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Close to 600 Grade 5 students from 20 area schools are participating in the ‘RACE Against Drugs’ program at ODAS Park over two days. Students learn about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, impaired driving, smoking, and gambling while visiting interactive pit stops. Partners include the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, Orillia OPP, Rama First Nations Police, and the public and separate school boards.

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Sandcastle Theatre’s Meaford Hall students excelled at the recent Kiwanis Festival of Music in Owen Sound. From April 11 – 22 hundreds of musicians and actors bustled around the city from venue to venue competing in one of the most prestigious competitions in Canada. The annual Grey County Kiwanis Festival of Music began in 1932 with a mission to advance and develop musical talent and education in Grey County and to hold music festivals. This competitive music festival is held for two weeks each April whereby opportunities are provided for music students and community members alike from Owen Sound and the surrounding areas to be adjudicated and to perform before an audience. Awards are presented to assist musicians in their musical development. Sandcastle students walked away with a number of bronze, silver, bronze and gold certificates (and smiles.) On May 3, seven high-score Meaford competitors were presented with awards including prize money as per Kiwanis’s mandate to help them further their development in the arts. Award winners that night were: Abigail Adams, Franz Greenfield, Misha Greenfield, Matthew Rocque, Lilly Todds, Abby Woodhouse and Sara Wright. “I had never competed in the Kiwanis Festival before,” said Abby Woodhouse. “You perform and then an adjudicator gives you feedback on your performance and helpful suggestions for improvement. I really suggest that all young artists should take part in this opportunity.” Out of the secen actors awarded, four were also asked to compete in the upcoming prestigious Provincial Festival in acting and singing disciplines. “It was really never wracking and really fun at the same time,” Franz Greenfield said. “When I was younger I really wanted to be an actor.” Performances included a monologue, duet and a group improve session. “It was a lot of fun. I wish I could do it again,” said Misha Greenfield. “I was really excited I won. It was my first time doing drama. Most of my family has been in theatre a long time.” Sandcastle’s Meaford Hall instructor, Nadia Mear was thrilled with the performances of her students. “Some people think that acting is just memorizing lines, but it’s so much more. There are countless hours of technical work that go into preparing a scene, a monologue or a song and these kids are proof that their hard work has paid off,” said Mear. Sandcastle Theatre was established in 2002 to offer young people in Grey-Bruce the opportunity to experience engaging theatre programs and performances. Classes run from Collingwood to Port Elgin and since its inception, artistic director, Stephanie Fowler has worked with hundreds of young people in communities throughout the region. “Theatre is an art that anyone can participate in, regardless of age or experience.  It asks only that you be willing to make believe – to explore and experiment and take a chance. For children, that art of make-believe is so much more natural and even those who are new to theatre are able to dive right in and try out new roles,” said Fowler. “Having fun while working together allows participants to develop extraordinary amounts of self-esteem as well as communication, negotiation and problem solving skills that will serve them beyond the stage.” The actors are now preparing for the provincials. “I’m really excited to show them what Meaford has to offer!” said Woodhouse. Matthew Rocque, Franz Greenfield, Misha Greenfield and Abby Woodhouse will all compete in the Kiwanis Provincials June 1 – 3 in Peterborough.

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After being overcharged by more than $1,000 on a single hydro bill, Barrie business owner Nima McElhinney wants the Ontario government to investigate local power utilities. The owner of Barrie Manor said she had no idea she was being overcharged until an audit found PowerStream owed her $1,151 from her last bill. READ MORE: The retirement home is just one of tens of thousands of hydro customers across the province with billing issues. The process of getting them refunds is moving slower than former Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin would like, especially after his 2015 Hydro One investigation that revealed huge billing errors for 100,000 homes. “How are we supposed to survive? I’m drowning in debt,” McElhinney said. “It would be one thing if we weren’t paying the bills. Why should we, after paying the bill on time, have to police this? We’re not talking 50 cents or $50. We’re talking $1,151.” She said she has been a customer of PowerStream and Hydro One and has been overcharged by both. “They were constantly charging me inconsistent numbers. Are they supposed to do that? They only get caught because someone else is looking,” she said. Just one-tenth of one per cent of Powerstream customers have filed billing error complaints, according to John Olthuis, the company’s manager of customer communications. “We’re not aware of hundreds of customers being overcharged. You can count the number of times there’s an issue,” he said, noting the statistic comes from recent focus groups.   Olthuis said customers can be overcharged, for example, if a home is turned into a duplex and the units’ meters get mixed up. Before smart meters were introduced, apartment residents who switched units were also sometimes still connected to their last one for hydro, even for years, he said. A computer generates PowerStream’s customers’ bills, which are examined by an employee before being sent out, he said, adding bills with sudden increases are flagged for inspection. “We do take … billing very seriously. There’s nothing worse than sending out a bill with a huge error. Not that that doesn’t happen,” he said. From 2004 to 2015, electricity prices jumped from 4.7 cents a kilowatt hour to 17.5 cents a kwh at peak times, and hydro bills are expected to rise this year. Marin found Ontarians paid $37 billion above market prices for electricity between 2006 and 2014. “Errors have been uncovered in a variety of cases, with multi-unit residences such as condominiums, apartments and even retirement homes typically facing the highest overcharges,” Marin said. “Though many are in the thousands, I’m aware of refunds of up to $1 million being collected for multi-unit dwellings.” Retirement homes in Ottawa, Hamilton, Orangeville and Welland received refunds in the tens of thousands of dollars and a Toronto hotel was refunded $276,000. Non-profits have also been overcharged, including the Ontario Homes for Special Needs Association in Newmarket, a 28-bed facility, by $6,000. Marin said what shocks him most about the billing problems is seeing “shoestring organizations” trying to take care of vulnerable populations overcharged the most. “They don’t run big, sophisticated organizations,” he said. “The greasy pig of hydro is getting fat off these customers.” In Marin’s report, he said customers were treated “abominably” and Hydro One deceived the electricity regulator and the ombudsman’s office about “the extent and nature of its billing and customer service disaster.” He wrote Hydro One tried to cover up the problems and spent $88.3 million trying to fix them. In response, Hydro One apologized to its customers, agreed to Marin’s report recommendations and said it had already fixed many of the issues. The investigation results sparked a class-action lawsuit last year. McElhinney, who took over ownership of Barrie Manor in December, said this is the same type of investigation she wants the province to undertake for other utilities. If she was overcharged more than $1,000 on her latest bill, she wonders if she was billed more than she should have been for the other months. “I don’t know what they’re going to do for December, January and February. How many bills that I paid did go unnoticed and overcharged?” she said. “What can you do? I have a million challenges on my plate. I don’t have time to go after PowerStream (or) police these things.” It is going to take a long time for Hydro One customers to get refunds — nearly one year post-investigation, progress is “pretty slow,” Marin said. Part of the problem is hydro bills can often be difficult to understand, so people do not know if they are being overcharged, he said. “Have you seen a hydro bill lately? Good luck trying to find mistakes. It’s David vs. Goliath — the classic story,” he said. “I get hydro bills. I just pay them and hold my nose.” He said hydro customers should be vigilant and scrutinize their bills: “You never know, you might be owed lots of money.” Morin’s investigation has opened opportunities for business In response to Marin’s investigation, Jeremy Poteck founded energy audit company Poteck Power Corporation. So far, it has recovered $4.3 million in refunds for Hydro One customers, the majority of which average more than $10,000. Poteck said he has completed audits of 25 of the roughly 75 utilities across the province and found mistakes by 18 of them. “The unfortunate reality is that many Ontario businesses don’t realize that their bills contain errors and end up overpaying as a result,” he said. “The simple truth is it’s complicated information. You need to know the difference between a kilowatt and a kilowatt hour.” Poteck said he has found the most problems in Barrie, Simcoe County and Richmond Hill and has assisted 10 customers in PowerStream’s jurisdiction. He is also reaching out to Ontario’s public housing corporations that manage properties for low-income earners. “They typically pay hydro for everyone in the building. It’s money that’s going to help the poorest Ontarians.” – With files from Torstar News Service

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Brian Shelley usually waits to get a buzz every night before he goes to bed. That buzz comes from his Fitbit Flex bracelet, which informs him he’s done 10,000 steps. “It’s totally motivated me to walk to and from work here and there or if I drive to work, to go for a walk during the day,” Shelley said. “It’s helped keep me accountable and I’m really into using it now.” He has worn the rubber bracelet every day for about a  year and said if he’s short on steps, he will get up during commercial breaks while catching a Blue Jays game on TV, for example. “In between every inning, I go for a walk around the house to get my steps in.” Once he reaches the 10,000 steps, his bracelet vibrates to let him know he has achieved his daily goal. Shelley has also joined friends on an app available for his phone in friendly competition. Keeping track of daily movement is becoming a popular addition to fitness programs as technology makes it as simple as tapping a sleek wristband. Dialling up an app on your cellphone gives you instant updates on everything from steps taken in a day, to food intake, to hours spent asleep, all of which helps keep your fitness goal right in your face. The question: Is it really necessary to monitor every step in a day? The answer: Why not, if it prompts fitness awareness. Nothing is more telltale than how your clothes fit. If you notice a bit of tightness when you pull on your jeans or summer shorts that were such a comfy fit when last worn a few months ago, no app needs to confirm what you already suspect: you’ve gained weight. So, upon recognizing you are in that boat, there is something about readily accessible data that keeps people updated on their progress. Perhaps it is the novelty. Maybe the simplicity provided by a quick glance. For some, it is the positive reinforcement that keeps them pushing toward that goal. That certainly describes Donna Brewer, who started a personal fitness drive last fall. “I didn’t see the need at first,” said Brewer, who wears a Fitbit Charge HR (Heart/Rate) to monitor a vigorous daily walking/stepping routine. “But now I do. When I get into intense mode and see my heart rate go up, I know I’m burning calories.” The grandmother of five replaces drives with walks whenever she can. When Brewer does drive to the mall or for shopping, she parks farther away so she can walk extra steps. She watches her favourite TV shows while her device counts steps on the treadmill. Brewer routinely counts more than 20,000 steps — defined as step-like movements such as walking, running, stair-climbing and movement during chores — on a daily basis. She walked 97 kilometres one recent week. She started at around 30 kilometres per week when her personal fitness and health campaign started last fall. “I’ve replaced sitting around with moving,” she said. “I can’t help think there is nothing but good in it. I’m beating my records and getting quite caught up in it. I’ve probably quadrupled my personal bests since then.” She is closing in on 30,000 steps per day. Experts are on both sides of the wall regarding the latest scorekeeper found on the fitness landscape. Some will argue the use of technology and related apps is merely dumbing down the individual. Others contend that a readily accessible account of results serves to challenge people to get better and fitter. If you are a fan of the app, know this: it is difficult to escape its presence whether worn on your wrist or around your neck. And that’s a good thing for motivational purposes, some experts feel. “It’s definitely getting huge,” said Chris Torresano, a fitness trainer at Individual Performance Training Centre in Aurora and a graduate of the kinesiology department at the University of Waterloo. “One of the biggest gifts at Christmas is activity trackers. People want toys and this is a toy to help you become healthy. It’s good. They promote healthy lifestyle. “Technologically, it is so easy and advanced everybody is doing it. You can join groups on social media where you challenge other people to see who is taking the most steps in a day. It makes motivation so easy that when you are short all you need is a quick walk to make up the steps.” But it’s easy to become a slave to technology. For instance, Torresano notes that a forgotten cellphone can turn a day on its head. He said people are the same with their monitoring devices. “Some people will show up at the gym without their tracker and are wondering what to do,” he said. “They can’t work out without it because they won’t get their count.” Of course, just because activity isn’t recorded doesn’t mean it doesn’t count. Technology is everywhere in our daily lives. It is really just a matter of embracing levels and taking those first steps toward a more active lifestyle, said Torresano. But it’s also easy to be overwhelmed by rapid changes in the industry. It’s not unlike buying any piece of technology only to find a week later it’s already two generations old. “In some cases, it’s more about comparing brands and options,” said Torresano. “It’s like going to buy a laptop and comparing between Apple and other brands.” Reliance on technology with all the answers literally at arm’s length can be viewed as a mind-numbing exercise. In fact, paralysis by analysis is a less-than-endearing term used in the industry to suggest an over-reliance on gadgetry might create a negative impact. “When I was first encouraged to get more active, I tried an app on my SmartPhone but it was too awkward,” recalled Brewer, who estimates she is mobile for three hours each day. “I had to carry it somehow, but it was cumbersome. I like the fact it is on my wrist and I don’t have to think about it. Having statistics on the dashboard, or phone, encourages me to beat myself.” Connecting with other people through social media has also helped Brewer maintain focus. “We can see each others’ totals but I’m not in competition with them,” she said. “It’s just a competition between me and myself. It’s pretty easy to attain when you start to walk.” Matt Lyall, a Sport Chek manager, said Fitbit’s popularity is related to its ability to motivate. “I think it is a bit because of the novelty, but it does what it says it will,” said Lyall. “It will tell you to get moving when you are inactive. If you are looking to get back into working out, it will prompt you.” Depending on your budget and level of commitment, cost is relative, said Lyall. It’s possible to outfit yourself in a wrist piece for $120 or so and it’s not difficult to spend into the hundreds of dollars for top-of-the-line models made by companies such as Garmin or Apple. Some question the accuracy of devices in tracking data such as steps and calorie loss. Still, anything promoting activity can’t be all bad — especially if it  means fitting into those faded blue jeans once again.

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The Alliston & District Humane Society can be reached at 705-458-9038. Please call if you have lost or found an animal. Cat Adoptions Cats are $120 neutered, dewormed, vaccinated, microchipped and litter box trained. Patches – Nine-month-old, a beautiful white boy with black patches. At Petvalu Alliston. Jenny – Two-year-old female tortoiseshell, lovely personality, very friendly and laid back. Would love to be in a home settled on the couch. Call 905-936-4590. Dog Adoptions Dogs are $240 neutered, dewormed, vaccinated and microchipped. Call 705-458-9038. Jack. Senior. NM. Australian Shepherd cross. Picky about his people. Needs an adult home only. He is very smart and has learned several helpful talents at the shelter to help him cope with his fear of strangers. Small Animal Adoptions Olivia – Spayed lop-eared rabbit, five years old. Brownie and Carmel – mom and daughter bonded guinea pigs, under a year old Lost Cats
 Toma – Five-year-old grey/black/brown chubby tabby, black collar w pink hearts/bell missing from Henderson Crescent, Alliston. Pinball – Grey/brown/white tabby, fat, Piper Hill, Loretto. Caesar – Male, grey, DSH, Greenaway Street, Tottenham. Cornish Rex, Black, green eyes, male, nine months, Bissel Way, Angus. Found Cats
 One-year-old long-haired male tabby neutered, bushy tail, gray and black stripe, County Road 7 East of Highway 50. Orange cat, white face neck and paws, Quigley Street, Angus. Lost Dogs Sam, border collie cross, red collar plus tags, lost from 10th line and 5th line in Cookstown. Found Dogs Female German shepherd, 10th line Essa near agriplex. Saint Bernard, female, 5th concession Tosorontio Lost peacock, banded, County Road 21 and County Road 10, Baxter. If you would like more details and tips on lost and found animals, visit .

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County of Simcoe advanced care paramedics (ACPs) Julia Young-Williams and Steve Prophet demonstrated their skills and training by bringing home a first-place finish in the ACP division from last weekend’s National Paramedic Competition. READ MORE: More than 30 paramedic teams from across Canada and North America gathered at the competition in Oshawa to test their abilities through a written exam and various simulated emergencies. The emergency scenarios were diverse and designed to simulate emergency calls that pose uncomfortable circumstances for the paramedics responding to them.  “I want to congratulate Julia and Steve for their tremendous achievement and thank them for doing us proud on this national stage,” said Simcoe County Warden Gerry Marshall. “Our paramedics are highly skilled and provide life-saving services on a daily basis. This is a true demonstration of the skill, commitment and world-class training exemplified by our entire service.” To secure top spot, Young-Williams and Prophet completed high-leverage tasks, including a dynamic heart attack that required multiple cardioversions, troubleshooting an electrocution that was complicated by multi-system trauma and cardiac dysrhythmias and responding to a skiing accident that presented major challenges with regard to airway management and environmental factors, among other scenarios. The final component featured a collection of tasks performed in two-minute intervals including CPR and calculation, measuring and setting of intravenous drip rates. “All our paramedics are highly trained, however, champions such as Steve and Julia who work hard and challenge themselves make us all strive to be better,” said Andrew Robert, director and chief of the county’s paramedic services.

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Today is an important day for paramedic Natalie Harris. The Barrie resident lives with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and is celebrating the province’s passing of the Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act, which allows faster access to benefits and treatment through Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). READ MORE: “The first responder family is celebrating a long-awaited victory,” Harris said Tuesday. “The passing of Bill 163 will finally make WSIB recognize the emotional toll our profession takes on us.” However, while she’s pleased with the bill, Harris is also remembering all of the lives lost to PTSD and the families that have been forever affected prior to this bill. Through the bill, once a first responder is diagnosed with PTSD by either a psychiatrist or a psychologist, a WSIB benefit claim will be expedited without the need to prove a causal link between PTSD and a workplace event. Professions encompassed by the bill include police officers, firefighters, paramedics, certain workers in correctional institutions and secure youth justice facilities, dispatchers of police, fire and ambulance services, and emergency response teams. The act also allows the Minister of Labour to request employers’ PTSD prevention plans, which can then be published. “We know PTSD is a serious and debilitating injury and that Ontario’s dedicated first responders are more than twice as likely to suffer from it,” Labour Minister Kevin Flynn said. “They put themselves in harm’s way each and every day to ensure our safety, and we need to be sure they have the resources and treatment they need to heal and return to work safely.” The act recognizes the importance of psychological health in the workplace, Flynn added. PTSD PEER SUPPORT: • Harris is hosting her inaugural Wings of Change PTSD Peer Support Group meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Canadian Mental Health Association, 128 Anne St. S. The meetings will be held on the first Tuesday of the month.

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The Main Street Market is taking shape. In a special meeting on April 7, councillors approved the contract to build the kiosks, as well as the leases for the 10 businesses that will be setting up shop in the eight-by-ten-foot structures being designed to look like retro camper trailers. Related: Council awarded the construction contract to Adventure Design, otherwise known as the father-son duo of Garry and Ryan Sawatzky. The kiosks will cost $5,900 each to build, and are expected to be in place by June 1. A grand opening will be held Canada Day. The rents for the kiosks are $6,000 per season. The total budget – which covered the cost of constructing 15 kiosks for the Main Street Market – is $84,000. The servicing cost, for water and electricity for the market, is an additional $15,000. The Sawatzkys came up the retro camper theme after a meeting with the town’s economic development and tourism director Andrew McNeill to get a sense of the vision for the market. “This was just a natural progression from there,” said Garry. “It’s been a lot of hard work, on both the Swatzkys and the town,” added McNeill. “We’re excited, and a lot of businesses are interested in being part of this, and we’re all thrilled to bring some life back to historic Main Street. “It’s been nine years since the fire, and nine years too long.” Ryan Sawatzky said the idea of the kiosks designed as retro camper trailers came from looking at the heydey of Wasaga Beach. “Food kiosks exist everywhere in the world, but I want to create something unique (to reflect) the history of Wasaga Beach,” said the younger Swatzky. “Wasaga Beach doesn’t have a downtown, doesn’t have an architectural scheme behind it, so I just relied on the whole tourism industry for the past (century). “Everybody hearkens back to the days of the ‘50s or ‘60s, the golden years,” he said. “One morning I woke up and thought, ‘retro trailers’. It’s not a literal interpretation, just the shape and colour scheme, but it’s something fun and vibrant and something that will be unique to Wasaga Beach. “And iconic,” added Gary. “It will be a photo-op as well.” McNeill said while the goal of the market is to inject life into the beachfront, he anticipates the kiosks will be magnets for picture-taking, especially on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram. “With social media today, our goal is first of all to have the market full of people, and we want people taking photos of these and sending them to their friends in Australia and Mexico and wherever,” MacNeill said. “That kind of advertising is invaluable.” The contract also includes construction of four lifeguard stations along a similar retro theme, and another kiosk that will be used for rentals of beach furniture. However, the town will not move forward with that aspect of the contract until it can conclude discussions with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for the municipality to manage Beach Areas one and two.

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MIDLAND – Quest Art School and Gallery’s new exhibition “What Lies Beneath” explores the different forms of violence and trauma people face. The exhibit features Tiny Township artist Tina Poplawski and Walkerton artist Jenny Iserman. Poplawski’s mixed-media works were inspired by her family history, which includes the execution of her Polish grandfather and the imprisonment of relatives during the Second World War. Iserman’s narrative quilt and book works address domestic violence with depictions of stories she has witnessed or learned about through her work as a social worker and shelter volunteer. The exhibition opening is Friday from 7-9 p.m. The show will remain on display until May 14. Quest is also opening two other exhibitions Friday: “Stories Told” and “Circumstances.”

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It’s deja vu, all over again. New plans for a south-Barrie high school property are like the old ones, and the ones before them and, it would seem, unacceptable to city councillors. “Is there anything we can do, because this is just getting ridiculous,” said Coun. Mike McCann, who represents this area. “This is going to hurt my residents in Ward 10 and in Barrie as a whole. I don’t get it. “I don’t want a fight, I want a school built.” Jennifer Cameron, SCDSB trustee for Barrie Wards 7, 8, 9 and 10, said she’s also frustrated. “I don’t understand why all the drama. Why can’t we just work together?” she said. “I just want to move forward.” Simcoe County District School Board wants the secondary school to be located on the southern portion of 225 Prince William Way, for safety and cost reasons. Barrie council wants it on the northern portion to conform with the Hewitt’s Secondary Plan and urban design guidelines. City officials understood that a compromise of sorts had been reached with SCDSB officials in late April, but it hasn’t happened. “It’s a plan that isn’t substantially different from the plan council saw last fall,” said Barrie planning director Stephen Naylor of the current site plan. “I don’t understand myself why there is no willingness to compromise,” said Mayor Jeff Lehman. “It’s a far better solution than ending up at the OMB (Ontario Municipal Board, which settles contentious local government matters).” McCann wondered aloud if the city shouldn’t petition Ontario’s Education Ministry. “Is there any way we can go over their (the school board’s) head?” he asked. “We need to get this school built and playing nice hasn’t got us very far.” Barrie CAO Carla Ladd said the probable answer from this ministry is that the OMB exists to settle disputes of this nature. In a memo to councillors Monday, Naylor said May 4 and 11 SCDSB meetings failed to substantially change a site plan that city council rejected last fall. City planning staff were expecting a revised site plan with a ‘future development site’ at the corner of Mapleview Drive East and Prince William Way, and a letter of understanding to determine the building’s use and steps for its future development, which could satisfy the urban design guidelines, following meetings with school board officials in late April. Instead it was more of the same from the SCDSB, Naylor said. “As a result of those meetings, the board provided the city with a proposed revised plan showing a ‘potential phase 2 development parcel’, together with a revised letter of understanding that among other provisions, set out that ‘the city acknowledges that there may be no development on the corner parcel, and no further site plan application from the school board for the school site,” he said. “In our opinion that actually renders the agreement non-beneficial to our urban design guidelines,” Ladd said. Cameron attended a late April meeting which involved school and city officials. “We were just trying to find some common ground to get this darn school built,” she said. “The suggestion was to keep a parcel at the front as ‘future use’, and then to get started on the school. “But the question was what do we put at the corner, and are we passing the buck.” Cameron said the intention was to leave the corner of Prince William Way and Mapleview Drive East for ‘future use’, and the consensus was yes. But this wasn’t a school board meeting. “Unfortunately, it’s technically the board’s decision, the trustees’ decision, so it wasn’t like anyone reneged because it wasn’t a proper decision,” Cameron said. “It really wasn’t an agreement, it was more of an understanding.” McCann said he doesn’t see it that way, not so much from the April meetings but from the board meetings May 4 and 11. “The school board has retracted what we agree on,” he said Monday night. Cameron also said she thought those points of “understanding” from late April could solve the impasse. “I think keeping the parcel at the front, that little lot, for ‘future use’ is a great idea, for now, just to get the school going, and we can figure it out later, because we don’t know what the community needs in that spot yet,” she said. “The city is telling us a building has to go there, although the school board thinks otherwise. But in the meantime, let’s just get the school built.” Last fall council denied the board’s site plan, stalling plans to build the new high school and raising the possibility this matter could result in an OMB hearing. The school board had planned, at one point, 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. But 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 concluded a second building is not necessary, a conclusion the board’s design and planning staff, and an architect, also reached. The Planning Partnership’s 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 urban design guidelines and Official Plan policy to activate the street edge and contribute to a socially vibrant public streetscape. The Planning Partnership would defend it at any OMB hearing. Under the Ontario Planning Act, a landowner may appeal to the OMB if the municipality fails to approve its plans 30 days after submission, or if the landowner is not satisfied with any requirement. Those conditions exist right now. The school board will receive $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. bbruton@postmedia.com

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