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Dale Hunter


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1. Deadly year on the roads

The December 12th death of a 65-year-old Brampton woman, who police concluded stepped into live traffic that night in Loretto, put a tragic exclamation point on what's been the deadliest year in the Nottawasaga OPP detachment area in recent memory. There were five fatalities in 2014, one more than in 2013. Speed, alcohol, lack of seatbelt restraints and inattentiveness, are among the factors OPP listed as causes. Two of the incidents include criminal charges, whose cases are expected to get fully underway in 2015.

2. Tornado Tuesdays

Tuesday, June 17th, late afternoon, Environment Canada tracking a severe weather system in the region, which at 5:20 pm touched down as an EF-2 tornado in Angus. By the time it lost its ferocity about 15 minutes later near Barrie, its path of destruction would change the lives of hundreds of people, cause varying degrees of damage to more than 100 properties, estimated at over $30 million. Mayor Terry Dowdall summed up the only positive aspect by calling it a "miracle" nobody was killed. Exactly one week and almost to the hour after the tornado struck in Angus, New Tecumseth would feel its impact when an EF-1 tornado was confirmed to have touched down east of Tottenham in the area of the 4th Line and 15 Sideroad. One home sustained extensive damage, as did some barns and smaller structures and trees, and no serious injuries were reported. It seemed for a few weeks after that severe storms were hitting the area on Tuesdays. Today, Essa continues the rebuilding process, and has struck a committee to dole out approximately $140,000 in relief funds. The provincial government recently informed the Township that it would not be receiving any disaster relief funding, suggesting that insurance covered most of the damage. Essa council this week made another plea for reconsideration, seeking at least a matching amount. Residents and businesses affected by the June 17th tornado have until January 30 to apply to Essa's relief committee.


3. Municipal elections

Across the province voters headed to the polls on October 27th to elect new municipal councils and school board trustees. In this area, the municipal elections saw the long terms of Mike MacEachern end as mayor of New Tecumseth, and Tom Walsh in Adjala-Tosorontio, Terry Dowdall kept the status quo in Essa winning his second term. In New Tecumseth, Rick Milne was elected mayor, a position he's held at various intervals dating back to 1987 in Alliston. In Adjala-Tosorontio, Mary Small Brett became that Township's first ever female mayor after serving as deputy mayor since 2010.

4. Honda investment secures plant's future

On November 6th, Honda announced an $857 million investment, including an $85 million contribution from the Province, that secures the Alliston assembly operations as the long term home of its best selling Civic production, including its "next generation" relaunch. It's the first time a Honda plant outside Japan has been designated as a 'global lead plant.' The investment is over a three year period, will include "leading-edge technologies for vehicle assembly and engine manufacturing, as well as worker training and research and development partnerships with Ontario universities and colleges. A Consolidation Centre to service Plant 1 and the engine plant, similar to the one nearly completed for Plant 2, is under construction.

5. Province rips up OPP contracts

Its seeds were planted in the fall 2013, but officially announced early in 2014 that the Province was ending and not renewing municipal service contracts for the OPP effective January 1, 2015. In its place, an itemized costing model that moved closer to actual costs and shopping list of policing services to chose from. In August, the Province finally unveiled its potential impacts, and it turns out New Tecumseth will save nearly $900,000 by 2018, while Essa's savings are $435k. Adjala-Tosorontio will experience an increase of nearly $60,000. The three communities have entered into a six month contract extension with the Nottawasaga OPP providing each with the opportunity to determine the long term policing decisions. New Tecumseth's draft 2015 budget is already feeling the positive impacts with a favourable variance - for the first time in memory - of over $500,000 in policing costs.

6. To Stop or not to Stop in Beeton

The installation of a stop sign as a traffic calming measure in a neighbourhood is generally greeted positively. Except the one installed in Beeton at the intersection of Main Street and Tecumseth, whose impacts depended on how close one lived near it. Those residents in close proximity of the four-way stop complained about around the clock noise created by the constant stop and go of traffic, compounded by braking transport trucks. Council eventually ordered it removed, to mixed reviews. The long term plan includes traffic lights, but those are timed with residential development.

7. Stevenson Memorial Hospital

Its been a mostly positive year inside 200 Fletcher Crescent though it's bookended by the high and low of dealing with the Ministry of Health as it relates to its proposed expansion. Last winter, green-lighted by Central LHIN, SMH submitted its Plan B pre capital submission whose approval would trigger the five phases toward construction. In August, the hospital suffered a setback when the MOH replied that SMH would have to assume all the risks of moving forward with a master plan as more questions were raised. SMH's board of directors approved assuming those risks. The hospital's Foundation also announced the successful conclusion of its $2.76 million 'It takes you' fundraising campaign. The obstetrics department took a hit when Dr. Lawson announced she was leaving last summer. Her announced replacement, Dr. Abdulhafid's return remains pending his review by The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. And SMH's foray into the eye surgery health care delivery is entering its curtain call as Central LHIN has directed eye surgeries to be consolidated at Southlake and North York hospitals.

8. Tottenham growth spurt

The largest post-war expansion of residential development in Tottenham got fully underway in 2014 on its way to doubling the former village's population to 11,300 people by 2031. The subdivisions are all located on the east side of the CP tracks, and will fill in the spaces between north of Mill Street to the 3rd Line. A new multi-million dollar sewage treatment plant is under construction, and the Town expects the results of a Master Plan Study update regarding water in the spring. The preferred solution involves the extension of the Georgian Bay water pipeline to Tottenham to replace the ground water supply.

9. Retail revival

The abandoned Zellers store property on Young Street in Alliston, which stood vacant for nearly two years, found new life this year as it was chopped up into multiple retail units, whose first tenant, SportChek opened last month. A new Giant Tiger outlet is scheduled to open in 22,000 sq. ft of the space early in 2015, Anytime Fitness is preparing to open, and a further 10,000 sq. ft of space is for lease. And as Free Press Online reported first last month, a Windsor based independent theatre chain was in negotiations to open a multiplex theatre in the back end of the property.

10. Senior Management Shuffle

The Terri Caron as New Tecumseth's CAO era ended over summer after a dozen years in the top administrative post. Ms. Caron was succeeded by Brendan Holly, who followed her over from Vaughan, and served as Deputy CAO. New to the senior management team include new Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture; Director of Planning; and Clerk/Manager of Administration. A new Deputy CAO, is imminent.

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Janet St. Clair Doner Horsley

"No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world."
- Robin Williams

Source of each quote is linked.

"As I understand it in talking to (Nottawasaga OPP) detachment commander (Dirk) Cockburn, it's going to be like a shopping list for every occurrence that they have that will be like checking through your groceries at the till, and that'll be your bill."
- Ward 3 councillor Paul Whiteside

"And I said listen, I have a problem where I've accepted burden of care for all these patients, I continue to get referrals because I'm the only guy doing this in the immediate LHIN and the surrounding LHINs, what do you want me to do with these patients? The Chief of Staff said to me, 'do what everyone else does and send them downtown (Toronto)."
- Dr Baseer Khan

The stop sign itself, as far as I'm concerned, is horse feathers. There's nothing in there to say how many vehicles travel off of Dayfoot onto Main Street, or Centre Street on to Main Street. If there should be any kind of traffic regulation, it should be Centre and Main Street. You have cars parked there, and especially we have our winter hours, and it gets dark early, and people go to the restaurants or whatever, and unfortunately people park right up to the corner, and cars coming up on to Centre Street can't see what's going on."
- Beeton resident Frank Screen

"We didn't want to be too specific about the plans for the space following the completion of the additions to Plant 2. I know SPS will still be working there but I understand some space will be freed up. We just didn't want to launch any speculation that SPS would be moving their entire operation or that the real estate would become available for anyone who might be in the market. This way we make no commitments but we also don't start any rumours that the addition to Plant 2 means that there will be a 'For Sale' sign going up in front of SPS."
- Mike Page, HCM's Communications officer

"The Clean Water Act basically tells us as councillors and staff, we're all responsible personally for the integrity of our water system, and we could not knowingly put anything in the water that can harm people. There is a lot of evidence that fluoride causes harm. All these things I've been saying about fluoride, if you don't agree with what I've said, you should find out for yourself."
- Ward 8 councillor Jim Stone.

"Stop at the 10th Line, and drive your car to the 14th Line, that'll solve everybody's problem."
- Walter Davidson, of WD Potato

"The challenge that we have tonight is that unfortunately, early on in the process we didn't have a great estimate of the total expenditure. But at the end of the day, we still have a facility that's required, we still have an expansion that's required, and we have already invested significantly in designing this facility."
- Now former Mayor Mike MacEachern

"We need students to stand up and say that they're tired of it. We need students to get together and make a stand and say we're not going to take this anymore. We're not graduating from college to go into an entry level position with thousands of dollars worth of debt, and OSAP isn't going to cut, and our loans aren't going to cut it."
- Green Party candidate Jesseca Dundan

"We want to make sure the houses are safe before they come home. ... It's a miracle that no one was seriously injured or killed."
- Essa Mayor Terry Dowdall

"So, I may sound very upset, and I am very upset, as nobody seems to want to do anything here. I've gone and I've asked, and begged and pleaded to get things done, and basically I've been turned around and I'm the problem causer in this township."
- Frank Parulski

"We need to make changes in our caucus. Clearly caucus members want to be included in all major decision-making. It was that way many years ago when I started and we need to get back to that. In running for the interim leadership it was crystal clear from every single member of caucus that they felt disenfranchised."
- Simcoe Grey MPP Jim Wilson

"While the departure of Dr. Lawson is a loss to the Maternal Child Program at Stevenson, providing high quality birthing services remains our priority. We have experienced tremendous upward momentum and impressive progress over the past few years and would like to extend our thanks to Dr. Lawson for her dedication and professionalism. We wish her all the best."
- Dr. Oswaldo Ramirez, SMH Chief of Staff.

"I find it absolutely outrageous that this present administration blacks out details as to what we are spending legal fees on, and then justifies it on some gibberish language asserting a non existent solicitor and client privilege."
- Mayoralty candidate Kemp Kemp

"This is an incredibly important agreement for Stevenson, as Southlake is a major regional centre of excellence that offers comprehensive health programs, and has expertise in providing management services to hospitals. The Agreement will allow us to continue delivering safe, high-quality health care and at the same time, will support the level of service to the residents in our community."
- Jody Levac, SMH CEO

"I don't think it will be a shock to people to learn that I'm liberal, or certainly would see myself more closely aligned with Liberals than I am with other parties, but I've always tried to keep party politics out of municipal governance as it should be.
- Mike MacEachern

"I had a lot of years there and I had a lot of great opportunities, and I was able to make some changes, so I feel good overall with what I did, especially the last term. I guess people maybe think I'm getting old, so they put me in the bone yard. Anyway, I think I'll slink away home and retire."
- Jim Stone

"Soil tests were performed and service connections were reviewed at the time of purchase in 2013. It is common in development however for specific details regarding various requirements for a site or an area of development to come out during the site plan approval process, following property acquisition.  These types of authority requirements can vary extensively as they are specific to the local planning needs and differ in each municipality."
- Simcoe County CAO Mark Aitken

"The Nottawasaga Detachment and the Ontario Provincial Police are committed to traffic safety. The fatalities in 2014 are the result of speed, alcohol and inattentiveness. We continue to be committed to traffic safety in our communities by taking aggressive enforcement actions and educating the public about the dangers of speed, alcohol, lack of seatbelt restraints and inattentive drivers."
- Staff Sergeant Brian Humber of the Nottawasaga OPP in relation to Free Press Online's top news story of 2014.

Chris Ross

Alliston Nikolettes

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