DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Councillors recently rejected a request for a letter of no objection to a proposed medical marijuana facility in the township and have asked municipal staff to begin work on a policy relating to medical marijuana businesses.
At their meeting on the evening of Monday, Sept. 22, councillors denied a request for a letter of no objection made by CannaCare, a business which had sought to set up a 16,000 square foot medical marijuana growing facility on a 10-acre parcel of land on Davis Dr.
This was the second such application to come before council this year after councillors supported a proposed operation on Durham Rd. 30 earlier this year. As of press time, the application for that facility is still awaiting approval from Health Canada.
Several councillors took issue with the size of land in question for the proposed CannaCare facility.
“I’m not opposed to the facility itself, I’m opposed to its location on a 10-acre parcel with a building far larger than in the other application,” said Ward 3 Councillor Pat Mikuse.
Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy added that there are “substantial differences between the two plans. I don’t think I’d ever want one of these facilities on anything smaller than 100 acres. We have to be careful where we’re going to put these.”
In a recorded vote, councillors voted unanimously to deny CannaCare a letter of no objection.
With two applications already received, and several inquires made, Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor sought to have guidelines established by the township when dealing with this new type of agribusiness.
“We have supported one facility, but I’m a bit hesitant about supporting others regardless of who is putting forward the application because we haven’t seen all the ramifications should they get a licence,” commented Mayor O’Connor. “I’m against any others until we get one in place and can see any consequences we may not have thought of. This is a new territory for all of us.”
Many councillors agreed that minimum standards should be put in place. As well, township planning consultant Liz Howson added that such measures would aid township staff when dealing with potential applicants.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: “I don’t want to walk from above Quaker Village Public School to Uxbridge Secondary School,” School Board Trustee Joe Allin told members of council during a deputation this week.
However, that is precisely what faces many Uxbridge students following recent changes to the Durham District School Board’s transportation policy.
Representatives from the school board appeared before council at their meeting on the evening of Monday, Sept. 22 to explain the rationale behind a recent decision to eliminate bussing for students living within four kilometres of Uxbridge Secondary School.
According to local School Board Trustee Joe Allin, two factors contributed to changes to the bussing policy, which has meant a greater walk to school for students living in Quaker Village and Sandy Hook.
The first was an audit by the Ministry of Education, a ten per cent penalty equalling $2 million was applied to the board. The other was the discontinuance of special passes offered to students in the southern portion of Durham Region.
“Should the grant be restored, there is an understanding that there will be a discussion about restoring previous standards,” explained Mr. Allin.
However, councillors were quick to point out that weather conditions are drastically different in North Durham and should not be held to the same standards as communities south of Hwy. 7.
“I was appalled with the lack of understanding from some trustees about the difference in weather between North and South Durham,” commented Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor. “We don’t have the same weather as the south. They don’t get as much snow or ice or have as many school cancellations as we do in the north.”
Trustee Allin explained to councillors that there is a “myth” about the availability of public transit in South Durham.
“Durham Region Transit (DRT) is not that mature, and 60 per cent of students in the southern municipalities don’t have access to a bus that would get them to school in a reasonable amount of time.”
However, several members of council took issue with these claims, noting that any transit options are limited in Uxbridge Township.
“In Uxbridge, we get bus service two days a week, and in the south you have regular service through DRT and GO. And we’re paying the same amount for transit in the north without any of the service,” countered Mayor O’Connor. “It’s not safe for kids in my opinion to be walking these distances to school. I feel our kids’ safety issues - particularly in the winter - are secondary.”
Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger explained that he recently walked to the high school from a location in Quaker Village, a trip that took more than 40 minutes in ideal summer conditions. As well, Councillor Ballinger noted the added traffic around the area of Uxbridge SS and Joseph Gould PS that this measure has created.
“Walking 42 minutes to school is not fair,” said Councillor Ballinger. “If you collect as much tax as the township does, Uxbridge has to get some value for its money, and this is going to bring even more traffic to the area around the high school, which is already an issue.”
Mr. Allin explained that in order to restore bussing levels to their previous standards, it would take an additional $800,000 in funding. As well, representatives from the school board claimed that only 21 students were affected by the change, a figure disputed by many residents in attendance.
Ward 5 Councillor and Quaker Village resident Gord Highet, whose daughter is affected by the change in the transportation policy, also expressed his dismay with the changes.
“You are basically telling Uxbridge students they’re second class citizens and it’s okay to put their lives in jeopardy to save some money,” said Councillor Highet.
Mayor O’Connor requested that if additional funding for transportation of Uxbridge students is not forthcoming, that a meeting be arranged between school board officials, township staff, representatives from the Ministry of Education and local parents.
Trustee Allin closed his deputation by explaining that the township would be informed of any future news relating to this matter, and expressed sadness that he is leaving office - to run for the position of Regional Councillor in Brock Township - with the matter unresolved.
“It saddens me that I leave this office with this issue.”
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Councillors received a pair of updates on the status of a new Fire Hall for the municipality at their meeting on the morning of Monday, Sept. 15.
During the meeting councillors received a report detailing the status of a construction tender for the project, as well as news that the township has saved nearly one-half of the estimated cost of the project.
In August, only one tender for the pre-engineered structure was returned despite 43 companies picking up a package, leading township staff to investigate the low rate of return.
“The vast majority of contractors wanted to be the general contractor and build the whole thing, not just erect the building,” explained Mr. Kester. He would add that a revised Request for Proposal is expected to go out in the next few weeks, and is hopeful for a greater response with the revisions in place.
Later in the meeting, a report from Deputy Treasurer Donna Condon detailed the current funding status for the project.
According to Ms. Condon’s report, Uxbridge’s 2014-15 capital budget included the cost of the new Fire Hall to be $3,800,000 (excluding the cost of land).
To date, the township has collected funds totalling $1,875,518 towards the project, leaving a balance of $1,924,482. It is expected that the township will issue a debenture and/or borrow from existing township reserves to cover the unfunded balance of the construction cost of the new Fire Hall, according to Ms. Condon.
“We’re getting closer and closer all the time. This is great news and hopefully, we’ll soon be able to get moving on our new Fire Hall,” said Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy.
Ward 3 Councillor Pat Mikuse added that the intent of council has been that once the Fire Hall on Bascom St. is sold, the funds from the sale are to be directed to the cost of the new Fire Hall.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Councillors were left hoping for a mild winter at their meeting on the morning of Monday, Sept. 15, after a report from Public Works Director Ben Kester that stated the cost of winter sand is set to rise by 18 per cent next year.
Councillors awarded a tender to Vicdom Sand and Gravel for the amount of $124,978 to provide the municipality with winter sand this year.
“Everyone talks about taxes, taxes, taxes, but this is a prime example of costs going up that we really have little control over,” commented Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor.
Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy joked that, “maybe it won’t snow this year,” leading to Mayor O’Connor reminding councillors that sand would still be needed even if there was no snow in the event of an emergency.
Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet was left searching for answers over the increased price for 2015.
“Did they provide a rationale? Is the sand coming from Miami Beach” Mr. Highet asked Mr. Kester.
While Mr. Kester was unable to provide an exact reason for the increase, he did explain that this was likely a case of increased costs from the supplier being passed onto the consumer.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: Lace up your sneakers, because the area's biggest Walk-A-Thon is returning on Saturday, Sept. 27 in support of the New Animal Shelter for Uxbridge-Scugog.
The second annual Walk-A-Thon is set to begin at 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 27, with walkers departing from either the Uxbridge Seniors Centre or Scugog Arena and travelling seven kilometres to Epsom Public School - which will be decorated as a doghouse for the occasion - and enjoy a barbecue from the Bonner Boys, along with entertainment and other family and animal-friendly activities.
Registration for the Walk-A-Thon takes place at either starting location on Friday, Sept. 26 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and on the day of the Walk-A-Thon, starting at 8 a.m. Pledge forms can be found inside this week's edition of The Standard.
Uxbridge Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger, who is also one of the organizers of the event recently told The Standard that, "everything is lined up great for this year's Walk-A-Thon." And, that he is hopeful that the event will be able to surpass the more than $23,000 raised in 2013, at the inaugural event, with even more two-legged and four-legged participants.
Durham Region Transit buses will be travelling behind both groups to provide an opportunity for tired walkers and their pets to rest. As well, there will be comfort stations throughout the route to allow participants to pause for a break.
For more information on the 2014 New Animal Shelter Walk-a-thon, visit www.animal-shelter.ca.
BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
UXBRIDGE: The Uxbridge Youth Centre (UYC) will be offering some food for thought this school year, with a little help from Vince’s Market and The Grocery Foundation.
The UYC, located at 34 Brock St. West in downtown Uxbridge, has been granted $10,000 in Vince’s Market gift cards by The Grocery Foundation. The funds will go towards the purchase of food for after school snacks, and to launch a very successful workshop and programming schedule.
Just in time for back to school, the UYC has been greatly accepted by the youth of the area and participation in daily and special programming continues to rise.
According to Hailey Waines of the UYC, the program will feed and educate approximately 20 youth per day for the foreseeable future.
“The UYC is going to use the donation to provide our kids with healthy snacks, after school and on Saturdays,” said Ms. Waines. “The best part is that the kids will be involved with the grocery lists and will learn how to shop and eat healthy.”
The UYC, located at 34 Brock St. West, will be offering their snack program, called ‘UYC Healthy Eats’, at 3 p.m. from Tuesday to Friday, and around noon on Saturdays.
Participants must be 11-years-of-age or older, and will not be charged to partake. The program will also feature talks from a nutritionist and meal planning advice.
The UYC works with local families, schools, community partners, and the Township of Uxbridge to provide high quality, innovative, and relevant programming for all youth between the ages of 11 and 21 in a positive, and inclusive environment.
The programs offered by the UYC span a variety of interests and are provided at minimal to no cost. Programming and volunteer information can be found by calling 905-862-3456, or visiting on-line at www.uxbridgeyouthcentre.com.
Vince’s Market is an Independent Grocer, with locations in Sharon, Newmarket and Uxbridge Ontario.
Well known for their fresh fair, the history of Vince’s Market runs deep - the first store was actually established in Toronto in 1929.
The locally-minded staff continue have always supported local ventures, such as the UYC.
Far from a pilot project, The Grocery Foundation has raised in excess of over $80 Million since 1979, to provide a better life for challenged children, and to answer many other community needs.
Further information regarding The Grocery Foundation can be found on-line at www.groceryfoundation.com/who-we-are/#sthash.xVwCefvJ.dpuf.
BENJAMIN PRIEBE With files from Darryl Knight The Standard
SCUGOG: Scugog has embarked on a pair of studies, which will determine the future of two aging bridges over the Nonquon River.
The Environmental Assessments, planned for later this year, will take a look at potential species or ecosystems that would be disturbed by work on the bridges, and define the Township's options for the bridges - the first bridge lies along Scugog Line 8, and the second along River St. in Seagrave.
Each bridge could potentially be repaired, replaced, or completely removed - as, according to Ian Roger, Scugog's Director of Public Works, they are not high traffic areas and have not caused a significant delay.
"The Seagrave bridge was built in 1920 and is still operable for light vehicles, and the Line 8 bridge was built in 1940 and has been closed," said Mr. Roger. "We've seen a long life from both of them, but it may be time to consider our options."
The Line 8 bridge - a 12 foot span which lies just east of Hwy. 12 - has been closed for the past four years, due to deteriation of its deck. The expected truck traffic to and from the new Nonquon Treatment Plant on Line 8 will likely be forced to route through Port Perry's core, if the bridge is not replaced.
The cost to completely re-construct the Line 8 bridge is estimated to be $2 Million, based on a bridge-needs study undertaken by the municipality in 2011.
Construction of the new Nonquon Treatment Plant was delayed by the strike by the Region's inside workers earlier this summer, but Scugog Mayor Chuck Mercier recently told The Standard that contractors are being identified, and he expects that construction of the new plant to begin in September. The project plan indicates an 18 to 22 month duration for construction, with a target date for the new facility to be up-and-running by the fall of 2016.
Meanwhile, the 50 foot single-lane bridge in Seagrave bridge could cost up to $1.2 Million to bring up to modern standards, and is considered a higher priority, because it could potentially be used to divert traffic from Simcoe St. in an emergency.
In spite of the costly estimations, a full reconstruction of the rarely-used bridges may not be on the books.
"These projects have potential to be torn down and replaced with a foot path, they may be repaired and replaced, or they may be removed completely," said Mr. Roger. "We won't know until the studies are complete."
Samples are expected to be taken this week and sent to the Ministry of Natural Resources for testing - with a price tag of approximately $50,000 per site.
"We hope to have the Environmental Assessments wrapped up by October, and we will then plan an open house and forum to educate the public and gather their input," said Mr. Roger. "Once that is done, a full report will be compiled for Council in late 2014."
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: The annual Heritage Days Festival returns to the Uxbridge-Scott Museum grounds this weekend, offering visitors the chance to experience life in the 19th century through an assortment of interactive displays.
The event, which is now in its 43rd year in the community, and was formerly known as Steam Threshing Days, runs from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday, August 23 and Sunday, August 24, and features fun for the whole family in this celebration of Uxbridge's heritage and history.
All buildings at the museum will be open for Heritage Days and there will be displays and demonstrations all weekend, including a Kids Zone featuring many events, crafts, races and games.
As well, new this year is Re/Max hot air balloon rides on Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to noon, for a donation of a toonie towards the Historical Society.
Attendees can also pick up a Festival Passport and take part in a scavenger hunt around the museum grounds to learn about local history and win prizes.
New this year at Heritage Days is the King Brewery Beer & Cider Garden, which will also allow visitors the chance enjoy live entertainment at the Gazebo.
On Sunday, an Interdenominational Service will be held on the grounds at the Fifth Line Church, starting at 9:30 a.m.
Also, on Sunday, there will be a cake cutting ceremony at 1 p.m., with the Uxbridge Legion Pipes and Drums playing to honour Veterans. As well, visitors can take in the 'Uxbridge at War' exhibit throughout the weekend, which marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I.
"This year, we wanted to put an emphasis on our veterans and try to work with the theme of 'Uxbridge at War' and commemorate the service of those who fought for our country," Uxbridge-Scott Historical Society President Brad Buss told The Standard.
Back by popular demand this year are Military Re-enactors, who will be setting up a camp as it was in 1847 and offering a demonstration to visitors.
"The Lloydtown Guard are re-enactors of the Rebellion of 1847, and we're really pleased that they were able to join us again this year. They are always a crowd pleaser and a real treat for everyone who visits," Mr. Buss added.
There are many other great things to take in as part of Heritage Days including: an Antique Cars Area and Parade sponsored by Williamson Chrysler, antique tractor and agricultural demonstrations, a First Nations lodge and exhibit, a blacksmith exhibit, a harness making and harnessing demonstration and a miniature railroad.
"We continue to try and expand Heritage Days and try to bring in new events and activities for the entire family to be able to have fun," said Mr. Buss. "We want to continue building on the growth we saw last year when we had a 30 per cent increase in attendance."
Admission to Heritage Days is $6 per person, with children under 12 admitted free. Veterans wearing their medals and/or uniforms will also be admitted free of charge, All funds raised during the event going towards the Uxbridge Historical Centre.
For more information on Heritage Days and other events at the Uxbridge-Scott Historical Centre call (905) 852-5854 or visit their web site www.uxbridgescotthistoricalsociety.ca/events/heritage-days.
The Uxbridge-Scott Museum is located at 7239 Conc. 6 at the corner of Brock St. and some residents may have to plan an alternate route due the ongoing roundabout construction at the corner of Brock St. and Conc. 6, just north of the roundabout.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: An expansion to the trail network in Uxbridge may be on the way once planned repairs to the trestle bridge in the northeast portion of the town are completed next year.
John McCutcheon, the chair of the Trails Committee made a presentation before council at their meeting on the morning of Monday, Aug. 11 to outline the action plan to restore the historic trestle bridge.
The project aims to restore the bridge to a usable state after it was closed citing unsafe conditions in July 2012.
The plan for repairs, which would carry a cost of $350,000 was outlined by Mr. McCutcheon, and will see the replacement of the existing wooden deck, guardrails brought up to current standards as well as improvements to the bridge's abutments.
According to Mr. McCutcheon, a number of community groups have pledged their support to the project including the Uxbridge Rotary Club, the Uxbridge BIA, York-Durham Heritage Railway, the township's Tourism Committee, the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and Trans Canada Trail.
"This bridge is a part of the proud railway history in Uxbridge, which was once the headquarters of the Toronto-Nipissing Railroad Company," explained Mr. McCutcheon. "This project is an opportunity to expand the Trans Canada Trail in Uxbridge, right through the heart of the township. It is the spine of the trail system, connecting 215 kilometres of trails. The project will build on two of our town's strongest traits, history and trails."
The project, which Mr. McCutcheon is hopeful will begin in April or May next year, and be completed by September 2015, would see funding from several sources. As outlined by Mr. McCutcheon, $100,000 would come from the Trans Canada Trail, $60,000 from the National Trail Coalition, $50,000 in locally raised funds and the rest from a Trillium grant the group is hopeful to obtain.
Ward 1 Councilor Bev Northeast questioned how the project will attempt to curb vandalism on the bridge, which has been an issue for several years.
"We plan to use a composite wood material, which locks in place so it can't be removed," explained Trail Committee member Tom Rance. "We would also add lighting and cameras tied into the current town system to hopefully catch anyone who may seek to cause damage."
Ward 3 Councillor Pat Mikuse mentioned that she had recently received a letter from Durham MPP Granville Anderson pledging his support for the project.
Councillors voted unanimously to approve the proposed plan to repair and upgrade the trestle bridge, as well as allowing the Trails Committee to seek outside funding to complete the repairs.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Council approved the purchase of a new pumper truck for the Fire Department at their meeting on the morning of Monday, Aug. 11.
Four bids were recieved by the township for the new piece of fire equipment after opening the bidding process in May.
Eastway Emergency Vehicles was selected as the winning bid, at a cost of $483,212. During municipal budget deliberations, councillors approved funding of $200,000 in 2014, and a further $275,000 in 2015 for the purchase.
Fire Chief Scott Richardson explained to The Standard that the construction process for the new pumper is a two-step process. The chassis must be built first and shipped to the manufacturer, after which the vehicle body is fabricated and assembled by the manufacturer before it can be delivered to the local fire department.
Councillors noted that the fire department expects for the new pumper to be added to its fleet next summer.