DAN CEARNS The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: Longtime town Crier Bill McKee had a solid weekend, winning both the Muskoka Escapades of Town Crying competition as well as a provincial championship.
Both competitions were held in Bracebridge. The provincial championship is annually held by the Ontario Guild of Town Criers. Mr. McKee said that he was shocked when he found out he had won.
“I was surprised, mainly because the newer criers are getting better at writing and performing and there are a lot of strong cries,” he said.
This is the sixth time that Mr. McKee has won the provincial championships, and the eighth time he has won the Muskoka Escapades of Town Crying. He said that winning both competitions is a good confidence builder.
“It’s a better feeling because you know that you still have it,” Mr. McKee said.
In the competitions, he was representing Scugog, Uxbridge as well as Oshawa. Mr. McKee has been the town crier for Uxbridge since 1999, Scugog since 2002 and Oshawa since 2004.
He added that he became a town crier after spending time watching his brother Dave McKee perform as Bracebridge’s town crier. Dave McKee came in second place behind his brother in the provincial championships.
Mr. McKee said that it has been a true honour to represent the three municipalities.
“It’s a great feeling that Scugog and Uxbridge are so behind me and that Oshawa has used me in big events and have been behind me as well,” he said. “I just hope I can reciprocate the honour by living up to what they hoped, to their expectations.”
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Shots continue to be fired in every direction, as neighbours near Uxbridge Shooting Sports on Conc. 4 continue to contend with noise levels from the site.
Following a recent presentation to council from the local gun club, the sound of dump trucks may soon be joining gunfire in the township countryside. Operators at Uxbridge Shooting Sports revealed during their presentation that, in order to construct a 30-metre high berm on the property, 35,000 truckloads of fill would need to be brought onto the Conc. 4 property.
With applications still to be handed in for the project, local residents are anxious for the municipality to take action if sound levels are not down further by Aug. 31, as was outlined in last year’s much-debated firearms discharge bylaw.
Appearing before council at their meeting on the morning of Monday, July 13, Uxbridge Shooting Sports president Steve Malcolm also outlined some of the other sound mitigation efforts already underway at the club. According to Mr. Malcolm, the club has reduced the amount of powder permitted in shells, as well as relocating a shooting stand to help bring down noise levels.
Mr. Malcolm noted that, once completed, the berm could offer significant further reduction in sound emanating from the property. However, he added that there have been some delays with the project’s applications and permits after an exhaustive five-month search.
“We want to be able to do it once and do it right and not have any issues down the road,” explained Mr. Malcolm. “It would be designed to have the maximum amount of noise reduction for the maximum amount of our neighbours.
Mr. Malcolm added that once approval is granted for the project, tree removal and fencing could be in place for shipments to start rolling in within 30 days.
However, Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor seemed concerned with the amount of truck traffic that would be needed to travel along Conc. 4 as part of the proposed project.
“We opened one can of worms and got another one now,” commented Mayor O’Connor. “If anyone thinks this is going to happen overnight there’s not a chance, there’s a whole process here we haven’t even gotten into yet.”
The mayor added that the approval process for a project at Dagmar Ski Resort that will import 20,000 truckloads of dirt over a three year period, took multiple years to finalize.
Last year, following more than a year of debate on the matter, a bylaw was passed which included new sound parameters for the local shooting club, and local homeowners were adamant that the municipality step in and shut down the club if benchmarks are not met.
“According to the bylaw, if they don’t have this done by August they can be shut down,” said area resident Angie Duggan. “I don’t think we should be asked to take the burden of this noise in the meantime. This is a health issue.”
Later, in an effort to show the historical nature of noise disputes in the township, Mayor O’Connor read a portion of a letter to the editor from 1974, in which the author stated that “it seems that there is always news of people protesting Goodwood Kartways and the Scarborough Shooting Club (the former name of Uxbridge Shooting Sports).”
“These issues have been around since 1974, and (the club) was in operation when I moved here in 1952,” added Mayor O’Connor, reiterating that the approval process for fill projects needs to be extensive in order to avoid environmental issues, such as when high levels of contaminants were recently found at the Greenbank Airways site, and several months later, have still not been cleaned up.
“We have protocols to make sure that what’s brought in won’t come back and haunt us. For an example you need only look to the east and all of the contaminants that have been brought in,” she said. “Please bear with us and understanding that we are working and trying our best.”
Ward 2 Councillor Molloy commented that all sides would like to come up with the best possible solution, and not have the matter tied up in court for several years.
“I’m confident that it will be resolved, but we have to do what’s best for everyone involved,” said Councillor Molloy. “We’d like it to happen a lot faster, but we don’t want to end up in court for years.”
Residents persisted to have council indicate what will be done in regards to noise later this summer, with Mayor O’Connor commenting that a decision will have to wait.
“We can’t prejudge what’s going to happen. Let’s see what happens and what they come in with on August 31.”
DAN CEARNS The Standard
UXBRIDGE: A home in Udora was completely destroyed and three family pets were killed after a fire on Sunday, July 19.
The Georgina fire department was called to a house on Mill Pond Lane at around 3:30 a.m. Fire crews were able to extinguish the blaze at the one and a half storey home about an hour after they arrived. Fire Chief Ron Jenkins said that the scene was too dangerous when fire crews arrived to send firefighters inside.
“When we arrived the house was fully involved,” he said. “The crews responded very effectively.”
Residents of the home escaped unharmed. The fire chief added that this situation proves the importance of having working smoke alarms.
“Everyone had evacuated quickly because they had working smoke alarms,” he said.
The cause of the fire will go down as undetermined because of the excessive damages to the home, Chief Jenkins also told The Standard. No estimate on the damages to the home was available.
DAN CEARNS The Standard
SCUGOG: The Durham District School Board and Scugog township are exploring the idea of turning Cartwright High School into a seniors complex.
The suggestion was floated at a meeting of the housing advisory committee in June by Ward 4 Councillor Wilma Wotten. The proposal would see housing units built around the back of the school, with the original building being used as a social centre.
“Blackstock has one of the highest senior populations in the region and there is not a lot of places for them to go,” Councillor Wotten said.
Following the meeting, members of the township, the Durham District School Board as well as a possible developer took a tour of the old school to see if it could be turned into a seniors building. However, Councillor Wotten added the idea was merely a suggestion.
“We haven’t gotten into complications yet,” she said. “The school is very cut up, it’s three or four levels, so accessibility may be an issue.”
The township’s chief building official has been asked to come up with potential barriers to the idea. The school board must also declare the property surplus before any commitments can be made. Once the school is put up for sale, it will first be offered to the township, the province and any other interested school boards.
Durham District School board trustee Carolyn Morton said she is open to the idea, but has one concern.
“I definitely know that Scugog needs to have more places for seniors, but one concern I have is accessibility,” she said.
The building has sat vacant since it was closed by the school board in 2013. The township is hoping to have the century old building named a site of cultural heritage value under the Ontario Heritage Act.
“It was built in 1925 and has been a part of the town for that amount of time. It is part of the culture and history of Blackstock,” said Councillor Wotten.
However, the Durham District school board opposes the designation, mainly because of recent changes made to part of the building due to recent fire damage, Trustee Morton told The Standard. She also added that a heritage designation would come with a price.
“If it is declared a heritage site there will be a cost to maintain it and that cost will be borne on the shoulders of taxpayers."
Trustee Morton wants to hear ideas from residents in the community about possible uses for the high school. She can be contacted by phone at 905-986-5525 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DAN CEARNS The Standard
SCUGOG: A Manchester property owner will be receiving a bill of at least $5,000 from the Scugog Fire Department after a recent barn fire got out of hand.
A crew was working to demolish a barn at 910 Regional Rd. 21, on Thursday, July 16. They were burning a pile of wood that exceeded their burn permit size at the time the fire got out of control, Scugog Fire Chief Richard Miller told The Standard. Fire crews were called to the scene at around 9 a.m.
“Unfortunately the contractors made the pile bigger than they should have and they lit it and that is why we were called,” he said.
The Chief added that the property owner had a special permit for an oversized burn of up to five cubic metres.
The fire department has not yet calculated what the total amount of the fine will be. Chief. Miller also added that there was no damage to the property as it was a barn demolition.
DAN CEARNS The Standard
SCUGOG: An annual tradition is returning next weekend, as Caesarea will host the 87th annual Lake Scugog Regatta.
The theme for this year’s event is the Pan Am games. The festivities will begin on Friday, July 31 in Putsey Park with a volleyball competition featuring the Scugog Fire department. The game will begin at 6:30 p.m. There will also be a ‘Surf or Turf’ dinner and dance starting at 6 p.m. and ending at 1 a.m..
To buy tickets for the ‘Surf or Turf’ dinner, contact Shari by phone at 905-447-3865 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
On Saturday, Aug 1, there will be a costume parade at 10 a.m. in Putsey Park, followed by a dog show at 11:30 a.m. Some of the other Saturday entertainment options include face painting with Sunflower the clown, a dunk tank, a jumping castle, a sack hop relay and five different marathon events. As well, the Scugog Lake Stewards will also be on hand to explain their organization and answer any questions.
Festivities on Sunday, Aug. 2 will begin with a pancake breakfast at the Caesarea fire hall at 8 a.m., followed by a Fishing Derby from 10 to 11 a.m. There will also be swimming and boat races on Lake Scugog starting at 11 a.m., with the championship sailboat race taking off at 2 p.m. The volleyball finals will also take place on Sunday in Putsey Park starting at 6:30 p.m.
The Regatta is annually put on by the Lake Scugog Regatta Committee. The committee is asking anyone who has suggestions for next year’s Regatta to e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DARRYL KNIGHT & DAN CEARNS
UXBRIDGE: Residents and councillors alike have recently raised questions regarding proposed condominium townhouse development on Reach St.
Among the numerous issues that have been noted with the planned 55-unit development are a lack of parking, a loss of mature trees, potential snow clearing issues and the overall density of the proposed development.
Dozens of area residents attended a public meeting in late-June, that saw developers pitch their plans for the proposed development, located at 241 Reach St.
“We’ve included a mix of unit sizes to accommodate a range of households,” Howard Friedman, of HBR Planning Centre Inc., representing applicants Robert and Donna Kennedy and Sally Thomas, explained to council. Mr. Friedman also noted that the applicants had worked with a design team “to address all aspects of the application.”
As well, he noted that the development would have “appropriate landscaping to allow the development to exist without adverse effects on the existing neighbourhood.”
However, many members of council felt that the number of visitor parking spaces - 12 in total, with four reserved as handicapped spaces - was far too low.
“Twelve spaces is not sufficient in my humble opinion,” commented Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor. “You could have that many cars at one house for Christmas for instance. You’ll need to address parking in a big way.”
The mayor also raised concerns over the plan in its current state including, size of the front and back yards, and removal of snow and garbage.
Ward 2 Councillor and Deputy Mayor Pat Molloy shared the concerns over visitor parking, which some residents worried would result in a spill-over onto Reach St. As well, Councillor Molloy questioned the level of density planned for the property.
“I can’t stand going to visit someone at a condo and not being able to park anywhere, which seems to be really common these days. I think you’re way, way too short on parking and you’ve got too much on this property,” said Councillor Molloy.
Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet also noted issues with density in that particular area of Uxbridge, featuring a unique mix of current housing.
“I’m struggling with the density. In this area, you’ve got semi-rural properties on Reach St., low density behind in Coral Creek, and adding in high density. In my opinion, the density is far too high as it stands today,” commented Councillor Highet.
According to Mr. Friedman’s presentation, about 40 per cent of the current treed area of the land would be kept intact. But, residents have been vocal about trying to retain as much of the current tree population as possible.
An on-line petition to stop the proposed 55 unit condo on Reach St. had grown to almost 400 supporters when it was included as part of council’s agenda for their July 13 meeting.
The petition was started by resident Karen Lantigua, who told The Standard that the petition differs from others because it is more than a signature.
“Every comment on this petition is cc’d to the town clerk and the urban planner,” she said. “I think this kind of petition is great because it’s not just a signature, it’s comments and opinions.”
Ms. Lantigua said that she decided to start the petition because there were a number of local residents wanting to know more about the issue.
“The letter about the rezoning was only sent out to a small area and everyone we talked to said that they wanted to know more,” she said. “I think we felt the need to involve the people, and came across change.org, and then it kind of grew from there.”
Local artist and Environmental studies doctoral candidate Erica Gajewski worked with Ms. Lantigua to start this petition. She said that the trees on the property are one of the main concerns with this development.
“You can see those trees from all throughout the community,” Ms. Gajewski said. “Some of those trees are 80 to 100 years old. If they are removed, then we will be no different than any other community.”
She also added that this issue is not just about the development itself, but the future of the community as well.
“It taps into a larger issue of smart growth and the benefit that trees provide,” she said. “I think we have entered a new paradigm where we are no longer going out and clearing things.”
During the public meeting, Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger urged the developers to contact the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority for more information regarding low-impact development amid concerns from councillors and residents over stormwater management and run-off as part of the proposal.
At the conclusion of the recent public meeting, Mr. Friedman informed the crowd on hand that the developer would review the comments made.
“We’ve heard the comments and we know we have to address that,” he said.
As well, councillors thanked the public and the proponents of the development for their respectful tone throughout the public meeting.
“I really appreciate that this wasn’t confrontational or adversarial. With that sort of openness, things can really move forward,” said Ward 4 Councillor Fred Bryan.
As well, Mayor O’Connor gave a glowing review of all involved with the recent public meeting.
“This was probably one of the best public meeting in my 30-plus years on council,” commented Mayor O’Connor. “We all have questions and we all have concerns and everyone handled themselves extremely well.”
To get involved with the on-line petition, visit www.change.org and search for ‘Uxbridge’.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: A wee bit of Scotland is returning to Uxbridge this weekend as the Highlands of Durham Games take over Elgin Park.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and running on Saturday, July 25 and Sunday, July 28, Uxbridge will once again be home to a celebration of all things Celtic, including bagpipes, highland dancing, heavy games and much more.
One of the centrepieces to the annual Highland Games is the Highland Dance competition, which draws entrants from across the province.
The Scottish showcase begins on Saturday morning at 9 a.m., and runs until 11 p.m., with a full line-up of events throughout the day including the renowned Highland Dance competition, the Bob Whitman Heavy Games and Scottish Breed Dog Show. At Noon on Saturday, the sound of bagpipes will fill the air with the official Opening Ceremonies and Massed Bands.
Saturday’s entertainment runs until 11 p.m., with the Steel City Rovers and Great Lakes Privateers performing live music at the Rotary Bandshell.
On Sunday morning, Elgin Park will be bustling with activity from 9 a.m. until the closing ceremonies for the Games at 5 p.m.
Sunday will feature more highland dance and heavy games as well as another Opening Ceremony at Noon, and a special performance by the Highland Creek Pipe Band, part of an afternoon of pipe music.
Both days feature fun for the whole family, with great Celtic family activities throughout the day.
Tickets for the Games are $15 per day for adults with free admission for children.
The event also serves as a fundraiser for many local groups. Numerous local groups have received donations from the Games including Canadian Tire Jumpstart, 1st Port Perry Scouts, the Foster Memorial, the Lucy Maud Montgomery Society and Bonner Boys.
For additional information on the 20th Annual edition of the Highlands of Durham Games, please visit www. highlandsgamesofdurham.com.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: After months of preparation, the Bonner Boys are fired up to be hosting Ribfest this weekend at Elgin Park.
“This is our first year so it’s really been kind of a test run. Every year we hope we can make it a little bit bigger until we get to a spot we’re comfortable with. There’s lots of space at the park to grow the event, and we’ll see what the future brings,” explained Bonner Boys president Bret Meyers.
Among the new additions to the line-up for this year’s edition of Ribfest are Re/Max hot air balloon rides on Saturday from 5 p.m. until sunset, and a classic car show on Sunday.
“The car show that runs in the park every Thursday has been really great, and this was a natural fit to add it to the events we had planned for the weekend,” added Mr. Meyers.
As well, there will be a host of activities for kids, with a special interactive kids zone running every day. Over the weekend, Elgin Park will also feature live entertainment, the Bonner Boys’ dunk tank, a beer garden, and a variety of vendors beyond the ribbers, who will be serving up ribs, chicken and brisket from Friday to Sunday.
“We were all very excited to be taking Ribfest over, this is one event that the residents of Uxbridge and the surrounding area won’t want to miss,” added Bonner Boys member Bob Ferguson.
The event will take place at Elgin Park, starting at Noon on Friday, July 17 and running until 11 p.m. Gates re-open on Saturday at 11 a.m., and running until 11 p.m. The event closes on Sunday, with grills going from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.
For more information on all of the mouth watering excitement and festivities in store at the 2015 edition of Uxbridge Ribfest, please visit www.bonnerboys.org/ uxbridge-ribfest-2015.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Following last week’s sudden and tragic death of Ward 3 Councillor Pat Mikuse’s, councillors explained the next steps for the municipality this past week,
Councillor Mikuse was laid to rest on Friday, July 10, following a service at Low & Low Funeral Home in Uxbridge, with many members of the community that had been a part of her life through various volunteer initiatives offering tender and heartfelt tributes.
With heavy hearts, councillors continued to manage the business of the township at their meeting on Monday, July 13, with all members of council sharing in the responsibility of representing Ward 3 in the interim.
Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor explained that at the next meeting, on Monday, Aug. 10, councillors will be dealing with the vacancy of the Ward 3 Councillor. Township CAO Ingrid Svelnis explained to The Standard that a staff report to be included in the agenda for the August meeting will outline the process for council to fill the position.
Mayor O’Connor noted that Ward 3 residents can contact any member of council with questions or concerns.
“In the meantime, residents need to be represented and have someone they can call,” added Mayor O’Connor. “We will all share in those responsibilities and try to keep everyone in Ward 3 aware of what’s going on.”
Additionally, councillors divided up the many committee responsibilities held by Councillor Mikuse at the time of her passing.
Former vice chair Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy will serve as chair of the Sustainability, Watershed and Conservation Committee, Ward 4 Councillor Fred Bryan assumes the role of vice chair of the Parks, Facilities and Arena Committee, Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger will now serve on the Accessibility and Energy Committees, Pam Beach will work with the Art Visual Enhancement Committee in addition to her duties in Ward 1, Mayor O’Connor will be part of the Watershed Committee and Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet will be a council rep for the Uxbridge Youth Centre.
“This week has been very, very difficult for all of us,” Mayor O’Connor said. “We lost a councillor, Pat Mikuse, who went beyond the call of duty to represent her residents and to represent her community. She fought a hard battle and unfortunately she lost, she will be missed.”