Jason Malott — Penetanguishene councillor

As a lifelong resident of Midland and Penetanguishene, I love my community and would never consider leaving. At 39 years old, I am a father and local business owner. These aspects and more drive me to see our community thrive, not only with its existing core and attractions, but to see it expand and grow in the future.

I graduated from Midland Secondary and directly entered the workforce, maintaining a position at Franke Kindred for more than 20 years. After 20 years of working for others I decided it was time to follow my dream, opening North of Exile Games with my spouse in 2017. It is Penetanguishene’s first — and only — board game café and gaming store.

Owning this store has given me the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with many people in our diverse community.

I am your choice because, along with my enthusiasm and strong work ethic, I will bring a younger and fresh mind to our council. Not only am I invested in this community as a business owner, I am invested in the community first and foremost as a resident. I have experienced the satisfaction of being able to provide my family with a good quality of life thanks to our local industry, and I am strongly motivated to ensure that our local businesses and industries are given every opportunity to thrive so that others can know that same satisfaction.

If elected, not only will I bring my own ideas to the council, I will be accessible for you to bring your ideas forward as well. I will bring a fresh mind with aspirations for more tourism, and events to bring our community together as a family.

I would love to get to know you and introduce myself. Feel free to visit the store at 61 Main St. or call . If you prefer social media, my and Instagram can be found

Neighbours of Midland high school fed up with students speeding past their homes

Christine Drive residents are fed up with the dangerous driving, excessive garbage, noise and general disrespect plaguing their street.

The dead-end drive, which leads to the back of St. Theresa’s Catholic High School, has been subject to a multitude of ongoing problems over the past few years, according to those who live along the street.

Phil Kidd, his wife, mother and two dogs live in a house on the corner next to the school’s back parking lot. Ever since the student smoking pit was relocated to the back of the building, they’ve had to deal with a large group of students on the sidewalk and street near their home.

Students aren’t allowed to smoke on school property, so the large group of kids wanting to light up is forced onto public property. They gather in hordes directly across from Kidd’s home.

“There has got to be approximately 75 kids out here in the morning and afternoon,” said Kidd. “They stand here and swear and spit. They are speeding out of here. There is smoke in plumes, and the garbage is the worst.”

A quick walk around the area and you will find broken glass, lighters, bottle caps, errant shoes, and thousands of cigarette butts strewn among other garbage.

Two garbage cans in the area are empty.

“We are getting a ton of seagulls and raccoons around here because the students are just tossing their lunches around,” said Kidd.

Tucked in the bushes across from the side of the Kidd’s property are two hangout areas with bottles, broken chairs, torn up St. Theresa’s school uniforms, garbage, smashed bongs and other drug paraphernalia.

“I caught some kids ready to throw beer bottles full of gasoline in the bushes,” said Kidd.

He and his wife say they’ve had countless meetings with school board officials, the principal, vice-principal, police and Ministry of Health representatives.

“This is ongoing and nothing has changed,” said Kidd. “We are just trying to get them to be good neighbours.”

School officials say they are aware of their neighbours’ concerns and that they strive to keep the school grounds as clean as they can.

“St. Theresa’s does work to keep the areas surrounding our school clean through weekly cleanups, announcements and liaising with city officials and bylaw enforcement,” said Pauline Stevenson, communications manager for the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board.

“Our facility is a busy site — with students, parents, visitors and user groups — making it difficult to always keep the grounds in the pristine condition we all would desire. It is our goal to keep the grounds as clean as possible, and we will continue to work with our neighbours and other members of the community to do just that,” added Stevenson, noting she discussed the concerns with St. Theresa’s principal, Bern Tate.

By far the most concerning issue for residents along Christine Drive is the speeding. Around half a dozen neighbours say they have witnessed cars leaving the school at excessive speeds.

“They are coming around the corner sideways,” said Kidd.

“I figure they are going at least 80 km/h past my place,” said Fred Axt, who lives a few doors down the street.

One neighbour complained about a car that came around the corner so fast it lost control and crashed into a decorative rock on their front lawn.

“People are afraid for their kids and grandkids or backing out of their driveways,” said Axt. “I have grandkids at my house all of the time. We teach them not to run out on the street, but kids are kids, and if a ball goes out there, they’ll go after it.”

James Coady, who used to live at the far end of Christine Drive, is one of several residents who have complained to both the Midland Police and OPP about cars leaving the school parking lot and travelling down the street at excessive speeds.

“I understand police have a job to do, and it is not the easiest job … but all they have to do is set an example. If they catch one kid doing 90 km/h down that road, word will get around really quickly, and they will slow down before someone gets killed,” said Coady.

School officials say they are aware and understand all of their neighbours’ concerns.

“We take these concerns seriously and recognize that there is always room for improvement. As always, we will continue to work with our neighbours and other members of the community to address concerns as they arise,” said Stevenson.

The situation has frustrated several neighbours so much they’ve sold their homes and moved. If something isn’t done to address the current issues soon, other neighbours say they may follow.

“Why is nothing being done? Is the town and the police going to wait until someone is injured or killed before something is done about this?” asked Axt.

Police seek help finding Bradford’s Christian Robinson, missing since June

It’s been one month since Christian Robinson went missing and investigators are once again reaching out for information.

The 46-year-old Bradford resident was last seen leaving his house in the 6th Line and Simcoe Road area at about 3:30 p.m. on June 12.

He has not been seen or heard from since and was reported missing to South Simcoe police the following day.

Robinson is described as white, five-foot-ten with short brown hair and tattoos.

He was last seen wearing a grey golf shirt with a yellow and white pattern covering the chest, grey shorts, flip flops and glasses.

Anyone with information that can help find him is asked to contact the South Simcoe Police Service criminal investigation bureau at 905-775-3311 or 705-436-2141. Anonymous tips can be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

Collingwood doctors screen patients for poverty to improve health

While the rising cost of living is making it difficult for some in South Georgian Bay to make ends meet, this could have a negative impact on their health

“We know poverty is linked to a lot of illness in health,” said Dr. Harry O’Halloran.

The Georgian Bay Family Health Team, 211 Community Connection and County of Simcoe Paramedicine Services have partnered to help improve the health of Collingwood residents.

O’Halloran said doctors in the area are using a poverty-screening tool in hopes of connecting patients with services.

“Within the screening tool there are resources that we can use to help people,” he said. “People appreciate you asking, you have to be sensitive in how you ask.”

O’Halloran said he asks patients a number of questions to determine what their living situation is.

“There has been a lot of evidence around asking them if they’ve got their income taxes done or do they have trouble making ends meet at the end of the month,” he said. “Those simple questions often tell you a lot.”

He said not submitting income taxes often correlates with poverty, and as a result, people aren’t aware they could be eligible for social programs.

“People who have trouble making ends meet aren’t able to access community services, so they don’t know or haven’t got the resources (for) how to access disability,” he said. “They may not know there is help to get medications covered, so they don’t take care of themselves as well. They can’t necessarily afford to join fitness clubs or they don’t know the YMCA would subsidize them.”

Kyle MacCallum is a community paramedicine co-ordinator with the County of Simcoe.

He said local paramedics screen individuals after receiving 911 calls.

“The call originates for a reason that isn’t going to be fixed by going to the hospital,” he said.

MacCallum said when they visit the home, paramedics ask patients a variety of questions.

“You start to ask them questions around how they’re coping at home,” he said.

“What the barriers are and what they don’t have in their living situation that they need to thrive.”

In both cases, the information is referred to 211, an organization that has access to a network of community services and organizations who do a needs assessment.

Call centre manager for 211, Rhonda Thompson said the centre receives a lot of calls about people struggling with financial issues, especially if they are on social assistance or disability.

“If they are requiring community services, there isn’t a lot of extra money to pay for paid services,” she said. “Is there subsidized programs? Can we advocate? Can we go to service clubs, can we go to church groups, can we go to other programs to see where we can get these people help?”

MacCallum said they’ve seen about a 29 per cent reduction in 911 calls as a result of the program.

“We’re just not bringing those patients in; they’re not being seen at the emergency department because we’re having those needs met at home where the patients want to be,” he said.

Inflatable boat, trailer stolen from Tay Township store

The Southern Georgian Bay OPP are investigating the theft of a boat and trailer from a recreational vehicle store on Highway 12 in the Township of Tay.

The boat and trailer were removed from its parked location between 6 p.m. on Aug. 11 and 7:30 a.m. on Aug. 12.

It is an 11.8-foot Gala inflatable boat with a black Tohatsu 30 HP outboard motor on a 14-foot Lode-Rite galvanized steel trailer.

The trailer did not have a licence plate at the time of the theft.

Anyone who knows the whereabouts of this boat or trailer is asked to contact the OPP at or Crime Stoppers at . You can submit information online at .

Innisfil exploring the meaning of home for Culture Days

Like Dorothy clicking her heels thinking there’s no place like home, Innisfil staff wants residents to think about shoes and home for the latest Culture Days project.

“It started in the spring with the Teen Involvement Group. We wanted to get the whole community involved in a neighbourhood project,” Innisfil IdeaLAB and library community engagement co-ordinator Kathryn Schoutsen said.

The town ended up getting multiple pairs of canvas sneakers and can hand one out to each new artist.

“The project is painting a memory of what does home mean to you,” she said. “We’ve had one person who drew the Toronto skyline because Toronto used to be home and now they’ve moved to Innisfil.”

And a pair of sisters painted their individual sneaker either pink or purple, to represent the colour of their rooms, Schoutsen added.

The sneaker project will be popping up at various community events this summer, wrapping with the nationally celebrated Culture Days Saturday, Sept. 29.

“We will be celebrating the event and will unveil a display of all the shoes,” Schoutsen said.

To participate in the program, visit a branch of the library and inquire at the front desk.

An ’emotional’ return to Ramara-based leadership camp 70 years on

Alex Saunders stood before a roomful of students seated in a spacious dining hall overlooking Lake Couchiching.

Seventy years ago this month, Saunders was just like them: young, full of promise and wondering what lay ahead.

His time here, at the Ontario Educational Leadership Centre on Rama Road in Longford Mills, would prove pivotal during a life that included 26 years in the military and a stint with the Canadian Football League.

“This is a very emotional trip for me,” the 89-year-old told his audience, all of them dressed in matching blue-and-white uniforms bearing the camp’s emblem, the province’s coat of arms.

Saunders attended the first course at the leadership centre in July 1948 and returned for the 70th anniversary of the nonprofit camp that draws students in grades six through 12 from across the province.

He was there to tell his story and pass along wisdom earned over the intervening decades, which included time with the Royal Canadian Air Force and a season playing for the Ottawa Rough Riders.

“Find the things in life that you give your total commitment to, because it is never ending,” Saunders advised. “What you commit yourself to has a tendency to carry on, from day to day, week to week, month to month, year to year — you carry it on.”

Each of the camp’s 16 courses focuses on engaging and educating youth to maximize their potential as leaders, while encouraging them to become participating citizens in their schools, communities and beyond.

Courses are delivered primarily by teachers and range in interest from the arts and athletics to school governance and global issues.

“You create a safe environment for people to take risks, and, personally that’s where growth is going to happen, when people are taking risks,” said Ian DeCoste, centre manager.

Saunders, in his closing remarks, told the students that each of them has goals and aspirations, “the things that are precious to you in your lives.”

Then, he urged them to “look for what’s important, look for what touches your heart and follows those things.”

To learn more about the Ontario Educational Leadership Centre, go to .

Double the fun at Orillia’s Canada Day celebrations

Orillia’s Canada Day committee is planning double the fun with a two-day celebration at Couchiching Beach Park.

“We did two days last year because of it being the 150th (birthday of Canada),” said manager of operations Brian Hare. “We decided to do it again this year because of it being on the weekend.”

The festivities begin June 30 at noon with food and craft vendors, a beer garden and an evening dance.

In lieu of the usual midway — cancelled this year after organizers were unable to secure one — is a free children’s fun zone with inflatables.

“Canadian Tire stepped up, so now it is a free event for both days,” Hare said of the sponsorship that will allow families to enjoy the fun zone at no cost.

July 1 kicks off with a pancake breakfast at the pavilion followed by the Wheely Great Parade, in which the young, and the young-at-heart, travel around Terry Fox Circle “on anything on … wheels.”

Face painting, a reptile display, music and the main parade are among the activities on tap for Saturday.  

Fireworks light up the sky at dusk.

Organizers are encouraging visitors to the park to purchase a $2 Canada Day button, with proceeds going to support the event.

Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit joins call for decriminalization of substances

As opioid overdoses continue to reach crisis levels, the Simcoe Muskoka District Board of Health has endorsed the recommendations of the Canadian Public Health Association for decriminalization of personal use of psychoactive substances.

Criminalizing personal use amounts, historically, hasn’t worked, Janice Greco, manager of injury and substance misuse prevention program for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, said.

“We’ve had a criminal approach: that person is left with a criminal record and that’s quite damaging,” Greco said. “It hasn’t decreased use. If anything, we have increasing use.”

The choice to use illicit substances often transcend deterrents and are rooted in social, cultural, and economic factors.

Decriminalizing illegal substances wouldn’t be a cure-all for the opioid epidemic, but part of a larger support system.

Problematic use and addiction, according to a briefing note by the SMDHU, accounts for only 11.6 per cent of illicit drug use.

“If a person is found with illicit substances on them, they won’t be given a criminal record, but instead will be offered health and social support to help them move forward,” Greco said.

A criminal record and incarceration can affect a person’s ability to get a job, impact their risk of overdose, HIV, hepatitis, and tuberculosis.

In Portugal and other European countries where decriminalization has been introduced, overdose cases and drug-related crimes have decreased.

In the current system, Greco said, a conservative estimate of the cost of enforcement, the judicial system, and incarcerations, cost $2-billion, with a large number of offences in Canada being possession.

Diverting that money into health and social services could lead to governmental savings.

But Greco said decriminalization in Canada still has a long way to go.

“It’s a conceptual drug policy,” Greco said. “We’re suggesting the federal and provincial government move this way. In terms of operationalizing it that would take a fair bit of work.”

For decriminalization to be successful, public health policy would incorporate a broader range of treatment options, improve harm reduction methods such as safe-injection sites and drug purity testing services.

In relation to the Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy, the enforcement strategy is choosing to focus on drug trafficking rather than possession.