April 27: MNR downgrades Flood Watch to Water Safety notice; little rain in forecast

(April 27, 2015 12;15pm PARRY SOUND MUSKOKA) The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) today downgraded its Flood Watch advisory to a Water Safety notice. Our region is expect to get less than 5mm of rain over the next five days, which is good news for those worried about rising water levels. The agency released this advisory today at noon:

Water Safety Watershed Conditions Statement in effect

A Watershed Conditions Statement – Water Safety is in effect for Muskoka, Parry Sound and a north-west portion of Haliburton.

High water levels and flow conditions, typical of this time of year, exist throughout the area and residents are reminded to keep a close watch on conditions, regularly check for updated messages and exercise caution near fast-moving rivers and streams. Residents and those visiting the area are advised to be aware of current watershed conditions, exercise caution while around water bodies and maintain close supervision of children and pets.

The MNRF is closely monitoring the weather and developing watershed conditions. Further updates will be issued as appropriate.

Description of Weather System

At this time the area is forecasted to receive less than 5mm of rain over the next five days with daytime highs up to 17 degrees Celsius.

Description of Current Conditions

The snowpack across the district has now melted with the exception of heavily shaded areas at higher elevations in area watersheds. Water levels in lakes have risen to typical spring levels over the past week and should begin to slowly decline. River flows will continue to remain high and fast over the next couple of weeks.

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.

Expiry Date: This message will expire on Monday, May 04 2015, 05:00 PM

April 20: Flood Watch issued for Muskoka, Parry Sound and northwest Haliburton

(April 21, 8:30pm BRACEBRIDGE) Updated with photos this evening from Bracebridge Wharf area. Photos by Norah Fountain and click here for a video of water over the Bracebridge Falls April 21 – the awe-inspiring power of the spring thaw in honour of Earth Day. April 22.

(April 20, 2015 12:35pm MUSKOKA-PARRY SOUND) To no one’s surprise after last night’s rain and the continuing snow melt, along with a new weather alert from Environment Canada at 11am suggesting we can expect more heavy rain today, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has upgraded a Water Safety notice to a Flood Watch. Environment Canada expects periods of rain to continue to affect areas east of Georgian Bay to Algonquin before becoming more intermittent this afternoon. The agency says these areas could receive 15 to 30 mm of rain in total by the time it ends this evening.

Featured photo shows water pouring over the dam at Bracebridge Falls, April 21

The following is the latest Flood Watch advisory released by the MNR as of 12:30pm today, April 20 and including information from the Town of Bracebridge. Please do not copy and share this information posted on Muskoka News Watch without express permission and credit.

The Ministry of Natural Resources – Parry Sound District is advising area residents that a Flood Watch is in effect for all watersheds within the District which includes the District Municipality of Muskoka, the Territorial District of Parry Sound and a north-west portion in the County of Haliburton.

Water levels and flows in lakes and rivers continue to increase as a result of rainfall received over the past 12 hours and continued melting of the snow pack at higher elevations in the watersheds. (Scroll down to see sample photos of the rise in water level from April 11 to April 20 on Lake Muskoka).

It is expected that lower-lying portions of known flood-prone roads along river courses will be impacted to various degrees as river levels continue to rise. Vulnerable, low-lying roads and properties along the Big East River within the Town of Huntsville may begin to be impacted as river flows again increase. High water levels in the Huntsville Lakes (Lake Vernon, Fairy Lake and Peninsula Lake), typical during the spring, are expected to build and remain high as runoff from recent rain makes its way through the watercourse.

Bracebridge

April20BracebridgeFallsLF
April 20: Water starts rushing over the dam at Bracebridge Wharf. Photo by L. Fountain

Flows in the North Branch Muskoka River within the Town of Bracebridge have surpassed early flood-watch levels. North Branch flows are expected to continue to rise over the next few days. Flow in the South Branch Muskoka River is also expected to climb above early watch levels within the next 24 to 48 hours.

The Town of Bracebridge is reporting localized flooding on Germania Road. It is closed to traffic from Waters Road to 1507 Germania Road. Cedar Beach Road is closed from 1017 Cedar Beach Road to 1073 Cedar Beach Road. To read full Bracebridge advisory, please click here.

Bala Reach

Flows out of Lake Muskoka into the Bala Reach are expected to climb to early watch levels of 200cms within the next 24 to 48 hours.

Water levels in lakes are expected to continue to rise to typical spring levels over the next week.

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.

Residents and those visiting the area are advised to be aware of current watershed conditions, exercise caution while around waterbodies and maintain close supervision of children and pets.

The MNR is closely monitoring the weather and developing watershed conditions. Further updates will be issued as appropriate.

TECHNICAL INFORMATION

Description of Weather System: Rainfall amounts between 15 – 23mm were recorded within the area over the past 24 hours. An additional 10-15mm of rain is possible by this evening.

Description of Current Conditions: Levels and flows have increased significantly over the past few days as the remainder of the snow pack continues to melt across area watersheds. It is expected that rain forecasted will cause an increased rate of rise in lake levels and river flows over the next few days.

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.

Expiry Date: This message will expire on Friday, April 25 2014, 05:00pm

SAMPLE WATER LEVEL CHANGES ON LAKE MUSKOKA FROM APRIL 11 to APRIL 23

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.

Today’s Advisory: FLOOD WATCH: potential for flooding exists within specific watercourses and municipalities.

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

For more information please contact:

705-646-5531

705-646-5509

705-773-4226

 

 

Local Federal Liberals to choose candidate May 9; nomination meeting called

(April 26, 4pm BRACEBRIDGE) Federal Liberal members in Parry Sound–Muskoka will vote Saturday, May 9 on who will be their next federal election candidate. The nomination meeting has been called for 2 pm, May 9 at the Bracebridge Sportsplex (110 Clearbrook Trail in Bracebridge).

A release states nominee speeches will start at 2pm with voting to follow and voting closes at 5:30pm.

The cut-off for member eligibility to vote at this meeting was April 21, 2015 at 5 pm ET and nominations had to be filed to the National Liberal Office by April 24, 2015.

In the running for the Liberal nomination are Trisha Cowie, Eric Gonneau and Mary Robertson. Two previous candidate nominees bowed out of the candidacy contest. Paul Everitt stepped aside just over a week ago, and Phyllis Winnington-Ingram has joined the local riding executive association, saying she felt she could best contribute to the local Liberal effort in that role.

Muskoka Lakes Heritage Committee gets Council thumbs down

(April 26 2pm PORT CARLING) Muskoka Lakes Township Council is not ready to confirm its Heritage Advisory Committee.
A recommendation that Council confirm the Heritage Advisory Committee was voted down by a vote of 4-4 at Council on Friday, April 21. Although active with its largest budget ever in the past municipal term, the vote against means the Committee may not start up again until it comes back for reconsideration. According to public members attending the meeting, the Councillors who voted against confirming the committee were Ward A Councillor Ruth Nishikawa (a former Heritage Committee chair and member), along with Councillors Currie, Kruckel and Harding. Why a 4-4- vote? Councillor Barrick-Spearn had to leave the meeting early and Councillor Edwards was absent from the meeting.
According to the recommendation, the Council members selected to be on the committee were Councillors Ledger and McTaggart. It’s not known what citizens were selected to serve (the Heritage Committee typically includes at least three citizen members and two Councillors). The deadline for citizen applications for the Heritage Committee was February 4, 2015.
Since 2002, eight properties in Muskoka Lakes have received heritage designation, including four in Bala during the past municipal term. The Township also approved a section of Bala as a Heritage District, a decision that is being appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board. A group of businessowners on Bala Falls Road are concerned about how they may be affected by the implications of being adjacent to the Heritage District. Also appealing are Swift River Energy Limited and CP Rail. A date for an OMB pre-hearing is yet to be set.

No deal: Muskoka Lakes Council votes against leasing land to hydro developer

(April 26 1:30pm PORT CARLING) The Township of Muskoka Lakes has voted no to an option of leasing Township lands to the Bala Falls hydro project developer, Swift River Energy Limited (SREL). The decision was made at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, April 21.

SREL had offered to lease Township land directly beside the planned build site on the south side of the north Bala Falls dam and wanted to use the Shield parking lot. In return, the company would pay for that privilege, and not use Margaret Burgess Park (between the north side of the dam the Bala United Church) as a construction staging area. The offer was a focal point of meetings of the Bala Falls Working Committee formed to look at ways to mitigate the impact of construction in Bala.

In a 5-4 vote, council voted against Option A of a document coming from the Committee, which included Councillors from the three Township wards, the Township CAO and two representatives of SREL. Option A was to “Endorse in principle the option of leasing the Township lands to SREL, based on its final offer.” The Committee of the Whole resolution voting down Option A will be forwarded to Council on May 15.

To read the resolution in PDF form, please click here

According to the Council agenda package, here were the key elements of the SREL offer to lease Township lands:

  • Price: $125,000 – for payment of use of the lands for 24 months
  • Late Payments: $5,200 / month payable if SREL is delayed past 24 months. This will provide incentive to complete the project quickly
  • Additional Fee: $5,000 for every year that SREL uses the Shield Parking Lot during the Cranberry Festival. This will allow the Township to provide
  • compensation to those charities / community groups that have used the lot during the festival to raise funds.
  • Rehabilitation: SREL has committed to either return the site to its current condition or to re-grade it and improve it, based on the Township’s preference. This will ensure that none of the compensation payment will be required to be used on the site and will be a benefit to the community.
  • SREL has committed to leaving the Park as is, i.e. maintaining public access and not removing any trees, etc.

Featured photo shows Crown site proposed for hydro build beside north Bala Falls dam. The Township land that was discussed for leasing is directly to the left of this site shown.

Update: Councillor Sandy Currie apologizes for encouraging local business boycott, among other actions

(April 26 PORT CARLING) Township of Muskoka Lakes Councillor Sandy Currie has apologized for recent actions that included encouraging a boycott of businesses in Port Carling. He made the apology at a Special Budget meeting in Council Chambers on Friday. Read the earlier post below to understand why Currie was asked to apologize for recent behaviour referred to in the Council resolution.

Muskoka Lakes Mea Culpa to come? Councillor Sandy Currie asked to apologize

(April 22 Port Carling – Updated April 26 with additional details) Yesterday’s Township of Muskoka Lakes Council meeting ended with an unexpected resolution being read: a Council resolution that Councillor Sandy Currie should make a public apology for recent actions, including suggesting people boycott other Councillor businesses in Port Carling.

The resolution that states Currie should make a public apology was carried unanimously. Clerk Cheryl Mortimer says the resolution will go to Council May 15 for enactment. To read the resolution, Currie Apology COW – 15 – 21-04-2015

The request he apologize came after a Facebook comment last weekend posted by a person who has advocated publicly shaming anyone believed to not support the stop the Bala Falls hydro plant protest. Note: The post below is repeated verbatim with the exception of the removal of the three Councillors and the Port Carling businesses named* in it. The post itself has been removed from Facebook. It read:

“From Muskoka Counsellor Sandy Currie. “It is worth noting and telling everyone you know that BLANK and 2 Muskoka Councillors (BLANK and BLANK) voted to let CPR** use the public lot during this summer season. Once again demonstrating how [they] have tried to “toss Muskoka taxpayers under the bus”! Again they appear to be working on their own agenda and not working in the best interest of Muskoka Taxpayers.

Muskoka Councillor Sandy Currie says “One might want to think about NOT shopping at [Two Port Carling Businesses] as both businesses are owned by BLANK.”  The post continued: “It is possible that side deals have been discussed with their obvious desire to help the developers at the expense of Muskoka taxpayers. Without any interest in considering alternatives it is starting to appear suspicious. Those that help the proponent will be exposed. The ongoing cost to their reputation and the negative impact on their business is something that they will have to evaluate if they continue to ignore the wishes of Muskoka Taxpayers…” The post goes on to say that anyone considering doing business with those who will be exposed would be supporting the destruction of the Bala Falls.

Council resolution listed other alleged transgressions

Suggesting a boycott of local Muskoka Lakes businesses is not the only thing for which Currie is being asked to apologize. According to the resolution, Currie:

–      made inappropriate remarks to the Chair of the Bala Falls Working Committee;

–      suggested staff had “censored” the minutes of the Bala Falls Working Committee; as well as,

–      encouraging members of the public to boycott the businesses of fellow Councillors.

The resolution states that Council unequivocally does not condone this behaviour and respectfully asks that Councillor Currie make a full public apology for his remarks and conduct, without justification.

At time of writing it was not known whether Currie would comply with the request.

*Editorial Note: The decision to redact the wording of the Facebook post is an effort to not perpetuate any wording that could potentially harm the businesses named in the original Facebook post.

**Note 2: The Facebook post refers to a Council vote on whether to allow CP Rail crews to use the Township parking lot to park vehicles while making what CPR has determined are needed repairs to the train bridge. Council voted against permitting CP to use the parking lots closest to the bridge work.

References:

View PDF: Currie Apology COW – 15 – 21-04-2015

 

Living in Cottage Country: What You Need to Know: stewardship conference May 2

(April 23, Bracebridge) Muskoka Watershed Council’s popular new handbook “Living in Cottage Country: What You Need to Know” is the theme of the 2015 Muskoka Stewardship Conferenceon Saturday, May 2 at Nipissing University in Bracebridge.

With over 500 copies of the handbook sold since its release earlier this spring, there is obviously a desire to learn how to sustain the water, forests, wetlands and wildlife in Muskoka for future generations. The Stewardship Conference will build on the information in the handbook and provide more tools for participants to learn how to do just that.

A great lineup of experts are slated to speak on topics like dealing with erosion, living with wildlife, obtaining permits and approvals, planning your construction project, becoming dark sky friendly, restoring your buffer, maintaining your septic system and testing your drinking water. There is something for everyone, whether you live on the waterfront, in town, or out in the country.

Courtesy of The Lakelands Association of REALTORS®, conference participants will be able to take home a copy of the “Living in Cottage Country: What You Need to Know” handbook, filled with tips to help you save time and money, avoid frustration, protect the health of your family and visitors, meet appropriate planning regulations, and protect the beauty of your property.

Registration for the event is $50 or $40 for members of Friends of the Muskoka Watershed and includes lunch, refreshments and a copy of the handbook. Special rates for students and exhibitors are also available. Space is limited so register now at www.muskokawatershed.org <http://www.muskokawatershed.org>  or call 705-646-0111.

Muskoka water quality results released

(April 23, 2015, BRACEBRIDGE) The District Municipality of Muskoka has released the results of its Lake System Health Water Quality Monitoring Program. New information is available for over 80 lakes from data collected between May and August 2014.

The District has monitored the recreational water quality of lakes in Muskoka for almost 35 years and has one of the best municipal data sets in Canada. The water quality of Muskoka’s lakes is amongst the finest in the world and the goal of the program is to ensure it remains that way in the future.

A number of parameters are monitored, including phosphorus concentration, water clarity, and bugs in the mud. The phosphorus concentration found in a lake forms the basis of the development policy for that lake, and higher concentrations of phosphorus increase the chance that an algal bloom will occur.

Bugs in the mud, or benthic monitoring, is a volunteer-based program that uses the critters found in the muck at the bottom of our lakes and rivers as an indication of water quality, since some critters need cleaner water to survive than others. If these sensitive critters are missing from your lake, then you know that something might be wrong.

The District participates in the provincial Love Your Lake program in conjunction with the Muskoka Watershed Council. Working with the local lake association, the shoreline area of all properties on a lake are evaluated using a standard protocol. Property owners then receive a private, personalized property report and information package detailing actions that they can take to enhance their shoreline property. Subsidized shoreline renaturalizations were also carried out as part of the Love Your Lake program.

Check out the Muskoka Water Web at www.muskokawaterweb.ca for data collected in 2014, including Lake Data Sheets, Aquatic Invertebrate Sheets, and Shoreline Land Use Maps. In addition to the data collected by the District, you will also find Fisheries Fact Sheets provided by the Ministry of Natural Resources and a wealth of water stewardship information. The Muskoka Water Web is your link to Muskoka’s water.

Photo of Lake Muskoka by Norah Fountain

New restaurant opening at JW Marriott

(April 22  MINETT) JW Marriott Muskoka opens its new restaurant on Lake Rosseau this spring: a New York-style steakhouse with what the company’s release describes as having a “decidedly contemporary “cottage country” update.”

Muskoka Chophouse is already taking dinner reservations for the weekend of May 8, with an official launch night in just a few weeks.

From dishes to décor, Muskoka Chophouse plans to refine classic steakhouse style, add sizzle to lakeside summer

Carved from a niche directly off the JW Marriott lobby and Lakes lounge, the new 60-seat Muskoka Chophouse will offer cozy window tables with prized Lake Rosseau views. The classic steakhouse menu incorporating premium ingredients means a refreshingly straightforward but sophisticated dining experience.

“Over a year ago, we started focusing on the things everybody loves about a truly great steakhouse: that sense of comfort and excitement, the favourite starters and sides, and of course, the steaks themselves,” said JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa General Manager Tony Tamburro. “The result, Muskoka Chophouse, is about simplicity with special attention to details,” noted Tamburro. “This restaurant is designed to appeal to an adult clientele that seeks the very best food and wine, and a simple, sleek, but memorable setting.

Throughout the restaurant, hand-scraped wooden floors, polished but rustic-edged tabletops and a dramatic antler chandelier are married with sleek, modern brass light fixtures, brushed steel accent pieces and a rich, unexpected dose of the colour purple. Warm, golden tones and thoughtful lighting reflect the dramatic setting outdoors. The end result: a sanctuary of booths and banquettes for pairs and intimate groups. “Achieving a comfortable but elegant gathering place that is welcoming year-round is always a balancing act, especially when you are remodeling inside a busy hotel,” confirmed Tamburro, as finishing touches are being added to the Muskoka Chophouse space.

SIMPLE MENU OF CLASSICS FOR A REASON

The menu at Muskoka Chophouse is an appealingly straightforward selection of tried-and-true steakhouse classics. USDA prime and Canadian CAB cuts of beef range from an 8-oz filet to a 32-oz porterhouse, plus unexpected nightly features from the shareable “tomahawk,” an elegant rib-eye steak with the entire bone left in and frenched, to a vegetarian creation. According to Tamburro, “Keeping the menu tightly focused underlines the Muskoka Chophouse emphasis on freshness, quality and presentation in every ingredient and dish.” Chophouse appetizers include the quintessential shrimp cocktail with colossally plump shrimp and tangy sauce, rich Atlantic lobster bisque, a crunchy and tangy wedge salad, and the signature crab cake packed with lump crabmeat and finished with pickled scallions and chipotle aioli. A juicy, house-brined chicken breast, Provimi veal chop, seared tuna loin, plus vegetable side dishes including truffle scalloped potatoes, round out Muskoka Chophouse’s opening offerings. Desserts will be made by the resort’s in-house pastry chef. Drinks are no after-thought here, starting with a wine list that includes over a dozen choices available by the glass. A lavish selection of fresh juice cocktails, single malt scotches and other fine beverages will complete the JW Marriott Muskoka steakhouse experience. To take the guesswork out of ordering, the Muskoka Chophouse menu also features a steak selection guide. “Again, our mission at the new Muskoka Chophouse is simple: to make your night out welcoming, delicious and consistently satisfying,” said Tamburro.

MUSKOKA CHOPHOUSE: 1050 Paignton House Rd, Minett, ON P0B 1G0, 1-705-765-1900. Slated to open May 8, nightly from 5 pm. Reservations recommended, particularly on weekends. Appetizers from $12, mains from $38. Go to www.jwrosseau.ca. About JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa

JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka is a luxury conference resort two hours north of Toronto, in Ontario’s scenic “cottage country”. Recipient of the prestigious Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and Condé Nast Traveler Gold List, the resort is set atop a bluff overlooking pristine Lake Rosseau. Visitors enjoy inspirational views, intuitive service and the opportunity to explore nature on their terms. www.jwrosseau.ca

About JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts JW Marriott is part of Marriott International’s luxury portfolio and consists of beautiful properties in gateway cities and distinctive resort locations around the world. These elegant hotels cater to today’s sophisticated, self-assured travelers, offering them the quiet luxury they seek in a warmly authentic, relaxed atmosphere lacking in pretense. JW Marriott properties artfully provide highly crafted, anticipatory experiences that are reflective of their locale so that their guests have the time to focus on what is most important to them. Currently, there are 64 JW Marriott hotels in 26 countries; by 2016 the portfolio is expected to encompass more than 92 properties over 36 countries. Visit us online, jwmarriott.com, @jwmarriott and facebook.com/JWMarriott

Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is a leading lodging company based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, with more than 3,800 properties in 72 countries and territories and reported revenues of nearly $12 billion in fiscal year 2014.

Lake of Bays Brewing Company applauds provincial beer sales plan

(April 22, 2015, BAYSVILLE) The Lake of Bays Brewing Company is raising a toast to the news the province plans to increase retail access for local Ontario Craft Brewers.

On Thursday, April 16, 2015, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne released details of a plan to increase retail access for craft brewers, making way for the most sweeping changes to the system since Prohibition was repealed in 1927.

“Improved retail access will have a major positive impact on our business,” said Darren Smith, Lake of Bays’ president and founder as well as vice chair of the Ontario Craft Brewers Association.

“With the ability to get our product in front of more customers across the province, we’ll be able to grow our sales and invest more in our business, which will have significant spinoff benefits for our suppliers, our customers and our local community,” he added. “We currently employ 45 people, and with the right retail environment, we could easily double or triple that number over the coming years.”

Some of the key changes announced on Thursday are:

The Beer Store returning to its cooperative roots

  • the appointment of an independent Ombudsman
  • the appointment of independent board members with veto powers to ensure fairness and equal access
  • at least one craft brewer on the board
  • 20% shelf space allocated to small breweries
  • The Beer Store has committed to investing $100 million in updating its stores over four years. While the exact nature of the upgrades is not clear at this point, we hope that they will be intended primarily to phase out “the wall” and hasten the conversion of all Beer Store locations to a self-service retail environment.

Beer in grocery stores

  • up to 450 licenses for the sale of beer in grocery stores will be issued
  • 20% of shelf space at grocery store beer outlets will be allocated to small breweries
  • Beer will be sold in a separate, secured area of the store
  • the first outlets are scheduled to open around Christmas time with about 150 open by the summer of 2017

The price of beer will remain the same across channels, whether it is purchased at the LCBO, The Beer Store or at grocery outlets. There is a price freeze on major brands until May of 2017.

The small brewers did not get all that they were asking for, most notably, the ability to open additional retail outlets and cross-sell one-another’s beer. “This is something that we had hoped for, but perhaps this will come about at a later time,” Darren added.

There is still much to be done, he said. “We are looking forward to continuing to work with the government on these initiatives for the best possible outcome for craft brewers and for everyone who enjoys craft beer.”

Rising water in Huntsville prompts warning from Town

(April 21, 2015 4:45pm) HUNTSVILLE, ON) Huntsville is warning its residents about rising water levels in flood prone areas in the town’s vicinity, particularly along the Big East River. The Fire Chief was making rounds of local businesses today to let them know they should be prepared.

The Town has been advised by the Ministry of Natural Resources of steadily increasing water flows along the Big East River watershed. The water levels will continue to rise in flood prone areas over the next several days. One resident told Muskoka News Watch, “just watch for a warning on ‘Beer Lake’ “, in reference to the parking lot in front of the Huntsville Beer Store that became swamped during the 2013 Flood Event. Presently, the MNR has not increased its Flood Watch to a Flood Warning, however residents are concerned that reports of still great amounts of ice yet to melt in Algonquin Park will heighten the already high water coming through the town.

• Residents living in flood prone areas (Rivercove, Old North Road, Bridgeview and Glen Acres) should take precautionary measures to protect property as water levels continue to increase.
• The river course through the downtown core has seen a sustained high water flow for several days and with the restriction caused by the Town Bridge, the levels in this area will continue to rise. Businesses and residents located in this area should take action to protect their property.
• Residents living towards the lower end of Glen Acres Road as well as residents on Vernon Shores may also be impacted as water levels increase over the next 72 hours.
• Ravenscliffe Road (Muskoka Road 2) is currently closed to all traffic from #4074 to #4205 (Buck Lake Bridge, westward approx. 800 meters). Closure will remain in effect until further notice.

Photos April 21 of Downtown Huntsville, Hutcheson Beach, Lake Vernon and warning sign at Glen Acres Road just off Ravenscliffe Road (Muskoka Road 2).

Parents and guardians are advised to remind children to stay clear of open water, creeks and rivers.

Residents in the affected areas should be monitoring local media, the Ministry of Natural Resources website http://www.ontario.ca/law-and-safety/flood-forecasting-and-warning-program and Huntsville’s website www.huntsville.ca. Huntsville Residents are encouraged to monitor www.huntsville.ca for an up to date list of road closures.

CIBC bank client robbed after leaving Huntsville bank; OPP investigate weekend break and enters

(April 22 UPDATE HUNTSVILLE) During the investigation of yesterday’s theft in front of the CIBC, Huntsville OPP learned that other thefts had taken place at other businesses within the town of Huntsville. Nineteen-year-old John Oksanen has since been arrested and charged with Theft Under $5000.00 x5 under the Criminal Code of Canada.   He will appear in the Ontario Court of Justice in Huntsville on May 20, 2015 to answer to his charges.

Huntsville OPP is still looking to speak to a male that was seen chasing the suspect south on Centre St S. toward Minerva St.  

(April 21, 4pm HUNTSVILLE) A man leaving CIBC bank today was robbed of the new cash in his wallet.  And OPP want to find another man who reportedly chased the suspect.

The theft happened today (April 21, 2015) just before 12:30pm in front of the CIBC Bank on Main St in Huntsville.

On investigating, Huntsville OPP learned that a client of the bank had just withdrawn some cash and was leaving the bank. Then a male suspect came up behind him taking the client’s wallet.  Huntsville OPP patrolled the area and located the wallet in a neighbouring business with the cash missing.

Huntsville OPP is looking to speak to a male that was seen chasing the suspect south on Centre St S. toward Minerva St.

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

MORE OPP BRIEFS – Break and Enters in Bala, Gravenhurst and Bracebridge

TWO SUSPECTS NABBED IN BALA BREAK AND ENTER: On Saturday April 18th, 2015 at 4:40 pm, members of Bracebridge Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) responded to a report of a break and enter to a business in Bala, during which a cash register was stolen and the suspects fled the area in a small black car.  A short time later, police located the vehicle travelling on Muskoka Road 169 in Gravenhurst and attempted to conduct a traffic stop.  The driver failed to stop and police pursued the suspect vehicle through the town of Gravenhurst to the dead-end of John Street South and the occupants fled on foot.

Bracebridge OPP along with the assistance of the Muskoka Vice Street Crime Unit, the OPP K-9 Unit and the Emergency Response Team located two suspects nearby, one of whom had entered a residence to hide from police.

18 year-old Haley Mcbride of Georgina has been charged with:

Break and Enter CC 348(1)(b); Possession of Property Obtained by Crime CC 354(1)(a); Flight from Police CC 249.1(1); Dangerous Operation of a Vehicle CC 249(1)(a); Obstruct Peace Officer CC 129(a); Unlawfully in a Dwelling House CC 349(1); Possession of Marijuana CDSA 4(1) and Fail to Comply with Recognizance CC 145(3).

McBride will appear in Bracebridge Criminal Court on 20th April 2015.

Further, a young person, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, has been charged with:

Break and Enter CC 348(1)(b); Possession of Property Obtained by Crime CC 354(1)(a); Possession of Marijuana CDSA 4(1)

The youth will appear in Bracebridge Youth Court on May 7th, 2015.

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.

BREAK AND ENTER ON ECCLESTONE DRIVE IN BRACEBRIDGE: Bracebridge Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is investigating a break and enter to a business on Ecclestone Drive in Bracebridge that occurred sometime overnight on April 18th, 2015 during which a quantity of cash was stolen.

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.

BREAK AND ENTER ON MUSKOKA ROAD NORTH IN GRAVENHURST: On Saturday April 18th, 2015 shortly before midnight, members of Bracebridge Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) responded to a report of a break and enter to a business on Muskoka Road North in Gravenhurst.  The front glass door had been smashed, the business entered and a quantity of cash was stolen from a cash register.

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.

Blaze tears through Utterson cottage

(April 19, 2015 UTTERSON) Fire raced through a cottage on Windermere Road near Wonder Beach Road in Utterson last night.

Fire crews responded from Station 7 (Windermere/Raymond) and Station 9 (Milford Bay) and found the 1000 square foot cottage at 1190 Windermere Road fully engulfed in flames. Muskoka Lakes Fire Chief Richard Hayes says the firefighters quickly brought the fire under control after responding at 8.41 pm on Saturday (April 18).  There were no one present at the cottage at the time and no one was injured fighting the fire. The investigation continues into the cause of the blaze.

This is the sixth structure fire in Muskoka this spring — the second in Muskoka Lakes.

On April 8, the Muskoka Lakes Fire Department also issued a release reminding residents of the potential for fire risk. It advises open air burning is restricted between April 1 and October 31, and the department has established a Forest Fire Danger hotline to call: 1 877 847-1577. The present fire rating is moderate. As for conditions, Environment Canada is calling for significant rainfall for Monday with showers possible throughout the week.

Feature Photo by Jackie Quinton

Related Articles and References:

April 15, MuskokaToDaily, Two fires Wednesday in Huntsville

April 15, MuskokaRegion.com, Kitchen fire in Muskoka Beach Road home

April 8, MuskokaLakesFireDepartment, Spring Fire Risk Growing

April 8, MuskokaRegion.com, Gravenhurst cottage fire

April 7, MNW, Fire guts Baldwin Road home

March 26, Gravenhurst Banner, Riley Lake home destroyed by fire

About Muskoka News Watch – consider donating to keep your Muskoka info flowing: Please consider donating to Muskoka News Watch. We exist on donations and limited advertising revenue. 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) or click here. Thank you for helping us keep on keeping you in the know.

Rain chasing last of ice away on Lake Muskoka

(April 19 LAKE MUSKOKA) A drive around Lake Muskoka yesterday showed ice out in large parts of the lake, while some sections are stubbornly hanging on. As of today, water levels on Lake Muskoka are close to summer norm levels. With ongoing rain and snow melt and water levels increasing in elevated watersheds, the lake will likely keep rising. Meantime, for those with ‘ice-out’ bets, here’s a look at Lake Muskoka from Muskoka Beach Park and Muskoka Wharf in Gravenhurst. The rain tonight will no doubt take out these  last bits of ice cover. Photos by Norah Fountain.

 

 

Flood Watch downgraded to Water Safety notice Apr 15; rain expected Monday Apr 20

(April 19) As of today, Lake Muskoka water levels were up at least another three inches. Significant rain fall is forecast by Environment Canada for tomorrow. The MNR says residents in low lying waterfront areas that have experience high water levels in the past should take precautions for property and belongings as a Water Conditions Statement – Water Safety notice remains in effect. In Bala, water through the north Bala Falls dam has covered the Moon River dock at the foot of the falls. Below, what a difference five days makes. On April 12, the stick you see in the picture was planted just where water was starting as ice went out. By April 17 the water was almost at normal levels.

(April 15, 2015 2pm MUSKOKA-PARRY SOUND) The MNR has downgraded its Flood Watch statement to a Water Safety bulletin as of 2 pm today. The spring thaw continues as expected and Environment Canada is forecasting more seasonally typical April showers, possibly starting tomorrow (April 16) afternoon.

According to the MNR, Flooding is not anticipated based on current weather forecasts and watershed conditions. It is advised that caution be used when around water bodies as water levels continue to rise with typical spring flows continuing throughout the rest of April.

Residents and those visiting the area are advised to be aware of current watershed conditions, exercise caution while around waterbodies and maintain close supervision of children and pets. Residents affected by high water conditions in the past should take necessary action in advance of rising water levels to secure any vulnerable property in close proximity to rivers and lakes and closely monitor developing conditions.

Warmer temperatures and some rain expected

The five day weather forecast is calling for warmer temperatures in the 10 to 15 degree Celsius range with approximately 5mm of rain.

Lake levels rising but flooding not expected

The snow pack within the district is diminishing with less than an average of 70mm of water content remaining. Warmer temperatures with rain will continue melting the snow pack and sustain high spring flows. Lake levels will continue to rise over the next few days.

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.

Expiry Date: This message will expire on Monday, April 27 2015, 05:00 PM

(April 13, 2pm MUSKOKA-PARRY SOUND) A Flood Watch remains in effect for our region. Please read article below for full details. As for localized updates, the MNR notice today states:

“It is expected that lower-lying portions of known flood-prone roads along river courses will be impacted to various degrees as river levels continue to rise. Vulnerable, low-lying roads and properties along the Big East River within Huntsville may begin to be impacted as river flows increase.

Flows in the North Branch Muskoka River within Bracebridge are approaching early flood-watch levels. North Branch flows are expected to continue to rise over the next few days.

MNW NOTE: Our Editor has been watching water levels on Scarcliffe Bay in Lake Muskoka. On Saturday, April 11, the level was about 32 inches below the summer norm. By late Sunday the water level had come up about a half an inch. We will continue to monitor this location for the interest of our readers. We also check levels regularly on Muskoka River across from Annie Williams Park in Bracebridge. Featured photo (top left) shows thaw progressing on Muskoka River April 15.

 

PLEASE READ the MNR Flood Watch notice below for more information about spring thaw conditions and to understand Water Condition notice terminology and what it may mean for residents, especially in low lying areas.

This updated MNR notice will expire on Monday, April 20.

Changes in Muskoka River – photos taken across from Annie Williams Park in Bracebridge

(April 9 11:15am MUSKOKA-PARRY SOUND) The following is the Flood Watch notice from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) issued at 11am today. Note: Featured photo shows spring thaw on Muskoka River, April 11, 2015, across from Annie Williams Park.

The Ministry – Parry Sound District is advising area residents that a Flood Watch is in effect for all watersheds within the District which includes the District Municipality of Muskoka, the Territorial District of Parry Sound and a north-west portion in the County of Haliburton.

Water levels and flows in lakes and rivers will increase as a result of rainfall and continued melting of the snow pack. The rate of rise in water levels and flows will increase over the next several days due to warmer air temperatures and forecasted rainfall.

Property owners along Big East River in Huntsville should be prepared

It is expected that lower-lying portions of known flood-prone roads along river courses will be impacted to various degrees as river levels continue to rise. It is anticipated that vulnerable, low-lying roads and properties along the Big East River within the Town of Huntsville may begin to be impacted over the weekend as river flows increase.

Residents affected by high water conditions in the past should take necessary action in advance of rising water levels to secure any vulnerable property in close proximity to rivers and lakes and closely monitor developing conditions.

Residents and those visiting the area are advised to be aware of current watershed conditions, exercise caution while around waterbodies and maintain close supervision of children and pets.

MNR is closely monitoring the weather and developing watershed conditions. Further updates will be issued as appropriate.

Lake Muskoka water levels
April 11, 2015: Lake Muskoka water level in Scarcliffe Bay near Port Carling – 32″ below summer norm

TECHNICAL INFORMATION

Description of Weather System

Rainfall amounts up to 45mm with possible thunderstorms are forecasted for today and tomorrow with daytime highs reaching 13 degrees Celsius over the weekend will advance the melting of the snow pack and cause a significant increase in water levels and flows over the next few days. 2

 

Description of Current Conditions

The remaining snow pack in the area continues to average a depth of 50 centimetres with an average water content of 150 millimetres. This is approximately 50% higher than normal for this time of year. Levels and flows have been slowly increasing over the past few days but warmer temperatures with rain will cause flows and levels to increase more rapidly.

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.

Expiry Date:

This message will expire on Monday, April 13 2015, 05:00 PM

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.

For more information please contact:

705-646-5531

705-646-5509

705-773-4226

A close watch on local conditions and weather forecasts from Environment Canada is recommended.

Environment Canada bulletins

Surface Water Monitoring Centre

Bala Falls Update: Ministry finalizing next construction step

(April 17 Update) The Township of Muskoka Lakes Council has voted to ask the District to consider a road widening proposal to potentially easy traffic congestion concerns during construction of north Bala Falls power plant. The resolution, which was amended to include a condition that work not commence on the road widening until after the Bala Cranberry Festival in October, goes to District Public Works for consideration this Wednesday at the District office in Bracebridge.

(April 16, 2015 BALA) The provincial approval Swift River Energy Limited (SREL) needs to prepare the north Bala Falls site for construction is a few steps closer to being granted.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is currently finalizing the review of SREL’s application under the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act (LRIA). Senior Media Relations Officer Jolanta Kowalski says this step will allow SREL to undertake work including preparing the site for facility construction. She says staff members from both the MNRF and SREL are working closely on engineering details, something that needs a lot of back and forth discussion that can be time consuming.

The Ministry is the approval authority for LRIA. Kowalski adds the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change has authority over Permits to Take water (PTTW) under the Ontario Water Resources Act and that permit has already been issued for construction purposes.

As for Swift River, engineer Karen McGhee stated in a letter to What’s Up Muskoka this week that SREL has now ordered the turbine and generator equipment for the facility that accounts for about 25 per cent of construction costs. She also told Muskoka News Watch that the company’s architect is continuing to work toward minimized design concepts.

Muskoka Lakes Council will hear delegations tomorrow (April 17) from community members about potential impacts of the hydro project and safety concerns regarding the railway. Council is also expected to vote on Friday on a recommendation for a proposed road widening. Widening the road would mean no lane closures during construction of the hydro plant but it would require paving and tree removal.

Featured photo by Norah Fountain of Bala Falls taken April 15, 2015

Related Articles:

November 17, 2014, MNW: Land Use Permit Issued to Swift River

October 19, 2014, MNW: Approval still needed but ‘project will proceed’ says MNR

To see all articles by Muskoka News Watch related to the Bala Falls controversy, please click here.

About Muskoka News Watch – consider donating to keep your Muskoka info flowing: Please consider donating to Muskoka News Watch. We exist on donations and limited advertising revenue. 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) or click here. Thank you for helping us keep on keeping you in the know.

Annual air quality report released

(April 15, 2015 QUEEN’S PARK) The provincial government released its Air Quality report today on the first anniversary of the closure of the last coal plant in Ontario.

According to Environment and Climate Change Minister Glen Murray, the release of the 2013 Air Quality in Ontario report confirms that the province’s air quality has improved significantly over the past 10 years as levels of pollutants and greenhouse gas pollution continue to decrease.

“Today’s report confirms that Ontario’s actions have resulted in fewer smog days and cleaner air,” says Murray. “Reducing emissions of greenhouse gas pollution and other harmful pollutants improves our air quality and helps fight climate change. Thanks to our initiatives and policies, we can all enjoy a healthier, cleaner environment now, and for future generations.”

For the first time in 20 years, no smog advisories issued in 2013

The government release says the report demonstrates that government action such as eliminating dirty coal power, setting emissions controls at smelters and mandating emissions trading of nitrogen oxides is working to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and the airborne pollutants that are harmful to our health and the environment. For the first time in 20 years, no smog advisories were issued due to high levels of ozone in Ontario.

Parry Sound Ambient Air Monitoring Site
Parry Sound Ambient Air Monitoring Site

Reports from the Parry Sound monitoring station show air quality for Parry Sound-Muskoka today is in the lower end of the good range with a measurement of 25. A measurement of 16-31 is good; 32 to 49 is only moderate, while a measurement of 50 is considered poor.

The overall Air Quality report also highlights that:

  • Air quality measurements fell into the good or very good category for 94 per cent of the year
  • Regular readings from all 40 Air Quality Index Stations across the province met Ontario’s air standards for levels of nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide

Earlier this week, Ontario took another step in the fight against climate change by announcing its intent to join with California, Quebec and other governments to further protect the air we breathe by reducing greenhouse gas pollution through cap and trade.

Muskoka Trails Council seeking trail ambassadors

(April 13, 2015 10pm BRACEBRIDGE) The Muskoka Trails Council is looking for people with ideas to help improve the District’s recreational trails this year.

That’s one of the initiatives the trails council hopes to see take hold following its 10th annual meeting, Thursday, April 23 in Bracebridge at the South Muskoka Curling and Golf Club. The organization hopes to set up groups of trails “ambassadors” to hike trails and look for opportunities to improve the 300-plus kilometres of trails in the District.

“It’s really just an idea at this point,” says trails council president John Challis. “But after 10 years, it dawned on me that most of the people who have volunteered for the trails council wanted to be outdoors, enjoying our trails, and working to improve the resource.”

The trails council is a coordinating and promotional body, though, and apart from holding events on the trails, hasn’t been actively involved in trail building. The trails themselves are on municipal land and are maintained by Muskoka’s six area municipalities.

“We are keen to build some stronger partnerships with our municipalities and find ways that these volunteers can do what they are so eager to do,” Challis says.

For those more interested in technology, though, the trails council also needs to work on building its inventory of online trails maps on its website, www.muskokatrailscouncil.com.

And there is a need for people who like to organize events, to set up some walks on trails through the year.

The meeting will include light snacks and refreshments, and there will be a few minutes after the business portion is complete when people will be able to get acquainted and, if they feel inclined, help assemble some of the popular portable map clips.

New board members sought

The trails council is looking for new board members as well.

Now in its 10th year, the Muskoka Trails Council exists to coordinate promotion and encourage continued development of the trails resources in the District.

The annual meeting of the trails council will take place Thursday, April 23, at 7 p.m. at South Muskoka Curling and Golf Club in Bracebridge.

For more information visit the website www.muskokatrailscouncil.com, the trails council’s Facebook page, or email info@muskokatrailscouncil.com.

RECENT TRAILS COUNCIL ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Both urban paths and recreational trails are vital to Muskoka’s economy and the health of its citizens. Over the years Muskoka Trails Council helped:

  • drive early efforts to pave road shoulders for cyclists, created a popular website to promote all the district’s trails and a series of portable trails maps that continues to be in high demand.
  • sourced funding for improvements to the Trans Canada Trail through Muskoka.
  • contributed to long range trails planning at the area level and with the District’s Active Transportation Master Plan.
  • promoted physical activity through trails hikes, Muskoka’s Amazing Race and a walking school bus tool kit for schools.

Visit www.muskokatrailscouncil.com for more information about the organization.

Submitted article.

Featured photo by Norah Fountain shows hiker on Hardy Lake Trail, Muskoka Lakes

Prep for a Bear-able spring as hibernating bears appear

(April 13, 2015 5:30 pm MUSKOKA) The province and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are reminding people to take simple precautions this spring to prevent attracting black bears as they come out of hibernation.

The potential for human-bear conflict increases when there is little natural food available for bears. If this happens, black bears will search for other food sources, such as garbage and bird feed, which can draw bears to populated areas.

Tips for reducing your chance of attracting bears:

  • Store garbage in waste containers with tight-fitting lids.
  • Put out garbage only on the morning of pickup.
  • Put away bird feeders. Seed, suet and nectar also attract bears.
  • Pick fruits and berries as they ripen — don’t let them rot on the ground.
  • Clean outdoor barbecue grills after each use, including the grease trap underneath. Bears will be drawn by smells from great distances, including grease and food residue on grills.
  • Keep dogs on leash; sometimes bears will follow off-leash dogs back to you.

Bears entering a populated area are only a danger if they pose an immediate threat to your personal safety or that of the general public.“By taking some simple steps everyone can help avoid human-bear conflicts. These steps will help to make your home, neighbourhood, business or schoolyard less attractive to bears,” says Bill Mauro, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF). OPP Commission Vince Hawkes also urges people “to take simple precautions and reduce their interactions with bears. If a bear becomes an immediate threat to public safety, OPP officers will respond in our jurisdiction to protect citizens with the help of the MNRF.”

There are also lots of deer out and about and salt from winter roads attracts them to the roadside, so be extra alert while on the road.
Quick Facts

  • Since 2004, Ontario’s Bear Wise program has been educating people about bears, how to avoid attracting bears and how to prevent human-bear conflicts.
  • The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and OPP have agreed on the roles and responsibilities for both organizations to help the public understand which organization to contact when they encounter a bear.
  • If a bear is posing an immediate threat to public safety by exhibiting threatening or aggressive behaviour, call 911 or your local police. At the request of police, during daylight hours the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry will respond to emergency situations to assist.
  • For non-emergencies, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry operates the toll-free, 24/7 Bear Reporting Line (1-866-514-2327) and the Bear Wise website to provide the public with information and advice.

Resources


 

Entrepreneurship Summit attracts 90 students

(April 13, 2015 HUNTSVILLE) Muskoka’s first ever Youth Entrepreneurship Summit March 26 brought together 90 high school students from across Muskoka, along with 10 young business owners. Hosts for the event were the Muskoka Small Business Centre in partnership with Muskoka Futures, Muskoka Community Network and the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment, and Infrastructure. The aim of the summit was to make young people in Muskoka aware of entrepreneurship as a career option and to give them a chance to meet and talk to other young people who have started successful businesses.

Keynote speaker Graeme Murray had an important message for the audience about believing in yourself, and about the importance of not only setting goals, but of breaking those goals into manageable steps so they don’t become overwhelming.  A panel of 3 young entrepreneurs each shared their story and engaged in a discussion with the audience about what it takes to succeed in business as a young person. The panel included Andrew Bridle of Pita Pit, Sara Ross of Svastha Spa, and Mike Amo of Shinezilla.

After a great lunch catered by Huntsville High School students, the audience had a chance to browse a tradeshow that included 10 businesses owned by local young people, and several agencies that offer business support and educational opportunities. The day was capped off with a contest whereby groups of 5 or 6 students created a tradeshow style display for a fictional business. Top honours for the contest were shared by two groups, one from St. Dom’s and one from BMLSS.

Photo shows the two winning teams of the tradeshow display contest, with the judges. Judges  from lleft to right: George Young of Muskoka Community Network, David Brushey of Muskoka Futures, and over on the right (from l to r) Susan Lovell of YWCA Muskoka and Barb Hunter of RBC in Bracebridge.

Muskoka Small Business Centre offers several great programs to support students and out of school youth with business ambitions. Among them are Summer Company, a provincial program for students wanting to run a business for the summer, and Starter Company, another provincial program for young people who want to start or expand a full time business in Muskoka. For more information on business support available to students and youth, contact Muskoka Small Business Centre at 705-646-9021 or info@muskokasmallbusiness.ca.

Article and photo submitted by David Connell, Managing Business Consultant, Muskoka Small Business Centre

2015 Muskoka Stewardship Conference planned for May 2

(April 13 2:45pm BRACEBRIDGE) The Muskoka Watershed Council and the District of Muskoka are busy planning the 2015 Muskoka Stewardship Conference for May 2 at Nipissing University in Bracebridge. The following is a release from the Council.

MEDIA RELEASE: Cool water, clean air, healthy forests and abundant wildlife – these are the features that brought many of us to Muskoka. They are also the very features most in danger of being lost unless you help protect them.

The desire to live in cottage country in a way that will preserve its character and minimize impact on the environment is growing. The 2015 Muskoka Stewardship Conference, being held at Nipissing University on May 2nd, will provide you with simple, everyday actions that can help you keep your piece of cottage country healthy while complying with the various guidelines, regulations and by-laws that exist.

Few people are as adept at fostering a sense of wonder at the Muskoka environment as naturalist Robin Tapley from Nature Trails. As the keynote speaker, Robin will kick off the Conference by reminding us why we all love Muskoka. The rest of the day will feature a number of speakers on topics including septic systems and drinking water, permits and regulations, dealing with erosion, restoring your shoreline, living with wildlife and dark sky lighting.

Organized by the Muskoka Watershed Council and The District Municipality of Muskoka, the Muskoka Stewardship Conference has been a popular event among water and land stewards for the past five years. It is the ideal venue for anyone who lives in cottage country and cares about their impact on the environment to learn how to live more sustainably.

Thanks to The Lakelands Association of REALTORS®, conference participants will be able to take home a copy of the Living in Cottage Country: What You Need to Know handbook, filled with tips to help you save time and money, avoid frustration, protect the health of your family and visitors, meet appropriate planning regulations, and protect the beauty of your property.

Registration for the event is $50 or $40 for members of Friends of the Muskoka Watershed and includes lunch and a copy of the handbook. Special rates for students and exhibitors are also available. Space is limited so register now at www.muskokawatershed.org <http://www.muskokawatershed.org>  or call 705-646-0111.

St. Dominic’s high school in Bracebridge vandalized

(April 9 9am BRACEBRIDGE) Someone spray painted graffiti on the back of St. Dominic’s Catholic Secondary School in Bracebridge and police hope the public can shed some light on the vandalism.

Members of the Bracebridge Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are investigating the mischief that occurred overnight on Tuesday, April 7, 2015.  Unknown culprits used bright green paint to spray paint offensive graffiti on the rear of the building.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact the OPP at (888) 310-1122 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Gravenhurst jewelry store robbed

(April 8 11am GRAVENHURST) Gem and Dia Jewellers in Gravenhurst was the target of thieves early this morning.

Members of the Bracebridge Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are investigating the break and enter and theft at the store on Muskoka Road South near Bay Street that occurred at 5:30am.

Owner Baya Tasnadi says showcases were smashed and a large amount of jewelry was taken, including diamonds, diamond engagement rings, coloured rings, gold ear rings and more. No jewelry belonging to customers who sometimes bring in items to be fixed or customized was taken. Tasnadi adds it could take up to a week for the store to re-open.

Since establishing her store in 1996, Tasnadi has never had anything like this happen. “This doesn’t scare us off,’ says Tasnadi, “but it is very sad.”

The store was closed at the time of the robbery and no employees were present.

New water safety notice in effect for Parry Sound-Muskoka

(April 2, 12pm PARRY SOUND-MUSKOKA) The Ministry of Natural Resources – Parry Sound-Muskoka District today announced a Watershed Conditions Statement – Water Safety is in effect for our region.

District staff want to remind people although flooding is not expected based on current forecasts; caution should be used around water bodies as water levels and flows increase in the coming days. Residents and those visiting the area are advised to be aware of current watershed conditions, and exercise caution while around water bodies and maintain close supervision of children and pets. Residents affected by high water conditions in the past should take necessary action in advance of rising water levels to secure any vulnerable property in close proximity to rivers and lakes and closely monitor developing conditions.

MNR is closely monitoring the weather and developing watershed conditions, and further updates will be issued as appropriate. This Water Safety notice will remain in effect until Friday, April 10.

Rain in forecast expected to further ice breakup

Description of Weather System: Warmer temperatures in the 7 to 14 degree Celsius range with up to 15mm of rain are forecasted for today and tomorrow with a cool down through the weekend. This will cause some melting of the snow pack and begin the breakup of ice along rivers, streams, ponds and lakes.

Description of Current Conditions

The existing snow pack in the area averages a depth of 50 centimetres with an average water content of 150 millimetres. This is approximately 50% higher than normal for this time of year. Recent cold weather with minimal precipitation this spring has resulted in river flows and lake levels that are average to below average for this time of year. However, warmer temperatures with rain will cause flows and levels to increase in the coming days and weeks. 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.

Know the terminology and 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.

A close watch on local conditions and weather forecasts from Environment Canada is recommended.

Environment Canada bulletins can be found at http://weather.gc.ca/ 

You may also want to visit The Surface Water Monitoring Centre by clicking here.

Related Articles:

April 1, MNW: Meeting of the minds in advance of spring freshet

Feature photo of spring thaw in woods

Regional high school graduation rates in top third of province

(April 2 BRACEBRIDGE) The Ontario Ministry of Education has released data around graduation rates for the 2009-2010 Grade 9 cohort for all school boards in Ontario — and the numbers for our region show local graduation rates are in the top third of the province for English language public schools. Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB) had a 75% graduation rate for students who graduated within four years and 82% for students who graduated within five years in 2014. Muskoka News Watch contacted the Board yesterday upon learning there had been an improvement in graduation rates, province-wide.

“Getting to the high school diploma is not a race,” states Superintendent of Secondary School Improvement and Student Success, Bruce Barrett. “Secondary schools are filled with individual student and family stories and circumstances. We provide the opportunities and motivational assistance to help students succeed no matter what their age or circumstance.”

The graduation rate takes into account every student that enrolled in any secondary school in TLDSB in September of 2009 including those that later moved away to other districts or out of province. It also includes those students in the board’s non-credit generating “Life Skills” program.

“We are extremely proud of the achievement of our students and the support they receive from our staff,” stated Director of Education, Larry Hope. “TLDSB provides a comprehensive and caring approach to learning that is focused on life after high school for all of our students.” For most this means graduating to college or university, for others it means apprenticeship or certifications, and for other students it means helping develop the social, emotional and life skills to make the transition to adulthood. For many students, graduation occurs within the five-year provincial window, while others may graduate later from TLDSB Alternative and Adult Education Centres (AETC).

“At TLDSB, we are extremely proud of our “life skills” students that participate and grow in each of our seven secondary schools,” said Board Chair, Louise Clodd, “This program shows that secondary school is more than just honouring diploma bound students, and TLDSB is pleased to say that our graduation rate includes these students.”

Secondary schools in TLDSB have a number of options for students to encourage remaining in school and working towards graduation within the four or five year time frame – programs such as Advanced Placement courses, Dual Credit programs, Specialist High Skills Majors, and Cooperative Education.

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 by clicking here to use the Donate page (you’ll see a Donate Button on the top right hand corner of our Home Page. You can use Credit Cards, Debit or PayPal. Your support is needed and appreciated. Thank you!

 

Bracebridge Council offers to buy land for potential new hospital

(April 1, 10:45pm BRACEBRIDGE) At Bracebridge Council tonight, Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith unveiled a Council proposal to buy land in Bracebridge as a potential space for a new acute care hospital. The site identified tonight is a 44.5 acre parcel just north of the J.D. Lang Fairgrounds and west of Highway 11 (see featured map photo that shows the land below Highway 11 south of the Taylor Road exit). It is owned by Fowler Construction, which has agreed to sell the 44.5 acres for $1.3million.

Bracebridge Council is prepared to make the site available to Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) at no cost to the hospital, as part of the Town’s contribution toward sustainable acute care hospital service.

“Bracebridge residents have strongly voiced their support for the continued delivery of acute care hospital services in Bracebridge, and hundreds of individuals have signed a petition supporting our area hospitals,” said Mayor Smith. “This initiative is being announced today to demonstrate to MAHC and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care that Bracebridge is willing to make a significant contribution to ensure the continued availability of acute care hospital services for Bracebridge and the entire Muskoka region,” he said..

Bracebridge offers to buy land from Fowler for hospital
Fowler agrees to sell 44.5 acres for $1.3million

To read the full release from the Town tonight, please click here.

To read the entire proposal, click here.

Get a call from Stats Can on mental health? Please do survey, asks health unit

(April 1 MUSKOKA) Early Years programs and related programs run in Muskoka and the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is asking, via Letters to the Editor, that if you get a call from Statistics Canada to take part in the Ontario Child Health Study, to please take time to respond. Letter from the Health Unit follows.

April 1, 2015
Letter to the Editor

Re: Ontario Child Health Study in your community

Researchers from McMaster University, together with a national team of academics, are currently conducting the 2014 Ontario Child Health Study in communities across the province. Statistics Canada is inviting 13,500 families from across 180 communities to participate in the study.

The purpose of the study is to collect up-to-date information about children’s mental health in Ontario, which in turn will help Ontario to understand how schools and neighbourhoods influence the mental health of children and youth. This information will also assist in assessing how well services in Ontario are responding to these needs. A previous study of child and youth health resulted in the development of a number of community-based programs to support families and promote positive development in children, including the Healthy Babies, Healthy Children program and the Ontario Early Years Centres.

We know that the mental health of children and youth is connected to their happiness, how well they do in school, the relationships they form and in the development of their full abilities. However, the last study was done more than 30 years ago, and the widening gap in income and other changes in our population mean that we need updated and accurate information about child and youth mental health to help make decisions about programs and services.

If you get a call from Statistics Canada asking you to participate in the Ontario Child Health Study, I’d ask that you say yes. This is a chance to be heard and by being heard, to contribute to a study that will help Ontario to make decisions to improve the lives of all children and youth in the years to come. This study will only be successful if families such as yourselves choose to participate.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Lisa Simon, MD MPH CCFP FRCPC
Associate Medical Officer of Health

Updated Muskoka Algonguin Healthcare strategy released

(April 1, 2015 9:30am MUSKOKA) Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) has a new 2015-2018 Strategic Plan to guide the organization.

Recently approved by the Board of Directors, the 2015-2018 Strategic Plan defines the strategic direction or roadmap for the organization. It is a forward-looking plan of action that focuses the allocation of resources and priorities at MAHC over the three-year horizon.

“The 2015-2018 Strategic Plan builds on the successes of our 2012-2014 Strategic Plan and continues to move some of our most important strategic projects such as obtaining a new Electronic Health Record and planning Hospital Care for Our Future Generations forward,” says Board Chair Charles Forret. “The Board is pleased to provide a comprehensive vision for the future with a steadfast focus on putting the patient and their families first.”

Through a comprehensive review of the environment and emerging trends, our mission Proudly Serving our Communities – Delivering Best Patient Outcomes with High Standards and Compassion has been re-affirmed along with the five Strategic Areas: Quality Care & Safety; Partnerships & Collaboration; People; Education & Innovation; and Sustainable Future.

The updated vision Outstanding Care – Patient & Family Centered emphasizes MAHC’s patient- and family-centered care philosophy. Our five values (Accountability, Respect, Optimism, Leadership, and Engagement) continue to remind us that we all have ‘A ROLE’ to play in furthering MAHC’s mission and vision. The value statements for Accountability and Engagement have been slightly revised to ensure further clarity.

Natalie Bubela, Chief Executive Officer at MAHC, says the plan will act as a roadmap to guide MAHC’s actions, energy and resources over the next two to three years.

“The new Strategic Action Plan includes five strategic goals that set the priorities for the next three years, each with strategic objectives that will further those goals,” says Bubela. “With clear, focused and measurable steps to accomplish our intended strategy, we are all looking forward to our staff’s and physicians’ involvement in achieving our patient-centered approach to health care.”

The new strategic plan is available for the community to review on MAHC’s website at www.mahc.ca <http://www.mahc.ca> , and will be the topic of broader community presentations and discussions over the next few months.

Menatime, the Town of Bracebridge is set to make an announcement about healthcare later today. Stay tuned.

$20K donated to Bracebridge dog park

(April 1 9:15am BRACEBRIDGE) Brock and Willa Napier have donated $20,000 to help in the development of a dog park at James. W. Kerr Park in Bracebridge. The Town of Bracebridge Off Leash Dog Park announced the donation today. In response to the Napier’s generous donation, the committee will be naming the dog park after the Napier’s former three chocolate labs, “The Three Amigos”. Read more about the park and the donation by clicking here .