SCUGOG: Work has begun on Ashburn Rd., near the township’s western boundary after the CAA recently named it the third-worst road in the Halton, Peel, York and Durham area.
Ashburn Rd. and Bloor St. East in Oshawa were the only roads in the Durham Region on the annual list of the province’s worst roads, which was released by the CAA on Thursday, May 21.
“It doesn’t surprise me, because the condition of the road was on our radar and we are pleased we have a resolution for it,” said Mayor Tom Rowett.
The township started prepping the road for the refurbishment including putting in new culverts and re-ditching the area last week. Work on the road itself is expected to begin in early June, when the township awards the contract for the work to a construction company.
“Everything will be done in July before we put the top coat on. It will be a good travelling surface in July, it just won’t have the final layer,” said Director of Public Works and Parks Glen Smith. “We have a good idea of how many people travel that road everyday, and that pushed it higher on our list to be refurbished.”
Mayor Rowett added that the municipality was hoping to receive funding to add bicycle lanes to the refurbishment project, but decided they could not wait any longer to begin work.
“We were trying to get the province to recognize this as a provincial cycle plan,” said Mayor Rowett. “We got tired of waiting for the province to help us and we decided that we have to do this for liability reasons. We had to do what we could with what we had.”
However, that does not rule out the creation of bike lines in the future.
“Recently, the provincial government has announced some infrastructure plans recently and we are going to wait and see if we can apply to any of them,” said Mayor Rowett. “As many people know, we have a large infrastructure network with not a lot of resources to work with.”
Township staff expects the work to be complete sometime in August.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
SCUGOG: There was a special guest at Vos’ Independent last week, when Minister of Community and Social Services Dr. Helena Jaczek visited the local grocery store, to announce new funding by the provincial government to enhance employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
As part of the visit on Wedneday, May 20, Dr. Jaczek was given a tour of the Hwy. 7A store by employees Tyler Bjerknes and Gary McCollough.
“We hear over and over that a job is not just a great path to financial security, it is one of the best routes to social inclusion there is,” she said. “By investing in better employment outcomes for people with disabilities, we are investing in their independence, health and overall participation in our society.”
With those goals in mind, the provincial government recently announced a funding pledge of $800,000 by the province towards a new Centre of Excellence for Employment Services.
“We want to see Ontario become a leader in promoting employment for all people,” explained Dr. Jaczek. “We see this as an investment in the future, a stronger future for those with disabilities across Ontario.”
According to a press release, the Centre of Excellence, will be a web-based platform, and operated by the Ontario Disability Employment Network. The Centre’s primary focus will be on employment services for people with disabilities, as well as networking with potential employers and providing support to agencies, such as Community Living.
“This is a great statement for Port Perry, and an opportunity to share with potential employers that there is a great untapped resource out there to hire some really great and loyal people,” said Independent store owner Terry Vos.
Mr. McCullough has traveled from his home in Whitby to work in the store’s frozen food department for the past four years. He is also an amateur astronomer, with a passion for exploring the stars through the lens of his telescope.
“I enjoy working here very much,” he said of his experiences at the store. “That’s it.”
Mr. Bjerknes has worked at Independent for the past four years, after previously working at Canadian Tire, working his way up at Vos’ from service clerk to grocery/dairy and frozen food clerk, and in between, there was a brief stint in the store’s bakery department. When he’s not working at Independent, Mr. Bjerknes spends much of his time volunteering as staff member for the Port Perry MoJacks, a position he has held for more than a decade.
“I was a little nervous when I first started, but I really like all of my co-workers and the customers are good too. The part of the job I like most is working with people. There are always people I know in the store,” Mr. Bjerknes told The Standard.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: The township’s Art and Visual Enhancement Committee (AVEC) will be looking to add to the current collection of community art later this year when the town plays host to a special Stone Carving Symposium.
Stuart Blower presented the plan, which would see the symposium take place in picturesque Elgin Park, on behalf of the Committee, at Council’s meeting at the Sandford Hall on the evening of Monday, May 25.
According to Mr. Blower, the event is planned to take place between the third week of August and the second week of September to allow for public viewing during the carving process. Throughout the process, artists would work in a roped off area that would provide suitable protection for the viewing public. As well, there would be daily updates of the projects posted on-line.
AVEC was seeking the approval of Council to use the current allocated budget of $6,000 to plan, promote and execute the proposal. Mr. Blower added that the Committee would be spending $1,500 on materials, having secured 24 cubic feet of Indiana Limestone from Betz Stone. With the remainder of the money allocated for artist honorariums, with additional funding for installations to be sought by AVEC.
Mr. Blower added that he expects the call for art to go out shortly, and noted that there could be some changes to the timing of the project depending on the nature of the work.
“We have hoped for completion during the Fall Fair, but depending on the size of the piece it could spill over to Studio Tour weekend,” Mr. Blower explained to Council.
Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy raised the questioned the use of the Committee’s budget for honorariums, but Mr. Blower retorted that the cost is relatively low, given the normal fees for similar projects.
“I think that it would be a mistake to not pay people to create art,” added Mr. Blower. “The artist will be paid an honorarium and the piece would be donated back to the town. If everything goes well, the town would end up having three new pieces of art.”
Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet asked if there would be a specific theme for the work, but Mr. Blower responded that it would be left open to the artist to encourage the broadest possible spectrum of submissions.
Mr. Blower also mentioned that talks have been taking place with the Fair Board for the event to take place during the annual event, but Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor reminded those in attendance, that the municipality has the final say in matters concerning Elgin Park.
“The township owns Elgin Park, and would make the ultimate decision on what can be placed there,” commented Mayor O’Connor. “It will be our insurance that’ll cover anything that would go on there. Personally, I think that it would be a great place to have this.”
Ultimately, councillors voted unanimously to support the budget request, and that the symposium be held at Elgin Park later this year.
DAN CEARNS The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: High school students in Durham Region could be returning to their classrooms as early as this Friday, as the Ontario Liberal government introduced back-to-work legislation on Monday, May 25.
The move comes after a ruling from the Education Relations Commission that the school year is in jeopardy. Premier Kathleen Wynne was hoping to have the legislation fast tracked and passed on Monday, but the NDP did not give consent. Despite her majority, the Liberal government still needs to have consent from the two opposition parties to have it pushed to the voting stage. The earliest that the ruling could pass is this Thursday, May 28. Education Minister Liz Sandals has said that students would return the day after the legislation passes.
OSSTF District 13 President Dave Barrowclough was not surprised that the Ontario government chose this route.
“They did this the last time we collectively bargained,” he said. “They say that they respect the collective bargaining process, but at no point have they stepped in and aided negotiations. We are supposed to have the ability to collectively bargain, but that does not seem to be the case.”
Durham District School Board Chairman Michael Barrett said he wished things had worked out better at the bargaining table between the two sides.
“I’m glad we are finally getting our children in the classroom. It’s not the way that I would have wanted. I would have wanted a negotiated settlement,” he said. “I was proud of the process we put together. We should have all been committed to it. That didn’t happen and I’m disappointed.”
It is believed that the new legislation will force both sides to go through an arbitration process to resolve the labour issues.
OSSTF president Paul Elliott said in a press release that this action “has done nothing to help move negotiations forward” and that it was “nothing more than political cover for a government that has no real commitment to the bargaining process.”
DAN CEARNS The Standard
Port Perry High School student Jack Martin will be carrying the torch through Ajax for the Pan and Parapan Am Games.
His family was contacted in April by members of the Pan Am Games Committee to see if he could be the Special Olympics representative.
“It’s something exciting for us as a family to support Jack in this and to cheer him on and to showcase Special Olympics,” his mother Lori Martin said. “We think that it is important that everybody has a chance to shine and this will be one of his moments to shine.”
Mr. Martin has been involved with the North Durham Otters swim team for the last two years and has competed with the Greater Durham Special Olympics golf team for the last three years. He, along with his family, have also volunteered with Precious Minds, an organization that provides support to families in North Durham.
The torch will travel through Ajax on Saturday, June 6. The relay will begin in Canada on Saturday, May 30, and will travel through a total of 130 communities prior to the opening of the Pan Am games on July 10.
DAN CEARNS The Standard
SCUGOG: People who want to park at the Port Perry boat launch are now going to have to pay a little more on weekends and holidays.
On Monday, May 11, Scugog Council decided to hike fees for vehicles with boat trailers on those days from $10 to $12. The fee increase is intended to help fund the township’s new pay by plate parking terminal.
With the new machine, customers will input their license plate number into the terminal when they are paying for parking. They will no longer be given a receipt to display on the dashboard like the previous machine did.
The advantage of the new terminal is that it will put a stop to people sharing parking passes council were told. Debit and credit cards will be accepted at the new terminal .Part time bylaw officers patrol the parking lot on weekends. No date has been set for when the new machine will be installed.
The Boat launch is located at 2 Old Rail Lane.
DAN CEARNS The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: Local residents will have a chance to support the New Animal Shelter for Uxbridge-Scugog while getting a good workout on Saturday, May 23 at the Mutt Strutt.
Those involved can choose either a two or five kilometre walk through the picturesque Uxbridge trails, starting at Elgin Park. The event will begin at 10 a.m, and there will be a free barbecue after the walk. Pets are of course welcome for the walk, but must be on a leash.
People interested in taking part can register on-line at www.animal-shelter.ca/mutt-strut-registration-now-open/ or can pick up a registration form at Pet Valu in Port Perry (1535 Hwy. 7A, in the Walmart plaza) or Uxbridge (4 Banff Rd., in the Dollarama plaza) and bring it to the event site. On-site registration for the Mutt Strutt is set to begin at 8 a.m.
The new shelter will be located at 5500 Lakeridge Rd., Uxbridge. The site was donated by Uxbridge Township. Currently, more than $810,000 has been raised for the project through several initiatives, including the In the Ruff golf tournament at Oakridge Golf Club on June 25 and the Petissimo, returning for its second year at Port Perry’s Town Hall 1873 on June 6.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: On the heels of issues being raised by local residents, councillors recently altered plans for parking on Main St. South as part of the current road reconstruction project.
Originally, plans called for there to be 14 angled parking spaces, which was later reduced to 10 spaces. But, in a report to councillors included in their agenda at the May 11 meeting, Public Works Director Ben Kester explained that his office had received notice of concern from area residents about the proposed parking lot.
“This is a small piece of land and what I consider to be an important park that pays homage to our fallen soldiers,” a letter from resident Colin Clark said. “Paving over essentially half of it with parking spots simply eliminates half of what is already a small park to begin with. Perhaps lowering the number of spots and relocating them would be less invasive to the park.”
Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger agreed with Mr. Clark, adding that he had spoken with residents in the area, and offered the alternative of four parallel parking spaces on the west side of Main St. South.
“After meeting with the residents, I agree that it’s too much pavement and too many parking spaces. I would worry about those people backing up onto Main St.” explained Councillor Ballinger. “I spoke with Ben (Kester) and came up with that instead of 10 angle parking spots, we could have four parallel.”
The concerns over potential traffic safety issues were echoed by Ward 4 Councillor Fred Bryan, the area’s repesentative on council.
“I think we need to have four parallel spots because the problem with angled parking is backing out might create some traffic hazards,” added Councillor Bryan.
Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor noted that since the street will have curbs and gutters installed as part of the current project, these will be the only parking spaces in the immediate area.
“The neighbours need to understand that if they have visitors, that there are no parking spots except for these,” said Mayor O’Connor.
Additionally, Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet expressed concern for the safety of parallel parking, as well as questioning the amount of space that would actually be saved as part of the change in plans.
“I understand what you’re trying to achieve by introducing it, but the issue is if you have parallel parking you’re in the roadway, whereas if you have designated parking that’s angled, you’re off the thoroughfare,” commented Councillor Highet. “When you have cars end-to-end that equates to six to eight spaces if they were on an angle, you’re still looking out your window at cars, just in a different configuration.”
Eventually, a motion would pass to change the parking plan and establish four parallel spaces.
Later, Mayor O’Connor opined that the changes to the plan may also present some cost savings on the $2 million project, which is scheduled to finish in late-August.
DAN CEARNS The Standard
SCUGOG: The Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation told Scugog Council on Monday, May 11 they hope to expand the boundaries of their proposed clean water project .
“As we moved through the process, we saw that servicing the casino was a possibility as it has been serviced on an independent system to date,” said project engineering consultant Steve Burnett. “The other thing that became apparent during our study was it was actually a potential opportunity to go beyond the first nation boundaries and actually provide servicing to township residents of the island which would be beyond the beneficiaries of the First Nation community.”
The deal would provide potable water distribution, as well as water treatment to residents of the municipality on Scugog Island, as well as the area’s First Nation community.
Mr. Burnett said he saw how close the township is with the First Nation community and thought this would be a good opportunity for both parties.
“One of the things that sparked this idea is that the township residents are actually in close proximity with the first nations,” he said. “It is just the opportunity that came forward and seeing if there is a chance to explore it further.”
Mr. Burnett also updated council on the project itself, adding that they have finished doing basic research on the area and have begun looking at possible technologies to use.
The next step for the Mississaugas to be able to service Scugog Island is to get approval from Regional Council. However, township staff added that this may not be easy. Members of Scugog Council had a meeting with the Region earlier about the issue and were not given great news.
“The comment back from the region was that they had no intention of urban servicing in a rural area,” said Director of Public Works and Parks Glen Smith.
Scugog Council voted to support the project and to work with the Mississaugas and Durham Region for water supply and treatment options.
The Mississaugas first brought the proposal for a new water treatment system to Scugog Council on Monday, December 8. The original proposal for the project was to bring potable water to about 60 homes in the Scugog Island First Nation community.
The MSIFN have been dealing with a boil water advisory since 2008.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: With Durham Region moving towards a study to review fire services in the area, the township recently submitted several concerns and questions the municipality has in regards to the potential amalgamation.
Earlier this year, Regional Council voted to proceed with the $74,000 study of Durham’s fire services, with one potential outcome being the formation of a Regional Fire Department, similar to the police and emergency medial services already in place. In his annual address to Uxbridge councillors earlier this year, Regional Chair Roger Anderson described the undertaking as “an initial, and mainly financial review of fire services in the Region.”
Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor noted that township staff and members of council have any objection to the study, but there are matters that they would like to ensure are addressed.
Questions over the cost of firefighting equipment, the fleet vehicles, bunker gear were raised by the township.
As well, issues surrounding staff were raised, with Uxbridge questioning what will happen to those currently employed across the Region as chiefs, deputy chiefs, fire prevention officers, captains, training officers and other staff, and the impact of locally bargained collective agreements with regards to movement between positions.
There were also questions raised about the volunteer personnel at the departments in North Durham (Brock, Scugog and Uxbridge).
In the report, it’s noted that Uxbridge currently employs ‘double hatters’ - those who work as professional firefighters in other municipalities and volunteer with the local department. Doubts were raised by the municipality that the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association would permit the use of these individuals should Durham amalgamate its fire services.
“All of the southern municipalities are all unionized and they’re all 24/7 full-time employees,” Mayor O’Connor explained at council’s meeting on April 13. “In the north we have one municipality, Scugog, with four unionized and full-time employees. The rest of us are all part time. My fear, and I think it should be the fear of all of this Township, is that with a new amalgamated fire service it’s going to come to the highest level so you’re going to have full-time fire services in Uxbridge.”
The report also questioned the future of Uxbridge’s mutual aid agreements currently in place with East Gwillimbury and Stouffville.
“Once you become amalgamated there will have to be another fire station put in because those contracts would become null and void,” added Mayor O’Connor.”
Mayor O’Connor lauded the work of Uxbridge’s current department, noting that the amalgamation option may be better suited to Durham’s five southern municipalities (Clarington, Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax and Pickering).
“To me, our system is working really, really well, to change that and put more expense on our local taxpayers isn’t the right way for us to go at this time. You’re going to end up having 24/7 manning of the fire department and when you look at us having an average of 300 or so calls a year, we’ve got roughly one call per day in this municipality to look after.”