BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
Storybook Farm Primate Sanctuary in Sunderland has had a lot of press lately regarding the saga of a feisty Japanese Macaque named Darwin, more commonly known as the Ikea Monkey. However, a different story exists under the turmoil of coverage; Storybook Farm provides a therapeutic home to 23 different monkeys and a whole team of volunteers who work every day to facilitate the healing process of our intelligent and temperamental evolutionary cousins.
"At Story Book, our philosophy is to focus on the healing of the animals, not the enjoyment of humans," said Sherri Delaney, director and founder of Storybook Farm. "We don’t let spectators come to gawk at our monkeys because they need time to recuperate. Instead of the monkeys serving for our enjoyment, we serve them."
Ms. Delaney has a background in law enforcement, with the majority of her training focusing on domestic violence. She has felt a love for animals since a very young age, and resolved to study the plight of animals in animal testing labs, as well as the exotic animal trade in Canada, where any Average Joe can buy a zebra, monkey, camel or any other exotic animal and drive them home to a 500 square-foot condo.
"My love of primates led me to focus on their care," said Ms. Delaney. "My knowledge of the inhumanities committed against animals in my own country led me to open one of the only primate sanctuaries in Canada. I wanted to make a difference."
The event which drove Ms. Delaney to open Storybook with her husband Len can be traced back to one horrifying experience, when she was called in by an animal rights organization to consult on the treatment of a group of baboons.
"The baboons that I saw were in terrible condition and had been locked in dog cages for most of their lives, 24 hours per day," Ms. Delaney. "Most would agree that even locking a dog in a cage for one day would be cruel, but these baboons are almost as intelligent as humans, they are thinkers. They suffered significant trauma and I just wanted to help them in any way I could."
Storybook Farm was built around the realization that primates in Canada who are mistreated or sold as excess stock cannot just be let free into the wild, since they are not acclimatized to the cold and are often raised and fed by hand. Storybook instead offers a second option to euthanasia for authorities, a place where the primates can be cared for, stimulated, and have their requirements met by a team of professionals.
"We have a group of volunteers come in to Storybook every day who focus on enrichment devices for the primates, prepare meals of nuts, fruits, vegetables, and do the daily cleaning," said Ms. Delaney. "Food is often presented to the primates in the form of a present, wrapped in a paper bag, or hidden around their enclosure. This provides a fun and rewarding game for the primates, we need to keep them active and engaged to help them heal."
The staff at Storybook holds an expertise in primates and animal husbandry. Many of them are keepers at zoos, have worked at wildlife sanctuaries in Africa, and have studied at Apenheul in the Netherlands. The volunteers are graded on their abilities once per year, to ensure that the proper care and attention to detail is provided for the primates in their care.
"We have had many primates come to us with tramaus and bad stories from the pet trade," said Ms. Delaney. "Once we are able to work with them and interpret what they are feeling, we can really help turn their lives around."
One such primate success story which Ms. Delaney is proud of is Julien, a Japanese Macaque who suffered from severe psychological trauma when he escaped his former enclosure with his partner, who was killed in the attempt. After 12 days on the run, Julien was found and brought to Storybook, but had a habit of biting himself and reacting violently to the gaze of humans. Now partnered with female Lexy, Julien is a calm monkey who has learned to tolerate humans and even request food and scratches. Julien is only one example of the many primates and animals whose lives were saved by Storybook Farm.
"Readers who wish to pitch in, get involved, or donate can contact us through our website at www.StoryBookMonkeys.org," said Ms. Delaney. "We are always looking for help and support from anyone who loves animals."
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: After a 35-year career in law enforcement spanning two continents, local North Division police officer Ron Crouch will be hanging up his badge this week.
The veteran officer has been with Durham Regional Police since 1992 after beginning his career in law enforcement in his native England in 1978. Since 2002, Officer Crouch has worked out of DRPS’ North Division.
However, his journey to become a police officer began several years earlier.
"It was 1971, and human rights was in its infancy, so they turned me down because I was too short. Half an inch too short," said Officer Crouch.
So, instead Officer Crouch joined the Merchant Navy as a navigator, an adventure that allowed him the opportunity to see the world.
"I had this romantic idea of girls in grass skirts and tropical islands." recalled Officer Crouch "During the next six years I worked aboard oil tankers, including super tankers, general cargo ships and container ships. I never did meet any girls in grass skirts during that time, but I sure saw a lot of sea and a lot of desert and had many adventures along the way. My fondest memories are of navigating the Norwegian fjords."
In January 1978, Officer Crouch joined the Sussex Police, and was posted to the busy seaside town of Brighton for 11 years before spending an additional 18 months in the village of Storrington.
It was a turbulent time in the UK, and according to Officer Crouch, led to several violent incidents.
"Respect for the police was nonexistent. Just about every arrest resulted in a fight; few were willing to come quietly." Officer Crouch told The Standard. "This was the era of riots across the UK, including the almost decapitation of Constable Keith Blakelock during the Brixton riots."
In July of 1990, Officer Crouch arrived in Canada after 10 years of applications, but the trip was almost very short-lived.
"I almost went back in the first hour, because I ran into Canadian bureaucracy," said Officer Crouch.
After a series of jobs, and subsequent lay-offs led him to almost return to his native England after just 18 months, Officer Crouch was hired by Durham Regional Police, spending time in the Major Crimes Unit in Oshawa before heading to North Division in 2002.
Widely respected throughout the department, the interview with The Standard prior to his final night shift on the force was frequently interrupted by well-wishing comrades who came to pay respect to Officer Crouch.
"Ron genuinely wants to help people - even career criminals - he wants to get to the root of the problem so that he never has to see you again for the wrong reasons," said Constable Craig Mullen. "The compassion that he shows people, I haven’t seen in another officer that I’ve worked with."
According to Officer Mullen, the positive impact Officer Crouch has had on the community over his 11 years at North Division is evident everyday.
"Not a single day goes by that someone doesn’t stop to thank Ron for the things he’s done to help them and the way he’s treated them," added Officer Mullen.
Aside from his career in law enforcement, Officer Crouch is also an avid painter as well as a writer.
In recent years, Officer Crouch has self-published a children’s book and had two adult books published by Books We Love, a crime/romance novel set in Ontario and a crime mystery set in England. As retirement from the force looms, Officer Crouch is looking forward to publishing a memoir of his experiences over a 35-year career in policing.
In a career marked by highs and lows, it’s the camaraderie of the position that Officer Crouch will remember most fondly.
"What I think I’ll miss most is the banter and laughter in the locker room at the end of the shift between he crossover of the two platoons," Officer Crouch said. "And the old guys I sit with in the morning at McDonald’s."
His legacy of compassion for all people will live on through the efforts of those proud to have served alongside him with DRPS.
"Ron has taught me aspects of policing that I’ll carry over through my career and pass on to younger officers," Officer Mullen said. "Ron has made me a better police officer."
BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
SCUGOG: The income collected from Greenbank Airport’s fill site has been allocated to a variety of projects by Scugog council.
At council chambers on Jan. 27, Township staff reported that fill site revenues equal $268,764, with an additional $210,000 estimated from future income, for a total of $478,764, less expenses.
"There are a lot of things I would like to do, and thankfully we have a short term opportunity from the fill revenue fund to knock off some work we could otherwise not accomplish," said Scugog Mayor Chuck Mercier. "There are things that need to be done, but we do not have $4 Million, so let’s do what we can now and not have these projects be left for the budget of coming years."
The influx of additional revenue from the fill project at Greenbank Airport led to several additions to the 2014 municipal budget, including $75,000 to the replacement of Port Perry’s streetlights with more efficient LED bulbs, $50,000 for sidewalk repairs, $100,00 for the pre-engineering of Crandell St. repairs, and a $37,500 donation to the Port Perry Hospital Fund.
An additional $100,000 will be set aside as an environmental and legal reserve, leaving an estimated total of $116,264 in the fill revenue account.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Local residents packed council chambers on Monday (Jan. 27) night to voice their concerns over the proposed sale of the King St. parkette.
Council held a public planning meeting to discuss the move, which would require a zoning by-law amendment to convert the parkette to a residential building lot.
Since 2011, parks department staff have been conducting playground reviews, and according to Manager of Recreation Facilities and Parks Bob Ferguson, compared to other township parks, the King St. parkette is a low-use park, and is currently, the smallest park in the municipality. Mr. Ferguson added that annual maintenance of the park currently costs between $500 and $1,000. As well, frequent changes to playground standards in recent years has left the park stripped of most of its equipment.
"Playground standards have changed three times since 1999, and the only remaining equipment is a swing set. The rest of the equipment was removed due to safety standards," added Mr. Ferguson.
Early in the meeting, Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger proposed a solution to the issue that would see the park re-zoned, but kept as greenspace.
"My personal feeling is that I don’t like to lose greenspace," said Councillor Ballinger. "It could be re-zoned now and kept as a park."
Local resident Gerry Oldham was the first to address council, and has been involved with efforts to maintain the property as a park for more than 30 years, including circulating a petition in 1983 when the township first investigated a possible sale of the park.
"I think our neighbourhood has enjoyed this park for 40 years and I’m hopeful for another 40 years," said Ms. Oldham. In her comments to council, Ms. Oldham took issue with the park being characterized as vacant and abandoned.
"Aside from a slide, to the best of my knowledge the town has never upgraded the park’s equipment when compared to other areas," commented Ms. Oldham. "If it appears abandoned, then the blame lies with the town."
Ms. Oldham added that the parkette was recently assigned a green number, and surveying recently took place on the property.
Former Councillor Susan Self also appeared before council to protest the potential sale.
In her comments, Ms. Self pointed to a report issued by Township Clerk Debbie Leroux on Oct. 7 that stated the park could potentially be worth $144,000 as a residential building lot. However, since the property would have to be serviced at a cost of approximately $50,000, the sale would ultimately net the municipality $94,000.
However, Ms. Self noted that several fees including those for legal representation and a real estate agent were not included, potentially downgrading the total income for the township to around $50,000. As well, Ms. Self took issue with the money from the potential sale being put into a general revenue fund.
"If it is your intention to sell public greenspace - which can never be replaced - there is a moral obligation to put the money back into the parks and rec department and not use it as a one per cent budget decrease in an election year."
Ms. Self added that a notice given to nearby residents of the park described it as a "former parkette."
Another local resident noted that the sale of the park would not match up with other initiatives undertaken by the township to promote physical activity amongst young people.
"If we’re supposed to be encouraging children to be active, then it seems very shortsighted to sell off greenspace," said Leslie Edwards.
Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle commented that the sale is not merely about money, but part of a larger plan for the future of parks in Uxbridge Township.
"Our goal is not just a cash grab, we’re trying to make the best decision for the entire township," said Councillor Mantle. "We do care about our playground and recreation infrastructure, and we’re just trying to figure out the best strategy going forward."
Residents wishing to comment on the potential sale of the King St. parkette can do so by submitting comments to the township’s clerks department by Monday, Feb. 10 at Town Hall, located at 51 Toronto St. South.
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
SCUGOG: Renovations at the Blackstock Recreation Centre will move ahead as scheduled, albeit with a different construction firm as originally planned.
During a recent discussion of the project, Scugog councillors approved a recommendation last week from Parks Director Craig Belfry that the township reject a winning bid from contractor Gay Company Ltd. which was deemed incomplete by the director, after it was determined by the company that its bid of $399,000 for the project - the lowest of four received by the township - would in fact be higher.
Scugog has currently budgeted $415,000 for the project, which will involve extensive interior renovations at the Church St. facility.
The contract will now be awarded to the next closest bid by Kawartha Capital.
Despite a bid of $440,984 by Kawartha Capital, Mr. Belfry told The Standard that staff will work with the company to bring the project in line with the township’s budget limit. Due to a time limit imposed by Ontario Trillium Grant funding the township has received for the project, the renovations must be completed by March 31.
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
SCUGOG: Denise Jones-Spencer didn’t expect that an encounter with a tiny mammal would end with a hospital visit and lingering medical effects.
The Scugog Island resident was recently treated at Lakeridge Health Port Perry after being bit by what she later identified as a shrew - a tiny mouse-like animal related to the mole and often mistaken for a rodent - which had been discovered running through her home by her dog.
With the arrival of colder temperatures, many wild animals look to the interior of people’s homes for shelter and food, and picking up what she thought was a mouse and transporting the animal outside, it bit her baby finger in the process.
"The mice come in this time of year," she said, "so I went to move him outdoors. I thought my dog had found a mole at first."
However, certain species of shrew are among the very few venomous mammals known to exist and while not immediately apparent, Ms. Jones-Spencer said that she later felt sick and her arm began to swell. She recalled that she went to the hospital with what she described as a "mole bite," adding that hospital staff who treated her were shocked by the reaction.
Ms. Jones-Spencer said that three weeks after the incident, that she still felt cramping in her hands from the bite.
Several shrew species are capable of delivering a venomous bite to prey, which is known to cause painful reactions in humans. The venom of the northern short-tailed shrew (one of several shrew species found through southern Ontario) is chemically similar to the poisonous Mexican beaded lizard and has been studied in Canada for its potential use in cancer medications.
Since the bite, Ms. Jones-Spencer discovered a second shrew in her house, this one caught in a trap. This one, she said, was handled with extreme care.
"I’m not going to touch them again," said Ms. Jones-Spencer. "I’m a grown woman - what if a child was bit?"
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
SCUGOG: Manchester resident Tony D’Antimo is hoping to draw attention to - and potentially change - Scugog’s legislation governing where chickens can be kept by review of a related local bylaw, a request that seems to have resonated with local councillors and staff.
Mr. D’Antimo appeared before councillors last week. Earlier this year, he said that he was presented with a notice of non-compliance from a bylaw officer, the result of a complaint about the birds from another local resident. He said that he began keeping four chickens as a way of providing fresh eggs and to help naturalize his property near Hwy. 12. Prior to receiving the bylaw notice, he told councillors that he was under the impression it was legal to own chickens on his property.
"I bought the chickens as a method of providing nutritious and delicious eggs to my family, from a food source we control," said Mr. D’Antimo at the recent meeting.
"The highway is loud and dirty, but that’s progress - to combat the negative impact, I sought to plant a natural habitat on my property and I chose to add a few chickens. I thought it was legal to keep the birds here. Law abiding citizens shouldn’t live in fear of a potential $25,000 fine."
In addition to a stay on any potential charges he may face, he’s hoping to see council consider a change to the bylaw allowing hamlet residents to own up to five hens, adding that any such change must also take into account a neighbour’s right to be free of any noise and nuisance that the birds may create. The concept is not a new one, he pointed out, with cities such as Vancouver and Chicago allowing for the birds to be kept in certain residential areas within their municipal boundaries.
"This is happening in urban areas, not just municipalities with hamlets," said Community Services Director Don Gordon.
The matter of where chickens can be kept in the township falls under Scugog’s Zoning bylaw, which prevents the animals from inhabiting urban and hamlet areas in the township by defining their keeping for food purposes as a form of farming, which is limited to rural zoning. Mr. D’Antimo acknowledged that his property, which is located in a hamlet area, does not fit the description in the bylaw of where chickens can be kept.
However, that doesn’t mean the existing notion should not be challenged, he said, citing the potential health and environmental benefits from raising one’s own food.
Councillors cited a number of issues to be considered in any potential re-writing of the bylaw pertaining to chicken keeping, including the potential economic impact on local farmers as well as public health issues related to the keeping of the birds.
"My great fear is the potential impacts on the agricultural community," said Mayor Chuck Mercier. "It’s like dog owners - there are both good and bad ones. There’s also issues stemming from the threat of H1N1 - I just don’t know what the answers are yet."
Despite receiving a warning from Scugog’s bylaw department earlier this year, staff and councillors appeared reluctant to pursue any formal charges against Mr. D’Antimo during the recent discussion. While a bylaw spokesperson confirmed that charges are required to be pursued within 90 days of a resident being informed of their non-compliance, Mr. Gordon said that a review of the bylaw will likely be returned to councillors in the near future, possibly within the discussion of the township’s zoning bylaw update schedule to take place Feb. 10.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Concerns from Brookdale Rd. residents regarding speeding in the area brought forward at council’s meeting on Monday, Jan. 6 prompted a local councillor to call upon police for greater enforcement in North Durham.
"The issue here is that we need more police enforcement," said Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet. "When I go down to Country Style and there’s three cruisers there, surely one of them can get off their ass and patrol our subdivisions."
A letter from Arthur Beatty, on behalf of the residents of Brookdale Rd. outlined the host of concerns in the area due to speeding.
It was requested that the speed limit on Brookdale Rd. be dropped from 50 km/h to 40 km/h, as well as additional signage in the area.
"We are concerned about the overall traffic safety of the road because of its mixed recreational uses such as the Trans Canada Trail System, special events like the Terry Fox Run, and general biking, horseback riding, running and walking, along with the greatly increased vehicle usage of the road over the last 10 years," explained Mr. Beatty in his letter. "When this mixed use is combined with the road’s overall narrowness and restricted visibility, it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt."
However, Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor claimed that, like several other areas where similar changes have been requested, the blame for increased speeds along the road lies squarely with local residents.
This claim was rebuffed by Mr. Beatty, who claimed that the road is widely used as a shortcut into Uxbridge.
"Many people know about Brookdale Rd., and use it as a shortcut, I can assure you that it’s not local people," said Mr. Beatty.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: After more than a year of debates, councillors finally signed off on the township’s new special events bylaw at their meeting on the morning of Monday, Jan. 20.
With major events at Elgin Park such as the Fall Fair, Art in the Park, Ribfest and Highland Games exempt from the new bylaw, the goal is to better regulate one-off special events taking place around the municipality.
However, there was still some reservation from around the council table regarding possible liability for the township should an event take place in an area not zoned for that particular use.
"It comes down to one thing - if we approve an event on a property that’s not zoned for it, we could be liable," said Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy.
As well, Ward 1 Councillor Bev Northeast argued in favour of keeping the current system of council approving events on a case-by-case basis in place.
"I think we should be dealing with these events as they come in. It’s not broke, so let’s not fix it," commented Councillor Northeast.
But, Township Clerk Debbie Leroux cautioned councillors that it may be prudent to have a single set of guidelines to ensure consistency when approving events.
"It’s a good idea to have some type of outline so that policy is consistent and people know what they’re getting into ahead of time," added Ms. Leroux.
Councillor Northeast responded that it is hard to be consistent with such a wide variety of events taking place throughout the municipality, and noted that councillors should not be looking at hampering any long-standing events in the community.
"I would hate to see any function that’s ongoing wiped out," added Councillor Northeast. "Too many people work too hard to put on these events and bring people to this township and raise funds for this community."
Councillors later approved an amendment to the bylaw that will see special events capped at once a year, and any further requests will need to be brought before council for approval.
"These are one-time events. I definitely have a problem approving 30 events at one time, then it definitely becomes a case of running a business. But, one-time events don’t seem to fit the same way," added Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle.
Additionally, Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy proposed changing a requirement in the bylaw that would have seen any employee at the event subjected to a police background check within 30 days of the event to only a check for the permit holder, with the police check is to be done within one year prior to the event.
According to Councillor Molloy, the typical turnaround time for a police background check (eight to 10 weeks) made it nearly impossible to be done within the 30 days originally proposed by the bylaw.
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
SCUGOG: It’s time again to strap on the skates and head outdoors for a good cause.
Now in its fifth year, the Lake Scugog Pond Hockey Tournament returns to the Port Perry shoreline on Feb. 1. The tournament will once again feature dozens of teams going head-to-head on the ice of Lake Scugog (near the Port Perry Marina), all in the name of fundraising.
Organizer Marianne Tracey said that this year, the tournament will benefit two Durham organizations - Precious Minds Learning Resource Centre, which assists special needs children and their families, as well as the Ontario Volunteer Emergency Response Team (OVERT), which teams up with police and emergency services during extensive operations.
In previous years, the tournament has helped raise money for other local causes, including more than $27,000 for a new neonatal heart monitor for Lakeridge Health, as well as $15,000 for the Durham Dragons Special Hockey League.
According to Ms. Tracey, many of the same teams and sponsors will return to this year’s tournament.
Coffee and other refreshments will also be provided to participants and spectators from Tim Hortons.
As of Jan. 20, there were still spaces available for players to sign up.
To register for the tournament or to volunteer as a referee or to help with maintaining the ice surface, e-mail email@example.com to receive a registration and information package.
In an interesting twist, the tournament has also drawn the attention of a Canadian board game manufacturer.
Earlier this spring, Ms. Tracey said that she received an e-mail from Outset Media, a Vancouver, B.C.-based games manufacturer, stating that the Port Perry tournament had been included in the company’s Pond Hockey-opoly, a new twist on the classic real estate purchasing game.
The game includes several lakes and their associated tournaments from across North America, which appear as properties to be purchased by players.