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Residents can vote in advance in Ward 1 byelection on Jan. 8 and 9
December 23, 2015
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- Ward 1 residents can vote in advance polls on Jan. 8 and Jan 9 for the Ward 1 byelection.

The byelection was called after former Ward 1 Regional councillor Jennifer O'Connell was elected Pickering-Uxbridge MP in the federal election in October.  Council appointed Ward 1 City Councillor Kevin Ashe to the vacant Regional seat, leaving the local seat empty.

Polls will be open for Ward 1 eligible voters at Pickering City Hall, One The Esplanade, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 8 and on Saturday, Jan. 9 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

There will also be a special voting location from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, Jan. 8 at Abbeylawn Manor Retirement Home at 534 Road Ave., Pickering, for residents only.

More locations will be open on the day of the byelection, Monday, Jan. 25.

For more information on the byelection, visit /www.pickering.ca/en/cityhall/2016-Ward1-By-election.asp.

Pickering Tree Lighting
December 4, 2015
Photo 1
 
Photo 2
 
Photo 3
 
Claremont Community Centre could change to Dr. Nelson F. Tomlinson Centre
December 3, 2015
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- Ward 3 City Councillor Rick Johnson wants to change the name of the Claremont Community Centre to the Dr.  Nelson F.  Tomlinson Centre.

He gave notice of motion at the latest council meeting and it will be discussed by council at a later date.

Dr. Tomlinson was an active citizen and doctor who contributed greatly to the Claremont and surrounding communities.

According to the motion, Dr. Tomlinson taught at the Claremont Continuation School from 1911 for seven years before attending the University of Toronto medical school.

During the First World War he was sent to work at a tuberculosis sanatorium in Gravenhurst, but in 1919 returned to Claremont and opened his practice hen a doctor was desperately needed.

Early on, Dr. Tomlinson would travel miles by foot, snowshoe, horse and buggy and, later, in a Model T Ford, to visit patients in north Pickering.  He practised medicine for 56 years until age 90.  Dr. Tomlinson held the position of medical officer of health from 1935 to 1955.

He held high positions in many local organizations, including: the Claremont United Church; the library board; the Masonic Lodge; the Claremont Business Men's Association; and the parks and school boards.

He pushed to have the vacated Claremont Presbyterian Church turned into a community centre, which resulted in many years of community groups enjoying the hall until the Claremont Community Centre was built.

Residents can submit comments on the name change by sending an e-mail to dshields@pickering.ca or calling 905-683-2760 ext.  2019 no later than Dec. 31.

Highway 407 East opening delayed but tolls will be waived initially
The 407 extension into Durham Region won't open until spring
but the government is promising to postpone the tolls.
Tess Kalinowski
December 3, 2015
(thestar.com)
407 Extention
Marcus Oleniuk / Toronto Star file photo
Work that remains on the construction of Highway 407 East inludes “top coat asphalt and permanent pavement markings in some sections.”

Durham Region commuters will get to drive the first stretch of Highway 407 East for free once the highway opens.  The catch is they will have to wait longer to use the new $1.2 billion route.

The toll road, being built with a provincial public-private partnership through Infrastructure Ontario, was to open on Dec. 18.  But it isn't finished, Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said Thursday.

He cited early design work “that perhaps wasn't done at the speed or the pace that would have been ideal” as one cause of delay.

“Work that remains includes top coat asphalt and permanent pavement markings in some sections, the final stages of bridge construction at some locations and final safety reviews,” he wrote in a letter to Durham Region chair Roger Anderson and mayors of the affected municipalities.

That can't be done in the winter, so the highway, which runs from east of Brock Rd. in Pickering to Harmony Rd. in Oshawa, will open in the spring, said Del Duca.

The highway that is being built by 407 East Development Group remains on budget, he stressed.

“We will not pay a cent to the consortium for the completion of the highway until it's opened to the travelling public,” said Del Duca, adding that the company will suffer a financial penalty for the delay.

He repeated the government's earlier commitment that the tolls on the new stretch of the 407 will be lower than the existing 407 ETR rates.  Any increases will be tied to the rate of inflation.

Preliminary work on the 407 extension, from Harmony Rd. to Highway 35/115 in Clarington, is already underway and tracking for completion in 2020.

Both phases of the 407 East include links to Highway 401.

For the first few months it will be free to “help commuters to become accustomed to the new roads,” said Del Duca.

Durham chair Roger Anderson could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Pickering to illuminate Esplanade Park on Dec. 4 with annual tree lighting, fireworks
December 1, 2015
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- The City of Pickering will become lit up with a dazzling fireworks display and tree lighting on Friday when it hosts the annual event at Esplanade Park.

The tree lighting and fireworks event brings out thousands of families and friends from the Pickering community and beyond to enjoy the holiday lights and entertainment.  It will include free rides, games, crafts and lots of entertainment for all ages, and live performances by Anna, Elsa and Kristoff, Puss n' Boots, as well as the Pickering Community Concert Band.  Food trucks will line Esplanade North for dinner or a snack.  Live reindeer and a special visit from the North Pole will be a delight for children.  Fireworks will light up the sky to complete the night.  Food donations will be accepted for St.  Paul's on-the-Hill Community Food Bank.

The fun will take place on Dec. 4 at Esplanade Park, One The Esplanade, from 6 to 9 p.m.

Developer Jerry Coughlan makes $1-million donation to Ajax, Pickering hospital
Businessman makes surprise announcement at Mayor's Gala
Keith Gilligan
November 26, 2015
(durhamregion.com)
Jerry Coughlan Donation
Jerry Coughlan donation
Submitted photo
DURHAM -- Developer and golf course owner Jerry Coughlan, third from left, surprised the audience at the Mayor's Gala when he announced he was donating $1 million to the Rouge Valley Ajax and Pickering hospital.  With him, from left, were Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan, Rouge Valley Foundation chairwoman Judith Barker and Foundation board member Nancy Maxwell.  November 21, 2015

DURHAM -- It was an announcement that caught everybody by surprise, even the recipients.

Jerry Coughlan, the founder of Coughlan Homes now operating as J.F.C.  Developments Ltd., announced on Saturday he was donating $1 million to the Rouge Valley Ajax and Pickering hospital.  Mr. Coughlan made the announcement during the Mayor's Gala at the Pickering Recreation Complex on Nov. 21.

“It was something planned for later in the year, but my accountant said why not do it tonight.  Everything turned out well,” he said.  “I earned all the money in Ajax and Pickering and I'm just putting something back, I guess.”

Chad Hanna, the president of the Rouge Valley Foundation, said Mr. Coughlan “has always been a supporter of the hospital.”

In a statement, Judith Barker, chairwoman of the foundation's board of directors, said, “We were of course very excited at this wonderful announcement and proud to receive such generous support.  Mr. Coughlan is a true community builder and through such a gift he will put a spotlight on the importance of supporting and helping to advance local health care, in a way that benefits everyone.”

Mr. Coughlan said, “I was sick last year and Ajax (hospital) took care of me.

The foundation has ideas on how to spend the money, Mr. Hanna noted.

“It's really up to Jerry and we haven't had that discussion yet.  Any donor who does that sort of gift will get good advice.  We'll give him a shopping list and he'll decide,” he said.

When asked if he was surprised with the announcement, Mr. Hanna said, “Yeah, I think we were surprised.  Pleasantly surprised.”

The gala raised enough money to buy five Panda Baby Warmers, which are used to keep newborns warm.

“It was a great evening.”

He said with success of the baby warmers and Mr. Coughlan's announcement, “if there was a dry eye in the house, I didn't see it.”

“It's a great story.  At the hospital, doctors and nurses were walking around Monday with big smiles,” Mr. Hanna said.

Pickering Islamic Centre condemns Paris attacks
Mosque spokesman says women, children in state of fear
Kristen Calis
November 24, 2015
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- The Pickering Islamic Centre is expressing its deep shock at the terrorist attacks that killed 129 people in Paris on Nov. 13.

“We categorically condemn these horrific attacks and all acts of violent extremism and terrorism wherever and whenever they occur,” the Islamic Centre said in a statement.  “There is no justification of any kind for such criminal acts.”

The release said the Islamic Centre's thoughts and prayers are with the people of France, and the families of those killed and injured, as well as the first responders and security officials working to track down those responsible.

“Muslims have been in a state of mourning,” said outreach director Javed Akbar.

In a phone interview, Mr. Akbar called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) a “despicable outfit” that has caused enormous grief and heartbreak to the Muslim community and wants nothing but to create “dispute and discord.”

“That's what their plan is, that's what their plot is,” he said.  “As a society to move forward, we have to stay centred.”

He noted ISIS has killed many Muslims, not only in the attacks in Paris that killed 129 people, but also in the one in Beirut, Lebanon on Nov. 12, in which 43 people were killed.

In September, 2014, a glass door was shot out at the Pickering Islamic Centre while people were worshipping there.  Less than a week later, vandals sprayed anti-Islamic graffiti in Pickering.  Although acts of hatred against Muslims haven't occurred in Pickering following the Paris attacks, Mr. Akbar said the community is well aware of those that have, such as the Muslim woman attacked in Toronto and the fire set at a mosque in Peterborough the night after the Paris attacks.

“The families are in a state of fear, particularly women and children,” said Mr. Akbar.  “We have people coming in here of all ages.”

He noted the majority of the people in Pickering and Ajax are peaceful.

“We get along with people very well,” Mr. Akbar said.

He feels the United States should take a stronger stance against ISIS, but agrees with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's plans to have more Canadians on the ground to help train local soldiers to fight the terrorist group.

Byelection for Pickering Ward 1 City Council seat set for Jan. 25
November 18, 2015
(durhamregion.com)

“Councillor Pickles noted at the city council meeting that it looks like we have some good candidates, 3 have spoken with me so far about running: Gary Strange a local resident and businessman former president of Board of Trade and also has been involved in city committees and events.  Lisa Robinson local resident and business woman.  Tate Besso local resident, in the financial business and served on our heritage pickering committee.  I expect there will be other candidates.”

PICKERING -- Council has called a byelection for Jan. 25 to fill the Ward 1 City Council position.

Nominations open on Wednesday, Nov. 18 and close on Dec. 11.  Dates and locations of advanced polls are yet to be determined.

Former councillor Jennifer O'Connell was elected as Pickering-Uxbridge MP in the October federal election and left the seat vacant.

“I'm aware of a number of potential candidates,” said Mayor Dave Ryan.  “I'm very impressed with the field.  There's a wealth of experience and there's no question of the dedication to this community.”

The only councillor to vote against holding the byelection was Ward 3 City Councillor Rick Johnson.  He felt an appointment would save taxpayer dollars and he expects voter turnout to be low.

Ward 3 Regional Councillor David Pickles said he knows of at least three people running so far.

“I expect based on the people I've heard from, we're going to have some very fine candidates,” he said.

DRIVEN
Support for women experiencing abuse & all forms of gender-based violence
November 18, 2015
DRIVEN
I recently had chat with Emma and wanted to make this information available to residents including possible volunteers and donors. 
Santa Claus parade, holiday fun coming to Pickering
November 14, 2015
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- The countdown is on for Santa Claus coming to town.

The Kinsmen and Kinette Club of Pickering will host Pickering's Santa Claus Parade on Saturday, Nov. 28 starting at 10 a.m. This year's theme, Christmas past, Christmas future, will bring marching bands, carolers and floats to the streets of Pickering.

It will begin at Vaughan Willard Public School, 1911 Dixie Rd. N., and proceed east on Glenanna Road to the Pickering Town Centre at 355 Kingston Rd.

Durham Regional Police will collect food and toys for families in need, and Canada Post will collect letters for Santa.

Visit www.pickering.ca/greatevents for more information.

Also that day, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the 42nd annual Deck Your Halls Bazaar and Craft Show takes place at Dunbarton-Fairport United Church, 1066 Dunbarton Rd. It will feature crafts, many different varieties of soup and chili, a bake table and a sewing table.  Admission is free.

Visit www.dunbartonfairport.on.ca for more information.

Remembrance Day Services
November 11, 2015
Councillors Pickles Ashe and Cumming placing wreath
Laying wreaths at Remembrance Day service at Pickering City Hall today with Regional Councillor Kevin Ashe and City Councillor Ian Cumming 

In Memory of James Pickles
In Memory of Councillor Pickles grandfather, James Pickles 
Remembrance Day Services
November 8, 2015
Councillors Pickles and Ashe placing wreath
Laying wreaths at Remembrance Day service at Pickering City Hall today with Regional Councillor Kevin Ashe 

Remembrance Day Service Claremont
Remembrance Day service at the Royal Canadian Legion in Claremont 
Durham looking for students for summer jobs
Applications open on Dec. 1, jobs start in May
November 6, 2015
(durhamregion.com)

DURHAM -- The Region of Durham is recruiting students for summer jobs.

Starting Dec. 1, students can apply for positions in all departments.  Applications will be accepted until the end of March.  Employment is from May to August.

Students must be at least 18 or turning 18 in 2016, enrolled in full-time studies at a college or university and returning to full-time studies in the fall, and possess a full Class G driver's licence and a clean driving history to be considered for a position that requires driving.

The Region tries to match students to their position of interest, but students could be placed in another position, based on experience, qualifications, field of study, along with skills and abilities listed in their resumes.

Students can apply online after Dec. 1 at www.durham.ca, and select careers and summer student opportunities.

Pickering to celebrate Remembrance Day on Nov. 8 and Nov. 11
November 3, 2015
(durhamregion.com)
Poppy
Poppy box
The Royal Canadian Legion is about to start its annual poppy campaign to show respect for the men and women who have dedicated their lives to war and military operations and to raise funds for veterans and community organizations.  Each year, millions of Canadians wear the symbol on their lapels, and the campaign officially kicks off the last Friday of October.

PICKERING -- Canada's veterans will be honoured in Pickering on two separate dates next week.

Remembrance Day services will be held on Sunday, Nov. 8 and Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 10:45 a.m. at the Pickering City Hall Cenotaph, in the courtyard.

Pickering's Poppy Campaign kicked off on Oct. 30 with the official flag raising at City Hall.  The Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 606, Bay Ridges, presented the flag and pinned each dignitary with a poppy just prior to raising the flag.  The flag will be on display until Nov. 12.  Poppies will be available at all City facilities and throughout stores in Pickering.

For more information about Remembrance Day, call the Royal Canadian Legion at 905-839-2990.

Pickering to decide Monday how to fill vacant Ward 1 council seat
Ward 1 City Councillor Kevin Ashe interested in Regional Council role
Kristen Calis
October 28, 2015
(durhamregion.com)
Jennifer O'Connell
Jennifer O'Connell
Torstar News Services image
Pickering Uxbridge MP Jennifer O'Connell.  October 2015

PICKERING -- Councillors will decide the next steps to fill the vacant Ward 1 regional councillor's seat at a special meeting Monday.

Former Ward 1 Regional Councillor Jennifer O'Connell was elected on Oct. 19 as the Liberal MP for Pickering-Uxbridge.  She handed in her letter of resignation and spoke before council at the regular council meeting on Oct. 26.  Her seat was then declared vacant.

“It's been a lot of really good memories so it's kind of a closing of one chapter and an opening of the next,” she said in her emotional delegation before council.

Ward 2 Regional Councillor Bill McLean, Ward 2 City Councillor Ian Cumming and Ward 1 City Councillor Kevin Ashe congratulated the outgoing councillor on her new federal post, and on a job well done in Pickering.

“There's no doubt in my mind in Ottawa you'll be doing the same for your community that you've been doing in the past 10 years for your community and more,” said Coun. McLean.

Former Ward 3 Regional councillor Peter Rodrigues spoke before council on the matter of the vacant seat.

“The Municipal Elections Act does allow for appointment, but in this case there is no good justification to appoint, therefore a byelection would be democratic and fair,” he said.

He said if council were to appoint someone, he himself should be the choice.  He noted he had four years of recent Regional council experience, and compared himself to Coun. Ashe, since there is some talk that the councillor could be appointed to the Regional post.

Mr. Rodrigues noted he had more than 4,000 votes in the previous election he lost in, which was more votes than Coun. Ashe had for the City seat he won, with 3.5 per cent more people voting in Ward 1 than in Ward 3.

Mr. Rodrigues noted if Coun. Ashe is appointed, it would leave another vacancy, which would in turn need to be filled, thereby necessitating a byelection.

“Simply put, if I were appointed, then there would be no need for any byelection,” he said, adding this would save Pickering and residents time and money.

Coun. Ashe said in an interview Mr. Rodrigues's points were nonsensical, and noted Mr. Rodrigues was comparing the two-person election race Mr. Rodrigues was in to the four-person race Coun. Ashe was in.

“It seemed a tad self-serving in terms of his argument,” he said.

Coun. Ashe feels his long experience on council, his relationships with councillors across the Region, as well as his ability to work with Mayor Dave Ryan and the two other Pickering councillors at the Region would make him suitable for the appointment.

“I think if my colleagues deem me worthy to represent Ward 1 at the Region, I'd be willing to accept that designation with honour,” he said.

He noted when former councillor Mark Holland was elected as MP for Ajax-Pickering in 2004, current Coun. McLean, a local councillor at the time, was appointed to the Region.  When Coun. Ashe's father, George Ashe, was mayor of Pickering in 1977, and was elected as an MPP, appointments were made as well.

But first-timers would like to take a shot at the job, too.

Lisa Robinson, who ran against Coun. Ashe in the last election, said she feels a byelection is absolutely necessary.

“It's supposed to be democracy,” she said.  “It's supposed to be what the people decide.”

Ms. Robinson, who says she really cares for the people of the community, is heavily involved already as a member of the board of directors for the Rotary Club of Pickering and as a member of a local school community council.  She said she'd absolutely love to run if there were a byelection.

A recent memo to council said if a byelection is called on Monday, the bylaw to enact the byelection can be approved at the Nov. 16 council meeting.  If that's the case, nominations would be accepted starting Nov. 18 and nomination day would be on Dec. 11.  A byelection would then take place on Jan. 25.

It will all be up to Pickering council at City Hall on Monday at 7 p.m.

The Terry Fox Run
(SNAP)

For 29 years, runners have united to raise money and awareness in honour of a man who inspired, not only a country, but people across the world to fight.  This year, more than 140 people gathered at the Pickering Recreation Complex, and continued the fight.  With smiles beaming, participants walked, jogged, wheeled and biked, helping raise more than $18,000 and support cancer research for the Terry Fox Foundation.  Terry ran 5,373 km for 143 days before ending his run in Thunder Bay.

Terry Fox Run
 
Tea Time for Queen Elizabeth ll
(SNAP)

On Wednesday, September 9th at exactly 5:30pm, Buckingham Palace has calculated that Queen Elizabeth II's reign surpassed that of Canada's other great Mother of Confederation, Queen Victoria.  In celebration of Queen Elizabeth II serving for the longest period as Monarch in our modern history, the City of Pickering hosted a special tea to pay tribute to the Queen.  Joined by Mayor Dave Ryan, Deb Stratas (Monarchist League), Citizen Judge Marian Sami, and members of the Pickering Legion, a wonderful celebration took place in City Hall to the delight of the many guests who came to honour the Queen.

Tea Time for Queen Elizabeth II
 
Living Healthier at Home
Integrated Health Service Plan 2016/19
(Local Health Integration Network)
October 26, 2015

View the Living Healthier at Home Integrated Service Plan presentation to Council.

Community Safety and Policing in Durham Region
2017-2019 Business Plan
October 14, 2015

View the Durham Regional Police Services Board Presentation.

Regional Airport Hub?
October 14, 2015
(Novae res urbis)

Toronto Pearson and other airports in southern Ontario represent one of the most significant planning challenges for the future of the region.  With Pearson projected to reach capacity within the next 20 years, other airports will need to play a greater role in accommodating demand. Coordination and strong ground transportation connectivity will be key to such a network's success.

Read more ...

Airport Advisor in Place
October 14, 2015
(Novae res urbis)

The federal government is moving ahead with plans for the future of its lands in Pickering - earmarked for a potential airport-with the help of an independent advisor.  Stakeholder consultations are anticipated over most of 2016.

Read more ...

Tour of Councillor Pickles' Office
October 3, 2015
Visiting the Office
Councillor Pickles provides a tour of his office to these two youngsters as well as their parents during the Open Doors program at City Hall 
Updated Map for Oakk Ridges Moraine Plan Designations
September 21, 2015
Oak Ridges Moraine Map
Click Image above to view full size map 
Notice of Motion
Hamlet of Claremont Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan Hamlet Designations
September 21, 2015
Notice of Motion
Click Image above to view entire Motion with map 
Terry Fox Run 2015
September 20, 2015
Terry Fox Run
Click to see PDF 
Road closures in Pickering on the menu for food truck event
August 4, 2015
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- Pickering residents can expect some road and sidewalk closures this weekend to accommodate the Pickering Food Truck Festival.

The event will be held at Esplanade Park on Saturday, Aug. 8 and Sunday, Aug. 9., and the City of Pickering will be enacting temporary road and sidewalk closures on The Esplanade North and The Esplanade South.

Esplanade South, from Valley Farm Road to the Pickering Civic Complex parking lot's outbound entrance (only the west section of the Pickering parking lot will be available) will be closed from Friday, Aug. 7 at 7 a.m. to Monday, Aug. 10 at 7 a.m. Esplanade North, from Valley Farm to the municipal underground parking lot entrance, will also be closed at the same time.

The southern sidewalk on Esplanade North and both sidewalks on Esplanade South will not be accessible between Valley Farm Road and Glenanna Road during the event.  The northern sidewalk on Esplanade North will remain open.

Get ready for Durham Festival, Aug. 13 to 16
BluesBERRY Festival, Blackstock Fair, Brits on the Lake on the August A and E calendar
August 1, 2015
(durhamregion.com)
Hamlet
Driftwood Theatre 'Hamlet'
Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland
OSHAWA -- The Driftwood Theatre Group performed 'Hamlet' at Parkwood Estates on July 11.  The Aug. 13 performance at Millennium Square in Pickering kicks off that city's Durham Festival celebrations.  You can also catch the play on Aug. 11 in Whitby, Aug. 12 in Clarington and on Aug. 15 and 16 in Scugog.  July 11, 2015

On stage

August

Driftwood Theatre Group.  presents a new, contemporary adaptation of 'Hamlet' for this year's Bard's Bus Tour.  Aug. 11, Celebration Square, Whitby; Aug. 12, Roswell Park, Clarington; Aug. 13, Millennium Square, Pickering; Aug. 15, 16, Scugog Shores Historical Museum, Port Perry.  Pay-what-you-can admission (suggested $20/person).  Seating is first-come, first-served in the pay-what-you-can section of the lawn.  Reserve seats in advance for the best seats in the reserved seating section.  Upgrade to a chair and/or blanket.  In the event of a move to the indoor backup location, receive advance notice directly to your e-mail.  www.driftwoodtheatre.com, jsnepsts@driftwoodtheatre.com.

Aug. 3 to 8

The Old Flame Brewing Company.  135 Perry St., Port Perry, hosts performances of Romeo and Juliet at 8:30 p.m..  Tickets are available at the brewery or call 905-289-BREW (2739).  oldflamebrewingco.ca.

Aug. 10 to 16

The Beech Street Theatre Company and Clarington Museums.  present Serum for Murder -- Dr.  Jekyll's Revenge on the verandah of the Bowmanville Museum, 37 Silver St.  Tickets can be purchased at The Sarah Jane Williams Heritage Centre (62 Temperance St., Bowmanville.), by visiting www.beechstreettheatre.com or at www.starticketing.com.  905-623-2734, www.ClaringtonMuseums.com.

Aug. 21 to Sept. 26

Herongate Barn Theatre.  2885 Altona Rd., Pickering, presents A Bench In The Sun.  www.herongate.com, 905-472-3085, 1-866-902-9884.

Performances

August, September

Foster Fridays at the Foster Memorial.  9449 Durham Rd. 1, north of the town of Uxbridge.  Concerts every Friday at 7:30 p.m.; admission is a donation at the door.  Aug. 7 Tarmara Williamson (vocals), Aug. 14 Chris Saunders, Aug. 21 Tommy Pullin (guitar/vocals), Aug. 28 Shimoda Family Ensemble (instrumental), Sept. 4 Jan Butler (instrumental), Sept. 11 Andrew Heathcote.  www.fostermemorial.com.

Aug. 4

Culture in the Square.  at 7 p.m. at Celebration Square, 405 Dundas St.  W.  (adjacent to the main branch of the Whitby Public Library).  A free performance by Aces of Harmony (barbershop group).  905-430-4310, whitby.ca/events.

Aug. 15

Music By The Bay Live.  presents Doyle Bramhall II at 8 p.m. at the St.  Francis Centre, 78 Church St.  S., Ajax.  www.musicbythebaylive.com, musicbythebaylive@rogers.com.

Aug. 25

Culture in the Square.  at 7 p.m. at Celebration Square, 405 Dundas St.  W.  (adjacent to the main branch of the Whitby Public Library).  A free performance by Bruce Gorrie and Friends (jazz).  905-430-4310, whitby.ca/events.

Special Events

Aug. 6, 13, 20, 27

Culture Night In Oshawa -- Culture2 (Culture Squared).  Thursdays from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Civic Square (Oshawa City Hall), 50 Centre St.  S.  A free, family-friendly celebration of art, music, dance, drama and more.  Artists, musicians, performers and cultural organizations can share their art, talent or services.  No fees/ registration.  A modest sound system and stage are provided for an open mic session.  A first-come, first-served opportunity to sign up and have 10 minutes to perform.  Music, dance or other types of demonstrations are welcome.  culturecounts@oshawa.ca.

Aug. 7

RMG Fridays.  at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 77 Queen St., Oshawa, from 7 to 10 p.m. Summer Sounds is this month's theme.  Celebrate the exhibition Puppet Act: Manipulating the Voice.  The evening features music from Goodnight Sunrise and locals Ivory Park.  Father and son duo Matt and Joe are in Gallery A.  And learn more about the Durham Festival.  Free, cash bar, all ages welcome.  communications@rmg.on.ca.

Aug. 8, 9

Pickering Food Truck Festival.  from noon to 9 p.m. at Esplanade Park, One The Esplanade, Pickering.  The event features more than 24 food trucks, a beverage garden, live musical performances, a vendors' village, daily eating challenges and a children's midway area.  A portion of the proceeds from the event will go to the SickKids Foundation.  416-871-4217, info@torontofoodtruckfestival.com (Ben).

Brits on the Lake Car Show.  from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in downtown Port Perry.  An All-British Motoring Revival featuring the Wing Commander's Rally on Saturday and the Classic Motor Show on Sunday.  www.britsonthelake.com.

Aug. 9

Sixth Annual Oshawa Gospel Fest.  from 4 to 7 p.m. in Memorial Park, 110 Simcoe St.  S., Oshawa.  Presented by The Church of God Sabbath-Keeping, there will be a free community barbecue during the concert.

Pioneer Day.  from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Scugog Shores Museum, 16210 Island Rd., Port Perry.  A trip back to the 19th century, walk through the Museum Village, meet the blacksmith and the woodwright, try out the printing press and write on a school slate.  Heritage demonstrations, exhibits, children's games, crafts and more.

Aug. 13

Blackrose Durham Entertainment.  presents the Shay and Gray Fundraiser at 8 p.m. at the Regent Theatre.  50 King St.  E., Oshawa.  The Elton Rohn Band is performing to help raise funds for twins Shay and Gray, who were born six weeks premature and whose organs were not fully developed.  905-721-3399, ext.  2, tickets.regenttheatre.ca .

Pickering Museum Village.  2365 Concession 6, Greenwood, presents Kids in the Village, Candle Making at 10 a.m. Try your hand at candlemaking using wax or crayons.  The cost is $8 per child and general admission fees apply for adults; free for season pass holders.  www.pickering.ca/museum, museum@pickering.ca, 905-683-8401.

Aug. 13 to 16

Durham Festival.  the region's first, features events from Pickering to Clarington.  durhamfestival.ca.

Aug. 15

BluesBERRY Festival.  from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Downtown Bowmanville.  Enjoy a blueberry pancake breakfast, pies, tarts and other treats.  Also live blues bands, artisan and craft booths.  For the kids, there are jumping castles, a rock-climbing wall and a visit from Clarington Fire Services.  Free admission.  bowmanville.com.

Aug. 20

Station Gallery.  1450 Henry St., Whitby, presents its Wave: Summer Music Series on the patio at 7 p.m. Gib and Tam entertain.  The $10 ticket cost includes gourmet appetizers.  905-668-4185, www.whitbystationgallery.com.

Aug. 28, 29

Blackstock Fair.  marking 150 years and held at the Blackstock Recreation Complex, 3340 Church St., Blackstock, Scugog Township.  www.blackstockfair.ca.

Sept. 3

Pickering Museum Village.  2365 Concession 6, Greenwood, presents Kids in the Village, Olde Tyme Photo Album at 10 a.m. Children can bring in photos and alter them so that they appear much older than they are and edit pre-existing photos to create an old photo album of themselves.  The cost is $8 per child and general admission fees apply for adults; free for season pass holders.  www.pickering.ca/museum, museum@pickering.ca, 905-683-8401.

At the Galleries and Museums

To Aug. 6

The Kent Farndale Gallery.  in the Scugog Memorial Public Library at 231 Water St., Port Perry, presents 'Portals' by artist/poet Annabelle Jane Murray.  HOURS: Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.

To Aug. 15

The Visual Arts Centre of Clarington.  143 Simpson Ave., Bowmanville, presents Crossing Borders.  Hours: Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday noon to 4 p.m., Sunday 1 to 4 p.m. during exhibitions.  905-623-5831.  www.vac.ca.

To Aug. 22

Robert McLaughlin Gallery.  72 Queen St., Oshawa, presents Spirit of Sport, historical photographs from the Thomas Bouckley Collection to celebrate Oshawa hosting the 2015 Pan Am Games boxing and weightlifting competitions.  The exhibition showcases the history of athletics in Oshawa, Hours: Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. 905-576-3000, www.rmg.on.ca.

To Aug. 29

The Scugog Council for the Arts Gallery.  181 Perry St., Port Perry, presents Leif Peterson.  Hours: Tuesday to Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. 905-982-2121, www.scugogarts.ca.

Aug. 30 to Oct. 4

The Visual Arts Centre of Clarington.  143 Simpson Ave., Bowmanville, presents Clarington Taken.  Opening reception Aug. 30 from 2 to 4 p.m. 905-623-5831.  www.vac.ca.

To Sept. 1

Robert McLaughlin Gallery.  72 Queen St., Oshawa, presents Puppet Act, Manipulating the Voice, Catherine Heard, Spring Hurlbut, Suzy Lake, Diana Lopez Soto, Tim Whiten, Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun.  905-576-3000, www.rmg.on.ca.

To Sept. 13

Robert McLaughlin Gallery.  72 Queen St., Oshawa, presents David Rokeby, Very Nervous System.  905-576-3000, www.rmg.on.ca.

Robert McLaughlin Gallery.  72 Queen St., Oshawa, presents Boxing, The Sweet Science.  905-576-3000, www.rmg.on.ca.

Station Gallery.  1450 Henry St., Whitby, presents Leszek Wyczolkowski: Beyond Geometry.  Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. 905-668-4185, www.whitbystationgallery.com.

Station Gallery.  1450 Henry St., Whitby, presents The Toronto 20 at 50.  905-668-4185, www.whitbystationgallery.com.

Station Gallery.  1450 Henry St., Whitby, presents Community Exhibition 2015.  905-668-4185, www.whitbystationgallery.com.

To Sept. 27

Robert McLaughlin Gallery.  72 Queen St., Oshawa, presents A Visionary Journey, Works from the Collection of Terri Lipman.  905-576-3000, www.rmg.on.ca.

To December

Clarington Museums and Archives (Sarah Jane Williams Heritage Centre).  62 Temperance St., Bowmanville, presents Clarington Remembers: Stories from WWI and WWII.  Marking the start of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the start of the Second World War, the museum tells the stories of Clarington people who served in the wars and those who were left at home.  Learn about local heroes, see the Wartime Kitchen to learn about rations and victory gardens, view artifacts from Camp 30, where German prisoners were held during the war and more.  Admission is free.  Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. 905-623-2734, www.claringtonmuseums.com.

Screenings

August, September

Cinechats Film Series.  Films from around the world, every Thursday night year-round at 6:30 p.m. in Room C-113 of the Gordon Willey Building, Durham College/UOIT Campus, 2000 Simcoe St.  N., Oshawa.  Admission $3 at door.  For ages 18 and over only.  905-576-0359.

Aug. 6

The Regent Theatre.  50 King St.  E., Oshawa, presents a Classic Movie Night -- A Streetcar Named Desire at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5, cash only at the door, no advance sales.  905-721-3399, regenttheatre.ca.

Movie Night in the Park.  at 8 p.m. in Port Perry's Palmer Park.  A free screening of E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial (Rated PG).  No movie if the weather is bad (rain date Aug. 13).  afracalanza@scugog.ca, 905-985-7346, ext 132.

Whitby Public Library.  Brooklin Branch, 8 Vipond Rd., Whitby, presents a Summer Silver Screen movie, Maya the Bee (Rated G) at 10:30 a.m. Registration is not required.  Ensure your child is old enough to sit through the entire movie.

Aug. 11

Newcastle Branch.  of the Clarington Public Library, 150 King Ave.  E., presents a Family Showtimes screening of Toy Story (Rated G) at 6 p.m. on the big screen.  Drop in; no registration required.

Aug. 14

Movies in the Park.  at 9 p.m. at the Ajax Community Centre, 75 Centennial Rd., Ajax.  The movie is projected on a giant inflatable movie screen.  Free admission.

Aug. 18

Whitby Public Library.  Central Branch, 405 Dundas St.  W., Whitby, presents a free movie at 10:30 a.m. for kids 3 to 5 years.  A screening of Franklin and Friends Deep Sea Voyage.  No registration required.

Aug. 21

Oshawa Public Libraries.  Legends Centre Branch, 1661 Harmony Rd. N., Oshawa, presents a screening of The Longest Ride (Rated PG) at 6 p.m. Registration required; call 905-579-6111.

Aug. 27

Movie Night in the Park.  at 8 p.m. in Port Perry's Palmer Park.  A free screening of Big Hero 6 (Rated PG).  No movie if the weather is bad (rain date Aug. 30).  afracalanza@scugog.ca, 905-985-7346, ext 132.

Aug. 31

Oshawa Public Libraries.  McLaughlin Branch, 65 Bagot St., Oshawa,, presents a screening of Mad Max: Fury Road (Rated 14A) at 10 a.m. Drop-in program; no registration required.

Federal funding helps Pickering youth find jobs, aids Petticoat Creek expansion
July 31, 2015
(durhamregion.com)

DURHAM -- The federal government is putting forward funds to help young people find work, and to improve local conservation efforts.

First, it's helping young Canadians in the Greater Toronto Area obtain the information, skills and work experience needed to get jobs.

Pickering-Scarborough East MP Corneliu Chisu helped make the announcement on July 29 that through the government's Youth Employment Strategy, four organizations will deliver projects to help a total of 112 young people in Scarborough, Pickering, Toronto and Durham Region, with an investment of more than $1.2 million.  These projects will help youth and recent post-secondary graduates transition into the job market, return to school or advance their careers.

Mr. Chisu also announced the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority will receive funding through the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program.  The government has approved up to $96,250 for a total project cost of up to $192,000 for the expansion of the Petticoat Creek Conservation Area aquatic facility.

UPDATED: Gary Polonsky named independent advisor for Pickering airport lands
Former Durham College president, founding president of UOIT, says he'll listen, remain objective
July 31, 2015
Kristen Calis
(durhamregion.com)
Gary Polonsky
Gary Polonsky advisor on federal airport lands
Ron Pietroniro/ Metroland
PICKERING -- Former Durham College and UOIT president Gary Polonsky talked to Pickering-Scarborough East MP Corneliu Chisu at the Pickering Community Centre.  Mr, Polonsky has been named as an independent advisor to the federal government.  Mr. Polonsky will meet with interest groups and report to the government on potential economic development opportunities around a future airport in Pickering.  July 31, 2015

PICKERING -- The independent advisor who will meet with stakeholders on the possibility of an airport in Pickering is well known in the community and vows to consider all voices.  

“I think it's my job to listen.  That's what I've been commanded to do, and I will,” said Gary Polonsky, former president of Durham College and founding president of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.  

Pickering-Scarborough East MP Corneliu Chisu announced Friday, July 31 at the West Shore Community Centre that Mr. Polonsky has been named the independent advisor who will meet with local interests on the potential economic development opportunities around a future airport.

“Any decisions on the future of the Pickering lands will have major implications for the people of the Greater Toronto Area and in fact the entire country,” said Mr. Chisu.  “That's why it's so important that we get the consultation process right.  An independent advisor will ensure that stakeholder views are heard as we move forward with the Pickering lands.”

The federal government expropriated the Pickering lands in 1972 for an airport, but nothing has been set in stone.  In 2013, the government announced it would set aside a portion of the lands for a potential future airport and transfer nearly 5,000 acres to Parks Canada for the creation of Rouge National Urban Park.  Earlier in July, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the transfer of another 5,200 acres to the park.

Transport Canada still retains around 9,600 acres in the southeast sector of the lands for economic development, including a potential future airport.   Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt recently met with community members and mayors, and announced an advisor would be retained by the end of July to consult with targeted stakeholders on the potential future development of the lands.   “Dr.  Gary Polonsky is very qualified to do this job,” Mr. Chisu said.   Mr. Polonsky retired in 2006 as both the president of Durham College and the founding president of UOIT, after more than 40 years in education.  He was also president of two businesses and serves as board chairman for several organizations.   He will provide a final detailed report summarizing what was heard and offering views on how to move forward with economic development within 12 months.  

He vows to remain objective in the process, and said he intends to meet with as many people as possible on the matter.  

“We are going to actively invite everybody to meet with us,” he said.  

Transport Canada is also undertaking an assessment of the future aviation needs in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area to identify any shortfalls in the system of airports.  There is no definite date on the completion of this study, and Mary Delaney, the chairwoman of Land over Landings Inc., a group dedicated to the preservation of the north Pickering lands for agricultural purposes, is somewhat concerned that this will not be prepared by the time Mr. Polonsky submits his final report.  

However, she said she's satisfied that he will receive interim reports and updates.  Land Over Landings believes any study on aeronautic needs will demonstrate there is no business case for an airport in north Pickering.  

“That said, the important thing is that somebody has been appointed,” said Ms. Delaney.  “I like the sound of him, I like the word 'listening.' I like his background.”

Mr. Polonsky noted in his address on Friday “We all know it's better to eat fresh, it's better to eat local,” and is prepared to hear all suggestions for the land.  

The Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade federal lands economic development task force was recently formed with an intention to work with the advisor.  

“We are prepared to represent the voice of business and assist in developing an effective plan for an airport in north Pickering,” said Denise Jones, Board of Trade president.

Public Notice
Staged Road Closures & Lane Restrictions
Brock Road & Rossland Road July 2015

The Regional Municipality of Durham has awarded the contract for the reconstruction of Brock Road (Regional Road 1), from south of Rossland Road to the Canadian Pacific Railway underpass, and Rossland Road from Bunting Court to Clearside Court, in the City of Pickering.  Work will start June 29 and is expected to be complete by December 2017.

For additional details, refer to the Public Notice.

Public Notice
Road Reconstruction & Storm Water Management Pond
Brock Road & Rossland Road July 2015

The Regional Municipality of Durham has awarded the contract for the reconstruction of Brock Road (Regional Road 1), from south of Rossland Road to the Canadian Pacific Railway underpass, and Rossland Road from Bunting Court to Clearside Court in the City of Pickering.  Work will include full road reconstruction; intersection improvements; watermain; sanitary sewer and storm sewer work; a new multi-use bike path and construction of a storm water management pond.

For additional details, refer to the Public Notice.

Public Notice
Road Construction - Kingston Road July 2015

The Regional Municipality of Durham, Works Department will be reconstructing Kingston Road (Durham Highway 2), from 315 meters west of Liverpool Road (Regional Road 29) to 600 meters east of Liverpool Road (Regional Road 29), in the City of Pickering.

For additional details, refer to the Public Notice.

Pickering boy, 11 burned by toxic wild parsnip
How to spot, avoid and deal with burning sap of wild parsnip
Jennifer O'Meara
July 23, 2015
(durhamregion.com)
Wild Parsnip
Wild parsnip
Jason Liebregts / Metroland
OSHAWA -- Wild parsnip is rampant in Durham Region this summer.  The sap from the noxious plant and sunlight cause a chemical reaction that burns the skin.  July 22, 2015
Megan Quinn
Wild parsnip: What it is and how to deal with it.
OSHAWA -- Be aware when taking a walk or going through fields, wild parsnip has invaded Durham Region.  This invasive species of plant can cause burns and irritation to your skin.  Invasive plant expert Megan Quinn walked us through what the plant is and the best methods to get rid of it.  July 23, 2015.  Videographer/Editor: Kyle MacDonald.

DURHAM -- Jacob Salter, 11, fell off his bike while riding along a trail at Greenwood Conservation Area.  He came home with a small scratch behind his knee.  A few days later the back of his leg, from thigh to shin, was covered in large red blisters -- likely caused by touching wild parsnip, a pretty looking wild flower with a yellow bloom and noxious sap that can burn and blister the skin.  

“(He) usually stays on the trails.  He said he fell off the bike at one point and fell into the bush,” said Kelli Beck, Jacob's mother.  

Ms. Beck took her son to the doctor, who prescribed a topical cream to treat the rash.  The blisters have gone but there are still scars on the boy's leg where the sores once were.  

All told, the Pickering boy was lucky.  When wild parsnip sap gets on the skin, it makes it hypersensitive to the sun.  It can burn, scar and even blind people.  

Wild parsnip seems to be growing rampant through Durham Region, although experts say it's hard to say whether there's been a sharp increase in the numbers of the invasive plant this year over the last few years.  Megan Quinn, an expert with the Invading Species Awareness Program working with the Central Lake Conservation Authority, suggests people stay on marked trails, wear pants and closed-toe shoes and keep their dogs on the leash to avoid coming into contact with the noxious plant.  

Local experts aren't sure why there seems to be so much of it around this summer, but it could be a good growing season with heavy rain combined with lot of construction activity, which helps spread the seeds.  

“We're really promoting the clean equipment protocol,” said Ms. Quinn.  “It's mainly for construction companies and industry, to make sure they are cleaning their equipment before they go from site to site.”

The NO. 1 thing CLOCA, and other local conservation authorities, want people to do is to report infestations of wild parsnip and other invasive species so that they can be mapped.  

Wild parsnip is not native to Canada, but originates from Europe and Asia.  The root is edible and it's suspected that European settlers brought the plant to Canada as a food source.  

Blu Waters is a traditional First Nations knowledge keeper.  She leads nature walks and teaches about traditional plants and foraging as a way to help clients on a fixed or low income find wild food.  She said in a homestead kitchen garden, settlers would likely have kept the top of the wild parsnip plant short, which keeps the edible root growing and reduces the exposure to the noxious sap.  The root would then be pulled up, peeled and steamed or boiled before being served.  Ms. Waters describes the taste as similar to a grocery-store parsnip but tangier.  It's a dense, starchy root.  

Even with her expertise in wild plants, Ms. Waters hasn't handled wild parsnip in more than a year and she suggests others stay away from the plant.  

“It's not worth getting the rash,” said Ms. Waters.  

She teaches people to use wild carrot, or Queen Anne's lace, instead.  Ms. Waters said foraging for wild food should always be done with someone who has experience.  Queen Anne's lace has a red dot in the centre of the flower -- which is the only thing that distinguishes it from poisonous hemlock.  

“For every plant you see that is identifiable and edible, there is an identical plant that is toxic,” said Ms. Waters.  

Wild parsnip is often confused with similar-looking giant hogweed, cow parsnip, Queen Anne's lace and angelica.  Wild parsnip is the only one with a yellow flower, however cow parsnip is equally noxious when it comes into contact with the skin and giant hogweed is considerably worse.  

“Giant hogweed sap is even more potent,” said Ken Towle, terrestrial ecologist from the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority.  

The GRCA is noticing a spread of giant hogweed, which has large, white umbrella-shaped flowers, a bristly stem with purple blotches and leaves with spiked edges.  Mr. Towle is asking people to report the plant if they see it.  

“Giant hogweed can grow just about anywhere.  We're finding it mostly along the edges of streams,” said Mr. Towle, who added he thinks the seeds are spreading downstream during spring flooding.  

Visit www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca for more information on wild parsnip, giant hogweed or other invasive plants.  To report a noxious plant infestation, visit www.eddmaps.org/ontario/ or call the hot line at 1-800-563-7711.

How to identify wild parsnip

Wild Parsnip Images

Wild parsnip images in this illustration were taken near Hwy.  407 construction in Whitby, ON.   Photo illustration Joanne Burghardt.


HOW TO TREAT IT

Cover up: Immediately get your skin out of the sun and cover it to avoid exposure to ultraviolet light.  Sunlight causes a chemical reaction in wild parsnip sap that burns the skin.  Some people are more sensitive to this chemical reaction than others.  Almost everyone will get blisters from sap of a broken leaf or stem.  Some people will get the burn from trace amounts of sap on the flowers of unbroken wild parsnip plant.

Wash ASAP: You need to get that sap off your skin as soon as possible to minimize the damage.  Wash the area with cool water and grease-fighting dish soap to remove sap.  Once you're absolutely sure the sap is no longer on your skin, get your clothes in the wash too, just to be safe.  

Chill out: You might not feel anything instantly, but later your skin might start to burn like you've touched something hot.  There will be redness the first day and blisters can come up the next day.  Use cool compresses on the skin that got burned and take Tylenol for pain.  Don't pop the blisters as this can lead to infection.  Try to dry the blisters out by washing frequently with gentle soap and cool water.  If all goes well the blisters will start to shrink after a few days and you will be left with brown spots, which can last years.

Call the medic: You'll have to gauge the severity of the rash and the degree of pain you're in, to decide if you need medical attention.  Also watch for signs of infection, increased redness and burning pain.  Consider drawing on your skin around the red area to see if the irritation is spreading or shrinking.  After four days the rash should be improving; if it's not you may need to see a health-care provider.  

Bypass the emergency department and head to your family doctor's office, a walk-in clinic or community health centre.  Doctors and nurse practitioners may recommend an antiseptic, topical antibiotic or oral antibiotic depending on how long the infection lasts.

-- Source: Michelle Acorn, nurse practitioner at Lakeridge Health.

HOW TO GET RID OF IT

Again cover up: We're talking waterproof gardening gloves, long-sleeved shirt, pants and boots as the absolute minimum.  If you're dealing with a larger wild parsnip plant, consider getting waterproof coveralls because the sap might get through cotton clothing.  If you've got goggles and a face mask, get them on.  Have cool water and dish soap handy, just in case you need to get the sap off your skin quickly.

Don't mow but dig: If you notice wild parsnip on your property in May or early June, before the plants have seeded, you can mow it down and then dig up the roots.  At this point in the summer, if you mow it you're just spreading the seeds around your property.  Tie a plastic bag around the top of the plant to keep the seeds from spreading as you work.  Then get a sharp shovel out and get down to the tuber root, which can be 6 to 12 inches long.

Bake it don't burn it: Put the plant in a plastic bag or garbage bag and tie it closed.  Leave the bag in the sun for a week to bake the plant in the heat and kill off any seeds.  

At that point you can carefully put that bag into another garbage bag and put it at the curb for waste pickup.  Staff from Durham Waste Management advise that wild parsnip should be double-bagged in black plastic bags.  They do not want it added to green bin compost or leaf and yard waste collection.  

You shouldn't burn wild parsnip in a brush fire.  The evidence isn't clear on whether the sap in the smoke can affect your lungs.

Wash well: Without taking the gardening gloves off, wash your hands with dish soap.  Strip off your clothes and get them in the washing machine.  

Too much? If you find a large patch of wild parsnip on your land, getting rid of it yourself might be too risky.  Consider hiring professionals to remove the plants for you.  Or cordon the area off, warn your family to keep away from it, and leave the plants until next year when it can be dealt with in the spring before it grows tall and seeds.

-- Source Central Lake Conservation Authority, Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority and Toronto Conservation Authority

5 poisonous plants of Southern Ontario you should avoid
Rebecca Canty
July 21, 2015
(durhamregion.com)
Poison Ivy
Poison ivy
Metro Creative Connection
Knowledge is the best defence against poisonous plants that are found across Southern Ontario.

As temperatures climb this summer, traffic on the hiking trails will only increase.

But a hike could bring on illness, or a hospital stay if you get your hands, or other body parts, on any of the poisonous plants that grow across Southern Ontario.

Some of them may look harmless, and sometimes even beautiful, but contact with these plants can cause symptoms ranging from itching, irritating, and sometimes painful rashes to extremely dangerous if ingested.

There are several species of poisonous plants in Ontario.  Here are some of the most common ones you need to know before you head out:

1. Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy
Shutterstock

Description: The saying “leaves of three, let it be” warns you to keep away from this dreaded plant.  Leaves are glossy green, alternate and consist of three leaflets with the middle leaflet having a much longer stalk.  The edges of the leaves may be smooth or toothed.

Where: Along the forest edge, in meadows, forest openings and trails.

Adverse effects: Poison ivy is a very common trigger of allergic contact dermatitis or inflammation of the skin.  It contains the potent antigen urushiol, which will cause a reaction in 60 to 80 percent of the people who are exposed to it.  Oil resin from the plant may be carried on any object it comes in contact with - clothing, shoes or pet fur - and then transferred to the skin.

2. Giant Hogweed

Giant Hogweed
Shutterstock

Description: This invasive plant can reach heights of 4 to 5 metres and has a reddish-purple stem measuring from 5 to 10 centimetres in diameter.  It flowers from June to September and has a cluster of flowers measuring up to 1.1 metres across.  Each cluster will have 30-20 flowers.

Where: Giant hogweed can be found along roadsides, trails and stream banks.

Adverse effects: If you come in contact with this plant, you may experience severe burns to your skin.  The sap found in giant hogweed contains furocoumarins that cause serious skin inflammation activated by exposure to the sun.

3.  Wild Parsnip

Wild Parsnip
Shutterstock

Description: Wild parsnip grows from 50 to 150 centimetres high, has compound leaves that are arranged alternately on the stem and leaves that are mitten-shaped.  Yellow flowers form a flat-topped umbrella-like cluster and are seen from late May to early fall.  The wild parsnip has a distinctive parsnip odour.

Where: Generally found along the edges of plantations, roadsides, meadows and in old pastures.

Adverse effects: Similar to the giant hogweed, wild parsnip contains furocoumarins that when absorbed by the skin, and stimulated by ultraviolet light, the furocoumarins begin destroying cells and skin tissue, which appears as redness and blistering of the skin.

4. Pokeweed

Pokeweek
Shutterstock

Description: Pokeweed has a red trunk-like stem, which becomes hollow as the plant matures.  Egg-shaped leaves are large (25 centimetres long), dark green, alternate and attached to the stem by a red stalk.  Flowers appear green to white and the fruit is green, turning a deep purple to black as it matures.

Where: Meadows, edges of woods and waste areas in the Southwestern Ontario.

Adverse effects: Pokeweed is poisonous to humans and animals.  Symptoms of pokeweed poisoning include sweating, blurred vision, abdominal pains, weakness, vomiting and unconsciousness.

5. Spotted Water Hemlock

Spotted Water Hemlock
Shutterstock

Description: The water hemlock grows up to 2.2 metres tall, with small, white flowers shaped like an inverted umbrella that bloom from July to August.  This plant has alternate, coarsely-toothed leaves and a stout, green stem spotted with purple that seeps a yellow oily liquid when cut.

Where: Marshes, swamps, stream banks, ditches, moist thickets and meadows throughout Ontario

Adverse effects: The plant contains cicutoxin, a toxic alcohol that attacks the central nervous system.  Symptoms of poisoning appear quickly and include extreme salivation, violent convulsions, intense abdominal pain and delirium.  Coma and respiratory failure can develop from 30 minutes to eight hours afterwards.

This summer, take preventative measures and learn how to identify, avoid and treat reactions from poisonous plants to protect your health in the outdoors.

If you require assistance identifying a plant, you can take a photo and submit it along with its location to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs' (OMAFRA) online weed identification service at www.weedinfo.ca

If you believe you or a child has touched or consumed a poisonous plant, you should call the Ontario Poison Centre immediately at 1-800-268-9017 for assistance.

Durham Festival brings cycling, theatre, dance, food and music to Ajax and Pickering
Events come in all shapes and sizes in the west
Mike Ruta
Jul 26, 2015
(durhamregion.com)
Driftwood Theatre
Driftwood Theatre
Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland
OSHAWA -- The Driftwood Theatre Group performed 'Hamlet' at Parkwood Estates on July 11 as part of its Bard's Bus Tour series.  The play is presented at Millennium Square in Pickering on August 13 as part of the Durham Festival.  July 11, 2015

DURHAM -- There's lots to see and do in west Durham for the Aug. 13 to 16 Durham Festival and Ajax has the honour of kicking off the party with Elevation2015.  And like the Durham Festival itself, it's ground-breaking.

“From the research we've done, there's never been a conference before dedicated to road cycling,” says Nadia Sukovski, senior economic development officer with the Town of Ajax.  “It's the first of its kind.”

Ajax Mayor Steve Parish is a huge cycling enthusiast and she notes that the town was one of the first bicycle-friendly designated communities in Ontario.  So it seems a natural to hold the event in the Town by the Lake.  But the idea came from a Markham resident who loves cycling in Durham, event organizer David Sersta.

“We're expecting a huge number of cyclists,” says Sukovski, adding organizers are thinking 800 will be coming to Ajax.

Elevation2015 is at the Ajax Convention Centre, 550 Beck Cres., and it's a full day on Aug. 13 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The events guests include Steve Bauer, who won the first Olympic medal in road cycling for Canada in 1984 in Los Angeles, and former Olympic cyclist and coach Tanya Dubincoff.

“We're hoping they're going to create a great draw to Ajax,” says Sukovski.

The conference includes storytelling from experts, a look at some of the latest in cycling design and engineering and interactive exhibits.

The day doesn't end at 5 p.m. as from then to 7 p.m. there's a gala reception with musical performers Mark Masari and The Bicycle Opera.

Pickering's Durham Festival events begin on Aug. 13 with a performance of Hamlet by Driftwood Theatre Group at 7 p.m. in Millennium Square.  Before the play, there's a #myshakespeare workshop, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Pickering Council Chambers.  It's part workshop, part performance and suitable for teens and adults.  Registration is pay-what-you-can ($20 suggested) and includes general admission to the performance of Hamlet.

Performance in Pickering also features music and dance from Friday through Sunday in Alex Robertson Park: dance workshops from 6 to 6:45 p.m., a live band from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and Dusk Dances performances starting at 7:30 p.m.

As well, Pickering's Nautical Village is hosting an Apple Festival all weekend and on Aug. 16 artists are showing work in Millennium Square from 1 to 4:30 p.m.

And Pickering Museum Village is getting in on the fun at Alex Robertson Park with heritage children's games and crafts on Aug. 14 from noon to 3 p.m. and a massive game of Capture the Flag on Aug. 15 from noon to 6 p.m.

Back in Ajax, Sukovski says Taste Ajax is an event that's changed in its short history.  Once a part of Celebrate Ajax, it's now a partnership between the Town and the Ajax Rotary Club with food from local restaurants, gourmet food trucks, craft beer, an artisans' market and live entertainment.  The event is Aug. 15 from noon to 8 p.m. in Rotary Park, 177 Lake Driveway W.

Go to durhamfestival.ca to learn more about these and other Durham Festival events.

Nine of 13 Durham beaches open for swimming
July 24, 2015
(durhamregion.com)
Beaches
Beaches
Jason Liebregts / Metroland
Is your beach safe for swimming?

DURHAM -- Humid conditions are expected to return to the area this weekend as Durham officials release the latest beach status reports.  Nine of Durham's 13 public beaches are open for swimming.  The latest update was released by Durham officials covering the week of July 24-31.

This week, four beaches have been posted as unsafe for swimming due to elevated bacteria levels this week after testing by Durham Region's health department.

Beaches found to be safe are:

Bowmanville West Clarington

Frenchman's Bay East Pickering

Frenchman's Bay West Pickering

Lakeview Beach East Oshawa

Lakeview Beach West Oshawa

Whitby Beach

Beaverton Beach North Brock

Beaverton Beach South Brock

Newcastle Beach Central

Unsafe beaches are:

Bowmanville Beach East

Kinsmen Beach, Scugog

Pickering Beach, Ajax

Thorah Centennial Beach, Brock

NOTE: Testing isn't being conducted at Elgin Pond in Uxbridge until road construction in the area is completed.

The health department notes people shouldn't go swimming for at least 48 hours after a heavy rainfall as bacteria levels can increase because of run-off.

Where there is no posting, the Durham Region health department says it is not recommended to swim if you can't see your feet when standing in waist deep water and/or it has rained two days prior to swimming.  These can be indicators of high levels of bacteria in the water which may pose a risk to your health.

Durham Region council composition now under scrutiny
Group will recommend whether number of regional politicians should be changed
Kristen Calis
July 24, 2015
(durhamregion.com)
Roger Anderson
Roger Anderson
Durham regional Chairman Candidate Roger Anderson
DURHAM -- While many residents of Durham Region might not give too much thought to the 28 politicians who meet at regional headquarters to figure out how property tax dollars are spent, there's a group of people rolling up their sleeves to wade into the issue of how many politicians are sitting at the table and whether all Durham residents are equally represented.

The issue of whether regional council should be re-jigged, and how -- including whether mayors belong at meetings determining regional policies and tax spending -- has fallen to a special committee, which includes Durham Regional Chairman Roger Anderson, and one Regional councillor from each municipality.  Representatives from local chambers of commerce, boards of trade and post-secondary institutions are also weighing in.

University of Ontario Institute of Technology president and vice-chancellor Tim McTiernan is chairman of the committee, and local businesswoman and past president of the Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade Joan Wideman is vice-chairwoman.

The composition of council has changed twice in the past.  In 1974, there were 30 members plus the chairman, which was changed to 32 members plus the chairman in 1989.  Currently, there are 28 members plus the chairman, which has been in place since the 1997 election.

However, the size and distribution of Durham's population has changed dramatically in the past 20 years, and in May, council agreed a committee should be struck to decide whether changes are needed.

The committee met for the first time on July 17 and discussed how and when the meetings will take place.  The committee will make final recommendations to Regional council by no later than March 2016, with an interim report scheduled for November 2015.

Transparency, the group says, will be paramount.

“We have to be as inclusive as we can,” said Pickering Councillor Bill McLean.

He put forward a motion and the committee agreed that the ability for the public to speak at meetings should be simple, and a majority vote will allow people wishing to speak at a meeting to do so.

Meetings will be posted on the regular regional meeting schedule, as well as on local community pages in the newspaper and on municipal websites.

The committee could recommend changes to whether Regional councillors should be directly elected, and the optimum size of council.

The report notes geography, number of households, number of electors and current population could be major factors in deciding how council should be composed, but a few committee members noted other issues, such as student population, population forecasts, the local tax base and income, are also important to consider.

The next meeting will take place on Friday, Aug. 28.

Springfest Thank You
July 2015
Thank You
Click to see PDF 
News Release
Minister Raitt engages Durham, York and Toronto area community,
business, municipal leaders on next steps for the Pickering Lands
July 13, 2015 - Whitby, Ontario - Transport Canada
(Transport Canada)

The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, today met with with community groups, regional and municipal leaders, and business stakeholders to discuss the government's next steps in the management of the Pickering Lands.

In 2013, the government announced a balanced approach for the development of the federally owned Pickering Lands, which involved setting aside a portion of land for a potential future airport and transferring nearly 5,000 acres to Parks Canada for the creation of Rouge National Urban Park.

Since then, the transfer to Parks Canada was completed in April 2015, and on July 11, 2015, Prime Minister Harper announced the transfer of an additional 5,200 acres of the Pickering Lands for the expansion of Rouge National Urban Park, increasing the boundaries of Canada's first national urban park by over 36 per cent.

Transport Canada is retaining approximately 9,600 acres in the southeast sector of the Pickering Lands for economic development, including a potential future airport.

Minister Raitt also announced today her intention to name in the coming months an independent advisor who will meet with local interests on the potential economic development opportunities around a future airport, as well as the upcoming publication in the Canada Gazette, Part I, of regulations for airport zoning and site designation to reflect the reduced Pickering Lands footprint due to the transfer of land into Rouge National Urban Park.

Transport Canada is committed to an open and transparent process concerning the future development of the Pickering Lands site.  No decisions have been made on the development or timing of a potential future airport.

Quick Facts

  • The Pickering Lands are located 56 kilometres northeast of downtown Toronto and encompass lands in Pickering, Markham and Uxbridge.
  • Transport Canada is responsible for the day-to-day management and long-term planning for the federally owned Pickering Lands.
  • The Government of Canada has made a significant financial commitment for the establishment of Rouge National Urban Park in providing $143.7 million of funding over 10 years and $7.6 million per year thereafter for its continuing protection and operation.

Quote

“It has long been the government's commitment that any decisions on these lands will be informed by the interests and the needs of regional stakeholders.  Today, I was pleased to hear the views of our key stakeholders on the progress we have made and to explore what role local interests could play in the future.”
The Honourable Lisa Raitt
Minister of Transport

Associated Links

For latest information, please visit the Pickering Lands webpage at:
www.tc.gc.ca/eng/ontario/pickering-menu-1362.htm

For more information on the Rouge National Urban Park: www.parkscanada.gc.ca/rouge

Contacts

Zach Segal
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Lisa Raitt
Minister of Transport, Ottawa
613-991-0700

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa
613-993-0055

Transport Canada is online at www.tc.gc.ca.

Use at Pickering's Greenwood library branch at all-time low
Staff, councillors, encourage use to keep doors open
Kristen Calis
July 13, 2015
(durhamregion.com)
Greenwood Branch
Greenwood Library
Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland
PICKERING -- The Greenwood Library has seen a decline in usage over the past year.  The Pickering Public Library intends to look into whether it's feasible to keep it open.  Christine Chidley frequents the library and hopes it remains open.  July 7, 2015

PICKERING -- Staff, councillors and avid readers are asking more people to use the Greenwood library branch, because if they don't, the doors could close.

The issue was brought up at a recent library board meeting, simply to let the community know the situation.

“It's an awareness, at this point, and that's really all it is,” said Kathy Williams, the Pickering Public Library's director of public services.

The rural branch in north Pickering operates out of an old school house, next to Valley View Public School.  It has been threatened with closure in the past due to declining usage, as well as unwieldy capital costs.

Circulation, which represents physical items checked out at each branch but not online items such as e-books and magazines, dropped 33 per cent between 2013 and 2014, said Ms. Williams.  This actual number is lower than the 49 per cent that was originally told to the community, but is still a cause for concern.

In a 2009 facilities report, the board noted there was “no future” for rural branches and has monitored the Whitevale, Claremont and Greenwood locations for declining circulation and high capital costs since.  Whitevale has since closed.

A 2010 policy statement says a reduction of 20 per cent in circulation or walk-in traffic compared with use in the preceding two years will trigger a review on possible closure.

Ms. Williams said in the first part of 2015, circulation numbers went down more than 10 per cent.

Walk-in numbers have dropped too.  In 2013, there were 4,014 walk-ins at Greenwood, compared to 2,828 in 2014 and 1,404 from January to June 2015.

Whether a review will take place will be up to the library board, and probably wouldn't take place for another six months to a year, if numbers don't change.  The community will be made aware if that review is to take place.

“There wouldn't be any surprises,” Ms. Williams said.

She said usage numbers have to increase in order to keep the library's doors open.

“If you love your library, please use it,” she said.

Work to the building will cost $516,000 over the next 20 years, including window replacements and other structural work the old building will require.

“But the main thing is the circulation,” said Ms. Williams.  “Is there use? Is there demand? Is it worth it to put in the work?”

Greenwood resident Joan Moritsugu has been using the library since 1992, along with her husband and later, their son.  She has seen the library on the brink of closure several times since 1996.

“I go at least once a week,” she said.

She uses the computers to order books and magazines that she'd like to read, which are then shipped up to the branch, or she picks them up from the central location.

She feels the library is an integral part of the community.

“On the way there and on the way back, you run into neighbours, the dogs socialize,” she said.  “It's not just a library.”

She said the odd hours may have something to do with the lack of use.  The library is only open on Tuesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; Wednesdays from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m.; and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

But she noted the library hours were decreased in the past in order to cut costs to keep the doors open.

She understands there are budget constraints, but she pointed out Greenwood residents pay high taxes and don't get the same services as residents in the south do, such as transit and municipal water.

“As a taxpayer I feel that even if we are a smaller audience we still have a right to that service,” she said.

Nearby Mount Zion resident Christeen Chidley Wilson had similar thoughts on this issue.

“We live on a farm that has been in the Wilson family since the 1850s -- think of the taxes paid -- and we do not enjoy City water, street lights, sidewalks, paved roads or snow clearance,” she said at the meeting.  “We do deserve at least library service for taxes paid.”

The former teacher prefers to attend her local branch over the central branch, a 35-minute drive away.  She had several suggestions for staff to consider, in order to increase circulation again.

She suggests the 'Library Open' sign be put outside during all operating hours; she says usually, the sign is not visible from Westney Road or out at all.

She added more families are going to be moving into the area, and they'll need a library.

“Most of the Greenwood library catchment area is outside the Greenbelt and we can expect an increased residential population,” she said.

She also suggested posting services and hours at community mailboxes, and using an electronic tracking device to more accurately monitor the number of walk-ins at the library.

Ms. Williams said staff has already been made aware of a number of the suggestions, including putting the open sign closer to the road.

Whitevale resident and former Pickering councillor Peter Rodrigues doesn't want to see another closure.

“There is a duty to provide this service equally and conveniently to everyone in the community,” he said.  “Sure there are benefits in having a central library, but not everyone lives near the central library, especially, now that the Whitevale Library was closed the year before last year.  Of course, if library services were more decentralized to Greenwood, then it would draw more neighbourhood residents.”

Ward 3 Regional Councillor David Pickles said he supports keeping the library open, and feels sometimes people like the idea of using the library but they don't get out and use it, and will often go to the main branch.

“I think what we really need to do is get the usage up and keep it up if we want to keep the library open,” he said.

HOW THIS IMPACTS YOU

  • Circulation at the Greenwood library branch has decreased by 33 per cent from 2013 to 2014 and another 10 per cent from January to June 2015
  • Library policy states reviews on possible closures will take place when usage is down 20 per cent over two years
  • Staff is expected monitor the usage for the remainder of the year before deciding if a review is necessary.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper doubles government's contribution to Rouge National Urban Park
The additional makes it one of the largest urban parks in North America
Ian McMillan
July 12, 2015
(durhamregion.com)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Rouge National Urban Park announcement
Benjamin Priebe / Metroland
PICKERING -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper took a few minutes to help out Pickering's Earth Rangers before going inside the Pickering Recreation Complex where he announced the government has doubled its contribution to the Rouge National Urban Park by adding an additional 21 square kilometres of new lands, enlarging it by more than 36 per cent.  At 7,956 hectares (79.5 km square) it is now one of the largest parks in North America.

PICKERING -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper surrounded himself with Pickering Earth Rangers Saturday as he announced his government would double its contribution to the Rouge National Urban Park.

The announcement was made at the Pickering Recreation Complex in front of a packed room full of dignitaries, councillors, MPs and local residents.  The additional 21 square kilometres of new lands will feature a mix of natural, cultural and agricultural lands and increase the gounds by more than 36 per cent making it one of the largest urban parks in North America, spanning 79.5 square kilometres once fully established.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said 43 years ago much of the land that now makes up the Rouge National Urban Park was expropriated by the Pierre Trudeau government for an airport.  That not only hurt farmers, but curtailed economic development in the area.

He said his government vowed to return the lands to the people and families who called the region home.

“Our government has now given back to the community more than half of the land the Trudeau government expropriated 40 years ago,” he said.

Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and Ajax-Pickering MP, applauded the Prime Minister.  He said the expropriated lands have sat there unused for an airport that was never built.

“That was a breach of faith and trust for the taxpayers, for property owners, with communities,” he said.

The new lands, which include forests, meadows, streams, creeks, important archaeological sites and large tracts of farmland, are located in the City of Pickering and the Township of Uxbridge.  They will be under the protection of Parks Canada and preserved for the enjoyment of Canadian families and international visitors.

The Prime Minister addressed criticisms that the park would not receive adequate environmental protection.

“That is simply not true.  The new Rouge National Urban Park will have the highest level of environmental protection.  It will also allow the farmers who have been responsible stewards #to continue to work this land as is only fair,” he said.

He said the park will be afforded the strongest protections of any urban park in the world, with its very own legislation - the historic Rouge National Urban Park Act - providing multi-million dollar investments to conserve and restore it, and ensure year-round enforcement.

Pauline Browes, director of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust and Chair of the Friends of the Rouge National Park, and a former MP for Scarborough-Centre who tabled the original legislation to protect the Rouge Valley was at the announcement.

She said Sir John A.  MacDonald established the first National Park in Canada and now Stephen Harper has established the first urban national park in this country.

“This is a great day for our communities,” she said.

But it's been a long time coming.  Ms. Browes said for more than 30 years hundreds of active, community members have been working to see this day happen.

“We have all been diligent, we've been vigilant and we've been persistent in pursuing the protection and the preservation of this exceptional, cultural and agricultural expanse of land,” she said.

The Prime Minister said there is still a remaining parcel of land north of Hwy.  407 in Pickering.  He said Transport Minister Lisa Raitt will continue to consult with all stakeholders to identify the best use for this land.

“Our government intends to use those lands to create jobs and growth and long-term property for Durham Region,” he said.  “But let there be no doubt, our government will only support projects on these lands, including an airport, if they are backed by a sound business plan and if they are in the best interests of this community.”

5000 Acres Added to Rouge National Urban Park in Pickering
July 11, 2015

Councillor Pickles speaks to Prime Minister Harper about today's announcement of the addition of 5000 acres to the Rouge National Urban Park in Pickering.  Good news!

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Grants for Roads in Pickering
July 11, 2015

Chatting this morning with Canada's Finance Minister Joe Oliver about grants for roads and our new operations centre in Pickering.

David Pickles with Finance Minister Joe Oliver
 
Construction at Rossland and Brock roads begins in Pickering
Pickering News Advertiser
July 8, 2015
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- Construction work around the intersection of Brock and Rossland roads in Pickering will require lane restrictions and road closures for more than a year.

Work began the week of June 29, and will continue until December 2017, advises the Region of Durham.

Work will be completed in stages.  The first stage will close Rossland from Southcott Road to Bunting Court for around one month from July 13 until mid-August, as well as cause lane restrictions on Brock.  The second stage will close Rossland from Southcott to Brock, from mid-August to July 2016.  Unfavourable weather conditions may influence the work schedule.

Work includes full road reconstruction, intersection improvements, watermain and sewer work, a new multi-use bike path, and the construction of a stormwater management pond.

Drivers are asked to exercise caution for the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and construction workers.

Visit www.durham.ca/cdeap for more information.

Refreshing change at Pickering council table
June 24, 2015
(durhamregion.con)

2014 grade: A-

2015 grade: A

At least some people in Durham Region are getting complete report cards -- including relevant comments -- as June winds to a close.

Metroland Media Group's Durham Region Division annual report card grading municipal politicians and school board trustees is included in today's newspaper.

Our municipal and education reporters, the men and women who regularly cover council, committee and school board meetings, have spent a great deal of time observing the people who represent you in your community, speaking with and interviewing them, seeing how they do their jobs or interact with constituents, how productive and committed they are to their duties, and how careful they are in spending on policy initiatives and personal expenses.

Overall, municipalities in Durham Region are serving their constituents well, are doing a generally competent job of minding the public purse (some better than others), and ensuring that the amenities of modern living -- good roads, social services, emergency services, etc.  -- are adequately managed and funded.

As with all things, however, there is always room for improvement; it is here we most strongly encourage individual members of our councils and school boards to always strive to serve more effectively, spend public dollars more prudently, and engage taxpayers at every opportunity.

Almost every municipal government in Durham, along with the public and Catholic school boards, have a refreshing mixture of solid veterans and talented newcomers serving their constituents.  Good things can happen when deep knowledge and fresh perspectives collide.

These report cards provide some insight into how your local councillors and trustees are doing early in this four-year term.  As taxpayers, we all have stake in ensuring that the trend continues.  If you oppose a policy, or a proposal, or simply have a question, call your ward or regional councillor, or your school board trustee as the circumstances dictate.  Such actions also serve as a means of oversight and engagement.  These also affect how your representatives do their jobs, especially if they know constituents are not only paying attention, but taking action and holding them to account.

Good governance is being provided, for the most part, across Durham.

In Pickering, Mayor Dave Ryan leads the way as a strong supporter for his community.  This new council term has seen a refreshing change: council members are getting along much better than in the previous four years.  As a result, the important job councillors have of efficiently and effectively dealing with city matters big and small is not being sidelined by squabbles and animosity between personalities, the hallmark of the last term.  It bodes well for the rest of the term.

City of Pickering municipal report card 2015
An annual evaluation by the Metroland Media Group's Durham Region Division of how local politicians are serving taxpayers
June 24, 2015
(durhamregion.com)

In our yearly review of our local politicians, the Pickering News Advertiser offers its opinion on council's performance.

Attendance represents May 31, 2014 to June 1, 2015.

DAVE RYAN

Mayor

This year's grade: A

Last year's grade: A

Attendance: Council 9/9, Committee 13/14, Regional council 13/13, committee 10/11

Expenses: $13,397

Regional expenses: $1,469.20

Mayor Dave Ryan runs council chambers fairly and orderly, and speaks up on important issues.  He is conducting a council that appears to get along better than the previous one, with less tedious debate over petty issues and the voting appears to be less predictable.  He will let both councillors and residents know when they are acting out of line.  The mayor continues to push for more economic prosperity in Pickering, and maintains a strong stance in support of the proposed casino in Pickering.  As co-chairman of the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance along with Toronto Mayor John Tory, he is able to make connections with important figures throughout the GTA and keep a close eye on the business world.  He makes time to attend numerous events throughout the city and maintains an active social media presence, including Facebook.  He is generally quiet at regional council, but speaks when it's necessary.

KEVIN ASHE

Ward 1 City Councillor

This year's grade: B+

Last year's grade: A-

Attendance: Council 8/9, Committee 12/14

Expenses: $12,286

Ward 1 City Councillor Kevin Ashe is interested in issues in his constituency as well as the community as a whole, and prefers real solutions rather than Band-Aids to fix problems.  For example, when he supported a resolution to officially oppose Canada Post's decision to halt home delivery service, he acknowledged it's a bigger issue and there needs to be more discussion about efficiencies to help solve the problem.  He doesn't speak as much as most of his council colleagues, but when he does, it's thoughtful, and he asks questions to members of the public.  During budget discussions, he commented that with a City surplus running between $1.9 million to $2.25 million, residents were overtaxed in 2014.  His expenses are the highest on council, aside from the mayor, so we'd like to see him curb his spending habits, for that his grade drops slightly.

IAN CUMMING

Ward 2 City Councillor

This year's grade: C+

Last year's grade: N/A

Attendance: Council 6/6, Committee 8/8

Expenses: (December only) - $104

The newcomer Councillor Ian Cumming has taken over a position on council long filled by the councillor he defeated in the 2014 municipal election.  He's learning the ropes but is already vocal at meetings.  He's articulate and brings good business sense to the council table.  He's asked staff to look into the operation of unofficial churches in Pickering, concerned they may be costing the City in unpaid taxes.  He's shared concerns about motorcycles being driven on the ice in Frenchman's Bay and has asked staff to look into considering updating the parking bylaws, for example.  We are confident if Coun. Cumming continues on this path, his grade will improve next year.

RICK JOHNSON

Ward 3 City Councillor

This year's grade: B

Last year's grade: N/A

Attendance: Council 6/6 Committee 8/8

Expenses: (December only) - $179

Councillor Rick Johnson has made a return to politics after one term off, and not much has changed.  It's obvious he loves the job and he continues to support local residents.  He vocalizes his concerns with issues in the north, including those for local farmers, and their limitations due to provincial land use plans.  He was vocal during budget discussions.  He said concerns from residents in the south are not always being addressed in the budget as much as they should be and feels there should be better communication with people living in the north.  He's mentioned a couple of times the importance of upgrading what he calls “archaic” lighting systems in the city, and speaks of the need for lighting efficiencies.  Although it is an area in which the City is improving upon, we would like to see Coun. Johnson continue to push for more improvements in this area.

BILL MCLEAN

Ward 2 Regional Councillor

This year's grade: A-

Last year's grade: A-

Attendance: Council 9/9, Committee, 13/14 Regional council 11/13, committee 9/11

Expenses: $13,397

Regional expenses: $5,714.33

Councillor Bill McLean continues to represent the people in his ward at the council table.  He stays in the loop with the issues relating to local residents, and he raises concerns from residents often.  For example, he's spoken up on the possibility of getting bike lines in the south Pickering area, adding them being there may encourage people to ride their bikes when possible.  He's been keeping an eye on the ideas for the development of south Pickering and has been vocal about his concerns for traffic in the area as it becomes urbanized.  He wants to see certain areas of Pickering become more pedestrian friendly, with condos, shops and restaurants, and we'd like to see him fight for that.  He supported turning the Whitevale Library into an arts and cultural centre, but had the good business sense to ask staff about any potential costs that could creep up due to the age of the building, fearing it could end up costing the taxpayers, before voting on the issue.  He speaks when necessary at regional council.

JENNIFER O'CONNELL

Ward 1 Regional Councillor

This year's grade: A-

Last year's grade: A-

Attendance: Council 9/9, Committee, 11/14 Regional council 12/13, committee 9/11

Expenses: $4,488

Regional expenses: $372.81

Councillor Jennifer O'Connell continues to be an enthusiastic councillor with innovative ideas.  She responds to concerns of the public.  For example, she attempted to put money into the budget for winter maintenance on the Waterfront Trail when residents were having difficulty with the ice.  She was also concerned when council chose to move executive committee meetings to 2 p.m. once a month on a Monday, rather than the old time of 7 p.m. She felt residents would have less of an opportunity to speak on the issues that matter to them with the afternoon time slot.  She won the federal Liberal nomination for the new Pickering-Uxbridge riding, proving she's becoming more polished as a politician each year.  We believe she will keep on top of her council duties as the campaign draws nearer, and will be watching to make sure she does.  She's just as vocal at the Region as she is at council.

DAVID PICKLES

Ward 3 Regional Councillor

This year's grade: A-

Last year's grade: A-

Attendance: Council 9/9, Committee 14/14, Regional Council 8/8, Committee 5/7

Expenses: $8,470

Regional expenses: $0

Councillor David Pickles finally took the plunge and left his long-time post as a City councillor, stepping up his game to become a Regional councillor.  He continues to ask thoughtful questions and raises the concerns of residents from his ward at meetings, such as the provincial government looking into demolishing historic buildings for Seaton.  He was supportive of the transitioning of the Whitevale Library into an arts and cultural centre.  He spoke up many times during budget discussions, asking a lot of questions about roads, bridges and maintenance and repairs to them.  When the interim hospital CEO spoke before the executive committee, he had a lot of questions for her, and was clear when he said what services should be in place as the Seaton neighbourhood grows.  He's rather quiet at regional council but he's just learning his way and we feel he'll speak up more as he learns the ropes.

Cameras to roll in Pickering
TriBro Studios to set up location as part of Durham Live
Kristen Calis
June 23, 2015
(durhamregion.com)
Durham Live
Durham Live Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland PICKERING -- Peter Apostolopoulos, president of TriBro Studios, described the exterior of the plans for the new state-of-the-art movie studio that will be built at the Durham Live entertainment complex.  The movie studio will be one of Canada's largest movie studios.  The announcement was made Monday morning at City hall.  June 22 2015

PICKERING -- It looks like the words 'lights, camera, action' will soon be familiar in Pickering once a new film studio sets up shop in the city.

At Pickering City Hall Monday morning, TriBro Studios, Durham Live and Pickering Developments announced plans for one of Canada's biggest studios to set up shop in Pickering as part of Durham Live, a massive entertainment complex planned for Pickering that's expected to include a hotel, restaurants, a water park, designer shops, a film studio and a casino.  Whether plans for a casino can go ahead will be up to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

“We envision TriBro Studios, and by extension Durham Live, as a growth engine and anchor for the region's creative, multimedia and filmmaking community,” said Peter Apostolopoulos, president of TriBro Studios.  “Our office and production space will form the epicenter for major film and television productions, drawing new, dynamic jobs to Durham Live.”

Mayor Dave Ryan was pleased to see Durham Live becoming a reality.

“We think it's very positive,” he said.  “It's essentially the first phase of the overall development and the one that's closest to fruition.”

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Michael Coteau said the investment is a vote of confidence in Ontario and means good jobs and economic growth for the local community.

“For me, this is incredible news for not only Durham Region, but for Ontario as a whole,” he said.

He said Ontario is among the powerhouses of the film and television sector.

“We compete now with New York,” he said.  “We compete with Los Angeles.”

He called Durham “no stranger to film production” and noted films such as Billy Madison, X-Men and Life of Pi were filmed in Durham.

Mr. Coteau and Mayor Ryan both spoke in interviews about the tax credits that are available for local film production.

“There are tax credits available for film production and we're just inside the boundary for those credits to give you the maximum tax credit,” said Mayor Ryan.  “So this is an ideal location outside of Toronto.”

Mayor Ryan explained Pickering is well positioned in terms of Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) costs as well.

“If you go any farther east you start to pay premiums under the ACTRA contracts,” he said.  “So this is the ideal location in the GTA for a facility such as this.”

Mayor Ryan was pleased that two ministers attended the announcement, which he feels speaks very well to the confidence that the Province has in terms of development in Durham Region and Pickering, but especially in Durham Live in particular.

“It has obviously caught their attention, if not their imaginations,” he said.

TriBros also announced plans to put an end to gender inequality in North American film and television production by launching an incentive program to encourage the hiring of women in leading creative positions.  Mr. Apostolopoulos announced TriBro will cut studio fees in half for any female-helmed productions at its existing studio in Toronto, and at its future studio in Pickering.

He noted only seven per cent of the largest 250 feature films of 2014 were directed by women.

Pickering-Scarborough East and Minister Responsible for Women's Issues, Tracy MacCharles, said despite women making up more than half of the population, inequality still exists, and this program will encourage female directors and showrunners.

“I think this is just incredible leadership,” said Ms. MacCharles.

Happy Father's Day June 21st
Happy Canada Day July 1st
June 2015
Fathers Day Canada Day
 
Senior of the Year
June 14, 2015
Senior Image 1
 
Senior Image 2
 
Kids Safety Village of Durham Region: Cheque Presentation
May 19, 2015
Kids Safety Village of Durham Region Cheque Presentation
 
Happy Mother's Day May 10th
Happy Victoria Day May 18th
May 2015
Mothers Day Victoria Day
 
Pickering Museum Village Very Important Volunteer
April 29, 2015

Councillor Pickles, along with fellow Councillors Bill McLean & Ian Cumming, and Mayor David Ryan, attended the Pickering Museum Village Very Important Volunteer Evening where volunteers are recognized for their dedicated contributions at the Pickering Museum Village.

PMV VIV Evening
Paul Savel, Mrs. Edward Applethwaite (aka Catherine Hodge) & Councillor Pickles 
Public invited to open house on future of Pickering nuclear plant
April 21, 2015
(durhamregion.com)
Pickering Nuclear Generating Station
The Pickering Nuclear Generating Station
Toronto Star photo
The Pickering Nuclear Generating Station

PICKERING -- Ontario Power Generation is asking the public what it thinks the Pickering nuclear site should be used for both during and after it is decommissioned.

OPG is planning for the end of commercial operations at the Pickering nuclear station around 2020, including determining future potential uses of the site.  It has launched a study on repurposing the Pickering plant and surrounding area and is holding a display and open house this Thursday, April 23.

The study is intended to help identify a broad range of potential uses of the site during and after station decommissioning activities.

OPG is seeking input and perspectives of industry, government and infrastructure planning specialists, community leaders, employees and the local community.

There will be a display on the issue at the Pickering Recreation Complex, 1867 Valley Farm Rd., on April 23, from noon to 4 p.m. The community open house will also take place at the rec complex on April 23 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Visit www.opg.com for more information or to learn how to submit ideas.

GO transit improvements coming to Durham
Province to spend billions improving GO train service
April 20, 2015
(durhamregion.com)
GO Transit
GO Transit
Ron Pietroniro/ Durham Region Media Group File Photo
PICKERING -- GO Transit users get set to board a westbound train at the Pickering GO Station.  Northumberland commuters would like to see the service expand into the county.  Aug. 28, 2013.

DURHAM -- There will be more trains running in Durham Region as part of the provincial government's announcement to ramp up public transit in and around the GTA.

Improvements along the Lakeshore East line include two-way, all-day 15-minute GO train service or better on weekdays, evenings and weekends between Oshawa and Union Station, an all-stop service from Oshawa to Union Station, as well as express, non-stop service from Pickering to Union Station in the peak period for trips starting in Oshawa.

The Province announced the improvements in Barrie on Friday, April 17.  Other improvements include expanding service between Barrie and Toronto to more than 200 trips a week, up from the current 70 trips, and electrifying the service on all GO lines.

Dubbed Moving Ontario Forward, the infrastructure plan carries a price tag of $31.5 billion.

Right now, the Lakeshore East line has 568 weekly trips, but over the next five years, that number will grow to more than 620.

Metrolinx, which oversees GO Transit, also has plans to extend GO train service to Bowmanville.  Part of that plan includes a new GO station in Oshawa.

Pickering Nuclear Repurposing Project
April 13, 2015
Repurposing Pickering Ad
Click to see PDF 
Pickering Town Hall Meeting
2015 Coordinated Review of Provincial Plans
April 13, 2015

I had raised a concern with staff that the Province was not including a public consultation meeting in Pickering on the Coordinated Review of the Green Belt Plans.  I suggested the city host a meeting in Pickering for residents.

This April 13 meeting is being advertised on the city website and in the Pickering News Advertiser.  This posting is to advise you of the meeting should residents wish to attend.  A memo is included with further information.

Please note this city hosted meeting does not replace the province's meeting being planned in Ajax so you may also wish to consider attending that meeting.

Spark Centre in Oshawa
April 07, 2015
Spark Centre
I recently visited the Spark Centre in Oshawa with Amanda Reynolds and Dennis Croft.  They are non-profit and help local entrepreneurs in the technology, innovation or invention sector by offering free services to help them start, grow and succeed.  Visit www.sparkcentre.org for more info.  Photo with representative of one of the start up companies. - with Amanda Reynolds.  
Pickering pet owners reminded to stoop and scoop
April 6, 2015
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- After receiving a high number of complaints, Pickering Animal Services is reminding residents to be responsible pet owners and pick up after their pets.

The problem has become evident as the snow continues to melt, revealing dog poop that has accumulated throughout the winter months.

“Owners who fail to pick up after their pet can face fines up to $5,000 under the City's responsible pet ownership bylaw,” said Lindsey Narraway, supervisor of animal services.  “The fine shouldn't be the only deterrent for Pickering pet owners; this is our community, and we need to work together to ensure it remains a clean and vibrant space.”

Signs reminding owners of their obligations have been recently posted around target areas including Glengrove Road, Woodview Avenue, Westcreek Public School, and all hiking and park areas located within the City.

Contact the Customer Care Centre at 905-683-7575 or e-mail customercare@pickering.ca to report a complaint.  Where possible, people are asked to note the pet owner's address to ensure staff can investigate appropriately.

Visit pickering.ca/animals for more information on responsible pet ownership.

Pilot program for teens with autism launching in Pickering
Free program to offer space, activities, for teens at the library
April 5, 2015
Kristen Calis
(durhamregion.com)
Footprints 4 Autism
FOOTPRINTS 4 Autism
Submitted Photo
DURHAM -- Ellah JasTrzebski attends the FOOTPRINTS 4 Autism program.  The organization is soon launching a pilot program for teens and young adults between 14 and 21.  FOOTPRINTS currently has four vacancies in Pickering during its weekend respite programs for children under 14.  April 1, 2015.

PICKERING -- Thanks to a charitable respite program, teenagers diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder will have a new place to hang out once a week.

“The whole thing is fostering inclusion, friendship, acceptance,” said FOOTPRINTS 4 Autism operations manager Julie Cashin-Oster.

The charity's Together We 'Hang' program will provide a social outlet for youth aged 14 to 21 diagnosed with an ASD.  Running out of the Pickering Public Library's main branch, it will start on Wednesday, April 15 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. and will run every Wednesday through the summer until Sept. 16.

A parent/guardian information and registration session will be held at the library on April 8 from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

“One of the main things with autism is the social piece,” said Ms. Cashin-Oster, who has a teenage son with an ASD.

The term ASD refers to a group of complex developmental brain disorders that affect the way the brain works.  Individuals who are on the autism spectrum experience difficulty in the areas of social interaction, language and development and strong interests and repetitive behaviour.

“Youth on the autism spectrum are often a forgotten group when it comes to social, recreational programs,” said Ms. Cashin-Oster.

FOOTPRINTS 4 Autism has been operating weekly respite programs for parents of children on the autism spectrum up to their 14th birthday since 2004.

“After a child ages out we are asked by the parents what's next.  This is a natural step for us to take,” says Corrine Brook-Allred, steering committee chairwoman.

Ms. Cashin-Oster says FOOTPRINTS has identified the need for a program for teenagers within the Durham community and is doing its best to fill it.

“The teen years are tough enough without having the challenge of autism.  By engaging youth -- both on the spectrum and not, we will have an after school social group fostering not only inclusion and acceptance -- but friendship,” she said.

The program will be supervised by a qualified staff member and trained youth volunteers, and participants will have input into the programming.

“There are some wonderful programs but we just wanted to try something that was a little more relaxed and kind of a drop-in,” said Ms. Cashin-Oster.

While it is a drop-in program, it's recommended to pre-register since there are only 12 spots available.

“It's somewhere safe where parents can bring their children,” said Ms. Cashin-Oster.

The program is being put on with the support of the Durham Community Foundation and the Pickering Public Library.

The library is located at One The Esplanade, Pickering.

For more information or to register visit www.footprints4autism.org or e-mail pickering@footprints4autism.org or call 905-420-0388 ext. 3.

Durham chairman Roger Anderson talks Pickering airport, fire amalgamation
Chairman addresses Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade for first time since being elected to position
April 4, 2015
Kristen Calis
(durhamregion.com)
Roger Anderson
Roger Anderson
Durham regional Chairman Candidate Roger Anderson

PICKERING -- Roger Anderson was quick to thank the Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade for officially supporting his position for an airport in Pickering.

“This is very important,” he said.  “This is the difference between job growth and things staying where they are.”

He recently spoke as the first-ever elected Durham Regional chairman to the Board of Trade at the Lake House in Pickering.

He said job growth in Durham won't happen without the extension of Hwy.  407, if the Province of Ontario doesn't market the Seaton lands, and if an airport doesn't go through.

I can give ministers heck all the time but the premier's the big boss.  Durham Regional Chairman Roger Anderson

“You've got to give them a reason to want to expand,” he said of businesses being interested in coming to the area.

He feels strongly about the Province re-developing the lands for employment near Hwy.  407.

“Seaton is the future of Pickering,” he said.

He spoke of a recent meeting he took part in along with GTA mayors and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

“We got a list of all of the things we want to do together,” he said.

He said he's not sure if all of the requests from various municipalities will go though “but at least she's opened the door.”

He said after the meeting he felt positive about transit options for the east end of the GTA.

“I can give ministers heck all the time but the premier's the big boss,” he said.

Mr. Anderson spoke of his interest in restructuring Regional council.  He said while population will be a factor in determining the number of councillors “it's not the be all and end all.

“It's something we've got to start dealing with this year,” he said.

He spoke about the possibility of amalgamating fire services across Durham.

“What's wrong with studying it?” he said.

There was recently a lengthy debate during Regional budget discussions when spending $75,000 to study the possibility of amalgamating the fire services was postponed until local councils decide whether they are even interested in seeing a study.

He spoke about the provincial review of the Growth Plan, Greenbelt Plan, Oak Ridges Moraine Plan and Niagara Escarpment Plan.

Mr. Anderson said the Province is holding a public meeting to gather input at the Ajax Community Centre on April 20.  The public review period lasts until June 3 and he encouraged the Board of Trade to review the plans and send in comments to the Province.

“It's going to change the face of the GTA for a long time,” he said.

The Region has consulted the community on the Greenbelt Plan, which covers 80 per cent of Durham.  The recommendations for improvements to the Greenbelt plan are posted on the Region's website, www.durham.ca.

Councillor Pickles has joined the cast of Game of Thrones?
March 27, 2015
Hospital Gala
Brenda and Dave join the cast of Games of Thrones?  No, but we were pleased to attend the Fire and Ice Rouge Gala for the Rouge Valley Health System Foundation.  Funds raised went to the purchase of two mini C-arm portable X-ray machines.
Farm share growing in popularity in Pickering
March 26, 2015
(durhamregion.com)

Community-supported agriculture is a win-win for Pickering residents and Durham farmers.

Imagine arriving home from work to find a basket of fresh produce on your porch.  Its origin wouldn't be a mystery if you were involved in CSA, or farm share, as it is often called.  In the program, local residents before the growing season pay for a share of a local farm's produce.  The consumer chooses to receive food weekly or bi-weekly and it is delivered to their home.  Among the options, buyers can either order a half or a full share and some farms also offer meat and egg shares.

Everybody is a winner in farm share: the consumer receives fresh, locally-grown food without having to drive to the grocery store.  And while a household is enjoying it at meal or snack times, they know they are supporting a farmer not in the U.S.  or Central America, but very close to home.  Farmers can directly connect to their customers and knowing in advance how many farm share patrons they have helps them plan ahead.

Durham Sustain Ability (DSA) hosted a CSA event at Ray's Cafe in Pickering recently.  And while DSA hosts EnviroChats all year long, volunteer Bob Hester said this CSA event drew the largest crowd the group has ever seen at an Envirochat.

Community-supported agriculture, in a way, takes us back to our roots, pardon the pun.  It's easy to forget that 200 or 300 years ago, when most Canadians lived in rural areas, people generally stayed close to home for their entire lives.  Almost everything they needed was grown or made at home.  They had a real connection to and knowledge of the food that ended up on their table.  Now that the vast majority of Canadians live in urban areas, we've lost that connection to the land.

In CSA, the consumer reduces his or her carbon footprint as they don't go out to get the food and it doesn't travel hundreds or more kilometres on a truck to get here.

As well, those involved in CSA are more in tune to the growing season.  Fruits and vegetables are only available at certain times.  That's why those strawberries you bought at the market last week looked so bad: they took so long to get here after being picked that they've gone bad, or are just about to.  In CSA, you get the food when it's grown and picked.  As a special bonus, if there's more of a certain crop than was expected, the customer gets more in their basket.

Visit websites of the farms that took part in the Pickering DSA program: www.zephyrorganics.com, www.forsythefamilyfarms.com, www.willowtreefarm.ca, www.csafarmdurhamkawartha.com.

Pickering residents to see tax hike of 3.79 per cent
Council unanimously passes budget, includes one per cent levy for roads
Kristen Calis
March 26, 2015
(durhamregion.com)
Dave Ryan
Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan
Handout photo

PICKERING -- Pickering council unanimously passed a budget that will mean a tax increase of 3.79 per cent.

The increase is the equivalent of an extra $51.30 on a home valued at $376,100.  Pickering makes up 28 per cent of the tax bill, while the Region of Durham's portion is 55 per cent and the school board makes up 17 per cent.

On the City's portion of the tax bill, the increase is 1.65 per cent, the lowest it's been in the past 10 years.

“Staff brought us a very tight budget overall,” said Mayor Dave Ryan.

He said the recommendation for an additional one per cent levy to help repair roads and bridges “is just prudent planning.”

The budget included $50 million in current expenses of salaries and wages, overtime and employer contributions, and $22 million in gross capital expenses.

Big capital items include a new aerial ladder fire truck costing $1.1 million, and $1 million for the removal and replacement of trees damaged by 2013 ice storm.

Ward 1 Regional Councillor Jennifer O'Connell attempted to have $60,000 added to the budget for winter maintenance of the Waterfront Trail, but it was lost in a close vote.

The City is planning on a golf simulator capital project in the amount of $67,500.  However, it will be subject to an additional expenditure approval by council before the project proceeds and if it isn't approved by council by the end of 2015, it will be cancelled.

The budget includes a capital forecast from 2016 to 2019, the total of which is $97.1 million.  Of that, $37.3 million will be funded from debt and internal loans.

Pickering resident David Steele, who attended budget discussions, said he wants to see a “10-year capital and operating budget with a full disclosure on one page of all reserve funds and a separate one on debt and years it will take to pay the debt off.”

He said until the City completes an assessment inventory of all equipment and components in all buildings and infrastructure, then produces a 10-year operating and capital budget, it's playing a catch-up game in which the taxpayers “are kept in the dark with no long-term planning or vision for the City of Pickering.”

The budget uses $5.3 million of internal and external debt to finance various projects.  The staff report says this is relatively low compared to previous years.

Mr. Steele says the City needs a strategy that provides a plan to reduce dependency on debt and bring in a balanced budget.

“High debt levels, whether in the public or private sector, have historically placed a drag on growth and raised the risk of financial crises that spark deep economic recessions,” he said.

Visit www.pickering.ca/en/cityhall/budgetfeedback.asp to view the budget.

Petapalooza to raise money for Pickering animal shelter
March 25, 2015
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- The City of Pickering wants a permanent animal shelter in Pickering and is hosting an event to help it reach its goal.

Pickering Animal Services is looking for exhibitors to participate in its fourth Petapolooza, a trade show of industry professionals, rescue groups and other services available to Pickering pet enthusiasts in celebration of Responsible Pet Ownership Month.

The event will take place on Saturday, May 30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the upper level of the leash-free area at Grand Valley Park, located on the Third Concession, west of Valley Farm Road in Pickering.

Exhibitors will have the opportunity to connect with an enthusiastic audience and promote their product, service and/or organization.

All funds raised from the event will go towards the development of a permanent animal shelter in Pickering.

Those interested in becoming an exhibitor should submit an application by April 30.  Visit pickering.ca/petapolooza to view the available exhibitor packages and more details on how to get involved.

Sustainable Pickering Day happening this weekend
March 25, 2015
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- Sustainable Pickering Day is taking place for the 10th year this Saturday.

The annual event on March 28 will give visitors an opportunity to purchase and learn about locally grown and made products; discover ways to contribute to a healthy environment; and receive one-on-one advice from City of Pickering tree and gardening experts.

Along with shopping the indoor farmers market, watching the gardening demonstrations, and enjoying the free children's activities, visitors can sign up for Pickering's Celebrating Sustainable Neighbourhoods program for a chance to win up to $10,000 to enhance a community space.

The event will take place at the Pickering Town Centre in Centre Court, 1355 Kingston Rd., from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

New this year, the University of Toronto Scarborough will bring its Eastern GTA Eco Summit to the Central Library's auditorium on the second floor at One The Esplanade.

Event-goers can learn about community gardening, urban tree canopy, and climate change.  Workshop sessions take place for one hour each at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Register for free at ecosummit2015.eventbrite.ca.

Historic Pickering farmhouse once saved from wrecking ball may face it again
Whitevale residents object to proposed demolitions for Seaton area
Kristen Calis
March 7, 2015
(durhamregion.com)
Percy House
Scott Finlayson
Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland
PICKERING -- Scott Finlayson, president of the Whitevale and District Residents Association, wants to save a handful of historic homes in the area that the provincial government is considering demolishing to make way for the Seaton development.  February 27, 2015.

DURHAM -- Despite receiving a heritage designation in the spring, an historic farmhouse in Pickering could face demolition at the hands of the provincial government after all.

The City designated the Walter Percy House under the Ontario Heritage Act in April, and at the time, the Province indicated it had no objections with the designation.

However, the City has learned that Infrastructure Ontario, the arm of the Ontario government that manages the provincial lands in north Pickering, has hired a consultant to conduct an environmental assessment for the demolition of 15 homes to make way for the development of the Seaton neighbourhood.  The Walter Percy House is one of the 15.

Although the Ontario Heritage Act allows municipalities to designate properties, the Province has authority on its own lands.

“Hopefully they'll take into account that we've placed a designation on that property,” says Ward 3 Regional Councillor David Pickles.

The Province has owned a large chunk of land in north Pickering since the early 1970s.  After toying with various uses, in 2006 the Province settled on Seaton, a neighbourhood that is expected to attract up to 70,000 people to the once rural area.

While the small hamlet of Whitevale is protected, the buffer zone around it has gotten smaller.

Coun. Pickles noted these buffers could include public spaces, such as schools and parks.

The Whitevale and District Residents' Association is trying to maintain the history in and around the area.

The hamlet was founded in 1820 when it was called Majorville.  Scott Finlayson, the association's president, fears its 200th anniversary will be marked by wrecking balls nearby.

“That's how you're going to celebrate heritage, eh?” he says.

Ajax-Pickering MPP Joe Dickson has spoken to some of the concerned residents.  He says the EA will help determine whether any of the properties are salvageable.  Whether he personally would like to see the structures saved will be based on the findings.

“I pretty much want to wait and see about the EA,” he says.  “As soon as it's completed then you can take an objective look.”

He says the provincial government and the members of provincial parliament value heritage buildings.

“That's why we have our own distinct ministry position for this,” he says.

Mr. Finlayson explained the Percy home is a rare example of the Ontario Cottage Style architecture due to its unusual stonework.  The stone farmhouse was built between 1875 and 1885 in the Gothic revival style, and currently sits vacant on Sideline 16, southeast of the hamlet of Brougham.

Other homes that could face demolition include three within the Whitevale Heritage Conservation District boundaries and four designated heritage lots in the Seaton plan.

“We really have to shame the government into action here,” Mr. Finlayson says.

Another, the Nathaniel Hastings House, was originally built in 1840 and is deemed a heritage lot in the Seaton Neighbourhood Plan.  Mr. Finlayson explained it has a traditional stone construction with atypical brick headings, which were likely hauled by horse from Toronto Brickworks.

“This is probably one of my favourite ones,” says Mr. Finlayson.

The Province owns more than 70 homes on the land, many of which are still being rented.  However, once renters leave, the homes tend to sit vacant and fall into disrepair, says Mr. Finlayson.  In fact, most of 15 on the list are vacant and susceptible to damage by the elements such as cold and water, and animals.  Both the Nathaniel Hastings House and the Walter Percy House are examples.

The City is currently evaluating the heritage value of 10 of the 15 properties on the list.

A staff report indicates four properties will have full heritage assessments completed as they are identified as being heritage lots in the Seaton neighbourhood plans.  Full assessments will be done on any of the six found to be significant after a preliminary evaluation.

Coun. Pickles says a tenant or even a viable business moving into the buildings if any are spared would help keep them in good shape.

“The worst thing is to have a building sitting vacant,” he says.

In this case, the heritage dedication for the Walter Percy House would be useful in keeping the building's original features.

Coun. Pickles says old buildings have been moved to Pickering Museum Village in the past, but sometimes it's ideal to keep the old homes where they are, in order to keep them in context.

Mr. Finlayson says there are many examples of old architecture in urban communities and museums.  He suggests selling the homes with a lot severance for a nominal cost to interested home owners willing to keep them at their current locations.

“Someone would probably restore it to its former glory,” he says.

He points to Markham, which has established heritage blocks within existing development.  Homes were moved to lots, restored and lived in by families.

“We have asked the City of Pickering to work with us as we explore various options and anxiously await their assessment reports to determine which and how many homes can realistically be saved and maintained in our heritage community,” says Mr. Finlayson.

Bianca Lankheit, a communications advisor with Infrastructure Ontario, says the EA is currently underway and no final decisions have been made.  She adds consultation with key stakeholders will be part of the process, and once it's concluded, a notice of completion will be posted for public review and comment.

“If submissions are received during the public posting period, the minister of the environment and climate change has to take those submissions into consideration and make the final decision as to whether the proposed undertaking may proceed or not,” she said.

Construction on Kingston Road in Pickering includes bus-only lanes
March 7, 2015
(durhamregion.com)
Durham Region Transit
Durham Region Transit
Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland
OSHAWA -- Passengers got on and off a Durham Region Transit bus.

PICKERING -- Construction work on Kingston Road in Pickering is expected to be ongoing until the end of October.

The work will take place on Kingston Road, from 315 metres west of Liverpool Road to 600 metres east of Liverpool Road, and is expected to cause lane restrictions.

The work includes storm sewer replacement, local watermain replacement, road widening, sidewalk reconstruction, traffic signal replacements, and the implementation of bus-only lanes and bicycle lanes.

Unfavourable weather conditions may influence the work schedule.  Drivers are asked to exercise caution for pedestrian safety and for the safety of the construction workers.

For more information on this Region of Durham project, visit www.durhambrt.ca .

Staying connected: New Durham technology portal paves way to international investors
Region of Durham and the Spark People team up to create online tool
Leeanna McLean
March 6, 2015
(durhamregion.com)
Kasia Chojecki
Kasia Chojecki
Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland
WHITBY -- Kasia Chojecki, manager of strategic initiative with the Region of Durham's planning and economic development department, in collaboration with Spark Centre, has launched the Durham Innovation and Technology Portal.  This integrated online resource is designed to promote Durham Region's digital technology sector, with a focus on attracting international investors.  February 5, 2015.

International investors now have the opportunity to browse hundreds of Durham companies at the click of a button.

The Region of Durham's planning and economic development department, in collaboration with Spark Centre, has launched the Durham Innovation and Technology Portal.  Introduced in late December 2014, the idea was to build a tool to present the various growing sectors in Durham Region.

Upon entering the portal, users are greeted with various industries including: digital media, agritech, health, advanced manufacturing, clean technology, information technology and incubation.  One can browse through information on different creative artists, game designers, web developers and health-care initiatives.  Potential international investors can read about Durham Region's Centre for Food and can explore Search Engine People, recognized as one of the 100 fastest-growing companies.  The portal provides up-to-date information about the latest investment opportunities from local companies seeking partnerships, investors or venture capital funding, strengths in post-secondary training, research and development, available incentives, local support networks and more.

“We thought creating a portal of this kind would be a good way to showcase the talent in Durham outside.  Digital is very different, you don't need to be in a certain location to do business, you can do it anywhere in the world,” says Kasia Chojecki, manager, strategic initiative department of economic development and tourism.

“Especially in this sector, it is important to collaborate and if you're in the digital sector, you don't want to read a brochure that is handed to you in hard copy.  You want to be reading information in a format that you are accustomed to.”

The project was made possible by a joint-funding initiative from the Region and Invest Canada-Community Initiatives, which provides financial support to communities for their foreign direct investment programs and resources.  The Region and Spark Centre received $15,000 from ICCI and Ms. Chojecki says they came under budget.  The portal will also be used as part of the Region's overall foreign investment attraction plan, which aims to respond to potential foreign and domestic investors and generate new leads.

The companies featured currently on the portal are businesses the Region and Spark Centre have worked with previously.  However, as new and emerging companies become recognized, they will have the opportunity to showcase their work on the site.

“By featuring companies, it will also entice people to come out of the woodwork and look to be featured,” says Ms. Chojecki.

In October, students from Durham College and a video production company based out of China joined through the portal to work on an animated feature.  Ms. Chojecki says this is only the beginning of more successful partnerships to come in the future.  “If they start working with Durham College and producing those, they may decide to be here and have a studio, even a small-scale one.  That's how we are trying to push forward,” says Ms. Chojecki.

After conducting a sector analysis, the Region and Spark Centre found it was important to have a wide language selection in order to connect with foreign markets.  The technology portal lets users select from more than 80 languages.

“In the last five to 10 years, a website has become really the new calling card.  It's your business card, your marketing brochure, your TV ad, it has replaced all of those things.  The very first thing anyone does to learn about something is to go online and look for it,” says Dennis Croft, president and CEO of Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre.  “The tech sector has become a very common integrated industry now in every province and in every country of the world.  To ignore it and not value the importance of this industry would be a real danger to the community.”

Mr. Croft says Spark Centre's goal would be to take over the long-term management of the site, which would include increasing the amount of content on the portal as it relates to various companies, recruiting, success stories, local news around technology and innovation, and information about Durham's increasing talent pool.

As the portal becomes better known, the Region and Spark Centre will start to compare different partnerships, discuss referrals and track web analytics to measure the portal's success.

“We have a long-term mission that we are trying to accomplish and that is to really increase the awareness of the importance of this industry.  This gives us a real aggregation point that more and more people will easily access,” says Mr. Croft.  “I'm tremendously excited that we have this.”

Durham budget approved with one per cent tax increase
Most debate centred on spending $75,000 on fire amalgamation study
Keith Gilligan
March 5, 2015
(durhamregion.com)

DURHAM -- With a gross budget of about $1.3 billion, most of the debate on Durham Region's 2015 budget centred on spending $75,000 to study amalgamating fire services.

Regional council on Wednesday, March 4, approved the budget, which includes a one per cent property tax increase.  That works out to a $24 increase on a home assessed at $351,000.

Oshawa Councillor Bob Chapman, the finance and administration committee chairman, said, “As chairman, I hope the majority of council, if not all, agree this is a good budget.  I think this is an affordable budget.  It moves us forward.  It keeps us with a Triple A rating, which is important.”

Almost all of the debate centred on spending $75,000 to look at amalgamating fire services across Durham.

During the fall municipal election campaign, a plank in Regional Chairman Roger Anderson's platform was examining the amalgamation of fire services and moving it to the Regional level.

Mr. Anderson said including the $75,000 in the budget “is giving staff the right to do some internal investigations.”

Once that's done, it would come back to Regional council for approval, he noted.

“No one can make a decision on fire unless you know the ramifications,” Mr. Anderson added.

Oshawa Councillor Nancy Diamond said, “It's not big money, but there are major implications.”

Ajax Mayor Steve Parish wanted the budget changed so that before the fire amalgamation study could begin, the local municipalities would be allowed to comment.

“Let's see if the local municipalities want to do it,” he said.  “Anyone out there who thinks amalgamation will save costs, forget it.”

He said going to the municipalities first would show if there was support for a region-wide fire service.

“If there's not the political will, then you're throwing $75,000 of taxpayers' money out the window.”

Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan didn't support the change, saying, “I find it somewhat ironic that those who fought for an elected chairman now try to frustrate his first initiative.

“If the result of the study is any decline in fire service in Pickering or it costs one penny more for fire service, we will vote against it,” Mayor Ryan added.

Finance commissioner Jim Clapp said, “What we're trying to do it bring all the dollars together, operating and capital and the tax implications to the local municipalities.  You'll have the information and can decide if you want to go down that road or not.”

Mr. Anderson said staff would do an internal investigation and then report back to councillors.

“Then you can decide if you want to do it.  It's exactly the same process we used with transit.”

He said the process would allow the Region to do its due diligence and then report to council.

“If a local municipality doesn't want to participate, when Jim Clapp calls, don't answer,” he said.

Pickering Councillor Jennifer O'Connell said, “What's the point of spending $75,000 if there's no political will? The process is really the issue.  Every municipality deserves the right to say yes or no.”

Oshawa Councillor John Aker cautioned that local municipalities should be “careful” about giving up a service.

“We have to be careful with how much we surrender.  The Province may look at us and say we don't need those eight local municipalities,” Coun. Aker said.

Durham Region budget
PLANNING PRIORITIES
February 25, 2015
By Leah Wong
(novae res urbis)

Through its finance and administration committee Durham Region is working on finetuning its 2015 operating and capital budgets.

Last week planning and economic development committee approved a 2.2 per cent, or $116,000, increase over the 2014 planning division budget of $5.2 million.  Wednesday it is presented to the finance and administration committee.

The most significant pressures in the division's 2015 budget are a $72,000 increase for salaries and benefits and a $73,000 increase in professional services for transportation studies.  These and other opening pressures are being offset by decreases in general operating expenses and professional services required for plan implementation.  The division is also expecting a net increase in revenue.

Planning and economic development committee also approved a 1.98 per cent increase in the economic development and tourism division budget.  This represents a $61,000 increase over the $3.1-million budget approved in 2014.

Included in the budget is funding for a new administrative position and to advertise and promote the inaugural Durham Festival.   Other budget increases relate to an increase in professional, technical and consulting services for the creation of the 2015-2020 Economic Development Strategy and for analysis on the advanced manufacturing health sciences and energy sectors.

Through his budget report planning and economic development commissioner Alexander Georgieff outlined the divisions' priorities for the upcoming year.

Planning priorities are split into three categories: policy formulation and administration, plans approval and review, and planning advisory and information services.   Policy formulation includes advancing development of the Seaton community and leading implementation of the three-year Cycling Communication Plan.  Plans approval includes administering the region's responsibilities for area municipal official plans, reviews and conformity exercises.  Planning advisory includes supporting the region's climate change roundtable and responding to provincial planning initiatives such as the Greenbelt Act and Places to Grow reviews.

The economic development and tourism division is focused on economic attraction and business retention and expansion across a range of sectors.  This includes supporting business start-up and development services, collaborating with the local post-secondary institutions, continuing to implement the Durham Agricultural Strategy and implementing the culinary agro-tourism strategy.  Durham's economic development focus is on attracting new sectors to the region and continuing to support the agricultural industry.

York reassessing plan to repay debt, delays infrastructure projects
Feb. 17, 2015
By: Noor Javed
(thestar.com)

York Region is starting to feel the burden of carrying the highest per-capita debt load in the GTA, and is pulling back on infrastructure projects to rein in borrowing costs.

York's debt has climbed to $2.54 billion and is expected to peak at $3.7 billion by 2020.

For years, the region's debt-repayment plan has been dependent on development charges from current and future construction of homes in booming cities such as Markham, Vaughan and Richmond Hill.  (Levies collected help cover the cost of money borrowed to build infrastructure such as water and sewage pipes.)

But the plan isn't working quite as expected.

Despite fast-tracking projects and a relatively strong housing market, development charges aren't keeping up with debt repayment.

Almost 85 per cent of York's debt is based on what it hopes to recover from development fees.

“We assumed higher growth in the early years, followed by slower growth in the later years,” said Edward Hankins, director of the Treasury Office for York.

“But because of the economic recession, some of that growth has not occurred as quickly as we thought.”

Officials admit the development charge collection plan is volatile and largely dependent on how the economy fares.

Heavy reliance on such fees could leave York taxpayers facing two unfavourable options down the road to cover debt: higher taxes, or more sprawl to keep the development fees coming in.

According to a 2013 report, development levies collected over the past decade amounted to an average of $173 million a year.  In 2014, the region reset the rates and collected $250 million, Hankins said.

The region is anticipating $330 million annually in 2015 and 2016 - even though such numbers have never been met.

But Hankins is optimistic.

“York is going to grow.  It's one of the fastest growing municipalities in Canada.  It's just a question of how quickly it will grow,” he said.

Yet there have already been consequences to the region's aggressive build plan and high debt, according to the 2015 proposed budget document, which is up for discussion this month.

S&P recently downgraded the region's credit rating from AAA to AA+, over concerns the region was spending too much and taking on too much debt.  To slow down spending, York Region Council decided to delay certain projects, including the Upper York water reclamation centre and water and sewage projects in Vaughan.

The projects could be restarted if growth proves to be faster than expected, or development charge funds improve.

So, the region's new focus is building up its reserve funds, Hankins said.

The $1.7 billion currently held in reserves, second in the region only to Toronto's, is being spent faster than the revenues coming in.  By 2017, the depletion trend is expected to reverse, said Hankins.

Critics warn that York's strategy will put it in much the same straits Peel Region now faces.

“Mississauga was able to collect development fees and use them to subsidize tax freezes,” said Sony Rai, a member of the environmental group Sustainable Vaughan.  “Fast-forward 30 years and now Peel Region's infrastructure replacement and repair bill is causing tax increases.”

Paul Bottomley, York Region's manager for growth management, believes the growth anticipated in the region by 2031 will surpass what is needed to pay off the debt.

According to a land assessment report from 2009, the region anticipates some 1.5 million people will move in over the next two decades.  It also expects to add 229,300 housing units over that period, almost 40 per cent of those single-family homes - the most lucrative type when it comes to development fees.

A single or semi-detached home brings in $37,720 in development charges.  A condo of less than 700 square feet brings in almost $15,865.

But some environmentalists worry that York's debt repayment policy is not sustainable and is a model destined to fuel sprawl.

“They are so far exposed in terms of debt and paying for that with development charges ...  and the only way they can see forward is to keep doing more of it,” said Tim Gray, executive director with the advocacy group Environmental Defence.

He believes that as the region builds out, there will eventually be pressure on the protected Greenbelt lands, where new development is forbidden.

Gray believes that with the provincial Greenbelt review taking place this year, the region could contemplate actively moving toward a high-density model, instead of “simply digging itself deeper into the hole.”

“They need to figure out how we can modify development charges so that revenue can be obtained from denser development.  And if you aren't building new infrastructure that extends far into the countryside, then your costs are lower.  So you can transition to a new funding model,” he said.

“But in the short term, and with so much debt on them, it's a hard sell.”

Debt over GTA
Residents invited to have say in Pickering budget
February 20, 2015
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- The City of Pickering is inviting residents to learn more about the annual budget process, and provide input to help build the 2015 budget.

The ‘Budgeting Your City’ campaign encourages residents to go online to gain a better understanding of the budget building blocks, and submit their feedback in preparation for the draft 2015 budget.

“This is a great campaign that will provide residents with a better understanding of where their tax dollars go,” said Mayor Dave Ryan.  “Hopefully, they will appreciate that taxes aren't a penalty -- they are an investment in the community that we all live in.”

Residents can register as a delegation for the March 5 executive (budget) committee meeting, or simply attend to observe the budget process unfold.

The ‘Budgeting Your City’ feedback form is available online at pickering.ca/budget and hard copies will be made available upon request.  For more information about the budget process, contact corporate Services by sending an e-mail to corpserv@pickering.ca or calling 905-420-4614.

Pickering recognized for acting on climate change
February 19, 2015
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- The City of Pickering has completed the final step in a climate protection program, making it one of just 24 municipalities to have reached the milestone.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities and Local Governments for Sustainability have recognized the City for achieving Milestone 5, the last step of the Partners for Climate Protection program.

The program is a network of 270 Canadian municipal governments that have committed to reducing greenhouse gases and acting on climate change.  It is based on a five-milestone framework that includes setting an emissions reduction target and developing and implementing a local action plan.

Visit pickering.ca/sustainability to learn more about Pickering's involvement in the program.

Pickering approves casino proposal at Bayly and Church streets
Mayor states opposition to stand-alone casino
January 23, 2015
Kristen Calis
(durhamregion.com)
Durham Live Church Street
Durham Live Church Street
Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland
PICKERING -- The City of Pickering has received a rezoning application for a significant new development proposal on the land located on the northwest corner of Church Street and Bayly Street.  Referred to as Durham Live, the proposal is to rezone the subject lands to permit a broad range of attractions, such as a casino, hotel, convention centre, performing arts centre, outdoor amphitheatre and waterpark.  February 26, 2014.

DURHAM -- Pickering is another step closer to having a casino in the city.

At the Jan. 19 council meeting, councillors voted 6-1 to give final approval to a zoning bylaw allowing Pickering Developments to proceed with its vision for Durham Live, a 220-acre, mega-entertainment tourist destination, which most notably could include a casino.

The vote reflects support by Pickering residents when 60 per cent of voters said yes to a casino and the Durham Live Project in a referendum held in the 2014 municipal election.

“We are delighted with the results from council,” said Steve Apostolopoulos, president of Pickering Developments.  “The City has a mandate from the residents of Pickering and we anticipate that this vote may create some impetus for the provincial OLG modernization program.”

The complex, set for Bayly and Church streets, is planned to feature a resort casino, hotel, indoor water park, an outdoor amphitheatre, state-of-the-art cinemas, world-class restaurants, nature trails, bike paths and a large array of other commercial uses.

Ward 1 Regional Councillor Jennifer O'Connell was the only member of council to oppose the bylaw.  First, she was concerned that a medical office was listed as a permitted principal use, which was the only use that was not tourist-related.  She was concerned if a casino specifically didn't go through, the area could become much like any other strip mall in Durham.  She put forward an amendment to have it put into secondary uses, however it was lost.

Ward 3 City Councillor Rick Johnson said a medical office was a great idea, as they are in demand.

Tom Melymuk, director of city development, said a medical office was included in the original application.

“We gave back to council what we believe council was asking us to do,” he said.

Coun. O'Connell was also concerned that the language in the bylaw wasn't strong enough in reflecting the residents' wishes that the casino be only part of a larger entertainment complex, not a stand-alone casino.

“There's no actual teeth that says construction has to start with both or one or the other,” she said.

Mr. Melymuk said he felt confident the bylaw couldn't be misconstrued.

“I am satisfied at this point that the bylaw language is sufficient for not having someone work around and interpret it as a stand-alone casino,” he said.

Mayor Dave Ryan said he's very comfortable with the report.

“I will not support and would not support a stand-alone casino,” he said.

The next development phase will entail confirming design aspects of the project, identifying and solidifying development user partners and waiting for the Province to make a choice on the casino location.

“We look forward to working closely with both the City, Region and Province as we move forward,” said Mr. Apostolopoulos.

Pickering passes zoning bylaw paving way for casino
Land could become home to an "integrated major tourist destination," which could include a casino.
January 22, 2015
Jacques Gallant
(thestar.com)
Casino Chips
ROBERT F.  BUKATY / ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO
Pickering is one tiny step closer to getting a casino, after city council passed a zoning bylaw on Monday allowing for an “integrated major tourist destination.”

Pickering is one tiny step closer to getting a casino, after city council passed a zoning bylaw on Monday allowing for an “integrated major tourist destination” at Church and Bayly Sts.

The motion passed 6-1, said Tom Melymuk, director of city development.  He said public notification will take place in the next few days, and interested parties will have 20 days to decide if they want to appeal council's decision to the Ontario Municipal Board.

“The details are now in the bylaw, in terms of what is permitted, the definitions, the way the different uses need to interact for this tourist destination,” he told the Star this week.

Pickering Developments Inc.  was looking to rezone three parcels of land at Church and Bayly Sts.  for a $1.6-billion project named Durham Live that would include, but not be limited to, a casino.  Pickering City Council's planning and development committee voted 4-3 last September to endorse the developer's rezoning application after a debate that spanned two meetings.  Debate over the casino dominated the meetings.

The new zoning category of “major tourist destination” covers a wide variety of uses, including a hotel, a water park and a casino.

“The Durham Live folks will make the determination ultimately whether they will proceed or not; the zoning doesn't ensure development,” said Melymuk.

“The landowner determines whether they will develop or not.  Our expectations are, in this case, that the Durham Live group wants to establish a major tourist destination with a casino.  That's what they applied for.”

The provincial government's decision to establish four “gaming zones” in Ontario has led to lively debates across the GTA, with many municipalities, including Toronto, rejecting the idea of hosting a casino.  Pickering is one of the few that has expressed interest.

With files from Durhamregion.com

Pickering library stays relevant in changing world
Library users check out more than 1.2 million items in 2014
January 22, 2015
Kristen Calis
(durhamregion.com)
iPad and iPhone program
Pickering Library iPad and iPhone program
Jason Liebregts / Metroland
PICKERING -- Pickering Library's Doug Mirams spoke with Rajie and Sam Dasgupta at an Apple iPad and iPhone program at the library.  Services provided by the library are constantly evolving but the library but continues to stay with the mandate to continue a culture of learning.  This class is for beginners to the Apple iOS operating system.  January 19, 2015

DURHAM -- When Heather Cameron, a self-professed avid reader, set sail on a five-month cruise around the world last January, she took her library with her.

The 65-year-old technologically savvy Ajax resident relied on her tablet and a WiFi connection (wherever she could find it) to tap into a variety of services available through Durham's public libraries.

“I used it for downloading historical books, travel guides, music, I watched the news, all kinds of things -- but I did it through the library,” said Ms. Cameron, who's the proud owner of several library cards, including one from Ajax, Pickering, Whitby, Oshawa and Thunder Bay, as well as Aberdeen, Scotland, and Sydney, Australia.

She reads for about two hours each day and often has several different books on the go, picking them up at the library in person or online, usually at her two favourite sites -- Pickering and Whitby.

“I love historical romance, science fiction, and a good mystery but libraries are so much more than just books these days,” she said, adding she uses them as a credible research tool to look up practical skills like how to garden or fix the plumbing in her house.

Sometimes, she'll choose a few children's movies from the DVD selection to watch with her eight-year-old neighbour or spend some time chatting with staff about their favourite titles.  Her 92-year-old father, who's blind, also regularly borrows audiobooks from the library.

“I have to make a list before I go now of the things I want to get when I go to the library,” Ms. Cameron said with a laugh.

The Pickering Public Library continues to provide fiction and non-fiction print works, but also provides a variety of services to the community in order to stay relevant amidst changing times.

CEO Cathy Grant feels the original mandate of libraries, to facilitate lifelong learning, is still the same.

“It's because learning has changed so quickly.  I don't think it's ever happened so quickly in the history of human development,” she said.  “If we stuck with our original way, it wouldn't be of value to the community because that's now how they're learning.”

The library, which has one main branch and three smaller ones, also features DVDs and many other online resources including journal databases, e-books and courses that offer certificates when complete.  The library even has a 3-D printer and a drone.  It recently launched The Commons, which will bring in experts to discuss certain topics important to the community.  The library offers a number of programs for early learners, and people of all ages.  A recent event invited people to bring in an iPad or iPhone to learn all of its capabilities.

“Studies are showing that more and more people are relying on mobile devices not only to communicate but to get more information,” said Ms. Grant.

Library members checked out 1,270,000 items in 2014; of those, almost 180,000 were e-books.

Specifically, 727,000 were checked out of the central branch; 345,000 at Petticoat Creek; 11,400 at Claremont; and 7,000 at Greenwood.

After being on a continuous downward trend, the Whitevale branch shut down in early 2013.  Ms. Grant said Greenwood's numbers continue to decrease too.

“It's going to be an issue in the future for the board to look at,” she said.

Last year, Pickering council directed $4.7 million toward the library's operating budget and $785,000 went to the capital budget, which included a new roof at Petticoat.

“There are always budget constraints and there certainly have been for the last couple of years but (council does) see the value of the library as a significant community asset and have supported our library very well compared to other libraries in the province,” said Ms. Grant.

The Pickering library recently conducted an economic impact study and found for every $1 invested in the library, Pickering residents received $5.85 in value.

“So the return on investments is 485 per cent,” said Ms. Grant.

The study also found the value of a library membership is $730 per year.

Ms. Grant said in terms of circulation, the Pickering library is fourth in the province.  For programs, it is No.  2 and in terms of technology use, it's first.

In the past, most library users seemed to be of the middle-class variety, but Ms. Grant said it's now people of all walks of life.

“I've been working in libraries for 28 years and I have never seen libraries used as much as they are now,” she said.

HOW THIS IMPACTS YOU

  • An economic impact study by the Pickering Public Library found the value of a library membership is $730 per year
  • In 2014, Pickering council directed $4.7 million toward the library's operating budget and $785,000 to the capital budget
Jobs, taxes on the radar as new Durham Region council gets down to work
New team of regional politicians and Durham's first elected chairman sworn to office
Keith Gilligan
December 7, 2014
(durhamregion.com)
Durham Region council swearing in
Durham Region council swearing in
Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland
WHITBY -- Members of regional council were sworn in during the inaugural meeting of Durham Region council after the October election.  December 3, 2014.

DURHAM -- The love-in is over and now the work begins for Durham Regional council.

Roger Anderson was sworn in as Regional chairman on Wednesday, Dec. 3, along with the 28 Regional councillors.

Mr. Anderson is the first elected chairman for Durham Region, as the top job had been filled for 40 years by an appointment by councillors at the inaugural meeting.  Mr. Anderson has been the Regional chairman since 1997.

“I think this will be a good council, a progressive council that gets results.  We have a clear mandate to move it forward,” Mr. Anderson said in his inaugural address.  “I'll truly appreciate working with all of you over the next four years.”

Having an elected chairman is “new for all of us.  It will create a new dynamic.  I won't be bringing pet projects and pushing them on council,” he added.

After being sworn in, Mr. Anderson sat down in his seat and wiggled, saying it “feels the same.”

Being the first elected Regional chairman is “a privilege to serve the citizens of Durham Region.  It's a tremendous responsibility and I take it seriously,” he noted.

He said returning councillors bring “continuity and experience,” while new members bring enthusiasm and new ideas.

He thanked all councillors who either didn't run again or lost in the election.  “Each of them deserve our appreciation for what they did.”

Council will be a team, he added.

“We'll debate issues respectfully.  Some time you may have to compromise.  We'll make decisions, stand behind them and move forward.”

Key issues Mr. Anderson ran on include advocating for a Pickering airport, extending Hwy.  407 east to Hwy.  35/115, council composition and studying the amalgamation of fire departments across Durham.

Studying the composition of council, both the size and how each municipality is represented, should be done early in the term so it will be ready for the 2018 municipal election, he noted.

“My No. 1 concern is jobs, no ifs, ands or buts.  Taxes are No. 2,” Mr. Anderson said, adding all candidates heard the same message while campaigning.  “That is my focus and I hope it is your focus.”

The Seaton development in north Pickering is “an unprecedented opportunity to create jobs,” he added.

As for a Pickering airport, when Pearson International reaches capacity in the 2020s, Pickering “should be ready to absorb the commercial and corporate” air traffic, he said.

Transit and transportation were other issues candidates heard at the door, Mr. Anderson said.

“You heard about speeding, but also about moving in and out of Durham Region,” he added.

On transit, he said, “Our residents need to easily reach their destination.”

The development approval process needs to be streamlined, he said.

“It's time to make things happen, not slow things down,” he said.

“We have to find ways to make things happen rather than look at obstacles.”

COUNCILLORS APPOINTED TO REGIONAL COMMITTEES

Planning and economic development committee

Chairwoman Gerri Lynn O'Connor (Uxbridge)

John Aker (Oshawa)

John Henry (Oshawa)

Don Mitchell (Whitby)

Steve Parish (Ajax)

Tom Rowett (Scugog)

Dave Ryan (Pickering)

Works

Chairman Nester Pidwerbecki (Oshawa)

Jack Ballinger (Uxbridge)

John Grant (Brock)

Colleen Jordan (Ajax)

Bill McLean (Pickering)

John Neal (Oshawa)

Willie Woo (Clarington)

Finance and Administration

Chairman Bob Chapman (Oshawa)

Shaun Collier (Ajax)

Nancy Diamond (Oshawa)

Bobbie Drew (Scugog)

Adrian Foster (Clarington)

Jennifer O'Connell (Pickering)

Elizabeth Roy (Whitby)

Health and Social Services

Chairman Lorne Coe (Whitby)

Dan Carter (Oshawa)

Joe Drumm (Whitby)

Amy England (Oshawa)

Joe Neal (Clarington)

David Pickles (Pickering)

Ted Smith (Brock)

Durham Regional Police Services Board

Roger Anderson

Bobbie Drew

Bill McLean

PRAISE FOR FAIRVIEW LODGE STAFF

Roger Anderson used part of his inaugural address to praise the staff at Fairview Lodge for efforts in getting all 192 residents out of the facility when a fire struck on Oct. 27.

The Dec. 3 inaugural meeting was the first such session since the blaze destroyed a wing of the Whitby lodge.

Fairview staff did a “remarkable job, an absolutely remarkable job,” Mr. Anderson said.

He also read a letter the Region received on Tuesday, Dec. 2.  The writer offered “sincere thanks” for the efforts.  “The safe evacuation is a testament to the efficiency and dedication of the staff.”

The letter was written by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Mr. Anderson presented the letter to Laura MacDermaid, the director of long-term care and services for seniors.  He asked her to have the letter framed and hung at the new Fairview Lodge, which is set to open early next year.

David Pickles being sworn in as Regional Councillor
December 3, 2014
Councillor Pickles
David Pickles being sworn in as Regional Councillor 
Pickering needs job growth, expanded tax base: mayor
Councillors sworn in, share goals at inaugural meeting
Kristen Calis
December 2, 2014
(durhamregion.com)
Dave Ryan Wins
Dave Ryan wins
Ron Pietroniro / Metroland
PICKERING -- Mayor Dave Ryan shared a laugh with a well wisher during his victory party at the Waterfront Bistro.  He won re-election with 68 per cent of the vote.  He's been mayor of Pickering since 2003.  October 27, 2014.

PICKERING -- The issues Mayor Dave Ryan heard while on the election campaign trail are the ones he plans to focus on in the coming term.

The Dec. 1 inaugural meeting at Pickering City Hall was both celebratory and procedural, as council members were sworn into office and addressed the areas they would like to focus on over the next four years.

Mayor Ryan, in his fourth straight term in the role, said he heard while door-knocking in the municipal election that people feel there is a need for more jobs for residents and expanding the City's tax base to curb property tax increases.

“While we've experienced a great deal of success over the past 11 years, I look forward to devoting more time, energy and resources to these two key areas,” he said.  

He has spoken with CAO Tony Prevedel to enhance economic development options in the upcoming budget.

“For example Seaton has a target of 30,000 new jobs to Pickering.  We have to do the work to (make that) a reality,” he said.

Mayor Ryan said the City plans to work with the Province, the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance and other stakeholders to ensure most of the jobs are high-skilled and well-paying.

The vision of the downtown has been approved and is being implemented, and the mayor said by 2030 the City centre will have 10,000 jobs, a combination of retail, office and professional services.  He said the City will also experience residential growth: 60,000 new residents to Seaton and 20,000 to the civic centre.

For this reason, he believes the City should consider realigning, and a new ward structure should be in place for 2022.

“There needs to be an equitable distribution of residents so each member of council can effectively and fairly do their job,” he said.

For Pickering to become “one of Ontario's elite cities” Mayor Ryan said that won't happen without a united vision and he has spoken to the councillors about this.

“I am encouraged that each of them has committed to working as a more unified and cohesive team and in turn I have made the same commitment,” he said.

Ward 3 City Councillor Rick Johnson, who has returned to council after being defeated in the 2010 municipal election, said he also wants to focus on bringing jobs to central Pickering, and taking care of seniors.

“We have to continue to work together in this term of office,” he said.

The only new face on council, Ward 2 City Councillor Ian Cumming, who defeated Doug Dickerson in the municipal election, said the members he has spoken to have seemed warm and he thinks “the spirit going forward is a good one.”

Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan wants cohesive council
Mayor wins fourth-straight term, councillors Peter Rodrigues and Doug Dickerson are out
Kristen Calis
October 28, 2014
(durhamregion.com)
Mayor Ryan
Dave Ryan wins
Ron Pietroniro / Metroland
PICKERING -- Mayor Dave Ryan shared a laugh with a well wisher during his victory party at the Waterfront Bistro.  He won re-election with 68 per cent of the vote.  He's been mayor of Pickering since 2003.  October 27, 2014.

PICKERING -- Dave Ryan is once again mayor of Pickering, and hopes for a united council in order to move forward on some important issues.

Mayor Ryan won by a larger margin than in 2010, with 64 per cent of eligible voters choosing him, compared to 51 per cent in the previous election.  This is despite what he calls “one of the nastiest campaigns we've seen in this municipality.”

But he felt the large number of votes in his favour indicated that Pickering residents want to see a united council.  In the previous term, he'd often find himself the deciding factor on three-to-three votes.

“I'm looking forward to a very productive term,” he says.  “There's no question the City has an awful lot of opportunity if we can be courageous and cohesive enough to step up.  And I look forward to taking it on.”

He feels it's fair for council to debate important items that need improvement, but members need to focus on the issues rather than creating them to make headlines or to self-promote.

“We have to work cohesively as a strong team that promotes the City,” he says.

The council will look a little different in this upcoming term.  Ward 1 Regional Councillor Jennifer O'Connell and Ward 2 Regional Councillor Bill McLean remain.  David Pickles has moved from Ward 3 City councillor to Ward 3 Regional councillor, replacing outgoing councillor Peter Rodrigues.  In Coun. Pickles' former seat will be Rick Johnson, a former councillor who lost his regional seat in 2010.

Ian Cumming will replace outgoing longtime Ward 2 City Councillor Doug Dickerson.

Mayor Ryan said he wasn't too surprised by the results, but he'd like to acknowledge the efforts of everyone on council last term.

And he spoke with council members, some of whom he says agreed it's time to move forward.

“The first priority has to be jobs,” he says.  “We need to expand our economic base here in the city, our industry and community base, support our existing residents but also the next residents coming in.”

He says politicians do not create jobs, but they create an atmosphere that can attract businesses and jobs to the city, something that's necessary as Pickering will grow in the coming years.

He also wants to see an improved transportation system between Durham Region and particularly the City of Toronto, which he is hopeful can be achieved with the election of Toronto mayor-elect John Tory, someone he has a good working relationship with.

“I'm very pleased John Tory is going to be the new mayor there,” he said.

He found that over the last couple of terms, Toronto became more of a stand-alone city state.  In the future, he hopes Mayor Tory will help create a more cohesive GTA.

Mayor Ryan hopes to see a new hospital campus in Pickering and is excited to see Pickering's downtown to move forward.

“We're starting to build a social infrastructure that's important to creating a city centre,” he says.

Diwali celebration
Councillor Pickles was pleased to join in the Diwali celebration
October 18, 2014
Diwali Celebration 1
 
Diwali Celebration 2
Councillor Pickles was pleased join in the Diwali celebration 
A nice problem in Pickering: how to spend $300,000
Further enhancement of Frenchman's Bay area the way to go
October 2, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

Pickering should spend the unused money from the Pickering harbour project to highlight the harbour's past and for future projects in the area.

Pickering councillors and residents recently heard good news, namely that the Frenchman's Bay harbour entrance project will likely be completed on time and come in roughly $300,000 under budget.

A $9-million undertaking, the cost split between Pickering, the Province and the federal government, it will see new concrete walkways, two new breakwaters and a wider, safer harbour entrance for boaters.

As we have noted, that the Toronto Region Conservation Authority is using massive white pine timbers originally employed to build the harbour's breakwaters is an excellent touch, a wonderful merging of past and present.  The wood will be used in the post-and-rope railing along the pathway on the east spit.

Now the question has come to Pickering council -- what to do with the leftover cash?

There is talk of creating a replica lighthouse at the foot of Liverpool Road and of using the money to offset some of the costs of projects in the Frenchman's Bay master plan.

We favour the latter but not the former.  While a lighthouse would further pay tribute to the harbour's past, we think it's a bit grandiose and not the best use for the money.  Instead, as we have suggested, the City and TRCA should erect a historical marker of some kind, even a large gazebo, ideally using some of the white pine.  It would tell visitors of the harbour's former life as a busy industrial port.  Historical photos could be used.

It could also highlight the Pickering of today, perhaps in some innovative, interactive way.  Imagine someone docking in Frenchman's Bay for the first time and what they want to know and do.  What is there to see and where is it? Where can I get lunch or dinner? Those are questions they will have.

The harbour reconstruction and other planned projects in the area are important for Pickering's future, further enhancing this dynamic area.  A better harbour entrance will attract more boaters from Toronto and other areas.  Regardless of why they come, we want them to like what they see, tell their friends about it and come back.

Pickering has only one harbour and the area should be people friendly and educational given its past.

Pickering Developments president says Durham Live could cut taxes
Steve Apostolopoulos wants to move company headquarters to project site
Jillian Follert
September 26, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- On Sept. 15 Pickering council endorsed an application to re-zone three pieces of land in the Bayly and Church Streets area.

Pickering Developments is planning to build a tourist development called Durham Live on the site.

The proposal has sparked intense discussion in recent months -- especially because a casino is one of about 40 uses that will be permitted under the new “major tourist destination” zoning.

There has been no shortage of commentary from politicians, experts and dozens of residents who came out to speak their mind over the course of several meetings -- including a packed Sept. 2 committee meeting that had to be cut off when it hit the City's 1 a.m. curfew.  Pickering Developments president Steve Apostolopoulos recently added his voice to the mix in an exclusive interview with the Pickering News Advertiser.

  • On the fact that debate about Durham Live has largely focused on the casino issue:

    “It takes the excitement out of what we're proposing to do there ... it's an entertainment district tourist destination.  Obviously people are interested in the casino and that is a huge economic boon for the community.  We know it's not just about a casino.  We're trying to create an environment that is going to be definitely something that people want to take their kids to.”

  • On the feedback he's been getting from Pickering residents:

    “When we invest in an area we like to go around to the local bars and local shops and local restaurants and really get a feel for where we're going to invest, or potentially invest.  And we saw that there's a positive feel for it.  People in the community ...  have seen what's happened in Ajax.  They've seen what good comes out of what they've been doing out in Ajax.  Our development will be much more appealing to the vast majority of residents.  While one person may not like the casino, someone else may like the water park or vice versa.  That's why we've picked those uses, to not just cater to one demographic.  We're trying to cater to the whole region really.”

  • On how the Durham Live project would be different from Ajax Downs:

    “It's just basically a casino and a field.  That is something we don't want.  We want to create something that's going to be for families and for different wide demographics.  We have a real opportunity to create something now that people will love to go to, and I'll love to go to, taking my own kids there.”

  • On his background and his family business:

    “I wish it was just one guy here running the show, but it's not.  It's a family business.  It's me, my two brothers, father and a large team that we have.  We are in many different businesses.  Our business background spans predominately real estate.  Then we have, over the years, kind of spread our tentacles out ...  we own a sports and entertainment business -- a team and some venues and things like that -- we are in the hospitality business now, we are also in the media business, and we are in private equity and investments.  Although I'd love to say I did all the work myself, I didn't.”

  • On how that background makes him a good fit for this project:

    “We've done similar developments, not tourism related.  Our main business was always re-developing ...  For instance, we would buy an old run-down business park, let's say.  And then we would start bringing businesses to that area.  We would redevelop the blighted buildings in the area and then we would fill them up with tenants and help the different communities grow.  Sort of like what we're doing right now in Detroit.  We bought an older building, it wasn't very active and we've brought up the leasing activity in the building, from I believe it was about 20 per cent, now we're almost 50 per cent.”

  • On how the Pickering project could cut property taxes:

    “Through our studies we realized that this development, at full build-out, would generate approximately 30 to 40 per cent of the current tax revenue that is collected in the City of Pickering.  Just by this development alone we would equate for about 30 per cent of the current tax base.  Something of this size would definitely help keep taxes low.  I'm not a politician, but I would say potentially even lower taxes.  With an influx of that extra revenue coming in it would be a tremendous help to keep taxes low.”

  • On the fact that's he's eager to get started:

    “There was some talk in council that this project would be a 10- or 15-year project.  We anticipate, as soon as the process is through, we'd like to break ground right away.  I know that our office has committed to moving our headquarters to Pickering, to the site.  We would be the first tenants in the office tower.”
Pickering councillor back to court in November on sign charges
City says clerk has authority to add 'addendum' to election sign procedures
Jillian Follert
September 25, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- A Pickering councillor charged with 16 counts of violating the City's sign bylaw made his first court appearance this week.

Ward 3 Regional Councillor Peter Rodrigues was in a Whitby courtroom on Sept. 23, where a judge said he would be given two months to go over the City of Pickering's evidence against him and retain a lawyer.

He is due back in court on Nov. 25.

In the meantime, Coun. Rodrigues says he will continue to drive his vehicle, which has sparked major controversy in Pickering over the past few weeks.

“If I haven't committed an offence, there is no need to stop,” he said outside the courtroom, adding that he is “not admitting guilt” with respect to any of the charges against him.

“It will be up to (the City) to make a case against me.  There is no case.”

The debate centres on Coun. Rodrigues' bright yellow van, which is wrapped with a large photo of him as well as his councillor website information.

City officials have determined that the vehicle is not an illegal election sign -- it doesn't include words such as “vote” or “elect” -- but City Clerk Debbie Shields has asked him to “cease” using it for campaign purposes.

“He has this big yellow van with his picture and the fact that he is a regional councillor,” she says.  “Now he's taking it out and parking it on the street while campaigning.  That's an unfair advantage over every other candidate, because they can't promote themselves in that way.”

Coun. Rodrigues has said he won't comply with the clerk's request, because it's not backed by formal City policy.

“There is nothing in any City rules that says I can't drive a vehicle with my picture on it, or with my name on it.  They are making things up as they go along,” he said.

The City has now stepped up its game, slapping Coun. Rodrigues with 16 charges under Pickering's sign bylaw.

The charges don't relate to election signs -- just signs in general.

The charges fall under two sections of the bylaw.

The first prohibits any sign from being erected on public property without City approval, while the second section prohibits anyone from erecting any sign with “promotional or advertising content” on a vehicle or trailer that is “parked or located for the primary purpose of sign display.”

City solicitor Paul Bigioni wouldn't discuss the specific evidence in the case against Coun. Rodrigues, but noted that a “pattern of behaviour over time” is how the City determines a parked vehicle is being used for promotional purposes.

“When a furniture van with a company name whizzes past our office on the way to make a delivery, that is not a concern.  If that same van with a logo is parked every day for several hours at the curb here, obviously for promotional purposes, then the sign bylaw is engaged,” he explained.  “You have to take the general provisions of the sign bylaw and apply them to the specific facts.”

Also stirring controversy is that fact that the City clerk recently issued an “addendum” to the election sign procedures provided to candidates.

The original wording did not make any reference to signage on vehicles -- it simply defined election signs as those that promote the election of a candidate and said examples could include T-shirts, buttons and pens.

The wording has since been changed to include the phrase “including on a vehicle” and features a new line that reads “vehicles with election signage affixed to them cannot be parked on City streets, at City facilities and cannot be used for campaign purposes.”

Mr. Bigioni said candidates have been “pushing the limits” of the City's sign restrictions and the clerk has the authority to make procedures at any point in the campaign.

“Under the (Municipal Elections) Act the clerk is empowered to establish procedures for conduct of an election,” he said.  “In the course of discharging that responsibility she has determined that this was necessary.”

The election sign section of the City's bylaw does not make specific reference to vehicles.

It isn't clear what kind of penalty Coun. Rodrigues might face if found guilty.

The maximum fine under the Provincial Offences Act is $5,000 per conviction -- however Mr. Bigioni said that type of punishment would be “virtually impossible” for a first offence.

Mirabel airport demolition to go ahead
Montreal airport authority is going ahead with plans to demolish Mirabel's passenger terminal, which has had no passenger flights since 2004.
Julien Arsenault
September 17.2014
(thestar.com)
Mirabel
Mirabel airport's deserted passenger terminal is pictured Wednesday, September 17, 2014 in Mirabel, Que..  Despite efforts to save Mirabel airport, the Montreal airport authority is going ahead with plans to demolish the facility, which has had no passenger flights since 2004.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

MONTREAL-Despite efforts to save Mirabel airport's passenger terminal, the Montreal airport authority is going ahead with plans to demolish the facility, which has had no passenger flights since 2004.

On Tuesday, James Cherry, president and CEO of Aeroports de Montreal, announced that a demolition company has been chosen to tear down the structure after a call for tenders was launched last May.

Cherry did not disclose the name of the firm but the announcement effectively shuts the door on a proposal to turn the terminal into a convention centre.

He also stressed that aircraft will continue to make use of Mirabel's facilities.

“The airport's vocation is continuing,” Cherry pointed out to reporters.  “There's still two runways there, they're still going to operate, there's still cargo that's taking off every day, there's airplanes being built there, engines being tested there.”

“Were talking about one building on the site that used to house passenger activities that we haven't used - it's been empty for 10 years.”

Mirabel Mayor Jean Bouchard had asked that the demolition be delayed by three months but he admitted Tuesday that the Montreal-Mirabel Corporation, a non-profit group set up to save the airport, had not collected the $30 million that was needed.

The Mirabel mayor and former Quebec premier Bernard Landry are members of the corporation.

Bouchard also criticized Denis Lebel, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Quebec's lieutenant, accusing him of refusing to disclose Ottawa's position on the airport's future.

Mirabel, which often has been described as a white elephant, is owned by the federal government, but is leased to Aeroports de Montreal.

One proposal would have been to have the airport play host to an international aeronautics show, similar to the one held annually in Europe.

Mirabel was billed as the airport of the future when it first opened in 1975.  Officials predicted at the time that 60 million passengers would pass through its gates annually by 2010, but yearly passenger traffic never surpassed three million.

New infrastructures, which were to include a high-speed rail link and a highway linking Montreal directly to the airport, were never completed.

The federal government expropriated more than 324 square kilometres of prime farmland, but only used 16 square kilometres for the airport.  A total of 10,000 people were also forced from their homes.

Aircraft manufacturing giant Bombardier still has a huge plant and a testing centre near the sprawling airport complex, 40 kilometres north of Montreal.

Mirabel Airport to be Demolished
September 17, 2014

“I have not checked yet but I bet someone noted that the Montreal airport authority decision to demolish the Mirabel airport passenger terminal built in 1975 but closed in 2004. When opened it was predicted to serve 60 million passengers annually but never surpassed 3 million!” - David Pickles

Pickering municipal election FAQs
Fast facts for voters
September 19, 2014
(durhamregion.com)
  • Who can vote?
    To vote in the Oct. 27 municipal election you must be 18 and live in Pickering or be an owner or tenant in the city, or the spouse of an owner or tenant.  You must also be a Canadian citizen.

  • How do I check to see if my name is on the voters' list?
    As of Sept. 2 the City of Pickering has the voters' list available for public inspection at Pickering City Hall and the four branches of the Pickering Public Library.

  • What if my name isn't on the list?
    If your name is missing from the list or appears incorrectly, you need to file an application for revision between Sept. 2 and Oct. 27.  You can fill out an application at Pickering City Hall weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. You can also file an application on voting day at your polling station.

  • What kind of ID do I need to take to the polling station?
    When you show up to cast a ballot you will be required to show one piece of identification that includes your name and qualifying address.  There is a long list of acceptable ID.  Examples include an Ontario driver's licence or health card, a cancelled personal cheque, a mortgage statement, lease or rental agreement, a property tax assessment or a statement of Canada Pension Plan benefits.  The other option is to complete a “declaration of identity” that affirms your identity and your right to vote at that location.

  • Where can I vote in advance?
    The City of Pickering is offering advance voting at City Hall on four dates -- Oct. 15, 16 and 17 from 3 to 8 p.m. and Oct. 18 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The City also offers special advance voting locations at several retirement homes.

  • What referendum questions will appear on the ballot?
    Pickering residents will find two referendum questions on their 2014 ballot.  The first will read “Are you in favour of a gaming facility (casino) in the City of Pickering as part of a Hotel, Convention Centre, Entertainment Complex in a non-residential area?”

    The second question will read “”Are you in favour of the Council of the City of Pickering passing a resolution requesting that the Council of the Region of Durham take the necessary steps to reduce the size of Regional Council by distributing the seats based on the population of each municipality?“
Pickering council approves Durham Live re-zoning: What happens next?
Implementing zoning bylaw not expected until December at the earliest
Jillian Follert
September 17, 2014
(durhamregion.com)
Dayna Gilbert and Katarzyna Sliwa
Durham Live Development
Jason Liebregts / Metroland
PICKERING -- Dayna Gilbert, urban planner, and Katarzyna Sliwa, both representing Durham Live, spoke at Pickering Council.  The city's planning and development committee is considering a new staff report that recommends endorsing a re-zoning application for the proposed Durham Live development, which could include a casino.  September 2, 2014

PICKERING -- Pickering council has given the green light for the Durham Live proposal to move forward.

On Sept. 15 council voted 4-3 to endorse an application to re-zone three pieces of land in the Bayly and Church Streets area, to build a huge tourist destination.

“We are very pleased that council has put their support behind Durham Live,” said Steve Apostolopoulos, president of Pickering Developments.  “We can now move to the next stages of the planning process for this exciting tourist destination.  This project has tremendous potential for the City of Pickering and the Durham Region.”

So, what happens next?

Catherine Rose, the City's chief planner, says this is the beginning of what will be a long process.

“People don't realize how much work there is in the background,” she says, noting it's not unusual for major development projects to take five years to get off the ground.

The next step is for City staff to complete an “implementing zoning bylaw” and take it back to council for approval.

The earliest that will happen is Dec. 15, when the new council meets after the municipal election.

“This is a very unique and complex zoning bylaw, it's not cookie cutter,” Ms. Rose said.

The implementing zoning bylaw will include recommendations on things such as density, height, scale and timelines for the development.

If council approves that bylaw, the next step is for the applicant to start working on the necessary environmental reports and development agreements to move the project forward.

From there Pickering Developments can go to council and ask to have holding provisions lifted, which paves the way for site plan approval and building permits.

The lands will be zoned under a new category called “major tourist destination,” which will allow for about 40 uses including hotels, offices, a water park, film studio -- and most controversially -- a casino.

Debate about the merits of a casino in Pickering has been the main focus since the first meeting on the Durham Live proposal back in April.

Concerned residents on both sides of the issue packed council chambers for back-to-back committee meetings Sept. 2 and 8 -- the first of which ran until 1 a.m. and finally had to be cut off when council reached its curfew.

A handful of speakers made an eleventh-hour effort to change council's position at the Sept. 15 meeting, including Sue Quackenbush, who urged council to use “common sense” and do more due diligence before deciding.

“When something is established, settled and working, it makes no sense to mess with it,” she said.  “What is the rush to make this really important decision now?”

Chief Kelly LaRocca of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation was disappointed after the vote, saying the Durham Live development stands to hurt Great Blue Heron Casino.

“You can't create more gaming customers, this is just going to shift and move them and rob some facilities to feed others,” she said.

A City report says the application represents good planning and that Durham Live could provide “significant positive financial and economic benefits to the City in terms of jobs, tax assessment and other potential revenues to the City.”

An economic impact assessment submitted by the developer estimates the project could create 7,500 to 12,000 direct jobs and generate annual municipal taxes of about $50 million.

The Sept. 15 meeting was Pickering's council's last scheduled meeting before the Oct. 27 municipal election.

Pickering councillor Peter Rodrigues's van continues to drive controversy
City clerk tells councillor to 'cease' using vehicle for campaign purposes
Jillian Follert
September 13, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- A Pickering councillor seeking re-election says he won't stop driving a van with his photo and website address on it -- even though the City clerk has told him it shouldn't be used for campaign purposes.

The City recently confirmed the bright yellow van belonging to Ward 3 Regional Councillor Peter Rodrigues is not an illegal election sign as some critics have suggested.

But the vehicle is still causing controversy -- City Clerk Debbie Shields has asked Coun. Rodrigues to “cease using the wrapped vehicle for election campaign purposes” such as door-knocking.

“I regard such use as an unfair advantage over other candidates,” Ms. Shields says.  “Prior to the election campaign, the councillor used his wrapped vehicle in the course of his normal activities as a councillor.”

The Municipal Elections Act doesn't address graphics on vehicles or the use of wrapped vehicles for election purposes -- neither do any City bylaws or policies.

However, the Act does task municipal clerks with ensuring elections are fair and orderly.

Ms. Shields says that is why she asked Coun. Rodrigues to stop using the van to campaign.

There is no mechanism for this kind of request from a clerk to be enforced.

“It is up to each and every candidate to respect the directions provided by the City clerk,” Ms. Shields said.

Coun. Rodrigues said he does not agree with the clerk's judgement and called the situation “stupid, confusing and pointless.

“Rules are rules, and no rules are no rules,” he said.  “There is no specific rule on this.  The clerk is making her own rules ...  it's all subject to personal opinions.”

Ward 3 City Councillor David Pickles is looking to oust Coun. Rodrigues from his seat in the Oct. 27 election and has been a vocal critic of his opponent's campaign tactics.

“Most resources can't be used for council purposes and campaign purposes, it has to be used for one or another, not both,” Coun. Pickles said.  “Just because procedures and policies don't have a lot of teeth doesn't mean it's OK.”

Coun. Rodrigues says he doesn't plan to stop driving the van when he goes door-knocking or does other campaign activities.

He characterized Coun. Pickles as a “complainer” and said debate about his vehicle is distracting from more important issues, such as property tax increases.

“As far as I'm concerned, I'm in the right.  I disagree with (the clerk's) judgement,” he said.

Both councillors say the next council should look at putting rules on the books, so there is more clarity on the issue.

Coun. Pickles and Coun. Rodrigues are the only candidates vying for the Ward 3 Regional Councillor seat.

Forty-one people on municipal election ballot in Pickering
Voters will have plenty to choose from
September 12, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- The dance cards are now set in Pickering for the Oct. 27 municipal election.

Three candidates are vying for the mayor's seat (candidates are listed alphabetically) -- Edoh Apaloo, Maurice Brenner and Dave Ryan.

Running for the Ward 1 Regional council position are Jennifer O'Connell, Myrna Picotte, Enrico Pistritto, Shawn Sandrasagara and Nick Tsetsakos.

Keith Falconer and Bill McLean are challenging for the Ward 2 Regional council seat.

The Ward 3 Regional council race will see David Pickles and Peter Rodrigues facing off.

For the Ward 1 City councillor position, there are four candidates -- Kevin Ashe, Deborah Bissett, Lisa Robinson and Peter Tijiri.

Ian Cumming, Doug Dickerson, Cody Morrison and Koober Nuckchedee are running for the Ward 2 City council seat.

Shaheen Butt, Ken Nash, Rick Johnson and Nick Nikopoulos are in the race for the Ward 3 City councillor post.

Corey Besso, Chris Braney, Paul Crawford and Michelle Francis-Cleary are running for one of two Durham District School Board trustee positions.

Jim McCafferty and Joe Przybylo are vying for a Durham Catholic District School Board trustee seat.

For the first time, the position of Durham Regional chairman will be selected by voters and those seeking the position are Roger Anderson, Arthur Augustine, Michael Deegan, Paul Neal, Lynn Porteous and Barbara Pulst.

Roger Brideau, Chanel Tarala-Chahine and Olga Lambert are seeking the trustee position with the Conseil scolare de district catholique Centre-Sud (French Catholic school board), while Sylvie A.  Landry and Claude K.  Mbuyi are running for the trustee position with the Conseil scolaire Viamonde (French public school board).

Pickering councillor Peter Rodrigues's van is not an election sign: City
Councillor also facing scrutiny for holding campaign kick-off at City facility
Jillian Follert
September 10, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- Does a vehicle count as an election sign?

That was the question debated at Pickering City Hall this week, after residents complained that a van driven by Ward 3 Regional Councillor Peter Rodrigues may be breaking election campaign rules.

In a letter to the City clerk, concerned residents take issue with the councillor's bright yellow van, which has his photo and councillor website information splashed across the side.

Also taking issue with the van is Ward 3 City Councillor David Pickles, who is running against Coun. Rodrigues in the Oct. 27 municipal election.

“I'm trying to play according to the rules.  If the other person isn't playing by the rules and has a competitive advantage over me, it's not fair,” said Coun. Pickles.

The City of Pickering's sign bylaw states that election signs cannot go up until 25 days before the election, which this year is Oct. 3.

But, City Solicitor Paul Bigioni said in this case, the van is above board.

“A vehicle could be an election sign, it all depends what is said on the wrap or graphic image,” he said.  “In the situation at hand, we have decided it is not an election sign.  There is nothing about 'election' or 're-election' written there.”

Coun. Rodrigues is frustrated by the allegation, calling it “baseless and groundless.”

He took aim at Coun. Pickles, saying his opponent is raising “petty” issues to garner publicity.

“The thing people in Pickering care about is property taxes, they don't care about the vehicle,” he said.  “(Coun. Pickles) is trying to change the channel from what he's been doing on council.  He's just worried about his consistent views to raise property taxes.”

The Municipal Elections Act does not regulate election signs -- that falls to local municipalities.

Pickering's bylaw defines an election sign as a sign “promoting” a candidate in an election campaign.

The rules don't apply to wall signs associated with a candidate's campaign headquarters, but the definition does apply to “election pens, buttons, hats, T-shirts, etc.”

There is no specific mention of vehicles in the bylaw.

It's not the first time the issue has caused confusion in Durham.

In 2010 concerns were raised in Oshawa when council candidate Shane Kelly -- who is also running this year -- drove a car with a window graphic reading “Shane Kelly for Oshawa city council.” The word “elect” was covered by masking tape.

Mr. Kelly had sought a legal opinion before putting the graphic on his car and was told it didn't breach the bylaw, as long as the word “elect” was covered.

However, Oshawa City staff said at the time that signs on vehicles must follow the same rules as more conventional signs.

Several other candidates are currently driving vehicles adorned with their names or photos, including Oshawa Mayor John Henry and Oshawa Regional councillors Tito-Dante Marimpietri and Amy England.

Coun. Rodrigues is also facing scrutiny for choosing to host his recent campaign kick-off event on City property, at the Pickering Recreation Complex.

However, he stressed that he “paid out of pocket” to rent space at the facility.

City Clerk Debbie Shields says there is no bylaw that speaks to the use of City facilities for campaigns, but Pickering does have a “clerk's procedure” that prohibits candidates from using a municipal facility for any election-related purpose.

“The Clerk can create procedures for things that are not included or need further clarification within the Municipal Act but, unfortunately the Province gives us no powers to actually enforce those procedures,” Ms. Shields said in an e-mail.

She said this clerk's procedure was created to level the playing field.

“As a (election campaign) contribution may take the form of money, goods or services the City took the position of not allowing candidates to use facilities at all,” she added.

Coun. Rodrigues said the fact that he paid to use the space means he didn't take advantage of his political position, calling the concerns “much ado about nothing.”

Pickering casino project takes a step forward
Council to vote on Durham Live re-zoning Sept. 15
Jillian Follert
September 10, 2014
(durhamregion.com)
Dayna Gilbert and Katarzyna Sliwa
Durham Live Development
Jason Liebregts / Metroland
PICKERING -- Dayna Gilbert, urban planner, and Katarzyna Sliwa, both representing Durham Live, spoke at Pickering Council.  The city's planning and development committee is considering a new staff report that recommends endorsing a re-zoning application for the proposed Durham Live development, which could include a casino.  September 2, 2014

PICKERING -- Plans for a massive tourist destination in Pickering took a step forward Monday night.

After an exhausting debate that spanned two meetings, council's planning and development committee voted 4-3 on Sept. 8 to endorse a re-zoning application from Pickering Developments Inc.

“I think we made the right decision,” said Mayor Dave Ryan.  “We had a positive staff report that says this is a project that will be beneficial for the City of Pickering.”

The developer is looking to re-zone three pieces of land near Bayly and Church streets to pave the way for a $1.6-billion project dubbed Durham Live.

Since there is no zoning category that allows for all the proposed uses, the plan is to create a site-specific category called “major tourist destination.”

If approved, the new category would include a list of about 40 permitted uses including hotels, offices, a water park, film studio and -- most controversially -- a casino.

Despite the developer's insistence that a casino is only part of the proposal, debate about a gaming facility has dominated the Durham Live discussion.

More than 100 people came out to the Sept. 2 planning and development committee meeting for a marathon discussion that was finally forced to wrap up at 1 a.m. when council hit its curfew.

“It was ridiculous,” said resident Bev Coats, who attended both meetings, and was shocked at how long they dragged on.  “(The councillors) are pretty much holding you hostage while they say all the things they want to say.”

Resident Kasim Seif said he had to work at 7 a.m. the morning after the Sept. 2 meeting, but stayed until 1 a.m. in hopes that a decision would be made.

“To go home after all that time without even a vote ...  it's very frustrating,” he said.

Ward 3 City Councillor David Pickles accused the three regional councillors of trying to “run out the clock” to delay a decision.

“It appeared that (the regional councillors) were trying to drive this $1.5-billion investment and the potential 15,000 jobs and yearly $50-million revenue out of Pickering,” he said.

Regional Councillor Peter Rodrigues, who chaired the meeting both nights, said letting people talk is part of the democratic process.

“People are trying to express themselves ...  it's not grandstanding.  People should have the opportunity to say what they want, that's the democratic process.”

Mayor Ryan didn't see it that way.

He said it was “blatant” that questions from council to the delegations “became more of a cross examination to allow a councillor to put forward their argument, as opposed to seeking clarification.”# The mayor said the seven registered delegations on the list for the Sept. 2 meeting should have take 70 minutes -- about 10 minutes each -- as opposed to more than three hours.

City Hall was crowded once again when the debate resumed on Sept. 8.

Several residents spoke up for and against the project.

Barbara Pulst asked for more studies, noting there is no information on the impact the Durham Live development would have on police services and social services.

She also expressed concern that council and committee will be voting on the re-zoning application before voters have their say with an Oct. 27 ballot question on a casino.

“This referendum and our vote as citizens and residents of Pickering means nothing,” she noted.

Resident Susan Elbertsen told committee she has lived in Pickering since 1977 and has seen change -- but not enough.

“I would like to see a little more progress in the city of Pickering,” she said, noting that her son recently left the province to find work, and saying the Durham Live development could create much-needed local jobs.

Politicians also had plenty to say.

Regional Councillor Bill McLean questioned why the debate was being “run through” at the last council meeting of the term.

“Why not put this forward until after election?” he asked.

Tom Melymuk, Pickering's director of city development, said staff has an “obligation” to bring planning applications forward when they are ready.

Regional Councillor Jennifer O'Connell called for studies on how a casino might impact rates of crime and homelessness.

She takes issue with a section of the City report that says the “social impacts of a gaming facility are the responsibility of the provincial government.”# “It's not only a provincial issue because we are going to have to live with it and deal with it every day,” she said.  “Housing is just one example of where it's not a provincial responsibility, it's a municipal responsibility ...  and we have no data on that.”

Dayna Gilbert, an urban planner speaking on behalf of the developer, repeatedly reminded council members that they were debating a planning application, not the merits of a casino.

“Nothing tonight makes an ultimate decision on a casino, it's just one permitted use,” she said, adding that Durham Live would go ahead with or without a gaming facility -- just at a different size and density.

Ms. Gilbert said the time to discuss detailed uses would be later in the process, when a site plan comes forward, along with more documentation and studies.

The City report says the application represents good planning and that Durham Live could provide “significant positive financial and economic benefits to the City in terms of jobs, tax assessment and other potential revenues to the City.”

An economic impact assessment submitted by the developer estimates the project could create 7,500 to 12,000 direct jobs and generate annual municipal taxes of about $50 million.

Council will vote on the Durham Live issue on Sept. 15, its last scheduled meeting of this term.

Baskin Robbins' Fundraiser for Sick Kids Hospital
September 6, 2014

Coucillor Pickles, along with MPP Tracy MacCharles,
help kick off Baskin Robbins' Fundraiser for Sick Kids Hospital.

BR Fundraiser 1
 
BR Fundraiser 2
 
BR Fundraiser 3
 
Massive Pickering tourism site should move ahead: report
Durham Live project on Bayly Street could include casino
Jillian Follert
September 3, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- A new City report recommends moving forward with plans for a massive tourist destination in Pickering.

The item was slated for discussion at Pickering council's planning and development committee meeting on Sept. 2.

City development staff recommends that a re-zoning application from Durham Live be endorsed, saying the proposal falls in line with Provincial policy, supports tourism and economic development in Pickering and “represents good planning.”

The City has received an application from Pickering Developments Inc.  to re-zone three pieces of land near Bayly and Church streets for a large tourism development.

Preliminary plans for the $1.6-billion Durham Live development include a long list of possible amenities -- from upscale hotels and a water park, to a film studio and casino.

The plan is for the development to take shape over a 15- to 20-year timeframe.

“The subject property is appropriately located and of sufficient size to facilitate the development of a major tourist destination that would be of significant benefit to the City and the Region,” the report notes.  “Moreover, the proposed development readily allows for a broad and unique range of employment uses that could not easily (if at all) be located elsewhere in the City.”

City staff is recommending that an “implementing zoning bylaw” be forwarded to council for consideration.

That would include implementing a “Major Tourist Destination” land use zone on the phase 1 portion of the site.

The report also recommends that council direct City staff to bring forward a report on the phase 2 lands at a later date.

Pickering firefighter wins silver in grueling Firefit competition
Muriel Omnes heading to national championships in September
Jillian Follert
September 3, 2014
(durhamregion.com)
Firefighter Muriel Omnes
Firefighter wins silver
Photo by Peter Redman
PICKERING -- Firefighter Muriel Omnes recently won a silver medal at the eastern Ontario regional finals of the Scott FireFit championships, a national competition based on firefighting tasks commonly performed in emergency operations.  She has been a firefighter for three years and currently works out of Pickering Fire Station #2 on Kingston Road.  September 1, 2014.

PICKERING -- As a female firefighter, Muriel Omnes is all too aware of the perception that women aren't up to some of the tough physical challenges associated with the job.

All the more reason to feel triumphant when she recently brought home a silver medal from the Eastern Ontario regional finals of the Scott FireFit Championships.

“This lets me prove to myself and to others that women can do these tasks, that we are very capable,” she says, noting the demanding course is set up the same way for male and female competitors.

The competition is based on firefighting tasks commonly performed in emergency situations.

This is the first year Pickering Fire Services has participated.  Ms. Omnes and fellow firefighters Jordan Manganaro, Mike Doherty and Darius Kharazmi competed as a team and individually at the Aug. 23 event in Ottawa.

Ms. Omnes, 34, scored a silver medal by finishing the individual FireFit Race with a time of two minutes and 58 seconds, beating more than a dozen other women.

“I've always liked to challenge myself physically,” she says.  “You want to know that if you're given a task, that you're able to do it under stress.  Being able to do this makes me feel prepared for my job.”

The grueling five-stage course is completed while wearing full fire gear.

It includes carrying 42 pounds of fire hose up six flights of stairs, pulling a hoseline 75 feet and hitting a target with a stream of water and dragging a 165-pound mannequin backwards a distance of 100 feet.

Ms. Omnes prepared for the competition with strength training and by simulating some of the events.

“I would drag a dummy around or pull a weighted sled,” she says, noting Toronto Fire Services helped by offering up use of its tower.

Now she and her teammates are gearing up to compete at the Firefit Canadian National Championships on Sept. 13 and 14 in Longueuil, Quebec.

Ms. Omnes has been with Pickering Fire Services for three years, says she loves the job.

“I really like the idea of helping people and I enjoy the physical element of it,” she says.  “I also love being a jack-of-all-trades.  Firefighting is only one slice of it.  We go to medical calls, we do work in the community...it's an amazing job.”

Ontario threatens to scuttle Rouge National Urban Park over environmental concerns
The provincial government is threatening to scuttle the Rouge National Urban Park over concerns that Ottawa is not doing enough to protect the sensitive land.
Robert Benzie Queen's Park Bureau Chief
September 3, 2014
(thestar.com)
Liz Brouwer paddling down the Rouge River
Liz Brouwer, an educator with the Wildlands League, paddles a canoe down the Rouge River, which passes below Hwy.  401.  Conservationists have long expressed unease over whether the wildlife, watershed and forests in Rouge National Urban Park would be protected under federal jurisdiction and now the Star has learned that the province is threatening to scrap its scheduled land transfer over concerns Ottawa won't do enough to protect the park.

The Ontario government is threatening to scuttle the Rouge National Urban Park over concerns that Ottawa is not doing enough to protect the sensitive land, the Star has learned.

In a potentially devastating blow to the creation of a preserve 16 times the size of New York City's Central Park, Infrastructure Minister Brad Duguid said federal legislation on the initiative is so environmentally inadequate that Ontario is reconsidering its transfer of land.

Duguid fired off a letter Tuesday to federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq outlining the objections of Premier Kathleen Wynne's government to the plan.

“The legislation as it stands is silent on the memorandum of agreement requirement to meet or exceed provincial standards for ecological integrity,” he said of Bill C-40, the Rouge Urban Park Act, which was tabled in June.

“I have heard from many stakeholders in Ontario including Friends of the Rouge Watershed, Environmental Defence and Ontario Nature regarding both Bill C-40 and the draft park management plan that the federal government has released for public consultation,” the minister wrote.

“After considering this issue carefully, I have decided that I am unable to recommend to Cabinet that it should release, extinguish or transfer any of its interests in the Rouge Park lands unless Bill C-40 is amended,” continued Duguid.

“In short, if these amendments are not made, I cannot support recommending steps to enable the contribution of 5,400 acres for the simple reason that I feel this land will be better protected if it remains with the province of Ontario.”

Last June, Aglukkaq stressed her “legislation provides the highest level of protection in the history of the Greater Toronto Area.”

Duguid's salvo comes as a series of public meetings are set to begin Tuesday at the Markham Museum followed by sessions at Scarborough's Royal Canadian Legion Branch 258 on Sept. 10, the Pickering Recreation Complex on Sept. 16, and the Art Gallery of Ontario on Sept. 18.

In the 2012 budget, Ottawa earmarked $143.7 million over 10 years - and $7.6 million annually on operating and infrastructure costs after that - for Canada's first national urban park, an oasis for 1,700 species of plants, birds, fish, mammals, insects and amphibians.

However, the project has been beset by politicking, intergovernmental wrangling and complications over the ownership of the vast swath of land.

The existing Rouge Park is 40 square kilometres in Toronto and Markham, but with the creation of a national park it would be expanded to 58 square kilometres.

Queen's Park controls about two-thirds of the land in what would be Rouge National Urban Park, including a huge chunk owned by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority that cannot be sold without provincial approval.

The federal government owns the remaining third of the land, with Toronto and Markham having small parcels.

Ottawa boasts it would be 13 times the size of Vancouver's Stanley Park, 16 times bigger than Central Park, and 33 times larger than Hyde Park in London.

However, in his missive to Aglukkaq, Duguid emphasized that he is merely doing what “stakeholders in Ontario, including Friends of the Rouge Watershed, Environmental Defence and Ontario Nature” want.

“Those amendments to Bill C-40 should explicitly state that Ontario's existing provincial policies and plans that enhance ecological integrity of the proposed Rouge National Urban Park will be met or exceeded,” the minister wrote.

“The amendments should also include a commitment that the federal government will conform to provincial policies such as the Greenbelt Plan .  .  .  the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, and the Big Move,” he said.

“This is a position that I have arrived at after discussions with stakeholders, local citizen groups, and staff.  They agree that these amendments are very important to ensure that the ecological integrity of the Rouge National Urban Park will continue so that future generations will be able to enjoy this unique and beautiful park.

Indeed, conservationists have long expressed unease over whether the wildlife, watershed, and forests would be protected under federal jurisdiction.

Supporting the Terry Fox Run
August 29, 2014

Councillor Pickles at the Pickering Terry Fox Run Kick Off with Michael Leclair.  Please help support this great fundraiser.  I will be contributing to Michael's fundraising group and will post the link to Michael's group and encourage you to support Terry's efforts.  Thanks.

To Donate to the Terry Fox Run Michael Leclair"s Pickering group, go to their support page.

Terry Fox Run
 
Happy 25th Anniversary
August 12, 2014
David and Brenda on their wedding day
Today is Brenda's and my the 25th Wedding Anniversary, the day I became the luckiest man on the planet and married the love of my life Brenda.  We have had a great 25 years together, with many more to come!  We chose Pickering in which to buy a home and start a family.  A decision that we both agree was a great one, the Pickering community is a great home.  Our two lovely daughters, Amanda and Alison, make us proud every day.  A special thanks to Brenda for being incredibly supportive and understanding to me in my role in serving the residents of Pickering as their Councillor Ward 3 on Council for 16 years.  Enjoy the photo of our wedding day and note neither Brenda nor have changes a bit!
Ward 3 Council Report Card
Report Card
 
25th Anniversary of the Devi Mandir in Pickering
August 2014

Councillor Pickles was pleased to attend the 25th Anniversary of the Devi Mandir in Pickering along with Shawn Binda and the Devi Mandir Exectutive, Premier Kathleen Wynne, Mayor Dave Ryan and Deputy Mayor Doug Dickerson, MPPs Tracy MacCharles and Joe Dickson.  Councillor Pickles congratulated his friends and neighbours at the Devi Mandir on their contribution to the Pickering and Durham community.

Devi Mandir Photo 1
 
Devi Mandir Photo 2
 
Devi Mandir Photo 3
 
Devi Mandir Photo 4
 
First mayor of Pickering George Ashe dies
Enjoyed a long career in public service
Keith Gilligan
August 5, 2014
(durhamregion.com)
George Ashe
George Ashe
Submitted photo
PICKERING -- George Ashe, a long-time Pickering politician and the Town's first mayor, died on August 3 after a lenghty illness.  He was 81.  August 3, 2014.

PICKERING -- George Ashe, the first mayor of the Town of Pickering, has died.

Mr. Ashe, 81, died Sunday, Aug. 3 at the Village of Taunton Mills in Whitby after a lengthy struggle with Parkinson's disease.

Kevin Ashe remembers his father as “a get-things-done kind of guy.”

It was Mr. Ashe's public service that rubbed off on Kevin, he said, noting he remembers his father being elected an MPP in 1977 and politics has been “in the blood since then.”

Kevin Ashe is the Ward 1 City Councillor in Pickering, and prior to that was a long-time trustee on the Durham Catholic District School Board.

“As a family, we've all been very involved in the community.  Dad was involved in politics before we moved to Durham,” Kevin Ashe said.

George Ashe became involved in public service in Nepean, serving as an alderman.

When the family moved to Pickering, Mr. Ashe continued his public service, when he was elected deputy reeve of Pickering Township in 1969 and then elected the first mayor of the Town of Pickering in 1973.

George Ashe served as mayor until 1977, when he was elected MPP for Durham West riding.  He was appointed to cabinet as the minister of revenue in 1981 by then-premier Bill Davis.

A subsequent cabinet posting in the Davis government saw Mr. Ashe become minister of government services.  When Frank Miller replaced Mr. Davis, who retired, as premier, Mr. Ashe served as minister of energy and then chairman of the management board.

After leaving the legislature, Mr. Ashe concluded his public service as a Catholic school trustee in Clarington.

“He was a hard worker, but a quiet guy.  He didn't seek the spotlight,” Kevin Ashe said.  “He did his work.  His work ethic reflected the ministries he headed.”

Those ministries weren't the type that got headlines, but were important to the government, he noted.

Kevin Ashe also remembers his father as “a great dad.  There were four kids and we were blessed with loving parents.”

His mother Margaret, also known as Margo, died in January.

“They really provided for us at home.  Mom was part of Dad's political life.  She was the best politician at home anyway,” he said.

All flags at City of Pickering facilities will be flown at half-mast to recognize George Ashe's contribution to the community.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of George Ashe,” Mayor Dave Ryan said in a statement.  “While history books will recognize him as Pickering's very first mayor, we will remember him as both a dear friend and proud community leader.”

Mr. Ashe is survived by children Steven of Pickering, Cheryl (Erwin) of Uxbridge, Kevin (Karen) of Pickering, and Brian (Susan) of Michigan, grandchildren Andrea (Kevin), Matthew (Krista), and Eric (Tara) Hinzel, Tori and Tyler Ashe and their mother Katie.  He was great-grandfather, or Grumpy, of Anika.  He also is survived by his sister Dianne Hurtubise and his brother Garry Ashe, both of Ottawa.

Visitation will be held at McEachnie Funeral Home, 28 Old Kingston Rd., Ajax, on Thursday, Aug. 7, from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. Funeral mass will be held at Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church, 796 Eyer Dr., Pickering on Friday, Aug. 8, at 11 a.m. Reception to follow.  Cremation to follow with private interment to take place in Ottawa at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations to the Parkinson's SuperWalk would be appreciated by the family.

Altona Road (Regional Road 27)
City of Pickering
Road Rehabilitation
Public Notice
July 15, 2014

The Regional Municipality of Durham will be proceeding with road rehabilitation on Altona Road (Regional Road 27) from 310 meters north of Strouds Lane to 20 meters south of Finch Avenue in the City of Pickering.  Work will consist of culvert replacements, roadside ditching, and pavement removal, placement of roadbase granular material and hot-mix asphalt.

CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULE

The Region's Contractor, Miller Paving Limited, will start work the week of July 21 and is expected to complete the work by the end of August.  Please note that unfavourable weather conditions may influence the work schedule.

LANE RESTRICTIONS

Daily lane restrictions are required for the duration of the project in order to complete the work in a safe and efficient manner.  Drivers are asked to exercise additional caution for their safety and the safety of the construction workers.

The Region realizes that the work may be disruptive and will make every effort to complete the work as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact one of the following staff members from the Regional Municipality of Durham, Works Department:

Rick Corcoran
Project Inspector
905-261-7681
Richard.corcoran@durham.ca
Ralph Wilson
Project Supervisor
289-928-2642
Ralph.wilson@durham.ca
Exterior of Pickering pedestrian bridge 90 per cent complete
Additional elevators slated to open next spring
Jillian Follert
July 13, 2014
(durhamregion.com)
Bridge 90% complete
Exterior of Pickering pedestrian bridge 90 per cent complete

PICKERING -- It will be next year before Pickering's pedestrian bridge is 100 per cent complete, but Metrolinx officials say problems with the tricky exterior cladding are now under control.

Several months ago, workers ran into challenges installing the metallic mesh that wraps the outside of the bridge.

It's the fist time the material has been used on a transit project and contractors struggled with the fact that it stretches and shrinks, comparing it to a Slinky toy.

Metrolinx spokesperson Vanessa Thomas says the cladding is now 90 per cent complete and will be finished in late 2014.

Despite work continuing on the outside, the bridge has been open since February 2012.

“This is a fully functioning bridge,” she says.  “This cladding is to make it even more aesthetically beautiful.”

Work on the exterior will resume after the August Civic holiday, when crews will install cladding where the bridge meets the staircases -- sections that require more attention because of the angles.

Work is also still being done on additional elevators.

Elevators at both ends of the bridge are up and running, but elevators that connect the bridge to the GO train platform got held up by an elevator workers' strike last winter.

Work began in March and the additional elevators are expected to be complete next spring.

People with accessibility issues currently have to take one elevator up to the tunnel, go across and take a second elevator down, walk to the GO Transit building, take a third elevator down to the tunnel under the track, then take a fourth elevator up to the train platform.

“We can get to the train right now, but it's not easy,” says local resident Larry Hives, whose wife has a disability.  “We have to go up and down elevators several times, it's not convenient.”

Mr. Hives says it's concerning that elements of the project are still not finished more than two years after the bridge opened.

The $22-million pedestrian bridge was created to move pedestrians and cyclists between the Pickering GO station on one side of Hwy.  401 to the Pickering Town Centre and downtown area on the other side.

Metrolinx is also in the process of building a new bridge to connect the recently opened south parking structure with the south terminus of the pedestrian bridge.

It is expected to open in the next few weeks.

Telemedicine Clinic Walk-In Now Open
July 7, 2014
Walk-in Ad
 
Pothole Blitz and Spring Clean-up
July 7, 2014
Pothole Blitz
 
Time for casino deal between Ajax, Pickering
July 3, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

Pickering and Ajax both want the money hosting a casino brings, but the best solution is for the casino to remain in Ajax next to Picov Downs and for the two municipalities to cut a deal.

A provincial re-jigging of how casinos operate in Ontario means there will be just one casino in the Ajax, Pickering and Whitby zone.

Ajax has a casino and wants to keep it and the millions in revenue it provides the municipality each year.

Pickering has wavered on the issue but now has before it a massive development proposal that includes a casino.

In recent months we've seen a lot of trashing of the Pickering proposal from the Ajax side.  Mayor Steve Parish has accused his counterpart, Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan, of working behind the scenes to secure a casino.  Two months ago, the question at Pickering council was, did Ajax make a casino revenue offer to Pickering? Earlier this month, Ajax council's community affairs and planning committee agreed with a staff report (big surprise) that zoning approval for the Pickering proposal is premature.

We maintain that Ajax should do its utmost not to risk losing the Slots at Ajax Downs.  And that means playing let's make a deal with Pickering to ensure the casino remains in Ajax and Pickering abandons any notion of having one.  When a possible casino in Whitby entered the picture, Ajax offered Whitby 15 per cent of its slots revenue to declare itself an unwilling host for one.  It's a reasonable amount to offer Pickering.

Some would argue that the Pickering casino proposal is unrealistic and there are reasons to agree with this position.

And it's unlikely that the highly successful Slots at Ajax Downs operation would be shut down.

As well, with horse racing part of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming modernization strategy, it's a natural to leave the casino in Ajax where it is.  After the outcry over the end of the government's Slots-at-Racetracks Program, the Ontario government did a lot of back-tracking to show its support for the Ontario horse-racing industry.  The OLG website states it “has added a requirement for horse racing expertise in its upcoming Requests for Proposals for gaming site operators throughout Ontario.”

The writing would seem to be on the wall.

But you can't beat a sure bet and Ajax cutting a deal with Pickering, with the latter getting a slice of the revenue pie, sounds fair to us.

Pickering French school celebrates first year
Ecole Ronald-Marion welcomes students from kindergarten to Grade 12
July 3, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- After several years of waiting by the Durham Francophone community, a French school has been celebrated in Pickering.

Having officially opened in September 2013, the Counseil scolaire Viamonde held the ribbon-cutting for Ecole Ronald-Marion in Pickering in June.

The school bears the name of the former chairman of the Counseil scolaire Viamonde, Ronald Marion, who held the position for 15 years.  Current chairwoman Micheline Wylde praised his involvement in education.

“The outstanding contribution of Mr. Marion throughout the years has enabled the French language to spread in the education system and beyond,” she said.

The former chairman, now a judge, joined parents, students and community members for the official ribbon-cutting.

“It makes me proud that generations of students in Pickering and the neighbouring areas will benefit from a school close to home that provides a secular high quality education in French,” said Justice Marion.

The 78,000-square-foot school, located on Brock Road near Dellbrook Avenue, currently has 278 students from kindergarten to Grade 12.

Pickering council 2014 report card
July 2, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

Dave Ryan
Mayor
This year's grade: A
Last year's grade: A
Attendance: Council 11/11, committee 18/18, Regional council 12/13, committees 20-31
Expenses: $14,686
Regional Expenses: $1,286.41

Mayor Dave Ryan faced a challenging year as council became more divided in the run-up to a fall election.

He shows diplomacy when chairing meetings and often brokers compromise between bickering councillors.

Mayor Ryan continues to be a cheerleader for Pickering, especially on economic development.

He is passionate about bringing Seaton to fruition as well as an ambitious plan to transform Pickering's downtown.

The mayor works hard to be available to residents through virtual town hall meetings and this year started a series of coffee chats at local cafes.

He is generally quiet at regional council, but speaks up when issues relate to Pickering.

 

Kevin Ashe
City Councillor Ward 1
This year's grade: A-
Last year's grade: A-
Attendance: Council 11/11, committee 18/18
Expenses: $13,377

Councillor Kevin Ashe is a cordial presence on council, debating respectfully and asking thoughtful questions.

He takes a keen interest in how issues impact residents in Ward 1 and is knowledgeable when it comes to his constituency, although he doesn't speak up as much as his council colleagues.

He makes good use of social media to keep the public updated and gauge feedback on hot topics, such as a proposed casino.  Councillor Ashe is accessible to residents and this year worked with police to host a seniors' seminar on the danger of scams.

His civility and willingness to break with council's 4-3 voting pattern are helpful.

 

Doug Dickerson
City Councillor Ward 2
This year's grade: D-
Last year's grade: D
Attendance: Council 11/11, committee 18/18
Expenses: $11,223

It can't be said that Councillor Doug Dickerson isn't knowledgeable on the issues or committed to helping residents.

However, his increasingly combative and unpleasant conduct at the council table outweigh those positive attributes.

Whether it's rolling his eyes, interrupting other councillors, name calling or calling a female councillor “young lady,” this councillor's behaviour is a distraction that worsens the divide on council.

Councillor Dickerson also pleaded guilty to contravening the Municipal Elections Act by filing an inaccurate financial statement.  His court case left the City on the hook for nearly $300,000 in legal fees and expenses.

For these reasons his grade drops this year.

 

David Pickles
City Councillor Ward 3
This year's grade: A-
Last year's grade: A-
Attendance: Council 11/11, committee 17/18
Expenses: $10,809

Councillor David Pickles is an expert on his ward and quick to respond to concerns from residents.

He is knowledgeable on the issues and comes to meetings prepared with good questions and helpful motions.

This year he fought for rural residents, asking the City to look into paving more rural roads and investigate a new outdoor rink for Claremont.  He provided helpful input during the budget and worked hard during the ice storm to keep residents informed.

Even though he typically votes alongside Councillors Dickerson and Ashe, he breaks with the pattern if it benefits the city and generally tries to sidestep the drama on council.

 

Jennifer O'Connell
Regional Councillor Ward 1
This year's grade: A-
Last year's grade: B+
Attendance: Council 11/11, committee 16/18, Regional council 12/13, committees 27/37
Expenses: $13,067
Regional Expenses: $3,161

Councillor Jennifer O'Connell is an enthusiastic advocate with innovative ideas, such as asking the City to investigate buying a vacant school for community use.

This year she asked tough questions about City debt and demanded transparency on nuclear issues, as OPG applied to operate its Pickering facility beyond its lifespan.

Councillor O'Connell can be argumentative and landed in hot water by using “fraud” in reference to Councillor Doug Dickerson -- but took the high road and publicly clarified her comments.

She is often the target of derisive words but is clearly working to rise above the drama.  For that her grade goes up.

At the Region she dives into debate and asks good questions.

 

Bill McLean
Regional Councillor Ward 2
This year's grade: A-
Last year's grade: A-
Attendance: Council 10/11, committee 16/18, Regional council 13/13, committees 27/34
Expenses: $8,133
Regional Expenses: $3,093.79

Councillor Bill McLean is a good representative for his residents and an active participant at council meetings.

This year he advocated for improved transparency by pushing for council expenses to be posted online, and raised the need for better structure for medical marijuana producer applications.

Councillor McLean is sometimes guilty of aggravating the council divide, as was the case when he pushed to have Councillor Doug Dickerson removed from the Veridian board.

However, he is generally respectful and keeps comments on the council floor direct and to the point.

He doesn't say much at the Region, but is knowledgeable on the issues there.

 

Peter Rodrigues
Regional Councillor Ward 3
This year's grade: C-
Last year's grade: C
Attendance: Council 11/11, committee 18/18, Regional council 13/13, committees 29/30
Expenses: $4,096
Regional Expenses: $498.11

As this rookie councillor wraps up his first term, he still has work to do.

Councillor Peter Rodrigues has good intentions and is passionate about representing Ward 3, especially the rural communities.

He continues to fight for heritage preservation and advocated for Whitevale residents on the controversial bridge replacement issue.

His grade drops this year because he continues to disrespect people's time by grandstanding and speaking off topic at meetings, even when he is clearly asked to stop.

He is often argumentative on the council floor and sometimes shows a lack of understanding when it comes to procedure.

He doesn't contribute much at the Region.

City of Pickering municipal report cards 2014
An annual evaluation by the Metroland Durham Region Media Group of how local politicians are serving taxpayers
July 2, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

2013 grade: A

2014 grade: A-

Pickering continues to be well-served by its municipal government as the News Advertiser grades local council and the men and women who represent taxpayers.

Mayor Dave Ryan brings a low-key style of leadership to council and is the city's biggest booster.  His focus on seeing the massive Seaton development continues, and he maintains an ambitious agenda for transformative downtown development.  His diplomatic skills have been called upon more frequently this year to address occasional unruliness during council debates, which has been important to ensure business still gets done.  He deserves credit for efforts at engaging taxpayers -- he has held virtual town hall meetings and initiated a series of chats at local cafes -- to keep them informed.  He keeps a relatively low profile at Regional meetings unless the debate impacts Pickering.  His steady approach earns him his second consecutive A grade this year, the same as in 2013.

Ward 1 City Councillor Kevin Ashe is a consummate professional in his conduct.  He is respectful, considerate and knowledgeable and contributes on issues that matter to him and his constituents.  He has used social media effectively to inform residents -- such as with Pickering's huge casino proposal -- and must be recognized for his efforts on seniors' issues.  Most importantly, however, is his willingness to vote an issue on its merits and not as a block.  He also retains his A- grade this year, the same as in 2013.

In Ward 2, City Councillor Doug Dickerson's deep knowledge and experience would be a credit to council if it wasn't for his appalling behaviour at public meetings.  He's disrespectful to colleagues and frequently combative, which distracts from council business.  He also cost Pickering taxpayers $300,000 in legal fees and expenses for contravening the Municipal Elections Act for filing an inaccurate financial statement in relation to the last election.  For all of this, his marks drops to a D-, down from a disappointing D in 2013.

Ward 3 City Councillor David Pickles knows his ward back to front and it shows.  He is responsive to constituent needs, prepares for meetings and debates and crafts thoughtful motions.  He champions rural issues and did an excellent job informing residents during the ice storm last winter.  He has fully earned his A- mark, the same as last year.

Ward 1 Regional Councillor Jennifer O'Connell continues to grow as a councillor.  She's smart and creative, isn't afraid to mix it up in debates, and has carved a spot for herself as an equal among older, more experienced council members.  At Regional meetings, she asks informed questions and will debate her points with precision.  She's a strong advocate for residents and her mark goes up slightly this year, to an A- from a B+ in 2013.

Ward 2 Regional Councillor Bill McLean is also a consistent contributor and active participant in debates.  He deserves credit for his push towards transparency as it relates to council expenses, and took the lead on the issue of medical marijuana producer applications, calling for more structure.  He's somewhat quiet around the Regional table during debates, but is knowledgeable and is a well-respected representative of his constituents.

Peter Rodrigues, the Regional councillor in Ward 3, is a strong advocate on rural issues, especially heritage preservation.  He fought valiantly for Whitevale residents over the recent bridge controversy and always means well, but sometimes speaks out of turn or wanders off topic, which reduces the quality of debate and decision-making.  He should tone down the self-serving speeches, respect others' needs and time limits, and focus on the work.  With some growth yet to occur as a councillor, his mark drops slightly this year, to a C- from a C.

Letter from Durham Philharmonic Choir
July 1, 2014

Councillor Dave Pickles
City of Pickering
One The Esplanade
Pickering, Ontario
L1V 6K7

Dear Councillor Pickles:

On behalf of the PineRidge Arts Council I wish to thank you and the City of Pickering for your kind 25th Anniversary congratulatory remarks made to me and the PRAC team at the May 24, 2014 Artfest on the Esplanade.

The PineRidge Arts Council has enjoyed a strong and pleasant relationship with you and the City of Pickering for many years and are thrilled that you share our dream of building a Performing and Visual Arts Centre in Pickering.  We are proud to belong to a community that holds the arts in such high regard and makes them an important and integral part of our lives.

Sincerely,
Catherine Schnippering, President
PineRidge Arts Council
905-509-3855
schnipp@interlog.com www.pineridgearts.org

Canada Day: Party in Pickering
June 26, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

Pickering is set for a party on July 1 when residents celebrate red, white and the maple leaf.

Canada marks its 147th birthday and there is much for us to collectively celebrate.  We are among the most wealthy and progressive nations on earth.  We welcome people from around the globe and invite them to join us in celebrating our diversity, our unique success as a multicultural nation, and as an important tile in our cultural mosaic.

We are an embracing, tolerant nation with a healthy, living democracy.  We support personal liberty and freedom: free markets, free speech and “free” health care.  We answer the call to assist allies and the oppressed on the other side of the world; our young men and women serving in our armed forces consistently do so with honour and dignity.

Our education system is among the best in the world and prepares young minds for the rigours and challenges of adulthood, graduating knowledgeable, curious and ambitious students in a range of academic and professional disciplines.

We offer a hand up to a neighbour when it's needed, dig deep to fund meaningful charitable causes, provide an important and sustainable financial safety net for our seniors, and do a pretty good job of making the rest of the world laugh.

We are a young nation among nations, one much smaller than many of our G7 counterparts, but we engage confidently and knowledgeably on the world stage.

Here at home, we live in a community that is, for the most part, well run and flourishing.  We have made comfortable lives for ourselves, we take full advantage of and enjoy the benefits of citizenship.

We are patriots, but don't go much for chest-beating, and we are uncomfortable with the notion of exceptionalism.

We are Canadian.  We are the red and white.  We are the maple leaf.

Pickering residents can share in all of the events that mark our special day on Tuesday.  So raise a cheer and make some noise.

The fun takes place at Kinsmen Park from noon to 11 p.m. There will be free family activities and entertainment, with the Main Stage performances starting at 7 p.m. Three-time Juno nominee Mia Martina is headlining.  And to top off the evening, the night skies will be full of colour with a big pyromusical fireworks display.

See you out there, eh? Happy Canada Day.

Veridian announces excellent financial performance and highlights major accomplishments in 2013 at annual shareholders' meeting
News Release
June 24, 2014

Ajax, ON - During its annual shareholders' meeting held today in Ajax, Veridian Corporation Chair Doug Dickerson together with company President and CEO Michael Angemeer provided shareholders with an update on Veridian's business operations and announced that the utility achieved consolidated net earnings of $11.9 million in 2013.

“We are extremely pleased with the company's financial performance over the past year,” said Dickerson.  “Strong growth in shareholders' equity, while maintaining robust interest and dividend payments and reasonable customer rates, has been the long term trend at Veridian.  Additionally, the company's reliability indices are competitive when compared to other electric utilities in Ontario, and an annual improvement measured against historical results remain a key business goal.”

Highlights from Veridian's 2013 financial results include:

  • A total of $8.2 million in interest and dividend payments to shareholders.
  • Electricity distribution revenues, excluding smart meter activities, have increased $3.8 million to $49.0 million from 2009.
  • Shareholder equity has increased $12.6 million since 2011, or by six per cent, which is double the growth rate from 2009 to 2011.
  • The Board of Directors has approved a dividend policy for the years 2012 to 2016 with base dividends of $4.7 million each year, subject to certain provisions.

Read the complete news release attached.

For more information, contact:

Chris Mace
Sales & PR Representative - Corporate Communications
Veridian Connections Inc.
905-427-9870, extension 2218

Follow us on Twitter: @VeridianTweets

Veridian Corporation shareholders approve changes that will streamline corporate governance
News Release
June 23, 2014

Ajax, ON - Proposed changes to Veridian Corporation's Shareholders' Agreement have been given the green light by a majority of its municipal shareholders.  The changes will accommodate a 25 per cent reduction in the number of corporate directors serving on the boards of the company and its subsidiary, Veridian Connections Inc. Veridian Corporation is jointly owned by the City of Pickering, the Town of Ajax, the Municipality of Clarington and the City of Belleville.

“I'm very pleased that the required majority of our municipal shareholders have approved changes to the Corporation's Shareholders' Agreement,” says Board Chair and City of Pickering Deputy Mayor Doug Dickerson.  “The changes will enable the Corporation to streamline its governance structure and achieve annual cost savings of more than $100,000.”

According to Veridian President and CEO, Michael Angemeer, the company will continue to enjoy strong and effective leadership, despite a reduction from 20 to 15 directors.  “The company's current board has done an excellent job at establishing comprehensive governance processes and practices,” he says.  “These practices will continue to guide the smaller boards in the years ahead.”

As Chair of the Veridian board's Governance Committee, Pickering Councillor David Pickles was instrumental in leading the company's review of its Shareholders' Agreement and governance structure.  “I'm very pleased with the support we've received for these changes,” he says.  “I'm also confident that the structure of the new boards is adequate to provide the required mix of director talent, knowledge and expertise, while at the same time offering suitable representation for all four municipal shareholders.”

The approved changes to Veridian Corporation's Shareholders' Agreement will take effect January 1st, 2015.

Veridian Corporation, the seventh largest municipal electricity company in Ontario, owns and operates two subsidiary companies that distribute electricity and provide energy services to more than 117,000 customers located in nine municipalities in east central Ontario.  Together, our employees focus on providing reliable, efficient, sustainable energy solutions and services, and equally share the job of making employee and public health and safety our number one priority.  We are an important fixture in the communities that we serve.  In addition to providing reasonable electricity rates, we promote economic growth, community building and sustainable living.  Veridian Corporation is committed to providing value and healthy financial returns to our shareholders - the City of Pickering, the Town of Ajax, the Municipality of Clarington and the City of Belleville.  For more information, visit www.veridiancorporation.ca.

- 30 -

For more information, contact:

Chris Mace
Sales & PR Representative - Corporate Communications
Veridian Connections Inc.
905-427-9870, extension 2218

Follow us on Twitter: @VeridianTweets

Service Announcement
Notice of Temporary Closure
Duffins Creek Trail
JUNE 23, 2014

The Duffins Creek Trail (from Valley Farm Road to Beverley Morgan Park) will be closed temporarily to permit the reconstruction of the trail, and associated environmental restoration work being completed by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.

The gravel parking area on Valley Farm Road will also be closed as it is required as a staging area for the proposed works.

Purpose:  To permit the reconstruction of the trail and site restoration work

Duration:  June 30, 2014 to August 29, 2014

MAP

For additional information please contact:
Arnold Mostert
Senior Coordinator, Landscape & Parks Development
Engineering & Public Works Department
Tel 905.420.4660 ext 2143
TTY 905.420.1739
amostert@pickering.ca
Service Disruption Line: 1.866.278.9993

Grand Opening In2Sports
June 21, 2014
Grand Opening Photo 1
 
Grand Opening Photo 2
 
Search Engine People
1305 Pickering Parkway, Pickering, On
Jeff Quipp, CEO
June 20, 2014

Search Engine People (SEP) is one of Canada's foremost Digital Marketing agencies, and more recently, has evolved to become a developer of technologies designed to make results from digital marketing efforts more consistent and predictable.  

Founded by Jeff Quipp in 2001, SEP continues to be recognized year over year as one of the 100 fastest growing companies in Canada.  They were selected by the Branham Group as one of the Top 25 Canadian IT Up and Comers and were the first business in Canada to become a Google AdWords Certified Company.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada selected SEP to develop and teach the IAB Intensive Pay-Per-Click Course and the IAB Intensive Search Engine Optimization Course.  The SEP Blog is an Official Google News Site.

SEP has been featured in The New York Times, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, Profit Magazine, Marketing Magazine, Search Engine Standard and many others!

Originally operating out of the Town of Ajax, SEP moved their offices to Pickering taking two floors at 1305 Pickering Parkway, where they were able to accommodate their expansion needs.   This initially brought 85 employees, many of whom are highly recognized industry experts.   SEP continues to expand their employee base which greatly contributes to the vibrancy of our City Centre business community.  

As an employer, SEP offers a unique work environment that supports creativity and innovation.   With clients worldwide, SEP has become one of Pickering's leading corporate ambassadors.

Councillor Pickles and Jeff Quipp CEO of Search Engine People
Councillor Pickles with Jeff Quipp, CEO, Search Engine People 
The Cupcake Place
1450 Kingston Road, Pickering, On
Nerissa Cariño, Owner
June 20, 2014
Councillor Pickles and Nerissa Cariño, owner The Cupcake Place
Councillor Pickles with Nerissa Cariño, owner of The Cupcake Place 
Durham Live Tourist Destination Rendering
View from Southeast
June 20, 2014
Rendering Drawing
VIEW FROM SOUTHEAST (RENDERING FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES)
Click for larger view 
Pickering Aboriginal Celebration Day
June 14, 2014
Councillor Pickles and Mayor Ryan at Pickering Aboriginal Celebration Day
Councillor Pickles and Mayor Ryan at Pickering Aboriginal Day 
Jennifer Wakefield
Key to the City
June 14, 2014
Jennifer Wakefield
 
Veridian donation to help fund new engines for PARA's search and rescue boat
Monday June 9, 2014
By: Chris Mace
(Veridian)

PICKERING, ON, June 7, 2014 /CNW/ - A generous donation from Veridian Connections (Veridian) is helping fund the replacement of two, 20 - year - old engines on the Pickering Auxiliary Rescue Association's (PARA) rescue cutter.  Veridian Board Chair and City of Pickering Deputy Mayor Doug Dickerson along with company President and CEO Michael Angemeer presented PARA with a cheque at a special ceremony held today at Frenchman's Bay Yacht Club in Pickering.

“The rescue vessel has provided a vital search and rescue service to boaters and water enthusiasts along the shores of Lake Ontario for 20 years,” ex plains PARA's Board Chair and appointed director Jim Dike.  “Replacing the vessel's engines will cost approximately $125,000, and Veridian's donation to our fundraising campaign will go a long way in making this happen.”

“Veridian takes the safety of its em ployees and the customers it serves very seriously every day of the year,” said Dickerson.  “The company is pleased to support PARA's fundraising efforts to replace two worn engines and keep their vital link to water safety operational.  Boaters will have pe ace of mind knowing that if they are in distress on the water, a properly equipped boat and crew are in close proximity to perform a rescue.”

About Pickering Auxiliary Rescue Association
With 47 years of operation, Pickering Auxiliary Rescue Association (P ARA) is one of the original founders of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary.  PARA is a volunteer organization that has approximately 50 members who are constantly being trained in search and rescue on the water.  In existence, PARA has responded to more than 200 calls where life has been in danger.

About Veridian Connections
Veridian Connections Inc.  safely and reliably delivers electricity to more than 117,000 customers in the Cities of Pickering and Belleville, the Towns of Ajax and Gravenhurst , the Municipality of Port Hope, and the communities of Uxbridge, Bowmanville, Newcastle, Orono, Port Perry, Beaverton, Sunderland and Cannington.  Veridian Connections Inc.  is a wholly owned subsidiary of Veridian Corporation.  The City of Pickering, the To wn of Ajax, the Municipality of Clarington and the City of Belleville jointly own Veridian Corporation.

Pickering Wildflower Planting
June 7, 2014
Group shot
 
Toddler shot
Pickering Wildflower Planting Event 
Tamil Cultural and Academic Society of Durham
“An Evening in Venice” Gala
June 6, 2014
Tamil Gala 1
 
Tamil Gala 2
 
Tamil Gala 3
 
Tamil Gala 4
 
Tamil Gala 5
 
Tamil Gala 6
 
South Pickering Senior's Club
Letter of Thanks May 31, 2014
SPSC thank you letter
 
South Pickering Senior's Club 40th Anniversary Celebration
May 25th, 2014
SPSC 40th Anniversary Celebration
David and Brenda Pickles were pleased to support and attend the South Pickering Seniors on their 40th Anniversary celebrations.  It was a wonderful afternoon.  Congratulations to South Pickering Seniors and all the volunteers and sponsors that made the event happen!
Class EA for Regional Services for the Central Pickering Development Plan
May 22, 2014
Document page 1
 
Document page 2
 
Click either image above to see full size PDF.

Mother's Day
May 11, 2014
Happy Mother's Day
 
National Day of Honour
May 9, 2014
National Day of Honour
 
May 5, 2014
Councillor Pickles with The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
 
May 5, 2014
Pickles & Trudeau
 
Pickering Canadian Caribbean Cultural Association Event
May 4, 2014
Tea in Whitevale
Susan Mautrine, Dipika Shorma and Councillor Pickles at the Pickering Canadian Caribbean Cultural Association event.  Great to see everyone on a fine day!
Teas 'n Treasures Cafe in Whitevale
May 2, 2014
Tea in Whitevale
I was pleased to attend the opening of Teas 'n Treasures Cafe in Whitevale.  On the east side of the Whitevale Road bridge.  Great treats!
News Release
New Sustainable Community Moves Forward in Durham
Province Supporting Jobs and Livable Communities
April 29, 2014 1:30 p.m.

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Ontario has approved the creation of Seaton, a new livable and sustainable community that will provide homes for up to 70,000 people and include plans for employment lands that will create tens of thousands of jobs in the area.  

The City of Pickering, where the Seaton lands are located, can now finalize residential subdivision plans and issue building permits to developers so that construction of dense and walkable residential neighbourhoods can begin.  

Working together, the Ontario government, the City of Pickering, the Region of Durham and Seaton land-owners will ensure that the new community, strategically located on the 407 corridor, will have exceptional protection of ecologically sensitive lands and promote walking and cycling.  The planned employment lands are ideally situated to accommodate new business development and employment opportunities through easy access to the 407.

Smart and strategic land use planning is part of the government's economic plan that is creating jobs for today and tomorrow.  The comprehensive economic plan and its six priorities focus on Ontario's greatest strengths -- its people and strategic partnerships.

Quick Facts

  • When fully developed, Seaton will be nearly the size of Peterborough and will support up to 35,000 jobs.
  • More than half of Seaton's 3,000 hectares of land area are designated as part of the natural heritage system of trails and woodlands.
  • Six residential neighbourhoods will be separated by greenspace, protecting the natural heritage system of the area.

Quotes

Bill Mauro “Seaton will be a sustainable community where people can live, work and shop.  Seaton can be a model for how we want to live in the future.  This is a responsible way to grow our communities, while protecting important agricultural and environmental features.”

Bill Mauro
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Joe Dickson “Ajax and Pickering are communities of growth, and the Seaton development will transform North Pickering into a mixed use, sustainable community, which will be a workplace for 35,000 and home to upwards of 70,000 people.”

Joe Dickson
MPP for Ajax-Pickering
Tracy MacCharles “This is good news for the future of the Pickering area.  The continued preservation of our green spaces and the natural heritage of the area will provide recreation opportunities for generations to come.”

Tracy MacCharles
MPP for Pickering-Scarborough East

Media Contacts

Mike Maka
Minister's Office
416-585-6842

May Nazar
Communications
416-585-7066

Pickering Animal Services Introduces 'Responsible Pet Ownership Month'
Media Advisory
For Immediate Release
April 28, 2014

Pickering, ON, April 28, 2014 - In partnership with the Association of Animal Shelter Administrators of Ontario, Pickering Animal Services has declared the month of May, 'Responsible Pet Ownership Month.'  Municipalities across Ontario are participating in this provincewide campaign that aims to raise awareness about the need for pet owners to exercise their responsibility by following local by-laws, keeping pets on a leash, picking up dog waste, licensing pets annually, and staying up-to-date on vaccinations.

Pickering Animal Services provides programs and services year round that support the tenets of responsible pet ownership such as: returning lost pets to their owners, adoption services, and controlling overpopulation.  “Although responsible pet ownership is something that we strive for all of the time, declaring an entire month for this cause allows us to work with local business partners to get this important message out to residents,” said Lindsey Narraway, Supervisor, Animal Services.

In support of this initiative, Pickering Animal Services will partner with local businesses to host a variety of events and promotions throughout the month to engage residents.  Additionally, Animal Services is launching a photo contest in which photographers of all ages will be invited to submit pet portraits from in and around the Pickering community for a chance to win great prizes.  For more information on the contest and the events and promotions listed below, visit pickering.ca/rpo or contact Lindsey Narraway at 905.427.0093, or lnarraway@pickering.ca.

  • Receive a free personalized pet tag with the purchase of a leash or collar from Pet Valu at 705 Kingston Road.
  • Rosebank Animal Hospital, and Forestbrook Pet Hospital are offering reduced rates for spaying and neutering services all month long; and Whites Road Veterinary Hospital is offering a complimentary microchip to all pets that undergo sterilization surgery in May.
  • Rabies and Microchip Clinic
    Date: Saturday May 3rd, 12 pm - 4 pm
    Location: PJ's Pets in the Pickering Town Centre, 1355 Kingston Road.
    Details: In partnership with PJ's Pets and Durham Region Health Department, Pickering Animal Services is offering microchip and Rabies vaccination services for $20 each. Cash only. Pets must arrive in a carrier or on a leash.
  • Pet Adoption and Licensing Day
    Date: Sunday May 4th, 10 am - 4 pm
    Location: Pickering Recreation Complex, 1867 Valley Farm Road
    Details: Animals available for adoption will be present at this event for residents and potential pet owners to meet.
  • Responsibilities of Being a Horse Owner Seminar - Registration Required
    Date: Saturday May 10th, 1pm - 4 pm
    Location: Silvercreek Riding Stables, 2300 Rosebank Road North
    Details: Register online at pickering.ca/rpo by May 9th.

-30-

As the gateway city to the east GTA, Pickering (population 94,000) is strategically located where Toronto, York and Durham Regions meet.  Pickering is an affluent community that is steeped in history, natural beauty and small town charm with all the amenities and services that a big city has to offer.  The City of Pickering is considered a municipal leader in fiscal management, service delivery, sustainability and the environment; and offers a wealth of sports, leisure and recreation opportunities to its residents.  Pickering has been recognized by Profit magazine as one of the ten best cities in Canada for growth companies and received the 2008 FCM-CH2M Hill Sustainable Community Planning Award.

Media Contact:
Name: Ashton Ross
Title" Communications Assistant
Email address: aross@pickering.ca
Phone number: 905.420.4660 ext. 2128
TTY: 905.420.1739

Spring Yard Waste Program
Spring is here - Yard Waste Program is in full effect!
Ice Storm Cleanup Update
April 28, 2014

Spring is upon us, and the Regions of Durham's Leaf and Yard Waste Program is now underway.  Collection limitations have been lifted to help residents with cleanup efforts following December's ice storm

As the melted show exposes more ...

Continue to read the flyer

Pickering to investigate cost of paving rural roads
Unpaved roads cost four times more to maintain
Jillian Follert
April 25, 2014
(durhamregion.com)
Councillor Pickles at Westney and Concession 8
Unpaved roads
Jason Liebregts / Metroland
PICKERING -- Councillor Davids Pickles, at Westney Road and Concession 8, is concerned about this stretch of unpaved road. April 23, 2014

PICKERING -- A Pickering councillor says paving rural roads could pave the way to cost savings.  

Pickering council has approved a motion from Councillor David Pickles that directs City staff to work on a detailed plan for paving 103 kilometres of “loose surface” rural roads located north of Taunton Road.  

Coun. Pickles noted it costs the City about five times more to maintain unpaved roads.  

Pickering's 2012 annual performance measures show a cost of $2,958 per kilometre to maintain hard surface roads versus $13,983 per kilometre for loose surface.  

“I and many of the residents are concerned with the number and condition of unpaved roads in north Pickering,” he said.  “Safety and use by emergency vehicles also becomes a concern.  Staff do their best to maintain this loose service roads but the weather, rain, freeze and thaw damages the road and makes maintenance difficult and expensive.”

The councillor said examples of well-travelled unpaved roads in Pickering include Concession 8 west of Lakeridge Road, Concession 7 west of Brock Road and Westney Road north of 8th concession.  

Richard Holborn, the City's director of engineering and public works, said it takes work to keep unpaved roads in good shape.  

The process includes regularly dispatching graders to smooth out the surface, topping up gravel as needed and spraying liquid dust suppressant every summer.  

However, he said there are also upsides to leaving them unpaved.  

“They maintain Pickering's rural character,” Mr. Holborn noted.  

He said loose surface roads also cost less when it comes to winter control -- unlike paved roads that require pricey salt, unpaved roads can be treated with less expensive sand.  

Council directed City staff to report back by January 2015 with a plan that includes cost estimates for hard surfacing roads north of Taunton Road over the next five years, as well as projected annual road maintenance cost savings.   Council also asked staff to investigate whether provincial and federal funding programs are available to help cover the cost.

COUNCIL APPROVES ROAD RESURFACING PROJECT

On April 22 Pickering council approved $827,439 to resurface various roads and parking lots throughout the city.  

The work includes Bowler Drive, Glengrove Road, Liverpool Road, Pickering Parkway, Victoria Street and Wellington Street as well as the parking lots at Claremont Community Centre, Creekside Park and East Shore Community Centre.

The project will be funded from various sources including the City's federal gas tax reserve fund, property taxes and a provincial grant.

Ajax-Pickering businessman Ron Halliday dies
Ron Halliday involved in development, charitable activities
April 24, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

DURHAM -- A long-time local businessman involved in the home building industry has died.

Ron Halliday died suddenly at the Rouge Valley Ajax and Pickering hospital on Wednesday, April 23.

For years, Mr. Halliday worked for Cougs Investment and Coughlan Homes.

Joe Dickson, MPP for Ajax-Pickering and for years a local and Regional Councillor in Ajax, said, “My wife Donna and I were good friends with Ron and his wife Carol.  The loss of Ron Halliday is a great loss for Ajax and Pickering.”

Mr. Halliday was “dedicated to many charities.  He focused on our Ajax-Pickering hospital,” Mr. Dickson noted.  “He did a great job on Sunny Days for Conservation and other environmental projects.”

As he was involved in developing, “Ron understood planning more than most people.  He helped develop, which turned out to be a beautiful facility, Deer Creek.  I'm sadden by Ron's loss,” Mr. Dickson added.

Mr. Dickson was an Ajax councillor in 1983 when he met Mr. Halliday and Jerry Coughlan, owner of Cougs Investment and Coughlan Homes, to discuss Deer Creek.

“I was advised of their desire to build a first-class development, virtually unseen in Ajax before, the golf courses and facilities with 58 holes.  It's the largest in this part of the GTA,” Mr. Dickson said.

“They honoured every commitment they made to the municipality.  It was an honour to know them,” he added.

Mr. Halliday is survived by his wife Carol, children Kathy, Robert and his wife Jane (their children Joseph and Jennifer), Dennis and his wife Lori, Sherry-Lee Lyons, Danette Lyons and Ashley Pearson.  He'll be missed by his grandchildren.

He's the brother of Wilfred, Wally and Joan.

The family will receive friends at the McEachnie Funeral Home, 28 Old Kingston Rd., Pickering Village, on Sunday, April 27 from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m.

The funeral service will be held on Monday, April 28 at Bayfair Baptist Church, 817 Kingston Rd., Pickering, at 11 a.m. Interment at Pine Ridge Memorial Gardens.

Memorial donations to the Rouge Valley Ajax and Pickering hospital or the Abilities Centre would be appreciated by the family.  Online condolences may be placed at www.mceachniefuneral.ca.

Pickering goes high tech to combat illegal dumping
New signs have QR codes to make reporting easier
Jillian Follert
April 24, 2014
(durhamregion.com)
Illegal Dumping Signage
Illegal dumping signage
Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland
PICKERING -- The Sustainable Pickering Advisory Committee unveiled new signs in Millenium Square designed to enhance park safety and cleanliness and reduce illegal dumping and littering activities within the community.  Checking out the signs are committee members, Mayor Dave Ryan, left, and Councillor Doug Dickerson, right, along with Brian Denney, CEO of the Toronto Region Conservation Authority.  April 22, 2014.

PICKERING -- The City of Pickering is taking a high-tech approach to tackling unsightly illegal dumping.

This week the Sustainable Pickering Advisory Committee unveiled new signs that feature QR codes, a type of barcode that can be scanned with a smartphone.

When a resident scans the code it takes them straight to the City's “Eyes on the Street” tool, which allows for easy online reporting.

The goal of the new signs is to warn would-be dumpers that areas are being monitored and to make it easy for residents to alert City staff to illegally dumped items.

“Illegal dumping is a huge issue in the city, it costs thousands of dollars every year,” says Michelle Pearce, the City's environmental awareness co-ordinator.

She says common illegally dumped items include construction materials, tree trimmings and garbage bags of household waste.

It happens all over Pickering, but is especially problematic in the north end of the city -- Concession 3 is one noteworthy spot.

“You can drive down there any given day and find a garbage bag or two,” Ms. Pearce notes.

Councillor David Pickles, vice-chairman of the Sustainable Pickering Advisory Committee, says there are various reasons residents dump illegally.

“Sometimes people don't know where waste transfer stations are located, or they're closed when they want to go.  Or, they just don't want to pay the fee,” he says.

The Eyes on the Street tool has already been successful in allowing residents to report graffiti and vandalism.

City staff said 90 of the new QR code signs will be installed over the coming months.

Pickering has also launched a new social media initiative that encourages people to take ownership of the city.

The “Heart your City” Facebook campaign encourages residents to take an online pledge vowing not to litter or illegally dump items, for a chance to win an iPad Air.

To take the pledge, search “City of Pickering” on Facebook.  For more information about illegal dumping and Eyes on the Street, go to www.pickering.ca.

Pickering's Draft Cultural Strategic Plan is now available online for public comment
April 23, 2014

City of Pickering Cultural Strategic Plan (draft) is now available online for public comment.

The City of Pickering is pleased to announce that the draft Cultural Strategic Plan is now available on City website, Cultural-PlanFeedback.  The Cultural Strategic Plan completes the important work of identifying Pickering's cultural resources, engaging and consulting the community and identifying key strategic directions; that will foster, cultivate and enhance the cultural life of Pickering

According to Marisa Carpino, Director, Culture & Recreation “Pickering's Cultural Strategic Plan was developed by a corporate team and serves to identify policies, programs, partnerships and investments that will advance culture, heritage and the arts in Pickering over the next 10 years.”

The hallmark of Pickering's Cultural Planning process has been community consultation.  Staff now welcome public comment on the draft Cultural Strategic Plan that is now available on the city's website.  Public comments can be provided online or by in writing by Monday, May 5, 2014.  Feedback will be reviewed before the Cultural Plan is finalized and presented to Pickering Council in the coming months.

Trade Secrets Re-opening
April 15, 2014
Trade Secrets Re-opening
Councillors Pickles and Dickerson celebrating the grand re-opening of Trade Secrets 
Whitchurch-Stouffville Council Endorsement of Pickering Council Resolution
Relating to the Pickering Airport Project
April 14, 2014
Acknowledgement letter
 
The Spinal Mechanics and Wellness Clinic Grand Opening
April 12, 2014
Spinal Mechanics and Wellness Clinic Grand Opening
 
Wingfest Pickering Recreation Centre
April 11, 2014
Wingfest Photo 1
 
Wingfest Photo 2
 
Wingfest Photo 3
 
Pickering Museum Village Volunteer Appreciation Night
April 10, 2014

Councillor Pickles attended the annual volunteer appreciation evening for the Pickering Museum Village.  The evening celebrates the efforts of the over 300 volunteers that provide their time and energies at the Pickering Museum Village.  In 2013 those volunteers contributed more than 26,000 hours which is equivalent to in-kind value of just over one half million dollars.

PMV VIV 2014
Councillor Pickles and Deputy Mayor Dickerson with Pickering Museum Village Volunteers Graham Lowman, Julie Oakes and Paul Savel
Speak up on Durham Live project om Pickering
Public meeting on Monday
April 3, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

Pickering residents must take advantage of an opportunity to provide the City with input on the proposed casino development.

Much would be required to make it happen and the impact on the city could be enormous, so whether you favour it or not, now is the time to speak up.

Pickering Developments Inc.  has filed an application with Pickering to rezone three parcels of land near Bayly and Church streets to create a huge tourist destination.  The highlights of the estimated $1.6 billion Durham Live project are a casino, convention centre, performing arts centre, restaurant plaza, hotels, water park, film studio and fitness centre.

Residents can have their say at a 7 p.m., April 7 meeting of council's planning and development committee.

And on April 22, council will vote on a bylaw to put a referendum question on the ballot, asking, “are you in favour of a gaming facility (casino) in the City of Pickering as part of a hotel, convention centre, entertainment complex in a non-residential area?”

There are a number of issues to consider.

First, and hence Pickering's proposed referendum question, Council has vacillated on having a casino in the city and your input may sway their decision one way or another.  As well, the land where the development would be built, at the northwest corner of Bayly and Church streets, is near Duffins Creek and environmentally sensitive wetlands.

And a new zoning designation would be required in order for Durham Live to be built as the land is currently zoned to allow manufacturing, storage and industrial uses.

When you add traffic and parking considerations, there is much to think about.

Of course residents must take into account the added tax dollars to the city and the spin-off benefits to Pickering businesses.

While no decision will be made at the April 7 meeting, it is very important in that this provides residents with a chance to give their council members input on the project.  And given its size and probable impact, this is a public meeting residents should attend.

City staff will likely come back to council with a report and recommendation in the summer.  But the time is now if your voice is to be heard.

Note that residents can also send written remarks to the City's development department.

Exercise your democratic rights and take advantage of the opportunity to tell the City what you think.

Durham starting Greenbelt review
April 2, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

DURHAM -- Over the next month, Durham Region will be seeking public input about the Greenbelt Plan.

The plan is up for a mandatory 10-year review in 2015 and the Region wants to know what residents think.  The Region has retained the consulting firm of Urban Strategies Inc.  to conduct a series of open houses, along with an online survey, interviews with municipal politicians and staff, and focus groups organized around key issues.

Two dates have been set for public consultation sessions -- Monday, April 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Region of Durham headquarters, and Wednesday, April 16 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Pickering Recreation Complex.

Interested persons may also visit www.durham.ca/greenbeltreview and participate online via downloadable workbook or survey.  That deadline has been extended until April 22.

The Greenbelt Plan and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan were put in place by the Province in 2005 to preserve farmland in the Golden Horseshoe.  In Durham, this covers more than 80 per cent of the overall geographical area, and extends into each of the Region's eight municipalities.

The Region is also setting up the Greenbelt Review Working Group, with representatives from relevant agencies and other stakeholder organizations with an interest in the greenbelt, to help the consultant to understand the perspectives and interests of local stakeholder groups.  Membership in the group will include representatives from the eight area municipalities, the five conservation authorities in Durham, Regional citizen advisory committees, the agricultural and environmental sectors, and the development industry.

Durham's consultations will be used to develop a discussion paper that will be the foundation of the Region's submission to the Province.

Pickering residents can comment on casino development April 7
No decisions will be made at meeting, report expected this summer
April 2, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- Pickering residents will have their first chance to learn more about a proposed casino development at a public meeting.

Council's planning and development committee will discuss the Durham Live proposal at its April 7 meeting, starting at 7 p.m.

Pickering Developments Inc.  recently filed an application with the City to re-zone three parcels of land near Bayly and Church streets, to create a massive tourist destination.

Steve Apostolopoulos, co-founder and managing partner of Pickering Developments Inc., has estimated the project cost at $1.6 billion.

“Pickering is a fast-growing, thriving community ...  that lacked a major entertainment or hospitality area,” he says, explaining why the site was chosen.

An illustration of the Durham Live project shows a casino, convention centre, performing arts centre, restaurant plaza, hotels, water park, film studio and fitness centre, among other features.

The land is currently zoned to allow manufacturing, storage and industrial uses.

Since there is no zoning category that allows for all the proposed uses, the intent is to create a site-specific zoning category called “major tourist destination.”

Some of the issues council and City staff will look at include the impact on nearby environmentally sensitive wetlands, how increased traffic volumes and street parking would be accommodated, whether noise will be an issue and appropriate building heights, pedestrian features and other design elements.

On April 22 council will also vote on a bylaw to place a referendum question on the ballot, which asks “are you in favour of a gaming facility (casino) in the City of Pickering as part of a hotel, convention centre, entertainment complex in a non-residential area?”

Members of the public can offer feedback at the upcoming meeting or send written comments to the City's development department.

No decisions on the Durham Live proposal will be made on April 7.

City staff is expected to come back to council with a report and recommendation in the summer.

Pickering voters could have a say on casino issue
One referendum question already approved
Jillian Follert
March 28, 2014
(durhamregion.com)
David Pickles
David Pickles
AJ Groen / Metroland
PICKERING -- David Pickles, city councilor

PICKERING -- Pickering residents could have a chance to comment on a potential casino when they vote in the October municipal election.

On April 22 council will vote on a bylaw to place a referendum question on the ballot, which asks “are you in favour of a gaming facility (casino) in the City of Pickering as part of a hotel, convention centre, entertainment complex in a non-residential area?”

The move comes on the heels of a re-zoning application from Pickering Developments Inc.  to create a tourist destination called “Durham Live” on three parcels of land located on the north side of Bayly Street, west of Church Street.

The proposal could potentially include a casino, five-star hotel, convention centre, performing arts centre, movie theatre, restaurant plaza, water park and boutique hotel.

A public meeting on the re-zoning application is planned for April 7.

“Most residents I spoke to about whether or not they support a casino say it depends where, they don't want one near a residential area,” said Councillor David Pickles.

“They also say it depends how much revenue Pickering would get ...  there are other factors.  Would it bring a hotel? Would it bring jobs?”

Councillor Kevin Ashe questioned the timing of the ballot question, noting council is expected to consider a report on the Durham Live application in June or July.

“Council has already made a determination about being a willing host ...  council will make a determination either yes or no about a planning process that may or may not have a casino,” he said.

Pickering council had initially planned to vote on a bylaw for the casino ballot question on March 24, with the original wording “are you in favour of a gaming facility (casino) in the City of Pickering?”

The wording was amended to specify a non-residential area and make mention of the hotel, convention centre and entertainment complex.

Councillor Jennifer O'Connell raised concerns about the wording change, saying it complicates the question.

“What's very uncomfortable to me is to say to the public, here's a shiny hotel, here's a water park, here's an arts centre.  All these things you want ...  we'll give it to you if you support a casino.”

As a result of the wording change, the bylaw vote and public meeting have been moved to April.

The Municipal Act says referendum results are binding, subject to a few exceptions, if at least 50 per cent of eligible voters weigh in on a question.

If council approves it, the casino question will be the second referendum question to appear on Pickering's Oct. 27 ballot.

On March 24 Pickering council passed a bylaw to put a question on the ballot relating to the size of regional council.

The deadline for council to approve ballot questions for the upcoming election is April 30.

CHAIRMAN WANTS CASINO CASH SHARED WITH REGION

Regional Chairman Roger Anderson thinks any potential casino in Pickering should share its revenues with the Region.

He made the comments during his annual address to Pickering council on March 24.

“Do I believe that the Region should be a partner? Yes,” the chairman said in response to questions from Councillor Kevin Ashe.

Mr. Anderson pointed out that regional roads would be used to access a casino and regional services such as police and EMS would be used to assist its patrons.

He said the type of partnership is “up for debate” and lamented the fact that the Town of Ajax does not share revenues from Ajax Downs with the Region.  

In Your Words & Expressions
March 26, 2014

As a prevoius two-term Chair of the Pickering Advisory Committee on Diversity, I was pleased to participate in the 2014 Diversity Forum to commemorate March 21st The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination hosted by Committee, Council representative Kevin Ashe and Mayor Dave Ryan.  The Forum recognized student contest winners in creative writing and visual arts “In Your Words & Expressions”.

Words and Expressions 1
 
Words and Expressions 2
 
Family behind Pickering tourism proposal no stranger to big deals
Ajax mayor says Pickering lacks business case to move casino
Jillian Follert and Keith Gilligan
March 6, 2014
(durhamregion.com)
Ajax Mayor Steve Parish
Casino talk
Jason Liebregts / Metroland file photo
AJAX --Ajax Mayor Steve Parish says Pickering lacks business case to move casino.  File photo from March 27, 2013

PICKERING -- The developer behind a massive tourism proposal in Pickering is from a family known for headline-grabbing real estate deals.

Pickering Developments Inc.  is the applicant on a re-zoning application for Durham Live, a tourist destination proposed for the Bayly and Church streets area.

That name may not ring any bells, but the family behind the proposal also owns Triple Group of Properties, a Toronto firm with investments in Chicago, New York, Detroit, Florida and overseas.

The Apostolopoulos family -- Greek immigrant Andreas Apostolopoulos and his three sons Steve, Jim and Pete -- garnered international attention when Triple Group started buying up bargain properties in the Detroit area, including the 80,000-seat Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan, bought for the astonishing price of $583,000 in 2009.

Triple Group followed up with the Penobscot Building, Detroit's third-tallest office tower, purchased for $5 million in 2012, and Detroit's historic State Savings Bank, bought for about $700,000.

The Apostolopoulos family was recently ranked No.  56 in Canadian Business magazine's annual list of “Canada's Wealthiest People.” The rankings put the family's 2013 net worth at $1.3 billion, up 23 per cent over the previous year.

Steve Apostolopoulos, co-founder and managing partner of Pickering Developments Inc., says there is “no affiliation” between the two companies owned by his family.

He says it's still too early to talk in detail about the Durham Live proposal, but pegs the project cost at about $1.6 billion.

“Pickering is a fast-growing, thriving community ...  that lacked a major entertainment or hospitality area,” he says, explaining why the site was chosen.

Pickering Developments has applied to rezone three parcels of vacant land located on the north side of Bayly, west of Church.

The proposal could potentially include a casino, five-star hotel, convention centre, performing arts centre, outdoor amphitheatre, movie theatre, restaurant plaza, waterpark and boutique hotel.

The current zonings -- which allow storage and manufacturing uses -- don't permit some of the proposed tourism projects, such as a casino or hotel.

Since there is no zoning category that allows for all the proposed uses, the intent is to create a site-specific zoning category called “major tourist destination.”

A public information meeting is planned for April 7, and a City staff recommendation report will follow in June or July.

In the meantime, mention of a casino in Pickering has raised questions about the future of Ajax Downs.

The Province has lumped Pickering, Ajax and Whitby into one “gaming zone,” which means there can only be one casino in the area.

Asked if he's worried about the Pickering proposal, Ajax Mayor Steve Parish's response was, “Frankly, no.

“The Ajax site is one of the most successful in the province,” he said.  “When you go down the list and tick off the boxes, Ajax has it.  The Province has made it clear, to move it off site, there has to be a strong business case.  Pickering doesn't have one.”

The Town of Ajax received about $6.9 million in revenue from Ajax Downs in 2012.

Ajax offered Whitby 15 per cent of what the Town receives, but Whitby officials turned it down.  With that rejection, Ajax didn't approach Pickering.

Mayor Parish thinks the Pickering proposal is “one aspect” of the City trying to get some kind of revenue-sharing arrangement.

“There are going to be some people with red faces who didn't accept revenue sharing when it was offered,” he said.  “They looked a gift horse in the mouth.”

In December 2012, Pickering council voted 4-3 to declare the city a willing host for an OLG gaming facility.

Councillors Bill McLean and Jennifer O'Connell and Mayor Dave Ryan were opposed.

The move came after the OLG announced a modernization plan that included grouping GTA municipalities into gaming zones -- including one zone for Ajax, Pickering and Whitby.

In response to the changes, Whitby declared itself a willing host in September 2012 and started negotiations with Ajax to receive a share of the Ajax Downs revenue, in exchange for not pursuing a gaming facility of its own.

Whitby ultimately rejected an offer of an annual 15-per cent share, or about $1 million.

Pickering's move to become a willing host was an attempt to enter similar negotiations with Ajax.

While Pickering Mayor Ryan was among those who voted against being a willing host for a casino, Mayor Parish alleges Mayor Ryan is “working behind the scenes” to get one, adding “the politics on this is volatile.”

“The fact that an application has been brought forward is not something that we've done,” Mayor Ryan stressed.

He says the potential for 10,000 new jobs is what's driving his interest in the Durham Live proposal.

“The whole concept is to create an entertainment and tourism destination point in the eastern GTA, there isn't anything like that east of Niagara Falls,” he said.

When asked about the potential for conflict between Ajax and Pickering as a result of the new casino proposal, Mr. Apostolopoulos said decisions about casino locations aren't his to make.

“The Province and OLG have the ultimate say in where the casino will go,” he said, noting the Durham Live proposal isn't contingent on a casino, describing it as a “very small component” of the site.

Ajax should play let's make a deal with Pickering
March 6, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

Ajax would do well to once again play it safe and try to work out an arrangement with Pickering and Whitby to ensure the OLG Slots at Ajax Downs stays here, given that it provides millions in revenue per year to the Town.

There's a new player, or at least a new card in the deck, in the casino war that's been simmering for roughly a year and a half in west Durham.  Pickering recently received an application to build a massive tourism development, Durham Live, at Church and Bayly streets.  And while the developer himself, Steve Apostolopoulos, co-founder and managing partner of Pickering Developments Inc., says it's early to talk about the proposal in detail, it does include a casino.

As you will recall, OLG, as part of its plan to modernization gaming, is setting up private, not government-run, casinos throughout Ontario, including one in a zone which covers Ajax, Pickering and Whitby.  Only one of those communities can have a casino and, if it were to be in Pickering or Whitby, the Ajax slots facility would close.

As we argued in September 2012, Ajax would be wise to play it safe and make some kind of arrangement with Pickering to ensure a casino is not included in the development.

In the past, when confronted with Whitby possibly seeking a casino, Ajax offered that municipality 15 per cent of its slots revenue to declare itself an unwilling host for one.  Whitby passed on the offer and it was never extended to Pickering.

We agreed with Mayor Steve Parish and council when they made the offer to Whitby and believe they should make a similar one to Pickering, contingent on it telling the Province it doesn't want a casino and saying `no' to a casino in the Durham Live development.

At the time, Mayor Parish said, “When I compare the risk of the loss of the whole facility and the jobs and the revenue and everything that that entails, and making an educated, secure arrangement, I think the latter is the better.”

It was the wise move then and it still is.  Ajax simply cannot take the risk that it could lose the slots facility, which since 2006 has garnered the Town roughly $41 million.

Mayor Parish claims Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan is “working behind the scenes” to get a casino, adding “the politics on this is volatile.”

Given the money up for grabs, that's a fair bet.

And given how much the slots revenue has meant to Ajax, and more importantly its taxpayers, Ajax needs to be proactive and do whatever it takes to ensure the slots operation remains here.  If that means offering some of the revenue it receives from the slots operation to Pickering and even Whitby, so be it.  There's lots to go around.

Pickering should press for Ajax slots revenue
Casino proposal puts City in better position to bargain
March 6, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

With a proposal for a casino in hand, Pickering should use this bargaining chip to work out a deal with Ajax to obtain a percentage of the revenue Ajax receives from the OLG Slots at Ajax Downs.

It would be a smart move for the City on behalf of its taxpayers, even if it meant saying no to a casino here.

Pickering recently received an application to build a massive tourism development, Durham Live, at Church and Bayly streets.  And while the developer himself, Steve Apostolopoulos, co-founder and managing partner of Pickering Developments Inc., says it's early to talk about the proposal in detail, it does include a casino.

As you will recall, OLG, as part of its plan to modernization gaming, is setting up private, not government-run, casinos throughout Ontario, including one in a zone which covers Ajax, Pickering and Whitby.  Only one of those communities can have a casino and, if it were to be in Pickering or Whitby, the Ajax slots facility would close.

Now, given that the Ajax facility is built and very successful, the odds are when the Province makes its decision the status quo is going to prevail.  It's not a sure thing, but pretty darn close to one.

In that context, Pickering should give every appearance that it wants the casino, enabling it to more successfully press for a percentage of Ajax's slots revenue.  If Ajax agreed, in return Pickering would tell the Province it doesn't want a casino, eliminating that component from the Durham Live development.

Ajax once offered Whitby 15 per cent of its revenue, which is roughly $6.9 million per year, if it declared itself an unwilling host.  Whitby turned it down and the offer was never extended to Pickering.

But with a casino proposal on the table, Pickering is in a much better position to press for a share of the Ajax slots money.

And it would be foolish not to do so, given that this could mean money every year for Pickering and of course its ratepayers.  This money could go toward capital projects, reducing the amount of money the City needs to borrow.

Given that Pickering is at least lukewarm on a casino anyway, it could have its cake and eat it too: don't host a casino but receive revenue from one in a neighbouring community.  Pretty sweet.

Ajax Mayor Steve Parish believes Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan is “working behind the scenes” to get a casino.

Let him think it.  It only puts Pickering in a stronger position when it approaches Ajax for revenue.

Acknowledgement of Correspondence to the Prime Minister's Office
Relating to the Pickering Airport Project
February 27, 2014
Acknowledgement letter
 
Pickering mulls over casino proposal
February 27, 2014
(citynews.ca)
Developer wants to build casino
A developer wants to build a casino and entertainment complex on vacant land in Pickering, seen on Feb. 27, 2014.  CITYNEWS

A developer has bought land in Pickering where it hopes to build a casino, after similar proposals in Toronto, Markham and Vaughan failed.

Dubbed Durham Live, the complex would include three hotels, a convention centre, a performing arts centre, an amphitheatre, three office towers, a waterpark - and a casino.

The project would span 55 hectares near Bayly and Church streets.  Another 35 would remain as green space.

“I think Pickering's day in the sunshine has arrived,” said Deputy Mayor Doug Dickerson.

“The great thing about this project is that it's not contingent on a casino.  This project is viable enough to stand its own without a casino.”

Whether or not a casino goes in is up to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., but if approved it would scuttle one at nearby Ajax Downs because the two are in the same district.

“Pickering has indicated their desire to proceed and OLG will be there to provide direction and give support where necessary,” said Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa.

Pickering residents can have their say at a public meeting in early April.  A city staff report will follow in June or July.

Durham Regional council cost $1.5 million last year
Costs include salaries, mileage, conferences
February 27, 2014
(durhamregion.com)
Durham Region HQ
Durham Regional Headquarters
Walter Passarella / Metroland Regional Municipality of Durham June 19,2007

DURHAM -- Regional councillors cost Durham taxpayers about $1.5 million in 2013.

A recent report highlights what Durham's 28 regional council members earned in salary last year, as well as their expenses for conferences and conventions, mileage and money paid for sitting on boards and committees.

Council members each earned a salary of $51,329 in 2013, with the exception of Councillors Lorne Coe, Don Mitchell, Gerri Lynn O'Connor and Nester Pidwerbecki, who took home $57,308 to account for their roles as standing committee chairs.

Regional councillors also earn a salary from their local municipality.

Other costs for members of council included mileage and costs to attend conferences and conventions.

Councillors have a term limit of $10,000 for conferences.

Regional Chairman Roger Anderson was paid a salary of $193,895 in 2013, plus $6,435 in mileage and $41,117 to cover expenses for conferences and meetings.  His grand total comes in at $241,448.

An additional $19,183 was spent for Mr. Anderson and councillors Terry Clayton and Mary Novak to participate in a business mission to China.

Support Pickering's call for smaller regional council
Feburary 27, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

After almost 20 years, it's high time for a further reduction of regional council, one that will also create a body more representative of Durham's municipalities.

Pickering voters can have their say on the matter.  Pickering council Monday night approved a question to be put on the municipal election ballot in October.  It will ask Pickering residents if they support their local council asking for a smaller regional council.  At the same time, the re-jigging would see seats distributed based on each municipality's population.

Asking is the key word here as the decision lies at the regional level, not with Pickering council.  That and the fact that regional councillors in January voted 15 to 9 against a question on the ballot had Councillor Doug Dickerson questioning if it was worth the effort.

“The sad fact is that it probably won't have any effect at the Region,” he said.

Possibly, but we support Councillor Jennifer O'Connell's position, namely that it's important to push the issue.  As she noted, growth coming to Pickering means the city will have a larger population than Oshawa in future years.  However without a council shake-up, the city but will still be represented by four councillors at the Region, compared with eight in Oshawa.

“This is about sending a message to the Region,” she said.  “The current system is broken and unfair.”

And the Region would be foolish not to pay attention to that message, especially if it is supportive by a large majority of Pickering residents.  It's also encouraging that regional council is obviously split on the issue.

As we have noted, council's size is out of step with reality.  When it was created 40 years ago, the concern that the rural, less populated municipalities would be at a disadvantage given there is far more people in the south was a big one.  Thus the north was given two regional councillors each.  They now represent just over 50,000 people.  Again, Uxbridge, Scugog and Brock should have just one regional member and Oshawa should lose at least two or three.  Pickering should keep its four.

And in the process, council's size could easily be reduced by four members.

This would make the system fairer and regional council a bit less costly to taxpayers.

A previous report at regional council noted Durham council's 28 members represent around 608,000 people.  In Peel Region, 24 councillors represent almost 1.3 million and York Region, with a population of just over one million people, has 20 councillors.

Durham Regional council can and should clearly be smaller and more representative.  Furthermore, there should be a mechanism in place to regularly review the size and make-up of council.

Say it with a tick of your ballot this fall.

Ajax, Scarborough hospitals may approve merger next week
Silence from province over funding an ongoing concern
Mike Adler
(durhamregion.com)
Rouge Valley Health Services
Rouge Valley Health Services

February 26, 2014

Directors of The Scarborough Hospital and Rouge Valley Health System appear ready to formally approve the merger of their hospitals at meetings next week.

But as the boards vote, it may not be clear whether the provincial government, which ultimately controls their future, is willing yet to even look at possible replacements for the hospital campuses both organizations say are obsolete and at capacity.

Ordered by their regional health authority to look into a possible merger last March, CEOs and other officials from the hospitals have tried hard to sell the message that combining TSH and RVHS will win them more patients, investments and top-quality staff.

“We will be a powerhouse in terms of health care in this province,” Rouge Valley's CEO told his staff at a meeting this month, adding a merged hospital will be Ontario's seventh-largest, with the largest surgical and emergency programs.

“This will be a very significant, very powerful organization.”

But silence from Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews, who hasn't responded since the hospitals jointly made their pitch a month ago for grants to study renewal or expansion of their facilities in Scarborough and West Durham, may be a sticking point.

The hospitals have warned it will take $1.5 billion over 20 years just to maintain and modernize their campuses - not much less, they say, than the price to build new facilities in Scarborough altogether and expand the RVHS site in Ajax so that it can handle Durham Region's coming growth.

Many benefits of a merger will be lost, they add, if the new hospital is forced to keep old facilities that don't meet contemporary standards, as this “would severely constrain the merged organization's ability to improve quality of care, (or to) realize further operating efficiencies and improve performance.”

Furthermore, any savings realized over the first three years after the merger, $7.6-9.6 million, will be dwarfed than one-time costs estimated at $29.5 million.  Incurring these costs, Ganderton told his staff on Feb. 13, would also negatively affect future funding for the merged hospital.

He called three requests - that the province would cover one-time expenses, grant flexibility in the funding formula for extraordinary costs, and send a clear signal “that they will fund detailed capital planning” - the three “key enablers” of a merger.

On Tuesday, Ganderton, who is staying on as CEO only until a merger can become reality, had to concede he had received no word from the province on any of the three.

But he refused to speculate on whether this could affect the decision of his board on Monday, March 3 at RVHS Centenary, or for that matter, a vote by the TSH board Tuesday, March 4, at the hospital's Birchmount campus.

“I don't know what I'm going to know on Monday,” Ganderton said.

“We've been very consistent in saying planning grants are very important.”

The province, through its Central East Local Health Integration Network, has however covered costs up to $3.8 million for the hospitals' merger study and for due diligence reviews, done by independent advisors working for each hospital, which the two boards reviewed at closed-door meetings in February.

For procedural reasons, the hospitals have already submitted notice to the LHIN of their intent to merge, and their boards both approved a merger in principle last November.

If the votes next week favour the merger, members of each hospital corporation will also have to approve it at meetings in March - Rouge Valley's is on the 17th and some 6,000 individuals are eligible to vote - before their request is brought to the LHIN's board on March 26.

Matthews would then have 30 days to consider the request, and if she approves it nothing, not even an election in which the Liberals lose, could pull the merged hospital apart, except another process taking years and costing millions.  “We do not see that as even a remote likelihood,” said Ganderton

If everything according to plan, he told his staff, the new hospital could be formed on May 1, though its first name will be a temporary one, allowing a formal branding process afterwards.

“We are going to be using the thrilling name of The Scarborough and West Durham Health System,” Ganderton said at the Feb. 13 meeting to laughter.  “We couldn't get any more politically correct than that.”

Ganderton added he doesn't think people will see major changes in hospital programs, except for such “back office” functions as administration, information technology to food services, during the first fiscal year.

The hospitals have said no campus or emergency room will close as a result of a merger, and on Tuesday Ganderton maintained suggestions in their submission for capital planning grants “are purely illustrative and should not be read as any future direction,”

Residents can hear more about the merger and possibly ask hospital officials a question during telephone “town halls” on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 27 at 7:55 p.m. and Wednesday, March 5 at 7:05 p.m. To get a call allowing them to participate, people must first register through the hospital's shared website, www.leadingforpatients.ca.

Ontario offers $190 million for ice storm aid
GTA municipalities are getting as much as $190 million from the minority Liberal government to cover repair and cleanup costs for a Christmas ice storm that felled trees and power lines
Rob Ferguson
February 26, 2014
(thestar.com)
Ice Storm
Toronto had requested $106 million to fix problems from December's ice storm.
Vince Talotta / Toronto Star file photo

Ontario municipalities will get about $190 million from the minority Liberal government to cover repair and cleanup costs for a Christmas ice storm that felled trees and power lines, leaving 800,000 without electricity.

GTA mayors alone had asked for a total of $250 million, with Toronto requesting $106 million along with $65 million to fix problems from flash flooding in a July rainstorm.

Municipal Affairs Minister Linda Jeffrey said Wednesday the $60 million gap between the $250 million sought and the $190 million offered stems from “preliminary” estimates as cities and towns tried to pinpoint costs created by up to 30 mm of ice on hydro wires and trees.

“I think that most municipalities will be pleased with this response,” she told reporters at Queen's Park, ruling out flood money for Toronto from the ice storm fund.

“We've had the last few weeks with our teams going out and working with municipal staff to really hone down that number,” she added.  “This number I think, will get them more than they actually asked for.”

So far, 32 municipalities in the GTA and southern, western and eastern Ontario have passed council resolutions requesting provincial assistance.

With many still clearing debris and assessing damage in parks, for example, Jeffrey said she could not provide an exact amount of disaster relief or a breakdown by municipality.  “It's still too early.”

However, she replied “yes” when asked if the payouts could go over $190 million for eligible expenses, such as setting up warming centres, covering police overtime, and clearing up and disposing of debris.

Ontario has requested reimbursement from the federal government - with a letter sent Wednesday to Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Steven Blaney - for some of the costs, Jeffrey said.

The one-time funding is good but the province clearly needs a better disaster response program, said Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton), who proposed a select committee in the legislature to examine problems in dealing with the December storm, such as the loose distribution of gift cards to replace spoiled groceries.

“Funding is one issue.  Getting it right in the long term is another,” MacLeod added.

New Democrat environment critic Peter Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth) said Toronto is being “shortchanged” in the government's $190 million announcement.

He also called for a better disaster response program after the ice storm, where older and overgrown trees proved trouble for hydro lines.

“The provincial government has been negligent in preparing for extreme weather . . . how to we prepare so we don't have to go through this in the future?”

Falling trees and limbs heavy with ice not only took down power lines, some landed on houses and cars causing further damage and prompting $200 million in private insurance claims.

The disaster relief assistance comes with the province girding for a possible spring election if an upcoming budget from Premier Kathleen Wynne - who made many public appearances on blacked out streets and at warming shelters during the December storm - does not win support from opposition parties.

Mayors were briefed on the funding and the rationale behind it before Jeffrey's announcement.

Toronto city manager Joe Pennachetti said the city's costs were originally estimated at $106 million, but after refining the numbers, the city's formal request was for help with $86.5 million of cleanup expenses.

The province has agreed to fund that amount, without asking Toronto property taxpayers to pay a share, Pennachetti said.

While there was no help announced towards $65 million of July flood costs, the city will keep talking to the province on that issue, Pennachetti said.

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly said he was pleased that the province has come through, and there will be no hit to the Toronto property taxpayer.

Kelly said the province will look to recoup some of the costs from the federal government but isn't looking to the city to pitch in with cash.

“I think it's fair to say that virtually all of Toronto's storm clear-up costs should be eligible, will be eligible, for coverage,” Kelly said.  “I'm delighted to say thank you to the minister, to the premier, to the government.”

“This is not just good news, this is great news,” the deputy mayor added.  “I think this reflects the nature of the relationship between this city and the province which is one of partnership.”

Casino, waterpark, hotels proposed for Pickering
`Durham Live' development would require re-zoning, public meeting in April
Jillian Follert
February 26, 2014
(durhamregion.com)
Durham Live Development
Durham Live Development PICKERING -- The City of Pickering has received a rezoning application for a significant new development proposal on the land located on the northwest corner of Church Street and Bayly Street. Referred to as Durham Live, the proposal is to rezone the subject lands to permit a broad range of attractions, such as a casino, hotel, convention centre, performing arts centre, outdoor amphitheatre and waterpark.  February 26, 2014.

PICKERING -- Pickering could soon be home to a massive new tourist development that includes a casino, hotel, waterpark, performing arts centre and outdoor amphitheatre.

Earlier this month the City of Pickering received an application to rezone three parcels of land located on the north side of Bayly Street, west of Church Street.

A memo to council says the applicant, Pickering Developments, is looking to rezone the vacant lands to accommodate a tourist destination dubbed `Durham Live'.

The proposal could potentially include a casino, five-star hotel, convention centre, performing arts centre, outdoor amphitheatre, movie theatre, restaurant plaza, waterpark, boutique hotel, botanical gardens, fitness centre, spa, community recreation centre and commercial offices.

“It will be one of the must go and see destinations in Ontario for young and old alike,” reads a planning rationale report for the project.  The current zonings on the property allow storage and manufacturing uses, and don't permit some of the proposed tourism projects, such as a casino or hotel.   Since there is no zoning category that allows for all the proposed uses, the aim is to create a site-specific zoning category called `Major Tourist Destination'.

“This is a very exciting proposal, it bodes well for the city that this sort of investment is looking to locate here,” said Councillor David Pickles.  “We could be looking at hundreds of millions in investment, tens of thousands in tax dollars...and thousands of jobs.  This could end up being the major entertainment centre for Durham.”

The lands total about 90 hectares.  City staff said the applicant is proposing to develop 55 hectares and leave the remaining 35 hectares as “natural heritage systems.”

Thomas Melymuk, Pickering's director of city development, said in an e-mail signs will be posted on the property once the application has been circulated to abutting agencies and land owners.

He said a public information meeting is tentatively planned for April 7, and a City staff recommendation report will follow in June or July.

“This is just the beginning of the process,” said Councillor Kevin Ashe.

He said there are many questions to be answered, including how the proposed development might impact traffic and nearby wetlands, and whether Pickering can support more restaurants and retail.

“There are impressive job opportunities and impressive tourism opportunities,” Coun. Ashe noted.

Celebrating Black History Month
(historical facts from www.gov.on.ca)
Black History Month
Celebrating Black History Month

Fact Sheet AFRICAN CANADIANS - Historical facts and significant dates
1603 The first known black man to arrive in Canada was Mathieu DaCosta.  He acted as a translator between the Micmac and the French with Champlain.  Clearly, DaCosta had been in Canada some time previous to Champlain's voyage of discovery, since Micmac is not European nor an African language.
1628 The first known slave, Olivier LeJeune, is recorded.  As a child of 6, he had been captured in Africa and was later given the surname of one of his owners - a priest.
1775 The British forces during the American Revolution are led by Lord Dunsmore.  In an effort to weaken the “rebel” side, Dunsmore invites all rebel-owned African male slaves to join the British side.
1779 With the hopes of winning the American Revolution, the British under Sir Henry Clinton invite all black men, women and children to join the British side and were promised their freedom for doing so.  Ten per cent of the Loyalists coming into the Maritimes are black.
1793 The Upper Canada Abolition Act, supported by Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe, freed any slave who came into the (now) province of Ontario, and stipulated that any child born of a slave mother should be free at the age of 25.
1800 to
1865
Approximately 20,000 blacks found their way into Canada via the Underground Railroad.   Harriet Tubman, one of the most famous “conductors” on the Underground Railroad, spirited several hundred fugitive slaves into Canada, despite a $40,000 reward for her capture, dead or alive.
1812 The Cochrane Proclamation invites refugees of the War of 1812 to become British citizens through residence in British territory, including Canada.  The settlement of Oro is established by the government for black veterans of the War of 1812.  A Coloured Corps is formed after petitioning by black veteran Richard Pierpoint.
1833 The British Imperial Act abolishes slavery in the British Empire (which included Canada) effective August 1, 1834.
1850 The second Fugitive Slave Act is passed in the United States, placing all people of African descent at risk.  The “Underground Railroad” steps up its operations - freeing enslaved blacks by transporting them into Canada.  The Common Schools Act is passed in Ontario, permitting the development of segregated schools.  The last segregated school in Ontario closed in the 1950s.
1853 Mary Ann Shadd left teaching in the U.S.  to join with Isaac Ward and her brother Isaac in publishing and editing the Provincial Freeman, one of the two black newspapers published in Ontario from 1853-1857.  Mary Ann Shadd is acknowledged as the first black newspaperwoman and the first woman publisher of a newspaper in Canada.
1857 William Hall of Nova Scotia became the first Canadian Sailor and the first person of African descent to receive the Victoria Cross for bravery and distinguished service.
1861 Dr. Anderson Ruffin Abbott became Canada's first doctor of African descent.
1885 Delos Roget Davis of Amherstburg, Ontario became one of Ontario's first black lawyers.  He was appointed King's Council in 1910.
1894 William Peyton Hubbard became the first black council member elected to Toronto City Council, and was re-elected council member for 13 successive elections.  He served on the Board of Control, and as acting Mayor on a number of occasions
1905 The beginning of the “Black Trek,” the migration of dissatisfied African-Americans from Oklahoma to the Canadian prairies.  That year, a group led by W.E.B.  DuBois and Monroe Trotter met secretly in Niagara, Ontario, to organize resistance to U.S.  racism.
1914 During the First World War, black Canadians joined combat units, despite opposition, and in 1916, a segregated unit, the Nova Scotia Number 2 Construction Battalion, was formed.
1939 In the Second World War, authorities again try to keep blacks out of the armed forces, but blacks insist on serving their country.  Eventually, they join all services.
1948 Ruth Bailey and Gwennyth Barton became the first blacks to graduate from a Canadian School of Nursing.
1950's New laws make it illegal to refuse to let people work, to receive service in stores or restaurants or to move into a home because of race.
1951 The Reverend Addie Aylestock became the first black woman to be ordained a minister in Canada.  The following year, Wilson Brooks, an RCAF Veteran, became Toronto's first black public school teacher, and in 1959, Stanley Grizzle was the first black person to run for a seat in the Ontario Legislature.  In 1963, Leonard Braithwaite, elected to the Ontario legislature, was the first black to serve in a provincial legislature in Canada.
1962 Daniel G.  Hill, an American-born black activist and writer who moved to Canada in 1950, was made the first director of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the first government agency in Canada set up to protect citizens from discrimination.  Hill later became chair of the Commission.
1968 Canada saw the election of its first black Member of Parliament - The Honourable Lincoln Alexander, of Hamilton.  In 1979, he became Canada's first black cabinet minister, as Minister of Labour in the federal government.  In 1985, he became Ontario's first black Lieutenant Governor, and the first black to be appointed to a vice-regal position in Canada.
1969 The first Black History Week was celebrated.  Maurice Alexander Charles became the first black provincial judge of Ontario.
1978 The Ontario Black History Society is founded by Dr. Daniel Hill, Wilson Brooks and Lorraine Hubbard.  The Society is dedicated to the acknowledgement and preservation of the contributions to Canada's development by Canadian blacks.
1991 Julius Alexander Isaac, a native of Grenada, was named Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Canada.  He becomes the first black Chief Justice in Canada and the first to serve on the Federal Court.
1993 Jean Augustine was sworn in as Canada's first black female Member of Parliament.
Pitch could bring cricket stadium to Pickering
Toronto entrepreneur eyes land near Brock Road and 407
Jillian Follert
February 20, 2014
(durhamregion.com)
Roy Singh
Roy Singh
Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland
PICKERING -- Roy Singh, a Toronto entrepreneur, is proposing to build a 35,000-capacity cricket stadium in north Pickering on land on Brock Road just north of Hwy. 7.  February 13, 2014.

PICKERING -- A Toronto entrepreneur wants to bring world-class cricket to Canada and says Pickering is the place to host it.

Roy Singh is proposing to build a cricket stadium at the northeast corner of Brock Road and Hwy.  407 in north Pickering, close to the proposed airport site.

He is in talks with City of Pickering development staff to narrow down parcels of land for purchase or lease.

City staff wouldn't clarify which lands are being considered or who owns them.

When contacted for information, Fiaz Jadoon, an economic development co-ordinator with the City, confirmed in an e-mail that “City of Pickering staff are investigating and researching various options for Mr. Singh's proposal,” however he said “we do not have any further information.”

Mr. Singh is the CEO and founder of the Canadian Premier League T20, an in-the-works professional cricket league that aims to mix Canadian athletes with international players.

He has lobbied several GTA municipalities in an attempt to secure space to build a venue for his league, with no luck.

At one point there was even a request to turn the Rogers Centre field into a cricket pitch for several weeks a year.

Mr. Singh, who is also the CEO of CINRO, a Toronto-based gold exploration company, says Pickering is “on the ball” and now appears to be his best bet.

“We want this to be the hub for cricket in Canada,” he says of the proposed stadium.

The proposal is for a 35,000-seat dome stadium that would be used for a CPL T20 cricket tournament over seven or eight weeks every August and September.

The tournament would be timed to coincide with other large GTA events such as the Canadian National Exhibition.  The rest of the year, the venue would be available for other events.

“Ontario is such a multicultural province, there is definitely a market for this,” Mr. Singh says, noting a feasibility study is underway.

He says Twenty 20 or “T20” cricket is a “much more exciting and sexy” version of the game, clocking in at about two-and-a-half hours per game, making it more fan-friendly.

Traditional cricket matches can go on for an entire day, or even several days.

Mr. Singh says the CPL T20 will be modeled after the Indian Premier League, and believes it could generate $500 million to $1 billion over the next decade.

Durham starting Greenbelt review
Consultations will run through March
January 19, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

DURHAM -- Over the next month, Durham Region will be seeking input about the Greenbelt Plan.

The plan is up for a mandatory 10-year review in 2015 and the Region wants to know what residents think.  The Region has retained the consulting firm of Urban Strategies Inc.  to conduct a series of open houses, along with an online survey, interviews with municipal politicians and staff, and focus groups organized around key issues.

The consultations are expected to wrap up by the end of March.  Dates and locations for public meetings are yet to be determined.

The Greenbelt Plan and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan were put in place by the Province in 2005 to preserve farmland in the Golden Horseshoe.  In Durham, it covers more than 80 per cent of the overall geographical area, and extends into each of the Region's eight municipalities.

The Region is also setting up the Greenbelt Review Working Group, with representatives from relevant agencies and other stakeholder organizations with an interest in the Greenbelt, to help the consultant to understand the perspectives and interests of local stakeholder groups.  Membership in the group will include representatives from the eight area municipalities, the five conservation authorities in Durham, Regional citizen advisory committees, the agricultural and environmental sectors, and the development industry.

Durham's consultations will be used to develop a discussion paper that will be the foundation of the Region's submission to the Province.

For more information, visit www.durham.ca/greenbeltreview.

Pickering residents voice concerns about tax hike
Council will vote on 2014 budget Feb. 24
Jillian Follert
February 16, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- Efforts to get more Pickering taxpayers involved in the budget process got off to a slow start Thursday morning, with just a handful of residents turning out for the City's big budget meeting.

Pickering council's executive committee spent Feb. 13 hammering out the 2014 budget, eventually approving a property tax increase of 3.75 per cent.

Council still needs to pass the budget at its Feb. 24 meeting.

Resident Andy McKinnon voiced concerns about the public engagement process, saying a 9 a.m. weekday meeting isn't the best way to get feedback from taxpayers.

“I'd like you to really try to engage the community, not just say you're trying to engage the community,” he said, noting that the budget documents were released Feb. 7, which gave the public little time to digest 400-plus pages of dense financial information.

“You guys work on this for months, and we at best get seven days.”

This year Pickering launched its new “Budgeting Your City” campaign aimed at getting more public feedback on the budget.

It includes a section on the City's website with clearly spelled out budget information, as well as online forms to submit feedback.

Other residents at the Feb. 13 meeting raised concerns about the proposed 3.75-per cent tax increase, which translates to an extra $47.40 per year for the average home valued at $358,400.

“I'm here to speak on behalf of the not-so-average people,” said David Sim, who worries he may not be able to afford his house if Pickering's increases continue at this pace.  “I want you to understand the impact of your decisions on people like me.”

He said his property taxes have risen faster than his salary and urged council members to be “more prudent” with spending.

Also concerned was Peter Fenske, a local senior who says his pension payments only go up by 0.9 per cent a year.

“I can't afford that kind of increase,” he said.  “We voted you people in to set an example, we put you here as leaders.  As far as I'm concerned we should all cut back.”

Mayor Dave Ryan said even if there were no service increases and no new buildings, taxes would still go up due to the “economic reality” of inflation.

“I believe that we have a well-run municipality,” he said.  “At the same time, we recognize that there has to be a balance and it's a difficult balance to maintain.  We don't take this responsibility lightly.”

The biggest project on tap for 2014 is a new operations centre on Clements Road.  It will replace the existing centre on Tillings Road, which was built in 1975 and is being squeezed by space limitations and encroaching residential development.

With a price tag of $27 million, the new operations centre is the largest project the City has ever undertaken.

Several sources of funding will cover the cost, including $11 million in debt to be paid back over 20 years.

Councillors questioned whether it was an option to delay building the operations centre.

City staff said putting it off for a year would tack an extra $1.3 million on the price tag, due to higher interest rates and construction costs.

Other noteworthy projects included in this year's budget are a $7.1-million indoor soccer dome and $1.3 million in improvements at Beverley Morgan Park.

Pickering's debt currently sits at $21.7 million.  It costs $4.8 million a year to service the principal and interest.

“We're well within our borrowing guidelines, we're actually well below the guidelines set by the Province,” said City CAO Tony Prevedel.

The Province limits the amount of debt a municipality can issue to 25 per cent of its revenues.  Pickering council has adopted a cap of 15 per cent of total tax revenue.

Members of the public can also speak on the budget at the Feb. 24 council meeting.

Visit www.pickering.ca/budget for more information.

Pickering councillor concerned by airport wording in federal budget
Document suggests airport consultation will focus on business community
Jillian Follert
February 13, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- This week's federal budget includes only a small reference to the Pickering airport issue -- but a local councillor says the wording speaks volumes.

The document notes more than 600 public submissions have been received and says the government plans to hold a series of stakeholder roundtables in the coming months “to ensure development benefits local businesses.”

Ward 3 City Councillor David Pickles says that suggests only business stakeholders will be included.

“That's a good step, but it doesn't seem to include the broad consultation we're looking for,” he said.  “They shouldn't just be talking to people who support an airport about the benefits of an airport, they should be talking to everyone.”

Last June Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced that the government will earmark about 8,700 acres of federally owned land in north Pickering for an airport, while 5,000 acres will be set aside for the creation of the Rouge National Urban Park.

Another 4,900 acres will be used for “regional economic development.”

On Jan. 27 Pickering council unanimously supported a motion from Coun. Pickles that calls for an “open and transparent” process around the proposed airport.

Coun. Pickles said its unlikely the feds had a chance to review the motion from Pickering before the federal budget came down, and is hopeful that the consultation process will be broadened.

Letter of Thanks to Pickering Council
From Land Over Landings
Febrary 10, 2014

February 10, 2014

Dear Mayor Ryan and Members of Council,

On behalf of Land Over Landings, I want to thank you for your unanimous support of Councillor Pickles' motion on Monday, January 27, 2013, concerning the Federal Lands.

While it's a given that our group strongly believes there to be no case for a Pickering airport, we are unanimous in our appreciation of your support for a motion demanding an open, transparent, and cooperative process from Transport Canada and assurances of continued protection of the Provincial Greenbelt, the Oak Ridges Moraine, and the Federal Green Space Preserve on the Lands.

We were gratified by the comments of all Councillors, and were pleased and reassured that the majority spoke strongly in opposition to the proposed Pickering airport.

We trust that this motion will encourage a discussion in other municipalities and at other levels of government.  We also hope for a speedy and positive response from Transport Canada, including detailed information that will allow the Province, the Region, the City of Pickering, and citizens to make informed decisions on the future of the Lands.  Only then can everyone work with the Government of Canada towards the best solution to this 42-year-old issue.  The solution must never destroy our Region's most precious asset - our irreplaceable and vital farmland.  It must capitalize on it, use it to its full potential, in a way that will benefit the greatest number, not just now but for generations to come.

Sincerely,
Mary Delaney Chair, Land Over Landings

Pickering proposes 3.75-per cent tax hike
Politicians begin hammering out budget Feb. 13
Jillian Follert
February 10, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- It's budget time in Pickering.

Council's executive committee will dig into the draft 2014 budget at an all-day meeting on Thursday, Feb. 13.

This year's proposed tax increase is 3.75 per cent, which works out to $47.40 more per year for the average home valued at $358,000.

“We're maintaining the level of service and adding quite a few capital projects that we feel many residents will benefit from,” says Stan Karwowski, the City's division head of finance and treasurer.

The biggest project on tap for 2014 is a new operations centre on Clements Road.  It will replace the existing centre on Tillings Road, which was built in 1975 and is being squeezed by space limitations and encroaching residential development.

With a price tag of $27 million, Mr. Karwowski says it's the largest project the City has ever undertaken.

Several sources of funding are being proposed to cover the cost, including $11 million in debt to be paid back over 20 years.

Other noteworthy projects included in this year's budget are a $7.1 million indoor soccer dome being built in partnership with the Pickering Soccer Club, $1.3 million in improvements at Beverley Morgan Park and $242,000 in additional funding for emergency management in light of the recent ice storm.

This year Pickering launched its first “Budgeting Your City” campaign, aimed at getting residents more involved in the budget process.

The initiative includes a section on the City's website with easy to understand budget information, as well as online forms to submit feedback and register as a delegation for the Feb. 13 budget meeting.

“People look at City Hall as this big machine, we want people to understand what we're doing and feel like they're part of it,” says Mark Guinto, the City's public affairs coordinator.

He says response to the new campaign has been generally positive, with about 300 hits on the web page and three residents signing up as delegations so far.

“It's a gradual process, not everyone is going to jump on board right away,” Mr. Guinto notes.

Visit www.pickering.ca/budget for more information.

Merging of Ajax, Scarborough hospitals proceeding
Organizations file notification to merge
January 31, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

DURHAM -- The merger of the Rouge Valley Health System and The Scarborough Hospital is proceeding.

The two hospital systems have filed a formal notification of intent to merge, with the Central East Local Health Integration Network.

Filing the notification is the next step in the process of merging the two organizations.

“The proposed merger presents a significant opportunity to provide our west Durham and Scarborough communities with greater access to services and improved quality.  We believe that it also provides us with the ability to attract more physicians and to make better use of limited health care dollars,” said Joan Wideman, chairwoman of the board of directors for Rouge Valley.

The two hospitals are looking at merging some front-line services, administration and leadership and governance.

Rouge Valley provides hospital care for Ajax, Pickering and Whitby.

In early January, the two organizations formed a joint transition committee that will continuing examining the proposed merger.  After 60 to 90 days, the two organizations will reconvene to make a final decision on merging.

Notification will be submitted for consideration to the Central East LHIN, which initially directed the two hospital systems to examine a merger.

The final decision on a merger will be made by the minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

Bring on Pickering airport, but keep residents in loop
January 30, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

We have consistently supported an airport in north Pickering, but the size and impact of such a project on the community requires that the federal government reveals its plans in detail.

Pickering councillors on Monday night unanimously called for “an open and transparent process.”

A number of residents, many from the Land Over Landings group opposed to an airport in Pickering, spoke against an airport here, citing the valuable farmland, the lack of a business case and the absence of need for the facility.

There's no doubt that an airport would be a huge economic benefit to Pickering and Durham Region, creating countless jobs and spin-off jobs and fostering economic growth, and for that reason we have no hesitations in supporting its creation.

Before a plane even takes off from Pickering, building the airport will mean hundreds if not thousands of jobs over a decade or so.

Once it's up and running, it will employ thousands or more people directly and many more indirectly.  According to torontopearson.com.  Toronto's Pearson International Airport directly generates more than 40,000 jobs and indirectly more than 185,000 jobs.

Now, of course the Pickering airport isn't envisioned as another Pearson; it will be smaller.  But like Pearson it will be a job creator.

And it's not just an airport.  Land will be set aside for “appropriate” economic development, and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty noted last year that aeronautics facilities would be key candidates.

Most notably, the airport would attract business, including hotels and restaurants, that again would create employment here.  And with thousands of new people coming to Pickering's Seaton in the coming years, those jobs, jobs close to home, would be ideal.  Those businesses will of course pay property taxes to the City of Pickering.

Mr. Flaherty at that spring press conference last year announced that more than 25 per cent of the property would be added to the Rouge Park.  Another 5,000 acres will be reserved for the aforementioned economic development.  However as we said around four months ago, one thing was overlooked in last year's announcement about the lands: this is indeed some of the best farmland in Canada and a chunk, even a small chunk of it should be preserved as such.  It would be a perfect place for local farmers to work with students at Durham College's Centre for Food.

We welcome an airport, but maintain Pickering residents deserve an open process that doesn't leave them asking a lot of questions, as they have been doing for 40-plus years.

Airport work should be `open, transparent', Pickering says
Let us be part of the process, Pickering tells Ottawa
Keith Gilligan
January 28, 2014
(durhamregion.com)
Gord McGregor
PICKERING -- Gord McGregor, an executive member of Land Over Landings, was among a group attending the council meeting at Pickering ciy hall.  There was a motion on the floor form Councillor David Pickles that called on the federal government to be more transparent about the airport process.  January 27, 2014.

PICKERING -- The federal government needs to open up about plans for a possible airport in Pickering, the City says.

On Monday, Pickering councillors were unanimous in calling for “an open and transparent process” surrounding the planning for the airport.

Ward 3 City Councillor David Pickles presented the motion, saying, “It's about giving a voice to the people to participate in the process.”

The motion was spurred, in part, by the announcement last June by Jim Flaherty, the federal finance minister, that the government would designate about 8,700 acres for an airport, while 5,000 acres would be set aside for the creation of the Rouge National Urban Park.  Another 4,900 acres will be used for job development.

Coun. Pickles noted there was “not a lot of detail” provided at the June announcement, nor at open houses held afterward.

“There was very little, if any, information being provided.  People are frustrated,” he said.  “The principle of the motion is to give a voice to all those here tonight.”

He's been on council for 16 years and “I still haven't seen a public, transparent business case.”

About 100 people turned out for the council meeting, including Mary Delaney, chairwoman of the anti-airport group Land Over Landings.

“We're really hoping to get the attention of Transport Canada.  We want to show them there's a huge groundswell against an airport and support for the protection of the lands,” she said prior to the meeting.

The group is hoping Transport Canada “needs to work with all the stakeholders and not work quietly behind closed doors,” she added.

David Masters of Land Over Landings noted, “There is no business case for an airport and there won't be one for a long time.”

A needs assessment study was started in 2007, but the findings haven't been released, he added.# “One would have thought the study would be done, but there's no study,” Mr. Masters said.

“Many people think a Pickering airport would be an economic boon for Pickering.  I would argue that,” Mr. Masters said.  “We need a clear, independent transparent study.”

During the meeting, Ms. Delaney said, “We're not against airports, but we are against airports that aren't needed.”

The land where the airport is proposed is Class 1 soil, which is the highest rating.

Regional Chairman Roger Anderson recently said agriculture is the foundation of Durham and is still the No.  1 employer in Durham, she noted.

“We should do everything in our power to protect this non-renewable resource,” Ms. Delaney stated.

She noted Pearson International Airport is operating at just over half of its capacity, while the Hamilton international airport is only operating at three per cent of its capacity.

“An unneeded airport won't help our area, but harm it,” she said.

She referred to a “ghost airport” in Spain that was built for $1.4 billion, but has sat empty since the economic meltdown.

“Is that what we want here?” she asked.

When he made his June announcement, Mr. Flaherty “ruled out agriculture, so we know what he wants isn't in our best interest.  Farmland isn't just empty land waiting to be developed.  It feeds us,” Ms. Delaney said.

The area has the potential to be developed into an agricultural hub, providing sustainable jobs, Ms. Delaney noted.

“We must protect farmland as if our lives depend on it, which they do,” she said.  “Ottawa's plans are shortsighted, wasteful and unneeded.”

Ward 1 City Councillor Kevin Ashe asked if Ms. Delaney had spoken with Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau about “the error of his father's ways.”

Ward 2 City Councillor Doug Dickerson noted when he was on council in 1978, “the points we're asking for are the same thing we were asking for 36 years ago.”

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority, which operates Pearson and would operate a Pickering airport, “I suspect has a business case.  They've had it for a number of years.  I suspect it doesn't say what they want,” Coun. Dickerson said.

Ward 2 Regional Councillor Bill McLean said the airport issue has been “going on since 1972 and Pickering residents haven't had the best dialogue” with the federal government.

City hall rally held to protest Pickering Lands airport
Erin Criger
January 28, 2014
(citynews.ca)
Pickering Lands protest sign
A sign at Pickering Lands protests the planned airport on June 11, 2013.  CITYNEWS.

Dozens of concerned residents rallied at Pickering's city hall on Monday night to protest an airport planned for the Pickering Lands.

Protesters want more details from Ottawa.

“We want some meat now, we want something we can study,” Pat Valentine, who opposes the airport, told CityNews.

“We want something we can pick apart and argue against.  At the moment, there's nothing.”

When Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced last June that the federal government would build on the federally-owned land that encompasses Pickering, Markham and Uxbridge, members of Land Over Landings vowed to continue their 40-year fight against the project.

The group argues the land - 7,440 hectares of Class-1 agricultural land located 56 kilometres northeast of Toronto - is valuable farmland.

“We can't manufacture Class-1 land,” Valentine said.

“Once it's gone, it's gone.”

The renewed talk of a Pickering airport has heated up since nearby Buttonville Airport in Markham is to close within the next two years.  A federal survey suggests the GTA will need another airport in about 13 years.

Pickering airport rally planned for tonight, Monday, Jan. 27
Land Over Landings, councillors call for more transparency from federal government
Jillian Follert
January 27, 2014
(durhamregion.com)
Mary Delaney
Mary Delaney
Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland
PICKERING -- Mary Delaney, Land Over Landings chairwoman.  January 20, 2014

PICKERING -- Opponents of a Pickering airport are demanding transparency from the federal government.  

Land Over Landings is planning a rally for Jan. 27 at Pickering City Hall to coincide with that evening's council meeting.

Councillor David Pickles plans to move a lengthy motion that calls on the federal government to establish a more “open and transparent” process around the planned airport and the federally owned lands in Pickering.

“Whether people support an airport or not, these are all lands we own through the federal government,” said Coun. Pickles, noting he has been “consistently” opposed to an airport in Pickering.

“We need a business case, an environmental assessment and an open and transparent process for the residents to have their say.”

Land Over Landings chairwoman Mary Delaney says the rally is a chance to keep the issue at the forefront.

“We want to send a strong and clear message to the federal government that we have not gone to sleep on this issue, we are fighting it with everything we've got,” she said.

The motion asks the feds to provide a summary of comments received through public feedback following the June 11 airport announcement, and prepare a business case for the federal lands and airport.

It also requests Transport Canada re-establish a Pickering advisory committee to act as a liaison between the federal government, City and community on issues related to an airport, and that a federal Environmental Assessment be required for the construction of an airport.

Land Over Landings plans to support the motion if an amendment is made to include the importance of agriculture.

Ms. Delaney said opposition to a Pickering airport is “growing and spreading,” and stressed it is not a done deal, despite what Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced back in June.

“We are still very active on this campaign ...  it is no more a done deal in 2014 than it was a done deal in 1972,” she said, referencing the more than 40-year fight to prevent an airport and protect agricultural lands.

Asked whether details of the public comments will be released, Transport Canada spokeswoman Karine Martel responded with an e-mail statement.

“Departmental officials are currently reviewing comments that were received as part of the Pickering Lands engagement process,” she wrote.  “These comments will be taken into consideration as further plans and actions are undertaken for the responsible use and management of the Pickering Lands.”

In response to questions about a business case and environmental assessment, Ms. Martel referred the News Advertiser to a government website, saying any updates will be available there.

The rally starts at 6:45 p.m. on Jan. 27 in the parking lot on Esplanade Road South.  For more information, contact Land Over Landings at 905-649-2433.

It's Never OK forum on Violence Against Women
January 26, 2014
NeverOK
I was pleased to attend with Keith Falconer the It's Never OK forum on Violence Against Women sponsored by the Canadian Afgan Council.  Great speakers on a important matter. 
Revised Motion by Councillor David Pickles for consideration by Council on January 27th

January 27, 2014

Notice of Motion

Moved by Councillor David Pickles

Seconded by Councillor Doug Dickerson

WHEREAS Pickering Council has passed previous motions regarding the federal lands including Resolution 212/98.

WHEREAS the federal lands consists of approximately 18,600 acres in total, with the majority in the City of Pickering.

WHEREAS the June 11, 2013 announcement by the Federal Government identified, that it will designate approximately 8,700 acres for an airport and transfer approximately 5,000 acres to Parks Canada for the creation of the Rouge National Urban Park.

WHEREAS there are 4,900 acres of “remaining lands” (i.e. the lands that are not included in the new airport site, and not part of the transfer to the Rouge).  The announcement in June, 2013 referenced that these lands could be used for “job- creating development”.  The majority of these remaining lands are designated by the Province of Ontario as Greenbelt and/or Oak Ridges Moraine, border the Rouge Park, and are largely comprised of prime agricultural lands.

WHEREAS the Federal Government has identified that new Airport Zoning Regulations (AZRs) will need to be established to reflect this new, smaller airport site and land transfer to the park (AZRs are currently in place based on the entire federal ownership being considered an “airport site”).

WHEREAS after the June 11, 2013 announcement, Transport Canada held two public engagement opportunities.  People were invited to provide comments through the Transport Canada website.  Transport Canada has not yet provided to the City of Pickering or residents a summary of the comments or responses to the open houses.

WHEREAS Pickering Council supports an open and transparent process with an opportunity to analyze and share relevant information as well as appropriate opportunities for public review and input to decision making.

WHEREAS in the early 2000s, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) established a Pickering Advisory Committee to provide advice on the completion of a draft plan and to obtain input on the Airport Zoning Regulations ( AZRs) that were being established at that time.  The GTAA Committee had representatives from the affected local and regional municipalities (elected officials and staff) as well as representatives from the surrounding affected communities.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Federal Government establish an open and transparent process with opportunities to share, analyze and comment on relevant documents and decision-making on the use of the federal lands including the announced airport in the City of Pickering.

THAT the Federal Government provide a summary of the comments and responses received through the open houses that followed the June 11, 2013 announcement.

THAT on lands falling outside the announced airport site, the Federal Government respect the Federal Green Space Lands Master Plan, and the provincial Greenbelt Plan and Oak Ridges Moraine policies.

THAT the Federal Government clarify whether the entire airport site is needed for airport purposes, or whether other uses might also be introduced and if so what they would be.

THAT the Federal Government prepare/update and make public for review and comment, a business case for use of the federal lands, including the announcement of an airport.

THAT the Federal Government require a comprehensive Federal Environmental Assessment, with appropriate opportunities for review and input by the City of Pickering and the public, for the announced airport.  That the Federal Government is to reimburse the City for reasonable expenses to participate in the Environmental Assessment Process.

THAT that the Federal Government continue to involve the City of Pickering on the AZR process.

THAT Transport Canada re-establish a Pickering Advisory Committee to act as a liaison between the Federal Government, the City of Pickering and the community on matters pertaining to the federal lands and announced airport.  The Committee members to include Federal Government representatives, City of Pickering staff representatives, the Mayor or designate, a Ward 3 Councillor, 3 community representatives as selected, following a public invitation.

THAT this motion be copied to the following people:

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport
The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario
The Honourable Glen R. Murray, MPP (Toronto Centre), Minister of Transportation
The Honourable Linda Jeffrey, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
The Honourable Chris Alexander, MP, Ajax-Pickering
Corneliu Chisu, MP, Pickering-Scarborough East
Joe Dickson, MPP, Ajax-Pickering
The Honourable Tracy MacCharles, MPP, Pickering-Scarborough East
Roger Anderson, Regional Chair and CEO, Region of Durham
Mayor Frank Scarpitti, Town of Markham
Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor, Town of Uxbridge
Mayor Steve Parish, Town of Ajax

Pickering airport rally planned for Monday, Jan. 27
Land Over Landings, councillors call for more transparency from federal government
By Jillian Follert
January 22, 2014
(durhamregion.com)
People or Planes?
Pickering Airport
Rick Madonik / TorStar
PICKERING -- A woman from Land over Landings wore one of the old protest buttons from the original organization which protested the Pickering airport.  The group was not allowed near the official announcement site where the federal government announced it's still committed to the Pickering airport.  The group was kept behind a small barrier.  June 11, 2013.

PICKERING -- Opponents of a Pickering airport are demanding transparency from the federal government.

Land Over Landings is planning a rally for Jan. 27 at Pickering City Hall to coincide with that evening's council meeting.

Councillor David Pickles plans to move a lengthy motion that calls on the federal government to establish a more “open and transparent” process around the planned airport and the federally owned lands in Pickering.

“Whether people support an airport or not, these are all lands we own through the federal government,” said Coun. Pickles, noting he has been “consistently” opposed to an airport in Pickering.

“We need a business case, an environmental assessment and an open and transparent process for the residents to have their say.”

Land Over Landings chairwoman Mary Delaney says the rally is a chance to keep the issue at the forefront.

“We want to send a strong and clear message to the federal government that we have not gone to sleep on this issue, we are fighting it with everything we've got,” she said.

The motion asks the feds to provide a summary of comments received through public feedback following the June 11 airport announcement, and prepare a business case for the federal lands and airport.

It also requests Transport Canada re-establish a Pickering advisory committee to act as a liaison between the federal government, City and community on issues related to an airport, and that a federal Environmental Assessment be required for the construction of an airport.

Land Over Landings plans to support the motion if an amendment is made to include the importance of agriculture.

Ms. Delaney said opposition to a Pickering airport is “growing and spreading,” and stressed it is not a done deal, despite what Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced back in June.

“We are still very active on this campaign ...  it is no more a done deal in 2014 than it was a done deal in 1972,” she said, referencing the more than 40-year fight to prevent an airport and protect agricultural lands.

Asked whether details of the public comments will be released, Transport Canada spokeswoman Karine Martel responded with an e-mail statement.

“Departmental officials are currently reviewing comments that were received as part of the Pickering Lands engagement process,” she wrote.  “These comments will be taken into consideration as further plans and actions are undertaken for the responsible use and management of the Pickering Lands.”

In response to questions about a business case and environmental assessment, Ms. Martel referred the News Advertiser to a government website, saying any updates will be available there.

The rally starts at 6:45 p.m. on Jan. 27 in the parking lot on Esplanade Road South.  For more information, contact Land Over Landings at 905-649-2433.

Whitevale residents raise concerns following early bridge closure
Bridge connects east and west sides of village
By Jillian Follert
January 21, 2014
(durhamregion.com)
Whitevale Bridge Closed
Whitevale bridge
Submitted photo
PICKERING -- On January 16 ,the City of Pickering announced the Whitevale Bridge would be closed to vehicle traffic five months ahead of schedule, due to safety concerns.  Some residents of the village have raised concerns abbot the detour routes and impact to local businesses.  January 20, 2014.

PICKERING -- Residents of Whitevale are looking for better detour routes and support for local businesses in the wake of a City decision to close the village bridge ahead of schedule.

The City of Pickering announced Jan. 16 that the Whitevale bridge would be closed to vehicular traffic five months ahead of planned construction, due to safety concerns.

Recent “extreme weather” has caused an abutment to shift outward.

The bridge is the main connection between the east and west sides of the village.

While residents don't dispute the decision, they are asking for better accommodation from the City.

“We need to work with the City on a better plan,” says Lloyd Thomas, president of the Whitevale and District Residents' Association.

For example, he says the current detour plan ignores shorter alternatives such as the North Road or Sideline 26.

“It is hoped that we can work with the City to devise a logical, well-signed, much shorter detour plan,” Mr. Thomas noted.

Business owners in the village have also raised concerns.

“This closure ... will be extremely detrimental to the fledgling businesses at the old mill,” says Nicole Brewster, who owns a quilt store right beside the bridge.

“It has been made worse by the incomprehensible detour plan, inadequate detour signage and the lack of `businesses still open' signs.”

Darrell Selsky, Pickering's manager of capital projects and infrastructure, said the City wants to mitigate impact on residents, noting staff worked to put detour routes and signage in place quickly and address mail issues.

One immediate concern was how 23 households on the west side of the bridge would get their mail.

Ms. Selsky said City staff met with Canada Post last week and arranged for temporary mailboxes to be put on the west side of the bridge by the community centre.

The mailboxes will be set up in about a week.

The replacement of the bridge is included as a capital project in Pickering's 2014 budget, with construction slated to begin in July and wrap up by the end of 2014.

Ward 3 City Councillor David Pickles said he's pushed for years for the replacement of the bridge to be done as soon as possible because of its condition and has feared a premature closure.

“I'm very frustrated that we are where we are at this point because I've pushed for this to be moved up,” he said.

During 2012 budget discussions, residents spoke against $2.4 million that was earmarked to replace the bridge, saying it was a big expense for fewer than 100 families.

-- With files from Kristen Calis

Tutti Frutti Opening
January 18, 2014
Tutti Frutti Opening
Councillor Pickles is pleased to join in the opening of the new Tutti Frutti frozen yogart at Pickering Town Centre January 18, 2014 
Tutti Frutti Opening
Photo Credit: Corporal Raymond Wang 
Safety concerns close Pickering's Whitevale bridge
City has traffic management plan and detour routes
By Kristen Calis
January 17, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- Due to safety concerns, the Whitevale bridge has closed five months ahead of schedule.

City of Pickering manager of capital projects and infrastructure Darrell Selsky said Thursday that the bridge has been closed to vehicles due to a crack in the abutment that resulted from bad weather.

Although engineering consultants recommended the bridge, which connects the west and east sides of Whitevale, be closed to vehicles, they said it's safe for pedestrians to use.

The replacement of the Whitevale bridge is a budgeted capital project, and the City planned to close it in June in order to facilitate construction.

I'm very frustrated that we are where we are at this point because I've pushed for this to be moved up.  Ward 3 City Councillor David Pickles

Mr. Selsky said staff is working on a traffic management plan and has set up detour routes.

“It's a fairly big undertaking,” he said, adding staff is working to have all detour signs up as soon as possible.

The detour that residents on the west side of the bridge will have to take to get their mail is a huge concern, said Mr. Selsky.  But the City will meet with Canada Post on Friday to have temporary postal boxes installed on the west side.

Ward 3 City Councillor David Pickles said in an interview he's pushed for years for the replacement of the bridge to be done as soon as possible because of its condition and future safety and has feared a premature closure.

“I'm very frustrated that we are where we are at this point because I've pushed for this to be moved up,” he said.

During 2012 budget discussions, residents spoke against $2.4 million that was earmarked to replace the bridge, saying it was a big expense for less than 100 families, among other reasons.

Ward 3 Regional Councillor Peter Rodrigues attempted to delete the item from the budget, but his motion was defeated by council.

“It is frustrating that residents will now be without use of the bridge immediately and we hope that we can advance the replacement of the bridge,” said Coun. Pickles.

Mr. Selsky said the project will begin in July and should be complete by the end of 2014.  The City will consult the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and other stakeholders about possibly starting the project earlier, but he said a number of issues could hinder that happening.  For example, migratory bird regulations don't allow for the cutting down of trees from April to August, and trees must be cut down to accommodate construction.

Motion by Councillor David Pickles for consideration by Council on January 27th

January 27, 2014

Notice of Motion

Moved by Councillor David Pickles

Seconded by Councillor Doug Dickerson

WHEREAS Pickering Council has passed previous motions regarding the federal lands including Resolution 212/98.

WHEREAS the federal lands consists of approximately 18,600 acres in total, with the majority in the City of Pickering.

WHEREAS the June 11, 2013 announcement by the Federal Government identified, that it will designate approximately 8,700 acres for an airport and transfer approximately 5,000 acres to Parks Canada for the creation of the Rouge National Urban Park.

WHEREAS there are 4,900 acres of “remaining lands” (i.e.  the lands that are not included in the new airport site, and not part of the transfer to the Rouge).  The announcement in June, 2013 referenced that these lands could be used for “job-creating development”.   Some of these remaining lands are designated by the Province of Ontario as Greenbelt and/or Oak Ridges Moraine.

WHEREAS the Federal Government has identified that new Airport Zoning Regulations (AZRs) will need to be established to reflect this new, smaller airport site and land transfer to the park (AZRs are currently in place based on the entire federal ownership being considered an “airport site”).

WHEREAS after the June 11, 2013 announcement, Transport Canada held two public engagement opportunities.  People were invited to provide comments through the Transport Canada website.  Transport Canada has not yet provided to the City of Pickering or residents a summary of the comments or responses to the open houses.

WHEREAS Pickering Council supports an open and transparent process with an opportunity to analyze and share relevant information as well as appropriate opportunities for public review and input to decision making.

WHEREAS in the early 2000s, the Greater Toronto Transit Authority (GTAA) established a Pickering Advisory Committee to provide advice on the completion of a draft plan and to obtain input on the Airport Zoning Regulations ( AZRs) that were being established at that time.  The GTAA Committee had representatives from the affected local and regional municipalities (elected officials and staff) as well as representatives from the surrounding affected communities.  

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Federal Government establish an open and transparent process with opportunities to share, analyze and comment on relevant documents and decision-making on the use of the federal lands including the announced airport in the City of Pickering.

THAT the Federal Government provide a summary of the comments and responses received through the open houses that followed the June 11, 2013 announcement.

THAT the Federal Government provide clarity to the City of Pickering on:

  • what is meant by 'job-creating developments' and where they might be located
  • whether the City of Pickering and/or others will be consulted to provide input into future decisions on these “job-creating developments” and other matters
  • whether the Federal Government have regard for the Federal Greenspace Preserve Plan, the provincial Greenbelt Plan and Oak Ridges Moraine policies
  • whether the entire airport site is needed for airport purposes, or whether other uses might also be introduced and if so what they would be

THAT the Federal Government prepare/update and make public for review and comment, a business case for use of the federal lands, including the announcement of an airport.

THAT the Federal Government require a Federal Environmental Assessment, with appropriate opportunities for review and input by the City of Pickering and the public, for the construction of an airport.  That the Federal Government is to reimburse the City for reasonable expenses to participate in the Environmental Assessment Process.

THAT that the Federal Government continue to involve the City of Pickering on the AZR process.

THAT Transport Canada re-establish a Pickering Advisory Committee to act as a liaison between the Federal Government, the City of Pickering and the community on matters pertaining to the federal lands and announced airport.  The Committee members to include Federal Government representatives, City of Pickering staff representatives, the Mayor or designate, a Ward 3 Councillor, 3 community representatives as selected, following a public invitation.  

THAT this motion be copied to the following people:

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport
The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario
The Honourable Glen R.  Murray, MPP (Toronto Centre), Minister of Transportation
The Honourable Linda Jeffrey, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
The Honourable Chris Alexander, MP, Ajax-Pickering
Corneliu Chisu, MP, Pickering-Scarborough East
Joe Dickson, MPP, Ajax-Pickering
The Honourable Tracy MacCharles, MPP, Pickering-Scarborough East
Roger Anderson, Regional Chair and CEO, Region of Durham
Mayor Frank Scarpitti, Town of Markham
Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor, Town of Uxbridge
Mayor Steve Parish, Town of Ajax

Letter to Residents
Re: Whitevale Bridge Closure
January 16, 2014

A letter was hand delivered to residents of Whitevale on January 16th detailing the closure of the Whitevale bridge.

The letter may be viewed by clicking here.

News Release
For Immediate Release
Pickering Closes Whitevale Bridge Over Safety Concerns
January 16, 2014

Pickering, ON, January 16, 2014 - Effective immediately, the City of Pickering has closed the Whitevale Bridge to vehicular traffic due to safety concerns.

The replacement of the Whitevale Bridge is a budgeted capital project with a planned closure date in June to facilitate construction.  However, the most recent safety inspection revealed that an abutment has shifted outward, due to the recently experienced extreme weather.

The City's engineering consultants believe that the bridge's structural integrity is compromised and they have recommended that the bridge be closed to vehicles, but can remain open and accessible to pedestrian traffic until the replacement project commences.  The City will consult with the Toronto Region Conservation Authority and other stakeholders about possibly starting the project earlier than scheduled.

City staff will be implementing a traffic management plan and detour routes to help facilitate vehicular movement around the closed bridge.  Staff is in consultation with Canada Post to install temporary postal boxes for the convenience of residents/businesses located west of the bridge.

The City of Pickering will be employing several methods to notify Whitevale residents of the bridge closure and detour routes including door-to-door notification.  Additional signage will be installed to enhance visual notification in and around the hamlet.

Although earlier than anticipated closure of the Whitevale Bridge will cause an inconvenience to the area, the City's primary and overriding concern remains residents' safety.  Council and staff will work diligently to ensure that the bridge closure and replacement project will result in a positive outcome for the community.

-30-

As the gateway to the east GTA, Pickering (population 94,000) is strategically located where Toronto, York and Durham Regions meet and has been recognized by Profit magazine as one of the ten best cities in Canada for growth companies.  Pickering's downtown has been named an Urban Growth Centre and Mobility Hub by the Province of Ontario, and is personified by a $23-million landmark pedestrian bridge that connects directly to the GO train station.  The City of Pickering is considered a municipal leader in fiscal management, service delivery, sustainability and the environment.  With its direct access to major highways; educated and skilled labour force; prime employment lands; a world class EN3 (energy, environmental, & engineering) sector; state-of-the-art infrastructure; and supportive municipal government; Pickering offers unrivalled competitive advantages for business.  Visit pickering.ca/mediacentre for more news.

Media Contact:

Mark Guinto
Coordinator, Public Affairs | Office of the Mayor
905.420.4660 ext. 2013 | 1.866.683.2760 | TTY 905.420.1739
mguinto@pickering.ca

Service Announcement
Notice of Whitevale Bridge Closure
January 16, 2014

Due to structural deficiency concerns, the Whitevale Bridge will be closed to vehicular traffic due to safety concerns.

The bridge will remain open and accessible to pedestrian traffic only, until the replacement project commences.

Purpose: Safety inspections revealed an abutment has shifted outward due to the recently experienced extreme weather.
Duration: January 16, 2014 to December 31, 2014

Note:  Emergency vehicles will not have access.

Whitevale Closure Map
Click to enlarge

For additional information please contact:

Richard Holborn, P. Eng.
Director, Engineering & Public Works
Engineering & Public Works Department
T. 905.420.4660 ext. 2049
TTY. 905.420.1739
rholborn@pickering.ca
      Darrell Selsky
Manager, Capital Projects & Infrastructure
Engineering & Public Works Department
T. 905.420.4660 ext 2149
TTY. 905.420.1739
dselsky@pickering.ca

Service Disruption Line: 1.866.278.9993

Pickering wants your feedback on its budget
Budgeting Your City campaign invites residents to get involved in how their tax dollars are spent
January 15, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- The City of Pickering is encouraging local residents to get involved in the upcoming 2014 budget process.

The new Budgeting Your City campaign invites the public to visit www.pickering.ca/budget to learn more about how the budget works and submit feedback.

“It is important that residents become familiarized with the municipal budget so they can better understand where their tax dollars go,” said Mayor Dave Ryan.  “I encourage everyone to learn more about the budget process, be heard on this matter and work collaboratively with the City.”

Residents can also register to speak as a delegation at the Feb. 13 budget meeting.

For more information, call 905-420-4626 or e-mail corpserv@pickering.ca.

Nominate someone for a Pickering Civic Award
Deadline is Feb. 6
January 15, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- Nominations are now being accepted for the City of Pickering's Civic Awards.

The awards recognize local individuals, businesses and organizations that have given back to the community.

Recipients are nominated by community members and selected by a committee of council.

The categories include: the special citation award, bravery/heroism award, lifetime achievement award, individual volunteer award, service group award, community group award, amateur sports award, youth volunteer award, youth leadership award, sustainability award, arts award, cultural diversity award, heritage award, urban design award, economic development award, local business award, environment award and access award for disability issues.

The deadline for nominations is Feb. 6 at 4 p.m.

Nomination forms and full category descriptions are available at the Pickering Civic Complex, Pickering library branches, Pickering Recreation Complex and online at www.pickering.ca/greatevents.

For more information call 905-683-7575 or e-mail customercare@pickering.ca.

Pickering asks Province for 'disaster area' designation
Ice storm cleanup expected to total $2.3 million
By Jillian Follert
January 14, 2014
(durhamregion.com)
Crew cleaning up trees
Disaster area
Ron Pietroniro / Metroland
PICKERING -- A crew from Cressman Tree Maintenance and Landscape Ltd.  cleaned up damaged trees on Woodruff Crescent.  Pickering council has voted to request the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to declare Pickering a disaster area so the City is eligible to apply for provincial aid to help with the ice storm cleanup.  January 14, 2014.

PICKERING -- The City of Pickering is asking to be designated a “disaster area,” in an effort to access funding for ongoing ice storm cleanup.

At a special meeting on Jan. 13, Pickering council voted unanimously to request the minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to declare the city a disaster area, so it can qualify for aid from the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program.

“Pickering was hit very hard, this is going to be very costly,” said Mayor Dave Ryan.

City staff said the total ice storm cost is estimated at $2.3 million.

That breaks down to about $100,000 managing immediate needs the week after the storm, including overtime pay, warming centres and communications.

Another $360,000 is currently being spent on short-term cleanup, including hiring contractors and equipment rental.

The remaining $1.8 million will be spent in the coming months on stump removal, tree replacement and long-term cleanup.

Mayor Ryan said the City “isn't prepared to discuss” the impact this could have on the 2014 budget, until it is known how much aid will be available.

The disaster relief program helps municipalities, private homeowners, farmers, small business and non-profit organizations replace essential items after a natural disaster.

To qualify, the damage must be in a designated disaster area.

As of Monday morning, the ministry had received requests from six municipalities to be declared disaster areas -- Brampton, Caledon, Mississauga, North Perth, Peel and York.

Ministry spokesman Richard Stromberg said that number is expected to increase, as several councils had the item on their agendas this week.

He said it's too soon to estimate how much money might be available to qualifying municipalities, noting there is no set budget for the disaster relief program.

Mr. Stromberg also couldn't say how long it will take for the Province to make disaster zone declarations.

“It will depend how quickly (municipalities) can get together the documentation,” he said.

To qualify for aid, municipalities must provide detailed documentation of the damage in their community as well as cost estimates.

“As part of the application there is significant criteria to be met, but we feel this is an opportunity that should not be lost,” noted Pickering CAO Tony Prevedel.

He said City staff worked through the weekend gathering information, as requests for a disaster area declaration must be submitted to the ministry within 14 working days of the disaster.

Mayor Ryan plans to attend a Jan. 17 meeting of GTA mayors, to map out a co-ordinated effort for securing funds from the Province.

A Message from - Doug Dickerson
January 2014
(The Pickering Retail Pages)

HAPPY NEW YEAR - WE SURVIVED THE CHRISTMAS of '13 THAT ALMOST WASN'T

Looking to begin the new year on a positive note, let me wish each and exery ready of Retail Pages all the best in 2014 - may it prove to be just as compassionate, full of excitement and filled with new opportunites as 2013 was, maybe even a little more so.

Beginning the new year, Council will be having some lengthy discussions during ... Read More

News Release
For Immediate Release
'Budgeting Your City'
January 13, 2014

Pickering, ON, January 13, 2014 - As part of its commitment to open and transparent municipal government, the City is inviting residents to learn more about the annual Budget process, and provide their input to help build the 2014 draft Budget.

As one of the City's corporate priorities, community engagement continues to be top of mind when planning for, managing, and budgeting the facilities, services, events and programs that touch the everyday lives of Pickering residents.

As such, the City, through its `Budgeting Your City' campaign, is encouraging residents to visit pickering.ca/budget to gain a better understanding of the Budget building blocks, and submit their feedback in preparation for the draft 2014 Budget.

“It is important that residents become familiarized with the municipal Budget so they can better understand where their tax dollars go,” said Mayor Dave Ryan.   “I encourage everyone to learn more about the Budget process, be heard on this matter, and work collaboratively with the City.”

As well as submitting their feedback online, residents are also encouraged to register as a delegation for the February 13th Budget meeting where the Mayor and Members of Council will discuss the draft Budget items.

The `Budgeting Your City' feedback form is available online at pickering.ca/budget and hardcopies will be made available upon request.  For more information about the Budget process, please contact Corporate Services at 905.420.4626 or corpserv@pickering.ca.

-30-

As the gateway city to the east GTA, Pickering (population 94,000) is strategically located where Toronto, York and Durham Regions meet.   Pickering is an affluent community that is steeped in history, natural beauty and small town charm with all the amenities and services that a big city has to offer.   The City of Pickering is considered a municipal leader in fiscal management, service delivery, sustainability and the environment; and offers a wealth of sports, leisure and recreation opportunities to its residents.   Pickering has been recognized by Profit magazine as one of the ten best cities in Canada for growth companies and received the 2008 FCM-CH2M Hill Sustainable Community Planning Award.

Media Contact:

Shauna Muir
(Acting) Coordinator, Sustainability
905.420.4660 ext. 2170 | 1.866.683.2760 | TTY 905.420.1739
smuir@pickering.ca

Provincial NR, Durham's PSA
January 7, 2014

Following the ice storm, the Province, along with private sector donors have generously contributed grocery store cards to help people who lost food and are unable to replace it without financial assistance.  The initiative cannot provide grocery store cards to everyone who lost power, and is reserved for those facing the most need.

Applications for Provincial Food Gift Cards will be accepted by the Region of Durham by phone, starting on Thursday, Jan. 9 at 9 a.m.  Eligible residents should call 1-888-721-0622 to apply.

Visit Durham Region's Site for complete details.

Pickering ice storm cleanup could take months
Contractors hired for January at a cost of $40,000 per week
By Jillian Follert
January 7, 2014
(durhamregion.com)
Ice Covered Branches
Pickering ice storm cleanup could take months
Metroland File Photo
More than two weeks after the ice storm, Pickering is still in cleanup mode -- and City staff says it could be months before the job is done.

PICKERING -- More than two weeks after the ice storm, Pickering is still in cleanup mode -- and City staff says it could be months before the job is done.

Richard Holborn, the City's director of engineering and public works, described the damage to trees as “devastating.”

He said City staff worked with contracted maintenance services to do a week-long blitz from Dec. 22 to 27, removing damaged trees from the roads and cutting the branches into bundles.

Since then, cleanup has been on hold due to frozen equipment and the need to direct resources to snow clearing.

“It's going to take weeks to months to get it all done, there is a significant amount of tree damage on street trees,” Mr. Holborn said, noting that doesn't take into account damage to trees in parks or open spaces.

Contractors have been hired for January to cut down broken branches and chip branches that are piled up on boulevards.

The cost for those services is about $40,000 a week.  The City doesn't have a total cost for storm cleanup, because damage is still being uncovered.

The hope is that damaged trees will be replaced sometime in 2014, but it will depend on how much money is available.

Even if new trees are planted, Mr. Holborn said some areas of the city won't look like they once did.

“It's quite devastating when you look at streets that had mature canopies and now will have small trees put in.  It's not going to have the same community look that it did.”

On a more positive note, Pickering politicians are praising emergency responders and hydro workers for their hard work in the aftermath of the storm, as well as residents for their patience and compassion.

“I personally heard from and visited with many people that were going through hardship and was heartened to hear of the many neighbours and residents that pitched in to make each other more comfortable, even if it was for just a hot coffee or an invitation into their own homes,” said Ward 3 Councillor David Pickles.  “As a community, people really pulled together.”

Liberals promise cash cards for residents outside Toronto who lost power
TORONTO - The Canadian Press
January 06 2014
(theglobeandmail.com)

Another $450,000 worth of grocery store cash cards will be made available starting Tuesday in communities outside Toronto that lost power during December's ice storm.

Premier Kathleen Wynne faced severe criticism after big crowds and a lack of information hampered the distribution of $842,600 worth of cash cards in Toronto last week.

The opposition parties complain Wynne and the Liberals were more interested in photo-ops in Toronto than in helping people in other communities who also lost electricity.

The cash cards are intended to replace food that spoiled when power went out after the pre-Christmas storm, and are supposed to go only to those who can't afford to replace their losses.

Some municipalities will use a new call-in system to distribute the cash cards, but others will use the in-person pickups that caused long lineups in Toronto last week.

They will be distributed in nine other regions starting Tuesday, including Hamilton and Wellington, the regions of Halton, Peel, Waterloo and York as well as Dufferin county.

The cash cards will be given out in Northumberland county starting Wednesday and in Durham region starting Thursday.

Provincial officials are asking people to contact their local municipalities for details on when and how the cash cards will be distributed.

“Municipalities determined how best to distribute the grocery cards,” said Zita Astravas, Wynne's press secretary.

The government and corporate sponsors teamed up to offer $50 cards to individuals and $100 to families impacted by the power outages, but the distribution was crowded, chaotic and confusing, making it near impossible for many seniors and people with mobility problems to get money they were entitled to receive.

Meanwhile, the Opposition accused Wynne of playing “postal code politics” by personally delivering food baskets to some Toronto residents and getting the cash card program up and running only in the city.

“The political way that this has been handled by Premier Wynne and her cabinet has prevented people from equal access to a program that she initiated, one that we don't know the true costs of, and one that hasn't been delivered on a needs-assessment basis,” said Progressive Conservative critic Lisa MacLeod.  “She abused taxpayers' dollars and she abused corporate generosity all in the name of a quick photo-op.”

The New Democrats said Wynne had “bungled” the cash card program.

“Thousands of people outside Toronto were similarly affected by power outages and are wondering if or when they will receive assistance, and if they'll be stuck in line for days just like Torontonians,” said New Democrat Cheri DiNovo.

Pickering election year underway
Dave Ryan first to run for mayor in 2014
By Kristen Calis
January 2, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

DURHAM -- By 10 a.m. on the first day Pickering City Hall opened for business in 2014, three candidates had already joined the municipal election race.

The election will take place on Oct. 27 and nominations must be made with the City clerk by Sept. 12 at 2 p.m.

The three who signed up bright and early on Jan. 2 will not run against one another.

Having held the position since 2003, Mayor Dave Ryan was the first to put his name in, and is running for re-election.  Mayor Ryan was Ward 1 City councillor from 1994 to 2003, until taking the top spot at the council table.  “There are still things that I want to accomplish in the city,” said the mayor.

These include the creation of more jobs, which he says continues to be his No. 1 priority, especially now that Seaton is coming down the pipe and the Province has committed to creating 30,000 jobs in the community.

“It's going to take a lot of work to make that happen,” he said.

His other focuses include transit, building a better working relationship with GO Transit and health care.  This includes working to ensure the merger between Rouge Valley Health System and Scarborough Hospital is done effectively, and working to get a hospital built in Pickering.

Ward 3 City Councillor David Pickles was next, except this time, the councillor, who was first elected in 1997, is running for the Ward 3 Regional councillor position in Pickering.  The spot is currently held by Councillor Peter Rodrigues.

“I'm no stranger to regional issues,” said Coun. Pickles.

He said he's dealt with a number of regional issues in his 16 years as a city councillor, such as transit, traffic and garbage pickup.

“I think that the mayor could use that additional experience to help Pickering's profile and effectiveness at the Region,” said Coun. Pickles.

Current Pickering Trustee Chris Braney signed up for re-election for his seat at the Durham District School Board.  The current vice-chairman of the board, who's been a Durham trustee since 2006, is passionate about public education and wants to keep it strong.

“I just like the fact that when I go home at the end of the day, I feel I have made a difference with the kids in the school system,” he said.

While he's pleased Pickering students continue to improve in academic results, he plans to work on ways to improve them even more if he's re-elected.

The City of Pickering updates its candidate information daily at pickering.ca.

Municipal election nominations now open in Pickering
Local residents go to the polls Oct. 27
By Jillian Follert
January 1, 2014
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- Amid the clatter of noise makers and Auld Lang Syne ringing in the new year, many people may not be thinking about local politics or that 2014 is an election year.

However, when municipal offices reopen after the New Year's celebrations, there will already be political-hopefuls ready to file their nomination papers for the Monday, Oct. 27 municipal election.

Here at Metroland Durham Region Media Group we're launching a 10-month dialogue with readers and candidates about what Durham Region needs from its leaders.

Coverage will include everything residents need to make an informed decision -- candidate profiles, features, election events, debates and the issues that arise on the campaign trail.

The public will have new opportunities to be heard through social media and a video series of round-table discussions with citizens from all walks of life.

It's going to be a busy year.

For the first time in 2014, electors can vote for the Regional Chair -- which means this year residents can run for the position.

Since Durham was founded in 1974, the head of Regional council has been selected by Regional councillors at the first meeting after the election.  An October 2010 referendum on the issue showed 79.7 per cent of those who cast a ballot were in favour of directly electing the top seat in Durham -- however, voter turnout wasn't high enough to make the results binding.  However the majority of regional council members, and municipal councils supported the change.

Current chairman Roger Anderson has held the position since 1997.

Those who want a chance to lead the Regional Council can file nomination papers in-person with the Regional Clerk, 605 Rossland Rd. E. in Whitby.  For information on where and how to file a nomination, visit the region's website at www.durham.ca or contact Regional Clerk Deb Bowen at clerks@durham.ca or 905-668-7711, ext.  2100.

In Pickering, nominations opened Jan. 2 for the Oct. 27 municipal election.  It may be months away from voting day, but City Clerk Debbie Shields says it's not unusual for people to file nomination papers at the first opportunity.

“We usually get one or two on the first day,” she says.

There are seven Pickering city council seats up for grabs -- the mayor, three regional councillors and three city councillors.

Pickering also has four school board trustee seats, one each for the English public and Catholic boards and the French public and Catholic boards.

Nomination papers for city council and the English school board trustees can be filed in the Clerk's department at Pickering City Hall, located at One The Esplanade.

Those who want to throw their hat in the ring for regional chairman must file at Regional Headquarters in Whitby, while candidates for the French school boards positions file at Oshawa City Hall.

The fee is $200 to file as a candidate for mayor and $100 for the councillor and school trustee seats.

The deadline for nominations is Sept. 12 at 2 p.m.

Ms. Shields says the names of candidates will be posted on the City's website as soon as they are registered.

Voter turnout in Pickering was 32 per cent for the 2010 municipal election -- 20,560 voters cast a ballot out of 63,938 who were eligible.

So far, there are 64,626 eligible voters on the list for 2014, although that number could change by the time it's finalized in September.

Any changes, deletions or additions to the voters list can be made starting Sept. 2 and right up until polls close at 8 p.m. on Oct. 27.

Voting locations and advance poll information will be finalized this winter.

Compensation possible for ice storm victims in Durham
MPP Joe Dickson getting calls from constituents seeking help
December 31, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

DURHAM -- The Region is working with the provincial government to provide compensation for some residents who lost food due to power outages caused by the ice storm.

Sherri Munns, director of communications for Durham, said in an e-mail, “Durham is interested in participating in programs that will assist our residents in need and is awaiting further responses to our inquiries from the Province.”

Ajax-Pickering MPP Joe Dickson has been hearing from constituents about receiving compensation.

“We've had a number of calls,” Mr. Dickson said, estimating about 25 people have called his constituency office.

He added he's waiting to hear from Durham Region about the possibility of providing compensation.

The Province announced on Monday it would provide gift cards for up to $100 for families and $50 for individuals that could be used at grocery stores.  The program is only for Toronto, but a provincial press release noted, “The initiative will be expanded to other affected municipalities as needs are identified.”

In Toronto, the initiative is being handled through Ontario Works offices.

One of the issues in Durham is Ontario Works offices are spread out in the region, Mr. Dickson noted.

“Our staff is working today.  We're recording every call and taking contact information,” Mr. Dickson said.  “As soon as we hear something, tonight or tomorrow, we'll call residents back.”

Ajax, Pickering working on storm cleanup
Durham relaxing rules on amount of garbage that can be left at curb
By Keith Gilligan
December 30, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Trees Down
Trees Down
Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland
AJAX -- A large tree was covering the sidewalk at the corner of Falby Court and Harwood Avenue Monday morning, as a result of Saturday night's ice storm.  December 23, 2013

DURHAM -- Now comes the cleanup.

And, there's plenty to clean up following the ice storm.  In addition to countless tree branches that snapped off, there's food spoiled when the power was knocked out along with the general damage caused by the storm.

Christie McLardie, the manager of communications for Ajax, said the Town is putting a plan together and will roll it out during the week of Jan. 6.

The plan will include when and where to place tree limbs, Ms. McLardie said.

“The Town acknowledges residents need assistance,” she added.

A report will be going to council in January outlining how the lost trees will be replaced.

“There will be a budget impact,” she said, but she doesn't know figures until the report is prepared.  “The Town acknowledges residents need assistance and support.”

Shauna Muir, co-ordinator of communications for Pickering, noted City crews are “out in full force” cleaning up damage.

It's being done on a priority basis, cleaning “downed branches and other debris,” she added.

If a tree on private property fell onto the City's property, City staff will take care of the removal.

“Leave it at the curb and we'll be along with our chipper,” Ms. Muir said.

People can call the City's customer care centre to report tree damage that needs to be cleaned up.  The centre can be reached at 905-683-7575 or at customercare@pickering.ca .

A tree that's fallen on private property is the responsibility of the land owner.

As for the impact the storm will have on the City's budget, Ms. Muir said that information won't be available until mid-January as staff are concentrating on the cleanup.

Durham Region is also responding to the cleanup by relaxing the four-bag garbage limit until Jan. 4 in communities where it collects trash.  Except for Whitby and Oshawa, Durham picks up garbage, green bins and blue boxes in all communities.  In Whitby and Oshawa, the Region collects blue boxes, while the local municipalities are responsible for garbage and green bin collection.

Until Jan. 4, the Region is offering free disposal of large branches and brush at the Oshawa and Brock waste management facilities.  The Oshawa facility is at 1640 Ritson Rd. N., while the Brock site is on Sideroad 17.  The free disposal is for residents only.  Businesses and non-residents will be charged the regular disposal fees.

There's no limit on the amount of green bin waste that can be set out.  Anyone with large amounts of spoiled food due to a power outage can place the items at the curb for composting.  If there isn't enough room in the green bin, place the extra unpackaged food in a paper bag or rigid container, clearly labelling it as food waste.

Many take-out containers can be recycled in the blue bin.  To see what can and can't be recycled, visit www.durham.ca/knowbeforeyouthrow.

Statement from City of Pickering Councillor David Pickles on Ice Storm
December 30, 2013

It appears Veridian has successfully restored power to all of its customers in the communities that were affected by last weekend's severe ice storm.   There are still a few one-offs that have damage and will need repairs completed before Veridian can restore power to them.

At the height of the outage approximately 60,000 of Veridian's 116,000 customers were without power.   Of those, 28,000 were in the City of Pickering.   Most had power back after the first day.   Some less populated streets and individuals customers, mostly in the rural area with more substantive tree damage to lines, were restored as recently as yesterday.  

This storm was extraordinary in the amount damage it caused in the GTA; Pickering and Ajax were particularly hit hard.   The power outage was mainly caused by the enormous number of ice covered trees interfering with or breaking power lines.   Like many of you, fallen trees blocked my street Saturday morning, with more coming down Sunday morning.  

City of Pickering Information:

  • City crews are out there dealing with and assessing the high priority areas.   We are also in the process of getting in additional contractors to help with tree and branch removal, naturally dealing with the hazardous areas first
  • Staff are also developing a clean-up plan for issues that have not been deemed hazardous, and crews will be sent in a coordinated fashion
  • Residents are asked to bundle broken tree branches and place on their boulevard.  City staff will pick them up in due course
  • information at: http://www.veridian.on.ca/
  • Please contact our Customer Care Centre at 905.683.7575 for urgent matters related to storm clean up and winter control.  Anything that is not of a pressing nature can be called in, but also emailed to customercare@pickering.ca.  These will also be dealt with on a priority basis.
  • Subscribe to the City of Pickering's News & Announcements
  • Download our City App to keep you up to date on service disruptions, news, events, and public meetings.

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Veridian

Insurance

  • Please contact your insurance provider for any matters related to property damage as a result of the ice storm.

Trees on Private Property

  • Please refer to the Region of Durham's website for special yard waste collection: http://bit.ly/1e96y4N.  Additionally, City crews will dispose of any fallen trees/branches that come from the homeowner's property.  Trees/branches left for disposal must be cut, stacked and packaged to the best of the homeowner's ability in order to be accommodated by the City's wood chipper.  Residents can leave the packaged wood on the City boulevard or the homeowner's lawn for pickup, and are reminded to keep it clear from sidewalks, ditches, and roads.

Waste

  • Please visit the Region of Durham's website for further ice storm related updates, including special waste collection services: http://bit.ly/1e96y4N.

Spoiled Food/Food Gift Card Program

  • Efforts are also being made to help people replace food they may have lost as a result of the storm.  The City of Pickering is currently looking in to how the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program can be applied to Pickering residents and will provide updates as they become available.  Please stay posted for further information and visit the Province of Ontario website for details on the program: http://bit.ly/1eTcsfg.
  • Currently, the Durham Social Services Department is working with the Provincial Ministry of Community Social Services to determine the number of residents who would be in financial need of the Food Gift Card Program in Durham Region.  It was intended to start in Toronto and be rolled out to other municipalities as needed.  Pickering City staff, along with neighbouring municipalities continue to work on this and will issue an update when it becomes available

School Boards

  • the school boards have advised that they are assessing damage to their properties, and will be working on clean up before school resumes next week.  This has been confirmed with the separate school board.  We are just waiting for final confirmation from the Durham School Board.

I sincerely thank the many first responders, particularly the Pickering Fire Department, EMS, City of Pickering staff, Veridian staff, and the electrical utilities from other municipalities that assisted us.   The City of Pickering opened a warming centre at the Recreation Centre and City crews responded quickly to clear trees from streets.  Veridian declared an emergency and had crews working 16 hour shifts to remove trees from power lines, repair lines and restore power.  

Having personally taken many calls (and emails and Facebook postings when I had power) from concerned residents without power and visiting many residents without power, I would like to note that although many people were frustrated and anxious to have their power restored, the vast majority of people were very understanding of the immensity of the damage from the storm and the incredible amount or work that needed to be done.   Residents share my appreciation of City and Veridian staff and their efforts to get power back up.  

As Ward 3 Councillor and a member of the Board of Directors of Veridian, I worked closely and regularly with senior Veridian staff, participated in operational meetings in the “war room” at the Veridian offices, with Mayor Ryan and Board Chair and Deputy Mayor Doug Dickerson and visited affected neighbourhoods and residents to assess damage and responses throughout the power outage.   As a result I want to express my personal thanks to Veridian President and CEO Michael Angemeer and his entire team, and I would especially like to give a shout out to Mike Weatherbee, Chris O,Connor, Mark Tunney, and all the staff at the customer call centre, that tirelessly responded to my calls, messages and meetings on behalf of residents.   As an example of their commitment, on Christmas Day, Michael Angemeer met with me at my home and visited affected streets with me on Christmas evening.   Late on Christmas evening I stopped to chat with a Veridian employee who was working on a transformer on McBrady Crescent by himself while his partner left with the truck to get replacement parts.   On Greenwood Road and Westney Road I met up with tree clearing crews from areas such as Gravenhurst and Muskoka who came to assist us.   And there are many more examples of the tremendous effort of both Veridian and City staff.

I also wish to acknowledge that that I personally heard from and visited with many people that were going through hardship and was heartened to hear of the many neighbours and residents that pitched in to make each other more comfortable, even if it was for just a hot coffee or an invitation into their own homes.   As a community, people really pulled together.

Veridian`s service crews and outage hotline will continue to be available until all affected customers have their electricity restored.

While there is still much clean-up work to do to clear trees and finish up electrical work.   We are now discussing, ways to improve infrastructure to avoid future damage, improve preparation, response and communication with customers.   I will certainly be participating in a full assessment and looking a possible preparedness and response improvements.

As a final preliminary observation, I would note that many people benefited from assessing information posted on the City website and social media sites (including from Mayor Ryan), Veridian and my FaceBook and Tweeter feeds.  

I encourage you to connect with me on my social media sites:

Twitter   Facebook   Blog

News Release
Ontario Helps People Replace Food Lost During Ice Storm
December 30, 2013

As Ontarians continue to recover from the ice storm, the government is supporting community efforts to help people in need who have experienced hardship with the loss of perishable food due to prolonged power outages.

Yesterday, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that the Ontario government matched ...

To read the remainder of the news release, visit Ontario's Newsroom Site.

Pickering calls for Senior of the Year nominees
Nominations due by Feb. 7
December 30, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- The City of Pickering wants to hear about amazing seniors in the community.

Each year, municipalities across Ontario are invited by the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration to nominate one deserving senior for the Senior of the Year Award.

To be eligible an individual must be over 65 years and have enriched the social, cultural or civic life of the community.

The Senior of the Year will be invited to a recognition ceremony in June 2014 as part of the City's Seniors' Month celebration.

One page nomination letters can be mailed or dropped off by Feb. 7 to Sharon Milton, One The Esplanade, Pickering, ON, L1V 6K7.

For more information call 905-420-4660, ext. 3601.

Veridian restores power to majority of customers in Durham and Northumberland
December 29, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Trees Down
Trees Down
Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland
AJAX -- A large tree was down at the corner of Falby Court and Harwood Avenue Monday morning, as a result of Saturday night's ice storm.  December 23, 2013

DURHAM -- A week after an ice storm ravaged the GTA, Veridian reports that power has been successfully restored to the majority of its customers.

About 100 customers remain without electricity due to equipment damage on their property.

“I would like to sincerely thank our customers in the communities of Ajax, Clarington, Pickering and Port Hope for their continued patience and understanding as our crews continue to restore power as quickly but as safely as possible,” said Veridian president and CEO Michael Angemeer.  “It has been a difficult and trying time for everyone affected by what has been one of the most extreme weather events we've seen in a very long time.  It's been truly remarkable to see the hard work and determination of everyone involved to get the communities back to their normal state.”

The utility reports that the ice storm, which caused trees to takeout overhead wires, left approximately 60,000 Veridian customers without power.  Mr. Angemeer vowed workers would continue on until every customer had their power restored.

Anyone with equipment damage on their property, including service masts and meter bases, must contact a licensed electrician to do the work before Veridian can reconnect the power.  Call the Electrical Safety Authority at 1-877-372-7233 for information on licensed contractors.

All fallen wires should be considered live and dangerous.  Customers are urged to report the locations of fallen wires to Veridian's 24-hour Outage Hotline by calling 1-866-579-6819.

Veridian restores power for most residents in Durham
December 28, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Hyrdo Crews
Hydro crews
Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland
OSHAWA -- Crews worked to restore power at the corner of Athol Road East and LaSalle Avenue Monday morning, after many were left without power as a result of Saturday night's ice storm.  December 23, 2013

DURHAM -- Veridian is reporting that the power is back on for most customers in Durham, save for an area of north Pickering.

The power has been restored in Ajax, Clarington and Port Hope except for individual customers who need tree trimming on private property to allow for the work.

As of Friday evening, about 200 customers in Pickering remained without service, mainly in north Pickering where repairs were made difficult by heavy tree coverage.

Residents or businesses that are without power should call 1-866-579-6819 to report their status.

NEWS RELEASE
Veridian updates its community power outage status report
December 28, 2013
7:30 PM

Ajax, ON - Veridian has successfully restored power to the majority of its customers in the communities that were affected by last weekend's severe ice storm.  There are, however, approximately 100 customers that are still without electricity service due to equipment damage on their premises.  Veridian's service crews and outage hotline will continue to be available until all affected customers have their electricity restored.

“I would like to sincerely thank our customers in the communities of Ajax, Clarington, Pickering and Port Hope for their continued patience and understanding as our crews continue to restore power as quickly but as safely as possible,” says Veridian President and CEO Michael Angemeer.  “It has been a difficult and trying time for everyone affected by what has been one of the most extreme weather events we've seen in a very long time.  It's been truly remarkable to see the hard work and determination of everyone involved to get the communities back to their normal state.”

It has been a week since freezing rain and ice downed trees and branches on overhead wires, leaving approximately 60,000 Veridian customers without power.  Immediately following the storm, Veridian deployed all available crews to the affected areas, working around the clock and through the holidays with support from Lakeland Power, Orillia Power, Oshawa PUC Networks Inc., Parry Sound Power, Peterborough Utilities, Whitby Hydro, tree trimming operators and contractors.

Angemeer also thanked Veridian staff and others for their commitment and dedication to the company's restoration efforts, most of whom forfeited planned vacations and worked 16 hour days all week to contribute to the restoration work.  “I applaud everyone - from emergency response crews working long hours and in difficult conditions, to operators and call centre staff answering hundreds of phone calls and emails.  But the work isn't quite done, we still have some customers without power and we're not stopping until every single home has their power restored.”

Board Chair Doug Dickerson took the opportunity to recognize municipal partners and businesses that went above and beyond the call of duty during the storm.  “A huge thank you to the mayors, councillors and support staff for supporting Veridian's customer communications, providing warming centres to those who needed relief, and assisting with the removal of hazardous trees and branches.  And for the businesses who provided crews with materials, lodging and meals - I personally thank you.  The goodwill by so many has not gone unnoticed, and has played a major role in keeping our restoration efforts moving along.”

While Veridian continues to be committed to restoring power to all affected customers as quickly as possible, equipment damage affecting individual customers may result in prolonged power outages.  In some cases, repairs to customer owned meter bases and service masts (see picture below) must be completed before Veridian is able to restore service to individual customers.  The repair or replacement of such equipment must be carried out by a licensed electrical contractor retained by the customer.  Approved contractors can be found at http://applications.dmtispatial.com/esa/ or by calling ESA at 1-877-372-7233.

Veridian is warming customers that they could experience short terms outages as restoration efforts continue, and warmer temperatures may result in chunks or sheets of ice falling from trees and coming into contact with Veridian's distribution system.

Customers are reminded to exercise extreme caution around damaged poles and downed wires.  All fallen wires should be considered live and dangerous.  Customers are urged to report the locations of fallen wires to Veridian's 24-hour Outage Hotline by calling 1-866-579-6819.

Veridian Connections Inc.  safely and reliably delivers electricity to more than 116,000 customers in the Cities of Pickering and Belleville, the Towns of Ajax, Port Hope and Gravenhurst, and the communities of Uxbridge, Bowmanville, Newcastle, Orono, Port Perry, Beaverton, Sunderland and Cannington.  Veridian Connections Inc.  is a wholly owned subsidiary of Veridian Corporation.  The City of Pickering, the Town of Ajax, the Municipality of Clarington and the City of Belleville jointly own Veridian Corporation.

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Follow us on Twitter: @VeridianTweets

NEWS RELEASE
Veridian updates its community power outage status report
December 28, 2013
1:00 PM

Ajax, ON - Veridian continues to make significant progress in its efforts to restore service to customers impacted by last weekend's ice storm.  The utility has been successful in restoring power to the majority of its customers in Ajax, Clarington, Port Hope and most notably north Pickering, where power restoration has been the most difficult due to heavy tree coverage.

While the vast majority of customers affected by the storm have had their service restored, Veridian continues to maintain its line and tree trimming resource levels of the past few days.  Today's restoration efforts remain focused on north Pickering, and customers who must undertake repair or tree trimming work on privately owned equipment.

Following is an outage status report for each of the communities in which Veridian is aware of customers that continue to be without service:

Ajax, Clarington and Port Hope: All affected customers have had power restored, with the exception of individual customers who must undertake repair or tree trimming work on privately owned equipment.

Pickering - Approximately 150 customers remain without service.  The known affected streets are summarized below.  Streets that were listed in Veridian's outage status report of 8 p.m.  yesterday and that have since been restored are included in this summary with a `RESTORED' notation.

Balsam Foreststream S/L 16 - RESTORED
Benton Cres - RESTORED Golf Club Rd S/L 24 s/of Hwy 7
Bookshire Sq - RESTORED Markham Pickering Townline S/L 26 s/of Conc 7 - RESTORED
Conc 4 w/of Brock Paddock Road - RESTORED Sandtrap
Conc 5 e/of Westney - RESTORED Pine Heights Trail Whitevale Rd w/of Altona - RESTORED
Conc 7 e/of Salem - RESTORED S/L 12 - RESTORED  
Conc 8 e/ Brock - RESTORED S/L 14  

Residents or businesses that are without power and are not included in the areas summarized above should call 1-866-579-6819 to report their status.

While Veridian continues to be committed to restoring power to all affected customers as quickly as possible, equipment damage affecting individual customers may result in prolonged power outages.

In some cases, repairs to customer owned meter bases and service masts (see picture below) must be completed before Veridian is able to restore service to individual customers.  The repair or replacement of such equipment must be carried out by a licensed electrical contractor retained by the customer.  Approved contractors can be found at http://applications.dmtispatial.com/esa/ or by calling ESA at 1-877-372-7233.

Customers are reminded to exercise extreme caution around damaged poles and downed wires.  All fallen wires should be considered live and dangerous.  Customers are urged to report the locations of fallen wires to Veridian's 24-hour Outage Hotline by calling 1-866-579-6819.

Veridian Connections Inc. safely and reliably delivers electricity to more than 116,000 customers in the Cities of Pickering and Belleville, the Towns of Ajax, Port Hope and Gravenhurst, and the communities of Uxbridge, Bowmanville, Newcastle, Orono, Port Perry, Beaverton, Sunderland and Cannington.  Veridian Connections Inc.  is a wholly owned subsidiary of Veridian Corporation.  The City of Pickering, the Town of Ajax, the Municipality of Clarington and the City of Belleville jointly own Veridian Corporation.

Follow us on Twitter: @VeridianTweets

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News Release
Veridian updates its community power outage status report
December 25, 2013
3:00 PM

Ajax, ON - Veridian continues to have approximately 2,500 customers without service due to the severe ice storm of last week.  The company has 26 line and tree trimming crews working in all communities impacted by the storm.

The largest group of crews has been deployed in Ajax due to the relatively large numbers of customers affected in that community.  Veridian has received assistance from Peterborough Utilities and outside contractors, and will soon be receiving additional support from Lakeland Power and Whitby Hydro, to support its ongoing restoration efforts in the remaining affected areas.

Following is a list of streets, roads and locations that are known to have no electricity service.  Residents who reside outside of the above identified areas should call 1-866-579-6819 to report that they are without power.

Port Hope - While service has been restored to a majority of the municipality, outages continue in isolated pockets that include Scriven Blvd., Bruton St., Hope St. and Beamish St.  Restoration efforts resumed this morning and will continue throughout the day.

Orono - About 45 customers in Orono are still without power.  The affected streets include Church St., Station St., Bowen St. and Rowe St.  The cause of the problem has been identified and repair work will commence this afternoon.

Ajax - Restoration efforts continue in Ajax, where approximately 1,100 customers are without power on or near: Admiral, Adonschool, Albery, Archer, Baker, Bryant, Bunting, Burcher, Carwin, Cowling, Dryer, Elm, Emperor, Fielding, Forest, George, Glynn, Harland, Heron, Hiley, Illingworth, Kent, Kings, Lewin, Marwin, Parry, Riverside, Roosevelt, Strathy, Tulloch, Windsor Woodhouse and York.

Pickering - Restoration efforts continue in Pickering, where approximately 700 customers remain without power on or near: Abingdon, Antonio, Balaton, Beaton Way, Breda, Chapleau, Clearside, Cliffview, Conc 3 w/of Brock, Conc 4 w/of Altona, Conc 4 w/of Brock, Conc 5 e/of Westney, Conc 7 e/of Salem, Conc 8 e/of Brock, Cortez, Cowan, Douglas, Duberry, Essa, Eyer, Foreststream, Garvolin, Glenanna, Glendale, Glynn, Golf Club Rd, Gossamer, Krosno, Liverpool s/of Bayly, Lublin, Maple Gate, Marinet.  Markham Pickering Townline n/of Hwy 7, Marksbury, McBrady, Meadowlane, Mink, Modlin, Moretta, Paddock Road, Park, Pine Heights Trail, Pine Glen, Plummer, Rouge Hill, Rougemount, S/L 22 n/of Hwy 7, S/L 23, S/L 24 n/of Con 4, S/L 26 s/of Conc 5, S/L 34 s/of Hwy 7, Salk, Sandy Beach s/of Bayly, Sanok, Shay, Sprucehill, Tatra, Timmins, Vicki, Vistula, West Shore and Whitevale Rd w/of Altona.

While Veridian continues to be committed to restoring power to all affected customers as quickly as possible, equipment damage affecting individual customers may result in prolonged power outages.

In some cases, repairs to customer owned meter bases and service masts must be completed before Veridian is able to restore service to individual customers.  The repair or replacement of such equipment must be carried out by a licensed electrical contractor retained by the customer.  Approved contractors can be found at http://applications.dmtispatial.com/esa/ or by calling ESA at 1.877.372.7233.

Customers are reminded to exercise extreme caution around damaged poles and downed wires.  All fallen wires should be considered live and dangerous.  Customers are urged to report the locations of fallen wires to Veridian's 24-hour Outage Hotline by calling 1-866-579-6819.

Follow us on Twitter @VeridianConnections

News Release
Veridian updates its community power outage status report
December 25, 2013
10:30 AM

Ajax, ON - Veridian crews worked through the night to restore service to customers still without power caused by the severe ice storm of last weekend.  Approximately 1,500 customers had their service restored between the hours of midnight and 9 a.m.  It is estimated that just over 2,500 customers still remain without power this morning.

The overnight restoration efforts returned service to about 1,000 customers in south Ajax and another 500 customers in parts of north and south Pickering.  All available line and tree trimming crews are deployed today.

Following is a list of the more significant known power outages as of 10:30 a.m. today:

Port Hope - While service has been restored to a majority of the municipality, outages continue in isolated pockets that include Scriven Blvd., Bruton St., Hope St. and Beamish St.  Restoration efforts resumed this morning and will continue throughout the day.

Orono - About 45 customers in Orono are still without power.  The affected streets include Church St., Station St., Bowen St. and Rowe St.  The cause of the problem has been identified and repair work will commence this afternoon.

Ajax - Approximately 1,100 customers remain without power and in the following general areas:

  1. South of Highway 401, north of Lake Driveway, west of Pickering Beach Rd./Salem Rd., and east of Harwood Ave.
  2. South of Highway 2, north of Highway 401, west of Harwood Ave. and east of Westney Rd.
  3. Riverside St. south of Rossland Rd.

Restoration efforts continue today.

Pickering - Outages continue in the following areas:

South Pickering - Approximately 700 customers in the following areas continue to be without service:

  1. Scattered areas south of Highway 2, north of Lake Ontario, west of Westshore Blvd. and east of Whites Rd.
  2. Scattered areas in the Bay Ridges neighbourhood, primarily in the centre core and areas north of Annland St. and south of Radom St.

Restoration efforts continue today.

North Pickering - Approximately 200 customers in the following areas continue to be without service.

  1. Along 9th Concession, west of Lakeridge Rd. and east of Brock Rd.
  2. Along 8th Concession, west of Brock Rd. and east of Sideline 22
  3. Along 7th Concession, west of Salem Rd. and east of Sideline 12
  4. All of Greenwood Road

Restoration efforts continue today.

Miscellaneous - Smaller scale outages have been identified throughout the community in the following areas:

  1. Sections of the Major Oaks subdivision, including Duberry Dr.
  2. Sections of the area immediately south and east of the intersection of Taunton Rd. and Brock Rd.
  3. Spruce Hill Rd. and Jacqueline Ave.

Residents who reside outside of the above identified areas should call 1-866-579-6819 to report that they are without power.

While Veridian continues to be committed to restoring power to all affected customers as quickly as possible, equipment damage affecting individual customers may result in prolonged power outages.

In some cases, repairs to customer owned meter bases and service masts must be completed before Veridian is able to restore service to individual customers.  The repair or replacement of such equipment must be carried out by a licensed electrical contractor retained by the customer.  Approved contractors can be found at http://applications.dmtispatial.com/esa/ or by calling ESA at 1.877.372.7233.

Customers are reminded to exercise extreme caution around damaged poles and downed wires.  All fallen wires should be considered live and dangerous.  Customers are urged to report the locations of fallen wires to Veridian's 24-hour Outage Hotline by calling 1-866-579-6819.

Follow us on Twitter: @VeridianTweets

News Release
Veridian updates its community power outage status report
December 24, 2013
10:00 AM

Ajax, ON - Veridian crews worked through the night to restore service to customers without electricity due to the severe ice storm of last weekend.  Approximately 6,000 customers had their service restored between the hours of midnight and 6:30 a.m.  It is estimated that just over 7,000 customers remain without power this morning.

The overnight power restoration efforts returned service to about 2,000 customers in north Pickering, and another 4,000 customers in south-central and south-east Pickering.

Veridian has sought assistance from other Ontario electricity distributors to support its ongoing restoration efforts in the remaining affected areas.  Approximately 24 line and tree trimming crews will be deployed today.

Following is a list of the more significant known power outages as of 10 a.m. today:

Port Hope - More than 500 customers remain without power.  Work is underway and service should be restored to most affected customers today.

Orono - About 45 customers in Orono are currently without power.  The cause of the problem is a damaged pole that has been identified.  Repair work may be completed as early as today.

Ajax - Outages are concentrated in an area roughly bounded by Highway #2 to the north, Lake Ontario to the south, Westney Road to the west and Lakeridge Rd.  to the east.  The area is supplied by six supply feeders, three of which are not in service.  Approximately 4,400 customers are affected.  This heavily treed area will be a focus of restoration efforts today.  However, it is projected that some customers may be without power into Christmas Day.

Pickering - Outages continue in the following areas:

  • South-west Pickering - Approximately 1,000 customers in the area west of Dixie Road and south of Highway #2 continue to be without service.  Service crews will be working in this area today.
  • North Pickering - Approximately 500 customers continue to be without service.  These include customers on the 9th Concession east of Brock Rd., on the 8th Concession west of Brock Road, and in the communities of Greenwood and Green River.  Service crews will be working in these areas today.
  • Miscellaneous - Smaller scale outages have been reported near the intersections of Brock Road/Major Oaks Road and Brock Road/Kingston Road.

Residents who reside outside of the above geographic zones should call 1-866-579-6819 to report that they are without power.

Customers are reminded to exercise extreme caution around damaged poles and downed wires.  All fallen wires should be considered live and dangerous.  Customers are urged to report the locations of fallen wires to Veridian's 24-hour Outage Hotline by calling 1-866-579-6819.

Follow us on Twitter: @VeridianTweets

News Release
Veridian updates its community power outage status report
December 23, 2013
11:00 PM

Ajax, ON - Within the past hour, Veridian crews have successfully restored power to approximately 7,800 customers impacted by the weekend ice storm.  It is estimated that about 13,000 customers now remain without power.

The most recent power restorations include 500 customers in the Town of Port Hope, 6,800 customers in the City of Pickering and 500 customers in Ajax.  All occurred at approximately 10 p.m.

Veridian line and tree trimming crews will continue their work through the night to clear and repair overhead lines impacted by ice laden trees.

Following is a list of the more significant known power outages as of 10:30 p.m. today:

Port Hope - An estimated 500 customers remain without power.  Service will not be restored until tomorrow at the earliest.

Orono - About 45 customers in Orono are currently without power.  The cause of the problem is a damaged pole that has been identified.  Service will not be restored until tomorrow at the earliest.

Ajax - Outages are concentrated in an area bounded by Highway #2 to the north, Lake Ontario to the south, Westney Road to the west and Lakeridge Rd.  to the east.  The area is supplied by six supply feeders, three of which have now been restored.  The remaining three feeders serve approximately 4,400 customers.  While some of these customers will likely see service restored tomorrow, most may be without power into Christmas Day.

Pickering - Outages continue in the following areas:

  • South-west Pickering - Approximately 1,000 customers in the area west of Dixie Road and south of Highway #2 continue to be without service.  Service will not be restored until tomorrow at the earliest.
  • South-east Pickering - Approximately 1,000 customers, primarily businesses, are without power in the area bounded by Highway #401 to the north, Lake Ontario to the south, Brock Road to the west and Church Street to the east.  Service crews have patrolled lines to assess damage.  The commencement of repair work is tentatively scheduled for tomorrow.
  • North Pickering - Approximately 2,500 customers in the communities of Claremont, Brougham, Green River, Greenwood and surrounding areas north of the third Concession are without service.  Service crews continue to work in this area, and many customers may have service restored overnight and into tomorrow.
  • Bay Ridges/Frenchman's Bay - Approximately 2,000 customers are without power in an area bounded by Sandy Beach Rd.  to the east, Frenchman's Bay to the west, and Bayly Street to the north.  Overhead lines in this area have been patrolled to identify areas in need of attention.  Work on identified problem areas will likely commence tomorrow.
  • Miscellaneous - Smaller scale outages have been reported near the intersections of Brock Road/Major Oaks Road and Brock Road/Kingston Road.

Residents who reside outside of the above geographic zones should call 1-866-579-6819 to report that they are without power.

Please be advised that Veridian's Twitter account (@VeridianTweets) and media communications will resume tomorrow morning.

Customers are reminded to exercise extreme caution around damaged poles and downed wires.  All fallen wires should be considered live and dangerous.  Customers are urged to report the locations of fallen wires to Veridian's 24-hour Outage Hotline by calling 1-866-579-6819.

NEWS RELEASE
Veridian updates its community power outage status report
December 23, 2013
2:00 PM

Ajax, ON - Since its last power outage status report of 12 noon, Veridian has secured the services of an additional six tree trimming crews who are currently on route from the Bracebridge area.  They will augment existing crews currently working to clear and repair overhead lines damaged by ice laden trees.  By later this afternoon, Veridian will have 17 lines crews and 10 tree trimming crews at work in areas affected by the ice storm of the past weekend.  

Following is a community power outage status report as of 2 p.m. today:

Port Hope - More than 500 customers continue to be without service due to the loss of a supply feeder to a local transformer station.  Work is underway to clear the line and restore service.  It is projected that this will be completed by mid-afternoon today.

Bowmanville - All supply feeders have been restored, including supply to the Lakeridge Health hospital.  There may still be some localized outages.  Veridian customers in Bowmanville who are still without power should call 1-866-579-6819 to report the outage.

Newcastle - All of Veridian's 2,500 customers in Newcastle continue to be without service.  Veridian service crews are currently patrolling lines to identify sections in need of repair.  Crews previously working in Bowmanville have been re-deployed to Newcastle and will be augmented with three tree trimming crews that are en route from Bracebridge.

Orono - About 45 customers in Orono are currently without power.  The cause of the problem has been identified.  Crews will be dispatched to undertake repairs later today.

Ajax - Outages are concentrated in an area bounded by Highway #2 to the north, Lake Ontario to the south, Westney Road to the west and Lakeridge Rd.  to the east.  The area is supplied by six supply feeders, two of which have been restored.  The remaining four serve approximately 6,400 customers.  Two line crews and two tree clearing crews are at work to restore these feeders on a priority basis.  These resources will be augmented later today with two line crews that are en route from Bracebridge.

The first priority is a feeder serving a customer with critical health care needs.  This priority feeder serves customers located between Pickering Beach and Shoal Point Roads, south of Bayly Street.

Ajax residents who reside outside of the above geographic zone should call 1-866-579-6819 to report that they are without power.

Pickering - Known outages in Pickering are in the following areas:

  • West Pickering - Approximately 6,000 customers in the area west of Dixie Road and between Highway #2 to Lake Ontario continue to be without service.  The area is supplied by a Hydro One supply feeder from Scarborough.  Veridian has patrolled its lines to ensure that they are clear and ready for service once Hydro One's supply is restored.  Hydro One crews are working on the repair of a severed conductor on the Scarborough section of the supply feeder.  Completion of the repair work is imminent.
  • South-east Pickering - Approximately 1,000 customers, primarily businesses, are without power in the area bounded by Highway #401 to the north, Lake Ontario to the south, Brock Road to the west and Church Street to the east.  Service crews are patrolling lines and assessing damage.  An estimated restoration time is not available at this time.
  • North Pickering - Approximately 2,500 customers in the communities of Claremont, Brougham, Green River, Greenwood and surrounding areas north of the third Concession are without service.  Additional service crews will be deployed to these areas later today, including one tree trimming crew that is en route from Bracebridge.  Estimated restoration times are not available at this time.
  • Bay Ridges/Frenchman's Bay - Approximately 2,000 customers are without power in an area bounded by Sandy Beach Rd.  to the east, Frenchman's Bay to the west, and Bayly Street to the north.  Overhead lines in this area are currently being patrolled to identify areas in need of attention.
  • Central Pickering - An identified problem has disrupted power to about 1,800 customers located north of Glenanna Road, between Dixie and Liverpool Roads.  Lines crews will be dispatched to carry out repair work later today.
  • Miscellaneous - Smaller scale outages have been reported near the intersections of Brock Road/Major Oaks Road and Brock Road/Kingston Road.  Lines crews are investigating.

Customers are reminded to exercise extreme caution around damaged poles and downed wires.  All fallen wires should be considered live and dangerous.  Customers are urged to report the locations of fallen wires to Veridian's 24-hour Outage Hotline by calling 1-866-579-6819.

Follow us on Twitter: @VeridianTweets

Veridian Connections Inc.  safely and reliably delivers electricity to more than 116,000 customers in the Cities of Pickering and Belleville, the Towns of Ajax, Port Hope and Gravenhurst, and the communities of Uxbridge, Bowmanville, Newcastle, Orono, Port Perry, Beaverton, Sunderland and Cannington.  Veridian Connections Inc.  is a wholly owned subsidiary of Veridian Corporation.  The City of Pickering, the Town of Ajax, the Municipality of Clarington and the City of Belleville jointly own Veridian Corporation.

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For more information, contact:

Chris Mace
Sales & PR Representative - Corporate Communications
Veridian Connections Inc.
905-427-9870, extension 2218

News Release
Ice Storm Update
December 23, 2013
1:00 PM

Pickering, ON, December 23, 2013 - Veridian is working to restore power to up to 9000 customers in the City of Pickering, following a severe ice storm over the weekend.

The City of Pickering has been cautioning residents since late this morning to prepare for up to 24 hours without power.  The Pickering Recreation Complex and Arena, located at 1867 Valley Farm Road, has been designated as a 24 hour warming centre for residents.  Additionally, the Recreation Complex is operating regular programs and services during normal business hours.  All other City facilities will remain closed until power is restored.  The Red Cross has registered 45 people at the Recreation Complex so far, and residents are asked to bring food, water, blankets, and any other items they may need during their stay as resources are limited.  If residents are bringing their pets, they are advised to bring their own animal crates for housing.  Staff are currently working with Claremont residents to open the Claremont Community Centre as a warming centre for north Pickering.

Veridian is working diligently to restore power to all homes and businesses affected, and City crews are out working to clear the streets and sidewalks.  Residents are reminded to clear and salt any sidewalks bordering their properties.

The west area of Pickering, with approximately 6,000 customers affected, was hit the hardest due to fallen trees disrupting two major power feeds from Toronto.  Hydro One has deployed all available staff to work on restoration efforts and will continue to work with Veridian to update the City.  Other areas experiencing outages include south east Pickering, Bayridges, Major Oaks Drive area, Duffin Heights, and Village East.  Approximately 700 customers in the Claremont and Greenwood area are without power.  Veridian continues to work on the most critical areas and infrastructure such as hospitals, nursing homes, water pumping stations and the Pickering Recreation Complex and Arena.

The City is urging residents to take extra care when on the roads, and to treat traffic lights as a four way stop if the signals are down.  Fallen wires can be reported to Veridian's 24-hour Outage Hotline by calling 1-866-579-6819.

“We want to remind residents to use flashlights instead of candles where possible,” said John Hagg, Deputy Fire Chief.  “Never bring a propane or charcoal barbecue indoors to cook, and only run portable generators outdoors.  Please ensure you stay clear of downed wires, even if they appear to be dead, treat all wires as live and dangerous.”

“The community continues to rally together to lend a hand to those in need,” said Mayor Dave Ryan.  “This is a particularly difficult time leading into the holidays, and I recognize the tremendous efforts put forth by staff to get our City up and moving again.  My thoughts are with those affected and I appreciate your patience under these circumstances.”

As well as the Pickering Recreation Complex, the Pickering Town Centre and the Pickering Central Library are also open and fully operating.

Please check pickering.ca or facebook.com/cityofpickering and twitter.com/cityofpickering for regular updates on the power outage.

Please report any hazardous conditions to the Customer Care at 905.683.7575, and report any non-hazardous conditions to customercare@pickering.ca and they will be dealt with in a priority sequence.  Please use 911 services for emergencies only.  

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As the gateway to the east GTA, Pickering (population 94,000) is strategically located where Toronto, York and Durham Regions meet and has been recognized by Profit magazine as one of the ten best cities in Canada for growth companies.   Pickering's downtown has been named an Urban Growth Centre and Mobility Hub by the Province of Ontario, and is personified by a $23-million landmark pedestrian bridge that connects directly to the GO train station.   The City of Pickering is considered a municipal leader in fiscal management, service delivery, sustainability and the environment.  With its direct access to major highways; educated and skilled labour force; prime employment lands; a world class EN3 (energy, environmental, & engineering) sector; state-of-the-art infrastructure; and supportive municipal government; Pickering offers unrivalled competitive advantages for business.   Visit pickering.ca/mediacentre for more news.

Media Contact:
Shauna Muir
Coordinator, Communications

905.420.4660 ext. 2134 | 1.866.683.2760 | TTY 905.420.1739
smuir@pickering.ca

Devi Mandir central to the lives of Durham Hindus
Temple has been a sanctuary for more than 20 years
By Keith Gilligan
December 18, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Pandit Damodar Sharma, head priest at Devi Mandir
Night and Day 2013
Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland
PICKERING -- Pandit Damodar Sharma, head priest at Devi Mandir, conducted the Aarti prayer at the Hindu temple.  October 18, 2013.

PICKERING -- For more than 20 years, Hindus have been heading to Devi Mandir to worship and socialize.

On this day, there are few people at the temple, on Brock Road north of Rossland Road in Pickering.

The Hindu temple has about 200 worshippers any given Sunday, but the numbers swell to 500 to 600 on special occasions, said Pandit Damodar Sharma, the head priest at Devi Mandir for about 15 years.

Nov.  2 is Diwali, which is as important to Hindus as Christmas is for Christians.

“Christianity has Christmas.  It's the same, we have Diwali,” Mr. Sharma noted.  “On that day, we are hoping to have 600 to 700 people.”

About 1,000 might visit the temple over the course of the day.

Diwali is known as the Light of Festival, when Hindus pray for prosperity, he added.

They'll be praying to the Goddess Laxami, the goddess of wealth and prosperity (both materially and spiritually).

“That's our big day.  We have many, but this is coming now,” he said of Diwali.

Devi Mandir is as large as some major churches.  In the main worship area, there's seating along the walls, but there's none in the centre area, where worshippers kneel or sit.

The walls around the main room are illustrated with images of gods.

At the head of the room are several statues; Mr. Sharma said some are gods and others devotees.

The main statue is of Krishna, a God who came to earth 10 times in human form.  The final time, the God came as Krishna.

Many of the statues and images are of animals or have animal features.

“God exists within each and everything,” Mr. Sharma noted.  “We pay our respects to keep away from violence.  We follow non-violence.”

The goddess Durga is the goddess of strength, he said, adding, “The strength is our physical body and how we pray to her.”

While there is only one God, God can come in many forms for Hindus, he said.

The goddess Sarswati is the goddess of knowledge and is joined by seven horses, representing the seven days of the week.

“God is showing his grace upon us.”

While we talk, people come in to worship and pray.

Sunday is the main worship day, with the service between 10 a.m.  and noon.  The service involves songs and prayers, followed by lunch.

Mr. Sharma does a short two- to three-minute prayer, during which he rung a gold bell, lit incense and blew into a shell to make the sound of an elephant.

In Memoriam, Lorne Almack
December 13, 2013

It is with enormous regret that Land Over Landings announces the passing of our esteemed and much-loved Honorary Chair, Lorne Almack, on December 8, 2013, at Uxbridge Cottage Hospital, at the age of 90.

Lorne was active to the end, writing to politicians and editing his Prospectus for the Federal Lands, working towards saving precious farmland and wildlife habitat.

An original member of the Technical Committee of People or Planes between 1972 (when the Pickering Airport plan was first announced) and 1975 (when POP got the plan shelved), Lorne spent the next 40 years keeping a watchful eye on the federal Lands.  From Land Over Landings' inception in 2005, he was our anchor and our guiding light, our mentor and our friend.  He shared his knowledge and his wisdom as easily as he shared his smile and the twinkle in his eye.  Words cannot express the depth of our loss.  We extend our deepest sympathies to his family.

Lorne's many contributions can't be quickly or easily summed up, but these three articles shine light on his personality, dedication, and integrity:

  • from Ontario Nature magazine: A Fighting Naturalist;
  • from Environment Canada, “Ecological Gifts: Donor Profile”: Lorne and Rhoda Almack: A Conservation Easement on the Oak Ridges Moraine;
  • from a local newspaper, the day after his passing: Pickering loses dedicated community activist.

We invite you to write us at info@landoverlandings.com or on our Facebook page to share your memories of the inimitable Lorne Almack, hero in our midst.  As one person said, “It's so hard to believe he's gone.  He's always been there.”  In our hearts, he always will be.

Mary Delaney
Chair
Land Over Landings

Don Beer Park relocation moving forward
Pickering City Hall in brief
December 12, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Don Beer Memorial Park
Done Beer Memorial Park
Submitted Photo
PICKERING -- City staff is proposing the construction of an expanded baseball diamond as part of plans to relocate Don Beer Memorial Park out of the path fo the Highway 407 east expansion.

PICKERING -- Plans to relocate Don Beer Memorial Park are moving forward.

On Dec. 9. council gave the green light to accept a tender from Melfer Construction for just over $1 million.

The City issued a tender in October and it closed in November with five bidders.

A staff report recommended council accept the low bid of $1,091,572 submitted by Melfer Construction.

The park is being moved because its previous location, just east of Hwy. 7 and Brock Road in Brougham, was in the path of the Hwy. 407 east extension.

The old park was decommissioned in 2012 and the new location will be at Hwy. 7 and Orchard Heights Drive.

The new and improved park will include a playground that houses the play structure from the original park, an asphalt basketball court, lighted pathways, gravel parking lot with 32 spaces and a larger baseball diamond with a grass infield and lighting.

Pickering's roads and bridges need $100 million in replacement costs over next 10 years

At its Dec. 9 meeting, council endorsed a new roads and bridges asset management plan.

The Province now requires municipalities to have these strategies in place to qualify for provincial infrastructure funding.

The estimated replacement cost of Pickering's current roads and bridges infrastructure is $430.7 million.

The plan identifies $100 million in replacement needs over the next 10 years.  A City report notes current funding from sources such as property taxes, reserves, user fees and grants won't be enough to cover the cost.

Council is being urged to look at adopting a one-per cent special roads and bridges levy, which could bring in an estimated $5.6 million to help fund replacement costs.

Council directed that the 2014 draft budget include $35,000 for a bridge washing program and $50,000 for a crack seal roads repair program, to extend the life of the infrastructure.

Pickering says pedestrian bridge in Whitevale too pricey
Residents say it's a matter of safety, access to village services
December 12, 2013
Jillian Follert
(durhamregion.com)
Whitevale Bridge
Whitevale bridge
Submitted photo
PICKERING -- Residents gathered on the Whitevale Bridge during long weekend celebrations in May 2013.  The bridge is due to be replaced in 2014 and residents are concerned about pedestrian access during construction as well as large trucks crossing the fragile bridge in the meantime.  November 25, 2013.

PICKERING -- The City of Pickering has shot down a request for a pedestrian bridge in Whitevale, saying it's just too expensive.

In a recent memo to council, City CAO Tony Prevedel estimates the price tag at more than $600,000, when design, construction, an environmental assessment and land survey fees are factored in.

“After a thorough review of the technical feasibility, approvals and timelines, staff are not recommending implementing this option,” he said in his memo.

At issue is how residents of the village will access local amenities while the Whitevale Bridge is being reconstructed this summer.

The aging structure is the only east-west connection between the two sides of the village.

It is slated to be torn down and rebuilt in July.  The $2.4-million project will take about six months, raising questions from residents about how they will access the community centre, park, church and businesses without a pedestrian route.

There is also concern that hikers will be cut off from parts of the trail system.

It's an eight-kilometre drive each way to get to the other side.

The Whitevale and District Residents' Association questions the cost estimated by the City and says a permanent pedestrian bridge is a matter of safety.

“With a park and playground on one side and ice cream on the other side, you know children, and maybe some adults, will find a way across,” says a statement from the group.

Lloyd Thomas, president of the association, says the demise of the current bridge is “not imminent” and suggested it could hold out until money and approvals are in place for a pedestrian bridge.

Councillor David Pickles represents the area and agrees that a pedestrian bridge is too costly a proposition.

He acknowledged that residents will be inconvenienced during construction, but said there are pros and cons to living in a rural area.

“When road and bridge work is done in the south there are detours ... one of the disadvantages of living in the north is the detours are longer.”

In his memo to council Mr. Prevedel said residents didn't raise concerns about pedestrian access during “a vigorous and lengthy public consultation.”

The residents' association cites a letter sent to the City in May of this year that raises the issue.

Cost, privacy concerns trip up effort to put Pickering council expenses online
Staff report expected in January
December 11, 2013
By Jillian Follert
(durhamregion.com)
Councillor McLean
Pickering councillor Bill McLean

PICKERING -- Efforts to have Pickering council's discretionary expenses posted online each month were slowed down Monday night by concerns about cost and privacy.

Council voted Dec. 9 to ask City staff to prepare a report on the issue, which is expected to come back in January.

A motion moved by Councillor Bill McLean calls for discretionary council expenses, such as meals and office supplies, to be posted on the City's website monthly.

It would also see the council compensation policy amended to no longer allow for “reasonable liquor” to be expensed, and for any meal receipts submitted to include the names of those who were at the meal and the purpose of the meal.

“This is not to condemn anybody, I don't believe there are any spending abuses,” Coun. McLean said.  “I just think it's much more transparent, I think it's much more open.”

He noted there has been a steady “erosion” of public confidence in politicians and said this could make Pickering a leader in restoring that trust.

Council members generally supported the idea, but some raised questions around the extra staff time required to post the information, as well as privacy concerns about posting credit card receipts and phone bills online, or the names of people who dine with council members.

“I don't have a problem with the idea but I don't think we should be making public policy on the fly,” said Councillor Kevin Ashe, who moved a motion to refer the issue back to staff.

Councillor Jennifer O'Connell was among those who pushed for the motion to be approved immediately, saying the City already has a policy in place to provide expense receipts to the public in hard copy if requested.

“To ask for a staff report ...  is really nothing more than asking the clerk to print out a policy that currently exists,” she said, calling the move a “stall tactic.”

Pickering council expenses are already reported on an annual basis, but only as part of a report to council.

There is no dedicated spot on the City's website where members of the public can easily find the information; they would have to search for the council report.

In 2012 council's discretionary expenses totaled $56,038.

The individual tallies ranged from $22,979 for Mayor Dave Ryan to $6,226 for Councillor Peter Rodrigues.

The discretionary expense reports do not include salaries, benefits, per diems paid for attending special meetings or travel costs.

Pickering's regional council members also claim expenses reported separately by the Region of Durham.

Pickering company plans major expansion
Eco-Tec exports high-tech equipment to 60 countries
December 10, 2013
Jillian Follert
(durhamregion.com)
P.J. (Rocky) Simmons
Eco-Tec
Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland
PICKERING -- P.J. (Rocky) Simmons, president and CEO of Eco-Tec, oversar the ground-breaking ceremony for the 17,000 square-foot-expansion of their plant.  The company designs and manufactures equipment for industrial water treatment and purification.  December 4, 2013

PICKERING -- A long-standing Pickering company is growing its business as demand increases for its sophisticated equipment.

Eco-Tec manufactures large-scale equipment for industrial water treatment and purification of chemicals and gases.

The products are exported to industrial clients around the world working in areas such as oil and gas, power generation and metal finishing.

“As the equipment is becoming much larger, we need more space and more people so we can export more product,” says Dr. Rocky Simmons, the company's president and CEO.

Eco-Tec is adding 17,000 square feet of production space to its current 32,080-square-foot manufacturing facility in Pickering.

“We expect it to be one of the best in Ontario, maybe even in Canada,” Dr. Simmons said.  “We're very proud of what we do.”

Company officials celebrated a ground-breaking with Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan on Dec.  4.

The new space will increase Eco-Tec's capabilities in welding, sand blasting and painting and allow more components to be built in-house.

The extra capacity will also mean shorter delivery times for clients.

Eco-Tec currently exports its products to 60 countries and has installed 2,000 systems worldwide.

One example of its high-tech products is water treatment equipment for upstream oil production.

When steam is used to loosen thick, heavy oil from the ground, the oil and water come up together and have to be separated.  Eco-Tec's equipment creates a continuous cycle that sees the water recycled into more steam.

Established in 1970, Eco-Tec is headquartered in Pickering and has sales offices in Alberta, England, and India.

The company employs 95 people at its Pickering location.# The expanded facility is scheduled to be complete in April.

Pickering Museum Village - Christmas in the Village
December 08, 2013
Councillor Pickles with Victorian Ladies
Councillor Pickles with the Victorian Ladies 
Councillor Pickles with Welshmen
Councillor Pickles with the Welshmen & the Mari Lwyd 
South Pickering Seniors Christmas Party
December 07, 2013
Seniors Christmas Party
 
Seniors Christmas Party
 
Seniors Christmas Party
 
Pickering Ajax Italian Social Club Christmas Dinner
December 2013
Italian Social Club Christmas Dinner
 
Italian Social Club Christmas Dinner
 
Italian Social Club Christmas Dinner
 
Santa's Breakfast at Claremont Royal Canadian Legion
December 07, 2013
Decorating for Santa's Breakfast
Councillor Pickles helping to decorate for Santa's Breakfast at Claremont Royal Canadian Legion 
Planning Durham Facts
December 06, 2013

This FACTS bulleting presents demographic data for Durham Region compiled from all three releases of 2011 Statistics Canada National Household Survey (NHS) data.  The first release of ...

To read the rest of the article, click here

Where to sign books of condolence for Nelson Mandela
December 8, 2013
(toronto.ctvnews.ca)
Toronto City Hall
Toronto City Hall is seen in this file photo.

Here is a list of locations in the Greater Toronto Area where you can submit your condolences on the death of Nelson Mandela.  The books will be sent to the South African High Commission in Ottawa.

Toronto City Hall
100 Queen St. W.
Monday - Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.; Saturday - Sunday, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Until Dec. 15

South African Consulate-General
110 Sheppard Ave. E., Suite 600
Monday - Thursday, 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Until Dec. 15

Pickering City Hall
1 The Esplanade
Pickering
Monday - Friday, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Until Dec. 20

Pickering Central Library
1 The Esplanade
Pickering
Monday - Friday, 9:30 am - 9 pm; Saturday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Until Dec. 20

Pickering Recreation Complex
1867 Valley Farm Rd.
Monday - Friday, 6 a.m. - 11 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Until Dec. 20

Mount Lawn Reception Centre
21 Garrard Rd.
Whitby
Call 905-665-0600 for hours
From Dec. 9 - Dec. 16

McEachnie Funeral Home
28 Old Kingston Rd
Ajax
Call 905-428-8488 for hours
From Dec. 9 - Dec. 16

Getting ready for Durham's first elected chairman
Updated bylaw would allow chairman to make motions, vote
Jillian Follert
December 08, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Durham Regional Headquarters
Durham Regional Headquarters
Walter Passarella / Metroland Regional Municipality of Durham June 19,2007

DURHAM -- With just weeks until nominations open for Durham's first elected chairman, the Region is finalizing the fine print for the new role.

In October 2014, local residents will choose Durham's chairman after years of the position being appointed by regional council.

Much debate centres around how much power and influence the elected chairman should have.

A new report from the Region lays out a series of proposed changes, touching on issues such as how the elected chairman will participate in council meetings.

For example, the new rules would see the elected chairman make motions and vote on motions.

It's a big change from the current model where the chairman rarely votes -- if he does, it's typically to break a tie.  The new rules say a tie vote would be now be counted as a loss.

Chairman Roger Anderson sparked debate at a Dec. 3 committee meeting when he suggested the elected chairman should be allowed to put forward a slate of committee chairmen for council's consideration.

“You're going to have a chair elected by the region with a clear regional mandate,” he said.  “Everything goes through the committees, we need committee chairs who support a regional agenda.”

Regional council has four standing committees that deal with issues such as finance and planning.

Politicians were uneasy about the idea of a recommended slate, saying that may overstep the elected chairman's role.

“I see something like this as favouritism, kind of stacking the deck,” said Ajax Councillor Shaun Collier.  # Oshawa Councillor Nancy Diamond agreed, calling it “too much power in one position.”

The committee ultimately voted down the suggestion.

Other changes on tap include an acting chairman being appointed on a rotating basis for a term of three months.  They would fill in when the chairman is absent, or needs to leave the chair during a meeting.

The amended bylaw lets the chairman speak on issues at council without vacating the chair, but requires the reins be handed to the acting chairman if the chairman wades into a lengthy debate or wants to present a motion.

Regional council will vote on the proposed changes at its Dec.  11 meeting.

The next municipal election is Oct.  27, 2014, with nominations set to open Jan.  2.

Pickering marks passing of Nelson Mandela
Condolence books at City Hall, library, rec centre
December 06, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- The City of Pickering announced Friday that flags at all City facilities will be flown at half-mast to mark the death of Nelson Mandela.

Condolence books will also be set up at City Hall, the Central Library and the Pickering Recreation Complex to provide residents with a place to express their thoughts, prayers and reflections.

“Nelson Mandela was a beacon of hope, justice, and equality, whose brilliance illuminated our world,” said Mayor Dave Ryan.  “While we mourn the loss of this great man, his powerful legacy shall forever inspire both in hearts and minds.”

Pickering accepts toys and food in lieu of parking fines
December 04, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- This holiday season the Toys 4 Tickets and Food 4 Fines program returns to allow most parking fines issued from now until Dec. 13 to be paid via a donation of food or toys, in lieu of monetary payment.

Since the program's inception in 2009, almost $7,000 in toys and food have been collected.  All donations go towards the Durham Regional Police Services Food and Toy Drive.

All toy donations must be new and unwrapped, and all food donations must be non-perishable items.  A receipt is required for all donations given, ensuring the value of the food or toys is equal to, or greater than, the fine.  Tickets issued for illegal parking in accessible spaces are not eligible for the program.

The donations will be accepted on Dec. 12 and 13, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Pickering Civic Complex, One The Esplanade.

For more information on the program, contact the municipal law enforcement services at 905-420-4611 or through e-mail at bylaw@pickering.ca.

Land Over Landings Update #7
NO FLY ZONE!
December 3, 2013
Heather Rigby's Work

This is artist Heather Rigby's work, produced on the Federal Lands.  The symbol is 30 metres wide, created with the help of local farmer and Land Over Landings member Ron Tapscott, who did the initial ploughing and planting. Our team of volunteers did the subsequent mowing and raking.

Huge thanks to Heather, and to Michael Robertson of High Perspective Hang Gliding Club, who offered his land as a canvas, and Club pilot Graziano Mele for the stunning aerial image.  The message is clear: This is a NO FLY ZONE - except for hang gliders, paper airplanes, kites, and birds!

SINCE OUR LAST UPDATE...

As we head into the final month of the year, we can only note that it's been one helluva six months, starting on June 11.  So engaged have we been that we've reluctantly had to cancel our annual New Year's Dance.  Just too little time, too much to do!

Where We've Been
On October 19 we staffed a booth at The Village Market at Toronto Waldorf School, where we distributed Reality Check flyers and engaged market-goers in discussion, shared our vision for sustainable agricultural uses, and recommended ways to take action against the airport plan.  We met no one who was in favour of it.  Our thanks to Anne Della Rosa for making the arrangements.

Anne also made a presentation to the Richmond Hill Naturalists on November 21, and succeeded in collecting more signatures for our petition.

Thanks to Cookie Roscoe, we had a successful day at The Stop's Farmers Market at Wychwood Barns in Toronto.  We'd met Cookie at the “Foodie Drinks” event at the Quail and Firkin pub on Yonge St., on November 12 - an evening coordinated by Sandra Campbell, Darcy Higgins of Food Forward, and Donna Tranquada of Food and Water First.  We and F&WF were the featured guests.  Lots of networking with our city supporters, great contacts made.

We also made a presentation at the Ajax chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women, which led in turn to an invitation via Marilyn Hedge to join the Oshawa Chapter for lunch and a tour of the new Durham College (Whitby Campus) Centre for Food.  The tour was great.  The food was absolutely fabulous.  What a gem in our midst!

On the Political Front
We've made progress in bringing our cause to the attention of the federal and provincial Liberals.  A proposed policy initiative to protect the Pickering Federal Lands passed in the top ten resolutions of the Ajax-Pickering Federal Liberal Association, and at the Central Ontario level in Whitby, and was enthusiastically received at the all-Ontario meeting in Kingston.  While it did not move on to the national convention, we thank David Masters and Jim Calder for their efforts, which resulted in a huge amount of exposure for Land Over Landings and our position, and an invitation from MP Ted Hsu to meet with the Ontario Caucus of the Federal Liberals.  At the provincial level, an initiative called “Common Ground,” whereby any member of the public can suggest ideas to the provincial party and anyone can vote for or against them, saw a resolution to protect the Lands finish 58th out of over 1,700 ideas, and 12th in the category of Sustainable Communities.  Clearly a strong message was sent to Premier Wynne's government.

Members of our Political Committee also met with other politicians, including MP Chris Alexander, who continues to state his opposition to a Pickering airport.

Our Petition to the House of Commons, to be presented by NDP Urban Affairs Critic Matthew Kellway, continues to gather signatures.  Please download it and help get more signatures as you meet with old friends and new over the holidays.  You'll find a link to it here.

COMING UP...

Visits to Vimy Ridge Public School, Richmond Hill United Church on January 12, the new Probus (professional and business) Club of Stouffville on March 13, and a trip to Ottawa to blitz politicians.

Our next and final UPDATE of the year will include a review of 2013 and a look at what the new year holds in store.  Stay tuned.

As you make your holiday plans we suggest you Love Your Local - local businesses, local community, and, of course, local food and drink! Keep it simple, keep it green, and keep it close to home.  This benefits all of us.

Demolition of Pickering Lands hits 41 years with more to come
PETER KENTER
November 28, 2013
Daily Commercial News (dcnonl.com)

Demolition projects typically span a few months.  Arguably Canada's longest demolition project is now stretching into 41 years.

The demolition is occurring on the “Pickering Lands,” 18,600 acres expropriated by the federal government in 1972.  Located north and northeast of Toronto, the land was acquired to build a new airport.  The plans were shelved in 1975 for a number of reasons, including public opposition, and the province's refusal to service the site with roads and sewers.

However, instead of selling the land back to the diminishing number of residents of such towns as Altona and Brougham, the Crown continues to lease the properties to them through Transport Canada.

Over the years, the population of the Pickering Lands has been reduced to 450.  Of the initial 750 occupied homes, the number of structures has dwindled to 182 residential buildings, 65 commercial properties and 380 agricultural buildings.  Many of the surviving structures are considered heritage buildings.

“If properties become vacant and are not economically or operationally viable to restore or re-tenant, or are no longer under licence or lease by local municipalities, they may be considered for demolition,” says Pamela Mintern, a media relations adviser with Transport Canada.  “All the structures slated for demolition are vacant and/or dilapidated and could pose a threat to the health and safety of those who venture in or near them.”

Mintern says that Transport Canada isn't allowing the structures to deteriorate by design or encouraging tenants to leave.

“Transport Canada takes seriously its landlord responsibilities,” she says.  “It manages the Pickering Lands site to ensure the safety and health of its tenants, employees, property management agents, partner agencies, and the general public.”

Gabrielle Untermann is secretary of Land Over Landings, a group opposing plans to build the Pickering Airport.  She has lived in a house on the lands as a tenant since 1987.  Her husband has lived there since 1978.

“I think Transport Canada took on the job of managing these properties reluctantly,” she says.  “For some time, many of the houses were not well maintained and tenants were asked not do maintenance work themselves.  When the buildings deteriorated, the tenants were asked to leave.  In some cases, the homes were re-tenanted, but often by someone already living here.  The homes they vacated were then subject to being demolished.”

Land Over Landings maintains a database of structures that have received widely different levels of attention over the years.  Some buildings have been demolished or left to deteriorate, others have been maintained, and still others have been thoroughly refurbished, only to remain unrented.

“To some extent, I think the problem is that none of the people involved with this issue in 1971 are still involved,” says Untermann.  “People inherit files and they want to keep the story going, but the approach was no longer coherent.”

The buildings are now maintained and serviced by on-site property service agent SNC-Lavalin Operations and Maintenance.

“We're now very well looked after and treated like people,” says Untermann.  “However, there are very few occupied houses left.”

More than 200 structures have been demolished since 2003 alone.

Transport Canada, through Public Works and Government Services Canada, currently outsources all demolition-related activity to the private sector through SNC-Lavalin.  All planned demolition projects are publicly tendered for competitive bid.

On June 11, 2013, the federal government announced a “balanced approach” to the Pickering Lands.  Although Finance Minister Jim Flaherty didn't specifically promise that an airport would be constructed, he indicated that land had been set aside for a smaller Pickering Airport site, a 5,000-acre Rouge National Urban Park, and economic development.

Untermann says the announcement only galvanized opposition to the airport.

“It's made us all the more determined that it's not going to happen,” she says.  “The remaining homes here are in good shape, and I hope to see an end to the demolition project.  It would be a shame if this house wasn't privately owned one day, with people gardening and farming around it.”

Doctors support merger of Rouge Valley Health System and The Scarborough Hospital
NEWS RELEASE
November 25, 2013

Joint News Release of the Chiefs of Staff and Medical Advisory Committees of RVHS and TSH and the Presidents of the RVHS Medical Staff Society and the TSH Medical Staff Association

(November 25, 2013) - The physicians' organizations representing doctors at Rouge Valley Health System and The Scarborough Hospital fully support a merger of the two hospital corporations.

The Medical Advisory Committees and the Leaders of the physician staff associations at both hospital corporations fully endorse the motions approved by the two hospital Boards of Directors at their meetings on November 12.

Dr. Naresh Mohan, Chief of Medical Staff at RVHS, said, “We know that a merged corporation of the four hospital sites that comprise Rouge Valley Health System and The Scarborough Hospital will attract more specialists, provide more services in the long run and provide more access to those services in the Scarborough and west Durham communities.”

Dr. Tom Chan, Chief of Medical Staff at TSH, said, “The time is now to plan and act together for a better health care system for the communities served by our hospitals.  A merger of The Scarborough Hospital and Rouge Valley Health System will make the best use of scarce medical resources, providing a seamless, high quality spectrum of health care to meet the needs of our residents both now and into the future.”

The leaders of the medical staff associations, Dr. Henry Huang at RVHS and Dr. Robert Ting at TSH, who represent the physicians at their respective hospitals, also announced their support of the merger recommendations made by the hospital Boards.  (The Medical Staff Society at RVHS and the Medical Staff Association at TSH represent their physician members and are entirely independent of the two hospital corporations.)

Dr. Ting said, “This merger is also a tremendous opportunity for us to address our aging facilities as one, unified organization.  As it stands, it will cost about $1 billion over the next two decades just to maintain our facilities at a satisfactory level; and, we will need an additional $500 million to address other capital project upgrades, such as the 1957 operating rooms at the General site.  In west Durham, the Rouge Valley Ajax and Pickering site only has the capacity to look after thirty percent of their population, and the Birchmount site ranks in the lowest 10th percentile in the province in terms of hospital facility condition.  Both Scarborough and west Durham clearly need facility investments from the province comparable to other communities.  The merger proposal submitted to the Central East LHIN highlights the benefits of facility renewal for our patients, communities and taxpayers.”

Dr. Huang agreed saying, “Physicians can speak with one voice on this question: Are we better as one hospital corporation?  Yes, we are.  The benefits are long-term, but we must plan and act on our future today.  In only a few years, a merged hospital corporation will make patient transition from one department, and one hospital site, to another rather easy - eliminating the obstacles that our separate corporations have.  One health record could exist within one system, offering a full set of hospital services at four sites with four emergency departments.”

The four physician leaders agree that a merged hospital corporation will provide better services and allow for a sustainable high-quality hospital system for Scarborough and west Durham.

The hospital Board motions recommending a merger now go to the Central East Local Health Integration Network Board of Directors for consideration at their November 27th meeting.

Any recommendation to proceed with a merger must be approved by the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

-30-

For more information, contact:

Dr. Naresh Mohan
Medical Chief of Staff
Rouge Valley Health System
416-281-7387
drnmohan@rogers.com
  Dr. Tom Chana
Medical Chief of Staff
The Scarborough Hospital
416-438, 2911, ext. 8101
chiefofstaff@tsh.to
Fallen Pickering firefighter honoured with street in his name
VERONICA HENRI
November 23, 2013
(torontosun.com)
Street Name Dedication
Firefighters Ian Grimshaw of Pickering Fire Services along with Eric DeGeer, behind, unveil a new street sign on Nov. 23, 2013.  Firefighter Ray Zents is the first Pickering firefighter to be considered a line-of-duty death due to cancer.  (Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun)

PICKERING - Fallen firefighter Ray Zents' name will live on along a brand new stretch of road close to where he saved many lives and property.

Ten years after his death from work-related cancer in 2003, a street in his name - Zents Dr.  - was unveiled Saturday in the Brock and Taunton Rds.  area.

The green sign is complemented by a Pickering Fire Services logo.

Under greying skies, about 20 firefighters and department brass joined Zents' family as a firefighter ascended a ladder and brought the street sign to life.

Barbara Zents thanked everyone for honouring her husband's memory and, while she appreciated the sign, she acknowledged her husband's humble side.

“Ray is looking down at us and thinking, I wonder what all the fuss is about,” she told the gathering.

Zents is the first Pickering firefighter whose death has been recognized as occurring in the line of duty from cancer.  It may have almost a decade to recognize his life was lost because of the hazards of firefighting, but time did not cloud the memories of colleagues.

“He had an amazing, calming nature on the guys in the trucks,” recalled Capt.  John Mairs.  “He would see a fire off in the distance and say, `We are just going to put it out.'”

Platoon Chief Ian Eibbitt agreed.

Zents was his senior in age and experience when they started working together, but their friendship grew and Zents became best man at his wedding.

“He bred confidence in those around him, because he was so calm.  I could not ask for a better guy to work with,” said Eibbitt.

Premier Dalton McGuinty's government passed legislation in 2007 requiring the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to recognize eight types of cancer as work-related for firefighters.

As the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association (OPFFA) continues to push for legislative changes, Colin Arnott, president of the Pickering Professional Firefighters Association, keeps a positive perspective and plans to pay tribute to more members of the service who died of work-related illnesses in upcoming ceremonies.

Mayor Charity Gala 2013
Mayor and Councillors at Charity Gala
Mayor and Councillors at Mayor Charity Gala 2013 
David and Brenda Pickles at Charity Gala
David and Brenda Pickles at Mayor Charity Gala 2013 
News Release
For Immediate Release
Pickering Program Wins the Art of Transition Sustainability Award
November 13, 2013

Pickering, ON, November 13, 2013 - The City of Pickering's Sustainable Neighbourhoods program won 'Best use of creativity to advance social and environmental sustainability' at the third annual Durham Art of Transition Creative Awards ceremony held last Friday.

The Durham Art of Transition Creative Awards recognizes the importance of arts and culture, innovation, and creative leaders who are making a difference in their community.  Launched earlier in the year, the City's Celebrating Sustainable Neighbourhoods Program is an innovative, and now award-winning, community engagement effort that encourages neighbourhood groups to complete sustainable activities within their community.

Through this program, the City has seen neighbours unite for the greater good of the community, committing their time to projects and activities that contribute to a healthy environment, economy, and society, overall furthering Pickering's journey to becoming a more sustainable City.

“I am thrilled that the Celebrating Sustainable Neighbourhoods Program won an award for its creative approach to fostering community engagement and sustainability,” said Councillor Doug Dickerson, Chair of the Sustainable Pickering Advisory Committee. “Neighbourhood groups have committed to a number of initiatives ranging from local food and urban gardening to tree planting and community beautification projects. I am proud and excited to have their efforts recognized by the greater community.”

The Celebrating Sustainable Neighbourhoods program wraps up at the end of November, with a celebration event to follow in the New Year to recognize the group successes, and select a winning neighbourhood project.

The City of Pickering is a recognized national leader in sustainability having previously won the FCM-CH2M Hill Sustainable Community Planning Award.  Please visit pickering.ca/sustainability for more information on the program.

-30-

As the gateway city to the east GTA, Pickering (population 94,000) is strategically located where Toronto, York and Durham Regions meet.  Pickering is an affluent community that is steeped in history, natural beauty and small town charm with all the amenities and services that a big city has to offer.  The City of Pickering is considered a municipal leader in fiscal management, service delivery, sustainability and the environment; and offers a wealth of sports, leisure and recreation opportunities to its residents.  Pickering has been recognized by Profit magazine as one of the ten best cities in Canada for growth companies and received the 2008 FCM-CH2M Hill Sustainable Community Planning Award.

Media Contact:

Shauna Muir
(Acting) Coordinator, Sustainability | City Development
905.420.4660 ext. 2170 | 1.866.683.2760 | TTY 905.420.1739
smuir@pickering.ca

Pickering could see 3.9-per cent tax hike in 2014
Councillor wants more public participation in upcoming budget process
Jillian Follert
November 13, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Pickering Councillor Jennifer O'Connell
Pickering Councillor Jennifer O'Connell
Jason Liebregts / Metroland file photo
WHITBY -- Pickering Councillor Jennifer O'Connell is pictured in the Regional Council Chambers.

SIDEBAR
Upcoming 2014-2018 capital projects
  • Operations centre: $26 million
  • Seaton fire station: $6.8 million
  • Central library expansion: $15 million
  • Community park: $6.5 million
  • Museum visitor services building: $7.2 million
  • Seniors' centre: $18.8 million
  • Total: $80.3 million

PICKERING -- Pickering residents could be looking at a property tax increase of 3.9 per cent in 2014, or about $60 more a year for the average house.

On Nov. 11 city council's executive committee got a look at the 2014 base budget guideline, ahead of the formal budget process in February.

A report says the proposed 3.9-per cent figure translates to a total tax bill increase of 1.12 per cent, once the Region of Durham's projected 2.35 per cent increase and the school board's estimated zero per cent increase are blended together and weighted.

Cost pressures pushing an increase for 2014 include City staff wages and salaries, as well as higher costs for fuel, utilities and debt charges.

An estimated $4.8 million will be required to service the City's debt in 2014.

“What always concerns me more than just the levy increase is how much debt we're taking on,” said Councillor Jennifer O'Connell.  “If the budget comes down and it's 3.9 per cent, but we're depleting surpluses and debt-financing everything...for me that's just as bad as a 10-per cent tax increase, because all we're doing is putting the tax increase on future generations.”

Stan Karwowski, division head of finance and treasurer, said the 2014 guidelines reflect council's focus on not using debt for small purchases such as vehicles.

“Council wants us to get away from debt-financing for small projects and instead have the property tax base pay for those expenditures and use debt-financing for longer term assets like an operations centre or a bridge,” he said.

Mr. Karwowski stressed the numbers at this point are just guidelines and could change.

“A lot of things could change, the price of fuel could go up or down, there could be new provincial government announcements.  There are still variables,” he said.

Councillor Peter Rodrigues said he wants to see more public participation in the 2014 budget process and asked City staff how to better engage residents.

“Year after year after year, how many people do we get? Somewhere between zero and two? People say they're up in arms about the property taxes, I'd like to see them come participate,” he said.

Staff said the corporate communications department is working on a strategy.

Pickering's 2014 budget meetings are scheduled for Feb. 13 and 14.

Boards of Scarborough, Rouge Valley hospitals back merger
All four facilities to remain open, but locals express concern for the future.
Theresa Boyle Health
Published on Tue Nov 12 2013
(thestar.com)
Staff at the Scarborough Hospital
The staff at the Scarborough Hospital had opposed a merger with the Toronto East General hospital in 2011.
Colin McConnell / Toronto Star

A proposal to merge the Scarborough Hospital with the Rouge Valley Health System has been adopted by the boards of both facilities.

The boards of directors of both hospital corporations unanimously approved the proposal at two separate board meetings on Tuesday night.

A merger would result in the creation of the seventh largest of 150 hospital corporations in Ontario, Scarborough Hospital president Robert Biron said.

“With size comes an enormous amount of influence,” he told the board meeting.

The Scarborough Hospital has two sites - one on Lawrence Ave.  E.  and another on Birchmount Rd.  Rouge Valley also has two sites - one on Ellesmere Rd.  in Scarborough and one on Harwood Ave. S. in Ajax.

The plan calls for the four sites - and their four emergency department - to remain open.

Kingsley Kwok, chair of the Scarborough Health Coalition, said that while the organization takes no position on the merger, it is concerned about what hospital services in the area will look like in the future.  He expressed fear that the four sites could eventually be centralized on one large campus in Ajax, with no sites left in Scarborough.

“We don't know anything about the scope or siting.  In 10 years' time, we don't know if there will no longer be any hospitals in Scarborough and one large hospital in west Durham,” Kwok said.

The board of the Central East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), which plans and funds health services in the area, votes on the proposal on Nov. 27.  From there, it goes to Health Minister Deb Matthews who has the final say.

The future of the Scarborough Hospital has long been up in the air.  Earlier this year, the LHIN nixed a proposal for a controversial reorganization of services between its two campuses.  And in 2011, a proposal to merge with Toronto East General Hospital was canned after a huge community outcry.

A report from joint committee that proposed the merger with Rouge Valley states that the status quo is not an option.  The hospitals by law have to balance their books, but they are faced with inflationary increases of up to 5 per cent annually.  With no funding hikes coming from the province, they each must find millions in savings.

In recent years, they have done as much as they can to cut costs through finding efficiencies, the report says.

“The next steps will have to include service reductions or eliminations.  The (committee) believes this can be avoided, minimized or deferred through merger,” reads the report.

At the Rouge Valley board meeting, Dr. Jordan Cheskes, vice-president of the medical staff society, said patients would be better served by a merged entity.

“We feel it is better to collaborate than to compete for patient care,” he said.

Registered nurse Susan Brickell, who represents the Ontario Nurses' Association at the Scarborough Hospital, said she fears patient care is suffering and argued that the province needs to provide more funding to hospitals.

“The population thinks they are getting great care, but they aren't,” she said, explaining that the number of registered nurses working at the hospital has been reduced by 75 in each of the last two years.

She said registered nurses are being replaced with registered practical nurses who have less education and a smaller skill set.

Remembrance Day 2013
November 11, 2013
Rememrance Day
Photo Credit: Fred Blair 
Councillor Pickles laying wreath for James Pickles
Photo Credit: Fred Blair 
Councillor Pickles laying wreath for James Pickles
Photo Credit: Fred Blair 
Councillor Pickles laying wreath for James Pickles
Photo Credit: Fred Blair 
Councillor Pickles laying wreath
Councillor Pickles lays wreath in honour of his Grandfather James Pickles 
Remembrance Day Services
 
Remembrance Day Services
Remembrance Day service at Claremont Legion 
Remembrance Day services at City Hall
November 10, 2013
Remembrance Day
 
Remembrance Day
 
Best use of creativity to advance social and environmental sustainability
November 8, 2013
Receiving award
 

The City of Pickering's Celebrating Sustainable Neighbourhoods program won ‘Best use of creativity to advance social and environmental sustainability’ at the third annual Durham Art of Transition Creative Awards ceremony held on November 8, 2013.

The Durham Art of Transition Creative Awards recognizes the importance of arts and culture, innovation, and creative leaders who are making a difference in their community.  Launched earlier in the year, the City's Celebrating Sustainable Neighbourhoods Program is an innovative, and now award-winning, community engagement effort that encourages neighbourhood groups to complete sustainable activities within their community.

Through this program, the City has seen neighbours unite for the greater good of the community, committing their time to projects and activities that contribute to a healthy environment, economy, and society, overall furthering Pickering's journey to becoming a more sustainable City.

Road closures in Pickering, Ajax, Whitby as Hwy. 407 work continues
November 8, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Home base for Hwy 407
Home base for Hwy. 407 extension opens in Whitby
Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland
WHITBY --The 407 East Development Group held an open house at the new project office in Whitby November 29.  The office will serve as a public information office for the highway extension.  November 29, 2012

DURHAM -- Several road closures are planned as construction continues on phase one of the Hwy. 407 east extension.

In Pickering, Salem Road and Sideline 14 will both be closed between Hwy. 7 and Seventh Concession Road to June 30, 2014.

In Ajax, the right lane of Hwy. 401 eastbound will be closed from 600 metres west of Lakeridge Road to 300 metres east of Lakeridge Road from Nov. 9 to 14.

In Whitby, Ashburn Road will be closed between Hwy. 7 and Spencers Road to July 30, 2014.  Anderson Street will also be closed from south of Clair Avenue to north of Saint Thomas Street to July 15, 2014.

There are no current road closures scheduled for Oshawa.

For more information, visit www.407eastphase1.ca.

Sacrifice some time for remembrance in Durham Region
November 6, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

He was just a boy.

A foolish 14 year old who lied about his age to enlist in the army and embark on what would be his biggest adventure, an escape from his small-town life and a chance to travel the world.  It's a common story told by veterans of the great wars, many of whom were never able to discuss their experiences with their own children afterwards.

The journey they embarked on came with a price -- the steepness of which these young boys may not have fully anticipated.  Along with adventure, they received their fair share of nightmares as well.

It must have been terrifying to see the bombs exploding, to hear the screams of comrades injured in battle, to feel the sting of the dirt spraying up after absorbing firearm attacks intended to end their lives.

How many sleepless nights came afterward, having spent so many in trenches, awakened by the true nightmares of what was happening around them?

And most importantly, how grateful must they have felt when it was finally over and they were able to return home to our nation, strong and free?

Thanks to the selflessness and courage of veterans, the majority of Canadians will never truly realize just how grateful they should be for the freedoms enjoyed so casually.  For the nights of peaceful slumber and security Canadians are able to take for granted, we must never forget the cost at which peace came and those who paid the price for us.

To be Canadian is to be blessed.  Anyone who lives in Canada and enjoys the freedoms of this great nation owes respect to Canada's veterans this and every Remembrance Day -- it's the least we can pay back to those who gave more than can ever be returned.

Next week during Remembrance Day services, make sure to spend some time thinking, thanking, and being grateful to the soldiers of yesterday and today for putting on the line their own freedom so that we may still enjoy ours.  Wearing a poppy is a good start, but taking an hour out of your schedule to attend a Remembrance Day ceremony is a tiny sacrifice everyone in Canada should be willing to make.  It's the least that can be done.

In Ajax, residents can show their respect Nov. 11 at 10:45 a.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 322, 111 Hunt St.

In Pickering, people have two days to choose from: Nov. 10 at 10:45 a.m. for a parade and service at Pickering City Hall, Courtyard, One The Esplanade; or Nov. 11 for a service at 10:45 a.m, same location.

Whitby events are on Nov. 11, with a parade and service at 10:30 a.m. at the Whitby Legion, 117 Byron St. S., and a ceremony at 2 p.m. at Luther Vipond Arena, 67 Winchester Rd., Brooklin.

Oshawa residents can make their way to Memorial Park Nov. 11 (Simcoe and John streets) at 11 a.m. for a parade and service.

In Clarington, there are several opportunities to show respect: Nov. 9 at 10:30 a.m. for a service at the Newtonville Cenotaph; Nov. 10 at 1:15 p.m., a parade and service at the Orono Rebekah Lodge, 124 Church St., followed by Orono Cenotaph at 1:30 p.m.  On Nov. 11 at 11 a.m., services will be held at the Bowmanville Cenotaph, south side of Clarington Town Hall, 40 Temperance St., and White Cliffe Terrace, 1460 Hwy.  2, Courtice.  At 10:30 a.m., another service is at the Newcastle Cenotaph, west side of Newcastle Community Hall, 20 King Ave.  W.

North Durham residents can make their way to Uxbridge at 11 a.m., Nov. 11, for a parade and ceremony downtown at Brock and Toronto streets, or to Scugog at 10:15 a.m. for a parade and service at the Scugog Memorial Public Library, 231 Water St.; 11 a.m. for a service at the Scugog Municipal Office, 181 Perry St.; or 10:30 a.m. for a service at St.  John's Anglican Church, 3505 Church St.  W., Blackstock.

Be there with a poppy pinned proudly to your chest so those lost and those who still remain know how much their sacrifice is realized.

Remembrance Day service at Duffins Meadows Cemetery
November 4, 2013
Rembembrance Day Service
 
Rembembrance Day Service
At Remembrance Day service at Duffins Meadows Cemetery. - with Joe Dickson, Keith Falconer, Doug Dickerson and Dave Ryan.
Pickering breaks ground on new indoor soccer centre
Facility expected to be opened in spring of 2014
Brad Kelly
November 1, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Mayor Ryan, members of council and members of Pickering Soccer Club ground breaking
Pickering Soccer Centre
Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland
PICKERING -- Mayor Dave Ryan along with council members and members of the Pickering Soccer Club put their shovels in the dirt at the official ground breaking ceremony that was held for the new Pickering Soccer Centre, on Clements Road in Pickering Monday afternoon.  October 28, 2013

PICKERING -- Members of the Pickering Soccer Club were giddy with excitement over the impact a new indoor soccer centre will have on the community during an official ground-breaking ceremony on Monday.

Club members, politicians and city staff gathered under a tent at 1975 Clements Rd. to celebrate the official start to the Pickering Soccer Centre, scheduled for completion in the spring of 2014.

“It's going to be tremendous.  It's going to be huge,” said Pickering Soccer Club president Phil Frampton.  “Now we can bring all our operations under one roof.

“During the winter our competitive and indoor teams are playing all over Toronto, Durham.  Now we can bring them together under one roof.  There is a place that they can call home and they are going to love it here.”

Frampton added that the club initially recognized the need for an indoor facility 20 years ago, and even considered using a warehouse for winter programs.  Once a suitable location was found and a business plan formalized, a unique partnership was formed between the City of Pickering and Pickering Soccer Club.

The club's head coach, Tony La Ferrara, can't wait to implement some of the ideas he has for the utilization of the 9,000 square foot air supported dome.

“The impact? I don't think you can measure it,” he said.  “People don't have to travel too far.  The family life will be better.  Hopefully we'll grow even more with this in terms of membership.  The quality of coaching will be better, player development will be better.

“We're probably one of the very few clubs in Ontario, if not Canada, to have an opportunity to have an indoor facility that is being managed by the club.  The City is going to build it for us and leave it to us to fill it and manage it.  We're very fortunate.”

The facility will include a full-sized turf soccer field that can be divided into four smaller pitches, a 100m track and clubhouse that can be used for storage and meetings.  While the facility will be used primarily by soccer teams, other user groups will be welcomed, including ultimate frisbee, rugby, football, senior groups and schools to name just a few of the possibilities.

La Ferrara would like to invite international coaches to the facility for seminars, as well as having the Toronto FC put on clinics for players.  There have also been discussions with provincial and national programs to utilize the facility, as well as making it available to teams to practise during the 2015 Pan Am Games.

The club envisions its 3,500 membership to increase with the availability of year-round training.

Mayor Dave Ryan described Monday's ceremony as a “major step forward in realizing the collective dream of a new Pickering Soccer Centre,” adding it was an important milestone in the history of the City.

The $7-million facility is going to be funded by the City and repaid by the Pickering Soccer Club over a 15-year period.  The soccer centre represents the first brand new facility in Pickering in 12 years.

Health-care professionals warn residents about potential merger of Ajax hospital
Ontario Health Coalition invites residents to take action on health-care cuts
Moya Dillon
November 1, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Cindy Dowson, president of CUPE Local 4365
Merger meeting
Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland
AJAX -- Cindy Dowson, president of CUPE Local 4365 for Rouge Valley Centenary and Ajax sites, addressed guests at a meeting as the Ontario Health Coalition launched a campaign to protest $28 million in hospital cuts in Ajax and Scarborough, which has prompted area hospitals to examine the possibility of a merger between Rouge Valley Health Service and the Scarborough Hospital.  October 29, 2013

AJAX -- The Ontario Health Coalition is asking area residents to join it in protesting hospital cuts that prompted merger talks between Rouge Valley Health Services and the Scarborough Hospital.

The Durham Health Coalition and the Friends of Ajax/Pickering Hospital joined forces to educate the public about what a merger would mean for the community during a meeting at the Ajax Public Library Oct. 29.

“We want to challenge the provincial government around funding and challenge each other on what health care means to us,” said Trish McAuliffe, a steering committee member for the DHC.

“We're here to talk about the impact and what this means to us in the community.  We'd like to come away with an action plan for the community to keep the Province accountable to the hospital terms and keep things on the up and up in our community.”

Several health-care professionals spoke at the meeting to share their concerns about a potential merger and the ongoing decline in government funding.

“You have a wonderful hospital in Ajax, it's a very community feel,” said Carol Oates, bargaining unit president for Local 24 Ontario Nurses Association, who works at Rouge Valley and has been in nursing for more than 30 years.

“What will happen to us with the merger, I would say we're kind of a sitting duck,” she continued.

“Officials say it won't affect services but we don't know what that means.  We need to watch what's going on.  I urge the community to get involved because you do have a good hospital and we need to keep services here.”

Rouge Valley president and CEO Rik Ganderton has previously said that services currently offered at the Ajax campus will stay at the hospital if a merger happens.

“We recognize growing services for the Ajax and Pickering communities and west Durham is a critical opportunity and part of this process will be to look at growing those services for the benefit of that community.  There is no intention to move services out of the Ajax-Pickering campus to Scarborough or vice versa,” Mr. Ganderton said during a Sept.  24 telephone town hall meeting, where he and other speakers, including doctors and hospital staff, detailed potential benefits of a merger including increased human resources, greater access to specialized services, increased efficiencies and better continuity of care.

“We have made three commitments as part of this process,” he continued.

“One is that the emergency departments at all four hospital sites will stay open, in addition no hospital sites will close and patient-care services currently delivered at Rouge Valley Ajax-Pickering will continue to be delivered there.”

The potential merger is currently being examined by several working groups made up of physicians, hospital staff, health-care professionals, residents and other stakeholders.  An integration plan detailing how to move forward, including how services may be affected, will be presented to the hospital boards in November and made available for public input.

At the Oct. 29 meeting, Natalie Mehra, director of the Ontario Health Coalition, noted budget decreases mean cuts will have to be made whether a merger happens or not.

She cited the continuing decline in funding for prompting $17 million in cuts at the Scarborough Hospital this year, and noted if the hospital systems merged, a further $28 million in cuts would need to be found by 2014/2015 to balance budgets.

“We're really concerned about the implications of the proposed merger and the financial challenges facing hospitals in Scarborough and Ajax,” she said.

“What we've heard is that no services will be moved from Ajax to Scarborough, but no one said services wouldn't be touched at all.  I think we need to see a plan of what are the actual service cuts before they move forward with any type of merger plan.  Our experience has been that mergers don't save money, they actually cost money.”

Other speakers highlighted the effects of previous cuts, including reduced beds, extremely high occupancy rates at hospitals, reductions in scheduled surgeries, long waits for long-term care and home care, high rates of hospital readmission and more.

About 40 residents were in attendance at the meeting, and they shared similar concerns regarding relocation of services, quick discharges from overcrowded hospitals, long wait times and more.

“Hospital spending has declined the most steeply of any part of health care funding; Ontario is now at the bottom in Canada in terms of funding hospitals,” Ms. Mehra said.

“The provincial government is curtailing funding and trying to force hospitals to shed services.  We oppose this vision.  We want community hospitals that provide a reasonable range of services and are there when we need it.  We've already cut the hospital system to the bone, so we're extremely concerned about what's to come in the next couple years.”

The Ontario Health Coalition is inviting concerned residents and health-care professionals to join them for a Save Our Services Day of Action on Saturday, Nov.  9 in Scarborough.  For more information, including locations of events, call 416-835-3377.

For more information on the potential hospital merger, including future public meetings, visit www.leadingforpatients.ca.

Pickering taxpayers off the hook for Seaton costs
New agreement covers costs of infrastructure for new development
Moya Dillon
October 29, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- Infrastructure for the planned Seaton development won't cost Pickering residents, thanks to a new financial impact agreement.

On Oct. 28 council voted unanimously in favour of a new agreement between the City and Seaton landowners, which will raise the long-term surplus of the Seaton development to $18.5 million by 2031 and erase the short-term deficit identified in a previous financial impact study.

“This addresses, as much as anyone can calculate, the financial burden that otherwise would have been imposed on the taxpayer,” said Paul Bigioni, director of corporate services and city solicitor for Pickering.

“When we did the last public report we identified the long-term surplus as $4.4 million, meaning we would collect that amount through development charge measures and voluntary contributions of funds above what was needed to service Seaton, but staff didn't feel that was enough of a cushion given the long-term time frame for construction,” he explained.

“When you start a new development there is also initial infrastructure that needs to go in first, such as fire halls.  That means there's capital that's needed to get a community started, and for Seaton that would have resulted in a small, temporary deficit.”

The new agreement increases the long-term surplus and erases the short-term deficit through voluntary contributions from landowners as well as a commitment from developers to fund the Seaton road network.

“It was a combination of things,” Mr. Bigioni said of the success of the agreement.

“The commitment to fund the roads network is non-monetary, but it is still of great value to the city.”

The planned Seaton development is expected to bring 37,000 new residents to Pickering by 2031.

Pickering councillors question duration of Finch construction
Communication, signage also come under fire
Moya Dillon
October 9, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Construction
Construction
Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland
PICKERING -- Construction at Finch Avenue and Valley Farm Road, just west of Brock Road.  Although officials estimated work would take about eight months, the westbound lanes of Finch Avenue will be closed for 14 months beginning October 1 to allow for completion of that section of the southeast collector trunk sewer.  October 1, 2013

PICKERING -- Councillors questioned the lack of dialogue on a sewage construction project that will see the westbound lanes of Finch Avenue closed for more than a year.

Regional Councillor Bill McLean, who is also on the Regional works committee, said he found out about the project from a resident.

“A few weeks ago I got a call from a resident saying they saw a sign and Finch was going to be closed for 14 months until December 2014, and I said `no, that's impossible, that's not going to happen.' I was thinking I would have known about it being on Regional council and the works committee.”

Coun. McLean called for better communication from York Region on the overall southeast collector trunk sewer project, especially where it concerns a shutdown that was originally supposed to be eight months.

“To get a call from a resident that this was happening, without knowing about it from our staff, York Region or Durham Region staff upsets me to no end,” he said.

“I've been very pleased with the response York has given me dealing with issues with this pipe, but less impressed with them when it comes to communication from them to our staff and Durham Region staff dealing with issues such as this, the surprise issues.  I certainly hope there's not anymore surprises I have to hear about from another resident.”

Other councillors expressed dismay at the extended construction period, noting the area may need better signage to keep drivers from heading westbound on Finch off Brock Road.  Many of those drivers then end up detouring down Royal Road when they encounter the closure, rather than sticking to the official detour, which would have them continue down Brock to Kingston and take Kingston west to Liverpool Road.

“Traffic is becoming an issue with people cutting through Royal Road and with people doing u-turns on Finch as well,” said Coun. David Pickles.

Staff members assured councillors they would speak with York Region about signage options and noted the delay was mostly due to York's efforts to ensure construction work was done properly and to completion.

“York Region was concerned about constructability,” said Richard Holborn, director of engineering and public works for the City.  “It's better to give the bad news first, that construction has been extended, but they are hopeful they will have it done earlier.”

In response to questions about economic impacts and compensation, Pickering CAO Tony Prevedel noted that while there was no specific compensation to the city for the delay, York Region had agreed to extend a contract clause that pays $125,000 to cover City staff costs into the future until the project is completed.

“So there is a little bit of compensation coming our way,” Mr. Prevedel said.

For more information on the project, visit www.sectrunksewer.ca.

Service Announcement
Notice of Temporary Road Closure
October 9, 2013

Temporary Road Closure - Sideline #32 between Region Road #5 (9th Concession) and Uxbridge Pickering Townline

Purpose:  Cross Culvert Replacement

Duration:  Friday, October 11, 2013, 8:00 am - 4:00 pm

Please be advised that Sideline #32 between Region Road #5 (9th Concession) and Uxbridge Pickering Townline will be closed for a cross culvert replacement.

Please note Emergency Vehicles will not have access.

For additional information please contact:
Rod Marshall
(Acting) Foreperson, Roads
Operations & Fleet Services
Engineering & Public Works Department
Tel: 905.420.4660 ext. 5221
TTY: 905.420.1739
Fax: 905.683.8288
Cell: 905.706.1439
rodmarshall@pickering.ca
Service Disruption Line:  1.866.278.9993

Doors Open! Pickering
October 5, 2013

Doors Open! Pickering was again a big success, I visited a number of locations including the Devi Mandir, as seen in the photo below.

Visit to Devi Mandir
 
Cleeve Horne Home
Click image to see full brochure 
Brougham Union Masonic Hall
Click image to see full brochure 
Ecole Elementaire
Click image to see full brochure 
Devi Mandir
Click image to see full brochure 
TD Tree Days
October 5, 2013
Tree Planting
 

As the Councillor for the area I was pleased to accept an invitation from TD and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, and the OFAH to join them and dozens of volunteers from the community, on October 5 to help green Duffin's Creek in Pickering on the Greenwood conservation lands.

This event is one of over 140 plantings being held across the country by TD Friends of the Environment Foundation as part of TD Tree Days.

As a component of TD Forests, TD Tree Days invests in the health of our urban tree canopies, and offers TD employees and their families, and our community partners, a fun, easy and rewarding way to give back and help green their community. In three short years, thousands of volunteers - from Brownies to bankers - have planted over 85,000 trees through the program.

Pickering Public Library use climbing
Increased use puts more strain on space
Moya Dillon
Oct 05, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
CEO Kathy Grant
Pickering Library looks to future
Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland
PICKERING -- Pickering Public Library CEO Cathy Grant.  October 23, 2012

PICKERING -- With overall library use up by five per cent in 2012, the need for more community space is becoming a concern.

The Pickering Public Library board recently released its 2013 Community Report, highlighting the steadily increasing use of library facilities by residents.

“In 2012, the Pickering Public Library experienced record-level use,” said Ruvette Coelho, board chairwoman, in an introduction letter to the report.

That included a six-per cent increase in the number of items borrowed, with 1,265,842 items circulated, a five-per cent increase in visitors, and a four-per cent increase in program attendance.  In addition, the library helped bridge the digital divide with a 47-per cent increase in use of its Internet workstations and a 48-per cent increase in wireless use.  Altogether, the library experienced a five-per cent increase in overall usage.

“There is a downside to this increased use and efficiency,” Ms. Coelho said.

“Increased use has resulted in insufficient space to deliver library programs and services.  The need for increased space was identified by a recent study which recommended an increase of 17,000 square feet to the Central Library.”

That study, and accompanying expansion proposal, was adopted by council and put into the City's future capital budget list for consideration.

“Council is supportive and has put it in the long-term budget, but we are competing with a lot of community uses,” said Cathy Grant, CEO of the library.

“We are experiencing the highest use ever and that's not unusual right now, there's a really big renaissance in libraries.  Communities are really embracing their libraries as places for life-long learning.”

While Ms. Grant stresses that she and board members are proud of the library and happy to see residents using their services, it does create challenges.

“Increasing use adds strain to our already small facilities,” she explained.

“Everyone is struggling with budgets right now, so it's lovely to have the community use us so well, but that does come with challenges.”

The board will be embarking on a feasibility study looking at the potential for fundraising to help pay for an expansion, and Ms. Grant said she is hopeful the City budget will allow for architectural studies on the expansion plan to be completed in 2015, which could then be used to apply for grants.

Until then, Ms. Grant says the library will continue to use its existing space the best it can.

“People want a place in the community where they can just be and meet others and where it's pretty neutral,” she said.  “The library has really become a gathering place for the community.”

Pickering Fire Services urges caution in the kitchen
Unattended cooking the leading cause of home fire in Ontario
Oct 04, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Pickering Fire Department
Pickering fire department
Celia Klemenz / Metroland
PICKERING -- Pickering Fire Department.  January 29, 2010

PICKERING -- As Fire Prevention Week kicks off across the province, Pickering Fire Chief Bill Douglas is warning all residents not to leave cooking unattended.

Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires and injuries in the province, and the theme of this year's annual Fire Prevention Week.

“Often when we're called to a fire that started in the kitchen, the residents tell us they only left the kitchen for a few minutes,” Chief Douglas said.

“Sadly, that's all it takes for a dangerous fire to start.  Help keep Pickering safe by preventing fires from starting in the first place.”

Important tips to prevent kitchen fires include paying attention while cooking; if you leave for any reason turn off the stove, wear tight-fitting clothing or roll up your sleeves, never try to move a burning pot and keep a close eye on anyone in your household who has been drinking and attempts to cook.

Saving some farmland should be in Pickering airport plans
Oct 3, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

While there has been more than four decades of uncertainty over the fate of the Pickering airport lands, one thing hasn't changed for thousands of years: this is some of the best farmland in Canada.  And given a smaller airport is now planned by the federal government, some of the lands should be preserved as farmland.

The federal government's June announcement, that planning for an airport would go ahead, also included the transfer of some 5,000 acres, more than 25 per cent of the land holdings, to the Rouge Park.

But with a smaller airport in the cards and not as much land required for it, it seemed an oversight, ignoring the significance of the land, when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced that nothing was planned on the agricultural side.

Why not, is our question.  Farmers will tell you this isn't just good farmland, this is Class 1 farmland, the best of the best.  There's very little of it in Canada, just 0.5 per cent of all the land in this vast country, and more than half it is in southern Ontario.  But hundreds of thousands of acres of this land in the GTA have disappeared since the expropriation of the airport lands in 1972.

Yes, the airport and related industrial uses, especially in the aeronautics industry, should be a big economic boost to Pickering and all of Durham.

And farmers will tell you a viable farm in the 21st century needs to be at least 1,000 acres in size, so preserving much of the land not needed for the airport as farmland likely is not viable.

But the fact that the airport lands are Class 1 farmland seems to have been forgotten.  More balance is required in the federal government's plans.

If only for teaching, or for a massive community garden, some of this land should be used for farming.  Let's not forget Durham College's new Centre for Food and the willingness of local farmers to be involved.  A plot of land on the airport lands would be an ideal place for students to learn from farmers and work together.

With the increasing importance of and demand for locally grown food, saving some of the excellent farmland so close to urban Durham seems a no-brainer.

The vague federal plans for the non-airport portion of the lands, not including the parcel added to the Rouge Park, need to be firmed up to include at least some farmland.

Work on Finch Avenue in Pickering to last longer than expected
Westbound lanes will be closed for more than a year for sewer line work Construction
By Moya Dillon
Oct 3, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Finch Avenue
Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland
PICKERING -- Construction at Finch Avenue and Valley Farm Road, just west of Brock Road.  Although officials estimated work would take about eight months, the westbound lanes of Finch Avenue will be closed for 14 months beginning October 1 to allow for completion of that section of the southeast collector trunk sewer.  October 1, 2013

PICKERING -- Residents in the Finch Avenue and Valley Farm Road area will be dealing with road work for longer than originally anticipated.

Connecting the southeast collector trunk sewer line to the existing sewer requires the construction of a connection chamber at the northeast corner of the intersection of Finch and Valley Farm, partially under the road.

The work is scheduled to close the westbound lanes of Finch, from Valley Farm to Brock Road, from Oct.  1 until December 2014.

While officials initially estimated the work would take about eight months, it has since been expanded to 14 months.

“We communicated to residents previously that this period of construction would be a little shorter, but the devil is in the details,” said Tomislav Hrkac, senior project manager with the Region of York.

“We want to make sure the work gets done properly and safely, and we eventually came to the realization it would take a little longer than planned.”

Mr. Hrkac stressed that the construction period would last “up to” 14 months.

“We are going to strive and do our utmost to re-open the road before that,” he said, noting the plan is for construction to be complete and workers to be out of the area by January 2015.

“After this we will re-open road and clean up the site,” he explained.

“We're going to have to reconstruct the intersection, which will include resurfacing, and new curbs and sidewalks to make sure we leave the intersection in good shape.  We will be back briefly in the summer of 2015 to do landscaping, because that's dependent on the season, but otherwise the plan is for everything to be complete by January 2015.”

Until then, drivers will detour south to Kingston Road, and take Kingston Road westbound to Liverpool Road, where they can head north to get back on Finch.

“We appreciate this is disruptive,” Mr. Hrkac said.  “We thank everyone for their patience.”

For more information, visit www.sectrunksewer.ca or call 1-888-272-2767.

TRAFFIC DISRUPTION NOTICE
Highway 407 East Phase 1 Project
October 2, 2013

Please be advised of the following road closure in Pickering:

LOCATION:
Sideline 14 between Highway 7 and Seventh Concession Road.

TIME:
October 10, 2013 to June 30, 2014

DETAILS:
Sideline 14 between Highway 7 and Seventh Concession Road will be closed to through traffic.  Traffic will be detoured through Seventh Concession Road, Paddock Road and Highway 7.

Proper signage will be posted to guide traffic safely around the affected area and through the detour.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

ATTENTION EMERGENCY RESPONSE DISPATCH CENTRES:
Please ensure this information is passed along immediately to all appropriate supervisors and field units.

For more information please contact:
407 East Development Group
400 Dundas Street East, Unit 2, Whitby ON, L1N 0K1
info@407edg.ca
1-855-463-3109

In case of an emergency please contact:
Nikola Milic
1-416-625-4372

TRAFFIC DISRUPTION NOTICE
Highway 407 East Phase 1 Project
October 2, 2013

Please be advised of the following road closure in Pickering:

LOCATION:
Salem Road between Highway 7 and Seventh Concession Road.

TIME:
October 10, 2013 to June 30, 2014

DETAILS:
Salem Road between Highway 7 and Seventh Concession Road will be closed to through traffic.  Traffic will be detoured through Seventh Concession Road, Westney Road and Highway 7.

Proper signage will be posted to guide traffic safely around the affected area and through the detour.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

ATTENTION EMERGENCY RESPONSE DISPATCH CENTRES:
Please ensure this information is passed along immediately to all appropriate supervisors and field units.

For more information please contact:
407 East Development Group
400 Dundas Street East, Unit 2, Whitby ON, L1N 0K1
info@407edg.ca
1-855-463-3109

In case of an emergency please contact:
Nikola Milic
1-416-625-4372

International Day of the Older Adult
October 1, 2013

In honour of the International Day of the Older Adult on October 1st 2013, V!VA Pickering invited seniors from the community to share an incredible life lesson they had learned throughout the course of their lifetime through a personal experience by writing a 500 word letter.  Each participant read their letter in a public forum held in V!VA's café.  After hearing from the writers it was determined that V!VA Pickering community member, Don Carter had penned the most poignant message and was awarded a $1000 first prize cheque.  We would like to thank all of the participants who shared their valuable lessons with us, and we would also like to thank our panel of judges; Councillor David Pickles, Stg John Keating, and our two Dunbarton High school students, Alaina Berger and Aliyah Sprung-Thomas.

Don Carter Receiving Cheque
 
Notice of Road Construction of Pickering Parkway
September 30, 2013

Pickering Parkway between Liverpool Road and Glenanna Road

There will be traffic delays/disruptions during the construction work on Pickering Parkway between Liverpool Road and Glenanna Road.

There will also be intermittent sidewalk closures to allow for the construction of a new sidewalk.

Purpose: Road work on Pickering Parkway and construction of a new sidewalk

Duration: September 30, 2013 to November 11, 2013 (approximately 6 weeks)

map

For additional information please contact:
Phil Allen
Inspector, Development Control
City of Pickering
Tel: 905.420.4660 Ext. 2124
Cell: 905.706.8780
Email: pallen@pickering.ca
      Scott Booker
Senior Coordinator, Design & Asset Management
City of Pickering
Tel: 905.420.4660 Ext. 2074
Fax: 905.420.4650
Email: sbooker@pickering.ca

Service Disruption Line: 1.866.278.9993

Bandathon Lifebeat
September, 2013
Bandathon Lifebeat
 
Lifebeat Flyer
 
Thank You Letter
Click image for larger version 
Thank You for Your Support
Pink Tour
September 2013
Thank you letter
Click image for larger view 
Public Meeting
Help Reform the Condo Act
September 25, 2013
Reform the Condo Act
 
Meeting Photo 1
 
Meeting Photo 2
 
Meeting Photo 3
 
Trans Canada Trail to be expanded through Greenwood Conservation Area
More trails mean more places to play for Ajax, Pickering residents
Moya Dillon
Sep 21, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

AJAX -- The creation of an expanded trail system through the Greenwood Conservation lands will link Ajax and Pickering to communities across Canada as part of the Trans Canada Trail System.

Trail expansions and improvements are planned for the Greenwood Conservation lands, which border Hwy.  7 in the north and Taunton Road to the south, between Sideline 16 and Greenwood Road.  The newly expanded trail will be designated part of the Trans Canada Trail, a national trail that links communities from coast to coast.

“With this new trail build through the Greenwood Conservation lands, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority continues to contribute to the Trans Canada Trail vision and legacy of connecting communities across Canada by 2017, creating the longest recreational trail in the world,” said Jim Paterson, Trans Canada Trail, southern Ontario trail coordinator.

The planned trail improvements include rerouting three challenging sections of the existing trail, installing three pedestrian bridges, and boardwalks where necessary, the establishment of an accessible trail leading to a fishing and viewing platform and parking lot expansion.

The proposed trailhead will be located near the Pickering Museum Village and span 5.4 kilometres.  The trails are being proposed as multi-use, which would allow for hiking, walking, jogging, biking, horseback riding, snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing.  The project, made possible by support from the Trans Canada Trail Foundation, is expected to be completed in 2014.

“The expanded trail system at Greenwood Conservation lands will provide a critical link for the Trans Canada Trail while at the same time providing a regional trail connection between the Lake Ontario Waterfront and the Oak Ridges Moraine,” said Mike Bender, manager conservation lands, for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.

“Recreational trail use has become quite popular and allows users of all ages to enjoy the beauty of nature while also enjoying the health benefits of an active lifestyle.”

Claremont celebrates 175 years
Heritage Festival to mark milestone and celebrate community spirit
Moya Dillon
Sep 18, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Claremont Heritage Festival
Claremont Heritage Festival
Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland
PICKERING -- Committee members Brian Welsh, Toni Doyle, Dean Evans and Aileen Provan are outside of the Claremont Masonic Hall, which will be a stop in the three-day Claremont Heritage Festival, taking place September 20 to 22 to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the north Pickering community.  September 10, 2013

PICKERING -- The citizens of Claremont are inviting all Pickering residents to help them celebrate 175 years as a community.

The north Pickering community was little more than dense forest when Joshua and Joseph Wixson settled the area in the late 1700s, establishing homesteads and becoming prominent members of the community.  Joshua was elected elder of the first Baptist church, while Joseph was appointed to the municipal council of Pickering in 1811.

“I've learned a lot,” said Toni Doyle, a member of the planning committee for the event and long-time resident of Claremont.  “It was such a thriving community in the 1800s when you start looking into it.”

To celebrate that history, the community will host a Heritage Days Festival from Sept.  20 to 22, with events, activities and historical tours.  Participants can learn little-known facts about the area, such as the fact that famous Canadian painter Tom Thomson of the Group of Seven was born there.

“Claremont is like a secret garden, a lot of people have never heard of it,” said Aileen Provan, another committee member.

“The village has a huge history of community, so this is really a celebration of the milestone of 175 years, but also the enduring sense of community that started with the original settlers.  We want to carry on their legacy in terms of bringing people together for fun events.  There's not a lot here, but when we come together, historically it's made for great times.”

“It's like an oasis inside the airport lands,” said fellow committee member Brian Welsh of the village.

“As we grow and the village gets bigger, we want to make sure new people are drawn in and get to experience that community feel.”

But the event isn't just for Claremont residents; organizers are hoping to attract guests from outside the community to come and experience the charms of the village.

“We would like the larger community to be aware of the history here and just aware of the community itself,” Ms. Doyle added.  “We want people to see what a great place this is.”

The events kick off Friday with a corn roast at 5:30 p.m.  On Saturday the day's activities begin at 10 a.m.  with the Horses to Horse Power parade, featuring different modes of transportation from the past 175 years, opening ceremonies and a tree planting will be held at 10:45 a.m., with kids' activities, a vendor marketplace, horse-drawn wagon rides, historic village tours, food and live entertainment to follow.

Among the community gems on display will be the historic Masonic Hall, built in 1857 as a town hall.  Visitors can tour the building and enjoy an afternoon tea complete with tea readings.

“We don't want to keep Claremont a secret,” Ms. Provan said of the celebration, noting if it proves a success the committee may look at making it an annual event.  “There are lots of events for kids and families so we hope everyone will come out and enjoy it.”

A special Tom Thomson exhibit will be running in the Claremont Community Centre beginning at 1 p.m.  on Saturday.  And on Sunday residents can enjoy a 9 a.m.  charity run, followed by an interdenominational service and potluck lunch at 11 a.m.

For more information, visit www.claremontcommunity.ca.

Fire Operations Training 101
September 2013
Councillor Pickles & Tracy MacCharles take Fire Op Training
Tracy MacCharles and Councillor Pickles at Fire Operations Training 101 
Notice of Service Disruption
September 24, 2013

Road Closure - Sideline #12 between Regional Road 5 (Ninth Concession Road) and Uxbridge/Pickering Townline

Purpose: Cross Culvert Repair

Duration: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 from 8:00 am - 4:00 pm

Please be advised that Sideline #12, between Regional Road 5 (Ninth Concession Road) and Uxbridge/Pickering Townline will be closed on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 for a cross culvert replacement.

Note: Emergency vehicles will not have access, please use Westney Road.

New indoor soccer facility for Pickering a go
Budget of $7 million approved for new facility
Pickering News Advertiser
September 18, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- Council has given the go-ahead to a new indoor soccer facility for the City of Pickering.

On Sept. 16 council approved several budget items to fund the project, including $337,594 in 2013 for architectural and engineering services for the structure and an expenditure of $7,146,605 in 2014 for the construction of the indoor soccer facility and new parking lot.

The indoor soccer dome is a partnership between the City and the Pickering Soccer Club, which will be responsible for repaying the City's debt charges and development charges reserve funding over a 15-year period, for a total of $4,550,071.

Toynevale Road reconstruction on the way

Toynevale Road will be getting a facelift after council approved a project to reconstruct the road from Rougemount Drive to Rosebank Road.

The project, estimated to cost just over $1 million, includes a retrofit of the existing storm sewer system to provide water quality treatment for 30 hectares of the Petticoat Creek watershed that were previously unserviced, and complete road reconstruction including widening, replacing the existing asphalt sidewalk with concrete and adding a new sidewalk on the north side.

Pickering residents help Canadian junior national dragon boat team win big in Hungary

Area members of the Canadian junior dragon boat team were on hand at a council meeting on Sept. 16 to thank council for its support in providing a grant to help the team travel to Szeged, Hungary for the world dragon boat racing championships in July.

The team took home seven golds, five silvers and one bronze in the under-18 categories, also capturing the World Cup, which is awarded to the team with the highest medal count at the event.

The team gifted council with a team photo, which Mayor Dave Ryan assured them would be hung with pride at City Hall.

Timothy's World Coffee Reopening
September 17, 2013

Owner Reza Ardestani has completed a full rebranding and renovation of the café located at Pickering Town Centre, 1355 Kingston Road.  The newest change to the café is the addition of on-site ovens, ensuring that all baked goods and sandwiches are now prepared fresh each day, on site.

Mr. Ardestani has operated his café here in Pickering for 10 years.

Timothy 1
 
Timothy 1
 
Letter to the Minister of Transport
(Land over Landings
September 18, 2013

Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Dear Minister Raitt,

On June 11, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty stated in an announcement in Claremont (at an event from which the public was excluded) that about 5,000 acres of the Pickering Lands, expropriated in 1972 for a never-built Pickering Airport, would be transferred to the new Rouge National Urban Park. Some 8,700 acres would be used for an airport, to be operational by 2027. And the remaining land - some 4,900 acres - would be used for “economic development.” The purpose of the announcement, he said, was to end the uncertainty of many years.

To read the complete letter click here.

Pickering Ajax Italian Social Club
Corn Roast
Septebmer 15, 2013
Corn Roast
Councillors Pickles and Dickerson, and MPP Joe Dickson with members of the Pickering Ajax Italian Social Club at their Corn Roast on September 15th 
2013 Mayors' Charity Fundraiser
September 2013
Mayor Charity Fundraiser
Mayor Ryan, Glenn Healey, Councillors Pickles and Ashe at the 2013 Mayors' Charity Fundraiser for the Ajax Pickering Hospital.  Over $115,000 was raised.
Terry Fox events allow Durham Region residents to be part of history
Run and walk events take place Sept. 15 in communities across Durham Region
Oshawa This Week
September 11, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

Impossible only exists until someone proves it otherwise -- that's something we should all be reminded of this weekend as communities across Durham assemble to run and raise money for cancer in honour of Terry Fox.

In 1980, when Terry set out on his Marathon of Hope, no one could have fathomed the lasting impact and legacy that would begin when he dipped his artificial leg into the Atlantic Ocean and set out on his cross-Canada run to raise money and awareness to fight cancer.

It's been many years since Terry began his voyage.  Surely, even an optimist like him couldn't have imagined the research dollars his dream would inspire people to raise and donate for so many years.

When Terry started, his hope was to get $1 from every Canadian to help fight cancer.  Sadly, he was never able to realize his goal of running across Canada.  Cancer took the life of this determined, unbelievably strong-willed young man on June 28, 1981.

This weekend, the impossible is still made possible by Terry as his spirit lives on.

True, there's still no cure, but if Terry taught us anything it's that anything is possible.  As long as people continue to search for a cure, to hope and dream, impossible is only a step away from being possible.

Many have been lost, but many have also been saved thanks to research and the development of better diagnostic technologies and medical treatment advancements.

This weekend on Sept. 15 why not be a part of making the impossible possible? Grab a pair of runners and join an event in your community: Bowmanville at Memorial Park, Liberty Street South, 9:30 a.m.  opening ceremonies; Whitby at Heydenshore Pavilion, 589 Water St., from 8 a.m.  to 1 p.m.; Ajax, Rotary Park, Lake Driveway West at Parkes Drive, 8:30 a.m.  registration; Pickering Recreation Complex, 1867 Valley Farm Rd., 9 a.m.; in Oshawa, registration begins at 8 a.m.  for the walk at Storie Park on Mill Street; in Uxbridge the event begins at 9 a.m.  at the band shell in Elgin Park.

New appointment for Ajax-Pickering MPP
September 11, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Joe Dickson
Joe Dickson wins
Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland
AJAX -- Joe Dickson was re-elected as MPP in the Ajax-Pickering riding October 6, 2011.

DURHAM -- Ajax-Pickering MPP Joe Dickson has a new job.

Mr. Dickson has been named parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

He had been the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources.

Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the move Sept. 10.

Pickering youth band together for Thanksgiving food drive
Help PAC4teens feed the community by donating non-perishables
September 11, 2013
(durhamregion.com>

PICKERING -- PAC4Teens is working to ensure everyone has enough to eat over the holiday season with its Thanksgiving Food Drive.

Donations can be dropped off between Sept. 23 and Oct. 18.  Donation boxes are located at the front entrances of both the East Shore Community Centre, at 910 Liverpool Rd. S., and the Petticoat Creek Community Centre at 470 Kingston Rd. W.

Items needed include peanut butter, pasta, pasta sauce, rice, cereal, canned fruit, canned stew or chili, canned spaghetti, apple juice, lunch snacks, cookies, tea and coffee.  Toiletry items are also much appreciated, with large diapers and toilet paper especially in demand.

For more information call 905-420-4660 ext. 6100.

New Pickering Probus club open to retirees
Residents invited to enjoy social activities, guest speakers and more
September 10, 2013
By Moya Dillon
(durhamregion.com)
Geoff Nie
Probus Club
Ron Pietroniro / Metroland
PICKERING -- The Pickering Probus Club held its charter meeting at the Pickering Recreation Centre.  Geoff Nie spoke to the group which is made up of retired and semi-retired professionals.  The club offers social activities, trips and guest speakers.  September 9, 2013.

PICKERING -- A new Pickering Probus Club will be providing social activities and more for retired professionals.

The club, which held its charter meeting on Sept.  9, was started to deal with the rising popularity of the Durham West and Ajax clubs.  Rather than put a cap on membership, area members decided to start a new chapter for Pickering residents.

“We want to provide regular gatherings for those in retirement who appreciate and value opportunities to meet others of similar interests,” said Frank Green, president of the new club.

He noted that the name Probus itself is an abbreviation -- `pro' for professional and `bus' for business.

“It provides some interest for those people who are retired and at a loss as to what they should do.  The activities we plan are generated by those who attend,” he said, noting the group is non-political, non-sectarian and non-profit and it does not do any fundraising activities.

“It's about meeting new people and gaining additional interest in what's going on in the world from guest speakers.  We also do outings such as dinner and theatre outings, potlucks and bus tours.”

The group meets the fourth Wednesday of every month at 10 a.m.  at the Pickering Recreation Centre.  Anyone interested in joining is invited to attend a meeting.  There is a one-time initiation fee of $20 for new members, plus an annual fee of $25 and a monthly fee of $2 to cover expenses for meetings.

For more information on Probus clubs in the area visit www.probus.org/canada.

Temple Event
Temple Event 1
 
Temple Event 2
 
Temple Event 3
 
Pink Tour

“on behalf of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, I would like to extend a huge thank you for attending the Pink Tour stop in Pickering last week.  It's so wonderful to have such amazing local support.” - Jessica Cook Program Manager, Pink Tour, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation - Ontario Region

Pink Photo 1
 
Pink Photo 2
 
Pink Photo 3
 
Pink Photo 4
 
Pink Photo 5
 
Pink Photo 6
 
Pink Photo 7
 
Service Announcement
Notice of York-Durham Line Roundabout Construction
September 11, 2013
Site Photo 1 Site Photo 2

The Regional Municipality of York will start construction on the future traffic roundabouts at the intersection of York-Durham Line at Durham Regional Road 5.

To help manage traffic during the construction, there will be a temporary detour around the construction site. During construction, electronic signs will be on site providing construction updates and information.

Purpose:    Construction of future traffic roundabouts.
Duration:    Construction begins: September 2013
Intersection opens: December 2013
Construction complete: Summer 2014

Please direct inquiries to:

Jamal Ahmed, P.Eng.
Project Manager
The Regional Municipality of York
Phone: 905.830.4444 ext.5955
Cell: 647.215.8624
Fax: 905.836.4590
Email: jamal.ahmed@york.ca
Gary Leonard, CET, rcca
Construction Administrator
The Regional Municipality of York
Phone: 905.830.4444 ext. 5935
Cell: 416.688.2517
Fax: 416.836.4590
Email: gary.leonard@york.ca

For detour routes please visit The Regional Municipality of York's website.

Public invited to weigh in on possible Rouge Valley merger
Merger with The Scarborough Hospital being discussed
September 5, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

AJAX -- The community is being asked to participate in discussions on the possible merger of The Scarborough Hospital and Rouge Valley Health System, which includes the Ajax-Pickering hospital.

The new stakeholder engagement initiative, called Leading For Patients, launched at the end of August with a new website and will run until late October.  The process will allow TSH and RVHS officials to explore the potential risks and benefits of a merger with the community, staff and stakeholders.

“It's important to note that no decisions regarding a potential merger have been made at this point,” said Rik Ganderton, president and CEO of RVHS.  “Listening to our communities is key to this process and we invite and encourage everyone's participation.  Our goal and responsibility is to ensure that local residents have access to high-quality and safe hospital care, while using tax dollars efficiently and effectively.”

Leading for Patients will offer opportunities for the community to actively participate in discussions through events such as roundtable meetings, telephone town halls, and the new website, www.leadingforpatients.ca.

The website will include information on areas of strength and potential opportunities for integrating patient services and back-office departments in a potential merger, as well as feedback forms and online surveys available in English, Chinese and Tamil.

The website will also offer updates on future roundtable meetings with community groups as well as dates, times and call-in information for telephone town halls.

In November, the two hospital boards of directors will evaluate the benefits of a possible merger and make a recommendation.  A decision to merge the hospitals would be subject to approval from the Central East Local Health Integration Network Board and, ultimately, the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

For more information visit www.leadingforpatients.ca.

407/Brock Road Construction
September 4, 2013
407East
Official layout of the 407/Brock Rd interchange is the one in the EA/Preliminary Design
(Click image for larger view)
Community Cardiac Clinic
Community Cardiac Clinic
Click image to view full size
Message from Doug Dickerson
 A message from Doug Dickerson
Click image to view full size
407/Brock Road Construction
September 4, 2013
407East
Official layout of the 407/Brock Rd interchange is the one in the EA/Preliminary Design
(Click image for larger view)
Ghost towns in Ontario attract explorers searching for remnants of history
Ghost towns near the GTA attract explorers, like Jeri and Jeff Danyleyko, to discover the remnants of our past.
By: Robin Levinson Staff Reporter, Published on Tue Sep 03 2013
(thestar.com)
Foundations of demolished house
The foundations are all that is left of a demolished home in the hamlet of Altona, in Pickering.  Altona is one of dozens of ghost towns scattered about the province.

Keith Beaty / Toronto Star

Say the word “ghost town” and images of empty saloons and tumbleweeds immediately come to mind.  But unlike the wild, wild West, Ontario's ghost towns are often more dying than dead.

Driving along the Pickering-Uxbridge town line, it's easy to feel as if one has stepped back in time.  Turn-of-the-century homes, a general store and farm stands roll by as the car takes a turn off the main drag and down a windy gravel road.

“These are ghost town roads,” says Jeri Danyleyko, as the car jostles and bumps towards Altona, a ghost town located about an hour outside of Toronto near Stouffville.

Danyleyko has been exploring ghost towns for almost 17 years, taking pictures of the forgotten towns and operating a website devoted to preserving their history.  

nding out what happened to these places, why they didn't make it, what's there,“ she says.

According to Danyleyko, ghost towns aren't necessarily completely abandoned.  Rather, they are dying a slow death, shut off from industry, schools or post offices and commercial business, their landscapes peppered with abandoned churches, railways and mills.

Incorporated into nearby towns with better infrastructure, these sleepy hamlets may still be home to a few stalwarts, residents clinging to the rundown houses that have been passed from generation to generation.

In Altona, the air smells like root beer and wood from a nearby fire and the trees shimmer from a late summer fog.  Pulling out her camera, Jeri begins snapping pictures of a rundown car from the 1940s or '50s.

“I can understand why someone would want to live out here,” she says, breathing deeply.

Next to Jeri, her son Jeff Danyleyko, 25, is also taking pictures.  He has been accompanying his mother on these trips since he was a kid, when their family vacations always included a trip to a ghost town or two.

“Every time we go camping, Mom ends up picking a place,” he says.

One particularly memorable trip involved an exploration of an abandoned chemical factory.

“The first time we were there, the owner of the property came out and let us in,” Jeri says.

“Oh yes, I remember that one,” he says, thrilled at the memory.  “It's literally ruins!”

A film student and shutterbug, Jeff started exploring on his own as a photography project.  But Jeff has branched into urban exploration.

Also known as infiltration, urban explorers break into abandoned buildings within the city limits, like the Kodak factory at Eglinton Ave.  and Black Creek Dr.

“I really like going in and seeing these places that had such a history to them just lying in ruin,” he says.  “Something about the kind of apocalyptic state of them.”

The Danyleykos aren't alone.  A virtual community of ghost town explorers and urban infiltrators exists on the Internet, with many websites and wikis dedicated to helping others find the next abandoned treasure.  Jeri's website alone gets about 10,000 hits a month.

Part of the thrill of exploring these ghost towns or abandoned buildings is in discovering the remnants of former lives.

While exploring the Kodak building, Jeff found a list taped on the inside of a locker, detailing exactly what should be inside.  But of course it was empty.

“Wow, this was like the last checklist they used,” he says.

And on a trip to northeastern Ontario, Jeri visited an abandoned schoolhouse in a town that had once tried - and failed - to open a gold mine.  Inside, she found scads of old papers, documenting the town's financial demise.

“Their whole history in paper was sitting there in this abandoned schoolhouse,” she says.

Some towns die because the main industry, like a factory or railroad, closes down.

The hamlet of Ballycroy, near Orangeville, was once a thriving mill town.  Hotels, churches, 11 taverns and two liquor stores served its 200 residents and visiting tourists.

But a fire in 1875 destroyed the town's main hotel and a number of homes.  Two years later, the Hamilton & North Western Railway bypassed the town, choosing to stop in Palgrave instead.

With no more visitors to keep the town's nightlife alive, the town slowly died.  In 1951 the post office closed, effectively shutting the town off from the rest of the country.

But other ghost towns are man-made.  Altona, named after a city in Germany, was settled in the 1830s by German-Swiss Mennonites.  Like much of the surrounding area, Altona was a farming community with a number of mills, and by the 1870s, the township was 200 strong.

About 100 years later, the federal government expropriated much of the land for the Pickering airport.  Some people remained on their land, which was leased back to them.  But many of the old buildings, like a brick schoolhouse built in 1911, were boarded up.

By 2010, the government began knocking these buildings down, one by one, save for a few designated as historic sites.

Now, when Jeri and Jeff drive through Altona, they have a hard time finding their old haunts.  Driving down dirt road after dirt road, they look for the old schoolhouse and a historic tavern, but to no avail.

“They must have been torn down,” Jeri says with a sigh.

One building that still stands is the Mennonite Meeting House, which was designated a historic landmark in 1985.  Its front door is nailed shut, but if you peek through the windows, the inside looks as if it were waiting for a sermon to begin any moment.

Around the meeting house are scattered the gravestones of Altona's fallen residents; the oldest marker is dated 1835.  Although there are plans to build an airplane runway nearby, the cemetery and church will remain preserved as a historical site.

Jeff and Jeri admit to feeling a certain uneasiness when they walk in the footsteps of the dead.

Jeff remembers a trip to Camp Pickton, an abandoned RAF base near Belleville, where he felt the eerie sense that the now-empty facility had once been brimming with life.

“I really didn't like being in there,” he says.  “[It] made me feel like I wasn't quite in the right place.”

“It just feels strange,” Jeri agrees.  “Gee, at one time, this place was full of people!”

Posted Toronto Political Panel: A new Pickering airport would be a questionable venture at best
Matt Gurney and Jonathan Goldsbie, Chris Selley
September 02, 2013
(news.nationalpost.com)
Jim Flaherty
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty arrives at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, July 15, 2013.
Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Matt Gurney, Chris Selley and NOW's Jonathan Goldsbie consider whether it's time to pull the plug on the long-discussed Pickering Airport.

Selley: The Pickering Airport saga is like The Mousetrap of transportation projects - it just keeps running, and while the characters are recast, the lines all stay the same.  As reported this weekend in the Globe, for 40 years the feds have played landlord to 5,000 acres of prime farmland, where Finance Minister Jim Flaherty - of that parish, coincidentally enough - still insists an airport can turn Durham Region into a “hub for transportation, business development and job creation.” Plenty of activist locals don't want a big old airport in their backyard, and I can't blame them.  And the Mayor just wants a decision, to fill “a 40-year planning void.” Meanwhile, an awkward Transport Canada study says Toronto might need more airport capacity # in 2027.  I propose that it is time to sell this land for productive use, and use the windfall plus whatever many billions would have gone into building the Durham Airport to expedite and improve transit links between the region's existing, perfectly good and below-capacity airports: Billy Bishop, Pearson, Hamilton, Waterloo.  What say you, gentlemen?

Gurney: Works for me.  I don't really care, I guess is the more accurate answer - I don't have a dog in this fight, but I certainly understand the frustration of locals, on both sides, who just need an answer already.  There's something so Canadian about the idea of the feds buying a gigantic plot of land that they proceed to neglect for several generations, leaving everyone angry and confused.  As to the actual merits of a second Toronto airport, I confess to some concern that no one would use the damn thing.  I drive by the soon-to-be-retired Buttonville airport as part of my commute to the Post`s newsroom, and it's busy enough - planes always coming and going - but they're small planes.  We're not talking jet liners here.  That facility is going to be shut down and converted to residential and commercial land in the next few years, and logically enough - it's a booming, thriving area of the GTA.  But I just can't see the closing of Buttonville as being enough to sustain opening a new big airport in Pickering.  The small aircraft that operate out of Buttonville will relocate to smaller fields in the GTA - an inconvenience to many, I'm sure, but probably not justification to build a new facility that wouldn't otherwise be needed, at the earliest, for another 14 years.  Given the projected population growth expected in the Toronto area over that time, it's entirely possible that we will indeed need a second major airport, but I think Chris has the right idea.  Build up rapid transit links to some of the existing airports in southern Ontario before we start building new facilities of questionable necessity.

Goldsbie: I agree that an airport sounds as though it would be a distinctly unnecessary and poor use of the land, but I'm hardly confident that low-density residential and commercial development would be much better.  So much local farmland has been converted to such uses over the past few decades that it's sort of inconceivable that our food security hasn't already been jeopardized to an extent.  The Globe stories depict Pickering residents as divided between those who want to maintain the farmland, and those who are so exhausted and frustrated by decades of being held hostage by the federal government that they're relieved by the very prospect of closure, regardless of the form in which it comes.  No one other than Jim Flaherty seems especially excited by the idea of having a new airport, and as Toronto has learned the hard way many times, politics is not a substitute for sound planning policy when it comes to building transportation infrastructure or anything else.

Selley: I'd love to be able to say that “for the price of a new airport we could build a Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal high-speed rail line that would eliminate any need for a future airport forever, because then nobody in his right mind would endure Pearson to fly to Ottawa or Montreal, which account for a ludicrous proportion of traffic in and out of Pearson.” Alas, many, many more billions would be involved, and I feel ideologically disinclined to support the creation of such an inherently unprofitable megaproject even though, well, I really do like fast trains.  But the London experience puts it all in perspective: Mayor Boris Johnson wants to buy Heathrow, raze it to the ground to build new residential areas, and build a gargantuan new airport somewhere miles down the Thames for untold scores of billions of pounds - which is more than a bit daft, but only even conceivable because an ultra-high-speed rail link would be a given.  It's all too conceivable we'd build a Pickering airport and leave the rail link for later - remember Mirabel? We have all the airports we need, I think.  The challenge is getting to, from and between them - just like it is getting to, from and between anywhere in the GTA.

Gurney: That's the argument that convinces me.  I'm not blind to concerns over food security, I just think they're generally overblown in the Canadian context (or the southern Ontario one, to be more specific).  Canadians eat slightly more of the world's food than our share of the population would account for, but we grow almost triple what we eat (again, as percentage of world totals, and with a hat-tip to StatsCan for the numbers).  Unless all of Alberta and Saskatchewan also gets turned into an airport, I'm not worried - though do agree with J.G.  that low density building is a problem in the GTA.  But it's a problem not because I'm worried about running out of corn, but because of what Chris has said - forget getting into or out of the GTA, it's hard enough to move around within it.  Again, I don't really care what happens with the airport or if it ever gets built.  But I think we need to stop worrying about what we might need, maybe, in 2027, and keep our eyes firmly on what we need right now.  More transportation within the region being a pretty good place to start that list.

Goldsbie: Well, since we seem to agree that a new Pickering airport would be a questionable venture at best and that new suburban sprawl would only exacerbate the strain on the region's current infrastructure# that still leaves the matter of what to do with the rather larger plot in Pickering.  Cultivating its potential to be a high-quality source of crops would certainly be among the more productive options.  Transport Canada's Pickering Lands Needs Assessment Study “notes that it is inconceivable that a large parcel of land comparable in size to the Pickering Lands could be amassed again in the future.” That's part of its argument for retaining the lands in indefinite limbo should they ever be required for a future airport, but it could also apply to the argument that it should become a stretch of farmland.  Although the need for such may not be exactly dire at the moment, it'll likely become so long before the need for an airport does.  Once it's gone, we're never going to get it back.

The 40-year argument: A Pickering airport, or farmland?
GUY DIXON
Aug. 31 2013
(theglobeandmail.com)
Mary Delaney and Pat Valentine
Mary Delaney, left, and Pat Valentine of the activist group Land Over Landings near Pickering, Ontario on August 29, 2013.

If there is anywhere left for Torontonians to find patches of bucolic, fertile farmland close to the city, it's 50 kilometres or so east in Pickering.

On a summer day, fields carpeted in hues of green spread from undulating back roads.  Descend a little hill or corner a gentle bend, and a farmhouse can be found nestled in each fresh vista.

Yet 18,600 acres of this area, acquired by the federal government in 1972, remains at the centre of a debate as vociferous as the land is calm, with Ottawa's recurring plan to build a major airport in Pickering.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's announcement in June renewed a plan to develop an airport - a plan which has been in limbo for four decades.  For a strong community of activists and local residents, the arguments against an airport are the same as they were in the seventies, with the added emphasis this time on protecting the area's rich soil for farmland to feed Toronto.  Yet, there are also plans to develop parts of the land for businesses, bringing further uncertainty, say activists.

The latest newsletter this week from Land Over Landings, the group leading the opposition to the airport, is calling for volunteer teams to sell signs and buttons at public events and food markets.  The group is advertising for a graphic designer to create posters and a fundraiser to help out, while a host of like-minded environmental and grassroots associations from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture to the GTA Agricultural Action Committee have lent their support.  The summer, the newsletter says, has been “a blur of activity.”

Born under the Trudeau government, the airport plans have been to build a second, large Toronto hub, initially a Toronto version of Montreal's ambitious Mirabel airport - which is now widely considered a white elephant and used primarily for air cargo.

By 1975, the protest movement People or Planes had galvanized opposition so strongly that the Ontario government backed away, shuttering the proposal and leaving the airport plans in limbo for decades.  Now, land advocates and activists are gathering again in force - but this time, the focus is a little different.  When People or Planes garnered widespread attention for its cause, people at that time had been expropriated from the land acquired by the federal government.  Families were being moved, their lives uprooted.  That's less the case now.

“We understood two things,” said Pickering resident and organizer Mary Delaney about the new iteration of the movement.  “One: It wasn't so much about people anymore, so People or Planes wasn't really the point.  It's about land.  Because after 40 years, the communities had been destroyed.” Like others on the federally expropriated land, she doesn't own her family's home or the land.

Also different this time is that “just being opposed to an airport really wasn't what we want to be about,” Ms. Delaney said.  “We wanted to be for something.  If you cancel an airport, and then you put houses and development and Wal-Marts and parking lots [there], it's no different.  You can't grow food through a runway or a parking lot.”

The crux of Land Over Landings' argument is that the area's prime Class 1 soil, ideal for diverse crops, has been neglected and squandered in order to depopulate the land for a future airport.  The land is vital and could be a valuable source of food for Toronto and the region.  Land over Landings sees this as an urgent need.  Mr. Flaherty, on the other hand, said he hopes to see the airport running by 2027.

The government has been leasing land to farmers on short-term contracts, which discourages agricultural businesses from investing in diverse crops, even though the area is so close to Toronto markets and restaurants.  The land is being used mainly for nutrient-depleting cash crops, such as corn to make ethanol.

Similarly, Pat Valentine, vice-chair of Land Over Landings, has detailed in a series of photos the dilapidation of country houses due to years of neglect under the imposed rental system for properties.

“It all seems to be aimed at just getting people to say, `I'm fed up with this.  I'm leaving,'” Ms. Valentine said.  “Their lease contracts [say] that they can not make repairs or improvements to their properties.  Some of them do anyway, because they love them, because they are heritage properties.”

As fellow activist Ms. Delaney, who lives on the lands, noted with a laugh, “Our lease says, `To Her Majesty the Queen hereinafter referred to as the landlord.' In fact, with our insurance, I believe she's the beneficiary.  It's all really quite ludicrous.”

Mr. Flaherty has defended the renewed airport plan as being a balanced approach to the long-standing question over the land.  As announced in June, 5,000 of the government-owned 18,600 acres is being rezoned and given to Parks Canada for the Rouge National Urban Park.  Roughly 8,700 acres will then go for the airport, with the remaining land apparently going toward business development, people close to the announcement say.

“We are striking a responsible balance that will allow us to preserve our quality of life, while creating jobs and long-term prosperity in Durham Region and the GTA [Greater Toronto Area],” Mr. Flaherty's office said this summer via email.  “With the Buttonville Airport closing, with Highway 407 being extended eastward, and now clarity around the Pickering Lands, Durham Region is well positioned to be a hub for transportation, business development and job creation.”

Most observers, however, see a giant question mark hovering over the plans.  Representatives of Air Canada, WestJet and Porter Airlines all say that it is premature to comment on an airport which, if it comes, isn't expected to be operating for more than a decade.  Brian Buckles, a director of the Green Durham Association, who was expropriated from the land in 1972 and was a prominent member of the protest campaign in the 1970s, doesn't see clarity at all in Mr. Flaherty's announcement.  “I think there is a lot of confusion here around what the announcement was basically saying,” he said, noting that Transport Canada officials haven't indicated that development of part of the land is a foregone conclusion and that the department has been inviting public comment about how land not needed for an airport should be used.

In a letter to Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, the Green Durham Association argues that 5,000 acres is in fact a reduction of the previous promise by the federal government to protect 7,200 acres, as the passing of provincial Oak Ridges Moraine protection legislation in 2001.

In the meantime, new housing and land development may become as much of a pressing controversy as the airport.  As Pickering's mayor David Ryan said in an email, the province's Central Pickering Development Plan in Seaton, a northern section of Pickering, is a development scheme already in the works in an area south of the airport land for up to 60,000 residents and 30,000 jobs.  It is the extension of the provincial strategy of swapping provincial land in Seaton with privately owned land in Oak Ridges Moraine, in order to help protect the moraine.

Mayor Ryan sees the Seaton development and the airport acting part and parcel.  “While the two-to-one resident-to-job ratio may seem ambitious, we think the airport will play a significant role in helping to reach that 30,000 new jobs target,” Mr. Ryan said.

The mayor said that he has never ran for or against the airport, but is more interested in making the best of Ottawa's decision.  He said that since 1975, the area has suffered from the uncertainty of what the federal government will do next.

“The ongoing airport saga had created a 40-year planning void in the city of Pickering.  No matter what decision was to be made, the city of Pickering was prepared to move forward and plan the best uses for those lands.  Now that it has been decided by the federal government, we will leverage the airport to further our economic development and job attraction efforts,” he said in an email.

However, the federal government has released no new business model for the airport.  And despite Mr. Flaherty's assertion of the need for an airport, the needs assessment report released by Transport Canada in 2011, which Mr. Flaherty cites to justify the airport, says that Toronto won't need a new airport until 2027, or maybe not until 2037 if Toronto's Pearson airport reaches capacity.  It could take longer, or it may never reach that point.

“What they say in their conclusion is that the government should hold on to the land if and when an airport is ever needed,” Ms. Valentine said.  “In other words, the study is very ambivalent about whether this is ever going to be needed.  Mr. Flaherty said it was going to be needed by 2027 ...  If you read the report, you find that's not what it said,” she added.

Groups such as the Green Durham Association argue that the need for farmland is much more pressing than the need for an airport.  Or as Charles Godfrey, the leader of the original protest, once said, “We will in fact need a new airport someday, so as to fly in the fresh food we can no longer produce on our own land.”

Thank You from Claremont Public School
Thank You
“I was pleased to attend and have the city make a contribution to the silent auction” - Councillor Pickles
Pickering Doors Open putting focus on art
Artists invited to display their work during annual tour
Moya Dillon
Aug 26, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Doors Open
Doors Open
photo submitted
PICKERING - Brougham Union Masonic Hall is one of several new buildings and spaces that will be featured in the upcoming Pickering Doors Open event Oct. 5 to 6.

PICKERING -- There's more on offer than just architecture at this year's Doors Open event.

The Doors Open Pickering committee is inviting area artists to help celebrate the Doors Open theme of cultural expression by putting their works on display at featured sites throughout the event.

“Residents can expect to experience the broad culture of Pickering, both in terms of its historical fabric through the buildings themselves, and its strong arts scene, whatever the art medium,” said Cristina Celebre, senior planner for the City of Pickering.  “Heritage sites and landscapes are natural subjects for visual artists.”

Area artists and art groups are invited to display their work at designated buildings and outdoor spaces that will be included in this year's Doors Open Pickering event, held Oct.  5 and 6.

This year's event features several new stops, including the Erskine Church and Cemetery, Ecole elementaire et secondaire Pickering, Brougham Union Masonic Hall, Claremont United Church, Fire Station 4 - Claremont, Whitevale Cemetery and Pickering Standard Church as well as new walking tours of Whitevale and Frenchman's Bay and three bus tours, Whitevale, Brougham and Claremont and By the Bay.

Buildings will be open to visitors and walking and bus tours held on Oct.  5 from 10 a.m.  to 4 p.m.  Visitors can get started at the Doors Open Pickering Hub at Pickering City Hall.  On Oct.  6 Doors Open will be held at Pickering Museum Village, where visitors can tour the museum and enjoy the Fall Family Festival from noon to 4:30 p.m.

Artists interested in displaying their work during the event can submit a sample of their artwork to culture&recreation@pickering.ca, along with their name and contact information.  They will be contacted with venues and event details.

For more information visit www.pickering.ca.

Pickering talking solutions to Seaton financial woes
New deal would erase predicted fiscal shortfall for planned development
Jason Liebregts / Metroland
By Moya Dillon
August 23, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Seaton
Seaton
PICKERING -- Plans for the Seaton development were on display at the City of Pickering.  These are the proposed neighbourhood plans that will be going before the OMB in the coming months.  April 15, 2013

PICKERING -- It looks like Pickering taxpayers won't be shouldering any costs associated with the upcoming Seaton development.

City staff have been meeting with Seaton developers over the summer to work out an agreement to minimize the impact of infrastructure costs related to the first phase of the planned Seaton development.  The project is expected to bring 37,000 new residents to north Pickering by 2031, residents who will require facilities and services including fire stations, community centres and more.

“We wrote our report to council and talked about the fact we would have a very small surplus of about $4 million over the life of Seaton, so therefore we would start in a deficit at the beginning of the development,” said Tony Prevedel, Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Pickering.

“They asked us to go back to developers to try to erase that shortfall, and that's what we did.”

The Fiscal Impact Report presented to council in April estimated the City would face a deficit of up to $7.7 million in capital costs for the first phase of Seaton, which would run through to 2021.

Council directed staff to address the financial shortfalls during Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearings on Seaton, but staff were able to hammer out a deal with developers during the summer talks.

“We've reached a tentative agreement which is a win-win,” Mr. Prevedel said.  “It's good for the city and good for allowing the developers to move forward.”

Mr. Prevedel couldn't comment on specifics, such as the amount settled on, since the agreement still has to go before council for approval, but said he is pleased with the results.

“At a staff level we're very comfortable with this.  We have a nice contingency now so there shouldn't be any impact to rest of the city,” he explained, noting council specifically asked that there be no impact to Pickering residents from Seaton.

“With the new agreement we have, with the voluntary contributions developers have put on the table, we won't have any impact to taxpayers from Seaton.”

The next round of OMB hearings, which will begin on Aug.  26, will look at remaining issues including storm water management and other zoning or draft plan concerns.

Construction on the development is expected to begin in 2014, with the first homes scheduled for construction in 2015.  

Pickering Islamic Carnival
August 17, 2013

“I was pleased to attend and provide greetings at the annual Pickering Islamic Centre Carnival on Brock Road in Pickering on August 17, 2013.  They always host a great event well attended by the neighbourhood. - Councillor Pickles

Carnival Photo 1
 
Carnival Photo 2
 
Carnival Photo 3
 
Pickering Mitsubishi Grand Opening
August 17, 2013
Mitsubishi Grand Opening
Mayor Ryan, Councillor Pickles and Keith Falconer were pleased to attend the Grand Opening of Pickering Mitsubishi on Kingston Road on Saturday August 17, 2013 
 
August 2013
Councillor Pickles with Land Over Landings
 
A different kind of 'MAYDAY' for Durham's waterfront
By Lindsey Cole/The Oshawa Express
August 13, 2013
(oshawaexpress.ca)
Members of PACT POW
Members of the Pickering Ajax Citizens Together to Protect Our Water (PACT POW) have gained the support of Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who will speak at a rally about saving the waterfront.

There is a big, green problem on the waterfront and it's one that needs to be dealt with now, say local environmental groups.

An algae known as cladophora is marring Lake Ontario's shores, says Paul Kuebler, co-chair of the Pickering Ajax Citizens Together to Protect Our Water (PACT POW), and the Duffin Creek Water Pollution Control Plant is a large contributor.  So the thought of expanding the plant has he and others gravely concerned, he states, as it could mean more algae on Ajax and Pickering shores.

It's this reason that PACT POW has attracted the attention of Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May who will be speaking at a “Save our Waterfront MAYDAY Rally,” on August 17 at 1 p.m.  at Ajax Rotary Park Pavilion.

“We need clean water by our waterfront.  Phosphorus is generated by the plant no question,” Kuebler says, adding phosphorus is what contributes to algae growth.  “It's (the sewage plant) definitely contributing.  We understand it's not the only contributing source.”

PACT POW is calling on the Regions of Durham and York to invest in state-of-the-art technology for the Duffin Creek plant in order to protect Lake Ontario.  It is also calling on all residents of Durham to attend the rally to show that the waterfront is a matter that affects more than just those living close to the plant.

The water pollution control plant expansion has been hot button issue around Durham Region and at the council table.  It's all in relation to a massive $900 million expansion at the plant, which is located in the City of Pickering on the shore of Lake Ontario and is jointly owned by York and Durham.  Currently there is a Class Environmental Assessment taking place on the plant to look into the best way to address future capacity limitations.

In 2006, it was identified that in order to meet future needs the plant would have to expand its capacity to 630 million litres per day.  It is currently approved to treat and discharge up to an average daily flow of 520 million litres per day.

According to the Region of Durham, cladophora is a type of green algae found along the Great Lakes coastlines and typically grows underwater on hard surfaces such as rocks and logs.  It needs both phosphorus and sunlight to grow.  It rolls up on shore because of wind and waves and leaves a “pungent odour” when it begins to decay.

Some growth factors, the Region explains, include warmer water temperatures, storm run-off, storm sewer discharge, agricultural run-off and discharge from sewage treatment plants.

“The sewage plant is easy to demonize,” says Durham Region Commissioner of Works Cliff Curtis.  He says the algae growth seems to have made a resurgence because of zebra mussels in Lake Ontario.  Initially mussels looked to be cleaning the water but because it allowed light to penetrate deeper algae started to grow.  Phosphorus also allows it to grow and it had a hard surface to grow on, he adds, stating it is “prime conditions for algae growth.” Overall he says the phosphorus at the plant is lower than what was actually being previously emitted.

“There's not one magic bullet,” he says that will clean it up.  “If the waste water pollution control plant was to disappear, that would not solve the algae problem.  The water quality is actually pretty good.  We're a very small contributor.  It's heavily treated effluent.  It's not raw sewage.”

Two studies done on water quality in relation to algae near the plant came to two different conclusions.  A peer review done by Dr.  Martin Auer in 2011 stated the plant was a “dominant source” of phosphorus and could be a major contributor to algae growth.  A University of Waterloo report completed in October of 2009 found it had a relatively small influence on the conditions for cladophora growth, the Region explains.  Water quality sampling by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority in 2008 and 2009 supports this view, the Region notes, as total phosphorus levels in the vicinity of the outfall are quite low in comparison to near-shore levels.

However, those at PACT POW state the amount of phosphorus dumped each day is equivalent to the amount of phosphorus in 2,000 bags of fertilizer.

“We hope to increase public awareness and generate a petition that we're going to send to the minister of the environment,” at the rally, Kuebler says.  “You can control what's coming from the plant.  You can't control what comes down Duffin Creek.  The ultimate goal is to open the eyes of the Regions so that they consider a tertiary treatment.  If we don't put tertiary treatment in now, then it won't go in at all.”

For May, the chance to speak about the importance of the Great Lakes was an honour.

“I'm really impressed with the work of the local residents,” says the federal Green Party leader.  “We have ongoing problems with the lakes.  I'm concerned we're not paying enough attention.”

She says Ajax has put a lot of time into building a “green reputation.”

“The federal government is acting like the Great Lakes aren't really our issue,” she explains.  “We have a new minister of the environment (on the federal level).  I am happy to have a chat with her.  This is an important issue.  I was familiar with the issue#I really am honoured.  I am hoping it will make a difference.”

Supporting environmental organizations will also be in attendance at the rally and include DurhamCLEAR, the Sierra Club, the Green Party of Canada and Environmental Defence.

Commissioner Curtis says with the ultimate expansion, likely 20 years from now, a new outfall would be considered in order to deal with growing needs.  Later this year, after final public comments, Commissioner Curtis says the Region will submi t its assessment to the Ministry of the Environment for approval.  If a full-scale environmental assessment were required, it wouldn't be done until next year.

“We've gotten the best information we can,” he says.  “We appreciate the public input on the project.”

Kuebler says he hopes the province will look at a full environmental assessment and take the time needed to do further studies and examine the need for more treatment options.

“We have a problem at the waterfront now.  Here's Durham Region#we're suffering the consequences of York Region's need to develop,” he adds.  “It's one region dumping on another.  We've definitely got an uphill battle, there's no question.  It's going to be a horrendous mess.  There's lot's of time, what's the rush?”

Those who wish to comment on the plant can do so by visiting www.durham.ca.  Those looking for more information on PACT POW and the rally can visit www.saveourwaterfrontnow.com.

Pickering war bride celebrates end of 25-year battle for veteran recognition
Veterans Affairs Canada belatedly awards medals, pension
Moya Dillon
(durhamregion.com)

“Councillor Dickerson and I were pleased to attend and celebrate with Doris.” - Councillor Pickles

Doris Madder outside
Doris Madder outside
Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland
PICKERING -- Doris Madder fought 26 years to receive a military pension after her late husband served two years in the army in the 1940's.  She finally received the pension in November 2012.  The Pickering Veterans' Association held a party in her honour.  August 7, 2013.

PICKERING -- War bride Doris Madder was not given any entry papers when she arrived in Canada aboard the Aquatania in 1957, with two children in tow.

At the time, papers were sent on to Ottawa rather than given to individuals, and Ms. Madder went on to settle with her husband Albert, a Canadian soldier whom she married in England in 1941, in Pickering, where they raised six children.

After Mr. Madder's death in 1986, Ms. Madder approached Veteran's Affairs about receiving her husband's military pension, but was told she didn't qualify.

“They never recognized me when my husband was a soldier,” she said, noting he always received the pension benefit allotted to a single man, rather than a man married with children.

“After he died I tried for five years to get something from Veterans Affairs to recognize him as being in the army but they said I wasn't entitled to anything.  So five years later I tried again.”

Ms. Madder never gave up trying to correct her family's record with Veterans Affairs, but received another shock just a few years ago when she went to apply for a new health card and was denied because she wasn't listed as a Canadian citizen.

After a few calls to her area MP, and several visits to Service Canada with documents including income tax records, the mistake was corrected, and her official status was changed from immigrant to citizen.  Even then, it wasn't until 2012, 25 years after she first contacted Veterans Affairs in 1987, that she was finally awarded both the military pension and medals that would have been awarded to her husband.

“This is very fulfilling,” she said of the victory, which was achieved with the help of area MPs, the ombudsman and assistance from the Pickering Legion.  Ms. Madder received a settlement but wouldn't give any details.

Members of the Pickering Veterans Association, along with family and area politicians, gathered at the Association's annual Garden Party to celebrate Ms. Madder's success, and her 91st birthday.

“We're here to mark your latest victory and what you had to go through to get it, that was unconscionable,” said Pickering Mayor David Ryan.

“That never should have happened, so good for you for fighting and winning, Hopefully you've opened the door for a lot of other people who deserve it.”

Ms. Madder will be awarded two Memorial Cross medals in honour of her husband's service, one for her and one for the family, which are scheduled to arrive in September.

“I think really and truly this is one of the more exciting things in life, we've never had a medal for anything,” Ms. Madder said.

“It will be a great excitement when I can say my husband was worth all that.  I'm very satisfied to know this is there and I'm not fighting anymore.”

Road Resurfacing on Liverpool Road
August 12, 2013
Liverpool North Resurfacing
Road Resurfacing on Liverpool Road
Activate Your Commute Challenge - Winner Announcement
August 7, 2013

A big congratulations to our lucky winner Rosanna Garcia, whose name has been drawn for the Activate Your Commute Challenge Grand Prize: an all inclusive trip for two to Be Live Grand Marien Hotel in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic!

Employees from 38 organizations across the GTA either cycled or walked to work during the July week-long challenge.

Congratulations to everyone who participated!  Rosanna continues to bike to work at least once a week, and will be bringing her husband along on the trip to celebrate their 30th anniversary.  Register with Activate Your Commute, and log your kilometres for a chance to win some great prizes.

BBQ at Discovery Place
July 27, 2013
BBQ at Discovery Place
 
A Letter from the Mayor
July 2013

Working Together to Make our Community Stronger

Forging strong and meaningful partnerships is integral towards our municipality's success.  Whether it's working with the senior levels of government, or creating programs that help bring residents together, collaboration is key.

The Government of Canada's New Horizons for Seniors ...

To continue to read the Mayor's full letter, click here

1st Annual DCCA Picnic
July 2013
Discovery Place Celebration
 
Picnic Photo 1
 
Picnic Photo 2
 
Picnic Photo 3
 
Picnic Photo 4
 
Picnic Photo 5
 
BBQ at Discovery Place
July 27, 2013

On Saturday July 27, the residents of Discovery Place Condo Association held a big neighbourhood inaugural BBQ at Esplanade Park behind Pickering City Hall. More than 800 people attended the event, which featured the DSCC 190 Line Dancers, singer Joe Fisher, The Second Floor Dual, Meredith Cutting and Atif Iqbal at the park gazebo. Great food, good company and the delicious cakes - from Decadent Treats - were loved by all.

To view the photos visit Snap Pickering.

City of Pickering municipal report cards 2013
An annual evaluation by the Metroland Durham Region Media Group
of how local politicians are serving taxpayers
Pickering News Advertiser
July 4, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

David Ryan

Mayor

This year's grade: A

Last year's grade: A

Attendance: Committee 16/19 (one absence was credited to City business, and one to illness) Council 10/11

Regional council 12/15, committee 13/14

Expenses: $22,979 (City), $3,579.23 (Region)

Mayor David Ryan does not shy away from taking strong stances against higher levels of government for the good of the city, including calling for support to offset the economic impacts of the Seaton development and increasing municipal control over cell tower planning.  He is a tireless champion for economic development, fostering and maintaining relationships with existing and potential future businesses.  While he sometimes has trouble retaining control over a divisive council, his level-headed leadership is a welcome addition to meetings.  Mayor Ryan is often silent during Region council meetings, but he does speak with authority while protecting the best interests of his community.

Councillor Peter Rodrigues

Ward 3 Regional

This year's grade: C

Last year's grade: C-

Attendance: Committee 19/19 Council 11/11

Regional council 15/15, committee 12/13

Expenses: $6,226 (City), $0 (Region)

Councillor Peter Rodrigues has improved greatly this year, showing a deeper knowledge of issues and offering more concise discussion, although he can still sometimes be combative at meetings.  He has continuously fought to preserve heritage homes in north Pickering, introducing motions to delay demolitions, and broke out of his habitual voting pattern of siding with councillors O'Connell and McLean to support the move to declare Pickering a willing host community for gaming.  For these reasons his grade has improved this year.  Coun. Rodrigues has been learning on the go and provides strong support for rural Pickering at the Region.

Councillor Bill McLean

Ward 2 Regional

This year's grade: A-

Last year's grade: A-

Attendance: Committee 16/19 Council 11/11

Regional council 13/15, committee 13/13

Expenses: $9,201 (City), $2,920.54 (Region)

Councillor Bill McLean is a good representative for his constituents, always working to address their concerns.  He has made concerted efforts to ensure residents concerned about the York-Durham sewer pipe construction are heard by project leaders and backed Coun. O'Connell on the ballot question to ensure the public will be heard on the future of gaming in the city.  He asks insightful questions and provides relevant commentary during council discussions.  At the Region, Coun. McLean brings a level of skepticism to issues one would expect from a retired police officer.

Councillor Jennifer O'Connell

Ward 1 Regional

This year's grade: B+

Last year's grade: B

Attendance: Committee 18/19 Council 10/11

Regional council 12/15, committee 13/16

Expenses: $9,776 (City), $3,218.84 (Region)

Councillor Jennifer O'Connell is always fighting for the best interests of residents.  After council declared Pickering a willing host city for gaming, she successfully called for a ballot question on the issue in the next election.  The measure is a good way to improve public consultation while allowing Pickering greater leverage in negotiations with Ajax, which is why her grade has improved.  While she can sometimes be argumentative at meetings, her attention to detail is evident in the valuable input she provides to discussions.  Coun. O'Connell is her own person, often raising issues that others won't at the Region.

Councillor David Pickles

Ward 3

This year's grade: A-

Last year's grade: A-

Attendance: Committee 17/19 Council 11/11

Expenses: $11,825

Councillor David Pickles brought the casino issue back to council for a successful second vote, giving Pickering important leverage in any future negotiations with Ajax for a share of gaming profits.  He is quick to respond to residents' concerns, as he did when introducing motions for traffic-calming and new pedestrian signals to address safety worries in his ward.  He also provides valuable input at meetings, taking possible future impacts of decisions into account before voting and largely avoiding any conflicts that arise between councillors.

Councillor Doug Dickerson

Ward 2

This year's grade: D

Last year's grade: D

Attendance: Committee 18/19 Council 9/11 (absences credited to City business)

Expenses: $7,814

Councillor Doug Dickerson can sometimes be a caustic presence at meetings, interrupting other councillors to argue points or make derisive comments.  However, he is quick to aid residents, as he did by amending a controversial development proposal from five units down to four to appease residents worried about overcrowded lots in the established neighbourhood.  Coun. Dickerson is still facing prosecution for alleged campaign finance violations during the 2010 municipal election.

Councillor Kevin Ashe

Ward 1

This year's grade: A-

Last year's grade: B+

Attendance: Committee 18/19 Council 11/11

Expenses: $11,196

Councillor Kevin Ashe is adept at balancing residents' needs with the good of the city.  In a recent dispute over student enrolment at an area Montessori school, Coun. Ashe helped bring residents and school administration together in an attempt to compromise on the issue, which reflects his good sense and diplomatic qualities.  He also continued to champion the casino issue after his original motion to declare Pickering a host city failed.  He frequently plays the peacemaker at council, championing civil debate over arguments and providing calm, logical input.  For these reasons his grade has improved this year.

Few surprises, good governance in Pickering
Pickering News Advertiser
July 4, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

2012 grade: A

2013 grade: A

Pickering council offered a lot of the same to residents in the last year, which is to say there were few surprises and generally strong governance.

Mayor David Ryan's leadership has remained consistent as he keeps what's best for Pickering top of mind in his duties.  He's stood firmly against higher levels of government on issues of concern, namely the economic impact of the proposed Seaton development, and over cellphone towers.  He's balanced those positions, however, with his tireless efforts to promote Pickering as a positive place to establish a business and in courting executives to consider the city when expanding or relocating.  He's a strong advocate and a knowledgeable mayor.

Ward 3 Regional Councillor Peter Rodrigues in the last year has consistently demonstrated more fulsome grasp of the issues and can be counted on to provide concise input.  His tone can sometimes be combative, but he earns points for dropping his reflexive tendency to vote with the same councillors, as witnessed over his departure on the issue of hosting a casino in Pickering.  He's in favour, as the City should be.

He does a good job, and makes a strong effort, to support rural constituents.

Ward 2 Regional Councillor Bill McLean does strong constituent work and is well liked by ratepayers.  He's taken a principled stand against the casino issue, and helped lead the successful effort to have a ballot question for voters on the issue in the next municipal election.  He's knowledgeable and asks relevant questions in debate and continues to provide solid representation.

Ward 1 Regional Councillor Jennifer O'Connell continues to provide consistent service to ratepayers and, with Coun. McLean, helped get the casino question on ballots for the 2014 municipal election.  She's always prepared, provides insight into debates and keeps constituent needs at the top of her work agenda.

Local Ward 3 Councillor David Pickles has developed a record of service to constituents over his many years as a councillor.  Most recently, his efforts at traffic calming in Ward 1, along with new pedestrian signals were welcomed by ratepayers.  He's thoughtful and takes a longer view on the impact of decisions, such as bringing the casino issue back to the council table for reconsideration.  To his credit, he largely succeeds in avoiding the conflicts that arise among councillors over contentious issues, or polarized positions.

Kevin Ashe continues to improve as the local Ward 1 representative.  He helped connect angry residents with a private school operator to find common ground over traffic issues, putting his diplomacy skills to the test, and has long been a supporter of Pickering hosting a casino.  He's occasionally taken on the role of peacemaker at council to move debate along and consistently offers reasonable input into debates.

Ward 2 Councillor Doug Dickerson's troubles over campaign spending irregularities, unfortunately, overshadow his service to the city.  He's a populist and has built strong support among individual constituents for his work on their behalf, but offers little leadership at council.  He's known for interrupting colleagues rather than waiting to make his points.  

Council reverses decision, approves new Claremont stop sign
July 11, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

CLAREMONT -- Drivers will have one more stop on their way up Claremont's Old Brock Road after council voted to install a stop sign against the recommendation of staff.

Councillor David Pickles asked for council to support the placement of a stop sign on Old Brock Road at Acorn Lane in Claremont, despite a staff report concluding a stop sign was unnecessary, and an executive committee recommendation in support of the report's recomm endations.

“Right now the committee recommendation is not in favour but I wanted to point out there's almost a kilometre between Old Brock Road and Central Street, with residents and a school on the west side and on the east side a park, community centre and the Legion,” he explained.

“I always tell my kids not to cross in the middle of the street but kids in this area have no alternative.  I'm not suggesting we should put a stop sign everywhere but when we're encouraging people to walk places and enjoy re creational activities, this is warranted.”

Councillors voted to approve the installation by a vote of four to two, with Councillor Peter Rodrigues and Mayor David Ryan reversing their decision from the previous committee vote, which recommended staff's advice in a similar four-to-two vote.

Jim Doyle, president of the Claremont District Community Association, said a stop sign is a step in the right direction to provide residents with a safe crossing, but that ideally he would like to see a pedestrian signal at the location.

“I think it's a good thing to have in the short - term, but the general consensus was we didn't want a stop sign but a pedestrian signal,” he explained.

Claremont anniversary to be officially recognized in Pickering
Council votes to name Sept. 21 Claremont Day
Pickering News Advertiser
Moya Dillon
July 09, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

CLAREMONT -- Claremont is getting its day in the sun after council voted to name a day in its honour as part of celebrations for the village's 175th anniversary.

At a council meeting on July 8, council voted unanimously to declare Sept. 21, 2013 Claremont Day in the City of Pickering.  The day will coincide with a weekend of celebrations to mark 175 years since the founding of Claremont.

“Claremont has a long history with a unique and pioneer spirit which continues today,” said Councillor David Pickles, who introduced the motion to recognize Claremont Day.

“There will obviously be more information coming out, special events are being organized for that weekend, but I know the residents of Claremont will appreciate this very much.”

Jim Doyle, president of the Claremont District Community Association, said residents appreciate the gesture, and are gearing up for a weekend of exciting events from Sept. 20 through 22, including a corn roast, parade, family activities in the park, a music afternoon and a charity run, among others.

The events are being planned as a collaboration between various community and church groups in the area and mark 175 years since the official founding of Claremont in 1838, although the area had long been settled by that point, with original settlers Joseph and Joshua Wixson arriving in the late 1700s.

Mr. Doyle said the celebration couldn't have come at a better time given recent news that an airport will be built just south of the village.

“I think it's very important to celebrate, particularly at this point given the recent airport announcement, which was a major downer for most people living in the village, we don't particularly want an international airport on our doorstep,” he explained.

“I hope this will be a better day, a chance to celebrate the history and heritage of Claremont and a day to bring the whole community back together as a group.  I'm hoping it will revive the spirit of the community, which is very, very important.”

For more information on upcoming events in Claremont, visit www.claremontcommunity.ca.

Celebrate National Access Awareness Week
(snappickering.com)
Accessibility Advisory Committee
Keith Falconer of PESCA, MP Corneliu Chisu, Deputy Mayor Doug Dickerson & Councillor David Pickles with members of the Accessibility Advisory Committee

The City of Pickering and the Accessibility Advisory Committee celebrated National Access Awareness Week on June 1st with an entertaining and informative event designed to celebrate the success of people with disabilities in our community.  With the continued commitment to accessibility, the event highlighted the essential programs and services available.  With greetings from City Council to open the afternoon, guests enjoyed the inspiring address made by keynote speaker, Dan Carter, entitled “Breaking Down the Barriers,” providing an open discussion about mental health issues.  Paralympian Paul Rosen, and representatives from Kinark, Alzheimers Society, and DREN were also on hand.  The Jeff Morison Band performed while guests had the opportunity to meet with experts in the field and service groups such as Children's Wish Foundation, Durham Transit, and Kerry's Place Autism Services.  Hosted in the Centre Court of Pickering Town Centre, the celebration was open and accessible to all!

Cones for the Community
(snappickering.com)
SickKids Patient Embassador
SickKids patient ambassador, Gabrielle & mom, Trish with Deputy Mayor Doug Dickeson, Councillor David Pickles & Keith Falconer

Baskin-Robbins, the world's largest chain of ice cream specialty shops, held a special in-store celebration and promotion on June 1 called Cones for the Community.  During the five-hour blitz, customers enjoyed 31 ice cream scoops and participated in fundraising efforts in support of SickKids Foundation.  The First-scoop ceremony included members of City Council and SickKids patient ambassador, Gabrielle Taylor, age 9, diagnosed with Necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating disease).  As part of the Cones for the Community event, Baskin-Robbins' shops throughout the Toronto area donated $3,100 to SickKids Foundation and collected in-store donations throughout the month of June, making each scoop served taste even sweeter.

2013 Civic Awards
Civic Awards 1
 
Civic Awards 2
 
Civic Awards 3
 
Civic Awards 4
 
Scarborough Hospital-Rouge Valley merger could mean layoffs, bed cuts

Bed cuts and layoffs would likely be part of a merger between the Scarborough Hospital and Rouge Valley Health System, the presidents of the facilities say.

By: Theresa Boyle Health
Published on Wed Jun 26 2013
(thestar.com)

Bed cuts and layoffs would likely be part of a merger between the Scarborough Hospital and Rouge Valley Health System, and the closure of an emergency department could also be in the offing, according to the presidents of the facilities.

But they promise that patient care would not suffer - and would in fact improve - even though financial constraints are forcing the hospitals to look at amalgamating.

Robert Biron, head of the Scarborough Hospital, and Rik Ganderton, his counterpart at Rouge Valley, met with reporters Wednesday to discuss how their facilities are trying to deal with a freeze in funding from the province.

Biron emphasized that no decision has been made to merge and one won't be taken until residents, staff and doctors are consulted to see if the idea even makes sense.

Ganderton said demand for hospitals beds is decreasing because of advances in the provision of acute care.  For example, a heart attack patient can nowadays get discharged after only a day of treatment in hospital, he explained.

As for job losses, Biron explained that major changes underway in Ontario's health system are making the hospital sector smaller.

“There will be job loss in the hospital sector but the community sector is ramping up,” he said, adding that he's sensitive to the anxiety the prospect of such changes is causing staff.

In response to a reporter's question about an ER closure, Biron said: “That is a conversation that will take place in the weeks ahead.”

The closure of ERs is always a touchy subject when hospitals merge.

There are currently three emergency departments serving Scarborough.  The Scarborough Hospital has two - one at its general site on Lawrence Ave.  E.  and one at its Birchmount site.  The third is located at the Centenary site of the Rouge Valley Health System on Ellesmere Rd.

Rouge Valley has another hospital site - the Ajax and Pickering campus in Durham Region.  If Rouge Valley and the Scarborough Hospital merge, the Ajax and Pickering site would be part of the new hospital corporation but would otherwise be unaffected.

The Central East Local Health Integration Network - an arm's length provincial agency that coordinates health care in the area - recently asked the two hospitals to look at the idea of integrating services.

Biron said it makes sense for the three hospital sites serving Scarborough to look at working together.  Centenary is only 4.5 kilometres away from the general site and about 9 kilometres from the Birchmount site.

Efficiencies could be found, for example, by consolidating services to create centres of excellence and through economies of scale.

Ganderton said all Ontario hospitals have been working for years to find efficiencies because provincial funding has not kept pace with hospital inflation.

“We are getting to the point where the range of options are becoming more constrained,” he said, explaining why Scarborough and Rouge Valley are “expanding (their) horizons” and looking at merging.

Ganderton explained that the province, in an attempt to balance its budget, is capping the growth of hospital spending at 2 per cent annually.  That's down from 6 per cent or 7 per cent annually for the last decade.

But that essentially means hospitals are getting funding cuts since they are faced with cost increases of up to 5 per cent annually because of the growing and aging population, wage hikes and more expensive insurance, medical supplies and drugs.

Big savings must be found just to keep pace, Ganderton said.

Biron said the hospitals may also look at moving more ambulatory services and outpatient clinics into the community, something all Ontario hospitals are doing.

He also said that the two hospitals may look at changes to the provision of birthing and surgical services.  But they won't revisit the idea of consolidating birthing services at the Birchmount campus and splitting surgical services so overnight surgery is done at the general campus and day surgery at the Birchmount campus.

That idea was vetoed by the Scarborough Hospital earlier this week after an expert panel that looked into gave it the thumbs down.

Fate of chunk of federal lands still up for debate
Moya Dillon
June 26, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- Questions still remain about the future of the federal lands, despite a recent government announcement aimed at clearing up uncertainty.

At a public information session at Glen Cedars Golf Club on June 24, Transport Canada had few new details to share apart from what was announced earlier in the month, namely that 5,000 acres would be transferred to the Rouge National Urban Park, and that a new quadrant in the southeast corner of the lands would be designated for an airport.

What was open to suggestion, however, were uses for the remaining lands.

“The designated airport site hasn't been clarified yet,” said Michael Stephenson, acting regional director, general Ontario region for Transport Canada.

“This is a good opportunity to allow tenants on the Pickering lands to ask questions, obviously they have a lot of questions and that's fair,” he said.

“We're also asking for feedback on what they think should be done with the remaining lands,” he continued, pointing to lands not included in the airport parcel or the park.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said the rest of the lands would be slated for economic development during the June 11 announcement, although what that means remains unclear.

“That's a pretty broad statement, and the reality is the [Oak Ridges] Moraine legislation sits there,” Mr. Stephenson explained.  “We're asking people what they would like to see.”

Details on the future airport, such as size, design and capacity, are also up in the air.  Mr. Stephenson said that type of planning is still a few years away.

For hundreds of residents who came to the meeting armed with questions, few answers were available.

“There's not a lot to offer here, it's very difficult to even get to someone to ask a question,” said Ian Bezubiak, a resident of the federal lands, of the packed room, where large crowds formed around several representatives of Transport Canada stationed at information boards.

“I'm concerned about what they're proposing to do with the land between the proposed airport and the parkland, and why the community wasn't better informed,” he explained.  “This has been going on my entire life and I haven't had any answers.”

Pickering councillors Peter Rodrigues and David Pickles were also on hand to find out more, but came away empty-handed.

“I was hoping to learn something new but I don't see anything,” Coun. Pickles said, noting he was looking for information on an environmental assessment, plans for community input or an updated business case.

“Hundreds of residents attended and were frustrated that there was no new information, no presentation or opportunities to have questions and concerns answered.  I would like to see a through assessment in an open public process on both the airport and the other lands.”

Others just wanted to show their support.

“The flight paths go over our home so we have some concerns there, as well as environmental concerns,” said Uxbridge resident Anna Marie Leitner, who came out to the meeting with her daughter Chloe, who is in Grade 5.  “We've come here mostly to show the solidarity and concern in our community.”

“I was upset a lot for the environment and for people losing their homes,” Chloe said.  “I don't know what to think.”

Other were interested to learn more about the plan and saw it as a possible opportunity for the region.

“I see the environmental issues but at the same time this is a good opportunity,” said Ajax resident Amanda Moyer.

“There's not a lot of opportunities for jobs here, it's mostly retail and restaurants, these would be high-paying jobs.”

Pickering airport info session offers few details

Transport Canada holds info session on Pickering airport, but officials have few details on cost, type of airport and even flight paths.

By: Vanessa Lu Business reporter, Business Reporter
Published on Tue Jun 25 2013
(thestar.com)

For more than 40 years, Bill Leach has lived happily in his house in rural Pickering, but always under the constant threat he could be moved out for an airport.

He and his wife Berla, who died in August, raised three children on the 4-hectare property despite having the land expropriated by the federal government in the 1970s to make way for a Pickering airport.

Despite periodic rumblings, plans were essentially shelved.  Until now.

“I was just as shocked this time as I was in January 1972,” said Leach, 82, referring to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's surprise announcement earlier this month that a portion of the 7,500-plus-hectare lands originally expropriated would be set aside for an airport.

Under the new plan, the western portion of the site, spanning about more than 2,000 hectares, would be transferred to Parks Canada to form part of the Rouge National Urban Park.  Another section, toward the north, as well as two smaller parcels would be earmarked for economic development.

“Back then, they didn't really have a plan.  They didn't know what they were doing,” Leach said.

“I still don't think they have a plan,” Leach said, after surveying various maps posted on easels during a Transport Canada information session on Monday that was attended by hundreds of people.

Community members, including airport opponents from Land over Landings, were keen to get details about the airport, including cost, type of planes, flight paths and construction timelines.

But Transport Canada officials had little in the way of specifics, with no one addressing the crowd, choosing instead to meet in small groups to answer questions.

Several people expressed concerns that a section set aside for economic development includes land that sits on the environmentally sensitive Oak Ridges Moraine.

Officials pointed to a needs assessment study, released in 2011, that showed that the region will eventually outgrow existing airport operations at Toronto's Pearson airport, as well as smaller ones in Hamilton and Waterloo.

“On the basis of the needs assessment study, our timing would be 2027 and 2037,” Natalie Bosse, Transport Canada's director-general of air and marine programs, said in an interview.  “Transport Canada is protecting these lands for a future airport.”

She added though that projections were done in 2010, so at some point they will need to be redone.  “It won't be next year, but it won't be 10 years from now.  It will be earlier than that.”

Bosse said she couldn't speculate on whether the Pickering airport would be used for domestic or international travel or just small planes like the Buttonville airport, which is scheduled to close.

“The need will dictate the use,” Bosse said, adding Transport Canada is working first on updating regulations to finalize transfer of a section of the lands to the Rouge National Urban Park and another section for economic development.

Airport zoning regulations for takeoffs and landings will also need to be set for an airport that would be smaller than originally designated.  Provincial rules will also need to be amended for noise contours.

“We want to hear the views of the community,” she said, adding comments are open on Transport Canada's website until July 31.

When pressed about the financing costs, when the airport would be built, and what entity would operate the airport, Bosse said those decisions would be made at a later date.

When asked whether land, expropriated specifically for an airport, can be used for economic development, Bosse also declined to speculate.  “Transport Canada is not in the building or development business.  That's not part of our mandate,” she said.

Joe Bezubiak, who lives on the Pickering airport lands as a tenant, calls it a “wrongheaded move” to build on agricultural land.

“This is the best food lands on the doorstep of Toronto,” he said.  “It's not about us.  I know I can't stay there forever.  We have no rights.

“It's about our children's children.  It's about protecting the future.”

Claremont resident Nance Lang worries about potential development on prime agricultural land and on the moraine, which is the watershed for the region.

“Who wants a national park next to an international airport?” she said.

Not everyone who attended the session is opposed to an airport.

David Steeves, a member of the Buttonville Flying Club, is eager to find a spot for private pilots, who are being ousted from Buttonville, which is slated to close in the coming year.

Pickering airport could be a $100 million economic benefit to the region, Steeves argued.

“Start small and then grow to meet the market,” he said.  “The reality is we're late.  It takes five years to build an airport.  Even if it started today, there would be a transition period.”

Land over Landings organizes forces against revived Pickering airport
Moya Dillon
June 23, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Land Over Landings building demo
Land Over Landings building demo.  PICKERING -- Members of Land over Landings gathered to protest the demolition of the house at 3970 Brock Road near the 7th Concession November 7.  November 7, 2012.  Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland

PICKERING -- Residents of the federal lands are rallying the troops against a proposed airport in north Pickering.

Land Over Landings, an advocacy group that calls for the lands to be preserved for agricultural in perpetuity, gathered in the heart of the expropriated parcel at Brougham Hall to welcome new members and issue a call to action.

“After months, years and decades, the other shoe has finally dropped, this is deja vu 1972,” said Mary Delaney, vice chairwoman of the group, referring to the initial expropriation announcement more than 40 years ago, when residents were informed out of the blue that their homes now belonged to the federal government, and would be removed to make way for a new international airport.

“We're here to fight for the greater good,” Ms. Delaney said.

“We are up against the federal government, this is the big time.  We haven't got a minute to lose, we have to hit the ground running.”

While rallies and protest events are still in the planning stages, the group got to work organizing its increasing membership around efforts including fundraising, legal research, getting its message out and installing signs.

The meeting drew many new members, including former residents of the lands, spurred by the government's June 11 announcement, which renewed Ottawa's commitment to building an airport on the lands to be operational as early as 2027.

“Growing up we would check the mail every day looking for an eviction notice, it wasn't a good way to live,” said Adrienne Calvert, whose family leased a property on the land for more than 25 years, until they were evicted in 2001 due to mould issues.

Now an advertising professional living in Toronto, Ms. Calvert contacted Land Over Landings after the latest airport announcement to offer her expertise.

“I've been passionate about these lands for as long as I can remember, I'm very concerned about the future,” she said.

“This whole situation is out of control and underhanded.  It's all based on smoke and mirrors about jobs and the economy, but the business case isn't there.”

New members such as Ms. Calvert are fuelling the fire of original members, who are gearing up to renew their ongoing struggle to save the federal lands from development.

“We are dedicated and determined and have the staying power of sea turtles,” Ms. Delaney said.

“This is a new generation of Land over Landings.  We are dedicated to keeping them from foisting another Mirabel on us and in doing so destroying some of Canada's last remaining prime foodland.  This isn't merely uninformed policy, this is madness.”

For more information visit www.landoverlandings.com.

Come Celebrate Canada Day
Come Celebrate Canada Day at Kinsmen Park
 
Public Information Session Pickering Lands
June, 2013
Public Information Session Pickering Lands
 
Pickering cadets celebrate success
June 19, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Pickering cadets celebrate success
Pickering cadets celebrate success.  PICKERING -- Warrant Officer Second Class Liam Bills, left, is awarded the Colonel Perron Award for top cadet athlete in Canada from reviewing officer B.M.J.  Paulhus.  Liam was recognized for organizing and running sports events for Pickering's 856 Air Cadet Squadron sports teams, which saw regular success.  June 18, 2013 Submitted Photo

PICKERING -- Pickering's Air Cadets are receiving excellent reviews after their annual inspection parade.

On June 9, 856 Pickering Air Cadet Squadron gathered at the Don Beer Arena for their 15th annual inspection parade, which allows cadets to demonstrate what they've learned over the last year while performing for family and friends.

Warrant Officer First Class Lester Sampayo commanded the parade square of 126 cadets to excellent results, with cadets demonstrating band and competition team drills.

“Coming up behind my generation is a whole corps of fantastic young people that are ready to take our place,” said Lieutenant-Colonel B.M.J.  Paulhus, chief of staff for the Canadian Forces Aerospace Warfare Centre and reviewing officer for the inspection parade.

Several cadets were honoured during the event for their achievements.

Officer Second Class Liam Bills received the Colonel Perron Award, a national accolade given to the top cadet athlete in Canada.  Liam was also awarded a scholarship to attend the International Air Cadet Exchange Program this summer, where he will represent Canada in Australia.

Flight Sergeant Phillip Armenis and Flight Sergeant Sarah Francis were awarded seven-week power flying scholarships.  Six-week glider program scholarships at CFB Trenton were awarded to Sergeant Franchesca D'Almeida, Sergeant Caroline D'Souza and Sergeant Maegan Extross, who will travel to Nova Scotia to complete the course.

For more information on the cadets visit www.856aircadets.com.

New Oshawa airport business plan delayed
By Geoff Zochodne/The Oshawa Express
Tue, Jun 18th, 2013
(oshawaexpress.ca)
Oshawa Airport
 

Grandiose announcements about a new Pickering airport haven't caused too much stress among Oshawa airport aficionados.  

Canada's Finance Minister and Whitby-Oshawa MP Jim Flaherty, alongside Environment Minister Peter Kent, recently announced the federal government's plans for the land it owns in north Pickering.  The new strategy sets aside nearly 5,000 acres for the Rouge National Urban Park and outlines the lands that could be used for a future airport and other “job-creating” developments.

The City of Oshawa is doing some soul searching of its own on the subject of its airport.  An “Airport Business Plan Working Team” was formed in December 2012 to help better define its operations going forward.  

Councillor John Aker, a member of the working team, says its report won't be tabled until the fall at the earliest.  The original plan was to have the team's findings come forward before council let out for the summer.

But with Buttonville Airport's scheduled closure in 2015, Oshawa Municipal Airport has started to see changes.  A migration of corporate jets to its hangars has already begun.

Fortunately, this may be a good thing.  The jets are seen as faster and quieter, getting up and away from the city much quicker.  They also have fewer aircraft movements compared to flight training planes.  The jets don't need a longer runway either, helping to avoid another debate over extending Oshawa Municipal Airport's landing strip.  

And the influx of jets and corporate aircraft is a different business from what larger airports manage.  The Pickering airport will likely handle the overflow of traffic from Pearson and Toronto Island Airports, explains Councillor Aker, keeping it out of direct competition with Oshawa.

“In my opinion it will have very little impact on the Oshawa airport,” he says.  “The Oshawa airport is moving towards being an airport for corporate jets and executive jets.”

The federal government did a “Needs Assessment Study” in 2011 that found a new airport in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area would be needed between 2027 and 2037.  The same study argued the Pickering lands would be an ideal location.

Another member of the Oshawa airport's working team, Cindy Simmons-Milroy, wasn't too concerned about Pickering cutting into the local aviation market.  The City's director of economic development says the Oshawa's airport's focus will continue to be on “general aviation and corporate traffic.”

“If Pickering opens it doesn't mean that Oshawa has to close.  The lands they talked about have always been dedicated for an airport,” she explains.  “From my perspective, I don't think there was anything new announced.”

“Airlines do not split their fixed-base operations,” says Councillor Aker, and larger airports don't want smaller jets taking up space.  

The timeframes lend even more assurances.  Regional council was given a presentation from the Greater Toronto Airports Authority that claimed the GTA's airports would be at capacity in the mid-2030s, right around when the needs study indicated a Pickering airport would become necessary.  Oshawa is committed to operating its airport until at least 2033.

The federal government has owned the Pickering lands since 1972, leasing them to residential, agricultural and commercial tenants beginning in 1975.

“For residents of Durham Region and the GTA, the Harper government is ending decades of uncertainty about the future of the Pickering Lands,” said Minister Flaherty.  “There will be land for an airport, there will be urban and industrial development and there will be considerable green space on these lands.  We are striking a responsible balance that will allow us to preserve our quality of life, while creating jobs and long-term prosperity in Durham Region and the GTA.  With the Buttonville Airport closing, with Highway 407 being extended eastward, and now clarity around the Pickering Lands, Durham Region is well positioned to be a hub for transportation, business development and job creation.”

People living in Pickering may disagree with that assessment, as there has been considerable opposition to an airport there.

Councillor Aker agrees with the finance minister's vision.  Economic development is beginning to move east of Toronto, he notes, and a Pickering airport is a sign of that.

“It will be a huge benefit to Oshawa and Durham Region, no doubt about that,” he says.

Feedback link to Transport Canada website

The Transport Canada webpage has a feedback form that people can complete until July 31st regarding the announcement on June 11th for the airport.  It may be a good idea to pass it along in case others in the community would like to express their feelings on the matter.  Unfortunately, the page is quite buried in the site, so here is the link - tc.sondages-surveys.ca/s/PL-BFP/?l=en.

Balance struck in federal airport lands plan
June 13, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

Tuesday's announcement on the Pickering federal lands strikes a balance for its use and ends much of the uncertainty regarding the most famous piece of property in the city.

The 18,600-acre federal lands, located in Pickering, Uxbridge and Markham, were expropriated in 1972 for an international airport that was never built.  From day one, area residents have vigorously opposed an airport there, citing the valuable farmland.  Uncertainty over what would happen to the property has long hung over Pickering.

But Whitby Oshawa MP Jim Flaherty at a press conference unveiled a new land use plan from the federal government.  The land will be split up into three uses, with 5,000 acres, virtually all of it in York Region, added to the Rouge Park, land set aside for an airport and the remainder reserved for urban and industrial development.

It certainly wasn't the news Land Over Landings members wanted to hear.  Advocating for a land trust for years, they vowed to continue their 40-plus years fight against an airport.

Government officials were positive about what the announcement means for Pickering, the GTA and even Canada as a whole.

Mr. Flaherty noted that appropriate economic development such as aeronautics facilities would be key candidates for the development portion of the lands, an idea Pickering Mayor David Ryan welcomed.

“The aeronautics industry could take root here in the City of Pickering,” he said, adding the announcement was good news overall.

“It does resolve the uncertainty we've experienced here for the past 40 years.  There will be an economic stimulus for the area and it will have a direct impact on congestion across the GTA by bringing well-paying jobs to Durham Region.”

The Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade in a press release “applauded the government for taking decisive action on the file,” but stopped short of a full endorsement, citing the need to study it further.  The press release noted a recent board of trade survey in which a majority of members said an airport in north Pickering would mean economic benefits for Ajax, Pickering and all of Durham Region.

As we said 15 months ago, balance was called for in figuring out what to do with the lands and the announcement does strike a balance.

Clearly, it would have been impossible to please everybody.

However there's no doubt that an airport would be a massive economic shot in the arm for Pickering and Durham Region.  From the 10 years or so it would require to build the facility, to the hundreds of jobs required at the airport, to the potential for even more jobs on the lands adjacent to the airport, the bottom line is jobs, jobs and more jobs, and they are sorely needed.  

Pickering airport foes prepare to fight once more
Decades of intermittent battle restarted by federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's announcement.
By: Liam Casey GTA, Published on Wed Jun 12 2013
(thestar.com)
Protestors
Reg Innell / TORONTO STAR
People or Planes demonstrate against the Pickering Airport.  Toronto Star file photo by Reg Innell in 1972.

First it was on, then it was off, then on, then off again.

But now the federal government's plans to build a major airport in Pickering is on again - and its opponents are ready again, too.

The federal government said the airport - a controversial proposal that has endured four decades - will begin construction in 2017, with planes set to take off by 2027.

“I'm devastated,” said Mary Delaney, who has lived on the land since 1980.  “But I'm also furious.  We're ready for a big fight.”

Delaney is one of the founding members of Land Over Landings, a group that wants to save the land from any type of development and reserve it for farming.  And, hopefully, save the 150 families who still live on the land.

The group heard whispers Monday about an announcement, but figured it would only be something about Rouge Park, which it was, partially.  Then the bombshell that the government would put shovel to soil in four years.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said that “the uncertainty ends today.

“The Harper government is moving forward with a responsible and balanced plan for the development and preservation of the Pickering lands.”

Several members gathered outside the event, sealed behind a barricade.  But now that word is out, the troops are amassing, to use the group's vernacular.

There's been a flurry of texts, emails and phone calls to figure out when to meet, what to do and how to win again.

“It's worth fighting for,” Gabrielle Untermann, who has lived on the land since 1986.  “Sure, I want to get on with my life and this takes up way too much of my time, but this is part of my life now.  We're fighters.”

It's not a new story.  In 1972, the federal government expropriated a large swath of land in north Pickering - an area more than double the size of Ajax - in order to build an airport.

Thus started a 41-year-old battle between locals and the feds.  War imagery and street theatre has been a common theme for the group, which was known originally as People Over Planes.

Large, colourful protests abounded, from a public “hanging” of prime minister Pierre Trudeau and Premier Bill Davis to a silent protest with coffins and black robes, as a throng strolled up University Ave.  to bury “Mother Nature” at Queen's Park.

On Sept.  24, 1975, the province, headed by Davis's minority government, told Ottawa it didn't need or want an airport.  The province was supposed to provide roads, water mains, a sewage system and the like for the airport - Davis said Ontario would withhold those services.  Two days later, the federal government put the airport plans on hold.

Residents were allowed to rent their homes after a winning a stay of execution in 1975.  But people slowly moved out and the government didn't re-rent the homes.

The landlord, the federal government, let the area slip into dereliction.

It became the land of abandoned homes.  Then a land of ruins.  An average of five empty houses per year burn to the ground - all suspicious, according to Pickering Fire.  And countless homes, abandoned for years, were eventually demolished.

And then there was the dungeon.  In August 2010, Robert Edwin White began building a confinement room, complete with heavy locks and chains, for a woman who he blamed for tearing his family apart.  He pleaded guilty to break-and-enter with intent to commit a crime.

Police found the dungeon in late 2011 - and the house burned to the ground a month later.

Now, much of the expropriated land is farmed by large companies as cash crops - namely corn that is harvested for ethanol and sold to various industries, including the automotive industry.

But the battle cries are being shouted.

And members of the group continue to speak in battle metaphors.

“The enemy has finally reared his head again,” said Pat Valentine, who doesn't live on the land, but nearby.  “It's hard to fight a battle with no opposition.  Now we have one again.”

Pickering airport gets green light, but is it needed?
Rick Madonik / Toronto Star
By: Marco Chown Oved Staff Reporter, Vanessa Lu Business reporter
Published on Wed Jun 12 2013
(thestar.com)

Aviation experts question the need, arguing demand isn't there and airlines wouldn't want to duplicate Pearson operations.

Woman Wearing Protest Button
A woman wears a protest button from Land over Landings, a 40-year-old movement against a Pickering airport, while demonstrating against the revived plan.  The group was not allowed near the official announcement site Tuesday as Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced that, along with a transfer of federal land to the new national Rouge Park, some would be set aside for an airport.

After being parked on the tarmac for more than four decades, plans to build an airport in Pickering have suddenly been solidified by the federal government - a move sparking renewed debate over whether another airport is needed.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty made the surprise announcement Tuesday at an event to mark the creation of the Rouge National Urban Park.

“I'm here to confirm that the uncertainty ends today,” Flaherty said.  “There will be three uses for the lands.  First of all, there will be land set aside for the future airport.  Secondly, there will be land for economic development, and finally, there will be considerable green space allocated.”

Aviation industry officials say they were given no advance notice of the plan, and Ontario Transportation Minister Glen Murray said he was caught off-guard.

Murray, who was on hand for the park's soil turning, said in an interview that he had just finished thanking Flaherty publicly at the event when the airport bombshell landed.

“They announced they're proceeding with the Pickering airport in some fashion without great clarity, without any heads-up, without any kind of consultation with us, which makes it hard to work together,” he said, adding that Ottawa is “blindsiding” the province.

In an email to the Star, Flaherty disputed Murray's claim of being ambushed on the airport announcement.

“Minister Murray is mistaken.  He should check with his officials, because for more than a week documents have been going back and forth with respect to the airport and the lands to be used for the park,” Flaherty said.

“He is not up to date on what is going on in his own government,” he said.

The Pickering lands, which include more than 7,500 hectares expropriated in 1972 for an airport, would be carved up into three sections, though no specific breakdown was given.

In his remarks, Flaherty referred to the looming closure of the Buttonville airport as well as a needs assessment study conducted by Transport Canada, released in 2011, that said the region will outgrow Pearson as well as secondary airports in Hamilton and Waterloo by 2027 at the earliest, and possibly as late as 2037.

Flaherty also noted that the Pickering airport, 56 kilometres from downtown Toronto, will fit in nicely with plans to expand the toll Highway 407 eastward to Highways 35 and 115.

But aviation analysts argue another airport simply isn't needed at this time.

“It's a dumb idea.  There is no demand for that airport,” said Fred Lazar, a business professor at York University.  “If there was the demand, Hamilton would be a thriving airport.”

Even though many cities around the world, such as New York and London, have several airports within their metropolitan areas, Lazar argued the Greater Toronto Area doesn't have the population base.  Plus, airlines would be reluctant to split services and operations between Pearson and Pickering.

“The market is just not there to support it,” he said.  “I don't think Pearson will be at capacity in 2027.”

Pearson spokesman Scott Armstrong said the airport handled 35 million passengers last year, up 4.4 per cent from a year earlier, and there were 433,000 takeoffs and landings, up 1.2 per cent.

“Over the next 15 or 20 years, we could get to 60 million passengers, but long-term planning is far from an exact science,” Armstrong said, adding that Pearson is focused on using its existing infrastructure before considering any additional projects, though it can build a sixth runway if needed.

Armstrong said Pearson, which operates as a not-for-profit private company, is still growing, adding new carriers, including Russia's Aeroflot and EgyptAir this month alone.

By contrast, the three main New York area airports handled more than 120 million passengers last year.

Robert Kokonis, an analyst with AirTrav research firm, said Pickering would essentially be the fourth commercial airport in the region, including Hamilton and Toronto's island airport, where Porter Airlines hopes to expand its operations.

If Porter, which wants to fly Bombardier's new CSeries jet to cities such as Vancouver and Los Angeles, wins permission, other carriers, such as WestJet and Air Canada, will also want slots there, he said.

While airports aren't built overnight, Kokonis argued that master plans are full of economic assumptions - “a mug's game” this far out in time.

“It's an awful lot of money to build a new airport,” he said, adding the federal government could use some of that money to offer rent relief to Canadian airports to make them more competitive with U.S.  airports, which have been drawing loads of Canadian travellers in recent years.

Kokonis argued that Hamilton could also be developed more, especially because it has no curfew, so planes can take off and land around the clock, unlike Pearson and the island airport.

All three main Canadian carriers declined to comment, saying they had too little information at this time.

Flaherty offered no specific details on how the Pickering airport project would be financed; saying only that land had been set aside for a future airport.

“It is very early in the process and no decisions have been made with respect to specific costs or the approach to financing and building,” Flaherty spokeswoman Kathleen Perchaluk said in an email.

“Any future decisions will be informed by the interests and the needs of regional stakeholders and residents expressed during engagement and consultation activities that will take place over the coming months and years,” she added.

But York University's Lazar thinks Pickering would be a waste of money.

“The federal government didn't learn a lesson in Montreal with Mirabel,” said Lazar.  “It's a make-work project that will fail.”

Mirabel airport, about 55 kilometres north of downtown Montreal, opened in 1975, a year before the city hosted the Summer Olympics, with the expectation the airport would eventually serve 50 million passengers a year.

But the traffic never materialized.  Travellers opted to stick with the airport in Dorval, which is closer to where most Montrealers live.  Mirabel closed to passenger traffic in 2004.

With files from Robert Benzie and Bruce Campion-Smith

Map
 
New airport to be built in Pickering, Ont
The Canadian Press
June 12, 2013
(montrealgazette.com)
Airplane
A Transport Canada study from 2011 indicated the busy Greater Toronto Area would need another airport by 2027 at the earliest, as the Buttonville airport closes and Highway 407 expands eastward.
Photograph by: Fred Dufour, Getty Images

A new airport will be landing east of Toronto in an area of green space that will also house a national park.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says the 75-square-kilometre Pickering Lands area that Ottawa acquired back in 1972 will be the site of the future airport.

A Transport Canada study from 2011 indicated the busy Greater Toronto Area would need another airport by 2027 at the earliest, as the Buttonville airport closes and Highway 407 expands eastward.

In addition to the new transportation hub, nearly 20 square kilometres of green space is being parcelled out for the Rouge National Urban Park - which with the new land will be 13 times the size of Vancouver's scenic Stanley Park.

Additional land will also be set aside for economic development, and Flaherty says Ottawa will consult with community and business groups to figure out what to build.

Residents who live near the proposed airport site in north Pickering have fought plans for an airport for years over concerns about noise, pollution and a decline in property values.

“As we protect land for a future airport, a considerable tract of land will also be made available for job-creating development that will bring new opportunities to Pickering and Durham Region,” Flaherty, the cabinet minister responsible for the Greater Toronto Area, said in his announcement on Tuesday.

Pickering Mayor David Ryan is behind the plan, despite the long-standing local opposition.

“It's 41 years later.  The GTA has grown.  Pickering has grown.  The demand is here,” he said.

Parks Canada will take over land for the national park from Transport Canada, with the transfer paperwork expected to be completed by summer of next year.

Enbridge makes case for pipeline through Durham
Keith Gilligan
June 12, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

AJAX -- A properly maintained pipeline will last forever, an Enbridge official told Ajax council on Monday.

Ken Hall, a senior advisor for community relations for Enbridge, said the lifespan of a pipeline is “indefinite.  They can last forever if we take care of them.”

Enbridge has filed an application with the National Energy Board to reverse the flow of oil in a pipeline, called Line 9, that passes through Durham Region as it runs from Sarnia to Montreal.  Currently, the oil flows from east to west and the company wants to change the flow to west to east.

The pipeline is 38 years old.

The NEB hearing into the reversal was to start in August, but has been pushed back to October, Mr. Hall noted.

There's a pipeline in Alberta still being used that's more than 60 year sold, he said.

“In an integrity management view, 38 is not old.  It's not old because we maintain it.  Nor would we introduce anything into the pipeline that would damage it,” Mr. Hall said.

The reversal “will provide Canadian oil for Canadian refineries and for Canadians,” Mr. Hall said.

The company wants to pump 300,000 barrels of crude oil a day, up from the current capacity of 240,000 barrels.  “There's no increase in the operating pressure.”

Over the past decade, almost 12 billion barrels of oil have been pumped through the line, with a safe delivery record of 99.999 per cent, Mr. Hall said.

The underground pipeline passes through Durham in north Pickering, north Ajax, between Whitby and Brooklin, north Oshawa and through north Clarington, between Newcastle and Orono.

In the 38 years the pipeline has been operating, there have been 12 breaks, he said, adding 11 were caused by third parties who hit the line.  In each of the 11 instances, about five barrels of oil was spilled.

In one rupture, between 2,000 and 2,500 barrels of oil spilled.

While Enbridge touts its record, elected officials continue to raise questions about an Enbridge pipeline in Marshall, Michigan that ruptured in July 2010, spilling about one million gallons of oil into a creek and the Kalamazoo River.

One of the lessons the company learned from the Kalamazoo spill was “we didn't have enough people or equipment to manage the spill.  That allowed it to be worse.  Within five days, we had 5,000 people.  In the first 24 hours, we didn't have enough people,” Mr. Hall said.

The pipeline is monitored 24 hours a day, and there's an automatic leak detection system and an operator can shut down the flow.

“Enbridge will undertake all works required to ensure that this pipeline will operate safely.  That's our No.  1 priority,” he said.  “Pipeline safety is job one for Enbridge.”

Ward 2 local Councillor Renrick Ashby said, “You say everything is under control and I'm not convinced you do.”

Town hall in brief: Pickering receives good financial report card
June 12, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- Councillors praised staff for its efforts after receiving a clean financial bill of health from auditors Deloitte LLP.

“The financial results for 2012 were once again favourable in all respects,” Kristine Senior, manager of accounting services for the City of Pickering, wrote in a report that went before council at a June 10 executive committee meeting.

The report highlighted the increase of total assets from $358.2 million to $365.7 million and expenditures that were well within budget.

“It's good to note actual expenses are under budget in almost all functional areas,” said Councillor Doug Dickerson.

“This demonstrates staff efforts to control expenditures, which I would say has been embraced as part of the corporate culture over the last several years.  I'm not so sure there are a whole lot of cuts left to be found but I want to commend all members of staff and express the pride we have in staff and the work they have done.”

While it celebrated the results of the audit, the report also provided a note of caution moving forward.

“These results, as in prior years, are primarily a result of one-time occurrences and cannot be relied upon to continue on an annual basis into the future.”

Farmers' market moves toward permanent approval

The Pickering Town Centre Farmers' Market is on its way to gaining official approval as an annual event.

At a planning and development meeting on June 10, councillors voted unanimously to recommend a zoning bylaw amendment allowing a seasonal outdoor farmers' market on the Pickering Town Centre lands be approved.

“I really do look forward to this, I think it's a good design and it worked out great,” said Councillor Peter Rodrigues of the farmers' market, which has been held for the past two summers under a minor variance from the City.

The bylaw amendment would give permanent approval to the seasonal market, held in the east parking lot of the mall.

The amendment will come back to council on June 17 for a final vote.

Pickering tennis courts to get facelift

Tennis courts at David Farr Park and Claremont Park will soon be getting new surfaces.

During an executive committee meeting on June 10, councillors recommended a bid to reconstruct the courts for approval.  A final vote will be held at the June 17 council meeting.

If accepted, the Glendale tennis courts at David Farr Park and the court at Claremont Park will see a complete reconstruction of the court surfaces using penetration asphalt, which is preferred by the Pickering Tennis Association.

Pickering airport announcement blindsides province and locals
Rick Madonik / Toronto Star
By: Marco Chown Oved Staff Reporter
Published on Tue Jun 11 2013
(thestar.com)

Ontario Transportation Minister Glen Murray says he wasn't consulted on the Pickering airport announcement.  Locals complain that their voices haven't been heard.

Tree Planting
From left, Glen Murray (Ontario transportation minister), Jim Flaherty (federal finance minister), Peter Kent (federal environment minister) and local MP Chris Alexander, shovel dirt onto a newly planted tree.  The politicians announced expanded park lands around Rouge Park.  Flaherty also said plans were moving ahead for an airport in the area.

Plans to have planes taking off and landing at a huge new airport east of the city ran into difficulty only hours after they were announced, with local and provincial politicians complaining they hadn't been consulted and opponents promising a new battle in the war over the Pickering lands that has been raging for more than 40 years.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty designated land for Toronto's third airport - to be located in Pickering and operational by 2027 - at a hastily organized press event in Claremont Tuesday alongside at least one Ontario cabinet minister who wasn't informed of the airport plan.

“I'm here to confirm that the uncertainty ends today,” Flaherty said.  “The Harper government is moving forward with a responsible and balanced plan for the development and preservation of the Pickering lands.”

Under the plan, the Pickering airport lands, which were purchased by the federal government and set aside in 1972, would be divided into three.  Approximately one-third would be set aside for the future airport, one-third will be added to the Rouge Urban National Park and the remaining land will be designated for “economic development,” Flaherty said.

Yet Ontario Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Glen Murray said he thought the announcement was only about the park land and that Flaherty blindsided him with the airport announcement.

“We've had no prior discussion, no negotiation,” he told the Star after returning to Queen's Park.

“They announced they're proceeding with the Pickering airport in some fashion without great clarity, without any heads-up, without any kind of consultation with us, which makes it hard to work together,” he said.

The federal tactics are not likely to ensure greater provincial co-operation on the project, he said.

In an email to the Star, Flaherty disputed Murray's claim of being ambushed on the airport announcement.

“Minister Murray is mistaken.  He should check with his officials because for more than a week documents have been going back and forth with respect to the airport and the lands to be used for the park,” the federal finance minister said.

Though the government did not release official numbers, maps distributed at the event appeared to designate a significant portion of the 18,600 acres of the federal land for the future airport, making it much larger than Pearson Airport, which occupies 4,400 acres.

Alongside the airport, Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent announced that nearly 5,000 acres of the Pickering Lands will be transferred to Parks Canada, expanding the existing park by about one-third to almost 15,000 acres.  This would make the future Rouge Urban National Park more than 13 times the size of Stanley Park in Vancouver.

The remaining land would be designated for “economic development,” though exactly what that means was not made clear.

The airport announcement risks inflaming tensions that have been simmering since the land was expropriated more than 40 years ago.  Locals remain bitter and are promising to fight the airport once more.

Anti-airport signs dotted the roads leading to Tuesday's announcement and local Pickering regional councillor Peter Rodrigues said he wasn't even invited to the event, but insisted he be allowed inside.

“An airport is neither needed nor wanted,” he said.

Fellow Pickering councillor David Pickles said he thinks any public process to discuss an airport will show strong local opposition.

“The apparent beginning of a process towards an airport is concerning, it is imperative that we fully consider the need, the impact and the cost in a public process before a decision to proceed is made.”

At the announcement, local Conservative MP for Pickering-Ajax, Chris Alexander, who spoke out against the airport before the 2011 election, refused to answer a question about why he had changed his position.

NDP MP Olivia Chow (Trinity-Spadina) was critical of Flaherty's firm commitment to get Pickering airport up and running in the absence of any study or consultation that it was even needed.

“Building another airport without consultation with the provincial and municipal government, they haven't done the environmental assessment .  .  .  it's putting the cart before the horse,” Chow said.

Liberal MP John McCallum (Markham-Unionville) said that the Conservative government hasn't made an economic case for putting an airport in Pickering.

“If they really think there's a need for this airport, then prove it,” he said.

Flaherty cited a 2011 Transport Canada study, which indicated that an additional airport would be needed between 2027 and 2037 in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area.

He said that growth has been concentrated to the west of the GTA and an airport is an essential part of bringing that growth east.

“Now it's our turn,” Flaherty said, pledging to personally head up a consultation team for the economic development element of the plan.  With 10 years of construction factored in, he said, the new airport should be up and running by 2027.

The Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade applauded the plan, saying the certainty it brings helps businesses plan and develop in the area.

Much of the western portion of the federal lands lies on The Greenbelt, and it appears that some of the land set aside for the airport, and much of the land designated for economic development, would have to be exempted from The Greenbelt to move forward.

The potential problem seems to have been anticipated before the announcement was made.  Transport Canada will “work in co-operation with the Province of Ontario to amend the Ministerial Zoning Orders to restrict development in the surrounding lands to activities compatible with a future airport,” according to an information handout distributed to reporters.

The David Suzuki Foundation weighed in, saying it was disappointed with the announcement.

“We've written on the economic value of keeping the Rouge farmland and nature,” said director general Faisal Moola.  “The Greenbelt is not a place to be building a giant international airport.  This is some of the best prime farmland and nature in the city and we think it's worth protecting.”

Local environmental activists, who were barred from attending the announcement and forced to gather behind orange barriers said they were disappointed with the announcement.

“We've known about the federal land transfer to the Rouge for a year now,” said Jim Robb, general manager of Friends of the Rouge Watershed.

“We were hoping they would announce that the park would be expanded further, instead it appears that they want to build an airport on the Greenbelt,” he said.  “They've awakened a sleeping giant.  The whole eastern GTA will get involved now that they're going to have planes flying overhead.”

With files from Robert Benzie and Bruce Campion-Smith

FAQ

1.  What's new?

While the federal government has been sitting on the Pickering Airport lands for 41 years, now they're actually moving forward to build an airport.  If federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's timeline is adhered to, construction will begin in 2017 and the airport will open in 2027.

2.  Was this expected?

Yes and no.  The lands were always intended for an airport, but no one knew when it was going to be built.  In 2011, Transport Canada issued a report saying the Greater Golden Horseshoe area would need a new airport by 2037, but no thorough economic analysis has been done.

3.  Why was the land divided into three?

The original tract Pickering airport land is more than four times the size of Pearson airport and not all of it is needed for a new airport.  Some of the land is adjacent to the Rouge Urban National Park and some of it falls within the Greenbelt, so the federal government looks like it has tried to please everyone with a piece of the proverbial pie.

4.  Is a new airport needed?

Opponents question whether another airport is necessary and if one is, why it should be in Pickering.  Other options include expanding Pearson and/or Hamilton Airport.

5.  What obstacles stand in the way of the airport?

Locals have been organized around this issue for decades.  Local politicians have been elected on promises to oppose the airport.  Conservationists want to see more land protected.  But in the end, the federal government owns the land and will build an airport if it wants to, though funding, which could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, hasn't been secured yet.

Feds not ruling out airport on Pickering Lands
By David Shum and James Armstrong     Global News
June 11, 2013
(globalnews.ca)

TORONTO - The federal government has not ruled out building an airport in Pickering 40 years after expropriating land for its construction and a year after announcing a massive national park next door.

“For residents of Durham Region and the GTA, the Harper government is ending decades of uncertainty about the future of the Pickering Lands,” said Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in a media release Tuesday.

Although the airport deal hasn't been rubber stamped yet, the government has reserved part of the area for its construction.

The Pickering Lands is made up of approximately 18,600 acres of land in Pickering, Markham and Uxbridge, 56 kilometres northeast of downtown Toronto.

The federal government acquired the land in 1972 promising to build an airport.  But the project was stuck in a holding pattern for decades due to concerns from residents and nearby airports.

And Pickering mayor David Ryan came out in support of the airport Tuesday suggesting the region's growing population will create the demand for a local airport.

But John McCallum, the Liberal MP for Markham-Unionville, said his party cannot support the federal government's plan.

“We think they've behaved very badly.  They're not consulting at all with local communities or residents and they haven't presented a credible business case,” McCallum said.  “This will affect a lot of people's lives in a major way; I don't think they just cut them [the public] out without proper consultation.”

Two public information sessions have been set for June 24 and June 27 in Markham.

Transport Canada is responsible for the day-to-day management and long-term planning of the Pickering Lands.

“With the Buttonville Airport closing, with Highway 407 being extended eastward, and now clarity around the Pickering Lands, Durham Region is well positioned to be a hub for transportation, business development and job creation,” Flaherty said.

In 2011, the Government of Canada released a Needs Assessment Study that showed the region will need an additional airport between 2027 and 2037.

But long-time area resident and anti-airport activist Michael Robertson says the land should not be used for an airport but instead, for agriculture.

“We need to redevelop the farming side of this and get it producing food,” he said.

Transport Canada also plans to transfer nearly 5,000 acres from these lands to Parks Canada towards the creation of Rouge National Urban Park, which will be more than 13 times the size of Stanley Park in Vancouver.

-     With files from The Canadian Press

Pickering airport, national urban park announced by feds
Decision on Pickering Lands development comes 40 years after it was acquired
CBC News
Posted: Jun 11, 2013 2:16 PM ET
(cbc.ca)
Arial Photo of Pickering Lands
A satellite image over the Pickering Lands shows the rough site of where a proposed Pickering airport will be built by as soon as 2027.  A satellite image over the Pickering Lands shows the rough site of where a proposed Pickering airport will be built by as soon as 2027.  (Google Earth)

A new airport in Pickering, Ont., will be constructed on the Pickering Lands, the federal government announced today, ending what the finance minister called “decades of uncertainty” about a parcel of property that has long languished without a plan for its future.

Jim Flaherty characterized the decision to finally break ground on a new airport at the federally owned Pickering Lands as a “responsible, balanced approach” to development of the 18,600-acre property.

“For residents of Durham Region and the GTA, the Harper government is ending decades of uncertainty about the future of the Pickering Lands,” Flaherty said.  “There will be land for an airport, there will be urban and industrial development and there will be considerable green space on these lands.”

Map of Pickering Lands
A map of the Pickering Lands shows a 4,650-acre tract, highlighted in pink, that will serve as the site for a new Pickering airport.A map of the Pickering Lands shows a 4,650-acre tract, highlighted in pink, that will serve as the site for a new Pickering airport.  (Jeff Semple/CBC)

The plan is to develop 4,650 acres of the land for the airport, then devote the rest of the space for an urban park and economic development.

The government acquired the Pickering Lands in 1972, but opposition to plans for the green space to be developed for an airport forced the project to be shelved for years.

Building a new airport, particularly in light of the imminent closing of the Buttonville Airport, would position Durham Region as a transportation hub that will spur job creation and energize business development, Flaherty said.

2011 report identified lands as ideal for airport

The government conducted a Needs Assessment Study in 2011 that concluded that an additional airport in the region would be needed between 2027 and 2037.  The report identified the Pickering Lands as a prime space for such an airport and the government has now focused on the southeast quadrant of the site as appropriate for the facility.

“As we protect land for a future airport, a considerable tract of land will also be made available for job-creating development that will bring new opportunities to Pickering and Durham Region,” Flaherty said.

Another 5,000 acres will be reserved for Parks Canada to create what will be known as Rouge National Urban Park - a plot of land that will be more than 13 times the size of Vancouver's Stanley Park.

Environment Minister Peter Kent said the development of a national urban park in the Rouge Valley would be the realization of a vision outlined in the Conservative government's 2012 Economic Action Plan.

“With federal and provincial commitments for lands, we are not one, but two steps closer to creating a true 'Canadian first' with Rouge National Urban Park - a place where nature, culture and agriculture can be protected, appreciated, experienced and supported,” Kent said.

Transport Canada plans to meet with stakeholders, businesses and local communities for feedback on the proposed expansion project and management of the Pickering Lands.

The airport is tentatively scheduled to be built by 2027.

Pickering airport might fly yet
Moya Dillon
June 11, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty & Environment Minister Peter Kent
Pickering airport lands.  PICKERING -- Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Oshawa-Whitby MP, was backed up by Environment Minister Peter Kent, as new plans are unveiled by Ontario and federal government's concerning the Pickering airport lands.  Three federal and one provincial cabinet ministers were on hand at the Pickering Lands site office to announce expanded park lands around the existing provincial Rouge Park.  June 11, 2013.  Rick Madonik / Torstar News Services

PICKERING -- The long-standing spectre of an international airport in Pickering is off the ground again, with the announcement Tuesday of a new footprint for the future facility.

During an announcement on June 11, government officials unveiled a new land use plan for the 18,600-acre federal lands in north Pickering, which were expropriated in 1972 for a planned international airport.

“This day has been a long time coming for the people and businesses of Durham Region and all of the eastern GTA,” said Jim Flaherty, Whitby Oshawa MP, finance minister and minister responsible for the GTA.

“These lands have created some uncertainty in Durham Region and beyond.  We're here to confirm that uncertainty ends today.  We will be moving forward with a responsible and balanced plan for developing the federal lands.”

The plan includes the transfer of 5,000 acres of the west portion of the lands to the new Rouge National Urban Park, with the rest dedicated to a future airport and urban and industrial development.

“It takes at least 10 years to build an airport,” Mr. Flaherty said, noting a 2011 Needs Assessment Study for the lands called for an airport to be built sometime between 2027 and 2037.

“This is not a science,” he continued.  “We may need an airport earlier or later but the key is to get on with it so we continue to have economic development and growth east of Toronto; it's our turn.”

Technological advancements in the aviation industry continue to shrink the area needed for an airport, with only about a quarter of the lands required for the future facility.

Mr. Flaherty pointed to compatible economic development such as aeronautics facilities as key candidates for the adjoining development lands, an idea welcomed by Pickering Mayor David Ryan.

“The aeronautics industry could take root here in the City of Pickering,” he said, noting the announcement was good news overall.

“It does resolve the uncertainty we've experienced here for the past 40 years.  There will be an economic stimulus for the area and it will have a direct impact on congestion across the GTA by bringing well-paying jobs to Durham Region.”

Mr. Flaherty put a damper on area residents' hopes of seeing the lands converted into a trust for agricultural use, noting there are “no plans on the agricultural side.”

Several members of Land Over Landings, a residents' group that advocates for a land trust, were on hand at the announcement, although they were relegated to a barricaded area outside of the location.  They were unanimously disappointed with the news, but not ready to give up.

“Anyone who was raised in this community knows how important this land is,” said resident Pat Horne.

“Nothing's changed in our attitude.  The land is still here and will remain into the future.”

Gord McGregor, chairman of the group, said members will be meeting to form a new strategy in the wake of the announcement.

“We're going to have to start a whole new process of politicizing this,” he said.  “It's always been a battle, now we just have to become more diligent.”

Statement from Councillor Pickles
Relating to Recent Pickering Lands Announcement June 11, 2013

Although Councillor Pickles is pleased about the transfer of 5000 acres to parks Canada for the Rouge Urban Park, other considerable greenspace, and less land held for a future airport, he has not supported an airport and thinks any public process to discuss an airport will show strong local opposition.

“I do not support an airport in Pickering. The apparent beginning of a process towards an airport is concerning, it is imperative that we fully consider the need, the impact and the cost in a public process before a decision to proceed is made.”

Important Links Relating to Pickering Lands

Transport Canada media release

Transport Canada backgrounder

Transport Canada's Pickering Lands Website

Public Information Sessions

Pickering Lands
(Transport Canada Website)

The Pickering Lands encompass approximately 18,600 acres of land in Pickering, Markham and Uxbridge (56 kilometres northeast of downtown Toronto).  The lands were acquired by the Government of Canada in 1972, to be retained for a possible future airport and to protect all future aviation options.  Transport Canada is responsible for the day-to-day management and long-term planning of the federally owned Pickering Lands.

Transport Canada released a Needs Assessment Study in 2011 that indicated an additional airport in the region will be needed between 2027 and 2037, when capacity at existing airports in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area is predicted to be reached.   At the time, the Government of Canada committed to developing a plan for the Pickering Lands.

Since 2011, the south-east quadrant of the existing lands has been identified as the site for a future airport.  As a result, the western portion of this site (approximately 5,000 acres) will be transferred to Parks Canada to form part of the future Rouge National Urban Park.  Transport Canada will follow a prescribed regulatory process to amend the Pickering Airport Site designation and the Pickering Airport Zoning Regulations.  This process will include the engagement of stakeholders through formal public consultation.  Transport Canada will also work in cooperation with the Province of Ontario to amend the Ministerial Zoning Orders to restrict development in the surrounding lands to activities compatible with a future airport.  All regulatory work required to transfer lands for Rouge National Urban Park is expected to be completed by summer 2014.

In parallel, Transport Canada will engage with the province, regional and local municipalities, business interests and other stakeholders in the region to seek input on the future of the remaining Pickering Lands.  Public information sessions will also take place on June 24 and 27, 2013 (please consult our Pickering Lands website for details).  This input will help shape development and management plans for the future of the Pickering Lands, while protecting what is needed for future aviation purposes.

For more information, including a map of the lands, please visit our Pickering Lands website.

On June 11, 2013, the Government of Canada announced its plan for the responsible use and management of the Pickering Lands.  The plan includes:

  • transferring nearly 5,000 acres of the western portion to Parks Canada, towards creating the Rouge National Urban Park in the Rouge Valley;
  • reserving a smaller portion in the southeast quadrant for a future airport; and
  • engaging stakeholders, businesses and local communities on the future of the remaining lands.

Transport Canada will hold public information sessions to answer your questions about these decisions and explain upcoming activities.

Dates:
Monday, June 24, 2013
Thursday, June 27, 2013

Time:
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Location:
Bushwood Golf Club
10905 Reesor Road
Markham, ON

Additional information can be found on Transport Canada's website: www.tc.gc.ca/eng/ontario/pickering-menu-1362.htm

Responsible, balanced approach for the future of the Pickering Lands ends decades of uncertainty: Lands are being committed for an airport, economic development and a national urban park
June 11, 2013
(Canada Newswire)

PICKERING, ON, June 11, 2013 /CNW/ - A responsible, balanced approach was unveiled today by the Harper government for the development of the federally-owned Pickering Lands, which sets aside land for a future airport, some economic development and the creation of Rouge National Urban Park.

The announcement was made on the Pickering Lands by the Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and the Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada.

“For residents of Durham Region and the GTA, the Harper government is ending decades of uncertainty about the future of the Pickering Lands,” said Minister Flaherty.  “There will be land for an airport, there will be urban and industrial development and there will be considerable green space on these lands.  We are striking a responsible balance that will allow us to preserve our quality of life, while creating jobs and long-term prosperity in Durham Region and the GTA.  With the Buttonville Airport closing, with Highway 407 being extended eastward, and now clarity around the Pickering Lands, Durham Region is well positioned to be a hub for transportation, business development and job creation.”

“As we protect land for a future airport, a considerable tract of land will also be made available for job-creating development that will bring new opportunities to Pickering and Durham Region,” said Minister Flaherty on behalf of the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

As part of the Harper government's continuing commitment to plan for, protect and responsibly manage the federally owned Pickering Lands and promote the region's continued development and economic prosperity, Transport Canada plans to transfer nearly 5,000 acres from these lands to Parks Canada towards the creation of Rouge National Urban Park.

The new park will be more than 13 times the size of Stanley Park in Vancouver.

“As announced in the 2011 Speech from the Throne and Economic Action Plan 2012, our government is working with provincial, regional, municipal, Aboriginal and community partners towards the creation of a national urban park in the Rouge Valley,” said Minister Kent.  “With federal and provincial commitments for lands, we are not one, but two steps closer to creating a true 'Canadian first' with Rouge National Urban Park - a place where nature, culture and agriculture can be protected, appreciated, experienced and supported.”

In 2011, the Government of Canada released a Needs Assessment Study that indicated an additional airport in the region will be needed between 2027 and 2037 and that the Pickering lands would be a prime location for this airport.  The government has now identified the southeast quadrant of the existing lands as the site to be protected for a future airport, the amount of land needed being smaller than originally thought.

Transport Canada will engage with stakeholders, businesses and local communities on the future of the remaining Pickering Lands.  To provide your own feedback on the future management of the Pickering Lands, please visit us online.

For more information on the future Rouge National Urban Park: www.parkscanada.gc.ca/rouge

Pickering Lands

The Pickering Lands encompass approximately 18,600 acres of land in Pickering, Markham and Uxbridge (56 kilometres northeast of downtown Toronto).  The lands were acquired by the Government of Canada in 1972, to be retained for a possible future airport and to protect all future aviation options.  Transport Canada is responsible for the day-to-day management and long-term planning of the federally owned Pickering Lands.

Transport Canada released a Needs Assessment Study in 2011 that indicated an additional airport in the region will be needed between 2027 and 2037, when capacity at existing airports in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area is predicted to be reached.   At the time, the Government of Canada committed to developing a plan for the Pickering Lands.

Since 2011, the south-east quadrant of the existing lands has been identified as the site for a future airport.  As a result, the western portion of this site (approximately 5,000 acres) will be transferred to Parks Canada to form part of the future Rouge National Urban Park.  Transport Canada will follow a prescribed regulatory process to amend the Pickering Airport Site designation and the Pickering Airport Zoning Regulations.  This process will include the engagement of stakeholders through formal public consultation.  Transport Canada will also work in cooperation with the Province of Ontario to amend the Ministerial Zoning Orders to restrict development in the surrounding lands to activities compatible with a future airport.  All regulatory work required to transfer lands for Rouge National Urban Park is expected to be completed by summer 2014.

In parallel, Transport Canada will engage with the province, regional and local municipalities, business interests and other stakeholders in the region to seek input on the future of the remaining Pickering Lands.  Public information sessions will also take place on June 24 and 27, 2013 (please consult our Pickering Lands website for details).  This input will help shape development and management plans for the future of the Pickering Lands, while protecting what is needed for future aviation purposes.

For more information, including a map of the lands, please visit our Pickering Lands website.

SOURCE: Transport Canada

For further information:
Kathleen Perchaluk
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Finance
613-996-7861

Mary Ann Dewey-Plante
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of the Environment
and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
819-997-1441
Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa
613-993-0055

Media Relations
Parks Canada
819-953-8371

Pickering's Cory Joseph Spur-red by teammate
Doug Smith
June 8, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Cory Joseph
Rookie Cory Joseph.  Pickering's Cory Joseph is playing in the 2013 NBA Finals.

Cory Joseph is standing about midcourt of the American Airlines Arena, remembering a very long time ago when he'd find a way to get to a Raptors game to watch and to dream of one day emulating the NBA heroes on the court in front of him.

Not 10 metres away, Tracy McGrady is sitting on the scorer's table, holding court for a covey of reporters that far dwarfs the one-on-one chat Joseph's having.

The Pickering native looks over a reporter's shoulder, sees the man who is now his teammate, a friend and mentor and remembers.

“When I was a kid I was always watching him play,” Joseph said of his fellow San Antonio Spur McGrady.  “I was fan of his.  I was one of those kids at the game trying to get him to stay.  I wish he heard me ...  I guess he didn't.”

A few minutes go by, one conversation ends and another begins and Joseph's story is recounted to McGrady.

“He told me that,” McGrady laughs.  “He said he was like seven, eight years old.  Long time ago.”

Joseph and McGrady may be in the first NBA final at the same time and they may have some distant history back in the olden days of Raptors infancy, but that's where any similarities end.

Joseph has worked long and tirelessly to make himself into an NBA player; McGrady came by it much more naturally.

Joseph, a six-foot-three point guard who has emerged as Tony Parker's backup in the final month of the NBA season, would appear to have a long and prosperous career about him, a 21-year-old for whom the sky is the limit.  Parker scored a last second basket to give the Spurs a Game 1 victory on Thursday.  The teams are back in action on Sunday, June 9 at 9 p.m.

McGrady's 34, he spent part of the past season toiling in anonymity in China before hooking up with the Spurs as end-of-the-bench insurance for one last championship run.  He watches games rather than play them, and he's impressed by what he sees from his one-time fan.

“The guy is going to be a helluva player,” he said of Joseph.  “He's not afraid, that's what I like about him.  He competes.”

The primary reason Joseph is where he is - he played about three minutes in San Antonio's Game 1 win over the Miami Heat - is because of a willingness to do whatever it took to impress the front office.  He was languishing on the end of the bench as a rookie, not getting any playing time or any better and asked for an assignment to the D League's Austin Toros to work on his game.

“Why not go there, work on my game, get game experience, learn the system more while playing,?” he said.  “Really, you could do as much workouts as you want but there's nothing like game experience.

“To go there and get that was great for me, and whenever I got the opportunity here, it made me more ready to capitalize on it.”

He was not blessed with McGrady's raw talent, but Joseph has a determination, though, that sets him apart.  A vast majority of first-round NBA draft picks, armed with a guaranteed contract, would resist the D League, see it as a demotion and an indictment on talent; Joseph knew what he need to do.

“I think it says a lot about the maturity level the kid has,” said Sean Marks, the former Raptor who is now the director of basketball operations and general manager of the Spurs-owned Toros.

“He says, 'I need to get better and I'm not going to get better by sitting at the end of the bench, not really getting an opportunity to play or practice.' In the meat of the season, you don't get huge minutes up, even in practice.  This was a huge opportunity for him to get better.”

And for the dream he nurtured watching McGrady all those years ago to come true.

Dolphins Game Day
June 8, 2013
Dolphins Game Day Program
 
Dolphins Game
With Councillor Dickerson and Keith Faulkner at Pickering Dolphins football 40th anniversary game
News Release
For Immediate Release
Pickering's Community Garden is Bigger, Better, and more Beautiful
June 3, 2013

Pickering, ON, June 3, 2013 - Recently, the City of Pickering has expanded its community garden by over 30 per cent to accommodate a total of 96 garden plots.

Valley Plentiful Community Garden, a joint venture of the City of Pickering, Ontario Hydro, and the Valley Plentiful Community Gardeners, is located at the north end of Diana Princess of Wales Park and has been attracting Pickering residents of all ages and gardening skill levels since its inception in 2008.

With rising popularity, and a waiting list to match, the expansion of the garden is a welcomed addition to Volunteer Coordinator, Carolyn Kasperski, who has watched the number steadily grow from 8 gardeners to a dedicated network of 71.

“We have residents visiting the garden all the time asking how they can get involved,” Ms. Kasperski said.  She also noted that the prominent downtown location is an inviting spot, often capturing the interest of passersby.

Having a publicly-shared garden in an urban area helps strengthen the sense of community and gives residents the opportunity to grow their own fruits and vegetables, while sharing their knowledge and resources with their neighbours.

“To be able to literally enjoy the fruits of your labour is quite a satisfying experience,” said Councillor Doug Dickerson, Chair of the Sustainable Pickering Advisory Committee.  “We are extremely proud to have such a vibrant and dynamic showcase that adds to the overall health and beauty of our City.”

For more information on the community garden, visit pickering.ca or call 905.420.4660 ext. 2170.

-30-

As the gateway city to the east GTA, Pickering (population 94,000) is strategically located where Toronto, York and Durham Regions meet.  Pickering is an affluent community that is steeped in history, natural beauty and small town charm with all the amenities and services that a big city has to offer.  The City of Pickering is considered a municipal leader in fiscal management, service delivery, sustainability and the environment; and offers a wealth of sports, leisure and recreation opportunities to its residents.  Pickering has been recognized by Profit magazine as one of the ten best cities in Canada for growth companies and received the 2008 FCM-CH2M Hill Sustainable Community Planning Award.

Media Contact:
Name  Shauna Muir
Title  (Acting) Coordinator, Sustainability
Email address  smuir@pickering.ca
Phone number  905.420.4660 ext. 2170
TTY  905.420.1739

community garden photo 1
 
community garden photo 2
 
community garden photo 3
 
New Pickering conservation lands to offer balance of restoration, recreation
Moya Dillon
June 1, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Councillor Pickles and Gord MacPherson
New Pickering conservation lands to offer balance of restoration, recreation.  PICKERING -- Councillor David Pickles and Gord MacPherson, senior manager of restoration and environmental monitoring projects for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, toured the new Greenwood Conservation Lands, which are being restored from its former use as aggregate extraction and landfill site.  May 28, 2013 Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland

PICKERING -- Former aggregate and landfill sites are getting new life as conservation lands in Pickering.

The Brock north lands, purchased as a landfill site by the City of Toronto, have sat mostly vacant since landfill operations were stopped in the 1980s, and were obtained by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) last year.  The property's location beside the existing Greenwood Conservation Area made it perfect for expansion of the area's conservation lands.

“It's in a state now where some areas are really degraded and some are really pristine,” said Gord MacPherson, senior manager, restoration and environmental monitoring projects for the TRCA, while taking the News Advertiser on a tour of the new lands.

“It's all altered, it's not natural at all.  So the trick is how to restore the topography, let people in and improve it at the same time.”

Mr. MacPherson said aggregate extraction has left the landscape about four metres below natural levels and prevented growth in some areas.  The TRCA has already begun restoration work, including removing dangerous infrastructure, adding soil to excavated sites and restoring natural features and habitats.

Despite the challenges, the agency calls the lands an exciting opportunity to double the size of the Greenwood lands, providing 677 hectares of natural space that will include trails, a community park in north Pickering and an expansion of the Pickering Museum Village.

“It's a great opportunity, with the existing road system left behind by the aggregate operations the trail system is essentially already built,” said Ralph Toninger, manager, restoration and environmental monitoring projects.  “It creates a launching point to connect all the sites.”

That includes an eventual connection to the waterfront trail through a spur trail.

The lands are also boon to the City of Pickering, which will see a substantial population boom as the Seaton development gets underway, bringing an estimated 70,000 people to the area.

“From a City perspective we get the restoration of a lot of land that was formerly gravel pits, so that's a big improvement in our natural environment,” said Councillor David Pickles.

“Plus we'll have a more formal trail system to use, the museum expansion, an off-leash dog park and a park for sports such as soccer and baseball.  It's a hidden gem up here that people don't know about.”

Officials estimate the lands will open up for public use sometime this year, although complete plans for restoration and recreation will take much longer.

“The reality is we have to balance restoration and recreation,” Mr. MacPherson said, noting the unique lands host a number of threatened species including redside dace fish.

“A lot of people didn't even know this land was here and there's a lot of neat stuff,” he continued.  “We're excited to fix it up, in 20 years this will be a different place.”

New Greenwood
New Greenwood...
PICKERING -- Members of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority toured the new Greenwood Conservation Lands, which are being restored from its former use as aggregate extraction and landfill site.  May 28, 2013 Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland
New Greenwood
New Greenwood...
PICKERING -- Members of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority toured the new Greenwood Conservation Lands, which are being restored from its former use as aggregate extraction and landfill site.  May 28, 2013 Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland
Ralph Toninger
New Greenwood...
PICKERING -- Ralph Toninger, manager of restoration and environmental monitoring projects with the Toronto Region Conservation Authority, toured the new Greenwood Conservation Lands, which are being restored from its former use as aggregate extraction and landfill site.  May 28, 2013 Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland
Councillor Pickles, Ralph Toninger and Gord MacPhersoCouncillor Pickles, Ralph Toninger and Gord MacPhersonn
New Greenwood...
PICKERING -- Councillor David Pickles, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority manager Ralph Toninger and Gord MacPherson, manager and senior manager of restoration and environmental monitoring projects for the TRCA, toured the new Greenwood Conservation Lands.  The lands are being restored from their former use as aggregate extraction and landfill site.  May 28, 2013 Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland

The Master Plan includes the future development of a community park along Sideline 16 and expansion of the Pickering Museum Village at Highway No. 7.  It will include over 40 kilometres of trails consisting of a number of trails for mountain biking; nine trail heads and parking areas; an accessible fishing platform on Duffins Creek; and, an off-leash dog park.

For more information regarding the Master Plan view the document: GREENWOOD CONSERVATION LANDS MASTER PLAN.

For more information about the Greenwood Conservation Lands view ... Greenwood Conservation Lands What's New.


Pickering students helping salmon grow
Moya Dillon
May 28, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Kyle Card
Fish release.  PICKERING -- Kyle Card, right, smiled for his parents while releasing Atlantic salmon fish fry into West Duffins Creek.  Chris Robinson, left, of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, was there to help students from Claremont Public School as they released 86 fry, part of the ongoing watershed project.  May 22, 2013.  Lyndsay-Lee Quinn / Metroland

PICKERING -- Students got a lesson in letting go as they watched fish they raised swim away in the current of West Duffins Creek to begin life in the wild.

Claremont Public School students got a chance to help replenish local salmon stocks through an in-class hatchery project as part of the Bring Back the Salmon restoration program.

“Any type of hands-on learning we can give them, they love,” said teacher Matt Phillips, whose Grade 3-4 split class hosted the hatchery.

“One expectation of the curriculum is that we teach them how humans impact habitat.  This is a perfect lesson on how human activity wiped out a species, and they get to have a hand in bringing them back.”

The hatchery started with 100 fish roe, which students got to watch grow into fry, which is the stage at which the young salmon are released into the wild.  In total 86 roe made it to the fry stage, and a group of about 50 students and parents gathered at the school in the early morning hours of May 22 to help release them into the wild.

“We got to see them when they were babies and now they're all grown up, it's exciting,” said Vanessa Bogue, a Grade 4 student in Mr. Phillips' class.

Her brother David, also in Grade 4, said his favourite part of the project was releasing the fish.

“They go so slow and then when you put them in the river they're so fast,” he exclaimed excitedly.

An avid fisherman, David said the project would make him “see fish differently” in the future.

“I learned a lot, I didn't know anything about salmon before.”

The 86 fish were a small part of the restoration program, which includes large-scale releases of Atlantic salmon.  In May alone, 95,000 Atlantic salmon will be released into area waterways, including about 900 from classroom hatcheries across the region.

“We find when students release fish themselves that becomes their stream, and they want to come back and do restoration projects to improve their habitat,” said Chris Robinson, co-ordinator of the Atlantic salmon restoration program for the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters.

“We lost the Atlantic salmon originally because of habitat loss, and to bring them back we had to do a lot of work to restore that habitat.  In order to not do to them again what we did in the 18th and 19th century, we have to have people who know about Atlantic salmon, care about them and care about the streams they're in.”

The salmon will remain in the Duffins Creek watershed for another two years before heading out to Lake Ontario, where they will spend up to two years maturing before returning to area rivers to spawn.

For more information on the restoration project, visit www.bringbackthesalmon.ca.

Accessibility awareness event in Pickering
May 27, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

DURHAM -- The city of Pickering presents the third annual Accessibility Event at the Pickering Town Centre June 1.

Residents are invited to attend from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Centre Court of the Pickering Town Centre.

The event will feature discussions about mental health, Paralympian Paul Rosen, Durham Region Employment Network and more.

It will also include interactive displays from Children's Wish Foundation, Kerry's Place, Alzheimer Society and more.

For more information, visit pickering.ca/greatevents.

Whitby mayor clears the air on casino decision
Parvaneh Pessian
May 27, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Whitby Mayor Pat Perkins
Whitby mayor clears the air on casino decision.  WHITBY -- Mayor Pat Perkins was the guest speaker at the Whitby Chamber of Commerce's annual mayor's luncheon.  The event was held at the Royal Ashburn Golf Club to highlight the growth within the community.  May 8, 2013.  Lyndsay-Lee Quinn /Metroland

WHITBY -- Mayor Pat Perkins is laying her cards on the table regarding Town council's decision last summer to declare Whitby a willing host for a gaming facility regulated by the Province of Ontario.

Firing back against naysayers, the mayor brought up the issue during her recent address to the Whitby Chamber of Commerce, explaining that she wanted to clear the air about how the decision was reached.

“I believe that we've got the best council in all of Durham Region and ...  I get a little bit defensive when I see that they're being misrepresented,” Mayor Perkins said during the event on May 8.

Last year, as part of the OLG's modernization plan, GTA municipalities were grouped into gaming zones and a new gaming facility was proposed for the zone encompassing Ajax, Whitby and Pickering.  Pickering council turned down the proposal while Ajax council wanted to expand its existing OLG Slots facility.

The development is expected to generate more than $5 million in revenues per year for the host municipality.  Only one gaming facility will be permitted in each zone, meaning Ajax's existing OLG Slots would close if a casino was placed elsewhere nearby.

“The (Ajax slots facility) is one kilometre from Whitby's border so Whitby was not enamoured with the idea of actually hosting a gaming facility here but (council) understood the financial implications and they had a responsibility to investigate it further,” Mayor Perkins said.

A virtual town hall meeting was held in Whitby last July to gauge public opinion on the matter, which was mostly in favour of the development.  About 40,000 households were called for a phone conference and a total of 4,663 participated.

Shortly afterward, Whitby council directed the mayor and Whitby's CAO Bob Petrie to meet with their counterparts in Ajax and propose a revenue-sharing agreement between the three municipalities.

“It was abundantly clear at the meeting that the mayor of Ajax was not at all interested and was actually offended that we were making a request for them to revenue share with the two neighbours in their zone,” she added.

Ajax council later convened and decided to offer 15 per cent, or about $1 million a year, of its future gaming revenues with Whitby.

“They were absolutely clear they were not going to share with Pickering and that if they gave us 15 per cent, it was only if we guaranteed that we would not be putting our name forward as a willing host community,” Mayor Perkins said.

Following Whitby council's subsequent decision to enter the casino lottery, Ajax Mayor Steve Parish told Metroland Media Group's Durham Region Division he was surprised considering Ajax's “very fair and reasonable” offer, which would have amounted to at least $30 million for Whitby over the next 20 years.

Whitby's decision was based on ensuring gaming revenues would be fairly distributed, while also benefitting the entire region through funding of police and social services, Mayor Perkins said.

“We were looking for fairness; what they came back with was anything but.  It was cutting out our neighbours in Pickering.  We are the zone, the three of us together are the zone, so Whitby in all good conscience could not do that to our neighbour.”

Korean War Vets May 25, 2013
Korea Veterans Day Program
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Pickering voters to have their say on possible casino
Moya Dillon
May 25, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Casino
Pickering declared a willing host community for future gaming.  PICKERING -- A casino could be coming to Pickering after council declared the City a willing host.  Metroland File Photo

PICKERING -- Voters will have a chance to weigh in on the question of bringing gaming to Pickering with a referendum question on the ballot.

Pickering council approved the addition of a question on the possibility of hosting a casino in the city, which will be put on the ballot for the 2014 municipal election.  The yes or no question will read, “Are you in favour of a gaming facility (casino) in the City of Pickering?”

“My position on this is, what are we afraid of?” said Councillor Jennifer O'Connell, noting no public consultation was undertaken before council voted to declare itself a willing host community for a future gaming facility in December 2012.

“This is a tool which is used all the time to engage the public on really important issues, and I think this is a really important issue,” Coun. O'Connell continued.

“We should have held a public meeting before the willing host vote, but that wasn't the will of council.  If you don't support this motion are you afraid the public is not in favour of a casino? I think it's never the wrong time to ask for the public's input.”

Coun. David Pickles said he did not believe the question was necessary in this case, but that he was fine with getting more public input as long as council didn't go overboard with referendum questions as a tool.

“I think with referendum questions there are always pros and cons, and I wouldn't want to see a proliferation of them,” he explained.  “I think it's always good to get public input on items but I don't have any concerns with this particular question.”

Council approved the referendum question in a vote of five to one, with Coun. Kevin Ashe dissenting.

More students to enjoy the great outdoors in Claremont
Moya Dillon
May 24, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
MP Chris Alexander
More students to enjoy the great outdoors in Claremont.  PICKERING -- Ajax-Pickering MP Chris Alexander announced funding support from the federal government for the revitalization of the Claremont Outdoor Education Centre.  About $1.1 million is required to complete the project, and with this funding from the federal government, the Toronto Region Conservation Authority is now halfway to its goal.  May 16, 2013.  Lyndsay-Lee Quinn /Metroland

PICKERING -- Students of all abilities will be able to enjoy the activities on offer at the Claremont Outdoor Education Centre thanks to new renovations.

A grant of $190,000 from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario will help the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority complete a $1.1-million revitalization project that will make the centre, and many of its outdoor features, fully accessible.

“The TRCA has provided outdoor education programs here for close to 40 years and in that time about 100,000 visitors have passed through,” said Uxbridge mayor and TRCA chairwoman Gerri Lynn O'Connor of the Westney Road facility.

She recalled being at the centre with a group of Toronto students and seeing a look of absolute wonder on the face of one little boy.

“I asked him what was wrong and he said 'ma'am, I thought fish were square.' He had never seen a fish before that wasn't frozen,” she said.

“I was moved to tears to think that some children don't have access to nature like this.  We want everyone to have the chance to come here and feel welcome here.”

The new funding announced on May 16 will go toward a planned renovation that will see the entire facility made accessible, along with outdoor improvements that will allow access to the land's natural features, such as wheelchair platforms over the creek and smooth paths through the forest.

“If we can ensure everyone who joins us can dip their toes in the creek then we truly will have achieved something,” Mayor O'Connor said.

MP Chris Alexander praised the facility as an important element in conservation.

“This effort is linked to many other efforts we are trying to take to make sure this isn't here just for our children and our generation but for centuries to come,” he said of the natural landscape.

“What this centre does is so important for the children of Durham and other areas.  It shows them nature isn't something distant off in the Northwest Territories, it's right here.  This is a fantastic natural asset.”

Pickering Councillor David Pickles highlighted the necessity for the facility in the face of continued growth.

“This facility serves an important role in educating children throughout Pickering and Durham, as our population grows there's going to be even more need for facilities like this,” he said.  “The addition of measures to provide accessibility both indoors and outdoors to those with accessibility needs is fantastic.”

The TRCA is about halfway to the $1.1-million goal, with plans to raise the rest through grants and private fundraising.

Work onsite has begun with wetland restoration and indoor renovations are expected to be completed over the coming winter, to be ready for students to return to the centre next spring.

Claremont Conservation Centre
May 24, 2013
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Outdoor education centre becoming accessible
May 23, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

The enjoyment of nature is for everybody, and a hefty grant to a Pickering education centre will help turn it into a place where people of all abilities can appreciate the outdoors.

The Claremont Outdoor Education Centre in north Pickering, owned by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), is undertaking a $1.1 million revitalization project to make the centre, including many of its outdoor features, fully accessible.  To this end, a federal grant of $190,000 is coming from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

The funding is timely since the TRCA is roughly at the halfway point of its $1.1 million goal.  It plans to raise the rest of the money through grants and private fundraising.

A person in a wheelchair often has trouble negotiating the urban environment.  And things don't get any easier once they leave the city streets for the great outdoors.  The rough terrain limits their ability to experience and enjoy the natural world, something most of us take for granted.  However the Claremont centre's renovations include work outside of the building, where wheelchair platforms over the creek and smooth paths through the forest will make it accessible to all.

We often forget that the natural world isn't a distant place, but literally right in our own backyard.  There are no impenetrable barriers separating the urban and rural areas.  Foxes, coyotes and opossums travel daily throughout the city and hawks and eagles soar overhead.  And let's not forget that five years ago a lost black bear wandered right into the heart of Pickering before being tranquilized and removed.  Dramatic incidents such as that one are of course very rare, but serve to show that the wild world can be as close as where the bear was cornered, near the Pickering Town Centre.  For a brief time while the bear was caged and awaiting transport out of the city, people had a chance to have a close encounter, an unforgettable experience for kids and adults alike.

And it's those close encounters with nature that are at the heart of what happens at the Claremont Outdoor Education Centre.  It's a place where young people can experience an environment that's foreign to many inner-city kids.  For some, it may represent an awakening that will lead them to become adults who not only appreciate and spend time in the country or the bush, but work towards preserving as much of it as they can.

Even if that kind of transformation doesn't occur, it's important that young people of all abilities have the chance to sample a taste of the natural world.

Casino pitch: Suburban cities warm to the project Toronto rejected
By: Valerie Hauch News reporter
Published on Wed May 22 2013
(thestar.com)

Municipal councillors in Ajax, Pickering and Whitby have already passed motions saying they'd be “willing hosts”; Vaughan may be next.

Toronto councillors may have overwhelmingly rejected a downtown casino, but some of their nearby counterparts are betting that a gambling facility could pay off for their municipalities.

Just 35 kilometres east is Ajax, which wrote proudly of its 800 slot machines in a municipal notice of motion last year and boasted that it already has one of the “most successful gaming establishments in the province.”  The slots opened in 2006 and have returned revenues of just over $38 million to the town.

It seems eager for more.  Ajax passed a motion in 2012 stating it is open to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. expanding the current site to include gaming.  The corporation announced last year that it intends to modernize gambling in Ontario to pump an extra $1.3 billion a year into the provincial treasury.

OLG has indicated that a zone that includes Pickering, Ajax and Whitby could host a gambling resort.

Councillors for Whitby are interested in getting in on the action and passed a motion in 2012 stating that the town, just east of Ajax, is a “willing host” for a casino.

Pickering, just west of Ajax, approved a motion last year stating that it also wants to be considered for the casino site.  But it appears there may be some misgivings.

On Tuesday, Pickering council passed Councillor Bill McLean's motion to put the question to residents on the ballot in the 2014 October election.  McLean says he's not in favour of a local casino because of the “social issues and problems” that may come with it.  Nor does he believe it creates jobs.

Pickering Councillor David Pickles favours a casino because it could be of “great benefit to taxpayers,” but says that whichever city gets it should share the revenues with the other two.

Support in another zone identified by OLG - encompassing Mississauga, Richmond Hill, Markham and Vaughan - is less robust.  To date, none has expressed official approval.

However, this could change Tuesday.  Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua told the Star that city council will discuss a staff report next Tuesday suggesting the city consider becoming a “willing host.”

The report says a casino could be placed in the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, the city's commercial downtown development near Highway 400 and Highway 7.

While Mississauga councillors have taken no formal action, Mayor Hazel McCallion has said she's willing to listen to what residents want.  Councillor Pat Saito told the Star she has concerns about the “additional policing costs and social costs” that wouldn't be offset by revenues.

“My gut says no, but I always like to leave my options open until I have all the information,” Saito said.  ”We haven't really had anyone approach us for a long time, though.  If there was a huge amount of revenue it would certainly ease our budget issues, but it may be at too big a cost.”

With files from San Grewal

Media Release
TRCA to Revitalize Claremont Outdoor Education Centre
May 16, 2013
TRCA  

MEDIA RELEASE

For Immediate Distribution

Toronto and Region Conservation to Revitalize Claremont Outdoor Education Centre in Pickering with Support from Government of Canada

(Pickering/Ajax/Uxbridge, May 16, 2013)  Claremont Outdoor Education Centre has brought the excitement of an outdoor learning experience which supports the provincial school curriculum to thousands of students from Durham Region, for over forty years.  Claremont's reach to the community will now expand, by revitalizing the Centre to serve a wider range of people with varied ability levels, in a building with state-of-the-art energy and water efficiency technologies, thanks to new funding from the federal government's Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF).  The Fund is delivered by regional development agencies across Canada.  The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) has granted $190,000 over two years to the Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) to support revitalization of the building and grounds at Claremont.  The total cost of revitalization of the Centre is $1.1 million over three years, other funding will come from TRCA, and from the community through donations and the annual “Sunny Days for Conservation” fund raiser.

“This is an exciting time for Claremont.  We've been serving the community for decades.  We have heard from many people who visited Claremont as a youth that the experience stayed with them for years, some have said it was life-changing,” observed Uxbridge Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor who is Chair of TRCA.  “This revitalization work is going to help us share the experiences of outdoor learning with people of different physical, visual, and auditory ability levels who will benefit from facilities tailored to their needs. We are grateful for the generous show of support from the federal government.”

“The revitalization of Claremont is going to be of great benefit to all members of the community.  I am proud that our government is supporting this project through the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund,” said Ajax-Pickering MP, Chris Alexander.  “This investment will not only help create jobs and boost economic activity but the end result will be a facility which serves Durham residents and ensures that people with disabilities can fully utilize this important ecological education facility.”

About Claremont Outdoor Education Centre
Claremont Outdoor Education Centre is located on a 160-hectare property in the north end of Pickering. Intersected by the beautiful Duffins Creek, the property is flanked by valley slopes of mixed woodlands, open meadows, cedar lowlands and reforested coniferous plantations.  The Centre opened in 1970 and features a panabode cedar log building with a spacious lounge and wood burning fireplace, dining area, and classroom/lab space that accommodates up to 40 participants and 6 visiting teachers or leaders.

Toronto and Region Conservation
With over 55 years of experience, TRCA helps people understand, enjoy and look after the natural environment. Our vision is for The Living City®, where human settlement can flourish forever as part of nature's beauty and diversity.  For more information, call 416-661-6600 or visit us at www.trca.on.ca

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Media contact:
Rowena Calpito, Supervisor, Media Management, Toronto and Region Conservation
416-661-6600 ext 5632
rcalpito@trca.on.ca

Bigger and better Greenwood for Pickering and Ajax
May 16, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

The Greenwood Conservation Area is getting a new name and growing much larger to become a greenspace that will link Ajax and Pickering.  It's a fantastic addition to the municipalities that will mean enhanced recreational opportunities and the creation of a big swath of nature reserve lands.

Pickering council's executive committee heard all about it from Toronto and Region Conservation representatives at a Monday night meeting.

The former Greenwood Conservation Area is expanding to become the Greenwood Conservation Lands, with the additional lands given to the TRCA from the City of Toronto.

The area will total 677 hectares, including former landfill and aggregate mining sites, which the organization is working to restore.  Much of the additional area is in Pickering, northwest of the existing Greenwood Conservation Area, expanding it north to Hwy.  7.  In Ajax, the addition is west of Church Street, and Greenwood will now reach the Pickering border.

Around two-thirds of the area will be classified as nature reserve lands, the most sensitive and highly protected land category.  But the lands will also include a 40-kilometre trail system with nine trail heads and parking lots, an accessible fishing platform, an off-leash dog park, a new community park in Pickering and more.

As well, Pickering Museum Village will expand.  A cherished facility in Pickering and all of Durham, like Greenwood itself it's going to welcome visitors in a bigger way: in the 2015 Pickering capital forecast, $7.25 million is slated for the design and construction of a new visitor building.

The restoration of the former aggregate extraction and Toronto landfill areas is of particular importance.  As the City report notes, this area “is home to a wide range of environments including mixed forest, open meadows and wetland communities and has three sensitive watercourses (Spring Creek, Brougham Creek and East Duffins Creek) flowing through it.”

A great deal of work is required to bring these areas back to what they once were, but the natural world is surprisingly resilient.  The new Greenwood lands north of the 5th Concession encompass an important chunk of the Duffins Creek Watershed, and while Conservation Ontario in a recent report noted water quality in the watershed is “fair,” it can only improve once the restoration is complete.

While everybody in Durham can enjoy the larger greenspace, with Seaton on the way, Greenwood will become an even better natural and recreational area for the new Pickering residents in particular.

Pickering woman shows age is no barrier
May 9, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

It's often said you only get one shot at life, and Pickering's Anne Culver is one of many local seniors who shows us that advancing years and slowing down don't always go hand in hand.

Our elderly residents aren't just living longer, they're doing stuff, taking chances and following their dreams when other, much younger folks are planted on the couch night after night after supper, watching Survivor and the like.

Ms. Culver, 73, moved to Pickering after the death of her husband.  Retired and living in Pickering's Nautical Village, she sat and watched the world go by.  But one day she decided it was time to stand up and get involved again.  Ms. Culver purchased retail space across the street from her home and, with the help of family, in particular daughter Michlynn Walton, transformed a former convenience store into Grandad's ice cream shop.

The shop had its grand opening last weekend.  It's a family affair, with Ms. Culver the owner, Ms. Walton the manager and several of Ms. Culver's grandchildren working behind the counter.  Other family members and friends are also supporting the venture.

And let's not forget Mr. Culver, who was a sailor.  Apart from the store's name, the retro shop is designed around a nautical theme, further paying tribute to him.  It's obviously a great fit in the Nautical Village, on Liverpool Road near the lakefront.

Will the store be a success? Will the demand be such on the warm and sunny days to come that people will be lined up? We certainly hope so.

But this much is certain.  For Ms. Culver to take this leap, to turn down a comfortable seat with a window on the world to become a business owner is a wonderful thing to behold.  She says she wasn't ready to retire yet.

“I have a reason to get up now; it gave me something I like to do,” Ms. Culver says.

“I think I've always been young at heart and young thinking, this just proves you're never too old to do something.”

How often have we heard this? Namely, that someone retires with the thought of taking it easy but finds they want to get back into the mix of things.

However the lesson here is that age is no barrier if you have a dream, a zest for life and the support of family and friends to make it happen.  It never was, perhaps it just took today's seniors, a woman like Ms. Culver, to prove the point and give those of us who are in our 40s and 50s something to ponder.

Pickering artist throws herself into creative experimentation
Allan O'Marra
May 7, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Laura Clayton
Laura Clayton.  PICKERING -- Artist Laura Clayton took a break from applying marker dots to her large-format pointillist drawing in her Pickering studio.  April 2013 Photo by Allan O'Marra

Although Pickering artist Laura Clayton considers herself a print-maker first -- as that art form was her major in her studies for an honours degree in fine art from Queen's University -- she doesn't limit herself to that discipline alone.

Along with the various print-making platforms of etching, lithography, lino-print and screen printing, she makes abstract paintings on canvas, collages and mind-boggling, large-format pointillist drawings with fine-tip markers on paper.

A series of tiny black and white minimalist abstract etchings constituted her university graduation display in 2008.  Since then, Clayton has completed hand-tooled lino etchings on her small home press and is experimenting with photo screen printing at an outside resource.  As well, she has created mixed media collages that explore psychological themes.  She paints abstracts in acrylics and oil -- often with surface textures as part of the mix -- and is working on a collection of pointillist drawings of animal silhouettes for a solo exhibition, On the Dot, at Graven Feather gallery in Toronto in September.

Since graduation, Clayton has experienced the dilemma and reality new artists face in making their way in the world: the overwhelming urge to put all that creative energy to good work up against the sober reality of making a living.

A fourth-year requirement at Queen's to explore the challenge and write an essay about it was helpful.  But having to work at various admin jobs, as she has -- while bursting with studies-induced and creative, personality-driven urges to make art -- has cramped her first years of post-graduation art-making.

But Clayton has thrown herself into submitting her work to various jury shows and exhibiting her art where possible, locally and in the GTA, including at the Pickering Artfest last year, with intentions of doing so again this spring, and as a participant in the April Durham West studio tour.

Clayton admits to some self-quandary around her penchant for making art in so many disciplines and on such a variety of themes -- contrary to the art market demand for a singular, identifiable, brandable art mode.  But she's enjoying this early-on period of exploration and is turning out some fine and fascinating work.

See what she's up to at www.cargocollective/lauraanneclayton.

Pickering seniors, youth to benefit from new government funding
Moya Dillon
May 4, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Marisa Carpino
New Horizons funding.  PICKERING -- Marisa Carpino, director of culture and recreation with the City of Pickering, spoke after an announcement that the City will receive a $24,760 grant through the New Horizons for Seniors Program, which supports projects led or inspired by seniors.  The money will go towards a poject to support social participation and inclusion of seniors by providing computer courses where seniors will be mentored by youth.  April 26, 2013.  Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland

PICKERING -- New opportunities are on the way for Pickering seniors after funding was announced for several area organizations.

On April 26 the federal government announced several grants under the New Horizons for Seniors program, which provides money for programs that engage seniors in the community.

“Our government recognizes the diversity of skills, knowledge and experience that seniors contribute to our society and the economy,” said MP Corneliu Chisu.

“Through initiatives such as the New Horizons for Seniors Program, we are helping to ensure that seniors maintain a high quality of life and continue as active, participating members of their communities.”

Among the grants are $25,000 for The Family Worship Centre, which will use the money to provide computer training for seniors, teaching them how to use online resources such as Internet banking and social media.

The AFROPAN Community Campus Group will use its $25,000 grant to initiate a program that partners seniors with at-risk youth for mentoring during a unique cooking program, while the City of Pickering will receive $24,760 for a project that will pair seniors with youth for computer training in an effort to boost social participation.

The Pickering Rouge Canoe Club also received $25,000, which it has used to purchase a new dragon boat for a masters program aimed at giving retired athletes a place to paddle, or giving newcomers to the sport an outlet to learn.

“It's a great thing for the club because it's a quick start, we don't have to do fundraising or anything,” said Jean Veronneau, vice commodore of the club.  “We're planning to get started next week.”

While the funding resulted in ample new opportunities for seniors, youth weren't left out.

Mr. Chisu also announced $67,595 for the Youth Education Arts and Health Foundation to help area youth find employment.

“These funds help our organization to play a positive role in our community by providing support to youth-at-risk to find employment or return to school,” said Pauline Bennett, president of YEAH.  “When youth feel supported they have something to look forward to in the future.”

The money will be used to provide workshops where youth can work on life and employment skills such as communication, decision-making and customer service.  They will also get a chance to gain experience by working with YEAH partners in the local retail, service and manufacturing sectors.

Buckingham Gate Area Improvements - Techincal Drawings
April 2013

Further to my recent communication these are the related tecnical drawings. These are detailed engineering drawings and can be difficult to read so if you have any questions please contact Bob Starr at the City of Pickering 905 683 2760.

Click on any of the thumbnails to view full size PDF drawing.

Drawing 1 Drawing 2
 
Drawing 3 Drawing 4
 
Drawing 5 Drawing 6
 
Drawing 7
 
Support our Troops Fundraising Dinner
April 2013

Councillor Pickles with Bert and Myrna Picotte, and with John Nolan, were proud to attend and support A Tribute to Our Troops Dinner - Celebrating the 70th Anniversary of Canadian Soliders in Italy 1943-1945.  The dinner raises funds for the Ontario Regiment Foundation.  Many active and former serving military personel were present and recognized.

David Pickles with John Nolan
 
David Pickles with Bert & Myrna Picotte
 
Frenchman's Bay Harbour Entrance Reconstruction Project
April 2013

Construction Progress - April 2013

As expected the month of April has been very busy.  Final shoreline protection of rip rap stone and armourstone has been completed on the fishing node.  More core filling is required to bring the node up to the final grade.  The fishing node measures 12m by 22m and when completed will include an accessible walkway.

This month, 815 tonnes of rip rap material was delivered to the site.  The west breakwater core filling was extended 150 metres with rip rap shoreline protection getting underway.

Also this month, the first stage of dredging operations began.  Work will continue into the month of May.  Sand material is being removed from the channel onto barges, then loaded onto trucks, and finally graded along the existing beach on the west spit.  This month, approximately 874 cubic metres of sand was removed from the channel.

If you have been down to the site lately, you may have noticed that the large stockpile of woody crib material is gone.  Using a large tub grinder, this material was transformed into landscaping mulch and transported off-site.  In addition, you may have noticed that beach clean up and the removal of debris and stones continued on the west spit.

For further information, consult the Frenchmans' Bay e-Newsletter.

Councillor Pickles Receives the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
April 26, 2013

“I was humbled and honoured to be awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal on April 26, 2013 for service in the community, both while serving on City of Pickering Council and for my past work in the community.”, noted Councillor Pickles.

MP Corneliu Chisu nominated David Pickles for the Medal on recommendation on his initial nominator, Keith Falconer and the Prime Minister's Office agreed on behalf of the Prime Minister.  I thank the Prime Minister, MP Chisu and Keith Falconer for the nomination/medal.

Councillor Pickles was pleased that prior fellow medal recipients MPP Tracy MacCharles, Mayor Dave Ryan, Deputy Mayor Doug Dickerson, John Nolan and Keith Falconer, along with Councillor Ashe, were in attendance.

Having so many notable medal recipients from Pickering, it makes me proud to be a part of this great community.

A personal special thanks to MP Chisu and MPP MacCharles for recognizing Pickering's deserving residents.

David Pickles receives medal
Councillor David Pickles receives the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
David Pickles with MPP MacCharles & MP Chisu
Councillor David Pickles with MPP Tracy MacCharles & MP Corneliu Chisu
David Pickles with Mayor Ryan & Councillor Dickerson
Councillor David Pickles with Mayor David Ryan & Deputy Mayor Doug Dickerson
David Pickles
Councillor Pickles poses with Keith Falconer, Councillor Kevin Ashe, Deputy Mayor Doug Dickerson, MP Corneliu Chisu, MPP Tracy MacCharles & Mayor David Ryan after he has received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal

QEII Certificate
 
QEII Letter
 
Letter from MPP MacCharles
 
Certificate from MP Chisu
 
Queen's Jubilee Medal Presentation
April 26, 2013

In front of an intimate crowd at Petticoat Creek Library, Corneliu Chisu, MP Pickering-Scarborough East was pleased to ...

Read more of the SNAP article and view the photos.

Happy Mother's Day Wishes
April 26, 2013
Happy Mother's Day
 
News Release
Veridian makes ‘green list’ for a fourth consecutive year
April 22, 2013

News Release - April 22, 2013

Veridian makes ‘green list’ for a fourth consecutive year
Greenest Employer designation recognizes utility for its environmental values

Ajax, ON - Veridian Corporation (Veridian) has been named one of Canada's Greenest Employers for a fourth consecutive year.  This special designation recognizes Veridian as a workplace that leads the nation in creating a culture of environmental awareness, has developed earth-friendly initiatives and is attracting people to the company because of its environmental leadership.

“Being recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers for a fourth consecutive year is a remarkable achievement for Veridian and its employees, and a testament to the company's commitment to incorporating environmental values into its corporate culture,” said Board Chair Doug Dickerson.  &“Earth-friendly business practices, sustainable development, smart grid technologies and electric vehicles have long been key priorities for Veridian.  We are extremely proud of where we are today and excited for what progress lies ahead.”

Each employer nominated for the award is evaluated on the unique environmental initiatives and programs they have developed, the extent to which they have been successful in reducing the organization's own environmental footprint, the degree to which their employee are involved in these programs and whether they contribute any unique skills, and the extent to which these initiatives have become linked to the employer's public identity and whether they attract new people to the organization.

Read the complete news release.

For more information, contact:

Chris Mace cmace@veridian.on.ca
Sales & PR Representative - Corporate Communications
Veridian Connections Inc.
905-427-9870, extension 2218

News Release
30-minute off-peak Lakeshore GO Train Service
April 19, 2013

Beginning June 29th GO Transit is increasing off-peak service on the Lakeshore lines to meet the needs of our growing number of customers.  This is the largest service expansion in GO history and the result of years of careful planning and construction to expand service on this line.

The Lakeshore line currently operates two-way, all day trains service every hour, with a total of 137 weekday trips.  With the expansion to half-hourly service, we will be adding 263 new weekly trips overall or 36,288 more seats every week.  This means schedule train times will be less of a factor for residents along the Lakeshore lines and travel will be more comfortable, as promised in our Passenger Charter.

The continued expansion of GO Train service is a top priority of Metrolinx's Regional Transportation Plan, The Big Move.  With $16 B of projects underway - including GO projects such as the Georgetown South expansion and Union Station revitalization- The Big Move is in action.  Through the Next Wave of projects, Metrolinx plans to continue enhancing and expanding GO services:

  • GO Rail Expansion: Introducing more two-way, all-day service, adding additional rush hour service across the entire network, and extending trains to Hamilton and Bowmanville.
  • Electrification of GO Kitchener line and Union Pearson Express: Upgrading diesel train service to electric propulsion for these two complementary transit services.
  • GO Lakeshore Express Rail Service - Phase 1 (including Electrification): Transforming GO Transit's backbone from Hamilton to Oshawa into a faster, more frequent and more convenient transit option by beginning the transition to an international-style Express Rail service.

We will be in touch with more details prior to the start of service but in the interim, to learn more about the expanded service please visit gotransit.com.  To learn more about The Big Move and the Next Wave of projects, visit bigmove.ca.  If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at dina.graser@metrolinx.com or by phone at 416-874-5950.

Sincerely,
Dina Graser
Director of Community and Stakeholder Relations

Pickering to fight for fair shake on Seaton development
Moya Dillon
April 17, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Grant McGregor
Pickering to fight for fair shake on Seaton development.  PICKERING -- Grant McGregor, sustainability and special projects manger, showed Lola Robertson plans for the Seaton development that will be going before the OMB in the coming months.  April 15, 2013 Jason Liebregts / Metroland

PICKERING -- Councillors are urging City staff to fight for a fair deal on the planned Seaton development, saying it could leave Pickering in the red on community infrastructure costs.

During an executive committee meeting on April 15, councillors recommended City staff work towards creating a memorandum of understanding with Seaton landowners to offset estimated infrastructure costs, which could see the City incurring a deficit of $7.7 million by 2021.

They also approved a list of issues for staff to address at an upcoming Ontario Municipal Board hearing, which included financial and traffic impacts of the planned north Pickering development, which will see more than 12,000 new residential units constructed as part of phase one, bringing an estimated 37,000 new residents to the city.

Several residents in attendance expressed concerns with the potential financial impacts and their effect on taxpayers, as well as traffic, heritage and the early completion of a Whitevale bypass bridge.

“I believe my concerns should be your concerns and the concerns of every taxpayer in Pickering,” said resident Marion Thomas.

“The Financial Impact Study is based on assumptions.  Assumptions that growth in Seaton will produce 1,500 units per year and that assessment will remain as predicted and that 40 acres per year of employment land will be consumed.”

Ms. Thomas pointed out that any of those elements could easily change, increasing the financial burden.  She also criticized Pickering's low development charges, which at less than $10,000 per unit are among the lowest in the GTA.

Councillors shared her concerns, noting the City was limited by a provincial formula that calculates development charges.

“One main issue here is the difference between costs and the development charges that are available to us,” said Mayor David Ryan, noting if the developers had retained their land in Richmond Hill, which was swapped for the Pickering lands to preserve the Oak Ridges Moraine, the situation would be different.

“If the development we're proposing had remained in Richmond Hill, those same developers would be paying 2.5 to three times the development charges that are currently proposed, so they get a bonus along with the land transfer,” he explained.

“That's totally inappropriate and we do need to point a finger at the body that imposed this plan on us, this is not a City of Pickering plan and never has been.  We need to do the best we can with what we've got.”

Councillors urged staff to press the City's lengthy list of concerns at the board, and stand firm with landowners to seek concessions that would ease some of the financial burden to provide necessary infrastructure such as fire stations and libraries.

“We are an authority without any authority in this entire process and we're going to be the people dealing with this in the future,” said Councillor Jennifer O'Connell.

“I think our only option is to fight at the board and get as much as we can possibly get.  We need to ensure a bad situation doesn't get worse, that we have some voice and some standards are upheld.  By no means by me supporting this do I think we're in a win situation, it's a lose-lose situation.”

Tony Prevedel, CAO for the City, assured councillors that staff would fight to make sure taxpayers aren't negatively impacted by the development.

“Our plan is never to be in a deficit so there will not be a tax impact to the rest of Pickering, and that's what we will fight for at the board,” he said.

Slots have been good for Ajax books
Keith Gilligan
April 17, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Slots at Ajax Downs Casino
Slots at Ajax Downs Casino.  AJAX -- Exterior of the Slots at Ajax Downs Casino building.  Ron Pietroniro / Metroland file photo

AJAX -- Since 2006, folks have gone to Ajax Downs, hoping to strike it rich playing slots.

For the Town of Ajax, it's not hope but a certainty, as the slots have made big money for the municipality.  To the end of 2012, Ajax has received $38.3 million as its share of slots revenue.  About $4 million was returned to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming corporation, which had lent Ajax money to construct Alexander's Crossing, the road leading to the casino.

And, once the Town knew it was getting slots revenue as the host community, a plan was developed for how the money would be used.  The money is allocated to three areas -- infrastructure needs, debt reduction and grants.

“We made a very conscious decision in our minds right away,” said Ajax director of finance, Rob Ford.  “The money would be used for future capital projects and not for the day-to-day operating.”  He noted one municipality that had an OLG gaming facility was “putting money toward the bottom line.” However, when the facility was closed, the municipality had to make up that money.

“It's too much of a risk,” Mr. Ford said.

Ward 4 local Councillor Pat Brown said she has heard “over and over again” people asking why the slots money isn't used to lower or eliminate tax increases.

“When I explain to them that it's not guaranteed money.  If we put it into operations, then we would have to increase taxes to maintain services we have presently.”

She questioned what would happen if slots money went to the bottom line, but then “What if it ever falls below the margin or stops? That's a real probability right now.  We would have to increase taxes to make it up.”

Fifty per cent of the money goes into the infrastructure reserve, which is used “mainly for roads, a much lesser extent to trails and economic development.”

Mr. Ford noted four projects which were well down the list the Town wanted to do have been done.

“The Audley Recreation Centre, we're using slots money to decrease the debt by $5 million.”

Some projects are being done five or six years earlier than they would have been undertaken.

By using matching funds from the federal and provincial infrastructure programs, the Town was able to realign Fairall Street.

“It was on our horizon, but it was probably 10 to 15 years out.”

Other projects include reconstruction of Old Kingston Road, extending Commercial Avenue south from Hunt Street to Bayly Street, and the $2-million extension of Kerrison Drive.

“Those are projects we would have eventually done, wait many, many years or have a big tax increase to get them done.”

One project the Town undertook was putting water and sewer infrastructure for the employment lands roughly bounded by Hwy. 2 between Harwood Avenue and Audley Road.  That cost $1 million and the Town will recoup the money when the lands are developed.

The revenue Ajax has been receiving has caught the eyes of Pickering and Whitby officials, who are looking to get a share of or all of the slots revenue.

Ajax offered Whitby 15 per cent of the revenue, but was turned down.  Whitby is hoping to get a casino of its own and all the revenue.

Pickering, Ajax and Whitby have been put into one zone by the OLG, with one gaming site per zone.  It will be up to the new operator to decide where the site will be.

Ontario Municipal Board strikes down Whitevale residents heritage concerns
Moya Dillon
April 14, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- Open space surrounding the hamlet of Whitevale will see development as part of the planned Seaton project after an OMB ruling against residents.

The residents of Whitevale had argued that a previously defined Heritage Conservation District was unfairly replaced by Hamlet Heritage Open Space in the Seaton plans, allowing the construction of facilities such as schools and parks immediately adjacent to the hamlet.

In a March 25 decision, OMB vice-chairwoman Jan Seaborn ruled against the residents, saying the conservation district was never intended for land use planning.

“The Conservation District plan was developed to protect the Hamlet, the Whitevale corridor and built heritage resources such as Turner House.  It was not, however, intended to act as a land use plan,” she wrote in the decision.

“The uses closest to the hamlet are specifically designed to act as a buffer, which is why the Hamlet Heritage Open Space designation is employed.  Low density residential development is slated for areas beyond the open space rather than immediately adjacent to the hamlet.”

Marion Thomas, a Whitevale resident who coordinated the OMB effort, disagreed with the decision but plans to continue fighting issues with the development, including traffic and financial impacts, which will be scrutinized at hearings in May.

“We're disappointed obviously,” Ms. Thomas said.

“We felt we made it clear the Heritage Conservation District had not been identified and the uses for the property adjacent to the district actually fell within it.”

Catherine Rose, acting chief planner for the City of Pickering, said the City was very mindful of heritage when planning for the development.

“This is about finding a design which allows an urban subdivision but pays respect to what's already there,” she said.  “We want to integrate a new urban community with heritage resources, and that means some of it will have to change.”

Residents can learn more about the Seaton development at a public information session scheduled for Monday, April 15 at the Pickering Civic Complex from 2 to 7 p.m., which will include information about submitted plans for the development and background studies.

“People who are new to Pickering may not know that this has been going on for years,” Ms. Rose said.  “So this will be a bit of a history lesson as well as an opportunity for people to learn about what will be coming before the OMB.”

The submitted plans will be before councillors for approval at an executive committee meeting scheduled for the same night at 7 p.m.  They must then be approved by the OMB before the development can move forward.

Pickering entering new era of bingo
Moya Dillon
April 10, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Delta Bingo
Delta Bingo.  PICKERING -- Delta Bingo is celebrating the grand opening of their new e-bingo facilities April 6.  From left, Vikki Gilmour, vice-president of the Pickering Charitable Gaming Association, Lucy Ogilivie, hall manager, Linda Mair, president of the Pickering Charitable Gaming Association, and Susan Black, charity organizer.  April 3, 2013 Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland

PICKERING -- This isn't your grandma's bingo hall.

Instead of folding chairs and card tables, Pickering's Delta Bingo features banks of screens stretching across modern long tables or clustered around circular bank seating, flanked by what look like slot machines.

“E-bingo has brought bingo to a whole new level, it's brought back the excitement and brought in a lot of new customers,” said Lucy Ogilvie, hall manager, referring to a new partnership between bingo halls and the OLG.

The program is designed to revitalize bingo in Ontario by providing electronic gaming alongside traditional, paper-based bingo games.

At Delta, that includes the introduction of new digital screens that offer patrons the choice of playing a virtual bingo card and play-on-demand games, and new TapTix machines, introduced at the end of February, which bring break-open Nevada-style tickets into the digital age by dispensing them through a slot-style gaming experience.

“It's more exciting and offers the customer a choice of different things, they're not just sitting here listening to numbers being called,” Ms. Ogilvie explained.

“Bingo was a dying industry in my eyes but this has really turned it around.  We've definitely come a long way since we started this, the customers just love it.”

And what's good for Delta is good for the community, as gaming at the bingo hall benefits 60 area charities.

“I would bet a lot of people who play bingo have no idea they're giving money to charity,” said Vikki Gilmour, vice-president of the Pickering Charitable Gaming Association and a representative of Durham Hospice.  “We wouldn't be able to do what we do without these funds.”

Charities' volunteers work two-hour shifts at the bingo hall throughout the month, and the charity proceeds are then divvied up among the partner organizations depending on the time donated.

Under the new partnership, 25 per cent of gaming proceeds go to the charities, while the hall gets 47 per cent, the City of Pickering three per cent and OLG takes the balance.

While it's less money than the charities were bringing in before the new partnership -- $1,500 to $1,700 a month compared to $2,700 to $3,200 a month, according to Ms. Gilmour -- members of the association expect the numbers to pick up as e-bingo becomes more established.  In addition, they are not responsible for expenses they had under the previous agreement, which included paying rent to the bingo hall.

“There are a lot of kinks to be worked out so we expect it to take a couple years,” said Linda Mair, president of the association.

“The program is great for us though because the more the community plays, the better it is for charities.”

Grand Opening Delta Bingo
April 6, 2013
Delta Bingo Grand Opening
 
Delta Bingo Grand Opening
 
Delta Bingo Grand Opening
 
Delta Bingo Grand Opening
 
Durham business leaders weigh in on transit debate
Reka Szekely
April 5, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Durham business leaders weigh in on transit debate
Durham business leaders weigh in on transit debate.  OSHAWA -- Passengers got on and off a Durham Region Transit bus at the corner of Centre Street North and King Street West.  The Toronto Board of Trade has proposed new revenue tools for funding upgrades to public transit including a regional gas tax of 10 cents per litre, a regional sales tax of 1 per cent and tolls on high occupancy lanes.  Some Durham officials are rejecting the plan, saying Durham residents shouldn't have to pay for Toronto subways.  March 27, 2013.  Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland

DURHAM -- Everyone seems to agree that public transit in the GTA needs to improve, but there are deep divisions between leaders in the Toronto and Durham business communities on just how to pay for it all.

This week, Metrolinx, the provincial organization planning transit upgrades in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, released a short list of 12 tools for funding transit improvements, called the Big Move.

The list of planned projects for the GTHA is long and includes subway extensions, light rail, GO upgrades including the extension of train service to Bowmanville, and more.

Short-listed options to pay for it all include tax increases, a parking levy, increased transit fares and development charges.  Metrolinx did not recommend rates for the levies or charges, but the Toronto Region Board of Trade weighed in with four options.

It wants to see a one-per cent regional sales tax, a $1 per space per day parking levy, a regional fuel tax levy of 10 cents per kilometre and a 30 cents per kilometre toll on single drivers in HOV lanes.

Those recommendations were soundly rejected by the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce.

“They've now overstepped their bounds dramatically in the GTA,” said Bob Malcolmson, CEO of the Oshawa chamber, pointing out that there are more than 30 chambers of commerce and boards of trade in the GTA and Hamilton area.

The Oshawa chamber has released its own set of recommendations focused on Durham which asks for improvements in service, including 20- or 30-minute service times for the GO train and firm dates for the extension of the GO train to Bowmanville.

“If you want to see fairness and balance and ask us to participate, we need to see improvements in transit,” said Mr. Malcolmson.

The Oshawa Chamber of Commerce recommends targeting road tolls, congestion charges and parking levies in the Toronto core, not in the GTA.  The chamber also recommends keeping dedicated fuel tax dollars in the community in which they were collected.

Mr. Malcolmson said Toronto needs to pay its fair share with a special transit or property tax, pointing out residential property tax rates are significantly higher in the GTA compared to Toronto.

A home assessed at $300,000 in Toronto carries $2,314 in taxes while a home with the same value in Oshawa pays $4,875.

Mr. Malcolmson rejected several options on the short list, including a parking levy, pointing out that there are three million parking spots in the 905 communities, but only one million in Toronto.  He said a levy would have a negative impact on local businesses.

“It doesn't make sense; use for example the Oshawa shopping centre or General Motors, they've got thousands of spots,” he said.

Regional Chairman Roger Anderson was also critical of some of the revenue tools on the list, particularly a payroll tax, which he thinks would prompt employers to lay people off or raise the cost of services.

Mr. Anderson said he wants to see a full accounting of how current gas taxes are spent before more are imposed and also said revenues raised in Durham should be spent in Durham.

“The 905 has more people than the City of Toronto, so if that's the case, does 55 per cent of the money stay in the 905? Or is 75 per cent of the money being spent in Toronto, 20 per cent for York and five per cent for the rest of us?”

But Carol Wilding, CEO of the Toronto Board of Trade, pointed out there are 350,000 commuters heading into Toronto daily, including Durham residents.

“This a region-wide economic issue and it needs a region-wide solution and it needs region-wide revenue tools, every one of us in the GTHA ...  we all have a stake in this and we will all feel the pain if we don't solve our regional gridlock problem,” she said.

She said congestion costs the economy $6 billion annually and that figure is set to grow to $15 billion by 2031.

Meanwhile the Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade is consulting with members on the issue before releasing its recommendations.  It recently held a roundtable for its members along with the Whitby Chamber of Commerce and a membership survey on transit closed this week.

“It's a lot of money and you need to care now and not after it's all in place,” said Tracy Paterson, co-chairwoman of the government relations committee for the Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade.

Both the Greater Oshawa chamber and the Ajax-Pickering board are submitting their recommendations to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.  Metrolinx is set to make its final funding recommendation to the Province in June.

Help beautify Pickering with a 20-minute makeover
April 4, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- Enjoy the spring weather while doing a good deed during the 20-minute makeover in Pickering.

On Friday, April 19 at 2 p.m.  residents can join schools, community groups and City staff in giving Pickering a quick makeover by collecting litter around the city.

Participants can reuse plastic bags from home or pick up free bags and gloves at the Pickering Civic Complex, Pickering Recreation Complex or any Pickering Library branch.

Groups are encouraged to register for the event so City staff can deliver clean-up supplies and pick up collected litter.  To register, call 905-683-7575.

Space running out for local history in Pickering
Moya Dillon
April 3, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Adele Koehnke with painting done by her grandmother
Space running out for local history in Pickering.  PICKERING -- Adele Koehnke with a painting done by her grandmother, Doris Speirs, at the central branch of the Pickering Public Library.  The painting was part of a donation of significant collections of local art and archives for the library's historical collection.  April 2, 2013.  Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland

PICKERING -- Librarians trying to preserve the rich history of Pickering are hitting a wall as they turn away collections due to a lack of space.

On April 2 the Pickering Public Library celebrated the acquisition of three new historical collections, including the collection of area artist Doris Speirs, the archives of the Pickering Township Historical Society and the personal archives of local historian John Sabean.

“The historical society has been collecting historical documents for the last decade so this is really one of the richest collections outside of the library,” said Becky George, library historian.

“This donation will bring the two collections together, which is fantastic for residents.  It's like one-stop shopping.”

The art collection will be hung in the library, with information booklets detailing each piece, while most of the archived materials, which include maps, letters, historical memorabilia and even an historic postcard collection, will be available in the library's Local History Room.

“Unfortunately for my wife, some of it will have to remain at my house for now,” Mr. Sabean joked of the lack of space at the library.

“I have boxes and boxes of stuff I can't get to,” Ms. George said of the local history collection.

Cathy Grant, CEO of the library, said relief could be on the way soon, as the library board is proposing a dedicated archives room complete with temperature and humidity controls as part of plans for expansion, which could happen as early as 2015, depending on funding availability.

“There are a lot of collections in the community that we would love to take in and make accessible to everyone,” she explained, noting there are 20 metres of local historical documents housed at the provincial archives at Queen's Park that could be repatriated to Pickering if a new facility is built.

“There's an overall community need to store these records somewhere but we've run out of space.  These records are important, the stories you discover in the community are absolutely fascinating.”

Requests received by the local history room include information for a new book on Canadian musician Neil Young, who lived in Pickering for a time, requests from genealogists as far away as Hawaii for birth, marriage and death records and historical land use information for current planning purposes.

“These documents tell us about the life and identity of those who came before us who would otherwise be just a statistic,” Ms. George said of the collection.

“Archives are important to the municipality because this is our collective memory.  We can't plan for the future without knowing our past.”

Tower proposal worries residents
March 29, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

To the editor:

Owning a residential lot in Pickering north of Hwy. 7, we never thought we would need to battle a proposed 60-metre Bell telecommunications tower installation on an adjoining residential property, as indicated by a public notice published Feb.  28 in the Pickering News Advertiser.

Intending to eventually build a home, we have laboured many years to improve our property, including planting more 5,000 trees.  Other neighbours have already built and reside on lots next to us.

We are all concerned about the electro-magnetic radiation produced by these installations.  Current Canadian guidelines do not address the serious problem of extended exposure to EMRs.  Many European long-term studies indicate a three to four times higher cancer risk.

Also, a response to a neighbour's written concern stated that “no study has been done that indicates such an installation would affect adjacent property values.” Common sense dictates otherwise.  Local real estate agents have confirmed that a 60-metre tower overshadowing our properties would significantly affect their value.

With large tracts of undeveloped land in the immediate area, how can the most acceptable site be located amongst residential homes? Understandably, consumer demand drives the need for telecommunication towers; however, due to its detrimental health and financial impact on neighbouring residences, we find it hard to accept that another, more other suitable site can't be found.

Albert and Nanette Perschke

Pickering

More accessible parking needed in Pickering: committee
Moya Dillon
March 29, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Sue Wilkinson
More accessible parking needed in Pickering: committee.  PICKERING -- Sue Wilkinson is a member of the Pickering Accessibility Advisory Committee and presented a motion requesting council increase the accessible parking requirements in the city.  March 27, 2013 Jason Liebregts/ Metroland

PICKERING -- One Pickering resident is asking the City to reconsider its accessible parking requirements to keep up with increasing need.

During a council meeting on March 25, Sue Wilkinson, a member of Pickering's Accessibility Advisory Committee, presented a motion from the committee calling on council to revise the City's accessible parking requirements from one space in 50, or about 2 per cent, to 15 per cent.

Ms. Wilkinson highlighted two Statistics Canada surveys conducted in 1991 and 2001 that reported the total population of people with disabilities in Ontario at 1,514,380, or 13.5 per cent.

“These surveys were completed some time ago but given our aging population and the prevalence of disabilities increasing with age, I believe we can make judgments based on these statistics today,” Ms. Wilkinson explained.  “It appears reasonable that accessible parking requirements need to be increased.”

Ms. Wilkinson stressed that accessible parking isn't just about proximity to facilities, but also the width and length to allow disabled passengers to load and unload accessible vehicles safely.

She reports consistent difficulty finding available accessible spots, and is often forced to park far from other vehicles in standard spaces to have room to unload.

“I can count on one hand the number of times I've been able to park in an accessible bay,” she said, noting parking far away means having to traverse parking lots in her motorized scooter, leaving her below the sightline of many drivers.

“It can be a dangerous journey,” she said.  “I hope you take this opportunity to become a leader in Durham Region in protecting the needs of people with disabilities.”

Council voted to direct staff to review the requirements, but did have concerns with an increase.

Coun.  Kevin Ashe pointed to Whitby and Ajax, which have a one-in-19 requirement, and Oshawa at one in 25, noting that 15 per cent would equal about three spots in 20, or an almost threefold increase compared to neighbouring communities.  That type of increase could put businesses with little to no room for additional parking in a difficult position, he said.

“I have no problem supporting a motion to review this but by no means do I think we should be putting private businesses at a disadvantage,” he explained.

Coun.  Jennifer O'Connell urged staff to come back with a recommendation for some type of increase and encouraged increased bylaw enforcement to ensure existing spots are used properly, noting she often sees vehicles parked in accessible spots with no visible stickers or permit.

“We don't have a sufficient amount of spots, and I have no problem with the number being proposed here because I do think there's a need, but we also need to look at the enforcement factor,” she said.

Public alert sirens to be tested in Pickering
March 28, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- Residents are being advised that Durham Region is conducting sound testing on 11 new public alerting sirens the week of April 1.

The sirens are installed in a three-kilometre area around the Pickering nuclear generating station as a way to warn residents of any nuclear emergencies.

The sirens will sound for up to one minute during testing; in the case of an emergency they will sound for three minutes.

For information, visit www.durham.ca/demo, click on Public Alerting Project folder and then Public Alerting Project- Updates, or call 1-866-551-5373.

Ajax will negotiate casino revenue sharing on its terms
Moya Dillon
March 28, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Ajax Mayor Steve Parish
Ajax will negotiate casino revenue sharing on its terms. AJAX -- Ajax Mayor Steve Parish has indicated that as long as the casino stays in Ajax, the Town is willing to discuss revenue sharing with Pickering. March 27, 2013 Jason Liebregts/ Metroland

PICKERING -- Ajax is prepared to share some of the revenue it receives from the casino operation in the town, but only if Pickering agrees to allow the facility to stay where it is.

Ajax Mayor Steve Parish said the first call he's had from Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan on a revenue-sharing agreement was on Tuesday, the day after an OLG official spoke to Pickering council.

“I told him there would be no cost sharing unless the site remained in Ajax.  If Whitby and Pickering agree to that, then we have the basis for some discussion,” Mayor Parish said.  “We offered Whitby 15 per cent, which is very generous, and Whitby rejected it.”

The OLG's Tony Bitonti said the organization won't get involved and the two communities will have to reach a revenue-sharing deal.

It's always been the OLG's position that it will have an arrangement with the host municipality, Mayor Parish said.

“If the host municipality wants to enter into agreements with upper tier municipalities or other municipalities, it's fine by them (OLG),” he said.  “We can't make any deal with Pickering unless Whitby is in on it too.  It only makes sense.  The facility is there, up and running.

“If they want to talk, talk serious.  Ajax is the site, everything is in place for the site long term.  Their bargaining position isn't very strong.  They have to have realistic expectations,” Mayor Parish said.

Pickering councillors questioned Mr. Bitonti, senior manager of media relations for OLG, during a presentation on the organization's modernization plan at a March 25 council meeting.

The modernization plan will bring private operators into the Province's gaming industry and see five new casinos built, with one planned for the GTA.

As part of that plan, a gaming zone that includes Pickering, Ajax and Whitby would see the number of slots expanded to 1,600 from the current 800 now in operation at Ajax Downs, and the addition of gaming tables.

“When you started these zones could no one foresee that other municipalities within those zones, because gamblers would come from all municipalities, would want a share of the revenue?” asked Councillor Doug Dickerson, referring to an earlier request from Pickering to Ajax asking that the City be considered for a share of the revenues from the gaming facility, which was rebuffed.

In an effort to increase its bargaining position with Ajax, Pickering council voted to declare the City a willing host to a casino in December 2012.

Mr. Bitonti said the only revenue-sharing agreement in the province currently is between Thousand Islands and Gananoque, because the Casino Thousand Islands straddles the border of the two communities.

“When we began the expansion of charity casinos it was determined that the municipalities where these facilities were located would bear the bulk of the burden,” Mr. Bitonti explained, pointing to perceived issues including increased crime and social problems, which he says did not materialize.

“The money was funnelled to the municipality for those uses and historically it's been based on the municipality where that facility resides in dealing with that money.”

“The answer basically is that it's ours to deal with,” Mayor Ryan interjected.

“We want to stay with the historical model where wherever the facility lands we pay taxes to that municipality,” Mr. Bitonti replied.  “But nothing precludes that municipality from getting together to do something along that line of revenue sharing.”

Pickering City Hall in brief
March 28, 2013
Moya Dillon
(durhamregion.com)

PICKERING -- With honeybee populations in decline across Canada, Pickering council is helping to raise awareness by endorsing May 29 as the Day of the Honeybee.

Council voted to endorse a request from Saskatchewan activist Clinton Shane Ekdahl to support the initiative, which he started in 2010 to raise awareness about the plight of the bees.

He stressed that honeybees are responsible for up to 70 per cent of food crop pollination.

“They are a keystone species, the very cornerstone to the sustainability of our agriculture and the primary basis of stability for our fragile environment,” he wrote in a letter to council, noting that pesticide use has been suggested as one reason why honeybee populations are in decline across the world.

Pickering Museum Village seeking new volunteers

Pickering Museum Village is looking for some new blood to replace aging volunteers.

Laura Drake, chairwoman of the Pickering Museum Village Advisory Committee, highlighted a productive year for the living history site during a presentation to council on March 25, explaining the organization used grant funds to beautify the grounds and solidify the historical structures by adding concrete foundations.

In the year ahead the organization plans to focus on expanding programming and educational opportunities, and is looking for some new volunteers.

“We have had some frustrations in staff resources,” Ms. Drake said.

“Volunteers continue to be our strength but a challenge for 2013 is to recruit newer, younger volunteers so those of us who are a little bit older can enjoy a well-deserved rest.”

Volunteers contributed a total of 29,200 hours to the organization in 2012, which Ms. Drake estimated at a value of about $600,000.

For more information visit www.pickering.ca/museum.

Heritage Pickering looks to increase historically designated properties

The Pickering Heritage Advisory Committee is hoping to get more area history protected in 2013.

“Our most challenging project has been the development of a comprehensive heritage register, it should be a one-stop shop for all properties in the municipality, registered or not, that contain elements of heritage significance,” said Mike Sawchuck, vice-chairman of the committee, during a presentation to council March 25.

Mr. Sawchuck explained that registered heritage homes do not have the same protections as a designated heritage house, where renovations have to be approved so important heritage elements are not affected.

While he said there are “hundreds” of area homes the committee would like to add to the register, it is currently working on a short list of five properties for possible designation over the next year.

The Nesbitt-Newman house, located on Park Avenue, was the last home to be designated in 2012, and was only the second area property brought forward for designation in the last six years.

Make the call to become a life-saver
March 28, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

Imagine if simply taking a deep breath was a luxury.  Now imagine if it was taken away from you.  Pickering's Brandon Gibson doesn't have to, and his need for a new lung highlights not only the importance of organ donation, but also that organ recipients are people, not statistics.

Still, the numbers are disturbing: while a record-breaking 1,053 organ transplants were performed in Ontario last year, just 22 per cent of Ontarians were registered as donors at the end of 2012.  Ninety-five people died in Ontario last year awaiting a transplant.

Mr. Gibson, who has cystic fibrosis, was waiting for a lung as a teenager.  When he received one, he recalls how he was able to take a deep, easy breath for the first time and could play sports and live a regular life.  Now 20, he is on the transplant list again as is body started rejecting his transplant in 2011.  He has around 25 per cent lung function right now and hockey and lacrosse are out of the question.

Rouge Valley Health System (RVHS), where Mr. Gibson goes for physiotherapy twice a week, is making an appeal to the community as it tries to add a minimum of 200 names to the donor registry in partnership with the Trillium Gift of Life Network.  Starting on Tuesday, the Ajax and Pickering Hospital will be flying 'Be a Donor' flags to raise awareness.

Rik Ganderton, president and CEO of RVHS, says he recognizes that deciding to become an organ donor is a personal decision.  But he and other hospital staff members and volunteers see daily how organ and tissue donations can transform lives for the better.

Back to the statistics, which reveal that 31 per cent of those with a health card in Uxbridge and Whitby are registered donors, higher than the provincial average and the highest rate in Durham.  But the rate is the lowest in west Durham, just 16 per cent in Pickering and Ajax.

One donation doesn't help one person.  In fact, it's estimated that one organ donor can save eight lives and enhance up to 75 lives through tissue donation.

As Mr. Ganderton notes, it's an individual call to become a donor.  But we're hoping that many Pickering residents decide in the affirmative after hearing Mr. Gibson's story and as our local hospital reaches out to encourage donations.

It's often said the most important thing is your health and it's absolutely true.  Good health is the backdrop for all that we enjoy and can enjoy in life.  And we have it in our power to provide it to others.

Pickering residents mistakenly double taxed in March
March 27, 2013
Moya Dillon
(durhamregion.com)
Mark Guinto
Mark Guinto. Mark Guinto, co-ordinator of public affairs for the City of Pickering Twitter photo

PICKERING -- Residents enrolled in the City's automatic withdrawal program got a shock when they were charged twice for their taxes in March.

After putting money into her account to pay a credit card bill scheduled to come out as an automatic payment, Pickering resident Dawn Urquhart was shocked when she checked to make sure the payment went through on March 27 and found her account overdrawn.

The last withdrawal was from the City of Pickering, despite having already withdrawn her monthly tax payment on March 4.

“When I phoned they blamed it on an accounting glitch with Easter weekend coming up,” Ms. Urquhart said, noting the error resulted in a non-sufficient funds (NSF) charge of $45 from her bank.  “My issue is that this shouldn't reflect poorly on me with my bank or credit card.”

Mark Guinto, co-ordinator of public affairs for the City of Pickering, said the double charge was taken out in error due to a processing glitch between the City and the banks, which was reversed on March 27.  All clients in the automatic withdrawal program were affected.

“We are reversing the charge for clients as we speak,” he said.

“We apologize for any inconvenience and we will be investigating the cause to make sure it doesn't happen again.”

Ms. Urquhart was able to get her credit card company to waive any NSF fees when she explained the situation, but said the early withdrawal has resulted in a bit of a headache.

“I've spent quite a bit of time on this already between my bank, my credit card and the City,” she explained.

“Luckily I have the time to do that, but for a lot of people who don't have access to computers for online banking or who are seniors who can't get to the bank easily it might be more difficult.  This isn't the first time a statutory holiday has fallen on a weekend; get your act together.”

Mr. Guinto estimated all charges should be reversed by March 28.  Clients who were charged an NSF fee as a result of the early withdrawal can apply for a reimbursement through the City's taxation office by calling 905-420-4614.

Durham should go with the flow on Line 9
March 27, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

Durham councillors are being asked to support a bid by Enbridge and go with the flow in reversing the direction of oil from a pipeline that runs through much of the region.

Enbridge officials spoke before a regional works committee last week, explaining the rationale for the request to reverse the flow of oil in the pipe and seeking the support of Durham council for the project.  Politicians voted to endorse staff recommendations that call on Enbridge to ensure the pipe, known locally as Line 9, remains in good working order, that the company provide an emergency response plan and that it work with the Durham Emergency Maintenance Office on setting protocols should an incident occur.

Enbridge wants to reverse the flow of oil in the pipe so it travels from west to east, en route to a Montreal refinery for processing.  No new pipe is being laid and no additional construction is required, other than the modifications needed at pumping stations along the line.

Enbridge, residents may remember, was responsible for a spill on another line in 2010, when the pipe ruptured, spilling 19,000 barrels of crude into the Kalamazoo River.  The firm faces millions of dollars in fines for the spill and warned recently that it could cost nearly $1 billion to clean up.

If that's not an incentive to ensure that Line 9 in Durham is in the best state of repair it can be, and if it's not compelling enough for Enbridge officials to ensure no similar such incident occurs in Durham, it shouldn't be in the business of transporting oil.

But the fact is that Canadians need oil and refineries to heat our homes, fuel our cars so we can get to our jobs, power public transit and more.  It may be evil in the eyes of even the least ardent environmentalists, but it remains a necessary evil.

In that context, we call on Durham officials to support Enbridge's bid at its meeting in April.  However, residents will expect, as was supported by regional staff in its recent report, that Durham ensures Enbridge takes all of the precautionary steps required to ensure the integrity of Line 9.  Furthermore, we ask that Durham officials demand quarterly updates, at a minimum, from Enbridge officials updating Durham on any incidents, its record of oversight and monitoring, and of complaints.

Open and accountable political oversight, combined with ongoing monitoring by Enbridge, will ensure that Durham residents are kept informed and minimize the chance for a spill.

Rouge Valley Health System Foundation Gala
Pays Tribute to 50 Years of Bond Films
March 22, 2013

The special agents of From Rouge with Love, the Rouge Valley Health System Foundation's annual gala, were prepared to risk blowing their cover on March 22, in order to support their community hospital and enjoy an exciting James Bond experience.

David Pickles with car
 
David Pickles with couple
 
Pickering review of community groups long overdue
March 7, 2013
(durhamregion.com)

Pickering should have been on the ball years ago in terms of the City funding community groups receive and the use of that money.  And while a review encompassing all of the groups is the way to go, the Pickering East Shore Community Association has received an unwarranted slap in the face.

This is a mess that should never have happened and has led to confusion and bad feelings.  It has also revealed a council that is out of touch with its community groups, what they do and require.

Rumblings about PESCA and the funds it receives through rental revenue from the East Shore Community Centre have been heard for around a year now.  There have been complaints about accountability and transparency.  The origins of such complaints may be controversial, but they do have some merit.

But the result of all of this is that all community groups are under review.  Translation?  Those that received money in the past may not receive it in the future.

The real problem started during budget talks when Councillor Peter Rodrigues tabled a motion to award $20,000 to the Claremont and District Community Association (CDCA).  The idea was to give the CDCA roughly the same amount PESCA gets through its revenue-sharing agreement with the City.  The motion was amended to provide $20,000 to all community groups and was referred to staff for a report.

Just one problem: the CDCA wasn't in the loop and president Jim Doyle told us, “I don't know why we would need that kind of money.”

There's a glaring disconnect between the councillor and one of the groups in his riding.  You don't advocate for funding for a group without knowing if they require it.  Obviously the CDCA was not consulted.  The idea of extending funding, the same amount of funding, to all groups made the situation worse.  Not all groups are the same and not all need $20,000.  To propose spreading the same amount around to everyone may sound fair, but actually indicates the ignorance of councillors where the groups are concerned.

“I don't believe in scattering money around just so things become equitable,” Mr. Doyle said.

We agree.  It's almost like political correctness run amok.

Now it's possible that no group will receive funding pending the review, even though PESCA's funding is secure for 2013.

In essence, council is now on the right road in taking an approach that's fair to all groups.  The question remains, why wasn't this considered in the past?

Pickering to review funding for community groups
Moya Dillon
March 6, 2013
(durhamregion.com)
Members of PESCA
Pickering to review funding for community groups.  PICKERING -- Members of the Pickering East Shore Community Association executive, front row, Elizabeth Kimber, Debra Amos, Betty Evely and president, Keith Falconer, and back row, Alexandra Kimber, Bill Evely, Alexandra Crosby, Kayte McCafferty, Donna Fabbro and Lori Crosby.  March 4, 2013 Jason Liebregts / Metroland

PICKERING -- Support for community groups could be in jeopardy after Pickering council approved a new review aimed at balancing funding among local organizations.

The review, approved by council in a 4-3 vote on Feb. 25, stemmed from earlier discussions during a special budget meeting on Feb. 14.

During budget discussions, Councillor Peter Rodrigues tabled a motion to award $20,000 to the Claremont and District Community Association, in an effort to balance a similar amount received by the Pickering East Shore Community Association through a revenue-sharing agreement with the City.  The motion was then amended to provide $20,000 to all community groups, and was referred to staff for a report.

“It was quite a surprise,” said Jim Doyle, president of the CDCA, of the motion.  “I don't know why we would need that kind of money.  My worry would be if we're suggesting $20,000 to every community association, that's taking money out of the City's general revenue.  I would sooner they spent that on operations or capital projects.”

While the CDCA currently receives no funding from the City, other organizations, such as PESCA, face the possibility of losing out on annual funding.

The staff recommendation approved by council included providing 12 months' notice to PESCA to cancel its current agreement, which amounted to about $24,000 in revenue last year.

“It's a disappointment, we're going to have to re-evaluate how we go forward,” said Keith Falconer, president of PESCA, noting the organization's support of community causes, including Boy Scouts, library reading programs and Big Brothers Big Sisters, may be reduced or cancelled.

“Basically everyone loses, volunteers lose out, the community loses out and so does the city ultimately,” he said.  “PESCA is not going anywhere.  We're going to continue doing good works in the community.”

Councillors in favour of the review pointed out that PESCA will remain fully funded for 2013, and will then be included in any new policy that comes out of the staff review.

Other community organizations are hoping the review may result in additional, non-monetary, support from the City.

“We would be happy to see the little things they've been doing for us continue on, such as providing fencing, tables and garbage and recycling bins for events like our Spring Festival,” said Lloyd Thomas, chairman of the Whitevale and District Residents' Association, noting he was informed the group would have to pay for the amenities this year for the first time.

“It's an insignificant thing for them, but it makes a big difference for us.”

Mr. Doyle is also in favour of more targeted support, such as one-time grants for events or other specific needs.

“I don't believe in scattering money around just so things become equitable,” he said.

“There has to be a reason people need the money.  It makes a lot more sense to me for people to have to go to council and make their case, and then a decision can be made on whether a grant is justified.”

The staff report on community association agreements will be brought back to council in September.

New federal boundaries to leave Durham almost whole
February 28, 2013
Moya Dillon
(durhamregion.com)
Roger Anderson
Roger Anderson.  Durham Region chairman Roger Anderson Celia Klemenz / Metroland file photo

DURHAM -- Brock and parts of Clarington will be under federal boundaries outside of Durham Region under a newly proposed electoral map.

On Feb.  25, a report by the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario that redraws the electoral map was tabled at the House of Commons.  The new boundaries address some concerns that were raised regarding split communities in a previous map released in September 2012.

“I think they've listened to most of what we said, most of Durham is whole except for a small piece of Clarington and Brock,” said Regional Chairman Roger Anderson, who was part of a task force made up of Durham's eight mayors that advocated for Durham to be kept whole within federal boundaries.

The new report has reduced the number of federal ridings that cover Clarington from three to two and keeps all communities within Durham boundaries with the exception of Brock, which will be included in the Haliburton-Kawartha-Brock riding, and a small portion of Clarington assigned to the riding of Northumberland-Pine Ridge.

“It could've been a lot worse so I'm pleased with what they've listened to,” Mr. Anderson said, noting he would still prefer one riding in Clarington.

Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster echoes the concerns regarding his community, which will be split along the Darlington-Clarke Townline.

“One riding would have been far better, we still have the old urban-rural split,” he said, calling the boundaries of the proposed Oshawa-Durham riding, which encompasses Clarington west of the dividing line, “bizarre.

“You look for a cohesive nature to ridings, and I'm looking through my own coloured glasses, but I just don't see it,” he said.

The commission's report notes that many of the proposed Durham ridings exceed the provincial population quota of 106,213 per riding, in an effort to keep communities whole, a response to the criticisms and suggestions received from the public.

It goes on to note, however, that “it was impossible to keep the Municipality of Clarington whole.”

“We're really disappointed, even the name Clarington doesn't show up, we kind of get lost in the mix,” Mayor Foster continued.

He pointed to the potential that neighbouring farms would not qualify for the same supports, given their location in different ridings, as one of the drawbacks to having a split community.

That concern is shared by Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan, who says he will be happy to see his own community made whole under the new boundaries in a riding encompassing Pickering and Uxbridge.

“I'm very pleased Pickering will be separated from Scarborough so we don't have that 905-416 split,” Mayor Ryan said, referring to the current electoral boundaries, which split the city into Pickering-Ajax and Pickering-Scarborough East.

“Today we're dealing with two representatives; dealing with only one will allow us to be much more efficient.

“What we have now is a complete Durham riding,” he continued.

“I think there might be some advantage to Pickering-Uxbridge where the northern part of Pickering is rural, as much of Uxbridge is, so there's a commonality there that would make sense.”

Mr. Anderson says he hopes the new boundaries will mean more of a focus on Durham at the federal level.

“What we have now is five MPs and five MPPs solely representing Durham,” he continued.  “I think all in all the new representation will be very clear and Durham-focused, which is what we were looking for.”

While Mayor Foster agrees there has been improvement, he says he is hoping there may still be time for change before the new map is finalized.

“We'll be talking to our neighbours on this and trying to do what we did before with the task force, which is come up with a consistent message,” he said.  “We'll take another kick at the can.”

Pickering residents to pay more taxes under new budget
February 27, 2013
Moya Dillon
(durhamregion.com)
Mayor Ryan
Mayor Dave Ryan.  Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan Sabrina Byrnes / Metroland file photo

PICKERING -- Pickering residents will pay more in taxes this year as the City moves to increase reserves and reduce debt.

At a council meeting on Feb. 25, councillors voted unanimously in support of the proposed budget, which includes a 3.75-per cent tax hike.  The increase translates to an extra $58 per year for an average home, or about $1.12 per week, based on an assessment value of $345,000.

Mayor David Ryan praised staff for reducing the impact from an estimated 5.5-per cent hike, which was brought forward to council for consideration in spring 2012, to the current 3.75.

“You did this with no reductions in service, while reducing the draw on reserves and maintaining significant investment in infrastructure across the municipality,” he said.

“I think most homes can handle this.  The City represents 28 per cent of a resident's total tax bill, so 3.75 per cent on that 28 per cent results in a 1.5-per cent increase.  Coupled with the regional increase that's only a 2.35-per cent rise on the total tax bill.”

Some of the mai