DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Donors to the recent Cenotaph refurbishment were honoured by the Township of Uxbridge in a special ceremony on Monday, April 22.
Prior to council's evening meeting, the township recognized the 45 donors to the project, which saw the downtown Cenotaph revitalized and made fully accessible.
Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger, who alongside Ward 3 Councillor Pat Mikuse spearheaded the fundraising efforts for the project, began the evening with a brief history of the Cenotaph in Uxbridge as well as the great fundraising spirit of the community, which has been a vital part of Uxbridge for generations.
"The year was 1920. The Great War was over, and the library was there, but there was nothing in front of it," began Councillor Ballinger. "Then, on September 7, a flat car rolled into the Uxbridge Train Station carrying a cannon built in 1902. The Canadian government gave this cannon to the township as a gift, and it was placed in front of the library."
According to Councillor Ballinger, the cannon would sit at the corner of Toronto St. and Brock St. until 1931, when the Independent Order of the Daughters of the Empire (IODE) approached council with a grand idea.
"The IODE, led by Lt. Col. Sharpe's wife Mabel - the first female council member in Uxbridge's history - wanted to put in a Cenotaph. They came before council and asked for money, and were given $500. From there they went to the residents and raised the rest of the funds to put in the Cenotaph that you see today, with a base made out of granite from Quebec and a solider made of Italian marble," added Councillor Ballinger.
The Cenotaph honours the members of the 116th Battalion, headquartered in Uxbridge, and the 17 men who paid the ultimate price for freedom.
"After all that time, the Cenotaph started to look bedraggled, and the township applied for a government grant for refurbishment with a maximum amount of $25,000, which we were awarded," said Councillor Ballinger.
Faced with a tight timeline - the money had to be used by December 2012, as well as impending Remembrance Day ceremonies - Councillors Ballinger and Mikuse got to work fundraising for the project.
With the effort of many dedicated members of the community, the project was able to be finished on time, and is now fully accessible for all residents.
"Before, it was on a grassy hill and very hard for veterans to get up, and you couldn't get around to the back of the monument," said Councillor Ballinger. "Now, if you are walking the streets of Uxbridge, take the time to look around the monument and read the names. And, I would like to say thank you to all of those who contributed to get our Cenotaph back to where it belongs."
Councillor Mikuse also took time to thank the many donors to the project for their commitment to the legacy of those local residents who gave their lives for the freedoms we continue to enjoy today.
"This was a very special project and we thank you very much for your contributions," added Councillor Mikuse.
The cannon originally gifted to Uxbridge by the government in 1920 continues to be showcased in the community, and can be seen on the shores of Elgin Pond in Veteran's Memorial Park.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: The community is getting set to go fishing once again, with the 11th annual Huck Finn Youth Fishing Day returning this weekend.
This Saturday (April 27), everyone is once again invited out for a great fun-filled day of fishing on Elgin Pond, which will be home to hundreds of Brook trout just waiting to be caught by any participant 15 years of age and under.
The event kicks off with the popular Huck Finn parade. Starting at Elgin Park at 9:30 a.m., all children and parents are encouraged to dress up in their best Huck Finn outfits and decorate their bikes and wagons for the occasion. All parade participants will be entitled to a V.I.P. fishing area after the parade. As well, there are lots of special prizes for those participating in the parade.
Fishing will begin at 10 a.m. and run until 1 p.m.
If you can't make the parade, there are still plenty of fantastic prizes to be had, in addition to a guaranteed fun-filled day of fishing on the shores of Elgin Pond just bring your equipment, and organizers will provide bait to all registered participants.
To register, pick up your ribbon ahead of time at any of the following locations: Uxpool, Uxbridge Legion, Presents, Presents, Blue Heron Books and Canadian Tire. You can also get them at the Pond on the day of the event. If you don't have any gear the Pickering Rod and Gun Club will be pleased to lend it to anyone aged 15 and under.
The event, sponsored by Canadian Tire, is supported by the Ministry of Natural Resources, Uxbridge Township, the Royal Canadian Legion, the Optimist Club, the Pickering Rod and Gun Club, the OFAH, Zone "G", the Uxbridge B.I.A. as well as the Durham Region Police.
Since its humble beginnings in 2002, Uxbridge's Huck Finn Fishing Day has grown into the largest family fishing day in Ontario, with thousands of particpants on hand for the annual event.
Main St. will be closed between Reach/Mill St. and Elgin Park Dr. on the day of the event between 7:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
For further information, contact Pat Higgins at 905-852-3315 or Amanda Ferraro at 905-852-7831.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: The tragic bombings at last week's Boston Marathon sent shock waves of sorrow throughout the world, and the events particularly hit home for one local resident whose sister was competing in the race.
Gord Humphrey, a retired teacher at Port Perry High School was refereeing a rugby game at the time of the attack, and had no knowledge about the situation until receiving a text message from his sister Linnea Rossitter informing him that she was safe, and out of harm's way.
"I got a text from her saying 'I'm fine, I'm at the bar' before I even knew that anything was going on," Mr. Humphrey told The Standard.
With cell phone service in the Boston area disabled in the aftermath of the attack, Mr. Humphrey was still able to communicate with his sister since both of them own Blackberry handheld devices.
"We were fortunate that we could still communicate with our Blackberries," Mr. Humphrey explained. "While I didn't know the full extent of what had taken place, my mother is quite a news-hound, and she was extremely relieved when I contacted her and said that everyone was alright."
According to Mr. Humphrey, his sister is an excellent triathlete, who has achieved national rankings. As such, she was finished with the race more than a hour before the bomb blasts near the finish line. The terrorist attacks will not deter Ms. Rossitter or her husband, Glenn, from competing in future events, according to Mr. Humphrey.
"They are both in a lot of those types of races - Glenn actually competed in an event in Toronto over the weekend - and they will continue to do so, and I will continue to support them," Mr. Humphrey added. "It's my understanding that the goal of terrorism is to disrupt the activities of people. And the best way to fight back is to continue doing those things that you are passionate about and not be fearful."
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: An upcoming road improvement project prompted council to lower the speed limit on a picturesque stretch of a township road at their meeting on the morning of Monday, April 15.
A report from Public Works Director Ben Kester prompted the move to lower the speed limit on Conc. 7 south of Regional Rd. 21.
According to Mr. Kester's report, Conc. 7 is slated to be surface treated later this spring, making the lowering of the speed limit necessary as there are a number of sharp bends in the roadway.
However, the move to upgrade the road prompted one councillor to hypothesize that the measure may make the road safer for local travellers.
"Wouldn't a surface treatment make the road be more safe?" asked Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle.
Mr. Kester replied that he "does not take these measures lightly" and added that the unique features of the road may pose a danger to vehicles travelling above the speed limit.
"If it were a straight road, surface treatment might make it safer, but there are some major curves along the section of roadway proposed for the speed limit change," replied Mr. Kester.
Ultimately, councillors agreed to lower the speed limit on the 2.2 kilometre stretch of road, and work on the project is slated to begin later this spring.
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
SCUGOG: Approximately 200 homes in Blackstock were without heat for almost two days, after gas was shut off following a car accident which ruptured an Enbridge line in the local community south of Hwy. 7A.
According to residents, a car travelling along Regional Rd. 57 last Tuesday evening (April 9) left the roadway and hit a gas line, causing a leak. Emergency services responded to the collision, which was later attended by Enbridge representatives to determine the extent of the leak.
According to Enbridge spokesperson Chris Meyer, approximately 200 homes in the community were affected by the incident, with gas restored to the vast majority of homes within 48 hours of the shutoff.
She said that following an assessment of the gas line, a decision was made to shut off gas to nearby homes to complete the necessary repairs.
The time-consuming process, said Ms. Meyer, involved Enbridge crews going door-to-door before and after the repairs were completed, first to shut off residential gas metres and then to re-ignite pilot lights on appliances, such as hot water tanks, following the fix.
"We realize it's an inconvenience not to have heat or hot water," said Ms. Meyer, "however, we got out as quickly as we could and we apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused."
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: There are just a few weeks left until Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Durham Region (BBBSND) rolls out one of its largest fundraisers of the year.
The annual Bowl For Kids Sake event will be held on Saturday, April 27, at Parish Lanes, located at 69 Brock St. West in downtown Uxbridge.
Teams of four to six players can book two games of bowling free with the submission of pledge forms, and compete to win various prizes and awards.
The exciting event returns to North Durham this year after an unfortunate cancellation last year due to unforeseeable circumstances that required Uxbridge Bowl to close its doors.
Ms. Ayres added that the group hopes to have 100 teams taking part in the event as Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
All of the funds raised through Bowl For Kids Sake go back into the North Durham agency, and allows the agency to continue to provide the mentorship programs that they have been providing to the communities of Scugog, Uxbridge and Brock over the past 36 years.
On Monday, April 15, Ms. Ayres made a presentation to Scugog Councillors, providing an update on the bowling event in the lead-up to National Volunteer Week, which takes place between April 21 and April 27.
National Volunteer Week is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, and since its humble beginnings in 1943, has grown into the largest national celebration of civic participation in Canada. Throughout the week, local volunteer centres across the country will be hosting activities of volunteer recognition and celebration of those who keep communities vibrant places to live and play.
For more information on Bowl For Kids Sake, or to inquire about becoming a mentor, please call 905-985-3733, or visit www.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca/northdurham.
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
SCUGOG: A well-attended presentation on property tax rates for Scugog Island property owners this week failed to spur local councillors into actions requested by the speaker, including a rezoning of the ward from residential to farmland based on what was deemed an unfair tax rate for constituents.
Scugog Island resident Don Kett, of the Islanders Tax Relief Action Committee, appeared before council this past Monday evening (April 15), outlining the concerns of his neighbours over the amount paid in annual property taxes versus the amenities and services provided to the area. Mr. Kett, who ran unsuccessfully for the Ward 3 council seat in the 2010 municipal election, requested Councillor Jim Howard, who represents the Island, to make a motion that would bring about a proposed zoning change – from residential to farmland – that Mr. Kett believed would result in a reduced tax rate for the community, citing a precedent set by the City of Kawartha Lakes in a similar scenario.
The motion did not materialize, however, with another put forth by Councillor Howard – to create a committee to look into taxation issues from a township-wide perspective – defeated by a lack of support from fellow councillors. A similar motion put forth by Ward 1 Councillor Larry Corrigan, to establish a committee to examine the Island tax issue with the assistance of municipal staff, was also grounded.
In his presentation, which followed a March meeting for Island residents on the same issues, Mr. Kett outlined the concerns of the community, among them a lack of natural gas connections for Island residences, the presence of only one access road, and the absence of such amenities as streetlights, sidewalks and indoor recreation facilities present in other Scugog communities.
"For the extra taxes that we pay," said Mr. Kett, "we get substandard roads and we have no sidewalks on the island…. There are families that have been on the island since confederation. It seems to be a place where you go and stay."
In addition to the proposed rezoning, Mr. Kett also suggested the township redirect funding from sources such as the annual contribution of gaming revenue from the Great Blue Heron Charity Casino, one suggestion among many met with criticism from councillors.
Ward 5 Councillor and Finance Committee chair Howard Danson took exception to the proposed rezoning as a tax reduction measure, questioning the viability of such a suggestion as well as outlining the role of the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) in determining taxes through property values.
"Zoning is something else," said Councillor Danson. "You haven't mentioned MPAC at all – what do you think they're reaction would be to having something classed what it isn't? Who would pick up the slack if we redirected funding from gas tax and the casino?"
Mayor Chuck Mercier balked at the suggestion to divide the township's many communities into separate tax categories, stating that other neighbourhoods should not bear the burden for perceived under-servicing.
"We have to be fair," said the mayor. "You want a discount while others have to pay more, which isn't good. You're asking for a discounted rate that everyone else in the township would have to pay for. The Island is not under-privileged - that's why people live there. Scugog's real estate values go up every year because this is a premium place to live and as a result, one of our biggest issues is our young people not being able to afford to live here."
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: What's in a name?
It may be a way to raise funds to boost township coffers independent of taxpayers according to Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle, after the question was raised by the President of the Uxbridge Youth Baseball Association at council's meeting on Monday, April 15.
In a letter to council, UYBA President Ian Weir requested that the Arena Diamond be renamed to Quaker Field.
"Renaming the diamond will be beneficial for both our House League and our Select teams," Mr. Weir said in his letter. "The existing name evokes an image of a diamond next to the Arena, and is of secondary importance. The name Quaker Field is a strong name which reflects the character of the diamond."
The move got immediate support from members of council praising the selection of the name in proximity to nearby Quaker Village subdivision, Quaker Village Public School and Quaker Hill, as well as invoking Uxbridge's heritage.
"It think it's a great idea," said Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy. "It really identifies where the diamond is, and differentiates it from the arena and its a perfect fit with the name of other things close by."
However, the new moniker may not be taking the field in time for the UYBA's Opening Day House League Tournament on Saturday, June 1 after speculation arose about the naming process for the Kennedy House lands, located at the corner of Ball Rd. and Main St. N.
The Kennedy House lands - which also once housed St. John Training School - are already home to the township's soccer fields and newly constructed skate park and are slated to be home to the proposed Aquatic Centre, tentatively scheduled to open in 2015 or 2016. As the township's current, and future, home to recreation facilities, a committee is currently working towards narrowing down a list of possible names for the sprawling facility that better reflects Uxbridge's character.
With that in mind, Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet cautioned councillors against making a decision prior to hearing the submissions from the Kennedy House renaming committee, and avoid the possibility of 'doubling up' on a name.
"We are currently in the process of renaming Kennedy House. By renaming this diamond, could we potentially be creating confusion in the future?" asked Councillor Highet.
The discussion prompted Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle to raise the possibility of sponsorship, which would serve as a means of boosting township coffers through sponsorship of township recreation facilities to companies and organizations.
Councillor Mantle has been a vocal proponent of the benefits of partnerships with the private sector as a way of offsetting the cost of building recreation infrastructure within the community.
"It doesn't have to corporate naming rights. We've had a splash pad and a skate park built through partnerships with the Bonner Boys and the Rotary Club respectively," added Councillor Mantle. "That's been the approach taken in my time with the Skate Park Committee since day one and a great partnership with the Rotary Club made that project happen, and it serves as a great example going forward of the mutual benefit of naming rights."
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
SCUGOG: Local drivers travelling along the Simcoe St. corridor between Durham's northern and southern municipalities will have to remember to fill up closer to home this spring, as work on a rural gas station has hit a roadblock.
Last March, the Esso station located at 10550 Simcoe St. (at the Old Simcoe Rd. intersection) suddenly closed its doors, with yellow caution tape in place of fuel pumps. The lot, which still contains the building that housed the station's store, saw the removal of fuel tanks last spring and has since become an occasional parking spot for trucks.
According to Tom McMillan, a spokesperson for Parkland Fuel Corporation, attempts to sell the property to potential gas station operators have so far been unsuccessful. He explained that the station was originally shut down by Parkland after an economic analysis of the location deemed the station to be "not profitable" enough to warrant its continued operation.
While Parkland is continuing in its search for a potential buyer, Mr. McMillan said that it's too early to tell whether another gas station will open at the site.
Rural gas stations along that stretch of road are few and far between.
The Esso gas station was the only one on Simcoe St. between the Hwy. 7A intersection in Port Perry - home to three service stations, including another Esso - and the north end of Oshawa, where another gas station is located next to the Durham College/UOIT campus.
North of Hwy. 7A in Port Perry (which boasts a cluster of three stations), northbound drivers on Simcoe St. in need of fuel have to fill up at the Ultramar, located at the Beech St. intersection, before reaching the next set of pumps in Manilla.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: It's not just flowers that will come into bloom this spring, as a number of retailers are prepping to move into downtown Uxbridge.
Teddy's Organic Market plans for a soft opening on Tuesday, April 16 at the corner of Main St. and Brock St., where Pharmasave was recently located.
The store will serve as an extension of Zephyr Organics, a farm owned and operated over three generations by former Ward 2 Councillor Ted Eng.
For the past 23 years, Zephyr Organics has been at the forefront of organicly grown produce, and the store serves to strengthen the bond between the farm and the table.
According to Mr. Eng, the farm will provide a significant portion of the 200 produce items available in the store, with the rest imported from other parts of Canada and overseas.
Beyond produce, Teddy's Organic Market will also feature a wide assortment of organic products including milk, eggs, cheese, butter and meats.
As well, the market will also feature a mini restaurant offering a juice bar, organic soups and sandwiches.
The closest store of a similar nature is located in Newmarket, so Mr. Eng is hopeful that his new store will offer residents the opportunity to enjoy organic produce, while also shopping local.
Also, residents looking to beat the heat can now do so at a new gelato shop - A Perfect Scoop - located in Rogers' former location on the north side of Brock St.
As well, floral shop Branching Out is doing just that by moving into the space formerly occupied by La Petite Fleur.
Branching Out has now completed the North Durham trifecta, as they currently operate locations in both Port Perry and Cannington.
Further up Brock St., The Dollar Store and Beyond will be opening shortly in the former IGA/Sears building on the corner of Toronto St. North and Brock St.
Council approved a sign for the business at the their meeting on the morning of Monday, March 15, with the lone change being the addition of wood trim in keeping with the heritage feel of the downtown area.
Additionally, the Sue Sue Boutique will be relocating soon to the space above the Tin Cup Cafe at the corner of Church St. and Brock St. that was once the home of Sammy's Pizza, and most recently was occupied by Strawberry Threads.
The new openings come on the heels of a rejuvenation of Uxbridge's downtown that has seen a number of retailers, such as Edward Jones and Low's Furniture, make wide-spread improvements and renovations.