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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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In 1989, Joe Roberts was addicted to heroin, living under a bridge in Vancouver. READ MORE: “In less than 12 years I went from a kid pushing a shopping cart on Vancouver’s downtown east side, to being on the cover of Canadian Business and MacLean’s magazine as a celebrated entrepreneur,” he said. Roberts is former CEO of Mindware Design Communications and now works as a motivational speaker, telling his story to businesses and organizations across North America. On Wednesday, he was the keynote speaker at The Push For Change at Blue Mountain Resort, a two-day symposium on mental health organized by the Ontario Provincial Police. Roberts was born in Midland and lived in Barrie before moving to Vancouver at age 16. It was in Vancouver, where developed addiction and spent time in jail and ended up homeless. He said he grew up in your average middle class family. “There is no indications in the first eight years of our lives that I would end up on the street,” he said. However, his father died when he was eight years old and his mother re-married shortly thereafter. He said this led to emotional abuse and physical abuse in the home, which was the trigger for his addiction. He said he tried drugs when he was nine-years-old. It was in 1989, after selling his boots for a fix, that he decided to make some changes in his life. “In 1989, I was not the jokester, I didn’t have a life that was filled with laughter and fun,” he said. “I was the quintessential addict living in the downtown east side, collecting cans and bottles.” He received support from the Salvation Army in Vancouver, his mother and addiction counselors. Roberts received two diplomas and went on to a successful business career, making his first million dollars when he was 35. “Getting from there to here, took a lot of help,” he said. “I’m here because of more than 10,000 people who invested in me. Who invested not in my probability, but my possibility.” Roberts said homelessness is a problem that needs support and collaboration. He said more money needs to be invested in prevention and support. “How we invest, right now in North America and most of the developed world, we invest in emergency response,” he said. “If you had a pipe broken in your house, would you spend all day, all night continuing to mop up the water without stopping the leak? The system for me for exiting homelessness, worked.” Also speaking was former NHLer and best-selling author Sheldon Kennedy. Kennedy, who played eight seasons in the NHL, has been advocating for abused children after announcing he had been sexually assaulted by his former hockey coach. Kennedy is a director of the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre Calgary. The centre includes representatives from the Alberta Health Services, prosecutors’ office, justice ministry, police and RCMP under one roof. Kennedy believes collaboration is important in dealing with mental health issues. “My message is connecting the dots for the impact of early childhood trauma,” he said. “Our systems are set up to deal with the outer layer of the onion all the time.” Kennedy said more than 90 per cent of mental health issues come from trauma. He said it’s imperative the police have the knowledge of how to deal with these issues. “We can’t operate in our silos and not communicate with each other,” he said. “If we see somebody who is down and out on the street, how do we shift the question from what’s wrong with you to what happened to you?” Kennedy said there needs to be more stories about recovery and people overcoming these challenges. “We don’t hear enough good stories about recovery and hope,” he said. “One of our messages is, there is a way out, because I was one of them.” OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes said the symposium is part of the mental health strategy the OPP introduced a year ago. “How do we train our officers to be in a better position to deal with the community?” he said.  “We have to make sure our members understand the challenges of mental health.” In 2010, Aaron Firman, who was suffering from mental health issues, was killed after an officer used a taser. Hawkes said it’s incidents like this that led to the development of the strategy. “It certainly is,” he said.  “The driver of it is, we as police officers have to be in a better position to deal with those individuals in crisis. The whole understanding of what the individual is going through and how you deal with it.” He said the organization is making changes to it’s policies and investment in its officers. He said they are looking at best practices of how to people in crisis. Hawkes said one model includes having a mental health worker and police officer going to the same call. “We’ve enhanced our training in the last two years, to build in the de-escalation piece in a higher level than we ever had before,” he said.  “We don’t want to be in a position when we take individuals and arrest them and put them in jail when really they are sick and they need to go see a doctor. We have to invest to in our people training and other technology.” Hawkes has been in policing for 32 years, and said the way they deal with mental health crisis has to change. “All you saw was the threat, you didn’t understand why,” he said. “There was individual who was doing something unusual and was a potential threat to someone in the community or a police officer and we just dealt with it, with sheer physical force. Now, it’s all about understanding what those challenges are and how do we deal with them appropriately?”

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Courage under fire isn’t always being literally under fire. Though for Tom Christianson, a retired lieutenant colonel and former US Special Forces soldier, and current senior historian to the US secretary of defense, bullets were involved. Christianson, a former Collingwood resident, was the guest speaker for this year’s South Georgian Bay Civic Prayer Breakfast held May 13 at Bear Estate. His talk was called “Courage beyond fear in leadership.” “Courage is not fearlessness,” said Christianson. “Courage is acting in spite of fear.” He told the crowd of local business owners and churchgoers courage is a misunderstood word, and it can exist even in a terrified individual. And he would know, having been on military tours in Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq – where he commanded armoured tank divisions during Desert Storm. During operations in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Christianson’s unit taught Mujahideen fighters how to fire Stinger missiles in their conflict with the Soviet Union. Following one lesson, Christianson and his men were asked to help with a patrol in an area considered clear. They were ambushed and the two point men were shot – one in the leg and the other in the lung. From the safe cover of a boulder, Christianson told a fellow soldier to get their point men to safety. Bullets screamed past their heads as they made a run for it. “I thought, ‘I’m probably going to die, but I do have faith,’” he said, adding he prayed and read scripture often before a day on the battlefield or in a conflict zone. “What actually went through my head was, ‘The worst thing that could happen is I could die, but would that be so bad?’” Christianson reached the soldier with the chest wound and patched him up with cellophane to stop the blood loss. While dragging the wounded soldier to safety, Christianson felt a twinge in his ankle, but chalked it up to a sprain and carried on. A helicopter arrived for the wounded and their attackers fled. When calm resumed, his colleague pointed out the blood on Christianson’s ankle. What he thought was a sprain was a bullet still lodged in his flesh. Christianson’s men all survived, including the two point men who were badly injured. “Courage isn’t limited to the battlefield,” said Christianson. “The way you become courageous is by having someone – in this case the Lord – behind you.” He encouraged the crowd to be courageous in their everyday lives by drawing strength from their faith. This was the third-annual Civic Prayer Breakfast, the first featured as guest speaker Paul Henderson – a hockey legend known for scoring the goal in the 1972 Summit Series Canada versus Russia game. Last year’s speaker was Lorna Dueck, the host and executive producer of Context with Lorna Dueck, which explores current affairs from a Christian perspective and airs on seven TV networks.

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Students in the Simcoe County District School Board have turned International Day of Pink into a week-long event. From April 11 to15,  bullying prevention events will take place throughout the county.    ??Paint the Town Pink  ? More than 120 teams of SCDSB students have been matched with stores in Alcona, Alliston, Barrie (downtown and in the Holly area), Collingwood, Creemore and Midland. These stores have donated their main windows to be decorated pink. Students will design and install a window display that combines the branding of the store with bullying prevention and equity-themed pink displays. Students will assemble their displays by April 8, for viewing during the week.   ??International Day of Pink   ?Each year, the second Wednesday in April is marked as the International Day of Pink. This year’s event takes place on April 13. In addition to the events listed here, many schools hold bullying prevention assemblies, pink shirt days and other activities.    Barrie, April 13 Barrie’s official International Day of Pink celebration will take place at City Hall at 4:30 p.m. Representatives from the SCDSB and Barrie Pride will be at the flag raising along with other local dignitaries.   ?? Collingwood, April 13   On the morning of April 13, students will unite to turn Collingwood pink and participate in Olympic-themed challenges at the Eddie Bush Memorial Arena. Local dignitaries including MP Jim Wilson and Mayor Sandra Cooper will participate in the opening ceremony, which begins outside the library at 10 a.m., with a torch run to the arena to follow.   In Barrie and Collingwood, students will be joined by MacKenzie Oliver, founder of the I Love Me Club, to take a bullying prevention pledge.   ?? Art Exhibit   ? Grade 10-12 visual and media arts students from Innisdale Secondary School will display artwork at the SCDSB Education Centre in Midhurst. The exhibit will run during the last two weeks of April.  ?? Thanks to Hillcrest Elementarily School for helping us get our pink on! #paintthetownpink #downtownbarrie pic.twitter.com/vweYlu1UD7 — Lazy Tulip Cafe (@LazyTulipCafe) April 8, 2016

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Barrie police are looking for meat thief. Police say the man grabbed more than $200 worth of steaks in 2014 from the former Bayfield Street Zehrs store and became aggressive with a security guard who tried to stop him. Police say the suspect fought the guard and fled with the steaks. Police have a released a security camera image of the suspect, who is described as a white male, between 40 to 45 years of age, about six feet tall, with a medium build. He was wearing a camouflage bandana, jean jacket and a green t-shirt. Anyone with information is asked to contact Const. Keers at 705-725-7025, et. 2565, or email skeers@barriepolice.ca, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS, or leave an anonymous tip at www.tipsubmit.com.

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TAY TOWNSHIP – St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church will present the award-winning “ABC Music & Me” on Saturdays starting this weekend. The Victoria Harbour church will host the Kindermusik International enrichment program from 10-10:30 a.m. Geared toward two- to four-year-olds, the free program is described as a half-hour, multi-sensory workout. For more information, call Diane Collett at 705-538-0885.

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MIDLAND – Midland’s Frank and Mary Graham are the centre of attention during a celebration marking their 70th wedding anniversary. Dozens of friends, dignitaries and family members dropped by Royal Canadian Legion Branch 80 on Sunday to offer congratulations.

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Special weather statement in effect for: \t•\tBarrie – Collingwood – Hillsdale \t•\tMidland – Coldwater – Orr Lake \t•\tOrillia – Lagoon City – Washago * Anugs – New Tecumseth – Innisfil Yet another April snowfall on tap.??The latest battle between spring and a very stubborn winter is setting up for today and tonight across Southern Ontario. A large Alberta Clipper approaching the Great Lakes from the northwest will spread a large area of snow into the region, with the snow expected to arrive in Southwestern Ontario by early afternoon. Snow will reach the Muskoka to Golden Horseshoe areas later this afternoon then spread into remaining regions this evening.??Snowfall amounts will range from near 2 cm over areas near Lakes Erie and Ontario, to 4 to 8 centimetres further north. Up to 10 centimetres of snow is possible in a few locales tonight especially in areas around Georgian Bay and the Dundalk Highlands to the Haliburton Highlands.?? As a warm front associated with the clipper moves in, the snow will change over to rain by late afternoon in the Windsor area. The changeover to rain will then work its way northeastward with the warm front tonight across remaining regions of Southern Ontario. There may be a brief period of ice pellets or freezing rain during the transition from snow to rain.??Most areas should receive a total of 5 to 15 mm of rain before the rain ends on Monday.

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A woman has been arrested in connection with a theft and assault at a Barrie pharmacy last month. The 34-year-old Dundalk woman was found Monday by Chatsworth OPP, after receiving numerous tips. On March 28, a Barrie pharmacy employee was punched several times in the face trying to stop a shoplifter. City police were called to the Rexall on Essa Road shortly after 5 p.m. and told that a woman had selected items in the store and concealed them in a bag she was carrying. Security alarms went off when she left the pharmacy and a store employee stopped a woman outside. The employee was assaulted and a woman fled on foot, police said, and was last seen running west on Coughlin Road. About $500 in stolen merchandise was left behind. The pharmacy worker received minor injuries. The arrested woman will remain in the custody of OPP, as she was wanted on several outstanding charges there. She also faces theft and assault charges in Barrie.