BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
SCUGOG: A local resident has deemed the intersection of Marsh Hill Rd. and Cragg Rd. in Scugog an "accident waiting to happen," and a worrisome safety hazard for local drivers.
Keith Bacon appeared at Scugog Township council chambers on Dec. 16., to ask Mayor Chuck Mercier and local councillors to look into the improvement of sloping and drainage on the dirt road near his home. Mr. Bacon is concerned with the welfare of his neighbours and visitors to the area, stating that five school buses use the intersection twice per day.
"Recently, there have been four car accidents which I can recall required the police," said Mr. Bacon. "There have also been many more mishaps where people have gotten their vehicles stuck in the ditches and myself and my neighbours have had to pull or dig them out."
Council heard Mr. Bacon state that the issue with the intersection lies in the fact that Cragg Rd. does not line up directly on either side of Marsh Hill Rd., and that after drivers need to accelerate to get up the hill, they find they must pull almost into oncoming traffic and cross a section of Marsh Hill Rd. at low speed to continue. This problem of quick stopping and starting on an inclined and unpaved road is only exacerbated by snowfall during the winter.
"I know the township tries their best," said Mr. Bacon, "but if there is a storm coming, could the township spread salt or calcium before the road is covered in ice and frozen snow? I invite each of you [council members] to drive on that road during the winter and see what we are dealing with."
Mr. Bacon stated that as a tax-payer, he does not wish the township to take drastic and costly measures such as flattening Marsh Hill for the sake of one intersection.
He then asked council to consider sending a road work team to inspect the hill and intersection in question, and to devise an economic means of fixing the dangerous slope, potentially harmful obstacles, and steep ditches of the already twisted and inclined road.
"At the bottom of the hill, Hydro has installed a big hydro pole. If someone were to miss the corner and run off of the road, they would end up directly striking the pole, which has been a concern of mine for as long as I have lived here," said Mr. Bacon. "I’m not sure if we could fix it with a guard rail or a flashing light of some kind, but there aren’t even signs warning of the tricky intersection ahead!"
Mr. Bacon has called the culverts and ditches on the side of Cragg Rd. too small, saying that drainage and spring run off have flooded the basement of his daughter’s home and his fields for four out of the past five years.
"I too would like to have the road paved," said Mayor Chuck Mercier. "We will take the issue into consideration with this year’s budget and road plan."
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Residents of Uxbridge will be waiting slightly longer for a new aquatic centre following recent 2014 municipal budget deliberations.
Amanda Ferraro, the township’s Manager of Recreation, Culture and Tourism explained to councillors that the proposed new pool will be pushed back until at least 2016 during budget discussions on Thursday, Dec. 5.
Ms. Ferraro also gave the township’s current pool high grades and added that it should continue to serve the community well in the coming years.
"The pool itself is very lovely, and has had numerous upgrades in recent years. It’s the building that we’re worried about. It’s the concrete blocks that are the issue for replacement," explained Ms. Ferraro. "We’re comfortable pushing back another year and seeing where we’re at."
Ms. Ferraro added that an assessment study is forthcoming to determine the lifespan of the current pool at a cost of $11,000. A 2008 study indicated the facility could sustain for at least another decade.
Township CAO Ingrid Svelnis explained that another issue with funding the proposed new pool is coinciding with potential government grants to offset construction costs.
"The challenge with the pool has been that we’re looking at getting a grant for $8 million, but that might not happen until 2018. It’s a matter of finding that trigger point," said Ms. Svelnis.
Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor was in favour of keeping the new aquatic centre on the books for the 2016 budget in the hopes that additional government funding becomes available to the municipality.
"I’d keep the pool in 2016, at least then we have something there is money comes available. I agree that the pool itself isn’t the issue, it’s the brick and mortar around it."
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
The Port Perry Hospital Foundation received a very generous early Christmas gift, in the form of a $350,000 pledge from the Auxiliary to Lakeridge Health Port Perry - the largest the organization has made in its 61-year-history.
The announcement, made last Wednesday (Dec. 11) at the Auxiliary’s Delicious and Delightful Holiday Sale, will see funds raised through the organization’s annual events put toward the Foundation’s ‘Your Hospital, Your Future’ Campaign, a $2.5 million fundraising campaign to raise money for the renovation of the inpatient wing at Lakeridge Health Port Perry.
"We’re confident that we can meet this objective over the next few years," said Auxiliary President Beth Pereman, noting that special events like the upcoming Polar Plunge and proceeds from the Auxiliary’s gift shop and Camille’s Closet will make this possible. "We completed our last large pledge to the Foundation in only three years when we had expected to pay it in five."
"This is a significant contribution," said Dr. John Stewart, President of The Port Perry Hospital Foundation. "The Auxiliary has always taken a strong lead in supporting hospital initiatives and they are also a very important connection to patients, families and staff. We are indebted to them for their outstanding generosity and support."
Earlier this month, the Foundation received a $100,000 donation from the Baagwating Community Association, the charitable arm of the Great Blue Heron Charity Casino, toward the campaign. A funding request from the Township of Scugog for the campaign is currently being considered by councillors.
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
SCUGOG: Yet another large donation has been made to the Uxbridge-Scugog Animal Shelter in the wake of a theft incident from a local McDonalds restaurant earlier this month.
According to restaurant owner Ginger Jackson, another $400 donation was made to the shelter this week, bringing the recent series of large donations to approximately $1,000. The donations came in following the recent news of a late-night theft of money, earmarked for the shelter, from one of the restaurant’s outdoor donation boxes.
Earlier this month, restaurant staff discovered that the outdoor box - located under the restaurant’s drive-thru window - had been smashed and emptied in the early hours of Dec. 2. The box contained donations from restaurant patrons, which are being collected by the restaurant to be put toward the construction of the new Uxbridge-Scugog Animal Shelter.
However, on Dec. 6, an anonymous donor walked into the restaurant and dropped off an envelope containing more than $400 to be put toward the shelter, less than a week after the theft took place. Another $200 donation came into the restaurant shortly after.
Police are still looking for a suspect and anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact DRPS’ 15 Division at 905-579-1520, ext. 2672, or to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477or www.durhamregionalcrimestoppers.ca.
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
SCUGOG: Three people are left homeless following a devastating fire in the northeast corner of Scugog Township last week, which completely destroyed one home and severely damaged a second.
At around 7 a.m. on Dec. 11, Scugog firefighters were called to the View Lake neighbourhood after receiving reports of a house fire on Coleman Cres., situated near the border of Durham Region and the City of Kawartha Lakes.
According to Scugog Fire’s Deputy Chief Rob Gonnerman, fire crews battled the blaze until approximately 4 p.m., leaving a truck to monitor the scene until midnight. Fire departments from Uxbridge, Clarington and Kawartha Lakes were also on standby.
According to the deputy chief, a neighbour alerted the single occupant of the lakefront home where the fire broke out and got her to safety before flames engulfed the structure.
The woman’s dog, however, was lost in the blaze, said Deputy Chief Gonnerman.
The couple living next door were not home at the time of the fire, which destroyed much of their house. It’s undetermined at this point whether the remaining structure can be saved, said the deputy chief. A shed on one of the properties was also destroyed.
The occupants of both homes are currently staying with friends and family, said the deputy chief.
The total damage is estimated at approximately $750,000, and while a cause is yet to be determined, the deputy chief said that high winds coming off Lake Scugog that day contributed to the fire’s quick spread.
BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
SCUGOG: Since the Grenadier moved on to Montreal, the former War Memorial Library located at 269 Queen Street has been sitting vacant, waiting for someone to make use of the historic stone building. Recent developments have put the stoic symbol of downtown Port Perry up for grabs once again, ready for the highest bidder.
On December 16, Scugog Township council spoke to the matter of the building at its final council meeting of 2013. It was decided to place the building up for lease or sale, with a purchase price of $514,000, or with a lease of $2,800 per month to a single tenant.
After rejecting the single offer received when the building was put on the block earlier this year, council directed township staff to retain a local real estate service for the purposes of marketing the structure.
Once four local real estate firms made bids on the library’s contract earlier this month, township staff chose to go with the agent who offered the highest reasonable sale price and lowest commission, in order to maximize profit and expedite the listing and selling process.
Chuck Willes of Coldwell Banker R.M.R. Real Estate Brokerage was given the contract. This is due to the fact that he offered the lowest commission, at three per cent, if his services were used to both list and sell the historical landmark. The buyer of the building will have to deal with one catch: namely, the pathway that currently runs from east to west at the rear of the building. An estimated cost of $5,000 would be required to relocate the sidewalk and allow room for parking.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: During recent discussions surrounding the 2014 municipal budget, a pair of long-term funding proposals have been brought forward to deal with the upkeep of township roads and replacement of the fire department’s vehicle fleet.
A joint report from Public Works Director Ben Kester and Treasurer Al Schultz outlined the specifics of an asset management strategy for maintaining township roadways.
If eventually passed by council, the proposal would see the township impose a one per cent levy beginning in next year, and increasing by one per cent each year until at least 2018 for capital maintenance projects.
During the budget discussions, Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor motioned that the one per cent increase for next year - roughly $80,000 to $90,000 be put into a reserve fund earmarked for roads projects. Deputy Treasurer Donna Condon added that a roads reserve fund does not presently exist.
"The sooner you put it in, the better off you’ll be," commented Mr. Kester.
Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet questioned the move, as it would see projects deferred in favour of establishing the reserve fund for roads.
"I understand what we’re trying to do here, but are you robbing Peter to pay Paul? If you’ve identified a road that needs work, it doesn’t make sense to pull money back out of the budget," said Councillor Highet.
As well, Mr. Kester made several budget cuts last week, including taking out $126,000 earmarked for a culvert project on Davis Dr. after a grant request from the municipality was denied by the province.
The ongoing Brock St. culvert flood alleviation project had its contribution cut in half, from $200,000 down to $100,000. Mr. Kester added that a request for proposal for the detailed design of the $10 million project will be going out in early 2014.
Meanwhile, as the fire department prepares to move to a new hall in the near future, Condon and Fire Chief Scott Richardson pitched a plan that would see $200,000 set aside for vehicle replacement for the next 20 years.
"We tried to come up with a strategy to limit large fluctuations in future capital budgets," Condon explained. "The first ten years of the plan will be very tough because a lot of vehicles will unfortunately have to be replaced."
According to Chief Richardson, the last six years of the funding plan would be building a reserve fund to replace fire vehicles in the future.
"The whole idea of the process is to build a flat line, so we don’t have large peaks in vehicle replacement costs," added Chief Richardson.
To combat a funding shortfall, a new pumper truck for the fire department will be budgeted over the next two years.
The municipality will pay $200,000 in 2014, and a further $275,000 in 2015 when the department receives the new pumper.
As well, Richardson explained that the purchase of a new tanker for the fire department hinges upon completion of the new fire hall, as the vehicle will not fit in the current fire hall on Bascom St.
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
SCUGOG: After 35 years, the board of a local daycare fears they may be on the move due to a proposed update of a local recreation facility.
Representatives of the Blackstock Cooperative Nursery School, which has operated out of the Blackstock Recreation Centre since the mid-1970s, told The Standard they are leery of what a planned renovation to the facility will mean for their continued operation in that location, after Scugog councillors were presented with the latest update on the renovation process last week.
Among the changes in the renovation plan are the relocation of the facility’s bar area to the room which currently houses the nursery school, a change that the board says could more or less oust the school from the centre.
"By making the room smaller," said board representative Rob Probst, "they will make it physically impossible for us to stay there. Inevitably, if it goes through, we will have to move."
Mr. Probst noted that while the school has not been told by the township that they will have to vacate the room, the renovation would mean that to stay in the facility they would have to make use of the banquet hall - an unlikely scenario given the potential for increased rental fees and the lack of permanent space, he noted.
Mr. Probst said that at this point, a possible alternate location for the nursery school has not been determined.
In the recent presentation to council, architect Nick Swerdfeger, who was hired on by the township to design the facility’s updated look, was quoted as telling councillors and staff that the school had been "fully involved" with the planning process.
Mr. Probst explained that the nursery school board has not been actively involved in the planning process for the renovation.
This week, Recreation and Culture Manager Craig Belfry told The Standard that it was the Blackstock Recreation Centre Advisory Committee that was involved with the planning process and not the nursery school board as previously quoted. He acknowledged that while the nursery school isn’t being pushed out of the facility, they will no longer have exclusive use of the room due to a need identified in the consultation process for a multi-purpose room.
With 22 families currently making use of the nursery school, Mr. Probst said that any changes to the current format will be felt beyond the immediate community.
"Everyone in Blackstock knows someone who's gone there," he noted, adding that in some cases, multiple generations of family members have attended. "But we have families from Cadmus, Burketon and other communities who have kids here... They’re telling us 'we don’t want you to leave but you can’t stay in here.'"
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
After several months in development, Scugog’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy for municipally-owned facilities is expected to come into effect in the new year.
The draft document, presented to councillors this week by Recreation and Culture Manager Craig Belfry, outlines a number of behaviours deemed unacceptable for local arenas, playing fields and facilities - such as aggressive or violent acts - as well as corresponding staff responses and penalties for offenders. Councillors approved a staff recommendation this week that the policy be adopted.
The policy, which Mr. Belfry said is based on a similar document enforced in the City of Burlington, went through a lengthy review period involving consultations with local user groups, hall boards and Durham police. The policy will also be reviewed with staff of the Scugog Memorial Public Library, as peer a council amendment to the staff recommendation at the meeting. Staff training and a public awareness campaign are expected to start in the new year, said Mr. Belfry.
Operating on a ‘three strikes’ basis, penalties for various behaviours range from a minimum one- to six-month ban, based on the type and severity of the incident, from all municipal recreation facilities upon the first offence, up to a minimum three-year ban for a fourth offence. Appeals to the policy will require individuals to pay a non-refundable fee of $200, which Mr. Belfry previously said was in line with other municipalities that have enacted such policies.
Work began on the policy following a Feb. 19 assault on a hockey ref at the Scugog Arena. In that incident, a verbal exchange between the referee and two parents of Port Perry players began inside the arena, regarding calls made by the ref during the game. Police said that one parent later threatened the ref and kicked his legs in the parking lot. The assault took place in front of several people, including children, said police. One parent was charged while the ref and the second parent were later suspended for their roles in the incident.
In response to an inquiry by Councillor Larry Corrigan, Mr. Belfry explained that the incident has drawn awareness to the issue of unacceptable behaviours at local facilities.
"There seems to be a greater awareness since the March incident," he said, "and a dialogue has begun between staff and user groups. It’s really started the communication. Port Perry Minor Hockey now staffs their dressing rooms with two adults - these new rules and changes are being developed."
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: The Uxbridge Legion is busy planning a grand ‘thank you’ for Canada’s troops at an event in Elgin Park next year.
Legion representatives Dave Thibodeau and Jim Rowlands presented their plan to hold a special ‘Uxbridge Thanks our Troops’ event in Elgin Park on Saturday, May 31.
The Legion has partnered with Wounded Warriors Canada for the event, and the charity will be the recipient of all monies raised.
"We don’t want to go back to those days after the Korean War when the military seemed to be put on the back burner," Mr. Thibodeau said. "They’re always there for us serving our country and deserving of our support. Thankfully, we don’t have the hearses going down the Highway of Heroes. But, we are still dealing with the aftermath of Afghanistan and Bosnia and the rise of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) issues."
In 2007, Uxbridge became the first community in Canada to proclaim a day in support of our troops. On that day, almost 1,300 residents took part in a parade from the Legion to Elgin Park where they were joined by thousands of other participants gathered to show support to the troops.
Next year, the Legion will be calling on the residents of Uxbridge and its neighbours to come together and form a ‘Living Support Ribbon’ in Elgin Park.
"It will be a public thank you to our military and let them know that their contributions will not be forgotten. Hopefully, Uxbridge can become a pebble in the pond, and the ripple will hopefully reach other communities," Mr. Thibodeau said.
Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor enthusiastically endorsed the event, and offered on behalf of council to provide Elgin Park at no charge for the event. As well, ownship staff will investigate alternatives to insurance to aid the Legion in keeping costs for running the event to a minimum.
"I’d like to work it out so that there’s no cost to the Legion and all money raised comes back to this great cause," added Mayor O’Connor.
The Mayor also lashed out at Minister of Veterans Affairs Julian Fantino in regards to the treatment of veterans by the current federal government.
"Isn’t it sad to see that we have a Minister in Fantino - that has a pension from York Region, the OPP and the City of Toronto - and he can stand on TV and say that (veterans) don’t need any help," commented Mayor O’Connor.
As well, Ward 1 Councillor Bev Northeast had high praise for the event, explaining that two members of her family have served in the military, and her grandson recently left the military and is dealing with PTSD.