A chili battle with extra blessing in Bracebridge

If the sermons church-goers in Bracebridge heard this morning sounded extra spicy it may have been because so many pastors had their minds on getting just the right mix of spice and nice into their chili.

Ministers from all faiths and churches in Bracebridge put their cooking skills to the test in a chili cook off to raise money for the Salvation Army. Very little chili left the Anglican Church on Mary Street as people thronged in to support the fundraiser — and to eat really well. A little over $900 was raised from today’s event.

Photo shows Bracebridge United Church Reverend Kevin Logie serving up the very last bowl of chili left to Anglican Deacon Barbara Graham.

Later in the day, the good cheer continued at a special holiday turkey dinner bringing together Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Muskoka with their BBBSMuskokaCakelittle brothers and sisters. Santa even made time for a special appearance at the South Muskoka Golf and Country Club.

Published November 30, 10pm

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Muskoka Municipal Councillors Elect become official


Your Guide to Inaugural Council Events:

It will be a week of congratulations and new welcomes at meetings across Muskoka this week as new municipal councils are sworn in to serve the next four years. The public is invited to attend all inaugural ceremonies.

Monday: Georgian Bay, Muskoka Lakes and Huntsville

The first Councillors elect to be sworn in will be in the Township of Georgian Bay as the Council starts its inaugural event at 10am on Monday, December 1st. Members elect of the Township of Muskoka Lakes, and the Town of Huntsville are also on deck Monday and both municipalities have new Mayors taking the head seat their respective Council tables.

In Muskoka Lakes, Don Furniss will start his second term of Council as Mayor after defeating one-term Mayor Alice Murphy, whom sources say has been hired in a financial role for the Wahta Mohawks. New faces at the Muskoka Lakes Council table include Sandy Currie (Ward A), Linda Barrick-Spearn (Ward B) and Tracy Ledger (Ward C). The inauguration ceremonies for Muskoka Lakes take place Monday, December 1 starting at 11:30am upstairs at the Port Carling Community Centre.

In Huntsville, Councillors elect will take the Declaration of Office in the Huntsville Civic Centre at the Algonquin Theatre at 11am. Long-time Councillor Scott Aitchison steps up to the position of Mayor.

Tuesday: Lake of Bays and Gravenhurst

On Tuesday, December 2, the Mayor and Members Elect of the Township of Lake of Bays will hold their 17th inaugural meeting at 9:30 am in the Council Chambers at the Municipal Office in Dwight. That evening, the Inaugural Meeting of the 2014 2018 Council for the Town of Gravenhurst goes ahead at 7pm at the Gravenhurst Opera House.

Wednesday: Bracebridge

Then it’s Bracebridge Council’s turn to take the Declaration of Office on Wednesday, December 3 at 7pm at the Rene M. Caisse Memorial Theatre in Bracebridge. New faces at the Bracebridge Council table include Don Smith (District Councillor), Archie Buie (Draper Ward) and Chris Wilson (Bracebridge Ward).

Next week: District Chair election December 8

The only left over remaining excitement from the 2014 Municipal Election will be finding out who will be elected as District Chair. Stuart Morley, Hugh Mackenzie and Dan Waters are challenging Incumbent District Chair John Klinck. The Mayors and District Councillors will decide which nominee gets Muskoka’s top municipal job via election on Monday, December 8 starting at 7pm. The public is welcome to attend all open meetings of District and municipal councils.

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Potential candidates for Parry Sound-Muskoka Liberals unveiled

Five nominees – so far – vying to be Liberal candidate for Parry Sound-Muskoka in next federal election:


(November 29, BRACEBRIDGE): At least five people want to be the next federal Liberal candidate for Parry Sound-Muskoka. The Parry Sound-Muskoka Federal Liberal Association (PSMFLA) has revealed five potential nominees for the candidacy, and more could still come forward. An official introduction of the candidate nominees will happen December 14 at the Port Sydney Community Centre.

The nominees for candidate include (alphabetically):

  • Trish Cowie, Mactier, Owner, Cowie Law Professional Corporation in Bala
  • Paul Everitt, Bracebridge, Sales Manager, Rentquip Canada Limited
  • Eric Gonneau, Port Carling, Engineer and Realtor
  • Mary Robertson, Bracebridge, Probation and Parole Officer
  • Phyllis Winnington-Ingram, Bracebridge, Community Development Consultant and President, Steer North

“We have an excellent roster of people who have said “yes” to the challenges ahead,” says Leigh Beal, President of the PSMFLA. She adds, “to be clear, only one of the nominees (Paul Everitt) is currently considered ‘qualified’ by the Liberal Party of Canada, meaning that he has already passed the Party’s vetting. The other four are ‘seeking nomination’ as they’ve completed the nomination package and are presently in the vetting process.”

Nominations will remain open until the federal party brass gives the riding association the green light to hold the vote.

Who can vote for a candidate? Anyone wanting to take part in selecting the next Federal Liberal candidate for our riding must be a current member of the Liberal riding association at least one week before the party announces the date for the nomination meeting. While riding officials say they don’t have an indication yet when that will be, they expect it to happen “sooner rather than later.”

A federal election is expected to be called as early as April and certainly no later than October as according to Bill C-16 (passed in 2007 to establish fixed election dates) the next date Canadians are scheduled to go to the polls is October 19, 2015. However, Prime Minister Stephen Harper could still exercise his power to call an election earlier, as many pundits expect he will do. If Parliament Hill watchers are right, Canadians can expect an election before certain senators start making headlines again due to trial dates and/or after a budget laced with enticing goodies for the electorate to chew on.

By Norah Fountain. Published November 29, 6am

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MP Clement: $320K in funding to stimulate Muskoka growth

Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement announces $320K to drive economic growth in Muskoka:


Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement says new federal money will support youth employment, innovation and strategic planning in Muskoka, while strengthening the region’s tourism industry. At the Muskoka Boat and Heritage Centre in Gravenhurst today he told a group of about 60  politicians and community builders that the government was injecting $320,000 into the Muskoka economy.

“Today’s announcement further demonstrates our Government’s commitment to build a strong economic foundation for the people, businesses and communities in the Parry Sound–Muskoka region,” says Clement. “By investing in strategic initiatives that create youth employment, enhance tourism, and stimulate growth, the Harper Government is fuelling the regional economy and positioning the area for sustainable, long-term prosperity.”

Featured photo by Norah Fountain: John Miller, General Manager of the Muskoka Steamships and Historical Society, MP Tony Clement and Blair McMurchy, past-president, Society Board of Directors today at Muskoka Boat and Heritage Centre

It was music to the ears of the hosts of today’s announcement: The Muskoka Steamship and Historical Society will benefit from directly from the announcement with money to study the feasibility of expanding the Muskoka Boat and Heritage Centre. It is also kicking in $17,500 to the effort. The society is looking at a proposed 15,000 square foot, family-focused Discover Centre with a focus on the theme of WATER — one of the most essential resources to Muskoka and Canada. That expansion would occur in the lots by the docks to the east of the Grace and Speed Boathouse.

As well as the $78,750 to the society, other corners of Muskoka will benefit from today’s announcement as well:

  • $155,000 to the Town of Bracebridge in FedNor funding to launch a tourism branding strategy, install new signage and other marketing activities.
  • $47,500 to Explorers’ Edge/Regional Tourism Organization (RTO) 12 to help maximize the tourism potential of the Muskoka region with the money earmarked specifically for the Gold Muskoka and Resorts of North Muskoka programs.
  • $38,740 to the Township of Muskoka Lakes for a youth intern to support the township’s economic development strategy.

Clement also hinted that there may be another funding announcement coming soon connected to the Muskoka Airport.

More details on these investments:

Town of Bracebridge:  $155,000

To help capitalize on the worldwide trend of experiential tourism, the Town of Bracebridge will receive $155,000 in FedNor funding to implement a tourism branding strategy, install new signage and conduct a variety of marketing activities. The investment will also enable the municipality to hire a youth intern for a two-year period to help realize the project. Experiential tourism is an alternative form of tourism in

Tony Clement announces $320K
Some recipients of FedNor funding announcement by Tony Clement November 28 at Muskoka Boat and Heritage Centre

which destinations are chosen not on their standard touristic merit but on the basis of an idea or experience. It encompasses a variety of tourism and traveler categories, including: cultural tourism, ecotourism, educational travel, experimental tourism, heritage tourism and nature tourism.

Muskoka Steamship and Historical Society: $78,750

A FedNor investment of $78,750 will assist the Muskoka Steamship and Historical Society in developing a strategy for a major expansion of the Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre. The strategy will include a business analysis, marketing and communications plan, attendance and revenue projections, sustainability research, program concepts, as well as site plans and architectural designs for the expansion of the facility.

Explorers’ Edge, RTO 12: $47,500                                                                    

To help maximize the tourism potential of the Muskoka region, RTO 12 will receive FedNor funding totalling $47,500 for two projects in support of Golf Muskoka and Resorts of North Muskoka. Specifically, the funding will provide training opportunities to help tourism operators identify and adopt new technologies and industry best practices, support social media and strategic planning efforts, as well as establish experience-based tourism packages to help strengthen this important sector of the local economy.

Township of Muskoka Lakes: $38,750                                                                      

FedNor funding of $38,740 will enable the Township of Muskoka Lakes to hire a youth intern for a one-year period to support the implementation of the community’s economic development strategy. Specifically, the intern will develop a communications plan, implement an investment attraction strategy, support the community’s wellness initiative, and create a marketing and promotional strategy that will further position the township as open for business.


Published November 28, 3pm

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District Chair Candidates Debate tonight in Bracebridge

Public welcome to attend tonight, 7pm, District Council Chambers

It’s a highly unusual event for a District Chair candidate to take part in a candidates debate, but tonight the four candidates will answer questions previously submitted by the public (and possibly some from the District Councillors who have the sole responsibility of electing the Chair).

In the running are:

  • John Klinck
  • Stuart Morley
  • Dan Waters
  • Hugh Mackenzie

Tonight’s event takes place at 7pm at the District Council Chamber in the District of Muskoka office at 70 Pine Street, Bracebridge.

The District Chair will be elected by the incoming Muskoka District Council at its Inaugural meeting on Monday, December 8, 2014 at 7pm. in the District Council Chamber. Members of the public are welcome to attend both tonight’s event and any open District Council meeting.

Published November 27, 3pm.

OPP charge Bracebridge man with possession of child pornography

Bracebridge man makes court appearance today in connection to child porn charges stemming from five-month long investigation

Members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Child Sexual Exploitation Unit have charged a Bracebridge man following a five month child pornography investigation.

In May 2014, police from the Bracebridge OPP Detachment were called to a local computer repair shop in regard to a computer that had been dropped off for repair. A computer repair technician noticed that the computer contained evidence of images of child sexual abuse. The matter was turned over to the OPP Child Sexual Exploitation Unit for further investigation.

As a result of the investigation and analysis of the computer, a large quantity of child sexual abuse images were located on the device.

On October 24, , arrested and charged Barry (Bart) HARRIS, age 77 years, of Bracebridge, Ontario with one count of possession of child pornography.

The accused was released the same day and was scheduled to appear in court today, November 25, 2014 at the Ontario Court of Justice in Bracebridge.

The investigation is continuing.

Published November 25, 11am.

Muskoka Trails Council working to rejuvenate

Muskoka Trails Council invites public input December 4 on new council vision

The Muskoka Trails Council is searching for new vision from the public about its mandate.

The trails promotion and coordinating group is holding a public meeting on Thursday, Dec. 4 in Bracebridge to seek residents’ thoughts on what direction the organization needs to take in the coming years.

“It’s a bit of a rejuvenation and brainstorming session in one,” said trails council president John Challis. “For the last year or so we have had difficulty bringing together the resources needed to hold the kind of events and activities that keep our trails uppermost in people’s minds.”

Featured photo of Hardy Lake trail, September 2014, by Norah Fountain

For more than 20 years, Muskoka’s area municipalities have been building a network of recreational trails that are enjoyed by thousands of local residents and visitors alike. There are well over 350 km of local trails now, including many urban paths that open up the opportunity to commute to school, work, or services on foot, bike or other wheels.

The trails council has been around in one form or another during those years, creating publications with trail information, building a website, and working with municipalities to keep improving the trails infrastructure. Events like Muskoka’s Amazing Race and Trails Passports have helped raise awareness of trails.

“Lately, our numbers have dwindled to a small handful of devoted people,” Challis said. “From the mail the trails council gets, I know there is tremendous support for trails in the community, and some brilliant ideas about continuing to build the trails resource; we just need more of that thinking around our table.”

Everyone is welcome to attend the meeting. It takes place from 6:30 to 8pm in the District of Muskoka office on Pine Street, in the Pine Room.

Muskoka Trails Council logo  Because there will be snacks, people are asked to pre-register by email to mary-ann.kosela@smdhu.org.

For more information about recreational trails in Muskoka, visit the website www.muskokatrailscouncil.com.

Article November 24 by John Challis.

Clement: Mental health support increasing for armed forces

Strengthening Mental Health Support for Canadian Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans and their Families: The following is a media release today (Nov. 24) from the office of Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement:

Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement said today that new and expanded mental health initiatives for Veterans, serving military members, and their families will strengthen Canada’s world class treatment, care and research for Canadian Armed Forces members and Veterans.

Initiatives, announced yesterday morning in Halifax by Defence Minister Rob Nicholson and Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, include the establishment of a major new Operational Stress Injury clinic in Halifax and additional satellite clinics opening in St. John’s, Chicoutimi, Pembroke, Brockville, Kelowna, Victoria and Montreal to speed access to mental health services for those with mental health injuries.

“Our Government is proud of our men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces. The new initiatives announced today reflect the most innovative thinking and evidenced-based approaches to mental health and suicide prevention, leading to world class care and treatment for mental health illness and injury. These initiatives underscore our unwavering commitment to our military community,” said MP Clement.

These initiatives, which amount to an investment of approximately $200 million, have been developed collaboratively by the Department of National Defence (DND), Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) and Health Canada. They reflect the most innovative thinking and evidenced-based approaches to mental health and suicide prevention, leading to world class care and treatment for mental illness and injury.

Quick Facts

Treatment and Education

  • In the fall of 2015, VAC will open a new Halifax Operational Stress Injury clinic to provide full assessment, diagnosis and treatment services for Veterans and their families who are living with operational stress injuries.
  • The Road to Mental Readiness education campaign will be expanded to further reach Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and their families. This program helps increase CAF member and family resilience to mental illness and injury, promotes awareness of mental health treatments, and continues the campaign to reduce stigma associated with mental health.
  • VAC, in partnership with the Mental Health Commission of Canada, will develop a Veterans-specific Mental Health First Aid training program across Canada which will be delivered to an estimated 3000 Veterans, their families and caregivers over the next five years.


  • The capacity to digitize CAF member health records will be increased, to speed the transfer of medical documentation to VAC.
  • Working with civilian partners, DND and the CAF will acquire access to specialized brain-imaging technology to improve Canadian understanding of mental illness, enable further research in diagnosis and treatment, and help improve treatment for CAF members and Veterans.

Support to Families

  • The peer support program for members, Veterans, and their families living with operational stress injuries will be augmented with additional staff to meet the needs of the military community. The Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSSIS) services is a lifeline for CAF and Veterans’ families seeking immediate assistance, with no requirements for referrals. Up to 2200 Veterans and their families will benefit from this expansion over the first five years.
  • A new four year pilot project will expand access to the Military Family Resource Centres at seven locations to medically releasing CAF personnel and their families for two years post release. Military family resources are available at military establishments across Canada, through the 1-800 Family Information Line, and at ca. Up to 1200 medically releasing Veterans and their families will take part in the pilot.


  • Additional research will be conducted to find better treatments, promote faster recoveries, and achieve better outcomes for Veterans and serving members with mental health conditions and their families.
  • Investments will be made to better understand transition from military to civilian life, enhance understanding of Veteran suicides to guide suicide prevention activities, improve the recognition, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness in Veterans, and support the development of national standards and a certification process for psychiatric service dogs.




Jellification concern shows Muskoka alerting world to change

It’s not ugly or a parasite, responded Muskoka limnologist* Dr. Norman Yan when asked for his reaction to The Toronto Star story this week about the impact of jellification by jelly-clad zooplankton on our lakes in Muskoka and Haliburton.

Dr. Norman Yan is Chair of the Friends of the Muskoka Watershed and he says he was taken back as to how alarming jellification was made to sound when it made headlines this week (You can read “Jellification in Muskoka, Haliburton may affect fish” by clicking here).

Beauty in the eye of the scientific beholder

“I was surprised that some bloggers and journalists have called the jelly-clad Holopedium “Ugly”, and one commentator actually called it a fish “parasite”.  I don’t believe any of the paper’s co-authors used these words. It is true we called the paper “Jellification…” to highlight a fairly fundamental shift from crusty to jelly-clad species as dominants in the plankton, as we move from a higher calcium (Ca), phosphorus world in our lakes to a lower calcium, lower phosphorus world, but Holopedium is quite lovely to me,” says Yan. “It was the study animal in my PhD, and given it needs 20 times less calcium, and 2 times less phosphorus than Daphnia, and survives attacks from invertebrate predators better, it was already widespread in our lakes. Arguably it is a dominant zooplankton species on the Shield. The point of the paper was that it has become more dominant over the last 20-30 years at the expense of its more Ca-needy competitors.”

Featured photo: MNR’s Laurie Wesson holds a bunch of Holopedium in hand. *What’s a limnologist? Limnology is the scientific study of the life and phenomena of fresh water, especially lakes and ponds. Yan is one of Canada’s leading limnologists.

Jellification signals biodiversity loss

Holopedium jellification in Muskoka Lakes
150-year-old painting of Holopedium by G.O. Sars, a Norwegian scientist, shows the jelly capsule. Painting housed at University of Oslo and is public domain.

There are indeed a few possible ecological concerns of the change. Yan explains:

“1) We are losing biodiversity here, as several species of Daphnia are losing out to only one Holopedium species;

2)  the nutritional value of the large animal plankton is reduced, as Holopedium has a much lower mineral content than Daphnia.  The implications of this should be explored, but are not yet known; and,

3) there may well be less food passed up the food chain to fish in our small lakes where invertebrate predators are actually key steps between plankton and fish, because Holopedium is pretty well protected from most invertebrate predators by its jelly coat. When it is eaten, it has lower mineral content.”

As of yet, says Yan, there is only one example of a potential direct impact on water takers: that’s in Colorado, where one water filtration plant’s sand filters are now being clogged by Holopedium and they’re spending quite a bit of money to alter their intakes to try to reduce this problem.

Holopedium growth in Muskoka

In our Muskoka lakes the absolute abundance of Holopedium has increased by an average of about two fold over the last 20 years, and the relative abundance has increased more, says Yan, while the abundance of 5 species of Daphnia has declined. There are two other, smaller species of Daphnia that need less Ca than their congeners, and they are still doing well, but this won’t last if Ca continues to fall, he says.

Still, jellification doesn’t mean the end to fish in our lakes. The thing to understand, says Yan, is that “the sky is not falling, but it’s not quite the same sky as it once was.” No doubt ongoing research and monitoring is critical to the health of our lakes. The upside to the attention raised by The Toronto Star’s article this week, says Yan is that is highlights how “research in Muskoka is alerting the world to intriguing and fundamental changes that accompany human interventions in the natural world.”

To know more about the Muskoka Watershed Council and The Friends of the Muskoka Watershed Council and the work they do, visit their website by clicking here.

Norman Yan
Dr. Norman Yan

About Dr. Norman D. Yan: Dr. Yan completed his Master’s degree at the University of Toronto, his PhD at the University of Guelph and worked as a research scientist at the Ontario Ministry if the Environment for 25 years. In 2000, he joined the Biology Department of York University as a tenured faculty member, and remains a Senior Research Scholar (emeritus professor) at the university. Dr. Yan has won many national and international awards. He is one of only three Canadians to receive both the K. Patalas award for research excellence in applied limnology, and the F.H. Rigler Memorial Award for limnological research from the Society of Canadian Limnology. Dr. Yan received a Premier’s Research Excellence Award from the Ontario government and was awarded a Gledden Visiting Senior Fellowship by the University of Western Australia. Recently, Dr. Yan inducted as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada.

Published November 22, 4pm Article by Norah Fountain

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Flood Outlook notice ended November 27

Updated Nov. 27: The Ministry of Natural Resources has ended the watershed conditons statement flood outlook for Parry Sound-Muskoka.

UPDATE FROM MNR, Nov. 25, 1pm:: The Water Conditions Statement – Flood Outlook remains in effect. Water levels and flows in lakes and rivers are increasing as a result of rainfall and the melting of the snow pack over the last three days. It is expected that the rate of rise in water levels and flows will quickly diminish and then will begin to recede over the next 48-hours due to the return of seasonal air temperatures with no additional rainfall forecasted for the coming days.

It is expected that portions of known flood-prone roads along river courses will be impacted to various degrees as river levels rise. It is anticipated that low-lying roads and properties along the Big East River within the Town of Huntsville may be impacted by early evening today but residences will not be affected.
Residents affected by high water conditions in the past should take necessary action to secure any vulnerable property in close proximity to rivers and lakes and closely monitor developing conditions over the next few days. People are asked to exercise caution and ensure they, their children and pets stay away from fast moving rivers and streams.


With the potential for up to 35 mm rain falling through Monday, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has issued a Flood Outlook.

The Water Conditions Statement – Flood Outlook gives early notice of possible flooding based on weather forecasts calling for heavy rain, snow melt, high winds or other conditions.

While it doesn’t expect flooding to occur, the MNR says the wet weather we’re experiencing could increase run off into lakes and rivers leading to higher than usual river flows and lake levels for this time of year.

The notice warns residents affected by high water conditions in the past should take necessary steps to secure any vulnerable property near rivers and lakes and keep watch on developing conditions over the next few days. People should also take caution and keep children and pets away from fast moving rivers and streams.

The notice went into effect late Friday afternoon and includes Muskoka, Parry Sound and north-west part Haliburton. It will be updated or remain in effect until Tuesday, November 25 at 5pm.

Know Your Watershed Notification Terms

Just because the MNR issues a notice about our regional watershed conditions, it doesn’t mean you need to start building an ark. The following outlines the differences in terminology so residents can understand why they are being advised about water levels and take appropriate precautions as necessary.

Terminology: Notification Levels

  • WATERSHED CONDITIONS STATEMENT – FLOOD OUTLOOK: gives early notice of the potential for flooding based on weather forecasts calling for heavy rain, snow melt, high winds or other conditions
  • WATERSHED CONDITIONS STATEMENT – WATER SAFETY: indicates that high flows, melting ice or other factors could be dangerous for such users as boaters, anglers and swimmers but flooding is not expected.
  • FLOOD WATCH: potential for flooding exists within specific watercourses and municipalities
  • FLOOD WARNING: flooding is imminent or occurring within specific watercourses and municipalities.

Note: You can watch the weather on the Muskoka News Watch home page – regional weather conditions are featured in the top right corner. You can also learn more about what’s happening with water levels by visiting the Surface Water Monitoring Centre online.

Published November 22, 130pm

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Injured Gravenhurst man found on roadway

A man was found lying on the Gravenhurst Parkway with serious injuries Sunday and local OPP are seeking answers as to how he came to be that way.

Members of the Bracebridge Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are asking the public to contact them if anyone can share information on how a Gravenhurst man ended up on the street with a variety of injuries. A family member found the man Sunday morning near his home on the Parkway and called for help. He was taken to hospital and then airlifted to a Toronto hospital where he remains in serious condition.

A police spokesperson says it’s a mysterious set of circumstances and at this point the injured man in unable to fill in any blanks as to how he was injured or how he ended up on the road. No description of the injured was provided by police. The Gravenhurst Parkway runs between the Muskoka Airport and Highway 11.

Published November 20, 12pm.

Muskoka Lakes man facing two separate impaired charges

Published November 19, 10am:  A Muskoka Lakes man is facing his second impaired related charge in three months after police arrested him on Falkenburg Road in Muskoka Lakes Township on Saturday night. The investigation by members of the Central Region SAVE (Snowmobile, ATV Vessel Enforcement) team revealed that the sled operator was already facing an impaired operation charge stemming from an incident in August in Bracebridge. The 21-year-old appeared in Bracebridge court yesterday.

Note: It is MNW policy not to name individuals charged with impaired as we normally can not attend court to report on the outcome of charges.

Four-way race for Muskoka District Chair: Mackenzie joins contest

Hugh Mackenzie, Dan Waters, Stuart Morley and John Klinck nominees for District Chair


Published November 18, 4pm: And then there were four. Nominations closed today for those interested in becoming the next Chair of the District of Muskoka and incumbent John Klinck now has three contenders for the position he’s held for the past four years.

Dan Waters, Liberal Candidate
Dan Waters
Stuart Morley for Muskoka District
Stuart Morley

Former Huntsville Mayor Hugh Mackenzie (who ran again for Mayor in the past municipal election but was unsuccessful) has added his name to the list of nominees.

Hugh Mackenzie
Hugh Mackenzie

He joins Dan Waters (provincial Liberal candidate in the past provincial election and the former NDP MPP for Parry Sound-Muskoka) and Stuart Morley of Gravenhurst.

New Model for Future Care for Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare

Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare outlines future plans

(Media Release: Tuesday, November 18, 2014, Muskoka, ON) – Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) continues to work through the Ministry’s capital planning process to plan Hospital Care for Our Future Generations. In the following release, the MAHC says this work to develop a clinical services plan for the future and the associated space needs for those services will position MAHC to meet the needs of the community – our children’s children – in the future.

The planning work, which began in late 2012, has involved point of care staff, clinical leaders, physicians and community providers in developing the best model for delivering health care services in the future that aligns with planning principles.

Three models for providing care in the future were developed – one Acute Care Site, an Ambulatory Site/Acute Care Site, and two Acute Care Sites – and were presented to our community and to municipal leaders for feedback during Community Information Sessions in August, explains Natalie Bubela, Chief Executive Officer.

“Since the information sessions, we have received a lot of feedback about the benefits and drawbacks of each of the models,” says Bubela. “Most significantly, we received clear guidance from the District of Muskoka regarding the boundaries and restrictions of municipal servicing, which has eliminated the option to build one new hospital for all of Muskoka in the Port Sydney/Utterson area despite the fact we are planning for the distant future 20 years from now.”

In addition, comprehensive architectural and engineering reports and preliminary information from a cost estimator have demonstrated the range in size and cost of the potential redevelopment models.

“As expected, the cost estimates have identified that it is much more costly to pursue the two Acute Care Sites model versus a one Acute Care Site model,” says Bubela. “Also, knowing that up to one quarter of the redevelopment cost must be covered by the community in what’s called a ‘local share’, our Foundations have helped us to understand the challenges of fundraising the required local share while continuing to raise money for ongoing capital needs.”

From the feedback that has been received, the steering committee overseeing this planning work is recommending additional analysis and investigation into a new model that blends the benefits of each model into a solution that meets the needs of the community and MAHC .

“The work completed to date has identified additional opportunities to develop a new solution that considers the changing landscape of care being provided in our communities today and in the future,” says Bubela. “We need to be extremely visionary for what we want the hospitals to achieve in our community, while being at the leading edge of the Ministry’s and North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN’s vision to provide health care services on a more regional basis.”

The working group formed to complete this visionary work includes both clinical leadership and physicians. Internal workshops have been arranged in November and December.

“We are asking the group to develop a creative approach to providing services in the future that supports sustainability, increased efficiency and focuses on centers of excellence and specialty resulting in reduced duplication,” says Bubela. “Considering the impact of the Ministry’s funding reform on operating costs, we know we can’t continue to be the Noah’s Ark of health care with one of everything at each of our sites.”

The working group has also been tasked with trying to close the cost gap between the most and least expensive model and to develop a model that could be phased-in, affordably.

“We recognize that potential changes in local health care can impact the broader community,” says Bubela. “Once this additional work to develop a model is complete and prior to a decision by the Board of Directors, we will hold further information sessions early in 2015 to engage our communities once again and keep them informed.”

This planning process will guide MAHC in building and strengthening our services, and may also show that some adjustments need to be made now so we are well positioned for the future.

Muskoka-Simcoe Choir gets $3K grant

The Cellar Singers enrich local cultural landscape, says MPP


Published November 18: Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop had good news for The Cellar Singers of Simcoe and Muskoka on Friday, November 14: the choir is receiving funding from the Ontario Arts Council (OAC). The group, which was formed in Bracebridge 47 years ago, has been awarded $3,000 through the Choirs and Vocal Groups Project to help support its season of concerts in Orillia and Bracebridge.

Mr. Dunlop met members of The Cellar Singers from Muskoka and Simcoe at the Orillia Public Library to deliver the good news. Accepting the cheque

The Cellar Singers gain Ontario Arts Council grant
The Cellar Singers gain Ontario Arts Council grant. The choir includes singers from all over Muskoka and Central Ontario

on behalf of The Cellar Singers were Norah Fountain of Torrance along with Cellar Singers board members Patricia Whitfield and Wendell Fisher of Orillia. Board Co-Chair Fisher said the grant will help the organization keep presenting and promoting high quality choral performances in the region. Funding from organizations such as the OAC help pay for general operating costs.

“I’m pleased to see The Cellar Singers, an outstanding community choir, receive funding,” said Dunlop. “They continue to enrich the cultural landscape in the Simcoe-Muskoka region.”

Upcoming concerts for The Cellar Singers include Handel’s Messiah with orchestra in Bracebridge on December 12 and in Orillia on December 14. For tickets and information, visit TheCellarSingers.com.

SUBMITTED PHOTO: Top: Wendell Fisher, left, Norah Fountain with MPP Garfield Dunlop at right. Front: Patricia Whitfield.

Bala Falls Update: MNR issues land use permit to Swift River

Land use permit issued for Bala Falls hydro project:

The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) today confirmed the company developing a hydro project at the North Bala Falls now has a license to occupy the Crown lands it needs to build on.

Jolanta Kowalski, Senior Media Relations Officer for the MNR, confirmed today that the ministry has issued a land use permit (LUP) for Swift River Energy Limited (SREL), the company developing the project at the North Bala Falls dam.

Not a lease: a land use permit is next step in lease process

This is not a full lease, explains Kowalski, which will eventually give the company the full green light to begin construction. “This land use permit is simply the next step in a complex process,” she says, “which will allow Swift River to proceed with fencing and placing signage.” She adds the permit applies to Crown properties required for the project, except for Margaret Burgess Park. “They do have occupational authority for the park but still need to get prior approvals before starting any work on that land, including fencing or signage,” says Kowalski.

According to the MNR’s Waterpower Site Release Policy, the LUP is a typical land tenure for short term work such as surveys. Once that work is completed, the LUP is upgraded to a full “crown lease”.

Some conditions also remain to be met before the company can act fully on Muskoka District entrance permits that became effective October 20. District Councillors also were hoping to hear from the province regarding concerns about duty to consult with Wahta First Nation before any site work began. They now have that answer.

Province responds to duty to consult concerns

Last week Wahta Chief Philip Franks and the District were mailed letters from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change on behalf of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne stating consultation requirements had been met. The letter to Chief Franks, dated November 6, was copied to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne along with Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement and other federal MPs, including Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Bernard Valcourt. In the letter, Environment Minister Glen Murray recommended Chief Franks contact SREL directly to discuss any outstanding concerns.

Muskoka Lakes Township writing letters in support of Wahta

On Friday, the Township of Muskoka Lakes Council decided to write letters supporting Wahta’s concern about the federal and provincial duty to consult with Wahta regarding the power project. There is a District of Muskoka meeting tonight, but as of this morning, District Chair John Klinck said District had not been formally notified of a request to add a Bala Falls discussion to the agenda. UPDATE NOV. 21: Attempts by Muskoka Lakes Township District Councillors to have District write letters again to government agencies on behalf of Wahta were rejected by the majority of District Council.

Protestor told to cease and desist; tents removed

Meantime, the protestor who had been camping on the Crown land beside the north Bala Falls dam was served with a verbal cease and desist order last week by the MNR’s regional district manager. Kowalski says the woman refused to take the written order, and was also informed her actions were contrary to the Public Lands Act and the Trespass to Property Act. Last night and this morning, there was no one on the land. Only a blue tarp and items inside could be seen mostly on the neighbouring Township property, along with some hand-made protest posters and Stop the Hydro plant signs remaining within sight of Muskoka Road 169.

Published November 17, 1:30pm

Temporary Offline Notice updated: We’re back!


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Muskoka residents face charges of Internet fraud


Gravenhurst and Bracebridge residents charged in connection with Internet fraud

Published Nov. 10, 11am: Three Muskoka residents face charges about an alleged Internet scam after a combined investigation by members of the OPP Muskoka Crime Unit and the Belleville Police Service.

Belleville Police Service conducted a 21 month investigation into an Internet scam involving a company that advertised to arrange for deliveries or jobs in the Alberta oil sands for administrative fees.  Unsuspecting victims were lead to believe their money was being processed though Western Union or MoneyGram to a legitimate business known only as Starway Transportation.

Police learned individuals from Muskoka were behind the scam which has reported victims through Canada, the United States and Europe and have defrauded the public of approximately $150, 000 over the 21-month period.

On November 6th 2014, Belleville Police Service with the assistance of the Muskoka Crime Unit of the Ontario Provincial Police executed search warrants on residences in Bracebridge and Gravenhurst, Ontario.

Arrested and charged with one count of Fraud over $5000 CC 380(1) and one count of Laundering Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) CC 462.31 each are:

46 year-old Gravenhurst resident Cheryl Berry;

47 year-old Gravenhurst resident Karl Berry;

52 year-old Bracebridge resident Joan Sellens.

All three were transported to Belleville, Ontario for bail court and released with a December 11, 2014 court date.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact Detective Constable Tim Foster of Belleville Police at (613) 966-0882 Ext 2309 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800- 222-8477.

How to post events & November events

November Events around Muskoka – keep an eye on our Events page; Today voters of all political stripes invited to discuss electoral reform in Gravenhurst, and tonight, remember World War One at the Presbyterian Church in Bracebridge

Published November 8, 9am: There are a slew of events going on this month that might interest you. Here are some details for your information. Remember to check the MNW Events page regularly. We also get requests to include events. Here’s how to do that:

To submit an event, please provide info in the format below and email it to info@muskokanewsarchive.com:

Date, Time, Event Name, Place, Cost if applicable and link to where you can get more information. Include a jpg or png file if you have a poster to include.

Note: A buck or two donated to help us keep information flowing is always appreciated, but not necessary for events to be posted. You can donate via our Donate button on our Front Home Page.

TODAY: PINTS AND POLITICS ELECTORAL REFORM MEETING, Gravenhurst Opera House, 1-4 pm. FREE Event, all welcome.

Could there be a spring federal election? Rumours from around Parliament Hill suggest Pints & Politicsthe Conservative party may decide to call an election before the Mike Duffy trial if it doesn’t hold to a promise of a regular fall date. While normal election rules will apply in the next election, whenever that happens, all are welcome to join a free event today to look at the possibility of electoral reform – changing the way votes are tallied. If you were confused about that mixed member proportional voting referendum a few years back, you are not alone. But maybe there are other ways to ensure the most fair vote system possible for Canadians? Join Fair Vote Canada today at the Gravenhurst Opera House from 1-4pm to explore electoral reform. It’s a non-partisan event (see picture).

Saturday, Nov. 8: Remembering World War One, the 100th Anniversary. Evening of song and tales from the trenches, Knox Presbyterian Church, Bracebridge, 120 Taylor Road, 7pm. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 children.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 Free Public Lecture 7p.m., Nipissing University Bracebridge. Nipissing University and CFUW-Muskoka are partnering to present Dr. Justin Carré speak on The Examination of the Interplay between Testosterone and Aggression in the large lecture hall of Nipissing University 125 Wellington St., Bracebridge. (CFUW is Canadian Federation of University Women).

Lecture Summary: Across the animal kingdom, testosterone (T) concentrations change rapidly in the context of competitive interactions. Work in animal models suggest that such changes in T may serve to rapidly modulateTestosterone and Aggression ongoing and/or future competitive/aggressive behaviour. Research in my lab has investigated this question in humans using a variety of experimental designs ranging from studying elite-level athletes, to staging competitive interactions in a laboratory setting. In this talk I will present findings indicating that acute changes in T during competition may indeed modulate human behaviour and that it may do so through activating neural structures implicated in affective aggression. I will conclude the talk by discussing the implications of such findings for developing prevention and/or treatment programs designed to curtail or treat pathological forms of aggression.

Dr. Carré received his Ph.D. in Behavioural Neuroscience from Brock University and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Duke University examining the neural mechanisms underlying human aggression. His program of research examines how competition affects testosterone levels and how such changes in testosterone influence ongoing and/or future human aggressive behaviour. In addition, Dr. Carré recently received a federal grant to study the effects of testosterone administration on social, cognitive, and behavioural processes of relevance to human aggressive behaviour. He is currently an Associate Professor of Psychology at Nipissing.


Check with your local Royal Canadian Legion for ceremony plans.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 15: The first Santa Claus Parade in Muskoka in Bala. For info, call the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce, 705 762 5663.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 15: National Child Day – free swim at Muskoka swimming pools! Check for times in Huntsville, Gravenhurst and Bracebridge.Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 2.06.21 PM

Stuart Morley of Gravenhurst to contest District Chair

District Chair nominations close Tuesday, November 18: Morley to compete against incumbent John Klinck

Published Nov. 5, 8pm: Stuart Morley of Gravenhurst wants to be the next District Chair of Muskoka. He announced today he had filed his candidacy papers. The move pits him against incumbent John Klinck, who was voted in to the District Chair position four years ago after the last municipal election when Klinck went up against Gord Adams.

Morley explains why he decided to run: “I have a vision for Muskoka that is more than pristine water and beautiful scenery; a place which is more than a great place to visit, live and play. It is a vision where our children and grandchildren can have the opportunity to find meaningful work and build their careers in Muskoka. The missing link, for me, is the economic development piece that will drive job creation and help address many other issues in our community,” he continues. “I look forward to working with the diverse team of district councillors and the Muskoka community to provide leadership on this positive change for Muskoka.”

Who will fill the District Chair position will be decided by the newly-elected District of Muskoka Council at its inaugural meeting on Monday, December 8 at 7pm in the Council Chamber at the District’s administration building at 70 Pine Street, Bracebridge.  Members of the public are welcome to attend.

There had been speculation that Deputy District Chair Scott Young may be a contender for Chair but he has stated he will not seek the position and he is looking at other opportunities. Sources say outgoing Huntsville Mayor Claude Doughty could be another potential candidate.

Morley has provided a candidate profile which you can read by clicking on Morley’s Candidate profile nov3 v2. He filed his nomination papers on November 3.