Electrical fire out at Shamrock Lodge in Port Carling

MNW Update, July 25, 1.30pm: An electrical fire in the main building at Shamrock Lodge is now out. Fire Chief Richard Hayes confirmed the firest was out and crews were starting clean up at 1.25pm. He says the only damage was to the electrical panel and he estimates damage at about $10,000. Fire stations 6 (Port Carling) and 1 (Foots Bay) and Marine 5 responded to the call. That included two fire trucks who were still on site at the Milford Bay brush fire site. Hayes says a small crew is still on clean up there and continuing to deal with some hot spots. People are urged to stay away from the area of Tuesday's blaze which consumed about six hectares of the the ridge east of the Huckleberry Rock cut.

A full fire ban remains in effect for Parry Sound-Muskoka and that includes fire works.

Update: Stubborn section still burning at Milford Bay

MNW Update July 24, 8.56 pm. Still one stubborn spot burning on the ridge at site of a 6-hectare fire today at Milford Bay, says Muskoka Lakes Fire Chief Richard Hayes. And still no all clear for residents evacuated from area homes.

MNW Update July 24, 730pm: A small section of bush still burns at Milford Bay: Just came from site of the fire on the Bracebridge side of the Huckleberry Rock cut and Township of Muskoka Lakes Fire Chief Richard Hayes says it will still be a few hours before it can be considered fully contained — or out. But our firefighters will be on site and monitoring tonight no matter what transpires before dark. While the last water bomb drop happened just after 5pm, Hayes says there is only so much that can be done from the air. Now it's up to the firefighters on ground to finish things up. He adds residents are still officially evacuated. The fire burning now is midway down the ridge that runs east-west along the popular Huckleberry Rock area. As reported by MNW earlier, it's believed the fire started at the lookout. Since then an area of about 6 hectares has burned. Hayes asks that everyone be reminded that a total fire ban is in effect and that includes fireworks. Our environment is very dry, so please use extra caution. An earlier fire today in the Torrance area of East Bay was quickly estinguished by firefighters from the Torrance fire station. They were wrapping that up as 911 calls started to come in before one pm about the Milford Bay blaze. Yesterday (Monday) there were fires in the Port Sydney and Gravenhurst areas. There was also another blaze today in the Shawanaga area.

David Pink taking over from Muskoka Lakes’ Planner Stephen Fahner

MNW Update, July 25, 130pm: David Pink is now the Interim Director of Planning after Stephen Fahner's retirement was announced on Tuesday. It seems that Fahner's departure from the Township of Muskoka Lakes has taken effect immediately, as opposed to being effective August 17 as suggested in the township's issued press release. While it is not unusual for someone to cash in owed holiday time which might explain the August 17 date, Fahner had just taken some holiday time. A caller to township today for Fahner was told he is no longer with the office and his email autoresponder reads this way:

Please be advised that Stephen Fahner, Director of Planning, has retired. He will no longer be responding to emails, effective immediately. Please send any correspondence or your questions to David Pink, Interim Director of Planning, at dpink@muskokalakes.ca<mailto:dpink@muskokalakes.ca

MNW wishes Fahner well and welcomes David Pink to his new role.

MNW Post July 24, 625pm: Muskoka Lakes Township Planner announces retirement — just ahead of CAO departure: Steve Fahner, Director of Planning for the Township of Muskoka Lakes, has announced his retirement from his post effective August 17. In a press release, Chief Administrative Officer Walt Schmid, who is leaving the Township for the Town of Bracebridge in September, thanked Fahner for his years of service. Fahner has been with the municipality for over 24 years and Schmid notes he has earned the respect of his colleagues across the District. He adds Steve guided the day to day operations of the Department and spearheaded significant planning projects such as the Waterfront Density Initiative and the Official Plan update. There's no word on whether Fahner has landed employment elsewhere but the press release noted Fahner will be pursuing other planning opportunities in the future.

Milford Bay blaze still burning: air attack helping bring things under control

MNW Update, July 24, 2.22pm, Milford Bay, Muskoka Lakes: The air attack on the blaze in Milford Bay is under way with two tanker planes and one waterbomber from the MNR. Fire Chief Richard Hayes says the winds have turned the fire back on to itself, meaning winds are blowing it slightly inland and away from the Milford Bay homes under tight watch – up to 50 residents were evacuated. One building remains of concern. Hayes confirms Muskoka Lakes fire stations 9, 7 and 6 are on the scene. Milford Bay Road is closed to traffic and drives are advised to approach the Huckleberry Rock cut slowly and with caution as several responding vehicles are on the shoulders. One firefighter says it's believed the fire started at the Huckleberry Rock Lookout. He adds there is no threat to Reay Road. Smoke was seen billowing from the Bracebridge side of the rock cut when the fire was first burning. More details to come.

Update on Doe Lake area fire

Update on Gravenhurst Fire, July 23, 9pm: Unconfirmed reports state fire in Doe Lake Road area of Gravenhurst was under control sometime between 8-9pm. Power was still out in some areas at post time. Still very dry out there – full fire ban remains in effect. Thanks to all firefighters in Muskoka doing their jobs in the extreme heat today.

MNR Breaking News, Gravenhurst, July 23, Posted 7.55pm: Three stations with the Gravenhurst Fire Department are reportedly fighting a blaze in the Doe Lake Road area of Gravenhurst near Conservation Road. Hydro lines are down and power is out as far as Housey's Rapids (approximately 700 people might be out of power). The fire is said to have started about an hour ago or earlier. Doe Lake Road is closed to traffic. There are no further details at this time. This is the third fire fought in Muskoka today – an earlier blaze was brought under control in the Port Sydney area and Bracebridge Examiner is reporting a car fire was handled in the Vankoughnet area.

NDP Opinion: Liberals & PC ‘Two Peas in a Pod’

July 23, Updated 733pm: Clyde Mobbley's Letter to the Editor:             Conservatives and Liberals Two Peas in a Pod
In the days following their 1995 election win, Norm Miller's chosen
political party, the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, started gutting
income security programs in Ontario. The current Liberal government is
building on those slash and burn days of poor bashing. The just passed
Ontario Liberal budget seeks to make seniors, low income and the poor
pay for past and current Conservative/Liberal income security spending cuts.
Remember their claims that cuts to income and social programs would get rid
of waste and increase efficiencies, while tax cuts would spur job growth and
investment? In reality these cuts do nothing more than drive up inequality
for citizens, families and communities, put money in the pockets of those
with far more than most citizens in Ontario, and created a self-imposed
revenue deficit for this province. Seniors, low income earners and the poor
are bearing the brunt of these schemes. Shameful!
What is the specific effect of all this cutting of taxes and social programs?
Well, for one thing, it's made the following statement no exaggeration:
"Seniors 65 and older on ODSP are required to endure dental pain". For
anyone on ODSP, the full fee for dental services is not being paid, and
dentists in Parry Sound-Muskoka are refusing to treat those on ODSP.
Dental pain is a reality of daily life for a growing number of Ontario
citizens. Shameful!
God help us if Norm Miller's Progressive Conservatives get elected as
the next governing party of Ontario. Ontario Conservatives would make
deeper cuts than their political buddies, the Ontario Liberals. The
race to the bottom is approaching the finish line with Liberal
budget cuts, and past and proposed out-of-control Conservative/Liberal tax
cuts. Remember that tax cuts were promised to spur job growth and
investment? nothing could be farther from the truth. Tax cuts haven't
delivered. Along with cuts to social programs, they are deepening poverty
in the lives of those that need a hand up. Shameful!
Norm Miller's boogeyman of debt crisis is an excuse to cut social programs
and to sell off valuable public assets. As well, it is used to promote a
long-standing interest in downsizing government. In 2002, Norm Miller's
then-governing Progressive Conservatives started a movement to privatize
Ontario Northland. This has been accomplished by their political buddies,
the Ontario Liberals. The dollars from the cuts to Ontario's  needed social
programs are going to reduce the provincial deficit; and with the sell off
of valuable public assets Norm and his Conservative comrades are pleased.
But more slash-and-burn is needed in their minds.
Seniors, low income, and the poor who have to live with these "political
pea pod buddies" are not so pleased.
Clyde Mobbley
Utterson, Ontario

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Woman dies in Saturday crash near Gravenhurst

Posted July 22, 6 pm, Gravenhurst: The Bracebridge OPP is investigating an off road vehicle (ORV) crash that claimed the life of a 20-year-old woman Saturday. Heather Parr of Guelph was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash on Southwood Road in the Gravenhurst area.

Police say emergency crews responded to a report of a crash shortly after 6am on Saturday (July 21). They report a man and a woman had left an area home on an ORV around 4am; neither person was wearing a helmet; and an unknown quantity of alcohol may have been consumed by the couple. They say it appears the vehicle failed to make a corner and the vehicle ran off the road. The male rider was able to get back to the house to call for help. He was airlifted from South Muskoka Memorial Hospital to Sunnybrook Hospital with serious injuries.

The investigation continues.

Update: Mill Stream Mess in Bala

Updated Post: July 21, 230 pm. Mill Stream Mess in Bala smaller, but still an eyesore.

A call to the Township about the ongoing mess at the Mill Stream generating station in Bala did result in prompt action yesterday. In fact, CAO Walt Schmid said there was already a request in for a clean up. Another email was sent and work began yesterday, but today, the garbage has settled back in again. Tourists were walking by the mill stream, stopping to read the historic plaque, and commenting on the mess.

Mill Stream Mess July 21, 2012 in BalaMeantime, the Township of Muskoka Lakes is working on finding a new operator for the plant to replace Algonquin Power whose lease agreement expired in July 2011. According to Township, the company is still responsible for maintenance until a new operator takes over. So far, three companies have bid to generate power at the Township owned facility.

MNW Comment: MNW believes the community needs to find ways together to solve this problem and we may need to continue to be involved even when an operator gets the plant up and running again.

Original Post: July 20, 4pm: The Mess on the Mill Stream: The Burgess 1 (aka Bala #1) Generating Station on the Mill Stream (not to be confused with plans for a plant on the north Bala Falls) needs some love and care, but its future care remains in limbo as the Township of Muskoka Lakes has not yet decided on an operator for the plant, which could still be earning money for the township if a proposed Quebec operator had taken it over last summer. To the knowledge of MNW, no power is being generated and Township staff have said Algonguin Power is still operating the plant even though their operations through a lease arrangement with the Township were to cease last July. Sources at Township say Algonquin Power has been made aware of the mess piling up in the water at the plant; and that the Township has asked for it to be attended to, and there is hope for the mess to be cleared up very soon.

COMMENTARY: As of today, July 20, the water was still plugged with plastic bottles, garbage and natural debris but Township says it should be clear soon. Following the pictures shown here of the site as it looked in June and early July 2012 is a rough history of what's been happening — and perhaps not happening — at the plant since Algonquin Power's lease ran out with the Township in July 2011. Note that the Township of Muskoka Lakes is the owner responsible for the plant — it has owned it since the time of township amalgamation in 1971. The Township did receive $1K a month or a greater amount dependent on profits. At a recent Council meeting, a Bala citizen requested the plant be considered as a heritage site. The question posed by MNW today is — who will be the champion for keeping this building in better shape and free from the pollution shown in these pictures? These are the same sort of concerns some councillors and others have expressed about what might happen should another hydro plant be built. MNW looks forward to updating this blog with a cleaner picture sooner rather than later. Not only is it an eyesore, but it is a reminder that the Township is losing money while the decades only equipment sits there unused.

Rough Background: Algonquin Power had operated the plant for about 10 years before informing the plant's owner (the Township of Muskoka Lakes) that it would not renew its lease and would not continue operating the plant. That lease ran out July 2011 and Algonquin Power stopped paying lease money to the township a few months later (perhaps as late as January 2012 according to one Councillor – budget documents would provide specifics of when that revenue dried up). MNR officials say Algonquin Power has been ensuring the plant is operated to ensure the sustainability of the local environment (e.g. increasing waterflows in the spring to protect reptiles, fish, etc, in the vicinity of plant) and may also operate the plant in other ways on request. Algonquin Power had found a company to take over the lease and in March 2011, CSC Électrique of Quebec outlined its proposal to Township. Council ultimately decided that it should issue its own tender/RFP process to find other potential operators. It issued the RFP in early 2012 with proposals from interested bidders due by the end of February 2012. There were several amendments to the RFP, and submission dates changed. While the final submission date has now gone by (no word on what that date was but it may have been sometime in the spring), Township has yet to announce the name of the winning bidding company. Township staff have confirmed that three bids were submitted. DISCLOSURE NOTE: I requested my company be considered as a bidder in February and I attended the initial site meeting to further investigate the opportunity. Subsequently, I informed Township that I would not continue in the bidding process. Only the bidders that remain in the process are privy to any changes to the RFP process or any information provided as part of it (everything mentioned here is of public record).

Historic note: The plant originally began operation in 1917 thanks to the efforts of Thomas Burgess.

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MRA worries about Township departures, calls for investigation

July 19, Updated 4 pm: Schmid Jumps Ship; Muskoka Ratepayers Association responds with Letter to the Editor to media outlets this week calling for a probe into why township staff are departing or retiring now. The following appeared in the Bracebridge Examiner and What's Up Muskoka. Following the letter is a commentary by Norah Fountain about whether an investigation of this type could even occur given the few rules governing municipal bodies.

Letter to the editor:

The Muskoka Ratepayers’ Association wishes to express our deep concern over the numerous administrative staff and Councillor changes occurring at the Township of Muskoka Lakes. This began with the advent of this Council; which is only a year and a half into its mandate. The recent resignation of the Chief Administrative Officer (COA), the glue that has held the staff together, highlights a troubling trend. It started with the resignation of the Treasurer last year. This was followed by the resignation of one of the newly elected Councillors due to his personal dissatisfaction. A key department was eliminated and the Director was let go. Then came the early retirement of the Works Superintendent, replaced by someone who changed his mind at the last minute, forcing the Township to hire back the retiring Works Superintendent as a part time consultant. The Assistant Fire Chief also took early retirement. One of the Councillors stepped down as Chair of an important Standing Committee of Council. But the latest resignation, that of CAO Walt Schmid, fills us with shock and dismay.

We believe that a strong administrative staff is essential for the efficient, effective and professional running of the day to day functions of the Township. We are wondering whether these retirements and resignations are simply coincidental or whether there is some Council desire to clean administrative house. Another possibility is that staff morale has reached an unprecedented low due to Council’s operating style, which seems to include a lack of trust in and respect for staff, and a tendency to micro-manage.

Because of the high decibel level of the rumour mill that gives credence to some or all of these conjectures, perhaps an investigation by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs needs to occur in order to put all our minds at ease.

Sincerely, Susan Daglish
Muskoka Ratepayers’ Association

Commentary by Norah Fountain: Interesting that the MRA suggests an 'investigation'. As I understand it, the only investigation that can be called on a municipal government is an investigation of a Closed Meeting. There is no mechanism to call an investigation into any other activity, including anything that happens in a Public Meeting. While the MRA shows bravery in voicing what other ratepayers are pondering, perhaps the right thing for some constituent to do is to request an investigation into recent Closed Meetings — especially as Public Meeting minutes seem to be missing any discussions of resolutions or directions to staff about recent news-making issues (MNW has requested information about such resolutions or directions of staff regarding the Tree and Bala Falls but has received no response). For example, the so called Native Marker tree or heritage tree has only appeared in Minutes of the Heritage Committee and has not received direction from council with one exception: the Mayor has received Council's blessing to speak about the Native Marker tree with applicable Ontario cabinet ministers at an upcoming conference of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario or AMO in Ottawa in August.

Which begs another question — at least about protocols and formalities: if Township of Muskoka Lakes Council is so concerned with Aboriginal affairs, has Council formally discussed raising Aboriginal concerns with area band Councils? Otherwise, one could argue the township Council is co-opting an Aboriginal concern for its own means — with no resolution or direction to staff formally in regard to that concern. Perhaps the tree discussion has come up in Closed Session. But the Tree is not on township property and there are no legal or personnel matters in regard to it. So it shouldn't be a Closed Session item. Not to mention the lack of a resolution or direction to Council to file an Individual Environmental Assessment request with the Ministry of Environment regarding the Bala Falls situation. Where is the governance? Behind Closed Doors? If the MRA wants an investigation, they may want to follow the process that is set out. Go to the Township Clerk. Request a Closed Meeting investigation. The Clerk then goes to the Township appointed ombudsman through Association of Municipalities of Ontario (of which the Township pays to belong) and ask for an investigation. Kind of like the fox watching the hen house, isn't it? Township picked AMO to be its investigator in these cases but AMO exists to support local municipalities. But t least it would be a start — and the only start. We may never know what is happening with township staff departures but the MRA is correct in suggesting there is a perception that the workplace situation may not be the best (some evidence of which being the glare given a Township staff member by Mayor Alice Murphy during a presentation this week in Council chambers).

If anyone is curious and wants to read on, here's a layperson's discussion of what can be discussed in Closed session using the Friday 13th session as an example.

A Closed session agenda normally refers directly to whether it is a legal, property or personnel matter. Here is an excerpt from an Agenda on Friday, July 13, 2012 which suggests it was a legal matter they were discussing:

Closed Session to be held for litigation or potential litigation,including matters before administrative tribunals, affecting the municipality, personal matters about an identifiable individual, including municipal employees and a proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land by the muncipality pursuant to Section 239(2) of the Municipal Act, 2001.

Closed Sessions that cover all three — property, personnel or litigation might raise eyebrows as it would seem like an umbrella statement, but it's possible that all three issues might be related or come up separately. Some wanna be councillor on the campaign trail last election called for No More Closed Meetings. Obviously, both the successful campaigners and non successful ones must realize now that such a campaign promise is a tough one to uphold.

So where do we go from here? Readers are either satisfied that all is well with the Council they voted in and Township Council is doing its best, or they may pay heed to the MRA concerns as that association is vigilant in attending meetings to be the eyes and ears for all taxpayers.

NDP Pension Critic talks retirement security in Bracebridge tonight

MNW Post July 12, 4pm: Irene Mathyssen, MP for London-Fanshawe and Official Opposition Critic for Pensions, is in Bracebridge tonight to talk about how the C-38 budget bill will impact Old Age Security and related financial concerns. She'll also discuss what the future holds for Employment Insurance and Foreign Workers. The NDP contends coming rule changes will drive down Canadian wages and could endanger the financial security of Canadian families. The town hall meeting is open to everyone and starts at 7pm tonight (July 12) at the Legion at 168 Muskoka Road in Bracebridge.

Cut Roads Budget, Change Garbage Service, Keep Crime Stoppers: Service Review Recos unveiled today

MNW Post July 12, 830 am: The Citizen Advisory Committee helping the District of Muskoka find efficiencies in its operations will present its recommendations to the District today. The meeting, which is open to the public, kicks off at 9 am at the District office.

One recommendation would see economic development for all Muskoka centralized at the District level. Another suggests garbage pick up methods should change. And the committee is urging the District to meet its financial challenges within existing sources of revenue instead of revenue generation efforts that might result in potential extra taxation.

Of specific interest to Muskoka Lakers might be suggestions to give Muskoka Lakes Council full responsibility for James Bartleman Island Park in Port Carling and to continue Student Marine Patrols.

The recommendations the advisory group will present to the Services Review Steering Committee (comprising Council and staff members) is outlined below.

Engineering and Public Works
1. Reduction in Roads Capital Budget: Roads Capital spending should be gradually reduced to a level $1-2 million below current budget. This should be achieved through deferral of lower priority projects where significant impairment of Road conditions will not result.
2. James Bartleman Island Park: The Township of Muskoka Lakes should assume full responsibility for this park.
3. Sewage lagoon Security: Automated electronic access and weighing systems, together with security cameras, should be installed at each of the sewage lagoon sites.
4. Solid Waste Collection: The District should determine potential savings available through reducing weekly garbage collection to a period of 2 or 4 months. The amount of this saving versus the reduction of convenience to citizens must be evaluated before deciding on a reduced program. Similarly, reduction of rural “curbside” pickup of solid waste should be evaluated, to be replaced with a Transfer Station system.
5. Water and Sewer Operations: The Committee recommends the reconsideration of contracting out these operations.

Planning and Economic Development
1. Economic Development: The Committee recommends the creation of a multi-sectoral Economic Development Function at the district level. This function should focus on the development of diverse economic activity as a complement to established Tourism support programs.
2. Airport Development: Following completion of the Economic Impact Assessment currently underway, the Committee recommends undertaking an Economic Development Study to optimize the future return from this asset. Options should include potential sale and/or lease of the facility and its operating businesses.
3. Planning Function Review: The Committee supports a third party review of planning activities at both the District and Area Municipalities levels. A cost/benefit analysis for all potential organizational models is required for an appropriate decision.

Community Services
1. Community Service Offices: The Committee recommends that offices remain to be leased such that maximum flexibility is maintained and facilities can be adjusted as needs change. The Committee recommends that modern accommodation practises such as sharing common spaces, “hoteling” and work-at-home be utilized to limit the need for accommodation space.
2. Child Care Funding Policies: The Committee urges caution in the implementation of policies that may encourage attendance of sick children at child care or school. There is concern that avoidable spread of disease will result in greater costs in the health care system than savings in the Child Care system. Absence control systems requiring a medical certificate, as commonly used in employee absence control, should be considered

Corporate and Emergency Services
1. Ambulance Services: The Committee supports the on-going review of the Response Time Standard and the development of an improved Deployment Plan.
2. Emergency Planning: The Committee recommends that the District maintains the existing District Emergency Planning model and that Area Municipalities assume more responsibilities in the development of Area Emergency Plans. Economically attractive resources from Provincial agencies should be utilized whenever possible.
3. Policing: The Committee supports continuation of Student Marine Patrol programs and of the Crime Stoppers program. Paid Duty Policing requirements should be minimized by requiring event organizers to assume Policing costs.
4. Alternate Revenue Generation: The Committee is concerned that expanding the allowed forms of Revenue generation would result in new taxation which would be used on new areas of expenditure. The committee does not support this recommendation, and urges the District to resolve its financial challenges within existing sources of revenue.
5. IT and Financial System Strategies: The Committee urges that District IT initiatives be focused upon improved implementation of existing systems and services for the three participating Municipalities. Only when District based systems can demonstrate significant benefits over Municipality based systems should efforts be made to provide service to additional municipalities. In the near term, additional implementation resources should be directed to completion of the Page 2
implementation of new Financial systems. It is believed that earlier implementation of these new systems will provide cost savings and improved analysis to future operations.

Care to comment on the recommendations? MNW encourages you to submit your comments, first name only needed. Just Submit Comment below.

Ed Note: How will One Muskoka will react to these recommendations? Will be asking!

Vandalized Muskoka River home: damages pegged at $200K

MNW Post July 11, 11.57am: A weekend break in on Muskoka River has left a home in shambles, according to the Bracebridge OPP.

Police were called to a home on the north Branch of the Muskoka River near Stevenson Road 1 at around 1130 pm on Sunday (July 8). Officers report the place had been entered and vandalized, adding vandals were apparently partying there. They say several young adults may have been involved, leaving what police describe as a horrible mess with valuables and furniture destroyed.  

Two arrests have been made and other suspects have been identified in the investigation which is ongoing. Police say they would appreciate any help from the community in identifying the remaining culprits responsible for this, quote, "senseless destruction." Damage to the residence is said to be in excess of $200,000.

Muskoka Lakes CAO headed to Town of Bracebridge

July 10, 2.24pm, Bracebridge: Walt Schmid leaves Muskoka Lakes Township for Town of Bracebridge: Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith and Bracebridge Council today announced the appointment of Walter H. Schmid as Director of Public Works for the Town of Bracebridge.

In a press release, the Town states "Walt Schmid has been employed for over 24 years in a variety of progressively responsible municipal positions and he will bring his vast knowledge of how to effectively deliver these services to Bracebridge."

Most recently Schmid has served as the Chief Administrative Officer for the Township of Muskoka Lakes, a position that he has held since 2007. Prior to his work in Muskoka Lakes, he worked as the Chief Administrative Officer and Director of Physical Services for the Town of Huntsville. He has also worked for the City of Kingston as Director of Engineering and several other leadership positions in the engineering, operations and public works portfolios.

Schmid will be replacing Municipal Engineer Ron Walton who retired from the Town of Bracebridge in May 2012 after more than 25 years of service on behalf of the community.

Walt holds a Bachelor of Engineering Degree from Lakehead University and a Bachelor of Engineering Technology Degree from Ryerson. He holds the Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) designation.

Walt says he is pleased to be able to join Bracebridge as Director of Public Works. “I am pleased with the support and confidence that has been shown by Mayor Smith, members of Town Council and the Chief Administrative Officer. I look forward to working closely with the Mayor, Councillors, the CAO, the management team and all Town staff to move forward with the priorities established by Council,” stated Schmid.

“Although I’ve enjoyed my previous work a Chief Administrative Officer in two municipalities, I am excited to be able to focus on an engineering and public works role in Bracebridge and I look forward to supporting Council and the Chief Administrative Officer as the Town’s Director of Public Works,” said Schmid.

Mayor Smith stated that, “Council enthusiastically approved Walt’s appointment as Director of Public Works and we’re all looking forward to him joining the Town in the very near future. Walt will be a great fit with Council and our staff team and I know his broad professional experience and his knowledge of Muskoka will be terrific asset for the Town.”

Walt’s formal start date with the Town of Bracebridge will be determined shortly. Both Walt and the Town are committed to ensuring a smooth transition from his current position in Muskoka Lakes.

What’s going on in Wahta? Some community members want Council gone

Ed. Note: Next elections for the Wahta Mohawks Council (and Chief) are slated for March 2014. 

July 9, 2pm, updated 7pm: Wahta Council facing dismissal?: Sources say the Council for Wahta Mohawk Territory received legal papers on June 25, 2012 that essentially demands dissolution of Council (by way of a petition of 50% of community members who voted in the last election plus one or more). Reportedly Council had ten days to respond, which would give Council until mid-week to act. The community has already undergone some major changes, starting with the departure of Chief Blaine Commandant some months ago. Note: The Chief does not get a vote on Council unless it is needed to break a tie. Sources say he was dismissed by Council, allegedly for missing three Council meetings. Missing meetings is a reason the Chief can be removed but community members question when and how and where those meetings occurred.

Overdue Farewell or Hello Again to the Chief? Chief Commandant gone: by-election pending: Commandant held the position of Chief for several years and was regarded by many for his work on a land claim settled in 2005 that dated back to 1918. His name has not been on Council updates on the Wahta website for months. Normally, a by-election for Chief is to be held within 90 days of the current Chief’s departure. Sources say that process has been slowed while present Council reviews eligibility criteria for candidates.

Candidates have come forward, but sources say Council wants to change eligibility rules

Some potential candidates are said to include Laurence Schell and Steve Stock. A council update in April stated that the community supports the postponement of the by-election. There are conflicting, unconfirmed reports that a group of residents of Wahta have joined together in a lawsuit against the remaining council for a variety of reasons. Others say the only legal action taken has been to remove the remaining members of council; thus, the June 25 delivery of the petition demanding dissolution of council, a move that could see Commandant returned again as Chief (at least, temporarily) until elections are held. One source, who asked not to be named, said residents are frustrated with the remaining Council members because of their spending activity and are surprised the Council would have doubts about the eligibility of the electorate — when this is the same electorate that elected the present Council serving Wahta today.

Ed. Note: MNW encourages reaction to the above story via submitted comments from members of the Wahta Council and Community and beyond to this report. Please note that Comments can not be anonymous, but you can comment using only your first name.

Frontlines by Wagner-Chazalon Launched at Muskoka Bay Club

July 8, Muskoka Bay Club, Wagner-Chazalon Book Launch: There were many fans on hand at the Muskoka Bay Club in Gravenhurst yesterday to grab signed copies of Frontlines, the premiere fiction novel by Andrew Wagner-Chazalon. Andrew told the crowd he knew he was on the right track when his daughter Charlotte, a voracious reader and critical thinker, proclaimed 'Dad, this is really good!'.

Muskoka Lakes Mayor Alice Murphy commented on how encouraged she is to see how the creative economy in Muskoka is growing and added her congratulations as well. Alsoat the signing was Bryan Dearsley, author of the recently published The Beast of Wildeor young adult fiction novel, which features Muskoka as it was in 1929. It was almost a photo finish for the two authors as they completed their final drafts at almost the same time and helped keep each other going. Dearsley will be giving a workshop for aspiring young authors at the Muskoka Lakes Museum on July 21. Contact the museum for details at 705-765-5367 or visit www.mlmuseum.com. Providing background Muskoka music at the book signing was the duo called Bala.

Author! Author! Andrew (shown in picture) has written many books about Muskoka (his latest with photographer Bev McMullen is The Hidden World of Huckleberry Rock) but Frontlines is his first work of fiction. We look forward to many more! Frontlines can be found soon in many stores around Muskoka – ask your favorite outlet to make sure they get some in stock. Copies will also be available at the Muskoka Lakes Museum.

Ed. Note: Was happy to pick up copies of both books from Andrew and Bryan and those on my holiday list can expect copies of the Huckleberry Rock photo book to be coming their way. Really happy for Andrew, who has been my magazine editor in the past. I plan to start reading Frontlines tonight. Well done and bravo!



Muskoka heritage at Boat Show July 7: See pic of poster boat, Tolka

Updated July 10: Almost 4,000 people took in the 32nd Annual Antique and Classic Boat Society Boat Show at the Gravenhurst Wharf on July 7. Below is a picture of the Poster Boat, Tolka. Pic by Tim Du Vernet. Ed. Note: So pleased to be already invited back to the 2013 show – it's an honour to serve the ACBS!


July 7, Gravenhurst: Today's the day – the 32nd Annual Antique and Classic Boat Society – Toronto chapter — Antique and Classic Boat Show. A little rain this morning will make the boats look even better today – boats like to be wet and the photographers will like the effect too. But it will get sunny again and there is so much to see and do. In one trip to the boat show, you can learn more about Muskoka's distinguished marine heritage than you could ever imagine. Ditchburns, Dispros, Dukes, Greavettes and the Alexander Graham Bell built Tolka that made Lake Rosseau home. C'mon on out from 9-5 today, Saturday, July 7. Say hi to your MNW editor in the Announce Tower. Celebrate Muskoka as North America's boatbuilding capital today at the Gravenhurst Wharf.