City eyes $250 rewards for tips leading to Orillia graffiti arrests

The city could begin paying cash rewards, in partnership with Crime Stoppers, for tips leading to arrests of those responsible for graffiti.

Under a proposal that garnered council committee support, staff would seek $4,000 in the 2019 budget for a pilot project aimed at discouraging vandals from defacing local buildings by encouraging residents to keep their eyes peeled.

Coun. Sarah Valiquette-Thompson applauded the proposal as “an innovative approach” to a problem that continues to affect local businesses.

“I think this is really going to bring some closure and hopefully help resolve some of these issues,” she said.  

Rewards would be set at $250, with the city and Crime Stoppers each contributing half during the one-year pilot project.

The proposal, which requires council approval, is “a step in the right direction,” Coun. Mason Ainsworth said, adding some businesses and apartment buildings have been targets of “repeat attacks.”

Incidents of graffiti dropped slightly in 2018, with 91 incidents recorded as of the end of June this year (compared with 108 at the same time in 2017).

Five people were charged with graffiti-related mischief last year.

To date in 2018, no charges have been laid for graffiti.

Of the recommended $4,000 allocation, $2,500 would be earmarked for rewards, with the remainder going to promote the program.

Coun. Pat Hehn wondered about the potential effectiveness of providing an alleyway wall as a blank canvas for graffiti art — an idea discussed during her time on the city’s police board.

Staff has explored the idea through conversations with communities that pursued that route, said Shawn Crawford, Orillia’s manager of legislative services.

The measure “had no impact in actually reducing graffiti in those communities,” he said. “In a sense, it almost sort of promotes or supports graffiti, when in fact we don’t want graffiti to occur.”

Initiatives undertaken by the Orillia OPP to combat graffiti have included identifying downtown businesses equipped with cameras that project outside, mounting public education campaigns and encouraging retailers of spray paint to report potential suspects.

Orillia property owners are required to remove graffiti or have the city do it and be billed for the work.

SUV crashes through new Innisfil pizza store

A 41-year-old woman is recovering from her injuries after being injured after a vehicle crashed into an Innisfil pizza store.

South Simcoe Police Service were called around 8 p.m. July 28 after an SUV crashed through the front window of the Pizza Nova store on Innisfil Beach Road.

Officers heard the driver was attempting to park, but accelerated into the restaurant, hitting the 41-year-old woman inside. She was taken to Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre for treatment.

Police are still investigating the incident.

Michael Beattie — New Tecumseth Ward 2

Four years ago, I was given a strong and decisive mandate to serve the people of Ward 2 on New Tecumseth council. This experience has been a great honour, and has proven to be some of my life’s most meaningful and rewarding work. New Tecumseth is the place my family and I call home, and have called home since 1906.  

I have held big development accountable, I have been a staunch advocate for small business and our downtowns, I have been a strong supporter of the arts community, I have always stood up for taxpayers even when it wasn’t popular, and I have upheld the oath of office I took when you entrusted me to represent you. I have honoured the commitment I made to my constituents with perfect attendance at all council meetings, and I am ready to hit the ground running and get back to work for Ward 2 on Day One.

We are going through a period of serious heavy lifting in terms of capital and infrastructure projects, and striking the proper balance between maintaining services, keeping taxes down, and steering New Tecumseth through a period of rapid growth.  That growth must be achieved responsibly and sustainably.  We are one wrong vote away from megadevelopment, urban sprawl and upper-tier government intrusion that will change the face of New Tecumseth, forever.

Now, more than ever, we need councillors that are knowledgeable about the issues we face, committed and dedicated to the preservation of the very identity and way of life that makes us such a unique and envied municipality, and most importantly, we need members of council that are independent and not beholden to the development community and those loyal to them. I have been that councillor these past four years, and that will not change. Our future is in your hands this election — with your support, I will ensure our future remains a safe and prosperous one.




An eagle feather and a bridging of cultures at the Orillia courthouse

Orillia’s usually staid courthouse took on a celebratory atmosphere during a historic moment that, in the words of one speaker, pointed the way to greater inclusiveness for First Nations people.

A pair of eagle feathers — considered sacred objects in Indigenous culture — were presented to court officials during a ceremony held in the traditional land of the Anishinabek.

“The eagle represents honesty, truth, majestic strength, courage, wisdom, power and freedom,” Chippewas of Rama First Nation Chief Rodney Noganosh told the standing-room only audience that gathered to witness the event.

Eagle feathers are currently in use in Barrie, Parry Sound and Bracebridge courts to ensure Indigenous people have the opportunity to honour their spiritual beliefs when swearing an affidavit or testifying under oath.

During the June 20 event, one feather was presented to the Orillia court and another to a representative for the Midland court.

Indigenous people, Noganosh told the crowd, have a “much higher incarceration rate across the country” than other groups.

“It is initiatives like these that can help to bridge that gap for our people,” he added.

The feathers will be kept under lock and key in the judiciary office of the courtroom, and logged in and out when in use.

In addition, they will be routinely smudged using traditional medicine and brought to cultural ceremonies.

Elder Hector Copegog, of Wausauksing First Nation conducted a prayer, smudging and ceremony assisted by Elder Lorraine McRae, of Rama First Nation.

The late-afternoon event also featured traditional drumming by the Intertribal Peace Keepers, a group of law enforcement officers representing the OPP, Rama Police Service and Barrie police.

The drum “represents the heart beat of each and every one of us here today,” said Tom Batisse, acting chief for Rama Police Service.

Noganosh noted that a restorative justice program, established in 1996, continues “to this day with much success.”

Restorative justice focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community.

“If we can bring our brothers and sisters home to their community to begin the justice process with the victims, families and community, that is the most restorative and human approach for our people,” he added.

Reet Skelton — Springwater Township Ward 5

Reet Skelton: Accountable. Compassionate. Experienced

I am running for Council in Springwater Township, Ward 5. Now, more than ever, we need a Council that is committed to embracing the positive impacts while minimizing the negative outcomes of growth. I will bring a positive voice to future growth while ensuring safety, services and wise use of taxpayers’ dollars.

A Midhurst resident for 27 years, I’m also an involved Springwater resident. I sat on the Springwater Public Library Board for 15 years and held the role of chair. I was subsequently employed as CEO for 18 months, during which time I successfully led the library through vital transition and expansion. This gave me a unique perspective on the difference between Council and Township staff roles. I am a member of the Midhurst Community Recreation Association.  

My professional experience began after obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Rehabilitation Medicine. This led to a 35-year career working with persons with developmental disabilities, in capacities such as program development, volunteer management and public relations — all promoting inclusion. I was a founding board member of both OADD (Ontario Association on Developmental Disabilities) and PAVR-O (Professional Association of Volunteer Leaders — Ontario). As Municipal Council acts as a board of directors for their Township, I believe my varied board experience will greatly benefit Ward 5 residents.

Change is a constant. That Ward 5’s population will grow is a reality. With your vote, I will navigate us through this transition, working diligently with council, Township staff and developers to ensure that Ward 5 grows responsibly, methodically, and with respect and extreme care for the environment, without skyrocketing taxes. Responsible growth will bring economic benefits, diversity and enhanced services to our community.

I’m proud to be a Springwater resident and promise to be honest and transparent as Councillor of Ward 5. Vote for Reet Skelton as your voice of reason.  

If you’d like to share your thoughts, please contact me at or at .

Tony Veltri — New Tecumseth mayor

Since 325 words don’t allow for in depth platform pronouncements, I’ll get right to it. Within the first 100 days of taking office, I will ask council to support several measures that will immediately take us on a new course. They include:

— Stopping any further progress on the $15 million new administration centre. I am opposed to draining reserves by $7 million and adding at least $8 million in long-term debt that can only be financed by taxes, to pay for it. I will ask for all options to be investigated.

— I will ask council to reaffirm the town’s opposition to the 15,000 unit Cappuccitti/Mattamy proposal between Alliston and Beeton and send it to Simcoe County and the OMB. The incumbent mayor is the only consistent supporter of this application.

— I will ask council to support changing council meeting nights to Wednesdays because Mondays are inefficient, don’t leave time for public scrutiny of agendas, and are interrupted by holidays. Since the meeting format change in March 2017, council has held approximately 30 “special meetings” attached to the regular agenda. That means they don’t meet enough, which creates inefficient delays in decision-making and takes the public out of the mix.

— I will ask support for the reintroduction of standing committees, particularly planning, including public representation and not merely as an advisory board. Standing committees allow the public to be involved from the beginning. It’s a means of taking control back from developers, who’ve had a good run of the place for long enough.

— I will ask council to support ending any further intrusion by Simcoe County into our water and wastewater infrastructure, as well insist New Tecumseth directs where new growth occurs.

— I will not sign-off on the Briar Hill water connection deal as negotiated behind closed doors. And, I will move fast-tracking the pipeline connection to Tottenham.

-More that can be said, but I’m out of space. for full details.

Tony Veltri

Customize your meal at Innisfil’s Pastaplus

It’s 9 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, and Anthony Abate, along with his wife Nancy, and teenage daughter Elizabeth, are busily chopping vegetables and frying up breaded eggplant in the kitchen of their Pastaplus restaurant in Innisfil.

“Today is vegetarian lasagna day, so it’s a bit hectic for us,” said the cheerful restaurateur, as he took a break from his culinary duties to chat with a visiting reporter.

The eight-year-old eatery offers a homey atmosphere, and specializes in made-from-scratch food with a European flare, served up café style. “Pastaplus is an à la minute (prepared on the spot) pasta bar,” he said.

Guests can choose their size and type of pasta, the sauce they want, and if they want to add vegetables, meat or savoury toppings. Salads, naan breads, desserts, various daily features and more are also on offer.

“The whole idea is to give customers exactly what they want,” he explains. “So if they don’t want mushrooms in their pasta, they don’t have to pick them out, because everything is made to order.”

The concept also caters to vegetarians and vegans.

The idea for Pastaplus came from build your own omelette bars, admits the 48-year-old who, prior to opening Pastaplus, worked in food and beverage management at various Canadian venues, including Banff’s Chateau Lake Louise, Vancouver’s Pan Pacific Hotel, Kleinburg’s Doctor’s House, the Toronto Congress Centre, and more.  

“I thought, if you can create custom omelettes, why not do the same with my favourite food — pasta?”

With that concept in mind, the couple left their former jobs and opened Pastaplus. “We had been living in the Alcona-area for years, and thought it would be nice to run a family business together, and not have to commute anymore,” he said.  

Their two teenage daughters, Madelin and Elizabeth also help out.

Popular menu items include all of the pastas, the meatballs, veal, the rib-eye sandwich, the Mediterranean salad, and the garlic bread. Lasagna days are also very popular, Wednesday is vegetarian lasagna, and Friday is meat lasagna.

“Our food philosophy is fresh and honest,” said Nancy.

Both Nancy and Anthony describe themselves as self-taught cooks. “I grew up in an Italian family and my Nonna taught me how to cook, and I also picked up a lot of things along the way in my food and beverage career,” said Anthony. Nancy, who is from a Macedonian background, says her mother started teaching her culinary skills when she was nine.

While the 32-seat restaurant, and takeout service is only open from Tuesday to Friday, Pastaplus does have a bustling catering business and opens for private parties on weekends. They also do offsite catering for up to 350 people.

Pastaplus is also known for its amazing coffee.

Why the name Pastaplus? “I’m a pasta junkie,” he says with a laugh. “Growing up, every meal we ever had always started with pasta, so I have always had a complete love for the pasta. We added the plus, because we definitely offer more than just pasta — we’re a pasta bar with a twist.”