The Fry Guy Off Air in Muskoka: Vista cuts staff

Mike Fry’s microphone silenced after morning shift on The Moose

Posted June 27, 10am: If you were missing a popular voice on local Muskoka radio this morning, you weren’t wrong: long-time morning guy Mike Fry no longer works for Moose FM.

Sources say the well-known voice of the CFBG Moose FM morning show was told after what turned out to be his final shift yesterday that his services were no longer needed.

Mike Fry
Mike Fry

“I was stunned to say the least,” says Mike Fry, whom one source described as one of “the hardest working guys I’ve ever known.”

Says Fry sadly: “Loyalty, dedication, hard work…it all means nothing in a game of dollars and cents.”

Fry started with HBG Radio (now VistaRadio) in May 2000. He worked the morning show ever since taking

Muskoka radio staff cut
Muskoka radio staff cut

over as a substitute for Greg James (about 8 years ago) but the owners at the time liked his work so much that they told him they wanted him to keep the job.

Fry loved his morning show and was often seen on his weekends working at events across Muskoka. Deborah Jacklin Peters, the station’s A/R Manager and Creative Director Dave Keeble were also let go from the Bracebridge station. Other members of Vista Radio  outside of Muskoka lost their jobs as well. Although it is hard to read, a memo to employees from Vista’s Gary Miles was posted on the radio industry news site, The memo says the move was in part to improve direct communication from Vista’s operations team to Vista’s CEO.

Meantime, petitions are popping up in Bracebridge asking Vista to bring Mike Fry back to the airwaves. The first ones showed up today at Fresh Kutz and at Monck Public School.


Boy saved from near drowning in Gravenhurst

OPP to recommend citizen for award after 13-year-old pulled from Severn River

Posted June 24, 9.18pm: If it hadn’t been for the keen eye of a man on shore this past Saturday, a boy may have been one of the summer’s first drowning victims. Police say an unidentified 36-year-old man was on the shores of Severn River near Lantern Bay Marina in Gravenhurst when he noticed a boy had gone under the water – but not come up. He jumped inn to where he last saw the swimmer and dove down eight feet to the bottom where he found the youth and pulled him to shore.  He started CPR with the help of an off duty police officer and they revived the 13-year-old. The boy was then taken to hospital in Bracebridge and then airlifted to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children for further treatment.

The Bracebridge Detachment will be recommending the citizen for a lifesaving award from the OPP but has not publicly identified him yet. Police are reminding the public to pay close attention to friends and family as they swim in our lakes and rivers.

Victim in Torrance train tragedy identified: woman reportedly walking on tracks when hit

Updated June 24, 12.30pm: Officers with the Bracebridge OPP report they’ve wrapped up their investigation into a tragic accident on the train tracks just south of Torrance on Saturday.
The victim has been identified 32-year-old Tracy June Cox, who lived most recently in Parry Sound, Ontario. While details have not been confirmed, several local residents say they believe the woman was walking her dog along or on the tracks when the tragedy occurred.

Posted June 22, 10pm: Here is the direct OPP report from earlier this evening.

On Saturday June 22, 2013 just after 5pm Bracebridge Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) along with Muskoka EMS and Muskoka Lakes Fire Department was notified of a pedestrian that had been struck by a train south of Highway 169 near Torrance.

Bracebridge OPP along with CN Police will continue to investigate the crash with the assistance of Central Region Technical Traffic Collision Investigation Unit.  Due to the ongoing nature of this investigation the details of the victim will not be released until next of kin notification has been made.

Southwood Rd. south of Highway #169 and Southwood Rd. at 9 Mile Lake Road will be closed until the completion of this investigation.”

Posted June 22, 6.10pm – Moose FM has confirmed with OPP that a pedestrian has been hit by a train at a Torrance crossing (correct to ‘a’ Torrance crossing). Please click here to read the Moose FM story and to know more about the situation. MNW recommends you watch Moose FM for updates. So far the victim’s condition and identity has not been provided by police.


Wellness centre for Port Carling gets a $755,000 boost

Brock and Willa Napier and Peninsula Lions thanked for new donations – funds raised for centre now close to a million dollars

Posted June 21, 11pm, Updated June 22 8am: Close to a million dollars – that’s the new total in funds raised so far for the proposed Brock and Willa Wellness Centre in Port Carling.

Allen Edwards, Muskoka Lakes, Muskoka Lakes Township, Port Carling, Ratepayers, Muskoka Ratepayers' Association, healthcare, nursing station, wellness centre
New Nursing Station Location: Muskoka Lakes councilor Allen Edwards shows off a map of where a new nursing station is slated to be built in Port Carling.

Brock and Willa Napier sweetened the overall fundraising pot today with a $750,000 donation. They are giving $250,000 to the Port Carling Nursing Station, $250,000 to the Port Carling Lions Club Seniors’ Residence and $250,000 to Andy’s House Hospice.The Peninsula Lions Club of Minett also donated another $5,000.

In regard to the Port Carling Nursing station, Port Carling Nursing Station Chair Allen Edwards says:

“To date, we have raised $197,749.92 and now with this extremely generous donation, the total for the Port Carling Nursing Station is $447,749.92.  “The Township is kindly overseeing the Nursing Station & the Wellness Centre accounts for total transparency. The Township is also issuing the tax receipts.”

Muskoka Lakes, Health, Wellness, Bala, Port Carling, Township of Muskoka Lakes, Brock Napier, Willa Napier, Andy's House, Port Carling Nursing Station
Another $755,000 for Wellness Centre in Port Carling. The sign above has 4 colours of the Rainbow: Blue represents the Brock & Willa Wellness Centre; Yellow is for the Nursing Station; Red is for Andy’s House, Hospice Muskoka; and the Green represents the Port Carling Lions Seniors Residence. As each project raises funds, the colours of the rainbow will climb to the  ‘Pot of Gold’ goal.

Chair Allen Edwards (also Deputy Mayor of Muskoka Lakes) made that announcement this afternoon (June 21) on West Street in Port Carling, the site Brock and Willa Napier have already donated for the centre.

Edwards says there will be more to come.

“We hope to aggressively fund raise over the summer,” says Edwards “With the support of everyone in the community, we can be successful in our goal to have a Nursing Station on this property.” He adds, “this is truly a 3P project (a Public, Private, Partnership) for health care. All we need now is financial support from the Province to complete the Partnership.”

Edwards explains the Port Carling Nursing Station will be similar to the Ruth Dare Nursing Station in Rosseau, but hopefully larger, and it will have rooms available on the lower level for Special Services. There are plans to hold meetings over the summer, with various agencies, to see what services would be interested in using space in the Nursing Station, and to bring their expertise to Muskoka Lakes, eg. Diabetes clinic; mental health support; preventive health; chiropractic services; and other types of care, by various health agencies. Edwards says other services, such as Social Services from the District, can be included as needed for residents.

As well as a nursing station and complementary health services, the plans are for the centre to house a hospice (Andy’s House) and The Port Carling Lions Club Seniors’ Residence.

Race Boat Glory Exhibit Opens at Grace and Speed in Gravenhurst

Race boat innovation gets a new tech display twist

By Laurie Fountain, Posted June 22, 12.30am: The Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre (Grace & Speed) is about to unveil a new exhibit that combines the best of antique racing boats with innovative new technology. Here’s an early preview.

Drive a Race Boat
Drive a Race Boat

The feature exhibit, Race Boat Glory – Muskoka Legends Live On, is open from June 27 to the end of October. This special collection brings to life the owners, designers, builders, drivers – and of course the boats – that gave Muskoka a special place in the history of Canadian – and international – powerboat racing over the past 100 years.

Interactive Table
Yannik Gosselin of Simbioz and Ann Curley of the Muskoka Boat and Heritage Centre demonstrate the Interactive table

While admiring the beauty and ingenuity that mark these boats, the Heritage Center deserves kudos for ingenuity as well with its addition of a new high tech educational tool. The Racing Boat Interactive table by uses an infrared grid that allows visitors to select and organize information and photos on Muskoka racing boats. Visitors simply touch the screen to begin and using simple gestures can move and select information as one would using an advanced tablet computer- only the screen is much larger. One user described it like being like the technology you might see on the CSI television show.

The photos and text were gathered and edited by staff working in the museum archives. As new facts and photos are discovered, the exhibit can be updated easily.

Volunteers will be on hand to help visitors in the exhibit found in the mezzanine upstairs from the hotel exhibit. Other exhibits in the area include actual racing boats as well as models, newspaper clippings and artifacts. Miss Canada III is in the place of honour on the main exhibit floor.

To learn more about the Race Boat Glory Exhibit, click here.


Update: Township vs MNR court date bumped to August 19-20 after Township asks for more time

Township requests adjournment after first requesting fast court action, new August date set

Update June 25: Further to the article below, later dates have been set for the Township of Muskoka Lakes action against the Ministry of Natural Resources and Swift River Energy Limited. The Judicial Review application is now scheduled to be heard on August 19th and 20th.

Posted June 20, 730pm: It looks like the day in court the Township of Muskoka Lakes wanted to come early will be pushed off to a later date — at the Township’s request.

The Ontario Attorney General’s office says the Township of Muskoka Lakes has asked for an adjournment of its Judicial Review application, which would mean a new date will need to be set for the application hearing. It was originally to go ahead next Friday, June 28.

Muskoka, Bala Falls, Portage, Heritage, hydro, green energy, MNR, flood, Mayor Murphy, Township of Muskoka Lakes, sign, vandalism, Muskoka
MNR sign vandalized & thrown into water at Bala dam on June 17

Communications Officer Brendan Crawley says his office is “committed to working with the applicants to move this matter forward.”

When asked if it was an unusual move for an applicant (in this case, the Township) to ask for a delay after requesting urgent action, Crawley said he could not comment. Both he and officials from the Ministry of Natural Resources say it would be inappropriate for them to comment further as the matter is subject to litigation.

At the Divisional Court office in Toronto, the clerk said the lawyer for the Township (Murray Elston) had requested the adjournment as more time was needed to prepare for the hearing. She said if the the adjournment is approved, a new court date would likely not be set before late August (watch MNW for an update on a potential new date). For more information on Muskoka Lakes vs MNR, click here to view earlier article.

When the action was originally filed in early April, the number one request on the Township’s legal wish list was to have the application for a judicial review heard on “an urgent basis.” Witnesses who provided affidavits for both sides of case were cross examined over the past two weeks.

Today, when Township Councillor Brad Burgess was asked if he knew the hearing might be delayed, he answered that as of Tuesday, the Township lawyer had said June 28 was still a go for a court date. That information suggests that the adjournment may not yet have received an official nod.

Meantime, as previously reported, the MNR has stepped up its public safety around dams campaign with signs prohibiting access at the Burgess Island site at the North Bala Falls — the same site the Township is seeking to protect for public access and no hydro plant development with the Judicial Review application.

Muskoka, Bala Falls, Portage, Heritage, hydro, green energy, MNR, flood, Mayor Murphy, Township of Muskoka Lakes
Vandalized MNR public safety sign

It didn’t take long for one of those signs that went up June 10 to be vandalized. Vandals broke the sign nearest highway 169 on June 17 and then tossed the entire sign into the water just above the falls.

As always incidents that happen around this North Bala Falls often turn out to be connected. Only time — or a court date hearing — will tell.

Related Articles:

Highlights of Township vs MNR case

Not a Good Sign Commentary

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Bala Falls Update: Mayor blocks sample drilling, claiming no permits; files labour complaint

Update: Testing crew back at Bala Falls Monday, June 24. No further details as of noon today other than there is an OPP officer and few onlookers at the site.

June 20: Sample testing at Bala Falls stopped before it could start by Mayor Murphy; OPP called; District says no permits needed for exploratory work

Posted June 20, 7pm: Muskoka Lakes Mayor Alice Murphy stepped in this morning to stop a work crew from doing exploratory work with a drill on the proposed hydro plant on the proposed hydro plant site at North Bala Falls.

Mayor turns back on camera: OPP called to site to investigate interference
Mayor turns back on camera after OPP arrive on site. OPP officials say they were treating the call as they would any protest. Photo: N. Fountain

Note: Muskoka News Watch broke the story this morning via social media and pictures to Moose FM of the Mayor confronting the crew, subcontractors of proposed hydro plant developer Swift River Energy Limited (SREL). MNW Editor Norah Fountain was on scene from 9:30am until 2pm.

Crew members say they were moving equipment into place to further secure a machine for drilling when the Mayor told them to stop. They say she informed them they had to stop working, claiming that without permits, they were trespassing on District land. They also claim the Mayor complained they were parked wrongly in the township parking lot across from Don’s Bakery. In response, they moved their vehicles to the private side of the parking lot. A call to Fire Chief Richard Hayes by MNW later confirmed that there is no law stopping commercial vehicles from parking on township parking lots during the day (See Bylaw 9167 and related Amendment).

With relation to the parking of the drilling company in the Township Parking lot across from Don’s Bakery,’ said Hayes,” there is no enforcement that can be taken unless they are actually doing work within the parking lot itself. As noted in the definition, they are permitted to unload; this is not considered work in this sense.”

The bigger problem from the perspective of the Mayor as told to Moose FM (click here to hear that interview) and explained by Township Councillor Brad Burgess was that the crew was conducting work on District land.

“If they aren’t acting illegally, why are they leaving?” questioned Burgess. “They are guilty of a violation of trespassing, he insisted. Burgess arrived just before the Mayor left for a District Community Services meeting in Bracebridge and before the crew left the site. “The Mayor told me that as of 5pm last (Wednesday) night, no District permits had been applied for or granted,” he said.

When told the District had indicated permits weren’t needed, Burgess countered, “I don’t work for the District, I just know they (Swift River) don’t have required permits.”

District told Township yesterday no permits needed

While it’s true that no permits had been issued, District Commissioner of Engineering and Public Works Tony White confirmed that’s because none are needed for this type of work. “The answer is no. They do not need a permit for exploratory work.”

White told the Township that yesterday. “I told them that Swift River did not need permits for work they are doing on Crown Land, but the Mayor is under impression that work is happening on District land.” Continues White, “I’m not sure that you can ‘Trespass’ on a public road. You can certainly break rules, but I do not know that any have been broken.” White says he spoke with the Mayor about the situation again today and that one of the Mayor’s concerns was a paint mark on District land.

“There was a paint mark and when I confronted Karen McGhee (project manager for Swift River) about it, she explained the mark was a reference point –

Muskoka, Bala Falls, Portage, Heritage, hydro, green energy, MNR, flood, Mayor Murphy, Township of Muskoka Lakes
Questionable mark? District believes it a measurement mark on District road allowance, not a drill mark.

a point from which the actual drill holes are measured. Of course you can’t be drilling holes on District land without permission.”

McGhee says she called OPP after the crew reported an interference at the work site. She says she told the crew to call it a day shortly afterward. One police officer arrived at the site after 10am and spoke to the workers and Mayor about what was happening. He then called in his supervising officer, Mike Tennent.

“We’re here to keep the peace. The crew’s decided to stop operations and I think that’s in the best interest for the safety and welfare of the workers,” said Tennent. When asked the reason the Mayor gave police for being on site, he added “the Mayor says they are working on District land without permits.”

In an interview with Moose FM, Mayor Murphy described the exploratory work she was seeing as “quite a disaster.” You can hear that interview by clicking here. She also notes several safety concerns in that interview and that the Township Fire Chief had filed a complaint.

Chief Richard Hayes confirmed a complaint has been left on the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s intake line. When asked about the origin of the complaint, Hayes answered, “The complaint was from information provided by Mayor Murphy and made on her behalf.” Hayes reported the following concerns noted by the Mayor:

  • 5 gallon gas cans on public sidewalk
  • Working without gloves
  • Non current fire extinguisher
  • Yellow caution tape instead of red
  • Slope issues
  • Trip hazards
  • No permit for traffic control”

It’s not clear when the crew might return to continue tests on the site. Councillor Burgess said he believed the crew would return tomorrow. No date was confirmed by the crew members on site or by project manager McGhee.



Gravenhurst Banner June Police Called to Keep Peace

Moose June 27 Business Owner Wants Drilling Stopped


 How Muskoka News Watch survives: We exist by donation and by advertisers. Your advertisement can be seen on our home page ‘rotator’, on the sidebar or in banner ads. For those who appreciate the time and resources it takes to write and fact check a story like the one above, there’s also the donation option. Even a few dollars are so much appreciated as we try and bring you more in-depth reporting about Muskoka matters that can impact you. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Huntsville OPP laud fishermen in boat crash rescue

Two unidentified fishermen rescue two Lake of Bays boaters; police seek tips in theft from car dealership – report from Huntsville OPP

Posted June 17, 10:50am: A boat crash on Lake of Bays early Sunday has left a woman with minor injuries and a Dwight man facing impaired charges. Huntsville OPP report a boat crashed into the shoreline near Delbrooke Road area and started sinking. Neighbours could hear calls for help and a couple of fishermen on the lake helped get the boaters out of the water. Police say the outcome may have been much worse had it not been for the fishermen who responded so quickly. A 61-year-old Dwight man has been charged with impaired boating and will appear in Huntsville court July 10th to answer the charges.

In other police news, Huntsville OPP charged a 53-year-old ATV driver with impaired after a traffic stop on Friday night on South Waseosa Lake Road. Remember, drinking and driving don’t mix – and that goes for recreational vehicles, too.

Police are also investigating thefts of patio furniture and tools from a Centrurian Rd home in Huntsville and of a black pick up truck last week from Bickley Ford. A black 2007 Ford F350 FX4 Crew Cab valued at $30,000 was stolen from the dealership’s lot. Police are asking anyone with information about these thefts to contact the OPP at 705-789-5551 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

Rip ‘n ride with Muskoka Fest June 15 in Bala

New wakeboard festival, Muskoka Fest, at Windsor Park, Bala

Posted June 13, 9pm: It’s new to Muskoka this season, it may be one of the earliest of Muskoka’s on water competitions, and it’s in Bala at Windsor Park this Saturday, June 15: the inaugural Muskoka Fest.

Muskoka Fest, Wakestock, Wakeboarding, Championships, Rail Jam, Bala, Muskoka, waterski, Team Canada
Barefooting Comp goes 9am June 15. Photo courtesy of Muskoka Fest.Muskoka Fest.

The day kicks off with an advanced Barefoot Figure 8 competition at 9am (barefoot takes guts anytime – add the chill of this season’s water and you really have to hand it to these fierce competitors). The Team Canada Ski Show Team takes the bay at noon and then there’s the Go Big double up contest and rail jam.

“There aren’t very many barefoot competitions like this so it should be very exciting,” says Jamie Visser, a Muskoka Fest organizer. “The wakeboard double up is also

Muskoka Fest, Wakestock, Wakeboarding, Championships, Rail Jam, Bala, Muskoka, waterski, Team Canada
Wakeboard action comes to Bala June 15. Photo courtesy of Muskoka Fest

a very aggressive event so it should be  entertaining for everyone to watch. Plus, the ski show will showcase many of the talented SWS staff as well as the Team Canada Show Ski Team.”

There’s also a chance for attendees to win some prizes, says Visser. He thanks sponsors for donating prizes, including:

  • a stand up paddle board from Muskoka SUP.
  • 2 Muskoka chairs from The Muskoka Chair Company
  • TEAMLTD prize pack
  • MojoMax Supplements prize pack

When the idea of holding such a competition first came up, organizers were considering calling it Muskoka Stock. Asked about why the name changed to Muskoka Fest, Visser says there were come complications and confusion with using Muskoka Stock as a name for the event going forward. Bala is known for being the first home of Wakestock, touted as the world’s largest wakeboarding festival. It left Bala in 2002 and this year that event goes on in Collingwood. Bala will also see great wakeboard talent later this summer (August 22-25) at Bush’s Sports Centre, host of the Monster Canadian Wakeboard Championships.


Not a Good Sign: Commentary on new Bala Falls ‘features’

Duelling signs at Bala Falls are ‘dam’ ugly: can’t we all just get along?


Commentary by Norah Fountain posted June 13 2pm: The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has put up signs on the south side of the North Bala Falls to restrict public access, something the MNR claims the right to do under the Public Lands Act. The four Bala Falls, Muskoka, MNR, dam, water safeysigns went up late Monday or early Tuesday on Burgess Island and they are not a pretty sight. Nor are they unexpected.

The sign right on the south edge of the North Bala Falls is particularly loathsome, in my opinion. It affects a visitor’s ability to view the beauty of the falls, unimpeded, from either side of the falls, not to mention the challenges it raises for photographers). But am I surprised by the sudden appearance of these signs? Of course not. And neither should any Muskoka News Watch reader who has followed the ludicrous ‘put em up, take em down’ saga of the portage signs in this area. You could say the warning signs were well in place long before these physical ones.

The community has expressed concern about potential in-your-face signs and fencing ever since the MNR made this site available for potential hydro development (the site release process was announced in late 2003).  Yet with collaboration and cooperation on part of Township Councillor Ruth Nishikawa and members of the township Heritage committee, the fences the MNR erected for safety purposes are aesthetically acceptable — and I bet some people haven’t even noticed they are there.

The signs are a different story. Why is that? Why these signs, now?

Some, including myself, will point fingers at the antagonistic approach of Township Mayor Alice Murphy as being a trigger (and some Councillors say Murphy has not shared with her Council letters from the MNR about their concerns about safety and posting portage signs). It may not have helped matters that the Mayor and Council ordered canoe head Portage Signs be put up just off 169 that encourage canoeists to walk across the highway with their canoes instead of choosing an alternate route. And Council did give the green light to the Judicial Review action (did Councillors even see what evidence the case was based on? Those MNR letters from 2012 – before Council approved legal action — were in there yet at least three councillors have said they have never seen them…). Others would claim the future hydro plant is all to blame for the signs.

It can be argued that all these actions are related.  It can also be argued they are not. Indulge me while considering all that might be connected to these new signs at the falls.

  • In 2009, two people drowned at Bala Falls. There are unconfirmed reports that a lawsuit has been launched in connection with those drownings. If so, it may have been bad timing for Portage signs to go up — signs that encourage recreational use of that area. Read Another Cottage Country Drowning
  • Mayor Alice Murphy and others (eg. Michael Anne Macdonald’s proposed class action) have questioned the MNR’s management of the MRWMP (Muskoka River Water Management Plan). Personally, I think this is unrelated to the new signs but some community members have likened this MNR criticism to ‘rubbing salt in the wound’. Perhaps that criticism may have something to do with ‘how’ the signs have been erected? See earlier commentary “How Hard Can You Poke the Bear before it Pokes Back” featuring yet another cliché, Poking the Bear. Yes, clichés mark poor writing skills. So sue me.
  • This week, cross examination of witnesses is under way in the Township vs. MNR Judicial Review case to come before Divisional Court on June 28. In that action, the Township wants land and water where the new signs sit on the shoreline and rocks to be ruled recreational.
  • Mayor Alice Murphy’s actions suggest her priority mandate as an elected official is to do everything in her power to stop the proposed hydro plant.  That includes trashing relationships at all political and government agency levels and that makes even some supporters of Save the Bala Falls a little queasy.
  • Portage signs pop up a few days before a Conservation Review Board (CRB) site visit to showcase proposed designated heritage sites including the Burgess Island aka Portage Landing site. Signs are taken down, then put back up on the Friday before the CRB visit. See earlier article on “No Permit Doesn’t Stop Sign”
  • Township receives notice in March 2013 that the MNR is issuing a Crown lease to authorize the construction of the hydro plant. That notice, according to the Township’s argument for the Judicial Review, is what prompted Township to take legal action against the MNR. The primary reason stated by the Mayor for the action? Protecting portage rights.
  • Enhanced Dam Management program launched by MNR results in new dam safety guidelines: in 2011, the MNR posted a decision notice on the Environmental Registry updating the Ontario dam safety standards and technical guidelines. Click here for Best Management Practices August 2011. It included information about signs including signage where public safety hazards have been identified (as outlined in correspondence with Mayor Murphy at the time of the Township portage signs being erected).
  • The Bala Falls was never meant to be a recreational area. WHOA, I know that still hurts to hear but it’s true. Back in early 2004 when I was investigating the site release, I was astonished to learn that the area was never meant for swimming and recreation. After all, it had become a recreational mecca – even more so after the original hydro plant was torn down. As a kid, I believed this was park area and it was all free for the splashing. Of course, there was a sign on the dam…

Which brings us back to the new signs. In accordance with new guidelines, the MNR is expected to put up additional signage at dam sites all over Ontario. No doubt it was only a matter of time before they got around to Bala. But you’d think how those signs would be erected should have included public consultation (duh, I know, the province never consulted on the site release process either). In this case, given the sensitivity in Bala and given there was discussion over the fencing, it stands to reason that there some discussion could have happened. If there was, I’d like to hear about it.  I suppose things could have been worse – more fencing or bigger signs. But surely the MNR didn’t have to stick one smack dab in the rock right at the edge of the falls. Surely it didn’t have to stick another one right at the shoreline directly across from the Mayor’s dock. If I were she, the sight of that sign might make my blood boil even more than it does for Murphy already.

Can’t we all just get along? Is there still room for compromise?

Some in the community say collaboration reflects a defeatist attitude. Recently, a letter to the editor in one of our local papers took the position that the fight must continue and comparing it to the gas plant scandal. The letter writer was suggesting the stop the hydro plant effort is far from a ‘done deal’ , that it ain’t over (no, I won’t go there with that cliché. I’m putting clichés on notice now. Somebody build me a sign).  I can appreciate their position that if you believe in something, you should never give up (although I think the gas plant comparison doesn’t hold, well, water). Perhaps these people believe that the MNR putting the signs up is just another slap those who support the confrontational tactics of Save the Bala Falls and the Council have to put up with — after all, it’s a battle, right? You have to be ready to scrap if you want to win.

But news flash: There are no winners here.

Naively, I believe it’s still not too late to salvage something that reflects  best interests of our community. Perhaps we could at least try to renew friendly, non confrontational discussions with the MNR. Practically, that will likely have to wait until after the Judicial Review. And who knows, maybe the Township will ‘win’ that one and the courts will decide that a portion of the rocks and the water should be deemed recreational. Should any lawsuits arise from derailed projects or future mishaps at the ‘official recreation’ site, well, that would be the problem for the MNR and/or the next municipal council now, wouldn’t it?

At the very least, the signs might move a few feet.

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For those who care or wonder: Where do I stand on the Hydro Plant? And why bother writing about it, again? A personal note on my personal take.

A Save the Bala Falls supporter asked me a thoughtful question the other day about how the fight has to stop the hydro plant has evolved. “Why are some people who wanted Option 2 still sounding supportive of Option 1?,” she asked. We tossed that discussion around for awhile. I spoke of how no matter how many times I explain it to some people, they think I support the hydro plant, period. Sorry to bore you, but I must explain my personal position again – and I never want anyone to forget that once, a long time ago, there was some collaboration and compromise in the works. First of all, I do support green, sustainable practices, period. To those who say, ‘we don’t need more power’, I say we need ‘greener power’. However, I did not support resurrecting a power plant right on the side of Bala Falls. I still don’t. But after the time and effort the proposed developer Swift River put in to Option 2, I won’t attack them for Option 1. I supported the hydro plant in the compromise Option 2 position (away from the falls providing access, etc, and providing township revenue and other potential benefits, including overarching environmental policy goals). Sure, I’m human, and I’ve been hurt by threats and people angry at me for supporting Option 2 and so there’s an evil part of me that might enjoy saying “I told you so” to all those who said Swift River would never bother to build on Option 1. But that evil know it all feeling is trumped by heartache over the ugliness this whole affair has brought out amongst some in our community. Now, after almost 10 years, I just want the whole thing over with, no matter which way it goes, although I do hope for some collaboration somewhere along the line so whatever gets built (if it ever does) isn’t a total blight on our landscape. Like these new Notice signs.

Thanks for hearing me out.





OPP Central Region honours local police and citizens

Central Region Awards Ceremony recognizes acts of bravery, lifesaving and service

Posted Friday June 7, 10am. Today citizens stand alongside police as they receive awards for acts of bravery, lifesaving, and community service, exemplary performance of duty, investigations, selfless actions and assistance to the OPP. The OPP Central Region Awards Ceremony happens at 1pm today at the Barrie Golf and Country Club.

Citizens from our region who will be recognized for their selfless acts in our community include:
Barbara Baker and Ginger Wiken of Orillia, along with Dorset firefighters Bob Finney, Dan Flynn, Adrienne Flynn and Ken Robertson. Here’s their story related by the OPP’s Lynda Cranney:

“On August 1, 2012, three cyclists were leaving from Deerhurst in Huntsville making their way around to Dorset out to Muskoka Road #117.  They were planning a 90km ride around the local lakes.  About 50kms into their ride one of the cyclists was observed slumped over her bike before falling to the ground.  The other two cyclists immediately attended to their friend and found that she did not have any vital signs.  They immediately called 911 and commenced CPR. A short time later a page went out to the Dorset Fire Department. ROBERTSON, a new member of the fire department was working at a job site nearby and responded to the page.  Upon arrival, he took over CPR. Moments later the medical unit of the fire department attended with the AED.  After cycles of shocks and CPR the team was able to establish a pulse and a short time later the victim was breathing on her own. FLYNN, FLYNN and FINNEY were members of the medical unit of the Dorset Fire Department.”

Then there’s the story of Huntsville firefighter Kenneth Maurice who pulled a driver from a burning vehicle in December.

“On December 3, 2012, a vehicle struck the shoulder of the road and lost control. The vehicle skidded across the road and struck a propane truck being driven by MAURICE. Upon impact the vehicle that lost control caught on fire.  MAURICE left his truck to help. MAURICE unbuckled the man’s seatbelt and pulled him out of his burning vehicle. The man did not want to get out as he was in shock and would not have exited on his own. Once the man was out of the vehicle and taken to safety, MAURICE returned to his propane truck, realizing the dangers of a full propane cylinder on board and moved his truck away from the fire. Without the quick and composed thinking of MAURICE the man may have perished in his vehicle and emergency services would have been faced with a different situation if the propane truck had caught fire.”

Also being honoured today are some of our region’s finest. Note some of the men and women mentioned here may have changed work locations since these awards were granted. This list names officers mainly from the Muskoka area only but the regional awards honour officers from across Central Region, including Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes, Nottawasaga, Caledon, Collingwood and Peterborough County.

Police Exemplary Service Medal (20 years)

DC Jeffrey H. Handsor #8096                    Huntsville

Sgt. Mitchell L. Perry #8818                        Emergency Response

PC Shannon L. Petryshyn #8085                Orillia

Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal (20 years)

PC Andrew J. Skipworth #13064               Haliburton Highlands

PC Terry D. Trask #11511                            Bracebridge

Police Exemplary Service Medal 1st Bar (30 years)

PC David W. Ackerman #6156                   Haliburton Highlands

PC Robert L. Butterfield #6295                   HSD CR SAVE

PC (Retired) David J. Falls #6134               Southern Georgian Bay

Staff Sergeant Ted Hurren #6261         Operations Manager at Bracebridge OPP

Civilian Service (20 years)

PC Steven H. Collins                                   Bracebridge

PC David M.J. Desroches                           Southern Georgian Bay

DC Edward ╲Donald╡ L. Hammond             Bracebridge

Sgt. Peter J. Leon                                        Central Region Headquarters

PC Mark W. Lund                                        Southern Georgian Bay

Ms. Sandi C. Prentice                                  Haliburton Highlands

DC Conrad R.A. Proulx                               Southern Georgian Bay

PC Richard R. Roulston                              Southern Georgian Bay

S/Sgt Michael L. Tennent                            Bracebridge

PC Maureen K. Tilson                                 Bracebridge

Congratulations to all!

A second interim manager for Gravenhurst Opera House

Posted June 5, 9.30am: That was fast. Fred Schulz, the interim manager for the Gravenhurst Opera House since early April, stepped aside this week and his replacement has already been named.

Muskoka News Watch has learned Barbara Anderson-Huget has become the Town of Gravenhurst’s interim manager of arts and culture. She replaces Schulz, who replaced long-time manager Brad Rundle after Rundle’s departure this winter. Schulz will help Anderson-Huget through the transition with his last day being June 10.

This would have been Schulz’s third time as manager of the Opera House. Sources say his reason for leaving now is that he wanted to keep his focus on his Music on the Barge responsibilities as it might be difficult to give both jobs the attention they deserve. They also say he had to be talked in to returning to the Opera House. Anderson-Huget was most recently a Professor of Arts Management and Cultural Administration at Humber College and has been an executive director of Theatre Ontario and Canadian Artists Representation, Ontario. She has attained a Master of Arts from Central Michigan University and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Design and Production from York University.

Bala’s New ACT Unveils Summer Lineup for Season #3

Five Shows, 3 Readings, a great gala – It’s hot, musical, dramatic and oh, so funny in Bala this summer!

The New Actors’ Colony Theatre unveiled its lineup for its third summer in Bala with a bash at the Bala Bay Inn. About 60 people were on hand to hear what will grace the stage this year at the Bala Curling Club on Grey Street. The New ACT also has a couple of shows while we’re waiting for the curtain to rise, including Sherman Downey and the Ambiguous

Bala, theatre, arts, music, concert, New Act, Annette Procunier, Eva Moore, Summer Stock, Peter Shipston
Artistic Producer Eva Moore and lead actor Peter Shipston at the Launch Party

Case band playing at the Bala Bay Inn on June 25. But you can already get tickets for the core theatrical productions: Click here to buy them online at or visit the Box Office next to Overboard Boutique in Bala (It’s open 10am-2pm daily starting June 15).

So what can you expected from this talented troupe this summer? Here’s a run down of what’s on stage.

FRANKIE written and performed by Mary Ellen MacLean. A marriage of rich comedy and physical theatre, Frankie is a witty, honest and intimate play about what happens when a spunky lesbian goes to her high school reunion. With hilarious accuracy, MacLean plays eight different characters including a spokeswoman for Gay-Away, a drag queen, and Frankie’s guitar playing, dope-smoking girlfriend Tundra, as she tackles growing up gay in small-town Nova Scotia. Directed by Mary-Colin Chisholm, Co-writer Christian Murray. Shows: July 7, 11, 14, 17, 20, 24

GREATER TUNA by Joe Sears, a Jaston Williams comedy. All events take place in the town of Tuna, Texas – all the news of the town’s eccentric and scandalous residents is performed by the 2 main characters who run the local radio station. This is hilariously funny and will be enjoyed by all ages. Directed by Annette Procunier. Performed by Peter Shipston, Mike Petersen. Shows: July 10, 12, 18, 21 & August 2 & 8

YOU FANCY YOURSELF – andTHE CURE FOR EVERYTHING  written and performed by Maja Ardal. Ardal’s two critically acclaimed one-woman shows, sold-out hits in Canada, the UK and the US, have been hailed as “the most convincing portrayals of a child you will ever seen on stage”.

You Fancy Yourself (Ages 8 yrs – adult) winner of the Dora Award for Outstanding Performance, the first hilarious and painfully true tale, introduces us to Elsa, a wildly imaginative Icelandic girl, who arrives in dreary post-war Scotland. In the tough playground, and the strict classroom, we follow her comic blunders as she tries desperately to be accepted by her peers. Shows: July 13, 25, 31, Aug 9

 The Cure for Everything (Ages 14 and up) nominated for a 2011 Dora Award for outstanding new play, is the equally tragi-comic sequel, which takes us through Elsa’s risky teen years during the “pop-culture cold-war” 1960s. Maja’s brilliance in bringing a host of characters to the stage in this solo performance has thrilled audiences young and old alike. Shows: July 19, 27, Aug 4,

MUNSCHA-BUNCHA-MUNSCH – Six Robert Munsch stories scripted together and linked with contemporary tunes. Includes well-known stories like Paper Bag Princess, I Have to Pee, I Love You Forever, and Mortimer. Sheelagh Daly, Kimberley Drake, Mike Petersen. Directed by Eva Moore, the whole family will love it! Shows: July 14, 20, 25, 27, 31, August 3 & 7

Readings Series:

HER-2, a new play by Maja Ardal dealing with 7 women battling breast cancer and the challenges of a new treatment discovery. Show: July 21, 2pm

Maya and New Act Director Annette Procunier
Maya Ardal and New ACT Director Annette Procunier

Kill Zone, a new play by Wanda Graham – Military love story dealing with PTSD, second play in the series of life as an “army brat”. Show: July 28, 2pm

Anne by Paul Ledoux – Stage adaptation of Anne of Green Gables originally created for Young People’s Theatre in Toronto. Show: August 4, 2pm

Volunteer actors are invited to audition for the above readings – contact Eva Moore.

Special Events:

  •  June 23Garden Party – Strawberry Social and Tea – 2pm, A delightful kick-off to the summer season, with entertainment by  ‘Sound Bite’, Fashions by Overboard,
    Bala, theatre, arts, music, concert, New Act, Annette Procunier, Eva Moore, Summer Stock, Peter Shipston, Overboard, Sheila Overbeek
    Jeff and Sheila Overbeek at New ACT Season 3 Launch Party, Bala. Sheila’s Overboard store will have its turn on stage at the New ACT Garden Party on June 23

    Local Artisans, Wine Tasting, fresh strawberry delicacies. Gatsby Garden Party theme!

  • June 25 – Sherman Downey and the Ambiguous Case – 8pm here at the Bala Bay Inn
  • August 6HAPPY DAYS The 3rd Annual Gala in Bala – poodle skirts, tight jeans, ducktails, a pig roast and good ol’ rock ‘n roll music. Music of The Sensations
  • October 18 – Dinner/Theatre at Bala United Church on the Friday of Cranberry Festival weekend. (tentative)



Seniors will get less care, not more under physiotherapy changes, says Miller

MPP Norm Miller pans planned physiotherapy budget changes

Posted June 4, 10.48pm: Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller is taking aim at proposed changes to the way long-term care physiotherapy is funded and delivered across Ontario. During the ongoing debates on the 2013 Provincial Budget, Miller has criticized a “lack of consultation that took place before the decision was made by the current government to plan for this budget cut.”

Miller says the Ministry of Health plans to spend $44 million less on providing physiotherapy, which amounts to a 22 percent cut from the $200 million that was provided for physio last year. This has physiotherapists concerned — more than 400 OHIP physiotherapists descended on Queen’s Park today to protest the spending cuts they say will result in far fewer physiotherapy treatments for the province’s most vulnerable seniors. Miller says he has met with physiotherapists in his riding and he shares their concerns. He also told the legislature yesterday that changing the funding model, by “taking it from the lowest-cost provider and shifting it over to the highest-cost provider (LHINs and CCACs)”, will result in seniors getting “less care.”

“When speaking with physiotherapists, service providers in long-term care homes and those working in the retirement community, all have raised concerns about how their patients will be affected by these proposed changes to physiotherapy,” he says.

We must be certain that these proposed modifications do not lead to decreased physiotherapy services, especially those that are currently provided to seniors,” he adds.
Miller wants the government to delay implementation of the proposed changes until adequate consultation has taken place to ensure that physiotherapy service continues to be available to those who need it most.

Here is Miller’s statement verbatim from the Hansard Transcript for Monday, June 4, which includes a letter from Parry Sound physiotherapist Fatemeh Khater:

“This being a budget bill, it allows me a fair amount of freedom—I’m sure you will agree, Mr. Speaker—to talk about some issues in my riding of Parry Sound–Muskoka, so I’m

going to do that in no particular order.

I’ll start off with how I’m always amazed at the way this government is able to spin things. They made a big announcement, did a news release on physiotherapy, and it sounds like it’s a great positive initiative. The news release says:

Parry Sound Muskoka MPP Norm Miller, Muskoka, Progressive Conservative, Ontario politics
MPP Norm Miller

“More Seniors to Benefit from Physiotherapy and Exercise: New Ontario Government Expanding Access to Care for Seniors.

“Ontario will provide more than 200,000 additional seniors and patients with improved access to high-quality physiotherapy, exercise, and falls prevention classes.”

That sounds fantastic, Mr. Speaker, except that when you start looking at the details—and I only need to look at my local paper from last week, and what is on the cover? A demonstration in front of my office, with seniors and signs reading, “Physio for seniors’ wellness”; “Seniors rally for physiotherapy access.” It seems the government’s great-news story has a rally in front of my office. I must admit, I have to say, why are they rallying in front of my office, as an opposition member? They should be lobbying in front of the government members’ offices. However, I think they rightly felt that if they protested in front of the MPP’s office, that would garner attention, and it did: Witness the cover of the Bracebridge Examiner.

Prior to this happening, I had actually already met up in Parry Sound with a concerned physiotherapist, and that was Fatemeh Khateri, who works in the Parry Sound area in long-term care. We had a good, long meeting. She was very concerned with these supposed good-news changes. She wrote me post our meeting, and I will get on the record her letter, where she says, “With a budget of $156 million, the government says it has ‘invested’ in physiotherapy in Ontario, allowing thousands more seniors to access services, while MOH”—the Ministry of Health—“acknowledged that the OHIP spend on physiotherapy in 2012 was roughly $200 million, which means the MOH announcement is actually a 22% cut to overall services (by $44 million).” That was point 1 in her letter.

“(2) Long-term-care homes will receive $68.5 million for their physiotherapy programming ($58.5 million for physiotherapy and $10 [million] for activation exercise classes for convalescent care) … the MOH spent approximately $110 million” on long-term-care physiotherapy “in 2012. Their announcement is a cut of nearly 50%.

“(3) Ambulatory seniors, patients on ODSP, and children were able to access 50 to 100 treatments, depending on their medical condition, at a designated (OHIP) clinic. Now, instead of 50 or 100 treatments, patients will have access to just 12 treatments.

“(4) The government intends to earmark $10 million” of the long-term-care budget “for exercise classes to all 75,000 LTC residents, three times per week. No allocation for equipment is included.

“If this ‘group exercise budget’ is divided across 633 LTC homes, it means approx. $15,800 will be provided to the average home. It will be impossible to hire enough staff to provide classes (in a safe 1:4 ratio) to service all 75,000 residents three times per week. In addition, who will screen residents to participate in the activation programs to ensure safety?

“(5) Currently residents in LTC receive group exercise classes. Exercise classes and physiotherapy are different services and address different needs.

“As you know, your residents are receiving much more than simply group exercise classes. Each resident is assessed by a PT, current functional ability is determined and an individualized care plan is developed. This treatment plan usually includes customized 1:1 treatment, group exercise for specific impairments, or a combination of both….

“Thank you for your support of the seniors of Parry Sound. Best regards, “Fatemeh Khateri.”

We have forwarded her letter on to the Minister of Health, Deb Matthews. I note that our critic has raised many concerns on this supposedly good-news story. Christine Elliott has, in fact, written to the Minister of Health. I’ll get to that at the end of my time, Mr. Speaker, if I have time. I just want to allow time for some other issues, so I won’t go through that. But I note that our background on this says, “The government has framed the issue as a good-news story announcing that it will provide 200,000 additional seniors and patients with better access to physiotherapy, exercise and fall prevention classes in long-term-care homes and in communities across Ontario.

“In fact, the ministry has removed service provision from the lowest-cost provider—designated physiotherapy clinics, which have a successful track record of providing quality care—to instead give funding to the highest-cost providers, LHINs and CCACs.”

Well, that doesn’t seem to make a whole bunch of sense when you have limited resources that you want to go the farthest: taking it from the lowest-cost provider and shifting it over to the highest-cost provider so the result is that seniors get less care. You can see why there are a lot of questions that come out of that physiotherapy announcement, which the government paints as being a good-news story.”

On Friday, seniors, physiotherapists and other concerned citizens staged a quiet rally in front of Miller’s office. Read the story by Bracebridge Examiner reporter Jennifer Bowman, Senior Citizens Rally for Physiotherapy Access by clicking here.


Beware the Bear Scam making rounds, say OPP

OPP warn: “we don’t call people to donate to OPP programs”. 

Posted June 4, 12.30pm: If you get a call asking you for money to support the OPP Community Bear Program, steer as far away as you would from a real bear. The OPP say a number of inquiries are coming in from residents across Ontario asking police about organizations calling to solicit funds for teddy bears. It’s a scam.

While many OPP officers are involved in worthy charities on their own time, the OPP is advising the public that it does not ask for funds from members of the public for its Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 12.41.18 PMCommunity Bear Program or any other OPP program. In fact, the Community Bear Program is sponsored by Aviva Canada Inc. Through Aviva’s sponsorship, OPP officers have access to black and white teddy bears, which they give children who have experienced traumatic incidents, such as car crashes.

The OPP is reminding people to verify the legitimacy of any organization that calls to solicit funds from the public.

For information on how to spot a scam, go to <>  and click on Fraud Prevention <>  on the Resources page. To know more about the OPP Community Bear program, please click here.