DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Changes could be coming to the Uxbridge Soccer Club in the near-future, including upgrades at the Fields of Uxbridge.
At council’s meeting on the morning of Monday, Dec. 14, Club President Grant Oliver outlined the changes in the works for the local club, which includes more than 1,000 local players.
With several challenges facing the local club, most notably including declining registration, increasing costs and a lack of infrastructure at the Fields of Uxbridge, the club is preparing for operational changes in the coming years.
Mr. Oliver noted that the club is currently engaging with a consultant to help improve the efforts of connecting local players with opportunities to be involved with soccer. Among the measures currently being explored include a potential merger between the Uxbridge Soccer Club, the Scugog Soccer Club and North Durham United FC, the local representative organization, as well as consolidating all of Uxbridge’s soccer pitches into one location at the Fields of Uxbridge, on the site of the former St. John’s Training School at the corner of Main St. North and Ball Rd. To accomplish this, the club proposed to transition the current fields from Herrema Fields in the Barton Farms subdivision, requiring a new senior pitch and two mid-size fields and lighting to be installed at the Fields of Uxbridge, which would also aid the club’s ongoing security concerns at the site.
“We want the Fields of Uxbridge to provide a facility that fits the needs of the Uxbridge Soccer Club for the next 20 years within the updated Master Plan,” explained Mr. Oliver, who also added that the location would fulfil the club’s projected future needs based on population data.
Under the plan, as Mr. Oliver noted, soccer pitches would utilize the northen portion of the Fields of Uxbridge, leaving the south of the property open to further recreation projects such as a new aquatic centre, tennis courts and the proposed pump park.
Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor noted that should Herrema Fields be relocated to the Fields of Uxbridge, it would mean the property would become surplus, enabling the township to sell the property to offset construction costs. As well, the mayor noted that several local youth sports organizations are currently seeing a downward trend in registration numbers.
“Registration seems to come in peaks and valleys. We seem to be in a valley right now with all of our youth sports, the arena is down for hockey and our camps are also down.”
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: With just days to go before the end of collection for the Uxbridge Toy Drive, organizers are appealing to local residents for additional donations to ensure every Uxbridge resident enjoys a happy holiday season.
“The Toy Drive has been slowing down quite a bit. We need a big hit this week to ensure we are able to satisfy our demands in time for Christmas,” said Uxbridge Canadian Tire owner Pat Higgins, who also serves as one of the organizers of the annual Toy Drive.
All toys collected through the initiative stay within Uxbridge’s borders, to be distributed through various charities, churches and not-for-profit organizations in the community.
Mr. Higgins added that as the Toy Drive’s numbers currently stand, they are down from last year and are having trouble filling certain requests due to low stock.
As well, organizers have noted a shortage of donations for kids over age 10, some donation ideas for this age group include gift cards, electronics and outdoor toys.
The Toy Drive has seen several groups including Bonner Boys, Fraserway RV, Sweet World Media and ATL Industries step forward with monetary donations which aid in purchasing gifts for a specific age group where there is a shortfall.
To ensure delivery in time for Christmas, donations should be dropped off no later than Sunday, Dec. 20. There are several drop-off locations around Uxbridge including Canadian Tire, McDonald’s, Zehrs, Walmart, Little Acorn, M&M Meat Shops and the Uxbridge Bruins home game at 7:45 p.m. on Friday night against the Clarington Eagles.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: After years of waiting, a local off-leash dog park may soon be on its way.
In recent months, a committee has be working on the long-sought goal of bringing an off-leash dog park to Uxbridge. On the morning of Monday, Dec. 14, Tony Lauria presented the group’s proposal to councillors where it was met with great enthusiasm.
The proposed dog park would sit just south of the Uxbridge Historical Centre at the corner of Brock St. and Conc. 6 on a fully-fenced, 1.5 acre parcel of land.
Mr. Lauria noted that 33 per cent of Canadian households contain at least one dog, with the percentage
likely higher in Uxbridge, making the park a draw for the entire community, including seniors at nearby Butternut Manor.
“This park is not only for dogs, but the community as a whole,” said Mr. Lauria, noting that similar facilities already exist in Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Aurora and Newmarket.
The group estimated the start-up costs for the park to be about $15,000, significantly lower than a recent
park established in York Region which cost more than $50,000. The existing parking lot at the museum aids in those cost savings, as do contributions made to the efforts by several local businesses. As Mr. Lauria explained, Heyes Landscaping, Vicdom Sand & Gravel and Uxbridge Tree Service have all offered to donate their help with seeing the project come to fruition.
The group’s proposal would see the township cover the fencing costs as well as ongoing maintenance at the park, such as snow removal in the parking lot and pathway to the park, grass cutting and garbage collection. These costs are estimated at $4,000.
However, a naming rights plan, which was brought up by Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet, could see those costs lowered. As Mr. Lauria explained, the plans for the dog park call for six rest areas within the facility, which could have naming rights sold to local organizations or businesses.
Councillors were pleased with the news, and commended the group on their efforts with the project to date.
“This has been in the works for a long time, and I’m pleased to see that it has come a long way in the past few months,” commented Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor.
As well, Ward 4 Councillor Fred Bryan noted that the contributions pledged by local businesses “really emphasize the spirit of a small town.”
Mr. Lauria added that should the project be approved as part of the 2016 municipal budget, the park could be up and running as early as April 2016. As well, he noted that the group had shown their plans to a park manager with the City of Toronto, who felt it was a great, low-cost design for the township.
A temporary trial of an off-leash park was conducted in the early morning hours at Elgin Park in 2010, before concerns over potential liability for the municipality ended the experiment.
DAN CEARNS The Standard
SCUGOG: A 61-year-old man is in serious but stable condition after his plane crashed in a field near Greenbank Airways, on Saturday, Dec. 12.
The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) told CTV News that the pilot had departed from a private airport at about Noon and then decided to turn around before crash landing in a field on Scugog Line 9.
According to multiple reports, the victim was then taken to Lakeridge Health Port Perry, and then was airlifted to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
Durham Regional Police Sgt. Bill Calder told The Standard that police were called to the scene at about 12:45 p.m. “after a 911 caller spotted the plane drop from the sky.”
“The caller then located the plane and assisted the pilot awaiting help to arrive,” Sgt. Calder explained, adding that the 61-year-old was in and out of consciousness at times while he was being tended to.
The TSB is currently investigating the crash. The aircraft has been confirmed to be a Ultralight Challenger Two plane.
DAN CEARNS The Standard
SCUGOG: Giving back was on the agenda on Wednesday, Dec. 2, when the Baagwating Community Association (BCA) handed out more than $250,000 in charitable donations.
The annual reception saw more than 40 different charities and not-for-profit organizations receive donations from the Association, which acts as the charitable arm of the Great Blue Heron Casino.
The Ontario Lung Association and the Chiefs of Ontario-”Who is She” campaign both received the biggest gifts of the day, cheques for $25,000.
The “Who is She” campaign is “a fundraising effort aimed at creating a First Nations-led, community-driven process to eradicate violence against Indigenous women and girls” according to their web site. The program delves into the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
“It’s simply amazing. Thank you for the acknowledgement,” said Regional Chief Isadore Day upon receiving the funds. “I want to acknowledge Scugog Island First Nation, this is true leadership in action.”
Several North Durham groups were amongst those receiving funds, including a $10,000 donation made to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of North Durham.
“We get no funding from governments or central Big Brothers Big Sisters, so this makes this donation so special for us,” said board member Bill Swan.
Other donations in the North Durham area included a $7,500 to Operation Scugog Adopted Families, as well as $5,000 to Port Perry High School’s wrestling club, the New Animal Shelter for Uxbridge-Scugog, Cartwright Central PS, Community Living Durham North and Operation Scugog Food Bank. $2,500 was given to the Caesarea Skate Park and Port Perry Minor Hockey.
In a press release, the BCA thanked the casino and its visitors, saying that “without this patronage, these gifts would not be possible.”
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: With numerous projects planned for the Fields of Uxbridge, revisions may soon be coming to the Master Plan for the recreation complex.
During discussions regarding a proposed cycling Pump Park at council’s meeting on the morning of Monday, Dec. 7, CAO Ingrid Svelnis noted that with several other projects to possibly be located at the Main St. site, a proposal is currently in the works to revise the Master Plan for the site, which was originally completed in June 2010.
“The 2016 budget has a request for a further look at the Master Plan, because there are a number of things at that location that are all coming together at the same time,” Ms. Svelnis explained.
The proposed Pump Park is just one of many potential projects for the site including changes to the layout of current soccer fields, permanent washroom facilities, a resolution to long-standing parking issues, a new aquatic centre to replace the aging Uxpool as well as a new home for the Uxbridge Tennis Club.
“We need to look at what are the overall needs for that site. Right now, there’s a lot of interest in relocating to that site,” added Ms. Svelnis. “It’s great that the property is going to become what we thought it would, but there’s a lot of issues that need to be looked at.”
As well, with 2016 municipal budget deliberations starting the next day, ongoing maintenance as part of the proposed Pump Park, with Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor pointing out that in addition to ongoing maintenance, there are also issues regarding parking, lighting and insurance. The mayor also noted that servicing the site and building permanent washrooms are a priority for the municipality as the Fields of Uxbridge continue to grow.
“We have to have an idea of how much this is going to cost going forward. When we commit to it, we’re making a commitment to these ongoing costs, we can’t close our eyes and think that it’ll be free,” commented Mayor O’Connor. “And, we can’t get too much more going on up there without permanent washrooms.”
It was noted by township Manager of Recreation, Culture and Tourism, Amanda Ferraro, that the Pump Park committee, which includes newly-elected Ward 3 Councillor Dave Barton, is “in its embryonic stage at this point, mostly exploring costs and designs.”
DAN CEARNS The Standard
SCUGOG: Council gave pre-approval for the majority of capital expenditures in the 2016 budget at a special council meeting on Monday, Dec. 7.
At the meeting, councillors approved a total capital budget of about $9.1 million. Mayor Tom Rowett said that the capital side of the budget required separate approval because the township wants to have these projects out to the market as soon as possible.
“The reason that the capital needs a pre-approval is because we can have cost savings by getting out bigger projects such as road projects by having (request for proposals) out before the contractors fill up,” he said.
Interim CAO Don Gordon said that one of the goals of the capital budget process was to limit the amount of projects funded by the levy.
However, discussions on township sidewalks was deferred to operating budget deliberations in the new year. Also, a report on the township’s LED conversion project is expected to be introduced at council’s next regular meeting on Monday, Dec. 14 on whether or not staff finds that they would be able to do it in 2016.
“We can always introduce it later on in the year, but it would be nice to have that decision made because it is either going to be a shared retrofit from a provider that shares in the savings or we can put the capital outlay out from our reserve or a debenture,” Mayor Rowett said.
As well, due to a lack of a funding source, the township deferred road work on Crandell St., Mckee Rd., McLaughlin Rd., as well as the urbanization of Old Simcoe Rd. to 2017. Work on the Scugog-Manvers boundary was also deferred.
The decisions left Ward 2 councillor Janna Guido wondering if the Crandell St. project was safe to defer in the condition that it is currently in.
“I was under the impression that underneath Crandell St. is in pretty urgent need of repair. Is it okay to defer it to 2017?” she asked.
Director of Public Works and Parks Glen Smith responded to the question about deferring repairs to Crandell St., saying that deferrals are a common municipal budget decision.
“There is no real guess to when it will fail, it hasn’t failed to this point. It is strictly a monetary decision,” he said.
Regional Councillor Bobbie Drew asked how Old Simcoe Rd. went from being a priority, to being deferred.
“Was this strictly for budget reasons, because this was priority number 5 earlier and now it has completely dropped and there are items further down the line that have been bumped up,” she asked.
Treasurer Trena Debruijn noted that there was simply no source that the township could use to fund the project.
“We couldn’t find a funding source for this, unless we were willing to go to the debenture market, so staff decided on that basis to defer it,” she said.
Mayor Rowett said that he hopes that grants from the federal government will become available to the township for their road repairs.
"The federal government was very vocal on providing extra infrastructure funding to municipalities. Us as a greenbelt community, we have such a vast road network that is in a deficit and we don't have the means to tackle even a small chunk of it," commented Mayor Rowett. "Without help from the upper levels of government, there is a very little bit of traction that can be made.
To help create a funding source for future projects, the township has instituted a roads reserve, which was approved a few years ago, of 1 per cent from the levy.
Ward 4 Councillor Wilma Wotten questioned if the township was comfortable going forward with the amount in the reserves.
Treasurer Debruijn responded, saying that despite the lower level of the reserves, the level is where it should be.
“We are reducing our reserves. They have come down a lot in prior years yes, but it is in line with where it was at last year,” the director of finance said.
DAN CEARNS The Standard
SCUGOG: Amid reports of declining population, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has approved a regulation to close the walleye fishing season on Lake Scugog as of Friday, Jan. 1.
Closure of the season is set to be year round until further notice. “In order to increase chances of a recovery, protect the remaining population and provide an opportunity for natural reproduction, a full closure was needed,” said ministry management biologist Lisa Solomon.
The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) has noted that angling is not the only issue impacting the decline in the walleye population.
“There are a lot of unknowns and some existing issues that are well known regarding the walleye population on Lake Scugog,” Tom Brooke, a fisheries biologist with the OFAH told The Standard.
“Changes to the lake, such as water clarity and the plant community, as well as predators and changes to the spawning habitat have all had an impact.
“Another big issue is recruitment failure, where a lack of young fish survive to adulthood. This can’t be addressed through closure. We should be getting down to the cause of that recruitment failure, which still exists.”
In late April, the ministry held a public meeting in Port Perry to gather input on two possible strategies to combat the loss of the local walleye population. The strategies discussed were to close the winter season for walleye fishing, or to implement a year round closure of the season.
Members of the ministry also previously presented their findings to council on April 27. At that time, councillors were told that out of the six lakes monitored by the Kawartha Lakes fisheries assessment unit, none had seen a decline like Lake Scugog.
Mayor Tom Rowett told The Standard that the announcement didn’t come as much of a surprise to him.
“I attended the public meeting on this and that was one of the options that was made aware to us,” he said. “With the closure being to restock the walleye, I think this change is accepted.”
He added that he doesn’t think that this change will create a significant drop off in local fishing-related tourism.
“I think it will affect it to a small degree, but there are other fish still available,” added Mayor Rowett.
With files from Darryl Knight
UXBRIDGE: After more than 30 years in broadcasting, Dan Pollard finally landed his dream job when 105.5 Hits FM took to the airwaves.
After years of planning, the local radio station began broadcasting this past September, with Dan helming ‘The Morning Den’ as well as the Noon showcase of the day’s most popular songs.
After many years of promoting Uxbridge beyond its borders on radio as well as television with the CBC, Sportsnet, TSN and Q107, Dan is thrilled to be able to work from his hometown.
“With this job, I don’t have a bucket list anymore. I’ve covered the Olympics and Pan Am Games and worked with some great broadcasters along the way,” Dan told The Standard. “Now to come back and pass that on and leave a legacy for this town and the Torres brothers who brought the station here is the pinnacle for me. This station will be here a lot longer than any of us, if we do it right.”
Drawn to radio at a young age, Dan made his first foray into radio after graduating from Uxbridge Secondary School and enrolling at Seneca College.
“When class started at Seneca, it seemed like everyone was gravitating towards television. But for me, radio is the most current form of media, and that’s always been the appeal. It’s a theatre of the mind and allows the listener to take ownership.”
While wrapping up his studies at Seneca, Dan took his first job in the industry, working the overnight shift at CKLY 910 AM in Lindsay.
Although the technology has changed greatly over the years, with large cartridges replaced with digital files, the feeling of community through local radio has remained firmly intact, and Dan has been amazed with the response for HITS 105.5 FM from the community.
“It’s been really encouraging because you can see the impact almost daily. We recently did remote broadcasts for the Care-A-Van supporting the Food Bank with Williamson’s and it was an overwhelming response. We filled the van, and even had to put food in the front seat,” he said. “Being able to make that kind of contribution to the community is why I wanted to come back. I’ve been on the Cottage Hospital board and I’ve done local charity work. As a station, if we’re not giving back, we’re not doing our job and being socially responsible.”
Although the hours are long, with his typical day starting before 4 a.m., Dan added that the experience at 105.5 Hits FM hasn’t felt like work.
“I’ve put in more hours here than on any job for a number of years, but when you’re able to do something you’re passionate about, it’s true that it doesn’t feel like a job at all.”
DAN CEARNS The Standard
SCUGOG: Local resident and former teacher Audrey Lee recently received a very special surprise at her home at the Port Perry Villa, 100 birthday cards for her 100th birthday.
The initiative was started by R.H Cornish teacher Amy Killeen and her local children’s group 100 Kids Who Care, which is an extension of the community fundraising organization 100 Women Who Care Scugog.
The group, which was started last year, takes on a kindness initiative each month and decided in October that they were going to honour Mrs. Lee.
“The Villa was trying to get a hold of alumni who had Audrey as a teacher,” Mrs. Killeen said. “They called the school to see if they had a list of people that may want to send her a birthday card and we thought this would be a great initiative for 100 Kids Who Care to take on.”
The cards were hand delivered by Mrs. Killeen, her daughters and a couple teachers to Mrs. Lee on the day before her birthday, Friday, Nov. 20. Mrs. Killeen commented that it was great to see the joy on Mrs. Lee’s face when the cards were handed over.
“It was amazing. She was so touched and it was a pretty special moment for all of us,” she said.
Mrs. Lee told The Standard that she was shocked and grateful that these kids honoured her in this way.
“I didn’t think that they would take the time to honour an old lady like me, somebody they didn’t know and that makes it that much more precious.”
At her age, Mrs. Lee is still mentally sharp, as she shared stories with the students about her experiences over the course of her approximately 21-year teaching career.
“I taught for six years and got married and then we couldn’t teach after that,” she explained. “Then the war came along and they thought that maybe we could teach.” Mrs. Lee also added that she was about 18-years-old when she started teaching.
Mrs. Killeen said she was thrilled with the kind of support that the initiative got from the kids.
“It was amazing. The kids were really excited when we were able to show them some pictures of her teaching years, and then some current pictures of her,” she said. “For them to see somebody turning 100, it was really neat and to know she had taught at the school years ago, it was a great connection.”