UXBRIDGE: The Christmas spirit was alive and well at a recent council meeting, although ultimately some councillors fear that the move may prove costly for the local community toy drive.
During the Recreation, Tourism and Culture Committee meeting on the morning of Monday, Oct. 21, a matter was raised by Ward 3 Councillor and Committee chair Pat Mikuse that would see the York-Durham Heritage Railway enter a partnership with CTV Toronto and the Salvation Army’s ‘Toy Mountain’ during the upcoming holiday season, from early November until Friday, Dec. 6.
However, not all councillors endorsed the idea, warning of a potential conflict with the long-running community toy drive, spearheaded by Canadian Tire owner Pat Higgins.
Ward 1 Councillor Bev Northeast, who also serves as Chair of the local branch of the Salvation Army, protested the move, explaining that toys collected through ‘Toy Mountain’ become property of the Salvation Army and in the event of a surplus, are redistributed through the province, not to other local groups such as the Lions Club and Bonner Boys, as is the case with the Community Toy Drive.
"(Salvation Army) is a small drop in the bucket locally. The Lions Club and the Food Bank have many more families that they help," explained Councillor Northeast.
Since, the York-Durham Heritage Railway only runs on weekends, Councillor Mikuse brought forth a request to have donation bins placed at both Uxpool and Uxbridge Arena to maximize the possible pool of toys for ‘Toy Mountain’ and allow for donations throughout the week.
Township Facilities Manager Bob Fergusuon noted that the arena already hosts a donation bin for the Community Toy Drive through their partnership with the Uxbridge Bruins Junior ‘C’ hockey team.
"Toy Mountain bins are unfair to Salvation Army, and paints a picture that we are out working on our own, which is not the case," added Councillor Northeast.
When the matter was voted on by councillors, Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor, Councillor Northeast and Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy all voted down the measure.
However, Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle, Ward 5’s Gord Highet and Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger all voted in favour, leading Councillor Mikuse to break the tie with a positive vote.