Political Opinions

Governments Help Ontario Farmers Bring High-Quality Products to Market

Four local farmers are receiving a boost from the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. The Canadian Agricultural Partnership helps farmers to improve their business operations, and provides them with resources to bring more safe, high-quality foods to markets.

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3 billion investment including the federal, provincial and territorial governments to strengthen the agriculture and agri-food sector. The Partnership feature simplified and streamlined programs and services which are easier for farmers to access, as well as key enhancements to programs that help farmers manage significant risk that threaten the viability of their farm and are beyond their capacity to manage.

Examples of projects supported through this programming include:

 Improving food safety standards on farms to meet or exceed international certification

standards;

 Planting over-wintering cover crops to improve soil health and reduce soil erosion losses;

 Actions to help prevent pest damage at greenhouse operations;

 Developing a product that will open new sales markets for a farm business; and

 Upgrades to animal-handling equipment and improved biosecurity measures

This funding is in addition to the programming launched earlier this year to assist farmers, and the farming sector, in meeting challenges related to the COVID-19 outbreak. This programming includes the launch of a portal to connect farms and other agri-food sector businesses with labour needs to job seekers; the creation of the Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program; and the recent investment of an additional $50 million into the Risk Management Program for this year.

Locally, the impact of this funding, and the other funding in the Agri-food sector, has been felt through the continuous stock of high-quality Ontario products remaining on our grocery store shelves despite the pandemic. Though the rest of the world was forced to slow down and quarantine, our farmers, and other essential workers, continued to work tirelessly and provide all Ontarians with healthy local choices for their families. As always, I want to extend my personal thanks, and that of all the constituents across Barrie – Springwater – Oro-Medonte to these essential workers and farmers for their Ontario spirit during this difficult time.

As we transition back to a more normal standard of life, it is important to remember that COVID-19 measures are still in place across the province. Wearing a mask, physical distancing and frequent handwashing are just three examples of ways to keep yourself and your family safe. For more information about COVID-19 procedures, or to learn more about the Canadian Agriculture Partnership, please visit my website at www.DougDowney.ca.

Stay safe!

 

 

Meet Erin O’Toole.

 

It is my pleasure to officially introduce the new Leader of the Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole to the riding of Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte.

On August 21st, Mr. O’Toole was elected by the party membership and therefore becomes the Leader of the Official Opposition in the House of Commons.

Erin O’Toole was born in Montreal and is bilingual. He began his military career in the RCAF when he was 18 and attended the Royal Military College. He completed basic training in Chilliwack, BC, received his wings in Winnipeg, Manitoba and was posted to Halifax, Nova Scotia. In his role as a tactical navigator, he participated in search and rescue missions and retired from the military as a Captain after 12 years of service.

Mr. O’Toole is a founding member of the Board of Directors for the True Patriot Love Foundation, a charity that serves veterans and military families across Canada. He spent the next decade working in the private sector as a lawyer.

Mr. O’Toole has been elected three times to his riding of Durham in Ontario and served as Minister of Veterans Affairs in 2015, a beleaguered file he successfully turned around within 10 months at the end of the Harper government. For the last two years, Mr. O’Toole served as Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs and played an integral role in the development of the special committee on Canada-China relations.

With his years of experience in the House of Commons, Mr. O’Toole has earned the respect of many. I am confident he will fulfil his role with integrity while holding the government to account as we move forward through these unprecedented times.

On August 18th, the Prime Minister prorogued parliament. This decision resulted in the collapse of committee investigations into his WE scandal. This denied the opposition parties the opportunity to ask questions in the House of Commons regarding the circumstances surrounding the scandal. I believe when Parliament resumes on September 23rd, there is a possibility that we could be heading into election.

I am confident that our new Leader of the Conservative Party will provide strong leadership and direction to achieve our goals. We are offering Canadians a compassionate, intelligent, stable, and ethical alternative to the Liberal government under Justin Trudeau.

Should there be an election in the fall, I will be proud to serve under the leadership of Erin O’Toole.

I look forward to the future and will continue to work hard for the betterment of our communities.

Sincerely,

Doug Shipley, MP

Barrie – Springwater – Oro-Medonte

 

 

My View – Bill French

Leadership Void on Springwater Council? You decide.

Since I have been asked, and prompted by a few people, I have decided to put forth my two cents worth. I was also not impressed by the Mayor’s sarcastic response to my question at the last Council Meeting or his vile response to a question from a Midhurst resident who also questioned why Council would even be considering downsizing when the Township is growing. I think the Mayor’s true colours and temperament are surfacing.

How’s this for an unfiltered start, “My opinion is that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor you elected (I didn’t vote for either!) together could not come up with a new idea that would benefit the residents of Springwater in any real way, if their life depended on it.” They both seem to be of that new generation of elected officials who like the position and will do their utmost to protect it but, for the most part, act as security guards and rubber stamp staff driven initiatives. Don’t get me wrong, many staff generated ideas are quite good, so that comment is not intended to be an insult to Township management or staff. During my four years as Mayor, we got the job done with a vibrant collaborative Council working cooperatively (not always agreeing but not polarized as today) but Council was driving the bus and moved the township forward in many ways. Times have changed in two years. By way of an analogy, if our current Mayor and Deputy Mayor had been on the Titanic they would be gleefully rearranging the deck chairs rather than trying to get people into the lifeboats.

I would like to address two examples recently where the Mayor and Deputy Mayor were two peas in a pod on matters that should have all residents questioning their motives. It also brings into question their leadership abilities.

The first was the Delegation of Power to the CAO at the start of the Pandemic. There was absolutely no reason to do such a thing and few municipalities took that route. For a Council to relegate its function to a senior staff member showed a total lack of leadership on the part of both the Mayor and Deputy Mayor in a time of crisis. It appears they wanted to distance themselves from anything that might go wrong. Its their job to guide the ship in stormy waters, not abandon it or pass it off to the harbour master. At first, I somewhat excused them for this lapse in judgement as it somewhat appears, by their actions, that neither have worked in a real world challenge or crisis, but when things settled down, it took a new Councillor from Ward 4 to table a motion to rescind the delegation. Guess who argued strongly against it? The Mayor and Deputy Mayor wanted the Delegation to stay in place, and their arguments, if you watch the Council meeting, were less than impressive. The Deputy Mayor suggested it was an example of strong leadership. Not sure what planet she lives on. It took the leadership of two new and two veteran Councillors to bring back control to Council. I felt sorry that before the vote, the CAO, who had been delegated the authority, made a passioned plea that he would like to see a unanimous resolution, one way or the other instead of a split decision. Thank God, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, to avoid looking like morons, voted with the rest of Council to give authority back to the Council members we all elected to lead and guide the Township in good times and bad. The point is that the returning control of the Township to Council should have been initiated by one of the Heads of Council, not a new Councillor.

Let’s face it, we are in the midst of this terrible pandemic, but our Two Heads of Council are just going through the motions and don’t seem to get it. At the Council meeting earlier this month, the Deputy Mayor put a motion forward, which would have been a waste of time and tax dollars, having staff review and investigate the possibility of changing our ward system to Councillors at large and possibly reducing the Council from 7 members to 5 for the next election. Think about it. Since this Council is advancing the Midhurst Secondary Plan (MSP), a new smaller governance model would be ludicrous. (For those that are new to Springwater the MSP will see Midhurst and area grow to close to 30,000 from the 3,500 of today over the next 10 plus years and will become the poster child for the worst type of urban sprawl, possibly in Ontario. It will make Bramalea look like a well designed community). The point is that the township will more than double in size in the next decade or so and the brilliant mind of the Deputy Mayor supported by the Mayor thinks this is a time to consider changing the governance model that works perfectly. She probably comes from the school of “change for change sake”. The arguments against the motion were well presented by the councillors from Ward 1, 2, 4 and 5. Of course, in lock step, after these arguments were presented and those that spoke against the motion voted against it, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor still voted in favour and ended up again on the wrong side of the decision. I might also suggest to our Ward 3 Councillor, you don’t always have to vote with the Deputy Mayor. In times like these we need true leadership at the top with some vision and plan of what Springwater should look like in 5, 10 and 15 years especially when we rise from the impacts of COVID-19. The good news for all of us is that some of the new Councillors understand their responsibility, so we are at least going in a positive direction with leadership coming from the bottom up. The one positive thing that came out of the arguments on the motion was the consideration of possibly dropping the Deputy Mayor position in any governance model change. The DM position was only created to provide two members to County Council from the lower tier municipality. Since the County is considering a whole new governance model with less members, we might be able to eliminate this unnecessary DM position and replace it with more direct representation, such as another Councillor. The Deputy Mayor, as a separate position is not even recognized or required under the Municipal Act and therefore has the same power and status of a Ward Councillor anyway. Stay tuned.

Now is the time to start finding out who your Councillor really is and educate yourself, as our local Council Members, with positive ideas focused on their constituents, can make our living in Springwater either wonderful or barely tolerable. The good news is we get to decide.

Please remember these are my thoughts and I am not asking you to agree. I respect your freedom of expression and encourage you to SPEAK UP, before that freedom is taken from us!!

Bill French is a seasoned business leader with over 40 years experience and served in senior positions of International Enterprises. Bill served as Mayor of Springwater and a County of Simcoe Councillor from 2014 to 2018 and has taught business at the college level for over 15 years

 

 

Springwater Mayor Don’s Update – September 2020

Cannabis Production Review Study

The Township of Springwater is currently undergoing a Cannabis Production Review Study to look at tools available to the municipality to guide policies, regulations and zoning recommendations related to these facilities.

An Interim Control By-law was enacted by Council on June 3 to place a one-year moratorium on the establishment of new cannabis facilities for lands in Springwater zoned Industrial and Agricultural. This ‘freeze’ allows the consultants, WSP, the time to complete the Cannabis Production Review Study. On August 24, WSP provided an update to Council on the current regulations for licensed cannabis facilities at the federal, provincial and municipal levels and an overview of possible options for the municipality to regulate such facilities. Options identified include: site plan control, licensing and property standards. These options may assist the municipality in mitigating some of the concerns related to these facilities, including: air quality, noise, lighting, setbacks, security, fencing, waste management, traffic and outdoor storage.

A survey requesting feedback on regulating these facilities in Springwater is available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/CannabisProductionStudy. All residents are encouraged to take the time to fill it out and share their thoughts. For a paper copy of the survey please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 705-728-4784 Ext. 2019.

If you missed the meeting and would like to learn more, you can view a playback of the presentation on the Township’s YouTube channel.

Broadband Review

Concerns regarding the lack of high-speed internet access is something Council and Township staff hears about on a regular basis. This issue has been further exacerbated due to the number of people attempting to work or run their business from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Council has directed staff to proceed with issuing a request for expression of interest for community broadband services. Community broadband is a public alternative to the privately-owned services such as Bell, Rogers or Telus. These larger internet service providers are reluctant to invest in rural areas, due to the significant infrastructure required with a relatively low return on investment. Municipalities may be better positioned to able to provide less expensive, more reliable and more community-tailored options, as they are best equipped to address their own local needs.

For a community, implementing a municipal broadband service can be cost-effective and promote job creation, efficiency and greater savings on cost. It also introduces additional competition and alternatives to the current market, providing additional options for current users.

The request for expression of interest, is the first step in the municipality exploring the potential for broadband internet improvement.

Service Delivery Review

The Township is currently undertaking a Service Delivery Review to determine how services are delivered throughout the Township and whether any efficiencies can be found. The review examines levels of services, methods of delivery and administrative processes, as well as assessing organizational structure. A Special Council Meeting has been scheduled for September 16 at 5:00 pm to receive an update on the study from the consultants. The meeting will be live streamed online at www.springwater.ca/live

ERRC MZO Request

The Provincial Government has indicated the Environmental Resource Recovery Centre (ERRC) being proposed in the Freele Tract of the Simcoe County Forest (Horseshoe Valley Road west) has been denied a minister’s zoning order (MZO). An MZO would have fast tracked the process and restricted concerns being expressed by residents and the Township in the decision review before the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal. Three appeals were submitted to the board in January 2019 by resident groups and those appeals will be addressed through the ongoing LPAT process. The Township will also make representations during this process.

For additional information on the ERRC please visit www.springwater.ca/en/business-and-development/current-development.aspx or www.simcoe.ca/errc 

Waste Collections Contract

The County of Simcoe and Waste Connections Canada have worked together to ensure curbside collections will continue for residents without changes or impacts to service levels until the next contract takes effect in November 2021. This was necessary to deal with increased costs related to the pandemic, monthly net losses due to increases in industry/service related costs and ongoing labour challenges.

Additional costs will be covered by a combination of reserves and/or recently available COVID-19 funding opportunities. It is projected that these costs will not be directed passed on to residents through new taxes.

Elmvale Blood Drive

Sign up to save a life on the Thanksgiving long weekend by donating blood. Canadian Blood Services will be in Elmvale at the Community Hall on October 10 from 9am to 2 pm. Appointments are required and can be booked online at blood.ca or by calling 1-888-2DONATE.

Helen Coutts Memorial Park Dedication

It was my pleasure to join Snow Valley Developments (Brian Smith and Ron Sheardown), members of the Coutts Family, Councillor Moore, past Mayor Linda Collins and Deputy Mayor Dan McLean and other friends for the official dedication of the Helen Coutts Memorial Park. Helen Coutts was the first Mayor when Springwater was newly amalgamated in 1994 and served Springwater for an additional 9 years. Prior to that she served as Reeve and Councillor of the Township of Vespra. She also served as Warden of the County of Simcoe in 1999. In addition to her political life, Ms. Coutts was active in the community and served as a volunteer for the Royal Victoria Hospital, the Women’s Institute and the Midhurst United Church. The park naming is a fitting dedication to a woman who made such strong and important contributions to our community.

The park is located on Walter James Parkway in the Cameron Estates subdivision off of Seadon Road.

Canopy Coworking Grand Opening

Congratulations to Chad Ballantyne and Brandon Day on the opening of Canopy Coworking on Snow Valley Road. I was pleased to attend the opening and view the new space which is providing coworking office space.

Coworking spaces provide excellent opportunities for networking and collaboration and will assist many entrepreneurs with the opportunity to realize their dreams. The new space features extra high speed (for our area) internet, boardrooms and individual office space and is adjacent to beautiful trails through the forest to help with stress relief.

I look forward to seeing this business grow in Springwater.

Springwater Fire – Stuff the Truck for the Elmvale & District Food Bank

The Springwater Firefighters will be out collecting donations for the Elmvale & District Food Bank on Wednesday, September 30 beginning at 6 p.m. The firefighters will drive through Anten Mills, Elmvale, Hillsdale, Midhurst, Minesing, Phelpston and Orr Lake and collect and donations left at the end of driveways. Route maps are available on the Township website at www.springwater.ca/calendar Thank you to our firefighters who are volunteering their time to help stock up our Food Bank for the busy fall months.

Farmers’ Market Extended until October 9

The Springwater-Elmvale Farmers’ Market has extended the season this year. The Farmers’ Market will continue to operate on Friday’s from 9 am – 2 pm until October 9. Make sure you get out and support our local farmers, producers and artisans.

Fall Events

This year we are unable to gather together for the many events that typically take place each autumn.  As a result, some community groups have come up with creative ways to celebrate virtually.

The Midhurst Scarecrow Contest is taking place throughout September. Residents are encouraged to build a scarecrow to display on their front lawn or porch and submit a photo of it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. until Friday, September 25. From September 26 to October 2 you will have the opportunity to vote on your favourite scarecrow at www.midhurston.ca and the top three scarecrows will win a prize. Full details are available at www.midhurston.ca/scarecrows

The Elmvale Virtual Thanksgving Celebration was created in lieu of the Fall Fair this year. The Flos Agricultural Society and the Township of Springwater have teamed up to create a contest whereby residents are encouraged to create a craft or complete an activity based on predetermined categories and submit a photo online for a chance to win a great local prize. Each submission is equal to one ballot entry. The contest is open to all residents and details, including category information, are available online at www.springwater.ca/SpringwaterGivesThanks

This article expresses my thoughts and not those of Council. With the recent slight increase in COVID cases, please maintain strict adherence to the rules we have heard since March, to reverse this trend and stay healthy. We owe it to ourselves and to others. Enjoy the rest of summer.