NHL alumnus visits Muskoka as part of Lake of Bays Brewery and NHL alumni contest

Mike Krushelnyski in Bracebridge March 5 to kick off Lace Up with NHL Alumni

Posted Feb. 28, 3.45pm: Now that Lakes of Bays Brewing has the NHL Alumni ‘on speed dial’ as the Baysville company is the Alumni’s official brewery partner, the company has announced it has got none other than NHL alumnus Mike Krushelnyski to drop in to Muskoka next week for a personal appearance. The company issued a press release about its Lace Up with the NHL Alumni campaign kick off today. The details from that release are below. 

Lake of Bays Brewery Press Release:
Mike Krushelnyski (the friendliest NHL alumnus and best Battle of the Blades sport ever), is coming to town to kick off Lace Up with the NHL Alumni, a contest organized by Lake of Bays Brewing and the NHL Alumni Association, in which 18 lucky winners will get to play in an NHL Alumni game and after party, taking place in Sudbury on Saturday May 10.

Mike Krushelnyski in Muskoka, Muskoka News Watch, NHL in Bracebridge, Lake of Bays BreweryWho: Mike Krushelnyski
What: Personal appearance and autograph session
Where: Old Station Restaurant in Bracebridge
When: Wednesday March 5, starting at 6:30 pm
Why: To kick off Lace Up with NHL Alumni contest in Bracebridge

Come on down and meet Mike and share a Top Shelf Classic Lager with us. The life of any party going, Mike likes to bring his Stanley Cup Championship rings along and foist them onto anyone willing to try them on for size.

In addition to being a heck of a personable guy, Mike has had a formidable professional hockey career. He spent 14 years with the NHL, playing for Toronto, Edmonton, Detroit, Boston, and Los Angeles.

Mike Krushelnyski in Muskoka, Muskoka News Watch, NHL in Bracebridge, Lake of Bays Brewery
Lace Up with NHL Alumnus Mike Krushelnyski

He is a three-time Stanley Cup champ on ice (Edmonton ’85, ’87 and ’88) and one time as assistant coach (Detroit ’98). More recently, he competed in the 4th season of Battle of the Blades, skating alongside Marcy Hinzmann.

About Lace Up with the NHL Alumni

The prize: 18 lucky hockey fans get to don their skates and play in a game of shinny alongside the likes of Mark Napier, Mike Pelyk, Bill Derlago, and Jack Valiquette. (Additional NHLAA to be announced). The game is set for Saturday May 10 in Sudbury, and the after party will be at Overtime Sports Bar and Grill, also in Sudbury.

Three Ways to Enter

1. At participating licensees
From March 4 to April 22, patrons at The Old Station Restaurant in Bracebridge, Lockeroom Barrie, Boston Pizza North Bay and Overtime Sports Bar and Grill in Sudbury can fill out a ballot to enter.

The ballots also double as scratch and win tickets, awarding NHL Alumni memorabilia and discounts for Signature Series Club membership. (Signature Series Club is an online beer and collectables club launched in December by Lake of Bays Brewing and the NHLAA. Go to www.signatureseriesclub.com to learn more.)

If you’re planning to be in the North Bay area next Saturday, March 8, Walter Gretzky (aka The Great One’s dad) will be at Boston Pizza to kick the contest off, starting at 11:30 am.

The licensee draw will take place in late April.

2. At participating LCBOs
Look for ballots at nearly 70 participating LCBOs across Central and Northern Ontario. NHL Alumni will be dropping by for an awareness-raising autograph session at the following times and places:

  • March 6: Matthew Barnaby in Sault Ste Marie
  • March 8: Marty McSorley and Matthew Barnaby in North Bay
  • March 15: Timmins, Sudbury, Barrie. NHL Alumni to be announced.

The LCBO draw will take place on the week of March 20. Email us if you would like specific times and locations for those appearances.

3. On Facebook
One lucky Lake of Bays Brewing Facebook friend will get to take part. Just go to our Facebook page, like us and click the contest link. The winner of that one will receive an overnight for two in Sudbury as well.


Muskoka Conservancy welcomes support for two Muskoka Nature Reserves

Nature reserves near Huntsville and Gravenhurst ‘adopted’ by Muskoka Roastery

Posted Feb. 27, 11am: Two more Muskoka Conservancy Nature Reserve projects are being supported through fundraising efforts made possible by Muskoka Roastery Coffee Company.

Muskoka Roastery has donated $2,500 worth of coffee for the Muskoka Conservancy to sell. All of the money raised through these sales will support projects on the Nelson Head Nature Reserve in Huntsville, and the Musquash Road Nature Reserve just outside of Gravenhurst.

“This is the third year that Muskoka Roastery has supported the work of the Muskoka Conservancy, and their support is increasing,” says Kristie Virgoe, Executive Director of the Muskoka Conservancy (MC). “This support is vital to the long-term protection of Muskoka’s beautiful landscape.”

The Musquash Road Nature Reserve is 195 acres that is surrounded by and managed as part of the Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Reserve. Club Link donated the land to MC in 2001. “As part of the Dark Sky Reserve, Musquash Road Nature Reserve is a spectacular place to visit and see the night sky,” says Virgoe. “The generous support of the Muskoka Roastery Coffee Co will help us manage this property for the many visitors it receives through the year.”

The Nelson Head Nature Reserve covers just over 9 acres in the heart of Huntsville. Aldine Head donated the unique piece of wilderness in 2012 in memory of her father-in-law, Nelson, and her husband, Bill. The property was the site of their original homestead and has a spring fed cold-water stream running through it.  “This property is unique because it is so close to the downtown centre of Huntsville. The Nelson Head Nature Reserve is a wonderful combination of our human history and our natural heritage,” says Virgoe.

nature reserve, Muskoka Conservancy, Nelson Head, Musquash, news about Muskoka, protecting Muskoka environment
Nelson Head Nature Reserve in Huntsville.                        Photo: Kristie Virgoe

Muskoka Conservancy (MC) is a charitable land trust that works with the community to protect sensitive lands, provide private land stewardship, and educational outreach throughout Muskoka. MC is honoured to work with landowners to protect Muskoka’s special places by establishing nature reserves and conservation easements. To date, they protect over 1,800 acres of Muskoka’s iconic landscape.

“When we protect property, we promise our donors that we will steward the land forever,” says Virgoe. “This is a promise we take very seriously. Stewardship and monitoring properties requires time and resources, and we are very grateful to the Muskoka Roastery Coffee Company for adopting two special properties for 2014.”

While Virgoe indicates that much of the monitoring is done by volunteers, expenses include updating signage, paying property taxes, and any environmental clean-up that needs to take place on the properties each year.

“Muskoka Roastery Coffee Co is very excited by this partnership,” adds Patricia Snell, President and co-founder of the company in Huntsville. “Here at MRCC we have a deep connection with Muskoka, the place we call home. Our partnership with Muskoka Conservancy allows us to contribute to protecting and sustaining the natural splendour of our environment”.

For over 25 years, the Muskoka Conservancy (formerly the Muskoka Heritage Foundation and Trust) has provided comprehensive environmental stewardship and outreach programs. The first property was donated 24 years ago and the Muskoka Conservancy has been protecting the regions’ natural spaces ever since.  Today, the organization protects a total of 32 properties totaling over 1,800 acres of sensitive wetlands, forests, rock barrens, and shorelines. With over 200 active volunteers, the organization keeps its operation costs low and dedicates most resources to stewardship projects, land conservation, and community outreach.  Muskoka Conservancy believes in working with community to build and support a vibrant Muskoka that honours the natural environment and the traditions of the area.

Good samaritan who died in Hwy 400 crash identified as Jonathan Antler-Paquette

 21-year-old Jonathan Antler-Paquette died helping at crash site

Posted Feb. 25, 3.20pm: Police have released the name of the man who was killed after stopping to help an accident victim on Highway 400 near Vasey Road in Severn Township yesterday.

The good samaritan has been identified as 21-year-old Jonathan Antler-Paquette from Victoria Harbour.

Antler-Paquette stopped to help a man in a van that had hit a snowbank and flipped over. A transport truck and trailer trying to stop jackknifed and hit the young man. A pickup truck following behind the transport also slammed into the tractor trailer. The tragic collision had the highway closed for over seven hours.

The driver of the van was taken to hospital and was later released. The two other drivers involved were uninjured. The investigation by Orillia OPP continues.

Remembering Jonathan Antler-Paquette

In memory of this young man, has family has asked that a donation to Courageous Companions Elite Service Dog Program at  would be appreciated. If instructions on how to donate are needed please contact Tubman Funeral Homes. For condolences, tributes or to donate go to www.tubmanfuneralhomes.com.


Stuck snowmobiler in Lake of Bays prompts search and rescue, another sled crashes near Baysville

Friends call for help after Sledder stuck in snow near Bigwin Island

Posted Feb, 24m 12:40pm: When weather stopped friends from helping a Lake of Bays sledder stuck on Bigwin Island Friday night, they called for help.

Huntsville OPP report a 51-year-old Lake of Bays man had gone for a ride when he got stuck in deep snow. Friends were contacted to help, but weather conditions made it unable for them to lend a hand. Just after 7pm Friday night, Huntsville Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) along with Muskoka EMS and Lake of Bays Fire department were notified of the missing snowmobiler.

The OPP detachment snow machines, Lake of Bays Fire, and EMS attended Port Cunnington Road in preparation of starting a search. Just before 10pm, the man was found unhurt and he was taken home.

Huntsville OPP would like to remind avid snowmobilers to always check weather before heading out; to tell someone your planned route; and always carry a cell phone.

Sledder crashes into tree near Baysville, taken to hospital

The Friday rescue wasn’t the only time this weekend that EMS in the Lake of Bays area was called into action. On Saturday just before 10pm Lake of Bays Fire department, along with Muskoka EMS and Huntsville OPP were told of a snowmobile crashing into a tree on OFSC trail D close to Highway #117 in Baysville.

With the help of Lake of Bays Fire, the victim, a 51 year old man from Waterloo, was taken by rescue sled out to the ambulance where he was transported to a local hospital, and then by air ambulance to a Toronto Hospital.  The man suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Gold Morning Muskoka!

Team Canada Wins Again! We did it in One-Two-Three!

Posted February 23, 9:17am: It’s still the best game you can name, and we own it at the Olympics.

Sidney Crosby, Team Canada captain, Sochi, Gold Medal Game
Crosby’s a guy you can count on! Goal 2! Photo Credit: Canadian Olympic Team Official Web Site

Canadians rose early this wintry morning to watch the big Olympic hockey finale (before the ‘final’ finale of the Closing Ceremonies) and were not disappointed. Team Canada won over Sweden, 3-0.

Team Canada AC Jonathan Toews started his team off in the first period with the first goal. Then it was Captain Sidney Crosby’s turn in the second.

And in the third? It was Chris Kunitz of Regina scoring Canada’s third goal in the third period, and then, with ten minutes to go, a penalty call against Canada had us all at the edge of our seats. After all, anything can happen, right? While the Swedes played hard, it was not to be a nail biter comeback like that by our Canadian women’s team (arguably amongst the most exciting hockey games ever to be played and watched. Ever.).

Congratulations to all Canadian Olympians. Like the hash tag says, #WeAreWinter.

Team Canada, Bracebridge
Crowd counts down at Boston Pizza Bracebridge

Where were you at 7am this morning? Muskoka News Watch welcomes your comments on this and your other favourite Olympic moments (think Dara Howell!).

Courtesy of Meghan Eidt at Boston Pizza in Bracebridge, here’s a video of the crowd cheering on Team Canada early on in the winning game. Click here to view YouTube video.

Next:  Get ready to cheer on Graeme Murray of Gravenhurst in Paralympic Sledge Hockey. The Paralympics in Sochi start March 7.

Team Canada, hockey, Sochi, Chicago Blackhawks, Jonathan Toews
Team Canada AC Jonathan Toews (Chicago Blackhawks) gets first goal in first period.

Related articles: Dara Howell of Huntsville takes Gold at Sochi, Muskoka News Watch


Sledders stranded on Lake Joe rescued by Muskoka Lakes fire fighters

Stuck sled left five people stranded: calling for help the ‘right thing to do’ says Fire Chief

Posted Feb. 19, 9.05am: The Muskoka Lakes Fire Department was called out to an ice rescue last night (about 7:30pm) on Lake Joseph near Scully road. Fire Chief Richard Richard Hayes says five people were snowmobiling on the lake when their machines got stuck in a slushy area. He says the sledders were not familiar with the ice conditions in that area.

“After assessing the ice, our team made its way to the stranded people and led them safely back to shore,” says Hayes.  There were no injuries.  Hayes says the snowmobilers did the right thing:  “There was open water not too far from where they were stranded, but they did not panic nor did they try to rescue themselves.” Instead, as it was dark, they opted to call for help.  “We believe this made the difference between an ‘easy’ rescue and a difficult one,” adds Hayes.

From Stratford to Bracebridge, a new Economic Development Manager named

Randy Mattice new Manager of Economic Development for Bracebridge

Posted Feb. 17, 7pm: The Town of Bracebridge today announced the appointment of Randy Mattice as Manager of Economic Development for the Town. He takes on the post on March 17.  Mattice will report to Cheryl Kelley, the Town’s Director of Planning

Randy Mattice, Bracebridge
Picture from Mattice’s LinkedIn profile

and Development, and is responsible for overseeing the Town’s Economic Development programs and activities focused on business retention, expansion and attraction.

He will also oversee tourism and cultural aspects of the Town’s economic development program.

For more information on his appointment, please click here


Police searching for missing Huntsville man

OPP looking for Huntsville man who went missing February 2nd
Posted Feb. 15, 8:30pm: Members of the Huntsville OPP are searching for a 64-year-old man who went missing on February 2. Kevin Proffitt’s disappearance was reported to police yesterday afternoon.

Friends and his landlord have been trying to locate Kevin Proffitt of Main Street, Huntsville without success, and are concerned for his well-being.

Proffitt is described as male, white, 5’ 6”, medium build, with gray balding hair (see picture). The last time he was seen was on the weekend of February 2, 2014.

Anyone who has any information about this situation is asked to contact Huntsville OPP.

Mayor Murphy’s Twitter attack of Oakville Mayor

Murphy continues to infer Oakville Mayor a liar on Twitter re Bala Falls; ‘trolling’, misinformation appear as go to mayoral tactics

Opinion by Norah Fountain: Stop the Twits: Follow Dignity and Integrity Instead

Posted February 15, 6pm: Oakville Mayor Rob Burton said ‘No’ in October 2013 in The Toronto Star. He said No again in November 2013 in a letter to Save the Bala Falls. When presented with a letter on Monday showing the Mayor of Muskoka Lakes complaining about Oakville’s alleged involvement with the Bala hydro project to Premier Wynne and Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, Burton again said No.

But Mayor Alice Murphy won’t take No for an answer.

Burton had to repeat ‘No’ again – twice – last night on Twitter – the Mayor’s apparent fave forum for picking fights, which some might consider to be ‘trolling’ [Trolling in Internet lingo is a term for online harassment]. When pushed to his Twitter limit, Burton then gave Murphy fodder for something she’ll most likely turn into ‘proof’ that she was right all along.

The following is the Tweet exchange last night between an exasperated Mayor Burton in response to Murphy’s allegation that his answer of ‘No’ was ‘Gamesmanship’. This time, he said more than No.Murphy & Burton Tweet

No doubt some context would be helpful.

Last year, rumours swirled around Bala that there might be a company about to buy Swift River Energy Limited (SREL), the company selected to develop a small hydro project in Bala. These rumours were fueled by a post on the Save the Bala Falls web site, despite the fact the same November 13, 2013 post confirmed the Town of Oakville had said ‘it was not involved in the project’.

Read the Toronto Star article yourself and you’ll see why Save the Bala Falls was looking for clarification. You’ll see that Burton says he had spoken with Murphy and suggested it might be possible for Oakville to invest to make the project better. Word for word, here is what The Toronto Star article ACTUALLY says, despite Murphy’s repeated twist that it means Oakville is still considering buying in (she also claims in the article that she has never spoken to Burton).

From The Toronto Star article by John Spears, October 22, 2013:

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton, who sits on the board of Oakville Hydro, says he offered to invest in the project and work out a solution that would result in a safe and aesthetically acceptable power station.

But he said in an interview that Murphy wasn’t interested.

“I’ve told her: We could buy it, and we could put in the mitigations and that would be your sort of half a loaf. Then I discovered she wasn’t interested in mitigations either,” he said.

But he doesn’t want to start a war:

I have no interest in the matter unless it can be done in a friendly and congenial way,” he said.

Weeks before I read this article in October, and the first — and second times — I heard the rumours of a potential Oakville involvement, I called the project manager acting for SREL to ask if the rumours were true. Karen McGhee said she had not heard anything. A few weeks later, and pressing harder, McGhee said she was tired of this line of questioning as she had fielded similar questions over the past few months, and pointed out that “after all, any company at any time might get an offer to be bought  — surely you are aware of that.”

No argument there. Look at BlackBerry. Or this week’s merger between America’s biggest cable companies – Comcast and Time Warner. The possibility that a company might buy another is not unexpected, nor unusual, unless a government steps in to stop the buy for some reason. As a former CFO for a diamond company (the irony is not lost on anyone who knows our Township’s mayor last worked in an industry often criticized for its environmental impact), Murphy knows a thing or two about how business works. Yet her ongoing barrage belies that fact. Consider this one from last night (note she marks it as ‘Follow-up 2’ in the middle of one of her Twitter ‘filibusters’).

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 1.19.03 PMJust like Murphy said during budget deliberations yesterday that she wouldn’t want to pigeonhole future councils (regarding hospital funding), there is no way Mayor Burton can predict what future councils might do.

But will Oakville ever invest, asks Murphy

Hypothetically, let’s say The Town of Oakville (and remember, right now Mayor Burton is on the Board of Oakville Hydro) decides sometime in the future to invest in the project or buy it outright. How does that help Murphy’s efforts to stop the building of it? Maybe a new owner would be less disheartened since the bulk of the public battle is over, or maybe they would disregard the vast public input of the past 10 years. The latter could be bad, and granted, local investment is generally better, but why does it matter so much to Murphy?

The answer may be that it doesn’t matter. Not a dam. More possibly, the rumour mongering and public fight with another Mayor is a bid to dissuade any potential investors as building a hydro plant takes money. So perpetuating a rumour that Oakville wants to buy in and having Burton constantly saying he won’t get involved in a hostile project could be an effective stall the plant strategy. In that case, Oakville is just a pawn (and so is this opinion writer!).

The EXTRA bonus of using Oakville is the chance to tie in to the gas plant controversy. Murphy and her Save the Bala Falls colleagues have attempted to draw a direct parallel between a gas plant and a small hydro project. I won’t get into the energy differences, or levels of concern, but I will take a stab at the political realities which quickly leave the ‘let’s stop it like they did the gas plant’ plan a non starter. Say the gas plant was moved to save a Liberal seat. Many believe this. I have no informed opinion on that one, but I do know Parry Sound-Muskoka. The last time I checked, MPP Norm Miller isn’t going anywhere. He’s got a strong hold on our riding as a Conservative, so there’s no reason to believe the Liberals will jump to nix a contract with SREL to try and win an election here (some believe that the only reason the north Bala Falls site was released for development in 2003 was because we are a Conservative riding: that this whole drama never would have happened had it been a Liberal riding. But just as we can’t predict the future reliably, it’s hard to go back 10 years and paint a potentially different political scenario…).

This brings us back to WHY Murphy enjoys misinforming whomever will see her comments on Twitter (to be fair, her twists stick to politics; she does post encouraging truisms about Muskoka, too). Perhaps she desires a media storm of controversy (Trolling is also defined as deliberately intending to provoke an emotional response and disrupting on-topic discussion). So she compares Oakville to Bala. She drags Oakville’s Mayor into our local ‘Dram-ocracy’ so she can get ink. Shows her followers constantly that she’s still fighting.

It’s working. This editorial proves it. I’ve been sucked in.

Admire persistence but deplore tactics

The fact is, Murphy is a master of misinformation in her bid to do whatever it takes to fight the building of a hydro plant. Indeed, that’s her goal, and her persistence is the only thing for which I give her kudos. Murphy ran for mayor to stop the hydro plant across from her cottage in Bala (she herself has said that’s what made her become an activist in Bala). Many voters in Bala gave her a mandate to do that, she says, and I believe that is why many people voted for her in Ward A (some voters in Wards B & C may have different reasons, but even Township staff have said she’s ‘all about the falls’ and it’s hard for anyone to argue that Bala has not been the focus for the past four years.)

Do the ends justify the means? Big No. Arguably, the Mayor’s actions also break with Township policy C-GG-05 that states: “The Mayor assures the integrity of the Township Council’s process and represents the Township Council to outside parties in a dignified and professional manner.” That policy also as things to say staying within jurisdiction…

Simply put: Murphy’s behaviour is embarrassing.

I’m not the only one who thinks that: sources at District and Township among staff and councillors have told me they feel the same way. It’s clear at least one Mayor in another municipality thinks that, too.

Some worry that any sympathetic ear Muskoka Lakes had with government agencies and politicians in other levels of government may be gone. I think we can expect Murphy’s ongoing fight to get even more outrageous and expensive during the silly season approaching the municipal election.

What about conflict of interest?

Asked again by a reader of MNW last night: Does the Mayor have a conflict of interest? To be in conflict means there must be a money aspect. Just because she lives directly across from the proposed plant location, she says, is not a conflict because she is fighting the plant just as others in her situation are doing. Despite the lousy optics, I concede she’s argued that well. Besides, no money is at stake, unless she were to ask or get agreement from SREL to buy her property or something like that.

Where she might have a conflict of interest is in voting on anything to do with Swift River due to the defamation suit against her personally. Murphy stands to lose — or gain — money depending on the outcome of the suit. As a result, if she doesn’t want to declare a conflict of interest, it’s in HER best interests to never allow Council to speak with SREL about anything regarding the project – even if it could help the community. She knows Council is split on trying to soften the potential construction impact of the project on Bala. Four councillors have indicated they think enough money has been spent fighting and a few have been requesting an official meeting go ahead with SREL.

As well, Councillor Allen Edwards has repeatedly said he wants to hear from the people on the issue, and in a meeting last month when Council debated the topic of SREL’s design concept survey (the one Murphy called ‘disrespectful’ in a Gravenhurst Banner article), Councillor Phil Harding said he’d like to hear from people, too. If Murphy lets a respectful conversation with SREL happen that leads to any vote or decision at either Township or District, she might have to declare a conflict and not be able to vote against any compromise. That’s why I think you’ll never see any ‘real’ offers of any constructive or ‘fulsome dialogue’ to use Murphy’s own words. Her constant accusation that SREL refuses is ‘disingenuous’ – another favourite Murphy phrase that came up at least five times in the Judicial Review hearing I attended, but it wasn’t uttered by Murphy. ‘Disingenuous’ was used by the judges at least four times  in reference to the Township’s position — and once by the Township lawyer in defence of that charge.

Who really pays the price?

The worst thing in my mind (admittedly, a paradoxical opinion after saying no one can predict the future) is that my own prediction IS coming true.

In August 2011, I delegated to the present Council to express support for Option 2 (a plant option away from the Falls). I warned if Township didn’t at least try and talk reasonably with any developer, people who love Bala Falls might get everything we DID NOT WANT.

bala falls, muskoka news, bala, parking lot, new crosswalk, swift river energy, muskoka lakes, mayor murphy, norah fountain, save the bala falls
Presentation and ask of Council August 2011

We did not want extra signage. We now have it – portage signs fighting with do not trespass signs, etc. We did not want fences. We did not want a plant built on the edge of the falls. We did not want to lose access to either side of the north falls. As I said earlier, we can’t go backward in time. Option Two is gone. I left Council that day (August 29, 2011), with these words: please don’t make a long-term mess the Council’s legacy.

I thought then it would mostly hurt the people of Bala. Now I believe Murphy’s mess is hurting the entire township.

Note: Murphy is invited to respond via comment any time she wishes to this editorial on this page as opposed to typing 140 characters on Twitter. Of course, this is a ‘dram-ocracy’ and she is free to do what she wants. I just want everyone to know her comment would be printed just as she sends it.

Related Articles:

Twitter Disclosure: Sometimes I act like Twit on Twitter, too, and I try hard to avoid the occasional jab, but sometimes I slip. You can follow @MuskokaMedia for Non Twit like remarks and only Muskoka content or @Muskokahn for my personal views and opinions.

Do you want to comment on this editorial? All comments are welcome. To make sure you are human and not repeating comments using aliases, we ask for your first and last name and email address, but only your first name will be published unless you indicate otherwise. For regular commenters, you may notice on your own computer browser that your name and email shows up. That’s because it is cached on your own computer, so it’s always a good idea after you Submit to go back and delete your personal info. If you’re new to MNW, you’ll get a response telling you when your comment is published. To know more about our Comment policies, read About MNW. Thank you.

About Muskoka News Watch: Muskoka News Watch exists primarily on donations. If you appreciate us keeping you informed with comprehensive articles such as this one, consider tossing a few dollars our way via the Donate Button on the top right hand corner of our Home Page. Or tell potential advertisers about us. Thank you.




Tags: Muskoka News, Alice Murphy, Rob Burton, Save the Bala Falls, Swift River Energy

Muskoka Lakes Mayor accuses Oakville of secretly funding Bala Falls hydro plant; Oakville says no

Charges Oakville considers an “unacceptable hydro plant” an acceptable Oakville investment’;  and begs province to “not put lives at risk” in letter to Premier and MP.

Posted Feb. 14, 3.15pm: Muskoka Lakes Mayor Alice Murphy has again tried to drag the Town of Oakville into ongoing controversy surrounding a proposed hydro plant at the north Bala Falls. In a letter written on Township of Muskoka Lakes letterhead and distributed via Twitter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, Murphy claimed Township had learned that Oakville may be the silent financial backer of the hydro project. She proceeds to write that “As we all know, a gas plant was politically unacceptable in Oakville but an unacceptable hydro plant in Muskoka is apparently supported as an Oakville investment.”

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton was quick to respond to Muskoka News Watch (MNW) inquiries with copies of his own correspondence to the Premier and MP Raitt on Monday, in which he states emphatically,

“With respect to the reference to the Town of Oakville in the 5th paragraph of this letter (Murphy’s letter), please be advised that the Town of Oakville is not “…the silent financial backer of this project.”

Meantime, MNW was polling Township Councillors on how aware they were of the letter and its allegations. Four Councillors – Ruth Nishikawa, Phil Harding, Donelda Kruckel and Allen Edwards — say they had been advised of the letter. Nishikawa and Kruckel said it had been discussed at council at a ‘past meeting’ and Kruckel said she had been surprised to learn that Oakville was involved. Harding responded he was “advised that the Mayor was writing a letter. The general contents were discussed; the specifics were not in question.” Harding adds the letter has his full support as a Councillor concerned about navigation on our waterways. He said he was not aware of the Twitter post. A question to the Township Chief Administrative Officer requesting clarification about which meeting date the discussion about the letter had occurred went unanswered.

Council split on purported Council discussion

It was a completely different story about whether Council knew about the letter from Councillors Don Furniss, Jean-Ann Baranik and Gault McTaggart. They say they never saw the letter and it was not discussed in Council (Brad Burgess and Ron Brent are on holidays and could not be reached for comment).

Furniss was especially surprised by the contents of the letter as the Oakville Mayor had stated previously and publicly that he does not want to be involved as an investor in a green energy project viewed as a hostile project. Furniss adds he’s “seen nothing or heard anything factual that shows that Oakville has become an investor in the Bala Falls small hydro project.”

(In October 2013 in a Toronto Star article, Mayor Burton spoke about how he offered to Murphy to consider investment in the project to work out a solution but she was not interested. He stated in the article that Oakville was not interested in pursuing the project after speaking with Murphy, who was also quoted in the article. Read Bala hydro project roils Muskoka and Oakville Mayors.)

“I can tell you that if you read the minutes of the meetings, I don’t see anything in there that shows that this letter was discussed,” continues Furniss. “My position and several other councillors’ positions with the Mayor is that if she is sending letters on Township stationary under the Mayor’s name to higher levels of government that those should be reviewed by Council before they are sent,” says Furniss. “She doesn’t agree with that but you can see what happens when she sends them: they are riddled with errors.”

Furniss continues: “This isn’t the first time she’s sent a letter and in the past she’s been called on it by other councillors. She feels she can send whatever she wants, whenever she wants, on Township letterhead. I have a real problem with that. Certainly I don’t have the ability to get township letter head to send letters out.”

Furthermore he says the Mayor’s letter contains information that is completely wrong. “The Mayor’s claim that the project’s final operating footprint is 16 times larger than the original hydro plant on the site is absolutely false. Where does she get this balderdash?” Furniss warns the Mayor’s ongoing letter campaigns will only make things worse with the province. “If the Mayor continues to ignore requests of Council to have opportunity to review and comment on letters of policy to higher levels of government, it could get to the point, in my opinion, where the Township has become a leper in the eyes of the province.”

Councillor McTaggart agrees with Furniss’ concerns and emailed this response:

I do not approve of the letter for several reasons:

a- as it was sent on TML letterhead “office of the mayor”and signed as “mayor” it has the appearance of being the thoughts and position of the township and council. Without council agreement and resolution It should have been sent on Alice’s personal stationary and signed without the position of mayor.

b- the reference to Oakville is misleading. Oakville has indicated that they are not an investor, and even if they were, what right would TML have to prevent them from investing?

c- misleading errors! The proposed facility will not be 16 times the footprint of the previous power facility. I believe that the power generated will be about that multiple of the original.

This is not the first time that a letter has been sent to senior government members without discussion and review by council, in spite of requests of councillors to see and review letters that will be sent to senior government representatives.”

References (please click on images to view in larger size – and clear type): Below left is the Tweet issued by the Mayor which also contained her letter to the Premier and MP Raitt. The Tweet from the Mayor complains that the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is now signing off on matters of federal jurisdiction. Below the Tweet is a copy of the letter in which she implies Oakville is backing the hydro project, followed by Oakville Mayor Rob Burton’s response to Muskoka News Watch and his letter to Premier Wynne as a result of MNW asking for his reaction to the Murphy letter.

Related Articles:

Dear MNW Subscribers, Some of you have complained Murphy’s letter to the Premier and Lisa Raitt is too hard to read. You’re right. It is, as it is only a picture of what Murphy displayed online. If you want to explore the letter further — and Councillors’ responses to it, click here to read a new sidebar article published February 16 entitled Who is Zooming Who, a Critical Look

Mayor tweetMayor Letter Feb 7 2014

Burton EmailEmail to Premier from Mayor Burton following MNW ask for reaction.

Oakville Mayor, Rob Burton, Muskoka Lakes Mayor accuses Oakville

About Muskoka News Watch: Muskoka News Watch exists primarily on donations. If you appreciate us keeping you informed with comprehensive articles such as this one, consider tossing a few dollars our way via the Donate Button on the top right hand corner of our Home Page. Or tell potential advertisers about us. Thank you.

Feature Picture: Murphy turning back on cameras while trying to halt test drilling at proposed Bala hydro project site, June 2013.


Federal budget reinforces job focus, says Clement; critics call it a ‘sleight of hand’ budget

Economic action plan 2014 demonstrates commitment to jobs and opportunities, says Clement; budget commentators for iPolitics say there’s little substance to “The Road to Balance”

Posted February 11, 5.2o pm: Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement has released his take on the budget released by Jim Flaherty today. He says he welcomes the focus on job creation, economic growth, and keeping taxes low – along with its plan to get back to balance by 2015 – as a positive for Parry Sounders and Muskokans.  To read his full take on today’s budget in a press release from his office, please scroll down this page.

Every budget brings accolades and criticism. For coverage from all media outlets, Muskoka News Watch recommends visiting OntarioNewsWatch.com

We also recommend iPolitics.ca for its coverage of the budget. It offers the full Jim Flaherty budget speech and analysis by Scott Clark and Peter DeVries, including an article entitled “Much ad about a ‘do nothing’ budget.” iPolitics is normally subscription based but its budget coverage is open for your reading pleasure.

Unfortunately, MuskokaNewsWatch.com doesn’t have a bureau on the Hill – at least not yet. Happy budget perusing!


OTTAWA – Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement is welcoming the federal budget, Economic Action Plan 2014, and its focus on job creation, economic growth, and keeping taxes low – along with its plan to get back to balance by 2015 – as a positive for Parry Sounders and Muskokans.

“While Canada has the strongest job creation record among all G-7 countries, with more than 1 million net new jobs created since the depth of the global recession, too many Canadians are still looking for work,” said MP Clement. “That’s why Economic Action Plan 2014 will continue our Conservative Government’s focus on creating more jobs and growing the economy in Parry Sound-Muskoka and across the country.”

While the NDP and Liberals had been publicly calling for the federal budget to include new tax hikes on Canadians and more deficit spending, our Government rejected both demands. Indeed, Economic Action Plan 2014 contained no new taxes on families and businesses, while also continuing to ensure government spending was efficient and effective as possible.

 “As we’ve seen in places like Greece and Detroit, not having one’s fiscal house in order can lead to incredible economic instability, dramatic cuts to government programs and higher taxes,” said MP Clement.

Economic Action Plan 2014 includes key measures to support Ontario families and strengthen our economy, while keeping taxes low and returning to balanced budgets in 2015, including:

  • Launching the Canada Job Grant: so that Canadians can get the skills training they need to get in-demand jobs.
  • Creating the Canada Apprentice Loan: which will provide apprentices in Red Seal trades access to over $100 million in interest-free loans each year.
  • Launching a Job Matching Service: this new service will automatically match Canadians looking for work with employers looking to hire them.
  • Increasing Paid Internships for Young Canadians: investing $55 million to create paid internships for recent graduates in small and medium-sized businesses and in high-demand fields.
  • Helping Older Workers Get Back to Work: investing $75 million in the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers to support older workers who want to participate in the job market.
  • Cutting Red Tape for Small Business: cutting 800,000 payroll remittances for 50,000 small businesses.
  • Making Landmark Investments in Research & Innovation: $1.5 billion over the next decade for research at universities through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund.
  • Conserving Canada’s Natural Heritage: investing in Canada’s national parks and historic canals, conserving recreational fisheries, expanding tax relief for the environmental conservation of lands, encouraging clean energy generation with tax relief to new green technologies, and more.
  • Supporting Families: enhancing tax relief for families adopting a child, expanding tax relief for health-related services, capping wholesale wireless rates to make service more affordable, cracking down on cross-border price discrimination, and more.
  • Strengthening Communities: improving broadband in rural and remote communities, establishing a $200 million National Disaster Mitigation Program to help communities prepare for natural disasters, introducing a Search and Rescue Volunteers Tax Credit, and more.
  • Standing Up for Victims of Crime: implementing the Victim’s Bill of Rights and proving funding for a DNA-based Missing Persons Index.
  • And much more.

Unlike the previous Liberal government, who balanced the budget on the backs of the provinces, our Conservative Government continued to grow provincial transfers to record levels. For Ontario, the federal budget confirmed that transfers will total $19.2 billion in 2014-15 – a whopping 76% increase from under the previous Liberal government.

“While the Liberals radically slashed transfers to Ontario, decimating the health care, education and other important social services that families here rely on, under our Conservative Government federal support has grown to historic levels, and will continue to grow into the future,” says MP Clement.

Muskoka Olympian Dara Howell Takes Gold: Huntsville pulls all nighter to watch!

Good morning, subscribers. I’m sure all of you woke up to the wonderful news of Dara Howell of Huntsville winning Gold at Sochi in Slopestyle. To read more about the story and links to a great article by local on-scene reporter Chris Occhiuzzi, please click here to read the MNW update and earlier posts by Muskoka News Watch.

Dara made history today in the first ever women’s slopestyle – a proud day for Canada and Muskoka.

Muskoka Olympian Dara Howell takes Gold in slopestyle

Dara brings home the Gold, Kim Lamarre, Bronze, in slopestyle event: Their wins give Canada even greater lead at Sochi

February 11: 8am: “I think that’s the best run I’ve ever done,” an ecstatic Dara Howell told reporters after her winning slopestyle run in the finals, held 4am this morning. Over a Dara Howell Feb 11hundred people gathered at the Muskoka Ski Club at Hidden Valley Highlands ski area to watch Dara, including many generations and relatives of the Howell family. Dara posted an 88.8 on her first run in the semi finals that started at 1 am and in her final run, she scored at 94.2

What’s Up Muskoka reporter Chris Occhuizzi was there with the emotional crowd. Read his account here in The Toronto Sun

Not only are Muskokans swelling with pride and Canada thrilled to have such a strong lead now in the overall media count, there are many other reasons why Dara’s win is so poignant and resonates across the Canada and the world of freestyle skiing. Sarah Burke of Squamish, B.C. trailblazed the sport of freestyle skiing and fought long and hard to have the event included in the Olympic Winter Games. She was a favourite to win gold at these games but her dream was cut short when she died in 2012 after a training accident in Utah. Skiiers who wanted to honour Burke by wearing Sarah Burke stickers on their helmets were told by the International Olympic Committee that the stickers would not be tolerated as they would be considered a political statement. Burke’s mother, Jan Phelan, was at the Sochi slopestyle site to see Burke’s legacy in action.

In an interview with CBC after today’s win by Dara, Huntsville’s hometown girl spoke about Burke:  “Earlier this week I said I wish a Canadian would win a gold medal, and it would be for Sarah. To be that person, I didn’t expect it and you work so hard for it, it’s truly amazing. I know she would be proud and happy and I just want to keep pushing this sport and pushing myself and doing what I love to do and I know she would honour that.”

Dara Howell has started off an exciting and historic day for women in sport. As well as the first slopestyle event, the first women’s ski jump competition also takes place in Sochi today.

ORIGINAL POST January 29, 2014: Midnight start won’t stop Huntsville from cheering on Dara Howell

Olympic cheerfest starts Feb. 10 at Midnight at Hidden Valley; Dara’s slopestyle events begin at 1am

Posted January 20, 5:40pm:  It’s not often we get a hometown girl realizing Olympic dreams and we can all cheer on slopestyler Dara Howell from the comfort of the Muskoka Ski Club on February 10.

The only catch is that her freestyle ski event will be happening midnight our time. So grab a nap and some java and join the crowd at Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area to cheer this talented 19-year-old on. The ski area has issued an invitation for those who want to join them in watching Dara make her bid for Olympic Gold in real-time.

Schedule of Dara’s Olympic Events:

Slopestyle, freestyle skiing, Muskoka, news about Muskoka, Dara Howell
Dara Howell of Huntsville competing in Olympic Slopestyle event
  • Ladies’ Slopestyle Qualifiers start at 1:00 a.m.
  • Ladies’ Slopestyle Finals start at 4:00 a.m.

Local ‘Cheer Dara On’ Details:

  • This is a FREE family-friendly event.
  • Time: From midnight February 10 to 5am February 11.
  • Where: Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area, Members’ Lounge
  • What: CBC Olympic coverage will be on the big screen; there will be activities for kids (make a sign to cheer on Dara!), and complimentary snacks. A cash bar will also be available for a limited time.

RSVP not required, but if you plan to come, organizers ask that you please join our Facebook event page by clicking here (or email dawn@skihiddenvalley.ca if not on Facebook).

Organizers suggest you wear a Dara Howell shirt (available at Algonquin Outfitters), and sport Olympic colours (red, black & white!) and/or Olympic mitts to show your support.

Photo provided by Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area and Canadian Freestyle Ski Association.


More and earlier say on cell tower sites, promises MP Tony Clement

Industry Canada unveils new rules for cell tower placement

The following is a verbatim press release from the office of Parry Sound-Muskoka Tony Clement.

Posted Feb. 5, 3:30pm: Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement said that new Industry Canada rules announced today will ensure the public have their say on proposed cell towers in their communities, regardless of their proposed size.

“I know the issue of proposed cell towers has caused conflict in several areas across Parry Sound-Muskoka, and the public deserves to have a say in how any new cell tower locations are identified,“ said MP Clement. “Improvements to Industry Canada’s Antenna Tower Siting Policy will ensure that local residents and municipal governments are at the forefront of the tower placement process.”

Over the last 20 years, wireless services have grown into something that Canadian consumers rely on every day. As a result, we are seeing an increasing number of new cell towers being constructed in our communities. The placement of these towers is becoming ever more divisive with the rapidly increasing demand for wireless services.

The changes to the policy guiding the installation of new antenna towers will require companies to:

  • consult communities on all commercial tower installations, regardless of height;
  • build the tower within three years of consulting with communities; and
  •  ensure that residents are well-informed of upcoming consultations.

The improvements will also strengthen federal communications with the public on tower siting procedures, including new online resources on the process, and new reporting mechanisms to track tower issues and report back to communities.

These measures build on the Harper Government’s current tower sharing policies that require companies to first look at sharing existing tower infrastructure, whenever they can, to reduce the number of new towers needed in each community.







“Canadian consumers expect their government to make decisions that will deliver more choice, lower prices and better service in the wireless sector for all Canadians,“ said MP Clement. “The Government of Canada will continue to work with the wireless sector in the weeks ahead on ways to more effectively balance the concerns of local communities.“


Quick facts


•            Under the existing cell tower siting policy, a company is only required to consult the community when it plans to build an antenna tower taller than 15 metres.

•            Before any company can build a new cell tower, it is required to look at alternatives like whether there is an existing tower in the same area that it can share

•            All antenna towers, no matter the height, location or power, have to satisfy Industry Canada’s technical requirements and comply with Health Canada’s rules to ensure the safety of Canadians.


Train hits stalled car in Torrance, no one hurt

Update Feb 4:17pm: : As of 4 pm , the train has now moved and all is clear at Neal’s Road in Torrance. The car was out of the ditch before 2pm.

Torrance, rail and car crash, Muskoka news
No one hurt after car stalled on tracks at 12:30pm today in Torrance: CN workers say train should be moving soon (as of 2:30pm)

Train crashes into car on Neal’s Road in Torrance; no one injured

Posted Feb. 4, 2pm: There’s been a crash involving a car and train on Neals Road in Torrance. No one has been hurt, according to Bracebridge OPP at the scene.

Today around 12:30pm, a car was on Neal’s Road heading over the train tracks when it reportedly stalled. The occupants tried to push the vehicle off of the tracks but were unsuccessful. The train travelling along the tracks could not stop in time and hit the vehicle pushing it into the ditch.

Fortunately, no one was injured in the crash.

The train is currently blocking Neal’s Road, just west of East Bay Road, and the OPP is working to remove the vehicle from the area. 

Bracebridge shows it has heart for Heart Month; learn how you can prevent heart disease

Bracebridge raises flag for Heart Month awareness; experts say heart attacks fully preventable

Posted Feb. 4, 1:15 pm: The Town of Bracebridge is recognizing February as Heart Month by flying the Heart and Stroke Foundation Flag at the Bracebridge Municipal Office.

Foundation Program Coordinator Vernice Smith and volunteer Rhona Windsor joined Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith yesterday in raising the flag in a bid to increase awareness of heart disease and stroke.

Heart month, news about Muskoka, Bracebridge, Graydon Smith, Heart and Stroke Foundation, February news about Muskoka
Heart and Stroke Foundation Program Coordinator Vernice Smith and volunteer Rhona Windsor join Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith in raising the Heart and Stroke Foundation Flag at the Town of Bracebridge Municipal Office to signal the start of Heart Month. (Submitted photo taken Feb. 3)

Heart Month is the Foundation’s major opportunity to connect with millions of Canadians and to inform them about the risks of heart disease and stroke. The volunteers are the face and voice of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and they give it their all during the Person-to-Person campaign to raise funds for research and share the health knowledge.

“The Town of Bracebridge is pleased to support the incredible work of the Heart and Stroke volunteers in the community,” said Mayor Graydon Smith. “As heart disease and stroke have touched many of our lives, the Person-to-Person Campaign is a very effective way to ensure people understand the risks of heart disease and stroke,” said Smith.

Over $1million raised in our region

In Simcoe County/Muskoka, the Heart and Stroke Foundation raised over 1 million dollars in 2013 through Door to Door Campaigns, Jump Rope for Heart, Big Bike and the Chase McEachern Tribute fund thanks to volunteers. The funds that are raised go toward lifesaving research of heart disease and stroke.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation:

  • Heart disease and stroke take one life every 7 minutes.
  • More than 1.6 Canadians are living with the effects of heart disease and stroke, and 9 out of 10 Canadians have at least one risk factor.

While the cardiovascular death rate in Canada has gone down by nearly 40 per cent in the last decade – largely due to research advances in surgical procedures, drug therapies and prevention efforts (as well as awareness campaigns like that run by the Foundation), several esteemed experts say no one ever needs to have a heart attack.

Heart attacks are predictable and preventable

“Nobody should ever now die of a heart attack – we can prevent them,” says Dr. Elaine Chin, a leading expert in preventative health and Chief Medical Officer for Executive Health Centre (she is also a member of the Muskoka News Watch editorial board). “Today we can identify and predict those who are at risk for a heart attack before it happens – and stop it from ever happening: early screening can save your life.” Read more about preventing heart attacks in an article by Dr. Elaine Chin. In it, she recommends Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s “The Last Heart Attack” as a must-watch video.

Heart disease is tragic personally and also devastating to our economy. According to the Conference Board of Canada, heart disease and stroke costs the Canadian economy more than $20.9 billion every year in physician services, hospital costs, lost wages and decreased productivity.

Sled driver suffers serious injuries after Tiny Township crash

Man thrown from sled after hitting rock near Michaud Point, says OPP

Posted Feb. 2, 7:30pm: A 56-year-old Tiny Township man is being treated for serious but non life threatening injuries at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto after a sledding accident this morning near Penetanguishene.

The South Georgian Bay OPP, Tiny Fire and Simcoe County Paramedics responded to a 911 call around 10:30 am. The caller reported a sled driver had been thrown from his snowmobile and was laying on the ice just off shore in the Michaud Point area (on Penetang Bay near Champlain Road and Peek A Boo Trail).

Police say the man struck a large rock which threw him from his sled on a section of ice offshore. The investigation into the incident is ongoing. There have been five fatal snowmobile accidents so far this season.