Flood Warning for Muskoka, Parry Sound and parts of Haliburton

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry – Parry Sound District is advising residents within flood-prone areas in Muskoka, Parry Sound and a north-west portion of Haliburton that a Flood Warning is in effect.

A Flood Warning is exactly that: it warns that flooding is imminent or occurring within specific watercourses and municipalities.

It is expected that lower-lying portions of known flood-prone roads along river courses will be impacted to various degrees as river levels rise.

Residents affected by flooding in the past should take necessary action to secure any vulnerable property in close proximity to rivers and lakes and closely monitor developing conditions.

Those residents that have evacuated their homes in past years due to flooding may wish to make similar preparations at this time as rising water levels will hinder, limit or prevent the ability to evacuate as driveways and roads in lower-lying locations become impassible.

Water levels and flows in local lakes and rivers will continue to rise following significant rainfall across the area.

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

MNR continues to monitor weather conditions and flows and water levels. Further updates to this Flood Warning will be issued as conditions change.


Description of Weather System

This message is being sent based on information received from MNRF – Surface Water Monitoring Centre, MNRF – Aviation Forest Fire and Emergency Management Services and Environment Canada.

A rainfall warning issued by Environment Canada is in effect for most areas within Parry Sound District. Environment Canada has forecasted up to 60mm of cumulative rain by end of day today (Thursday March 31). Temperatures are forecasted to reach a high of 11 degrees Celsius today and falling to 5 degrees by tomorrow. A period of cold weather is forecasted over the weekend and into early next week.

Description of Current Conditions

Lake levels and river flows have increased over the past few days from rain received earlier in the week in combination with continued melting of the snow pack. The local snow pack still contains between 20-100mm of water content that has been melting very slowly over the past three weeks. It is expected that the forecasted rain will cause an increased rate of rise in lake levels and river flows as melting of the snow pack accelerates with forecasted rainfall.

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.

Gravenhurst providing sandbags

Note: The Town of Gravenhurst announced yesterday that it will provide sandbags for residents concerned about flooding. Self filled sandbags are free of charge and can be picked up after hours at the Town Public Works Yard located at 1054 Crawford Yard.


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MNR issues Flood Watch as heavy rain expected

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) Parry Sound office has upgraded its Water Safety warning to a Flood Watch as heavy rain could increase water levels significantly. The MNR is advising area residents that a Flood Watch is in effect for all watersheds within its District which includes Muskoka, Parry Sound and a north-west portion of Haliburton.

Water levels and flows in local lakes and rivers are expected to rise following significant rainfall forecasted across the area beginning this evening.

It is expected that lower-lying portions of known flood-prone roads along river courses may be impacted to various degrees as river levels rise.

Vulnerable areas include Big East River, Muskoka River and Bala Reach

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 the forecasted rain and continuing snow melt makes its way through the watercourse.

Flows in the North Branch Muskoka River within the Town of Bracebridge are expected to surpass early flood-watch levels and 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 if the forecasted rain materializes.

Flows out of Lake Muskoka into the Bala Reach will surpass early watch levels of 200cms within the next 24 hours.

Water levels in all area lakes, rivers and streams are expected to rise to or above 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.

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

Area could get as much as 30 to 50mm of rain

A rainfall warning issued by Envionment Canada is in effect for most areas within Parry Sound District. Environment Canada is currently forecasting 30 to 50mm of rain beginning this evening and ending tomorrow afternoon. Temperatures are forecasted to reach a high of 11 degrees Celsius today and falling to minus 1 degree by tomorrow afternoon.

Current conditions described

Lake levels and river flows have dropped or remained stable over the past week with cooler weather. The local snow pack still contains between an estimated 20-75mm of water content that has been melting very slowly over the past three weeks. It is expected that the forecasted rain will cause an increased rate of rise in lake levels and river flows over the next few days as melting of the snow pack accelerates with forecasted rainfall.

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.

Understanding 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.

New building permit process could hurt local contractors says Chamber manager

Residents and builders will now wait longer to get permits to build docks and single-storey boathouses in Muskoka — if those structures are 15 square metres or larger. As of March 18, you now have to get a land use permit from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) for docks and boathouses of that size before you apply to your township for a building permit. And according to the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce, that added wait and paperwork could have an impact on the health of the local construction industry.

Chamber manager Jane Templeton says she learned of the new rules when an angry seasonal resident discovered it would take longer to get building under way and visited the Chamber office wanting to know if anything could be done. She then spoke with contractor members of the Chamber to get their reaction.

Already long permit process will get longer

“Builders are very concerned about what they feel is already a long application process,” says Templeton. “What has taken up to 16 weeks in the past will now take even longer, plus our members say there’s still a backlog for two-storey boathouses, so you can imagine it may take much longer to get to one storey boathouse and dock applications.”

She says the Chamber is speaking out because it believes the additional application process could have a negative impact on builders, their employees, lumber stores – and the trickle down affects to other sectors could be even more far reaching.

“The builders say it could put things behind so much that this has the potential to cause millions of dollars in losses to our economy,” says Templeton. It’s possible, she adds, that some builders may only be starting to become aware of the new requirements now.

New permit process news for some

The Lake of Bays Association (LOBA) began warning its members in late February to get their permits in before March 18 when it got notice from Lake of Bays Township (Read notice posted February 23 by clicking here). In Muskoka Lakes, a Townshipdocument explaining dock building requirements was updated March 16 with the new information about going to the MNRF first. The MNRF website explaining Crown work permit rules was updated March 22 and the application form for over water structures has just recently become available. To learn more, visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/crown-land-work-permits#section-4. To get the application, you need to contact your local MNRF office.

The new requirements came about as a result of a court decision in June 2015 after a cottager on Big Cedar Lake in North Kawartha Township took legal action when his neighbour built a dock and boathouse. The cottager had bought the property believing that no such structures could be built on the lake. He took action against the Township, and as a result of the case, the court decided the MNRF should have authority over docks and single-storey boathouses province-wide.

If interested, you can read the entire Glaspell Decision here >> Glaspell – Boathouse-in-water-jurisdiction-DECISION

Who will need to apply for a land use permit?

According to Ministry officials, authorization under the Public Lands Act is required from MNRF for all new, expansions of existing, and seasonal docks and single-storey boathouses occupying (i.e. on or above) more than 15 square metres of shore lands. The requirements also apply to replacement docks or one-storey boathouses even if they are on the same footprint and use the same supporting structure. There is no fee charged for applying for the required land use permit.

Township of Muskoka Lakes Building Permit Requirements for Docks: Bldg Permit Requirements for Docks 2016


Illustration from sample MNRF application
Illustration of dock types from sample MNRF application. Dock shown in featured image at top may not be representative of size of 15 sq m.




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Bala man and daughters earn Guinness World Record for marathon curling

The efforts of ten Ontario curlers to break the previous record for the longest game have finally been granted Official Guinness World Record Holder status, after a validation process that organizers referred to as a “marathon in itself “.

The marathon curlers include three Muskokans (Bill Pearce and daughters Amanda and Brittany of Bala) and Stephen Collins from Orillia, who curls in Gravenhurst.

Here’s how their marathon to get recognized in the world record books came about:

Rocks Around The Clock, as it was labeled, was a fundraiser/curling event, held at the Coldwater District Curling Club in October 2014. A group of local athletes set out to surpass the previous record of 73 hours 6 minutes 52 seconds of continuous curling by 10 players. Their efforts have placed them in the Guinness World Record books as the current record holders at a time of 79 hours, 15 minutes and 3 seconds.

Organizer Bill Pearce, who was also one of the curlers, said he had hoped it wouldn’t have taken this long to have the claim approved, but noted, “The guidelines set out by the Guinness folks must be followed to the letter.”

From left to right: Stephen Collins, Corrine Bertolo, Michael Foster, Lauren Grealy, Brittany Pearce, Jeff Vanbodegom, Bill Pearce and Amanda Pearce. Absent: Andrew Vanbodegom and Perry Marshall. Submitted photo.

The group submitted over 80 hours of video, statements of authenticity from over 40 witnesses and local officials, and media clippings and reports that had to be gone over with what Pearce describes as ” one of the finest tooth combs I have ever heard of. They (Guinness) don’t just put their seal of approval on anything. We had to ensure every “t” was crossed and every “i” was dotted.”

The official certificate of the record is being presented to the Coldwater District Curling Club and will be hung prominently next to championship banners from the likes of Glenn Howard and Sherry Middaugh.

Four of the 10 curlers that took part now hold a rather unique honour in Canadian curling history. Both Pearce of Bala and Stephen Collins of Orillia, also took part in a 60 hour record event held in Bala in 2011, making them 2 of only 9 men in the world and the only 2 Canadians to have broken two world records for marathon curling.

An even more unique honour goes to Pearce’s twin daughters, Amanda and Brittany. They were only 18 years old when they took part in the first event and now are the only two women worldwide to have accomplished the double feat.

Although the curlers have no immediate plans for any future marathons, some of them say they wouldn’t rule it out entirely if their official record was to be beaten.


MP Tony Clement calls Liberal budget reckless

The Liberals are borrowing and spending tens of billions of taxpayer dollars, and to pay the bill, they are raising taxes on families, workers and job-creating businesses, says Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement.

According to Clement, the “reckless Liberal plan simply grows the size of government, borrows significantly more than the $10 billion they promised Canadians, and will do nothing to actually create jobs.”

“Canadians should be concerned that the Liberals are failing to do what is necessary to encourage the private sector to invest in our economy and create well-paying, high-quality jobs,” said Clement. “Despite spending billions in borrowed money, the Liberal budget has no clear plan to help get unemployed Canadians back to work.”

On Tuesday March 22, the Liberals introduced their 2016 federal budget. According to a release from Clement’s office, the budget confirms that the Liberals are raising taxes on families, youth and small businesses. Their infrastructure spending is focused only on federal infrastructure projects.

Clement takes aim at defence budget cuts

The Liberals are also cutting almost $4 billion from the National Defence budget. The money was allocated to re-equip Canada`s military as they are being called upon to further support our allies.

“The Conservatives left the Liberal Government with a $4.5 billion surplus, and we focused on keeping taxes low and supporting policies that helped create more than a million jobs. Conservatives know the recipe for job creation and economic growth: low taxes, free trade and spending taxpayer money responsibly,” said Clement.

Sale: Muskoka can deal with climate change if we plan now and act

District of Muskoka politicians at the District Council meeting last night learned how much Muskoka could be affected by climate change. Dr. Peter Sale, former chair of the Muskoka Watershed Council (MWC), presented the MWC’s Planning for Climate Change in Muskoka findings to Council.

“Climate change is happening; it’s been happening for a long time and it’s happening in Muskoka,” said Sale. “But it’s not so bad here that we can’t deal with it as long as we have the wisdom to plan ahead and act,” he continued. “We have a decision to make to act as a community, and I’m hoping we’ll make it. This presentation is just the beginning.”

Specifically, Sale spelled out the ways Muskoka may have to adapt to climate change by 2050. Projections show that by that time, Muskoka could experience many more heat waves, with almost a month of 30 degree Celsius temperatures in the typical year compared to summer temperatures that high only happening for about 4 days now. In the winter, we will likely see more freeze-thaw cycles and we’ll be ice-free longer. And we will get more precipitation in most months of the year with three times more water available to flow or flood in the months from December to March. On the other hand, July to October is likely to be drier than now. Our lakes and forests will also be stressed, said Sale.

Read the full Planning for Climate Change report by clicking here

Councillor Steve Clement asked about what existing species of trees would continue to fare well in a warmer climate here. Sale answered that no species will be immune to the warmer temperatures. He used white spruce as an extreme example, explaining, “it lives well here now but it should be living near James Bay by mid-century.” He said one way of adapting may be planning to plant more southern species to replace the forest we could lose.

That’s just a glimpse of what to expect. Sale also shared several recommendations from the Planning for Climate Change report that showed municipalities need to plan for increased winter road maintenance, storm water management, and firefighting capacity. He also said it was up to the District to show the leadership needed to get needed action on climate change.

Wisdom needed to plan ahead and act on climate change

“This is the group that is in the best position to provide leadership,” said Sale. “We’re not asking the District to solve all the problems, but asking you to provide the leadership, because if you don’t, we’re not sure who will.”

Two of the recommendations from the Muskoka Watershed Council (MWC) are aimed directly at the District. The Council would like to see District appoint a Director of Climate Adaptation and convene a Climate Adaptation Steering Committee.

Before the meeting started, District Chair John Klinck told Muskoka News Watch that Sale’s presentation is one “every politician should hear.” Sale said every mayor will receive a copy of the presentation and the MWC’s message will be shared with municipalities and the community in several ways over the next few months.

To do our part, watch for articles from Muskoka News Watch outlining what climate change means for Muskoka on a variety of fronts: for our water, our forests, our infrastructure and ourselves.

Muskoka Mid Century ClimateIt may seem like only a few degrees, but the difference between the blue line and the red line could have a major impact on Muskoka. Dr. Sale says we must plan now to address the problems coming due to climate change.

NOTE: Climate Change will also be the focus of the Muskoka Summit on the Environment this May. Click here to know more about the Solutions for a Warming World summit.

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). Your support is needed and appreciated. Thank you!

Update: OPP finds suspect believed connected to crimes in Severn Township

Update: This morning (March 22) the Orillia detachment of the OPP issued a statement saying they had found and arrested Gregory Boucher of Hamilton. Boucher has been charged with Trespass by Night, Break and Enter and Assault Police. Original post follows:

The Orillia detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is asking for the public’s help to help find a 34 year-old Hamilton man — a man police believe may be connected to crimes in the north part of Severn Township.

Over the past couple of days Gregory Boucher has been identified as a suspect in a number of occurrences in Severn Township which include crimes against persons and property.  He is not known to have any personal means of transportation and in the past has used the railways by boxcar jumping in order to get across the province.  His exact whereabouts is not known, however police have confirmed that Boucher has ties from Chapleau to Hamilton.

The suspect was last seen at approximately 11:30pm on March 20, 2016 wearing jeans and a t-shirt, not suitable for current weather conditions. He is described as male, white, 5’9”, 150lbs, thin build, green eyes, short brown hair.

Anyone who may know of the whereabouts of the suspect is asked to contact the Orillia detachment Crime Unit at 705 326 3536 or Crime Stoppers.

Tick Tock: Gravenhurst has a working Town Clock again

One of the most recognizable landmarks in Gravenhurst has sprung back to life. The Post Office clock tower has held its place at the historic main intersection (Muskoka and Bay) for over eight decades, however the hands on the four faces of the clock have not moved for years — until now.

Celebrate the revival of the Gravenhurst clock April 1

Time is ticking once again in the downtown, and what a perfect time to celebrate the historical significance of the Gravenhurst Post Office. On Friday, April 1st, at 12 noon, the public are invited to take part in a celebration hosted by the Town of Gravenhurst and Canada Post.

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the Post Office building and the 85th birthday of the clock tower. On April 1st, the public are invited to join some of our local dignitaries, as a special commemorative plaque is presented to Canada Post, recognizing the Gravenhurst Post Office as a building of cultural and historical significance to our Town. The day will also mark the restoration of the Post Office Tower Clock! The fully functional clock is an appropriate symbol of the revitalization of Downtown Gravenhurst.

After a brief dedication outside of the Post Office (101 Muskoka Road North) at noon, a reception with refreshments will follow.

Photo Credit: Post office photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Fire department suggests pass on the candles during Earth Hour

If you’re shining a light on climate action by taking part in Earth Hour tonight, the Huntsville/Lake of Bays Fire Department wants you to consider not using candles for light, if needed. Earth Hour is between 8:30 and 9:30pm.

To prevent property loss and fire-related injuries, the Fire Department has issued a release recommending that people use flashlights, battery-operated lanterns or flameless candles for light, instead of candles.

“Preventing fires while participating in this worthy initiative is important,” said Fire Chief Stephen Hernen. “If people do choose to light candles for Earth Hour, they should test all of the smoke alarms in their homes ahead of time to ensure they are working. With an increase in candle use, there is an increased risk of fire.”

If candles must be used, special care should be taken to prevent a fire. Here are some tips:

Use sturdy candleholders that won’t tip or burn. Those with glass shades or chimneys are best.

  • Keep lit candles a safe distance away from anything that can burn.
  • Keep candles, matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
  • Always stay in the room where candles are being used. Never leave candles unattended. Blow all candles out before leaving a room.
  • Keep candles out of all bedrooms.

It’s the law in Ontario to have working smoke alarms on every storey and outside all sleeping areas of the home. Smoke alarms can provide an early warning of fire and a home escape plan will help ensure everyone knows what to do in a fire.

MNRF urges caution around rivers, streams as watershed levels rise

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has extended last week’s Watershed Conditions Statement – Water Safety statement for another week.

The water safety warning is in effect for Muskoka, Parry Sound and Haliburton and will remain in effect until ended or extended next Friday, March 25.

Note: A Watershed Conditions Statement – Water Safety is a warning that melting ice or other factors could be dangerous for such users as boaters, anglers and swimmers but flooding is NOT expected.

Increasing 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, and to exercise caution while around water bodies and maintain close supervision of children and pets.

With existing conditions and forecasts, flooding is not expected but those affected by high water levels in the past are advised to take necessary action to secure any vulnerable property in close proximity to rivers and lakes.

Mild temperatures have predominated the past two weeks but are forecasted to cool down significantly beginning tomorrow. The weather forecast for the five-day period starting March 19th is for seasonal temperatures in the 0 -2 degree Celsius range for daytime highs and temperatures in the minus double digits at night. Forecasted rainfall amounts range from 1 to 10mm.

Current Water Conditions Described

The snow pack water content is currently below normal to normal for this time of year. Seasonal temperatures and rain forecasted into early next week will continue to melt the snow pack and runoff from the melt will continue to enter local water courses resulting in higher river flows and rising lake levels. If we experience prolonged mild temperatures as forecasted in the absence of significant rainfall it should result in a slow melting of the snow pack and a steady and predictable rate of rise in local lakes and rivers.

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.

Understanding Notification Levels

WATERSHED CONDITIONS STATEMENT – WATER SAFETY: indicates that 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

Muskoka Trek for Tourette Sunday March 20

The Muskoka Trek for Tourette will take place on Sunday, March 20, 2016 at the Gravenhurst Centennial Centre starting at 1:00pm in the Terry Fox Room. In its eighth year, the Trek for Tourette is a 5km walk-a-thon to raise awareness and raise money for Tourette Canada.

“Last year we had 60 ‘trekkers’ and we raised $5,000,” says event organizer Shawn Forth, Muskoka TS Resource Unit leader. This year he’s again hoping for 50 to 60 trekkers, and to match or better last year’s funds raised.

The Trek will be going ahead rain or shine (or snow or sleet). “The month of March was chosen for the Trek because the weather’s unpredictable just like Tourette’s,” states Forth.

Any community members interested in trekking are asked to register online at www.tourette.ca/trekfortourette. Pledges can be made online, or a pledge sheet can be downloaded from the website. Forth explains, “The green rain boot in the Trek’s logo reflects the unpredictability of the weather that Trekkers could be walking in.”

Over 2,000 individuals participated in 20 Treks across Canada in 2015, and over $130 000 was raised to support Tourette Canada’s mission of education and awareness of the neurological disorder. Tourette Syndrome is characterized by involuntary tics and twitches. There is currently no cure for the disorder.

For more information on the Trek, please contact Shawn Forth (Muskoka TS Resource Unit leader) at 705-706-2500.

The Muskoka Tourette Syndrome Support Group meets the second Thursday of the month at Muskoka Falls P.S. in Bracebridge. The next meeting is Thursday, April 14th at 7:00pm.

Tourette Canada is a national voluntary organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for those with or affected by Tourette Syndrome through programs of: education, advocacy, self-help and the promotion of research. 21 communities across Canada are taking part in the 8th annual Trek.

Encaustic painting exhibit opens at Chapel Gallery

(Release) Spring is almost and we’re already experiencing the melting of winter’s last snows here in Muskoka. How better to celebrate the coming of spring than a red hot art show! MELTDOWN, a show of encaustic paintings, opens this Saturday, March 19 and runs until April 23 at Chapel Gallery in Bracebridge with Artists, Pat Whittle and Bruce Tyner.j On Saturday, March 19, at 2 pm, Whittle and Tyner will demonstrate the application of hot wax to create their works of art. Chapel Gallery is located at 15 King Street in Bracebridge. Encaustic painting involves using pigments mixed with hot wax that are burned in as an inlay.

New festival celebrates wild leeks in Muskoka

A new festival is sprouting in Muskoka Lakes. The Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce has announced The Muskoka Lakes Wild Leek festival will happen on May 19-28 2016. This first-time festival will include a culinary trail and a signature event on May 28, as well as a powerful focus on educating the public about the conservation and sustainable harvest of this precious resource.

“I always knew that we had Wild Leeks in our backyards in Muskoka Lakes,” says Jane Templeton, General Manager of the Chamber, “but I have no idea how to pick or cook them. People seem to be going crazy for them though, and I am looking forward to learning all about them, and it’s a great excuse to go out for a nice dinner as well.”

A taste and learn about leeks event

Wild leeks are at the top of every foodie’s mind in the spring, and Muskoka is lucky to be on the edge of the zone where these fantastic spring edibles thrive. In a release, the Chamber states the Festival’s mission is two-fold: to educate the public about proper sustainable harvesting and use of leeks in order to protect them, and showcase the outstanding talents of our chefs through a shared tasting celebration.

Festival plans include:

Culinary Trail – Participating restaurants and eateries will offer delectable dishes featuring wild leeks and other forest edibles.

Workshops and guided nature walks – Hands on experiences for visitors will be available on a variety of topics and locations, including conservation, sustainable harvesting of Leeks, and the epicurean preparation and enjoyment of the delicious plants.

Wrapping up the festival will be The Leeky BowlA Great Muskoka Soup Contest. Open to both professionals and amateurs, these super soupers will be judged for people’s choice and judge’s best to win bragging rights, an iconic trophy and more. The Leeky Bowl will be open to the public for taste testing between 11am – 4pm on May 28, in Port Carling.  Entry is $5 a person, and includes tastings of the soups, and a collectible keepsake.

To learn more about the new festival, visit www.muskokawildleekfestival.ca

Muskoka hospital grounds go smoke free in June

It will soon be against the rules to smoke anywhere on the grounds of Muskoka hospitals. Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) has set its sights on a cleaner, safer and healthier future for patients and visitors, staff and physicians, and all users of MAHC property. In accordance with new legislation under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, MAHC grounds will be 100% smoke-free effective June 1, 2016.

A smoke-free environment helps to create a healthier environment and encourages and supports both patients and families, and staff in making healthy choices. A smoke-free grounds policy means smoking and vaping will no longer be allowed on MAHC properties in Bracebridge and Huntsville, which also includes and impacts other agencies located on MAHC property, such as Algonquin Grace Hospice, One Kids Place and the Algonquin Family Health Team.

No safe level of second hand smoke exposure

“There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke,” explains Natalie Bubela, Chief Executive Officer at MAHC. “Creating smoke-free grounds protects our community, supports those members of our community who are trying to quit smoking, and helps to prevent others, especially our youth, from starting to smoke.”

Smoke-free grounds are legislated at many public places and most recently on sports fields, and playgrounds. New legislation under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act now poses rules for hospitals that prohibit smoking on hospital property.

“We are not telling anyone whether or not to smoke, but we are advising where you can and cannot smoke,” says Bubela. “We understand this creates hardship for those who smoke and recognize that changing habits is never easy. MAHC is committed to help by supporting inpatients with Nicotine Replacement Therapy and providing staff with education and smoking cessation resources.”

Leading up to June 1, a Smoke-Free Grounds task force is developing the necessary policies and procedures, medical directives and protocols to support this change. To help educate the community about the upcoming smoke-free grounds, informational signage is being developed and will be posted at all entrances and exits. These signs will serve as a reminder to all staff, physicians, volunteers, patients and visitors for the next few months at which time they will be replaced with permanent signage.

All of the hospitals in North Simcoe Muskoka have gone smoke-free and MAHC is proud to be joining them in their effort to promote healthy smoke-free living.

Man who recently lost home to fire handed jail time & probation

A man from New Lowell, Ontario who lost his home to a fire this past November has been handed jail time and 12 months probation after being found guilty of a slew of offences in Bracebridge.

The 36 year old’s case was heard in Bracebridge court recently.

The facts date back to July 11th 2015 when the accused was stopped in an older model BMW by Bracebridge OPP after they noticed the vehicle’s license plate was actually registered to a 2010 Acura.

Crown Attorney Peter Heath said police spoke to the accused who was driving the car and that he first provided them with a false name.

Heath said the accused soon got nervous and provided police with his actual name, telling them he was on his way to sell the vehicle in Bracebridge. Heath said he was driving while disqualified.

Police charged him with that offence and with operating a vehicle without insurance.

A subsequent search of the car came up with 0.66 grams of methamphetamine, a crack pipe and other drug paraphernalia, added the Crown Attorney.

Court heard that the accused, who suffered a past brain injury which has resulted in short term memory loss, had also lost the residence he’d been living in to a fire this past November.

Since then he’d been living in a trailer with his common law spouse and two kids.

Justice Glenn Krelove found him guilty on all charges.

Speaking to the judge he showed remorse.

“I apologize to court for wasting your time,” he said.

The judge’s sentence includes 30 days in prison to be served concurrent with a sentence he’s serving in Simcoe County on other offences currently, plus an additional 10 days concurrent on the drug charge.

For operating a motor vehicle with no insurance he will have to pay a $2,000 fine.

Krelove also ruled he be placed on 12 months probation once his sentences are complete, during which time he must abstain from the use of illegal drugs.

Port Carling man charged with stunt driving after vehicle was clocked going 209km/hr

A Port Carling man has been charged with stunt driving after police say the vehicle he was driving was clocked going 209km an hour.

On Sunday at 12:29 am, an officer from the Barrie Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) was conducting radar enforcement on Highway 11 northbound when a Red Hyundai Genesis was seen travelling at a high rate of speed.

Police say the officer determined the speed to be 209 km/hr in a posted 90 km/hr zone.

As a result, 53-year-old John Emmons from Port Carling was charged with Racing a Motor Vehicle.

The vehicle was impounded for seven days and his driver’s licence was suspended for a period of 7 days as a result of the stunt driving charge.

Police remind motorists that an essential part of the enforcement job is to save lives and reduce injuries on the roadways. Educating the public about safe driving practices is a priority.

Accused in Bracebridge Rexall Pharmacy break-in returns to court April 19th

The 59-year-old Port Sydney man charged in the Christmas Day break-in at the Bracebridge Rexall Pharmacy returns to court April 19th.

Dennis Wilson remains in custody following a brief appearance in Bracebridge court Tuesday. He’s been incarcerated since his arrest.

Just after 10am on December 25th, police got an alarm call about the front doors of the pharmacy on Muskoka Road 118 West being smashed.

Members of the public who saw it happen gave police a description of the suspect and the vehicle he was in – both were located nearby on Glendale Road.

A responding officer was injured trying to arrest the suspect who was able to once again flee in his vehicle.

Police gave chase, but the pursuit was called off due to safety concerns.

Huntsville OPP then located the vehicle on Deer Lake Road in Port Sydney, where it had left the roadway and collided with a tree.

Wilson was charged and taken to hospital to be treated for minor injuries. The injured officer was also transported to hospital suffering minor injuries and was later released.

Wilson faces 8 charges, including:

Break and Enter
Assault with a Weapon
Assault with Intent to Resist Arrest
Escape Lawful Custody
Flight while being Pursued by Police
Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle
Possession of Property Obtained by Crime Under $5,000
Public Mischief

Orillia men receive jail time for Muskoka Centre break-in

Two men charged in the recent Muskoka Centre property break-in in Gravenhurst have received prison sentences.

Judge JD Evans heard guilty pleas to break and enter charges from 27-year-old Gaston Gagnon and 53-year-old James Mountney, both of Orillia, today in Bracebridge Court.

Crown Attorney Paul Culver told Evans the break-in happened February 24th at 3:30am.

A citizen called police about people banging on a locked gate that secured the fence surrounding the property – they also reported seeing a vehicle being driven on the property with no lights a short while later.

When police arrived, they found the would-be thieves had gained access by removing the gate’s hinges.

Police soon found Mountney in a van and Gagnon standing outside of it while two other men removed copper piping from a building. One of these others was throwing the piping down from the roof.

The total value of the piping would have been around $720 if it had been sold.

Mountney & Gagnon were arrested immediately – the others were taken into custody following an OPP canine unit search, said defence lawyer Robin Bellows.

Culver noted such thefts are on the rise these days due to the increasing value of copper.

Gagnon told Evans he’s since had nightmares about the abandoned property, which used to house a sanatorium.

“It definitely wasn’t worth it,” he admitted in a remorseful statement to the judge.

Evans sentenced him to five months in prison plus the time he’s already served, which amounted to 30 days since his arrest.

Mountney received a much stiffer sentence – he has a previous “lengthy and unenviable” criminal record showing similar offences, said Bellows.

Mountney told court: “it was a very stupid mistake – I didn’t know what we were getting into when we did it.”

Evans sentenced him to 15 months in jail, which includes the 30 days he’s already spent in custody since his arrest.

“You know darn well you shouldn’t have been doing what you were doing,” Evans told him.

Both men will also have to submit samples of their blood to police as part of a DNA order.

The other two men arrested in the case have yet to have their day in court.

First degree murder verdict for Todd Howley

UPDATE April 12, 2016: The verdict is in. Todd Howley has been found guilty of murdering Toronto businessman Paul Maasland. After one day of deliberation, the jury found Howley guilty of first degree murder. The decision was read in court on Saturday, April 9. Howley was sentenced on Tuesday, April 12 to life in prison with no parole for at least 25 years.

Crown links anonymous letter with seized computer at Bracebridge murder trial

(March 11, 2016) Crown evidence linking an anonymous letter with a computer seized during the Paul Maasland murder investigation has been presented to jurors.

Oakville businessman Todd Howley’s first degree murder trial continued Wednesday in Bracebridge Superior Court with testimony from retired Detective Sgt Jim Falconer of the OPP’s Tech Crimes Unit.

Falconer testified he looked at several computers collected by police during the course of their investigation, but on a Dell laptop hard drive seized at 2390 Wyecroft Road Unit 7 in Oakville, he said he discovered a deleted file that contained portions of wording found in the letter sent to Bracebridge OPP after Maasland’s body was found.

The Wyecroft Road location is a warehouse which was rented by Howley while he worked on an Algae fuel technology. Maasland, a Toronto Investor, had been funding the project before he mysteriously disappeared.

The anonymous letter, which can be read here, purports to explain how Maasland died.

Falconer testified that the laptop in question had last been shut down September 3rd 2010 at 11:37am, while the last logon occurred September 6th 2010 at 6:57pm. The letter arrived at the Bracebridge OPP detachment on September 10th 2010.

In the computer’s recycle bin Falconer found a Microsoft Word document called “toto.doc” which had been deleted from the computer’s “my documents” on September 3rd 2010 at 11:27am.

At first glance he said it didn’t contain any writing in its body, but its properties title contained the words ‘To Whom it may concern’ – the same opening words found in the anonymous letter, with the same capitalized T and W.

Falconer then conducted a more extensive search, utilizing specialized forensic software.

Searching for keywords that were present in the letter received by police, he testified he was able to link them with portions of text found on the computer’s hard drive.

“The reason I searched for many keywords is this (letter) is a relatively long document and so I wanted to ensure I was searching for different paragraphs and sentences throughout it,” said Falconer. “As a result of running those keyword searches I found four different findings that appeared associated with the anonymous letter.”

Maasland’s body was discovered  wrapped in garbage bags at the Morrow Drive public boat launch in Bracebridge on August 30th, 2010.

Howley’s fingerprints were not found on the letter. Other fingerprints, which remain a mystery to this day, were.

Falconer also testified that six USB devices which had been used over time with the Dell laptop seized at the warehouse had also been used with a computer seized at Howley’s home at 2115 Nightingale Way in Oakville.

The trial continues.

Woman dies following collision on Brunel Road in Huntsville

Update March 31, 2016: According to the OPP, no charges will be laid after an investigation into the death of a pedestrian who was hit by a car and died from her injuries earlier this month in Huntsville.

Woman dies following collision on Brunel Road in Huntsville

Original post March 11, 2016: Just before 7pm on Thursday March 10th, the OPP and Muskoka EMS were notified that a pedestrian had been struck by a vehicle on Brunel Road in Huntsville.

Police have now confirmed that 42 year-old Seungah Kim of Huntsville has succumbed to her injuries.

Police say Brunel Road remained closed for the investigation.

56 year old Gravenhurst man charged with possession and distribution of child porn

UPDATE: The accused in the below case will be in Bracebridge Court next on March 29th. He appeared there briefly this morning (March 15th) and remains in custody. Court documents show that a publication ban is in effect covering details of the case at this time.

PRIOR: The OPP’s Child Sexual Exploitation Unit have charged a Gravenhurst man following a two month child pornography investigation.

In January 2016 the Unit received a complaint in regards to a child sexual abuse video uploaded to the internet. Upon further investigation, it was learned that the matter was traced to Gravenhurst.

On March 4, 2016, police executed a search warrant at a Gravenhurst residence. As a result, police say five computer devices pertinent to the investigation were seized containing images of child sexual abuse. These devices are pending forensic analysis.

Graham Peters, age 56 years, of Gravenhurst, is charged with two counts of Possession of Child Pornography and one count of Distributing Child Pornography.

The accused was held in custody and is scheduled to attend a bail hearing March 15th at the Ontario Court of Justice in Bracebridge.

The investigation continues.

Man loses it over $30 in service fees at Bracebridge TD Bank

It was not an ordinary day at the bank.

A local man who blew up in a fit of anger towards a Bracebridge TD bank teller this past December has had his day in court.

On Tuesday, the 28 year old pleaded guilty to causing a disturbance at the bank, which is located at 50 Muskoka Road 118 West.

The incident happened December 5th just before 11am, said Crown Attorney Ted Carleton, when the accused flew into a rage upon learning he’d have to pay $30 in service fees when he closed his account.

He used profanity towards the teller and to women in general and was twice asked to leave the premises.

Court heard the teller backed away from him after the initial blowup – he then went through a swinging door which lead to an employee area and tried grabbing a phone and his bank card, uttering further profanity before leaving.

Carleton suggested the teller had never heard such verbal abuse:

“This conduct was singular in what she’s had to deal with over a long career,” he said.

The accused was stopped in a vehicle by police a short time later still agitated.

By the time he reached the OPP detachment, he’d calmed down.

Justice Glenn Krelove found him guilty of causing a disturbance by yelling and swearing, ruling that he must pay a $50 fine.

“Clearly he has difficulties interacting with other people if the situation becomes stressful,” defence lawyer Peter Ward told court.

“It’s an extreme reaction for what to most people is a minor matter dealing with a fee at a bank,” countered Carleton in his closing submission.

The accused was also placed on 12 months probation, one of the stipulations being he not attend the bank.

Asked if he had anything to say on his own behalf, the accused showed remorse.

He said at the time, he thought the teller “was evil” and part of “a corrupt banking system.”

Accused Baysville Ponzi schemer’s case adjourned until March 22nd

What was to be the start of a 13 day preliminary hearing for accused ponzi schemer Nicholas Smirnow was today adjourned until later this month.

The Baysville resident who is  accused of bilking 40,000 investors in 120 countries out of $70-million between 2007 and 2009 appeared briefly in handcuffs this morning in Bracebridge court.

Crown Attorney Ted Carleton says he now expects the preliminary hearing will only take 11 days. It will start March 22nd in Huntsville Court.

Smirnow remains in custody facing two counts of fraud over $5000.00 and Possession of Property Obtained by Crime under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Acting on a tip, police arrested him on December 12th, 2014 at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport after he and his wife got off a flight from the Philippines.

Through his online investment business, Pathway-2-Prosperity, also known as the P2P Network, which he operated from 2007 to 2008, Smirnow is reported to have offered a high-yield investment program.

The alleged scam promised high rates of return to investors over short periods of time.


Jail sentence and fine for man who impersonated brother

A 37 year old man charged with impersonation in order to try and evade arrest has been sentenced in Bracebridge court.

On Tuesday, Mark Fallas also pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while having a suspended licence and to being a Novice driver operating a vehicle with more than a zero percent blood alcohol concentration.

The case stems back to September 16th when Fallas was stopped by police at 8pm on Manitoba Street in Bracebridge while he was driving a pickup.

Court heard that Fallas initially told the officer he was his brother when asked for identification, providing a birth date of April 10th 1976.

The officer had been acting on a tip there may be an unlicensed driver at the wheel of the vehicle – in checking the records, court heard the officer ultimately saw that Fallas did not appear like his brother.

Faced with this, Fallas then gave his proper name & date of birth.

Court heard the traffic stop eventually led to Fallas providing a breath sample in an approved screening device, in which he registered a warn. This occurred after the officer detected the odour of alcohol on his breath.

Technically Fallas was a Novice class driver at the time of the incident, which doesn’t allow for any blood alcohol content.

Crown Attorney Ted Carleton said Fallas’ license was suspended most recently in July 2014 for an unpaid fine and that he had been convicted of the same offence – driving with a suspended licence – in June of that year as well.

Both of those convictions resulted in fines of $1,000 and not in jail time.

Carleton also told Justice Glenn Krelove that Fallas’ record showed a 2009 conviction which could be considered relevant to the case.

“In September 2009 there was an impaired driving conviction that led to all the licensing difficulties,” he said.

Fallas eventually got his license back, said Carleton, but as a Novice Driver.

“This is his third conviction for driving while suspended,” said the Crown Attorney, who added that the MTO would now suspend his license for another six months.

Justice Krelove sentenced Fallas to 15 days custody for the impersonation charge & a further 15 days for the driving with a suspended licence, which is to be served concurrently with the first 15 days.

Fallas was also fined $85 for operating a vehicle as a Novice driver with a blood alcohol content over zero.

Further 58 days behind bars following threat to slit Trustee’s throat

A 26 year old Bracebridge man will serve a further 58 days behind bars for threatening bodily harm against a Trustee who was put in charge of providing him money.

Justice Glenn Krelove heard the case in Bracebridge court Tuesday.

Crown Attorney Ted Carleton said the threats were made by phone on February 12th of this year.
They were made, he said, while the Trustee believed the accused was still in Simcoe County.

“The threat, going straight to the offense, was quote: ‘that unless (the Trustee) gave him more money, he would, quote: “slit his throat and come up and finish off his family,”‘ said Carleton.

Court heard the arrangement between the accused and the Trustee was such that the Trustee had been put in charge of providing him with money on, effectively, a daily basis. Things started to quickly deteriorate, said Carleton, when the accused started requesting money for non-essentials matters.

The Trustee, who is the accused’s uncle, had been in the role since July 2014. Carleton said similar issues with regards to the money requests had come up many times prior to the threat.

Court heard the Trustee made a statement to police once the threat was made, but had not initially wanted to pursue charges.

He subsequently decided to pursue them, when, just two days later, the accused left a voicemail referring to the initial comments – something that made the Trustee fear for his family.

The accused was arrested and taken into custody on February 17th – he was still under a 2 year probation order at the time to keep the peace after damaging the Trustee’s truck following an argument about funds.

He was charged with breaching the terms of that probation.

In January court heard the accused was also placed on probation after another threat to a different individual. He was released on February 7th on that matter.

Justice Krelove found him guilty of uttering the February 12th threat and of breaching his probation.

Addressing the judge, the accused stated he didn’t believe the court hearing should have been held in front of other people.

“This matter is kind of personal,” he said.

Krelove responded by saying “this is a sad and unfortunate matter,” adding that he believed the uncle had only been trying to help him.

Krelove ordered that the accused go to prison for a further 58 days.

He also sentenced him to 58 days for the probation breach, which is to be served concurrently with the first sentence.

On top of this, he will be placed on 18 months probation following his sentence. The sentence takes into consideration the pretrial custody, which amounts to 32 days in the court’s eyes.

Court heard the accused has suffered from a brain injury stemming from a prior car accident, a development which resulted in his need for a Trustee.

His defence lawyer added that he is sometimes taken advantage of by other people who he associates with who know that he has a financial resource available to him.

One of his probation stipulations is that he not associate with the Trustee or his family. Another Trustee is being arranged for the accused.

Krelove reminded him that if he fails to follow the conditions, he will find himself back before the courts.

First Orillia use of broadcast system for Ontario Amber Alert last night

The Ontario AMBER ALERT was instrumental in helping members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Orillia Detachment to confirm the safety of a child in the City of Orillia last night.

Concerned citizens reported to the OPP that they had witnessed an abduction, reporting a man physically taking charge of a young boy and forcibly placing him in a vehicle – a rare occurrence that is every parent’s and child’s worst nightmare. Immediately, police took all possible investigative steps to acquire more information that would locate the boy. These steps included a canvass of the area, uniform patrols, canine tracking, and interviewing witnesses. All steps were also taken to locate possible vehicle matches. Police engaged in an immediate traditional media release and took to its social media channels to alert the public. Unfortunately, all investigative steps led to no additional awareness of the location of the young boy.

“As police, we were concerned and public safety is our top priority. Time is never on our side in matters of this nature – and with time comes an expanding geography of concern,” says Detachment Commander Inspector Pat MORRIS. Therefore, the OPP engaged the Ontario AMBER ALERT program, which has been enhanced in the past year to include notifications through the National Alert Aggregation and Dissemination <http://www.theweathernetwork.com/about-us/naads/frequently-asked-questions>  (NAAD) system.

The decision to utilize the Ontario AMBER ALERT is based on established criteria, and is not taken lightly. In the past 13 years, the Ontario AMBER ALERT program has been used just 33 times — never in the Orillia area until yesterday.

“In this case, the Ontario AMBER ALERT led to numerous calls from concerned citizens who provided us with information on the whereabouts of the young boy. Immediate follow-up confirmed his location and well-being. I would personally like to thank the numerous citizens who called and used their social media channels to assist with this matter,” adds Inspector MORRIS.

“I also thank the vast majority of the public for their support for the use of the NAAD system for this AMBER ALERT. However, I am disappointed with the numerous calls and social media postings that have expressed anger and frustration with the personal inconvenience caused by the NAAD system messages. While I will apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused, we won’t apologize for using all of the tools available to us to find a missing child,” says Inspector MORRIS.

Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare seeking feedback on patient value declaration

(Monday, March 7, 2016, Muskoka – Release) Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) is seeking feedback from the public on two drafts of a Patient Declaration of Values to ensure the final document reflects what is most meaningful to our patients and their families.

In support of MAHC’s vision to provide outstanding care that is patient and family centered, work has been underway to revise and improve the Patient Declaration of Values. Care providers, patients and their family members have been part of developing this draft for public input.

“Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare is committed to empowering patients and families as partners in their care. Patients are at the centre of everything we do and their values, rights and responsibilities are important elements of MAHC’s vision to deliver outstanding patient- and family-centered care,” explains Natalie Bubela, Chief Executive Officer. “The two drafts of a Declaration of Values are intended to reflect the expectations that our patients, families and communities have of their health care experience at MAHC. We want to hear from you to ensure that we capture what matters most to you.”

Public input is requested on the two drafts to ensure the final document reflects what is most meaningful to our patients and families. MAHC has posted a short survey <http://www.mahc.ca/en/stayingvisiting/PatientValuesRightsAndResponsibilities.asp>  available under “Latest News” on the home page of its website at www.mahc.ca. Members of the community are invited to complete the survey prior to Friday, March 25, 2016 to share their thoughts that will help finalize the document.

Under the Excellent Care For All Act, all public hospitals in Ontario are required to develop and post a Patient Declaration of Values.

Tip from off duty cop results in charge for Bracebridge man

A tip from an off duty police officer has led to an Over 80 charge for a 56 year old Bracebridge man.

Bracebridge OPP responded to the tip, which was about a possible impaired driver in the parking lot near Depot Drive in Bracebridge around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Police arrived, located the vehicle and conducted a traffic stop.

As a result of their investigation, police have charged 56 year-old Philip Patterson with driving with more than 80 mgs of alcohol in his blood.

The accused will appear in the Ontario Court of Justice in Bracebridge on April 5th to answer to his charge.

The accused received an immediate 90 day driver’s licence suspension and further had his vehicle towed and impounded.

52 year old woman hospitalized after snowmobile crashes into tree

No charges have been laid following a snowmobile collision that sent a 52 year old woman to hospital.

On Friday at 3pm, Huntsville OPP attended the scene where a snowmobile had been travelling on Trail #78 in the area of Hutcheson Road and Limberlost Rd.

The operator lost control and struck a tree.

A 52 year old woman was taken by ambulance to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

No charges were laid against the operator of the snowmobile.


Two men charged with trying to break into a bank machine in Bracebridge

Bracebridge OPP have arrested two men after they tried to break open a local bank machine and steal its contents.

On February 18th, just before 1am, a man entered the National Bank in Bracebridge and attempted to open the bank machine to steal the money contained inside. He was unsuccessful, although he caused extensive damage to the machine and fled the area with a second man.

Police have now arrested and charged 39 year-old David Fernandes of Hamilton and 35 year-old Raymond Macintyre of Grimsby each with Break and Enter and Possession of Break-in Instruments.

Both will appear before the Ontario Court of Justice in Bracebridge on April 19th to answer to their charges.

Muskoka Summit on Environment to explore solutions for climate change

BRACEBRIDGE, March 4, 2016  Media Release – On May 27th and 28th, 2016 join other community members and world renowned experts at the 4th Muskoka Summit on the Environment. The Summit, entitled Solutions for a Warming World, will explore local, regional and national solutions for climate change.

Climate change has been happening for many decades and is now becoming apparent in people’s daily lives. Muskoka cannot prevent climate change, although every one of us, by making various changes in our lives, can participate in the global effort to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases – the primary cause of climate change at the present time.

The good news is that climate change in Muskoka, while substantial, is unlikely to create insurmountable problems. The better news is that while there will be a number of negative impacts on our environment and our lives, we have sufficient understanding of the causes and processes involved, plus the relevant skills to plan for and implement adaptive responses that will minimize these impacts. The still better news is that with community-wide commitment to forward planning and timely action, we should be able to adapt effectively to the new world that is coming while keeping costs manageable. This Summit will start that community-wide process.


Guest speaker Elizabeth May
Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, is one of six people talking about adapting to climate change at the Muskoka Summit on the Environment in Bracebridge.

Six internationally renowned speakers will address the topic from different perspectives. The Summit will feature a panel discussion moderated by CBC Radio’s Paul Kennedy involving all six speakers, including Green Party of Canada Leader and MP Elizabeth May. Segments of the panel discussion will be broadcast on the CBC show Ideas later in 2016.

“We need to build a vision of transforming Canada to a truly sustainable economy through fiscal and policy reforms,” states one of the speakers, Dr. Stewart Elgie, Associate Director of the University of Ottawa’s Institute of the Environment and founder of Sustainable Prosperity. What would that look like in Muskoka?

In his recent book The New Entrepreneur, fellow speaker Andrew Heintzman, CEO and co-founder of InvestEco Capital, profiles enterprises that are developing cutting-edge, clean-tech products and innovations for export to an expanding global market. InvestEco is the first venture capital company in Canada to be exclusively focused on environmental companies and sectors. Are there local entrepreneurs that would benefit by developing a partnership with InvestEco? Attend the Summit and find out if you can sell your idea.

Register for Muskoka Summit before April 1 for discounts

There is also more going on at the 2016 Muskoka Summit on the Environment than just our speaker sessions; there are opportunities for students, researchers, businesses and artists to highlight their work, as well. Register at www.muskokasummit.org before April 1st for early-bird discounts and a chance to win an annual family membership to the Royal Ontario Museum.

ClimateChangeActions web

Teen suffers broken back after toboggan accident in Bracebridge

A mother who says her daughter suffered a broken back after a tobogganing accident in Bracebridge wants others to know of the potential dangers winter fun can pose.

Ginette M (last name withheld on request) says the accident happened February 18 when her daughter Danelle, her sister, and her father were tobogganing in Kerr Park. 18-year-old Danelle was taken to hospital in Bracebridge and then transferred later to Toronto Western Hospital after a neurologist looking at her x-rays discovered Danelle had badly broken a vertebrae in her lower back. Danelle was released from hospital February 27 with a back brace but was rushed back to the Toronto hospital today as her symptoms have worsened.

Her mother has alerted the town about what she described as two large bumps that are close together on the toboggan hill at the park.

“Danelle hit the first bump and flew into the air and slammed down on the second bump,” says M. “The first ambulance that arrived had to call for a second ambulance for back up as she was half way up the hill and had to be brought down.”

She says while it was one break, the vertebrae shattered in multiple places and her daughter may have to have surgery on top of wearing the back brace. She says her daughter is fearful of losing her year at McMaster University. The mother is also frustrated that a doctor at South Muskoka Memorial Hospital did not forward x-rays to Toronto Western after she says they specifically  asked to have them sent to Toronto Western right away. “That was a big no-no,” says the mother, who claims the doctors at Toronto Western had demanded new x-rays immediately.

Staff at the Town of Bracebridge just learned of the incident this afternoon, and Director of Recreation Cindy O’Regan says they are going to look at the hill. She explained the Town doesn’t build jumps or bumps on the hills in the park; it takes safety seriously, and does what it can to encourage safe winter play.

“We post signage that encourages safe toboganning that even says to check the hill for hazards and to not build jumps,” says O’Regan. “We’ll look at current conditions at the hill right away.” The Town has even closed the hill in the past when conditions appear particularly hazardous.

Says Danelle’s mother, “we just want people to know to be careful and want bumps removed before others get hurt.”

Bracebridge Rexall sold to U.S. company as part of overall Rexall sale

Canadian drug store chain Rexall is set to be bought by a U.S health services company in what’s reported to be a $3-billion deal. Employees at the local Bracebridge Rexall learned of the sale to McKesson Corp. yesterday. While employees say they can’t comment and are being asked to forward media questions to Rexall, external health sources say the store’s employees may not know how the sale may affect them for at least a few months, possibly not until June.

In our local region, there are also Rexall stores in Haliburton, Orillia and Parry Sound.

Muskoka News Watch has called Rexall head office for comment.

Related Articles:

March 2 Press Release from Rexall: McKesson Corporation to Acquire Rexall

March 2, CBC News: Rexall pharmacy chain sold to U.S. health firm McKesson in $3B deal


Town of Bracebridge wants more say in provincial healthcare decisions

Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith was one of over 20 municipal leaders expressing concern about health care service reduction at last week’s Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference – and advocating for more say in provincial healthcare decisions.

Smith joined municipal leaders from municipalities across Ontario on February 22, 2016 to discuss the continued reduction in health care services and potential hospital closures in small urban and rural communities throughout Ontario.

A release from the Town of Bracebridge today states this health care crisis is a direct result of a hospital funding formula that does not work in smaller Ontario communities.

“The Town of Bracebridge and other area municipalities have been actively engaged with the Province on local hospital and healthcare issues for some time,” said Smith. “We look forward to working closely with other Ontario municipalities to support local hospital services in the coming days, weeks and months.”

The community representatives in attendance at ROMA committed to working together to jointly advocate with the Government of Ontario for a greater voice in local healthcare strategies and solutions.

Municipalities hope to raise concerns again in May to Health Care minister

Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Eric Hoskins has been invited to meet and discuss these issues at the Ontario Small Urban Municipalities conference in May 2016 in Goderich, Ontario.

Cellar Singers pull out all stops for March 5 Duruflé concert

The Cellar Singers of Muskoka and Simcoe are bringing a rare musical opportunity for concertgoers in Orillia this Saturday. They’ll be performing the famous Duruflé Motets and Requiem with a 12-piece orchestra, organ, two stellar soloists and a children’s choir.

The concert features Jennifer Enns Modolo as mezzo-soprano soloist and Matthew Cassils as baritone soloist and the incredible talents of the Children’s Community Choir of Midland.

Mezzo soprano Jennifer Enns Modolo
Mezzo soprano Jennifer Enns Modolo

Not only will the 17 voices of the children’s choir join with the over 30 voices of The Cellar Singers in the Requiem, they will also perform their own set for the enjoyment of the audience.

The orchestra section includes four violins, two violas, two cellos, and two trumpets along with bass and harp. The Cellar Singers’ dedicated accompanist, Blair Bailey, works his magic on the organ.

Chorister Kaija Clark donated $5,000 of her own family’s money to be able to bring the combined orchestral-choral experience to the Duruflé performance. While she’s sung with an orchestra before she believes the orchestra brings out the extraordinary beauty of the emotion of the Duruflé. She adds “this concert offers a wonderful contrast between the four motets, sung a capella, and the requiem with full orchestra – and having combined choirs is also exciting.”

Duruflé focuses on light and serenity

In fact, the Duruflé requiem, one of the most contemporary written in 1947, exists in versions for organ alone or with orchestra. The Cellar Singers, with help from Clark, chose the latter to give the Orillia audience the most exquisite Duruflé experience. While a requiem is a mass for the dead, Duruflé focuses on light and serenity in the presence of death, making this requiem most uplifting and simply beautiful.

The Cellar Singers in their 48th year

The concert is this Saturday, March 5 starting at 7:30pm at St. James’ Anglican Church on Peter Street in Orillia. Tickets are $25 for adults; $10 for students and are available at Manticore Books or at the door the night of the concert. The Cellar Singers were born 48 years ago in Dr. William Monk’s basement in Bracebridge. Today, about one-third of the choir is from Muskoka with the other two-thirds from Simcoe County.

Buy tickets for The Cellar Singers online by clicking here

Prison time & fines for man convicted of stunt driving & cocaine possession

A man found guilty of stunt driving, cocaine possession and failing to appear in court has been handed a 50 day prison sentence.

51 year old Attila Vancsody’s case was heard Tuesday in front of Judge JD Evans in Bracebridge.

Court heard that on September 27th at 7:15pm, an OPP officer clocked the car Vancsody was driving on Highway 11 NB at 150km in a 100km/h zone.

He was stopped just south of Highway 118 East and was the sole occupant in the vehicle.

Crown Attorney Peter Heath said Vancsody was charged with stunt driving, admitting to the officer he had been in a rush.

Heath said he was placed under arrest and that a subsequent search of the vehicle’s trunk produced a white-blue powder and two spoons.

Heath said Vancsody told the officer the substance was ‘hydromorph’ but it turned out to be 1 gram of cocaine and he was charged with possession of it.

Vancsody was later also charged with two counts of failing to attend court – one for a missed court appearance on November 24th 2015 and another missed court date, February 9th 2016.

By Tuesday of this week, Vancsody had been in custody for 21 days.

In sentencing, Judge Evans ruled that Vancsody must pay a $500 fine on the stunt driving charge and a $200 fine for possession of cocaine.

He will also serve a further 30 days in custody on the first fail to appear in court charge. Evans sentenced him to time served (which amounts in this case to 32 days enhanced credit in the court’s eyes) plus a further 20 days behind bars for the second fail to appear.

Defence lawyer Jay Herbert indicated his client could have brought the case to trial, as the car he was stopped in wasn’t his. Instead, he offered guilty pleas at the first available opportunity, something the court tends to look favourably upon.

Vancsody, who is married and has five children, has no prior criminal record.

He has lived in Muskoka for the last 20 years, said Herbert, who added that he will likely now face difficulties at the border while trying to visit Costa Rica where his wife lives, due to the cocaine possession conviction.

Bracebridge man sentenced in blood spitting/threatening case

A 26-year-old Bracebridge man will serve a further 25 days behind bars for threatening to burn a house down.

On February 28th, Brendon Brownlee was at the upstairs apartment he lived in at 15 Memory Lane in Bracebridge when police were called by the landlord about people being highly intoxicated and smashing things up in the apartment.

Court heard police arrested Brownlee shortly afterwards on Hugh Campbell Lane where he was a front seat passenger in a vehicle with open liquor.

He had lacerations on his cheek and blood on his chest at the time of his arrest and continued to kick and scream while in the back of the police cruiser, said Crown Attorney Sarah Sullivan.

Earlier the landlord had ventured upstairs where an attempt to subdue Brownlee was made with the help of one of Brownlee’s friends. Court heard Brownlee flipped a coffee table in the apartment and smashed a case of beer on the floor of the kitchen in front of the complainant.

Sullivan said Brownlee also yelled “You rat motherf******, I’m burning this place down – you don’t know what is coming to you.”

Sullivan said he continued smashing things, while also spitting blood down a vent. He further kicked a door in to get to one of the complainants’ apartments, spitting blood all over the door, she added.

Brownlee who works as a carpenter, has an unrelated prior record which includes two property offences and an impaired charge, she said – these date back to 2009, 2010 and 2011.

His lawyer, Jean Polak told court her client “lost it” on the night in question and that he had been drinking. Brownlee was still sporting a severely bruised right eye area while he sat in the prisoner’s box on Tuesday.

Asked by Judge JD Evans if he had a drinking problem, Brownlee replied: “not normally – just when I drink dark liquor.”

Sullivan said the blood spitting was “most concerning” and that the landlord feared for his safety.

Evans sentenced Brownlee to 4 days pre-trial custody, plus a further 25 days in prison.

On top of this Brownlee will be placed under probation for a period of 12 months – one of the stipulations being that he stay more than 100 metres away from 15 Memory Lane.

U-Haul points to growth in Huntsville: Bracebridge makes FlightNetwork list of great small towns

The towns of Huntsville and Bracebridge have received kudos from two private companies.

Huntsville has received the Number 4 ranking among the U-Haul Top 10 Canadian Growth Cities for 2015. Growth rankings are determined by the net gain of incoming one-way U-Haul truck rentals versus outgoing rentals for the past calendar year.

U-Haul locations in Huntsville saw almost 64 percent of truck rental customers coming into Huntsville as opposed to leaving in 2015. Huntsville welcomed 9 percent more U-Haul arrivals year-over-year, while its departures dropped 8 percent over the same period.

“I believe people move to Huntsville for the lifestyle,” said Bob Stone, chair of the Huntsville Economic Development Committee in a media release from U-Haul. “We seem to attract sports and arts enthusiasts, in particular. We’re located in the heart of Muskoka Cottage Country, two hours north of Toronto and 30 minutes from Algonquin Park. All I can say is, ‘Who wouldn’t want to live here?’”

“Huntsville is internationally recognized as one of the best summer tourist destinations in North America,” added Mayor Scott Aitchison. “We have worked hard to continue to cultivate this image but have focused on leveraging this recognition of the community and promoting Huntsville as a year-round destination.”

This city is the fourth of five Ontario destinations to make the Top 10 Growth Cities list for 2015.

Bracebridge makes list of Top 50 small towns

Travel company FlightNetwork, meantime, has listed Bracebridge as one of the top 50 small towns in Canada. It released its Canada’s Top 50 small towns list yesterday.

With the Canadian dollar continuing to decrease, the Oakville-based online travel agency says the 50 small towns in Canada that made the list would make a great option for a family, a couple or even a group of friends. It adds these destinations can easily be explored as a weekend getaway or by simply hopping on a quick flight.

CT Scanner renovation ramps up at Bracebridge hospital

A multi-week replacement of the CT Scanner and renovation of the CT Scan Suite is about to get under way at the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital (SMMH) in Bracebridge. The renovation starts in March and is scheduled to be complete in early April.

With a significant funding commitment from the South Muskoka Hospital Foundation through the Get Better fundraising campaign, including a $500,000 donation from Brock and Willa Napier, the existing 16-slice CT scanner will be replaced with a new 128-slice CT scanner.

Natalie Bubela, Chief Executive Officer at Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare, says a CT scanner is a key piece of imaging equipment in health care today. It provides detailed three-dimensional images of the body to support a variety of diagnostic investigations and diagnoses, is critical to treatment planning, and reduces the need for exploratory surgery.

“For the past decade, the existing 16-slice scanner has served the South Muskoka community well, supporting care of more than 42,000 patients who have had CT scans,” explains Bubela. “Upgrading aging equipment helps us to better serve our community and provide a much-needed tool for improved diagnostics both for routine tests and for urgent traumas. The new CT scanner will support improved patient outcomes by capturing clearer images with greater detail, improving accuracy in interpretation and diagnoses.”

The renovation will take approximately seven weeks, commencing later this month by R&G Construction, with completion anticipated the first week of April. During the renovation period, the CT diagnostic service will continue at the SMMH Site for the majority of the renovation period. A portable CT scanner arrived on Tuesday, February 23 and has been installed adjacent to the Emergency Department.

Search on for missing girl in Huntsville

Huntsville Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are canvassing neighbourhoods this morning in hopes of locating a missing 15 year old.

Kyante Hayles from Huntsville was last seen on Saturday, February 27, 2016 at about 4:30pm in the area of Tait Street in Huntsville. She was last seen wearing a short leather jacket and tall leather boots and was carrying a large shiny handbag.

Hayles is described as 5’10”, medium build, brown eyes and black hair.

Anyone with any information or who may know of her whereabouts is asked to contact Huntsville OPP or Crime Stoppers.