Another trip to OMB for Township of Muskoka Lakes and Hanna’s Landing

Posted Aug 27. 8.20am: Another trip to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) is in the future for Township of Muskoka Lakes – once again over the planned Hanna’s Landing development in Port Carling. Jeff Goldman, a Principal of Hanna’s Landing, says despite two supportive staff reports and multiple meetings, the Mayor and Council don’t understand their obligations under the Planning Act. Goldman says an application to take the matter up with the OMB was sent to the Township yesterday. The application asks the Board to take over the zoning phase of the Port Carling development. That would include circulating notices to stakeholders for input in the project — something Goldman says his group has been trying to get Township Council to approve since March.  Muskoka News Watch has asked the Township for comment. More details to come as the story unfolds.

 

 

Muskoka Lakes seeks public input for township economic development: Sept. 18 public meeting

Public being surveyed, invited to economic development meeting September 18th

Posted August 26, 11.25am: The Township of Muskoka Lakes wants to hear your thoughts on economic development planning and policy development. The Township today announced an online survey to encourage public input.

You can complete the community stakeholder survey by clicking here.

As well, community economic development meetings that were originally scheduled for August (and mentioned at the recent town hall in Windermere), are now set for September 18, 2013.

Muskoka Lakes Economic Development Meeting Details

  • When: September 18, 2103 from 6:30-8pm
  • When: Bala Community Centre

A release from Township today states the new September date will allow staff to expand efforts to promote the sessions to help encourage strong community participation. The meetings will be run by Township economic development staff. You can view the draft Community Economic Development strategy by reading pages 252-254 in the minutes of the May 21 Committee of the Whole Meeting at: https://muskokalakes.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentDisplay.aspx?ID=55882

Sports and Rec, Food Security, Transportation needs to be explored this fall

Additional surveys and meetings are planned for October to explore needs and identify priorities related to Sport and Recreation, Food Security (i.e., Having sufficient resources, both economic and physical, to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet), and Active Transportation in the Township of Muskoka Lakes.

The Township explains these upcoming consultations are linked to a Community Economic Development planning process that began earlier this year, and are supported by funding recently secured through the 2013-2014 Ontario Sport and Recreation Communities Fund and the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s Healthy Communities Partnership Program.

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Exclusive: Court says public safety trumps other parts of Public Lands Act

Exclusive Update: Includes Court decision transcript in Township of Muskoka Lakes vs. MNR

Updated August 22: To read decision released in writing by the court today dismissing Township’s case, please click here: Corp of the Township of Muskoka v Minister of Natural Resources

UPDATED with cost figures: August 20, 4.20pm: Original Update posted August 20, 2pm: The Township of Muskoka Lakes has reached agreement about costs it will pay to the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) for taking it to court. Those costs have not yet been confirmed by the court, but sources say they could total almost $20,000. Yesterday the Ontario Superior Court of Justice  dismissed the Township of Muskoka Lakes’ application for a Judicial Review into the MNR’s handling of the proposed North Bala Falls hydro site. In their decision announced yesterday, Justices Ian Nordheimer, David Aston and Paul Perell said the Township had failed to make its case.

Despite Township Mayor Alice Murphy’s assertion in a quote to The Moose yesterday that it was “quite disappointing” the issue of public lands and the public’s right to portage was not even heard, the lawyer for the Township, Harold Elston, argued exactly those points for about five hours. He argued:

  1. the Act protects portage rights
  2. the Act protects public access and less than 25% of Crown Lands are accessible to the public on Moon River. Specifically, Elston argued there was only 13% frontage available to the public between the Bala Falls and Raggedy Rapids dams or even on the entire Moon River
  3.  the MNR abused its authority in placing public notice signs on Burgess Island in a bid to block public access

Elston lauds efforts to protect falls, expresses preference for ‘Option Two’ Elston also explained that the Township has never swayed from its efforts from day one to protect public access and portage rights, pointing to the 2005 resolution by the previous Council under Mayor Susan Pryke. He stated that the Option Two position considered for the hydro plant – which would move the plant away from the south side of the North Falls and still allow for public access and the portage – was the preferred option as opposed to the original Crown land site known as Option 1. Option Two became dead in the water after the new Council was elected in 2010. Elston noted that Swift River Energy Limited pulled the plug on that option a year later.

Elston was the only lawyer the justices decided to hear from. At the start of session just before 11am, the justices stated they had done their homework and felt the hearing could be wrapped up in one day. Elston agreed. Five hours later, the court issued its decision.

Decision rendered – full transcript below

Just before 3 pm, the justices took a brief recess and came back to state they were ready to deliver a decision.  They said it would not be necessary to hear from the defendants, the MNR and Swift River Energy Limited.

At about 3:30, Judge Nordheimer read this statement to the court:

“The Township’s expressed objectives in bringing this application are to ensure the government’s plans for the construction of this hydroelectric facility do not inhibit public access to the waters off of the dams and to ensure that a claimed portage over the dams is preserved. There does not appear to be any dispute that the effect of the remedy sought by the Township would be to preclude the construction of a hydroelectric facility at least as it is currently contemplated.

In my view, this application cannot succeed. Under Section 28 of the Public Lands Act, the Ministry may prohibit possession, occupation or use of public lands.

Pursuant to that authority, the Ministry has issued a notice that prohibits any public access to the Crown lands that are at the heart of the issue in this application. The Minister made that determination because of express concerns about public safety and after commissioning a public safety measures plan. These safety concerns have existed at least since 2009 when there was a double drowning in the waters off of these lands. The Township suggests that the use of Section 28 by the Ministry is, in essence, simply a disguised attempt to thwart the Township’s efforts to maintain the portage on the Crown lands pursuant to section 65.4 of the Public Lands Act, and to maintain public access to the waters off of these lands pursuant to Section 3 of the Act. The Township also submits that the decision issuing Section 28 was unreasonable because there were other means to address safety issues short of a complete ban of public access to the Crown lands.

In my view, the Township has failed to establish that the Ministry’s decision issuing a notice under Section 28 was unreasonable. There can be no reasonable dispute that there are safety concerns with dams that include rapids, waterfalls and dams among chose other hazards. It may be that there were other alternatives to address those safety concerns but the fact that the Minister chose between different options does not constitute their decision to adopt one option over another as unreasonable.

In particular, a complete ban on public access to the Crown lands in circumstances where two people have already lost their lives cannot be shown to be so manifestly unreasonable as to justify interference by this Court. I would add there is also insufficient evidence that a Section 28 notice is being used as a guise to advance the government’s desire to ensure that a hydroelectric facility is constructed on these Crown lands. While that may ultimately be a result of the notice, there is a difference between the consequences of a decision and the objective of a decision.

There is a companion submission that Section 28 should not be allowed to thwart the legislative directives contained in other sections of the Pubic Lands Act, such as the two sections the Township relies on: Section 65 dealing with portages and Section 63 dealing with public access.

There is nothing in the legislative scheme to suggest that Section 28 is to be so restricted. The section is not subject to any other provision of the Act nor or are the two sections upon which the Township relies expressly to prevail in its submission.

Indeed it would seem that Section 28 might be designed expressly for situations such as appears here where despite the government’s policies to protect portages and public access at bodies of water other pressing concerns dictate that the policies be rendered subservient to those other pressing concerns. Public safety is an objective that often will trump other policy goals.

Consequently I see no basis for this Court to interfere with the notice made under Section 28. While that is sufficient for the purposes of disposing of this application, I would add the observation that I have considerable difficulty with the submission that the words, quote, ‘sold or otherwise disposed of’ in Section 65.4 should be interpreted to include a lease of Crown. Land. We do not see anything in the Act itself to suggest such an interpretation. It would be contrary to demonstrate since many sections of the Act including Sections 65 1 and 2 themselves expressly use the term, quote, lease. If it had been the intention of the legislature that a lease of Crown land should constitute a disposition for purposes of protection afforded by Section 65.4, it would have been a simple matter for the legislation to include the term lease within that section as it did with Section 65.1 and 2.

In light of my conclusions it becomes unnecessary to address the various other issues raised in the application. The application for Judicial Review is dismissed.”

Court orders speedy cost settlement

On hearing the decision, the lawyers for the Crown pointed out that they hadn’t had an opportunity to deal with the Township regarding the issue of costs. The justices responded, “We think it is a good idea to afford counsel the opportunity to work out the question of costs but we are not disposed to giving you a few days to do that. Hopefully you can work that out this afternoon or come back tomorrow afternoon to work it out. In that case, we will meet back at ten am tomorrow.”

Cost of the battle for Bala Falls nears quarter million when including costs for heritage work mostly for Bala designated sites (corrected)

Court today was not necessary. The Township agreed to pay costs yesterday afternoon. While those costs have yet to be confirmed by the court, sources say the legal costs paid to MNR was about $17,000 (updated 4 pm). Counsel for Swift River said they would not seek costs (they joined the legal action voluntarily).

In the most recent quarterly financial report, the Township notes it has already spent about $90,000 in 2013. Between 2010 and 2013, the Township spent $175,000 plus the $17 today totals about $192,000. The spend on heritage, which has provided information integral to the Bala Falls battle (Elston referred to the Conservation Review Board and heritage information yesterday in his submission) has totaled over $62,000. Give or take a few dollars, it appears Council this term alone has spent upwards of $254,000 (corrected figure) on Bala Falls related issues.

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Related Story: Moose FM, Judicial review rules in MNR’s favour

Breaking News: Muskoka Lakes loses case against MNR

Application dismissed due to lack of sufficient evidence, announces three-judge panel: Township to pay costs of action

Posted August 19, 2013. The Township of Muskoka Lakes lost its day in court today: it had its Judicial Review application dismissed. The application was designed to protect portage rights and stop the construction of a planned hydro plant at Bala Falls. In presenting its decision after one day of hearing today, the three judge panel decided the Township had provided insufficient evidence that the Ministry of Natural Resources had acted beyond its authority under the Public Lands Act. On hearing the decision, the Ministry said it had not had time to discuss costs with the Township. The court ordered that discussion to happen some time this afternoon and if not, the parties were to return to court tomorrow at 10am to settle costs. Lawyers for Swift River Energy Limited said they are not seeking any costs.  The three judges heard only from the lawyer acting for the Township Harold Elston: the judges deemed they did not need to hear from the defendants. After the meeting, Muskoka News Watch attempted to speak to Township of Muskoka Lakes Mayor Alice Murphy in the hallway to request a comment but that request was angrily rebuffed. The Mayor insisted she was holding a private meeting in the public space of Osgoode Hall. Details later on Muskoka News Watch.

Related Articles:

 

Muskoka Lakes Township in court vs MNR as Judicial Review begins

Township action against MNR under way today and tomorrow; three judges to determine if MNR legally compliant regarding North Bala Falls

Posted: August 19, 5 am: A Judicial Review that could potentially stop planned development on Crown land at North Bala Falls starts tomorrow (Monday, August 19) in Toronto. The Township of Muskoka Lakes commenced the action against the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) in April (a Judicial Review looks at decisions by government bodies to see if they comply with laws governing those actions – in this case, the move by MNR to issue a waterpower lease agreement).

Three judges will hear from the lawyers for the Township, the MNR and Swift River Energy Limited (SREL), the company proposing to build a hydro plant on Crown land at North Bala Falls. The Township is arguing that the Public Lands Act protects traditional portages from development that could hinder passage on Crown land. It is seeking a permanent injunction to stop the MNR from issuing any waterpower lease agreement on the site. The MNR has said the Act gives it ultimate responsibility for public safety – and that areas around dams are unsafe for recreational activity.

Save the Bala Falls, Muskoka, hydro plant, green energy
Moon River resident picks up protest signs at Save the Bala Falls meeting Aug. 17. About 150 people turned out for an update on efforts by the group protesting plans for a new hydro plant in Bala.

Witnesses who signed affidavits to support the opposing positions will not be heard in court: the judges this week will hear only from the lawyers.

According to Divisional Court officials, there are generally four potential outcomes from this week’s two-day application hearing. The judges could:

  1. Reach a unanimous decision and give that decision verbally (followed by their decision issued in writing released at a later date. They might also decide to release their decision in writing and not verbally express it at the end of the review)
  2. Reserve judgment (until a later unspecified date)
  3. Arrive at a dissenting decision, e.g. 2 vs. 1  (Note: the Clerk did not specify what might occur in the case of a dissenting decision; however in other tribunals, it is not uncommon for the majority to form the binding decision and the dissenting opinion to become a second aspect of the overall decision. At high court levels, sometimes the dissenting opinions are used in future decisions to further develop the common law).
  4. Adjourn to another date in order to receive more information

The Divisional Court is the main forum for judicial review of government action in Ontario, and again, the above possibilities are what generally might occur. In speaking with lawyers not related to the case, Muskoka News Watch (MNW) has been given several

Burgess Island, Bala Falls, Portage Landing, MNR, Muskoka Lakes, Bala
Dueling signs: Portage sign went up last fall followed by MNR public safety notices (red signs) this spring

opinions as to what might happen. First, it’s worth noting this case has the ability to set a provincial precedent affecting traditional land use and development. One lawyer said in a case such as this, he wouldn’t be surprised if the judges decide to reserve judgment to spend more time talking among themselves about their ultimate decision. He said he wouldn’t expect a decision to be disclosed this week. Another concurred, saying “I wouldn’t hold my breath on a speedy decision unless it would somehow be highly prejudicial to Swift River if the project is delayed further. It’s not often that these applications get heard without an adjournment at some point.” When the Township applied for the review, its first request stated in the application was “for the review to be heard on an urgent basis.”

Should the judges not rule in the Township’s favour, the MNR would have its authority validated to move forward with a lease agreement – even if the Township decides to appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal.

On Saturday, the Save the Bala Falls lobby group working to stop the hydro plant in Bala invited supporters to hear an update on their efforts. Organizers said about 150 people attended the morning meeting at the Bala Community Centre. When MNW asked about next steps for the protest, spokesperson Mitchell Shnier said they are asking supporters to send post cards to Premier Kathleen Wynne and write their MPPs as well as keeping up a visual protest with the red stop the hydro plant signs and T-shirts. He added, “Thank your Township Council.”

Shnier was also quoted in the Bracebridge Examiner (See Bala Falls Hearing Beginning Monday) as saying a decision on the Judicial Review could come within 30 days of this week’s hearing.

Related Stories:

 

 

Georgian Bay Township welcomes new CAO Laurie Kennard

Laurie Kennard assumes CAO role in September

Posted Aug. 16, 10.30pm: Township of Georgian Bay Mayor Larry Braid and members of Council today announced the appointment of Laurie Kennard as the new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for the Township.

Georgian Bay, CAO, Kennard, Township, Muskoka
Laurie Kennard joins GBay in September. (LinkedIn photo)

Kennard most recently held the position of Deputy CAO/Director of Finance with the Township of Springwater; she is a Chartered Accountant with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. Previously, Kennard held senior financial management roles in the public sector in both Ontario and British Columbia.

Kennard takes on her new CAO role on Monday, September 16, 2013.

Ted Walker has been serving as Interim CAO. He followed Carolyn Tripp who became a full-time CAO for the township in February 2012 (Georgian Bay had been without a full-time CAO for several years previously).

A Place for Us: Eastern Ontario Development Fund now includes Muskoka

Now Muskoka businesses have provincial funding access again. Could attitudes be changing at Queen’s Park?

Story and Commentary by Norah Fountain.

Posted August 16, 10pm: It took almost 10 years, but the Ontario government has finally decided where Muskoka fits geographically in our province – at least for purposes of economics.

Today Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Economic Development, announced that Muskoka is now included within the geographic boundaries of the Eastern Ontario Development Fund. In 2004, the Liberal government removed Muskoka from northern Ontario, meaning Muskokans lost the support of, and access to, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund (NOHF).

Eric Hoskins, Ontario politics, Muskoka
Dr. Eric Hoskins, Economic Development Minister

Welcome to Eastern Ontario, Muskoka! Now the province has found a ‘funding’ location for Muskoka – a most positive step forward and perhaps a signal of a kinder, more inclusive approach for our region – which has had its share of knocks since the Liberals took power in 2003. Earlier today, Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith and District Chair John Klinck, on behalf of the municipalities in Muskoka, were on hand in Barrie when Hoskins made the announcement (he also announced Simcoe County will now be able to access the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund). Smith and Klinck, along with other local politicians (Muskoka Lakes Mayor Alice Murphy and Huntsville Councillor Scott Aitchison to name two more) and members of ratepayer groups have lobbied to make Muskoka eligible again for provincial funding – in particular, the NOHF. Now Muskoka will look eastward for help to address the economic realities our residents and business owners know only so well.

“I am very pleased that the Province has finally recognized the ongoing funding disparity that existed between Muskoka and the rest of the province,” said Mayor Smith. “The inclusion of Muskoka within the boundaries of the Eastern Ontario Development Fund helps to put Muskoka on a level playing field in regard to business growth and sustainable economic development,” he said.

Klinck echoed Smith’s sentiment, stating: “We appreciate the government’s commitment to helping our local economies thrive. The expanded Eastern Ontario Development Fund will help companies in Muskoka grow their businesses, create jobs and stay competitive.”

What does this change mean and how will it work?

The Eastern Ontario Development Fund provides funding to businesses, municipalities and not-for-profit organizations for economic development initiatives in Eastern Ontario (including Muskoka now, the eligible area stretches eastward from Haliburton covering 15 geographic locations, and cities are also eligible for funding, such as Kingston and Ottawa).

The fund supports projects that:

  • create jobs
  • encourage innovation, collaboration and cluster development
  • attract private sector investment

There are two types of funding available through the fund: Business Stream and Regional Stream.  To be eligible for the business stream, businesses need to:

  • Employ at least 10 people
  • Commit to creating at least 10 new jobs
  • Be able to provide three years of operations/financial satements
  • Be located in, or plan to locate in, a community in eastern Ontario (including Muskoka); and invest at least $500K in their project.

For the regional stream, projects need to:

  • focus on economic and business development and job creation in the community or region;
  • align with provincial and regional priorities, e.g., introducing new forms of innovation, taking part in province-led economic development initiatives;
  • invest more than $100,000;
  • have private sector support; and
  • be used for activities that are new to the organization.

The Fund is focused on projects in the following sectors:

  • advanced manufacturing (automotive, aerospace, plastics, clean technologies);
  • life sciences;
  • processing (primary and secondary);
  • information and communication technology;
  • tourism; and
  • cultural industries.

There’s also a Small Community Pilot fund available (it may be more applicable to the many small businesses that drive Muskoka’s economy). For details on all potential funding, see the Eastern Ontario Development Fund web site.

Today’s announcement did not include specifics about whether a funding office or agent will be positioned in Muskoka or whether Muskokans will need to apply for funding through existing funding advice ‘desks’, with the closest funding officer being in Peterborough.

Comment: Does this announcement signal a more inclusive, caring government? Perhaps it does and that would be a welcome change. While it’s easy to argue that Muskoka, geographically, isn’t ‘very’ north compared to communities in the vast territory north of us, our permanent economy is just as rural – and sometimes even more impoverished. When the Liberals ‘kicked Muskoka out of the north’, it didn’t seem to matter to anyone that there was no consensus as to where we were officially (meaning, politically) in Ontario’s geography. It didn’t matter that we were rural. It didn’t matter that many of our permanent residents were (and are still) poor.  It didn’t matter that it split our riding – at least not to Liberal cabinet members at the time.  As a reporter for the Moose, I recall hearing a tape of former Minister of Natural Resources David Ramsay speaking to the Timmins Chamber of Commerce: he began his speech by ‘welcoming’ Muskoka sarcastically back to the south to enthusiastic applause. Perhaps it was meant as a put down for the Progressive Conservatives – particularly Ernie Eves who had made it possible for Muskoka to access northern jurisdictional funding. But it stung – and the Liberals lack of care for our region continued to appear exceptionally callous, in my opinion (let’s not forget the Liberals put the Frost Centre on the chopping block at the same time – or the  hydro power site releases of North Bala Falls and Wasdell Falls). It’s hard to get over 10 years of bitterness when economic doors have been closed to us — or when decisions about sites of importance to us are made without any local consultation. A prime example of course is Bala Falls. Whether right or wrong in the environmental scheme of things, the Bala Falls decision has not only made some residents resentful of the provincial Liberals and Green Energy Act, it’s divided the community, pitting neighbour versus neighbour.

Fortunately, things change. Old wounds heal. And a little collaboration can go a long way. During a visit to Muskoka before she became Premier, Kathleen Wynne told me that she ‘got it’. She said she had heard us, loud and clear, and promised to see what she could do. Promised not to forget. Of course she was campaigning – what other answers could one expect? But upon election, her door didn’t close to Muskoka. So kudos to our local leaders for asking Wynne’s government to come through; to the premier for doing something about it; and to our own MPP Norm Miller who is tireless in his reminders to legislature that we’re more than just a famous ‘summer’ place – that we deserve and need a place at the table of socio-economic concern as well.

Related Stories: Cottage Country Now, Let Muskoka back into northern fund

 

UPDATE: Soaring over Muskoka in Vancouver’s Fly Over Canada ride

4D Tourist Attraction in Vancouver shows Canada – and Muskoka – as never seen before. Muskoka gets star attention with two appearances!

Posted August 9: Fly Over Canada, a new attraction that opened in Vancouver in July, includes footage taken of Muskokans and their antique boats shot last Thanksgiving. Fly Over Canada‘s Media Relations Coordinator, Tess Messmer, says the Muskoka section has been quite a hit with people on the ride. “It’s a beautiful scene

Fly Over Canada, Muskoka, antique boats
Muskoka Footage for Fly Over Canada attraction – see it in motion at about 13 seconds in the Fly Over Canada trailer

of the boats on the lake and then flying over the amazing forest in autumn,” says Messmer.

SEE MUSKOKA IN MOTION: Many MNW readers have asked for it, so click here to view the official trailer (see Muskoka shots of boats at about the 13 second mark and again at 20 seconds you can see our glorious fall colours). We’ve included still captures of those video clips in this article courtesy of Fly Over Canada. The new attraction that is a fixture at Vancouver’s Canada Place is a ‘flying ride’ that uses a huge dome screen with the latest in projection and ride technology creating a true flying experience (complete with wind, scents, and mist).

Muskoka, Fly Over Canada, boats
Helicopters got very close to boats while filming in Muskoka last Thanksgiving. Sample slide from flyovercanada.com

FLYING OVER MUSKOKA IN AUTUMN – Muskoka is featured again showing our glorious fall ending the sentence “Canada Like You’ve Never Experienced It Before” (at just after the 20 second mark in the actual ride film). Stan Hunter, Boatbuilder, brought together friends and their boats for two days of intense filming in chilly Thanksgiving conditions last

Fly Over Canada, Muskoka, Autumn
Muskoka Colour Centre Stage in Fly Over Canada

October. What a great promotion of beautiful Muskoka. (Even your MNW editor, Norah Fountain, got to drive a boat in these scenes but it looks like she didn’t make the final cut for the trailer at least. Maybe a trip to Vancouver to see more is in order?).

Related Articles: Fly Over Canada trailer released: Can you see Muskoka? This post contains the information above and the original story and pictures posted October 2012.

Note to Readers: It takes time and resources to produce stories of Muskoka, let alone tracking them down when they happen elsewhere in Canada! Consider tossing a dollar or two in to our Donate ‘jar’. The Donate PayPal button is on the sidebar of our Home Page. Or think about advertising your product or serve to reach a dedicated Muskoka audience. For info, email Editor@muskokanewsarchive.com

 

 

PM’s Wife Visits Muskoka on a ‘thank the volunteer’ tour with Tony Clement

Laureen Harper touring Muskoka with MP Tony Clement

Updated August 9: Prime Minister Harper’s wife Laureen is presently touring Muskoka with Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement. Yesterday they met local volunteers at the Muskoka Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Bracebridge on Highway 118 West just after 9am, and then headed to Gravenhurst where they saluted volunteers on the RMS Segwun until noon.

Laureen Harper, Stephen Harper, Tony Clement, Destiny, Muskoka OSPCA
Laureen Harper Cuddles Destiny at Muskoka SPCA

Wednesday, Harper met with girls from the Muskoka YWCA Girls Unplugged Program and visited Algonquin Outfitters and Huntsville’s River Mill Park.

Tony Clement, Stephen Harper, Laureen Harper, OSPCA, Muskoka
Laureen Harper & Tony Clement with Muskoka SPCA volunteers Aug. 8

Pilot survives Six Mile Lake plane crash

Takeoff fails on Six Mile Lake, pilot suffers minor injuries

Posted Aug. 5, 4pm: OPP report a plane crashed into Six Mile Lake today and the Brampton pilot survived the accident with only minor injuries.

South Georgian Bay OPP and the Georgian Bay Fire Department responded to the accident at about 2pm today. The initial investigation shows the pilot was trying to take off in his Challenger Ultra-Light aircraft when for a yet to be determined reason the Ultra-light lost lift and went into Six Mile Lake just west of the end of Pond Road. The unidentified 57-year-old pilot from Brampton was the only person in the plane. The investigation continues into the collision and the Transport Safety Board has been advised of the crash.

The Flash through Muskoka: Brit running across Canada for sick children

Jamie “The Flash” McDonald takes a Torrance rest stop — he’ll be at Bass Lake Restaurant tonight and Parry Sound tomorrow; hopes to make Vancouver by mid-December

Jamie McDonald, Coast to Coast Canada Run, SIck Kids Hospital, Torrrance, Muskoka
Determined to run to Vancouver by December

Posted August 5, 3:40pm: Early this morning I drove past a running man dressed all in red and pushing a packed tricycle in front of him on Muskoka Road 169 near Gravenhurst. “I need more coffee,” I told my friend. “I think I just saw the Flash – some kind of fundraiser, maybe?” My circle around the lake brought me back to Torrance where Allan Jarick of the Torrance General Mercantile store waved me down. “I’ve got the Flash in my gazebo,” he said, “taking a break from running across Canada for sick children.”

That’s how I ended up mid afternoon on a holiday Monday doing an interview in a gazebo with a guy I’ll probably never meet again, but will always admire.

Jamie McDonald, Coast to Coast Canada Run, SIck Kids Hospital, Torrrance, Muskoka
Jamie “The Flash” McDonald raising money for Sick Kids in Coast to Coast Canada Run. He’s running across the country dressed as The Flash and pushing a tricycle packed with supplies.

Jamie McDonald of Gloucester, England is running across Canada from east coast to west to raise money for the UK charities, Great Ormond Street Children’s Charity and the Pied Piper Appeal, and for Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. McDonald will be the first person to run across Canada alone if he completes his quest, facing all that nature can throw at him all the while carrying a 30kg backpack, the weight of an average nine-year-old boy.
Age nine is how old McDonald was when he finally left hospital after spending his first nine years in and out of Gloucester Royal hospital as well as the Great Ormond Street hospital. He was suffering from a rare spinal condition known as syringomyelia, as well as a weak immune system.

Now McDonald is 26-years-old and it’s a good bet his doctors wouldn’t have thought the little boy they treated would one day run across Canada – let alone do it after cycling from Thailand to England, and then setting a world record for static cycling for 12 days straight.

Stopping in Torrance, Jamie was taking a well-deserved snooze before pushing another 21 kilometres or so to Bass Lake Restaurant where he would meet up with a family who had offered him shelter for the night. He’ll be back at it in the morning heading through Parry Sound (be sure to wave when you see him flash by – 0r better yet, consider donating to his cause. McDonald is dressed as the comic book superhero The Flash).

“Everywhere I’ve gone, people invite me in for dinner and offer me a bed,” says McDonald.”

Jamie McDonald, Coast to Coast Canada Run, SIck Kids Hospital, Torrrance, Muskoka
Dressed as The Flash, Jamie McDonald is a running super hero for sick children in Canada and the UK

Whether it be Iran or Iraq, where McDonald says he met the nicest people in the world during his Thailand to England cycling fundraiser, or here in Canada where donations have quadrupled in the past few weeks to support Sick Kids in Toronto, it’s the people he meets along the way that make his fundraising adventure most rewarding he says. Not to mention the children he’s doing this for in his bid to give back.

“If I can show the kids who are sick that they can still pursue a dream – well that will make it worthwhile as well,” continues McDonald.

So far the “Fundraising Adventurer” has raised just under $11,000 toward his $40,000 goal for his Canadian journey. To donate, click here.

To check out McDonald’s video blog of his adventures – and leave an encouraging comment, click here.

McDonald started his Canada Coast to Coast Run on March 10 and hopes to end by December 18th in Vancouver.

“Norah, ‘The Flash’ calls after me with a cheery red wave – don’t forget to tell the good people that Allan here told me I can have whatever I want from the store.” No worries, Flash. We’re happy to spread good news and we know that you’ll run into people like Allan from Torrance right across this big country of ours.

Related Articles: Running Magazine, McDonald arrives at Sick Kids in Toronto

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Six Mile Lake Boating Tragedy

70-year-old Kingston woman dies in August 3rd crash on Six Mile Lake

Posted August 4, 1pm: A boat crash last night on Six Mile Lake in Georgian Bay has claimed the life of 70-year-old Beverly MacDonald from Kingston, Ontario. The police report states that one of two boats travelling together hit a small island in the lake. A 46-year-old man operating the boat from Athens, Ontario was taken to Saint Michael’s Hospital in Toronto with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Four other passengers ranging in age from 11 to 36 were all taken to Georgian Bay General Hospital with various non-life-threatening injuries.

The investigation into this tragedy is ongoing.

This is the second time in less than a week that people have been hurt in night-time boating collisions in the Muskoka region (See Milford Bay boat accident August 1). In both of these accidents, the boats hit small islands in the dark. Police urge extra caution while navigating our waters at night.

Update: Charges laid almost 4 months after Lake Muskoka boat crash

Update November 28, 4.10pm: Police announce charges in August boat crash

The OPP today announced charges have been laid recently against a 24-year-old woman in relation to an August boating accident in which five young women were injured near Milford Bay. From the OPP report:

In the early hours of August 1, 2013 the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) responded to a crash involving a boat hitting an island on Lake Muskoka, Muskoka Lakes Township. A thorough investigation was completed and the operator of the boat has recently been charged with numerous offences in relation to the crash.

The members of the OPP Bracebridge detachment, the Muskoka lakes fire department, and paramedics all responded to the crash at approximately 2:30 hours on August 1, 2013. The first responders attended Beaumaris Marina and boarded a boat to attend the scene of the collision. The boat involved was found to have had five young females on board on route home from a party. The boat was driven into a small unnamed rock island ejecting some of the occupants, resulting in serious injuries. All females survived the collision and were transported to the hospital.

The operator of the boat, a 24-year-old from Waterdown, has been charged with

  • CC 255(2) Driving While Ability Impaired Cause Bodily Harm
  • CC 255(2.1) Exceed 80 Milligrams Blood Alcohol Content /  Vessel / Cause accident with Bodily Harm
  • CC 249(1) Dangerous Operation of Vessel
  • Operate a pleasure craft without prescribed competency

The charged female will appear in Bracebridge Court on December 17, 2013.

Operating a boat or driving a car impaired continues to be one of the leading causes of criminal death in Canada. If you plan on drinking, plan to not drive. Arrange for a designated driver, take a taxi, or stay overnight.

Five girls injured in early morning boat crash near Milford Bay on Lake Muskoka

Alcohol, reduced visibility may have contributed to crash, say police

Posted Aug. 1, 10:38am: Five girls were injured in a boat crash near Milford Bay early this morning. Three suffered slight injuries and two remain in hospital with serious but non life threatening injuries. Bracebridge OPP report a boat had crashed into an unnamed and uninhabited island located on a northern shore in the Milford Bay area just after 2am. The girls were apparently travelling from one cottage to return to their own cottage but it was raining at the time and visibility was greatly reduced.

Along with the help of a neighbour and fire responders, four of the girls were taken to shore for medical attention. A fifth victim was taken by EMS using the fire rescue boat due to the extent of her injuries. Two of the five girls were less than 18 years old. All the victims are from southern Ontario, and police say alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.