Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday January 29, 2017


Ladies and Gentlemen



Development in the downtown has been a hot topic of late. Two weeks ago nearly 100 citizens came out to see the second phase of the Downtown Master Plan unveiled.  The presentation can be seen at:




The downtown Business Improvement Area (BIA) has just announced the 2017 edition of their fa├žade improvement program, with grants up to $3,000. The Town’s Downtown Community Improvement Program (CIP) continues with grants up to $6,000.  And last week, Council declared the parking lot behind the downtown Chamber of Commerce surplus, clearing the way for an exciting new development.



Lots of activity underway, shaping our downtown to serve the merchants and people of Midland.





The Week Ahead



A relatively quiet start to the week.  Then things get busy on Wednesday February 1st.



From 9:00 am to 4:00 pm at the County Museum in Midhurst is the Affordable Housing Innovations Forum. This workshop brings together planners and politicians to identify new methods to solve the long standing shortfall in affordable housing.  If you wish to attend please RSVP the County at 705-735-6901.   



At 2:00 pm is a special Audit Committee meeting at Town Hall.  Following that at 3:30 pm at Town Hall is a meeting of the King Street Redesign Steering Committee.  They will be receiving the input from the recent public meeting and starting to decide on the work plan for downtown. Finally at 7:00 pm it’s the Planning and Development Committee.  A short agenda including a request to change the zoning at 438 Hugel from a duplex to a triplex.



On Thursday the four municipalities get together to exchange information about issues affecting our area. The agenda will include topics such as affordable housing and sharing of fire service resources.



Friday the 3rd starts in Orillia with a special meeting of the Simcoe County Healthcare Pilot.  This initiative, led by Warden Marshall, looks for better methods to deliver healthcare in the County.  Depending how this develops, Simcoe County may become a test bed for new service ideas that will help the province better manage its extensive healthcare operations and budget. Later that day I will be meeting with MPP Hoggarth about healthcare issues affecting the Midland area.  



At 4:00 pm grab your hockey stick and head downtown to take part in the annual BIA Downtown Road Hockey Game. A big thank-you to Poppas Pizza who will be providing free pizza. And sticking with the food theme, “Dinner in your Hands” will take place at Huronia Museum from 5:00 to 8:00 pm.



Both of these events are a prelude to the main weekend event – Winterfest.  Tuxxie (our penguin mascot) has spent the last year preparing an awesome line-up and is looking to see everyone there.  For a complete list of activities, please see:




Week - End



Saturday February 4th

-       Winterfest – all day

-       EDCNS holds its visioning session at Brooklea



Sunday February 5th

-       8:00 am to 6:00 pm Atom Hockey Tournament at the NSRC





Council Issues Update



OPP



As mentioned earlier, we will be receiving our OPP costing information on February 8th, at 6:00 pm in the Council chambers. A number of other communities are also in the process of receiving their costings. You can check out how they are doing with the links below.









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For those of you who are still debating if you need to be getting more exercise in 2017, you will be pleased to know that “VeloFit: Indoor Cycling Studio” is about to open on Woodland Avenue in Midland.  Please visit them at http://velofit.ca/   Another vote of business confidence in our community.





Gord McKay





The Year for Getting It Done - 2017

                                                                                              



Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sunday January 29, 2017


Ladies and Gentlemen



Not to start on a gloomy note but the lack of sunshine this past week is starting to wear thin. It has also been a rough couple of weeks for waste pick-up across the County. Discussions are underway with the contractor to minimize any future disruptions.



The delayed closing of the Midland Pillsbury plant will take place this month. Our thoughts are with the nearly 100 employees who will be losing their jobs. While the closing announcement was made almost two years ago, it still hurts. A bit of good news is that there is another manufacturer looking to acquire the facility.  All our efforts are going into make that happen. 





The Week Ahead



Monday 23rd will start with a closed meeting of Council at 6:00 pm.  The meeting will address appointments to boards and committees and a potential land sale.  At 7:00 pm is the January Council meeting. The agenda includes:

-       Four deputations;

o    County update on how Midland is doing with its affordable housing target

o    A presentation on the 2017 Silver Goose cycling event

o    Update on the Active Transportation Committee

o    Mr. A. Arlett will speak to Second Units in Midland

-       Council will make its decision on “First-Past-the-Post” voting for future elections

-       Declaration of 526 Bay Street (behind the Chamber of Commerce) as surplus land. This is being done as part of a new downtown development

-       By-Law to recognize Ms. Laura Lee as our new Deputy Clerk.  You may recall that Ms. Lee was recently with the Town, filling in for a temporary absence.



On Tuesday at 9:00 am County Council meets in Midhurst at 9:00 am. Council will be reviewing the recent waste collection outages and the corrective actions to be taken. At 7:30 pm at the MCC you are invited to A Day in the Life featuring Rob Reader.  Rob is a well-known restauranteur and avid adventurer.  Sure to be spellbinding.



On Wednesday the 25th at 8:30 am (yes in the morning) you are invited to a special meeting of Council to decide on changes to the MCC by-laws. The meeting is at the Library. Then at 9:00 am at the Library Council starts into a two day workshop on our strategic plan – Midland Forward. Council will be defining its Mission, Vision and Values as a corporation and identifying the major objectives for the next two years. You are welcome to attend.



At 7:00 pm Gateway Centre for Learning and Georgian College invite you to learn about their new Plumber Pre-Apprenticeship Program. The Program is 35 weeks in length and is free to qualified applicants.  The information event takes place at Georgian College, 649 Prospect Blvd, Midland.  For information call Jennifer Ellis 705-527-1522 or http://www.gatewaycentreforlearning.ca/



Thursday the 26th sees the second day of Council’s Midland Forward deliberations at the Library. Starting at 9:00 am, Council will set expectations and actions for:

-       Fiscal responsibility and cost containment

-       Organizational excellence

-       Economic development

-       A healthy and sustainable community

-       Working with partners and collaboration

This meeting is open to the public.



Also at 9:00 am the NSCFDC Speakers Series starts its 2017 season with the presentation “Find Your Inner Leader”.  This inspiring talk by Tracey Evans will answer all your questions about what effective leadership means for an organization and how to go about achieving it.  The talk is at the NSSRC. Please book in advance at www.nscfdc.on.ca.   At 4:30 pm the 2nd annual Mayors Mac & Cheese dinner committee meets to plan this year’s event. Please make a note in your calendar for April 3rd to come out and support We Are the Villagers while enjoying a great Mac & Cheese dinner.



Friday is Family Literacy Day and the place to be is our Library. Starting at 10:00 am and running all day are literacy-related activities for the whole family. Join the fun with educational games, activities, and movies.  



In the afternoon Kee Bee Play, a local manufacturer of commercial play products, will host a special meeting to look for new business opportunities. Kee Bee Play is best known for creating commercial play structures for children - think of the play structures you see in malls or at McDonalds. They have identified a new business area of play structures that can help adults with dementia. The meeting will assess how we can leverage this insight into brand new businesses.



Week - End



Saturday January 28



·         8:00 pm enjoy Billy Joel and the Piano Men at the MCC



Sunday January 29



·         Brookside presents music by Americas (violin and piano) at the MCC at 2:00 pm





Council Issues Update





Budget



Due to a large amount or preparatory work, our public budget process will start in February.





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Two items in closing.



1)     The Our Health presentation on PTSD to be hosted by Dr. Keith Rose is now sold out. A tremendous interest in this topic from our first responders

2)     Midland will be receiving a federal grant of $131,000 for a new accessible transit bus



Gord McKay





The Year for Getting It Done - 2017

                                                                                              


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday January 15, 2017


Ladies and Gentlemen



Cold days ahead but lots happening in Midland to keep you warm.



The Week Ahead



Monday the 16th you are invited to Boston Pizza for a fundraiser for the 2017 Frank Graham Cycle Liberation Tour.  This Tour is all about the special bond between the people of Holland and the Canadians who liberated their country in WWII. This is the third iteration of the Tour. Young people from Midland and Chatham, Ontario will ride from England to Markelo, Holland visiting war memorial sites along the way. Their participation ensures the torch of remembrance will be passed on to the next generation. To help fund their ride Boston Pizza will donate 10% of your bill for food purchased between 5:00 and 8:00 pm.  See you there.



At 7:00 pm Quest Art School + Gallery launches its special project to honour Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation. They are creating four murals, one for each North Simcoe municipality.  Midland’s opportunity to come up with ideas for our mural is tonight at

7 pm at the MCC. If you can’t attend but have some great ideas, send them to murals@questart.ca before January 27.



On Tuesday our Legion helps fundraise for the 2017 Frank Graham Cycle Liberation Tour. The Legion’s Ladies Auxiliary is hosting one of their renowned spaghetti dinners starting at 6:00 pm.



Wednesday January18th our Library launches a brand new program called “1-on-1 Tech Help”. For those of us at wits end trying to cope with modern technology, this program is for you. Join a ‘tech tutor’ for 30 minutes of hands-on learning. They’ll walk you through the steps you need and answer questions along the way. The program is every Wednesday afternoon and it’s free.  Please register in-person or by phone 526-4216.



At 6:00 pm you are invited to an important public meeting to help design your downtown. Last year a committee was formed to start visioning our future downtown. They now have their initial report and again need your feedback on how they are doing. The meeting is from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at the MCC.



Thursday the 19th sees a second innovative program from our Library - Genealogy 101 Workshops. The workshop will tell you everything you need to know about researching your own genealogy and introduce you to the many Library resources to get you started.  Workshops will take place every Thursday from 2:00 to 3:00 pm during January and February. It’s free. Please register in-person or by phone 526-4216.



On Friday the 20th I am at County for the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee. Then at 8:00 pm that evening you will want to catch the renowned Canadian group 54-40 Unplugged at the MCC.  



Week - End



Saturday January 21



-       5:00 pm the annual Robbie Burns supper at the Midland Legion



Sunday January 22



-       Southern Georgian Bay Farmers Market – from  9:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Museum all winter



Council Issues Update



OPP



The Town has been advised by the OPP that they will present their costing information to us on February 8th.  



GBGH



This past week the mayors met with GBGH and Waypoint about their upcoming budget discussions with the provincial government.  Their overriding concern is receiving sufficient funding to cover the ever growing costs of delivering hospital services. Key points from our discussion:

·         GBGH and Waypoint are key parts of a sustainable health care system in North Simcoe. Health care dollars must be apportioned appropriately.

·         A properly funded community hospital is needed to serve the North Simcoe community - ensure access, reduce wait times and provide high quality patient care.

·         Hospitals have already absorbed zero increases in hospital funding from 2011 to 2015.  No financial capacity remains to face the ever rising costs of hydro and utilities, new provincial regulations and pressures from wage and benefit increases

·         Healthy community hospitals are a must for a strong health care system and are a foundation for the local economy



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And finally, two upcoming items.



1)     CLH has its major fundraising event featuring the legendary Kim Mitchell on Saturday February 25th at 6:00 pm at the Quality Inn (former Best Western)



2)     A group of local representatives will meet on Monday, January 23rd to discuss the historical and cultural importance of Ste. Marie and Discovery Harbour. If you would like to provide your views on these important historical sites, please visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/stemarie_discoveryharbour.





Gord McKay





The Year for Getting it Done - 2017

                                                                                              


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Sunday January 8, 2017


Ladies and Gentlemen



Staff reports are just starting to come out about how Midland fared in 2016 and our building permits tell an interesting tale. The 2016 summary shows that the Town issued $71.5M in building permits, which I believe is an all-time high. This compares to $22.3M in 2015. While much of this is as a result of large one-time projects such as our new high school and Operations Centre, there is more than enough left over to indicate that we are definitely growing.



The report also shows that Midland built 143 new housing units in 2016. Midland has an average household density of 2.1 individuals per dwelling, so a first approximation shows a one year population lift of 300 people or 1.8%. This is well ahead of our recent population growth of close to 1%. Note, this is a rough approximation but it supports the reality that Midland is starting to get noticed.



The Week Ahead



Monday January 9th will feature two Town meetings. At 6:00 pm Council meets in closed session to discuss two matters - a personal issue and a potential land sale. At 7:00 pm is the General Committee meeting. The agenda is short and will feature one major topic – the voting process for our 2018 municipal election.  The discussion will begin with a presentation by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and then Council will provide direction about whether the voting system should be changed from the “first past the post” to some other format.



On Tuesday the 2017 work begins in Midhurst with the County Council meeting at 9:00 am.



Wednesday the 11th features a number of interesting events. There will be a community consultation on “Basic Income” at the Orillia public library, 36 Mississauga St., at 6:00 pm.  (Basic Income is a social program currently being explored by the provincial government that would provide an unqualified financial support to every citizen of the province.)   If you plan on attending, please book in advance at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/community-consultation-on-basic-income-tickets-29901223364

You can also participate by sending your comments to the province at BasicIncome@ontario.ca or by taking the online survey at www.ontario.ca/basicincome



Also at 6:00 pm, MPP Marie-France Lalonde, the Minster of Government and Consumer Services and the Minister of Francophone Affairs will be visiting our area.  She will be available to meet you at La Cle de la Baie, 63 Main Street, in Penentanguishene.  Please RSVP to fredlarsen@xplornet.com by Monday if you plan to attend this event.



Then at 7:00 pm it’s the Planning and Development Committee at Town Hall.  An interesting agenda including:

-       A draft plan of subdivision for 283 Barnett St., the old St T’s property

-       A zoning by-law amendment to allow the owners of Mountainview Mall to use the inside area in the back of the mall for warehousing/storage

-       Planning staff’s report on their work plan for 2017. The plan includes such items as:

o    Update on the discussions with the Smart Centre (Hwy 12 and Jones Rd.) to improve traffic flow

o    Application by Castel of Paul Inc. (the old Castle Village) to add a camp ground to their site

o    Ongoing work with the County on our Official Plan Amendment concerning Second Suites

o    Building permit follow-up for large construction projects including Georgian Bay District High School, the GBGH ER and the Town’s new Operations Centre.

For a copy of the staff report visit http://www.midland.ca/Shared%20Documents/plan/PDCCAgendaJan11.pdf and scroll to the bottom.



On Thursday at 7:00 pm the Library Board holds its regular meeting at the Library.



Friday the 13th starts us into the week-end with Ruth Hurdle’s exhibition “Beyond the Trees”. It features a number of her new paintings.  The exhibition opens at 7:00 pm in the upper gallery at the MCC.  Also at 7:00 pm at the MCC is the start of a new “Swing Series” sponsored by our local Caisse Populaire – Desjardins. Come out and enjoy the hot sounds of the Dixie Demons.



Week - End

Sunday January 15



-       7:00 pm Jack de Keyser entertains at MCC with his Voodoo Boogie Revue



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Another new attraction is about to open in our area. Huronia Historical Parks is announcing its brand new Discovery Harbour Skate Trail. Come skate through the historic British military and navel establishment, and experience two kilometres of outdoor skating and entertainment for all ages. The trail is open starting mid-January through to March.  Hours of operation are: Friday from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm; Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 to 4:00 pm and 6:00 to 9:00 pm.  



Fun in the snow.



Gord McKay





The Year for Getting it Done - 2017

                                                                                              






Sunday, January 1, 2017

Janaury 1, 2017


Ladies and Gentlemen



Happy New Year - 2017



The New Year starts with celebration but 2017 will also be a critical year for Midland. The Town’s agenda contains a number of major items and the time to accomplish them is short.  I expect that by 2018, an election year, Council’s energy will be increasingly focused on politics and less on the important work before us.



In this first News from the Town of 2017 I will take you through those major agenda items. But before doing that it is important to step back and ask the question “Why?” – Why are these items important to Midland and for our future?  Why can’t we just stop and do things the way we did them 10 years ago?



The answer to that question is that you the citizens told us that you want to move Midland forward.  That direction has come in a number of ways: by electing your progressive Council in 2014; by participating in the many planning/information sessions organized by the Town; but most importantly by being engaged in the many supportive and civic activities that make Midland such an exceptional community.



In my many conversations with residents I hear about how they want Midland to be a livable community for the elderly, for children, for families, for all.  They want to have access to a healthy lifestyle that includes good healthcare and recreational opportunities. They want good schools for their children and educational resources for adults. They want quality jobs that will attract and retain young workers. And they want a tolerant community where they can socialize with their friends and confidently welcome new citizens, such as our Syrian refugee family. A community for all to take pride in.



It’s a high bar but it is doable. Your Council’s 2017 agenda takes major steps in realizing your vision.  But remember it is your vision too. Make 2017 your year for getting it done.



 Council Issues Update



Town Hall – Planning and Staffing



Before starting any major job you need to have the right people in place and a sound plan of action. In September 2016 Council brought in our new CAO John Skorobohacz and new CFO/Treasurer Susan Turnbull. They have spent the last three months coming to grips with the realities of our municipality and are now ready to turn to the major work items of 2017.



In late 2016 Mr. Skorobohacz presented Council with a “strategic critique” of our municipal operations entitled Midland Forward.  http://www.midland.ca/Shared%20Documents/CAO-2016-9%20Midland%20Forward.pdf#search=midland%20forward

The report identified many areas for improvement including communications, information technology and the need for a complete operational re-assessment.  Many of the work items in Midland Forward will be actioned throughout 2017-18.



Some further staff adjustments will also be required. Our Clerk, Andrea Fay has announced her move to Wasaga Beach.  Mr. Jamie Galloway, our Engineer, has decided to move back to the private sector. These positions will be filled over the next few months.



OPP Costing



A quality policing service is vital to our community’s safety. The Midland Police Service provides a great policing service but it comes at a cost - approximately 26% of our 2015 tax levy is devoted to police costs. While most residents are satisfied with the quality of the service, many have raised the question “Are we paying too much?”



In the previous term of Council, the decision was made to have a fair look at other policing options. The initial review showed that only the OPP was in a position to service Midland. At the start of this term of Council the OPP was asked to provide a costing for their service. I expect that costing estimate to be provided to us later this month. Council will then have approximately 6 months to assess their service offering and decide on how best to maintain Midland’s high standards of policing service.



Midland Bay Landing



Even though Midland is situated on the shores of Georgian Bay residents have told Council in numerous ways that they want better access to the Bay. In 2013 Unimin Inc. announced it would be closing its operation. Council took the bold step to purchase the Unimin property - some 40 prime downtown acres located right on our waterfront. At the same time many Midland citizens worked with the Town to develop a vision for the land. That vision came to be known as Midland Bay Landing.



Two year ago, Council entered into an agreement with a private sector developer to work with us in implementing that vision. While some preliminary work has been undertaken on the site, much remains to be done. Over the next four months Council will be addressing this gap and making plans to ensure that our vision for Midland Bay Landing becomes a reality.



MPUC



Both residents and the municipality agree that the Midland Power Utility Corporation (MPUC) is one of our major assets. Since MPUC was formed as a corporation in 2000 it has faithfully supplied electricity to the Town. But just distributing electricity is no longer enough. Changes in energy technology, new business models, increased provincial regulation and provincial emphasis on consolidation make operating a small power utility a risky proposition.  Is there a better way to ensure citizens will continue to receive quality electricity services while reducing the risk for everyone?



Council decided some two years ago to ask that question. After a lengthy public discussion Council decided to retain a legal firm to solicit bids for the sale of MPUC. The bids are expected in February/March. Council will then have to decide if any of these bids provide Midland with the electrical services it requires for its future. A final decision is expected before year’s end.



Downtown Health Clinic



Midland citizens clearly identify healthcare as one of their top priorities. One of the key needs in our community, even though it is not widely recognized, is having convenient access to mental health services. Mental health services should be as available as any other visit to the doctor’s office would be.



Two years ago Council was approached by Chigamik/Waypoint to help them provide these needed services to many residents in our downtown. Council agreed to lease a portion of land at Edgehill Park for a downtown healthcare facility.  The project has been approved by the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN and is waiting scheduling by the Ministry of Health. I expect that the site plans will be back before Council this spring with construction to start shortly thereafter.



GBGH



It has been a tumultuous year for our hospital. Citizens have been engaged in the debate about funding our hospital and more recently the consultant’s report recommending the closure of a number of clinical services. The good news is that the clinical services are staying and the hospital has received nearly a million dollar increase to its base funding plus additional funding to complete its Emergency Department.



While Council has no formal responsibility for the hospital, a sustainability community hospital is essential to Midland’s future. Council will continue to participate in the healthcare discussion in 2017, especially as the provincial strategy for homecare services is rolled out.



Budget



The key annual planning document for Council is the budget. Far from being “a lot of numbers” this budget identifies specifically what Council and staff intend to do and how we are backing that up with your taxpayers’ dollars.



The 2017 budget has been delayed due to getting new key staff in place. The public budget process will start in late January and is expected to wrap up by March. The delay should not affect Town operations. Look for some of the strategy ideas from Midland Forward to appear in the 2017 budget.



Official Plan Review



Another key document that guides Council and our Town’s future is the Official Plan. This provincially mandated document describes in some detail the physical shape of the Town – what the roads look like; where people will live; where the parks will be – and much more. The Town is currently updating its Official Plan, which will keep staff and Council busy for most of 2017.  http://www.midland.ca/official-plan-review



One of the challenges of planning is ensuring effective public engagement. While planning can be a dry topic, it none-the-less gives all citizens the opportunity to see what is proposed for the next 5 years and to make comments on those plans. Some of the ideas that staff have come up with to improve engagement include:

-       Informal meetings with staff to discuss specific Official Plan topics

-       An “Official Plan 101” meeting to improve interest in the process

-       Public Open House on the draft Official Plan

Look for these opportunities for your participation in the months ahead.



Economic Development



Without economic development (jobs and wealth creation) we will not be able to sustain our standard of living. The wealth created by good jobs puts money in the pockets of residents plus provides the tax base for delivering the public services that we all rely upon.



In 2014 your Council, together with the other North Simcoe municipalities,  created and funded the Economic Development Corporation of North Simcoe.  Its purpose is to attract and retain local businesses (especially manufacturer) plus promote our tourism economy.



While EDCNS is off to a good start, economic development requires a long-term commitment. This year Council will reaffirm its commitment to economic development in the budget and potentially start to focus on other areas for development such as healthcare services and entrepreneurism.



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As you can see Council and Staff are in for a busy year.



The Week Ahead



Despite the busy agenda (above), the first week of January looks pretty quiet.  Enjoy it while it lasts.



On a reflective note, the past Deputy Mayor of Tay Township, Bill Rawson, has passed away. A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday January 7th at 1:00 pm at the Oakwood Community Center in Victoria Harbor.





Gord McKay





The Year for Getting it Done - 2017