Local NDPers saddened by Clement’s vote on medication export

Posted Nov. 29, 11am: The Parry Sound-Muskoka NDP Riding Association has issued a press release accusing MP Tony Clement of putting partisanship ahead of lifesaving. The release points out Clement did not support private members Bill C-398 (voted on yesterday, November 28, 2012) and that the bill seeks to save lives by facilitating the export of medications to the developing world, Bill C-398.

“It is a sad day when Parry Sound-Muskoka’s Federal Representative Tony Clement deliberately misses an opportunity to honour Canada’s 2004 promise to developing countries and to listen to the will of Canadians,” says local NDP Riding Association President Clyde Mobbley in the release, which asserts:

  • This bill was supported by over 80 international NGOs and over 250 civil society organizations in Canada, by faith leaders, and by 80% of Canadians.
  • This bill would have removed obstacles that prevent Canadian generic drug companies from copying life-saving pharmaceuticals and shipping them to the world’s poorest countries at cut-rate prices. This bill would have fix Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR).
  • By voting against this bill, Clement and the Conservatives refused to put partisanship aside for the sake of saving lives.

The release states New Democrats will continue to fight until Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime is reformed and Canada will finally be able to fulfill its promises to the developing world.

Update: Riley Lake fire arrests, damages now at $1.5million

UPDATE Dec. 18: 625pm: Five people face several charges in relation to fires November 25 on Riley Lake Road in Gravenhurst. Today the Bracebridge OPP issued a news release detailing the charges and noting the damage estimate to the properties is now pegged at about $1.5million.

The release states after a joint arson investigation involving members of the Bracebridge Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), the Muskoka Crime Unit (MCU) and the Ontario Fire Marshall (OFM), five people are now facing criminal charges in relation to the fires on Riley Lake Road. Three of the accused are in their late teens and two are too young to be identified as per the Youth Criminal Justice act. Charged with various counts of arson, damage to property, break and enter, and mischief are two 19-year-old men from St. Greenbank and Scugog, one 18-year-old from Brooklin, and two younger persons. The three accused adults are to appear in Huntsville court tomorrow (Dec. 19) and the two younger persons will appear in Bracebridge court in February.

Police say the damage to the properties based on information provided by the insurance companies is valued at approximately $1.5 million dollars.

Original story posts follow.

Arson suspected in Riley Lake Fires: Early damage estimate at $500K plus Update Nov. 26, 4pm: Gravenhurst Fire Chief Larry Brassard says it’s still to early to tally up all the damage and property owners are still being contacted after three cottages, a bunkie and a garbage container caught on fire on Riley Lake Road yesterday. Brassard says preliminary estimates peg damage at $500,000 but that figure is likely to rise. See below for original post on the Riley Lake Road fires. Arson is suspected.

Posted Nov. 25, 5.15pm: Provincial police are investigating several early morning (Nov. 25) fires along Riley Lake Road in Gravenhurst. Police say three separate cottages and an unattached bunkie next to one of the cottages caught fire. A District of Muskoka garbage container at the Riley Lake public boat launch was also ablaze. Sources say firefighters suspect they may have a ‘fire bug’ on their hands, someone who may have purposely set the fires. The Gravenhurst Fire Department doused the fires, but not before substantial damage occurred. The Ontario Fire Marshall, the OPP Forensic Identification Unit and OPP Muskoka Crime Unit are investigating.

In a Bracebridge OPP release, police said not all of the property owners had been contacted (as of 5pm) and the damage estimate is yet to be calculated. Anyone with information is asked to call the Muskoka Crime Unit or Crime Stoppers.

Everybody back on the bus: Corridor 11 bus back, and free in Muskoka, for now

Posted Nov. 26, 2.15pm: The Corridor 11 Bus is Back on the Road with Temporary Free Rides within Muskoka: As of December 3, Hammond Transportation will be once again running the Corridor 11 Bus on its Highway 11 route again — but the fight for a full permanent license to provide this service is not over.

After opposition by a current existing licensed carrier, Hammond Transportation halted service of the Corridor 11 Bus on October 17, which had been running as a short-term pilot project to assess demand, routes, pricing and scheduling. Although ridership was increasing steadily after its original launch on September 24, Hammond Transportation was not granted the temporary license they sought and suspended operations until an application for a permanent license could be submitted and reviewed by the Ontario Highway Transport Board (OHTB).

Now Hammond Transportation has been granted a permanent license, although it is not as extensive as hoped and will require further action.

“We were disappointed that our permanent license included some restrictions on ridership within Muskoka,” says Greg Hammond of Hammond Transportation.

According to a press release from Hammond, a look at initial ridership shows that a quarter of all passengers on the Corridor 11 Bus rode between destinations within Muskoka and, based on passenger feedback, there is a  real demand to provide service between the three main towns of Huntsville, Bracebridge and Gravenhurst. As a result of an unfortunate regulatory restriction, which was prompted again by opposition from a current existing licensed carrier (Ontario Northland), Hammond now has to make another application to the OHTB to have the permanent license amended.

“We are not going to give up on getting a license to service all of the destinations on our set route, ” says Hammond. “One of the most positive outcomes of the delay has been public reaction. We received over 250 letters of support from a wide range of people – current riders, potential riders, politicians, agency partners, religious leaders and more. All of these letters were included in our submission to the OHTB and helped to strengthen our case. We realized how strongly Muskoka feels about the Corridor 11 Bus and that makes us want to work even harder to keep it running,” he says.

As a thank you to Muskokans for their support and in order to resume a full schedule as soon as possible, rides to destinations within Muskoka will be free of charge between December 3 and December 21, 2012.

“Hopefully, we will be successful getting an amendment to allow riders to travel to all destinations within Muskoka and in the New Year, we will reinstate the full fare schedule.  In the meantime, though, we felt it was important to thank Muskoka for backing us so strongly. We hope more people will take this opportunity to ride the Corridor 11 Bus and see what they think of the service,” says Hammond.

As of December 3, the Corridor 11 Bus will resume its twice-a-day run, Monday to Friday, from Huntsville to Barrie and back, making stops along the way in Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, Washago and Orillia.

According to Rick Williams, Commissioner of Community Services for the District of Muskoka, and a partner in the Corridor 11 Bus project from the start, the Corridor 11 Bus addresses a historical transportation gap.  “Muskoka has long been underserviced in terms of transportation and many of our clients struggle to find reliable and affordable transportation for essential services such as medical appointments or educational opportunities. We hope district health service and social service agencies really get behind this new initiative to help the people they serve.”

Due to the Christmas and New Year holidays, the Corridor 11 Bus will not run between December 22 and January 7. In the New Year, when the permanent license can be amended, a long-term schedule will be created based on feedback from the pilot period.

“Even in the few weeks it was running, we received a great deal of feedback about our schedule from riders and agencies and, after some first-hand experience, we can see how we might alter the timing to better serve our riders. We want to assure everyone that we will look at all suggestions and create the best schedule possible. We also want to take this opportunity to thank Muskoka for their strong and ongoing support. It’s an exciting project and we are extremely happy to be part of it,” Hammond says.

Seats on the Corridor 11 Bus can be booked by calling Hammond Transportation at 705-645-2583 or tickets can be purchased directly from the driver. For more information on prices, current scheduling and pick-up and drop-off locations go to www.corridor11bus.ca.

Riley Lake Road fires may have been set on purpose

Posted Nov. 25, 5.15pm: Provincial police are investigating several early morning  fires along Riley Lake Road in Gravenhurst. Police say three separate cottages and an unattached bunkie next to one of the cottages caught fire. A District of Muskoka garbage container at the Riley Lake public boat launch was also ablaze. Sources say firefighters suspect they may have a ‘fire bug’ on their hands, someone who may have purposely set the fires. The Gravenhurst Fire Department doused the fires, but not before substantial damage occurred. The Ontario Fire Marshall, the OPP Forensic Identification Unit and OPP Muskoka Crime Unit are investigating.

In a Bracebridge OPP release, police said not all of the property owners had been contacted (as of 5pm) and the damage estimate is yet to be calculated. Anyone with information is asked to call the Muskoka Crime Unit or Crime Stoppers.

Ramped Up RIDE program under way to Jan. 2

Posted Nov. 23, 2pm: The OPP is stepping up its RIDE program to reduce impaired driving starting tomorrow, November 24. The annual Festive RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) campaign runs through to January 2, 2013. Provincial police say so far this year, 60 people have died in alcohol-related car accidents within OPP jurisdiction – that’s up by more than 17 per cent over last year.

Some Liberals appear to want more national divisions, says Clement

Posted Nov. 21, 6.15pm: Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement says Ottawa South MP David McGuinty’s comments that Alberta MPs  ‘should go home’ display the differences between his Conservative party and the Liberals.

“We’re focused on jobs and prosperity in the energy industry and across the country,” says Clement, reacting to McGuinty’s abrupt resignation as the Liberal natural resources critic today. “Apparently some Liberals want to have more national divisions.”

When asked if McGuinty’s resignation over the comments was enough, Clement responded, “His resignation doesn’t erase the fact that some Liberals seem to believe that Alberta MPs have no rights to represent their constituent’s views.”

McGuinty announced his resignation as Liberal natural resources today after apologizing for the comments. He made the following statement: “My words in no way reflect the views of my party or leader, and I offer my apology to them as well as my colleagues from Alberta.

I hold all Parliamentarians in high esteem, and I regret my choice of words, as I can understand the offence they have caused.

I have offered my resignation as energy and natural resources critic to my leader, and he has accepted. I look forward to continuing to serve my constituents in the House of Commons.”

Liberal leader Bob Rae told reporters today’s events were ‘not helpful’ given they come just days before a by-election in Calgary, where polls have suggested the Conservative incumbent is vulnerable. Reported poll results suggest both the Liberals and Greens are closing in on Joan Crockett.

New Deputy Fire Chief for Muskoka Lakes: Harry Baranik

Updated Nov. 20, 9am (first posted Nov.19) : The Township of Muskoka Lakes welcomes a new Deputy Fire Chief starting in the new year. Harry Baranik, presently working in the Municipal Policing Bureau in Orillia, will wrap up his police role later next month and will start his new job on January 2, 2013.

Township of Muskoka Lakes Fire Chief Richard Hayes says Baranik brings a strong set of skills, including a wealthy background in administration, supervision, leadership and training. Coupled with his long OPP career, Hayes says Baranik has instructor status with the Ontario Fire College, and has helped in program delivery at the local level. A resident of Port Carling, Baranik joined the Muskoka Lakes Fire Department in January 2012 as a member of Port Carling Station 6.

Before moving to Muskoka in 1998, Baranik was a Peel Regional Police Officer for 17 years. He also served with the Hillsburgh and District Fire Department in various positions, including Acting Fire Chief. When that department amalgamated with Erin, Baranik became Deputy Fire Chief, Town of Erin Fire Service for Hillsburgh Station 50, under the command of John McDougall, who is presently Mississauga’s Fire Chief. Baranik’s appointment with Muskoka Lakes was confirmed by Council on November 12.




Consumer Beware: Online Cottage Rental Scam

Posted Nov. 14, 11.54am: Would be cottage country renters in Muskoka and Collingwood are being warned about online cottage rental scams. Officers from the Bracebridge Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) detachment say one alleged scam uses the website Kijiji.

Here’s how they say it works: suspects post an advertisement of a cottage for rent which includes a picture of a cottage, and rental information. So far the scam has included cottage and condo rental properties in the Muskoka Lakes, Bracebridge, Huntsville and Collingwood areas. The ads appear legitimate, but do not actually exist. The rental fraud works by having victims send a deposit for the properties via E-Transfer. The suspects have used different names in the fraudulent ads. Once the suspects receive the down payment for the fraudulent property rental all communication with the victims stops leaving the victim out the money.

Police are recommending potential renters or anyone using any online advertisement sites such as kijiji or Craigslist to review their on-line safety tips section before making any purchases.  Within the on-line kijiji section “how do l stay safe while using kijiji” it states “Never send or wire money to sellers or buyers”.

3 Mile Lake Update: victim identified

Updated Nov 5, 7 pm. A statement from the OPP today confirmed the man who died after a boat overturned on 3 Mile Lake is 59-year-old Keith Yochim of Niagara Falls. While drowning is suspected, the actual cause of death has not yet been released pending results of a post mortem that was scheduled for today. Below is the official release from the OPP about the tragedy yesterday that claimed Yochim’s life..

From Bracebridge OPP: On November 4, 2012 at approximately 10:40 a.m. officers from the Bracebridge Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) responded to a possible drowning on Three Mile Lake near Wonder Beach Road in Muskoka Lakes Township.

The Bracebridge OPP was contacted by a cottager on Three Mile Lake reporting an overturned aluminum boat with a person clinging to the hull of the boat. The male party was rescued a short time later by the cottager, and treated by paramedics at scene. He was then transported via ground ambulance to South Muskoka Memorial Hospital in stable condition for further medical treatment. It was determined that a second person who had been in the boat had not been located. A search of the lake was started immediately. OPP officers entered the water checking under the overturned boat for the missing male. The Bracebridge OPP marine unit as well as the Muskoka Lakes Fire Department (MLFD) also attended the scene and conducted an extensive search of the lake.

Arrangements were made with the OPP Underwater Search and Recovery Unit (USRU) to attend the scene and assist with the search. The OPP USRU attended the scene. At approximately 3:00 p.m. they located the body of the missing male. The coroner attended the scene.

Updated Nov 5, 12.41 pm: According to a report on Moose FM, the victim in yesterday’s boat mishap on 3 Mile Lake has been identified as 59-year-old Keith Yochim from Niagara Falls. You can read the Moose report by clicking here.

Posted Nov 4, 3.28 pm: A body has been recovered from 3 Mile Lake in Muskoka Lakes Township at about 3 pm today by the OPP. Provincial Police Constable Derek Wickett says two men were apparently thrown into the water after their boat overturned just before 11am this morning. Cottagers saw the overturned boat and Constable Wickett says neighbours helped pull a first man from the water. Muskoka Lakes firefighters assisted and the man was taken to South Muskoka Memorial Hospital where he remains in stable condition. At the same time, firefighters began searching for the second boater and what was a rescue mission became a recovery mission transferred over to the OPP’s underwater search and rescue unit. Over two hours later (at just before 3 pm) officers located the second boater using a side scanner. A coroner has been asked to attend at the scene. It is unknown how the boat flipped and neither boater has been identified. Constable Wickett reminds anyone who needs to go out on the water late in the season to wear a survival suit (with life jacket) and tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return. The investigation continues.

OPP report 1 dead in 3 Mile Lake boating tragedy

Updated Nov. 4, 3.30 pm. The OPP has reported a boater has been found dead in 3 Mile Lake. More to follow (see new post above). The victim will not be identified until next of kin is notified.

Updated 2.53pm: Details are still slim, but the OPP say one person is now in hospital in stable condition after a boat overturned on 3 Mile Lake. It’s still unknown how the boat overturned or how the two people in it became separated. Muskoka Lakes firefighters saved one person this morning while starting the search for the second. Muskoka News Watch is attempting to confirm whether the OPP have found the second person and that initial reports are not referring to the first boater the firefighters rescued.

Updated 2 pm: What was a rescue effort is now a recovery mission at 3 Mile Lake in the Township of Muskoka Lakes. Muskoka Lakes Fire Chief Richard Hayes confirmed firefighters did respond to a water rescue this morning and one person was saved and another is still missing. He says he has no other information he can provide and the incident has been transferred to OPP “as this will be a recovery at this point.”  MNW has unconfirmed reports suggesting that the rescue and now recovery mission began after two people were boating on the lake.

Posted Nov 4, 12.28pm: One reported missing at 3 Mile Lake (Muskoka Lakes)There are unconfirmed reports of a person missing in or around 3 Mile Lake in the Township of Muskoka Lakes. Sources say rescue crews entered the water just after 11 am in a bid to find one person who had been in a boat with one other person on the lake. It’s not known if there were others in the boat and it’s believed the two people in the boat are adults. There are no other details at this time.