Leadership debate watch in Parry Sound Feb 2, Trudeau visits Bracebridge Feb 15 & why PS-Muskoka a Liberal Must Stop

Update Feb. 4. Martha Hall Findlay reconfirmed for Feb. 14, Gravenhurst. Update Feb. 3 – Removes reference to Martha Hall Findlay date – now TBA.

Update Feb 2. Parry Sound-Muskoka Liberals are watching the federal Liberal leadership debate streamed from Winnipeg today at the Log Cabin Inn in Parry Sound. Debate runs

Liberal, Parry Sound, Leadership, Trudeau
Leadership debate watch in Parry Sound

until 5pm. Shown here, some Liberals wondering for whom to cast their leadership vote take notes – perhaps there will be follow up questions for leadership contenders visiting? For that schedule, see post below.

Posted Jan 31, 3pm: Justin Trudeau is the latest of the federal Liberal leadership contenders who will visit Parry Sound-Muskoka during the race for the Liberal party’s top job. Trudeau will be at Bracebridge Sportsplex for a noon hour meet and greet on Friday, February 15.

Trudeau, Muskoka, Bracebridge, Liberal
Justin Trudeau in Bracebridge Feb 15

“We think there is going to be a lot of interest and a lot of excitement about Justin coming to this riding,” says Greg Black, the riding captain for the Trudeau campaign in Parry Sound-Muskoka, “and we wanted to host an event where a lot of people can come and meet him.” (See the full press release from the local campaign team below this post).

In 1974, Gravenhurst experienced its own form of “Trudeau Mania” when Justin’s father, Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, made an official visit for the re-launching of the restored Segwun. Prime Minister Paul Martin also visited Muskoka in June 2004 to show support for then Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Andy Mitchell. But since Mitchell lost his seat to Conservative Tony Clement, we haven’t seen many head Liberal ‘honchos in these here parts’.

Garneau Jan. 24
Garneau Jan. 24

That’s changing with a new voting system where each riding gets 100 points toward a leadership decision — it literally makes Parry Sound-Muskoka as powerful as a huge Toronto riding when it comes to determining the next Liberal leader.

Marc Garneau was first to greet Liberal supporters and curious non-committed voters on Jan. 24 at the Riverside Inn. Former riding MP Andy Mitchell is his campaign manager.

Here’s the full list of top Grits gracing our riding:

  • Justin Trudeau, Feb. 15, Bracebridge Sportsplex, 12pm.
  • Martha Hall Findlay (Date and Location TBD)
  • Karen McCrimmon February 27 (Location TBD).
  • Federal Liberal Leader Bob Rae, March 8, Huntsville for his farewell tour.

There are five others in the race for the Liberal party’s top job, but there’s no word on whether Parry Sound-Muskoka is on their radar – at least, not yet.


Justin Trudeau Coming to Parry Sound-Muskoka in mid-February

One of the country’s most engaging and active politicians, Justin Trudeau, is coming to Parry Sound-Muskoka in mid-February.

Trudeau’s federal Liberal leadership campaign has been flying high in communities across western Canada over the past few days, and starting next week the campaign is moving into Ontario. The local campaign organization had been hoping Trudeau would be able to make a stop in the Parry Sound-Muskoka riding, and a visit on February 15th has now been confirmed.

There will be an open meet-and-greet event for supporters and the public over the lunch hour at the Bracebridge Sportsplex Auditorium, and organizers are expecting a good turnout.

“We think there is going to be a lot of interest and a lot of excitement about Justin coming to this riding,” says Greg Black, the riding captain for the Trudeau campaign in Parry Sound-Muskoka, “and we wanted to host an event where a lot of people can come and meet him.

“There has been a lot of enthusiasm and very keen interest in small and large communities across the country as Justin has been touring, and we certainly expect people here are going to want to meet him and hear what he has to say,” said Black.

There will be no cost to attend the event on February 15th, where a light lunch and refreshments will be available, but organizers are asking people to register in advance so they have an idea on how many people to expect.

The federal Liberal leadership race is following a selection process that is unprecedented in this country, whereby people do not have to pay a membership fee and join the Liberal Party to vote for the new leader. They can simply register as a Supporter of the Party, at no cost, and they will be able to vote in April.

“In keeping with that concept, we aren’t selling tickets for this event, we just want to give our supporters, and the general public, a chance to meet Justin,” said Black, “and we hope people will get really enthused about getting involved in a little bit of politics and decide to register as Justin supporters.”

People interested in attending the Justin Trudeau meet-and-greet can get more information and RSVP by email, at psm4justin@vianet.ca, or on Facebook, at facebook.com/PSM4justin. The Parry Sound-Muskoka Justin Campaign is on Twitter @PSM4justin.

Idle No More Rally in Bracebridge attracts about 50 people – story & pictures

Nipissing University students organized Bracebridge Idle No More Rally led by Tammy Porter, a Métis student at Muskoka Campus
Nipissing University students organized Bracebridge Idle No More Rally led by Tammy Porter, a Métis student at Muskoka Campus

Posted Jan 28.1pm: About 50 people rallied in Bracebridge’s Memorial Park today and marched up and down Manitoba Street as part of an Idle No More National Day of Action. Similar rallies are happening across the nation today as Idle No More supporters want to remind MPs they want to be heard. In Bracebridge, rally attendees spoke about the need to better address aboriginal rights, about what they see as a diminishing democracy to lack of care about climate change and environment protection, and more. The rally in Bracebridge was organized by Nipissing University Muskoka Campus students led by Métis student Tammy Porter who hails from the Timiskaming-Abitibi region.

Anti Flouride Protesters in Idle No More March
Anti Fluoride Protesters in Idle No More March


About a third of the protesters in Bracebridge were Nipissing students. There was also First Nation (Wasauksing and Rama) and Métis representation in the march. Porter says the Idle No More movement will not lose steam. “There are two more years to the next federal election and we will continue to demand to be heard.”

Idle No More March on Manitoba Street
Idle No More March on Manitoba Street
Krista Chambers: "I'm here for our children."
Krista Chambers: “I’m here for our children.

Another marcher said he joined the rally to express dismay that politicians are refusing to listen to scientists and individuals like himself who are worried nothing is getting done about climate change. He was carrying a “Say No To Harper” sign and asked not to be named, but added when it comes to climate change, “it’s like our politicians are airline pilots listening to first class passengers instead of what the instruments in front of them are saying. There are no checks and balances in parliament anymore – it’s more like a dictatorship.”

Krista Chambers of Bracebridge was there with three children and Bracebridge friends from Wausauksing because she wants a sustainable future for her children. She believes support for Idle No More will continue. “At the least, we are part of something that will be remembered — that we came out to say what’s going on right now is not right.”

A Historic Wynne: Kathleen Wynne Ontario’s New Premier

Updated Jan.26, 930 pm. Just after 8.30pm tonight it was official: Kathleen Wynne won the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party and made history. Wynne will be the first woman to be Premier of Ontario and Canada’s first openly gay premier. The third ballot vote count earned Wynne 1,150 votes to Sandra Pupatello’s 866.

Wynne, Ontario's new Premier,  answers questions during her Gravenhurst visit. She was the only leadership candidate to visit Muskoka during the leadership race.
Wynne, Ontario’s new Premier, answers questions during her Gravenhurst visit. She was the only leadership candidate to visit Muskoka during the leadership race.

After the second ballot, Gerard Kennedy and Charles Sousa endorsed Wynne. For our riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka, Liberal members may also consider this a win: half of the 16 delegates from our riding went in to the first ballot supporting the 59-year-old MPP who is also a professional mediator — skills that may well be put to the test over the coming months.

Updated Jan 26 2.26pm: Hoskins supports Wynne, Takhar goes to Pupatello and 2nd ballot results could be in by 3 pm. Teachers have completely blocked Carlton Street in front of Maple Leaf Gardens. SAMSUNGThe lineups are starting to ease up as delegates continue to vote on the second ballot. Those results are expected shortly after 3pm. The biggest surprise on the first was just how tight the race is between Kathleen Wynne and Sandra Pupatello (a two-vote difference). And while John Turner, a prominent supporter of Eric Hoskins has reportedly said he’ll vote Pupatello on this second ballot, Eric Hoskins walked over to Wynne to throw his support

Teacher protest
Teacher protest

with her. If his prediction is true that the next premier will be a “she”, who will be Queenmaker after second ballot? That was what pundits were asking when suddenly (and very much under the radar without the usual splash) Harinder Takhar announced his support for Pupatello. He did it this so late that his name will still be on second ballot. Watch @muskokahn for Twitter updates. Meantime, here are the results after First Ballot:

Hoskins: 150 (7.2%)
Kennedy: 281(13.5%)
Pupatello: 599 (28.7%)
Sousa: 222 (10.7%)
Takhar 235 (11.3%)
Wynne: 597 (28.6%)

UPDATED Pics posted Jan. 26, 11am: A pictorial of morning action at the OLP leadership convention – media punditry, delegates gathering for speeches and more. Second ballot voting starts right after speeches which should wrap shortly after noon today. media

Gathering for speeches
Gathering for speeches Saturday morning






Wynne speech
Wynne speech Saturday morning

Posted Jan. 25, 8pm: Our MNW man on the scene, Princeps, is sending MNW photos from Protestthe action at the Ontario Liberal Leadership convention in Toronto. On the outside of Maple Leaf Gardens, massive numbers of teachers have been protesting. On the INSIDE of the convention, Deb Matthews confers with Kathleen Wynne and Wynne supporters. Note: MNW won’t send out any further updates to subscribers as other media will likely report results right up to the minute, but if you’re interested in seeing pictures from the inside action at the convention, check back throughout the weekend. Best wishes to all candidates.

Wynne and Matthews
Deb Matthews & Wynne


Wynne supporters
Wynne supporters


Federal Liberal leadership hopeful visits, local provincial Liberal delegates Toronto bound

Posted Jan. 25: 1245pm: The Liberal Leadership frenzy is in full swing in Toronto: the feel-good parties were last night, the tribute to outgoing Premier Dalton McGuinty goes tonight, the first ballot voting is happening today, and the really heavy politicking gets under way tomorrow with speeches and first ballot results. Sixteen delegates representing the Parry Sound-Muskoka (PSM) riding association have the opportunity to help pick the new leader at the convention (read on to see how PSM leadership support is split) at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre at the Maple Leaf Gardens. Meantime, Parry Sound-Muskoka had its first federal Liberal leadership hopeful visit Bracebridge yesterday (see Marc Garneau pic).

Marc Garneau
Marc Garneau watches as former riding MP Mitchell introduces him in Bracebridge Jan. 24 but most eyes are on provincial leadership contenders in Toronto

Here’s how the numbers — and contenders — stack up going into the first ballot for provincial Liberal leadership:

  1. Sandra Pupatello 27%
  2. Kathleen Wynne 25%
  3. Gerard Kennedy 14%
  4. Harinder Takhar 13%
  5. Charles Sousa 11 %
  6. Eric Hoskins 6%

These numbers are based on a total of 1,867 elected delegates but they don’t reflect who the independents or about 420 ex-officio members may support. Purely from the numbers, the race appears between Pupatello and Wynne, but leadership races have seen dark horses rise up to win before, and no one should count Gerard Kennedy out – not yet.

16 Parry Sound-Muskoka Delegates At Convention: To go to the convention, a delegate must pay $499 (or less depending on registration time), so at press time, it’s unclear if all delegates will actually be attending or whether they have asked for an alternate to go in their place. But as of the delegate election earlier this month, here are the numbers as to whom will support which delegate on at least the first ballot (they can change support after first ballot).

How PSM delegate support is divided: Kathleen Wynne, 8 Parry Sound-Muskoka (PSM) delegates; Gerard Kennedy, 2 PSM delegates; Sandra Pupatello, 2 PSM delegates; Charles Sousa, 2 PSM delegates; and there are 2 PSM delegates selected as independent delegates – no pledged support.

The 16 delegates were elected by 59% of the present Liberal riding membership.

Local Green Party reconfirms Matt Richter as provincial candidate

Kailey Richter votes for Matt
Kailey Richter votes for Matt

Posted Jan 25, 9am:  About 15 Green Party of Ontario faithful turned out on a very cold night in Bracebridge last night (Jan. 23) to determine who would represent them in the next provincial election. In a release, the Parry Sound–Muskoka Green Party of Ontario Constituency Association says it is thrilled to announce that Matt Richter will run as the local candidate in Parry Sound-Muskoka.

Green Party Exec Reconfirm Matt Richter (center)
Green Party Exec Reconfirm Matt Richter (center)

The release reads: Matt served as candidate during both the 2011 and 2007 elections.  He ran strong campaigns, travelling throughout the riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka to talk to constituents about how the Green Party of Ontario can help to make Ontario – and Parry-Sound Muskoka – a healthier, more economically stable and more environmentally sustainable place to live and grow.

“Politics works when we expect better,” Richter told supports last night, “and the old line of politicians are stuck in the last century solutions. We are going to be the other option for the people of this riding. They are angry with politics.”

The release continues: Matt is also recognized across the province as a strong and passionate candidate who knows and understands the issues: I’m tremendously excited to have the respect and support of our public to campaign on Green Party solutions that will advocate for a sustainable job growth in the trade sector, a safe and affordable energy plan that reflects the reality of the 21st century, and a healthy future for our kids.”

Matt has recently served as the GPO Education Critic in the provincial Green Party Shadow Cabinet, appearing on The Agenda with Steve Paikin to share the party’s education platform. Just this past week Toronto news radio station 1010 asked Matt to chime in on their guest Tim Hudak, leader of the PC party, who was speaking about changes to education — but the hardworking teacher Matt was in class. He and his wife Kailey are both local teachers and live in Port Sydney with their three children.

Renato Romanin is New Economic Development Director for Gravenhurst

Posted Jan 24, 9.28pm: The Town of Gravenhurst announced today that Renato Romanin is the town’s new Director of Economic Development and Communications.

Chief Administrative Officer Dave Weldon told staff today that Romanin has accepted the position, adding he “brings more than 25 years experience in the Economic Development field and is looking forward to helping improve Gravenhurst as a place to locate and grow successful businesses.”

For the past three years, Romanin was the Director of Business Development and Communications at the Greater Peterborough Economic Development Commission (until April 2012). The University of Guelph graduate has also worked with the Welland, Kingston, Fort Erie, and Niagara Economic Development agencies.

Benevenuto, Renato! (Renato speaks fluent Italian).

Tomorrow last day to comment on Ontario’s changes to Endangered Species Act

Posted Jan 24, 10 am. The window to comment on changes to the Ontario Endangered Species Act closes tomorrow, January 25, and groups across Ontario are urging people to get their say in while they can. The Ontario Liberals have proposed new regulations that would grant exemptions that could allow logging companies, mining companies, and mega-quarries to potentially destroy species-at-risk and their habitat.

In an article today, John Bennett, the Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada writes “cuts to endangered species protection cost everyone. It will deprive us of biodiversity and precious natural capital that comes with it. It’s dumb, short sighted and cruel.” You can read his take on rabble.ca in “Ontario proposes ending permit process for endangered species/Ontario’s endangered species are not red tape”

Ontarians have had a chance to review the legislation for 51 days with the comment period starting December 5, 2012. If you have any questions, or would like to submit your comments, you have to do so by tomorrow, January 25, 2013/

You can submit comments online by clicking here

All comments received before end of day tomorrow will be considered as part of the decision-making process by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) if they are submitted in writing or electronically using the reference EBR Registry number 011-7696.

The MNR describes the changes in this way: “The  proposals would balance the protection and recovery of species at risk while either,

  • helping existing or planned activities proceed without additional approvals where new species or habitat protection comes about after their approval,
  • enabling a streamlined alternative to authorizing new activities that benefit species,
  • enabling activities necessary for human health or safety, and/ or
  • achieving administrative efficiencies.”

Others believe the changes are much more dire. Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner is today urging people to get their comments in, saying, “Right now, a permit and application system is in place to monitor and protect sensitive habitats. The government wants to undermine this process and open the door to a self-regulated system with no clear oversight. This isn’t good enough.” Adds Schreiner: “We’ve seen the damage that the federal government is doing in dismantling environmental protections in Canada. We can’t let the same thing happen in Ontario.” You can submit your comments and read the Green Party’s views by clicking “Take a moment to protect endangered species”.

The proposed changes can be seen on the MNR Environmental Registry Site.

Ministry review of issues raised in Bala Falls appeals

Posted Jan 24, 9.14 am: As reported yesterday, Minister of Environment James Bradley has given his final sign off on the proposed north Bala Falls hydro project. There were 68 appeals from individuals and the Township of Muskoka Lakes who had put in previous requests for a bump up to an individual Environmental Assessment process. The Muskoka Lakes Association increased the number of appeals to 69 with its first ever request for a bump up at the appeals stage — and official objection to the proposed development.

People who had common complaints would have received a generic letter that includes a table reviewing the issues they had raised. These issues ranged from questions about water flow to using Crown lands with heritage value to the potential impact of blasting and impact on the economy. In reference to the economy, the Minister states “As no new information has been provided and the change in the Project location has no bearing on the impact on the surrounding economic environment, I concur with the Director’s decision.”

Bradley’s confirmation of his Director’s decision to approve the environmental reviews is final. You can read the letter and review the issues table by downloading the following PDF: MOE Letter to Citizens and Issue Review Table

MLA to award new $5K high school bursary

Posted Jan 23, 2pm: The Muskoka Lakes Association (MLA) plans to offer a $5,000 bursary to a student graduating from Bracebridge & Muskoka Lakes Secondary School, Gravenhurst High School or St. Dominic Catholic Secondary School this spring. The association made the announcement in a press release today.

After the bursary winning student’s first year of post-secondary education, the MLA will also offer the opportunity to accept summer employment with the MLA during the summer of 2014 – providing meaningful work experience in the student’s chosen field of study. The $5,000 bursary is structured to assist in funding the student’s first and second year studies.

“The Muskoka Lakes Association Bursary is all about giving back to our community,” says Mike Langdon, MLA President. “Our goal is to help a well-deserving student achieve the goal of higher education, while contributing to the expansion of a local knowledge base in areas of great importance to our members.”

Mike Langdon
Mike Langdon

Application details for the Muskoka Lakes Association Bursary will be available in March, with the bursary awarded to a graduating student entering a Canadian college or university this fall. While all applications will be considered, preference will be given to students entering a discipline aligned with the MLA’s mandate. Examples include environmental science, environmental studies, land use planning, political science and recreation and leisure programs. A detailed list of preferred programs will be included in the application.

Announced as a pilot program for 2013, the MLA hopes the program’s success will lead to the creation of an annual bursary in the MLA name.

The Association was an award-winner itself this week: it has been honoured with the Canadian Safe Boating Council CASBA award for its 2012 Antique Boat Show power showing children wearing PDFs while boating.

The MLA serves members and area residents near the municipalities of Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, Muskoka Lakes and Seguin, Ontario – with an emphasis on protecting and promoting water quality, advocating for responsible spending and fair taxation, promoting responsible land use, and providing leadership on important Muskoka issues.

Slow it down out there: 25 crashes in Huntsville in past 3 days

Posted Jan. 21, 2.30pm: The OPP in Huntsville are reminding people to check road conditions before going out and asking them to please slow down and respond to changing road conditions. In the past three days, police have been on the scene of over 25 collisions in the Huntsville area alone. They say most of the crashes have been to the changing weather, and drivers forgetting about how to drive in changing road conditions. Some of the accidents results in minor injuries for vehicle occupants: most collisions caused property damage to vehicles or guard rails.

Drive Safe! Winter Driving Tips from Huntsville OPP:

  • Check road conditions before heading out
  • Make sure all windows are clear
  • Slow down and drive to the changing road conditions
  • Leave more distance between you and the next vehicle
  • In poor conditions, unless you need to drive, stay home until weather and road conditions improve.

Local NDP riding head wants apology from Clement

Posted Jan. 20, 10.30am: The President of the Parry Sound-Muskoka NDP Riding Association says he’s owed an apology from MP Tony Clement. Clyde Mobbley is asking for one in response to local newspaper reports that he was disrespectful and interrupted the MP speaking to Idle No More protestors outside Clement’s Parry Sound office. Read Clement, NDP Riding President Face Off from Cottage Country Now (published in Bracebridge Examiner & Gravenhurst Banner).

In a letter to Muskoka media today, Mobbley has a slightly different take on what he says is his first time meeting with Clement. In fact, he says Clement addressed him first. Mobbley writes:

Regarding the “Clement, NDP riding president face off”
“I had never met Tony Clement until Saturday January 12, 2013. I will never forget his first words to me and the group I was standing with across the street from his “New Year’s Levee” in Parry Sound. As he walked up to us he said, looking at me directly, “NDP, you’re the letter writing guy, I’m not going to speak to you.” There was no hello, how are you or offer of a hand shake. A few moments later he added “you are disrespectful”. I believe any citizen meeting your Federal MP for the first time would expect better.

At this first meeting I didn’t know you needed permission to speak to Tony Clement. Considering his first words to me, I don’t think permission would have been granted. Speaking to him without permission is considered to be an “interruption”. Apparently one isn’t allowed to interrupt Tony when he speaks. This courtesy of not interrupting without permission was not a respect afforded me when I spoke to him this Saturday. In the various conversations that took place some had the right to “interject” without being viewed as “interrupting”. This interpretation wasn’t offered to me at that point in the so called “face off”.

At one point I was deemed to have “interjected” by pointing out his government’s anti-democratic, Bill C-45. At this point I was accused of being “very disrespectful” and not participating in “civil discourse” according to Tony. He then added “you don’t deserve to govern”. In a democracy citizens decide whom deserves to govern, certainly not Tony Clement. Considering the history of the Harper government Tony represents, I don’t find it out of character to hear such declaration from Tony or his political comrades. The concepts of democracy seem to elude them on many fronts.

I respectfully request Tony Clement apologize for his remarks on that Saturday; “you are disrespectful”, “very disrespectful” and inferring I was not participating in “civil discourse”. I expect an apology forthwith.”

Clyde Mobbley, President, Parry Sound-Muskoka NDP Riding Association



Closing arguments over proposed Bala heritage sites go to Review Board

Posted Jan.18, 3.55pm: Both sides in the Bala heritage site designation debate submitted their final say by the deadline today to the Ontario Conservation Review Board (CRB). The lawyers for the property owner, the Township of Muskoka Lakes, and one objector, Swift River Energy Limited (SREL), delivered their closing arguments yesterday to the Conservation Review Board. Objector Paul Davidson was unavailable to attend the hearings, but repeated his concerns in a letter to the CRB during the public hearings held last week in Port Carling in the Council Chambers.

Starting January 7, the CRB held four days of public hearings regarding the proposed designations of the Shield Parking Lot, the Township Docks on Lake Muskoka and the Township land portion of the area known as Portage Landing (Note: The Swift River proposed hydro project is awaiting final approval to proceed on the MNR (Ministry of Natural Resources) land right beside the proposed designation site). CRB adjudicator Sue Murdoch decided on the fourth day of the hearing to give both sides until today (Friday, January 18, 2013) to provide closing arguments in writing to the provincial board.

Interested readers can download PDFs of those documents here:

Anyone wishing to see copies of the full evaluation reports compiled in advance of the hearing may be able to get them from the Township by calling 705-765-3156. The objector’s evaluation reports can be accessed via www.balafalls.ca by requesting a copy on the Contact Us page .

Members of the public had their opportunity to support or object to any or all of the proposed site designations on Monday of last week. Speaking in favour of designating the spaces around Bala Falls were Mark Gidley, Bill Purkis, Liz Lundell, Anne Polewski (with help from Bruno Polewski), Gunta Towsley, Linda Jackson-Hutton, Brad Burgess, Sandy Currie, Terry McFadden, Allan Turnbull and Ruth Nishikawa. Three public members – Anna Mallin, Mike Webb and Norah Fountain* – objected to one or more of the designations. Paul Davidson’s objections to the process used by Township to move forward with heritage designations were contained in a submitted letter.

What Happens Next
It’s expected the Conservation Review Board will make its recommendations to Township within 60 days. The CRB’s suggestions, based on the Ontario Heritage Act, could range from supporting the proposed heritage attributes of the sites to recommending fuller information be provided or stating it does not believe the sites to be worthy of heritage designation.

Township can over rule final CRB report
No matter what the CRB decides, the Township can ignore any or all recommendations and proceed with designating the remaining three sites discussed in the hearings (others in the original plan for designation included the Township Moon River Docks and the Cenotaph, for example, but the Township withdrew those as potential sites. See Public to Hear Heritage Arguments for more info).

The CRB’s recommendations could be raised in any future disputes that might arise in relation to the designated sites (such disputes would likely go before the Ontario Municipal Board). One possible scenario of what might occur? Should a property owner in view of a designated site wish to make changes to their property and was declined the right to do so by Council citing heritage reasons, that property owner would have to appeal to the OMB at their own costs – and at the cost of taxpayers for Township to fight the appeal.

*FULL DISCLOSURE: As a community member and supporter of heritage initiatives, this MNW writer (being myself, Norah Fountain) objected to one potential designation site.

  • I objected to a gravel parking lot being designated as a heritage site.
  • I also objected to the taxpayer money I believe is being spent to pursue designations for purposes other than pure heritage.
  • I objected to tactics used by the Township (specifically, the erecting of signage on District property before getting a District permit and three days before a CRB tour of the sites. For background, See “District Approves Sign/Is it a Sign or a Ruse” and you can view Sign Pops Up in the October archives); and; to the lack of full historic information for the proposed site at Portage Landing (although not to the designation itself).
  • I did not object in any way to the dock area designation.


Possible Break in Gravenhurst Break and Enter spree

Posted Jan. 17, 9.36am: Police have made two arrests that may be connected to several break and enters in the Pine Ridge Gate area of Gravenhurst.

Bracebridge OPP responded to a call on Sunday night from a concerned neighbor who saw two men walking around a home in the area. Police say they found two men carrying break in tools.

Facing charges of possession of break in instruments and breach of probation is 39-year-old Joseph Brooks of Gravenhurst. Thirty-seven-year-old Daniel McKinnon of Gravenhurst has also been charged with possession of break in tools. Both men are being held in custody and will appear in Bracebridge court on February 12.

Liberals Rae, Garneau, McCrimmon and Hall Findlay to visit Muskoka

Update Feb. 5:

Update Feb. 5: Liberal Leadership contender Martha Hall Findlay will visit Muskoka on February 14 as originally planned (there had been talk of a schedule change). You don’t have to be a Liberal to come meet any of those in the running for the top federal Liberal job. Martha Hall-Findlay will be at the Muskoka Boat and Heritage Centre/Grace and Speed, Gravenhurst 1130a-1pm, Feb. 14.

And here are the details on the Farewell to Bob Rae night March 8. Tickets are $200 , with proceeds supporting the Parry Sound-Muskoka riding association. Tickets can be purchased in advance through liberal.ca or by contacting Dave Hudson at

Updated Feb. 3. Martha Hall Findlay’s campaign team says the date has to change for her arrival in Muskoka. She was to be here Feb. 14, one day ahead of Justin Trudeau. Now her arrival date is To Be Announced. MNW will update with new date when announced.

Update Jan 17: Details are confirmed for the Bracebridge lunch with Marc Garneau, federal Liberal leadership candidate. He’ll be at the Riverside Inn from noon until 2pm on Jan. 24. Official Invite here: Garneau Muskoka Visit Jan 24

Update Jan 12, 3 pm: Retired Canadian Forces Lieutenant Colonel Karen McCrimmon will visit Parry Sound-Muskoka on February 27. She joins two other federal Liberal leadership hopefuls in making a stop in our riding.  McCrimmon, who was a candidate for the Liberal party in the 2011 election in Carleton-Missisissippi Mills, follows visits on January 24 and February 14 (DATE TBA as of FEB 3), respectively, by leadership contenders Marc Garneau and Martha Hall Findlay. Federal Liberal Leader Bob Rae will be in Huntsville the evening of March 8 as part of his farewell tour.

Posted Jan. 11: Did somebody sign Muskoka up for a Liberal a Month club? Prominent Liberals will be visiting our Parry Sound-Muskoka riding in January, February and March.

Marc Garneau - Official
Marc Garneau

On the eve of the Ontario Liberal Leadership convention, a candidate for the federal Liberal party leadership is planning to pay Bracebridge a visit. Westmount-Ville Marie MP Marc Garneau is scheduled to be at the Riverside Inn at noon on January 24, the day before the provincial leadership convention weekend begins in Toronto. Garneau should have no trouble finding his way around Muskoka – his campaign manager is former Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Andy Mitchell. Garneau, Canada’s first man in space, entered the leadership race in late November.

Martha Hall Findlay
Martha Hall Findlay

Contender Martha Hall Findlay must also have a sweet spot for Parry Sound-Muskoka as she’s planning to make a stop here on Valentine’s Day. The former Willowdale MP is to make an appearance at a yet-to-be-determined location (possibly in south Muskoka).

And Liberal Leader Bob Rae will spend the evening of March 8 at the Grandview Golf Club in Huntsville as part of his farewell tour.

The upcoming visits were announced by the executive of the federal Parry Sound-Muskoka Liberal riding association.

Muskoka Lakes Council Committee Shuffle: Planning Chair replaced


Posted Jan 16, 5.09pm: Change is in the works for the Township of Muskoka Lakes Council, which voted yesterday to approve a mid-term committee shuffle. All but two Councillors voted in favour of the change.

The shuffle removes Councillor Ruth Nishikawa as Chair of the Planning Committee – a committee Nishikawa says she would have liked to continue to lead. Nishikawa will move to head up the Parks, Trails and Libraries committee. When asked by Muskoka News Watch if Nishikawa had been made aware of the impending change, she answered the Mayor contacted her Sunday and told her she felt Nishikawa “would be serving the township better by chairing parks and cemeteries.”

Nishikawa would not comment on whether any other rationale was given for the committee shuffle or her removal from Planning, but she did state she would have preferred to remain on Planning. One attendee, who asked not to be named, said it seemed very apparent that this was a demotion for Nishikawa, a punishment of some kind against her.

In November, Nishikawa welcomed news about a $100,000 affordable housing grant that she had sought and was being earmarked for Muskoka Lakes. See Cottage Country Now “Affordable housing units proposed for Bala” . The funding was in relation to developer Greg Knight’s proposal to build a mixed residential-commercial building in Bala. The Township lost that grant when Knight pulled out, blaming Mayor Alice Murphy in a public letter for using a ‘bullying approach’ and thanking Nishikawa (along with Councillor Brad Burgess) for her efforts to try and steer the discussion in a productive way.

Replacing Nishikawa as Chair of Planning is Councillor Brad Burgess (with Mayor Alice Murphy as Vice Chair). Burgess, a Chartered Account, had been chairing the Finance committee and he will continue as Finance Vice-chair with Councillor Don Furniss as Chair. Donelda Kruckel, who was appointed as Ward A Councillor exactly one year ago today (Jan. 16, 2012) after Councillor Bob McTavish resigned his seat, will chair Administration, and Councillor Jean-Ann Baranik moves to the Committee of Adjustment (to replace Brad Burgess). Councillor Allen Edwards stays as Committee of Adjustment Chair.

Councillor Furniss requested a recorded vote on the changes. He explains he felt a recorded vote was necessary to record everyone’s say as the changes would have an impact on the entire Council, adding he believes the changes could be advantageous for Council moving forward. He also says with Nishikawa no longer being Chair of Planning, she will be freer to take part on debates on planning issues. Voting against the motion were Councillors Nishikawa and Phil Harding. Commenting on her move from Planning during the meeting, Nishikawa told Council she believed the Chair of Planning should also Chair the Heritage Committee (a position she resigned from previously although she remained on as an active committee member). She also announced she has decided to leave the heritage committee completely.  Her departure is the only change to that committee, which is presently chaired by volunteer Sandy Tozer Spence.

The resolution to change the make up of Council committees was added to the agenda package yesterday at the start of the Committee of the Whole Meeting (the Agenda did make mention of an item to discuss and consider resolutions regarding Committee appointments, but there was no information, such as resolution wording provided with agenda packages ahead of the January 15th meeting). Normally, public agenda package information is to be provided at least two days before a Council meeting (Bylaw 2006-11 states agenda packages are to be provided by noon on the Thursday before Council meetings including Committee of the Whole).

The committee changes will become effective on February 4th if the resolution is ratified at the regular monthly Council meeting on that date.

Committee members, with the exception of those on the Committee of Adjustment, adds Nishikawa, do not receive any extra compensation.

Ed. Note: Committee changes at the mid-term mark are not unusual for the Township of Muskoka Lakes. For example, former mayor Susan Pryke had advised Council at the beginning of their four-year term in 2006 that changes might be made at the two-year mark.


Attempted break in at Huntsville beer store

Posted Jan. 15, 10.15am: Huntsville OPP are investigating an attempted break and enter at the Huntsville beer store. Officers responded to an alarm and the sounds of banging coming from the Brewers Retail on Cann Street yesterday. They say the front window of the beer store was broken and whomever attempted the break in fled in an unknown vehicle. Anyone with any information is asked to contact Huntsville OPP or Crime Stoppers.

Barge on Appian Way gone Feb 4: careful on Lake Joseph ice in that area

Updated Feb. 4. The Moose is reporting the barge being repaired on Appian Way has now been removed. People are being warned that the ice on Lake Joseph in that area may be unsafe. Read The Moose update on their site: http://www.moosefm.com/cfbg/news/11857-appian-way-landing-ice-unsafe-after-barge-removed

Update Jan 21: The barge that Township of Muskoka Lakes requested be removed from Appian Way in Glen Orchard by this past weekend was still there as of this morning (Jan. 21).

Editor’s Comment: There has been an interesting mix of reaction from those who have noticed the barge there. Some find it an annoyance, others think the Township should be receiving revenues for public land being used, and still others support the barge owner, questioning what real harm this is causing. Perhaps this barge (and a similar incident a few years back where a barge was parked on West Street in Port Carling) point to a challenge that deserves a solution. Just what options are open for contractors and others who work our lakes? What should they do when they need to service the vehicles they use to service waterfront property owners? Should a commercial space be made available, somewhere — and could there ever be such a space in Muskoka Lakes? How does this relate to the restrictions on barge use of public docks in the summer time (such as the Adams Bay situation where some cottagers would like to see barges and other workboats banned from public docks from Friday through Monday in the busy summer season — the height of the working season for contractors, one of the largest (if not still the largest) employer group in Muskoka)?. MNW readers are encouraged to put forward their ideas by way of comment on this post.

Original Post Jan 14. 3:30pm: A barge owner who asked to bring a barge on to land to fix a leak at 20130113_151032 (1024x768)Appian Way in Glen Orchard in December has been asked by the Township of Muskoka Lakes to remove the large barge, equipment and materials by this weekend (January 19).
Director of Public Works Jason Krynicki says the Township is aware of work being performed at the Appian Way launch. He says the owner called on December 17 to say they had an issue, and asked if they could bring the barge on land to fix a leak.

Disabled barge on Appian Way
Disabled barge on Appian Way

Four weeks later, it appears more work might be under way and as of the morning of January 14, the barge and construction equipment was still on site.  The owners have been directed by Township to remove everything by this weekend.

Note: Contributed photos.


Idle No More Protests planned for Parry Sound (Jan. 11)

Posted Jan 10. 9.30pm: Travel on Hwy 69 could to be slow north of Parry Sound tomorrow (Friday) as Shawanaga First Nation holds an Idle No More protest.

Note: MNW spoke with CKLP Moose Radio News Director James King who says he will be reporting specific times and giving updates throughout the day on Friday about protests involving Henvey Inlet, Magnetawan, Shawanaga, and Wasauksing.

Speeches, drumming and a round dance are reportedly planned for the noon hour in the area of the Shawanaga Gas Bar on Shebeshekong Road where you turn to go to to Shawanaga First Nation. Traffic could be affected on Highways 529 and 69.

One release from the OPP states there will be speeches and drumming around noon followed by a round dance at 1 pm and that traffic flow will be affected for a short time. Other local sources suggest the highway will be blocked like a picket line with cars being let through a few at a time starting about 1230pm.

According to a report in the Sudbury Star, Wasauksing First Nation is also planning a walk from MP Tony Clement’s office on James Street in Parry Sound to the Native Friendship Centre. That’s to start at 11:30 a.m. with speeches in front of Clement’s Constituency Office.

Bracebridge Ice Rink Opened Officially

Posted Jan 7: 230pm. The ropes dropped on the new ice rink at Annie Williams IceRinkJan7Park in Bracebridge on Jan 3, but today the Town of Bracebridge Council and all contributors – community organizers, business owners and volunteers — gathered this morning to officially open the public rink.
“I know that Council and the citizens of Bracebridge are very pleased that we once again have an outdoor skating rink after many years without,” says Mayor Graydon Smith (in photo dropping puck with skater Stephanie Northey for rink contributors BDO Canada’s Ken Garth and Slater Plumbing’s Jeff Slater).  “Thanks go out to all the many community supporters who have contributed time, money and materials to make it happen and specifically to Councillor Quemby who has been a tireless advocate and organizer for the project.”
The rink is open daily from dawn until 9:00 p.m., as weather and good ice conditions permit. All members of the community are welcome to skate, play hockey or meet up with friends at the rink. The rink is divided into two areas – one for pleasure skating, and the other for hockey. Nets are available on site.
Benches and portable washrooms are also available at the rink to ensure a comfortable, family-friendly atmosphere. Shovels are provided and ice users are asked to help keep the rink clear of snow throughout the season to keep the ice in good shape. Surface flooding will occur when needed, and based on for-casted temperatures and conditions, performed by the Beaver Creek Work Crew and community volunteers. You can learn more about the rink and view its code of conduct at www.bracebridge.ca.
Many generous local businesses and organizations helped complete the rink project, including:

  • Rotary Club of Bracebridge
  • BDO Canada LLP
  • 2010 Ontario Winter Games Legacy Fund
  • Lakeland Power
  • Beaver Creek Work Crew – Corrections Canada
  • District of Muskoka Water / Sewer Department
  • Annie Williams Park Board
  • Wes Finch and Sons Excavating Ltd.
  • Slater Plumbing
  • Fowler Construction
  • P. Medley and Sons Ltd.
  • Dads of Bracebridge
  • Lions Club of Bracebridge
  • Crowe Fittings and Supply Ltd.
  • Wayne Taylor Trucking Inc.
  • Call of the Wild Inc.
  • Quemby Electric
  • G.B. Services
  • Ralph Booth Bulldozing
  • Muskoka Riverside Inn and Bracebridge Source for Sports (Skate Exchange Program). Note Riverside Inn is looking for skates to be donated so they can provide free public rentals for as many people as possible.


Moose Deer Point drug bust yields pot, pills & gun, say OPP

Posted Jan. 4, 2.19pm:  Provincial police report they’ve seized a semi-automatic rifle, ammunition and drugs after a traffic stop and acting on two drug search warrants in Moose Deer Point First Nation on Georgian Bay.

As a result of the search warrants and traffic stop yesterday, the OPP reportedly seized:

•    A Remington 30-06 semi–automatic rifle and ammunition.
•    Over 3 pounds of Marihuana
•    Oxycodone and Tylenol 3&4 tablets (just under 200 tablets)
•    4 digital scales, 2 cell phones and packing materials

Charged with possession related offences are 51-year-old Mark Fraser, 48-year-old Gail Russel, 21-year-old Blair Clare, 52-year-old Michael Isaac and 52-year-old Denise Fournier (Isaac and Fournier also face charges of breaching fire arm regulations). They are to appear in court in Bracebridge on February 19, 2013.

The search and seizure police action included officers from Bracebridge and West Parry Sound OPP as well as the OPP Emergency Response Team and the OPP K-9 unit.

Muskoka gets RIDE message, but Ontario wide arrests up

Posted Jan 3, 12:30pm: Holiday RIDE program results: Ontario wide charges highest in 8 years: The OPP charged more alleged impaired drivers across Ontario during the 2012 Festive RIDE program than it has in the past 8 years of holiday campaigns to reduce drunk driving. In Muskoka the story was more positive: the Bracebridge OPP detachment had few impaired driving arrests to report.

Still, the overall totals are troubling and disappointing, say the OPP, especially considering the repeated and continued warnings that police would be as visible as ever during their Festive RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) campaign. This year’s campaign ran from November 24, 2012-January 2, 2013. Over the five-and-a-half weeks, OPP officers charged 693 people with having a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) over 0.08 (or over 80 milligrams). Officers also issued a total of 625 Warn Range suspensions to motorists caught driving with a BAC between 0.05 and 0.08 (or between 50 and 80 milligrams). Those numbers are higher than in the last eight campaigns (since 2005).

According to the OPP, there is no excuse for the number of impaired drivers being on the rise and it is a simple matter of people continuing to make bad decisions that impact public safety over the holidays.   

“We had hoped to see numbers decrease significantly during this year’s campaign, in light of how much harder we have worked to educate the public about the dangers of drinking and driving,” says OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis. “Impaired driving continues to be the leading cause of criminal death in Canada and it is disappointing that we still have Ontario drivers who feel entitled to place other road users at risk of losing their lives to an impaired driver,” adds Lewis.