved forward with the deferral, though it was met with a number of frustrated sighs and mumbling from over a dozen hunters in attendance.

“I would rather defer this so we can look at a bylaw to come forward that would include Sunday hunting, but declare areas where you cannot use firearms,” explained Lamb.

Councillor Mark Contois seconded the motion.

“ I support Gary’s recommendation. If we take hunters away from trail systems, I think there is room for both them and residents,” he said.

“We can go back and look at areas designated for hunting and others without.”

There is no timeline as to when Sunday gun hunting will come back to council for further discussion.