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Archive for: 6月, 2021

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Mitchell Brooks sentenced himself to a life of “misery and desolation,” but he did not intend to kill his wife. After two days of deliberations a jury found Brooks, 53, not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter of his wife Deena Brooks, who was shot in the chest as the couple struggled in the foyer of their New Lowell home May 24, 2013. Brooks had testified Deena was “the love of my life,” and that he meant to shoot himself because he was devastated his wife was leaving him, but in the struggle she was accidentally shot. The judge had instructed the jury that even if the shooting was an accident, it happened during an illegal act – Brooks had a loaded, unregistered handgun – which meant the accident legally must be manslaughter. “It was a terribly tragic and horrible thing to happen,” said the dead woman’s brother, Eric Balser, a family doctor who travelled from Nova Scotia, as he stood shivering in the cold outside of court after the verdict last night. “But I believe it was an accident. He did not wake up that day and say ‘I think I’m going to shoot my wife today’.” “It was a complete mess,” said older brother Mike Balser, a school teacher who travelled from B.C. “My only question is if he meant to commit suicide, why is he still alive?” Balser said. “Why did he still have five shells left in that gun? But I’m not going to lose sleep over that question.” They described their sister as a “beautiful, incredibly strong-willed” woman who was devoted to her daughters. Manslaughter can carry a sentence anywhere from house arrest to a life sentence. Since Brooks has already spent almost three years in prison, he will likely be released on a house arrest. “But he has already sentenced himself to a life of misery and desolation for what he’s done,” said Balser. “A life without a family.” The Crown had urged the jury to find Brooks guilty of first-degree murder. The Crown pointed to bruises and scrapes on Deena Brooks’ hands, elbows and two unexplained broken ribs that showed she could have been forcibly confined. “Deena Brooks fought desperately for her life,” said Crown Mary Ann Alexander, noting that a murder committed under forcible confinement, even if it was not planned, is first-degree murder. The jury had heard how Deena was afraid of her husband’s volatile moods, depression and bouts of anger, but that she never feared for her safety – she only feared her husband would commit suicide. Brooks insisted he only wanted to shoot himself. “I was in my lowest depths,” he had testified. “I never would hurt her. I only wanted to shoot myself.” In the end, the jury believed him. And from the beginning, his daughter, Kristin, who was at her high school prom waiting for a ride home that night when her mother was shot, believed her dad. “It was an accident,” she said, weeping outside of court earlier this month. “He would never hurt anybody but himself.” Brooks will have a sentencing hearing April 25.


Orillia’s Royal Canadian Legion will hold a special service on Sunday (May 15) to unveil a newly-updated memorial. The granite memorial now features the names of 88 fallen WWII veterans from the Orillia area. Previously, the memorial contained only the names of WWI soldiers who died in service. The event begins with a parade from the parking lot at Matchedash and Mississaga streets at 1:40 p.m., followed by a 2 p.m. service at Veterans’ Memorial Park outside the Legion. All are welcome to attend.


Barrie-Innisfil MP John Brassard addresses the recent federal budget Friday afternoon during a round-table discussion organized by the Barrie Chamber of Commerce. Listening to Brassard are Barrie— Springwater — Oro-Medonte MP Alex Nuttall, right, and chamber CEO Rod Jackson. BDO Canada partner Tim Taylor also spoke at the event.


First Hawkestone scouter Steve Lajoie conducted the races at the Whispering Pines Pinewood Derby, held Saturday at Twin Lakes high school in Orillia. Cubs and scouts raced their wooden cars and trucks. Participants included (at left) Jonathon Stones and Owen Lajoie.


Residents who once anticipated a recreation centre on a James Street property hope the green space is left alone. “The green space should be kept where it is and left for sports and maybe fixed up a bit to make it into a park,” said Rory Robertson, a resident of James Street East. “I notice (in) some other places in Orillia, they’ve put up some equipment for kids and families. They could turn it into something similar for locals around our neighbourhood.” Robertson was referring to 228 James St. E., which housed the former David H. Church Public School and nearly became the site of the city’s recreation facility under the term of the previous council. This week, city staff presented a report on rezoning the property from its current designation as living area/intensification area, to residential four/intensification area zone. The latter designation would allow for a variety of living accommodations to be built on the property and/or some form of recreation facility, but it would not permit the construction of an apartment building. Anticipating some form of residential or commercial construction in the area, Robertson and his wife, Della, who attended the public planning meeting this week, are concerned about the impact on property taxes. “My concerns are what’s the tax base going to be? What kind of neighbourhood is it going to be? Because we have to live with it, right? How is it going to impact us? Is it going to up my taxes?” Rory asked at the meeting. Ian Sugden, director of development services, explained because the property is owned by the city, taxes are not an issue. Only if the property is sold and developed, he said, it will be subject to taxation. In that case, said Bob Ripley, chief financial officer, it would be unlikely to affect taxes as they relate to existing homes in the area. During a previous survey by the city, residents voiced concern about having low-income housing built on the James Street property and losing the sports field, which is used by children in the neighbourhood. “I know some of the neighbours were talking about not wanting low-income housing,” said Della. “I’m kind of on the fence, because until I got married, I’ve had that kind of struggle financially.” Although she doesn’t have an issue with townhouses being build on the property, she wants the ball diamond “to be accessible to everybody in the community.” Coun. Sarah Valiquette-Thompson understood the Robertsons’ desire to see some sort of recreational opportunity remain. “I think they’re OK with the recreation centre not being there. However, going from a recreation centre to town homes or a commercial plaza is a big change for those folks,” the Ward 1 councillor said. “I think we just have to be mindful of how that space is utilized and still honour that there’s been a ball diamond there for a number of years, and we don’t take away the idea of recreation from those folks.” During the meeting, Coun. Ralph Cipolla also agreed with the idea of retaining green space on the property. “Regardless of what goes in there, we have in the official plan some kind of open space for a playground or small ball diamond,” he said. “Instead of cash in lieu of parkland, we just take the parkland and accommodate the request of the residents.” The motion passed at the end of the meeting will see city staff present its recommendation to council in two weeks.


The Tottenham Steam are hosting a fan recognition event tonight (April 7), to say thank you for all the support they have received throughout their Russell Cup-winning season. This event will take place at the Tottenham Legion, 25 Richmond St., between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Read more: It will give members of the community a chance to meet and speak with the Steam players, see and feel the Russell Cup, and take as many pictures as they’d like. This is an informal occasion, a chance for players and staff to show their gratitude and enjoy a fun atmosphere with the people that supported them along their journey to victory.


Hijinks ensue when a maid uncovers a body while cleaning the office, in Wasaga Community Theatre’s production of Busybody. The troupe presents the Jack Popplewell-penned play this week, April 21 through 24, at the Wasaga Beach RecPlex. “It’s a mystery, which everybody likes, and it’s a really funny play on top of that,” said first-time director John Robinson. “You have mystery and comedy.” Related: Robinson has been with Wasaga Community Theatre for about a decade, after he took his kids to a play. “I’d never seen live theatre in my life, and the next thing I know I’m in the show.” According to Wasaga Community Theatre’s publicist Steven Skinner – who also portrays a police officer in the play – comedies always seem to go over well with audiences. “We always try to make the audience laugh, and this play has a lot of quirky one-liners that make people laugh,” he said. This is Skinner’s 10th show with the community theatre group. “It’s a chance to be someone you wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to be,” he said. “It’s about exploring the personality of a character and bringing it to life.” Show times on April 21, 22, and 23 are 8 p.m. Sunday’s show is a matinee, opening at 2 p.m. Tickets are $17 in advance, or $20 at the door. Tickets are available at Major’s Guardian Pharmacy, Wasaga Beach IDA, U-Pick Parties, and the Wasaga Beach RecPlex.


Everyone who lives, works or plays in Innisfil should be excited to learn about the updated Community Strategic Plan, “Inspiring Innisfil 2020”, town officials say. After extensive community conversations and consultations in the past year, the updated version received unanimous support from council last Wednesday. “’Inspiring Innisfil 2020’ captures all the wonderful hopes and dreams for the kind of town we want to have for ourselves and for our children,” said  Mayor Gord Wauchope. “For the first time, we have a community mission and vision, and three important goals that will guide us in everything we do: grow, connect and sustain.” Wauchope championed the revised “Inspiring Innisfil 2020” before an audience of local business leaders at the “Mayor’s Business Breakfast”, last Friday at the Kempenfelt Conference Centre. He outlined some examples of how the community strategic plan would support local business by focusing on promoting economic development, creating more transportation options and enhancing partnerships. “Now that the community strategic plan is updated, the real work begins on implementing key projects and ideas over the coming four years, 2017-2020,” said Jason Reynar, the town’s CAO. “By empowering our community, and partnering together, our future vision of Innisfil will be realized.”  As the implementation plan is completed, there will be ongoing opportunities for the community to get involved and engaged. Visit for additional details on “Inspiring Innisfil 2020” – Our Community Strategic Plan. A special council meeting will be held May 25 to discuss next steps.


Municipal politicians from across the province were in Markham Saturday for a summit on Ontario Municipal Board Reform. The pending provincial review of the OMB has spurred local municipalities to voice their hope for change in the process. More than 80 municipalities across the province have passed motions on OMB reform. “Many of us are frustrated by the lack of predictability in land use planning,” organizer and Aurora Councillor Tom Mrakas said. “We never know if a municipal council decision will stand or be appealed and overturned at the OMB.” A spirited roundtable discussion at the event included former Mayor of Kingston and Chair of the OMB Helen Cooper,  Author of A Law unto Itself, John Chipman, York Region chief planner, Valerie Shuttleworth, Aird and Berlis municipal and land use planning lawyer Leo Longo, Keith West from the Preserve Glenway Association and CEO of Ontario Home Builders Association Joe Vacarro. For local planning purposes, the board can be very difficult for municipalities and regions to navigate, Shuttleworth said. “We always have this OMB threat that the big bad developer is holding over our head,” she said. “There is no such thing as a friendly appeal to the board.” The reality facing municipalities is Ontario’s growth plan, with its ambitious intensification targets, is going to dramatically change the community, Vacarro said. “Communties are changing. That’s the mandate,” he said. “(The OMB is needed because of) the inability of politicians to make tough decisions.” He said there are many examples of when local councils go against its own planning staff’s recommendations because it’s unpopular. It was an unpopular opinion in the room full of elected officials. While there was much debate at the event, one thing people were able to agree on was that the current form of the OMB is not a palatable solution moving forward. “We are trying to advocate to improve the process,” King Mayor Steve Pellegrini said. Municipal representatives continually talked about making changes at the OMB so the scales weren’t so tilted in the developers’ favour. “It’s not on a level playing field right now,” Markham Ward 4 Councillor Karen Rea said. Shuttleworth talked about the frustration from a planner’s perspective, especially in regards to a municipality’s Official Plan. So much consultation and work goes into forming an official plan, yet even after it’s passed by the province, it’s constantly appealed to OMB by developers. There was broad support from the assembled crowd to bring back the sanctity of the Official Plan. For Pellegrini it was the most important issue moving forward. “If there is an approved Official Plan it should not be appealable to OMB,” he said. If developers want to make changes they should have to make them in the consultation phases, Pellegrini said. “Once it’s passed then it’s done.” This would bring more predictability to the process for residents and local council, he said. The high density housing area in town wouldn’t all of sudden change. Other suggestions from the group included enhancing mediation before a hearing occurs, having more qualified board members and recognizing the need for a different process for large and small municipalities. A working group is taking all the suggestions from today’s summit to work towards recommendations for the province to try and change the system. “We are elected official that all feel passion about this issue,” Mrakas said.


NORTH SIMCOE – Members of the community are invited to join Simcoe North MP Bruce Stanton for a spaghetti dinner to support Gateway Centre for Learning. Scheduled for April 8 at Brian Orser Hall in Penetanguishene, the event will acknowledge Gateway’s contributions to north Simcoe. Gateway offers free, confidential tutoring for people who want to learn to read, write, improve their math skills or use a computer. The dinner will offer seatings at 5 and 6:30 p.m. There will also be a silent auction. Tickets cost $15. For more information, call Gateway at 705-527-1522 or Stanton’s office at 705-527-7654.