The Mayor’s View Bill French TD Elmvale Branch Closure
I was definitely surprised at the call I received two weeks ago from the TD District Vice president informing me, for business reasons and the changing face in banking impacted by online services, that the branch in Elmvale will be closing. I have spoken to a number of residents and small businesses and the impact will be significant as the accounts will be shifted to Barrie, Wasaga Beach or Midland branches. Aside from the distance, a change in banking is simply inconvenient. We know in Springwater and other rural communities access to high speed for any kind of online activity is challenging. Elmvale has a significant senior’s population that has depended on doing their banking in the branch on a face to face basis. I could accept a business argument if banks were in anyway suffering but that is not the case. They have all recorded record earnings and profits and their share values continue to climb in recent years while individuals have struggled. Banks are good at getting involved in worthy causes to polish their image but appear to be doing so at the expense of those that made them successful in the first place. Small town Ontario is the heart of the province and a bank branch in your town was always an important part of the vitality of the community. I think the bank has been short-sighted in this decision as we all know there are a few more new businesses on Queen Street and there will be another 200 homes in the next few years adding another 500 or so to the fabric of Elmvale. Even though banks are Federally Regulated, we as the Council and senior staff will be actively seeking alternative solutions and will not be idly allowing this closure to proceed without some pushback. Having attended last week’s BIA meeting, I know they will be taking a strong position. I was also informed there is a petition being gathered in the community and I encourage you to sign on. The more voices there are the more impact it has on big business. Banks and other large corporations cherish their reputations as socially responsible enterprises and always state how important the local community is to the corporation. I wish TD would reread that part of their vision and mission statement.
Our Township draft budget was tabled at Council this week and the first round of discussions will be on November 27th and open to the public. I encourage you to review the budget report that is on the Council agenda for this week and come to the budget meetings to hear the discussion of Council and see for yourself the various Councillors positions on some items that may have an impact on the tax rate increase. I come from a background of “need to have” and that takes priority over “nice to have” when I make my decision. The November 27 session is scheduled to start at 9:30 but check the Township website for times as the meeting may start an hour earlier to avoid a conflict with another event in the Township. Here are some highlights from the report tabled this week. The Draft 2018 Tax Based Operating Budget proposes a 3.1% or $337,223 net tax levy increase over 2017 for the Township’s portion. This includes a 1% contribution towards Capital Infrastructure; however excludes any program changes. If the County of Simcoe approves its 2018 Budget with an increase of 1.0% and if we assume that the Provincial Government remains neutral on the education tax rate, then the blended tax increase (including the Policing Charge) is estimated to be 1.84%. For an average home assessed at $422,584, this translates into a $67 property tax increase over 2017 levels or approximately $5.60 per month. The proposed budget aims to maintain – and in certain key areas, improve – service levels to Springwater residents; and invest in key infrastructure projects while being fiscally responsible. This is a good starting point and not a large increase but I for one will be looking for some more savings if at all possible to push our portion of the tax increases closer to 2% which is more reflective of tight fiscal control. Unfortunately the Province in recent years has downloaded or mandated certain policies and procedures to municipalities but fail to provide any funding for those new initiatives. We the local taxpayer pick up the tab. More budget sessions will be held on Nov 29 and Dec 4 and 6, so please participate and provide comments to your local Councillor.
On November 16 we hosted another of our popular business breakfasts to keep our local businesses informed of the various ways that Springwater may provide assistance. We approved a Community Improvement Plan some time back that is focused on helping businesses in the Township to grow. There are a number of incentives available to small business that might just give them that extra spark. The program was explained to all gathered and we also had representatives from the County, Province and Federal Economic Development agencies that are in place to assist the small business entrepreneur. Thank you to the businesses that attended.
Our major ceremony was in Elmvale with the parade starting at the Legion and processing to the Cenotaph at the Library where wreaths were laid in honour of the fallen. At the same time, there was a ceremony at the Monument in Springwater Park in honour of the Vespra Boys and others in the area that gave the ultimate sacrifice. The day was brisk but the sun was shining and attendance was quite good. Thank you all for remembering.
Recruiting Volunteer Firefighters
If you are thinking of a long term career either in fire or emergency services, becoming a volunteer is a great introduction to these careers. Many on our force also join simply to help protect their community as they already have productive careers. We employ over 90 volunteers and they work from 4 stations. The members frequently give up their weekends to perform the tasks but also assist in community fire safety training and education along with raising funds for worthwhile causes. The Volunteers do receive an honorarium for their services based on the hours they spend on duty or in training. For more details go to www.springwater.ca/careers . Without our volunteers, the Township would be hard pressed to provide the quality of protection that we currently enjoy. Thank you to our dedicated team.
Christmas and Holiday Season Events
The holiday season (I am more comfortable with Christmas) is upon us. There are many events coming forward and I will list the ones that have been confirmed and I suggest you put them in the calendar as they are all well done. On Nov 29th, at 12:15 the CP Holiday Train drops by for a concert at the CP Crossing in Midhurst at Anne St. North and Highway 26. This year the entertainment features Emma Lee and Colin James. We ask you bring a donation to the Barrie and Elmvale District Foodbanks who will have receiving stations at the event. The Midhurst Arts and Craft Tour is on Nov 25 and 26 in numerous homes throughout the village. Check www.midhurstartsandcrafts.com. Christmas Tree Lighting Events will take place In Minesing Nov 26, Elmvale Dec 1, Hillsdale Dec 2, Anten Mills Dec 9. Santa Claus Parades will be held in Elmvale Dec 3 and Anten Mills Dec 10. Phelpston and Elmvale will both feature Sleigh/Wagon Rides and treats on Dec 8th. These events are fantastic and there is something for the whole family.
Mayors Open Visiting Hours
If you would like to meet with me on any matter you can always arrange an appointment or if in the neighbourhood of the Administrative Centre you can drop by any Thursday afternoons from 1 to 4:00 p.m. and no appointment is required. I invite you to bring your complaints, concerns or even appreciation for what is happening in Springwater. I have had numerous people come by and in some cases we have resolved some simple issues. If nothing else I promise that you will be heard. The door is open. If you can’t make it and want to keep up to date, you can listen to my thoughts on matters of interest on our local Kool FM or Rock 95 or go to their website as they have a feature with a monthly interview with me hosted by Dan Blakely.
Keep informed and involved with Springwater by checking out our website www.springwwater.ca and especially our calendar of meetings. Tune into our live streaming of the Council Meetings at www.springwater.ca/live . Stay close to the action and read this excellent local paper, the Springwater News, and check out our regular Springwater Link and Council Corner columns. Be part of the solution and have your say.
A reminder these articles are my thoughts and perspectives on issues and I am but one voice on Council. These opinions may not reflect the position of other Councillors.
Ward One Report
Councillor Katy Austin
Elmvale residents with accounts at the local TD branch were shocked earlier this month to hear that it plans to close next May and relocate to Bayfield St. in Barrie. Residents, the Elmvale BIA and all of Council are concerned about how this will affect the viability of local businesses and make it difficult for those with lack of transportation to do their banking. Mayor French has been in contact with bank officials and has suggested that they have a public meeting as early as late this month, rather than wait until January, as they have suggested. He also said they plan to leave the two ATM machines in the Elmvale location. I encourage you to read his column in the edition of the Springwater News for more details. The Elmvale BIA is also considering how to respond to the situation; they will be looking at how Creemore has been dealing with the same problem. Hopefully, the proposed public meeting and the BIA’s initiative will allow us to come up with a reasonable solution to this problem.
The Ontario government recently released Aging with Confidence: Ontario’s Action Plan for Seniors. The plan includes commitments to a range of measures intended to support seniors including enhancing municipal services. Ontario will be investing $155 million over three years through the action plan. This will include improving long-term care homes, supporting age-friendly communities, and providing additional services to seniors. I plan to discuss this further with Council and Township staff to see if we can apply for funding for specific projects in our communities. I would welcome any input and ideas from residents.
Council begins its budget deliberations this month. If approved as presented, the Township’s 2018 Budget will result in a $45 property tax increase (Township portion only) over 2017 levels for an average home assessed at $422,584. The draft 2018 Budget is being tabled Wednesday, November 15, 2017 and four budget deliberation meetings have been scheduled for November 27, 29, December 4 and 6. The final adoption/approval has been tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, January 24, 2018 (this date is subject to change). Residents are encouraged to let their Councillors know what their priorities are.
Those of us who drive to Toronto frequently will be interested in knowing that major changes are coming to Highway 400. It will increase from three to five lanes in each direction (four general purpose lanes and one HOV lane) from Highway 89 to Duckworth, and to eight lanes between Duckworth and the junction at Highway 11. There will also be improvements to Highway 400 interchanges at Highway 89, Innisfil Beach Road, Mapleview Drive, Essa Road, Dunlop Street, and Bayfield Street.
Some of the many seasonal events in Elmvale start in the second half of this month: Sharewear’s Free Coat Giveaway happens at the library from 10 to 12 a.m. on November 18; on the same day, there will be an M.S. fundraiser from 9:00 to 3:00 at St. John’s Church; and the Serenata Choir presents its Christmas concert at St. John’s at 3 p.m. on November 26.
On November 11th, Canadians of all walks of life joined together to remember the sacrifice of all the brave men and women who put their lives on the line in service of our country, and to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
We gathered at legion halls, cenotaphs, and school assemblies to pay tribute – to lay wreaths, listen to the Last Post, and to honour the fallen through a moment of silence.
As an elected representative, I have had the honour and privilege to meet a number of veterans from across Simcoe County. It truly is a humbling experience to hear their stories of bravery and sacrifice.
Our community is certainly home to an incredible amount of stories. Without the dedication of our veterans, it is clear that our province and country would not be the same great place it is today.
Canada is internationally respected for our contributions to the fight for global freedom and democracy. In World War I, Canadian soldiers were successful in taking Vimy Ridge - the first time all Canadian regiments fought together, uniting our country. In World War II, Canadian soldiers were the first to storm the beaches in Normandy on D-Day, and in Afghanistan, Canadian soldiers helped neutralize some of the most dangerous parts of the country.
Many of our veterans returned home to Ontario and laid the foundations for the growth and development that our province has been fortunate to experience over several decades. And today, the Legions they helped establish continue to be important gathering places for veterans and the community.
I have also had the opportunity to bring veterans to Queen’s Park and pay tribute to their service in the Legislature, the very democratic institutions they fought to protect.
Last year, my colleague MPP Jim Wilson, who represents the riding of Simcoe-Grey at Queen’s Park, passed a Private Member’s Bill with the support of the entire Legislature recognizing the week proceeding Remembrance Day as Remembrance Week.
Our remembrance of the service and sacrifice made by our veterans should not be limited to a single day of the year, and MPP Wilson’s bill is one way of extending our appreciation.
This month, I especially want to encourage all students and young people to reach out to a local veteran, or to write a letter to a member of the Canadian Forces serving overseas or at a local base. Thank them for their service, their bravery, and their sacrifice.
Lest we forget.
We Celebrate Women
This past October we celebrated Women’s History Month. Twenty five years ago the Government of Canada designated October as Women’s History Month, marking the beginning of an annual, month-long opportunity to celebrate the outstanding and monumental achievements of women throughout history. I was proud to join with all Canadians in celebration as we reflected upon the impact that women have had within our society.
In honour of the 150th anniversary of Confederation this year, Canada celebrates the women who, through their courage and dedication, changed history and helped to shape our country. Women’s History Month gives us an opportunity to recognize those who have paved the way, and to recognize those women and young females in our communities who continue this work each and every single day. As the current Shadow Minister for Youth, I also see this as an opportunity, particularly for young Canadians, to learn about the important contributions and sacrifices that have been made by women and girls in our local communities, provinces, territories and country as a whole. To truly understand where we are going, it is vital to know where we have been and how we got to where we are today.
Looking back through politics alone, we see a long history of inspirational and determined women who have made incredible, invaluable contributions to Canada. One such powerful example is Ellen Fairclough, who served as a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons from 1950 – 1962, and was Canada’s first female federal cabinet minister (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) under Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. She strongly advocated for equal pay and opportunities, and was a recipient of numerous, distinguished honours in both our province and country. Ellen was also widely known for her leadership and activism, successfully advocating for better conditions for Polio patients, and canvassing door-to-door as Chief Marching Mother for the Ontario March of Dimes. In 1955 the discovery of the Polio vaccine was made, which is partly credited to the fundraising work of the March of Dimes, Ellen Fairclough, and people just like her across our great nation.
There are innumerable examples of the adversity faced and triumphs of women throughout our country’s rich history. Each October, and throughout the year, I encourage all Canadians to reflect upon the past, and consider how we can all make contributions to being a part of continued progress.
The federal government has provided details of a number of measures they announced in the 2017 Budget relating to Employment Insurance (EI), including the new option for new parents to take 18 months of parental leave, rather than the current 12.
The changes will come into effect on December 3, 2017, and include:
- Caregivers who provide care to a critically ill or injured adult family member will have access to a new Family Caregiver benefit for adults of up to 15 weeks. This will help more Canadians provide care or support to an adult family member 18 years of age or older who is critically ill (i.e. whose life is at risk as a result of illness or injury and has experienced a significant change in their baseline state of health).
- Immediate and extended family members of children who are critically ill will, for the first time, have access to a new Family Caregiver benefit for children that was previously available only to parents. It will replace the Parents of Critically Ill Children benefit and continue to provide up to 35 weeks of benefits. Claimants can share these Family Caregiver benefits either concurrently or separately, and receive their benefits when most needed within a 52-week period.
- Both medical doctors and nurse practitioners will now be able to sign medical certificates for the existing and new family caregiving benefits, which will simplify the process.
- Parents will be able to choose the option that best meets their family’s needs: standard parental benefits (taken over 12 months at a rate of 55% of average weekly earnings) or extended parental benefits (taken over 18 months at a rate of 33% of average weekly earnings).
- Eligible pregnant workers will be able to receive EI maternity benefits earlier, up to 12 weeks (from the current 8 weeks) before their due date. This increased flexibility will allow pregnant workers to consider their personal, health, and workplace circumstances when choosing when to begin their maternity leave.
If you’d like more information on these changes, I’ve posted this article and a link to the backgrounder produced by Employment and Social Development Canada on my website, www.brucestantonmp.ca
Deputy Don’s Update - by Don Allen
Again this year, the messages leading up to November 11th and the services on that Day were reflective and moving. As I have mentioned before, I come from a military family – my father was an army Colonel who served in WWII and the Korean War. I am heartened that the public honours the importance of this remembrance, especially the involvement and education of the younger generation about this history. There were various services in the Springwater area and this year I was at the Elmvale service, which was well-attended and very special.
This is the time of year for many meetings reviewing the financial budgets for the 2018 fiscal year.
I start with this because it was introduced to County councillors for review starting almost a month ago, as is the general practice. For every dollar that the Township collects in property taxes, 34% of it is remitted back to the County of Simcoe, so it is important to be aware of this process as well as the Township budget. You may recall, I was successful in putting forward a motion to reduce the County budget tax levy increase from 2% to 1% for 2018. When the detailed draft budget was initially reviewed and discussed in detail recently, some councillors wanted some extra initiatives they felt were important to be added to the 2018 draft budget, thus raising the tax increase over the 1%. These are being considered and debated this week at County Council, so we will see how close we remain to the 1% increase. I will update in the next issues.
This week starts the Township budget approval process, which is summarized on the Springwater web site http://www.springwater.ca/ Municipal Services/Finance and taxes/2018 Budget. The draft budget is available by a link on the site and will start to be discussed by Council on November 15th. November 27, 29 and December 4 and 6 are Special Council Meeting dates, open to residents, to continue the detailed review of the draft budget at the Township office (see meeting times posted). The Budget will be finalized and approved thereafter, at a date to be finalized. I will get into some numbers of the draft budget in the next issue.
TD Elmvale Closure
You will have heard of this surprising announcement and read about it in other articles in this edition. This is definitely a blow to the community, but it is not entirely surprising, given the competition and return on investment motivation of the major Canadian banks. We will actively continue to negotiate possibilities regarding the building, presently owned by the bank, and other possible business potential to replace them.
Simcoe County Living Wage
An interesting recent County staff report resulted from a request of the Poverty Reduction Task Group addressing a Simcoe County Living Wage calculation. A living wage is the hourly wage a worker needs to earn to cover their basic expenses and participation in their community. These basic expenses include food, shelter, clothing, and transportation. In addition, the calculation takes into consideration a variety of other expenses such as child care, recreational costs, and other activities that improve quality of life and community social engagement. Living wage is different from the minimum wage, as a living wage is based on the actual costs of living for a specific community, while minimum wage is set provincially and is adjusted based on the rate of inflation. Many individuals earning a minimum wage are still living below the poverty line, due to costs of living. As of October 1, 2017, the minimum wage for Ontario increased to $11.60 from the previous hourly rate of $11.40.
As of September 2017, the living wage calculation for Simcoe County has been identified as $17.74 per hour. To support the living wage calculation, a reference family of four, comprising two 35-year old parents, one 7-year old boy, and one 3-year girl, was used to calculate family expenses. In this family situation, both parents are working 37.5 hours per week and one of the parents is taking part-time studies to improve their employment situation. One child is in elementary school full-time and is also enrolled in before and after school care. The other child is in full-time child care. Simcoe was divided into sub-regions, which were weighted by population to account for urban/rural diversity. This finding will be used to identify future community planning priorities and activities associated with the living wage calculation report, to be finalized later in November.
These are my thoughts and interpretations of these topics and not necessarily those of Council.
Donation to Hospice Simcoe and Hospice Huronia
Hospice Simcoe has been offering compassionate palliative care, improving the quality of life for those living with life-limiting illnesses in the area since 1988.
Hospice Huronia was established in 1993 and serves the northern portion of Simcoe County. They work to enhance the quality of life for individuals and their families facing life threatening illness or bereavement through in-home care services. Hospice Huronia recently announced their plans to build a local 5-bed residential hospice and this donation will assist them in reaching their fundraising goals.
The donations from the Township were funded through the proceeds of the Springwater Swing Golf Tournament.
New Mandate for Community Recreation Associations
The Township of Springwater has assumed responsibility for the operation and funding of Hall Facilities located throughout the Township. Previously a Community Recreation Association responsibility, the Associations will now be able to focus their time, energy and talents on providing recreational activities and providing social and community events for the residents of their community. The Community Recreation Associations may also choose to fundraise for these special projects or events in their local areas.