BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
SCUGOG: Citing safety concerns, the Township of Scugog closed Seagrave’s River St. bridge on Friday, Sept. 19 - following an inspection which revealed a major safety hazard.
At council’s meting on Monday, Sept. 22, Scugog CAO and Director of Public Works Ian Roger presented photographs to the members of council which showed one of the concrete abutments which support the nearly 10 metre bridge’s deck, eroded to nearly nothing.
“There is very little material left supporting the bridge itself, so we closed the bridge on Friday, and are now looking at options,” said Mr. Roger.
Over the course of the weekend, Township staff noticed that someone had removed the barricades which blocked access to the bridge - and had apparently driven a vehicle across it.
“Our first course of action will be to install fixed barricades in order to block traffic, as any additional weight could cause a collapse,” said Mr. Roger. “We will also set up an information package and public forum to inform local residents.”
Scugog Township was left discussing options for the aging bridge, although any construction near the Nonquon River will require the approval of the Kawartha Region Conservation Authority.
“We can do a temporary repair which will re-open the bridge in the condition it was in prior, which will take about two months,” said Mr. Roger. “The hard part is to get approved by the KRCA, and we have no idea how long the approval process could take.”
Councillors were hesitant to jump on the repair decision, which would cost approximately $15,000, before further information is gained from the environmental assessment (EA), currently being carried out on the Seagrave bridge.
Mr. Roger stated that it seemed highly likely the bridge would be deemed both necessary to Seagrave, and in need of full reconstruction.
“I’m concerned that repairs and designs will cost more than we estimate,” said Mayor Chuck Mercier. “We can’t just spend money on the repair job, and then demolish and re-build the bridge in two months if we find out the results of the EA.”
Meanwhile, Scugog has been seeking infrastructure funding from the Province of Ontario, and has stated that details should be presented in the next couple of months.
However, if funding is not made available by the Province, Council would need to discuss the approximately $2 Million reconstruction process in their 2015 budget - as the current lame duck Council cannot deliberate a sum of more than $50,000.
Information packages are currently being drawn-up, and Seagrave residents will be contacted regarding a coming information forum - at the Township’s earliest convenience.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Councillors recently rejected a request for a letter of no objection to a proposed medical marijuana facility in the township and have asked municipal staff to begin work on a policy relating to medical marijuana businesses.
At their meeting on the evening of Monday, Sept. 22, councillors denied a request for a letter of no objection made by CannaCare, a business which had sought to set up a 16,000 square foot medical marijuana growing facility on a 10-acre parcel of land on Davis Dr.
This was the second such application to come before council this year after councillors supported a proposed operation on Durham Rd. 30 earlier this year. As of press time, the application for that facility is still awaiting approval from Health Canada.
Several councillors took issue with the size of land in question for the proposed CannaCare facility.
“I’m not opposed to the facility itself, I’m opposed to its location on a 10-acre parcel with a building far larger than in the other application,” said Ward 3 Councillor Pat Mikuse.
Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy added that there are “substantial differences between the two plans. I don’t think I’d ever want one of these facilities on anything smaller than 100 acres. We have to be careful where we’re going to put these.”
In a recorded vote, councillors voted unanimously to deny CannaCare a letter of no objection.
With two applications already received, and several inquires made, Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor sought to have guidelines established by the township when dealing with this new type of agribusiness.
“We have supported one facility, but I’m a bit hesitant about supporting others regardless of who is putting forward the application because we haven’t seen all the ramifications should they get a licence,” commented Mayor O’Connor. “I’m against any others until we get one in place and can see any consequences we may not have thought of. This is a new territory for all of us.”
Many councillors agreed that minimum standards should be put in place. As well, township planning consultant Liz Howson added that such measures would aid township staff when dealing with potential applicants.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: “I don’t want to walk from above Quaker Village Public School to Uxbridge Secondary School,” School Board Trustee Joe Allin told members of council during a deputation this week.
However, that is precisely what faces many Uxbridge students following recent changes to the Durham District School Board’s transportation policy.
Representatives from the school board appeared before council at their meeting on the evening of Monday, Sept. 22 to explain the rationale behind a recent decision to eliminate bussing for students living within four kilometres of Uxbridge Secondary School.
According to local School Board Trustee Joe Allin, two factors contributed to changes to the bussing policy, which has meant a greater walk to school for students living in Quaker Village and Sandy Hook.
The first was an audit by the Ministry of Education, a ten per cent penalty equalling $2 million was applied to the board. The other was the discontinuance of special passes offered to students in the southern portion of Durham Region.
“Should the grant be restored, there is an understanding that there will be a discussion about restoring previous standards,” explained Mr. Allin.
However, councillors were quick to point out that weather conditions are drastically different in North Durham and should not be held to the same standards as communities south of Hwy. 7.
“I was appalled with the lack of understanding from some trustees about the difference in weather between North and South Durham,” commented Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor. “We don’t have the same weather as the south. They don’t get as much snow or ice or have as many school cancellations as we do in the north.”
Trustee Allin explained to councillors that there is a “myth” about the availability of public transit in South Durham.
“Durham Region Transit (DRT) is not that mature, and 60 per cent of students in the southern municipalities don’t have access to a bus that would get them to school in a reasonable amount of time.”
However, several members of council took issue with these claims, noting that any transit options are limited in Uxbridge Township.
“In Uxbridge, we get bus service two days a week, and in the south you have regular service through DRT and GO. And we’re paying the same amount for transit in the north without any of the service,” countered Mayor O’Connor. “It’s not safe for kids in my opinion to be walking these distances to school. I feel our kids’ safety issues - particularly in the winter - are secondary.”
Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger explained that he recently walked to the high school from a location in Quaker Village, a trip that took more than 40 minutes in ideal summer conditions. As well, Councillor Ballinger noted the added traffic around the area of Uxbridge SS and Joseph Gould PS that this measure has created.
“Walking 42 minutes to school is not fair,” said Councillor Ballinger. “If you collect as much tax as the township does, Uxbridge has to get some value for its money, and this is going to bring even more traffic to the area around the high school, which is already an issue.”
Mr. Allin explained that in order to restore bussing levels to their previous standards, it would take an additional $800,000 in funding. As well, representatives from the school board claimed that only 21 students were affected by the change, a figure disputed by many residents in attendance.
Ward 5 Councillor and Quaker Village resident Gord Highet, whose daughter is affected by the change in the transportation policy, also expressed his dismay with the changes.
“You are basically telling Uxbridge students they’re second class citizens and it’s okay to put their lives in jeopardy to save some money,” said Councillor Highet.
Mayor O’Connor requested that if additional funding for transportation of Uxbridge students is not forthcoming, that a meeting be arranged between school board officials, township staff, representatives from the Ministry of Education and local parents.
Trustee Allin closed his deputation by explaining that the township would be informed of any future news relating to this matter, and expressed sadness that he is leaving office - to run for the position of Regional Councillor in Brock Township - with the matter unresolved.
“It saddens me that I leave this office with this issue.”
Organizers of the Caesarea Skateboard Park for Kids happily accepted a donation of $15,000 from Hydro One’s Power Play program, on Friday, Sept. 19. Also, on Monday, Sept. 22, Scugog Council agreed to pay roughly $20,000 for designs and concepts to be created. Photo credit: Benjamin Priebe/The Standard
BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
SCUGOG: The Caesarea Skateboard Park project received a notable boost this week - and work has begun on designs, which will decide the future of Putsey Park’s newest addition.
On Friday, Sept. 19, Susie Bollon and the Caesarea Skateboard Park committee graciously accepted a donation of $15,000 from Hydro One’s Power Play program.
The project saw another push forward on Monday, Sept. 22, when Scugog Township also approved $19,868 from this year’s budget to contract a Vancouver-based skate park design firm, Spectrum Skateparks Inc., to begin working on designs and plans for the skate park.
The approximate price-tag on designing costs came in under half of the $40,000 budget originally set aside for the design stage; earlier in 2013 when proponents for the Skate Park asked Council for funding.
Spectrum Skateparks Inc. has designed many local parks, as well as the new skate park in Uxbridge,” said Ian Roger, CAO and Director of Public Works and Parks for the Township of Scugog. “The designs will include eco-friendly concrete and considerations for the Ontarians with Disabilities Act.”
Mr. Roger added that there has been no specification given to Spectrum Skateparks regarding layout - and that the variations are limited only to what the public and local youth decide.
With funding well under way, thanks to Trillium Foundation monies, Township budget allocations, and the support of numerous local fundraisers - a forum will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 30, inside the Caesarea Community Hall, located at 3554 Regional Rd. 57 in Blackstock.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Councillors received a pair of updates on the status of a new Fire Hall for the municipality at their meeting on the morning of Monday, Sept. 15.
During the meeting councillors received a report detailing the status of a construction tender for the project, as well as news that the township has saved nearly one-half of the estimated cost of the project.
In August, only one tender for the pre-engineered structure was returned despite 43 companies picking up a package, leading township staff to investigate the low rate of return.
“The vast majority of contractors wanted to be the general contractor and build the whole thing, not just erect the building,” explained Mr. Kester. He would add that a revised Request for Proposal is expected to go out in the next few weeks, and is hopeful for a greater response with the revisions in place.
Later in the meeting, a report from Deputy Treasurer Donna Condon detailed the current funding status for the project.
According to Ms. Condon’s report, Uxbridge’s 2014-15 capital budget included the cost of the new Fire Hall to be $3,800,000 (excluding the cost of land).
To date, the township has collected funds totalling $1,875,518 towards the project, leaving a balance of $1,924,482. It is expected that the township will issue a debenture and/or borrow from existing township reserves to cover the unfunded balance of the construction cost of the new Fire Hall, according to Ms. Condon.
“We’re getting closer and closer all the time. This is great news and hopefully, we’ll soon be able to get moving on our new Fire Hall,” said Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy.
Ward 3 Councillor Pat Mikuse added that the intent of council has been that once the Fire Hall on Bascom St. is sold, the funds from the sale are to be directed to the cost of the new Fire Hall.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Councillors were left hoping for a mild winter at their meeting on the morning of Monday, Sept. 15, after a report from Public Works Director Ben Kester that stated the cost of winter sand is set to rise by 18 per cent next year.
Councillors awarded a tender to Vicdom Sand and Gravel for the amount of $124,978 to provide the municipality with winter sand this year.
“Everyone talks about taxes, taxes, taxes, but this is a prime example of costs going up that we really have little control over,” commented Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor.
Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy joked that, “maybe it won’t snow this year,” leading to Mayor O’Connor reminding councillors that sand would still be needed even if there was no snow in the event of an emergency.
Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet was left searching for answers over the increased price for 2015.
“Did they provide a rationale? Is the sand coming from Miami Beach” Mr. Highet asked Mr. Kester.
While Mr. Kester was unable to provide an exact reason for the increase, he did explain that this was likely a case of increased costs from the supplier being passed onto the consumer.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: Lace up your sneakers, because the area's biggest Walk-A-Thon is returning on Saturday, Sept. 27 in support of the New Animal Shelter for Uxbridge-Scugog.
The second annual Walk-A-Thon is set to begin at 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 27, with walkers departing from either the Uxbridge Seniors Centre or Scugog Arena and travelling seven kilometres to Epsom Public School - which will be decorated as a doghouse for the occasion - and enjoy a barbecue from the Bonner Boys, along with entertainment and other family and animal-friendly activities.
Registration for the Walk-A-Thon takes place at either starting location on Friday, Sept. 26 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and on the day of the Walk-A-Thon, starting at 8 a.m. Pledge forms can be found inside this week's edition of The Standard.
Uxbridge Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger, who is also one of the organizers of the event recently told The Standard that, "everything is lined up great for this year's Walk-A-Thon." And, that he is hopeful that the event will be able to surpass the more than $23,000 raised in 2013, at the inaugural event, with even more two-legged and four-legged participants.
Durham Region Transit buses will be travelling behind both groups to provide an opportunity for tired walkers and their pets to rest. As well, there will be comfort stations throughout the route to allow participants to pause for a break.
For more information on the 2014 New Animal Shelter Walk-a-thon, visit www.animal-shelter.ca.
BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
SCUGOG: Many Medd Rd. residents are concerned about speeding traffic through and around Epsom.
Erin Van Dyke, a local mother who resides on the road, gathered a petition of those who live in the area, and presented a deputation to Scugog Council on Monday, Sept. 15.
Ms. Van Dyke said that she feels the 80 Km/H speed limit on the road is too high, given the number of family homes located along the hilly stretch - as well as frequent farmer's tractors making use of the shoulder, and the Family Worship Centre churchgoers who use the road.
"I spoke to the DRPS Constable Sue Kelly about my concerns, and the fact that many drivers don't seem to follow the speed limit anyway, and she asked me to speak to Council," said Ms. Van Dyke.
Ms. Van Dyke also cited a lack of precautionary signs along the road, and predicted an increased danger during winter - when snow drifts narrow the road and make low visibility an issue.
Medd Rd. has been made popular for drivers looking to bypass traffic on Reach St., especially during this past summer's road repair and increased heavy truck traffic.
"I would like to see the speed reduced to 60 or 70 Km/H - with signs posted warning of children and pedestrians," said Ms. Van Dyke.
Scugog's newly appointed CAO and current Director of Works and Parks, Ian Roger, explained the political process of loweringspeeds on a rural road - but said it would take some time.
"The Highway Traffic Act states that a rural road is designated as an 80 Km/H zone, it is up to the local Township to decide whether the speed should be decreased," said Mr. Roger.
Mr. Roger went on the explain that Medd Rd. has just recently seen a safety audit, which did not raise any flags, due to it's low traffic volume and fair road condition.
Councillors thanked Ms. Van Dyke for her presentation, and Ward 2 Councillor John Hancock mentioned that he has heard similiar stories of speeding motorists, from those living along the nearby Scugog Line 6.
"This reminds me of the Deering sister's incident in 2004, where the Township was found to have culpability due to poor road conditions," said Councillor Hancock. "I would hate for another accident to occur, after the Township decided not to take action."
Mr. Roger notified council that the Township's Works Department could set up monitoring equipment on the stretch, which would measure traffic volumes and speeds, in order to devise their next step. Township staff will also look into guidebooks regarding traffic signs, which would urge motorists to slow down and be cautious. In the meantime, Scugog Township will speak to Cst. Kelly regarding increased police enforcement along the road, and the stance of the DRPS.
BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
SCUGOG: An ALS Ice Bucket Challenge signalled the merging of local Maple Leaf Foods employees with the larger Unifor 1090 union.
The roughly 100 employees of Port Perry’s Maple Leaf Foods plant, located on Old Simcoe Rd., were excited to announce that their union, Local 370, would be joining the larger Unifor 1090 on Thursday, August 28.
“The Local 370 was a small standalone union in Port Perry, who wanted more resources and a stronger bargaining power,” said Steve Batchelor, President of Unifor 1090.
“Unifor 1090 and Local 370 have been in talks over the past few months, and now it’s been put to an overwhelmingly positive vote.”
Unifor 1090, a Durham Region-based union of roughly 5,000 members, was formed by the amalgamation of the Canadian Auto Workers union and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union. Unifor 1090 also represents employees of the Great Blue Heron Casino on Scugog Island.
The group strongly advocates the personal involvement of its members, in order to allow workers better communication and more effective participation in the workplace.
According to Mr. Jeff Pett, Plant Manager of the Port Perry Maple Leaf Foods site, the company challenged its unionized staff represntatives to an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in order to make the sign over a fun occasion with a charitable aspect. Maple Leaf Foods executives and Unifor leaders have all taken part, and will be donating $10 per person who takes the plunge.
Kim Power, National Staff Representative for Unifor 1090, said that “The plant’s employees will greatly benefit from a larger collective bargaining group, and will be able to access the education and information offered by Unifor - it was a great day for everyone involved.”
For more information on Unifor 1090, visit www.cawlocal.ca/1090.
BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: Struggling with a personal illness or the illness of a loved one can place extraordinary stress on a family, and navigating the necessary treatment channels can be similiar to being caught in the rolling waves of an ocean storm.
Luckily, one kind-hearted Uxbridge woman, Virginia Miles of Compass Healthcare Solutions, offers a helping hand when tragedy, crisis or illness strikes.
“We all know that the healthcare system can be troubling, and I provide access, options and information,” said Ms. Miles. “As a former employee of the healthcare industry, I make sure that people and families have their questions answered and receive the treatment they deserve.”
Two busy years as the owner and operator of her own business have given Ms. Miles the oppurtunity to build cases and support networks unique to each of her clients.
“I do a lot of work with senior citizens and their families, but am open to clients of all types,” explained Ms. Miles. “People sometimes have multiple healthcare needs, and have to navigate multiple government or healthcare channels.”
Ms. Miles continued to explain that some cases require only a one-hour consultation, and some involve long-term follow through of support and care - she handles the needs of all ages and types.
“Many people don’t know that services like in-home care can be covered by OHIP, or if they do, they don’t know how to access the service,” said Ms. Miles. “In most cases, I can save my clients a substantial amount of money, time, and stress.”
After spending over 20 years working on the business and marketing side of the healthcare industry, Ms. Miles explained that she fell into the role of advisor and mediator by helping her own friends and family members find the treatment and support they needed.
“A few years ago, my husband and I were both working full-time jobs when my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. At the same time, I was trying to coordinate my parents’ living arrangements in a care facility,” said Ms. Miles. “It was taxing and stressful, and I always thought it would be incredible if I had someone with experience to ask for advice - now, I want to be that person.”
Marrying her extensive knowledge of the healthcare system with her personal experiences of tragedy and illness, Ms. Miles brings inside knowledge and compassion to the table, with her own brand of support.
“This is a brand-new venture, and it’s very neat to be on the forefront,” said Ms. Miles. “I’m very happy that I get to make a difference in people’s lives, and help them through a tough time.”
Some medical problems can debilitate a person, and even make them unable to communicate, reach out, or access the care they need - Compass Healthcare Solutions acts as an advocate for the families and people who struggle with serious diseases, or who just need clear and concise information on their options.
“Unfortunately, there are no books on navigating the Canadian healthcare system, and regulations are constantly changing,” said Ms. Miles. “I’m here to help people discover what to look for and where - whether it’s medications, housing, insurance coverage or specialized doctors.”
Based from her home in Uxbridge, Ms. Miles offers prospective clients a free consultation by phone or in person, and will then do the research and make contacts that the client needs. She accomodates clients from across the Durham Region, and as far afield as York and Toronto.
When a medical crisis strikes, look no further - Compass Healthcare Solutions provides the tools and knowledge necessary for navigating the healthcare sea.
To get in touch with Ms. Miles, or learn more about Compass Healthcare Solutions - please visit www.compasshcsolutions.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 647-502-9079.