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Archive for: 7月, 2020

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A proposed deal to sell half of InnPower to an Edmonton-based utility is dead. More than a year of negotiations ended after it became clear that selling 50 per cent of Innisfil’s hydro company would also mean selling half of InnServices, the town’s water/waste water company, the Journal has learned. “It’s done. Council didn’t feel comfortable and that was the end of it,” Mayor Gord Wauhcope said. “The big thing was that they were more interested in the water and waste water than they were in the hydro.” CAO Jason Reynar confirmed the InnServices connection to the deal is what ultimately led council to put the proposed sale to rest. Part of the proposal called for Innisfil receiving a $3.5 million finder’s fee from EPCOR once it invested $75 million within town borders. Reynar said that would mean selling shares in InnServices to EPCOR since there were no investments of that size available through an InnPower deal alone. Coun. Stan Daurio said selling half of InnServices to EPCOR was a “poison pill” that most councillors refused to swallow once they understood the ramifications. “It wasn’t disclosed to the hydro board or the council. It was withheld from us,” he said. “I don’t know why we didn’t know a year ago.” Daurio credited CAO Reynar with finding a clause in the proposal that “was never disclosed” to council. “He found this poison pill. For that my hat is off to him,” Daurio said. “What a relief that we were finally able to recognize that there were so many areas that we had poor information on.” Meanwhile, Wauchope said he has always been aware of EPCOR’s interest in InnServices. He told the Journal last September that a key to the InnPower deal was EPCOR’s ability to build infrastructure for water and wastewater, something the town needs to bring industry to Innisfil Heights. “I’ve know about it from day one,” he said yesterday. “I just don’t think it was explained properly (to the rest of council).” Deputy Mayor Lynn Dollin declined to offer detailed reasons for opposing the proposed sale, saying she grew “uncomfortable” with the sale of InnPower. “It comes down to who you speak to,” she said, referring to what killed the deal. “We just couldn’t come up with a deal both sides could agree to. We were just being careful and found the devil was in the details.” Daurio said with the death of the EPCOR proposal, Innisfil can explore possible mergers with larger hydro companies such as PowerStream, which could lower rates by as much as 16 per cent. “At least we can think about that now,” he said. “Council is in a different place now. I’m very, very happy with where we are now.”

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The owner of Beeton’s most iconic building is prepared to work with the town to ensure the downtown landmark doesn’t fade into history. John Archibald, owner of the former town hall at 34 Main St., agrees with a recommendation made by the town’s heritage advisory committee to designate the building’s façade as historically significant. While he supports preserving the unique features of the front face of the building, including its intricate brickwork and large windows, he doesn’t want to see too many restrictions put in place. “I wouldn’t want the front of it to be changed one bit,” he said. “But if it’s the side of the building, though I have nothing in mind to change it, I don’t want to have my hands totally tied if I had to add an elevator on an outside wall or something else.” The building was constructed in 1894 and was once used as the town hall and an opera house. For 30 years, the building was home to Simcoe York Publishing, which Archibald co-owned with the late Bruce Haire until they sold the company in 2010. After the newspaper office was relocated to Bolton in December 2015, Archibald put the building up for sale, but then took it off the market shortly after to lease it. Last year, Archibald spent an estimated $130,000 to replace the building’s windows. He also paid an engineering firm about $21,000 to do a complete structural analysis of the building. “It’s in really good shape,” he said. “There’s a few minor things of course, you might have to spend $10,000 or $20,000 fixing things here and there.” Once town staff finalizes negotiations with Archibald on the terms of the designation, it will be brought back to council for consideration. The historical designation is long overdue, according to heritage advisory committee chair and Ward 7 Coun. Shira Harrison McIntyre. She noted that the committee has been working for a number of years to get more designated properties in the town. “Because the town hall is such an important part of the history of the area and the streetscape, it seemed important before it’s sold to make sure there is protection for it, especially from demolition,” she said. She noted that the committee’s intention is to protect the building’s exterior and not stop the owner from modernizing the interior. “We don’t want to make it difficult for them to renovate their properties,” she said. The town currently has 14 buildings deemed significant, including the old town hall, which was added to the list in April 2013. Unlike a building with a historical designation, a significant property isn’t protected from demolition. However, the wait time to receive a demolition permit is extended from 10 to 60 days, which allows the heritage committee to meet with the owner, take photos and document the historic features of the property. The town currently has six historically designated properties, including the Sir Frederick Banting Homestead, the McDonald log house on Fletcher Crescent and the Monument Works building in downtown Alliston. A building with a historical designation can have any number of restrictions on what changes, if any, can be made to the property. Any modifications have to be put forward by the heritage committee and approved by council. Harrison McIntyre believes preserving the town hall could be an important step towards creating a historical district on Centre Street and parts of Main Street. She noted this would be a big financial undertaking that would also require extensive consultation with residents. “We’d like to bring that forward to the next budget…and that would just be getting the ball rolling,” she said. She said the town could adopt a process used in Collingwood, where residents were allowed to decide if they wanted their homes included in a historical district. “That’s what we’re aiming to do, to be such a positive and exciting initiative where people want to be included,” she said. Archibald thinks the building still has a lot of potential. While he’s heard plenty of ideas from the community as to what the building could be used for, including office space for the town, he hasn’t been made any serious offers yet. “Because of its location, I think a medical type building would be a good fit,” he said. “There’s not enough doctors in town.”

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Ontario’s post-secondary students have been overpaid more than $700 million in financial aid over a five-year period, the Toronto Star has learned. Two major reasons: under-reporting of either the student’s income or the parents’, and early withdrawal from studies. Annually, amounts overpaid to students have jumped from $139 million in 2010 to $179 million in 2014. Former computer science student Josh Tate says he was “left scrambling” to earn enough money to repay a second overpayment he incurred accidentally, by boosting his income with extra summer job shifts. He says he learned of the problem long after the money had been spent. Barred from applying for more aid until the overpayment was reimbursed, he ended up having to take a semester off. Gabrielle Ross-Marquette, of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario, said the Star’s data highlights a “systemic problem.” OSAP is innately flawed, she added, because it “expects students to be fortune tellers” and forces them to guess their income and other financial information well before they’ve earned it. Kyle Prevost, co-author of More Money for Beer and Textbooks — marketed as a “personal finance book that an 18-year-old Canadian might actually open” — acknowledged that while the responsibility rests on a student to accurately report income, Ontario’s student loan program is a “brutally run hodgepodge mess.” Prevost suggested the current process “incentivizes kids to lie” and recalled the stories of peers from his post-secondary student days “who blatantly lied about their parents’ income … in order to get more student loan money.” Students who received overpayments from 2009 to 2014 were provided, on average, roughly $2,100 extra per school year, according to data obtained by the Star. “It’s not the student’s fault they were incorrectly assessed by the OSAP program when there are so many things that can change,” Ross-Marquette said. “To put this burden on Ontario students when they already have to pay the highest tuition fees in Canada is just adding another problem to their plate.” “When students receive more than they are entitled to, OSAP makes every effort to recoup these funds from future payments, or in loan repayments,” said Tanya Blazina, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. She said Ontario “proudly invests in one of the most generous student financial assistance programs in Canada,” and processes are in place to ensure that overpayments are resolved quickly and effectively. “What’s important to understand is that of these overpayments, nearly 90 per cent will likely be recovered, and the unrecoverable overpayments represent only about half of one per cent of OSAP’s annual funding,” Blazina said. “We will continue to work closely with students to help them understand the best way to manage overpayments and limit any challenges associated with it.” Under the current system, a student’s first overpayment triggers a warning, and it’s expected to be paid back with the rest of their loans once they leave school. But if a student receives a second overpayment, it must be repaid before the student can receive any future OSAP aid. For Tate, that second strike was enough to derail his academic plans. He claims OSAP suspended him from applying for future aid over a second overpayment worth several hundred dollars. Just as it had the first time he inadvertently borrowed beyond his means, the mailed notice arrived long after the money had been spent. With tuition deadlines looming, Tate said, it was tough to repay the funds. “I tried to work as much as I could to get everything paid for in time,” he said. “I got fairly close, too, but then I realized I just wouldn’t have enough, after the repayment, to still go to school after food expenses, rent and a transit pass.” To avoid a future incident, Tate took a semester off to work full-time. This past December, he finally obtained his computer science diploma at Algonquin College in Ottawa. The new graduate now lives in North York, working full-time as a software engineer, albeit saddled with just under $20,000 in student debt. While Tate admits he made a couple of honest mistakes, he believes his punishment was an example of how the system “works against students.” “I definitely underestimated (my income), but it’s because I ended up working more hours in the summer,” he said of his former job in retail, where he often took on extra shifts if a co-worker called in sick. “Maybe I should have estimated a higher income, but I didn’t want to write down a certain amount of money when I could have ended up losing my job. “Unless you are specifically calculating every paycheque, then how are you going to calculate that?” Speaking generally, a ministry spokesperson said there are “hardship” reviews, in which students can make the case that their overpayment was inadvertent and that a restriction or immediate repayment would be a substantial burden. Tate said he was never informed that option existed. A ministry employee maintained there are no losses associated with the overpayments. Should a student loan borrower default, they explained, the government will pursue their outstanding balance “indefinitely.” The practice of “excessive loan funding” was flagged as an issue to the government in 2003, the year OSAP was last audited by the Auditor General. The resulting report raised concerns that taxpayers were footing the bill for interest that accrues on overpayments while the student is enrolled in school. Torstar News Service

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It doesn’t matter that Wasaga Beach OPP Const. Kara Darnley was duped by her boss into thinking her fiance’s friends were drug dealers. What matters, the Crown says, is that she took the phony police information that she believed was confidential and showed it to him. "She did it to protect herself and her boyfriend," Crown attorney Jason Nicol told a Barrie jury Tuesday. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." Darnley pleaded not guilty to breach of trust and obstructing justice for copying and sharing the documents back in the spring of 2012. She was the subject of an undercover sting, called an "integrity play," that included 680 hours of surveillance. The sting was set up because her boss was concerned about her integrity after she printed witness statements in a domestic case without authorization. As part of the integrity play, police pointed a hidden camera in the detachment office on a bright yellow folder marked "confidential" that stated in big, black letters that her fiance’s friends, including the man set to be best man at their wedding, were suspected drug dealers. Darnley was shocked and frightened when she noticed the documents, an undercover female officer who befriended her testified. "What should I do? … I can’t not tell him," she tells the officer, who followed Darnley around wearing a wire for three months. On a different recording played in court, Darnley is heard demanding her fiance stay away from the friends because police have them under surveillance, and she warns him never to tell his pals. "It’s not important that the information wasn’t true — Kara Darnley believed it to be true," the Crown said. "Can you imagine the mayhem if police officers violated confidentiality and secrecy merely because it involved loved ones or a friend?" But defence lawyer Angela McLeod told the jury "there is no question," Darnley had only good intentions. "Police officers are allowed to make mistakes if their intentions are pure," McLeod said. "Her only intent was to protect the integrity of her position as a police officer by ensuring her fiance discontinued his association with suspected drug dealers." McLeod also suggested the undercover officer "encouraged" and "directed" Darnley to share the information with her fiance. The jury is expected to begin deliberations Wednesday.

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MEHREEN SHAHID/THE PACKET & TIMES For the love of pancakes — and their school — Grade 7 Lions Oval Public School students helped serve customers Saturday at a pancake breakfast at Hewitt’s Farm Market and Bakery. The first of three annual fundraisers held by Hewitt’s raised $339 for the Orillia school. Pictured, from left, are Bella Kavanagh, 13, Anderson Kaiser, 12, and Georgia Tselikis, 12. 

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The Collingwood Sailing School is back for another year and is looking for participants. The Town of Collingwood took over the school last year and more than 90 people registered with about 22 of those students registered for multiple weeks. Three weeks towards the end of the season, the school reached its maximum capacity. “The population of the school actually grew over the course of the summer which was an indication that we were doing things right,” said Dean Collver, director of parks, recreation and culture. Students register for the program on a weekly basis and they have half and full-day programs as well. The school also offers programs for adults. The school runs between July 4 and August 16. For more information visit collingwood.ca/sailingschool.

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A report recommending the public education board not substantially change its site plan for a new south-Barrie high school will be considered at a meeting Wednesday. Facility services superintendent John Dance wrote the report for the Simcoe County District School Board’s business and facilities standing committee. The board wants the new school located on the southern portion of 225 Prince William Way for safety and cost reasons; Barrie city council wants it on the northern portion to conform with the Hewitt’s Secondary Plan and urban design guidelines. Last fall council denied the board’s site plan, stalling plans to build the new high school and raising the possibility this matter could become an Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing. The school board had planned to submit a new site plan, one which could include a second building on the property’s northern portion to help meet city policy – but not change the school’s location. Dance said the school board hired the Planning Partnership, a Toronto consultant, to review the city’s urban design guidelines, city policy, the site plan, etc. “(It) came to the conclusion that a second building is not necessary and may in fact do the opposite of what the city is trying to achieve by isolating and confining the site, not meeting (Barrie’s) crime prevention through environmental design principles and reducing functionality,” said Dance in his report. He said board design and planning staff, and architect and the Planning Partnership all came to the same conclusion. “A building on the street edge is not the preferred method to achieve the City of Barrie’s urban design vision,” Dance said in the report. Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman said Monday the report’s recommendations are a step backward. “For the board to now go back to their original plan, which was submitted and reviewed by council six months ago, literally pulls the rug out from under the process of finding a solution,” he said. “This is immensely disappointing. I do not understand why board staff now seems determined to take this matter to the OMB, which will only delay the school much further. That is not a good outcome for anyone and my hope is that trustees will direct board staff to return to the table and pick up the discussion where it was left off a few weeks ago.” The business and facilities standing committee’s recommendation still require full school board trustee approval. Lehman noted board and city staff met on a number of occasions during the past several months. In January, city staff were advised a revised site plan, including an additional building near the corner, was going to be submitted by the board. Board and city staff met again in February, and there were three meetings last month – including on on March 30 involving Lehman and Coun. Mike McCann. “It was therefore a huge surprise to both myself and planning staff at the city that the board has since taken away that option (a second building) and gone back to their original plan,” Lehman said. “We believed the board was working towards an option that could have been recommended to council and would have fulfilled at least some of the city’s policies and guidelines, at least to a much greater extent than either their original submission or their concepts presented later in the fall. “While the idea of a second building at the corner was not pursued at the time, I’m told there had been productive meetings since that time looking at that option,” he said. Coun. Mike McCann, who represents this part of Barrie, was also surprised. “I was completely gob-smacked and disappointed with what they (school board staff) proposed. I thought we were making some traction,” he said. “It just seems like they stuck their heels in the ground. We’re no further ahead. We’re actually further back.” McCann said he still plans to speak with all the board’s trustees about this matter. “I just don’t feel they have all the information. They are stuck on this safety issue,” he said. Dance’s report said staff would submit a revised site plan, relying on the recommendations of the Planning Partnership – which would defend it at any OMB hearing. “(Its) professional opinion is that the original site plan with an additional focus on landscaping, seating areas and a plaza space at the intersection meets the needs of the school board and the intent of the city’s UDG (urban design guidelines) and Official Plan policy to activate the street edge and contribute to a socially vibrant public streetscape,” Dance said in his report. The school board received $27.5 million in Ontario Education Ministry funding to build the new high school, but that money would not cover the $2-million cost of a second building on the corner of Mapleview Drive and Prince William Way. The board’s plans are for a 135,625-sq.-ft., split-level school there for just more than 1,000 students. The site would also have two sports fields, a rubber running track, parking and enough room for 15 portable classrooms. The public board is closing Barrie Central Collegiate in June 2016, and its students will attend Barrie North Collegiate and Innisdale Secondary School. The students who would attend the new South Barrie Secondary School are ones who are currently within the Innisdale attendance area. The new high school won’t be ready for students any earlier than September 2018. Wednesday’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in the Georgian Room at the board’s Midhurst education centre. bbruton@postmedia.com Twitter.com@BrutonBob

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MIDLAND – A woman died Tuesday morning after jumping from a window at a Midland apartment building. Midland police said a woman was found deceased in the parking lot at 303 Midland Ave. “from what appears to be a fall.” Sgt. Jeff Dorion confirmed the incident is being treated as a suicide. Insp. Ron Wheeldon said police are investigating and “no further details or comments will be released at this time.” The woman’s name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. READ MORE:

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PENETANGUISHENE – Three staff members at Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care were sent to hospital May 12 after an attack in which two of the victims were bitten. “This should be a wakeup call to the government,” Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) president Warren (Smokey) Thomas said in a statement. “How many more of these incidents do we need to see before the Liberals take notice? “These workers were fortunate to have escaped with their lives. Next time they might not be so lucky. How much blood needs to be spilled before our top ministers realize that these workers need to be protected?” Kristine Lalonde, a spokesperson for Waypoint, confirmed there was “another unfortunate incident in our high-secure forensic program.” “Three staff were involved, they were sent to hospital to be assessed and were released later the same day,” she said. Pete Sheehan, president of OPSEU Local 329, said two staff members received puncture wounds from bites, with a third twisting his knee and receiving scratches and bruises following “a couple of shots to the head.” “I talked to one of the guys (the next day) and he seemed OK,” he said. “They got their blood work done because nobody is really sure if the guy had anything.” READ MORE: • • • • Lalonde said Waypoint’s health-and-safety co-ordinator began an investigation shortly after the incident took place, and the Ontario Ministry of Labour is requesting information on what happened. “We will continue supporting our staff and patients,” she said. “As with all investigations, the findings will be assessed and procedures will be reviewed to look for areas of improvement.” The incident came on the heels of a stabbing at Waypoint in April, when a patient got hold of two screwdrivers and sent three staff members to Georgian Bay General Hospital. The incident led to a ministry investigation that resulted in Waypoint being ordered to review the items available to patients and the processes to control these items. Sheehan said he recently met with Ontario NDP health critic France Gelinas about the issues surrounding the hospital. He said Gelinas is scheduled to have a telephone conference with Waypoint CEO Carol Lambie. Sheehan added he has received a letter from Premier Kathleen Wynne indicating she has asked Labour Minister Kevin Flynn to meet with union representatives to discuss health-and-safety concerns at Waypoint.

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Ramara Township is investigating a cyber attack after the municipality’s web site was hacked. “Our IT person has been looking into it,” CAO Janice McKinnon told Simcoe.com. this week. McKinnon learned the township web site had been hacked after a resident attempted to register their child for programming online. “When they went to do the registration, it directed them to a different site,” she added. McKinnon said residents’ personal information was not compromised during the hack, which appears to have occurred on two separate occasions. “When you went to register, when you were going to log in, it switched over to a (non-township) page,” she added. The page in question advertised “performance measurement and management. “It has the latest in best practices and that type of thing,” McKinnon said of the advertising feature that popped up. In other instances, visitors to the site were greeted with a message stating it was under construction. The township site is now fine, she added. “As soon as we became aware of it, we notified our IT (department) and they looked after it,” she added. However, when a reporter Googled the site this week, it displayed with a warning that, ‘This site may be hacked’. The township’s IT department is continuing to investigate the incident to determine who was responsible. Initial investigations appear to show the site was likely hacked via Ramara’s programming registration page. McKinnon noted the township also utilizes social media platforms to inform residents on local programs, services and updates, in addition to information provided on its website. “If the site is down, we still have, for instance with flooding, there is Facebook and there’s Twitter and that type of thing,” she said. “The media contacts us frequently as to the status on (flooding), so there is that, thank goodness.”

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