Political Opinions

Doug Downey MPP for Barrie Springwater Oro-Medonte

One of the truly great aspects of my position is that I am afforded the opportunity to speak with some truly impressive and inspiring Ontarians. We are a province full of talent, perseverance, innovation, and great accomplishment. You can find truly great people in every city and town of our province and it is an absolute pleasure to get to meet and learn from them. 

Everyone knows someone like this. A person who is committed to doing their very best at all times and never seems to disappoint. Someone who strives for excellence in his or her field, and works for the betterment of their community. These exceptional Ontarians deserve recognition for their efforts, and we have one very special way to do that. 

If you have someone in your life you think deserves to be recognized for their work, you can nominate them for the Order of Ontario. The order of Ontario is the highest honour in our province, and is given to those special people that exhibit outstanding excellence and achievement in their field.

Nominations are open until March 31st and are easy to do. After writing a brief description of your nominee and why they deserve this award, have two other people sign on in support of your nomination and it is ready to submit. There are some stipulations around who is eligible for nomination, however most careers are eligible so long as the nominee’s impact has made a lasting impression on the province. 

Only 25 people are presented with this prestigious honour every year. They join the company of other truly great Ontarians such as Canada’s first female astronaut, Dr. Roberta Bondar. What better way to tell someone you appreciate them than by giving them the opportunity to make provincial history. 

For more information on The order of Ontario and rules for nomination, head to  https://www.ontario.ca/page/order-ontario. We have a lot of truly great people here in Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte, and I hope to have the chance to congratulate one of them for being recognized by this great honour in the near future.     

 

Tay Township Promotes Financial Analyst Lindsay Barron to Chief Administrative Officer

Tay, Ontario: Tay Township Council is pleased to announce that Tay Township Financial Analyst Lindsay Barron has been promoted to the position of Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), effective March 2, 2020, after an extensive and competitive selection process.  Ms. Barron will become Tay’s fourth CAO since municipal reorganization in 1994  She will succeed Robert Lamb as CAO after he held the post for 6 years before taking a position with the Township of Brock in the fall.

Tay Township Mayor Ted Walker, who was also the first CAO/Clerk of Tay, expressed that “Council is excited about the promotion and appointment of Ms. Barron to Chief Administrative Officer.  Her analytical and strategic approach to operations, along with her solid problem solving skills will enable her to enact Council’s vision for a modern service oriented municipality that delivers the right services at the right time for the right reasons”, adding that “as someone raised in Tay Township from an early age, Ms. Barron, in addition to her excellent qualifications, is especially motivated to ensure the success of her home town.”

Ms. Barron has an Honours Bachelor of Commerce degree from Laurentian University, holds the professional designations of Chartered Professional Accountant and Certified General Accountant, and is trained in many aspects of municipal operations.  Joining Tay in 2012 as Financial Analyst, Ms. Barron has been instrumental in the creation of the Township’s asset management and energy management plans as well as transformation of the Township’s accounting to meet the Public Sector Accounting Board requirements enacted on municipalities by the Province in 2009.  Ms. Barron has also led the annual municipal budget process for a number of years, and reports frequently to Council on the financial health of the organization.

“I am excited for the opportunity to serve my home town in such a key and impactful role”, says Ms. Barron, “I share in Council’s vision for a modern municipality that is increasingly more aware and responsive to our community members’ changing needs brought on by societal and technological changes.  The status quo is not an option in today’s environment of constant change and always-on life.  Services need to be responsive to our community members’ needs and available anytime, not just 8:30 to 4:30.  I am looking forward to the months and years ahead.”

Ms. Barron lives locally with her family and previously worked in finance at a multi-national just-in-time automotive manufacturer.

Tay Township is committed to delivering responsive and cost-effective municipal services and infrastructure that provide for the long-term economic, social and environmental well-being of its residents and community.

 

Southern Georgian Bay home sales miss January record by a single sale

Residential sales recorded through the MLS® system for the Southern Georgian Bay region totaled 182 units in January 2020. This was a large 35.8% increase from January 2019.

The Southern Georgian Bay region comprises two distinctive markets.

Home sales in the Western Region, which includes Wasaga Beach, Clearview Township, Collingwood, The Blue Mountains, the Municipality of Meaford, and Grey Highlands, numbered 101 units in January 2020, up 17.4% (15 sales) from January 2019.

Meanwhile, home sales in the Eastern Region, encompassing the Towns of Midland and Penetanguishene, the Townships of Tay and Tiny, Severn, and Georgian Bay Townships, numbered 81 units in January 2020, surging 68.8% from January 2019.

“2020 got off to a great start in both the Western and Eastern Regions of the Association’s geographic coverage area, with overall sales coming in just one sale shy of the all-time January record set back in 2016,” said Mike Scholte, President of the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS®. “Strengthening sales in an environment of still low supply suggests 2020 could be another year of strong price growth.”

There were 335 new residential listings in January 2020. This was an increase of 14.7% on a year-over-year basis.

Active residential listings numbered 780 units at the end of January, up 3.7% from the end of January 2019. Despite the small increase, overall supply is still historical low.

Months of inventory numbered just 4.3 at the end of January 2020, down from the 5.6 months recorded at the end of January 2019 and not far off all-time lows for this time of year. The number of months of inventory is the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

The dollar value of all residential transactions in January 2020 was $102.1 million, a 44.8% surge from this time in 2019. This was a new record for the month of January by a margin of more than $30 million.

Sales of all property types numbered 202 units in January 2020, an increase of 20.2% from January 2019. The total value of all properties sold was $110.2 million, rising 22.9% from January 2019. eral communities along the shores of southern Georgian Bay, approximately 1½ to 2 hours from Greater Toronto, the area is one of Canada’s premier four-season recreational playgrounds.

Consult your Local REALTOR® for market conditions and home value information specific to your neighbourhood. Our REALTORS® live, work and play in Southern Georgian Bay and have the local knowledge you simply need to know! Encompassing several communities along the shores of southern Georgian Bay, approximately 1½ to 2 hours from Greater Toronto, the area is one of Canada’s premier four-season recreational playgrounds.

Mike Scholte, President

Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS®

 

Springwater Welcomes New Director of Fire & Emergency Services

 Township of Springwater / February 12, 2020 –  The Township of Springwater and Springwater Fire & Emergency Services are pleased to announce the hiring of Jeff Kirk as the new Director of Fire & Emergency Services.

 “After a thorough search, Springwater is pleased to welcome Jeff as the new Director of Fire & Emergency Services,” says Mayor Don Allen. “He brings almost 39 years of experience in various firefighting roles and his breadth of knowledge and skills will be an asset to the municipality.” 

 Mr. Kirk has gained extensive firefighting experience and training throughout his career. He is a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Fire Officer IV and has certifications in a number of areas including; fire investigation, emergency management, technical rescue and hazardous materials. Mr. Kirk is familiar with the area and has worked in the Fire Service at CFB Borden and the Township of Essa. He has held the role of Deputy Fire Chief at the Orillia Fire Department since 2008.

 “Jeff brings a wealth of experience to this vital position,” says Jeff Schmidt, CAO of the Township of Springwater. “I am confident in his ability to lead our Fire Department forward as our municipality continues to grow and change.”

 Mr. Kirk will begin his role with Springwater Fire & Emergency Services on March 2, 2020.

 Springwater Fire & Emergency Services proudly serves a sub-urban community made up of over 19,000 people. The Director of Fire & Emergency Services leads the department made up of over 90 volunteer firefighters operating out of four fire stations.

 

County Council Highlights

Committee of the Whole: January 28 & February 11, 2020
County Council: February 11, 2020

Homelessness Prevention System Funding

The County of Simcoe continues to work closely with local community stakeholders to develop diverse, responsive, and innovative homelessness prevention supports and services. The Housing Our Future: Our Community 10-Year Affordable Housing and Homelessness Prevention Strategy specifically outlines creating an integrated service model for housing and supports as a key priority.

This week, Council approved $1.2 million of funding in 2020-21 to assist more than 30 service providers to deliver of a wide array of homelessness prevention supports and services through the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI), including Supportive Housing, Emergency Shelters and Supportive Transitional Housing.

Youth Transitional Housing Initiative

The County of Simcoe was recently approached by Youth Haven regarding a proposed Youth Transitional Housing Program, to be located at 46 Toronto Street, Barrie. The current property owner, Morton House, will be closing at the end February 2020, and its Board of Directors has offered the building to Youth Haven on a lease-free basis, to be used for Youth Transitional Housing purposes. This 10-12 bed facility would serve as a temporary bridge to the Youth Transitional Housing Program, included by YMCA Simcoe-Muskoka in its new build design.

Council approved $200,000 in funding to support Youth Haven with the estimated $300,000 operating costs of a one-year period from 2019-20 to help address homelessness prevention pressures across the local system.

Transfer Facility Design Requirement for Bi-weekly Collection

In February 2020, the County joined the majority of municipalities in Ontario and adopted a bi-weekly collections schedule to grow the County’s green bin program, restore predictability to collections and help lower emissions by reducing the number of trucks on the road each day. This bi-weekly collection schedule will continue with the next collections contract, starting in late 2021.

With collections on alternate weeks, one curbside collection truck now serves each household every week, rather than two in the previous system. Our trucks will therefore reach capacity quicker, thereby needing to empty at a transfer station and then return to the route to complete collections more frequently. Providing locations to empty collection trucks closer to the route is essential to minimize off-route time, make collections more efficient and be cost effective. This week, Council approved staff to proceed with the transfer station building design and site design for new transfer facilities sited at existing landfills and transfer centres and the proposed Environmental Resource Recovery Centre (ERRC), in anticipation for construction in 2021. Additional reports, including costing, will be presented for Council’s review at future meetings.

#ITSTARTS Public Education and Social Media Campaign

The Simcoe County Local Immigration Partnership (LIP), in collaboration with the Cultural Competency Working Group, will lead the fourth annual #ITSTARTS campaign throughout March 2020. The 2019 campaign reached almost 3 million users, who were encouraged to take part in the movement.

To support the development of welcoming communities in Simcoe County and the #ITSTARTS campaign, LIP is running Cultural Ambassador Training across our member municipalities and separated cities. These training sessions help to reduce discrimination and racism and encourage cultural competency. Last year, 83 ambassadors were trained at information sessions organized by the County.

Agreement for the Delivery of Personal Support Services at Georgian Village

The North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) plans, integrates and funds local health care. In December 2013, the North Simcoe Muskoka Community Care Access Centre (CCAC), now referred to as LHIN Home and Community Care, approached the County of Simcoe to deliver Personal Support Services to Georgian Village residents affected by the CCAC’s contracted service provider’s labour disruption. When the labour disruption ended and CCAC’s contracted service provider resumed the personal support services at Georgian Village, residents approached Georgian Village Management with concerns of constant late or missed visits, as well as inconsistency of worker by the contracted service provider. County Seniors Services Management met several times with the CCAC to discuss these concerns.

In January 2020, the LHIN  accepted the County’s request to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the County for the provision of personal support services to LHIN clients residing in Georgian Village to improve the client experience through enhanced continuity of care, timely visits, and efficiencies through a centralized staffing model.

Specialized Transit Ridership Growth

The Simcoe County LINX Plus transit service began operation in September 2018. The service generally operates within approximately 400 metres of the County’s fixed transit routes, providing a combination of door-to-door and transfer services to and from fixed routes. Specialized transit is a requirement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

Council approved a one-year pilot project to utilize existing capacity and expand the service area so that more county residents have access to specialized transit. The pilot project will enhance the specialized service for customers in the rural areas beyond the mandated 400 metres of the conventional fixed based routes. Operating within a few kilometres of a fixed route on rural concession roads is anticipated to have limited impact on the existing service and will improve service to residents with disabilities.

To view the full Committee of the Whole or Council Agenda visit: https://simcoe.civicweb.net/Portal/

To view the County Council Highlights online visit https://www.simcoe.ca/dpt/ccd/newsletters

 

 

Tiny’s Winter Carnaval d’Hiver brings the Community  Together for Wintertime Fun

February 11, 2020 (Tiny, Ontario) On February 8, 2020, the Township of Tiny held its 14th annual Winter Carnaval d’Hiver! This exciting event was held at Perkinsfield Park from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and was attended by more than 800 residents and visitors. 

The Elmvale Skating Club kicked off the event with lively figure skating performances.

Attendees then joined in the fun with a free community skate.

Thrill-seekers took a ride down the Snow Valley Ski Resort Tubing Slide, while future firefighters toured the fire truck and learned about fire safety.

Campers-at-heart gathered around the fire to roast marshmallows and homemade bannock bread.

Folks were toe-tapping to music played by Pure Country 106 and 104.1 The Dock. Sports fanatics eagerly tried their hand at a mini stick stadium and sledge hockey. 

A free pancake lunch (generously donated by ELM Catering), was served to hungry event-goers, along with hot chocolate, chicken soup, fresh snow taffy and butter tarts. 

Thank you to all who joined us at Winter Carnaval d’Hiver and to the many community sponsors, partners and volunteers who made the event a winter wonderland for all to enjoy! Thank you ELM Catering, Festival du Loup, Elmvale Skating Club, Midland Public Library, Wyevale Jug City, Moonwalk Entertainment, Lafontaine Iron Werks, Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre, Georgian Grill, Tiny Fire and Emergency Services Department, Severn Sound Environmental Association, École Sainte-Croix and Wyevale Public School Parents Councils, The Surf Restaurant, Pure Country 106, 104.1 The Dock, LA Café, Tiny Township Lions Club, Boys and Girls Club of North Simcoe, William Myles Real Estate, All Sports All People, Sunset Bay Community Association, Georgian Shores Swinging Seniors, Southern Georgian Bay OPP, Penetanguishene Public Library and all the amazing volunteers who endured the cold weather to make sure our community could enjoy this special day. We may be Tiny, but our community has big hearts!

To view moments from the 2020 Winter Carnaval d’Hiver, please visit our Facebook page or website using the links below: Facebook: www.facebook.com/TownshipofTiny Website: www.tiny.ca/EventPhotos Each year, Council dedicates resources to special community events in order to engage Tiny residents. Council’s goal is to build civic engagement and community pride.  -

 

Escalation of Corruption and Deadly Courthouse Situation in Honduras: Will President Juan Orlando Hernandez Remain in Power?

National Committee for the Freedom of Political Prisoners Plan Advocacy Events

SCHRM Delegation to Honduras May 2020

A few major events occurred this past week in Honduras that makes Hondurans wonder “when is enough, enough?” With fingers pointing at a corrupt regime, escalations of accusations, rising violent crimes, suspicious assassinations of prisoners linked to drug trafficking, the Honduran people wonder how long the President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez, will remain in power. He has been accused of involvement in drug trafficking in a New York court and his regime continues to be under heavy scrutiny, particularly by US and Honduran media. Despite the corruption in Honduras, the Canadian government still remains silent and has not come out to denounce this advanced government corruption.

On February 13, a very dangerous criminal, high-level gang member Alexander Mendoza, also known by his gang name of  ‘El Porky,’ escaped from the El Progreso courthouse. In a shoot-out that ensued in and outside the courthouse, four members of the National and Military Police were killed, and at least six civilians and police were injured. Mendoza then quickly left the building, escorted by heavily armed men dressed in military and police uniforms.

Despite his status as being highly dangerous, Mendoza had been incarcerated in the normal, relaxed Tamara Prison outside of Tegucigalpa. Although he had already been sentenced, for some reason he was brought to the courthouse in El Progreso under heavy guard. Authorities speculate that Mendoza was part of an escape plan that was hatched with members of the corrupt Honduran military and police and Honduran authorities linked to organized crime.

Previously, Mendoza had been taken by helicopter in April 2019 to La Tolva maximum-security prison due to being extremely dangerous and feared by many. Hondurans wonder why he ended up in a minimum-style prison, also why he had appeared in the El Progreso courtroom, along with a black-robed informant who actually carried the guns into the courthouse, and dozens of military. For further information, refer to: www.aquiabajo.com and for Honduran TV video footage of this escape, go to: https://hch.tv/2020/02/13/filtran-video-de-camara-de-seguridad-que-capto-el-rescate-de-el-porky/

To make this scary incident even worse, Edwin’s lawyer, Prisila Alvarado was present in the courthouse when the shoot-out occurred. And Mendoza was actually temporarily jailed in La Tolva prison with Edwin and Raul. Both told Karen when the attack occurred, that she had sat across from Mendoza on many of her visits to the prison.

In another nation-wide scandal in Honduras, on February 11, 2020, Honduran authorities arrested the head of the National Police - Leonel Sauceda and his spouse, both charged with money laundering. This arrest occurred just two weeks after Sauceda was promoted to the position of police commissioner, one of the highest positions in the Honduran police.

On top of being accused of money laundering of over $560,000 USD, Sauceda has been implicated in the drug trafficking cases that are now under investigation in the US. Juan Orlando Hernandez has also been implicated in drug trafficking in a New York courtroom, related to his brother Tony Hernandez’ trial of last fall. If Sauceda is convicted and imprisoned in Honduras, he will escape extradition to the US, and cannot be tried in relation to the drug trafficking and drug cartel dealings of Tony Hernandez. Many also speculate that Sauceda may have evidence against the President so keeping him out of the reach of US authorities will stop him from testifying against the President if his extradition is requested US courts.

Tony Hernandez, brother of JOH, has recently asked for a postponement of his sentencing, which was to occur next week in New York. Apparently, he has depleted his bank accounts and is unable to continue to pay his lawyer. It will be interesting to see the outcome of his sentencing, for he could face over three life sentences in the US. Also imprisoned in the US is the famous El Chapo who according to a New York Times article on October 2, 2019, allegedly gave Tony Hernandez $1 million USD that had been “intended to reach the president (JOH) himself” and help pay for his re-election campaign – the same one that Edwin, Raul, and all the political prisoners have been criminalized for protesting against. Juan Orlando continues to be under suspicion making his hold on his presidency shaky at best.

On February 8, 2020, the National Committee for the Freedom of Political Prisoners held an organizational meeting to plan events and actions related to the upcoming trials of 15 political prisoners. In attendance were 12 members of Honduran human rights organizations, plus Karen Spring, Edwin Espinal, Raul Alvarez and myself. As the political prisoners’ trial dates fast approach, it is very important that the Honduran community advocate for their complete release and to demand that all charges be dropped. One political prisoner – Rommel Herrera - remains in a psychiatric facility, having been transferred from La Tolva maximum security prison after being diagnosed with mental health-related issues. Rommel was originally in a makeshift cell in La Tolva with Edwin and Raul before the two men were released on August 9, 2019.

As all political prisoners have been denied full due legal process, many have been incarcerated in horrific conditions in maximum security prisons and upon conditional release, now must sign before a judge on a weekly basis. All of those charged of crimes cannot seek employment, which puts undue added stress on them and their families. Edwin and Raul’s case is scheduled for May 14-15, but this trial date may be postponed. This is often the case, particularly when the Public Prosecutors decide to delay to cause further hardship for those accused when the evidence is very slim or in Edwin and Raul’s and many others’ cases, unfounded and/or non-existent.

SCHRM is sponsoring a Canadian delegation to Honduras around the trial dates of May 14 and 15. We look forward to this trip to provide support for Edwin and Raul. The delegation will meet with Canadian and US Embassy staff, the Public Prosecutors Office, Honduran Minister of Human Rights, President of the Supreme Court, and Honduran human rights groups. We plan to make Honduran, US and particularly Canadian government authorities aware that Canadians continue to advocate for the full release and dropping of all charges of the political prisoners.

Thank you for supporting SCHRM and its ongoing work to advocate for the Honduran people. If you are interested in joining our May delegation, please email SCHRM at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call: 705-734-4238.

Janet Spring and the Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor Committee