Bracebridge Rotarians help Hospital Get Better campaign

Rotary Club of Bracebridge delivers $50K of $150K pledge for South Muskoka Memorial Hospital

Published July 31, 10:45am:  The Rotary Club of Bracebridge has delivered its first installment of its $150,000 pledge to help South Muskoka Memorial Hospital’s Get Better campaign.

The Club presented Paul Hammond, the Chair of the South Muskoka Hospital Foundation, with a cheque for $50,000 at its recent Rotary Club meeting at the Rotary Centre for Youth in Bracebridge.

Featured pic: From left, Rotarians Bob Jones and Ron Nicholson, Paul Hammond, Chair of the South Muskoka Hospital Foundation, and Al Helmer, past president of the Bracebridge Rotary Club. Absent from photo is J. Douglas Lamb, Campaign Chair.

The money is going toward the Get Better Campaign to support capital equipment and technology improvements at the hospital in Bracebridge.

A second installment will come at the end of September and the remaining $75,000 from the Rotary Club of Bracebridge will be paid over the next five years. This first cheque presentation was made on July 18.

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Breaking News: Chief librarian fired at Muskoka Lakes today

Story updated July 31 with responses from Township of Muskoka Lakes and Library Board Chair.

Chief Librarian and CEO of Muskoka Lakes Library Sacked 

Published July 30, 6:30pm. Muskoka News Watch has confirmed that the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Librarian of the Muskoka Lakes Library was fired today.

Sources say Sheila Durand was asked to leave the Norma and Miller Alloway Muskoka Lakes Library in Port Carling this morning. The Library Board provides oversight for Muskoka Lakes libraries and is appointed by Township Council at the beginning of each new Council term. The Board’s job is to provide governance and oversee library operations, explained Township CAO Clayton Harris, and the library is a separate organization that operates under different legislation. Harris directed Muskoka News Watch to the Library Board. When contacted, Board Chair Pat Gidley explained she could not comment as it is a personnel matter. 

Featured picture: Library in Port Carling

In May 2011, Durand was reduced to tears when peppered by questions by some Township Council members about proposed small library branch closures (See Bracebridge Examiner article).

Related articles:

May 25, 2011, Bracebridge Examiner, Library CEO in TearsOver Branch Closure Controversy

March 6, 2014, MNW commentary on Sun Media article: Mayor’s attitude draws scorn

About Muskoka News Watch – consider donating to keep your Muskoka info flowing: Muskoka News Watch exists primarily on donations. If you like being informed, please toss a few dollars our way using the Donate Button on the top right hand corner of our Home Page (you can use Credit Cards or Debit). Thank you!

 

Nick Popovitch leaving Township of Muskoka Lakes for Georgian Bay

Senior Muskoka Lakes Township Planner takes job in Georgian Bay

Published July 20, 4.30pm: It’s upward and westward for the Senior Planner of the Township of Muskoka Lakes. Nick Popovitch will start work with the Township of Georgian Bay next month.

The first official day for Popovitch will be August 26 as Georgian Bay’s Director of Development Services, overseeing planning and building. He gave Muskoka Lakes Township a month’s notice of his departure.

Laurie Kennard, Chief Administrative Officer for Georgian Bay, says they’re looking forward to his arrival. “We looked for the right person over a period of about two or three months and interviewed several candidates,” says Kennard. She adds with his experience in Muskoka and credentials, Popovitch was the right person for the job.

Popovitch had worked in a similar role (Director of Development Services) in Gravenhurst and became Senior Planner for Muskoka Lakes on August 6, 2013 after coming from a senior planning position in Owen Sound. His last day at Muskoka Lakes will be August 15.  “I would thank all of Staff and Council for their support over the past year,” says Popovitch. “I’ve enjoyed my time here. It’s been a challenge, but a good one, of learning new rules and more.”

About Muskoka News Watch – consider donating to keep your Muskoka info flowing: Muskoka News Watch exists primarily on donations. If you like being informed, please toss a few dollars our way using the Donate Button on the top right hand corner of our Home Page (you can use Credit Cards or Debit). Thank you!

Local OPP report of crashes, charges and potential dangers on Muskoka roadways

OPP remind public to take it easy on our regional roadways and off road as well. Wrap up post weekend police report follows.

Published July 28, 2pm: There were several releases from local OPP detachments today and over the weekend about traffic offence charges laid and warnings about increasing risks noted on the highways with people not moving over from traffic stops and tragically, two ATV deaths, one in Tiny Township. Here is a sampling of some of the reports MNW receives on a regular basis. Why don’t we name those charged? In the case of traffic offences, the results of charges are not usually reported by police and unless the case can be followed through the courts, MNW policy is not to name the accused unless it is a particularly unusual situation. Sadly, rollovers, cars crashed into medians and impaired driving charges, to name some examples, are not that unusual anywhere in Ontario.

Pontiac G6 rollover on Hwy 11 at Muskoka Road #3; occupants didn’t stick around, say police

OPP release: On Friday July 25, 2014 just before 6:00am Huntsville Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) along with Muskoka EMS attended a vehicle rollover in the median at Highway #11 leading onto Muskoka Rd #3 north.

Officers attended to find debris everywhere in the median, along with a heavily damaged Pontiac G6 but were unable to locate the occupants of the vehicle.  Officers were concerned for their well-being due to the amount of damage to the vehicle, Central Region Canine along with the Emergency Response Team (ERT) attended in hopes of locating anyone who may have been in the vehicle.

As a result of the investigation, and the K-9 track, a 24 year-old male from South River and a 22 year-old male from Kearney have since been charged with Public Mischief under the Criminal Code of Canada.  They will both appear in the Ontario Court of Justice on September 10, 2014 to answer to their charges.

Pontiac G5 into median on Highway 11 near Madill Church Road Thursday

Police release: On Thursday July 28, 2014 just before 5:30pm Huntsville Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) along with Muskoka EMS attended Highway #11 south near Madill Church Rd in Huntsville.  A Pontiac G5 was traveling on highway #11 drove into the centre median.

The driver a 17 year old from Huntsville was eventually issued a Provincial Offences Notice of Careless Driving.  Muskoka EMS attended as a precaution, the driver did suffer any injuries.

Dodge Ram Ramp stop turns into RIDE Check

Police release: On Sunday July 27, 2014 at around 12:30am Huntsville Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) noticed a Dodge Ram pickup stopped and parked on the ramp from Aspdin Road that leads onto Highway #11.  The officer noticed the interior light on in the vehicle and stopped to check on the well-being of the driver.

Investigation found that the driver of the pickup truck had been drinking.  A 40 year-old male from Edmonton Alberta was arrested and eventually charged with Impaired Driving and having more than 80mgs of alcohol per 100mltrs of blood under the Criminal Code of Canada.  He will appear in the Ontario Court of Justice in Huntsville on August 13, 2014 to answer to his charges.   The accused was issued a 90 day driver’s licence suspension and had his vehicle impounded for 7 days.

Move Over Charges on the Rise

OPP release: After ten years of education efforts, which includes more than 11,000 charges on record since the law came into effect, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is dismayed to see a slow but steady increase in the number of “Move Over” charges it has laid against drivers since 2010.

The OPP will be looking to Ontario drivers to help them reinforce the importance of Ontario’s Move Over law by setting a good example and observing this important law over the Civic Day Long Weekend.

In Ontario, Section 159 (2)(3) of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) requires drivers to slow down and proceed with caution when passing an emergency vehicle parked on the side of the highway with its lights activated. If the highway has more than one lane, the law requires the driver to move over and leave one lane between their vehicle and the parked emergency vehicle if it can be done safely. Failure to do so can result in a fine of $400 to $2,000 plus three demerit points.

There were 1,502 Section 159 (2)(3) charges last year (2013) and the number has increased steadily since 2010 when the OPP issued 1,067 such charges against Ontario drivers. The increase suggests that many drivers may be unaware of this important law aimed at keeping police and other emergency responders safe on the roadside. Since 1989, five OPP officers have been killed as a result of being struck by a motor vehicle while doing their job on the roadside and many more have been injured. The OPP’s law enforcement and other safety partners have also lost colleagues in these situations.

“The OPP would like to see full compliance with this law indicating that drivers are fully on board with helping us keep officers and all other emergency responders safe on the roadside,” said Chief Superintendent Chuck Cox, the new Provincial Commander of the OPP Highway Safety Division. “With the higher volumes of traffic on long weekends, police and other emergency personnel respond to far more calls for service at the roadside, making it a particularly important time to move over a lane when able to do so safely,” added Cox.

Over the weekend, the OPP is also asking road users to help them keep roads safe and free of aggressive, distracted and impaired driving behaviours and by ensuring that all vehicle occupants are buckled up.

OPP REMINDING OFF ROAD RIDERS TO WEAR PROPER SAFETY EQUIPMENT

(ORILLIA, ON) – The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in Central Region has investigated two deaths related to off-road vehicle related activities this past week.

Fatalities such as these are as tragic as they are preventable.  The OPP is reminding riders of their responsibility to ensure their safe operation.  This includes operating the vehicle in a safe manner to afford the opportunity of reacting appropriately to sudden changes in trail conditions, and to always wear the proper protective equipment to reduce the risks of injury.

All-Terrain Vehicles and other Off-Highway Vehicles are motorized vehicles that require skill, good judgement and the proper use of helmets and other safety equipment to operate safely.

“Helmets are required by law and personal protective equipment can reduce the risk of serious injuries.  Riders should remain vigilant of the ever changing terrain and operate their recreational vehicles within their personal capabilities”. – Chief Superintendent John Tod, Regional Commander OPP Central Region

Personal protective equipment can include goggles that fit over the helmet, gloves, chest protectors, proper footwear and other safety related sportswear.

OPP REMINDING OFF ROAD RIDERS TO WEAR PROPER SAFETY EQUIPMENT

(ORILLIA, ON) – The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in Central Region has investigated two deaths related to off-road vehicle related activities this past week.

Fatalities such as these are as tragic as they are preventable.  The OPP is reminding riders of their responsibility to ensure their safe operation.  This includes operating the vehicle in a safe manner to afford the opportunity of reacting appropriately to sudden changes in trail conditions, and to always wear the proper protective equipment to reduce the risks of injury.

All-Terrain Vehicles and other Off-Highway Vehicles are motorized vehicles that require skill, good judgement and the proper use of helmets and other safety equipment to operate safely.

“Helmets are required by law and personal protective equipment can reduce the risk of serious injuries.  Riders should remain vigilant of the ever changing terrain and operate their recreational vehicles within their personal capabilities”. – Chief Superintendent John Tod, Regional Commander OPP Central Region

Personal protective equipment can include goggles that fit over the helmet, gloves, chest protectors, proper footwear and other safety related sportswear.

About 100 cyclists ride for Andys House Hospice in Port Carling

As well as money raised by the ride, Brock Napier presented cheque for $250,000 for Andy’s House

Published July 28, 6am: About 100 cyclists tackled routes of between 55 and 110 kilometres (for the around the lake route) to raise money for Andy’s House hospice yesterday. The cyclists wound up their ride at a BBQ event at the home of Peter Gilgan, whose company, Mattamy Homes, is a sponsor of Andy’s Ride.

Monies raised were still being added up at race time. While there were some cloudy moments threatening rain, the weather held and the sun came out for the post ride BBQ.

Featured picture by Norah Fountain: A high five marks the end of the route for Julie of Gravenhurst and Janna of Bracebridge.

Brock Napier gives $250,000 to hospice
Bob Potts receives $250,000 cheque from Brock Napier for Andy’s House, part of Brock and Willa Wellness Centre.

OPP Sergeant Matt Hanes, a committee member of the Andrew J. Potts Memorial Foundation, says they need to raise $2.5million to start building Andy’s House hospice. To learn more about Andy’s House and how you can donate to get this needed building under way, click here.

A highlight of the post ride event was the presentation of a cheque for $250,000 from Brock Napier, who had pledged the money in June 2013 as part of a generous donation package of $750,000 (Click here to read that June 2013 article) for the Brock and Willa Wellness Centre in Port Carling.

The ride is an event of the Andrew J. Potts Memorial Foundation, which also holds the Andy Potts Memorial Golf tournament that raises money for local charities. The events were created to celebrate Andy Potts’ life and give back to the community he loved and served.

Andys Ride 110K cyclists
All 110K cyclists (except one) gather at Andy Potts’ memorial plaque. Photo by Michele Goldfarb

On July 20, 2005. Constable Potts and his partner, then Constable (now Sergeant) Matt Hanes, were responding to an emergency call in south Muskoka.  While en route, the officers were involved in a collision near Hardy Lake.  Constable Potts did not survive and his partner, Hanes, was seriously injured. Since then Sergeant Hanes and other members of the Andy Potts Memorial Foundation have been working hard to maintain Andy’s legacy and help the community and that includes the building of Andy’s House hospice as part of the Brock and Willa Wellness Centre.

Also on hand for Andy’s Ride yesterday was Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon, who was newly elected as a Liberal MPP in the provincial election in June. Now that she’s at Queen’s Park, she’s had to step away from her role as CEO & Founder of the Share the Road Cycling Coalition, a partner organization of Andy’s Ride.

Eleanor McMahon and Peter Gilgan
Safe cycling advocate and Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon gives Andy’s Ride sponsor (and major cyclist himself) Peter Gilgan of Mattamy Homes a big hug for doing his part for Andy Potts Memorial Foundation in front of Share the Road booth yesterday. Photo by Norah Fountain.

McMahon is no stranger to tragedy on the roads: her husband, OPP Sergeant Greg Stobbart, was killed in a cycling accident in 2006. Her advocacy for safer cycling isn’t ending though: she told Muskoka News Watch that she is going to be working very hard as part of the all-party provincial cycling caucus that is chaired by Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller.

Miller was successful in getting a private member’s bill passed to have a paved shoulder for cyclist added to designated highways being considered for expansion or resurfacing. Another member of that caucus is Catherine Fife, NDP MPP for Kitchener-Waterloo, who at age 13 was hit by a car when she was riding on a sidewalk. She remains an active cyclist today. With the Ontario Liberals promising $25million in cycling infrastructure, McMahon says she will be pushing hard to see action on that pledge.

Andys Ride post cycle event
Samantha serves up shortcake to hungry cyclists at post ride event. Photo by Norah Fountain, MNW.

Related Articles:

July 14, 2014, MNW Breaking News: Half million dollar donation to wellness centre

June 24, 2014, MNW: Show raises over $11,000 for wellness centre in Port Carling

About Muskoka News Watch – consider donating to keep your Muskoka info flowing: Muskoka News Watch exists primarily on donations. If you like being informed, please toss a few dollars our way using the Donate Button on the top right hand corner of our Home Page (you can use Credit Cards or Debit). Thank you!

Teenager dies in ATV crash in Tiny Township

Tragedy in Tiny Township: a teenager has died after crashing an ATV

Published July 24, 6:40pm: A girl is dead after an ATV crash this afternoon on the 19th Concession Road in north Tiny Township. According to the OPP, the teenager succumbed to her injuries late this afternoon at Georgian Bay General Hospital in Midland.
Police arrived at the scene of the single vehicle ATV crash shortly after 2 pm today (July 24,2014) on an unassumed section of the 19th Concession Road in north Tiny Township.

The crash victim is a teenage female who was the lone occupant of the ATV she was operating and she was riding with another teenage female also operating an ATV at the time of the crash.
The female was transported from the scene by the Simcoe County Paramedic Services to Georgian Bay General Hospital and the services of Ornge were called upon for further care.
Attending officers were assisted in the investigation by members of the OPP Central Region Technical Traffic Investigations Unit (TTCI). The investigation into the cause of the crash is continuing.


 

Cottage near Bala on fire during storm last night

Cottage on Hesners Lake almost fully consumed in flames; Propane tank venting right onto the cottage adding to blaze

Published July 23, 9 am: Muskoka Lakes firefighters may have stopped a cottage from burning to the ground last night at 1041 Hesners Lake Road. Hesners Lake is just northeast of the town of Bala.

Featured photo: A section of badly charred attic taken in the black of night

They responded just after 9pm (July 22) during a violent thunder and lightning storm, reports Muskoka Lakes Deputy Fire Chief Harry Baranik, a factor that may have contributed to the blaze. At first firefighters were racing to control what was reported as trees on fire. On arrival, firefighters found a propane tank self-venting through its relief valve right onto a cottage. After quickly controlling the propane tank, efforts were then directed toward the ten by six metre building itself. Baranik says the fire was contained to the upper floor/attic and a washroom on the main floor that was next to the propane tank.

No one was home at the time of the incident. The owner has been notified, and an investigation is continuing to determine the cause of the fire.

Pride Week kicks off in Muskoka with flag raisings at town halls

Showing pride for inclusive community: Rainbow flags flying high across Muskoka

Published July 21, 3:30pm: For the first time, all local municipalities took part in raising the Pride flag today to kick off Pride Week in Muskoka.

Featured photo submitted by Shawn Forth: A first since Pride Week was celebrated in Muskoka: today the rainbow flag was affixed to the Township of Muskoka Lakes office with Council there to celebrate the event.

This morning, rainbow flags waved high over Huntsville, Bracebridge and Gravenhurst and similar flag raisings happened in Port Carling at the Township of Muskoka Lakes

office and at the Port Severn Municipal Office in Georgian Bay Township. The flag also went up at Lake of Bays Township.

Visit Muskoka Pride to learn about Pride events happening across our district this week.

The Muskoka Pride Committee is dedicated to promoting awareness and acceptance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) persons in Muskoka, and holds several events each year across the region. This year, the Muskoka Pride Committee be the host of the sixth annual Muskoka Pride Picnic on Sunday, July 27, 2014 at Annie Williams Memorial Park in Bracebridge from 12p.m. to 4pm and all are welcome to attend.

“The Town of Bracebridge supports the Muskoka Pride Committee’s annual event and its ongoing efforts to create a welcoming environment and building awareness and acceptance for the LGBT community in Bracebridge and Muskoka” said Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith at the flag raising at Bracebridge town office. “Everyone

is encouraged to show their support and attend the annual Muskoka Pride Picnic on July 27 at Annie Williams Memorial Park.”

 

 

 

Passion for local Muskoka health care drives $500K gift for new CT scanner at Bracebridge hospital

Brock and Willa Napier are giving again — this time to help fund a CT scanner at South Muskoka Memorial Hospital
 

(Release issued Monday, July 21, 2014, Muskoka, ON)Local philanthropists, Brock and Willa Napier, have a passion for Muskoka health care initiatives. It was this passion that initiated a leadership donation to the South Muskoka Hospital Foundation (SMHF). In a small reception today at Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare’s South Muskoka Memorial Hospital Site, the Napiers presented a cheque for $500,000 to the Foundation

Submitted Photo (from left to right): J. Douglas Lamb, Campaign Chair; Natalie Bubela, CEO at Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare; Brock Napier, philanthropist; and Paul Hammond, Chair of the South Muskoka Hospital Foundation.

“It brings us great joy,” says Brock Napier, “to do this while we’re still alive rather than to put it in our will. It helps others and encourages other donors to hop on board as well. In order for hospitals to survive nowadays, they need private individuals to contribute, so we felt we had to do what we can.”

The Napiers, year-round Muskoka residents from Minett, have specified that their gift be directed toward replacing the existing CT scanner, which is now more than nine years old. The proposal to replace the CT scanner is part of the upcoming ‘Get Better’ capital campaign to support $6.5 million in technology improvements at the hospital. A new CT scanner will not only reduce radiation exposure to patients by 70% but will also operate 10 times faster, thereby reducing patient discomfort and allowing for clearer images. The total cost for the new CT will be close to $1 million.

“We are extremely grateful,” says Colin Miller, SMHF Executive Director, “to have people like the Napiers living in the community and supporting the hospital. They value health care initiatives and are willing to step forward and encourage others to do so as well.”

Natalie Bubela, Chief Executive Officer at MAHC, says gifts like the Napiers’ are critical to ensuring that life-saving equipment is available when patients need it.

“A CT scanner is a critical piece of equipment to a community hospital,” Bubela says. “Support like the Napiers’ is making it easier for us to stay current with technology and a new CT is a great example of how technology can enhance our ability to provide excellent patient care.”

The Napiers retired from Thornhill to Muskoka in 1996 after Brock sold his business, which was involved with manufacturing and supplying industrial equipment and supplies to manufacturers. He and Willa originally had a cottage in Torrance (near Bala) from 1987 to 1997. Then in 1997, they moved to their current home in Minett. The Napiers are also supporting another significant health care initiative: the Brock & Willa Wellness Centre in Port Carling – comprised of a nursing station, a palliative care facility and a seniors’ residence.

“I believe both projects fit well together,” says Napier of the hospital and the wellness centre. “We want them to work in a cooperative way. That’s why my wife and I are supporting both.”

For the Napiers, philanthropy extends beyond health care initiatives. They have supported the construction of the new facility for the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Bracebridge as well as the Muskoka Lakes Museum, along with other causes. Willa and Brock Napier enjoy the company of their various pets and Willa has a passion for gardening. Between them, they have three children and three grandchildren.

Breaking News: Ontario Court of Appeal rejects Bala Falls portage appeal, a second legal blow for Muskoka Lakes Township Council

Updated with Official Township reaction

Updated July 21, 2:50pm: The Township of Muskoka Lakes has issued a release about today’s decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal. Please read the post below this update for a full article on the court decision regarding the Township’s appeal of parts of the Public Lands Act, including one section that gives the Ministry of Natural Resource authority over public use of Crown land.

The Township’s release reads (verbatim):

Mayor Murphy and Members of Council wish to advise that the Ontario Court of Appeal has released its decision, upholding the Minister of Natural Resources’ decision to ban the public’s right to portage across a historic canoe route at the Bala Falls.
Mayor Murphy stated that “the Township appreciates the Court’s timely decision on this important matter. Given the Court’s decision, we will be seeking to identify an alternate canoe portage route to promote safe and unimpeded portaging between Lake Muskoka and Moon River”.
The Ontario Court of Appeal released their decision earlier today.

Township of Muskoka Lakes loses judicial review; court costs to be awarded to MNR and Swift River Energy; SREL says enough now, let’s move on

Published July 21, 11:43pm: The Township of Muskoka Lakes has lost its bid to block a hydro plant in court. While blocking the plant was not on the Township’s specific wish list this time at the Ontario Court of Appeal, Township lawyer Harold Elston told the court that Township was seeking a prohibition of anything impeding the portage, including a bulldozer, a boulder – or even a hydro facility.

Today’s decision, released just one week after the hearing last Monday, July 14, rejected the Township’s argument that it wanted to protect a portage that is believed to have existed historically – a route that has changed drastically over the years since the coming of the railways, the building of the dam in 1873, and the construction of Highway 169 through Bala.

To read the entire decision, please click here: OntarioCourtofAppealDecisionJuly21

Swift River Energy Limited (SREL) Vice-President Frank Belerique told Muskoka News Watch this morning that his company is pleased with the decision, and at first glance he says the case was rejected for pretty much the same reasons given by the Divisional Court last August.

“We hope to put this behind us and plan a successful project,” says Belerique. “It’s enough, let’s move on. This was all a guise to further frustrate our project plans.”

In court last Monday, SREL lawyer Neil Finkelstein explained to the justices that the prime motivation for the judicial review was to frustrate the project. The Township did have specific language about seeking an order to block the project last August when it sought a judicial review from the lower Divisional Court but removed it this time explaining it “was incorrect” to include it in the Township’s argument. The Divisional court ruled safety trumped other sections of the Public Lands Act being disputed by Township. (Read that decision and articles from last August by clicking here).

As part of its argument last Monday, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) argued that while the Minister may have a range of actions it can take as part of the legislation, choosing the lowest level would not be wise considering the potential for liability. The remarks came in response to Elston saying that while the Ministry may have been correct in applying the safety provision, he believed it did not apply it correctly — and that a lot of learning and action had resulted after two drownings at the Bala Falls dam in 2009. He later contradicted that statement telling the justices he did not have enough information to answer specific questions about conclusions reached following that tragedy.

Elston also stated that closing the Crown site to public use would mean the loss of the single portage route between Lake Muskoka and Moon River. There are, in fact, at least three alternate portages: one high water and low water portage on Margaret Burgess Park as specified in Hap Wilson’s guiding book, Wild Muskoka; another one using the Mill Stream that does not require a paddler to carry a canoe across Highway 169; and another down Portage Street to the Moon River dock.

Note: The Court of Appeal did make one statement that opens a small crack of opportunity should the Township wish to pursue it. Here’s that one section of the decision that says the high court does not endorse the Divisional Court reasoning but does not see any reason to dispute it as it is not necessary to question the lower court’s interpretation.

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 12.16.53 PM

Next steps for the Township Council? It could seek to take its case to the Supreme Court of Canada. While court costs to be paid are now $8,500 to the MNR (on top of the previous $17K awarded for the first go round in court) and $8,500 to SREL, it’s unclear how much the Township has run up in legal bills – not even for the portage argument alone.

References and Related Articles

About Muskoka News Watch – consider donating to keep your Muskoka info flowing: Muskoka News Watch exists primarily on donations. If you like being informed, please toss a few dollars our way using the Donate Button on the top right hand corner of our Home Page (you can use Credit Cards or Debit). Thank you!

Breaking News: Ontario Court of Appeal dismisses Township of Muskoka Lakes portage case

Watch for more details and full decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal regarding the Township’s second failed attempt to use a portage to block development of a proposed hydro facility. Township will now have to pay court costs.

Read Court Decision here: OntarioCourtofAppealDecisionJuly21

 

Bala Falls Update: Court of Appeal to release portage decision Monday

Bala Falls decision by Ontario Court of Appeal coming Monday: Township wants to declare a historic portage exists and that nothing should block it 

Published July 18, 1:40pm: The Court of Appeal of Ontario today said its decision regarding a portage at North Bala Falls — and whether anything, including a hydro plant, should be stopped from blocking it — will be released on Monday morning. The decision will be released at 10:30am and it is expected to be posted on the Court’s website by noon the same day. You can view that decision when it is posted by clicking here

Earlier, court officials had told Muskoka News Watch that a judgment could be made at the end of day of court, within a few days of the appeal hearing or it could take up to six months.

In its argument Monday, the lawyer for the Township suggested that the portage on the Township lands next to the Crown site slated for hydro development was the only portage available for people navigating from Lake Muskoka to Moon River and vice versa. Harold Elston told the court that it wants the court to rule that the Township wants a prohibition order stopping anything that could block or impede the portage — such as a boulder, a bulldozer or a hydro plant.

Man injured in Milford Bay after tree he was cutting falls

OPP investigating workplace accident in Milford Bay that sent one man to hospital

Published July 17, 7pm: A man trying to remove a tree in Milford Bay was rushed to hospital after the tree he was cutting fell on him, says the OPP.

Members of the Bracebridge OPP responded to a call at 1:20pm to help with traffic control for an ambulance in the area of Muskoka Road 118 West, in Milford Bay, west of Bracebridge.

Police are currently investigating the cause of what they say is workplace accident. Initial investigation has found that a tree branch fell on top of the man while he was cutting into the tree.
He was taken to hospital by land with unknown injuries, and has not been identified.

The investigation is on-going and no further details are available at time.

Bala Falls Update: Ontario Court of Appeal reserves judgment on Township of Muskoka Lakes Portage Appeal

No decision at Ontario Court of Appeal today for Township of Muskoka Lakes

Published July 14, 4:55pm: There was no decision today from the Ontario Court of Appeal hearing the Township of Muskoka Lakes appeal to protect a portage at Bala Falls. The Township is seeking a declaration that a portage exists (and existed) on the Crown land and the public has the right to continue to use it as a portage. As well the Township aims to prohibit anything that might impede a portage – including a power plant.

Court wrapped up at about 4pm after hearing submissions from all three parties to the appeal, the Township, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and Swift River Energy Limited (SREL). The Divisional Court that decided against granting the Township a Judicial Review chose to make its decision on the basis of what they heard from the Township lawyer Harold Elston only (they did not hear submissions from the other two parties). Justices Alexandra Hoy, Eileen Gillese and Peter Lauwers heard from all three today and took leave to deliberate the issues presented. They can issue a written decision at any time, and a court clerk has confirmed that could take days or as long as six months.

The only request from Associate Chief Justice Hoy was that the lawyers for the three sides involved today decide on costs before a decision is reached.

If the Court of Appeal decides the Divisional Court erred in any way, the Township may not have to pay the $17,000 it was to pay previously in court costs to the MNR for the lower court proceedings last August. At that time, the Divisional Court ruled that the Crown has the power to prohibit public use of Crown lands if safety was a concern.

Today, the justices and lawyers for SREL and the Township raised questions about whether the Divisional Court had ruled adequately on other sections of the Public Lands Act. Both lawyers for SREL and the Township pointed out the upper court could ‘walk in the lower court’s shoes’ to make a decision on all requests made by the Township (see earlier post for the list of requests).

Still, no decision was made today. Now the parties involved – and the taxpayers paying for the Ministry and Township roles in this judicial exercise – must simply wait.

References and Related Articles

 

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Breaking News: Port Carling Nursing Station gets Half Million Dollar Donation

New donation of $500,000 puts funds raised so far over the million dollar mark; Comedy night helped raise awareness of need

Embargoed for release July 14, 2:30pm (updated with pictures July 15): Muskoka Lakes Nursing Station Chair Allen Edwards is in Port Carling at this hour announcing more great news for the Brock and Willa Wellness Centre.

Harry and Mary Ann Debes and their family foundation are donating a half a million dollars to the Nursing Station.

Featured photo: Rainbow progress before big announcement. Today the rainbow is expected to be $500K closer to the pot of gold goal for the Wellness Centre with about 900K to go!

“The Debes Family became interested in the Nursing Station after the Comedy Night for the Brock Wellness Centre Committee with Debes& Willa Wellness Centre and started looking into it closely,” explained Edwards in an interview. Then came an email from them to Edwards only a few weeks ago. “They had some questions regarding the Nursing Station, I answered all their questions, and they requested a meeting with my wife Linda, and I for last Tuesday.” That gave the Edwards’ an opportunity to answer the Debes’ questions in person, and a few days later they got the good news: The Debes said they would like to donate to the Nursing Station. 

Members of the Debe family were at last year’s Muskoka Comedy Gala in support of the Wellness Centre, an event organized by Bracebridge comic Tyler Morrison, the brains behind the Cottage Country Comedy Festival. At that gala last August, nurse practitioner Donna Kearney gave a speech about the need for future residents of Muskoka to be able stay in their community to receive the care they need. Kearney is acting as the consultant for the District of Muskoka to help work toward nursing stations in Port Carling, Dorset, and Port Severn (there are also hopes for a station in Ryde).

Kearney’s speech may have helped prompt the Debes to open their hearts and wallets.

Today, Harry Debes addressed the group at the wellness site as the new rainbow pot of gold sign was revealed showing the addition of the Debes’ donation.

“We have a shortage of doctors in Ontario. Right now none of the few doctors we have in

Rainbow gaining on pot of gold with today's announcement
Rainbow progress sign getting closer as of today’s announcement

Bala, Port Carling or Bracebridge are accepting new patients because their practices are full. If you don’t have a doctor and you need even the most basic health service such a prescription or treatment for a cut or fall your only option is to go to the Walk in Clinic or the Emergency Ward in Bracebridge. That’s not a good experience for the patient …. and for the province, it’s probably the most expensive way of delivering health services to the public,” said Debes.

“Nurse Practitioner Stations are an efficient and cost effective alternative to meeting the health services needs of the rural community,” he continued.  “There are already more than 20 Nurse Practitioner clinics in Ontario and studies have shown that 87% of patients are very satisfied with the level of service they provide.”

“We need such a facility in the Port Carling area and a few years ago Linda and Allen Edwards started working towards this cause. Last May the project received a real boost with a generous donation of land and money by Brock and Willa Napier. Today my wife Mary Ann and I are happy to play our part. Last Friday, through our Foundation, we donated $500,000 to help realize this dream – something that will help our community for generations to come. For those to whom much is given, much is expected.”

Edwards said the group working so hard to make the wellness centre a reality (including Vice Chair Brock Napier and Secretary Linda Edwards) is “ecstatic.”

“This puts us over the million dollar mark now,” said Edwards, who is also a District Councillor for the Township of Muskoka Lakes. “We’re looking for 1.9 million dollars and we’re expecting more money in from the Mayor’s Golf Tournament so we have less than $900,000 to go.”

As well as the Nursing Station, there are other wellness projects planned for the Brock and Willa Wellness Centre, including:

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Bala Falls Update: Muskoka Lakes Township Argues Case Again for Portage at Ontario Court of Appeal

Township lawyers to argue Divisional Court was wrong to reject request for judicial review about Crown land site slated for hydro build

Published July 13, 12am: The Township of Muskoka Lakes is back in court in Toronto today. This time the Township is kicking its argument up to the Ontario Court of Appeal in its bid to block development on Crown land at north Bala Falls. Last August, the lower Divisional Court turned the Township down in its quest to protect the Crown land site slated for a hydro build, with one judge suggesting the Township’s argument was “somewhat disingenuous.”

Disingenuous defined: not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.

At the time, Lawyer Harold Elston responded, “We don’t plan to be disingenuous. There is little room between the plant and the land; land people have used for centuries.”

Today Elston must successfully argue that the lower court was wrong in not granting the Township a full judicial review of the Ministry of Natural Resources’ (MNR) process that started back in 2003. It was over 10 years ago that the MNR announced the site in Bala would be made available for development as part of the government’s support for green energy. With a few exceptions, the Township’s wish list from the court is exactly the same as last August.

WILL THE COURT DECIDE TODAY?

According to the Court Clerk, the Court has set aside three-and-a-half hours to hear the Township’s renewed argument. The justices (expected to be Associate Chief Justice Alexandra Hoy; Justice Eileen Gillese and Justice Peter Lauwers) may give their decision at the end of today’s arguments or could reserve judgment for up to six months.

BACKGROUND: Comparing Township’s ask today of Township’s ask last August

Below is the list of what the Township is requesting from the Ontario Court of Appeal. The only new request (asking the court to quash the MNR’s ban on public use of the land) is highlighted in bold. The major one that is MISSING since the Township went to Court last August is the one that directly states the Township wants the hydro plant stopped: “an interim and permanent injunction prohibiting the issuance by the Minister of a Crown Lease to authorize the construction of a waterpower generation facility and a Water Power Lease Agreement authorizing the occupation of the power generation facility.”

WHAT THE TOWNSHIP WILL ASK FOR TODAY:

1) A declaration that the Portage has existed and exists over the Public Lands;

2) An order prohibiting the obstruction of or interference with the Portage by the Minster or any person with an interest in the Public Lands;

3) A declaration that less than 25 per cent of the Public Lands fronting on the Moon River between Bala Falls and Ragged Rapids are public lands;

4) An order that the frontage of the Crown Lands on the Moon River to a depth of six metres be set apart for recreational and access purposes;

5) An order prohibiting the obstruction or interference with the Moon River Frontage;

6) An order setting aside or quashing the Minister’s decision to ban public use of the public lands under section 28 of the Public Lands Act; and

7) Its costs of these proceedings.

For comparison, below is the list of what the Township asked for, and was denied, by the Divisional Court last August. Requests that are not being asked for again this time are highlighted in bold:

  1. a judicial review to be heard on an urgent basis
  2. a declaration that the portage connecting the Moon River and Lake Muskoka for persons travelling on those waters (referred to in the file as the “Portage”) has existed and exists over the public lands owned by the province (land identified in the file as Burgess Island)
  3. an order prohibiting the obstruction of or interference with the Portage by the Minister of Natural Resources or any person with an interest in the Crown lands (Note: This has been upgraded in the new ‘ask’ requesting the Court quash the MNR’s public use ban)
  4. A declaration that less than 25% of the lands fronting on the Moon River between the Bala Falls and Ragged Rapids are public lands AND an order that the frontage of the Crown Lands on the Moon River to a depth of six metres (referred to as the Moon River Frontage) shall be set apart for recreational and access purposes
  5.  An order prohibiting the obstruction or interference with the Moon River Frontage
  6. An interim and permanent injunction prohibiting the issuance by the Minister of a Crown Lease to authorize the construction of a waterpower generation facility and a Water Power Lease Agreement authorizing the occupation of the power generation facility
  7. The costs of the legal proceedings; and,
  8. Any further relief as counsel may advise and that the Honourable Court may appear just.

The result last time was the Township was ordered to pay court costs to the MNR of $17,000 and Judge Nordheimer stated: “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.”

Nordheimer continued: “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.”

The Ontario Court of Appeal will hear the Township’s argument against the lower court’s decision starting at 10:30am today. It is not known whether the justices today will ask to hear from the respondents, the MNR and Swift River Energy Limited (SREL).

References and Related Articles

 

 

 

Municipal Election News: Randy Jorgensen seeking re-election in Gravenhurst

Randy Jorgensen seeking another term to represent Ryde (Ward 4) as Councillor for the Town of Gravenhurst

Published July 11, 5pm: Gravenhurst Councillor Randy Jorgensen filed his nomination papers today for re-election as the Ward 4 Councillor for the Town of Gravenhurst.

Randy has served one term as the Ward 4 Councillor. First elected in 2010, Randy hasbeen an active participant on Gravenhurst Town Council. Randy has served as Deputy Chair of the Committee of Adjustment, as a Council representative on the Gravenhurst Environmental Advisory Committee (GEAC), and as the Council representative on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

As well, Randy has served on the Muskoka Centre Study Steering Committee, providing advice and guidance to the consulting team heading up the Optimal Use Study for the Centre. A former president of the Ryde Community Co-op, Randy continues to support the Co-op as Publisher of The Ryder newsletter, which goes out monthly to all RR3 residents.

He has also helped the Co-op with their upcoming Ryde 135 Celebration through the production of the updated edition of the History of Ryde, which has proven to be a successful fundraiser.

Randy and his wife Sue have lived for more than 25 years on Ben Lake in Ryde, where they have raised their children David and Sarah.

Randy holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Toronto, with a Biology Specialist and a minor in Computer Science. Following University, Randy had a successful career with the Ontario Government, serving in a number of Provincial Ministries. He operates Ryde Systems, a computer sales and support company. His business keeps him in daily contact with small business owners and their staff throughout Muskoka.

 

Ontario Health Minister promises Norm Miller a meeting about Nursing Stations

Miller applauds ‘Made-in-Muskoka’ health plan and asks for provincial funding

Published July 10, 2.10pm: During Question Period at Queen’s Park today, Norm Miller, MPP for Parry Sound-Muskoka questioned new Health Minister Eric Hoskins on funding for nursing stations throughout the District of Muskoka.

Muskoka politics, Green Party, Parry Sound Muskoka MPP Norm Miller, Muskoka, Progressive Conservative, Ontario politics
Norm Miller, Progressive Conservative Candidate

“I believe that the success of nursing stations in the Parry Sound District illustrates the value that they provide for small, rural communities. The District of Muskoka plan is well thought-out and certainly warrants a meeting with the Minister” stated Miller.

“Access to healthcare is a growing concern, particularly when many in need of care already travel great distances to receive treatment. This ‘Made-in-Muskoka’ plan aims to address the key challenges faced by seniors and low income families, as well as the seasonal population” added Miller.

The District submission outlines plans for possible nursing stations to be located in Dorset, Severn Bridge, Port Severn, and Port Carling.

“I am pleased that the Minister has agreed to the meeting and look forward to the next steps.” concluded Miller.

Ontario Hansard Transcript  – July 2014
Mr. Norm Miller: My question is for the Minister of Health. Minister, we are
very fortunate to have a unique model of primary health care serving our small
rural communities in Parry Sound–Muskoka. Places like Britt, Argyle, Pointe au
Baril, Wahta First Nation and Rosseau are well-served by nursing stations. We have
seven nursing stations, mainly in Parry Sound district, providing vital primary
health care in a very efficient model.
The district of Muskoka has taken note of how well nursing stations are
serving Parry Sound district. They have already submitted their plan for new
nursing stations to the Ministry of Health. My question: Are you aware of the
district of Muskoka plan to improve primary health care in Muskoka with new
nursing stations?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: I appreciate the question and the reminder of the
importance of that great part of our province, a very lovely, beautiful part of the
province. Most importantly, the people there are extremely generous and hardworking.
Of course, anything that has to do with our nursing profession and making
sure that, as a government, we improve the services, in this case as provided
through our hard-working nurses and nurse practitioners, our RNs, is something
that I take very seriously.
I haven’t had the opportunity yet; I think the member opposite appreciates
my having been in the portfolio for just two weeks. But I will certainly entertain
getting to this immediately, asking my officials to brief me on it so I can see the
particulars of the proposal.
Perhaps I’ll have an opportunity in the supplementary to speak more
generally about the important work that our nurses are doing and how we’re
supporting them to do that work even more effectively.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?
Mr. Norm Miller: Thank you, Minister, for the response. Let me provide some
more details.
The district of Muskoka has come up with a made-in-Muskoka health care
plan to improve primary health care access based on the success of nursing
stations serving Parry Sound communities for many years. Their plan includes new
nursing stations in Dorset, Severn Bridge, Port Severn and Port Carling to improve
primary health care for the elderly, low-income and marginalized, seasonal
residents and tourists.

 

 

Boat stolen from Balm Beach home in Tiny Township

Boat on trailer stolen from home in broad daylight in Tiny Township; police asking public to watch for it

Published July 9, 5.20pm: Members of the Southern Georgian Bay Detachment of the OPP are keeping an eye for a stolen boat that disappeared from a Balm Beach home in Tiny Township. Police are asking the public to watch for the powerboat that was reported stolen sometime during the day on Monday.

The boat (shown in the featured picture) is described as a 1997 24’ Mariah powerboat model Z246, and bearing registration numbers 59E15488. It has a white fiberglass bottom with a blue canvass top, and is powered by a Mercury inboard outboard. At the time of theft the boat was on an Excalibur trailer.

Police are asking anyone who may have witnessed or may have information of the theft to contact the OPP at (705) 526-3761 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). You can also submit your information online by clicking here for CrimeStoppers.

Crime Stoppers does not subscribe to call display and you will remain anonymous. Being anonymous, you will not testify in court and your information may lead to a cash reward of up to $2,000.00.

About Muskoka News Watch – consider donating to keep your Muskoka info flowing: Muskoka News Watch exists primarily on donations. If you like being informed, please toss a few dollars our way using the Donate Button on the top right hand corner of our Home Page (you can use Credit Cards or Debit). Thank you!

 

New Interim CAO appointed for Township of Muskoka Lakes: Clayton Harris

Interim staff lead for Township of Muskoka Lakes starts work today

Published July 7, 9am: The Muskoka Lakes Township Council today announced the appointment of Clayton Harris to the position of Interim Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for the Township of Muskoka Lakes.

The Council made the announcement in a press release today. It states Harris brings several years’ of senior management experience in both the private and public sectors; most recently as the City Manager for the City of Vaughan. During his career, he has held progressive municipal management positions including Deputy City Manager and Commissioner of Finance & Corporate Services/Treasurer.

As well, he has held senior positions with the City of Vaughan’s municipally owned electric
distribution utility. In addition to other professional accreditations, Harris has a Bachelor of Arts (Economics), a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours BA), and is a Chartered Accountant.

Mayor Alice Murphy welcomed Harris to the Township of Muskoka Lakes, saying “we look forward to benefitting from his extensive background and experience in providing leadership to the Township until the position is filled on a permanent basis early in the new year. His guidance to ensure continuity of services and maintenance of Council’s vision and direction will be invaluable.”

Harris replaces former Chief Administrative Officer Chris Wray and will start work with the Township effective today, July 7, 2014. Harris will be the fourth person to act as CAO since the new Council took office in 2010. Walt Schmid, who left for a position in Bracebridge) was replaced by Interim CAO John Curran in July 2012. Curran was interim staff lead until Wray’s arrival in December 2012. Wray resigned and returned to his former post in Wawa in April of this year.

Harris himself made headlines when he quit his job abruptly as city manager in Vaughan in April 2013. You can read that story here from the Vaughan Citizen. According to the Sunshine List, in 2012 Harris was earning $261,310.15 and $15,861.39 in benefits. Three months after Harris’ departure, the city of Vaughan fired 15 staff members.

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Coming Up

HOW TO GET YOUR EVENT SHOWN HERE: To submit an event, please provide a jpg of your poster or Date, Time, Title of Event, Place, Host (if applicable), insert Free or Cost, and a link for more info – website, email or phone. Donations appreciated, but not necessary.

DID YOU KNOW…The Muskoka Lakes Public Library events have their own page. Just click the link.

CFUW 2016 POSTER

 

Seven year old girl suffers serious injuries in boating accident on Lake Rosseau

Girl airlifted to Toronto in serious condition after falling out of boat

Published July 1, 9am: A 7-year-old girl who fell from a boat and was hit by the same boat on Lake Rosseau was airlifted to Toronto hospital with a serious leg injury yesterday. According to Bracecbridge OPP, the tragedy occurred at 2pm yesterday in Skeleton Bay on Lake Rosseau.  There are unconfirmed reports the child may have been hurt by the boat’s propeller.

Police say the girl, who was wearing a PFD, was promptly pulled from the water and taken to shore to an awaiting ground ambulance.  Bracebridge OPP, Muskoka Ambulance and Seguin Fire Department attended the scene, and members of the Bracebridge Marine Unit are continuing the investigation.

The OPP have responded to an alarmingly high number of boating incidents for so early in the season. As of June 26, there had been 11 Ontario boating deaths this year, compared to five by the same date last year (2013).