When is Springwater Township planning to demolish or “decommission” the Midhurst Community Centre?

April 8, 2016

Sometimes it helps to ask politicians, in writing, important questions.

Springwater Council Web

(l) Don Allen, Perry Ritchie, Katy Austin, Bill French, Sandy McConkey, Jennifer Coughlin, Jack Hanna

1. Email from author to Midhurst ward councillor (Mr. Jack Hanna), Township of Springwater

FROM: Les Stewart
TO: Jack Hanna <jack.hanna@springwater.ca>
CC: Bill French <Bill.French@springwater.ca>
DATE: 24 March 2016 at 11:31
SUBJECT: Midhurst Sports and Wellness Centre proposal

Mr. Jack Hanna
Councillor Ward 5
Township of Springwater

Mr. Hanna,

I would appreciate an update on the Township’s evaluation of this proposal.

I would also like to have an opportunity for a meeting so that I can make sure my facts are correct about how this proposal will affect the Midhurst Community Centre at 74 Doran Road, Midhurst.

Regards,

Les Stewart

2. Response from Mayor French

FROM: Bill French

TO: Les Stewart, Jack Hanna

CC: Ron Belcourt <Ron.Belcourt@springwater.ca>, (Director of Recreation, Parks & Properties)

Robert Brindley <Robert.Brindley@springwater.ca> (Chief Administrative Officer)

DATE: 24 March 2016 at 11:51

Les:
It was referred to staff for feedback. It will not be reviewed until we finalize our Master Recreation Plan which will not be complete until later this year.
Before the advancement of any idea or concept, it would be subject to rigorous review and public input. But at the same time we commend people that have ideas that try to enhance our various communities.
Appreciate your interest.

Best Regards

Bill

Bill French
Mayor
Township of Springwater
2231 Nursery Road
Minesing, ON L0L 1Y2
P 705-728-4784 ext. 2040
F 705-728-6957
C 705-718-7031 or
416-587-7030

3. Reply by author

FROM:: Les Stewart
TO: Bill French
CC: Jack Hanna, Ron Belcourt, Robert Brindley
DATE: 24 March 2016 at 12:05

Mayor French,

Thank you for the update.

I take from this that the proposal, which called for demolishing the Midhurst Community Hall by fall 2016, will not be happening.

I have attached a current Springwater News article by Ruth Byers.  She notes Midhurst and many township residents had worked very hard to preserve 164 years of continuous civic building presence. It may be of interest to the Corporation that the Midhurst United, St. Paul’s Anglican and Midhurst Baptist churchs rented the Doran Road facilities while their congregations struggled, successfully, to construct their own buildings in our community.

Considering the season, it’s nice that the current church congregation renting (Old Apostolic Lutheran Church) won’t become homeless by this administration.

At least for now, eh?

Regards, Les

4. Mr. Jack Hanna comments.

FROM: Jack Hanna
TO: Bill French, Les Stewart
CC: Ron Belcourt, Robert Brindley
DATE: 24 March 2016 at 16:39

Mr Les Stewart
Further to the response from Mayor French you will note in the Draft Recreation Master Plan a recommendation to “decommission the Midhurst Community Centre” my objection to this is part of the public record.

Regards,
Jack Hanna
Councillor Ward 5

Meeting asked for….meeting…

Therefore, the French administration, staff & councillors seems to be pleased with the accuracy of the traditional and social media coverage.

Posted also on iLoveMidhurst.ca.

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Springwater Township ponies up $10,000 to help re-imagine Springwater Park – Camp Nibi

February 21, 2014

An economically sustainable plan is what has always been needed.

Honour treaties park 20131226

It is appropriate that a 177 year old municipal township gets the ball rolling in welcoming back our 10,000 year old neighbours for what will become an internationally-important, cross-cultural treasure.

From today’s print edition of the Barrie Examiner by Cheryl Browne, Money possible to help Springwater Park pdf:

SPRINGWATER TWP. – The gates of Springwater Provincial Park may be pushed a little more open as council sets aside $10,000 for its re-opening this year.

Although the park remains technically locked up, Springwater Township council has voted yes to Coun. Sandy McConkey’s motion to set aside $10,000 to help re-open the provincial park that’s been in limbo since the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) changed its status to non-operational last year.

“I can’t say how the money will be used,” said McConkey, Thursday. “We just want to be able to have access to it in case the user groups need it.”

Coun. Jack Hanna, who also voted in favour of the motion, said the money would be set aside from the economic development fund, but won’t be approved until the township’s budget receives final approval Feb. 25.

“I know negotiations are ongoing with the MNR and First Nations who are considering making it a training centre,” he said, but added he doesn’t know the current status of the talks.

After 107 years in operation, the 193-hectare day-use park’s status was unclear last year after the MNR locked the gates. The 29 orphaned animals that were receiving care in the park were removed and sent to other wildlife sanctuaries across Canada.

Elizabeth Brass Elson and several other First Nations people quietly moved in to occupy the park in early April and remained there for the duration of the year, leaving just days before Christmas 2013.

Brass Elson named their campground Camp Nibi – the native word for fresh or spring water – and ran instructional classes on native culture, sweat lodges and full moon ceremonies, which continue monthly.

The also cleaned up after walk-in only visitors and called police when teenagers started fires and vandalized buildings.

Talks with the MNR and Beausoleil First Nation continued, and in December, Brass Elson said they were assured they would be given a voice in the planning and development of the park lands for the continued use of all.

“We were told we would be in a partnership with the MNR,” said Brass Elson. “It was a shaking-hands deal with Beausoleil council. I was told to stand down and go home and warm up, so I did.”

Although the gates have been chained shut since last April, Les Stewart of the Springwater Park Citizens’ Coalition said dozens of people took to the trails on Family Day.

“People are still enjoying it, so councillors setting aside some money for its re-opening is a positive step forward,” Stewart said.

Mayor Linda Collins, who voted against setting the money aside, confirmed if the budget passes, it would go towards the re-opening of the park this year.

“Nothing is determined yet. I’m not opposed to nurturing Springwater, but the County of Simcoe is taking the lead there, frankly because they have the bigger purse,” Collins said.

She says the county has been assisting the township by hosting meetings between the First Nations and the MNR.

“We’re not a big enough player so we need to join hands with the County of Simcoe,” she said.

Spokesperson for the MNR, Jolanta Kowalski, wrote in an e-mail ‘the ministry is pleased to be working with Beausoleil First Nation to discuss a future partnership for the operation of Springwater Provincial Park.’

Kowalski also wrote that ‘the ministry is not considering selling Springwater Provincial Park. Maintaining public ownership keeps the park regulated under the Provincial Park and Conservation Reserves Act and ensures this land is protected for future generations.

Brass Elson said she and several First Nations friends will go the park for an anniversary ceremonial sleep-over April 1.

“It will be nice to spend some time in the park again.”

cheryl.browne@sunmedia.ca
Twitter.com/cherylbrowne1

Come on out.

Sun park vertical 20140228 2

It’s about the land.

Sun Park 20131210It’s about the water.

Park spring

It’s about time for spring, I’d say.

Please distribute.

UPDATE:

The $10,000 budget was approved on Feb 25th. Thanks to those on Council who voted for it (4 “yeahs”, 2 “nays”). This amount represents about 0.04% of the township’s 2014 operating budget.

Proportionally, the County of Simcoe should be in the $161,200 range. Annually.


Who will speak for the Vespra & Flos men and women?

February 21, 2014

When their voices have been silenced?

1. Marlene Dietrich, 1901 – 1992

Toshi and Pete Seeger

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, Pete Seeger 1919 – 2014

Scan-140221-0002

2. Pete

Disclosure


Springwater Township’s Budget 2014: On auto pilot for passing on Feb 25th or a sprawling disaster?

February 13, 2014

Who the current administration serves (elected and senior staff) is on clear display during Springwater Township’s annual budget process.

budget 2014 strategic3

Linda Collins Robert Brindley Brent Spagnol

Brent Spagnol, Mayor Linda Collins and CAO Robert Brindley (l to r)

The CAO and senior staff recommend a budget. They serve at the pleasure of the CEO (mayor) as defined by provincial law.

The Mayor, Deputy Mayor and councillors create a strategic plan that is the dominates everyone’s actions to all legitimate stakeholders. Since the control of $ by elected officials is a fundamental democratic function, each passing council must ask the tough questions to ensure our $ are spent wisely and not squandered in these most of uncertain times.  The minimum they can do is  to do no harm and especially don’t poison the fiscal well for the next legislators (huge debt, no reserves, etc) mandate. (Municipal election in 10 months. Disclosure.) Springwater Township is a creature of the provincial government.

A Top/Down Hierarchy:  Province of Ontario (Premier and Ministries)– Mayor and Council — Citizens/Voters/Taxpayers — Senior Staff  — Employees  (l to r)

In senior staff’s most recent 183 of 458 pages (so far) of document, February 10th – Draft 2014 Consolidated Budget, page 7 it states:

Council’s Strategic Plan (2012 – 2014)
Vision: To actively promote Springwater Township as a municipality of unique communities with opportunities to
cultivate, grow and prosper.
Mission: To provide accountable representation and maximize efficiencies.
Values: Accountability, Approachability, Integrity, Respect and Responsiveness

While it maybe difficult for you to know, I would encourage you to attend the budget the meetings. The next one is February 18th at 1 pm on Nursery Road. I assume it is open but I haven’t heard back from my request for information from Mayor Collins. again, lol

If you can’t make it, ask the following people that have been their in your place:

  • Katy Austin, registered candidate
  • Sandy Buxton, President, Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association, MRA
  • Bill French, gadfly,
  • Barb Kutcher, Community Organizer, MRA,
  • Kevin Newman, Logistics Chair, MRA,
  • Ann Spence, and
  • others I missed (sorry…will edit).

These are the ones that I knew in the crowd but please, identify yourselves the next time you see me at Council. I’m the one with the white bear pin. 😉

Without great information sharing, How can we assign an appropriate reputation to our elected and non-elected officials? Remember: Sunlight is the best Disinfectant.

Accountability, Approachability, Integrity, Respect and Responsiveness

Very transparent.

Posted on iLoveMidhurst.ca and voteLesStewart.ca.

 

Springwater Township budget: Appropriate debt in municipal financing is wise. Falling into a Debt Trap is not.

February 11, 2014

Does massive new debt, help or hurt the new 2015-2019 Springwater Township Council  stop the Midhurst Secondary Plan?

98 Debt trap

The answer is pretty clear, even on a household level.

I pulled my last visa bill and noted that my credit limit is $15,500. If my balance were at 92% ( ie. $14,260) AND I was making the minimum payments each month AND I was going to do that for the next 20 years,  Would you consider that prudent financial management?

Incredibly, that’s what Senior staff recommended last night.

And Mayor Collins, Deputy Mayor Dan McLean, Councillors Dan Clement and Rick Webster were going to rubber stamp this scheme. Councillors Sandy McConkey, Perry Ritchie and Jack Hanna fought for a new meeting on February 18th because they heard residents’ concerns about recklessness.

Conspiracy Alert: There is an election this year on October 27th and I am a registered candidate. The newly-elected 2015-19 Council may decide to spend $ to legally defend against the sprawl plan. They may judge, in consultation, that a few dollars now could save thousands and thousands of dollars down the road for township property tax payers.  It is wrong for this exiting Council to handcuff the next one, especially when the current council chose not to commission any Economic Feasibility Study AND chose not to sign a single infrastructure agreement.

SummaryA modestly-sized, rural municipality with:

  • sky-high debt,
  • depleted reserves, and
  • stagnating revenue…

squared-off against an internationally-financed financial speculator.

What do you think?

Posted on iLoveMidhurst.ca and voteLesStewart.ca.


On January 21, 2013, the current Springwater Township council met secretly to stop Jack Hanna, Midhurst councillor from communicating with his constituents.

December 27, 2013

It resulted in a complaint.  The Council then chose to (and forced us pay extra taxpayers, btw)  for their self-chosen investigator rather than use the no charge services of the Ontario Ombudsman.

Springwater Township

Perry Ritchie, Dan Clement, Dan McLean, Linda Collins, Rick Webster, Sandy McConkey, Jack Hanna (l to r)

This is called “oversight shopping” and Globe and Mail thinks it must stop…immediately See: Municipal government: Why so many hush-hush meetings?:

Full Excerpt:

Ontario Ombudsman André Marin’s report into secrecy in municipal government contains good news and bad news. The good news? Citizens across the province are increasingly upset about local governments that conduct democratic business behind closed doors, and they are complaining in growing numbers. The bad news? Many municipal governments are still flouting the province’s open meeting law – without penalty.

In 2008, Ontario’s Municipal Act was amended, to give the ombudsman power to investigate complaints of unnecessary and undemocratic secrecy on the part of the province’s municipal governments. The new rules on openness are known as the Sunshine Law. This past year, Mr. Marin’s team investigated 96 council meetings, finding that 19 of them were illegal. That figure likely underestimates the problem, since municipalities can pick a body other than the ombudsman to oversee their Sunshine Law obligations – a practice known as oversight shopping. Mr. Marin also found some meetings that appeared to violate the spirit of the law, such as the time city councillors in London, Ont., met in private at a local restaurant just before a budget vote. Sixty citizens complained.

Mr. Marin recommends that the province take four steps to ensure that the sun really does shine in. First, end oversight shopping. This year, Sudbury council voted to fire the ombudsman after he was critical of their behaviour. Fewer than half of the province’s municipalities have chosen to be overseen by the ombudsman. Since when do we allow an accused to fire the judge?

Mr. Marin also recommends that lawbreakers be punished – the law currently contains no sanctions – that all meetings be recorded, and that any meeting found to have been conducted illegally have its proceedings invalidated. All excellent ideas. And we can’t imagine why any of the three parties at Queen’s Park wouldn’t agree. Pass these reforms, pronto.

To Do in 2014:

  1. Contact your MPP and tell him you agree oversight shopping must end. Now.
  2. Find out who voted for gagging Mr. Hanna and throw them out at the fall 2014 election.
  3. Vote for candidates promising to use the Ontario Ombudsman’s services only.

PS: The investigation found that trying to gag Mr. Hanna was a violation of provincial law.

Posted originally on iLoveMidhurst.ca. Reposted on voteLesStewart.ca.

NOTE: A very similar article appeared in the Springwater News on January 2, 2014. pdf


Sincere appreciation for Remembrance Day 2013 and hope for a new beginning for Springwater Park

November 21, 2013

Donna Hawthorne calls for “heart and hope” and a renewed vigour from Simcoe County and Springwater Township.

Four flags

The flags of Canada, Ontario, the County of Simcoe and Springwater Township were displayed during Monday’s Armistice (Remembrance) Day ceremonies at Springwater Provincial Park. BOB BRUTON/BARRIE EXAMINER

Excerpt:

Springwater News
November 21, 2013

Remembrance Celebration at Springwater Park
Donna Hawthorne

This is my letter of great appreciation to all that were involved with the organizing and preparation of the special Remembrance Day celebration that took place at Springwater Park in Midhurst.

It was like no other celebration that I have ever attended in the past. The ceremony opened with Reverend Black from Tiny Township. Rev. Black was very involved with Site 41. He spoke with eloquence and ascendancy. The cenotaph is surrounded by giant spruce trees which swayed in the wind as the bagpiper played. It was a treat to have the young people from Eastview Secondary School recite the names of the “Vespra Boys”, sing with heart “Amazing Grace” and lay a wreath. The native people attended and also laid a wreath. I thank them for their diligence and warm strong heart for remaining on this special park. It was nice to see two representatives of our Springwater Council, Councilors Jack Hanna and Sandy McConkey. They laid a wreath representing the township. This memorable celebration was attended by over one hundred residents who encircled the cenotaph with their memories of ones they lost and for the “Vespra boys”. I hope they all went away with optimism in their hearts that this will be a new beginning for Springwater Park. It must be the responsibility of Simcoe County Council and Springwater Township to work strongly with the Ontario government to better preserve and save this historic park for future generations to come.

With heart and hope!

Donna Hawthorne


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