BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
SCUGOG: Following a recent presentation, Scugog Council will consider a major funding request from the Port Perry Hospital Foundation in the forthcoming municipal budget process.
The $350,000 request was regarding a major renovation project coming soon to the patient wing of Lakeridge Health Port Perry, expected to get underway next spring. Dr. John Stewart, president of the foundation, outlined the extent of the project, dubbed ‘Your Hospital, Your Future,’ to councillors during his presentation. Among the improvements slated are wheelchair-accessible washrooms, upgraded storage and patient service areas and additional private rooms, which he said will be "flexible" in purpose, with an emphasis on palliative care. The current number of active beds - 26 in the in-patient wing - will be maintained in the improvements, said Dr. Stewart.
The total project is expected to ring in at approximately $2.5 million, which will be partly funded by Lakeridge Health and donations.
The project, said Dr. Stewart, will also allow the hospital to proactively prepare for any looming population increases due to factors such as increased sewage allocations in Port Perry and the ongoing extension of Hwy. 407.
"I’ve seen a lot of changes in the community and hospital," said Dr. Stewart, "and I couldn’t count how many times we’ve had to fight to keep our hospital supported. I recognize how deeply intertwined the hospital and community are. But this wing of the hospital is still in its 1967 phase - I see this as bringing that part up to current standard."
The funding request to the township, which could take place over several years, will move to the budget consideration process beginning next month, after receiving unanimous support from council members.
"This hospital is here because the community and doctors want this to happen," said Mayor Chuck Mercier. "Anyone in their right mind would be naïve to think that what we have here would remain if we fell asleep at the wheel. If we don’t invest, it will be gone – I have no doubt about that."
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: For Dr. Robert Clendenning of Sunderland, the month of August was spent not poolside combating the humidity of a southern Ontario summer, but 12,500 feet above sea level half a world away.
The local physician was part of a team of healthcare professionals which, earlier this summer, ventured to Tibet to provide basic medical care to residents living in the mountainous Yushu and Nangchen regions of the Asian country.
Joined by Yvette Dalrymple, a pediatric nurse practitioner and program coordinator for Port Perry’s North Durham Family Health Team, the local delegates teamed up with Dr. Raviv Globerson, a dentist from Israel; Deannie Janowitz, an acupuncturist from San Francisco; and Pema Drokar, a Tibet-born, Canadian trained RPN who lives in Toronto.
Dr. Clendenning, who moved to Sunderland from Sudbury in 2011, works full-time out of a smaller Brock-based branch of Medical Associates of Port Perry.
This fourth yearly mission was organized by the Raktrul Foundation, which was founded by Bardor Tulku Rinpoche, a Tibetan Lama who grew up in that area of Tibet. According to Dr. Clendenning, the team saw more than 1,000 residents during its two week stay in this eastern part of Tibet, most of whom had never received any care and would be hard-pressed to access a hospital or clinic. While basic medications taken for granted by Westerners, such as ASA and ibuprofen, were available in this part of Tibet, Dr. Clendenning noted that these products were prohibitively expensive and only available in small packaging.
The team brought around 400 pounds of donated and purchased medications, including contributions from pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer, Health Partners International and locally, from Port Perry pharmacist Doug Brown of Shoppers Drug Mart, who provided the team with several medications at cost or less.
"It was my first time in Tibet proper," said Dr. Clendenning, who had previously treated patients near the country’s border with China. "It’s quite amazing the amount of development money put into the country by the Chinese government, with an eye toward resource extraction."
That money, said the local doctor, has resulted in developments such as modern buildings and roads (along with the automobiles that travel along them) that only 25 years ago, were not present. Many Tibetans in the area now use motorcycles to get around instead of ponies, said Dr. Clendenning, with some wealthier residents upgrading to small SUVs. Much of that money, said the doctor, was injected into the region following a 2010 earthquake that devastated Yushu, leaving no buildings standing.
While many patients attended the clinic with "gastrointestinal issues and untreated chronic pain," Dr. Clendenning noted that dental care was in particular demand by the residents of the area.
"Dr. Globerson removed more aching, decayed teeth in the two weeks there than he had in his entire long career," recalled Dr. Clendenning. "None of his happy patients had seen a modern dentist who actually froze the tooth before removal.
Further up the foothills, the scenery changes to treeless slopes dotted with Buddhist rock carvings and the ever-present yaks that are kept as livestock in the country. Far in the distance, the white caps of the Himalayas mountain range beckon to the adventurous. The headwaters of the Mekong River rush past a Buddhist nunnery that provided food, shelter, and clinic working space to the team.
Dr. Clendenning noted that while the country is often associated with the political unrest between itself and China, the eastern region, occupied by the Chinese government, in which the team practiced is relatively free from such strife. While entering the country provided no challenges, it was the low levels of oxygen that provided the biggest hurdle to the medical team.
While this was his first mission since joining Medical Associates, Dr. Clendenning said that he looks forward to returning to the country again.
"The basic citizen there has no medical care," said the doctor. "I’d like to go back and help - it was very fulfilling experience."
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Past and present members of the Uxbridge SS boys hockey team will be embarking on a goodwill mission later this year, when they trek to a remote Northern Ontario First Nations community.
A ten-person team, including eight former Tigers hockey players will be making the trip between Dec. 28 and Jan. 4 to host daily hockey clinics for coaches and players to allow attendees the opportunity to improve and gain new skills.
As well, the Tigers will be taking a shipment of hockey equipment to aid in stocking the community’s newly built arena, and allow more children the chance to enjoy our national winter sport.
"At the conclusion of our week there, we hope to have a tournament as well as a skills competition to allow those attending our clinics to show off their new skills to their friends and family," explained Tigers Head Coach Don Simmonds.
Jeff Wilson, who is serving as team captain this season, is the lone current Tigers player to be taking part in the excursion, said he is proud of the opportunity to be able to use hockey to instill hope, determination and fun to a community that is often challenged by poverty, addiction and suicide.
"The Tigers’ motto is ‘winning at hockey, winning at life,’ and we’re really trying to put the winning at life part out there," Mr. Wilson said. "They don’t have it as well as we do down here, and if we can use hockey as a means of giving back, that’s incredible. I don’t think that a lot of teams can do this type of thing, and that’s a great part about this team. It’s not just hockey skills, we’re developing life skills too."
A number of former Tigers players will also be taking part in the tournament, including Uxbridge Bruins centre Tim Bierema, Adam Cranley, Ryan Lavrench, Josh Lubbock, Ryan Noakes and Tavis Smith.
"I have enjoyed years of competitive hockey in Uxbridge and now it’s time we contributed back," said Smith, who was also the co-president of Uxbridge SS in his final year and is now attending the University of Western Ontario. "It is exciting to think we can help young people in such a remote community improve their hockey skills and grow in their enjoyment of this great sport, while bringing hope at the same time."
The project is being overseen by the Uxbridge Baptist Church, which, for the past three years, along with other Uxbridge-area churches, has sent teams of women to First Nations communities as well as an annual medical mission to Ghana.
There are two ways the Uxbridge community can assist the Tigers in this latest endeavour.
Businesses, teams and residents can contribute new or gently-used hockey equipment for all ages and sizes. Shobrook Gardens, located at 1 Elgin Park Dr., will act as the drop-off point for equipment between 9 a.m. and noon until Sunday, Dec. 8.
Residents can also contribute funds to help offset the cost of each player participating in this trip.
For donations, cheques should be made payable to Uxbridge Baptist Church and put in an envelope marked "Hope Through Hockey" (donations over $25 will be receipted) and can be mailed to:
Uxbridge Baptist Church
"Hope Through Hockey"
231 Brock St. W, Uxbridge, ON
One of the Tigers’ LOSSA rivals have already contributed to the cause, with the St. Mary (Pickering) Monarchs donating a full set of goalie equipment along with a team set of pant shells.
The Monarchs and Tigers have engaged in a sometimes heated rivalry over the past 10 years, with both of Uxbridge’s LOSSA championships - in 2006 and 2012 - coming at the expense of St. Mary. Coach Simmonds was thrilled with the rivals being able to set aside their on-ice differences in support of a common cause.
"It’s very inspiring to our team to think that our arch rival would contribute in this way," Coach Simmonds said.
Further questions on how the community can get involved with this unique endeavour can call Courtney at 905-852-2333.
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
SCUGOG: Following a petition and appearance by residents of a Nestleton neighbourhood, Scugog Council will consider repairs to another local road in the upcoming 2014 municipal budget process, a request that raised the possibility of municipal debentures to fund such projects.
Residents of St. Christopher’s Beach Rd. appeared before council on Monday evening (Nov. 18), requesting the township to consider repairing the road in the coming year. Councillors later moved to refer the repairs to be considered in planning next year’s municipal budget, which will get underway next month. According to one resident, the road’s condition often results in vehicles getting stuck in mud and damage to cars, while residents looking to jog or bike cannot do so in their neighbourhood and must drive out to Regional Rd. 57.
"Our frustration is that for the most part we have a cottage access road that doesn’t meet township bylaw standards," said St. Christopher’s Beach Rd. resident Andre Lauzon, speaking on behalf of the neighbourhood. "The area is residential and occupied by year-round residents who don’t have proper access to Regional Rd. 57…. We’re not asking for curbs, sewers and water, just a properly constructed road."
According to Mr. Lauzon, the regular grading of the road (which he said has taken place four times since Oct. 1) has not solved the problem, requesting a reconstruction of the road instead.
Responding to council inquiries, Public Works Director Ian Roger said that the worst stretch of St. Christopher’s Beach Rd. near Colwell Circle rates 71 out of 230 on the township’s roads needs list, and would cost approximately $250,000 to reconstruct. Two other stretches of the road rate 172 and 203 on the list.
While no specific funding method was discussed at this week’s meeting for the possible reconstruction, Councillors Larry Corrigan and Howard Danson floated the possibility of a debenture to fund such projects, in light of the township’s recent repayment of its outstanding debts.
"The township is very small and has a very small budget we have to work with – and there’s no guarantee this will be in budget next year," said Councillor Danson. "I think we’re at the point now that we have to look at maybe imposing some sort of debenture system on our roads budget, to chew a little bit off each year."
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: A presentation to council this week geared at generating additional tourism to the township led to one councillor questioning continued spending on attempts to bring in visitors.
"What do we get from tourism?" asked Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy on the heels of a presentation from Conrad Boyce, a mainstay of the Uxbridge arts community.
Councillor Molloy went on to pose a challenge of sorts to local businesses to take on more of a leadership role in aiding township tourism projects.
"(The township’s) revenues are based on property taxes, not profits at businesses," added Councillor Molloy. "I don’t see business putting any money into tourism, and they benefit the most from it. If we are spending more on tourism, I want to see business matching it."
Mr. Boyce’s presentation included several comparisons between Uxbridge and Cobourg and the increased tourism dollars taken in by the county seat of Northumberland County, which sits along Hwy. 401 as well as the shores of Lake Ontario.
The comparison led Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor to question how much besides population the two towns have in common.
"I hate to constantly compare us to Port Perry, but Cobourg and Port Perry both have substantial cottage industries. I think in most cases, if you’re going to Cobourg, you’re going to stay the night, while Uxbridge is an easy 45-minute drive to Toronto," commented Mayor O’Connor.
Ward 1 Councillor Bev Northeast, a longtime proponent of greater visitor information to be made readily available to Uxbridge’s visitors, used the occasion to point out some areas where the township could improve on their delivery of visitor information.
"When you put visitor info at the township’s phone number, and it closes at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, and doesn’t open again until Monday morning, that’s a problem," said Councillor Northeast.
Ultimately, Mr. Boyce’s presentation was referred to upcoming budget discussions, with Mayor O’Connor hinting at a greater tourism-related conversation to come.
"This is a much bigger debate, and we need to bring in the BIA and the Chamber of Commerce," said Mayor O’Connor.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: It was a banner year for Canadian Tire Jumpstart’s Uxbridge chapter with more than 500 local youths aided by the organization to enjoy recreation activities.
On Monday, Nov. 4, Canadian Tire Uxbridge owner Pat Higgins, and township staffers Amanda Ferraro and Rebecca Harman appeared before council to provide an annual update on the achievements of the Jumpstart program in Uxbridge Township, including the tremendous growth of the program since launching in 2005.
"It was a record year for us this year, and we were able to help a lot of youth in Uxbridge," Mr. Higgins said. "As well this year, we took over YMCA programming and added an after school program for Grades 8 to 11. It was a real breakthrough year, we’ve come a long way since 2005 when we helped 15 or so kids. It’s a real credit to Amanda and Rebecca, they’re the ones working to really make it happen."
Last year 543 local youths received support from Jumpstart totalling almost $43,000. Since the program began in 2005, there have been 1,055 local youth that have received almost $125,000 towards sport and recreation opportunities.
According to Mr. Higgins, the mandate of Jumpstart is to provide opportunities for all youth to enjoy sports and recreation as one in three Canadian youths are not financially able to take part in their chosen sport.
Funding for the local Jumpstart chapter comes from a variety of sources including, events put on by Canadian Tire, the annual Gary Roberts and Friends Celebrity golf tournament at Wooden Sticks, community events and contributions from local service clubs. Mr. Higgins added that 100 per cent of money raised in Uxbridge stays in Uxbridge.
Jumpstart funding helps those local youths involved in sustained programs that help them over time. Ms. Ferraro added that most programs funded through Jumpstart last at least 10 weeks with some even running year-round.
"Healthy communities are happy communities and there’s a real ripple effect," said Ms. Harman, noting the broad benefits of having active youth in the community.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: After more than four years of searching, Toronto Police made an arrest in connection to the death of Uxbridge native Chris Skinner last week.
On Wednesday, Nov. 6, Toronto Police arrested 23-year-old Agustin Caruso of Etobicoke and charged him with second-degree murder in the 2009 slaying of the 27-year-old Uxbridge native and Port Perry HS graduate.
On the night of his death, Skinner was walking home from Toronto’s Entertainment District following a celebration for his sister’s birthday at around 3 a.m., when he was beaten and then run over on Adelaide St., and left for dead.
"It’s a bittersweet day," Det.-Sgt. Stacy Gallant said during a press conference on Thursday, Nov. 7. He also acknowledged the tireless work of investigators, hundreds of interviews and numerous tips from Crime Stoppers that ultimately led to the arrest of the alleged driver of the SUV that ran over Mr. Skinner on Oct. 18. 2009, causing his untimely death.
Last month, on the fourth anniversary of his death, Toronto Police were joined by Skinner’s family when they announced that they had a new lead in the case, and had identified the black SUV used in the murder.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Gallant added that the black Ford Explorer that police believe was the murder weapon in the case was seized by police earlier this year, and was not in the accused’s possession at the time of his arrest.
Det.-Sgt. Gallant added that there were six people in the SUV on the night of Skinner’s death, and vowed that those involved in the attack or helped those responsible elude police will eventually be brought to justice, and believes that at least two more arrests will be made in the case.
While he was glad to be able to bring news of the arrest to Skinner’s family - who were also present at the press conference - Gallant believes that the arrest should have come much sooner.
"I am disappointed to say that in the four years of this investigation that none of the individuals that did not participate in any way in the death of Chris Skinner chose to come forward on their own," he said.
"They instead kept this information to themselves and lived with it for the past four years."
Skinner’s parents expressed relief knowing that the man accused in the death of the son is "off the streets." His mother Ellen also noted disappointment with no one involved having come forward with information about the crime.
"It’s horrible and they have to live with that for the rest of their lives," she said.
Toronto Police had offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case, while the Skinner family had offered an additional $100,000 for information leading to the arrest of their son’s killers.
Ultimately, the reward was not collected, and Mrs. Skinner said that the money will be donated to charity.
The accused was remanded in police custody until his next appearance on Monday, Dec. 2.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Starting this week, Uxbridge residents can do their part in ensuring that all local residents have a happy holiday season with the return of the Uxbridge Community Toy Drive.
Spearheaded by Canadian Tire owner/operator Pat Higgins, the Toy Drive began 15 years ago with four locations collecting toys, and has grown by leaps and bounds ever since.
This year, local residents will be able to make donations at several locations around Uxbridge, including: Canadian Tire, Zehrs, WalMart, McDonald’s, Little Acorn and M&M Meats. As well, donation bins will be placed at Uxbridge Arena and Uxpool starting on Tuesday, Nov. 12.
Mr. Higgins noted that the Toy Drive will be hitting the ground running this year, thanks to the past generosity of the Uxbridge community.
"We’re off to a great start this year, and already have donations rolling in," Mr. Higgins said during a kick-off event held at Canadian Tire on Friday, Nov. 8.
Toys are collected by volunteers in a van donated by Williamson Uxbridge and featuring graphics from Dire Consulting, and taken to the Masonic Lodge where they are sorted, and distributed amongst the various community groups in Uxbridge.
The Toy Drive runs until Christmas Eve, and all toys donated in Uxbridge stay in Uxbridge.
"It’s local people giving to local charities and staying local," Uxbridge BIA Facilitator Sari Pandopulos told The Standard.
According to Mr. Higgins, last year, the Toy Drive took in more than 2,700 pieces and more than $4,000 in cash donations which allows organizers to purchase items such as boots, hats and mittens that are not normally covered by the Toy Drive as well as filling in any shortfalls in the age groups.
There is always a great need for toys geared towards older children and teenagers, such as gift cards and electronics.
Volunteers are at the root of the Toy Drive’s continued success in Uxbridge, and those interested in volunteering can learn more by visiting www.uxbridgetoydrive.com.
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
SCUGOG: The holiday season has officially returned to Scugog, with the first 'Fill The Van' event of the new and improved Operation Scugog Food and Toy Drive.
The annual event returns this Saturday (Nov. 16) with the first Fill the Van day at Foodland in Port Perry, located at 278 Queen St. The official Toy Drive Van will be on hand from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to accept donations of non-perishable food and new, unwrapped toys.
This will be the first of five Fill the Van events, with the remainder taking place at the following locations:
- Nov. 23 - McDonalds, 14500 Simcoe St.
- Nov. 30 - Shoppers Drug Mart, 1865 Scugog St.
- Dec. 7 - Vos' Independent Grocer, 1893 Scugog St.
- Dec. 14 - Canadian Tire, 14325 Simcoe St.
In addition to the Fill The Van events, food and toys can be dropped off at the following locations from now until Dec. 14:
- The Standard Newspaper, 94 Water St.
- Micklegate Realty Ltd., 76 Water St.
- Anchor Self Storage - 24 Easy St.
- BMO - 1894 Scugog St.
- Canadian Tire - 14325 Simcoe St.
- Foodland - 278 Queen St.
- Gus Brown - 10 Vanedward Dr.
- McDonalds - 14500 Simcoe St.
- Royal Bank - 210 Queen St.
- Scugog Visitor & Business Centre – 237 Queen St.
- Shoppers Drug Mart - 1865 Scugog St.
- Scotiabank - 1535 Hwy. 7A
- Vos’ Independent - 1893 Scugog St.
All food and toys donated will be collected for the Operation Scugog Food Bank, who will package and distribute the items to local families in need, just in time for Christmas. All donations will stay within Scugog Township.
Once again, fundraiser icons are available from Nov. 22 to Dec. 7 at Vos Independent, Canadian Tire and various locations in downtown Port Perry. For a twoonie, donors can directly help Operation Scugog Food Bank and be entered in a draw for amazing prizes. Organizers are looking to break the current record of $11,000 raised by the sale of the icons in previous years.
Watch The Standard for more news about this year’s Food and Toy Drive in the coming weeks.
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
SCUGOG: According to CAO Bev Hendry, township staff will "do their homework" while reviewing an application for the reactivation of a sizable fill operation on the north side of Townline Rd.
The application came before councillors during a committees meeting earlier this week. According to a report by Public Works director Ian Roger, the application for the Townline Rd. property will seek to truck in 165,000 cubic metres of fill in order to level out the property and make it more conducive to farming. The project will be done in two phases, the first being the portion of the site within the township’s jurisdiction and the second requiring a permit from the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority (CLOCA). According to Mr. Roger, a permit based on the agreement between the township and the Greenbank Airport is being considered, including the same fee structure of $1 per cubic metre to be paid to the township. A request of up to 200 trucks per day was made by the applicant.
Phase one of the project is expected to last between two and three years, with the total project running up to five years.
Proponents Gregg Bird, who owns the site, and supporter Dwayne Freeman also appeared before councillors to discuss the operation. According to Mr. Bird, the site - which has operated on and off since 2007 - will be accepting fill mainly from sources in Durham, such as from construction projects in Brooklin, citing the example of Mr. Freeman’s Hwy.12 fill receiving site. In addition, trucks will be coming from the southern end of the Region and the site will be closed on both weekends and during the half-load season in the spring.
"We want to set an example – ‘look at those guys, they did it right,’" said Mr. Bird, explaining that he is interested in both making money from the operation as well as providing a good example for other such sites. "We’ve been contacted by the big companies, who want to give us a bundle of money to walk away, but we don’t want that," said Mr. Bird. "We want to make some money and pass it along to the township."
Given the township’s experience with fill operations, such as the Earthworx Industries site (shut down in 2011) and Greenbank Airport, councillors had many questions.
The Townline Rd. site was shut down previously by Scugog’s Roads department, following complaints from a neighbour on the Whitby side of Townline Rd.
Ward 1 Councillor Larry Corrigan, who represents the area of the township in which this project and Greenbank Airport are located, raised the issue of public perception.
"We have some cynicism about rationale, whether for farm improvement versus a fill operation," said the councillor. "How would you convince the public?"
Replied Mr. Bird:
"I invite anyone to look at the site’s topography," he said, stressing the desire to use the site for crops once dumping is finished. "Bringing in fill is a revenue creating business, but when that’s finished, although farming doesn’t bring in as much money, it gives me the opportunity to use that land, as well as usability and salability of farm."
Should it be approved, Mr. Roger later stated that given both the extent of the project and his existing workload, the township may be required to hire a contract employee to manage the township’s dealings with the site.
Although the report stated that the application could return for approval by council on Dec. 2, Ms. Hendry later indicated that it could be later, citing the need for proper consideration of the application, including consultation with the Town of Whitby on the project.
"If we have to do our homework, we're going to take our time," said Ms. Hendry. "It may not come back on Dec. 2 (for approval)."