North Simcoe municipalities attempting to address horrible Internet speeds

Some local councillors worry the below average Internet speeds in North Simcoe are negatively impacting the region’s ability to attract new business.

A recent broadband analysis revealed what many in the area already know — local access to high-quality high-speed internet is few and far between.

“There is a huge amount of businesses that won’t relocate to our area because they have researched this and found out we don’t have the download capacity (they need) and so they decide not to relocate here,” said Midland Coun. George MacDonald.

In 2011 the CRTC said all Canadians should have access to minimum download speeds of five Mbps and upload speeds of one Mbps. In 2016 this standard changed and minimum speeds of 50 Mbps and upload speeds of 10 Mbps are now considered the basic level that should be available to all Canadians.

In north Simcoe, more than 94 per cent of commercial buildings don’t have access to this basic high-speed internet, with 21 per cent not having access to even the 2011 standards.

“It is not that high speed is not available. It’s that it’s cost prohibitive for some commercial businesses to bring in the level of service they require,” said Chris McLaughlin, of North Simcoe Community Futures Development Corporation. “Depending on the commercial building and its location the costs can be quite significant in having the service brought in.”

McLaughlin says running fibre optic cable costs a minimum of $5,000 per kilometre and that doesn’t include engineering and other associated costs. With fibre infrastructure lacking in the region some business might have to run cable a long way to connect to a fibre network.

“It is almost a given that a business is going to require internet conductivity that is reliable and provides the ability for them to download or upload as much information as they need,” said McLaughlin. “It’s important to have the infrastructure in place to reduce the cost of getting fibre to commercial buildings.”

North Simcoe Community Futures Development Corporation partnered with the Midland, Penetanguishene, Tay, Tiny and Beausoleil First Nation to carry out the recent analysis and collected data that paints a detailed picture of the quality of internet in the region.

The current picture isn’t pretty, with Internet speeds on Beausoleil First Nation ranking second last in all of Canada.

More than 88 per cent of residents across the region don’t have access to basic high-speed internet. Of those, 22 per cent of permanent residents and 33 per cent of seasonal residents don’t even have access to the 2011 standards.

“We rely upon our Internet and I think increasingly high-speed is what is going to drive the economy,” said Midland Mayor Gord McKay. “We have a lot of work to do to get ourselves up to a modern standard.”

All five local communities rank in the bottom 25th percentile in the country for high speed internet connectivity. Out of 168 communities, Midland ranked 113, Tay sits 127, Penetanguishene is 130 and Tiny is 158.

“We were a little surprised at the level of residents who don’t have the infrastructure available to get the 50 mbps download speed,” said McLaughlin. “Some of the technology in the area is dated and doesn’t even have the capacity to reach that level.”

He suggested local councils work with developers to ensure fibre infrastructure is in place for any new developments.

“(High speed internet) is as important as your streets and your sewers. It’s key infrastructure municipalities need to keep themselves competitive,” said McLaughlin.

McLaughlin plans to use the local data as the foundation for funding applications in hopes of seeking out grants for broadband infrastructure projects.

Organizations such as SWIFT (Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology Network) and the federally funded Connect to Innovate have funding specifically set aside for broadband infrastructure projects.

“We have identified where our broadband gaps are … and we want to be able to present north Simcoe as a viable first phase through SWIFT,” said McLaughlin.

The CRTC is in the process of setting up a $750 million fund over five years to support infrastructure projects in areas that currently don’t meet the basic standard. The goal is to get 90 per cent of communities in Canada access to download speeds of 50 Mbps and download speeds of 10 Mbps by the end of 2021.

“The CRTC shouldn’t be moving to target to 2021 now, they should be looking at the end of 2018,” said MacDonald. “Businesses are not going to wait until 2021. They are making decisions today.”

Officials are planning on meeting in September to discuss next steps and continue efforts to improve broadband infrastructure in the region.

“This is great data and it will be very important over the next few years in trying to increase high speed internet for both commercial and residential,” said Coun. Jonathan Main.

Many reported thefts in Midland area occur in unlocked vehicles: OPP

North Simcoe residents aren’t doing much to dissuade people from stealing cars or removing the valuables from inside them.

According to the OPP, from January to August there were 140 car-related thefts in the Southern Georgian Bay Detachment area. The majority of these thefts are crimes of opportunity – a car left unlocked and then ransacked, or stolen.

“In a large number of these reports, owners failed to secure their vehicle prior to leaving it or they had their vehicle stolen with keys that had been left in them,” said Const. David Hobson of the Southern Georgian Bay OPP.

Between July 2 and Aug. 8, OPP responded to six vehicle thefts in Midland and another four in Tiny Township.

In one case, in which a 2018 Ford F-150 was stolen, the keys to the vehicle were stolen prior to the theft of the vehicle itself.

“Owners need to take a moment and make an effort to secure their property prior to parking and leaving it,” Hobson said. “(Owners should) ensure the vehicle is locked, windows are rolled up, keys are pocketed, and valuables are out of sight.”

Vehicle thefts have been pretty steady in North Simcoe over the past two years. Between January and August, police responded to 44 vehicle thefts. During the same stretch in 2017, there were 54 vehicles stolen.

The OPP say there isn’t much they can do if residents continue to leave their vehicles unlocked.

“If we provide the message, hopefully that message will be heard,” said OPP Sgt. Peter Leon. “People need to get in the habit of when they leave their vehicle, they lock the doors.”

The majority of these crimes aren’t considered break and enters, as the thieves aren’t breaking in to the vehicle. They simply walk around checking for unlocked vehicles, enter them, and take what they want from inside.

So far in 2018, there have been 96 thefts from vehicles in North Simcoe. This is a slight increase from the same time last year when there were 93 thefts.

“The impact can be devastating for some people. People don’t realize it, but they leave a lot of information in their vehicles. Your ownership and licence has your name, address and driver’s licence number. It could lead to the start of identity theft,” Leon said.

The OPP are reinforcing their “Lock it or Lose it” campaign message in an attempt to reduce vehicle thefts in the region.

“It is all about preventing the next crime,” Leon said. “If someone comes into your neighbourhood and is successful, what is to stop them from coming back for more?”

While some may feel leaving their vehicle unlocked will prevent someone from damaging it when they break in, Leon says locking it is the best way to prevent theft.

“If it is locked it is a deterrent, and if you are not leaving valuables – keys, electronic devices or spare change – in plain view there is no reason for someone to try and get into your vehicle,” said Leon.

Scott W. Anderson — Adjala-Tosorontio Ward 5

Name: Scott W. Anderson

Position: Councillor Ward 5, Township of Adjala-Tosorontio




I am seeking re-election to the position of councillor of Ward 5 for the Township of Adjala-Tosorontio. Over the past eight years on council I have devoted time and energy to bring a sound and common-sense approach to the issues dealt with by council. This will not change if re-elected.

Personally, I continue to call Lisle home and am employed as the postmaster at the Lisle Post Office. I volunteer my time to help organize many community events as well as operate a community outdoor ice rink during the winter.

During my previous two terms, I have been pleased to take an active role in serving on the following committees: economic development committee, Museum on the Boyne advisory committee, recreation services review committee, committee of adjustment, savings by design committee, audit committee and procedural review committee.

More recently council has faced some tough issues but has also initiated many meaningful projects, including the development of a new fire station in Everett, a new combined public works operations building, a review of recreation needs and increase of recreation amenities and trails. My experience and approach to these projects and others will help steer our township in a positive direction.

If re-elected, I will continue to serve the residents of Ward 5, listen to issues and work cohesively with members of council, staff and residents to accomplish our goals in the interest of the township.

Flush crunch coming in Innisfil

A building boom is leaving the town a little flushed out.

According to staff, the town’s sewer treatment capacity is going to be full by 2023 if changes aren’t made.

And although upgrades have been on the books for a while, the town’s growth is creating a sewer shortfall as well as a cash crunch.

“Since the 2012 master plan, we have known there should be a waste water expansion plan in the future,” town CAO Jason Reynar said.

A staff report shows the estimated cost for expansions to the waste water treatment plant on St. Johns Road is $87 million.

The bad news: to date, only $13.5 million has been collected from development charges.

The current waste water treatment plant opened in 1987 with four holding tanks, with four more tanks added in 1996.

There are 100 kilometres of gravity-fed sewer pipes buried beneath the roads, which all lead to the plant.

Septic trucks also drop off their haul.

Once taking in the sewage, aluminum sulphate, or alum, is added to the liquid, which helps suspended particles bind together so they can settle to the bottom.

The liquid flows through a screen to remove grit, getting rid of anything that sinks or floats.

After that, the liquid is put into bubbling aeration tanks, where micro-organisms go to work eating the biodegradable matter.

“It’s all biological, basically this is a biological zoo,” waste water operations team lead Dave Sparrow said.

Some of the older sludge, rich with micro-organisms, is added to the mixture to enhance the treatment.

Next, the fluid goes to a clarifying tank, where the sludge settles to the bottom and a large stirring arm collects the sludge into a central hopper.

After that, the mostly clean water is sent through a filter, which includes an ultraviolet disinfection system.

It is then poured back into Lake Simcoe, and the process repeats itself.

Some of the remaining sludge is also sent away to be used on secondary crops like sod or soy.

While council is ready to debate the expansion plan on Sept, 5, interim plans are in the works.

One of the solutions to help with capacity has been adding a $5 million Lystek membrane system, which takes up less space than the old sand filter system. Those membranes can filter water faster than the older system.

Another piece of that puzzle is upgrading the water treatment plant so it doesn’t have to backwash every few hours, saving what amounts to about a thousand homes worth of wastewater.

And finally, there is submitting a new application to the Ministry of Environment and Conservation and Parks to adjust the plant’s capacity to 17,000 cubic metres a day.

However, if that is approved, the town would still reach its sewage capacity by 2023.

“There’s no doubt in the last two years, we’ve seen a spike in the number of housing permits,” Reynar said.

He was clear in saying the town isn’t behind where it should be.

“We’ve got the money to do a design, so we’ve got some time, but we’re talking about $60 million to $80 million to be front-end financed,” Reynar said. “We need the money up front to build it so the capacity is available when they want to turn the water on for that new house.”

However, he added, it’s not like the town could collect the $73.5 million in development charges and start building the expansion tomorrow.

“It’s challenging to ask for this at a time when we’re asking for development charge increases,” he said. “We were nervous about this with respect to how Innisfil Heights was going to be funded, because there isn’t the same guarantee if we bring the services, there will be development charges to offset the costs.”

Residential developers are prepared to pay up-front costs because they know the housing market is hot, Reynar said.

The town has already been working on an environmental assessment for the expansion, along with a new Master Servicing Plan.

“We are looking at extending servicing to areas that are underserviced, look at Innisfil’s growth areas and reduce impacts to Lake Simcoe,” InnServices CEO Wally Malcolm said during a council presentation Aug. 8.

Malcolm is updating the Master Servicing Plan to accommodate growth to 2031 and beyond.

Residents can comment on the Master Servicing Plan until Aug. 24, and Malcolm knows there’s a lot to take in.

“The short-term projects from 2019 to 2023, (including) the expansion of the Lakeshore Water Pollution Control Plant, amount to over $146 million,” Malcolm said.

And projects slated for 2024 to 2031 total another $85 million.

For now, staff is suggesting council delay adding any more housing or business wastewater commitments until a proper strategy is in place.

Staff is also hoping to work with the development community to get the front-end financing.

Maqsood Dogar — Clearview Ward 3

Maqsood Dogar moved from Mississauga to Stayner in 2004, where he has resided for 14 delightful years. 

He graduated from the University of Western Ontario in 2000, as well as George Brown College for business information systems in 1996. He has been managing Stayner’s Hasty Market for the past eight years; he also managed Macs from 2004 to 2008. 

He and his wife Javaria have been married for 19 years and together they have four loving children. 

Maqsood is a very energetic person; his brilliance and knowledge makes him a perfect candidate for the role of councillor because he may be young, but he is also wise.

With Clearview Township expanding and more houses being built around Stayner, his goal is to connect Stayner and Collingwood to Barrie and Toronto, through the expansion of public transit (GO Transit) and to work to support the development of local health-care facilities. 

Recent local school closures resulting in an influx of students attending Clearview Meadows Elementary School cause a safety concern at the intersection of Highway 26 and Locke Avenue.

Maqsood would also work to have a traffic light installed at this location and support the expansion of the school parking lot.

Join in Innisfil community potluck

Bring your favourite meal to share and connect with other members of the town for a community potluck.

Resident Sonia DaSilva is a newcomer to the community herself and saw there are others who are trying to make friends in the area.

She tested the waters by having a ladies’ potluck at her house earlier this summer and had success in connecting with approximately 15 new friends.

DaSilva is stepping it up by hosting a community potluck on Aug. 25 at the at 1 p.m. Guests are asked to bring their favourite dish or dessert to share. Small gifts are welcome for raffle donations.

The event is alcohol-free and everyone is welcome.

Jonathan Pita — Adjala-Tosorontio Ward 2

My name is Jonathan Pita. I recently moved to Adjala-Tosorontio because I fell in love with its beauty and small-town feeling. I am currently an electrical apprentice and I live with my girlfriend, who is a high school teacher. We both appreciate the history in this township and enjoy exploring its corners and meeting its residents. We also look forward to raising a family here, sending our children to school here, and working together to keep our home town an excellent place to be.  

According to Adjala-Tosorontio’s website, the main role of council is to “represent the public” ( I believe Ward 2 has not had its interests fully represented, especially in key votes. I, however, pledge to listen to the constituents of my ward. My vote is not mine alone. It represents the concerns of Ward 2.  

I look forward to an efficient and transparent council. I am committed to maintaining positive relationships with residents, fellow councillors and municipal staff. This also involves the wise use of tax dollars toward responsible development and municipal planning.

I also intend to maintain Adjala-Tosorontio’s rural and small-town atmosphere. This means overseeing controlled development that does not place a burden on existing residents. It also means ensuring that all Ontario Municipal Board/ Local Planning Appeal Tribunal guidelines are followed during development. One of the major concerns is well water sustainability. It is also important to maintain our roads and bridges, many of which are below ministry standards.  

Residents should also have access to an affordable lifestyle. I am interested in keeping water rates low. I believe that future water and sewage connection to new or existing infrastructure should be optional. I also intend to work toward bringing high speed internet to our municipality.  

I am always interested in talking to and meeting with residents. They may call me at or email at

Jay Fallis — Orillia Ward 3

There is a special kindness that exists in our town. I love running into a close friend at the grocery store or being surprised by the kindness of strangers. I am a candidate because I believe we have an opportunity to display that kindness in our politics.

As a young professional, I am energetic and hardworking. If you have a problem, I’ll be the person on your doorstep making sure it gets fixed. Additionally, I am very active in Orillia. I teach at Georgian College; I volunteer for both Helping Hands and the Lighthouse Shelter; and I wrote for the Packet & Times as a political columnist. Growing up, I was a student at Park Street.

I also have experience in politics and journalism. I have a master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Toronto. I have worked as a political aide at the Ontario Provincial Legislature and House of Commons. Additionally, I have been published in thirty newspapers across Canada including the Toronto Star.

Two major issues:


Poverty has always been a concern for our council but we can build on that work. There are many Orillians sleeping on the streets, couch surfing, or just having difficulty getting by. We need to focus more resources on tackling this broad problem. We especially need to focus on impoverished youth and seniors.

Balancing responsible economic development with environmental protection and beautification

We are already seeing the effects of climate change. Extreme weather conditions are going to become increasingly more prominent and we need to do all we can to protect Orillia’s environment and ensure it’s a beautiful city for all. As our city grows, it will be important to balance responsible development with environmental protection.

I am eager to hear your ideas! If there is something you think I should know, please do not hesitate to reach out:



Facebook: @jayfallisforthefuture

Farmer thanked for dousing Innisfil fire

Larry Kell is being called an unsung hero after helping a fellow farmer during a Gilford fire.

At 4:30 p.m. on July 20, a hay bailer caught on fire on Bruce Drybrough’s farm, on Shore Acres Drive.

“Phones began ringing within minutes in the shirt pockets of many neighbours, and while the fire department began its response, so did the community,” neighbour John Trotter said. “Within minutes I was aware of the fire’s location and I drove to (Drybrough’s) driveway to see what help was required.”

One fire truck had already arrived and was beginning to slow the spread of the fire, but the wind was pushing the fire across the 10-acre field of fresh-cut straw, toward Trotter’s fields of dry standing wheat, as well as Drybrough’s hardwood bush.

As he was going to get his backhoe, Trotter saw a familiar white pickup truck speed to the rescue.

“Anyone who lives in south Innisfil recognizes the white pick up trucks as a sure sign that a member of the Kell family is near.”

Larry Kell was at the wheel, gunning his truck toward the fire.

He had already ordered his farm staff to deliver his largest tractor, equipped with their biggest tilling discs.

“In two minutes I watched as the massive tractor approached across my wheat field,” Trotter said.

By then, loose and baled hay was on fire and many people worked together to till the land to douse the flames.

“(Kell) climbed into the driver’s seat, put the hydraulic discs down into the locked position and headed for the danger of the burning fields,” Trotter said. “Within seconds (Kell) began to lessen the fire’s ability to do damage as he turned the burnt straw field into freshly tilled powdery soil.”

In just over an hour, the main fire had been extinguished and Trotter noted it had come within three feet of a 60-year-old split rail fence near his property.

“Larry Kell deserves special recognition for being the neighbour who knew what to do and for doing it. He had the equipment and took action,” Trotter said.

Cher Cunningham — Midland Ward 3

I moved to this ‘big city’ from Elmvale in 1992 as a young mom. I have been in ‘Sunnyside’ since 2001 — raising kids, raising grandchildren, commuting, teaching, growing a business — life in God’s Country.

In my careers from entrepreneurship, to faculty at Georgian College, I have been in a variety of leadership roles in which I have developed skills in communication, collaboration, facilitating dialogue, conflict resolution and negotiating agreement.

My experience as volunteer host of Politically Speaking on RogersTV helped shape my desire to be involved in the community.  This is where I first started my journey into municipal politics. I began engaging regularly, not only with the local political players, but also with the issues and processes involved. As I broadened my understanding and involvement, I came to realize that there is a real need for deeper, better informed, community engagement.

I am passionate about listening and ensuring that people’s ideas and concerns are heard. I also care deeply about responsive accountability — providing updates and progress reports in a transparent fashion and on a regular basis.

That’s why I am all about:

• Two-way communication that educates and listens

• Collaborative ‘Strategic Vision’

• Measurable outcomes in planning

• Proactive reporting of progress

My understanding of the responsibility of governance was formed at RogersTV and Toastmasters (where I have held roles at the local, area, division and district levels). Unlike running a business per se, governance is a position purely of public trust. It requires setting aside your own agenda and working with the existing structure of policies and bylaws to best serve the needs of community members. When members are engaged and heard they feel — and in fact they are — respected, and it’s in that way that relevant, community-focused change is effected.

Let’s work together to prepare Midland for the growth and opportunity ahead with a focus on solutions, results and accountability.

Cher Cunningham

1208 Everton Rd.

Midland, ON L4R 5J2