Meeting of minds in advance of spring freshet held in Bracebridge

(March 31 9:30pm BRACEBRIDGE) It was a long and technical afternoon for members of Muskoka Councils, Emergency Services personnel, the Muskoka River Water Management Standing Advisory Committee and Muskoka Watershed Council on Monday in Bracecbridge at the second Muskoka Municipal Pre-freshet Information Session. Patricia Arney, Vice Chair of Standing Advisory Committee Muskoka River Water Management Plan (MRWMP), reports there were no ‘answers’ as to what Muskoka ‘will experience’ for the 2015 spring thaw, but there was a lot of valuable information shared to help make informed decisions about various scenarios going forward.

Special report by Patricia Arney, Vice Chair, Standing Advisory Committee Muskoka River Water Management Plan (MRWMP) and Past Chair, Muskoka Watershed Council. Featured photo shows a road partially flooded during flood event in 2013.

Weather and Water were the overarching themes of this second Muskoka Municipal Pre-freshet Information Session hosted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) Parry Sound-Muskoka District in Bracebridge on Monday (March 30, 2015).

Second half of April predicted to be warm and wet

Weather: Geoff Coulson, Warning Preparedness Meteorologist for Environment Canada, assured all present that the Ontario Storm Prediction Centre has a duty forecaster available 24/7. He outlined the meaning of the Environment Canada messages from Special Weather Statements which simply reflect a range from ‘there seems to be something going on’ to a warning which signifies significant weather impacts are likely. All of the cautionary language reflects the state of forecasting science abilities. For temperature, the accuracy is within 3 degrees 95% of the time on day 1 and 60% on day 7 — but for precipitation, it is a work in progress. He did confirm that this was the second year of unusually high overall snowfall, so whatever the weather does over the next month will have a significant impact on the meltdown. April 3-10 are forecast to be cold but the second half of April may be warmer and wetter. Coulson has been a weatherman for many years and is used to being asked about the weather, even by folk who have just berated him for the inaccuracy of a recent forecast.

Despite our cold winter, and the coldest February since 1934, global climate change is ‘warming’ and more ‘extreme storms’ are possible.

For those keen to track the weather on an ongoing basis the https://ecalertme.weather.gc.ca/ and google.org/publicalerts are good references OR one may wish to become a Weather Watcher. More details are available at cocorahs.org/canada

Muskoka Flood of April 2013 on Muskoka River
Muskoka River flooding, April 21, 2013 across from Annie Williams Park, Bracebridge. Floating dock shows where water would normally start. Photo by Norah Fountain.

Allan Douglas, Director, Ontario Centre for Climate Impacts and Adaptation Resources of Laurentian University reinforced Coulson’s message about global warming and he had some positive notes on potential provincial policy shifts coming out of Ontario’s Climate Change 2015 Discussion Paper, including a ‘carbon price tag’. Allan offered more data on ‘intense precipitation’ events and stressed the need for communities to implement not only ‘coping/reactive’ strategies in the face of these extreme weather events but also to work on ‘adaptation/proactive strategies to prepare the infrastructure for the changes. He referenced the ‘Guide for Assessment of Hydrological Effects of Climate Change’ sponsored by MNRF and the Ministry of Environment (MoE) in partnership with Credit Valley Conservation Authority in commenting on the potential impacts of climate change on the freshets, saying “a redistribution of precipitation seasonally could result in severely stressed summer low flow conditions and a much higher likelihood of winter flooding.”

One of his ‘take home messages’ was the need for ‘best science, partnerships and communication’. He commended the 2010 Muskoka Watershed Council paper on climate change and noted MWC as a valuable partner.

Water: Dave MacPherson, MNRF Engineering Technologist, presented highly technical information with a light touch — who knew Big Eddy is ‘Large Edward’ to his friends? (Big Eddy and Ragged Rapids are the two sites on the Moon Musquash and Moon Rivers below the Moon Chutes). He also provided historical background about the 1988 Flood Damage Reduction program which undertook careful mapping of 207 locations in Ontario, one of them being Muskoka — and the data is still used today. When questioned on why MNRF has to rely on 25-year-old data, MacPherson said he had no problem as the mapping was based on Muskoka granite and he doubted there were alot of changes in that in 25 years. He also noted that since then, many structures have been allowed to be built on ‘potential flood plains’.

The most important message was that the Muskoka River water control structures were designed for navigation and tourism (they still function quite well for that purpose as before the dams, Lake Muskoka fluctuated up to 9 feet), not as Flood Control structures.

His presentation included a diagram of the actuality that ‘taking all the logs out to prevent flooding’ when the lake is in full drawdown doesn’t work.

1998 flood in Muskoka
Always learning from the past: Picture collection of 1998 flood event. Picture hangs in old Bracebridge Falls generating station.

He emphasized that drawing the winter levels ‘as low as they can go’ could have severe environmental impacts as well as opposition from those who live on the ‘reservoirs/lakes’. There was also a diagram to highlight the difference between a flood control structure and Muskoka dams: the full range of our dams is 1.5m vs a flood control structure with a range of 20m and there are no structures built around the ‘reservoir/lake’ of the flood control structure.

Additional drawdown on Lake Muskoka; all eyes on Algonquin melt

Amanda Vincent, MNRF Senior Technical Specialist, is the one ‘on the ground’ or water if one prefers. She also stressed that the water control structures on the Muskoka River system were built in the late 1800s to early 1900s for navigation purposes, not flood control. Since Muskoka does not have a conservation authority, it is the responsibility of MNRF to “initiate flood warning messages and local interpretation of the flood risk.” Vincent outlined the multitude of data sources, including field studies of snowpack, reviewed in the decision making around dam management, of taking logs in and out. She reported that this year there has been an additional drawdown on Lake Muskoka to cope with the higher water content in the snow. Presently the dams are being set for optimal discharge during the freshet but all eyes are on the Algonquin highlands and how that melt proceeds.

Craig Charlton is the Surface Water Analyst with the Surface Water Monitoring Centre (SWMC), the primary role of which is to monitor and forecast flooding and drought hazards across the province. Their work is to collect, monitor and analyze water flows and levels, complete daily Hazard Identification and Risk Assessments and communicate the results with their partners. They also offer 24/7 service for MNRF and Conservation Authorities. SWMC responsibilities include gathering data from all weather sources, forecasts, climate stations, stream flow stations and snow stations. This data is fed into a computer database, the Water Information Systems Kisters Database, WISKI, which creates modeling of potential outcomes and flood forecasts. Charlton reiterated the ‘meaning of the messages’: Condition Statement = early notice potential, Watch = potential, Warning = imminent flooding.

Emergency planning responsibilities

Community Emergency Management Coordinator Terri Burton outlined the legislative requirements for municipalities in emergency planning. The District of Muskoka (DMM) undertakes the required HIRA, Hazard Identification and risk Assessment and Critical infrastructure Assessment, but it goes beyond the basic HIRA data requirements. DMM includes MPAC data, population data and statistics on seasonal population. It also factors in weather issues given seasonal roads, large tourist ships that may pose extra risks as do events in many of our towns constricted by waterways.

Filling sandbags during April 2013 flood in Bracebridge
Filling sandbags in Bracebridge during April 2013 flood. Photo by Norah Fountain

DMM manages and maintains a contract with ‘211 Community Connections’ (211ontario.ca) to maintain an Emergency Resources database which is available to all municipalities and emergency services. The role of Emergency Planning upon receiving a flood watch or warning is to notify appropriate municipal officials and departments, determine the appropriate response, and declare a Flood emergency if warranted, request provincial assistance if required, and maintain a liaison with MNRF. They are also responsible for training at all levels from individual to community exercises.

Track and learn from what happens in your own back yard, advises Fire Chief

Steve Hernen, Fire Chief, Huntsville Lake of Bays, brought Mike Vadjla, Fire Prevention Officer and C.E.M.C. to handle the technical aspects of his very worthwhile presentation. There was a strong message to all about what to do with all the information garnered from the session – take it home and apply it to your own backyard.

For many, there is no meaningful message to hear about cms (cubic metres per second), but if a town has studied what happens to its water levels and infrastructure when the cms reaches a critical point and can then communicate that to the residents, it has meaning. Huntsville knows that when the Williamsport gauge reading reaches 90cms, the Old North Road may begin to flood in approximately 14 hours. So, they not only have information that is meaningful for the residents but it also provides a lead time. Each community has to take the information about flows and restrictions applicable to their own situation and keep local records in order to provide meaningful reports. Although it seems unreasonable, people continue to demand the right to build on flood plains and to store valuables in basements or boathouses prone to flooding, so there needs to be more public education on those issues. This was a commendable presentation of ‘practical’ application of much of the information shared that afternoon.

Again, there were no answers to the specific question “What will the 2015 freshet be like?” But there was lots of information to help individuals with understanding the messaging, analyzing the potential for flooding from observations and research data, undertaking risk analysis for individual properties and communities, and appreciating the need for major infrastructure reviews and adaptation planning. Certainly one strong takeaway is that you have to do your homework in your own back yard to be prepared. It may take lots of time and effort to do, but in this writer’s opinion, it’s more effective than simply blaming MNRF for not being more specific about the impacts of increasing flows throughout the region.

Special report contributed by Patricia Arney, Vice Chair Standing Advisory Committee Muskoka River Water Management Plan and Past Chair Muskoka Watershed Council.

 

Bracebridge a winner at PRO Awards

(March 31 11;30am BRACEBRIDGE) The Town of Bracebridge and the Town’s Youth Programmer have both been recognized at the 20th PRO Awards – a yearly set of awards determined by Parks and Recreation Ontario (PRO).

Bracebridge was recognized for the town’s ongoing dedication and contribution towards quality programming in the recreation sector by being recognized again as a HIGH FIVE organization at the annual conference that included the PRO Awards on March 24-25 at Blue Mountain Resort in Collingwood.

Diane Wiber awarded for outstanding service

Bracebridge Youth Programmer Diane Wiber received a Parks and Recreation Ontario Member Contribution Award for 2 years of outstanding service at a ceremony on March 24. Over the past two years Diane has run Youth Engagement workshops in various Ontario communities and has been a member of the Youth Friendly Community Assessment Committee.

HIGH FIVE again for Bracebridge

The Town of Bracebridge was recognized for its longstanding commitment to being an accredited HIGH FIVE organization. HIGH FIVE accreditation was developed in response to the expressed desire within the sport and recreation sectors to establish and recognize a standard for excellence in the provision of quality sport and recreation programs for children and youth.

Parks and Recreation Ontario recognize the outstanding achievements of individuals and organizations that have enhanced the quality of life for Ontario’s citizens. These awards showcase the very best of recreation and parks and also serve to draw attention to the importance and benefits of recreation for healthy people, vibrant communities and sustainable environments. The Town of Bracebridge achieved this standard in 2005 and continues its commitment through staff training and development, program assessments, policies and procedures and community awareness.

Taboo Resort in Gravenhurst set to reopen in May

(March 30, 2015 1pm GRAVENHURST) TABOO MUSKOKA has announced it will be open for business again in May. The Gravenhurst resort on Lake Muskoka closed in early December after a fire in October that damaged the lower level restaurant inside the main building. In a release today, resort officials said TABOO will open May 15 and run through the season with reduced amenities while the resort is being redeveloped. It plans to close again after the summer season on September 27, 2015.

“All of our guests will enjoy a fantastic Muskoka experience, a great stay, great golf, and great rates”, said Nigel Hollidge, Managing Director, TABOO MUSKOKA Resort & Golf.

Featured photo shows the signature hole on the TABOO golf course

TABOO amenities that are available include:

  • 58 recently renovated rooms in the rNorth Shore Building, Premier Lakefront, Terrace and Select rooms and 2-4 bedroom chalets.
  • Golf (open May 8th to mid-October), offers Golf Stay & Play Packages starting at $149/person with access to the Proshop
  • Junior Golf Camps will run from July 1st to August 31st
  • Family activities offer scavenger hunts, colouring pages and board games
  • Bocce Ball, Frisbees and Ping Pong equipment available to resort guests
  • Fitness Centre – located on the 4th floor of North Shore Building
  • Tennis with 5 tennis courts
  • Non-motorized and motorized water sports and 4 outdoor pools
  • Hiking trails and mountain bikes (complimentary with your stay)
  • Access to private beach and volleyball court (complimentary with your stay)
  • The Boathouse restaurant
  • Complimentary grab and go breakfast also available
  • Massages available upon request

Related Articles:

Gravenhurst Banner December 11, 2014: Taboo closes

Windows smashed at Gravenhurst Town Office

(March 21, 4pm GRAVENHURST) Members of Bracebridge Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are investigating after windows were smashed at the Gravenhurst Town Office building. Unknown suspects caused damage to seven windows, all facing Fairview Drive, sometime overnight on Thursday (March 19, 2015). The Town Office is located at 5 Pineridge Gate.  At this point police are not certain what was used to smash the windows, but if area residents can recall any suspicious activity or recall hearing any sort of noise during that time frame, they are asked to call police.

You can contact the OPP at (888) 310-1122, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or submit information online at www.crimestopperssdm.com if you have any information on this crime or any other crime. 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.

Hands Up for Hospitals and Save Our Services Rally March 21

(UPDATE March 21 BRACEBRIDGE) Hundreds turned out to support Muskoka hospitals this morning at the Hands Up for Hospitals rally. For details from the Town of Bracebridge, click here. This morning’s rally is being followed by a similar Save Our Services  rally this afternoon in Huntsville.

(March 6, 4pm BRACEBRIDGE) Bracebirdge Mayor Graydon Smith is calling for a community rally in support of South Muskoka Memorial Hospital in Bracebridge and the Huntsville District Memorial Hospital. He announced today that a “Hands Up for Our Hospitals” rally will happen on Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 11am at the Bracebridge Sportsplex. A second event, the Save Our Services Rally, is also being held in Huntsville at 2pm in front of Huntsville Town Hall.

“Now is the time for the community to come out and voice support for our hospitals,” says Smith.  “It’s imperative that MAHC and the Province hear how important our hospitals and their services are to Bracebridge, Huntsville and the entire Muskoka region.”

The provision of a full range of emergency, inpatient and surgical services at both the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital in Bracebridge and the Huntsville District Memorial Hospital by Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) is vital for all of the communities in the Muskoka region, say community leaders. The continued delivery of acute care services at the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital in Bracebridge is also believed to be crucial to the long-term sustainability of the community and the continued provision of adequate health care services for Bracebridge residents.

Hands Up for Hospitals Event Details:

Date: Saturday, March 21, 2015
Time: 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Place: Bracebridge Sportsplex, 110 Clearbrook Trail, Bracebridge, ON P1L 1V9

Save our Services Event Details:

Date: Saturday, March 21, 2015
Time: 2pm
Place: Huntsville Town Hall, 37 Main Street East, Huntsville

Residents of the Towns of Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, Huntsville, the Townships of Lake of Bays, Muskoka Lakes and Georgian Bay are invited to join Mayor Smith, Members of Bracebridge Town Council, MP Tony Clement, District Chair John Klinck and other community leaders at the event.

Over the past months, Mayor Smith and Bracebridge Council have been working closely with the Board of Muskoka Algonquin Health Care to support sustainable hospital services for the community and have been in regular contact with the Minister of Health and Long-term Care to encourage support for MAHC. On February 24, Huntsville Mayor Scott Aitchison, Mayor Smith and Township of Muskoka Lakes Mayor Don Furniss met with Ontario Health and Long Term Care Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins to stress the need for keeping services at Muskoka’s hospitals.

Related Articles

February 24, MNW, Mayors meet with Health Minister

Coast Guard fuel tanks getting upgrade at Parry Sound base

(March 19 12pm PARRY SOUND) Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement today announced the government will spend $48,000 to upgrade storage tanks at the Parry Sound Coast Guard Base. He made the announcement on behalf of Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea.

A release from Clement’s office states the investment will ensure that the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) aircraft and vessel fleets out of Parry Sound that rely upon these tanks continue to have timely access to fuel. CCGS Risley and CCGS Cove Isle are home ported in Parry Sound along with two helicopters that use the storage tanks for fueling.

“Our government continues to make concrete improvements to assets like the Parry Sound Coast Guard base,” says Clement, “a facility that enables the CCG to protect mariners and our waters. This investment will help ensure the continued delivery of excellent service that Canadians expect from the Coast Guard.”

The funding today was part of a commitment made in Fall 2014 by the government to spend a total of $551.1million over two years to support Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Coast Guard.

Parry Sound Seniors Club receives funding

After the Parry Sound base, Clement also made a stop at St. James Centennial United Church today to announce funds to help local seniors with a community kitchen project. A total of $9,134 will go to help set up a local Seniors Supper Club. The focus of the project is a community kitchen for single seniors who will cook together, eat together and then take the leftovers home.

PSsupperclubSmallClement said it was a please sure to support the project which he says ” will help provide nutritious meals for local seniors, along with all the social benefits of coming together to prepare and share meals. I applaud the project organizers for making this club a reality,.”

The funding comes through the Government of Canada`s New Horizons for Seniors Program. It is a federal grants and contributions program that supports projects led or inspired by seniors who want to make a difference in the lives of others and in their communities.

Tiny Township sledder accused of slamming into OPP officer

(March 16 8pm TINY TOWNSHIP) One day after five snowmobilers on Beausoleil Island allegedly crash through two OPP snowmobiles and all but one flee, a Tiny Township man has been charged with hitting an OPP officer with his snowmobile. The officer was not on a snow machine himself. Police charge the sledder at first halted upon seeing the officer with a group of stopped snowmobilers, then suddenly hit the gas — and then the officer. Here’s the report from South Georgian Bay OPP:

A member of the Southern Georgian Bay Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) was struck while checking a number of stopped snowmobiles on the outer harbour of Penetanguishene Bay near Peek-A-Boo Trail at approximately 9:00pm Sunday, March 15,2015.

The officer was one of two officers checking a number of stopped snowmobilers whom the officers had come upon while on patrol. The officer was speaking with one of the group when a snowmobiler approached the group and stopped. Without notice the snowmobiler accelerated at the officer striking the officer with the snowmobile. The officer subdued the driver and the subsequent investigation resulted in the driver being arrested and transported to Southern Georgian Bay Detachment for an Intoxilyzer test.

As a result of the investigation, 50-year-old David McTague Tiny Township has been charged with:

  • Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle contrary to section 249 (1)
  • Assault a Peace Officer With a Weapon contrary to section 270.01 (1) (a)
  • Driving While Ability Impaired contrary to section 253 (1) (a)
  • Driving With More Than 80 Milligrams of Alcohol in His Blood contrary to section 253 (1) (b)

These alleged offences are all contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada.

He was further charged with the following Provincial Offences:

  • Drive No Insurance contrary to section 12 (1)
  • Drive Motorized Snow Vehicle While Suspended contrary to section 17.1 (II)
  • Fail to Display Evidence of Permit contrary to section 2 (8)
  • Fail to Notify Change of Ownership contrary to section 3 (3)

These alleged offences are all contrary to the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act

The accused also lost his driving privileges for 90 days under the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) Administrative Drivers Licence Suspension (ADLS) road safety program. He was released from police custody on a recognizance to attend before the Ontario Court of Justice in Midland on March 26, 2015

 

Sledders flee after allegedly driving over OPP snowmobiles on Beausoleil Island

(March 16 2pm GEORGIAN BAY) Members of the Southern Georgian Bay Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are currently investigating a fail to remain snowmobile collision that involved two OPP snowmobiles and an unknown snowmobile on Beausoleil Island just before 8pm on Saturday, March 14, 2015.

The two uniformed OPP officers were operating fully marked OPP snowmobiles and were heading north east on the non OFSC single lane trail from Treasure Bay to Beausoleil Bay when they encountered five snowmobiles heading south west on the trail. The lead snowmobiler forced the officers off the trail into the deep snow and proceeded to drive over the first OPP snowmobile’s skis and struck the second officers snowmobile causing significant damage and fled the scene as did the following three snowmobilers.

The unknown snowmobile is described as being that of an older style chassis, black in colour with a male operator.

The fifth snowmobiler was detained at the scene by the officers and identified as 41-year-old Raymond Cloutier of Tay Township. He has been charged with the following Motorized Snow Vehicle Act offences:

·         Drive – No Insurance contrary to section 12 (1)

·         Drive Motorized Snow Vehicle While Licence Suspended contrary to section 17.1(II)

·         Fail To Stop For Police Officer contrary to section 17.1 (I)

·         Fail To Produce Evidence Of Registration contrary to section 16 (1)

·         Fail to Display Evidence Of Permit contrary to section 2 (8)

The involved unknown snowmobile is described as being that of a 2 stroke powered with an older style chassis, black in colour with a male operator.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact the OPP at (705) 526-3761 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). You can submit your information online at www.crimestopperssdm.com  or if you have any information on this crime or any other crime. 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.

Bracebridge Day of Action against anti terrorism Bill C-51

(March 14 BRACEBRIDGE) People across Canada spoke out against Bill C-51 today with more than 70 Day of Action events across Canada, including one in Muskoka in Bracebridge.

About 50 protestors, including representatives of all the local riding associations (except the Conservative association), marched from the Bracebridge court on Dominion Street to Parry Sound Muskoka MP Tony Clement’s office on Kimberley Avenue and then down Manitoba Street back to the courthouse.

Bagpiper signs petition
Bagpiper signs petition

The Conservative government wants to pass the proposed legislation, a law that some at the rally today said would infringe on Canadians’ civil liberties. While concerns with Bill C-51 are diverse, supporting organizations say the bill, what some call the “new secret police law”, is reckless, dangerous and ineffectiv

People at the rally in Bracebridge today chanted “reject fear” and “peace not police state” as they gathered in front of the courthouse and again in front of Clement’s office.

In a release January 30, MP Clement said the proposed legislation would protect Canadians from the evolving threat of terrorism and keep our communities safe.

“The world is a dangerous place and, as most brutally demonstrated by last October’s attacks in Ottawa and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Canada is not immune to the threat of terrorism,” said Clement. “The proposed legislation will provide Canadian law enforcement and national security agencies with additional tools and flexibility to keep pace with evolving threats and better protect Canadians here at home.”

Clyde Mobbley holds sign high
NDP’s Clyde Mobbley (orange sign centre)  holds sign high

The Liberal position is that while some parts of the bill are reasonable, many parts have been rejected by Canadian law experts and must be open to be amended. One Liberal today said while he’d prefer the whole thing quashed, as the NDP would like to see happen, it’s not possible with the Conservatives holding the majority in Parliament.

After providing a musical backdrop to today’s rally, the bagpiper stopped to sign a petition against Bill C-51. Said someone in the crowd, “you realize that CSIS now has your name and number.”

 

 

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Truck may have triggered Works Yard fire; damage up to $3million

(March 12 2:25pm) Muskoka Lakes Fire Chief Richard Hayes says the investigation is continuing into a fire yesterday at the Township’s Public Works Yard in Glen Orchard. There are several people on the site today across the highway from Glen Orchard Public School.

Here is the report from Chief Hayes about the works yard fire:

The Muskoka Lakes Fire Department was dispatched to the Glen Orchard Public Works Yard at 5:11 pm on Wednesday, March 11, 2015.  Twenty-five firefighters responded to the location from Foot’s Bay, Bala, and Port Carling.

Glen Orchard Public Yard Works fire
Aerial shot today of aftermath of Works Yard blaze showing damaged building at right. Submitted photo.

The building sustained significant fire damage (see featured photo at top) along with some apparatus within. Significantly damaged was a smaller plow truck, which appears to be the origin of the fire.

Additionally, an adjacent dump truck and loader sustained heat and smoke damage. There was nobody present at the time of the incident and no injuries occurred.  The Fire Marshal’s Office was called in to investigate as this fire is considered a ‘Large Loss’ fire.  Preliminary estimates of loss are 2 to 3 million dollars.

Water Conditions Statement warns of high, fast water flows

(March 11 PARRY SOUND-MUSKOKA) The Ministry of Natural Resources – Parry Sound District is advising area residents that a Watershed Conditions Statement – Water Safety is in now effect for the District.

The Ministry wants to remind residents of the dangers that exist on local streams, rivers, ponds and lakes during the spring breakup.

In its statement released today, the MNR says it is closely monitoring the weather and developing watershed conditions.

NOTE: See Terminology-Notification Levels to understand that this is the first level of Water Condition Statement advisories. The MNR will issue upgraded advisories as needed.

Description of Weather System

With warmer temperatures in the forecast the onset of spring will bring melting snow, rain and breakup of ice along rivers, streams, ponds and lakes. During this time of year we can expect higher and faster flowing water in most watercourses. Slippery and unstable banks and extremely cold water temperatures can lead to very hazardous conditions around any water body.

Description of Current Conditions

The winter of 2015 has been particularly cold with significant snow accumulation. The existing snow pack in the area averages a depth of 60 centimetres with an average water equivalent 150 millimetres which is approximately 50% higher than normal for this time of year. Throughout the winter, MNRF staff monitors snow depth, water content/equivalent in the snow pack and track daily weather conditions to help assess how the melting snow pack may affect local water bodies.

Expiry Date: This message will expire on Friday, March 27 2015, 12:00 AM

Terminology: Notification Levels

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.

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

FLOOD WATCH: potential for flooding exists within specific watercourses and municipalities

FLOOD WARNING: flooding is imminent or occurring within specific watercourses and municipalities.

Featured photo shows Bala Falls on March 6 just before temperatures began climbing

Huntsville OPP busy this past weekend investigating thefts, sled crash

(March 9 HUNTSVILLE) Snowmobile crash sends one man to hospital, OPP investigating tire thefts and a break and enter and two charged with impaired. The following are news briefs direct from the Huntsville OPP.

SNOWMOBILE CRASH SENDS ONE TO HOSPITAL

(LAKE OF BAYS) On Friday March 6, 2015 just before 6:00pm Huntsville Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) along with Muskoka EMS and Lake of Bays Fire department were made aware of a snow machine into a tree on trail D101B near Billie Bear Rd in the township of Lake of Bays.

Huntsville OPP learned that a sled driven by a 24 year-old-male from Stirling Ontario was cresting a hill and clipped the rear end of a stopped snow machine driven by a 59 year-old-female from Mississauga Ontario.  The 24 year-old-male then rolled his machine pinning his leg under the machine.  He was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

No charges were laid.

LOCK IT OR LOSE IT
(HUNTSVILLE) On Saturday March 7, 2015 around 11:00am Huntsville Ontario Provincial Police were made aware of a theft from a motor vehicle on North Mary Lake Road.

Sometime overnigh, unknown culprits entered an unlocked vehicle on North Mary Lake Road and removed Canadian Currency, America Currency and an Apple IPod.

Anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in the area is asked to contact Huntsville OPP or Crime Stoppers.

TIRE THIEVES

On March 6, 2015 just after 9:00am Huntsville Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) was notified that a set of tires had been removed from a vehicle on Hanes Rd in the town of Huntsville Ontario.

Huntsville OPP learned that sometime between 7:00pm on March 5. 2015 and 7:30am on March 6, 2015 unknown culprits attended a dealership parking lot on Hanes Rd and removed four tires along with the rims from a 2015 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck.

The tires are described as Goodyear Wrangler 20inch tire with silver aluminum rims.  The value of these is exceeding $1000.00.

On March 8, 2015 at about 11:00am Huntsville OPP was notified that a set of 4 winter tires along with rims were removed from a vehicle parked on Coveside Dr. in Huntsville Ontario.  Sometime between 2:00pm on March 7, 2015 and 11:00am on March 8, 2015 unknown culprits entered the property and removed the tires and rims from a vehicle parked in the victim’s driveway.

There is no suspect in either theft.  Anyone with any information about either theft is asked to contact Huntsville OPP or Crime Stoppers.

HUNTSVILLE OPP INVESTIGATES BREAK AND ENTER

On March 5, 2015 just before 10:00am Huntsville Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) was made aware of a break and enter that had taken place at a business on Muskoka Rd # 3 North in the town of Huntsville.

Sometime overnight unknown culprits broke into the business that previously was used as a home.  Once inside the culprits went into the bathroom and rummaged through all of the cabinets.  The culprit also went through the business area disturbing only the things on the desk.  It appears that nothing was taken in this break and enter.

Huntsville OPP would like to remind the public to take a minute and check medicine cabinet for any expired or unused prescription medicine.  Most pharmacy’s will take back all medication and dispose of it.

Anyone with any information about this break in is asked to contact Huntsville OPP or Crime Stoppers.

IMPAIRED DRIVING CHARGES LAID

On March 1, 2015 at about 5:00pm members of the Huntsville Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) received information that a possible intoxicated male was observed leaving a local business in a GMC pick-up truck.

The officers patrolled other businesses in the Huntsville area including the Novar area.  One officer located the suspect pick-up truck in a parking lot at a business in Novar.  As a result of the complaint the driver of the pick-up truck had indeed been drinking.

Investigation led to the arrest of a 69-year-old Huntsville man.  He was eventually charged with Impaired Driving and Having more than 80mgs of alcohol per 100mltrs of blood.

On Friday March 6, 2015 just after 11:00pm officers were on patrol in the town of Huntsville and observed a Honda Civic roll through a stop sign.  The officer stopped the vehicle and spoke to the driver about his infraction.  It was found that the driver of the Honda had been drinking.

As a result of the investigation, a 43-year-old Huntsville man was arrested and eventually charged with having more than 80mgs of alcohol per 100mltrs of blood under the criminal code of Canada.

Both charged males will appear on April 1, 2015 at the Ontario Court of Justice in Huntsville to answer to their charges.  Both vehicles were impounded for a period of 7 days and issued a 90 day ALS suspension.

Note: MNW does not report names for impaired charges as we do not have the resources to follow up in court to know if charges resulted in convictions.

Phyllis Ingram withdraws as Liberal candidate contestant

(March 8, 8:30pm ROSSEAU) Around 70 people were at the Rosseau Community Centre today to hear from five people wanting to be the next federal Liberal candidate for Parry Sound-Muskoka. But the first thing they learned was that one was stepping aside from the candidate contest. Phyllis Winnington-Ingram of Bracebridge says she is impressed with the calibre of her co-nominees, adding “although I know I have skills i could bring to the position, I felt they could be better used in supporting both the candidates and the riding association.”

Federal Parry Sound Muskoka Liberal candidate nominees
Riding association president Leigh Beal introduces four approved remaining nominees vying for federal Liberal candidacy after Phyllis Ingram withdraws

Rosseau 4smallThe four other candidates — Trisha Cowie, Eric Gonneau, Paul Everitt and Mary Robertson — each had five minutes to introduce themselves to the crowd to try and win their interest — and hopefully their vote at the riding’s candidate nomination meeting. No date has yet been provided for that meeting. There was also a question and answer period after the nominee speeches, with questions ranging from  how to improve treatment of Indigenous people and veterans to mental health and local economic development, along with questions about the potential strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.

“It was a really good event,” says Winnington-Ingram. “There was no holding back, no softballs, lots of pointed questions and spontaneous clapping. All four candidates did really well.” While Winnington-Ingram has stepped aside as a potential candidate, she is joining the federal Liberal riding association executive as vice-president of membership.

Just before the meeting to introduce the approved candidate contestants, the riding association held an International Women’s Day brunch at the Crossroads restaurant in Rosseau and heard from guest speaker Lynnis Royea, founder of the Rosseau Farmers Market.

Rosseau Mar.8small
The crowd at Rosseau meeting. Photo by Morgan Earl.

 

 

 

 

 

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Muskoka Lakes Firefighters in ice rescue training

(March 7 PORT CARLING) This wasn’t a quick in and out polar bear dip: what you see here are photos of firefighters from stations across Muskoka Lakes practicing ice rescue scenarios. First they have to break the ice and then it’s in and out of the water as they trade off being victim and rescuer. It’s cold practice in order to be ready should an ice rescue become necessary. Photos by Norah Fountain.

 

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Update: Missing Huntsville girl found

(March 6 Update 9:30pm HUNTSVILLE) The missing Huntsville girl has been found and returned home. Name and picture deleted from below post.

(HUNTSVILLE, ON)  Huntsville Ontario Provincial Police are trying to find 14-year-old girl from Huntsville who was reported missing yesterday afternoon.

The girl was last seen at Huntsville High School on Thursday at around noon.  The family is concerned for her well-being.

The Huntsville OPP is continuing its investigation into the whereabouts of the girl and is asking for help from the public.  Anyone who has any information is asked to contact Huntsville OPP.

 

Muskoka Watershed Council publishes Living in Cottage Country handbook

(March 7 BRACEBRIDGE) The same natural features that attract people to Cottage Country are the very features most in danger of being lost unless we protect them – and that’s the focus of a new handbook produced by the Muskoka Watershed Council (MWC).

In a release, the MWC says the new new Living in Cottage Country: What You Need to Know handbook is a valuable resource that will assist visitors and residents of the area in protecting the environment we all love.

Here’s how the MWC describes Living in Cottage Country: What You Need to Know:

Simple, everyday actions can keep our piece of cottage country healthy. The  handbook features over 100 pages of ideas, approaches and practices to living sustainably to preserve this special place for now and for the future.

Topics covered include dealing with wildlife, septic systems, drinking water, planning policy and regulations, building and construction, healthy buffers and more. Such topics will also be featured at MWC’s biennial Muskoka Stewardship Conference in May; a one day event intended to educate members of our community on how to become more effective stewards of the land and water so vital to our quality of life.

“Whether you’re new to the area or a long-time resident, our new handbook will guide you on your journey to living sustainably” says MWC Chair Dr. Peter Sale, as he presented the book at the Muskoka Builders’ Association’s dinner meeting on Thursday, February 12th. “…Everyone in Muskoka should have a copy,” he continued.

Builders, REALTORS®, residents and others across the region are excited about the release of the new handbook. In a recent publication, The Lakelands Association of REALTORS® described the handbook as “an information resource whose potential payback reaches far beyond its initial cost.”

How to get the handbook: Visit the MWC office in Bracebridge or your local Chamber of Commerce office in Muskoka to pick up your copy of the handbook for only $20 tax included. Those interested in making bulk orders are encouraged to contact MWC for information on applicable discounts. Call (705) 646-0111 to order a copy today or visit www.muskokawatershed.org to take a peek inside!

March is Fraud Prevention Month: OPP shares info help protect you

(March 6 MUSKOKA) The OPP have asked local media to share a series of articles produced to help protect you from becoming a victim of fraud. Sharing this information is part of Fraud Prevention Month which kicked off this morning for our region with a media conference in Orillia. Please read the articles provided by the OPP below so you know how not to become a victim of fraud. Muskoka News Watch thanks Southern Georgian Bay OPP Detachment Commander Inspector Andrew Ferguson and Provincial Constable David Hobson for forwarding this information.

(ORILLIA, ON) – Every year thousands of Canadians are victimized and millions of dollars are lost through the many forms of fraud, according to members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Anti-Rackets Branch.

At a media conference in Orillia today, OPP Deputy Commissioner Scott Tod and RCMP Inspector Cameron Miller of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC; formerly Phonebusters) launched Fraud Prevention Month by outlining the latest criminal trends and many harmful aspects of fraud and victimization. They also encouraged the public to participate in social media conversations to access tips and other resources to identify and report fraud using #dontbeavictim #fraudprevention and #OPPtips.

The CAFC reports 66 per cent of all Canadian-based ‘mass marketing fraud’ (MMF) scams in 2014 occurred to victims online via the internet or e-mail, while another 20 per cent occurred by telephone. In all, 13,701 victims of mass marketing fraud lost a total of just under $69-million last year – higher than in 2013. The majority of victims were between 50 and 70 years of age.

Fraud can destroy the trust and honest relationships upon which our economy and financial markets are built. A single serious fraud can cause a “ripple effect” that erodes trust in the Canadian economy and results in losses that run well over one billion dollars. Although they often feel embarrassment and shame, victims play a key role in fraud investigations. Sadly, as few as five per cent take the time to report fraud which could, in turn, prevent further harm and victimization to their families, neighbours and any online contacts.

If you suspect you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, contact your local police service or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or online at https://www.tipsubmit.com/ .

FRAUD…Recognize it…Report it…Stop it.

QUOTE: “The impact of all fraudulent activities is staggering. Whether it is senior citizens bilked out of their life savings or young people stripped of their assets and starting over, the harm caused by fraud is real and significant.” – Deputy Commissioner Scott Tod, OPP Investigations and Organized Crime

NOTE: There will be four weekly, topic-specific OPP media releases on various criminal activities as part of Fraud Prevention Month, beginning today with Romance Fraud. This page will be updated with each new article.

MARCH 6: ROMANCE FRAUD CONTINUES TO CLAIM UNTOLD HEARTS AND DOLLARS

Huge Financial Losses during Emotional Roller Coaster Rides

(ORILLIA, ON) – Losses due to romance and dating scams continue to mount according to members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Anti-Rackets Branch.

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), in 2014 there were 1,467 complaints from Canada of romance fraud. Of those complaints, 998 victims were identified and their combined financial losses exceeded $13.9 million, second only to wire fraud.

The criminals seek potential victims online, generally single or recently unattached people. Usually this form of mass marketing fraud occurs through singles and dating-related ‘meet’ websites, social media platforms, or e-mail blasts. In some cases, prolonged interaction with individuals has cost some victims tens of thousands of dollars before the ‘relationship’ ends, usually without ever meeting in person. Although 95 per cent of all types of fraud are not reported, romance scams cause victims severe financial hardship and personal embarrassment, which inhibits their decision to report the crime.

If you suspect you or someone you know has been a victim of romance fraud, or if you have already sent funds, don’t be embarrassed – you’re not alone. Contact your local police service or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or online at https://www.tipsubmit.com/ .

Tips to Avoid Being a Victim of a Romance / Dating Scam include:

Don’t give out any personal information in an email or when you are chatting online. Educate yourself. Check the person’s name, the company name, and the addresses used.

Ask yourself – ‘Would someone I have never met really declare their love for me after only a few letters or emails?’ If the answer is no, report it to police.

Never send money, or give personal credit card or online account details to anyone you do not know and trust. A request to send money to a foreign country to someone you have never personally met should be a red flag.

Checking website addresses carefully. Scammers often set up fake websites with addresses that are very similar to legitimate dating websites.

More Words of Advice:

“Those who use social media and dating websites need to ensure their personal and financial security before committing money to someone online. Only give out your personal information when you have personally met and trust the person with whom you are interacting.”

– Deputy Commissioner Scott TOD, OPP Investigations and Organized Crime

“Like any scam, use your computer and wireless devices to your advantage and educate yourself and others. We encourage everyone to leverage their social media interactions by using #dontbeavictim #fraudprevention and #OPPtips to help others identify and report fraud.”

— Detective Inspector Mike BICKERTON, OPP Anti-Rackets Branch

FRAUD…Recognize itReport itStop it.

 

 

 

OPP Scam Warning: “We don’t ask for money for Teddy Bear campaign”

(March 6 MUSKOKA) The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has many partnerships across Ontario to benefit the communities it polices. But they’ll never call you on the phone asking you to give money to the OPP Community Bear Program.

An OPP Detachment recently received a number of questions from residents asking about police related organizations calling to solicit funds for teddy bears.

While many OPP officers are involved in worthy charities on their personal time, the OPP is advising the public that it does not solicit funds from members of the public for its Community Bear Program or any other OPP program. The OPP’s Community Bear Program is sponsored by Aviva Canada Inc.

Through the sponsorship, Aviva Canada Inc. provides OPP officers with black and white teddy bears which OPP officers give to traumatized children they encounter when they respond to incidents such as motor vehicle collisions.

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

For information on how to spot a scam and make sure you do not become a victim, please go to www.opp.ca <http://www.opp.ca/>  and click on Fraud Prevention <http://www.opp.ca/ecms/index.php?id=133>  on the Resources page.

For information on the OPP Community Bear Program, go to www.opp.ca <http://www.opp.ca/>  and click on Community Bear Program <http://www.opp.ca/ecms/index.php?id=525>  on the Resources page.

The public is also reminded that any concerns regarding aggressive or inappropriate conduct by persons attempting to solicit funds in any fashion can also be reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by dialing 1-888-495-8801 or through their website at http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/english/index.html.

Bracebridge Council webcasts meeting for first time

(March 3 BRACEBRIDGE) Today was the first day for the Town of Bracebridge to webcast a General Committee meeting. The meeting this morning was streamed live, recorded for viewing, and is available on the town’s web site: www.bracebridge.ca

Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith says today’s meeting was typical, all went well and he is very pleased with the launch of the new webcasting service.

“As the meeting was being streamed live this morning I was receiving notes from interested viewers locally, outside our community, and even outside the country,” he says. “It immediately proved its value in providing more openness and more engagement with local government.”

Featured photo shows screen capture of the beginning of first webcasted committee meeting

One observer from nearby Minden was watching with interest. Township of Minden Hills Reeve Brent Devolin commented the he was watching live and the webcast looked great. He says he’s going to recommend his township “just cut and paste your [the Bracebridge] model and use it with little revision in Minden Hills.

Today’s webcast is the first in the one-year trial webcasting initiative in Bracebridge.

In February 2015, the Town entered into an agreement with iSi Global Webcasting (Integrating Solutions Inc.) for a one-year trial webcasting service to provide live streaming and archiving of Standing Committee (General Committee and Planning and Development Committee) and Council meetings as part of an effort to increase awareness of Council and Committee activities.

Council and Standing Committee meetings are being streamed live on the Town’s website, and recordings of past meetings will be available on-demand for those who want to watch the meetings after the fact. Council and Standing Committee meetings will also be indexed to correspond with the main agenda sections to help viewers to quickly reference key parts of the recordings.

During the trial period, the Town of Bracebridge will be using a single fixed camera to stream and record the meetings.  Staff will be reviewing this service prior to the end of the one-year trial and will be reporting back with recommendations related to the potential continuation and enhancement of the webcasting service.

“The Town of Bracebridge is excited to be one of the first small municipalities in Ontario webcasting and recording its meetings in an effort to be more transparent for its residents,” said Mayor Smith in a release before today’s webcast test. “

On-line webcasting of Committee/Council meetings is growing in popularity amongst municipalities as an effective method to communicate to a wider audience. In Ontario, the majority of municipalities that use webcasting are larger cities, such as Toronto, Thunder Bay, Oakville, Ottawa, Mississauga and Timmins. In Muskoka, the Trillium Lakelands District School Board has provided webcasts of its meeting since about 2007.

Those curious to see how the Town’s first webcast today can view it on Bracebridge.ca directly by clicking on this link: http://download.isiglobal.ca/bracebridge/archive_2015-03-03.mp4.html

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Muskoka Lakes library raises $1K for Muskoka OSPCA

(March 3 PORT CARLING) Tea, coffee and cupcakes served in pet food dishes were the order of the day when the Muskoka Lakes Public Library held a fundraiser for the Muskoka OSPCA. And today the staff at the Port Carling library got to hand over a cheque to the Muskoka OSPCA for their efforts.

The staff of the Port Carling branch of the Muskoka Lakes Public Library raised $1,000 on the OSPCA’s National Cupcake Day (February 20, 2015). The cupcakes were made from scratch by staff and friends and were served in pet-related dishes supplied by Dogg-On-It of Port Carling. Coffee was donated by Oliver’s Coffee.

“It all made for quite a festive affair which was very well attended and supported by the community,” says Librarian Lorna MacFarlane. Brock Napier accepted the funds on behalf of Muskoka OSPCA from Muskoka Lakes Public Library CEO Cathy Duck, and staff members Lorna MacFarlane, Nancy Doran, and Maggie Curry (see featured photo submitted by library staff).

Update: Arrest made in Novar in connection with Huntsville drugstore robbery

(March 6 HUNTSVILLE) An arrest has been made after Huntsville’s Hometown IDA Drug Store was the target of an armed robbery on Tuesday. Police say the suspect carried a handgun and a pharmacist was hurt during the robbery.

An arrest was made in Novar on Wednesday, March 4 just after 3pm. Charged is 23-year-old Tristan Tayor of Perry Township. He faces charges of Robbery with a Weapon, Assault with a Weapon, Firearm – Use while in Committing Offence, Disguise with Intent under the Criminal Code of Canada.

The accused was held for a bail hearing and was appear today in the Ontario Court of Justice in to answer to his charges.

The investigation is continuing. During the robbery a gunshot was fired and an investigation is also looking into what police say was an unintended discharge of an officer’s firearm.

(March 3 Update 10am HUNTSVILLE) Police have released pictures of a suspect in connection with the armed robbery of the Hometown IDA Drug Store in Huntsville yesterday. They have confirmed a hand gun was used during the robbery. They are also investigating after a police officer’s gun went off during the incident. See earlier posts below.

RobberySuspectHuntsville OPP is seeking the public’s assistance in helping to identify the male suspect.  See attached photos of the suspect that was at Hometown IDA.  If anyone recognizes this man, they’re asked to contact Huntsville OPP or Crime Stoppers. Huntsville Muskoka Crime Unit, along with Huntsville OPP, continues to investigate.

(March 3 Update 10pm HUNTSVILLE) Ontario Provincial Police officers in Huntsville are still searching for the suspect after a robbery from the Hometown IDA Drug Store in Huntsville.

There is also a secondary investigation in connection with the incident after an officer’s gun fired at the scene: there were no injuries and the incident is being investigated as an unintended discharge of a firearm. Further information will be provided as the armed robbery investigation continues.

Police remind anyone who may have seen anything or spotted a car resembling the orange/red 2-door hatchback that may be connected in some way to the robbery to contact OPP or Crime Stoppers.

(March 3 HUNTSVILLE) Huntsville Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers are looking for a hatchback that may be connected to a robbery today at a downtown drug store.

The Hometown IDA Drug Store at 10 Main Street East was robbed today just before noon, and schools in the area were secured as a precaution only and were not affected directly by the incident.

The car the police are looking for is described as a newer model 2-door hatchback, orange/red in colour, possibly a Honda or similar make.

Police say a man entered the store with a weapon, confronted the pharmacist and was able to get away with a quantity of prescription drugs. The pharmacist suffered a minor injury as a result of the robbery. The suspect is described as a thin white male with pale skin, 5’6” – 5’7” tall wearing a black balaclava, a black winter coat with the hood up, dark pants and black and white shoes.

Schools in the area were secured as a precaution only and were not affected.

Members of the Muskoka Crime Unit, Huntsville OPP, OPP Canine Unit, OPP Emergency Response Team (ERT) and the OPP Tactical Response Unit (TRU) are assisting in the search for the suspect.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact the OPP at (888) 310-1122 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. You can submit your information online at www.crimestopperssdm.com if you have any information on this crime or any other crime. 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.

 

Bala Falls Update: meetings with Township and Swift River under way and other updates

(March 3, 2014 11am PORT CARLING) The committee to look at ways to mitigate the impact of construction on Bala from the Bala Falls power project is meeting again today and tomorrow.

The first meeting of the committee was Thursday, February 26.

The committee is made up of:

  • Two representatives for Swift River Energy Limited (SREL);
  • Four representatives for Township (three Councillors and the CAO); and,
  • An independent chair
  • The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests declined an invitation to attend.

The membership of the committee was discussed publicly at a Township Committee of the Whole meeting in January after SREL suggested a working committee be formed. It was confirmed by a public Council vote in February.

“Agreeing to establish the committee demonstrates council’s commitment to being an effective participant in the process to protect the public interest,” says Deputy Mayor Jean Ann Baranik, noting she is echoing Chief Administrative Officer Clayton Harris’ description of the working committee’s purpose.

The Deputy Mayor is a member of the working committee, along with Councillors Sandy Currie (Ward A) and Linda Barrick Spearn (Ward B). While protestors opposing the project decried the fact that only one Ward A councillor is on the committee, and have said they wanted a member of the protest group, Save the Bala Falls, to be involved, there is one committee member who clearly shares the protest position. Currie is the president of the Moon River Property Owners’ Association (MRPOA) and is a Director of the Muskoka Lakes Association (MLA). Both organizations oppose the project.

In recent days, letters have circulated from members of the public complaining about the committee, claiming incorrectly that it has three people from SREL on it. A letter from the law firm Aird & Berlis (the same law firm retained by former Mayor Alice Murphy to defend a defamation suit in relation to her opposition to the hydro project) was sent to Township criticizing the way the committee was formed. While Baranik confirmed a letter had been received from that law firm, she did not provide any details. At the January Council meeting, some Councillors did ask for some potential variations of the working committee membership to be considered. That request was acted on: variations came before Council in February, and Council voted to keep the original makeup proposed with one exception: Swift River would have only two representatives, a decision company officials say they welcomed and had requested themselves.

Baranik explains this is an advisory committee only with no decision authority. “The public will have an opportunity to comment when recommendations from the working committee come forward to the Committee of the Whole (COW) and Council,” she says, and meeting minutes will be shared. The committee will meet again tomorrow, March 4. While not confirmed by these recent meetings, the original recommendation was for a working committee that would continue to meet and provide input for up to a year after construction begins.

While it’s not known what mitigation factors the committee may be discussing now, SREL did approach Council in public session last year (read article from April 2014) to offer some suggestions. These included a potential leasing arrangement whereby the Township would lease Township lands in return for lease money from the developer. If that mitigation tactic is on the table, it could mean the developer would use lands other than the Crown land, including Margaret Burgess Park, presently slated for construction staging (storing of vehicles, etc) and other use. In an April 2014 delegation to the previous Township Council, the Bala United Church also asked Council to consider alternatives that would leave the Park untouched (Read article : Ensure Margaret Burgess Park is left alone, asks Church, if hydro plant build goes ahead: MRPOA president says there’s no guarantee it will be untouched)

In other recent actions connected to Bala Falls:

As well as the mitigation meetings, here is a recap of some other actions that have occurred recently in connection with Bala Falls.

ENTRANCE PERMITS APPROVED AGAIN: SREL now has all municipal entrance permits. Again. The company was first granted its District entrance permits in June 2014 (during the former municipal government’s term). The company had requested some clarifications, such as a request for an inventory of Township trees of which officials note there are none on Crown and District property. Another question was whether a performance bond was the sufficient and correct mechanism for protecting District property. SREL explained a line of credit (in the same amounts as proposed in the original permits) would be more appropriate and District agreed. District Council voted unanimously for staff to proceed with dealing with the entrance permits for SREL directly as discussed thoroughly at both District committee and full Council levels over the past year.

PORTAGE SIGN GONE: In late February, the yellow canoe head portage trail sign was removed on District land at Highway 169 in front of the Crown site slated for development. It’s not the first time the sign has been taken down. You can read about the up and down again saga of the portage sign that first went up just a few days before Conservation Review Board officials arrived for a Township tour of Bala lands slated for heritage designation in the article, “Pondering the case of the disappearing portage sign.

OPPOSITION TO THE PROJECT RAMPING UP AGAIN: Protestors opposing the project are working to raise money to pay for the Rob Stewart-produced film about the fight to save Bala Falls and to raise money for a legal challenge of the project. You can read that letter on the Save the Bala Falls web site. At one point, the letter writer writes:

“Don Furniss, the Mayor of Muskoka Lakes, the majority of the councillors and the Fire Chief Hayes are not Lakefront Property Owner friendly. They are jealous of your wealth and they view you as tourists! They are happy to take your taxes but you have no voice!”

In fact, half of the Councillors either own and/or live on lakefront property. And at least one Councillor has made it a personal mission to ensure waterfront owners have a voice.

HARDING CONTACTS PROVINCE OVER FLOOD CONCERNS

In a letter to MNRF Minister Bill Mauro December 4, Ward C District Councillor Phil Harding offered to act “with your Ministry as point person with the District of Muskoka” to achieve the following with the help and support of the ministry:

  1. Identifying the physical limitations that exist throughout the Muskoka Water Shed.
  2. Embarking upon any environmental assessments needed to facilitate required changes (i.e. Blasting) the physical constraints across the watershed, allowing for a greater flow of water at these choke points.
  3. Reevaluating the current MRWMP (Muskoka River Water Management Plan), creating a more appropriate document to manage the water flows.

Harding received a response from the MNRF Parry Sound office on behalf of the Minister on December 22 saying they had received no formal ask from the District to carry out the above requests, and District sources say Harding is contacting the Ministry without direction or “the blessing” of District Council.

Harding then proceeded to email Muskoka property owners to warn them of another concern he had recently made aware of by Mitchell Shnier, a spokesperson for Save the Bala Falls. Based on the information from Shnier, Harding states the coffer dam proposed during construction of the Bala power plant could make things much worse for the three big lakes should there be another flood event.

When asked about Harding’s coffer dam concern (a concern Harding says should in no way be construed as an effort to stop the generating facility from being built), MNRF officials responded in writing that  “the use of a coffer dam (a watertight enclosure from which water is pumped to expose the bottom of a body of water and permit construction) is a normal construction practice for many in-water projects that involve the management of water levels and flows. It is our understanding that the coffer dam will not be in place during the spring snow melt. Both the Bala North Dam and Bala South Dam can be operated to pass higher spring flows.

The construction of a coffer dam can be altered or removed well in advance of high water conditions. As well, the Bala South Dam is the main control dam for Lake Muskoka with the largest discharge capacity and it would remain fully operational throughout the construction of the waterpower facility.”

Editor’s comment: Do as I say, not as I do? In a recent Council meeting, Harding questioned Mayor Don Furniss aggressively about a phone call Furniss explained was initiated by the Minister to Furniss. Harding and other Councillors insisted that any correspondence with Ministers be shared and made public. Harding at no time mentioned that he had been corresponding back and forth with the Ministry himself.

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!

 

 

March 3: Seguin takes semi-final series against Shield to end Shield season

(March 3 HUMPHREY) The South Muskoka Shield season came to screeching halt tonight with an 11-4 loss to the Seguin Huskies.  Congratulations to the Shield for a thrilling season and congrats to the Huskies, who won 3 of 4 games vs Shield in the semi finals of the Russell Cup. The Huskies go on to face the Temiscaming Titans for the Northern division title. Muskoka News Watch thanks Susan Penwarden and Richard Coburn for the constant updates and great photography this season.

(March 1 GRAVENHURST) The South Muskoka Shield stopped the Seguin Huskies in their skates with a win of 7-2. The Huskies have won the last two games. to move on in the Russell Cup playoffs, one of the teams must take three out of five games in this round.

(February 28 GRAVENHURST) The South Muskoka Shield were defeated by a score of 6-4 against the Seguin Huskies in the opening game of the best of 5 series last night at the Graeme Murray Arena in Gravenhurst.  The series continues tomorrow in Humphrey at 7:30 p.m.

Photos by Richard Coburn: February 27 feature photo shows Shield rushing the Huskies.

(February 26 GRAVENHURST) As the quest for the Russell Cup continues, the South Muskoka Shield are prepared to take on their arch rivals, the Seguin Huskies, in a best-of-five series beginning Friday night at 8pm at the Graeme Murray Arena in Gravenhurst.

If history prevails, the series will be a hard battle and a demonstration of the excellent skills both these teams have acquired over the season.

Prior to the game the shining stars of the Shield will be honored in a brief ceremony. The Royal Bank of Canada will be instrumental in helping us make some noise to congratulate them and cheer on the Shield.

The two teams will trade venues Saturday at 7:30, and Sunday at 5:30, the Shield will once again be on home ice. If necessary, the fourth game will be Tuesday.

Update by Susan Penwarden

(FEBRUARY 22 GRAVENHURST)  The South Muskoka Shield won the third game of the best of 5 series against the Meaford Knights on home ice on Saturday, February 21 at the Graeme Murray arena. Final score: 10-2. The win  completes the first series of the playoffs.

The next series has yet to be finalized but speculation is it will be against the Sequin Huskies and the series will begin in Gravenhurst Friday Feb 27.

(FEBRUARY 19 SHIELD AT MEAFORD) The South Muskoka Shield put a 2-1 win in the record books over the Knights of Meaford in Meaford Thursday night.

A first period goal by Braden Smith and a second period goal by Matus Spodniak was all it took to seal the deal.

The Shield return to home ice Friday, February 20 at 8 PM and then Saturday, February 21 at 7 PM to continue the series. If necessary ,the fourth game will be scheduled for the best of five contest.

Update by Susan Penwarden

(February 15 GRAVENHURST) The South Muskoka Shield finished the regular season play on Saturday night with a 12-1 win against the Cambridge Bears in Cambridge.   This gives the Shield a 35-6-0 record for the regular season, second  place in the Northern Division and third place in the league. They have been undefeated in 5 games.

Braden Smith was our leading scorer with 100 points, 38 goals and 62 assists.   He missed 4 games toward the end of the season due to injury.    Trevor Smith was second with 86 points.

Alfred Panelin-Borg had a great showing as a defenceman with 72 points.

Tomas Gbur finished the season with 14 wins under his goaltending belt including 3 shut outs.  He has an .895 saves percentage.  The Shield also won Friday night, 12-0, over the Bracebridge Blues.

On Monday, Bracebridge will play the Meaford Knights for the final play off position.  The winner will take on the Shield.

Times and details to be announced later this week.

(February 14 GRAVENHURST) The South Muskoka Shield won last night, 12-0, over the Bracebridge Blues. This was the last regular season home game for the Shield.  They are away at Cambridge (tonight) Saturday night for the final regular season game.  Play off games will start next week.  Opponents will be announce once they are decided.

(February 1, 12pm) The South Muskoka Shield won 11-5 over the Grey Highlands Bravehearts in Markdale Friday night. The Bravehearts hit the score board first but the Shield answered with 4 to end the first period 4-1.

In a penalty filled second (14 penalties in all) the Shield scored 4 times and 3 more by the Bravehearts ended the second period 8-4.

The final period saw a good effort by the Bravehearts to try to come back but the strong defensive effort of the Shield held them at bay. Final shots on goal were 60-28 Shield. Alfred Panelin-Borg of the Shield and Cole MacPherson of the Bravehearts were recognized for their hat tricks as they were 1st and 2nd stars. Tim Tarvis with 2 goals was the 3rd star.

Saturday night the drama unfolded in Tottenham where the Shield were defeated 5-4 in OT. Ryan Sandrin was honoured for his good showing in net by being awarded the first star after stopping 39 of 44 shots on goal.

Next game for the Shield is at home Thursday Feb 5 at 6:30 p.m. when the Bradford Bulls come to town. Friday night the Shield travel to Rama, puck drops at 7:30, and then next Sunday the Sturgeon Falls Lumberjacks return for a 12:30pm game. Update by Sue Penwarden; photos by Richard Coburn.

(January 25, 10pm) Another solid Shield showing this weekend. Results:

Friday Jan 23. 5-3 over Alliston Coyotes

Saturday Jan 24, 9-3 against Bracebridge

Sunday, Jan 25 at home against Parry Sound. 14-6 Shield.

Next weekend The South Muskoka Shield are on the road, playing Grey-Highlands on Friday, January 30, 8pm in Markdale; then it’s Saturday in

First goal by Shield at 8 second mark vs Parry Sound Islanders
First goal by Shield at 8 second mark vs Parry Sound Islanders Sun. Jan 25. Photos by Coburnpix.com

Tottenham against the Steam with a 7:pm start. Check the Shield Facebook page for bus details.

Next home game is Thursday Feb 5 against the Bradford Bulls. Update submitted by Sue Penwarden.

Update Jan. 19: Shield take two out of three games on the weekend — they host Alliston next

On Friday night on home ice the Shield came out on top after a hard fought battle with the Halton Ravens. The Shield outshot the Raven 51-34. Newbie David Hornak took only 12:27 to get into the scoring column with and assist on a goal by Andreas Segerberg and then a goal of his own at 14:48.

The game ended with an edge of your seat final 2 minutes after Halton came within 1 on a power play goal by Matthew Rosebrook. The final score was 5-4 Shield. Featured photo shows Shield defense vs Halton Ravens.

Saturday the Shield were hosted by the Sturgeon Falls Lumberjacks. Adrien Guenette joined the Shield in Sturgeon Falls and his first goal as a guest in the Sturgeon Falls arena came in the second period. Ryan Sandrin had 38 saves and Mark Spong scored twice to help the Shield achieve 9 wins in a row. The final score 7-1.

Sunday afternoon was the end of the Shield win streak at the Humphrey Community Center with a 9-5 loss to the Sequin Huskies. The game was kept close; at the one minute mark of the 3rd period the score was 5-5. Penalties were part of the Shield demise as 3 power play goals for the Huskies throughout the game and an empty netter made up the 4 goal difference. Shots on goal were 54 Shield and 55 Huskies a testament as to just how evenly matched these two teams truly are.

Next weekend the Shield have their plates full again with 3 games. They host Alliston on Friday night at 8:00 p.m., play Bracebridge in Bracebridge Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. and then Sunday they play Parry Sound at the Graeme Murray Arena in Gravenhurst at 12:30.

As previously reported, January 15 was the trade deadline for the Greater Metro Hockey League and the South Muskoka Shield took advantage of an open market picking up 4 new players. David Hornak from Solvakia, Dillion Keay from Hunstville, Jaroslav Janeba formerly of the Parry Sound Islanders and Adrien Guenette from Sturgeon Falls are all new Shields. Each of them played a role in a weekend full of hockey. Update by Sue Penwarden. Photos by Richard Coburn.

Update Jan. 16: Shield strenghtening drive to Russell Cup at GMHL trade deadline
At the GMHL trade deadline Jan 15th 12PM, the South Muskoka Shield have strengthened their drive to the Russell Cup. Head Coach and General Manager Frank Demasi has acquired a strong free agent from Slovakia, David Hornak, who will help with the forward squad and special teams.  

The Shield has also acquired the forward services of Huntsville native Dillon Keay from the Seguin Huskies, Czech Republich national Jaroslav Janeba, a defensive specialist from the Parry Sound Islanders and from the Sturgeon Falls Lumberjack, forward Adrien Guenette.

The Shield have bid farwell to Jerico Buwalda to the Rama Aces. We wish him all the best.

The management of the team feel that the moves that have been made have strengthened the team in depth and defense and will certainly add to the potency of the special teams currently in place. The Shield is excited to welcome them to the team and encourages the community to come out and support the new teammates in the coming weeks leading to the drive to the cup! Update from Sue Penwarden.

Update Jan. 15: South Muskoka Shield take to home ice Friday, Dec 16 at 8pm against the Halton Raven. Saturday they travel to Sturgeon Falls. Game time: 7:30pm. The bus leaves the Graeme Murray arena at 2:15 so contact Susan Cook if you would like to join fans on the bus to cheer them on. Sunday the Shield is in Humphrey to take on the Sequin Huskies. Puck drops at 2pm.

Update Jan. 11, 2015: The South Muskoka Shield proved they are contenders for the Russell Cup as they defeated the top ranking Tottenham Steam and the middle-of-the-standings Rama Aces this weekend.

On Friday night they took on the Rama Aces. Penalties to both teams appeared to be the theme of the game and cost both teams power play goals.

South Muskoka Shield
Shield topples Tottenham Steam 7-6

After the first period the Aces lead the Shield 1-0. The second period produced 2 goals for the Shield and the Aces were unable to reply. The third period both teams feel victim to the power play however another goal by Matus Spodniak a power play goal by Mark Spong and a short handed empty netter by Cipi Posta sealed the deal for the Shield with a final score of 5-2.

Less than 24 hours later the Shield hosted the Tottenham Steam. This was the first time these teams have met this year.The Steam entered the rink with a 28-2 record.

The Shield took an early lead in the first with a quick goal from Harlan Hayden but the Steam answered with 2 very soon after. Another unassisted goal from the Steam with 4:43 left in the period was answered once again by Harlan Hayden to end the first 3-2 Steam.

As the second period began Shield, Trevor Smith tied it up but by the end of a penalty filled period the Steam lead 6-3.

Trevor Smith started off the third 26 seconds in and the Shield continued to apply pressure and produce 3 more unanswered goals. Another for Hayden giving him a hat trick, a power play goal by Spodniak and what would prove to be the game winning goal by Alfred Panelin-Borg with 7:01 left in the game. The final score: 7-6.

5 of 7 goals Shield goals were assisted by Tim Tarvis. The Shield ended the weekend with a 24-5 record. They take to the ice again next Friday, January 16, when they host the Halton Ravens at 8pm.

Update Jan. 3, 2015: The South Muskoka Shield returned to the ice last night and was able to make the Toronto Predators their prey.  Joining the team for the second half of the season was Jeremy Joyce and even though he had not so much as even practiced with the team prior to the game he scored the second goal.

Final score was 8-5 Shield.  Next weekend they have back to back games Friday night at home to Rama at 8 Then Saturday they host Tottenham at 5:30.

Updates by Sue Penwarden. Photos by Richard Coburn of CoburnPix.com – visit his website for most recent action shots of the Shield.

South Muskoka Shield Results for 2014 have been archived. To read past posts on the Shield, please click here.

 

Breaking News: Muskoka Transport sold to Titanium of Woodbridge

 

(March 2, 12:30am BRACEBRIDGE) Muskoka Transport, one of Muskoka’s most visible companies across North America, has been sold. Marilyn Daniel, Vice-President of Trucking for Titanium Transportation Group Inc. confirmed yesterday that a deal has been reached officially for her company to acquire the Bracebridge-based transportation company.

There have been rumours about a pending sale since the fall. When contacted by Muskoka News Watch earlier this year, officials from both companies would only say a final agreement was “not quite penned” although it was expected to be final on March 1. Now it is.

Muskoka Transport has been in the trucking business out of Muskoka for 44 years and has been a great regional ambassador with its billboard ads on wheels displaying iconic Muskoka images. Owner Darcy Hammond says the plan is to continue operating out of Bracebridge.

Photo from MuskokaTransport.com
Photo from MuskokaTransport.com

Titanium is a multi-terminal company with its head office in Woodbridge. “The acquisition of Muskoka transport will expand our market presence in the area,” says Daniel, “and allow Muskoka to be revitalized with some of the know how of the new world of trucking.”

“With Muskoka being our seventh acquisition,” continues Daniel, “our company will have well over 330 drivers on our fleet, and will have access to over 1400 pieces of equipment.”

Daniel adds the support Titanium has received from the ZZEN group of companies, owned by one of Canada’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, Vic De Zen, “has been incredibly instrumental in our successes, including this latest acquisition.”

Titanium has a track record of buying asset-based transportation companies, completing seven trucking acquisitions since 2011 (including Muskoka Transport). In November, the company bought Georgian Bay Transport of Penetanguishene. The transportation and logistics company services over 600 customers across North America, and has been ranked by PROFIT Magazine as one of Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies for six consecutive years.

Muskoka Transport has an equally impressive story. It was founded by Paul Hammond in 1971 and is owned by son Darcy. The Hammond family tradition of transportation dates back to the 1940s when Orville Hammond started a taxi business at age 15 that grew into Hammond Transportation owned today by Greg Hammond. Read more about the Hammond history of keeping Muskoka moving by clicking here.

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