Meeting to weigh options about Class Action Lawsuit against MNR over recent Spring flooding

A public meeting’s been set for later this month in Port Carling where property owners affected by this past Spring’s flooding will hear about steps that could be taken to launch a Class Action lawsuit against the MNR.

The meeting’s been set for 10am on August 21st at the Port Carling Community Centre.

To learn more about the meeting, visit https://www.change.org/p/martinford-sunandski-ca-stop-flooding-muskoka-change-the-muskoka-river-water-management-plan/u/17561786

The meeting will be led by Oatley Vigmond LLP, an experienced class action law firm from Barrie and Toronto.

 

Ontario’s first craft shandy hits LCBOs in Gravenhurst, Bracebridge & Port Carling

The team that created the first ever Canadian Pale Ale has just launched a new style of beer cocktail, bringing a bit of British culture to Canada.

Old Tomorrow Honey Ginger Shandy is Ontario’s first craft shandy and carries on the tradition of the shandygaff, the British drink which originated in the 1850’s and is a blend of beer and ginger ale.

Old Tomorrow Honey Ginger Shandy is easy-drinking with an invigorating zesty ginger flavor that is both satisfying and thirst-quenching.

It will be available for a limited time exclusively in selected LCBO stores, including those in Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Port Carling.

Old Tomorrow’s shandy was created in collaboration with Muskoka Springs, using its century-old Pale Ginger Ale recipe, which is packed with botanical extracts.

Old Tomorrow brewed its beer, blended it with Muskoka Springs unique ginger syrup and water and then added natural honey and lemon flavours. The result is a light and zesty ginger flavor that is truly refreshing.

“We wanted to create a truly unique fun product with a kicked back summer vibe,” explained co-founders Pat and Ian Macdonald. “Muskoka Springs Pale Ginger Ale has outstanding flavour and effervescence – perfect for making Ontario’s first shandy.”

They went on to add that Old Tomorrow Honey Ginger Shandy is a salute to the great Canadian summer and it’s perfect for chilling out or cooling down on a hot summer day.

“Our Shandy lets you soak up the ultimate taste of summer,” explains Pat. She added that its cool zestiness makes it a great alternative to sweeter radlers and lighter beers.

The low alcohol level of only 3% is perfect for parties and social gatherings.

Scott Moffat, partner at The Rosseau Group which owns Muskoka Springs, commented on this unique collaboration. “We are thrilled that Old Tomorrow approached us to feature our Pale Ginger Ale in this exciting new beer beverage. Our Pale Ginger Ale recipe has a unique tang and produces a cool crisp flavour that is a perfect match with Old Tomorrow’s smooth beer.”

Old Tomorrow Honey Ginger Shandy is enjoyable on its own or an ideal companion to BBQ’d foods, spicy ethnic dishes, salty snacks and lighter fare.

About Old Tomorrow: Old Tomorrow is an Ontario craft beer company aiming to create distinctive flavourful beers that celebrate iconic moments of Canadian greatness and tell authentic Canadian stories. Old Tomorrow was the nickname of Sir John A Macdonald. Its first craft entry, Old Tomorrow Canadian Pale Ale (CPA), has won numerous awards and is now in the top 10% of Ontario craft beer brands. Track 85 Lagered Ale, recently launched in June, is a lager style beer made in the traditional German way with specialty German yeast and hops. Track 85 delivers a cool crisp flavor and celebrates the last spike of Canada’s national railway. Monty’s Golden Ryed Ale is a silky smooth, limited edition ale aged in rye whisky and oak and made in collaboration with Olympic Champion Jon Montgomery, telling his gold medal story.

About Muskoka Springs: Muskoka Springs Natural Spring Water Inc. is a diversified beverage service company serving Central Ontario. Established in 1873, Muskoka Springs has been producing bottled beverages since Sir John A. Macdonald was Prime Minister. In the 19th century, the founder, Dugald Brown, started bottling natural spring water in hand-blown glass bottles packed in wooden crates. Shortly thereafter, the new firm began its foray into carbonated beverages. Muskoka Springs Pale Ginger Ale was originally marketed as Nickel Dry – and then Muskoka Dry – over 100 years ago. Muskoka Springs Natural Spring Water Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Rosseau Group.

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.

Breaking News: Muskoka Lakes Township and Hanna’s Landing sign zoning deal

Township now on side with Hanna’s Landing heading into OMB hearing; other parties not included in negotiated deal, but meeting expected soon

Published September 5, 10:45am: Three weeks before they would argue in front of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), the Township of Muskoka Lakes and the developers of Hanna’s Landing in Port Carling have found common ground.

Last week, lawyers for the two parties signed papers saying they have reached agreement on a zoning application for Hanna’s Landing on the Indian River near Mirror Lake. Negotiations did not include two other opposing parties – the Muskoka Lakes Association and one of the development’s closest neighbours – Rick Spence of Port Carling. However, a meeting with all four parties is expected to go ahead next week.

The agreement, negotiated over the past few weeks, means the zoning application does not need to be circulated for broader public comment now. That’s according to Hanna’s Landing principal Jeff Goldman. Watch for more details from Muskoka News Watch later today.

About 100 cyclists ride for Andys House Hospice in Port Carling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related Articles:

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

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

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On sharing Sun Media article, Mayor Murphy Attitude Draws Scorn from Muskoka Lakes taxpayers

What’s Up Muskoka Article, Mayor Murphy’s Attitude Draws Scorn

Click here to Read Article by What’s Up Muskoka. Author: Matt Driscoll.

Muskoka News Watch fully agrees with this article and others like it published over the past four years in Muskoka newspapers. MNW Editor Norah Fountain writes she believes we have a poisonous culture being fostered at Muskoka Lakes Council and more people need to speak up about what they’ve seen and experienced.

Commentary by Norah Fountain posted March 6, 11:30am: I don’t take delight in writing about what myself and others feel is untoward behaviour on the part of some councillors in our Township. In fact, I feel ill as I write this commentary. You see, it’s even harder in a small municipality to speak up about abuse, and I am in awe of those who have the guts to say they’ve been treated badly and want it to stop. The weekly What’s Up publication, owned by Sun Media, this week published an article about people who say they have felt the wrath of Alice Murphy, the Mayor of Muskoka Lakes. Click here to read it. For her part, the Mayor was quoted by What’s Up as saying she acts in a “open and warm” fashion…and that those firing off criticism should find something proactive to do with their time and energy.” If she believes that, she isn’t leading by example.

Muskoka News Watch (MNW) readers regularly complain (off record, out of fear of retribution they say, unfortunately), to me about treatment they have seen Murphy mete out. Members and supporters of the fire department management appear to be favourite targets, along with anyone who has any opinion that differs from the mayor on the proposed hydro plant. Even a librarian giving a report about libraries was once reduced to tears during a council meeting.

A poisonous culture brewing

And the Mayor is not alone in her behaviour toward others. Recently Councillors Harding and Nishikawa berated a staff member in a public council meeting over her job fair efforts. In that case, the Mayor actually stopped the questioning that observers said was unduly sharp, reportedly on the advisement of the Clerk. It’s unfortunate that Murphy isn’t stopped when she herself takes aim at staff or someone delegating to Council.

At a meeting I attended on February 14, Councillor Nishikawa laughed derisively about the Fire Chief’s pay scale recommendations while agreeing with Councillor Harding that she couldn’t understand the report the Chief had delivered. This is a report the Council had originally requested and sent back for more work three or four times. The Mayor and Councillors sent the Chief back to the drawing board again. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that as part of good oversight, but here’s the but: in my opinion, from what I saw at that meeting and what I’ve heard has happened at others, the way the fire chief is treated might be construed as a potential constructive dismissal ploy. In other words, make the ones you don’t like want to quit.

He wouldn’t be the first staff member to leave (See Sun Media article, More Senior Staff Jump Ship). Six senior staff employees either quit, or opted for early retirement in 2012, leading one business person to ponder why in a client newsletter: “It is uncertain whether these moves are coincidental, or due to issues with the Mayor’s management style.” (Source, Muskoka Happenings, Summer/Autumn 2012).

I’m sure some staff are getting along very well with Council, but I believe no one should endure the poisonous tone of questioning I have witnessed at some Council meetings.

Then there are the people — the taxpayers and professionals hired by taxpayers — that experience ‘unpleasantness’ in and outside of Council chambers.

Stories of unpleasant interactions in and out of council

>The woman giving a historic tour of Port Carling to a group of of tourists who was stopped (some say accosted) by the Mayor on the street (The Mayor had a loud bone to pick with her for some reason).

>The man who was booed as he gave a delegation as the Mayor sat back and let it happen (Granted, the Mayor has improved and now asks for courtesy. That’s appreciated).

>There are the two people (that I know of) who have left Council meetings in tears (the first was reported by the Bracebridge Examiner – for May 2011 article, click here) who no longer wanted to endure the Mayor’s comments.

>The ratepayers who were singled out by the Mayor during a discussion on heritage minutes (Read February 2013 Metroland article, Heritage Minutes set off Mayor, here) and have been slammed at other times in the newspapers by the Mayor (Read March 2013 Metroland article in which she displays her warm approach to all: “Mean spirited RatepayerAssocn hurts #Muskoka community. Running secret society w/ ‘chosen’ Board, yet positioned as ‘conscience’ of Townshp,”). This was a YEAR ago.

>There are property owners who have dared speak opinions that don’t jive with hers and then had to go to the Ontario Municipal Board for resolution, costing them and the Township money.

>The politicians in other local municipalities, and in other levels of government, who shake their heads about her Tweet tirades against politicians and government agencies. Most recently, Oakville Mayor Burton, whom Murphy once asked for advice and then wrote to the province and federal government with allegations about Oakville that the Oakville Mayor countered were untrue.

>And yes, there’s me. I was yelled at to get out and ‘show some respect’ by an enraged Mayor striding across a public hall outside Divisional Court in Toronto. I asked for an apology, but like others, I’m still waiting. I’ve been approaching and interviewing politicians since 1979. I’ve never seen any of them act like Murphy.

Fear factor alive and well in Muskoka Lakes

I wish more people would speak up, but I can’t blame Councillors or local business people who have had their own negative experiences with the Mayor.  They say they can’t risk it. Or that it’s pointless, especially as without competition, it looks like Murphy will be the Mayor of Muskoka Lakes for another four years. Certainly, who am I to judge them? I didn’t hold my ground when she went after me that day in Toronto.  I try my best to never engage with her on social media like Twitter as she demonstrates ‘Troll-like” behaviour (see definition in this article about her Twitter tackle of Oakville’s Mayor).

Last week a Toronto political journalist called me and asked how I manage writing such commentary when I live in a small area where I can encounter the people I’m writing about in the grocery store and such. It’s hard for big city journalists, too, but small town politics are way more up close and personal.

The president of the Muskoka Lakes Association (MLA) told me he feels the negativity of what I and others have written is unproductive (I am a member of the MLA and the Muskoka Ratepayers’ Association). So have my personal friends. I agree with them in principle, and wish it were different, but as long as people are being abused in our township — be it staff, taxpayers or visitors — I think we all need to shine a light on it.

I admire the brave ladies of the MRA who sit through so many Council meetings to report what they see for those of us who can’t be there to see for themselves the way Council business is being conducted. And a big nod to local media – What’s Up Muskoka and Metroland’s Bracebridge Examiner and Banner for reporting what is happening in Muskoka Lakes. Believe me, it isn’t easy for those writers either.

Read and share the article published March 4 by What’s Up Muskoka by clicking here.

Full disclosure note: Some readers have complained that I may be guilty of ‘sour grapes’ because I was the co-campaign manager for mayoral candidate Patricia Arney in 2010. The fact is that Alice Murphy won by a landslide. Arney was in third and even if Arney and incumbent Karen Ellis had pooled their votes together, Murphy still would have won. She ran a strong campaign and Murphy once thanked me for being so gracious during the campaign. That was 2010. Articles written since have focused on the actions of Murphy since taking office. In the What’s Up article this week, Murphy also accuses the MRA of sour grapes because of her win. It is clear that many MRA members voted for Murphy.

Any mayor will get both positive and negative attention. Winning an election is one thing. It’s what your do in office that really counts.

 

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Update: Hanna's Landing OMB hearing date set for September

OMB hearing about controversial Port Carling development set for September 22; ruling could come long after next municipal election

Update Jan. 22: The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) pre-hearing at the Township of Muskoka Lakes took care of administrative matters quickly this morning. The meeting wrapped up within an hour of its 10 am start time with about 25 people attending. The purpose of today’s meeting was to see what the issues are and to find out who might be involved as a party or participant and to figure out how long it might take to hear all the issues identified. The Muskoka Lakes Association and Rick Spence have joined the Township of Muskoka Lakes as parties to the hearing, each with their own list of issues in regard to Hanna’s Landing Inc, which launched the OMB action by requesting the OMB take over the zoning approval process for its development project from the Township. Parties to the hearing will be expected to make presentations at the hearing which is scheduled for September. A handful of neighbours of the proposed project also asked to be listed as participants so they can be kept informed of the proceedings. Sources say the Township has hired an external planning firm that may have helped produce a list of up to 37 issues (including a draft plan of subdivision) given to Hanna’s Landing officials late yesterday. Muskoka News Watch has requested the issues lists provided to the OMB by all parties involved.  

Hanna’s Landing hopes OMB will take over zoning approval from Township; public pre-hearing of issues starts Wednesday, Jan. 22, 10am

Posted Jan. 19, 6pm: Taxpayers in Muskoka Lakes Township may learn why the Township is refusing to circulate a zoning amendment request about the proposed Hanna’s Landing development on Wednesday. That’s when the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) is holding a pre-hearing to uncover what’s caused Hanna’s Landing Inc. to seek help from the OMB — and to learn why the Township has dug in its heels.

Hanna’s Landing is a residential development planned for the former Glenwood Trailer Park on the Indian River in Port Carling, a property that can also be seen from Mirror Lake. The developers promise to provide future housing needs for year-round residents of Muskoka Lakes and for those seeking vacation properties. The OMB pre-hearing is scheduled for this Wednesday at 10am [CORRECTED TIME is 10AM] in the Township Council Chambers and is open to the public.

The OMB holds a public pre-hearing to:

  • identify the issues to be dealt with at the actual hearing;
  • identify parties who want to take part in the full hearing; and,
  • set the date for the full hearing.

Ahead of Wednesday’s pre-hearing, Hanna’s Landing has sent its list of issues to the Township (as well as the District, MLA and Friends of Port Carling as those groups may want to take part in the hearing). As of press time, the company had heard nothing back.

Township Planning Director David Pink confirmed Friday (January 17) that Hanna’s Landing had shared its list of issues to be raised at the pre hearing, and the Township had yet to reply. He added the pre-hearing will try to solidify issues and that he could not comment on anything else at this time.

Muskoka News, news about Muskoka, Hanna's Landing, Port Carling, OMB, Jeff Goldman, Planscape, Muskoka Lakes, Mayor Murphy, Save the Bala Falls, municipal government, Muskoka
Hanna’s Landing and surrounding area

Here’s how the OMB proceedings have come about: Hanna’s Landing Inc.  appealed to the OMB last August after Township council refused to circulate a re-zoning application for its property. Under its regular procedures, the Township  staff would circulate such an application to the public (without intervention by Council) and applicable agencies for comment within a certain timeframe. But Council refused to send it out.

“Our application [for a zoning amendment] was submitted in March 2013, and certified as complete by Township Planning Director David Pink,” says Jeff Goldman, President of Hanna’s Landing Inc. He notes both Pink and the Muskoka Lakes Association (MLA) recommended that the application be circulated for comment to statutory agencies and the public (even though the MLA opposed some of what the application contained). Yet Council, under the Mayor Alice Murphy’s leadership, refused to do so, says Goldman. He claims Council has displayed a continued disregard for the advice of its own Planning Director and “flagrant violations of the procedures for processing planning applications as proscribed by The Planning Act.” As a result, he’d like the OMB to take the zoning approval phase of the development over from the Township.

Township Council heard the request to approve circulation in Planning Committee of the Whole (COW) Meetings held May 21 and August 15, 2013. In one meeting, Goldman says Council took about 45 minutes to try and rewrite the needed rezoning bylaw on the spot.  When that effort failed, Council then called for a second special meeting to rewrite the draft bylaw that had already been vetted by the Township planning department. Goldman says that meeting was never held. He adds the discussion during the public COW meeting raised questions that “came out of left field” from the Mayor and other councilors that he felt were irrelevant to the task at hand. By August 22, there was still no Council decision on the application that was received by the Township more than 120 days before: so Hanna’s Landing appealed to the OMB. (Note: Friends of Port Carling provides its perspective on how those meetings proceeded in a 2013 recap. See References).

In a letter dated August 22, 2013 to Murphy and all Councillors, the lawyer for Hanna’s Landing, Leo Longo, states Council’s actions, when coupled with its continued decisions to ignore advice of its own planning professionals, “undermines our client’s confidence in the inclination and/or ability of Council to deal with its application in a fair, objective and competent manner.”

This is not the first time Hanna’s Landing has been an issue in front of the OMB. Before the last municipal election in 2010, the MLA and Friends of Port Carling opposed part of the Township’s and District of Muskoka’s Official Plans that expanded Port Carling’s boundaries for properties (an expansion that would demand any future development to be on District sewer and water). The expansion of Port Carling’s eastern boundary also included the area proposed for Hanna’s Landing, a development the Friends of Port Carling oppose. A third appeal came from Hanna’s Landing itself as the District of Muskoka had approved less of an expansion than was sought by the developers.

Sidebar: Just prior to Murphy announcing her candidacy for Mayor in Summer 2010, Murphy also tried to launch a fourth appeal of the Official Plan. Her concerns were in regard to the proposed hydro development at North Bala Falls, but the OMB dismissed her application to appeal as there was no evidence of any previous objection. (See MNW article about proposed Zoning Bylaw overhaul that highlights importance of registering objections before bylaws are passed. Revisions to that zoning bylaw are being discussed tomorrow, Jan. 20, 2014, and Council has said it hopes to pass the bylaw in early 2014).

In August 2011, the OMB upheld the Official Plan (and boundary expansion), paving the way for Hanna’s Landing to move ahead. Murphy, along with the MLA, called the OMB ruling a victory as it also left a door open for further consultation and broader participation in plans for the Hanna’s Landing development.

The OMB decision required that the parties (i.e., The Township, District, Friends of Port Carling, MLA and Hanna’s Landing) through their lawyers and planners collaborate to finalize some technical details for the boundary expansion area.  “Unfortunately”, according to Goldman, “Mayor Murphy inserted herself into these discussions despite our objections. She was instrumental in introducing requirements for the site that were beyond the scope of the initial OMB hearing. and the discussions became deadlocked resulting in a second OMB Hearing in Toronto in November 2011.”

Mayoral intervention may have backfired

Goldman says the results of that November hearing upheld the positions taken by Hanna’s Landing on all matters. The OMB decision also made it possible for the number of residential units at Hanna’s Landing to grow from the original expected 250 to a minimum 295 (agreed to by the Township in those 2011 meetings) and to possibly more than 330 — an increase that will likely not sit well with those opposing the development in its entirety. That change, say some observers, begs the question about whether ongoing intervention by the Mayor and Township has backfired for those in the community who would prefer to curtail the size of the development. The OMB has essentially granted the developer with more flexibility: making the situation worse rather than better in the eyes of those who oppose it. Wednesday’s pre-hearing may provide insights into whether Hanna’s Landing will get the support it wants from the OMB.

MNW Readers, if interested, MNW has compiled a timeline of events regarding the Hanna’s Landing issue from the beginning OMB appeals to today. Click here to read that timeline. We look forward to feedback if any verified dates are missing.

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References

About Muskoka News Watch: Muskoka News Watch exists primarily on donations. If you appreciate us keeping you informed with comprehensive articles such as this one, consider tossing a few dollars our way via the Donate Button on the top right hand corner of our Home Page. Or tell potential advertisers about us. Thank you.