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SPRINGWATER TWP. – Huronia West OPP are looking for a man they say followed a teen girl while she was out walking her dog. OPP say sometime between 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30, a 16-year-old girl was walking her dog on a trail off of Sunnidale Road between Friesen Place and Barrie Hill Road and was followed by a man. The teen made it home safe and contacted her parents, who contacted OPP. Police say the man stands about five-foot-10 and has a stocky build. He was wearing a black jacket and green balaclava. If you have any information in regards to this incident, please contact the Huronia West OPP at 70-429-3575 or Call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (1-800-222-8477) or submit your information at www.crimestopperssdm.com.

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The city could soon be coming down harder on Barrie’s boarding houses. Councillors gave initial approval Monday to a motion to increase the monitoring of boarding, lodging and rooming (BLR) houses to ensure they’re complying with zoning, property maintenance and licensing bylaws, along with building and fire codes. And to look for unlicensed BLRs in all parts of Barrie. Coun. Bonnie Ainsworth asked to go a little further – for a city staff probe into the legality and feasibility of requiring all low-rise rental housing in the Community Improvement Project Area, defined in the Georgian College Neighbourhood Community Improvement Plan, to be licensed. “Without applying for a license, many landlords blatantly rent out to more than the four maximum tenants (as prescribed in the bylaw),” she said. “They do so to dodge the cost of the license (about $200), the cost of BLR conversion compliance and annual inspections. “The problem is since our 2007 bylaw, compliance has been a bit of a mugs game. Only now are we talking about any proactive measures to identify cheaters. “Most rentals have more than four occupants and almost none of the rentals in the neighbourhood are licensed,” Ainsworth said. Her motion also passed, and she has an example she wants explored. Barrie’s Ward 1 councillor wants city staff to look at Oshawa, which passed its residential housing bylaw in 2008. “They chose to enact a geographic bylaw which applies to the area surrounding Durham College,” Ainsworth said. “Because they are operating a street specific licensing requirement regime I feel their model may be conducive to adaption to allow area-specific regulation in our city in the near-campus neighbourhood. “A rental licensing bylaw to capture all residential rental units in the Community Improvement Project Area, defined in the Georgian College Neighbourhood Community Improvement Plan, would provide the city authority for annual inspections to ensure the safety of rental housing and increase compliance with city bylaws and regulations,” she said. Georgian College students’ interaction with east-end residents has been a contentious issue for decades in Bar r i e, with families living side-by-side with students, some as young as 17 and 18. This has resulted in noise, parking and property standards complaints. Ainsworth noted that licensing rental housing bylaws came into effect in London in 2010 and in Waterloo in 2012. Both Ontario cities adopted an across-the-city rental housing licensing bylaw. She wants the bylaw to be retroactive in Barrie. “I would not expect or want any grand-fathering,” Ainsworth said. “I’m going after the house. I want the house licenced so it can be inspected.” The motion councillors passed to increase monitoring would be done with existing bylaw enforcement resources. To do this, the city’s bylaw enforcement department would need additional resources, including staff, but the cost could be recovered, in whole or in part, through service fees. Those not recovered would come from property taxes. This could double the number of investigations by bylaw officers, and cost $48,000. It would probably mean 60 more tenants looking for a new place to live, and six newly licenced BLRs. Rents could also increase. This would, however, protect those living in unlicensed BLRs and reduce the nuisance at high-occupancy, although licensed, BLRs – such as vehicle congestion, excessive noise and poorly maintained properties. Right now the city has 26 licenced BLRs, all in Wards 1 and 2. Council has directed staff to bring in a plan to identify unlicensed BLRs in all of the city’s residential areas, to ensure compliance. But Gord Allison, Barrie’s building and bylaw director, said it’s a complicated process. “The only way to know how a dwelling unit is being occupied is to speak with the occupants and to inspect the dwelling’s interior,” he says in the staff report. “Whereas locks on bedroom doors and the number of tenants contribute to the definition of a BLR, each house being occupied by tenants would need to be inspected for locks and to count the number of tenants residing in the unit. “Distinguishing between tenants who are paying rent for the room versus friends visiting for the day or a short stay in the ‘guest room’ can be challenging.” Allison also noted inspecting the inside of an occupied dwelling unit requires the informed consent of at least one of the tenants – someone 19 or older who agrees to let a bylaw officer in to gather evidence about the use and occupancy, after being told they have the right to refuse. BLR house investigations usually begin from an anonymous complaint (often a tenant), a neighbour or from a city councillor, on behalf of a neighbour, from fire department prevention staff , or from bylaw officers investigating other complaints. From 2013-2015, bylaw staff have averaged 75 investigations a year into alleged BLRs. Of those 47% were single-dwelling homes with no more than four tenants and no locks on bedroom doors, and 40% were unlicensed BLRs. Of the rest, 6% were unregistered, two-unit houses and the rest (7%) couldn’t be resolved, due to lack of evidence. Council has also asked staff for options to find more unlicensed BLRs, investigate them and, if found, force compliance by either converting the use back to a single-dwelling home or force the owner to get a BLR licence. bbruton@postmedia.com @BrutonBob

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Four charitable organizations picked up grant money Wednesday at city hall. The Couchiching Jubilee House received $1,750, the Orillia Youth Symphony Orchestra and Simcoe County Farm Fresh Marketing Association each were given $1,000 and the Simcoe County Elementary Athletic Council got a cheque for $1,004.

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A school bus driver has been charged with careless driving and improper use of a seatbelt after the full-sized  bus careened into a deep ditch in south Innisfil yesterday morning. There were no children on board but the driver was taken to hospital with a shoulder injury. Firefighters and paramedics extricated the driver from the bus, which landed on its side in deep muck. The northbound bus drove off Sideroad 10 at about 9:22 a.m. while driving along an S-curve between Lines 2 and 3 in the garden marsh area near Hwy. 89 Sideroad 10 between Hwy. 89 and Line 4 reopened at about 1:30 p.m. after a heavy tow truck pulled the bus from the ditch.

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MIDLAND – The Midland Indians have won four straight games to open the North Dufferin Baseball League season. Nick Boyd continued to hold a hot hand on the mound Tuesday at Tiffin Park, earning his third win of the season as Midland defeated the Lisle Astros 3-2. On May 12, the Indians blanked the Nobleton Cornhuskers 3-0. Boyd pitched a complete game, allowing only four hits. “Nick was looking really good,” manager Steve Lafreniere said following the Nobleton game. “His curveball is keeping hitters off balance and makes his fastball look even faster.” Boyd threw four innings and allowed two unearned runs on five hits. He struck out four Lisle batters. Against the Cornhuskers, he struck out eight while issuing no walks in another complete game. Nathan Dix scored two runs for Midland, while Tyler Boyd contributed two hits. Despite the hot start to the season, Lafreniere said there is room for improvement. “(The team) is a little behind from the standpoint of pitching and defensive play, but we’ve had some key hits in games and I am sure some big innings are just around the corner,” he said. Next up on the schedule is a home game tonight (Thursday) against the Ivy Leafs. Midland will then host the Creemore Barons on May 24. First pitch in both games is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. The junior division Midland Twins, meanwhile, took it on the chin Saturday in Mansfield, losing 9-1 to the Cubs. Jake Flower started on the mound for Midland and surrendered nine hits and seven runs in 4 1/3 innings. He walked three batters and struck out four. Tyler Cascagnette came on in relief and gave up one hit and two runs in 1 2/3 innings. Jared Aube scored the only run for the Twins, while also collecting a hit. Sam DeCock also added one hit. The Twins are scheduled to play back-to-back road games against the Ivy Rangers tonight and on May 24. On May 31 at 7 p.m., the Twins will host Mansfield at Tiffin Park.

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A program that combines yoga and beer is making its way to Simcoe County this weekend. Yoga on Tap is a program started by Ashley Kokelj and aims to promote a balanced lifestyle. Events take place at Redline Brewhouse in Barrie on April 7, The Collingwood Brewery from 9:30 until 11:30 a.m., and Sidelaunch Brewery from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., on April 9. “Balanced living is all about finding your personal formula of the need to do priorities like family, exercise and healthy eating and work, with the want to do activities like drinking, socializing and snacking,” she said. For $25, participants get a one-hour yoga class and the chance to sample local craft beers. For more information visit yogaontap.ca

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Who do you call when a creek gets sick? Well, a river doctor, of course. In this case, the doctor is Paul Villard, a senior geomorphologist with GEO Morphix Ltd. Villard has been tasked with bringing a healthy flow back to Lover’s Creek in Centennial Park in a bid to entice more fish back to its waters. Villard will oversee a project that will see a recreational pond in the Line 7/Sideroad 10 area returned to a more natural habit by bypassing a man-made dam built in the 1960s. “There is no way for fish to get past that dam,” Villard told council last month. “The water is heated in the pond, which creates thermal impacts to the river downstream.” After the work is done, the pond will become a valley with wetland cells with a “babbling brook”, Villard said. The project, which will take about two years to complete, and will cost about $280,000. About $138,000 will be provided by the federal government through the Lake Simcoe /South-eastern Georgian Bay Clean-Up Fund. Partners in the project include Nottawasaga Futures, South Simcoe Streams Network, Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA), the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), Dufferin Simcoe Land Stewardship Network, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Town of Innisfil. “The bypass channel would be constructed in the dry. Once the channel is vegetated, the new channel would be turned on,” Villard said in a report. As such, the dam will be maintained to provide open water habitat to both aquatic and migratory bird species.” Community volunteers will be involved in rehabilitation activities by adding native plant cuttings and planting trees along the newly created stream channel. There will be no disruptions to the off-leash dog park in Centennial Park, council heard.

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Flooding continues in Ramara Township as rising water levels are compounded by unseasonal snowfalls. “Mother Nature doesn’t seem to be cooperating too good these days,” said fire chief Dave McCarthy. (Recent snowfalls) are going to have an effect, for sure.” The township has already distributed several hundred sand bags to residents whose properties are being affected by the approaching water. “Most people are pretty attuned to the situation,” McCarthy said. “The biggest challenge we run into every year is there is somebody that buys new in the area and they don’t realize there are things they have to do to control flooding.” Water levels continue to rise on the north end of the Black River, spilling over into a creek that connects to Lake St. John. “The biggest challenge we are faced with that, it is reversing over the dam (on Switch Road) into Lake St. John now,” McCarthy said. “The water will stay in there until the Black River drops back down to a level low enough to drain that.” Residents there will “be suffering with high water levels probably for a week or two,” he added. Of greatest concern is the swift-flowing water that has captured the attention of local kayakers, McCarthy said. “They love that stuff on the Black, but it worries you when the way it is right now,” he said. “Stay away from it. You’ve got logs floating in it.” What started as minor flooding on roads and private properties around Lake St. John is expected to intensify this week, McCarthy added. “It is deteriorating, and that is our concern,” he said. “We are not sure how much it is going to deteriorate over the next couple of days. It is getting worse. There will be more houses affected.” Numerous homes situated along low-lying areas of the Black River are being flooded, McCarthy added. “A lot of them are seasonal, but on Davey Drive, and up in and around Washago, on the Green and the Black (rivers), all those little seasonal roads are suffering from high water,” he said. Flooding of wells is also a concern, as drinking water can become contaminated. “We try and provide them with bottled water and support on how to clean their wells and redo them once the water recedes,” McCarthy added.  

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If you’re up for fresh air and flesh-eating zombies, head to Sunnidale Park on Saturday. Two Georgian College event management studies students, Amy Giofu and Kirsten Spencer-Arscott, are hosting the HvZ: Human Survival event on Saturday between noon and 4 p.m. “When I lived in Hamilton, we used to head out to a park behind Sheridan College and have a Nerf war in the forest behind the school,” said Giofu. “We’d get 10 or 20 people out. So we thought it would be great to incorporate a Nerf gun fight with zombies, because they’re so popular right now.” The park behind the Dorian Parker Community Centre will be set up with an obstacle course and target practice warm up and then roll into a large zombie war near the woods, Spencer-Arscott said. “You need to start off as a human and then once you’re hit and you become a zombie, you stay a zombie,” Spencer-Arscott said. How do you kill a zombie? “When a zombie is hit, with either a (Nerf) dart or grenade – a rolled up pair of socks – they are stunned for 15 seconds and can’t move,” Giofu said. Currently, there are 22 tickets sold for $25 each, but the women are hoping more people will show up to help the humans take on the zombies; or become one of the walking dead themselves. The concept started after the two women attended a Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre donor appreciation evening last fall where they learned about children with mental health illnesses. The children had created art to describe their feelings and Goifu said it opened their eyes to what New Path Youth and Family Services of Simcoe County and other social agencies do to help troubled youth. “It hit us hard. We all know someone touched by this. As a society, we’re getting this idea out there, but there’s still so much stigma attached to mental illness. We wanted to do something,” Goifu said. Proceeds will be shared between New Path and the event management alumni scholarship fund. James Thomson of New Path said the money raised will help area children and youth with mental health concerns. “We are thrilled by the opportunity in being chosen by the students as their charity of choice,” said Thomson. Families with older children are invited to attend and the event co-ordinators stress it’s a BYONG or bring your own Nerf gun event. For more information visit www.humansurvival.ca or HvZ: Human Survival Facebook page. Cbrowne@postmedia.com Twitter.com/cherylbrowne1

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An autistic student who suffered a compound leg fracture while in the care of an educational assistant was likely injured by a direct blow to the leg, according to a medical expert. Dr. Michael Korkola, an orthopaedic surgeon at Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie, took the stand as the assault trial for Angus resident Corey Stibbard began Wednesday. Stibbard, a Simcoe County District School Board employee, has pleaded not guilty to assault causing bodily harm in relation to a Dec. 4, 2014, incident that resulted in the student, Oro Station resident Riley Dooley, suffering a broken tibia and fibula in his left leg. Korkola was asked to give his expert opinion on how Riley, then 20, could have received the injury while shopping at the Dollar Tree in Barrie’s south end while in the care of Stibbard. He said Riley suffered a fracture across both bones, which required doctors to operate and install a titanium rod in his leg. Korkola said the injury was not consistent with a simple slip and fall, but more typical of a fracture caused in a skiing or industrial accident. “Something like this is usually from a direct blow to the tibia,” he said He continued, saying a blunt hit, like a kick, could have been the cause. “It would take a significant amount of force to cause that,” he said. The hearing began with the testimony of the student’s mother, Patricia Dooley, who provided more insight into her son’s condition and how he ended up in the care of Stibbard. She said her son, who has limited means of communication and following instructions, has been receiving special education since Grade 6 and is currently being home schooled. In September 2014, he was transferred to a special education program offered through Innisdale Secondary School after he became too old to attend class at his previous school. “We thought it was the perfect fit,” she said. She said the transition wasn’t easy for him, as he had to leave behind his friends and teachers he was familiar with. A logbook from the school noted two incidents during which her son showed signs of aggression during two outings in September. “He hadn’t had a lot of incidents before this,” she said. “We figured he was just getting used to the new program and testing the waters.” On the day of the incident, she said her son seemed normal before being picked up for school. “Had there been any negativity or mumbling or showing signs of aggression … I wouldn’t have sent him. He wouldn’t have been in the van.” She confirmed her son was taking two types of medications at the time, one for treating migraines and the other for anxiety. She said migraines can have a big effect on his mood. To deal with the discomfort, she said he tries different things, such as smacking his head on the wall or by placing his hands on his head. Store manager Bob Ronald also took the stand to recount what he saw the morning Riley was hurt. When he initially saw the pair walk past him while stocking shelves at the back of the store, nothing seemed amiss. About five minutes later, he was paged to attend to a situation in the first aisle. When he arrived, he found Riley laying on the floor flat on his back, with Stibbard standing off to the side. “He was making grunting sounds and he was in obvious pain,” he said. He noticed bleeding and rolled up his pant leg to see his injury. “There was a lot of blood, I believe there was a puncture,” he said. When Ronald asked what happened, he thought Stibbard said Riley tripped, but couldn’t recall his exact answer. There were no witnesses in the store who saw what happened. While the store has security cameras, he said they were not recording footage at the time, saying the system had not been set up since he became manager in August. Later that morning, when Patricia arrived at the hospital to see her son, she was joined by Stibbard and another teacher. While in the emergency room, she didn’t inquire how her son’s leg was injured. “I didn’t ask…he was in visible pain and I didn’t care what happened,” she said. The trial is expected to last two more days and will resume April 12.

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