Plan to close Clearview road stirs residents, environmental groups

A coalition of residents and environmental groups is continuing a fight against a road agreement it says was reached behind closed doors and could have a negative impact on community safety and the environment.

A group calling itself Quarry Aware — a coalition of residents and citizen groups —  is raising questions about the deal that saw what was formerly County Road 91 transferred to an aggregate company.

While the agreement between the County of Simcoe, Clearview Township and Walker Industries to transfer 91 to Walker is now more than six years old — one of the conditions of — the process of handing over and closing the road has been delayed while the township gets approvals from the Niagara Escarpment Commission to upgrade the surrounding road network.

Under the agreement, Walker would take ownership of County Road 91 west from the 10th Concession to the township boundary, and nearly $10 million would be spent in upgrades to 91 east to Duntroon — which are now complete — as well as the 10th Concession and the .

The work would largely be financed by the aggregate company.

Quarry Aware member Doug Dingeldein said the matter has been brought back to the fore because of the upcoming municipal election, citing community security and road safety issues.

“We want to put pressure on people who are running,” he said. “It’s an issue because there’s a growing awareness in the community of the implications of closing that road.

“People are stunned when they find that the road is going to be closed, they don’t believe it,: he said. “It’s been dragged on so long that people think it’s gone away, it’s dead, because nothing has happened.”

The environment is also a factor, as the agreement specifies that in closing 91, the 26/27 Sideroad — which is essentially only passable in summer — would be upgraded to year-round use; environmentalists say that would negatively affect a nearby cold-water stream used as a spawning area for brook trout.

In 2015, the NEC denied the township’s application to upgrade Sideroad 26/27 west of the 10th Line to the municipal boundary. The municipality has since made an application to amend the Niagara Escarpment Plan (NEP), and is challenging the NEC’s decision through the Niagara Escarpment Hearing Office (NEHO).

The NEC turned down the permit because the project did not meet the commission’s test of ‘essential’, though NEC planners had supported the application. The NEC’s decision has been backed at the tribunal by neighbours and the Blue Mountain Watershed Trust, which has party status at the NEHO hearing.

George Powell, a member of the Trust’s Watershed Action Group, said while the Trust is not affiliated with Quarry Aware, the two groups share similar goals.

Powell said the Trust wanted to see a class environmental assessment of the 26/27 proposal, “otherwise (the township) would not be in this mess.

“This is a transportation issue, but it is also an environmental issue,” he said, noting the sideroad runs through the highest point in Ontario and is the headwaters for four area streams.

Powell said several additional wetland areas along the sideroad were not documented in the original application by the township, and the Trust has asked the Minister of the Environment to suspend the hearing process.

“The initial failure by Clearview Township to carry out the appropriate level of environmental assessment remains as a serious and major problem,” Powell wrote to Minister Rod Phillips in July. In response, the ministry declined to get involved, citing the ongoing hearing process.

A status update on the township’s appeal will be held Aug. 18.

Clearview Township officials declined to comment to Quarry Aware’s position on the agreement. In an email to Simcoe.com, the township’s communications and marketing co-ordinator Tim Hendry stated the township’s appeal of the NEC decision is ongoing, and municipal officials continue to work toward completing an amendment to the NEP.

The township is also awaiting on the NEC to approve a development permit to repave the 10th Line from 124 to north of 26/27. The township budgeted $4 million in the 2018 budget for the work; $3 million would come from Walker, while the township’s share would be funded through gas tax revenue.

Quarry Aware has asked for a traffic study to be undertaken on the area, and “none has been forthcoming,” said Dingeldein.

“We want it stopped — there are no ifs, ands, buts or maybes, we want the deal jettisoned. That’s the easiest thing,” Dingeldein said. “I don’t think the taxpayers in Clearview have a really good idea of what their council is spending on this project — spending on lawyers, planners, experts, studies, and it’s been going on a long time.”

Ted Emond — Orillia Ward 1

It has been an honour to serve as a Ward 1 Councillor for the past four years.

I moved to Orillia in 1979 and have resided in Ward 1 since 1987. My wife, Julia Bailey, who practices family and children’s law in Orillia, and I live in the Villages of Leacock Point.

During the 1980s I served as a director and chair of the Orillia Economic Development Commission. I was subsequently elected Mayor of Orillia for a three-year term. 

During the 1990s, I was twice elected a commissioner of the Orillia Water Light Power Commission. After retiring from Hewitt Associates in 2010, served for five years as a director of Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital and three years as a director of OSMH Foundation.

I made two commitments when I ran for council in 2014. One was to help return decorum and civility to the deliberations of city council, and the second was to encourage council to make decisions that would have a long-lasting, positive impact on our city.  

My first commitment was, for the most part, accomplished thanks to the courtesy and thoughtfulness of my colleagues.  

In fulfilling my second commitment, council made three significant, long-term decisions. These were:

•    The construction of a new aquatic, gymnasium and fitness recreation centre on West Street South.

•    The redevelopment of our waterfront, including the Metro Plaza and railway lands, which are already a catalyst for private-sector commercial and residential investment.

•    The potential sale of our electric distribution utility to Hydro One, which has committed to building three new facilities in West Orillia, creating economic stimulus and significant future employment opportunities.

I believe the next council will be challenged to not only bring these projects to completion, but improve day-to-day services while keeping tax increases to a level of inflation, improve support for social assistance and health care, and explore city boundary adjustments to permit future economic growth.

Ted Emond

Innisfil’s Bruno Alonzi has a passion for baking

For more than 35 years, Bruno Alonzi, has risen at 4:30 a.m. to head to work in the bakery business.

And he has done so with a smile.

“I absolutely love what I do,” says the 52-year-old baker who owns and operates Bruno’s Bakery and Cafe in Innisfil with his wife, Silvia.

Baking is in his blood, as Alonzi was trained by his father, starting at age 15, as the two worked side by side at the Open Window Bakery in Toronto (now closed).

After working at and operating other bakeries, he opened Bruno’s in 2012.

The neighbourhood bakery serves up cookies, pastries, pies, breads, buns, custom cakes and more. The 34-seat café also offers specialty coffees, Italian ice cream, fresh pizza, deli meats and cheeses, homemade frozen meals, and a hot table.

“Our hot table is very popular and features anything from veal or chicken Parmesan on a bun, to cabbage rolls and soups,” he says.

Everything is made in house and from scratch.

Along with offering breakfast, lunch and dinner service, Bruno’s also offers Sunday brunch.

“We do a bit of everything,” he explains.

Must-have items include Bruno’s rye bread, egg bread, chocolate buffaloes, custard tarts and danishes.

As for his food philosophy?

“Use the proper ingredients and if you are going to make it — do it right.”

His favourite part of the job is seeing the satisfaction on customers’ faces when they visit the bakery to pick up bakery items, or to enjoy a savoury meal.

While known for his baking skills, Alonzi garnered plenty of media attention last summer when he returned a prized lost guitar to Ontario singer-songwriter and Juno nominee Danny Michel.

The guitar had been accidentally left at the Tesla charging station at Park Place in Barrie, when the band was moving equipment between vehicles.

“I had noticed them moving things around, but after their vehicles left I realized they had left a guitar behind.”  

Rather than leaving it there, he picked it up hoping he could find its owner.

Soon after, the baker started seeing Facebook posts about the lost guitar from the distraught musician, “I got in touch with him right away to return it.”  

Danny Michel was incredibly thankful, and word of the good news story travelled fast. “It got lots of media attention from CBC, local TV and radio stations and newspapers,” he explains.

Michel even played his guitar at the bakery, and encouraged others to visit the bakery and buy “cakes, breads, pastries and assorted desserts made and baked from scratch by a super-kind honest man,” and to thank him online.

He received kind messages from around the world — even one from Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield.

“To this day, people still come in and thank me for returning that guitar,” he says with a smile.

Bruno’s Bakery and Cafe is located at . For more information, call
or visit them on Facebook. Open seven days a week.