Woman and child treated after Innisfil dog attack

A 44-year-old woman and a child were treated by paramedics after getting bitten by a dog in Innisfil Aug. 16.

Emergency crews were called to a home near the 5th Line and 9th Line around 4:30 p.m. for an animal complaint.

Paramedics were already treating the pair for a dog bite when officers arrived. They were both taken to Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre for treatment of minor injuries.

The dog is being quarantined for 10 days and the Innisfil bylaw department is now investigating under the provincial Dog Owners’ Liability Act.

Shelly Skinner – Barrie Ward 8

Meet Shelly Skinner  Candidate for Ward 8

 Since moving to Ward 8’s Allandale area from the GTA in 2012, I quickly fell in love with the connectivity and lifestyle Barrie has to offer. It’s the perfect city to raise a family and my two children, Jade and Lucius, and our dog Jersey couldn’t agree more.

I’ve immersed myself in the community and the culture – truly living Barrie’s slogan “well connected.” I’ve taken on the responsibility to be a voice for and support those who are marginalized.

Community involvement has been a key focus for me, both on a professional level and as a dedicated volunteer. Through event planning and fundraising, I have helped to raise over $100,000 for community organizations such as the Women and Children’s Shelter of Barrie, Redwood Park Communities, and Barrie Pride.

As a 2018 recipient of the Leading Women, Leading Girls Building Communities Award, I’ve dedicated myself to improving my community and the lives of women, children and marginalized groups.

This year, the Ontario Trillium Foundation chose me to speak on diversity inclusion; I was a keynote/rally speaker and MC for International Women’s Day events organized by Barrie Women and Children’s Shelter and Georgian College; I was MC for various City events including the Barrie Arts Awards and the Black History Month Women of Colour Panel; and, I was a panelist for the EGALE –  Canada Human Rights Trust conference in Toronto.

I love my city, but I know it needs work to become one of the greatest cities in Canada. I feel strongly that diversity and inclusion, accessibility, affordable housing, growth in arts and culture and community togetherness are the key issues that need more focus from local government.

I can no longer sit on the sidelines. As a cty councillor and community changemaker, I will be a strong voice for the community and many residents who are just not being heard.

Connect with Shelly:

• Website 

• Email 

• Social media:







Planting the seed to protect Orillia’s cherished urban canopy

The best time to plant a tree is 40 years ago.

It’s a well-worn line that is bound to elicit a knowing chuckle from those tasked with ensuring a healthy abundance of this cherished natural resource.

For Michael Williams, it also points to a harder truth about the vital importance of protecting a city’s urban canopy through long-term planning.

“Some of the big beautiful ones that are out there, when you explain to your child or grandchild the age of that tree and how long it’s been around, I think it just brings a sense of wonderment, ” said the chair of Orillia’s environmental advisory committee.

The importance of planning — make that planting — is becoming increasingly apparent as the municipality comes to terms with the knowledge that a number of the mature trees that shade the streets and lend the city its bucolic charm are either dead or dying.

In partnership with the municipality, Williams and other volunteers are digging to the root of the issue as they work to determine how many of the stately specimens are at risk and how best to respond.

Residents who know of dead or dying trees will also be encouraged to contact the city once the project is underway, he said.

“Our hope is that we will get a lot of engagement,” Williams said, adding the effort will initially concentrate on public areas such as boulevards.

Trees have numerous environmental benefits and contribute substantially to the character of the community, agrees parks manager John McMullen.

In the same breath, McMullen stressed that planting trees along streets in a manner that achieves the characteristic canopy effect poses challenges due to space restrictions imposed by sidewalks and public utilities.

“A fair bit of forethought does need to go in to it, so that you don’t destroy what you’re trying to do there,” he said, adding the effects of road salt and sand on certain species must also be taken into consideration.

Beyond their esthetic appeal, trees provide substantial benefit to the local ecosystem, reducing soil erosion, cooling the air, and helping offset the greenhouse effect by storing carbon.

However, many local neighbourhoods are home to a larger number of overmature street trees, Williams said.

Ideally, replacements should already have been planted alongside these aging specimens, to ensure young stock is there to fill the eventual void.

To that end, the group has secured council support for a project that will identify dying and aging trees in neighbourhoods and on select streets for replacement, with an emphasis on areas where tree cover is jeopardized.

“They’ll be smaller, of course, and take years to grow,” Williams said.

A separate but related effort will explore potential long-term projects that include a focus on “urban corridor cover” — lining major roads with shallow-rooted trees to improve streetscapes.

In the fall the group will review a soon-to-expire rebate program that provides residents with up to $50 for the purchase of specific tree species, with recommendations to follow.

Youth mental health walk-in clinic opens in Midland

A child and youth mental health walk-in clinic is now open in Midland.

The clinic will run every Tuesday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Catholic Family Services of Simcoe County (CFSSC) location at 845 King St.

The free service will be offered by CFSSC in collaboration with New Path Youth and Family Services.

“Walk-in clinics are effective, leading edge services that will help ensure all children, youth and their families have timely access to the mental health supports they need,” said Glen Newby, CEO of New Path.

The Midland clinic will provide free, single-session mental health counselling for children and youth up to the age of 18 and their families. If additional supports and services are needed, clients will be referred to other short and long-term child and youth mental health supports in the community.

This pilot project is taking place from now until the end of December.

“This project is in response to overwhelming demand for timely child and youth mental health services in Midland,” said Lisa Hickling-Miller, a New Path manager. “We firmly believe that children, youth and their families need timely access to care in their own communities.”

New Path is also offering walk-in services in Alliston, Barrie, Bradford, Collingwood and Orillia.

Georgina, Innisfil, listed among 10 highest property tax rates in GTA: study

Municipalities in York Region and Simcoe County have some of the ‘worst’ property taxes in the GTA, according to real estate brokerage and website company Zoocasa.

Georgina residents pay some of the highest average amount of taxes in the GTA and highest in York Region, according to the real estate portal’s best and worst list of 33 regions released this month.

Innisfil and Bradford top the list in Simcoe County.

Zoocasa calculated the average amount of tax paid, based on the municipal tax rate and average home price, in each region of the GTA.

Cities with the highest home values, such as the Toronto, Markham and Richmond Hill, tend to have the lowest property tax rates while cities such as Oshawa and Orangeville with the lowest average home values have some of the highest tax rates.

For example, Georgina’s average home price based on Toronto Real Estate Board figures is $595,946.

Zoocasa applied the 2017 rate of 1.12810 per cent to that number to calculate taxes of $6,723 per year — and ranked Georgina ninth out of the 10 municipalities with the highest tax rates in the GTA.

While Bradford West Gwillimbury’s northern neighbour of Innisfil has lower home values of $603,978 on average, it has a higher tax rate of 1.05760 per cent, which equates to an average property tax bill of $6,388, and rounds out the bottom 10.

BWG residents, who pay an average $6,676 on a home assessed at $665,640 based on a tax rate of 1.05760 per cent, aren’t far behind, however.

Compare that to Orangeville, which pays the highest percentage of property taxes in the GTA. The average homeowner there pays $7,906 in property tax on an average home assessment of $560,735.

Zoocasa’s Penelope Graham said while affordability and mortgage costs are typically top of mind for homebuyers, the amount of property tax you’ll need to pay each year is often overlooked.

For example, Oshawa, the most affordable GTA city where the average home price is $515,261, has the second highest property tax rate of 1.40690 per cent, resulting in annual taxes of $7,249.

Meanwhile, the average Richmond Hill home is worth twice as much at $1,033,754, but the owner pays about the same amount in property taxes at $7,418 because the tax rate is substantially lower at only 0.71760 per cent, explains Graham.

While King Township residents pay a whopping $12,182 in property taxes, that’s based on average home prices of $1.4 million and a tax rate of 0.86820, which is close to the GTA average.

GTA cities with lowest property tax rates

1. Toronto – 0.6355054% ($5,532 taxes based on $870,559 average June 2018 home price)

2. Markham – 0.6938% ($6,762 taxes based on $974,626 average June 2018 home price)

3. Milton – 0.6979% ($4,896 taxes based on $701,595 average June 2018 home price)

4. Richmond Hill – 0.7176% ($7,418 based on $1,033,754 average June 2018 home price)

5. Vaughan – 0.7281% ($6,850 based on $940,866 average June 2018 home price)

GTA cities with highest property tax rates

1. Orangeville – 1.4099% ($7,906 taxes based on $560,735 average June 2018 home price)

2. Oshawa – 1.4069% ($7,249 taxes based on $515,261 average June 2018 home price)

3. Brock – 1.2860% ($7,490 taxes based on $582,455 average June 2018 home price)

4. Clarington – 1.2228% ($6,516 taxes based on $532,908 average June 2018 home price)

5. Whitby – 1.18090% ($8,023 taxes based on $679,406 average June 2018 home price)

— with files from Karen Martin-Robbins

Editor’s note: This story was updated July 20, 2018 to clarify how Zoocasa calculated the numbers for the Town of Georgina.

Stayner cranker to demonstrate sock cranker at art festival

Anne Hanna can crank out a pair of socks in an hour and a half, literally.

Hanna is one of a small group of “crankers” in Stayner, who use hand-powered sock knitting machine called a sock cranker to produce socks.

Hanna is one of the artists who will be bringing her art to the Stayner Art Festival on July 15.

Hanna saw a demonstration at a craft show and it piqued her interest.

When she received her own machine as a Christmas gift she said she knew she had to learn.

“I took lessons, and I’ve had a little trouble. It’s quite a thing to get,” Hanna said. “But I’ve done really well with it.”

To knit each sock, Hanna, cranks the machine a specific number of times, then a series of half-cranks to form the heel, and then another set of full-cranks. To complete each sock, Hanna sews one end shut.

“I like working with wool,” Hanna said, “but some is polyester which is very fine.”

Hanna’s socks, as well as a demonstration of the sock cranking machine will be at the Stayner Art Festival on July 15 at 7244 Highway 26.

Simcoe North’s Dunlop takes aim at skilled trades stigma

On the night Jill Dunlop secured the win to represent Simcoe North, the daughter of Garfield Dunlop vowed to advocate for the skilled trades, just as her father had done during his years in office.

In the ensuing months, the recently minted Progressive Conservative MPP has taken up the cause at Queen’s Park with a resolution that garnered unanimous support.

“There is a major and growing shortage of skilled employees to create and/or grow businesses and industries in Ontario,” Dunlop said. “As we execute our plan to make Ontario open for business, we need skilled labour to fill the jobs that a thriving economy will generate.”

According to Dunlop, 10 per cent of Ontario’s youth are pursuing careers in the skilled trades at a time when 20 per cent of workers in that same sector are over age 54 and will retire within the decade.

In presenting her resolution to reform and promote the skilled trades, Dunlop stressed a need for immediate action to fill the trades gap.

“Skilled labour jobs are good jobs and provide a meaningful, financially stable career path for many Ontarians, including young people, newcomers and individuals looking for a career change,” she added.

Part of the challenge in steering students into the skilled trades, Dunlop said, is overcoming the negative stigma associated with the sector, “whereby people believe that skilled trades are not a career to aspire or to be proud of.

“Our youth deserve to be presented with as many career options as possible, and the skilled trades should be at the top of that list,” she added.

Dunlop recommended the government take the lead in improving education, training and job creation in the skilled-trades sector.

She is encouraging collaboration between Ontario’s education ministry, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.

Dunlop suggested they work toward solutions to reduce the stigma surrounding the trades and address the shortage of skilled labour.

Family, staff, Simcoe North business owners, and area mayors were on hand to support Dunlop during her recent address at Queen’s Park.

Orillia OPP seeking driver following hit and run

Police are investigating a hit and run at a business on Atherley Road in Orillia.

On July 13 at about 6:45 p.m., a vehicle entered the parking lot at the unidentified business and struck another vehicle.

A black 2017 GMC Sierra with decals on the back was captured on camera leaving the scene.

Investigators managed to view a licence plate number and know the identity of the vehicle’s owner.

Police have attempted to contact the owner; however he is avoiding police, OPP reported.

The suspect is believed to be living in the Beaverton or Brechin area.

Anyone who knows the whereabouts of the vehicle’s owner is encouraged to contact police, who want to speak with him regarding the circumstances surrounding the collision.

Orillia OPP can be reached at .

Barrie paddleboard business expanding to ‘awesome’ Innisfil location

Brent Ackland is bringing his paddleboard business to the friendly waters of Innisfil.

After four years of renting boards and giving lessons at Barrie’s Centennial Beach, Ackland is teaming up with the Town of Innisfil to expand Northern Stand Up Paddle at the Mapleview Drive beach on Lake Simcoe this month.

The location, just south of Friday Harbour, is perfect for paddleboarders, Ackland said.

“It’s an awesome spot,” Ackland said. “The water isn’t deep there and it’s sheltered from the wind and bigger waves.”

It’s also much quieter than the Centennial Beach location, which is near a popular floating water park.

Ackland said he took on the Mapleview location when he won a call for business proposals from the Town of Innisfil, which is looking to increase its waterfront activities.

The town has set up a temporary parking system for non-residents who want to rent and take lessons at Northern Stand Up Paddle. Ackland simply gives customers a parking pass when they come to paddleboard.

It’s a soft launch for this season and limited rentals will be available for most programs with a full fleet coming, available in the 2019 season.

Paddleboarding is becoming more popular; just ask any boater or beachgoer these days.

Ackland is a full-time fitness coach who uses the PaddleFit coaching and training system, which helps clients reach their fitness goals by using a paddleboard.

“Anybody can do it,” Ackland said. “We’ve even had someone on a wheelchair up on a board.”

Paddleboarding lessons are also a great way to socialize with others who are excited about the activity, Ackland said.

Ackland created Northern Stand Up Paddle in 2011.  In 2013 he partnered with PaddleFit as their Canadian affiliate.  The company offers retail sales, Jimmy Lewis Boards and Infinity SUP, lessons, and rentals for recreation paddling. 

The lessons include introduction to paddleboarding, Progressive Technique Training (SUP Club), kids standup paddling as well as community-building social paddles.

“With the potential to have standup paddling in the Olympics in the near future, offering progressive lessons is a must,” Ackland said.

When it comes to purchasing a paddleboard, there’s a wide variety. And what you buy depends on how serious you want to get about boarding.

Prices for Jimmy Lewis Boards run from about $800 to about $4,500.

“The difference is in the glide,” Ackland said. “You can go just as far with one stroke on a more expensive board as you can with four strokes on a less costly board.”

Buying a board from a retailer who is on the beach like Ackland means you can actually test different boards on the water before your purchase.

“You can’t do that from a store. Here you can actually find the board that suits you by trying it out.”

The hot weather early this summer has brought out more paddleboarders than ever and business has been booming at the Barrie location.

For more information, contact Ackland at or

Maria Hardie — SMCDSB trustee Barrie Wards 6-10

In 1982, I moved to Barrie with my husband and two children. Both our children are graduates of the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board (SMCDSB). To ensure my involvement in their day-to-day education, I became a volunteer at their elementary school, St. John Vianney. This led me to become an educational assistant in the system. Following that, and for the next many years, I worked as school office administrator, retiring from St. Nicholas School.

As a family, we are active and involved in the parish life at St. John Vianney Church. My husband and I have served in various ministries over the years.

In 2010, I ran and was elected as a trustee for the SMCDSB, representing Wards 6 to 10. Over these last eight years, I have acted as chair of the board for three years and for four years as vice-chair. In both capacities, I served on many committees.

Trustees are elected by taxpayers to listen to the concerns and expectations of their constituents and to ensure their interests are heard at the board table. I have always worked diligently to be that representative voice of the families and staff in my wards.

I am an advocate for academic excellence, lifelong learning and the personal growth of our students and staff. I have and will continue to encourage the home-school-church tradition, as I believe these three partners must work together to ensure our children are socialized into our Catholic faith.

Should I be re-elected, I promise to continue to advocate for safeguarding our constitutional right to maintain funding for Catholic schools for future generations. I promise also to continue to actively listen and hear the constituents of my wards and be their authentic representative at the SMCDSB table.

Campaign office address: 4 Debra Cres., Barrie