Feds investigating fireworks incident that injured Bracebridge Rotarian

An investigation into the incident that hospitalized a member of the Bracebridge Rotary Club last Friday is underway at the Federal level.

On October 28th at around 4:30pm, an explosion in Minett sent Bracebridge lawyer Jean Polak to Sunnybrook with serious injuries to her arm, head and torso.

Polak is a member of the licensed Rotary team that sets up for fireworks shows and it’s still unclear as to exactly what transpired.

Investigation under Canada’s Explosives Act

The fireworks, which were subsequently cancelled, were to have been part of the Rotary District Conference, which was being held at the JW Marriott Resort that weekend.

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) Communications Officer Tania Carreira Pereira tells Muskoka News Watch that NRCan is aware of the incident and has initiated an investigation under the Explosives Act.

The Explosives Safety and Security Branch (ESSB) of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is responsible for administering the Explosives Act and regulations and pursuing the advancement of explosives safety and security technology. ESSB’s main priority is the safety and security of the public and all the workers involved in the explosives industry in Canada.

“If an infraction is determined to have been committed as part of an NRCan investigation, applicable fines and enforcement measures may be levied and/or applied,” she said in an email statement.

She also added that local and provincial authorities may also undertake their own investigations pursuant to their own legislation.

Since the incident, Polak has undergone surgeries and is now said to be in serious, but stable condition.

It’s currently not known how long the NRCan investigation will take.

“The investigation will be completed as soon as circumstances permit,” says Carreira Pereira.  “We normally do not make outcomes available, since the confidential information we receive under the Explosives Act cannot be disclosed pursuant section 23, unless an exception can be applied, as described in section 23 (2): http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/E-17/FullText.html.”

More details if they become available.

Related Links:

Prominent Bracebridge Lawyer Jean Polak in Sunnybrook following fireworks accident

Man charged with setting traps likely to cause bodily harm

A Parry Sound man’s been charged with setting traps likely to cause bodily harm after a search warrant was executed revealing a sizable amount of pot, growing equipment, ammo and weapons.

On November 3rd, members from the West Parry Sound Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), along with members of the OPP Community Drug Action Team, OPP West Parry Sound Crime Unit, the OPP Northeast Region Emergency Response Team (ERT) and the OPP Canine Unit executed a search warrant at a residence in Parry Sound.

During the investigation over 3500 grams of marijuana was seized.

Additionally, growing equipment, ammunition and weapons were also seized.

The estimated street value of the marijuana seized is approximately $12,000.

As a result of the investigation;

Steven Dingman, 47 years of age from Parry Sound was charged with:

  • Produce a Schedule II Substance (cannabis marihuana), contrary to section 7(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA)
  • Possession of a Schedule II  Substance for the Purpose of Trafficking  over 3 kg, contrary to section 5(2) of the CDSA
  • Possession of a Schedule II Substance (cannabis Marihuana) over 30g, contrary to section 4(1) of the CDSA
    • Three counts of Possession of a Firearm or Ammunition contrary to Prohibition Order, contrary to section 117.01(1) of the Criminal Code (CC)


  • Set Traps Likely To Cause Bodily Harm, contrary to section 247(1)(b) of the CC

The accused was held in custody for a bail hearing at the Ontario Court of Justice in Parry Sound, Ontario



Weapons call initiates two Hold and Secures at Orillia schools

There have been no arrests following a report today of a man carrying what was believed to be a long gun in the area of Park Street in Orillia.

At 3:35 p.m., the Orillia OPP responded to a report of a weapons call after receiving information from a school bus driver reporting a male walking on the sidewalk carrying what was believed to be a long gun.

Several officers immediately responded and as a precaution, a “Hold and Secure” of two schools in the area was initiated at Samuel De Champlain and the Orillia Secondary School.

Both schools were thoroughly searched as was the nearby vicinity.

The process lasted one hour. When each school was deemed safe, the Hold and Secure was lifted.

No one fitting the description was located.  Police are continuing their investigation.

The Orillia OPP would like to thank the school administration, staff, students and parents for their patience, understanding and co-operation during this difficult time.

Members of the Orillia Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police are committed to public safety, delivering proactive and innovative policing in partnership with our communities. Officers value your contribution to building safe communities. If you have information about suspected unlawful activity, please contact the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or visit Crime Stoppers at: www.crimestopperssdm.com or call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).


Charges laid in Highway 69 fail to remain case

Charges have been laid in a fail to remain case that happened on Highway 69.

On October 30th at 4:30 p.m., members of the West Parry Sound Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) were called to a motor vehicle collision involving two vehicles on Highway 69.

Upon arrival, they learned that one of the drivers had fled into the bush.  

Vehicle stolen from Mactier

The police investigation revealed that the vehicle in question had been stolen from a residence in Mactier and as a result, 24 yr old Daniel Ashawasagai from Georgian Bay Township was charged with:

  • Theft of a motor vehicle under $5000, contrary to section 334(b) of the Criminal Code of Canada (CC)
  • Fail to Comply with Probation Order, contrary to section 733.1(1) of the CC
  • Careless Driving, contrary to section 130 of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA)
    • Driving While Under Suspension, contrary to section 53(1) of the HTA X2

      * Fail To Remain, contrary to section 200(1)(a) of the HTA

The accused will appear at the Ontario Court of Justice in Parry Sound on December 1st to answer to his charges.


Company fined $100,000 following injury to young worker

A Calgary-based company pleaded guilty and has been fined $100,000 after a young worker suffered permanent injuries.

The company, Tervita Corporation, was the constructor of a City of Barrie project to reclaim landfill at a site located at 272 Ferndale Drive North in Barrie.

On March 5th, 2015, a young worker (a person under the age of 25) employed by Tervita was operating a city-supplied trommel machine in the landfill. The machine is used to screen and separate material.

The worker was using a tool known as a “pick” to clear the trommel when it filled up with material being screened. While performing this task, the worker was pulled into an exposed pinch point on the machine created by the drive wheels.

The worker was able to get free but suffered injury that required medical attention.

Section 109 of Ontario Regulation 213/91 – the Construction Projects Regulation – states that every gear, pulley, belt, chain, shaft, flywheel, saw and other mechanically-operated part of a machine to which a worker has access shall be guarded or fenced so that it will not endanger a worker. This was also a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The company pleaded guilty and was fined $100,000 by Justice of the Peace Cheryl B. McLean in provincial court in Barrie on November 1, 2016.

In addition to the fine, the court imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.

New and young workers in Ontario are more likely than older and more experienced workers to be injured on the job, especially during their first three months on the job.

The case was heard by Justice of the Peace Cheryl B. McLean in the Ontario Court of Justice/Provincial Offences Court at 45 Cedar Pointe Drive in Barrie, Ontario

Province combatting homelessness in Ontario communities

Ontario is helping individuals and families find safe and affordable housing, by increasing its investment in municipalities to help them meet the needs of those experiencing homelessness.

The additional investment from the province will further support municipalities in delivering housing- and homelessness-related services tailored to meet the needs of their communities through 2020. Services include:

  • Financial assistance and education programs to help prevent eviction
  • Long-term and transitional housing with related supports
  • Emergency shelters for those experiencing a crisis

Last year, the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative helped almost 40,000 families and individuals experiencing homelessness obtain housing. It also helped more than 115,000 families and individuals at-risk of homelessness remain in their homes.

“We are helping Ontario’s most vulnerable take the first step out of poverty by arming communities with the tools they need to help individuals and families access safe and affordable housing. Ensuring every Ontarian has a safe place to call home helps build stronger communities and a more prosperous Ontario.”
— Chris Ballard, Minister of Housing and the Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy

Investing in programs to prevent and reduce homelessness is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.


  • Ontario is investing an additional $15 million in the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI), bringing the government’s annual contribution to $338.7 million by 2019-2020, which is an increase of $92 million since the program launched in 2013. This funding builds on the $15 million in each of 2017-18, 2018-19 that was announced in October 2016. The program is also providing municipalities with $293.7 million in 2016-2017, $308.7 million in 2017-2018, and $323.7 million in 2018-2019.
  • The CHPI reinforces the bold and transformative update to Ontario’s Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy, and supports the province’s goal of ending chronic homelessness by 2025.
  • Every $15 million invested in the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative is estimated to help about 2,600 households experiencing homelessness find housing, or prevent approximately 14,200 households from becoming homeless.
  • Since 2003, Ontario has committed more than $5 billion to affordable housing. This includes the recent federal-provincial partnership to extend the Investment in Affordable Housing program.


Province launching new supports for adoptive families

Province launching new supports for adoptive families

As Ontario enters Adoption Awareness Month, the province is launching new supports for adoptive families, including a grant program to help families cover the costs of post-secondary education for adopted children.

The new Living and Learning Grants will provide support to adoptive families with a child enrolled in a full-time post-secondary program, helping to remove financial barriers and give more youth the opportunity to pursue higher education.

In addition, 15 new adoption recruiters will start work across Ontario this November to help connect more Crown wards with adoptive families. The province is partnering with Wendy’s Wonderful Kids to support the new recruiters, who will work to build relationships with children and youth in care and develop recruitment plans specific to each child’s needs.

Ontario also offers additional supports to make life easier for families adopting Crown wards, including:

  • Support to pay for drug and dental benefits
  • Peer-to-peer supports through Adopt4Life, including mentorship and parent resources for adoptive families
  • Specialized training through the Adoption Council of Ontario for parents who adopt through children’s aid societies.

The province is also supporting greater use of customary care, a culturally appropriate placement option for First Nations children and youth, by providing one-time financial assistance to support First Nations families to welcome First Nations children in need of protection into their homes.

Helping children and youth find forever homes and access post-secondary education is part of the province’s plan to help all children and youth in Ontario reach their full potential to succeed.


  • Crown wards are children and youth that are cared for by foster homes or group homes because they have been abused, neglected or because their family situation could have placed them at risk.
  • The Living and Learning Grant provides $500 per month, to support youth in full-time postsecondary education.
  • One-time funding of up to $5,000 is available for customary caregivers to provide a safe, secure and comfortable environment to children and youth, as well as to make home repairs or purchase furniture or other items needed to support the well-being of children.
  • Ontario is investing $24 million this year in these enhanced adoption services.
  • The new recruiters will be working with children’s aid societies across Ontario.
  • There are about 5,800 Ontario children and youth who are growing up in foster and group care as Crown wards.
  • About 1,000 Crown wards are adopted into permanent homes each year in Ontario.
  • The government serves as the guardian of all Crown wards.
  • There is no cost to adoptive parents to go through the public adoption process with a children’s aid society.

Mayor seeks court judgement against Nishikawa

The Mayor of Muskoka Lakes claims a member of his council has breached the municipal Conflict of Interest Act and he’s now seeking a court judgement in the matter.

Muskoka News Watch has obtained papers filed at the Bracebridge courthouse which show Mayor Don Furniss has launched a civil proceeding against Councillor Ruth Nishikawa.

According to the Mayor’s affidavit, Nishikawa’s conduct at a September 16th council meeting during council discussions about whether she should pay costs after being found guilty of defaming former councillor Ron Brent, was in conflict with Section 5 of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.

The affidavit, filed by MacDonald Law on Friday, reads, in part: “Prior to consideration of the resolution on September 16, 2016, the Respondent was cautioned by the Clerk of the Township of Muskoka Lakes Cheryl Mortimer that she should consider whether or not she had a conflict of interest. The Respondent refused to declare a conflict of interest and took part in the discussion with respect to the resolution (in breach of section 5 (1) (b)). She continued to sit at the council table, but abstained from voting. By abstaining, by operation of the rules of Council, her vote was recorded as a “No” vote, such that abstaining deliberately constituted a “No” vote, contrary to section 5 (1) (b) and (c).”

The matter is slated to be heard in the Superior Court of Justice on December 12th.

Related Links: 

Breaking News: Muskoka District Councillor found guilty of defamation

Fellow councilors order Nishikawa to pay part of defamation judgment


Prominent Bracebridge Lawyer Jean Polak in Sunnybrook following fireworks accident

By Matt Sitler

Prominent Bracebridge Lawyer Jean Polak is in Sunnybrook Hospital following a Friday afternoon fireworks accident.

Polak is a member of the licensed fireworks team that sets up before shows put on by the Rotary Club and is a member of the Rotary Club of Bracebridge.

The show was planned for Friday evening to help kick off the Rotary District Conference Dinner, which was being held at the JW Marriott Muskoka Resort and Spa in Minett.

Muskoka News Watch is told Polak suffered injuries to an arm, her torso and head when there was an explosion during set up for the show.

Sources say Polak has since undergone several surgeries and is in serious but stable condition.

Rotary Club of Bracebridge President Tim Harvey urges everyone to keep the lawyer in their thoughts at this time.

Polak operates Jean Polak Law, which is located at 32 Robert Boyer Lane in Bracebridge.

Women of Distinction Awards handed out in Huntsville

The women of distinction who helped put Muskoka on the map in 2016 through their tireless outstanding achievements have been honoured.

YWCA Muskoka’s 15th Annual Women of Distinction Awards Gala was attended by 185 people at the Mark O’Meara Grandview in Huntsville by Fairy Lake.

YWCA’s Women of Distinction is recognized nationally as one of Canada’s most prestigious awards for women.

The awards honour women whose outstanding achievements contribute to the well-being and future of Muskoka.

Peers, friends and family nominated 12 women this year.

2016 Women of Distinction Awards were presented to the following exceptional women of Muskoka:

Young Woman of Distinction – Alissa Ahsome
 Arts, Culture and Creative Energy – Penny Varney
Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship – Brenda Rhodes Community Development and Social Activism – Michelle Ainsworth Health, Sports and Wellness – Jill Dunford
 Mentorship – Alison Brownlee
Lifetime Achievement – Arleigh Luckett

Special tributes were made to each of the 12 extraordinary women nominees including a chant
shared by 9 girls from YWCA Girlz Unplugged summer programs.

One of the evening’s points of interest was the key note address given by Marcy Hill, a longtime facilitator for Girlz Unplugged, Girlz Choice, Quest and YWCA women’s programs.

This event celebrates all women and each nominee is considered a valuable asset to the Muskoka community. They inspire and energize the attendees of the gala each year.

As Wendie Donabie, a 2014 Award recipient has said, “Receiving this honour encouraged me to keep going even those days when the creative well seems to have run dry. It’s at those times I look in the mirror award we each received and say, ‘You just need to dig a little deeper. It’s there waiting for you’”.

Although a final amount is not yet determined, organizers of the event estimate that close to $23,500 was raised and will be used to sustain programs for women and girls across Muskoka.

YWCA Muskoka champions positive change for women and girls. YWCA Muskoka envisions all women and girls thriving in a safe community of possibility.

For more information on how you can get involved, please contact office@ywcamuskoka.com or call 705-645-9827.

Gravenhurst and Muskoka Lakes Chamber execs promote local business at provincial conference

Two Muskoka Chamber of Commerce executives were representing Muskoka business this week at the Chamber Executives of Ontario conference in Kingston.

As new Chamber executives, Sandy Lockhart, Executive Director of the Gravenhurst Chamber, and Norah Fountain, General Manager of the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce, were both awarded bursaries to attend the event.

The twice-a-year meeting of Chamber minds offers way to increase value to member businesses while sharpening the skill set of the executives attending.

“Being at this conference helps make our Chamber part of a bigger network of knowledge to draw on,” Lockhart tells Muskoka News Watch. “It was a great learning opportunity, as we got to hear from other new Chamber executives and from some who have been in their positions for decades.”

Strive Presentation

It also gave the Muskoka executives an opportunity to showcase business in Muskoka.

“Now it would be wonderful if Muskoka could host one of these provincial Chamber events,” reports Fountain, “as it would also act as a familiarization tour of Muskoka for people running visitor centres across Ontario. Certainly the connections made for our Chamber are invaluable.”

Inset Photo: Joe Shuker of Strive giving presentation on healthy organizations.

Top Photo: Norah Fountain and Sandy Lockhart with Chamber Executives of Ontario Chair Greg Webb

OPP say missing Huntsville teen has been found

(HUNTSVILLE, ON)- Huntsville Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), who were seeking the public’s assistance in locating a missing youth, 14 yr old Jasmine Southwind, report that she has been located.

Huntsville OPP would like thank the media and the public’s assistance in helping to locate her.

Grocery stores in Orillia and Innisfil added to authorized wine sellers list

Starting today, 67 new independent and large grocers in communities across Ontario are authorized to sell wine, beer and cider – the closest additions near Muskoka on the list are in Orillia and Innisfil.

The Province says criteria were set to ensure fairness and geographic distribution.

The location in Innisfil is the Sobeys located at 2080 Jans Blvd., while the one in Orillia is the Food Basics at 975 West Ridge Rd.

For the list click here

Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance, was at Coppa’s Fresh Market in Toronto today to announce the 67 store locations, including 20 independent grocery stores and 47 stores owned by large grocers.

These stores are in addition to the 57 across the province already selling beer and cider.

Ultimately, beer and cider will be available in up to 450 grocery stores across Ontario, including 300 that also sell wine.

“Being able to make one stop to pick up wine alongside other groceries will help make everyday life easier for Ontarians. Opening up this new retail channel for wine producers will also help encourage business to thrive while delivering economic growth and job creation in Ontario’s beverage alcohol, agriculture and tourism sectors.”
— Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance

Ontario maintains a strong commitment to social responsibility. By law, grocers selling beer or wine must have designated sales areas and standard hours of sale, abide by limitations on package size and alcohol content, and follow staffing and social responsibility training requirements. Ontario will develop a comprehensive alcohol strategy to promote the responsible sale and use of alcohol in moderation.

Offering consumers more choice and convenience while improving opportunities for business is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their lives.



Social responsibility requirements:

Selling alcohol is a public trust the government takes very seriously. The following retail requirements apply to authorized grocers:

The sale of wine, beer and cider adheres to standard hours, which are: Monday to Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Limitations to alcohol by volume – maximum of 7.1 per cent for beer and cider, and 18 per cent for wine, beer and cider continue to be sold in a six-pack or less or up to 750 mL per container

Wine can be sold in maximum four-litre containers

Staff selling alcohol must be a minimum of 18 years of age and be trained on Ontario’s standards for social responsibility, including making sure customers under the age of 19 and intoxicated individuals do not purchase alcohol

Grocers will also be restricted to selling wines with a retail price of $10.95 (per 750 mL bottle) or higher
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) will oversee these and other regulations.

Huntsville OPP searching for missing 14 year old girl

Huntsville Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is seeking the public’s assistance in locating a missing youth from Huntsville.

Jasmine Southwind a 14 year-old was reported missing on Thursday from her residence in Huntsville.

Jasmine is described as a white female, 5’8”, 160 lbs, green eyes and long blonde hair. Jasmine is known to frequent South River, or could be in the Huntsville or Barrie area.

Anyone with any information or may know the whereabouts of this missing person is asked to contact Huntsville OPP or Crime Stoppers.

Close call for man after boat catches fire on Georgian Bay

Two people in a canoe went out to save a man after his boat caught fire in Georgian Bay Wednesday.

At 10:32 a.m. members of the Southern Georgian Bay Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) received a 911 call about a vessel on fire between Beausoliel Island and Midland Bay.

Penetanguishene Fire department, Simcoe County Paramedics, Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) and the OPP helicopter also attended to assist.

Further investigation revealed that the 60 year old Penetanguishene man was transporting his boat to be stored for the winter when it caught fire. The male was forced to enter the water but was wearing a floater suit at the time. Two workers at a nearby residence went out in a canoe and an aluminum boat to assist the male to shore.

The boat drifted to a residence on McArthur Drive in Penetanguishene where the fire was extinguished by firefighters. The male was transported to a local hospital with minor injuries but has since been released.

The investigation into the cause of the fire is still under investigation.


Arrest made in Haliburton murder case

An arrest has been made in a Haliburton murder case.

For the past year, investigators under the direction of Detective Inspector Martin Graham of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) have been working to identify the person responsible for the murder of David Palmer.

On Wednesday October 26th, Detectives from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) made an arrest in regards to this investigation.

William Savage of Fenelon Falls, Ontario has been charged with First Degree Murder and is scheduled to appear in the Ontario Court of Justice in Lindsay today.

The investigation is ongoing. Police are seeking the assistance of the public in locating a wallet, a Samsung Flip Phone and a St. Louis Blues baseball hat.

These items belonged to Mr. Palmer and were known to be in his possession at the time of his disappearance.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact Detective Constable Matthew Carmichael of the City of Kawartha Lakes OPP Crime Unit by contacting him at 705-324-6741.

Anonymous tips can be made to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or online at www.durhamregionalcrimestoppers.ca or at: www.stopcrimehere.ca. Please remember that tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000 should your information assist the David Palmer murder investigation.

Safety campaign taking firefighters door to door in Muskoka Lakes

Muskoka Lakes residents will be receiving visits from their local firefighters next week.

Firefighters within the Township will be continuing the door to door campaign, offering to check your smoke alarms and CO alarms as next week is CO Alarm week.

They will either be dressed in the station wear or wearing their orange coveralls and some may even be in their bunker gear in order that they are identifiable.

This service is to ensure warning devices work properly in your residences in order to give you a chance to get out safely in case of an emergency.

Protect yourself and get your free flu shot

The free flu vaccine will be available in Ontario starting this week, so that people can better protect themselves against the flu virus and stay healthy.

The vaccine will be available at doctor’s offices, local public health units and community immunization clinics. Anyone five years of age and older can also be vaccinated for free by trained pharmacists at approximately 2,600 pharmacies across the province.

Influenza is a serious respiratory infection that can lead to hospitalization and even death. It’s important to get the flu shot every year to protect yourself, and those around you. Children under five, pregnant women and seniors are especially at risk of getting seriously ill from the flu. The vaccine is very safe and helps to protect against the most common strains of the virus.

People are also reminded to take everyday measures to protect themselves from the flu:

Clean your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer

Cough and sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve, not your hand

Clean and disinfect surfaces often, such as countertops, telephones and keyboards; flu viruses can live on surfaces for up to eight hours

Preventing the flu through immunization is part of the government’s plan to build a better Ontario through its Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care, which provides patients with faster access to the right care; better home and community care; the information they need to live healthy; and a health care system that is sustainable for generations to come.


In 2015-16, approximately 2,500 participating pharmacies administered more than 869,000 doses of publicly funded influenza vaccine.

The flu vaccine is offered free of charge to anyone over the age of six months who either lives, works, or goes to school in Ontario.

Children and youth between the ages of five and 17 years can get the flu vaccine as an injection or nasal spray at a health care provider’s office, local public health unit or at a participating pharmacy.

Kids under five years of age must get the flu vaccine at a health care provider’s office or participating public health unit.

Symptoms of the flu can include fever, cough, muscle aches, sore throat, headache and tiredness. If you or your children develop flu symptoms, contact your primary care provider.

4th annual Muskoka Pride conference to focus on defining diversity

For the fourth year in a row, Muskoka Pride Community is hosting a conference looking at issues concerning the LGBTQ community of Muskoka.

The 4th annual Muskoka Pride Conference – Defining Diveristy – will be held on Thursday, November 3rd at the Residence Inn by Marriott in Gravenhurst. This year’s conference features 4 sessions related to the LGBTQ community.

For Heather Hay, Chairperson of Muskoka Pride, the conference represents how far the organization has grown. “Five years ago – in 2011 – we were still working to have the Rainbow Flag raised in Muskoka. At this year’s conference we have presenters from Toronto, Barrie, and Muskoka speaking on diverse topics.”

Hay stressed the importance of the conference for LGBTQ residents and tourists of Muskoka. “This conference is geared for health care providers, social workers, educators – people on the frontlines working with the public. We want their LGBTQ clients to feel welcomed, with inclusive language and informed professionals.”

This year’s keynote is being presented by Veronica Johnny, from Toronto. She will be sharing her personal journey as a Two Spirit (2S) identified person. Other sessions include: How to be an Ally, Politics and Human Rights, and Elder Abuse & LGBTQ Seniors.

Those interested in registering can go to the Muskoka Pride website (www.muskokapride.com) and register online. The cost is $30, which includes all workshops and lunch. Scholarships are also available, thanks to sponsorship from OPSEU Rainbow Alliance.

For further information about all Muskoka Pride events, go to our website or visit the Muskoka Pride Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/muskokapride)

Body of missing duck hunter pulled from waters of Lake Couchiching

(SEVERN TWP, ON) – On Saturday October 22, 2016 at 8:21 am Orillia OPP were dispatched Goldstein Road in Severn Township.

Preliminary investigation reveals a 30 year old male duck hunter from Bracebridge shot a duck and was retrieving it from Lake Couchiching.

The canoe he was sitting in overturned and he fell into the water. He was not wearing his life jacket.

On Tuesday October 25th at 1:30 p.m. members of the OPP Underwater Search and Recovery Unit located the body of a man in Lake Couchiching.

Family members of the man have been notified.



Bracebridge woman pleads guilty to obstructing an OSPCA investigation

Bracebridge resident Jan Darley, 52, formerly of Emsdale, pleaded guilty in a Parry Sound court on October 4th to obstructing an Ontario SPCA officer during an investigation stemming from a complaint about the welfare of a horse under her care.

An Ontario SPCA officer visited a property in Emsdale on October 27, 2015 after receiving a complaint about the standards of care being provided to a horse on the property, which was being rented by Darley. Upon arrival, a chestnut mare was observed standing in a small fenced area about 20-30 feet in diameter, with mud and manure approximately a foot deep and no shelter from the elements.

Orders were served to Darley under the Ontario SPCA Act to provide adequate and appropriate shelter for the horse, including clean, dry bedding and a sanitary living environment. Officers later returned to the property to check for compliance with the Order and were unable to locate the horse on the property.

Darley refused to provide any information about the mare’s whereabouts and, according to reports received by the Ontario SPCA, had told others that she was going to “hide” the horse. Ontario SPCA officers have since located the horse, which now has new owners, and visited her at her new home to confirm she is receiving the care she requires.

Darley received a $250 fine, plus costs and surcharge, which is payable to the court.


3rd annual Muskoka Independent Film Festival happening at Gravenhurst OP

The 3rd Annual Muskoka Independent Film Festival (MIFF), previously a summer event in the Village of Rosseau, returns this year at its new venue, the Gravenhurst Opera House, Thursday, October 20th thru Saturday, October 22nd.

Selected from nearly 250 international submissions, this year’s festival is featuring over forty films from all genres and of all lengths including films from Italy, Australia, Switzerland, Russia, Bulgaria, Greece, United States, Iran and Germany.

In addition, for MIFF 2016, there’s not only a strong representation from Canada and Ontario filmmakers, but also an independent film shot in Muskoka entitleD “Go Fish” which will be featured at Thursday’s opening night screenings.

From comedies to dramas to documentaries, the themes of this year’s films range from lost in love to lost in outer space; the struggle between sisters to the struggle for tolerance; the will to live and the acceptance of death. For some of the film screenings the creators will be present for discussion. The viewing audience will also be asked to assist in choosing their favourites for “Best Of The Fest”.

With Muskoka increasingly being recognized as an international destination, the goal of MIFF is to grow and include more and more projects from filmmakers around the globe. Under the direction of stage and screenwriter Vince Grittani, the 2016 Muskoka Independent Film Festival at the Gravenhurst Opera House aims to celebrate the one medium that on a daily base is unifying our planet.

To see the schedule, click here.

There will be be free films for kids showing at the Gravenhurst Library next door to the Opera House on Saturday, October 22 from 10:30 to noon.

Spiritual care supports patient care at MAHC

In honour of Spiritual and Religious Care Awareness Week October 17-23, 2016, Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) is proud to recognize members of the community who play a role in supporting patient care at the hospitals.

In August, MAHC welcomed Spiritual Care Practitioner Karen Hamra to the care team. Karen became a certified Chaplain in 2015 when she completed her clinical pastoral education through the University Health Network.

Driven to become a Chaplain through her own personal journey in the health care system, Karen recognizes the valuable supportive role that the Chaplain has when people are in need. She is a Chartered Accountant by background with a Masters of Ministry and Spirituality from the University of Toronto and a Diploma in Spiritual Direction from the University of Toronto. Karen also holds a Masters of Education in Human Relations and Psychology from Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

“Spiritual and Religious Care Awareness Week is an opportunity to recognize the value of religious services and spiritual care and to recognize those who provide the care,” says Natalie Bubela, Chief Executive Officer. “MAHC is fortunate to have the incredible support of the Muskoka Chaplaincy Association sharing the cost of providing a dedicated Spiritual Care Practitioner at our sites, and is blessed with a strong network of nearly 50 faith leaders and spiritual care visitors who make themselves available to support patients during times of need.”

Research shows that spiritual care is an important part of the recovery process. The multi-faith and non-denominational chaplain supports patients, families and staff during scheduled times at both sites.

Outside of the scheduled hours, a 24/7 chaplain service is provided upon request from within the community. Pastoral care by faith-specific representatives is also available upon request to patients with a particular religious affiliation.

To learn more about spiritual care at MAHC, please visit MAHC’s website.

Parry Sound-Muskoka Green Party AGM set for Nov. 4th in Huntsville

The Parry Sound Muskoka Green Party of Ontario Constituency Association (CA) has announced it will be hosting their Annual General Meeting on Friday, November 4th at 8 p.m. at the Social Innovation Hub in Huntsville.

Local associations, called Constituency Associations (CAs), are the mechanisms behind all successful campaigns, and are made up of local citizens filling both official (President, Chief Financial Officer, etc.) and unofficial roles.

The CA gives them a concrete foundation and will give future Green Party candidates a much needed support group.

It also ensures continuation between campaigns, and creates a Green Party presence in the area year round.

The Green Party of Ontario is committed to providing Ontarians with fresh ideas and sensible solutions that lead to positive change. Party officials are very excited about the response they are hearing to their message from voters across the province and hope that you will join them in promoting a better more sustainable Ontario for future generations.

Everyone is invited to join supporters for the AGM where they will discuss the direction and plans for the future.

Date: Friday, November 4th

Time: 8 p.m.

Place: The Hub in Huntsville (1 Crescent Road, Huntsville, ON)

Please RSVP to psmgreenparty@gmail.com or 705-394-7336 if you plan to attend.

Rural ratepayers to see electricity bills decrease by an average of $540 a year

Today Ontario passed legislation that will rebate the provincial portion of the HST from electricity bills as of January 1, 2017.

The Ontario Rebate for Electricity Consumers Act, 2016 will reduce electricity costs by 8 per cent on the amount before tax, an average savings of about $130 annually or $11 each month, for about five million residential consumers, farms and small businesses.

Rural electricity ratepayers will receive additional relief, decreasing total electricity bills by an average of $540 a year or $45 each month.

“The government recognizes the need to do more to ensure an affordable energy system for everyone and is committed to providing electricity rate relief that will benefit ratepayers in a meaningful way. Starting January 1, we will provide an 8 per cent rebate to provide extra relief for Ontario’s families, farms and small businesses.”
— Glenn Thibeault, Minister of Energy

Commercial, institutional and industrial ratepayers would also benefit from up to 34 per cent lower electricity costs through the expansion of the Industrial Conservation Initiative.

Making electricity more affordable is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.


The province is reducing costs for eligible rural ratepayers by providing additional funding to the Rural or Remote Rate Protection (RRRP) program.

The Industrial Conservation Initiative (ICI) provides a strong incentive for large electricity consumers to shift their electricity consumption to off-peak hours to reduce their bills by up to one-third. Ontario intends to expand ICI to help reduce cost pressures on the electricity system and enable more consumers to reduce their electricity bill by up to one third.

Ontario has removed the Debt Retirement Charge from residential electricity bills and introduced the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) to provide a monthly credit to low-income households who have applied and meet the eligibility requirements to help reduce electricity costs.

Since 2003, Ontario has invested more than $35 billion in over 16,000 megawatts (MW) of new and refurbished clean generation, including nuclear, natural gas and renewables – this represents about 40 per cent of our current supply.

53 yr old Bala man facing slew of charges including possession of stolen property

(GRAVENHURST, ON) – On Thursday, October 13th just before 2am a Bracebridge OPP officer was conducting general patrol in Gravenhurst when he became concerned about the driving behaviour of a vehicle that was hauling a trailer on Muskoka Road North.

The officer conducted a traffic stop on Muskoka Road North and ultimately the truck stopped crossing both lanes of the road.

As a result of the investigation it was determined the attached trailer had been stolen from a business in Barrie, as were some of the items inside the trailer.

The driver of the vehicle, 53 year-old David Hutchinson of Bala was arrested and charged with the following offenses:

Driving While Ability was Impaired by Drugs
Possession of Schedule II substance
Possession of Schedule I substance
Two counts of Possession of Property Obtained by Crime
Failing to Surrender Licence
Fail to Surrender Permit for Trailer
Use Plate Not Authorized for Vehicle

The accused will appear in the Ontario Court of Justice in Bracebridge on November 15th.

Have you closed your cottage for winter? Some tips to consider

After a long summer and with cottagers still enjoying their time at their seasonal residences, it is nearly that time of year to start considering the closure and winterizing of cottages.

Cottages and summer homes are most vulnerable to thieves from the week following Thanksgiving to the weeks prior to Victoria Day, especially if the owners are not using them for fall, winter or spring getaways.

Remember, if there is no one living at it or checking it regularly, the cost of owning a cottage or summer property includes the frustration and irritation of repairing damage and replacing stolen property.

Tips to Consider

Pack up all food and alcohol.

Don’t leave firearms or weapons at the cottage.

If you are leaving vehicles, make sure they’re winterized, secure and disabled – for snow machines remove track and hide keys; ensure boats are covered and locked; outboard motors locked and slightly disassembled; ATVs disabled – leave nothing on trailers unless it is locked or disabled.

Leave no valuables at cottage – electronics, personal items, tools etc. unless you are prepared to lose them.

Who is your contact (key holder) for: alarms, thefts, weather damage or animal problems? Do you have their contact information numbers? Are they paid to check your cottage regularly or are they friends/neighbours?

Your insurance company may give you a deduction if you have one.

Secure your windows and doors – close window curtains or blinds and put up shutters to protect interior from marauders (both animals and human).

Record serial numbers of anything of value left behind.

Sporting goods – fishing rods & equipment, water skis, toys etc. – if they’re not secured, locked up, hidden or both, don’t expect them to be there next spring –

Lock them up or be prepared to lose them!

Make a list of where everything is and make copies – store one copy on your home computer and put a copy with property that will go back up to the cottage on the first or next trip (use your phone to take pictures).

Know which police force patrols your cottage area (which OPP Detachment and the phone number).
Safe travels while getting in these last few days of good cottage weather.

2016 Women of Distinction Award nominees announced

The YWCA Women of Distinction Awards Gala is a celebration of inspiring women in our community and this year’s nominees are no exception.

Kate O'BrienCloseUp

“Each of these women has shown devotion and passion for the work they do”, says Nominations Committee Chair and volunteer, Pat Sheppard, “Their nominators have proven these women have made a positive impression that deserves to be recognized.”


Alissa Ahsome, Michelle Ainsworth, Alison Brownlee, Jill Dunford, Christina Hunter, Arleigh Luckett, Kate O’Brien (left) Brenda Rhodes, Pamela Terreberry, Kerri Valentin, Penny Varney & Amy Wallace

YWCA Muskoka’s 2016 Women of Distinction Awards Gala will be held at the Mark O’Meara Clubhouse, Grandview Huntsville on Wednesday October 26, 2016.

Tickets are currently on sale for $80 general admission or $800 for a table of 10.

You can purchase your tickets online at www.ywcamuskoka.com, over the phone by credit card at 705-645-9827 or in person at YWCA, 440 Ecclestone Drive in Bracebridge, by cash, cheque or credit card.

The event is also accessible through www.eventbrite.ca

Proceeds from this event help support YWCA programs and services across Muskoka throughout the year. YWCA Muskoka operates without ongoing core government funding and relies on donations, program grants, and fundraising events including Women of Distinction.

Photo of Nominees (top l-r); Hannah Lin, Executive Director, YWCA Muskoka, Kerri Valentin, Amy Wallace, Penny Varney, Michelle Ainsworth, Brenda Rhodes
(bottom l-r); Arleigh Luckett, Christina Hunter, Jill Dunford, Alissa Ahsome.

Inset Kate O’Brien

Missing from photos Pamela Terreberry & Allison Brownlee

Three scary clown prank reports so far in central region

Ontario Provincial Police across the Central Region have had at least three reports of the Scary Clown prank which has been started recently on social media

Incidents in the United States of America have included social media threats (Instagram, Snapchat, and I Messenger) which advise scary clown(s) are going to attend school(s) or public areas and kill a specific person or people. There have also been incidents where person(s) dressed as clowns have been reported attending schools and public areas and in some instances chasing persons.

Police remind citizens that they should consider the following:

To scare children or anyone for that matter in parks near schools or in public areas is clearly wrong.

It could cause a false unnecessary lock down of a school or public government building.

If a weapon was brandished persons may be charged criminally for Weapons Dangerous to the Peace, Assault with a Weapon or Threatening.

If persons cause police officers to engage in false investigations that waste police resources they may also be charged with Public Mischief under the Criminal Code.

Algonquin Park to remain a park for the enjoyment of all

The Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario and the Algonquins of Ontario celebrated a major milestone in their journey toward reconciliation and renewed relationships today by signing a historic Agreement-in-Principle (AIP).

This is a key step toward a modern-day treaty to resolve a longstanding land claim that covers an area of 36,000 square kilometres in eastern Ontario.

“This major step toward Ontario’s first modern treaty shows what’s possible when strong partners work together in the spirit of reconciliation. More than a million people share this land with the Algonquins of Ontario, and a modern treaty will clear a path for neighbours to become partners, bringing new economic opportunities to their communities.”
— David Zimmer, Ontario Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation

The non-binding AIP paves the way for continued negotiations toward a final agreement that will define the ongoing rights of the Algonquins of Ontario to lands and natural resources within the settlement area.

“The signing of the Agreement-in-Principle today marks a critical step forward in a journey that began almost 250 years ago when the first Algonquin Petition was submitted to the Crown in 1772. As we move forward into the next phase of our negotiations, the Algonquins of Ontario look forward to working in cooperation with the Governments of Canada and Ontario to improve upon what we have achieved to date and build a strong and equitable modern-day treaty. We believe that together we can work towards reconciliation and securing the long delayed justice that the Algonquin people deserve.”
— Robert J. Potts, Principal Negotiator and Senior Legal Counsel, Algonquins of Ontario

The goal is to provide clarity going forward for all who live and work in the claim territory, balance the rights and interests of all concerned and create new economic opportunities for the benefit of the Algonquins of Ontario and their neighbours.


The AIP was shaped by consultations with the ten Algonquins of Ontario communities, other Indigenous groups and the public. This important dialogue will continue during the negotiations toward a final agreement.

The AIP sets out the main elements of a potential settlement, including that the Algonquins of Ontario would receive $300 million in capital funding from Canada and Ontario and approximately but not less than 117,500 acres of provincial Crown lands would be transferred to Algonquin ownership.

If the negotiators are successful in achieving a final agreement, it will need to be approved by the Algonquins of Ontario voters in a ratification vote and then by the Ontario Legislature and Parliament of Canada.

No privately-owned land will be taken away from anyone to settle the claim and no one will lose access to their private property.

Algonquin Park will remain a park for the enjoyment of all.

(photo via tanakiwin.com)

Sunshine in Bala for 32nd annual Cranberry Festival

Crowds have flocked to Bala this weekend for the ever popular annual Cranberry festival.

From cranberry crepes to boutique clothing and tours of the storied cranberry marshes, people from all over the province have had a fun filled time so far at this year’s festival, despite Sunday’s rain.

Check out our pics gallery (below) which have been updated throughout the weekend. (photos via Muskoka News Watch)

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Fire started in space below fireplace in Glen Orchard

The Muskoka Lakes Fire Department made quick work of a fire that broke out at a residence in the Glen Orchard area Friday night.

At 9:00 p.m., Friday, the Township of Muskoka Lakes Fire Department was dispatched to a report of a structure fire located at 1025 Apian Way Unit 10.

Upon arrival, people outside the residence reported that all parties from inside were out and described flames were coming through the wall and the ceiling of the lower bedroom.

A DSPA5, a portable hand grenade extinguisher, was deployed in the lower bedroom area while awaiting other members of the fire department to arrive.

Within minutes, the flames appeared to be extinguished.

When crews arrive, operations began to locate any hot spots and the seat of the fire. After removal of sections the floor in the master bedroom directly above lower bedroom, there was evidence of smoke was still coming from the fire place which abutted to this area.

The people from the residence stated they were using the fire place at the time. Despite removing all combustibles from within the fireplace, smoke and heat were still emanating from the area. Further investigation revealed that there was an ash collecting trap located at the back of the fireplace which people used to push there ashes into.

Surprisingly, there was no cleanout hatch underneath in order to shovel out the ash which had been pushed into the trap. It appears there is a large void space under the fireplace which people had swept their ashes and unburned small wood particles into.

Using the Thermal Imaging Camera, it indicated the fire was still extremely hot in this void and the smoke was visibly seeped out the cracks from the void. This in turn started the in joist of the jointing master bedroom to catch fire.

The fire is not believed to be at of a suspicious in nature.

Dallas Smith and the Odds to play CP Holiday Train stops this November

The CP Holiday Train is headed back to Parry Sound and Mactier this year, this time carrying a platinum selling country music star.

As in years past, two trains will operate coast-to-coast under the Holiday Train banner, with approximately 150 shows held in November and December.

Local stops include Mactier on Nov. 29th at the Old CP Station between  3 and 3:20pm with arrival time being 2:50pm and Parry Sound at the Festival Station Gallery, 1 Avenue Road, on the same date – arriving at 4:15pm, with the event happening between 4:30 and 5pm. Dallas Smith and the Odds will perform at both events.

Platinum selling Country star Smith has blazed a path across genres in Canadian music for nearly two decades and fans continue to prove they’ll follow him wherever he wants to go. The Vancouver, BC native has an armful of JUNO and CCMA Award wins and nominations and continues one of the most talked about journeys in Canadian country music.

“Being able to help local food banks across the country is something I’m excited to be a part of. I’ve toured Canada many times but not like this. I can’t wait for this amazing experience to begin.”

The train that operates primarily through the U.S. will launch in the Montreal area on Nov. 25, while the all-Canada train’s first shows will come a day later, also in Montreal. The U.S. train will complete its final shows in Saskatchewan on Dec. 15, and the final show of the tour will take place Dec. 17 at Port Coquitlam, B.C.

“We are very excited about this year’s CP Holiday Train and are encouraging all event attendees to bring healthy, nutritious food items to the shows,” said Pam Jolliffe, Interim Executive Director, Food Banks Canada. “For the last two decades, CP has played an integral role in raising essential food for the holidays and in raising awareness of hunger-related issues.”

Every pound of food and dollar raised at each stop stays with the local food bank to help feed those in need in that community.

(photo via CP Holiday Train FB page)

CRTC approves new country music FM station for Bracebridge/Gravenhurst

It’s sweet music for country music fans in Muskoka.

The CRTC has approved an application for a broadcasting license for a new country music station for Bracebridge/Gravenhurst.

Details about the approval can be found here.

On its website, muskoka102.ca, Country 102.3 FM pledges to be unlike any local radio station you’ve heard in Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, and Muskoka.

With a focus on local news, weather, sports and road info, airtime will be offered to community groups and individuals for drop-in interviews and spontaneous comments.

Also planned is a 1-hour interactive open line program each day between noon and 1pm to discuss key topics and issues important to those listening in the coverage area.

It’s currently not known when the new station will start operation.

(Photo via muskoka102.ca)

Five Niagara men fined over $8,000 for unextinguished campsite fire

Five men from Niagara Region have been fined more than $8,000, which includes wildfire firefighting costs, for a fire they didnt extinguish.

Kevin Visser, Kees Post, Chad Travers, Peter Schoon and David Stratton plead guilty to failing to extinguish a fire and ended up being fined $250 each totalling $1,250.

Then they were ordered to pay a total of $6,833.95 in restitution costs.

Court heard that on the 2016 May long weekend, the group were camping on the Mowat Forest Access Road in Mowat Township, Parry Sound.

On May 23rd, they started a fire to burn trash and then left their campsite shortly after.

Local citizens found the campsite ablaze and reported it to the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) 310-FIRE hotline.

The fire burned 0.7 hectares and had to be extinguished by ministry fire fighters.

Justice of the Peace Cornelia Mews heard the case in the Ontario Court of Justice in Parry Sound, on October 4th.

The ministry is reminding the public that all forest fires are investigated to determine cause. A person can be held responsible for the costs of extinguishing a forest fire, as well as for any property damage incurred and anyone who starts a fire has to keep it under control at all times and extinguish it properly before leaving the area.

If you see a forest fire, call the 310-FIRE hotline. If you have information about a forest fire, call the MNRF TIPS line at 1-877-847-7667 toll-free any time or call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Great Muskoka Paddling Experience happens this morning in Bracebridge

Paddlers will be out on the Muskoka River in droves today during the 6th annual Great Muskoka Paddling Experience.

The start line of the fundraiser for the Muskoka Watershed Council is in Bracebridge Bay, 1.4km from the put-in at Annie Williams Park where the finish line is as well.

As always, there are three OMCKRA sanctioned races taking place this year open to all levels of participants. Kayaks, canoes, SUPs and North Canoes are welcome.

The 10km race turnarounds on the mark opposite the Santa’s Village Park and returns upstream finishing at Annie Williams Park.

The 20 km race enters the south branch of the Muskoka River, continues to the 1st turnaround marker short of Muskoka Falls, returns to main branch, continue downstream to the turnaround marker at Santa’s Village Park finishing upstream at Annie Williams Park.

The 5km race will starts after the 20 and 10km races at Bracebridge Bay, going downstream to the turnaround marker at Hairpin Bend and finishing at Annie Williams Park. There will be safety and checkpoint patrol boats present on the river.

The weather for today is expected to be a mixed bag with a few showers ending in the morning then mainly cloudy with 40 percent chance of showers. Wind northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40. High 15. UV index 3 or moderate.

Organizers say to bring rain gear and dress for the worst and it will be better than that.

The Lions of Bracebridge will be serving hot breakfast and lunch meals starting at 7:30am.  Proceeds go to Lions’ charities.

A pre-race scouting paddle was made to check out the 5, 10 & 20km race course. And remember the Fall colours seem likely to peak this weekend at Muskoka.

You can still register Saturday morning. To find out how and for more information, visit http://www.muskokapaddlingexperience.com

(photo via MuskokPaddlingExperience.com)

2,600 pot plants discovered south east of Washago

Police have seized and destroyed 2,600 pot plants that were discovered recently in a large outdoor grow operation south east of Washago.

On October 5th, officers attended an address on the 5th Side Road in Ramara Township where they also arrested 10 people who were at the scene. They have all been charged with drug related offences, but were released on a Promise to Appear in Orillia Criminal Court on December 6th.

Members of the Orillia Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police are committed to public safety, delivering proactive and innovative policing in partnership with area communities. Officers value your contribution to building safe communities.

If you have information about suspected unlawful activity, please contact the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or visit Crime Stoppers at: www.crimestopperssdm.com or call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Gravenhurst garage fire caused $75,000 in damages

A Gravenhurst firefighter was taken to hospital Wednesday after fighting a blaze that caused $75,000 damage on Canning Road.

At 3:20 p.m., Wednesday, Gravenhurst Fire crews were alerted to a structure fire at 1056 Canning Road. Crews from Stations 1 and 2 responded to the incident and found a garage burning upon their arrival.

Firefighters made quick work of extinguishing the fire and prevented it from spreading to the attached home. Crews conducted extensive overhaul operations that continued until about 9:00 p.m. because of the nature of the contents in the building.

One firefighter was taken to hospital as a result of exertion, and was later released. Damage was contained to the garage and is estimated at $75,000.

The cause is not considered suspicious.

Province proposing changes to Ontario Municipal Board

Change could be on its way for the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

The Province of Ontario is undertaking a comprehensive review of how the OMB operates and its role in the province’s land-use planning system to help make it more efficient and more accessible to all residents.

The OMB plays a central role in Ontario’s land-use planning process as an independent, public body through which people can appeal or defend land-use decisions that affect their property or community.

“We know we have to take a good look at the OMB’s role in the land-use planning system. We want to ensure that the OMB is working as effectively and efficiently as possible. We’re seeking input in a number of areas, including what can be appealed, who may appeal and how the OMB hears matters.”
Bill Mauro, Minister of Municipal Affairs

As part of the review, the government is consulting the public on possible changes to the OMB that, if adopted, would:

Allow for more meaningful and affordable public participation

Give more weight to local and provincial decisions and support alternative ways to settle disputes

Bring fewer municipal and provincial decisions to the OMB

Support clearer and more predictable decision making

The changes under consideration would improve everyday life for Ontarians by providing easier public access to information about the OMB and its processes through an expanded Citizen Liaison Office. The proposed changes would also better specify what can be appealed to the OMB, as well as the mechanisms through which the OMB hears these appeals.

Ontarians wishing to participate in the consultation may submit comments online or in person at one of the town hall meetings being held across the province this fall.

Improving the OMB’s role in the land use planning system is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in talent and skills, including helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history and investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.

The OMB is an independent tribunal that makes decisions at arms’ length from the government. First established in 1906 as the Ontario Railway and Municipal Board, it is one of Ontario’s oldest tribunals.

The OMB has a mandate under many statutes, but the majority of its hearings relate to Planning Act matters.

Comments must be submitted by December 19, 2016.

Can you help police solve David Palmer’s murder?

For the past year, investigators under the direction of Detective Inspector Martin Graham of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) have been working to identify the person or persons who are responsible for the murder of 47-year old David Palmer.

As a result of the ongoing investigation, investigators know:

Mr. Palmer was reported missing on October 6, 2015.

He was last seen alive on October 2, 2015 as his image was captured on video surveillance at the Race Trac Service Station located on Highway 35 in Pontypool, Ontario where he purchased gas for his car.

On October 14, 2015, Mr. Palmer’s gold coloured 2002 Honda Accord, with Ontario Licence plate BWCZ 783, was recovered by police near Spruce Lake Trail, near the Village of Haliburton.

At the time of his disappearance, Mr. Palmer was wearing a dark coloured St. Louis Blues hat, dark coloured coat, a blue shirt, gray track pants and white running shoes. He is further described as being 6’ tall, 280 lbs. with brown hair and blue eyes.

On May 7, 2016, the OPP discovered human remains north of the Village of Haliburton and those remains were positively identified as belonging to David Palmer.

Searches conducted have failed to locate Mr. Palmer’s wallet and black Samsung flip style phone.

Also outstanding is the St. Louis Blues baseball hat that he is seen wearing after he serviced his 2002, 4-door, gold, coloured Honda Accord back on October 2, 2015.

With Fall now upon us and this weekend being Thanksgiving, it is anticipated that people will be turning to our forested areas to enjoy the changing colours from now until the days that lead up to the first snow.

The OPP is asking if anyone should happen to locate a wallet, a Samsung Flip Phone or a St. Louis Blues baseball hat to please contact the OPP immediately by dialing 911 – and please remember to not touch or move what you found.

The OPP is also asking that anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity and or vehicles in the Spruce Lake area before or during the month of October 2015 to please contact police.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact Detective Constable Matthew Carmichael of the City of Kawartha Lakes OPP Crime Unit by contacting him at 705-324-6741.

Anonymous tips can be made to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or online at www.durhamregionalcrimestoppers.ca or at: www.stopcrimehere.ca. Please remember that tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000 should your information lead to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for the murder of David Palmer.

Tips to prepare your Thanksgiving turkey safely

The Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit reminds residents to make sure you and your guests remember the Thanksgiving turkey dinner for all the right reasons by preparing the bird properly.

Proper food preparation and cooking for a large group is important to avoid foodborne illness.

Make “cook, clean, chill and separate” a part of your kitchen rules when you prep your turkey by following these tips:

· Make your fresh turkey the last item you pick up while shopping and use a separate bag for the bird to catch any leaking juices that could contaminate other groceries and surfaces. Refrigerate it as soon as you can.
· If you buy a frozen turkey make sure to thaw it in the fridge, microwave or under cold running water. Do not thaw a frozen poultry at room temperature – it allows harmful bacterial to multiply.
· Before and after handling the turkey wash your hands in warm water with liquid soap. Wash and sanitize all utensils, wiping cloths, countertops and cutting boards.
· Cook turkey to at least 82 C (180 F).
· When carving your turkey use a clean plate and utensils. Do not re-use utensils that have touched raw turkey unless they have been washed with hot, soapy water, and sanitized.
· Leftovers should be refrigerated promptly. Your refrigerator should be 4 C (40 F) or colder so that bacteria cannot multiply.

For more tips on preparing your turkey properly, call Health Connection Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 1-705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 or see www.simcoemuskokahealth.org

Barrie manufacturer fined $40,000 after worker was caught in a machine

Albarrie Canada Ltd., a company that manufactures industrial-use fabrics, pleaded guilty and was fined $40,000 after a worker was caught in a carding machine and suffered injuries.

On June 24, 2014, a worker who had been with the company for less than three months was assigned to work on a carding machine at the company’s facility at 85 Morrow Road in Barrie. The worker noticed that fibre was accumulating on the materials being processed on the machine – a problem usually a result of a vacuum head being clogged with fibre. To clear the vacuum head, the worker reached in under the table at the face of the carding machine. The worker was pulled into the machine, suffering injury and requiring municipal fire services personnel to extract the worker, as well as surgery for the injury.

The Ministry of Labour investigation found that there was no guard or other device that prevented access to the carding machine’s pinch point. This was against the requirements of Ontario Regulation 851 – the Industrial Establishments Regulation – that require a guard or other device to prevent access to a pinch point and nip hazards that may endanger the safety of any worker.

Albarrie Canada Ltd. pleaded guilty on August 23 was fined $40,000 in Barrie court by Justice of the Peace Ann C. Forfar on October 4, 2016.

New workers of any age who are on the job for less than six months, or who are assigned to a new job, are significantly more likely to be injured on the job than more experienced workers.

54 year old Parry Sound man charged with careless driving

A 54 year old Parry Sound man has been charged with careless driving after a collision on Highway 518 near Blackwater Road.

On October 4th at 12:39p.m., members of the West Parry Sound Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Seguin Fire Department and Parry Sound Emergency Medical Services (EMS) responded to the single motor vehicle collision.

The OPP investigation determined th vehicle had been travelling eastbound on Highway 518 when it left the roadway. The occupant sustained non-life threatening injuries and was transported to the West Parry Sound Health Centre.

As a result of the investigation, Gregory Gillespie, 54 years of age from Parry Sound, was charged with Careless Driving, contrary to section 130 the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario

The OPP Technical Traffic Collision Investigators were called in to assist with the investigation.

Highway 518 remained closed from Seguin Estates Road to Blackwater Lake Road as the investigation continues.

Food Drive collects record total of 14,500 lbs of food for Manna Food Bank

The Manna Food Bank in Bracebridge is thanking the entire town of Bracebridge for supporting the Fall Food Drive again this year after preliminary figures show a record total of 14,500 lbs of food was collected.

In a letter to the editor, Food Bank President Sam Robinson says it takes a lot of volunteers to run the food drive which is organized each year by the Muskoka Oldtimers Hockey Club.

“It takes a lot of volunteers to run the food drive; 55 drivers and 130 runners, many of them from Monck, Macauley and BPS, covering 43 routes, plus many more who gather at the Bracebridge Fairgrounds to unpack and sort the donated food,” he writes. “Bracebridge residents dug especially deep this year, giving a record total of 14,500 lbs of food. Cash and cheque donations have yet to be tallied.

“As always, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Oldtimers, led by Rob Fraser, for their hard work. The Fall Food Drive is Manna’s only community-wide food drive of the year, (the one at Christmas with the firefighters is for the Salvation Army, folks!) and it is an essential for keeping Manna going.
Most people know about the Fall Food Drive now, thanks to the fact that it has been going for more than two decades, and thanks also to the media outlets, churches and businesses that help spread the word.

And speaking of community support; we would also like to send a hearty thank you to Investors Group, which recently organized and donated to a comedy evening that raised more than $1,000 and hundreds pounds of food for Manna. This is becoming a tradition; assisting Manna while raising the community’s spirits, and we truly appreciate it. And thank you also to What’s Cooking Bracebridge, which also made Manna its charitable beneficiary at last weekend’s event.”

“We are particularly fortunate to have such a cohesive and compassionate community here in Bracebridge. Another reason to be grateful this Thanksgiving.”

Your sincerely,

Sam Robinson
President, Manna Food Bank.

Note – Cash and cheque donation totals should be available Wedesday October 5. They will be posted on the Facebook page and website when they are available.

UPDATE: Deceased in Highway 632 collision identified by OPP

UPDATE:  On October 4, 2016, members of the West Parry Sound Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) with the assistance of the OPP Underwater Search and Recovery Unit, located the body of a deceased 32 yr old male involved in the (below) collision. He has been identified as Scott Smith of Parry Sound.

Highway 632 has since been re-opened. The cause of the collision remains under investigation.

PRIOR: Police are still trying to figure out where the occupant(s) of a pickup truck that ended up underwater are.

On October 3rd at 3:17 p.m., members of the West Parry Sound Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Seguin Fire Department and Parry Sound Emergency Medical Services (EMS) responded to a motor vehicle collision on Highway 632 after reports were received that a vehicle had left the roadway.

OPP Investigation has so far revealed that a pickup truck had left the roadway and entered the water. The occupant or occupants are missing and the OPP West Parry Sound Detachment continues to investigate with the assistance of the OPP Canine Unit, OPP Technical Traffic Collision Investigators, and the OPP Helicopter.

Highway 632 was closed beginning at 930 a.m. from Rossmoyne Road to Maplehurst Road.

Updates will be provided as they come available.


Two facing charges after pot found in vehicle on Highway 400

Two men face pot possession charges after their vehicle was stopped by police on Highway 400.

On October 3rd at 1:38am, an officer with the West Parry Sound Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) observed a vehicle travelling northbound on Highway 400. A query of the licence plate revealed the registered owner was suspended from driving and a traffic stop was conducted.

During the stop, the officer discovered drugs contained within the vehicle.

As a result of the investigation, Jamil Ajeeb, 24 years of age from Sault Ste. Marie was charged with;

Possession of Schedule II Substance – Cannabis Marihuana, contrary to section 4(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act

Muslem Mohammad, 26 years of age from Sault Ste. Marie was charged with;

Possession of Schedule II Substance – Cannabis Marihuana, contrary to section 4(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act

Both were released with an appearance notice compelling them to court to answer to the charges at the Ontario Court of Justice on November 17th.

Bala Legion helping homeless veterans with $2,000 donation

At the recent Ontario regional convention of the Royal Canadian Legion, members of Bala Legion Branch 424, President Royce Jarick, Ross Smith, Greig Foord and Fred Orchard presented a $2,000 donation in support of Operation: Leave the Streets Behind.

This initiative is a Royal Canadian Legion program whose mission is “To ensure that every veteran who is homeless or near homeless finds the help they need to leave the streets behind.”

Through this program, homeless veterans receive rental assistance and help to ensure they have suitable and stable housing as well as medical assistance in the form of dental and vision assistance.

To learn more about Operation: Leave the Streets Behind, please visit http://www.on.legion.ca/veterans-seniors/homeless-veterans-assistance.

Membership Chair Dennis Mills says thanks for supporting Bala Branch 424 during its 70th Anniversary Concert Series. “With your help, your Bala Legion is able to support some of the most vulnerable people in our community — homeless veterans who have already given us all so much,” he said.

It’s time to vote for your favourite Bracebridge business

Voting is now open for the 23rd annual Bracebridge Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Business Achievement Awards Gala.

This year, the Chamber received 81 nominations from the community, which was asked to nominate a special Bracebridge business who provides exceptional service in one or more of the following 12 categories:

1. New Business of the Year Award
2. Established Business of the Year Award (Sponsored by TD Canada Trust)
3. Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award (Sponsored by RBC Royal Bank)
4. Best Retail Customer Service Award (Sponsored by the Bracebridge BIA)
5. Best Home Based Business Award
6. Service Provider of the Year Award (Sponsored by R&F Residential Commercial Design 
+ Build)
7. Tourism Award (Sponsored by Muskoka Tourism)
8. Female Business Person of the Year Award (Sponsored by YWCA Muskoka)
9. Male Business Person of the Year Award (Sponsored by Barriston LLP)
10. Accessibility Award (Sponsored by The Town of Bracebridge)
11. Innovation Award
12. Outstanding Contribution to Bracebridge Award (Sponsored by the Bracebridge 
Chamber of Commerce)

“Over the past year we have seen a positive change in the business community here in Bracebridge which shows through the thoughtful nominations and participation that we have received from the community through the nomination process.“ said Brenda Rhodes, Executive Director of the Bracebridge Chamber of Commerce.

Voting is now open and once again, the Chamber encourages the community to take the time to support the vibrant businesses by voting on who they believe deserve to win the awards.

Tickets are now on sale for the Gala and can be purchased by calling 705-645-5231. $70/person for Chamber members. $85/person for non-Chamber members.

Votes can be submitted by Clicking VOTE NOW! at www.bracebridgechamber.com.

4th annual Governance Workshop planned for Muskoka Charities & Non-profits

The Muskoka Community Foundation has announced it will host the 4th Annual Governance Workshop for Muskoka Charities and Non-Profits.

The workshops were created to allow board directors and organizational managers to participate in an interactive learning session within Muskoka.

Marg French, Chair of Muskoka Community Foundation says “this workshop offers an economical way for Muskoka charities and non-profits with scarce resources to learn about the most up to date best practices and requirements for boards and managers. In order to respond to an ever-shifting environment that demands increasing accountability and transparency, Muskoka Community Foundation believes providing educational opportunities in good governance and strategic leadership with a focus on financial sustainability is essential for the third sector in Muskoka”.

Don McCreesh will once again facilitate the daylong workshop, bringing with him his vast experience and expertise in the non-profit sector. Mr. McCreesh has provided both consulting and volunteer guidance to many boards and management teams on governance, strategy and organizational issues, while working to improve governance and strategic leadership. He is an active leader in voluntary sector governance with more than three decades experience and is an expert in governance, fundraising, accountability and management standards to Canada’s charitable sector.

This year’s workshop will take place on October 22nd from 8:30 to 4:30pm at the Terry Fox Auditorium at the Centennial Centre in Gravenhurst.

For more information or to register visit www.muskokacommunityfoundation.com or contact Program Director, Lynn DeCaro at 705-646-1220.

Gravenhurst Santa Claus Parade happens Nov. 26th

Gravenhurst’s annual celebration of the holiday season is set for Saturday, Nov. 26th.

For 2016, the theme of the parade will be “dreaming of a white Christmas.”

“This year we want to take Gravenhurst back to those classic Christmases of yesteryear,” says Sandy Lockhart, the executive director of the Gravenhurst Chamber of Commerce which organizes the annual parade. “We can all picture those traditional Christmas scenes – the family gathered around a roaring fire, decorations placed with care, ornaments on the tree and the snow softly falling outside. Where the float ideas go from there is only limited by imagination.”

The annual Gravenhurst Santa Claus Parade has drawn hundreds of people to downtown Gravenhurst for the past 62 years. The parade kicks off at 11 a.m., heading out from the Gravenhurst Legion, before proceeding down First Street and then onto Muskoka Road. Afterwards, Santa himself will be available to meet the young ones (and the young at heart) in the Terry Fox Room at the Gravenhurst Centennial Centre.

• Entering a float in the parade is free of charge
• Registration packages are available at the Chamber office located at 275 Muskoka Road North, or on our website at gravenhurstchamber.com
• The parade is organized and operated by the Gravenhurst Chamber of Commerce
• Contact the chamber at info@Gravenhurstchamberofcommerce.com if you are interested in parade sponsorship opportunities.

About the Gravenhurst Chamber: The Chamber works to develop and grow many local events, including the Gravenhurst Santa Claus Parade, Gravenhurst Car Show and Dockside Festival of the Arts. The Gravenhurst Chamber of Commerce serves as an advocate for member businesses, working to promote and enhance our community.

With over 300 members, the Chamber of Commerce is Gravenhurst`s largest business advocacy organization. The Chamber collaborates with community groups and organizations on initiatives and growth opportunities to benefit the town and businesses.

As a common voice, Gravenhurst Chamber members impact and establish the business community`s priorities.

Maasland homicide investigation team to receive an award

The police team that investigated the Paul Maasland murder case in Bracebridge is up for an award from their peers. The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) will honour some of its most outstanding members at its annual Accolade Awards today.

The awards are presented annually to both uniform and civilian members who have made noteworthy and meaningful contributions, including partnerships with other communities and police services/organizations. The award honourees represent excellence in various special team and individual categories.

Nominations are submitted by member’s peers, and are then reviewed by a distinguished panel of community members and OPP staff of various ranks. Ultimately, 13 remarkable individuals and/or teams have been chosen to be rewarded for their outstanding achievements.

The 2016 Accolade Award recipients are:

Officer of the Year

Detective Constable J.G. (Jeffrey) Nussey

Civilian of the Year

Ms. C. (Christine) Johnstone

Auxiliary Member of the Year

Auxiliary Sergeant P. (Paul) Elms

Jim Potts Award

Sergeant C.C. (Chris) Amell

Valuing & Supporting People

Ms. L. (Lynda) Ware


Middlesex Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Initiative Team (see below)


Paquette Homicide Team (see below)

Innovation & Creativity

Special Constable M. (Mark) Blocksdorf – Individual

Offline Record Acquisition (ORA) system – Team

Ms. A. (Andrea) Hayman

Mr. B.W. (Bryan) Johnstone

Sergeant N.L. (Nathalie) Rivard


Provincial Constable N.A. (Nancy) Wagner

Team Achievement

Maasland Homicide Team (see below)

Community Service

Provincial Constable S. (Sandro) Cave


Provincial Constable J.K. (Judy) King – Individual

Project Kirby Team (see below) – Team

Middlesex Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Initiative Team

Detective Sergeant B.G. (Brad) Durfy

Orillia ON

Provincial Constable J.C. (John) Ginn

Strathroy ON

Traffic Staff Sergeant A.I. (Anthony) Hymers

London ON

Provincial Constable K. (Karl) Johnston

London ON

Provincial Constable C.R. (Caroline) Kennedy

London ON

Provincial Constable T.P. (Tim) Kunkel

Strathroy ON

Provincial Constable C. (Chris) Mathurin

Strathroy ON

Traffic Sergeant B.M. (Ben) McIntyre

Ingersoll ON

Provincial Constable E. (Liz) Melvin

Strathroy ON

Provincial Constable P.J. (Pat) Mills

London ON

Provincial Constable D.W. (Dan) Milne

London ON

Provincial Constable Y. (Joe) Mohamed

London ON

Provincial Constable C. (Cory) Nelson

Strathroy ON

Provincial Constable T.M. (Toni) Reinholt

London ON

Sergeant D.S. (Dave) Rektor

London ON

Mr. D.J. (Derek) Rogers

London ON

Provincial Constable S.M. (Sue) Stewart

London ON

Provincial Constable V.P. (Pete) Stewart

London ON

Staff Sergeant B.D. (Bradley) Thompson

Strathroy ON

Provincial Constable L.A. (Lisa) Trahan

Strathroy ON

Provincial Constable R.P. (Richard) Trgovcevic

London ON

Mr. E. (Ewoud) VanGoch

Ministry of Transportation

Putnam ON

Paquette Homicide Team

Detective Inspector C.C. (Chris) Avery

London ON

Detective Constable V.L. (Vicki) Bradford

Petrolia ON

Detective Constable (Retired) C.A. (Colin) Darmon
Mount Forest ON

Detective Constable D.R. (Don) Drury

Petrolia ON

Mr. J. (Jeremy) Dupuis

Orillia ON

Detective Sergeant (Retired) J.K. (Jim) Falconer

Orillia ON

Provincial Constable S. (Saghar) Farnoosh

Embrum ON

Detective Sergeant S.M. (Sharon) Hanlon

Orillia ON

Provincial Constable H.B. (Bruce) Keefe

Petrolia ON

Identification Constable P.M.L. (Mark) Lancaster

Chatham ON

Mr. G. (Gerry) Lanna

Orillia ON

Detective Constable D.A. (Denis) Leblanc

Petrolia ON

Detective Sergeant T.J. (Tim) Mason

Petrolia ON

Detective Sergeant M.R. (Mike) McCabe

Goderich ON

Ms. M.L. (Martha) McDonald

Orillia ON

Detective Staff Sergeant K.J. (Kellie) McKibbin

Chatham ON

Ms. M.L. (Marg) McPhaden

London ON

Mr. B.J. (Brian) Peck

Centre of Forensic Sciences

Toronto ON

Ms. J.E. (Jennette) Sanderson

Orillia ON

Mr. P.J. (Phillip) Wilkinson

Orillia ON

Detective Constable J.L. (Jennifer) Wilson

Petrolia ON

Maasland Homicide Investigation Team

Detective Inspector C.A. (Craig) Abrams

Smiths Falls ON

Detective Sergeant K.G. (Kelly) Anderson

Orillia ON

Identification Constable S.R. (Steve) Barnstaple

Orillia ON

Mr. J. (Jaswinder) Brar

Ministry of Finance

Pickering ON

Sergeant B.E. (Brian) Crisp

Bracebridge ON

Ms. L. (Linda) Cowie

Orillia ON

Detective Inspector J.A. (Gilles) Depratto

Orillia ON

Detective Constable L.M. (Luc) Dumont

Huntsville ON

Detective Sergeant (Retired) J.K. (Jim) Falconer

Orillia ON

Superintendent G.P.J. (Guy) Faucher

Orillia ON

Mr. M. (Michael) Flosman

Ministry of Attorney General

Barrie ON

R. (Robin) Flumerfelt

Ministry of Attorney General

Toronto ON

Mr. R. (Robert) Gerard

Centre of Forensic Sciences

Toronto ON

Detective Constable E.D. (Don) Hammond

Bracebridge ON

Detective Constable J.H. (Jeff) Handsor

Huntsville ON

Detective Constable V.J. (Vicki) Hornick

Bracebridge ON

Ms. L. (Lyndsay) Jeanes

Ministry of Attorney General

Bracebridge ON

Mr. G. (Gerry) Lanna

Orillia ON

Ms. E. (Elspeth) Lindsay

Centre of Forensic Sciences

Toronto ON

Detective Constable (Retired) J.R. (John) MacDonald

Bracebridge ON

Ms. L.A. (Linda) Manovich

Orillia ON

Ms. C. (Christine) McCarthy

Centre of Forensic Sciences

Toronto ON

Detective Constable A.W. (Andrew) Muller

Huntsville ON

Mr. J. (John) Norman

Orillia ON

Provincial Constable (posthumously) B.J. (Brad) Pearsall

Bracebridge ON

Ms. K. (Kim) Sharpe

Centre of Forensic Sciences

Toronto ON

Mr. D.T. (Dave) Sibley

Orillia ON

Ms. K. (Kelly) Swift-Henderson

Orillia ON

Identification Constable (Retired) B.M. (Brenda) Thomas

Orillia ON

Mr. A. (Andrew) Wolf

Centre of Forensic Sciences

Toronto ON

Project Kirby Team

Constable E. (Ed) Armstrong

Windsor Police Service
Windsor ON

Special Agent J. (Jesse) Artiles

Homeland Security

Detective Constable P.M. (Paul) Bawden

Belle River ON

Detective Constable S. (Sara) Beck

Hamilton Police Service

Hamilton ON

Detective Constable D.W.R. (Dave) Bernier

Orillia ON

Detective Constable J.W. (Jamie) Blair

Orillia ON

Detective Constable C.E. (Curtis) Bohn

Orillia ON

Detective Constable M. (Micah) Bourdeau

London Police Service

Detective Sergeant A.J. (Andy) Bradford

Orillia ON

Constable S. (Steve) Brnardic

Windsor Police Service
Windsor ON

Detective Constable C.C. (Chance) Chase

Orillia ON

RIO H. (Heather) Christopher

Canadian Border Services Agency

Detective Constable W.G.N. (Bill) Crawford

Orillia ON

Detective Constable P.F. (Paul) Duarte

Orillia ON

Sergeant K. (Kyle) Hartley

Windsor Police Service
Windsor ON

Detective Constable D.M. (Derek) Helmke

Orillia ON

Detective Constable R.G. (Ryan) Hutchison

Orillia ON

RIO D. (Dave) Jackson

Canadian Border Services Agency

Special Agent M. (Mark) Jackson

American Task Force

Detective Sergeant T.W.J. (Todd) Landon

Orillia ON

Detective Constable T. (Thang) Ly

York Regional Police Service
Aurora ON

Constable J. (John) MacDougall

Windsor Police Service
Windsor ON

Constable P. (Paul) Maziak

Windsor Police Service
Windsor ON

Constable D. (Daniel) McKee

Windsor Police Service
Windsor ON

Constable J. (Jack) McMahon

Windsor Police Service
Windsor ON

Special Agent K. (Kristopher) Mead

Homeland Security

Sergeant M. (Marc) Murphy

Windsor Police Service
Windsor ON

Constable D. (Derek) Nurmi

Windsor Police Service
Windsor ON

Detective Constable M.C. (Mark) Piche

Orillia ON

Detective Staff Sergeant G.J. (Greg) Rossi

Orillia ON

Detective Constable I.T. (Ian) Rathbone

Orillia ON

Special Agent M. (Matthew) Rummel

American Task Force

Detective Inspector J.M.G. (Jim) Smyth

Orillia ON

Detective Sergeant M.C. (Mark) Wollocombe

Orillia ON

Detective Sergeant S.M. (Shawn) Zivanov

Orillia ON

Media Contact: Sgt. Peter Leon

OPP Corporate Communications

Phone: (705)



Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club set to open in July

The Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club is set to open in July.

The construction of the long awaited lawn bowling green in Bracebridge was completed on September 24th.

The green will be seeded and covered with a tarp, and carefully tended by the greens keepers at the Muskoka Highlands Golf Course until it is ready for play next summer.

The Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club received a grant for $150,000 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation in the spring of 2016. MJC Muskoka started construction on August 17, 2016, and took five weeks to complete this unique project.

“The crew worked long days and weekends to ensure that seeding will be done this fall,” said Sally Mills, President of the Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club. “In the end, the construction went very smoothly. MJC Muskoka was terrific to work with, and the crew has done an excellent job.”

Mills explained that the club is planning a grand opening around July 1, 2017. The event will be open to the community and everyone will be invited to come and roll a bowl. “Lawn bowling is suitable for ages 8 to 88. We are looking forward to introducing Muskoka to this fun, family sport.”

“The lawn bowling club is thankful for the encouragement and guidance of the Town of Bracebridge Recreation Department, the support of the Rotary Club of Bracebridge, the Bracebridge Lions Club, and the many generous donations from individuals who have helped to make this project happen”, Mills stated.

The club still needs funding to complete the facility (equipment, fencing, lighting, etc.). To become a sponsor, get involved and/or for more information, visit www.muskokabowls.ca, or email communications@muskokabowls.ca.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s largest granting foundations. With a budget of over $136 million, OTF awards grants to some, 1,000 projects every year to build healthy and vibrant Ontario communities: www.otf.ca.

Highway 118 East reopened following collision investigation

Highway 118 East near Carnarvon has been reopened following an investigation into a single vehicle collision.

Officers from the Haliburton Highlands Detachments of the Ontario Provincial Police attended on Highway 118 just west of One Mile Drive in the early morning hours.

The collision occurred at 2:00 a.m. when a single motor vehicle left the highway and struck a rock cut.

A lone male occupant received serious injuries as a result of the collision.

Members of Haliburton Highlands OPP and members of the Technical Collision section attended the scene for the investigation of the collision.

Additional assistance was provided by the Bracebridge Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police.

Highway 118 was closed for investigation of the collision and has now been opened to traffic.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Haliburton Highlands Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police.

MNR tracking “full sized” bear that was hit by a vehicle near public school

OPP and MNR officers are currently trying to track a large bear that was hit by a vehicle near a public school.

This morning at 7:20 am a collision occurred between a motor vehicle and what was described as “a full sized bear” on Old Barrie Road between Penetanguishene Road and Line 1 of Oro-Medonte Township.  This was near W.R. Best Public School.

School authorities were notified and the school along with its students were secured for safety.

Officers from the Barrie Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police are on scene along with Officers from the Ministry of Natural Resources who are currently tracking the bear.

The Barrie OPP, for the sake of public interest, would like to notify the public of this information so that if they see the injured bear they are asked to contact the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or the Ministry of Natural Resource at 1-866-514-2327.


Minimum wage increase takes effect in October

As part of its balanced plan to build Ontario up and help people in their everyday lives, Ontario is raising the general minimum wage from $11.25 to $11.40 on October 1, 2016 – the third consecutive year it has increased.

Minimum wage rates for liquor servers, students under the age of 18, hunting and fishing guides, and homeworkers will also increase at the same time.

In 2014, the government passed legislation to tie minimum wage increases to Ontario’s Consumer Price Index (CPI), providing annual, reliable increases to workers and predictability for businesses. As a result, full-time minimum wage earners in the province are making $2,392 per year more than they did three years ago.

This builds on progress the government is already making to support Ontario workers and help connect people with jobs including:

Modernizing the province’s employment and labour laws with the goal of improving the lives of vulnerable workers, while supporting business
Investing more than $1 billion a year in employment and training services

Helping low and middle income Ontario students with the cost of tuition in order to keep post-secondary education within the reach of all families, while building the best-educated workforce in the world

Investments of nearly $174 million in 2016-17 for programs that support apprentices, employers and training delivery agents

Improving access to labour market information and making it easier for job seekers to make informed decisions about their education, training and careers
Increasing the minimum wage in a fair and predictable manner is part of the government’s economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs.

The four-part plan includes helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest infrastructure investment in hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and transit in Ontario’s history and is investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.


This is the 10th minimum wage increase since 2003.

Minimum wage increases are announced by April 1 each year, and are in effect on October 1 of the same year.

The primary sectors employing minimum wage earners are accommodation and food, retail trade and agriculture.

Beaver Creek Prison under lockdown in Gravenhurst

Officials at Beaver Creek prison in Gravenhurst are keeping mum about what’s prompted a lockdown at the facility.

On September 27th, at about 8:40 p.m., the lockdown was put in place in the medium security unit at the prison to enable staff members to conduct an “exceptional search.”

Officials say the search was ordered to ensure the safety and security of the institution, its staff and inmates. Normal operations will apparently resume as soon as it is considered safe to do so.

Regularly scheduled visits may be affected. Visitors who have already planned a visit are asked to contact the Institution directly.

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) says it is committed to preventing the entry of contraband into its institutions. CSC also works in partnership with the police to take action against those who attempt to introduce contraband into correctional institutions.

Tougher penalties for drug impaired drivers starts October 2nd

If you’re high and behind the wheel, you’ll face stiffer penalties if caught starting in October.

The province is improving the safety of Ontario roads by bringing in penalties for drug-impaired driving that match those already in place for drunk drivers.

Starting October 2, 2016, drivers under the influence of drugs will face the following penalties:

A $180 penalty

An immediate licence suspension of three days for the first occurrence, seven days for the second occurrence and 30 days for the third and subsequent occurrences upon failure of a roadside sobriety test

A possible 90-day licence suspension and a seven-day vehicle impoundment following further testing by a drug recognition expert at a police station

Mandatory education or treatment programs, and installation of an ignition interlock device in their vehicle, for drivers with two or more licence suspensions involving alcohol or drugs within a 10-year period

These new measures were introduced as part of the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act last year. In addition to these penalties, impaired driving can lead to criminal charges which could ultimately result in a loss of licence, additional fines and jail time.

Keeping our roads safe is part of the government’s economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest infrastructure investment in hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and transit in Ontario’s history and is investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.


According to the Office of the Chief Coroner, 39 per cent of drivers killed on Ontario’s roads in 2013 had either drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol in their system.

Drug-impaired driving collisions in Ontario had an estimated social cost of $612 million in 2013.

The Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act was passed on June 2, 2015. It also included tougher penalties for distracted driving and “dooring” cyclists, as well as new rules for school crossings and pedestrian crossovers.

(photo via driving.ca)

Man charged with Stunt Driving on Hwy 69

A Scarborough man’s been charged with Stunt Driving after police say he was clocked going more than 50km/hr over the speed limit.

On September 27th at 2:25a.m., a member of the West Parry Sound Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) was on radar patrol on Highway 69 in Henvey Township.

The officer observed a motor vehicle traveling at more than 50 km/h over the posted speed limit. As the officer attempted to catch up, the vehicle followed a transport in an unsafe manner and then passed it. A traffic stop was conducted.

The driver of the motor vehicle, Hai Lun Li, 37 years of age from Scarborough was charged with;

Stunt Driving – Excessive Speed greater than 50km/hr. over the speed limit contrary to the Highway Traffic Act (HTA)

Careless Driving, contrary to the HTA

His driver’s licence was suspended for 7 days pursuant to the HTA.

Muskoka makes Expedia.ca’s top green locations in Canada list

Muskoka has made another top list, this time highlighting the region for its reputation as a leader in green initiatives.

Expedia.ca’s travel blog cite’s the district in its 17 Greenest Cities in Canada list.

The article is a part of Expedia’s Eco-Travel: Environmentally Conscious Tourism series.

Check it out to see why:


Lakeland Networks rolling out 1 Gigabit fibre service to rural homes and businesses

Lakeland Networks is changing lives by rolling out 1 Gigabit fibre service to rural homes and businesses.

The municipally owned company was first out of the gate in Ontario to bring 1 Gig service to businesses of Muskoka towns in 2014. Now, with the help of the Federal-Provincial Small Communities Fund, it has gone one giant step further, connecting even out-of-town residential customers with the highest Internet speeds available, anywhere.

It is the first Canadian company to make fibre to rural customers a reality.

Lakeland has released a video telling the stories of such customers, whom for less than $100 can now upload, download and browse using their blazing fast fibre connection. With no data cap, streaming of movies, videos, and TV shows has never been easier. Included is a fully featured phone line for local and long distance calling.

The attached video features Maria aka Nozie, who uploads her accordion performances in under five minutes from rural Bracebridge; Jennifer Maloney, a food blogger sharing recipes with large photos she could never have uploaded before, and who previously had little or no access to high speed of any kind from her home, east of Bracebridge; and Hannah, a high school student who used to struggle with uploading her homework and essays but no longer.

The ambitious $8.6 million project to extend Lakeland’s existing fibre network was made possible with $5.7 million from the Small Communities Fund. Since being selected for funding a year ago, the company has managed to roll out another 100 kilometres of fibre optic in areas beyond Bracebridge and Huntsville (such as Port Sydney and parts of Utterson). “We are very thankful for our federal-provincial partnership which we hope to build on, to provide high speed internet to more customers in rural Muskoka and other parts of Ontario” says Chris Litschko, Chief Executive Officer, Lakeland Holding Ltd.

“We’re well ahead of plan both in fibre construction and customer connections due to the quality and commitment of our great team,” says Litschko.

Lakeland Holding is owned by six municipalities, including Bracebridge, Huntsville, Parry Sound, Burk’s Falls, Sundridge and Magnetawan. Since 2007, Lakeland Networks has expanded its infrastructure to over 400 kilometres of fibre.

About Lakeland Networks

Lakeland Networks, a division of Lakeland Energy Ltd. is a subsidiary of Lakeland Holding Ltd. which is owned by 6 local municipalities: Bracebridge, Huntsville, Parry Sound, Burk’s Falls, Sundridge and Magnetawan. These municipalities amalgamated their electricity assets together to form Lakeland Power Distribution Ltd. (electricity distribution) and Bracebridge Generation (green waterpower electricity generation). Later, they created Lakeland Energy Ltd/Lakeland Networks to help support areas of business that needed assistance, providing services including high-speed fibre internet, VoIP phone service, point-to-point networking for business Internet, and full service IT and local area network and VLAN extension solutions.

For more information contact:

Bill Gispen, Manager, Lakeland Networks
1-844-662-7722 ext. 507

Video Title: A Canadian First: Rural Fibre to the Home. Video available at https://youtu.be/AcM0cYiOSbQ

Connect with the company:

Vehicle crash claims the life of well known community activist

Police say they’re investigating after a Hyundai Sonata left Hwy 11 Monday evening and crashed into a rockcut in Huntsville, claiming the life of a well known community activist.

It happened just after 8pm – Huntsville Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), along with Huntsville Fire and Muskoka EMS were dispatched to the crash.

Police say the Hyundai Sonata had left the road and struck a rock cut northbound north of Stephenson Road #1 in the town of Huntsville.

The deceased, according to a post on the page ‘Let’s make Bracebridge Great Again’ was the page’s co creator Steve Hern.

Police say the male driver was the only occupant of the vehicle and was taken to a local hospital with undetermined injuries at the time.

The investigation is continuing.

(Photo via Steve Hern’s FB Page)


Historic Gravenhurst Albion Hotel getting heritage plaque

The Albion Hotel is getting a heritage plaque.

The public is invited to meet with Town Councillors at the Hotel, located at 100 Muskoka Rd N, Gravenhurst on Saturday October 1st, at 6pm, as the historic landmark is recognised.

The ceremony will follow the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario’s General Meeting, which chose the Albion for this year’s meeting backdrop. Archivist Judy Humphries will be on hand to conduct a history of the Gravenhurst Albion Hotel starting at 5:00 p.m.

“It has been an exciting journey so far and we’re at a point where everyone is thrilled to see what has become of the Albion Hotel,” said Hank Smith, Chair of the Gravenhurst Municipal Heritage Committee. “The unveiling of the official bronze plaque will be the final step in recognizing this important heritage building in our downtown.”

Guy Gagnon, the hotel’s current owner, refurbished the exterior or the building in 2013, these renovations helped to secure a Built Heritage Award from the Municipal Heritage Committee.

Under the Ontario Heritage Act, the Albion Hotel was named a heritage site in 1983, giving it designation as a building of Cultural Interest. The hotel, which was constructed in 1888, replaced the original Albion that burned in the Great Fire of 1887. The Albion was constructed in the Gothic Revival period and is one of the few remaining examples in Muskoka of Century Hotel architecture. Special features of the building include the double window dormers, decorative rounded brick arches over the windows with wooden carved inserts which are all well preserved to this day. The structure was an important part of life during the lumber and steam eras.

Today the Albion is home to ‘The Arts at the Albion’ which moved into the Hotel in 2013 and occupies the area which was originally the kitchen and dining hall.

The building also contains a number of apartment units, David Dawson’s studio and the Albion Tavern.

Bracebridge Fire Department holding Open House

Bracebridge’s Fire Department is inviting the public out for a fun, informative evening about fire prevention.

On Wednesday, October 5th at 6:30 p.m. the Bracebridge Fire Department will be hosting an Open House at Station One on Dominion Street to celebrate this year’s Fire Prevention Week.

The Fire Department will be providing the public with a variety of information needed to ensure that Bracebridge families and local businesses remain safe for years to come.

The theme for this year’s Open House is “Don’t Wait, Check the Date”

Bracebridge firefighters will be informing residents to check the date on their smoke/carbon monoxide (CO) alarms and to replace them if required. Manufacturers recommend replacing a smoke alarm every ten (10) years and a CO alarm every seven (7) years. The Fire Department extends the invitation to come out and meet some of the local firefighters, indulge in food and refreshments, and win some great prizes.

Some of the fun activities being offered at the Open House are:

– Complimentary hamburgers, hotdogs;

– A children’s firefighter challenge (including extinguishing a simulated house fire; stop, drop and roll station; a hose carry; and a baby carry);

– How to prepare a home escape plan;

– Various giveaways and prizes;

– Try on fire-fighting gear and see the equipment used in emergencies;

– And don’t forget about meeting the department’s mascot “SPARKY the fire dog”.

“We look forward to spreading the fire safety message in a fun and memorable way,” says Fire Prevention Officer Mike Peake.

Every home in Ontario must have a working smoke alarm on every storey and outside all sleeping areas. In addition each home must have a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm outside sleeping areas. It is strongly recommended that additional CO alarms be placed in areas where fuel burning appliances are located, the distance from the appliances should be determined by the manual of the detector.

For more information about this informative event, email Peake at mpeake@bracebridge.ca or call the Fire Department at 705-645-8258.

(Photo via Town of Bracebridge)

OPP seeking tips about outdoor marijuana grows

The OPP would like to ask the public to be on the lookout for suspicious activity associated with outdoor marijuana harvesting.

Marihuana harvesting season is approaching and the OPP would like the assistance of the public in reporting suspicious activity. Usually outdoor marihuana is kept outdoors as long as possible to maximize the yield. The harvesting usually begins after the first frost of the year as most plants will not typically survive a second frost.

If you are out hiking in remote areas watch for the following telltale signs of outdoor marihuana grow operations:

Hand tools – shovels/rakes. etc.

Power tools – weed eaters/chainsaws. etc.

Watering supplies – hose/pumps/generators. etc.

Soil/peat moss

Fertilizer/grow chemicals

Plastic Barrels

Camouflage netting

GPS and radios

Camp supplies – sleeping bag/stove/lantern/tent. etc.

The OPP is requesting the assistance of the public in reporting potential grow sites. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Orillia OPP at 705-326-3536 or Call Crime Stoppers at 1-800- 222-TIPS. (1-800-222-8477) or submit your information online at www.crimestopperssdm.com if you have any information on this crime or others. Crime Stoppers does not subscribe to call display, you will remain anonymous. Being anonymous, you will not testify in court and your information may lead to a cash reward of up to $2,000.00.

Orillia man charged with possessing child porn

Members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Orillia detachment assisted by the Child Sexual Exploitation Unit have arrested and charged an Orillia man following a child pornography investigation.

On September 22nd, police say they arrested a 69 year old male for possessing child pornography.

Reginald Magee of Orillia is charged with three counts of Possession of Child Pornography.

The accused continues to be held in custody pending a bail hearing.

The investigation is continuing.

MAHC board appoints new directors

Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare is pleased to introduce three new Directors, appointed earlier this month to the Board of Directors following a recruitment drive this summer.

Rhonda Lawson joins the Board for a one-year term, bringing a wealth of board experience from for-profit and not-for-profit corporations. Ms. Lawson is a corporate executive who currently heads up her own human resources consulting firm.

Michael Walters has also been appointed to a one-year term as a board director, having served as a community member on the board’s Strategic Planning Committee last year. Mr. Walters is the Executive Director for the Georgian Bay Treatment Centre and has an extensive background in mental health.

Moreen Miller joins the Board for a three-year term with professional experience from the aggregate sector. She has also served on advisory boards for mining and aggregate, as well as land and watershed stewardship.

In addition, two new community members have been appointed to standing board committees. MAHC is pleased to welcome Linda Walsh and Adam Hutton to their community member role, joining Betsy Rothwell, Gordon Horne and Richard Augustine.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am excited to welcome these new members who bring the Board to our full complement,” says Board Chair Evelyn Brown. “We have a dedicated group of talented volunteers with diverse skills and I am looking forward to working with them.”

The Board of Directors is a 17-member skills-based, volunteer body with 12 elected directors. The Board plays a key leadership role in setting policies and visioning for the hospital and provides oversight of the delivery of health care in the communities that we serve. Learn more about the Board of Directors on our website.

Muskoka charity shortlisted for international award, but is unable to sustain 17 Girlz Unplugged groups

This year has brought a mix of great and not so good news to a local charitable organization.

YWCA Muskoka has been offering programs for girls and youth for almost 20 years through school based Girlz Unplugged programs, summer leadership and high school youth programs.

Thirty nine percent of the participants the organization serves are 18 years and under.

In May of this year, YWCA Muskoka was nominated by one of its funders for the “With and For Girls Award”.

In its 2nd year, this international award is given by a collective of 7 organizations united by a common belief that girls are agents of change, to 20 organizations from around the world and accompanied by a flexible cash grant and two years of organizational mentoring to build capacity and develop programs.

The With and For Girls Award highlights the accomplishments and dedication of locally led, girl-centred organizations that are based in the communities they serve and have annual revenues of less than $500,000US. Staff and volunteers at YWCA Muskoka also completed an application, provided a photo submission with the help of Girlz Unplugged program participants, and participated in a unique ‘Skype’ interview with a group of 17 and 18 year old young women from Chiapas Mexico.

In the end, YWCA Muskoka was one of 44 organizations shortlisted from 34 countries for the With and For Girls Award. YWCA Muskoka will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2017, an accomplishment particularly noteworthy as the local organization serves over 1200 people each year through a multi-site model that takes a wide range of violence prevention, leadership, and poverty reduction programs to participants across Muskoka’s largely rural region.

YWCA Muskoka works through partnership with school boards.

“To be nominated among girls-centred organizations from around the world, and then shortlisted is an incredible honour and really validates the quality of what we do as a ‘small and mighty’ community YWCA and reflects back to us what our funders and donors believe about the importance of working with girls and young women,” says Executive Director, Hannah Lin. “Our task now is to continue to deliver on our mission, stay true to our values, and find the means to keep on providing impactful experiences and developing innovative opportunities that involve girls as decision makers.”

YWCA Muskoka will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2017, an accomplishment particularly noteworthy as the local organization serves over 1200 people each year through a multi-site model that takes a wide range of violence prevention, leadership, and poverty reduction programs to participants across Muskoka’s largely rural region. YWCA Muskoka works through partnership with school boards and community agencies, and advocates and provides leadership on issues affecting women and girls. Doing the work without core operating funding from federal or provincial government has been an ongoing challenge for YWCA staff and board members for the past ten years and is getting tougher.

The organization has had to make the difficult decision this year to scale back one of YWCA Muskoka’s longest running programs, Girlz Unplugged, until sustainable funding can be found. For the past four years, Girlz Unplugged was funded by a grant from the Canadian Women’s Foundation. The grant also allowed the YWCA to develop the community based YWGRO mentorship program, but the funding came to an end in June and so far staff have been unsuccessful in securing another grant of a comparable size that would enable the YWCA to reach girls at all 17 schools in Muskoka. Prior to the CWF grant, the YWCA Muskoka had a few years of steady government program funding for Girlz Unplugged from Muskoka’s designation as a northern community.

The highly acclaimed and much in demand youth programs have been offered in every school in Muskoka, as well as Moose Deer Point First Nation. Girlz Unplugged programs had the benefit of 4 years of external evaluation to become evidence based, and YWCA Muskoka youth programs have proven to be highly effective at increasing self-worth, confidence and building peer support in young people, with additional sessions are often requested by school principals, teachers, parents and the students themselves.

The cost of one Girlz Unplugged program is in the range of $2500 to $3000 depending on location. This fall’s groups are being funding with the generous support of local service clubs including the Rotary Club of Bracebridge, Rotary Club of Gravenhurst, Stephenson’s Lions Club, and municipal community grants from the Township of Lake of Bays and the Town of Bracebridge. Funding is also being provided by the Kenny Foundation, the Brian Schaal Memorial Golf Tournament, and third party fundraisers including the Art in August event organized by Mary Spring of Huntsville; and the Dads of Muskoka’s Riverboat Cruise.

“We run with project and program specific grants, special events and fundraising, and the generosity of our donors. This year we’ve had 17 successful grants ranging from $500 to $90,000, and 9 unsuccessful grant proposals,” says Lin, “It breaks my heart that this may be the first in 15 years that we can’t just show up and make sure we’re there for the girls that need and expect us at each of Muskoka’s school through Girlz Unplugged. The demand isn’t going away, it’s actually growing, but competition for the grants is also growing and the number of funding opportunities and even the size of the grants are decreasing.”

The organization has hired a part time Development Coordinator, Tracey Mellersh who is focusing on individual donations and corporate giving.

Staff and volunteers are still hoping to raise $30,000 from grants, events and donations to be able to provide Girlz Unplugged to girls at 12 additional elementary schools in the 2016-17 school year and are investigating social enterprise options for further sustainability.

“R. gained so much confidence about herself, was surrounded by like minded girls and she felt so loved and respected. It’s a phenomenal program and I am so happy that she can be a part of it. All young girls should participate in a program like Girlz Unplugged, it is amazing the influence it has.” – Girlz Unplugged participant’s parent

For more information about YWCA Muskoka or if you have an idea about funding opportunities for girls, please contact Hannah Lin, Executive Director or Stacey Schat, Youth Programs Coordinator at 705-645- 9827 or email office@ywcamuskoka.com

‘The Iron Workers Union: Part 3’ starts October 15th at the Chapel Gallery

Seven artists – Chad Arney, Matt Church, Hilary Clark Cole, Andrew Cohrs, Mikaila Davidson, Brendan Duggan, and Deb Harkness – working in metal, have come together to create The Iron Workers’ Union: Part 3 that will be on display at the Chapel Gallery beginning on October 15.

“The show is a gathering of artists with metal in the blood,” states Clark Cole. “We all love the medium and enjoy exploring its endless possibilities.”

The historical roots of today’s artistic metalworkers span cultures, civilizations and the millennia. Three thousand years after iron ore was first plucked from the ground with curiosity to the time when the clank and clatter of the blacksmith’s anvil ushered in the Iron Age then to the Industrial Revolution that changed nearly everything, metalworkers have had a profound effect on civilizations.

Metalworking techniques are varied ranging from hammering, soldering, brazing, forging and welding that transform metal into objects that fire our imaginations, awe us with their beauty or encourage us to question why. “I find metal an infinite medium. I continually challenge myself to see what might be possible in metal and I have yet to find it,” comments Hilary.

Inspiration for their work is as varied as the group. “I get my inspiration from everything including mechanical and natural forms,” says Brendan. “It’s an accumulative process that will take a lifetime to complete.” When making pieces for this exhibition, emerging artist Mikaila, was inspired by science fiction movies, as she wanted to “make something that looked like it came straight out of an Alien or Predator movie, something that could give you nightmares.” Recycled materials found along roadsides, in the woods or trash that are left behind and forgotten are the muse for Chad who gives these modern day castoffs new life as fun and entertaining assemblages. Matt Church who comes from a long line of blacksmiths wanted to create something new, to break away from his usual way of working and force himself into uncharted territories.

Learning their craft has required years of schooling, mentoring, experimentation and practice. Some, such as Deb studied at college then went on to apprentice at a blacksmith shop for nine years before venturing out on her own. While Brendan trained at traditional schools, most of this knowledge of welding techniques came from working in a commercial welding shop. Although Hilary was trained in the disciplines of sculpture and welding at the Ontario College of Art and Design, over the years, she has often been forced to innovate because there was no one to teach her what she wanted to learn.

Visitors to this exhibition will see how these seven artists are able to work with the hard rigid metal of steel and found metal objects and transform them into fantastical found object sculptures, mechanical works, flowers or life-size animals. “I hope the viewer will realize how difficult and challenging this form of art can be,” states Deb. “I hope they enjoy the work and gets a sense of the many varied metal crafting techniques are and how they can be put together,” adds Brendan.

The Iron Workers’ Union: Part 3 opens with a public reception on Saturday, October 15 from 1pm until 4pm. The exhibition continues at the Chapel Gallery until November 12. The Chapel Gallery is located at 15 King Street in Bracebridge. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 10am to 1pm and from 2pm until 5pm with admission by donation.

For more information, please visit www.muskokaartsandcrafts.com or call (705) 645-5501.

Friends for Life OSPCA Walk in Bracebridge raises money for animals

The sun came out for those taking part in a fundraiser this morning in Bracebridge for the OSPCA.

The annual Friends for Life Walk was held at Annie Williams Park where the goal was to raise $17,000 for animals.

Those taking part in this morning’s fundraiser which started with registration at 9am and the walk getting underway at 10am, were able to raise money both online and via pledge sheets.

Games and a BBQ were also part of the day’s festivities.

To learn more about the Muskoka OSPCA Animal Shelter, visit muskokaontariospca.on.ca

(Photo via Muskoka OSPCA on FB)

Safety recall for 175 Model Year 2016 Toyota Prius vehicles continues

Toyota Canada Inc. (TCI) has announced it is conducting a safety recall of approximately 175 Model Year 2016 Toyota Prius vehicles in Canada.

In a statement on its website, Toyota.ca, the company reports that the involved vehicles are equipped with a front passenger airbag which contains stored, compressed gas in the inflator. A component in the airbag assembly may have been improperly welded and/or misassembled. If this occurs, the stored gas may escape without a deployment signal and result in the partial inflation of the airbag. This has been observed when the vehicle is parked and unoccupied for a period of time. An airbag that inflates in this manner can, under some circumstances, increase the risk of injury and the possibility of a crash.

All known owners of the involved vehicles will be notified by first class mail. Toyota dealers will replace the front passenger air bag assembly with a new one at no cost.

Information about automotive recalls, including but not limited to the list of involved vehicles, is subject to change over time. For the most up-do-date Safety Recall information on Toyota vehicles, customers should check their vehicle’s status by visiting toyota.ca/recall and entering the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

For any additional questions, customer support is also available by calling Toyota Customer Interaction Centre at 1-888-TOYOTA-8 (1-888-869-6828).

Cranberry harvest season has begun in Bala

Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh is buzzing as this year’s cranberry harvest begins.

The cranberry season is the busiest and most exciting time of year for Johnston’s – and this year is no exception. Despite a summer drought, this year’s harvest may be the biggest crop ever with an anticipated 500,000 pounds of cranberries.

Farmer Murray Johnston has been closely watching this year’s crop.

“Rain is important for fruit growth. Our cranberries need an inch of water per week. While it’s been a dry summer, we can rely on our irrigation system to mimic rainfall,” says Murray Johnston.

Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh consistently produces the best quality cranberries in Ontario by using a harvesting method only used by 5% of growers in Canada. The picking method most commonly used by other growers takes a machine to ‘beat’ the vines, knocking off the cranberries. Most growers harvest this way because it’s fast and easy – and makes for fun commercials.

The Johnston family believes that gentle handling makes for better berries. They carefully comb their berries off the vines, resulting in less bruising and better quality fruit.

“Many people don’t fully realize the care and skill our team put into the cranberries we grow,” says Murray Johnston. “We plan to share as much of the process as possible with consumers so they feel an even stronger connection when they visit the farm.”

Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh, home of Muskoka Lakes Winery, offers their Bog to Bottle Discovery designated a Canadian Signature Experience. This guided farm tour and tutored wine tasting is offered every day at 11, 1 and 3. The tour has been revised this year to share even more interesting information about harvesting, cranberries, the onsite winery, and the Johnston family history. Harvest season at the Farm offers plenty of ways to celebrate Muskoka’s native fruit.

Activities offered everyday:

 Daily tours @ 11, 1 & 3

 See the harvesting and packinghouse operations

 Enjoy a wine tasting  Shop in The Cranberry Emporium

 Relax on the wine and cheese patio

 Sample cranberry goodies at the Cranberry Cafe (Open daily Oct. 1 – 16)

 Hike the trails

 Hunt for geocaches

 Critter catching for the kids

Activities offered weekends only:

 Wagon Tours offered all day (weekends between Sept. 24- Oct. 16)

 Helicopter Rides (weekends between Oct. 8-Oct. 16)

 Walk in the Berries (weekends between Oct. 8-Oct. 16)

The beginning of harvest season, is a unique time to visit Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh as they harvest a large percentage of white cranberries. The white cranberries are used to make Muskoka Lakes Winery’s White Cranberry Wine – a wine unlike any other in Canada. With 27 acres of cranberries to pick, harvesting should last until the end of October.

For more information, contact: Matt French at 705-762-3203 or by email, at: matt@cranberry.ca

Huntsville embarks on dark sky friendly info campaign

By Matt Sitler

The Town of Huntsville is embarking on a dark sky-friendly outdoor lighting information campaign to encourage residents to minimize light pollution in and around Huntsville.

The information campaign is to accompany the Outdoor Lighting By-law, a new by-law passed by Town Council in January 2016, requiring outdoor lighting fixtures to be dark sky-friendly.

“When we minimize light pollution, we are protecting the natural environment and maintaining a view of the night stars that most tourists rarely see,” said Councillor Bob Stone, one of the proponents of dark sky-friendly outdoor lighting.

Stone notes that there can be some misunderstanding about what dark sky-friendly outdoor lighting entails.

“We are not asking anyone to get rid of their outdoor lighting; we’re simply asking them to make sure the light is directed where it is intended and nowhere else,” he said, adding, “In the vast majority of cases, your lighting can achieve the purpose for which it was intended and still be dark sky-friendly and in compliance with the bylaw.”

All new fixtures are required to comply with the Outdoor Lighting By-law immediately. Residents have until January 2026 to bring existing fixtures into compliance.

“Ten years is a long time, and we did that on purpose,” Stone notes. “We’re hoping that as residents and businesses come to understand that they can be safe, secure, and well-lit – and still be dark sky-friendly – we hope everyone will want to comply. But that may take some time.”

For information about dark sky-friendly Outdoor Lighting and how to bring your outdoor lighting into compliance with the new by-law while still achieving your outdoor lighting goals, visit the Town’s Outdoor Lighting page.

Meth, cocaine seized in highway arrests

Two people face drug charges after police learned they were wanted on outstanding warrants & travelling the 400 in a speeding vehicle.

It happened on Wednesday at 9:14pm, when an officer with the West Parry Sound Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) observed the vehicle travelling northbound on Highway 400.

During the stop, the officer learned that the occupants of the vehicle, including the driver, were wanted for warrants in other jurisdictions.

The occupants were arrested and the vehicle was searched.

As a result of the investigation:

Whitney THOMPSON, 30 years of age from North Dundas was charged with;

Speeding, contrary to section 128 of the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario,
Possession of Schedule I Substance – Methamphetamine, contrary to section 4(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA)
Possession of Schedule I Substance – Cocaine, contrary to section 4(1) of the CDSA
Three counts – Fail to Comply with Recognizance, contrary to section 145(3) of the Criminal Code (CC)

Correy GORDON, 38 years of age from Sudbury was charged with;

Possession of Schedule I Substance – Methamphetamine, contrary to section 4(1) of the CDSA
Possession of Schedule I Substance – Cocaine, contrary to section 4(1) of the CDSA
Five counts – Fail to Comply with Recognizance, contrary to section 145(3) of the CC

Both were held in custody pending a bail hearing.


Tuesday rollover victim succumbs to injuries

by Matt Sitler

One of the victims in Tuesday’s rollover north of Highway 12 has died.

The Orillia Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is still investigating the crash, which happened in Ramara Township.

At 7:31 a.m., on Tuesday, police were dispatched to County Road 46 north of Highway 12 where officers discovered the scene, which involved one vehicle. The 22 year old male driver from Selkirk was ejected from the vehicle and suffered life threatening injuries.

The 21 year old female passenger from Sebright suffered minor injuries.

The two occupants of the vehicle were transported by ambulance to a local hospital and the male was later air lifted to a Toronto trauma centre.

Police say the driver, Jacob Haylock, has since succumbed to his injuries and died yesterday.

The OPP Technical Collision Investigators (TCI) is continuing their investigation into the cause of the collision.

Province launches consultations to develop new dementia strategy

Ontario is launching consultations across the province to help develop a new dementia strategy, which will improve access to quality care for people living with dementia and boost support for those who care for them.

September 21st is World Alzheimer’s Day, and starting today, the province is inviting Ontarians to share their views on the new strategy through an online survey and will hold in-person consultations this fall.

Public input is being sought on key issues, including:

Providing supports to help people with dementia live well

Ensuring access to the right information and services at the right time

Coordinating care between health care and other service providers

Supporting care partners with their caregiving responsibilities

Having a well-trained workforce to provide dementia care

Raising awareness and reducing stigma about brain health and dementia.

There are approximately 228,000 people in Ontario currently living with dementia, with the number expected to grow as the population ages.

To support the consultations, the province has released Developing Ontario’s Dementia Strategy: A Discussion Paper, which is based on feedback from health care providers, people living with dementia and care partners from across Ontario.

The development of a comprehensive dementia strategy builds on Ontario’s current investments in improving the lives of people living with dementia and their families. This includes $31 million to strengthen Alzheimer Society chapters across Ontario and $54 million in annual funding to Behavioural Supports Ontario, as well as support for the Finding Your Way initiative that helps people living with dementia live more safely in their community.

Developing Ontario’s dementia strategy is part of the government’s plan to build a better Ontario through its Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care, which is providing patients with faster access to the right care, better home and community care, the information they need to live healthy and a health care system that’s sustainable for generations to come. It is also part of Ontario’s Patients First: Roadmap to Strengthen Home and Community Care, which is the government’s plan to improve and expand home and community care over the next three years.


Dementia describes a group of conditions that affect the brain and cause problems with memory, thinking, speaking or performing familiar tasks. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.

The dementia strategy public consultation will build on discussions Ontario has held over the last year with people living with dementia and care partners who shared their personal experiences, as well as health care professionals and other experts.

Two people charged with possession of cannabis

Two Parry Sound residents face charges after police searched a vehicle on Bowes Street last night.

On Tuesday at 7:53pm, an officer with the West Parry Sound Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) conducted a traffic stop on Bowes Street in Parry Sound.

During the stop, the officer observed a male passenger known to be wanted by police for failing to comply with his recognizance. During the interaction the officer observed Cannabis Marihuana and as such, both males were taken into custody and the vehicle was searched.

As a result of the investigation, Bradey RICHARDS, 18 years of age from Parry Sound was charged with:

Possession of Schedule II Substance – Cannabis Marihuana Under 30 grams contrary to section 4(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA)
Fail to Comply with Recognizance, contrary to section 145(3) of the Criminal Code (CC)
Possess unmarked cigarettes, contrary to section 29(2) of the Tobacco Tax Act (TTA)
He was held in custody pending a bail hearing.

Kenneth MALLETTE, 53 years of age from Parry Sound was charged with:

Possession of Schedule II Substance – Cannabis Marihuana Under 30 grams contrary to section 4(1) of the CDSA
Possession of Schedule I Substance, contrary to section 4(1) of the CDSA
Possess unmarked cigarettes, contrary to section 29(2) of the TTA

MALLETTE will appear before the Ontario Court of Justice in Parry Sound on October 20, 2016 to answer to his charges.

Barrie contractor fined $60,000 after worker was killed in a fall

M. Fuda Contracting Inc., a company providing construction site servicing, has been fined $60,000 after a worker was killed in a fall.

On February 4, 2014, workers were dismantling and removing trench boxes from a 20-foot deep excavation site at a construction project located at Bayview Drive and Churchill Drive in Barrie, Ontario. Two workers were removing pins that connected two trench boxes stacked one on top of the other. One worker stood on a ladder to reach the pin. After the last pin was removed the upper trench box shifted, and the worker on the ladder fell. That worker later died from head injuries.

The Ministry of Labour investigated and found that the upper trench box was not stabilized during the removal of the pins. The workers had not received any training on how to safely remove trench boxes from an excavation site. This was in violation of section 25(2)(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

M. Fuda Contracting Inc. pleaded guilty and was fined $60,000 by Justice of the Peace Susan Hilton on September 20, 2016 in Barrie. In addition to the fine, the court imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.

Coffee, obscenities hurled at man in Parry Sound parking lot

Police say obscenities and coffee were hurled recently at a man in Parry Sound.

On September 16th, at 11:13am, members of the West Parry Sound Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) responded to a disturbance that took place at a parking lot on Joseph Street in the Town of Parry Sound.

The OPP investigation determined that one male began yelling obscenities at another male in the parking lot. The male that was yelling then threw a cup containing coffee at the victim.

As a result of the investigation, Shaun Arnold, 30 years of age from Carling Township was arrested and charged with:

Assault, contrary to section 266 of the Criminal Code (CC)
Mischief under $5000, contrary to section 430(4) of the CC.

The accused will appear before the Ontario Court of Justice in Parry Sound on October 20, 2016 to answer to his charges.


Lady Muskoka celebrating its 25th Anniversary this week

On Wednesday September 21st, Bonnie and Al McLellan will celebrate 25 years to the day of hosting guests aboard the Lady Muskoka.

Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith will be recognizing the McLellan’s for their years of service in the Tourism Industry at the Lady Muskoka Dock.

Date: Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Time: 11:30 a.m. Location: Lady Muskoka Dock at the Quality Inn (300 Ecclestone Dr.)

Plans for new Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club moving ahead

A recent donation will be put towards the realization of the new Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club facility, but still more is needed.

Sally Mills, Club President, was thrilled to receive a $1,000 donation this week from the Rotary Club of Bracebridge.

“Although the Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club received a generous $150,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to construct the green, the club still needs funding for planned fencing, landscaping, seating and lighting,” Mills explained. “We are very grateful to the Rotary Club for their support for this community project. We look forward to hosting the Rotary Club at the lawn bowling club when it opens next summer.”


The construction of the lawn bowling green on the grounds of the Muskoka Highlands Golf Links is expected to be completed this week. Mills stated that “MJC Muskoka has been working long hours on this project, which started in mid-August. If the weather cooperates, the greenskeeper at the Muskoka Highlands is looking forward to being able to seed the green soon.”

To become a sponsor, get involved, or for more information about lawn bowling, visit www.muskokabowls.ca or email communications@muskokabowls.ca

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s largest granting foundations.

With a budget of over $136 million, OTF awards grants to some, 1,000 projects every year to build healthy and vibrant Ontario communities: www.otf.ca

Four hospitalized after rollover north of Hwy 12

Orillia Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is investigating a single vehicle rollover that resulted in four people being hospitalized with one airlifted to Toronto.

Today at 7:31 a.m., police were dispatched to County Road 46 north of Highway 12.

The 21 year old male driver from Selkirk was ejected from the vehicle and suffered life threatening injuries. The 22 year old female passenger from Sebright suffered minor injuries. The two occupants of the vehicle were transported by ambulance to a local hospital and the male was later air lifted to a Toronto trauma centre.

The OPP Technical Collision Investigators (TCI) is currently at scene investigating the cause of the collision. County Road 46 will be closed in both directions at Highway 12 until further notice.


Flouride to remain in Township of Muskoka Lakes’ water supply

Muskoka Lakes Council has voted 5-4 to keep fluoride in Township water.

The decision came down Friday after councillors were asked to weigh in on the issue. Most recently local dentist Dr. Luks and Simcoe-Muskoka’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardiner provided their opinion that fluoride should remain. Both were delegations at Friday’s meeting.

Opponents of the practice had wanted the District to remove it from Muskoka Lakes’ water due to its purported ill health effects.

In August the Township’s committee of the whole had voted to remove it.

West Muskoka Food Bank is on the move

The West Muskoka Food Bank is on the move.

The decision came after a council vote on Friday, after food bank organizers signalled that they needed more space.

More from the food bank’s Terry Chute:

“This morning (Sept 16th) the council of the Township of Muskoka Lakes gave final approval of the move of the food bank from the First Muskoka Church to a new location in the Glen Orchard Community Centre located directly across from the Glen Orchard Public Elementary School.

We are sad to say good bye to the First Muskoka Church location and the generosity of the folks there who have provided us with accommodation for the past 5 years. However they have assured us of their continued commitment to our cause and their blessing. We thank them very much for helping us get started.

As our programs grow and client base increases we find ourselves in need of more space. The basement of the community centre is ideal for this. There is lots of room to house all of the food bank in 1 room. In addition there is potential for starting a thrift store and/or a community kitchen in the future. Access is improved with fewer stairs. The location is right across from the school where a number of our client families attend.

Be assured that, although we are no longer in a church building, we remain a faith based organisation committed to welcoming and loving people of all faiths or no faith at all.

We will be moving next Thursday am from 9:00 – 11:00 am. If you have time to help us then or help pack boxes a few days before, please call Marilyn at 705 644 4345. Thank you.”

Resident tased in Parry Sound after police get call for help

OPP in Parry Sound say they tased a man after receiving calls for help from a local apartment building.

On Friday, members of the West Parry Sound Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) were dispatched to a 9-1-1 call for help to an apartment building on Railway Avenue in Parry Sound.

Police knocked on the door and checked the windows. They say furniture was knocked over and garbage was all over the floor.

Police then kicked in the door where they say they were confronted with a man holding a hand gun. Police deployed a Conductive Energy Weapon (Taser) and disarmed the man.

The handgun appeared to be a Glock was in fact a gas powered pellet gun.

45 yr old David O’HAGAN of Parry Sound was arrested and charged with:

· Pointing a Firearm contrary to the Criminal Code (CC).

· Careless use of Firearm, Weapon, Prohibited device or ammunition contrary to the CC.

The accused will appear in the Ontario Court of Justice in Parry Sound on October 20th, 2016 to answer to his charges.

Fellow councilors order Nishikawa to pay part of defamation judgment

Township of Muskoka Lakes Council wants Councilor Ruth Nishikawa to pay up after a judge found her guilty of defaming former Councilor Ron Brent.

At Friday’s council meeting, Councilors voted 5-4 to resolve that Nishikawa should pay the Township’s $25,000 deductible on its insurance policy – instead of sticking the Township, and in turn, taxpayers, with the entire bill for the judgment against her. A judge previously ordered Nishikawa to pay $30,000 in damages plus court costs, but until now, it was believed Township insurance would cover the entire bill, less the $25,000 deductible the Township would have to pay.

All Councilors, including Nishikawa, voted on the resolution. Nishikawa voted to abstain on the matter. A vote to abstain is counted as a ‘no’ vote.

Councilors Harding, Currie and Kruckel also voted not to penalize Nishikawa.

Brent says he feels justified now on two fronts.

“I’m glad a judge agreed with me and now a majority of councilors have agreed that I was wronged and she should pay.”  – Ron Brent

He adds he thinks the decision to first cover Nishikawa with Township insurance was mishandled and never even voted on by the previous council, giving her free rein to not have to apologize. Before taking her to court, Brent asked Nishikawa to apologize for sending a defamatory email to a private individual and Township and District Councilors. In the email, Nishikawa claimed Brent had divulged confidential closed session information.

“They [the past council and administration] should never have covered her in the first place. If she had thought she might be on the hook for money for damages, perhaps she would have simply apologized as I had asked,” continued Brent.

Brent says he will donate money received to Andy’s House Hospice.

Two people caught sleeping in stolen car

On Tuesday at 10:28 am, a member of the OPP’s Highway Safety Division responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle and located it parked on Hoddy’s Side Road in McDougall Township.

The investigation identified it as a stolen vehicle from Mississauga and the two people in the car who were sleeping were awakened and arrested.

Marco GRENIER, 38 years of age from Niagara Falls was charged with:

Possession of Property Obtained by Crime over $5000 contrary to the Criminal Code (CC).
Possession of Weapon for Dangerous Purpose contrary to the CC.
Take Motor Vehicle Without Consent contrary to the CC.
Breach of Recognizance contrary to the CC.
Fail to comply with Probation Order contrary to the CC.
Driving while under suspension contrary to the Highway Traffic Act (HTA).
The accused was held for bail and will appear in the Ontario Court of Justice in Parry Sound.

Corrinda BELANGER, 32 years of age from St. Catharines was charged with:

Possession of Property Obtained by Crime over $5000 contrary to the CC.
Occupant of Motor Vehicle Taken Without Consent contrary to the CC.
Fail to comply with Probation Order contrary to the CC.

The accused will appear in the Ontario Court of Justice in Parry Sound on October 20, 2016.

2nd Class Action meeting scheduled re: Spring Flooding

The legal requirements for a $900 million Class Action lawsuit against the MNR over the 2016 Spring flooding is moving forward this week in Toronto.

Another public meeting on the issue has been scheduled for this coming Sunday in Muskoka.

WHAT: A group of concerned Muskoka region residents have joined together to file the lawsuit against the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to recover the cost of property damage from the spring 2016 flooding.

WHO: Residents with properties on Lake Muskoka, Lake Joseph and Lake Rosseau that suffered property damage during record breaking spring 2016 flooding are working together to file the suit. Residents that suffered property damage are urged to attend the meeting. Property owners who are concerned that spring flooding will continue should also attend.

WHY: The suit takes the position that the Ministry of Natural Resources was negligent and mismanaged water levels throughout the Muskoka watershed leading to extensive flooding and property damage. The suit contends that the damage was largely avoidable and that the water levels in the Muskoka watershed were not managed as required by the Muskoka River Water Management Plan.

WHEN: Sunday, September, 18 at 9:30 a.m.

WHERE: Port Carling Community Centre, 3 Bailey St, Port Carling, ON P0B 1J0

Greenstone man charged with stunt driving

On September 11th, an OPP officer conducting radar enforcement on Highway 124 in McDougall Township witnessed a vehicle being operated at a high rate of speed.

It happened shortly before midnight 11:54 p.m. and the east bound vehicle was stopped for “Stunt Driving”.

The driver, 45 yr old Stephane Roy of Greenstone, was charged with:

· Race a Motor Vehicle contrary to the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario (HTA).

· Fail to surrender licence contrary to the HTA.

· Fail to surrender Insurance Card contrary to the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act (CAIA).

The driver was served a summons requiring him to attend the Ontario Court of Justice in Parry Sound on November 1, 2016 to answer to the charges. His licence was suspended for seven days and the vehicle he was operating has been impounded for seven days.

Every person convicted of Race a Motor Vehicle is liable to a fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both, in addition to his or her driver’s licence being suspended.

Bracebridge Generation buys three water power generation companies

Bracebridge Generation has purchased three waterpower generation companies located in Haliburton County.

The acquired companies are Drag River Water Power Inc. and Irondale River Water Power Inc. both located near the Village of Haliburton, and Elliott Falls Power Corporation located near Minden.

“These acquisitions are part of a long term strategic plan to grow our green energy generation portfolio” said Chris Litschko, Chief Executive Officer of Lakeland Holding Ltd. “Company growth over the past 10 years has resulted in our staff becoming experts in construction, operation and maintenance of green electricity generation. Important to the Elliott Falls acquisition is it provides us with the ability to upgrade that facility in the future to produce more green power.”

Bracebridge Generation already owns a waterpower generation plant in Bancroft with staff travelling from its Bracebridge headquarters to service the plant.

“These acquisitions made operational sense since we were already travelling past them on our way to Bancroft. Adding these new facilities will improve efficiencies and reduces our overall costs” said Vince Kulchycki, Chief Operating Officer, Lakeland Holding Ltd.

In addition to these three acquisitions the company also started construction in 2016 on a $16.9M upgrade at its Cascade Generation station in Parry Sound.

“After years of negotiations we are fortunate to announce these acquisitions and the commencement of a multi- million dollar upgrade in Parry Sound all within months of each other,” said Litschko.

The acquisition near Minden took seven years of negotiations.

“I liked this plant from the start and it was obvious the owners took as much pride as we do in its operation and maintenance. A lot can happen over seven years, so to finally obtain this generation company was very gratifying and we look forward to generating green electricity well into the future.”

With these three acquisitions and after completion of the Cascade generation station upgrade in 2017, Bracebridge Generation will have invested $50M since 2005.

The investments have increased its green waterpower generation portfolio from three generation plants producing 2 megawatts to nine plants producing 15 megawatts that at full capacity can supply up to 13,500 homes with green electricity.

Company growth has occurred through mergers, acquisitions, expansions and station upgrades resulting in ownership of waterpower generation plants throughout the provincial areas of Hastings, Haliburton, Muskoka, Almaguin and Parry Sound.

New measures will transform political fundraising in Ontario

Ontario is reintroducing measures to change the way political parties raise and spend money after hearing from the public, experts and opposition parties.

The government’s proposed Election Finances Statute Law Amendment Act would make the province’s election financing system among the strongest and most transparent in Canada. Key reforms include:

Barring corporations, unions and other groups not affiliated with political parties from making political donations,

Creating new restrictions on fundraising for politicians and political parties

Limiting third-party spending on political advertising.

The proposed legislation builds on a similar bill introduced in May 2016 and includes a broader range of legislative measures that would go even further to ensure greater transparency and accountability of parties and candidates to the public.

“With our government’s proposed reforms, Ontario’s electoral financing system would be the strongest and most transparent in Canada. These proposed measures strengthen our commitment to modernizing electoral financing and build on meaningful engagement with the general public, experts and opposition parties. I look forward to further measures to improve Ontarians’ engagement in the electoral process and to continue to increase public confidence.”
Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario

The new bill would transform the province’s election financing rules by:

Reducing the total amount individuals can donate by almost 90 per cent (from $33,250 to $3,600 per year) — to a maximum of $1,200 to a political party, $1,200 to its candidates and $1,200 to its constituency associations or nomination contestants in an election year

Strengthening the rules to address coordination between political actors and third parties

Expanding the definition of a political contribution to include paid labour

Promoting greater transparency in political fundraising events by requiring political parties to post event details to their public websites, including information such as the fees charged to attendees and the intended recipients of those funds.

Later this fall, Ontario will also propose a further amendment to ban MPPs, candidates, party leaders, nomination contestants and leadership contestants from attending political fundraising events. In addition to these legislative measures, the government has committed to working with opposition party members to develop a code of conduct that would set out fair, balanced rules for all elected officials.

“We’re changing the way politics is done in Ontario. Through dialogue and collaboration with stakeholders, experts, the public and our colleagues of all political stripes, these transformative measures will — if passed — not only build Ontarians’ confidence in the electoral process, but will make our province’s election financing system among the strongest and most transparent in Canada.”
Yasir Naqvi (Above), Attorney General and Government House Leader

The new proposed Election Finances Statute Law Amendment Act is part of Ontario’s commitment to reintroduce all government bills that were before the legislature in spring 2016, so that debate on important issues may continue.


This bill includes all of the amendments that were made to the original Election Finances Statute Law Amendment Act in committee.

The legislation proposes that the measures take effect on January 1, 2017, in order to have these reforms in place by the next general election.

Next to Québec, Ontario already has the lowest spending limit per voter for political parties during an election period in Canada.

Ontario also plans to move forward with a number of other legislative measures later this fall, including changing the fixed election date from fall to spring, allowing provisional registration of 16- and 17-year-olds and integrating, simplifying and modernizing a range of election processes, based on the advice of the Chief Electoral Officer.


Three people charged with arson

The OPP has charged three males in relation to a fire in the city of Orillia.

On August 12th, police were dispatched to a fire outside of a business at Atherley Road and Gill Street. After an extensive investigation the Orillia Crime Unit has charged three males with Arson in relation to the fire.

A 19 year old male from Barrie and a 19 and 20 year old from Orillia have been charged with Arson. They were released on a Promise to Appear in Orillia Criminal Court on October 18, 2016.

Members of the Orillia Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police are committed to public safety, delivering proactive and innovative policing in partnership with our communities. Officers value your contribution to building safe communities.

If you have information about suspected unlawful activity, please contact the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or visit Crime Stoppers at: www.crimestopperssdm.com or call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).


Body of 61 yr old Toronto man recovered from Georgian Bay

Today at 7am the Southern Georgian Bay Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) received a report of a missing person from the Thunder Beach area of Georgian Bay in Tiny Township.

A search of the area was commenced by The Southern Georgian Bay Marine Unit along with Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) and the OPP1 helicopter.

The 61 year old male from Toronto was last seen at his cottage in Thunder Beach at approximately 12:00 a.m. on September 12, 2016.

At 9:30 a.m. the Southern Georgian Bay OPP Marine Unit and JRCC recovered a body from the waters of Georgian Bay near Thunder Beach in Tiny Township, ON.

The deceased is the 61 year old male from Toronto who went missing earlier this date. The Southern Georgian Bay OPP along with the OPP Identification Unit is continuing the investigation.


Throne speech promises include $540 a year in electricity savings for eligible rural ratepayers

As part of its balanced plan to build Ontario up and help people in their everyday lives, the Ontario government intends to introduce legislation that, if passed, would rebate an amount equal to the provincial portion of the HST on residential, farm and small business electricity bills as of January 1, 2017.

Rural electricity ratepayers would receive additional relief and commercial, institutional and industrial ratepayers would also benefit from lower electricity costs.

The government also announced that it will create an additional 100,000 licensed infant to preschool child care spaces within the next five years, starting in 2017.

The government’s plan was outlined in the Speech from the Throne delivered today by the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor. The speech opened the second session of the province’s 41st parliament.

The plan will continue to create economic growth and good jobs — the government’s number-one priority. The government will also balance the budget next year, in 2017-18, and Ontario’s debt-to-GDP ratio will decline — a sign of economic strength and fiscal responsibility.

The government’s plan will help people in their everyday lives by:

Delivering electricity cost relief through legislation to rebate an amount equal to the provincial portion of the HST on electricity bills — a saving of about $130 annually for the typical Ontario household; eligible rural ratepayers would receive additional relief, resulting in average savings of about $45 a month or $540 a year. Eligible small businesses would also benefit from the rebate and eligible larger businesses would also benefit from the plan through the expansion of the Industrial Conservation Initiative

Starting in 2017, creating an additional 100,000 licensed child care spaces for 0- to 4-year-olds within the next five years, bringing the number of spaces created since 2013 to 156,000 and doubling the current capacity for the 0-4 age group

Putting a new emphasis on math skills, expanding experiential learning, implementing free tuition for thousands of low- and middle-income students and encouraging more young people to turn their good ideas into start-up companies

Investing in skills training that aligns with the job market of today and tomorrow

Continuing to increase nursing care hours to enhance home care, reducing wait times for specialists, and connecting a family doctor or nurse practitioner to every Ontarian who wants one

Continuing to make historic infrastructure investments in schools, hospitals, roads, bridges and transit

Building a competitive business environment driven by innovative, low-carbon industries, including attracting international investment, continuing to cut red tape and implementing a cap and trade program to help people and businesses fight climate change

Continuing to work with its federal and provincial partners to enhance the Canada Pension Plan

The Throne Speech outlines the next steps in the government’s economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by making a high-quality college and university education more affordable. The plan is making the largest infrastructure investment in hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and transit in Ontario’s history and is building a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.

Over the last two years, Ontario’s economy has grown by 6.1 per cent

In the first quarter of this year, Ontario’s real GDP growth was higher than that of the United States and all other G7 countries

Ontario unemployment this year has reached an eight-year low

In September 2014, the Premier’s mandate letters to ministers — 30 in total — were made available to the public for the first time. Mandate letters outline the specific priorities for each member of cabinet and their ministry. The Premier will be releasing new mandate letters to ministers in the coming weeks.

Organizers gear up for Muskoka Oldtimers Fall Food Drive for Manna

The Muskoka Oldtimers Hockey Club is gearing up for its Fall Food Drive for Manna, this year taking place on Tuesday October 4th.

On the Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving every year for almost as long as the Muskoka Oldtimers and Manna have been in existence, dozens of volunteers have gone door-to-door all over Bracebridge and collected non-perishable food donations for Manna, and dozens more gather at the Bracebridge Fairgrounds to unload, sort and pack it.

Once again the Oldtimers are asking everyone to gather up their household’s food donations and put them in a bag on their front porch by 5:30. Please leave your porch light on.

School snacks, canned fruit, vegetables and fish, dried pasta and sauce, peanut butter, breakfast cereal, crackers and flour are always in high demand.

While the community is always very generous in both its giving and signing up to participate, the Oldtimers are always on the lookout for volunteers to collect food and to help sort it at the Bracebridge Fairgrounds.

Should you know anyone who might be interested in joining us, please let us know,” says organizer Rob Fraser. “We can never have too many volunteers!”

This is the most important food-raiser of the year for the Manna Food Bank, so please give generously. Manna also gratefully accepts monetary donations. Manna is a registered charity and tax receipts are issued for cheques.

The goal this year is to match previous years by collecting in excess of 13,000 lbs of food and $3,000 in cash and cheques.

Please call 705-646-0114 or email info@mannafoodbank.ca for more information or to volunteer. They cover most of the town but some streets do get missed, so give them a call if you are missed that evening.

A big thank you to 100+ volunteers who make this event happen, and to all of those who can spare a bit for Manna.

Big drug bust in Orillia: Seven people face charges

On September 8th at 7:00 p.m., OPP officers executed search warrants at two apartments at a residence on Elgin Street in the City of Orillia.

During the search police located and seized cocaine, heroin, cannabis marihuana, cash, weapons and paraphernalia associated with trafficking.

Jamie GOUDREAULT, 40 years old of Orillia, has been charged with Possession of Cocaine, Possession of Cocaine for the Purpose of Trafficking, Possession of Cannabis Marihuana and Possession of Heroin.

Terry MORRISON, 41 years old of Orillia, has been charged with Possession of Cocaine, Possession of Cocaine for the Purpose of Trafficking, Possession of Cannabis Marihuana, Possession of Heroin and Breach of Probation.

Blake NOLIN, 28 years old of Orillia, has been charged with Possession of Cocaine, Possession of Cocaine for the Purpose of Trafficking, Possession of Cannabis Marihuana, Possession of Heroin, Obstruct Police and Breach of Probation.

Dwayne WEBB, 26 years old of North York, has been charged with Possession of Cocaine, Possession of Cocaine for the Purpose of Trafficking, Possession of Cannabis Marihuana, Possession of Heroin, Possession of Property Obtained by Crime and Breach of Probation.

Tammy NOLIN, 47 years old of Orillia, has been charged with Possession of Cocaine, Possession of Cocaine for the Purpose of Trafficking, Possession of Cannabis Marihuana over 30 grams, Possession of Cannabis Marihuana for the Purpose of Trafficking, Possession of a restricted or prohibited weapon, Possession of a Weapon for a Dangerous Purpose and Possession of Property Obtained by Crime over $5000.

All parties were held in custody pending a bail hearing today in Barrie Criminal Court.

Melodie ULRICH, 28 years old of Orillia, has been charged with Possession of Cocaine, Possession of Cannabis Marihuana and Possession of Heroin. She was released on a Promise to Appear in Orillia Criminal Court on October 25, 2016.

Lisa STOBBS, 36 years old of Orillia, has been charged with Possession of Cocaine, Possession of Cannabis Marihuana and Possession of Cannabis Resin. She was released on a Promise to Appear in Orillia Criminal Court on October 25, 2016.


Clement looking for answers re: Syrian refugee ‘replacement family’ controversy in Huntsville

Member of Parliament for Parry Sound-Muskoka, Tony Clement, is looking for answers after learning that a local Syrian refugee sponsorship group is being asked to consider a ‘replacement family’ after months of preparation and corresponding with a family waiting to come to Huntsville.

“The Liberal government has been reluctant to acknowledge the problems they have had with its Syrian refugee resettlement. The way it is treating some private sponsorship groups is appalling. Not knowing what will happen to these original families, who have been dreaming of coming to Canada for many months, is truly disturbing,” said Clement.

After months of delays, the Huntsville group was given only one week to decide if they will accept the ‘replacement family,’ which still could take months to arrive. If they opt to keep their original family, there is no guarantee they will ever come to Canada. It is being reported that this stark choice has been forced upon numerous private sponsorship groups across the country. The email received by the Huntsville group from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) stated the “delays have been disappointing for some private sponsors and (we) regret the challenges that we know this caused for many.”

The full CIC email is pasted below

Dee Mallette, a member of SRS (Syrian Refugee Sponsorship) Huntsville who has been working on settlement preparations for months, said “Over 60 volunteers have been waiting patiently to embrace the Ahlam family. Many have already given an abundance of time to ensure that everything is in order when the family arrives. Now we have been asked to take a replacement family. How do we tell the Ahlam family they may not come to us? We have been in contact with them several times and have received photos of them. ”

“Our hearts are broken, we feel like the Ahlam family is part of our own and they are already despondent because of the long wait to build a new life here,” said the Application Chair of the SRS Huntsville, Carole Walsh. “We have a house waiting and over $60,000 has been donated by our community. We truly feel we have made a promise to the Ahlam family that we cannot walk away from.”

“We are willing to consider assisting a replacement family,” said Nancy Wilding, SRS Community Relations Chair, “But we would like assurances that if/when the Ahlam family is cleared to come to Canada as Government Sponsored Refugees, that they could still come to Huntsville if they wish. The way this has been handled, with months of waiting with almost no information, then getting only one week to accept a replacement family, has put us under tremendous pressure and turmoil. ”

Nancy Knox of Bracebridge United Church said they were shocked to hear about the offer of replacement families and heard from their Syrian family immediately asking if they were going ‘to give up on them.’ “What a devastating message to deliver to refugees whose very life is held in a tenuous balance that they might be discarded by our government so that a more convenient family could be chosen.”
For further inquiries contact:

Sondra Read,
tony.clement.c1@parl.gc.ca <mailto:tony.clement.c1@parl.gc.ca>
MP Tony Clement, Huntsville Office,

Nancy Wilding,
nancywilding@gmail.com <mailto:nancywilding@gmail.com>
SRS Huntsville Community Relations Chair

Letter from CIC to Huntsville refugee sponsor:

Dear members of the SAH (sponsorship agreement holder) Council,

This is regarding a number of delayed Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR) cases. As you are aware, the delays were in large part due to the fact that cases were made available to sponsors prior to the finalization of eligibility, medical, and security decisions to meet the demand from sponsors at that time and to have them included in the initiative to resettle 25,000 Syrians by the end of February 2016. We understand that the delays have been disappointing for some private sponsors and regret the challenges that we know this caused for many.

As a special exception given the pace and volume of the Syrian initiative, we will begin offering replacement cases in the coming weeks to those sponsors that have been impacted by these delays. As replacement cases become available, and as a matter of fairness, groups (and I assume the SAH) will be contacted directly by the Matching Centre in the order of the profile referral date starting with the oldest cases on the list; every effort will be made to provide a replacement case with a similar profile of the family originally sponsored. The cases offered as replacements will have passed medical and security screenings, and will therefore be travel ready. Sponsors offered a replacement case will have one week to confirm their willingness to accept a replacement case and one additional week to submit the new Sponsorship Undertaking to the Centralized Processing Office – Winnipeg (CPO-W). Due to the limited number of replacement cases available, only one replacement case will be offered.

By accepting a replacement profile, sponsors will be canceling the sponsorship for the previous case that is currently delayed. We understand that sponsors may have already been in contact with the refugee(s) whose case are delayed, and IRCC will contact these refugees to inform them that their case is still in process. Should any of the cases where a sponsor has cancelled to accept a replacement case ultimately be approved, they will be resettled to Canada as Government Assisted Refugees (GARs) with full support from the Government of Canada.

If sponsors choose to continue waiting for the original family they sponsored, rather than accepting a replacement case, they will be doing so knowing that IRCC is unable to provide timelines as to when that case will be finalized and there are no guarantees that the family will ultimately be approved for resettlement to Canada.

It is important to note that while the replacement cases will be expected to be finalized by the visa office shortly, timelines for the arrival of the refugee(s) will vary according to the individual circumstances of the family and the situation in the host country. Sponsors are advised not to make financial commitments at this point such as renting accommodations for replacement cases. The Notification of Arrival Transmission (NAT) will be sent once travel plans have been made.

We expect that the process of finding and offering replacement cases will take a few months, starting immediately, so we ask sponsors to be patient and wait to be contacted directly.

Thank you in advance for your continued collaboration and partnership.


David Manicom
Associate Assistant Deputy Minister
Strategic and Program Policy Sector

OPP report deadliest Labour Day Weekend in 20 years

While the data is preliminary, the OPP is reporting 12 road fatalities, one marine fatality and one off-road vehicle death over the long weekend, marking the deadliest Labour Day Long Weekend in OPP-patrolled jurisdictions in 20 years.

Tragically, one of the fatal incidents involved a single-vehicle crash in Northwestern Ontario that took the lives of four of the vehicle occupants.

The OPP also conducted a robust Distracted Driving Campaign over the long weekend. Ahead of the campaign, the OPP issued a province-wide News Release and maintained a steady flow of messaging on its provincial and regional social media platforms, calling on all road users, particularly passengers, to become part of the solution in reducing the significant number of distracted driving-related road deaths that occur every year.

In spite of these efforts, the OPP laid close to 800 distracted/inattentive driving charges against drivers who jeopardized the safety of innocent men, women and children who took to the roads to enjoy the last summer long weekend before the start of a new school year.
While the OPP conducts focused enforcement campaigns every year, officers enforce distracted driving and other traffic laws 365 days a year.

This latest campaign brings the total number of distracted driving charges laid to date this year to over 8,800.

New work by the Brown Baggers in Bracebridge

Opening Reception: Saturday, September 17, 2pm-4pm

The Brown Baggers are once again expressing their love of art. From a number of potential and challenging themes, the members voted for the concept of time. Time is a reference to the past, present or possibly the future. “It’s a broad theme having many interesting interpretations and lending itself to a variety of mediums and styles,” says Georgina Winterburn.

Many of the members chose a personal or emotional response to the theme of time and have explored a particular moment in time that they have experienced. Some are thought provoking and perhaps even inspirational.

Each artist has evolved through a time of learning, a time of self-doubt, a time of discovery, a time of accomplishment and a time of sharing that accomplishment.

This exhibition represents a variety of artwork by a talented group of artists who started to paint together in 1985. Founded by the late Jean Forder and Iris Gammon, these two friends decided to pack a lunch and head into the countryside to paint. The popularity of this activity grew and the Brown Baggers have grown in number over the years.

Each week in the spring, summer and fall, art supplies, a good chair and protection against the elements are packed, and the group members venture out to paint en plein air. During the winter, when the weather is not so welcoming, the Brown Baggers meet indoors to share experiences, techniques, ideas and friendly critiques.

Every September members go on a five-day plein air retreat somewhere in Ontario.

Their adventures have ranged from the comforts of resorts and lodges to the rough camping of the Algoma School of Landscape Painting where no electricity or indoor plumbing was the greatest challenge and Beausoleil Island in Georgian Bay, were they were reminded of childhood adventures at summer camp. The YMCA’s Queen Elizabeth Camp provided a unique experience and accommodated everyone’s needs from kayaking, canoeing, hiking, campfire singing, fantastic food, and of course, spectacular scenery.

Organized workshops over the years, with noted, local artists have provided a wide range of valuable information in all media.

The group is an eclectic mix of skill levels, experience, and interests, so that, even with a particular theme it is difficult to predict the exciting array of artwork that will be at the show.

Visitors to the exhibition will see a variety of techniques and styles as the group is an eclectic mix of skill levels, experience, and interests, so that, even with a particular theme it is difficult to predict the exciting array of artwork that will be at the show.

Time opens with a public reception on Saturday, September 17 from 2pm until 4pm. The exhibition continues at the Chapel Gallery until October8. The Chapel Gallery is located at 15 King Street in Bracebridge. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 10am to 1pm and from 2pm until 5pm with admission by donation.

For more information, please visit www.muskokaartsandcrafts.com or call (705) 645-5501.

MAC announces local arts scholarship winners

Muskoka Arts & Crafts is pleased to announce the recipients for the Elene J. Freer Art Scholarship (Sponsored by Muskoka Arts & Crafts) and the Mae C. Kennedy Memorial Award.

Samantha Jarvis who graduated from Huntsville High school received the Elene J. Freer Art Scholarship. For each year of her post-secondary education, Samantha will receive, for a maximum of four years, $1,200 a year from Muskoka Arts & Crafts. Samantha’s paintings already demonstrate a mature, consistent and identifiable sense of style. She attributes her high school experiences to helping to develop her artistic style.

Like many artists, art provides Samantha with a means of expression. “

“I’’ve never really been good at explaining myself”, Samantha reveals. “”When something bothered me, I’ve always been the type of person to think things over by myself and come to a conclusion. Art provides me not only with a sense of wholeness but a way to represent myself and create a sense of individuality in a physical form. My whole life, I have had a strong fascination with people, made apparent through their continued reoccurrence throughout my work.””

Samantha has been accepted for the Art and Design Foundation Program at the Centre for Arts, Design & Information Technology at George Brown College.

Mikaela Wichers-Schreur received the Mae C. Kennedy Memorial Award for $100. Mikaela graduated from Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School and this fall will be attending George Brown Collage to further her education in jewellery. “


“My whole life, I’ve been surrounded by art and creativity,” says Mikaela. “I have a vision for myself; working hard every day in a jewellery studio of my own, creating art that speaks to people in ways that’s hard to explain with words.””

Muskoka Arts & Crafts wishes Samantha and Mikaela all the best as they purse this next step in their education.

Wine available on grocery store shelves starting Oct 28th

Ontario has selected the first grocers that could sell both domestic and imported wine inside up to 70 grocery stores across the province, increasing convenience and choice for consumers.

The winning grocers from across Ontario were selected via a competitive bidding process held by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO).

The sale of wine in grocery stores is scheduled to begin October 28, 2016.

Reflecting a mix of independent and large grocers and geographic representation to ensure fairness, the successful grocers are:

Canex Canadian Forces Exchange System
Coppa’s Fresh Market
Farm Boy 2012 Inc.
Fresh Market Foods
Highland Farms Inc.
Loblaws Inc.
Longo Brothers Fruit Markets Inc.
Metro Ontario Inc.
Sobeys Capital Inc.
Starsky’s Fine Foods Hamilton Inc.
Uxbridge Foods Inc.
Wal-mart Canada Corp.
Yummy Market Inc.

While offering consumers more convenience and choice, Ontario maintains a strong commitment to social responsibility. By law, these grocers will have to abide by the requirements for the safe sale of alcohol overseen by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), including designated sales areas and standard hours of sale, limitations on package sizes and alcohol content and staffing and social responsibility training requirements. Ontario is also developing a comprehensive alcohol policy to promote the responsible sale and use of alcohol.

Supporting more choice and convenience for consumers is part of the government’s economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest infrastructure investment in hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and transit in Ontario’s history and is investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.


Eventually, up to 450 grocery stores will be authorized to sell beer and cider and, of these, up to 300 may also sell wine.

Up to 70 existing winery retail stores that operate just outside a grocery store’s checkout will also be permitted to operate inside the store and share the checkout. These “wine boutiques” will broaden their assortment to sell wines made by other Ontario producers, and will be located at grocery stores that sell beer. These wine boutiques will be permitted to begin operating this fall, at the same time as wine is introduced to grocery stores.

Sales of beer in grocery stores started in December 2015. Between December 2015 and the second week of August 2016, grocers received more than 532,000 cases of beer from the LCBO, amounting to net sales of approximately $24 million.

Allowing wine to be sold in grocery stores across the province follows the final recommendations made by the Premier’s Advisory Council on Government Assets. Other recent changes to beverage alcohol retailing in Ontario include the sale of beer in grocery stores last December, cider this June, and online shopping at LCBO.com.

$12,000 damage in Lake of Bays garage fire

The Huntsville/Lake of Bays Fire Department was called to a reported fire in a garage on Buck Island Rd. in the Township of Lake of Bays shortly after 1pm today.

Upon arrival, crews encountered light smoke coming from the structure and were able to quickly extinguish the fire inside.

The fire had spread into the roof area and crews remain on scene checking for any extension of fire.

A dehumidifier is being looked at as a cause and damage is estimated at $12,000.

There were no injuries reported.

$8,000 damage in Mortimer’s Point Road basement fire

Today (Aug 25th) at 8:14am the Muskoka Lakes Fire Department was dispatched to 1919 Mortimer’s Point Road Unit 1 for a reported structure fire.

The owners of the home notice smoke from the fire and called 911.

Fire crews from Station 6 – Port Carling, and Station 1 – Foot’s Bay/Glen Orchard responded. Upon arrival, the fire was burning in the basement.

The basement was thick with smoke and flames were moving up the outside wall. A fire extinguisher was used on the fire as the firefighters were preparing the hose line. The fire was brought under control quickly.

Fire that had spread into the wall was quickly found and extinguished with the aid of Thermal Imaging Camera. The actions of the firefighters saved the significant loss of a home for the long-time residents. There were no injuries.

Electrical issues within the wall caused the fire. The damage estimation is $8,000.

Man charged after large marijuana grow found in Lake of Bays

On Sunday August 7th, Huntsville Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) received information about marihuana plants being grown on property off Highway #35 in the Township of Lake of Bays.

As a result of this information and a following investigation members of the OPP seized a large number of marihuana plants and arrested one male party.

Matthew Hughes, age 24, has been charged with Section 7(1) of the controlled Drugs and substance act, unlawfully producing a substance in schedule ll and section 5(2) of the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act, Possession for the purpose of trafficking schedule ll substance.

The accused is to appear in the Ontario Court of Justice in Huntsville on October 5, 2016 to answer to the charges.

New driver license fee comes into effect September 1st

Driver licence fee increases come into effect this September to help maintain Ontario’s transportation infrastructure. Additional fees for reinstatements, replacements and commercial permits will follow effective January 1st, 2017.

As of September 1, 2016:

The Driver’s Licence Original and Renewal Fee, including the driver licensing fee as part of the Enhanced Driver Licence, will change from $81.50 to $90

Vehicle Licence Validation in Northern Ontario will change from $54 to $60

Vehicle Licence Validation in Southern Ontario will change from $108 to $120.

New fee changes effective January 1, 2017:

The Driver’s Licence Reinstatement Fee after Suspensions and Administrative Monetary Penalty will change from $180 to $198

Driving Instructors Licence Replacement will change from $28 to $31

Oversize/Overweight (O/O) Permit Replacement will change from $28 to $31

Original and Replacement Plate/Permit Fee for Manufacturer motor vehicle and motorcycle and dealer plate will change from $20 to $25

Original and Replacement Plate/Permit Fee for Manufacturer motor vehicle and motorcycle and dealer permit will change from $10 to $32.

Updated fees help maintain the province’s transportation infrastructure and provide resources to help keep Ontario’s roads safe and are consistent with recommendations from the Auditor General of Ontario to achieve full cost recovery for delivery of services.


Since 2003, Ontario has committed over $25 billion to design, repair and expand provincial highways and bridges across Ontario.

There are more than 12 million vehicles registered in Ontario.

Ontario is making the largest investment in public infrastructure in the province’s history — about $160 billion over 12 years, which is supporting 110,000 jobs each year across the province, with projects such as hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and transit.

Male saved while clinging to a floating raft in Lake Joseph

On Tuesday at about 12:30 a.m., the Township of Muskoka Lakes Fire Department, including their Station 1’s Marine Unit, the Muskoka E.M.S. and the O.P.P. all responded to 1039 Chown Road Unit 4 in Muskoka Lakes, regarding a reported 19 year old male who had gone swimming and who had not been seen for 30 minutes.

At the time of the emergency responders arrival, they were met by numerous patrons of a large party which was occurring at the residence.

A search of the shoreline was immediately initiated and the Marine unit began to search the waters. Fifteen minutes later the male was located in the bay some 40 m from shore clinging to a floating raft. He was displaying the effects of hypothermia.

As the rescuers approached the young man, they thought, it looked like he was going to give up.
The male was rescued by the Marine Unit personnel and brought to the awaiting EMS crew.

He was then transported to West Parry Sound Hospital with what was believed to be none life threatening injuries.

OPP continue investigation into Huntsville shooting

Police continue their investigation into a shooting that sent one man to hospital in Huntsville Sunday.

Officers combed the nearby CN Train Station for evidence as part of the investigation into the incident which happened on Huntsville’s Main Street. K9 Units and Forensics were part of the investigation.

The victim’s injuries have been described as non life threatening. One suspect has been arrested in connection with the incident.

More details have yet to be made available.

Muskoka locations streaming the Tragically Hip farewell concert

The Tragically Hip Live from Kingston concert is being streamed at several locations throughout Muskoka and surrounding areas this evening. The concert airs at 8:30pm but people should arrive earlier to get a good spot.

Here’s the list of locations that will be streaming the concert:

Bracebridge at Annie Williams Park
Huntsville’s River Mill Park
The Huntsville Legion
800 Degrees in Orillia – 99 Mississauga Street
The Stockey Centre in Parry Sound
The Muskoka Drive In – Gravenhurst
Sawdust City Brewing Co – Gravenhurst

*A Tribute to the Tragically Hip is also happening at Clear Lake Resort in Torrance near Bala between 4pm and midnight which includes live bands, food and then the airing of the Hip concert on an outdoor movie screen. All proceeds to local charities. Free shuttle ride home. Tickets are available at PIE Muskoka

Health Unit warns about algae bloom on Three Mile Lake

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is reminding people to avoid activities involving the use of water at Three Mile Lake, Township of Muskoka Lakes, due to a potential blue-green algae bloom.

While many forms of blue-green algae are harmless, some forms can produce toxins that can be harmful to the health of people and their pets. This means that exposure to the water, whether for drinking, swimming, bathing, cooking, washing or eating fish caught from the lake, can result in illness. Do not use the water for drinking or for food preparation including breastmilk substitute (infant formula).

Symptoms can include headaches, fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. The effects can be more serious if water is swallowed in large quantities. Swimming in the water can cause itchy and irritated eyes. Blue-green algae blooms naturally occur in fresh water lakes, bays and inlets, usually during warmer weather in late summer and early fall.

They thrive where water is shallow, slow moving and warm, but may also be present below the surface in deeper cooler water. To learn more about blue-green algae check the health unit website at www.simcoemuskokahealth.org, or call Health Connection Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520.

UPDATE: Innapropriate touching suspect arrested in Huntsville

UPDATE: On Friday August 19th, the Muskoka Crime Unit arrested the male in relation to the assault mentioned in the OPP release below. 40 yr old Adam Nadrofsky of Huntsville has since been charged with Sexual Assault under the Criminal Code of Canada. He will appear in the Ontario Court of Justice in Huntsville on September 21st to answer to his charges.

Huntsville OPP and Muskoka Crime Unit continue to investigate the incident and ask that if anyone has any information to contact Huntsville OPP or Crime Stoppers.

PRIOR: On Wednesday just at around 9:40pm, a female was riding her bicycle in the area of Main St. W. and Ferguson Rd. in the town of Huntsville and was approached by a male in a business parking lot in that area.

Police say the male touched the female inappropriately, and then he left the area in his vehicle toward the town centre.

Huntsville Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is looking for any witnesses that may have been in the area at the time. Suspect is described as a male, white in his 30’s with red hair and a neatly trimmed beard, 5’8” to 5’10” in height, medium build with a strong odour of cologne.

He was last seen wearing a dark baseball cap, and driving a silver/grey smaller pick-up truck.

Huntsville Crime Unit is assisting with the investigation. Anyone with any information is asked to contact Huntsville OPP or Crime Stoppers.

Ontario to license home inspectors

Today, Ontario’s Minister of Government and Consumer Services Marie-France Lalonde announced the Province’s intent to introduce legislation this fall that would, if passed, regulate the province’s home inspection industry in order to better protect consumers.

If passed, the proposed changes would:

* Require home inspectors to be licensed with proper qualifications
* Set minimum standards for contracts, home inspection reports, disclosures, and the performance of home inspections
* Establish an independent Administrative Authority to administer and enforce the home inspection licensing legislation and associated regulations

“Our government is committed to protecting consumers, which is why introducing this proposed legislation remains a top priority for my ministry. If passed, this proposed legislation will help to build a stronger foundation for the industry and even better protect consumers throughout the home-buying process.”
 — Marie-France Lalonde, Minister of Government and Consumer Services

These changes would ensure consumers benefit from quality advice, are protected from surprise costs and aware of safety issues before buying a home. This will also create a level playing field for the home inspection industry, preventing inspectors with little or no training from competing with qualified professionals by offering lower rates.

Protecting Ontario’s consumers is part of the government’s economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education.

The plan is making the largest infrastructure investment in hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and transit in Ontario’s history and is investing  in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.


* Home inspectors are one of the only professionals involved in a real estate transaction who are not provincially regulated.
* Approximately 65 per cent of resale homes sold annually receive a home inspection.
* There are approximately 1,500 home inspectors in Ontario.
* The proposed legislation the government intends to introduce was based on 35 recommendations made by a 16-member expert panel which were then supported by both industry and consumers.

* Learn more about consumer protection and your home.

(Photo Muskoka News Watch)

Toronto man faces cocaine and pot possession charges

A Toronto man is facing charges after a traffic stop on Atherley Road in Orillia yielded cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

On Thursday August 11th at 5pm police made the stop.

22 yr old Harris BAFFOE-BOADU is charged with Possession of Cocaine, Possession of Cocaine for the Purpose of Trafficking and Possession of Cannabis Marihuana.

He was held in custody for a show cause hearing on August 12th in Barrie.


Join award winning photographer Spencer Wynn this week on Astro Photography shoot

by Matt Sitler

Interested in astro photography but don’t know where to start?

Award winning photographer, Spencer Wynn, known for his stunning images of Muskoka is headed to Huntsville this week.

He is holding a free night shooting location workshop Thursday night – late! Wynn typically is shooting at 2am on clear, starry nights.

This Thursday night is your chance to turn your gaze to the stars and capture your own beautiful night sky images.

Wynn will be at the Dwight Beach dock at 2am. You will have a chance to shoot the sky as it is reflected on the Lake of Bays before moving to another locations nearby. Wynn will help you set up, suggest camera settings and get you started in shooting images such as the one pictured here.

NOTE: You will need a sturdy tripod as your exposures will be long. A working knowledge of your camera is expected, you will be exploring long exposure settings and lens choices. The faster and wider the lens you have, the better your results will be. Bring extra batteries and memory cards.

For any questions, Spencer can be reached at spencerwynn@me.com.

You can also see his Muskoka work at: http://www.spencerwynn.com/GALLERIES/MUSKOKA/

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.


Bush fire on Luckey Road caused by campfire during ban

The Muskoka Lakes Fire Department was called yet again this week to respond to a bush fire, this time on Luckey Road.

Upon arrival today, firefighters had to traverse rough terrain to reach a peninsula on a small lake.

Once at the fire, crews were quick to bring the flames under control.

Firefighters say it was evident the area had been used as a campsite as there were remnants of a campfire there.

It is unknown when this campfire was used last, but the department says it was clearly the source of the fire.

All residents and visitors to the district are reminded that during these extreme conditions there is a complete burning ban. This ban is throughout the whole of Muskoka.

What this means is that there are no fires permitted at any time, no fireworks permitted, no outdoor open flames permitted.

The likelihood of fire spread is extremely likely now as noted by this recent fire.

The Muskoka Lakes Fire Department is taking a zero tolerance approach to offences.

Offenders will be subject to a fine of up to $300.00 and/or a fee for service ($125/hour for each apparatus + firefighter wages), and/or summons to appear in court.

Picture courtesy of Ron Brent.

Windsor Drive cottage fire damages could be as high as $770,000

Updated information:

The Muskoka Lakes Fire Department says the estimated property loss in yesterday’s Windsor Drive cottage fire is between $370,000 and $570,000 for the structure and $200,000 for the content

The fire was started as a result of a campfire that was last used on Sunday, two days earlier.

The fire quickly spread across the land and caught the cottage on fire. This is evidence of the dry conditions throughout the area and the reasoning for the Fire Danger Rating to be at “Extreme”.

While fighting this fire, embers travelled some distance. A secondary bush fire had to be extinguished across the road from the subject property as well as various other spot fires multiple cottages away.

All residents and visitors are reminded that during these “Extreme” conditions there is a complete burning ban.

What this means is that there are NO fires permitted at any time, NO fireworks permitted, No outdoor open flames permitted.

The likelyhood of fire spread is extremly likely as noted by this recent fire.

The Muskoka Lakes Fire Department is taking a zero tolerance approach to offences. Offenders will be subject to a fine of up to $300.00, and/or a fee for service ($125/hour for each apparatus + firefighter wages), and/or summons to appear in court.


At 2pm Tuesday the Muskoka Lakes Fire Department were called to a reported grass fire at 1046 Windsor Drive in Muskoka Lakes Township.

Firefighters from Station 3 – Bala, Station 4 – Torrance/Walker’s Point, and Station 1 – Foot’s Bay/Glen Orchard all responded to the call.

Upon arrival it was noted that the fire was a structure which was fully involved. Fire crews concentrated their initial efforts on protecting the exposures. The blaze was contained to the 1046 Windsor Drive structure and surrounding bush line.

No persons were reported at the cottage. The fire remains under investigation and the dollar loss is pending.

$107,500 in funding announced by Ontario Liberals for Simcoe Muskoka Child, Youth and Family Services

Ontario is investing $16 million in more than 550 facility upgrades and repair projects at more than 140 community agencies across the province to help them better serve Ontario’s children, youth and families.

In our region, the Simcoe Muskoka Child Youth and Family Services will benefit to the tune of $107,500 worth of the funding. To see the projects which are being funded click here

Minister of Children and Youth Services Michael Coteau was at the Massey Centre in Toronto today to announce that that centre would receive $897,200 to support 23 projects as part of the investment through Ontario’s Partner Facility Renewal program. This funding will help the Massey Centre complete these needed upgrades and continue to provide excellent client-centred infant and early childhood mental health services in the community.

Overall, these investments will help children’s treatment centres, children’s aid societies and youth centres across Ontario to repair and maintain their facilities and offer more secure and accessible services.

Ontario is making the largest investment in public infrastructure in the province’s history — about $160 billion over 12 years, which is supporting 110,000 jobs every year across the province, with projects such as hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and transit. Since 2015, the province has announced support for more than 475 projects that will keep people and goods moving, connect communities and improve quality of life. To learn more about infrastructure projects in your community, go to Ontario.ca/BuildON.

Quick Facts

Approved projects include: upgrading accessible washrooms, replacing windows, repairing roofs, replacing furnaces, expanding program space, and installing carbon monoxide alarms and fire alarms.

Last year, hundreds of community agencies received more than $20 million toward upgrades and repairs.

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.

Liberal Education Minister announces ban on child care wait list fees

Ontario has filed a regulation to end fees for child care wait lists to improve the accessibility of child care and make life easier for families.

The ban will take effect September 1, 2016, and will prevent licensed child care centres and home child care agencies from charging fees or requiring deposits to join child care wait lists.

The regulatory amendments also require licensed child care providers to:

Develop a public wait list policy that clearly explains how children on a wait list are offered admission.

Ensure wait list status is made available to families, in a manner that protects the confidentiality of their personal information.

The regulation was developed with feedback from public consultations and from the Ontario Regulatory website, with strong support for a ban on wait list fees from parents, child care providers and municipalities. The consultation period was open from May 17 to July 4, 2016.

“We listened to parents and heard their concerns about wait list fees. That’s why we are stopping this unfair practice. No family should have to pay to simply be on a waiting list for child care. We will continue working with our partners to build a high-quality and accessible child care and early years system that better serves Ontario’s children and families.”
Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education

Giving Ontario’s children the best possible start in life is part of the government’s economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest infrastructure investment in hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and transit in Ontario’s history and is investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.


Ontario is the first province in Canada to ban child care wait list fees.

On May 16, 2016 Arthur Potts, MPP for Beaches – East York introduced a Private Member’s Bill in the Ontario legislature that would restrict licensees to charge non-refundable fees for child care wait lists.

In August 2015 the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014, was proclaimed to strengthen oversight of the province’s unlicensed child care sector and increase access to licensed child care options, including before and after school programs where there is sufficient demand.

The province announced $120 million over three years in new funding in April 2015 dedicated to building more than 4,000 safe, high-quality, licensed child care spaces in schools across the province.

Since 2003–04, the government has doubled child care funding to more than $1 billion annually, and the number of licensed child care spaces in Ontario has grown to nearly 351,000 – an increase of 87 per cent.

Ontario is investing $269 million over three years to support a wage increase for early childhood educators and other child care professionals in licensed child care settings.

Federal Tourism Minister to visit Huntsville on Sunday

Muskoka News Watch has learned that Canada’s Minister of Small Business and Tourism, the Hon. Bardish Chagger will be visiting Muskoka on Sunday.

The reception will host Chagger in Huntsville at the Algonquin Theatre Sunday evening.

“It is an honour to have Minister Chagger visiting us here in Parry Sound-Muskoka,” said PSM Federal Liberal Association President Trisha Cowie. “Given the importance that both tourism and small business have in this area, her comments are sure to resonate here.”

Chagger was elected as Waterloo’s MP on October 19th, 2015 and was named Minister by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on November 4th.

The reception is to take place between 6 and 8pm.

All are welcome to attend, but you are asked to RSVP with the local Liberal Riding Association via email at dhudson@vianet.ca or by calling 705 645 6851 for directions to the location.

Gravenhurst issues EOI for Muskoka Regional Centre property

The Town of Gravenhurst has issued a formal Request for Expression on Interest (EOI) for the Muskoka Regional Centre property.

The intent of the document is to seek qualified proponents to create a partnership to acquire and redevelop the site located at 2000 Muskoka Road N, Gravenhurst.

“We are pleased that this process is picking up momentum,” said Glen Davies, chief administrative officer. “We look forward to acquiring a strong partner who will come to the table and help us work towards making this property a prominent and prosperous part of this community once again.”

To see photos of the centre property as it stands today, visit http://www.uerev.com/index.php?pageid=muskoka

The EOI proposals are due Friday, September 16th, 2016 at 12:00 p.m. (noon) and should be no longer than 10 pages including appendices.

Each proposal shall include:

Proposal to Purchase – This is a detailed outline for a proposed development concept, agreement of purchase and sale, Town partnership and economic and employment creation impact.

Qualifications of the Respondent – The proposal shall outline the qualifications and experience of the respondent.

Expressions of interest will be evaluated on a number of points including but not limited to the proposed development’s sustainability, the proposed developments ability to create employment opportunities, compatibility with the values expressed in the Official Plan, qualifications of the respondent, quality of the proposal, knowledge of Gravenhurst and planning regulations, creativity, achievable time-lines and financial capacity.

In addition to submissions, potential respondents will have the opportunity to participate in a site tour of the property. This tour will take place on Wednesday, August 17, between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

“Council has been waiting for some time to see something meaningful happen on that property and we are thrilled to be able to start to think about the possibilities,” offered Mayor Paisley Donaldson. “This will be a very positive change for the community.”

Following the September 16, deadline, Council will approve a preferred partner. Negotiations will take place with the successful partner(s) and further discussions with Infrastructure Ontario will follow.

(Main photo via uerev.com)

Gravenhurst artist Kevan Murray’s new show explores family, memory & identity

by Matt Sitler

A set of vintage black and white photos has inspired a Gravenhurst artist to delve deeper into the now threatened memories of her close knit family’s aging matriarch.

Kevan Anne Murray, 29, opens her latest show of acrylic paintings and ink and water colour illustrations at the Lee Contemporary Art  gallery located on the Upper Level at 5 Peter Street in Orillia.

Entitled ‘245 Lakeview Ave.’, the show, which started August 4th and runs until September 10th,  documents memories from her 87 year old grandmother Yvonne Jones’  life, which are ever the more poignant now due to Jones’ ongoing battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Murray named the show after the address where her grandparents lived for many years in Gravenhurst, which also served as the family’s main home base and hub of activity.

“It’s kind of ingrained in our family identity, that whole landscape and the memories connected to it,” reflects Murray. “Generally in the past I’ve done paintings that are more landscape and architecturally based, subject wise. (For this show) a conversation I had with my mother and a friend helped shift the subject  to this more personal territory, which was very difficult for me.”


“Tiger 2: Winter Driveway”

A few years ago Murray’s grandfather passed away and her grandmother  had to be moved out of 245 Lakeview into a smaller residence. She now resides at the Pines long term care facility in Bracebridge.

“It’s just been a really difficult thing for my family,” says Murray. “And it’s been very interesting for me to observe, both up close and at a distance – because I’m living in BC right now – just hearing the way my family now talk about her. And even when I talk with her, even though she’s not ‘her’ anymore, she still is ‘her’. I’m kind of obsessed with the whole identity thing. She’s still the woman from 245 Lakeview Avenue and we still have those memories and we don’t have to hold on to who we think she is, who she should be or who she was – she’s different now and the roles are evolving and its always on my mind.”

When her grandmother was being moved out of her home, Murray’s sister took the opportunity to scan and email all her old photos to members of the family.

“(The photos) are from when my grandmother was a little girl growing up in Gravenhurst,” says Murray. “They include some family members who I don’t know, but you can tell they are very meaningful to her, her memories, history and identity. She’s still here but I’m not going to get to hear these stories from her now, so it’s interesting to see a different side of someone (through the old photos).”



Tying the show’s paintings and illustrations together will be written material, including a poem that explains more to the viewer about Jones’ life and story.   Murray used this material and the feelings the photos evoked while choosing the colours  and moods in her interpretations. Altogether, she says there are about 30 pieces that will be on display.

Murray, a graduate of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University has been travelling during the last couple of years, with trips across Canada and Europe. Previously she has shown her work at the Silver Bridge Gallery and the Art in the Heart summer program in Bracebridge.

She says she is now more focused than ever on developing her skills.

“I’ve been in Nanaimo BC for a year now,” she says. “I have a studio there and I’ve really been able to focus more in the last year on my art and what I want to do with it.”


“Young Paddler”

‘245 Lakeview Ave.’ opened August 4th between 7 pm and 9pm.

Throughout the show Murray will be collecting donations from the gallery’s patrons  in honour of her grandmother for the Alzheimer’s Society.

To learn more about Murray’s art visit her website at www.kevanmurray.com

Lee Contemporary Art’s website is located at www.leecontemporaryart.ca

(Main photo is of Murray with her painting “The Lake”)




Breastfeeding supports available to Ontarians

Resources Include Phone Support and Local Services

During World Breastfeeding Week, new mothers and mothers-to-be in Ontario are reminded that there are provincial supports available to help them breastfeed.

“The majority of moms in Ontario want to breastfeed. It’s convenient, healthy and a great way for moms and babies to bond. World Breastfeeding Week is an important time to encourage moms to make use of the many services available in this province to help them continue breastfeeding.”
— Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

The World Health Organization recommends infants be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of their lives. This means that the baby receives no food or drink other than breast milk. But it can take time and practice for both moms and their babies to learn how to breastfeed. That’s why Ontario has invested in support programs across the province, including:

Telephone support: Ontarians can get confidential breastfeeding support, advice and referrals from registered nurses with specialized breastfeeding training 24 hours a day, seven days a week. One-to-one coaching and referrals to local community services are provided. Call toll-free at 1-866-797-0000.

Local supports: Ontarians can find local breastfeeding support service through a searchable online list. This list includes breastfeeding services located in local Community Health Centres, Public Health Units, Aboriginal Health Access Centres, and other community based organizations.

Investing in breastfeeding supports is part of the government’s plan to build a better Ontario through its Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care, which provides patients with faster access to the right care; better home and community care; the information they need to live healthy; and a health care system that is sustainable for generations to come.


Breastfeeding has many benefits for babies, including: better overall health, protection from illness and infections, healthy brain development, maintaining a healthy body weight and proper jaw and tooth growth.
Breastfeeding also has benefits for mothers including: controlling bleeding after baby’s birth, reducing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer and osteoporosis
The Baby-Friendly Initiative is a globally recognized standard for infant feeding and breastfeeding promotion, and supports exclusive breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact within the first hour of birth.


World Breastfeeding Week 2016
Learn more about breastfeeding
Healthy Kids Strategy
Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care

Ontarians reminded to lower risk of getting Lyme Disease

Ontarians are being reminded to protect themselves from tick bites while enjoying or working outdoors this summer.

Lyme disease can be serious. If not identified early, infection can lead to recurring arthritis, neurological problems, numbness, and paralysis. Lyme disease is spread to humans through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick.

Tick populations are established in known risk areas throughout the province. In addition, multiple factors are allowing ticks to potentially establish populations in new areas throughout the province.

These factors include climate change, warmer winter temperatures and ticks’ ability to “hitch-hike” on suitable hosts, like birds or deer. Ticks live near the ground in woodlands, tall grasses and bushes, and thrive in moist environments, like those found underneath old leaves on the forest floor.

The best way to prevent tick bites include:

* Wearing closed-toe shoes, long-sleeved shirts and pants
* Pulling your socks over your pant legs to prevent ticks from crawling up your legs
* Wearing light-coloured clothing to spot ticks more easily
* Using insect repellent containing DEET or Icaridin on clothing as well as on exposed skin, following the product instructions carefully
* Showering or bathing within two hours of being outdoors to remove ticks that can be on your skin but not yet attached
* Doing a daily full body check for ticks. Young blacklegged ticks can be as small as a poppy seed, so look carefully. Check children and pets for ticks as well.
* Placing outdoor clothing through the dryer cycle for 60 minutes on high heat before washing to kill any ticks that may be hard to see.
If you or a family member are experiencing serious symptoms and health effects, or have concerns about any symptoms, please contact your health care provider.


* Dogs and cats can carry the ticks into your home and place families at risk of being bitten. Check your pets for ticks daily and talk with your vet about keeping your pet protected from ticks.
* The most commonly known symptom of Lyme disease is an expanding, non-itchy to mildly-itchy skin rash. The rash can begin at the site of the tick bite between three and 30 days after exposure and usually grows in size for several days. Although many people never get or see a rash.
* When doing a full body check for ticks, pay close attention to areas such as your scalp, ankles, armpits, groin, naval and behind your ears and knees. Use a mirror to check the back of your body or having someone else check for you.
* Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics if diagnosed and treated early. The earlier treatment is received the better.

Distinguished Canadian Author Denise Chong coming to Muskoka

The Muskoka Authors Association has announced that their August 18th guest speaker will be internationally published author Denise Chong.

One of Canada’s most distinguished writers of creative non-fiction, the author will talk about The Writer, The Reader and Memory.

Drawing upon her published works, Denise considers memory as it relates to the purpose of literature and asks why, as writers and readers, we should care about memory. She discusses the nature of memory as a powerful, if flawed, tool of the writer.

The writer, she says, is an arbiter not so much of what is true, but rather what may be a truth. Chong is best known for her family memoir, The Concubine’s Children, which the New York Time Book Review described it as “beautiful, haunting and wise.”

It remained a Globe and Mail best seller for 93 weeks. The Concubine’s Children is the story of Denise’s grandmother May Ying (the concubine) and her mother Hing, and their life in the Chinatowns of British Columbia. Much of that history had been hidden from Chong’s own generation. The book also tells the story of the family members who were unable to leave China, lived there through the Japanese occupation, civil war, the Communist takeover, land reform, and the Cultural Revolution. It is a story of courage, survival, struggle, and eventual triumph.

Following The Concubine’s Children, Denise went on to publish The Girl in the Picture, Egg on Mao: A Story of Love, Hope and Defiance, and Lives of the Family: Stories of Fate & Circumstance. Named to the Order of Canada for writing books “that raise our social consciousness”, Denise Chong holds four honorary doctorates and lives in Ottawa.

The Muskoka Authors Association monthly meeting takes place on Thursday, August 18. Doors open at 6:30 pm, the meeting begins at 7:00 pm, St Thomas Anglican Church, 4 Mary Street, Bracebridge. Members are free, $20 for non-members. Please pre-register with David Patterson if you plan to attend 705-990-0322, david.patterson@alumni.utoronto.ca

More info released about Legacy 420 pot dispensary shutdown

More information about the Legacy 420 Marijuana Dispensary shut down in Wahta First Nation has been released by police.

Bracebridge Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) executed a drug warrant at the dispensary on July 22nd and say three males were charged with trafficking Marijuana.

Police say a large quantity of cannabis marijuana and cannabis marijuana resin was seized.

The three males are identified as 49-year-old Edward Scott, 22-year-old Sean Simmons, and 58 year old Calvin White.

Police say they were all charged with:

CDSA- Poss of a Schedule II substance for the purpose of Trafficking -over 3 kg

CDSA -Poss of a Schedule II substance for the purpose of Trafficking -under 3 kg

The three accused are to attend the Ontario Court of Justice in Bracebridge on September 27th to answer to their charges.

‘Muslim Go Home’ found painted in Gravenhurst park

Bracebridge OPP are investigating an act of vandalism at Gravenhurst’s Gull Lake Park which involved racially motivated graffiti.

On July 23rd at 11:59am, police were called to investigate after the graffiti was found painted on a gazebo post in the park with lettering that read “Muslim Go Home”.

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


‘Empathy in Filmmaking’ talk at Muskoka Place Gallery

By Matt Sitler

It’s an event you won’t want to miss.

This week locals are getting a unique, behind-the-scenes look at film making via two fantastic filmmakers with intimate Muskoka connections.

Speaking on Empathy in Storytelling at the Muskoka Place Gallery Thursday evening will be Annie Bradley and Gareth Seltzer.

Bradley, an alumna of the Sundance Film Festival and TIFF Talent Lab amongst other career highlights will be showing her seven minute short ‘Tongue Bully’ which premiered at Sundance in 2004 and opened the Dance on Camera film festival at the Lincoln Centre that same year.

“Empathy is such a huge part of film making and story telling,” she tells Muskoka News Watch. “It’s all about creating connection and is primarily one of the reasons why I’m an actor, (filmmaker) and writer. Being able to tell wonderful stories that connect people or allow them to share a mutual experience and feel something or express a point of view is so important. (Thursday evening) is really a coming together of two people who don’t really know each other, but who believe strongly in the art of story telling and how it can connect and bring people together.”


Bradley (above) grew up in Walker’s Point and attended public schools in Glen Orchard, Bala and Port Carling before moving on to Gravenhurst High School. As a filmmaker, she enjoys shooting in other countries and stepping into the unknown, something that Tongue Bully, which was filmed in Cuba and showcases Trinidadian dancer and poet Learie McNicolls, amply provided her.

“It was like seeing Fred Astaire do rap poetry,” she says of seeing the short’s singular McNicholls performance for the first time prior to filming. “He’s such an elegant man and his body has been his voice for so long. It’s been his instrument.”

Shot against the backdrop of urban decay and McNicholls’ strong personal history, Bradley says the film’s setting married perfectly with its subject.

“His work, at that point in time was about coming to terms with your history and past,” she says. “Coming to terms with the legacy of your culture which follows you around in very heavy baggage.”

Following Thursday’s showing there’ll be a Q and A with the filmmakers.

“I want people to just experience the film and then we can have a discussion about it after,” says Bradley.

We won’t give too much away, but Bradley says empathy played a big role in crafting Tongue Bully, especially one of its most striking scenes.

“Part of empathy is respecting that I am in someone else’s house,” she explains. “If you are open to that and you connect with people and you respect them, you will get all kinds of unparalleled gifts.”

With many current projects on the go, one we may see materialize in Bradley’s future is a TV realization of Muskoka author Liam Dwyers ‘Murder in Muskoka’ novels, which she owns the rights to. She’s known the aging author for some time and this week’s trip home to Muskoka also includes a long awaited visit with him, she says.

As mentioned, Bradley is being joined at Thursday evening’s event by Gareth Seltzer, producer of the 2016 Oscar Nominated short film “Body Team 12”, a ground breaking film about the ebola outbreak in Liberia.

The talk/showing is free admission. You can RSVP by calling 705 765 1048 or do it online via eventbrite by clicking below:


(Feature photo of Bradley directing Tongue Bully in Cuba via Annie Bradley)

UPDATE: Muskoka Lakes Chamber President temporarily steps down from position

UPDATE: Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce President Cal White has stepped down from his position temporarily while he deals with his possession for the purpose of trafficking charge (see below). In the meantime, Vice President Christina Shane will be taking over the President position.

by Matt Sitler

One of the region’s newest medical marijuana dispensaries is now closed after its operator was charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Cal White, operator of the Legacy 420 dispensary on Wahta First Nation says police visited the business on Friday around noon.

UPDATE: Police say White faces two charges: ‘Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking Under 3 kg’ and ‘Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking Over 3kg’. A court date’s been scheduled in Bracebridge for  September 27th.

“I’m a little surprised,” he says. “Being on the reserve the rules were a little unclear. Health Canada, in my opinion, doesn’t have jurisdiction on the reserve, so they couldn’t issue me a license and when I spoke with the band council here, the chief said they didn’t have any procedure in place, they wouldn’t either authorize it or not allow it – they didn’t feel they had any jurisdiction either, so given that situation I didn’t think there was anybody able to license me so the best I could do is open up and try and keep it to medical usage – we absolutely wouldn’t sell to children.”

White says regular practice at the dispensary when it came to prospective buyers was to speak to people who came in and look for evidence that would support medical usage.

“We would ask either to see a prescription or letter from a doctor or even a pill bottle that would indicate they had a condition that was known to be treatable by cannabis.” he says.

However, White says police told him he was selling to people who didn’t have Health Canada licenses (to receive medical marijuana).

White is also the President of the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce. Asked if he would step down from that position if convicted, he says he will “cross that bridge when he comes to it.”

“If that happens I’ll certainly do what I think is right and right in the eyes of the executive and the board as well,” he said.

For now Legacy 420 remains closed with no current plans to reopen.

White has yet to speak to a lawyer about the matter so he couldn’t say how he will plead.

He does not have the impression the dispensary was targeted for being on the reserve.

We’ll follow this case and provide updates when it reaches the courts.

*Note: Muskoka News Watch has spoken with Bracebridge OPP about this incident and have been told more information could be released in the coming days. MNW has received word that other individuals were also charged in the incident but this has yet to be confirmed.

(Photo of Cal White by Muskoka News Watch)

Related article: http://muskokanewsarchive.com/regionsnewpotdispensaries/



Thousands still without power today across Muskoka

Thousands are still without power in Muskoka today following last night’s severe thunderstorms across the region.

Here’s the latest Estimated Restoration Times (ETR) according to Hydro One (as of 7am) for still affected areas:

Muskoka Lakes
– Mainland area near and including Tondern Island – ETR is 4pm today (600 customers still affected)
– Areas near Acton Island – ETR is 4pm (5,465 customers still affected)
– Lake Rosseau – ETR is 4pm (800 customers still affected)
– Utterson area – ETR is 4pm (60 customers still affected)
– Mactier area – ETR is 1pm (26 customers still affected)

Between Bracebridge and Baysville
– ETR is 4pm (600 customers still affected)

South end of Lake of Bays
– ETR is 4pm (600 customers still affected)

North end of Lake of Bays and Bigwin Island
– ETR is 1pm (450 customers still affected)

Huntsville and surrounding areas
– ETR is 1pm (250 customers still affected)

North of Emsdale
– ETR is 1pm (100 customers still affected)

West of Emsdale
– ETR is 1pm (1,908 customers affected)

Attempted break and enter in Gravenhurst

A reminder for residents to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity in their neighbourhoods.

Muskoka News Watch has received word of an attempted break and enter at a Winewood Avenue West residence in Gravenhurst that occurred overnight (July 8th).

Someone tried to pry open a door, but no entry was gained and nothing was stolen.

If you see or hear about any suspicious activity in your neighbourhood, contact the OPP immediately.

Santafest hits Bracebridge this Saturday

It’s back!

Santafest hits Bracebridge this weekend with lots of fun activities and entertainment planned for all ages.

Happening Saturday, the festival’s Santa Claus Parade through the downtown happens at 11am. The festival runs between 10 and 4 and will include appearances by Queen Elsa from Frozen on the kid’s stage, family entertainers Team T & J, circus performer Isabella Hoops, country music singer Diane Chase who will hit the main stage at 3pm and the annual Town Crier competition, happening at 12:30 and 2pm at the main stage.

Check out all the exciting activities, which include a pancake breakfast, Santa’s workshop, animal petting area, face painting, bucket rides and gingerbread decorating contest at www.santafest.ca

54th annual Muskoka Arts & Crafts Show runs July 15-17

It’s almost here!

Muskoka Arts & Crafts’ 54th Annual Summer Show is a much anticipated summer tradition in Muskoka, drawing visitors from everywhere to the beautiful grounds of Annie Williams Memorial Park in Bracebridge on July 15, 16 and 17.

One of Ontario’’s oldest and largest outdoor craft shows, the Summer Show brings 200 artists to Muskoka this year –- a lively mix of new and returning exhibitors from as far away as St. Francois De Madawaska, New Brunswick and as near as Bracebridge, Ontario.

A lot has changed since Muskoka Arts & Crafts held its first show in 1963. For that inaugural show, an estimated 3,000 people visited Memorial Park in downtown Bracebridge to view the work of more than 50 artists.

Today, an estimated 20,000 people visit the three-day show to see the artwork of 200 artists. What hasn’’t changed is that Muskoka Arts & Crafts’ Summer Show continues to be a visual treat for all who enjoy purchasing, collecting and learning about art and craft in all its forms.

“All the work presented at the Summer Show is handmade by the artists, in their studios, and is one-of-a-kind work of the highest quality,” says Elene Freer, the Executive Director for Muskoka Arts & Crafts who organizes the show.


The 200 artists exhibit in all art and craft media including basketry, clothing, fibre, furniture, glass, jewellery, leather, metal, mixed media, painting, photography, pottery, sculpture, toys, weaving, wood working and more.

MAC’s most important fundraiser

Selecting the 200 artists who participate in the Summer Show is a formidable task due to the high caliber and large number of applications received by Muskoka Arts & Crafts. A panel of professional artists carefully juries all the applications. This year, sixty-three first-time exhibitors to the Summer Show were selected to join many of the familiar and returning artists. Discovering these new artists is part of the excitement of coming to the Summer Show.

The annual Summer Show is Muskoka Arts & Crafts’ most important fundraiser. Admission to the show is by donation and all the proceeds benefit this non-profit visual arts organization by providing support for its public art gallery as well as many artistic events that take place throughout the year.

When your stomach starts to growl, head over to the Food Court where there are delectable and lip-smacking items to enjoy en plein air. There’s something for every taste, including vegetarian, vegan, organic and gluten free foods.

The Summer Show is a smoke-free event. Why smoke-free? “The Summer Show is smoke-free because it responds to the public’s wish for smoke-free spaces, promotes a healthier lifestyle, helps to create a cleaner environment as well as helping to inspire smoke-free children,” replies Freer. Smoking is not permitted in the show area, within 20 meters of the playground or at any of the picnic tables as these are considered as pop-up patios.

Free parking is available within Annie Williams Memorial Park. Additional parking is also available on selected side streets (Spencer Street, Dill Street, Ewing Street, Spadina Avenue and Brofoco Drive) and for Friday and Saturday, at the Wellington Street Pentecostal Church located at 38 Wellington Street (just a short walk to the park). Accessible parking spots are located at Gate 1.

In the tradition of the last five decades, the 54th Annual Summer Show promises to live up to its well-earned reputation. Come and meet 200 talented artists and craftspeople, hear their stories, be inspired, see new work and purchase handmade works of art.

The Summer Show is held on the picturesque grounds of Annie Williams Memorial Park located at 50 Santa’s Village Road in Bracebridge. The new show hours are Friday, July 17, 10am-6pm; Saturday, July 18, 10am-6pm and Sunday, July 19, 10am-4pm. Admission to the Summer Show is by donation. All donations support Muskoka Arts & Crafts, which is a registered not-for-profit visual arts organization.

For more information about the exhibitors who will be attending as well as information about visiting the Summer Show, please visit their website at www.muskokaartsandcrafts.com or call 705-645-5501.

Portion of Stephenson Road 1 East to remain closed until end of September

The Towns of Huntsville and Bracebridge have retained All Services Inc. to finish the replacement of the Stephenson Road No. 1 Bridge that crosses the Muskoka River North Branch between River Valley Drive and Balsam Chutes Road.

Construction on the bridge replacement started in late June and is scheduled to be finished at the end of September 2016.

Stephenson Road No. 1 East between River Valley Drive and Balsam Chutes Road will be fully closed to vehicles and pedestrians from July 4th to the end of September 2016 during the bridge replacement.

D.M. Wills Associates Ltd. will administer the contract for the bridge replacement on behalf of the Town of Bracebridge.

The Town apologizes for the inconvenience and thanks the public for its cooperation.

$30,000 in funding benefits 13 Bracebridge organizations

The Town of Bracebridge recently handed out over $30,000 in festival and event funding to 13 organizations in Bracebridge through the Town’s annual Event Tourism Grant Program.

Mayor Graydon Smith stressed the importance of festivals and events as a tourism driver for Bracebridge: “The Town’s funding assists these events in attracting out of town visitors, enhancing their unique programming and leveraging other funding opportunities.”

The Town made some changes to the Grant Program in the fall of 2015, which encouraged more sport tourism events to be attracted to the fund.

Half the organizations given funding are sports-oriented events

This year, approximately half of the organizations awarded with funding are sport-oriented events. Collectively, the awarded events attract approximately 25,000 people, many of which are out of town visitors using amenities such as accommodation, restaurants and shopping that in turn, drives spending into the local economy.

In addition to the Grants awarded this June, two additional Grants were given out in the winter of 2016 for the BIA’s Fire and Ice Festival and Muskoka Limberettes Muskoka Classic Competition.

The Town of Bracebridge is committed to the importance of festivals and event, not only as a sign of a healthy and vibrant community, but also as an economic generator. For more information about the Town’s Event Tourism Grants call 705-645-6319 ext. 261 or visit www.bracebridge.ca.

New medical pot dispensary enjoys brisk business

By Matt Sitler

One of the region’s newest medical marijuana dispensaries is seeing its customer base grow just as Canada’s pot laws seem set to become less restrictive.

Cal White, a franchisee owner with Legacy 420, opened his shop in the Wahta First Nation on the Friday of the past May 24 weekend, right across from his other business The Wahta Station on Muskoka Road 38.

The franchise has its head office in the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and White’s dispensary is the first Legacy 420 outside that First Nation.

He decided to get into the business to provide a one-stop local access for medical pot after hearing about problems people faced having to go on websites to place their orders and then waiting for Canada Post to deliver.

“There were some problems with that and certainly with the looming postal strike there’s even more concern about it,” he tells Muskoka News Watch.

Dispensaries in wait and see mode

White says his dispensary is open to all who qualify and that his customers already number in the hundreds.

“Some are local, some are obviously cottagers up here,” he says. “It’s pretty much the same demographic that comes and buys the smokes. We’re talking Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, Midland, Barrie, Orillia – all down in those areas. It’s a pretty wide circumference really.”

For the most part it’s been more of a mature age group who’ve been showing up, he adds.

“The average customer is probably between 50 and 60 years old,” says White.

Although he says there are no restrictions as to the type of pot strains he can sell at the dispensary, he currently sells four but says they are looking to provide customers more variety in the future.

White notes the general public mood about medical marijuana dispensaries is that it’s in a kind of wait-and-see mode. He’s not had any trouble with the law or opponents of these types of new ventures.


“So far we’ve not been bothered and we don’t really expect to because we’re on First Nations (land),” he says. “I know one of the biggest fears is that (some people) think we’re going to start selling to kids or just anybody off the street and that’s really not true. It’s the same as the smoke shops. I don’t know any responsible smoke shops that would even consider selling to kids. We card people all the time, both at the smoke shop and the marijuana (dispensary). We’ll card anyone that looks under 25.”

To buy marijuana from the dispensary, White says people need to have their medical marijuana card issued by Health Canada, a copy of a prescription they have or one of their pill bottles to show they have an actual condition that’s treatable by cannabis.

“I think people are finally coming to realize it’s not the ‘demon weed’ like we were told by Big Pharma as far back as the 30’s,” says White. “It’s just another medicinal plant and the First Nations have been using plants as medicine for all of eternity, so this is really nothing new to us.”

Legacy 420 is open between 11am and 7pm Sunday to Thursday and 11am and 9pm Fridays and Saturdays. The dispensary is located at 2190-A Muskoka Road 38 right across from the Wahta Station.

(Photos by Muskoka News Watch)

Muskoka Ratepayers’ Report questions ‘leadership style’ of Muskoka Lakes Mayor

Opinion Editorial: Muskoka Lakes’ Council Report Card to date: darts and laurels

Published September 14, 3pm: The Muskoka Ratepayers’ Association (MRA) is a community organization focused on monitoring and reporting on municipal affairs in the Township of Muskoka Lakes.  The MRA advocates for good governance, transparency, accountability, and prudent property taxes. What follows is their published “report card” giving the association’s opinion on how the ratepayers of Muskoka Lakes have been represented over the past municipal term. The following report is an opinion editorial produced by the MRA. Muskoka News Watch does not endorse nor does it oppose any of the opinions presented.

Report from the MRA

Representatives of the MRA attend all Council, Planning and Committee of the Whole (COW) meetings at the Township (over 150 to date and counting), as well as many District Council meetings.  It is from attendance at these meetings that the MRA is able to gauge the performance, actions and decision making of the Mayor, individual councillors as well as council as a whole.  This is done conscientiously to ensure we are informed firsthand and you, our members benefit from these observations and reporting.

The MRA issued a “Report Card” in April 2011 noting our observations of this council in its first 100 days in office.  These results are posted on our website at The First 100 Days’ Report and remain available at this time.  In advance of the 2014 fall election, this second review is to assist our members in evaluating the overall performance of the present sitting council.   Additionally the MRA will host an All Candidates public meeting on September 27, 2014 for all candidates running for office.   A handout booklet with each candidate’s answers to a set of questions prepared by the MRA will also be available.

To be clear, the MRA does not endorse individual candidates or issue a slate of preferred candidates for office.  We believe that it is the responsibility of each individual voter to inform themselves and then decide who best represents their interests.

Assessment of the Current Sitting Council

Some Accomplishments

  • Have been actively involved in the cost review of policing, fire protection and waste management at both the District and the Township;
  • The Windermere shoreline retaining wall was repaired;
  • The Ullswater Community Centre was made accessible and the roof was replaced;
  • A public access ramp was approved for Clear Lake, Ward A;
  • An exotic animal by-law was formulated and approved;
  • Contracts to replace condemned docks at the east end of Acton Island and Currie St. in Bala were awarded;
  • The Milford Bay Golf course lawsuit was settled;
  • The program to eradicate giant hogweed on township lands was initiated;
  • A dark sky by-law was formulated and approved;
  • A review of Comprehensive Zoning By-law 87-87 is well under way;
  • Council has not yet stopped  construction of the Swift River Hydro project but it has delayed and blocked its progress;
  • The Nursing Station of the Brock and Willa Napier Wellness Centre is moving forward;
  • Fluoride was maintained in Township water system;
  • Restoration of the Port Carling wall was completed.

Some Disappointments

  • Most of the councillors elected in 2010 had no previous experience on municipal council.  Understandably the learning curve required was monumental;

Although this inexperience has allowed council to look at matters with fresh eyes, this lack of understanding regarding by-laws, protocols and regulations has sometimes negatively impacted decorum and debate;

One can excuse a new council for taking time to learn the ropes in their first year in office, however, after nearly four years the situation should have shown more improvement;

  • Excessive energy and debate is regularly allotted to matters over which the Township has no jurisdiction;
  • Often a “staff report” is called for when a simple council decision could have been made and perhaps not delay a taxpayer’s request by at least a month;
  • Council’s decisions have also resulted in a significant number of appearances at the Ontario Municipal Board, heritage designations, law suits and court proceedings all of which have been costly;
  • There has been a significant exodus of staff, particularly in the senior management levels;
  • Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 5.38.39 PM
  • Some members of council tend to micro-manage matters which should be the prerogative of staff.  Staff recommendations are often disregarded, and many decisions are deferred to future meetings;
  • No affordable housing has been approved for the Township, exacerbating the already evident need.After one year in office, a newly elected councillor resigned his seat because he “did not enjoy participating on Council as he had expected to”;

Mayor Alice Murphy; Some Accomplishments:

  • Created a budget advisory committee which utilized the expertise of local residents and ratepayer representatives;
  • Held town hall meetings in Port Carling, Windermere and Walkers Point as promised;
  • Championed the fight to “Save the Bala Falls” but to date only delay has been accomplished;
  • Raised the awareness of heritage within the Township.

Some Disappointments

  • Information provided to the MRA by Township staff indicates that Reserves have been notably reduced:
  • The Mayor promised to introduce a pro-active business style of leadership, based on her corporate experience; unfortunately, in our opinion, this style is inappropriate in a municipal setting;

The Mayor has disregarded municipal protocols and procedural by-laws;

  • Meetings that she chairs are often chaotic and excessively long.  At times, members of the public and staff alike have left council meetings in frustration. Even if she is not chairing a meeting, the Mayor will often act, interject and try to conduct the meeting as if she were;
  • Senior Staff and staff turnover has been alarming.  Among those who have left the Township’s employ due to sudden or early retirement or job opportunities elsewhere are the following:

2 Chief Administrative Officers;

2 Treasurers;

A Director of Planning;

A Director of Public Works;

A  Director of Parks and Recreation and Facilities;

A  Deputy Fire Chief;

A Senior Planner;

A  Planner, and

A By-law officer.

In the MRA’s opinion, this might suggest that the existing working atmosphere and the continual interference with staff responsibilities are having a negative impact;

  • The Mayor promised to improve transparency, having fewer closed sessions.  The MRA has  observed that this is not the case;
  • It is the MRA’s opinion that the Mayor continues to micro-manage matters that appear to suit her agenda;
  • The Mayor promised not to get bogged down in law suits or endless OMB proceedings.  However, it is apparent that expensive and time consuming legal matters continue;
  • The Mayor’s resistance to appropriate development in the Township has tarnished the relationship with the building and development community;
  • Swift River Energy Limited (SREL) has filed a suit against the Mayor personally and the Township for incidents related to SREL carrying out exploratory work at the Bala Falls;
  • The optics of the Mayor’s excessive commitment to thwarting the hydro project continues to be questioned by many, as a conflict of interest, due to the proximity of the Mayor’s cottage to the Bala Falls.

Conclusion : In the view of the MRA, the present council has some very capable representatives around the table. However, due to the overwhelming influence of Mayor Murphy, their true qualities were often overlooked and/or smothered. There is no doubt, in the MRA’s opinion, that Mayor Murphy is persistent and passionate. She seems to prefer, however, to do most things her way giving little regard for the opinion of others.

In our opinion, it appears evident that there has been excessive time, energy, and taxpayer dollars spent by this council dedicated to a single issue – the stopping of the Bala Falls hydro project, to the detriment of the rest of the Township.


It is the MRA’s opinion that Mayor Murphy’s leadership style, is contrary to the prudent management of the future growth of our Township and is not consistent with the direction that the Muskoka Ratepayers’ Association believes the Township should and needs to take.



Bracebridge Rotarians help Hospital Get Better campaign

Rotary Club of Bracebridge delivers $50K of $150K pledge for South Muskoka Memorial Hospital

Published July 31, 10:45am:  The Rotary Club of Bracebridge has delivered its first installment of its $150,000 pledge to help South Muskoka Memorial Hospital’s Get Better campaign.

The Club presented Paul Hammond, the Chair of the South Muskoka Hospital Foundation, with a cheque for $50,000 at its recent Rotary Club meeting at the Rotary Centre for Youth in Bracebridge.

Featured pic: From left, Rotarians Bob Jones and Ron Nicholson, Paul Hammond, Chair of the South Muskoka Hospital Foundation, and Al Helmer, past president of the Bracebridge Rotary Club. Absent from photo is J. Douglas Lamb, Campaign Chair.

The money is going toward the Get Better Campaign to support capital equipment and technology improvements at the hospital in Bracebridge.

A second installment will come at the end of September and the remaining $75,000 from the Rotary Club of Bracebridge will be paid over the next five years. This first cheque presentation was made on July 18.

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Nick Popovitch leaving Township of Muskoka Lakes for Georgian Bay

Senior Muskoka Lakes Township Planner takes job in Georgian Bay

Published July 20, 4.30pm: It’s upward and westward for the Senior Planner of the Township of Muskoka Lakes. Nick Popovitch will start work with the Township of Georgian Bay next month.

The first official day for Popovitch will be August 26 as Georgian Bay’s Director of Development Services, overseeing planning and building. He gave Muskoka Lakes Township a month’s notice of his departure.

Laurie Kennard, Chief Administrative Officer for Georgian Bay, says they’re looking forward to his arrival. “We looked for the right person over a period of about two or three months and interviewed several candidates,” says Kennard. She adds with his experience in Muskoka and credentials, Popovitch was the right person for the job.

Popovitch had worked in a similar role (Director of Development Services) in Gravenhurst and became Senior Planner for Muskoka Lakes on August 6, 2013 after coming from a senior planning position in Owen Sound. His last day at Muskoka Lakes will be August 15.  “I would thank all of Staff and Council for their support over the past year,” says Popovitch. “I’ve enjoyed my time here. It’s been a challenge, but a good one, of learning new rules and more.”

About Muskoka News Watch – consider donating to keep your Muskoka info flowing: Muskoka News Watch exists primarily on donations. If you like being informed, please toss a few dollars our way using the Donate Button on the top right hand corner of our Home Page (you can use Credit Cards or Debit). Thank you!

Over 500 without power in Torrance area after hydro wires knocked down

Hydro wires spark, cause smoking bush across from Torrance Community Centre

Published June 17, 9;50pm: Power is expected to be restored soon to over 500 people in the Torrance area after hydro wires were knocked down during the storm today.

Torrance Road was blocked from Elizabeth Street to Queen’s Walk Road. Wires were down directly across from the Torrance Community Centre at the foot of Kidd Street. Smoke was rising from the bush there where hydro wires were tangled in trees and were hanging down.

Featured pic: Smoking bush from sparked down hydro wires in Torrance. Photo by Norah Fountain.

Hydro One hopes to have power restored within the hour.

Muskoka Lakes Fire Department was directing traffic away from the downed wires in the late afternoon. The firefighters were also busy earlier in the day responding to a car rollover on Walker’s Point Road.

Smoke cleared about 6pm; power out until late evening
Smoke cleared about 6pm; power out until late evening

Speed may have been a factor in that crash. There are no further details as to whether anyone was injured


Two moose, two crashes last night on Highway 11 and Muskoka Road 117

Crash with moose sends two to hospital on Hwy 11 near High Falls

Published May 27, 10 am:  At about 10pm last night, officers from the Bracebridge Detachment of the OPP, Muskoka EMS and the Bracebridge Fire Department were on the scene of a single car rollover on Highway 11.

The OPP says a northbound Ford Focus was travelling on the inside lane north of High Falls road when a moose stepped out onto the roadway. The driver of the Ford struck the moose head-on causing the vehicle to roll over on to the median. The highway was closed for a short time while emergency crews responded to the collision.

The male driver and female passenger were transported to South Muskoka Memorial Hospital (SMMH) for medical treatment.

Single car crash with moose on 117

A short time earlier Huntsville OPP also responded to a similar call on Muskoka Road 117 involving a Moose and single car.

Provincial Constable Jessica Drake says both moose in both crashes died upon impact. She reminds drivers there is lot of wildlife around our roadways and to slow down and be alert while driving, especially at night when visibility is reduced.

Mock crash in Bracebridge today drives home need for better driving habits

Fake crash surprises, shocks and teaches important lesson

Article by Amanda Spilker, Photography by Laurie Fountain

Published May 15, 12:30pm: That horrific scene you might have seen at St. Dominic’s High School this morning in Bracebridge was not the real thing, thankfully. Instead, the OPP staged a Mock Crash in a dramatic display of what can happen as a result of impaired and distracted driving.

Students were not told ahead of time about the crash that occurred at 9:30am in the parking lot outside the school. It was meant as a learning experience. The spontaneity of the mock accident was meant to look realistic and to mirror an actual car crash.

WARNING: While not ‘real’, some of these photos from this morning may be difficult for some to view.

The fire department, OPP, paramedics, victims services, and coroner were all on the mock scene responding to the accident, just as they would in a real-life situation. The scenario lasted just over an hour and was followed by an assembly an hour later to focus on the consequences of impaired and distracted driving.

Muskoka Lakes Township hears Swift River alternate construction offer

SREL offers $100K to use Township lands other than park owned by Crown

Published April 21, 10pm: Bala United Church wants it. According to a survey, 79% of respondents want it. The president of the Moon River Property Owner’s Association doesn’t want it. But will the Township of Muskoka Lakes bite?

The ‘it’ is an alternative construction plan that would potentially protect public use of Margaret Burgess Park during the construction of the controversial hydro plant at north Bala Falls. It would also generate revenue for the Township.

On Thursday, Swift River Energy Limited (SREL), the developer for the proposed North Bala small hydro project, spelled out alternate construction plans for the project that would leave Margaret Burgess Park, beside the Church, untouched.

Instead of using the park and building a bridge across the falls, the developer proposes to use the Township lands beside the planned hydro building site (directly on the south side of the north Bala Falls), along with the Precambrian Shield parking lot diagonally across from the site.

“I am authorized today to offer $100,000 as a lump sum payment,” SREL Project Manager Karen McGhee told Council, “in return for leasing the Township land and using the parking lot during the expected 14-18 month construction period.”

Bala United Church delegates to council, asks park to be left alone; MRPOA president asks Council to not allow the use of other lands

McGhee’s offer came after a presentation by the Bala United Church in which church trustee Ian Croft said the church membership wanted to ensure the park beside the church would not be used during construction. Moon River Property Owner’s Association President (MRPOA) Sandy Currie stated he did not want to see the Township lands or parking lot (the alternate plan) used. (For more on Croft’s presentation, as well as presentations by Currie and Mitchell Shnier, see Bala United Church asks Council to accept alternative hydro build plan).

Orange is Margaret Burgess Park, Green is Crown Land-Hydro Plant Site. Blue land beside green is Township land and Blue across highway is the Shield Parking Lot. SREL proposes using the blue areas instead of the orange (the Park).
Orange is Margaret Burgess Park, Green is Crown Land-Hydro Plant Site. Blue land beside green is Township land and Blue across highway is the Shield Parking Lot. SREL proposes using the blue areas instead of the orange (the Park).

“Essentially,” explained McGhee to Council, “we would stay out of the ‘orange’ areas and they would remain open for public use during construction.  There would be no need to remove trees in the Park, no bridge over the falls, and no crane in front of the falls and there would be reduced truck traffic through town.”

She added part of the proposal could be to re-grade and rehabilitate the Township lands used after construction. McGhee wrapped up by saying she had a problem with the flow diagrams shown by the presenters who came before her. “Those flows shown are from the spring freshet, and not from the summer season so they are misleading.” Finally she said SREL would like the opportunity to discuss and help consult on local bylaws that “we see unfairly targeting the project, such as half load and blasting [bylaws].

This is not the first time Swift River has tried to spell out alternate construction plans to the Township. SREL Vice President Frank Belerique wanted to talk mitigation plans at a Council meeting on October 18th but the Mayor told him he couldn’t talk about that. A discussion about safety ensued with McGhee answering questions she claims have been answered previously and repeatedly. All Councillors were present at that meeting.

SREL asked to talk mitigation plans with Council but meeting never happened

Ahead of that October 18 meeting, McGhee says Township and all Councillors were sent an email describing the mitigation plans and the desire to discuss a potential lease offer.  Read receipts attached to that email showed at least five Councillors did receive the email on October 15, says McGhee. She says she also met with two Councillors in person to discuss the alternate plans and one other Councillor did respond directly to the email. Yet on March 10, Councillor Phil Harding sent an email to CAO Chris Wray and Clerk Cheryl Mortimer asking. “Have we actually received a formal request that we have denied?”. He

Water crashing behind MNR public notice sign shows plant site on south side of north Bala Falls
Water crashing behind MNR public notice sign shows plant site on south side of north Bala Falls and powerful effect of spring freshet, April 21, 2013

was asking the question in response to a constituent who had requested he consider the alternative construction plans in order to “Save Burgess Park”. Harding had been in the October 18 meeting when SREL’s Belerique raised the desire for a meeting to discuss mitigation plans (as a follow up to SREL’s written request). Minutes from the meeting read:

‘Belerique reviewed the current status of the project and requested an opportunity to meet with municipal staff  to discuss options to reduce impacts to the community during the project construction.”

That request was never granted. Some Councillors have told Muskoka News Watch (MNW) and others that they can not have any discussion regarding the hydro plant because of a pending defamation lawsuit, yet that didn’t stop Council from discussing the project in a public meeting on January 21 — which focused on a design concept survey that included SREL’s mitigation plans.

Mitigation plan offered up in January survey asking for public input; survey likened to ‘blackmail’, says Councillor Nishikawa

Council included a discussion about the SREL Design Concept Survey under New and Unfinished Business in its January 21, 2014 meeting. The survey seeking public input was advertised widely in local newspapers (and also on MNW) in January to gather potential plant design preferences. In it, Swift River showed a map of the Crown lands it has been provided by the Ministry of Natural Resources to use for construction purposes. These lands include the areas in Bala known as Diver’s Point, Margaret Burgess Park, and the proposed hydro plant site. The survey asked people to say whether they would prefer other lands be used as opposed to the park for such activities as trucks driving through the park and equipment being on the site, blocking the popular park for public use during construction. During the January 21 meeting, Councillor Don Furniss said he had completed the survey himself.

Councillor Ruth Nishikawa shared what she thought about the survey. “The conversation that is happening says this [the survey] is blackmail,” said Nishikawa. “This council has not made a decision. People are asking if they are going to take the park away. They already have the lease on it. It’s misinformation again.” Mayor Alice Murphy complained that “there was no place in the survey to say you didn’t want it [the plant]” and that “in order to have option one, they want land from option two to dump all the dirt and mud so we’ll lose access and portage, and this is all to be done to protect the park.” Councillor Harding added he felt the survey was biased, saying “a decision could not be based on this survey, and Council’s responsibility is to listen to the taxpayers’ voices.” Furniss countered the survey wasn’t blackmail; rather, it was a choice.

Once the survey deadline passed and results tabulated, McGhee says the survey showed 79% of respondents would prefer the park NOT be used, and 21% chose the existing construction plan. She shared this information with council on Thursday (it has been public on SREL’s web site since early February). When asked by MNW about any comments provided with the survey, McGhee said that some who said they should go ahead and use the park expressed a lack of confidence that the Township would be willing to collaborate with the company. In fact, one comment stated: “good luck getting permission [from the Township].” Another stated they wanted the vacant Township lands protected, adds McGhee, noting there was opportunity for public input from anyone with any position on the proposed site. (You can view highlights of the Design Concept Survey by clicking here).

Entrance permit request back at District this Wednesday

Next step for Swift River is to meet with the District of Muskoka Public Works committee regarding its Entrance Permit application to access the proposed hydro plant site. The Township is represented on that committee by Councillor Harding. The legal representative for the Township is also on the agenda – an appearance four Councillors and one staff member have said was never discussed at Council, nor was any direction given for lawyer Harold Elston to appear this Wednesday. Elston has been the legal mind hired to continue to block the hydro plant so it is widely believed he will try and quash SREL’s request for a District entrance permit. SREL had been asked by District to give Township the opportunity to comment, which it did in February. According to McGhee, the item has never appeared on a Township Council agenda; and the answer she says she has received from Township Public Works is that it is ‘too premature’ to comment. An entrance permit on to District land off Muskoka Road 169 is up to District only to grant.

“Swift River eager to sit down with Council…share savings with Township”: Excerpt from October 15, 2013 letter to all Councillors

Below is a condensed version of the October 15 letter requesting a meeting with Council to discuss a mitigation proposal with Council before seeking further public input. To read the entire letter in PDF form, please see References after the letter.

Township of Muskoka Lakes, Attn: Mr. Chris Wray, CAO

Re: North Bala Falls Small Hydro Project – Request for Closed Door Meeting with Mayor and Council

Dear Chris:

This letter is in response to your emails outlining the pre-requisites for attaining a closed meeting with the Mayor and Council to discuss the North Bala Small Hydro Project. {Note that there will be no discussion regarding any pending lawsuit(s) or any topics under consideration of those lawsuits}.

As the Township is aware, Swift River is in the process of completing the construction drawings and attaining the required permits for construction. As the Township is also aware, the amount of land available for the construction of the project is somewhat limited. Our design engineers have, however, managed to devise a workable plan using the lands available that is financially viable.

That said, they have also noted that should Swift River be afforded the use of certain parcels of Township lands, the construction could be somewhat simplified.

Swift River has therefore requested to meet with the Council to discuss some options that may be available for construction that could be seen as win-win-win solutions for Swift River, the Township, and the community.

In particular, the lands we are interested in using include (see attached map):

1. The parcel of land immediately adjacent to the Project site that was transferred to the Township from the District in 2011 (PIN 48029-0638);

2. The Shield Parking Lot (PIN 48029-0634); and

3. The Township’s portion of the Portage Landing Parking Lot (PIN 48154-0628) and / or permission to use the MNR portion of this lot that is currently leased by the Township. Land parcels 2 and 3 would only be used for storage of trailers, equipment (including any equipment typically found on a construction site) and construction materials. There would be a requirement to fence the area to be used. Other than fencing, the lands would not be disturbed in any way. Any disturbances, including from fence posts, would be repaired prior to leaving the site at the end of construction. The use of these parcels of land for the Project would effectively reduce the requirements of storage in other areas in and around town such as the Crown land north of the North Dam commonly referred to as Margaret Burgess Park.

There are several options for use of land Parcel 1 that we would like to discuss at the proposed meeting. These would include site access, storage of materials, installation of tower crane, etc.

These activities would require tree removal and earthworks. It is also proposed that the Township consider working with SREL to deposit the rock from the Project excavation on this parcel of land for possible re-grading and landscaping. The use of this parcel of land for the Project would reduce the requirements of storage in other areas in and around town such as at Margaret Burgess Park. If permission was granted to re-grade Parcel 1 with rock from the excavation, it would also eliminate the requirement to install a bridge over the North Channel, install the tower crane downstream of the dam and truck materials through Margaret Burgess Park. Parcel 1 would be restored prior to leaving the site at the end of construction.

Compensation ideas are welcome. Possibilities include:

1. Lump sum lease payment for duration of construction based on number of months on site.

2. Construction work completed in lieu of cash i.e. the contractor could perform a construction task(s) for the Township as payment for the lease. This could include full re-grading and professional landscaping of Parcel 3.

3. A combination of 1 and 2.

4. Alternative proposed by Township.

With respect to the Township’s requirement to address the matters contained in CouncilResolution SC-18-28/07/11: This resolution is out of date. It was written over 2 years ago when Swift River was still pursuing Option 2 and awaiting an MOE decision on the elevation requests. Since that time there has been significant progress in the development of the Project, in particular:

· The MOE Minister denied all appeal requests for the Option 2 plan;

· The facility was moved, redesigned and re-evaluated. Ultimately Swift River issued an addendum to the original Environmental Screening Review Report (ESRR) for the Option 1 plan;

· The MOE Director denied all elevation requests made for the Option 1 plan;

· The MOE Minister denied all appeal requests for the Option 1 plan;

· The federal Canadian Environmental Assessment was cancelled by CEAA;

· The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has confirmed no permit is required;

· Swift River has undertaken further heritage studies on the area;

· The upstream booms have been moved and fencing has been erected around the dams by MNR; and

· Swift River has received Location Approval from MNR.

Swift River therefore respectfully submits that it has already fulfilled the requirements of the resolution in so far as they apply to the newly designed project with the exception of a few outstanding approvals, and a decision will need to be made on the leasing of these lands prior to us applying for these final approvals.

Swift River Energy is eager to sit down with the Township and discuss how to make theconstruction of this facility as smooth as possible. It is our firm belief that the use of these lands will significantly reduce the impacts to the community. In addition, it would make our work easier. Therefore, we are open to sharing some of the savings that could be realized with the Township.

It has been a long 8 years and we are nearing the end of this Project. Now is the time to start working together on the finer details to ensure we “get it right” for everyone involved.

We await your written confirmation of a closed door meeting with the Mayor and Council on October 18th. Please let us know before noon on the 17th so we can make the appropriate arrangements.

Karen McGhee, North Bala Small Hydro Project Manager

cc: Township of Muskoka Lakes Mayor and Council

References and Related Articles:

MNW April 21, Bala United Church asks Township to accept alternative hydro plant build

October 15, 2013 Letter requesting meeting from SREL to Township: 2013-10-15 Request for closed meeting with TML

April 8, 2013 Letter from SREL to Township re ongoing issues: SREL_Letter_to_Township_re_ongoing_issues

Bracebridge Examiner, January 22, 2014: Swift River Survey Irks Muskoka Lakes Mayor

Moose FM, January 13, 2014: Swift River launches stage one of design survey

Moose FM, April 9, 2014: Court of Appeal will hear Township portage argument

MNW, April 9, 2014: Legal leap forward: Township wins right to appeal

MNW, August 20, 2013: Exclusive: Superior Court says public safety trumps other parts of Public Lands Act

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New Chief and Council for Wahta Mohawk Territory

Elections Officer confirms results: new Chief and three new Council members elected

Posted March 15, 10.20pm: After two-and-a-half years without one, there will be a new Chief of Wahta Mohawk Territory: Philip Angus Franks. He was elected Chief in today’s elections.

Elections Officer Veronica McLeod has confirmed the reports posted earlier on Muskoka News Watch of the new council for Wahta.

Philip Angus Franks is the new Chief with 154 votes, defeating his opponent Tim Thompson.

Elected to Council are:

  • Karen Commandant with 156 votes
  • Michael Decaire with 151 votes
  • Teresa Greasley with 146 votes and;
  • Stuart Lane with 114 votes

Three incumbent members of Council – Shirley Hay, Bill Hay and Dan Stock — were unsuccessful in their attempt at re-election.

Related Articles:

Muskoka News Watch, March 15, 2014: Early results show new Council for Wahta

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Wanted: High school students with great summer business ideas

Make Your Pitch contest back and open to Parry Sound-Muskoka entrepreneurs in two regions of competition

Posted March 10, 5:30pm: The Young Entrepreneur Make Your Pitch contest is back for a second year – and high school students in Parry Sound-Muskoka can submit short videos for a chance at a start-up business grant.

Young Entrepreneur, Make Your Pitch contest challenges students in grades 9 to 12 to pitch their business idea in a two-minute video submitted online at makeyourpitch.ca. In their videos, students need to address who their customers will be, the problems that their business will need to solve, and why their business will succeed. Submissions must be entered into one of six categories: service, arts/culture/tourism, retail goods, social enterprise, environment and technology.

“This contest is a great way for high school students to pitch their business idea through a creative visual outlet,” says Vivian Ho, small business consultant with Muskoka Small Business Centre in Bracebridge. Ho adds: “This is a great opportunity for students across Muskoka to explore the possibility of entrepreneurship.”

Eighteen finalists will be chosen from six high school regions designated by the Ministry of Education from across the province.  For example, students from Gravenhurst High School, Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School and from the Simcoe uskoka Catholic School Board compete in the Barrie region, while Parry Sound high school students compete in the North Bay-Sudbury region. The finalists will pitch their ideas in front of a live audience and judging panel in Toronto at the Ontario Centre of Excellence’s Discovery Conference at Metro Toronto Convention Centre on May 12-13, 2014. From the 18 finalists, six winners will be chosen, earning them reserved entry into the Summer Company program, which includes hands-on training, mentorship and a grant of up to $3,000 to help turn their idea into a business.

The deadline for online video submissions is March 28, 2014. Video Judging begins on April 1 through a combination of online public voting and expert judges. For more information, please contact Muskoka Small Business Centre at (705) 646-9021 or visit www.makeyourpitch.ca.

As part of Ontario’s Youth Jobs Strategy, the contest is presented by the Ministry of Economic Development Trade and Employment and the Ontario Centre of Excellence.

Quick Facts:

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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Distracted Driving Campaign Starts March 8 and so does March Break: Be safe!

OPP Asking for Public’s Help with Distracted Driving Campaign starting March 8 and a reminder: It’s March Break!

Updated March 7, 11am: The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is reminding the public that the annual school Spring Break starts today in many of our areas.

Chief Superintendent John Tod, Regional Commander of the OPP Central Region is reminding the public that with March Break starting, “there will be many children playing in areas during the day that we are not used to seeing them. Please watch for children at all times.”.

Outdoor enthusiasts are also being cautioned to use caution as milder weather is in the forecast and this will no doubt compromise the quality of snow and ice conditions. “Although winter is still very much upon us, safety and planning ahead should be always an important component of any outdoor activity in the coming days and weeks as snow and ice conditions can start to change hourly,” adds Tod.

And drivers, remember that the OPP’s Distracted Driving Campaign is continuing and that Distracted Driving has become the number one factor in motor vehicle related collision deaths. Inspector Dom Beckett, Manager of the OPP Central Region Traffic and Marine Unit is asking motorists to “please keep your eyes and attention focused on the road; that is where it needs to be ALL the time. Distracted driving related deaths can be reduced if drivers change their behaviour and pledge to always reach for safety and not for their phone”.

OPP Distracted Driving Campaign starts March 8

Release from OPP Posted Mar. 3, 10.38am: Irresponsible driver behaviour has the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) concerned about the fate of many road users this year as officers prepare to launch their next campaign against Distracted Driving (Mar 8-14).

2013: Distracted driving caused more deaths than impaired and speeding drivers

In 2013, distracted driving fatalities surpassed both impaired and speed related fatalities in fatal motor vehicle collisions investigated by the OPP.  A total of 78 persons died in distracted driving related collisions compared to 57 impaired driving deaths and 44 speed related deaths last year.

“When you consider the overall impact of these 78 fatalities last year and the 325 other distracted driving victims who have died since 2010, the number of people these irresponsible drivers have had a profound and devastating impact on is in the thousands,” said OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, Commander of Traffic Safety and Operational Support.

“Everyone, from the victims’ families and friends to the police officers who attend these horrific collision scenes and have to notify next-of-kin, knows the emotional impact of one life lost to this senseless driving behavior trickles down to so many people who, sadly, through experience, know how badly this behaviour needs to stop,” he added.

The OPP recognizes that the only way to stop people from dying in distracted driving related collisions is to raise awareness of how serious the problem is and to have everyone make a firm, lifelong commitment to helping the police and safety partners eliminate it altogether.  According to the OPP, it can be done.

“Over and above every driver pledging to never text or talk on the phone, pledge to be a good passenger and speak up if the driver in your car is using his/her phone or engaged in other forms of distraction.  Pledge to regularly encourage your friends and family to not be distracted while driving,” said OPP Chief Superintendent Don Bell, Commander of the Highway Safety Division. “Even though our campaign only runs one week, make this a year-round commitment because it is a fail proof way to help us eliminate the tragic deaths that occur every year because of distracted drivers,” added Bell

March 18: fines jump to $280

The OPP is reminding motorists that on March 18, 2014 the current distracted driving fine of $155 will jump to $280 (this includes the increased $225 fine plus a $50 victim fine surcharge and $5 court cost).

The OPP’s Distracted Driving Campaign runs from Saturday, March 8 to Friday, March 14, 2014.  During that time, the OPP will be doing its part to eliminate the threat of distracted driving through its own awareness raising efforts and focused enforcement of distracted driving laws throughout the province.

The OPP is asking Ontarians to show their support during this important campaign.  Go to the OPP’s Facebook page and/or follow them on Twitter and let them know how you plan on helping to eliminate distracted driving on Ontario roads. The OPP will highlight some of your entries in a campaign wrap-up news release following the campaign.

Bundle Up: Windchill Warning in Effect for Muskoka tonight through early Monday

Monday could include a windchill of minus 36, warns Environment Canada

Posted March 2, 1.50pm: How many days until spring? Beautiful sunny day for our Sunday in Muskoka, but bundle up as windchill approaching minus 26 and will Environment Canada warns of wind chills in the minus 30s overnight and tomorrow (Monday) morning. Current forecast warns of a windchill of minus 36 for Monday.

So if you’re going outside to enjoy the sunshine, just make sure you’re probably dressed for the weather. Frostbite (damage, sometimes permanent, to skin and body tissue due to freezing) and hypothermia (a life threatening drop in body temperature) can occur if adequate precautions are not taken when outdoors. These can occur within minutes.

But it will warm up eventually. The first day of spring is only 18 days away.

Feature photo: By Norah Fountain via BlackBerry (It was much warmer and snowing lightly the evening of Feb. 21 when night skiing at Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area).

Muskoka Lakes Mayor accuses Oakville of secretly funding Bala Falls hydro plant; Oakville says no

Charges Oakville considers an “unacceptable hydro plant” an acceptable Oakville investment’;  and begs province to “not put lives at risk” in letter to Premier and MP.

Posted Feb. 14, 3.15pm: Muskoka Lakes Mayor Alice Murphy has again tried to drag the Town of Oakville into ongoing controversy surrounding a proposed hydro plant at the north Bala Falls. In a letter written on Township of Muskoka Lakes letterhead and distributed via Twitter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, Murphy claimed Township had learned that Oakville may be the silent financial backer of the hydro project. She proceeds to write that “As we all know, a gas plant was politically unacceptable in Oakville but an unacceptable hydro plant in Muskoka is apparently supported as an Oakville investment.”

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton was quick to respond to Muskoka News Watch (MNW) inquiries with copies of his own correspondence to the Premier and MP Raitt on Monday, in which he states emphatically,

“With respect to the reference to the Town of Oakville in the 5th paragraph of this letter (Murphy’s letter), please be advised that the Town of Oakville is not “…the silent financial backer of this project.”

Meantime, MNW was polling Township Councillors on how aware they were of the letter and its allegations. Four Councillors – Ruth Nishikawa, Phil Harding, Donelda Kruckel and Allen Edwards — say they had been advised of the letter. Nishikawa and Kruckel said it had been discussed at council at a ‘past meeting’ and Kruckel said she had been surprised to learn that Oakville was involved. Harding responded he was “advised that the Mayor was writing a letter. The general contents were discussed; the specifics were not in question.” Harding adds the letter has his full support as a Councillor concerned about navigation on our waterways. He said he was not aware of the Twitter post. A question to the Township Chief Administrative Officer requesting clarification about which meeting date the discussion about the letter had occurred went unanswered.

Council split on purported Council discussion

It was a completely different story about whether Council knew about the letter from Councillors Don Furniss, Jean-Ann Baranik and Gault McTaggart. They say they never saw the letter and it was not discussed in Council (Brad Burgess and Ron Brent are on holidays and could not be reached for comment).

Furniss was especially surprised by the contents of the letter as the Oakville Mayor had stated previously and publicly that he does not want to be involved as an investor in a green energy project viewed as a hostile project. Furniss adds he’s “seen nothing or heard anything factual that shows that Oakville has become an investor in the Bala Falls small hydro project.”

(In October 2013 in a Toronto Star article, Mayor Burton spoke about how he offered to Murphy to consider investment in the project to work out a solution but she was not interested. He stated in the article that Oakville was not interested in pursuing the project after speaking with Murphy, who was also quoted in the article. Read Bala hydro project roils Muskoka and Oakville Mayors.)

“I can tell you that if you read the minutes of the meetings, I don’t see anything in there that shows that this letter was discussed,” continues Furniss. “My position and several other councillors’ positions with the Mayor is that if she is sending letters on Township stationary under the Mayor’s name to higher levels of government that those should be reviewed by Council before they are sent,” says Furniss. “She doesn’t agree with that but you can see what happens when she sends them: they are riddled with errors.”

Furniss continues: “This isn’t the first time she’s sent a letter and in the past she’s been called on it by other councillors. She feels she can send whatever she wants, whenever she wants, on Township letterhead. I have a real problem with that. Certainly I don’t have the ability to get township letter head to send letters out.”

Furthermore he says the Mayor’s letter contains information that is completely wrong. “The Mayor’s claim that the project’s final operating footprint is 16 times larger than the original hydro plant on the site is absolutely false. Where does she get this balderdash?” Furniss warns the Mayor’s ongoing letter campaigns will only make things worse with the province. “If the Mayor continues to ignore requests of Council to have opportunity to review and comment on letters of policy to higher levels of government, it could get to the point, in my opinion, where the Township has become a leper in the eyes of the province.”

Councillor McTaggart agrees with Furniss’ concerns and emailed this response:

I do not approve of the letter for several reasons:

a- as it was sent on TML letterhead “office of the mayor”and signed as “mayor” it has the appearance of being the thoughts and position of the township and council. Without council agreement and resolution It should have been sent on Alice’s personal stationary and signed without the position of mayor.

b- the reference to Oakville is misleading. Oakville has indicated that they are not an investor, and even if they were, what right would TML have to prevent them from investing?

c- misleading errors! The proposed facility will not be 16 times the footprint of the previous power facility. I believe that the power generated will be about that multiple of the original.

This is not the first time that a letter has been sent to senior government members without discussion and review by council, in spite of requests of councillors to see and review letters that will be sent to senior government representatives.”

References (please click on images to view in larger size – and clear type): Below left is the Tweet issued by the Mayor which also contained her letter to the Premier and MP Raitt. The Tweet from the Mayor complains that the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is now signing off on matters of federal jurisdiction. Below the Tweet is a copy of the letter in which she implies Oakville is backing the hydro project, followed by Oakville Mayor Rob Burton’s response to Muskoka News Watch and his letter to Premier Wynne as a result of MNW asking for his reaction to the Murphy letter.

Related Articles:

Dear MNW Subscribers, Some of you have complained Murphy’s letter to the Premier and Lisa Raitt is too hard to read. You’re right. It is, as it is only a picture of what Murphy displayed online. If you want to explore the letter further — and Councillors’ responses to it, click here to read a new sidebar article published February 16 entitled Who is Zooming Who, a Critical Look

Mayor tweetMayor Letter Feb 7 2014

Burton EmailEmail to Premier from Mayor Burton following MNW ask for reaction.

Oakville Mayor, Rob Burton, Muskoka Lakes Mayor accuses Oakville

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.

Feature Picture: Murphy turning back on cameras while trying to halt test drilling at proposed Bala hydro project site, June 2013.


Muskoka Olympian Dara Howell takes Gold in slopestyle

Dara brings home the Gold, Kim Lamarre, Bronze, in slopestyle event: Their wins give Canada even greater lead at Sochi

February 11: 8am: “I think that’s the best run I’ve ever done,” an ecstatic Dara Howell told reporters after her winning slopestyle run in the finals, held 4am this morning. Over a Dara Howell Feb 11hundred people gathered at the Muskoka Ski Club at Hidden Valley Highlands ski area to watch Dara, including many generations and relatives of the Howell family. Dara posted an 88.8 on her first run in the semi finals that started at 1 am and in her final run, she scored at 94.2

What’s Up Muskoka reporter Chris Occhuizzi was there with the emotional crowd. Read his account here in The Toronto Sun

Not only are Muskokans swelling with pride and Canada thrilled to have such a strong lead now in the overall media count, there are many other reasons why Dara’s win is so poignant and resonates across the Canada and the world of freestyle skiing. Sarah Burke of Squamish, B.C. trailblazed the sport of freestyle skiing and fought long and hard to have the event included in the Olympic Winter Games. She was a favourite to win gold at these games but her dream was cut short when she died in 2012 after a training accident in Utah. Skiiers who wanted to honour Burke by wearing Sarah Burke stickers on their helmets were told by the International Olympic Committee that the stickers would not be tolerated as they would be considered a political statement. Burke’s mother, Jan Phelan, was at the Sochi slopestyle site to see Burke’s legacy in action.

In an interview with CBC after today’s win by Dara, Huntsville’s hometown girl spoke about Burke:  “Earlier this week I said I wish a Canadian would win a gold medal, and it would be for Sarah. To be that person, I didn’t expect it and you work so hard for it, it’s truly amazing. I know she would be proud and happy and I just want to keep pushing this sport and pushing myself and doing what I love to do and I know she would honour that.”

Dara Howell has started off an exciting and historic day for women in sport. As well as the first slopestyle event, the first women’s ski jump competition also takes place in Sochi today.

ORIGINAL POST January 29, 2014: Midnight start won’t stop Huntsville from cheering on Dara Howell

Olympic cheerfest starts Feb. 10 at Midnight at Hidden Valley; Dara’s slopestyle events begin at 1am

Posted January 20, 5:40pm:  It’s not often we get a hometown girl realizing Olympic dreams and we can all cheer on slopestyler Dara Howell from the comfort of the Muskoka Ski Club on February 10.

The only catch is that her freestyle ski event will be happening midnight our time. So grab a nap and some java and join the crowd at Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area to cheer this talented 19-year-old on. The ski area has issued an invitation for those who want to join them in watching Dara make her bid for Olympic Gold in real-time.

Schedule of Dara’s Olympic Events:

Slopestyle, freestyle skiing, Muskoka, news about Muskoka, Dara Howell
Dara Howell of Huntsville competing in Olympic Slopestyle event
  • Ladies’ Slopestyle Qualifiers start at 1:00 a.m.
  • Ladies’ Slopestyle Finals start at 4:00 a.m.

Local ‘Cheer Dara On’ Details:

  • This is a FREE family-friendly event.
  • Time: From midnight February 10 to 5am February 11.
  • Where: Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area, Members’ Lounge
  • What: CBC Olympic coverage will be on the big screen; there will be activities for kids (make a sign to cheer on Dara!), and complimentary snacks. A cash bar will also be available for a limited time.

RSVP not required, but if you plan to come, organizers ask that you please join our Facebook event page by clicking here (or email dawn@skihiddenvalley.ca if not on Facebook).

Organizers suggest you wear a Dara Howell shirt (available at Algonquin Outfitters), and sport Olympic colours (red, black & white!) and/or Olympic mitts to show your support.

Photo provided by Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area and Canadian Freestyle Ski Association.


Bracebridge shows it has heart for Heart Month; learn how you can prevent heart disease

Bracebridge raises flag for Heart Month awareness; experts say heart attacks fully preventable

Posted Feb. 4, 1:15 pm: The Town of Bracebridge is recognizing February as Heart Month by flying the Heart and Stroke Foundation Flag at the Bracebridge Municipal Office.

Foundation Program Coordinator Vernice Smith and volunteer Rhona Windsor joined Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith yesterday in raising the flag in a bid to increase awareness of heart disease and stroke.

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Heart and Stroke Foundation Program Coordinator Vernice Smith and volunteer Rhona Windsor join Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith in raising the Heart and Stroke Foundation Flag at the Town of Bracebridge Municipal Office to signal the start of Heart Month. (Submitted photo taken Feb. 3)

Heart Month is the Foundation’s major opportunity to connect with millions of Canadians and to inform them about the risks of heart disease and stroke. The volunteers are the face and voice of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and they give it their all during the Person-to-Person campaign to raise funds for research and share the health knowledge.

“The Town of Bracebridge is pleased to support the incredible work of the Heart and Stroke volunteers in the community,” said Mayor Graydon Smith. “As heart disease and stroke have touched many of our lives, the Person-to-Person Campaign is a very effective way to ensure people understand the risks of heart disease and stroke,” said Smith.

Over $1million raised in our region

In Simcoe County/Muskoka, the Heart and Stroke Foundation raised over 1 million dollars in 2013 through Door to Door Campaigns, Jump Rope for Heart, Big Bike and the Chase McEachern Tribute fund thanks to volunteers. The funds that are raised go toward lifesaving research of heart disease and stroke.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation:

  • Heart disease and stroke take one life every 7 minutes.
  • More than 1.6 Canadians are living with the effects of heart disease and stroke, and 9 out of 10 Canadians have at least one risk factor.

While the cardiovascular death rate in Canada has gone down by nearly 40 per cent in the last decade – largely due to research advances in surgical procedures, drug therapies and prevention efforts (as well as awareness campaigns like that run by the Foundation), several esteemed experts say no one ever needs to have a heart attack.

Heart attacks are predictable and preventable

“Nobody should ever now die of a heart attack – we can prevent them,” says Dr. Elaine Chin, a leading expert in preventative health and Chief Medical Officer for Executive Health Centre (she is also a member of the Muskoka News Watch editorial board). “Today we can identify and predict those who are at risk for a heart attack before it happens – and stop it from ever happening: early screening can save your life.” Read more about preventing heart attacks in an article by Dr. Elaine Chin. In it, she recommends Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s “The Last Heart Attack” as a must-watch video.

Heart disease is tragic personally and also devastating to our economy. According to the Conference Board of Canada, heart disease and stroke costs the Canadian economy more than $20.9 billion every year in physician services, hospital costs, lost wages and decreased productivity.

New Muskoka Watershed Chair and exploring the link between environment and economy

How environment can drive economy focus of February 6 event; Muskoka Watershed Council welcomes Dr. Peter Sale as Chair; Robert Bateman to be keynote speaker for Muskoka Summit on the Environment

New Chair for Muskoka Watershed Council (MWC): Marine ecologist and noted author of Our Dying Planet, Dr. Peter Sale, has officially stepped in to Patricia Arney’s

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Dr. Sale with outgoing Chair Patricia Arney. Photo by Lyndsie McGregor

shoes as Chair of the Muskoka Watershed Council. Arney has completed her two-year term with the Council, which champions environmental stewardship in our region.  The change in leadership happened at the Council meeting held on Friday, January 24, during which Sale presented Arney, a Bala resident, with a certificate of appreciation in recognition of her commitment and dedication. (Arney has been involved with the MWC since 2001 and Sale joined the Council in 2010). Lou Guerriero has also been elected as Vice-Chair. He first joined MWC in 2004 as a representative for the Town of Gravenhurst.

The Environment is Good for Business Event Feb. 6: Do you have to choose between a healthy environment and a strong economy? Experts agree that Muskoka’s economy can serve as a perfect example of how they can go hand in hand. On Thursday, February 6, economic and planning consultant Rob Milligan will explore the opportunities that exist as a result of the environment–economy connection.  Milligan, who is also a member of the Muskoka Watershed Council, is the keynote speaker at the annual Bridges to Better Business event put on by the Muskoka Small Business Centre. It happens at the Rotary Centre for Youth in Bracebridge. To learn more and register, please click here or call the Muskoka Small Business Centre at 706-646-9021 (remember to tell them you read about it here at Muskoka News Watch!). The day also features a panel of businesses with close connections to the environment, and an afternoon series of popular speed mentoring sessions, where attendees can get business advice from experts on a whole range of topics.  For more information or to register for this important event, contact Muskoka Small Business Centre at 705-646-9021 or visit www.muskokasmallbusiness.ca.

Plans well under way for 2014 Muskoka Summit on the Environment: Resolving the Environment-Economy dichotomy is also the theme for this year’s Muskoka Summit on the Environment in May. Keynote speaker for this event is renowned Canadian wildlife artist, naturalist and conservationist Robert Bateman. He heads up a great line up news about muskoka, muskoka events, muskoka news, muskoka, environment, summit, watershed, save the bala falls, lake muskokaof speakers who will look at creative approaches to closing the gap between economic and environmental considerations.

So far, speakers for the event include:

  • Robert Sandford, Director of the Western Watersheds Research Collaborative and a leading thinker on the impact of climate change on freshwater resources.
  • Elena Bennett, from McGill University, who studies the connection between ecosystem services and human well being.
  •  Terre Satterfield, an anthropologist at UBC, whose work focuses on culture and justice as they influence environmental values.
  •  Daniel Simberloff, from the University of Tennessee, is a leading terrestrial ecologist and expert on the biology of invasive species.
  • Peter Victor, from York University is an economist who works on environmental issues.

The two-day summit will feature presentations by each of these experts and will wrap up with a panel discussion hosted by CBC’s Paul Kennedy (to be broadcast afterward on Kennedy’s award winning program, Ideas). Registration is now open for the Muskoka Summit on the Environment, happening May 8-9 at the Rene Caisse Theatre in Bracebridge. To learn more, visit the Summit site by clicking here.