Scathing report finds Adjala-Tos councillor harassed planner, broke code of conduct

For the second time in less than a month, an integrity investigation has found Adjala-Tosorontio Coun. Floyd Pinto guilty of breaking council’s code of conduct.

The report prepared by Harold Elston of Elston Watt Barristers and Solicitors also found Pinto guilty of harassing the township’s director of planning, Jacquie Tschekalin, who initiated the investigation after making formal complaints about Pinto and Coun. Bob Meadows earlier this year.

The complaints about Meadows will be dealt with in a separate report.

The report recommends reprimanding Pinto for “having injured the reputation of staff and for having causes harassment in the workplace” by removing him from the role as the chair of the land use planning and development committee.

The investigator came to his conclusion after conducting extensive interviews with both parties and witnesses. He also reviewed Pinto’s blog posts, newsletters and emails, and evidence he provided at the Ontario Municipal Board hearing for the Everett gravel pit appeal.

Tschekalin, who has worked at the township since 2010, alleged the councillors of making defamatory statements about her over the past several years aimed at “undermining her professional credibility.”

“These activities are creating an intolerable, toxic workplace environment and placing my professional credibility in jeopardy; the harassment needs to stop,” she wrote.

Tschekalin accused Pinto of providing false and misleading information to the public on a number of issues, such as the Colgan development, the gravel pit and various other planning matters.

While a number of the complaints predated the code of conduct being passed in June 2016, the investigator said he was “entitled to consider a pattern of behavior.”

When reached for comment, Pinto said he wasn’t given enough specifics about the allegations and was under the impression he would be meeting with the investigator again before the report was made public.

But in his report, Elston said Pinto “was provided sufficient details.”

The report notes that Pinto, who was first election in 2010 and is currently running for mayor, stopped speaking to Tschekalin for about 3.5 years ago.

During the investigation, Pinto raised a number of concerns with Elston. Pinto complained about residents not getting answers at public meetings, along with other issues, like him not getting technical documents and meeting minutes when requested.

According to Elston, Pinto believes people have the perception that the planner “is not taking up their cause” and that “they come to him for answers.”

He said Pinto also denied ever saying she was wrong, but said “at every meeting the public has questions that the complainant (Tschekalin) won’t answer.”

As part of the evidence submission, Elston said the treatment Tschekalin has received from Pinto “has been a source of dismay and frustration for several years.”

In November 2015, she wrote a letter to Pinto to express the concerns and asked to him make sure everything he was writing in his blog and flyers was correct, and to stop making false accusations about the performance of her duties as the planner.

She asked him to keep the letter confidential, but Pinto ignored the request and posted it to his blog.

Pinto’s close association with Concerned Citizens of Adjala-Tosorontio, a residents group opposed to the gravel pit, is also noted in the report.

“The complainant knew of Councillor Pinto’s position and his connection to the CCAT, but felt it was her job to render an objective, professional opinion, notwithstanding Councillor Pinto’s opposition to the Nelson (gravel pit) proposal,” wrote Elston.

Since the Nelson issue, Tschekalin said she believes Pinto thinks that “everything she says or does is wrong.”

“In connection with these, as well as several other more minor matters, the complainant feels that she has been under attack by Coun. Pinto,” wrote Elston. “He has consistently, in public, argued with the complainant and asserted that her facts and opinions are wrong. It is, in her words, much beyond simply irritating.”

Tschekalin told Elston that Pinto is known to “misstate or misrepresent the true status of developments, the township’s procedures, or her responses to the public, in order to undermine her opinion, and often, council’s position, to advance his private agenda.”

Tschekalin described a meeting with Pinto in her office, where he allegedly told her “he didn’t care about her professional planning opinion, because he was a professional councillor.”

She also accused him trying to blindside her at meetings by not asking for information beforehand.

“Over the past few years, Councillor Pinto no longer comes to talk to staff to understand the background and applicable policies concerning an issue or community concern, but instead, he raises the matter directly at a meeting of council, taking staff and their fellow councillors off guard,” Elston wrote. “Last minute items are added to the agenda and council meeting have become theatre.”

Tschekalin told the investigator she is “unable to sleep” and has been “made sick by the stress”, which has “reduced her effectiveness.”

And when Pinto doesn’t get his way, Tschekalin said he resorts to his blog.

“There is never a positive or constructive solution offered,” Elston wrote. “Morale has declined and staff at all levels are disenchanted with the dysfunction of council. Good people have left and more will be leaving.”

Pinto was also accused of being “openly disrespectful” to the mayor and other women in management positions.

To read the full report

Council will vote on the recommendations of the report at a special meeting taking place Monday, July 9 at 5:30 p.m.

Canada Post ‘hellbent’ on labour dispute as talks continue, union president says

OTTAWA—The president of Canada Post’s biggest workers’ union says the Crown corporation is spoiling for a labour fight as more than 50,000 employees prepare for a summertime strike-vote amidst ongoing talks.

Mike Palecek, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, accused Canada Post management of stubbornness at the bargaining table, where talks for a new employees’ contract that began in late 2017 have accomplished “virtually nothing.”

Negotiations entered a this week, as third-party conciliators were brought in to help hammer out an agreement before a Sept. 9 deadline. If no deal is reached by then, a strike or lockout will be possible by late September.

“So far we’ve been met with an absolute refusal to move on any substantial issue from the corporation,” Palecek told the Star.

“They seem hellbent on driving us towards a labour dispute,” he said.

Canada Post spokesperson Jon Hamilton said Thursday that the company would not comment on the situation in an interview, but provided an emailed statement that described the conciliation process as a normal part of labour talks.

“Canada Post negotiators are working hard to find common ground with CUPW and believe a quick resolution to negotiations is in the best interest of customers and employees,” the statement said.

Palecek said the union wants to resolve a number of problems for the two workers’ units involved in the talks: the 42,000 workers in urban operations and 8,000 rural and suburban mail carriers that together make up more than three-quarters of Canada Post’s workforce.

A major sticking point is over pay equity between these units. Sixty-five per cent of the rural and suburban unit is women, but the average pay of those workers is 30 per cent lower than those in urban operations, even though they do “the exact same work,” Palecek said.

In a released May 31, arbitrator Maureen Flynn criticized Canada Post’s pay discrepancies as “fundamentally flawed” and ordered the two sides to settle the issue by the end of August.

“This was a major issue in our last round of negotiation, and we have a government that says they want to make pay equity a priority,” Palecek said.

“We haven’t seen that yet.”

Other issues on the table involved forced overtime and union demands to bring social issues into the workers’ contract with the company. For example, Palecek said the union wants Canada Post to convert its fleet of vehicles to electric, and set up postal banking.

“We don’t have to be here. We’ve come to the table in good faith,” he said.

Midland residents will have opportunity to address Yonge St. changes

(UPDATE: The public meeting scheduled for August 27 has been deferred.)

Midland residents will have a chance to address council on the recent changes made to Yonge Street during an upcoming council meeting.

Council initially scheduled a public information session for Aug. 27 at 5:30 p.m. where a staff report on the implementation of the Yonge Street  would be presented.

Mayor Gord McKay has elected to defer the meeting “until sufficient data has been collected,” according to a statement on the town’s website.

Town administration will continue to gather traffic volumes and bike lane statistics over the course of the calendar year.

New lanes were painted on Yonge Street  in mid-July. A once four-lane road was changed to include two driving lanes, two bike lanes and a centre turning lane.

Angel ‘gateway’ into Penetanguishene could change

Penetanguishene is considering making enhancements to the angel gateway into town.

Two trumpet-playing angels fixed on concrete blocks currently sit on either side of Main Street at Thompsons Road. The town hired WSP to study the existing location of these angels and what could possibly be done with them.

“We did an assessment of where they are and any potential impacts that may (occur) through the Main Street reconstruction project,” said Greg Bender of WSP Canada.

The report concluded that the angels should remain together, be kept opposite each other on either side of the road and should be relocated south.

“Where the angels are right now used to be the informal gateway to the town … and development is encroaching on that gateway,” said Bender.

“We heard from the heritage committee that it would make sense to relocate the angels to the municipal boundary to really ensure people know they are entering Penetanguishene at the municipal boundary and not at Thompsons Road.”

Bender proposed a series of redesigns, which included angels on pedestals ranging three to eight metres in height with walls, signage, banners or a connecting archway. Eight proposed designs had estimated costs as low as $331,000 and as high as $1.2 million.

Council has yet to debate the options.

Police seek two suspects in Innisfil razor theft

South Simcoe police have released photos of two men wanted in connection to a theft of razors at an Innisfil store.

Officers said the men went into the Innisfil Beach Road store Aug. 1 and went straight to the aisle with the razors. A large quantity was taken, without either man paying for the items.

They got into a van and drove west.

The first suspect is white approximately 30-40 years old, tall with an average build. His head was shaved bald and he had a clean shaven face. He was wearing a blue golf shirt and brown khaki pants.

The second suspect is white, an average height with a thin build. He was also clean shaven and wore a black Nike ball cap, a white Canada T-shirt and dark shorts.

Their van is a white commercial panel van with black tinted windows and a ladder on the roof.

Anyone with tips can call 705-436-2141, 905-775-3311 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477(TIPS).

Beattie’s Distillers in Alliston makes addition to liquor lineup

Beattie’s Distillers in Alliston introduced its latest libation at an open house held June 22.

Distillery owners Ken and Liz Beattie are making history by becoming the first distillery in Canada to make gin from potatoes.

A small batch of strawberry vodka was also sold exclusively at the event.

Guests were able to sample the new products at the cocktail bar and they were also treated to free snacks and other goodies, including mashed potatoes served in martini glasses, topped with cheese, gravy and other mouth-watering fixings.

The gin will be hitting LCBO shelves very soon.

Beatties Distiller’s began selling potato vodka in April 2016, and in the fall of last year they introduced two more products, sweet-potato vodka and an Irish moonshine called Poitin.

Innisfil playground floods prior to rainfall

The Town of Innisfil has temporarily closed a new playground on Mapleview Drive East after it flooded Aug. 20.

Staff was working to fix the situation, but the additional rainfall Aug. 21 may delay their efforts. As the park is still under warranty, a contractor was coming to investigate.

The waterfront park was completed recently and includes a swing set, large and small play structure. There is also a basketball pad off to the side. The new design incorporates features of the lake. There’s a scope for kids to look out to the water, and a panel with a compass on it.

While waiting for the park’s wood-chip bottom to dry up, staff is suggesting residents try driving to in Stroud to entertain the children.

Innisfil firefighters credited for rescuing puppy

Alcona’s Nela Fernandes wasn’t expecting to call 911 after grabbing some coffee from her kitchen just after noon July 9.

But when her three-month old puppy became trapped under her heavy sofa, she didn’t know what else to do.

“I heard my puppy and she was under the couch,” Fernandes said. “I lifted the end of the couch, thinking she was just under it.”

The chihuahua/Jack Russell mix dog named Bela had crawled behind the couch and was whimpering.

Fernandes said she is normally a cat person, but after losing her job more than a year ago, she decided to get a dog as a companion.

Which is why she was distraught after opening the footrest to see Bela’s head trapped in the metal arm of the mechanism.

“I tried to move her head, but I was scared. I couldn’t get her out. I wanted her to keep breathing,” she said. “She likes to shove her face into everything. When my husband takes off his shoes, she tries to get in there.”

Home alone, Fernandes put one leg of the couch onto her coffee table and called for help.

“I was frantic when I called 911. I know (pets) aren’t human, but they are a part of the family.”

Thankfully, Innisfil Fire and Rescue Service agreed to help.

“We don’t normally do this,” acting fire Capt. Cody Summers said. “Our crew runs into animal calls often, usually about cattle on the road. Or donkeys or miniature horses.”

Summers has a soft spot for pets and brought his team to Fernandes’ home with hydraulic tools in case they needed to cut Bela free.

“We were afraid if we moved the chair, she would get hurt,” Summers said. “I held onto the dog while the two others moved the couch.”

Together, firefighters Blair Vigneux and Paul Klienstiber tilted the couch back and were able to move the foot rest so Bela’s head could be freed.

“We had the tools and cutters to get her out, and that’s what I thought we were here to do,” Summers said. “But we were also trying to save the couch.”

Collingwood DJ looking to make a difference through hip hop

By day, Lucio De Rose is a personal support worker, helping seniors in South Georgian Bay.

When the lights go down, the 28-year-old Collingwood man becomes DJ Primary Sources, a hip hop DJ.

De Rose will be showing his skills at a hip hop show called Man vs. Machine on Aug. 15 at Jozos at Blue Mountain Village at 9 p.m.

The show will feature accomplished rapper and Juno nominated Fresh Kils as well as other hip hop acts including OBM and Vokal Legend.

Always a fan of hip hop music, DeRose got the bug to DJ five years ago.

“I needed a release, always listened to hip hop, and saw there was a lack of respect for the hip hop and DJ communities,” he said. “I started to drive the two hours weekly (to Toronto) to attend every hip hop show I could make.”

He said he networked and built contacts in the hip hop world in Ontario, Canada and worldwide. He realized there was an opportunity for him to travel while doing something he loved.

He soon connected with promoters in Toronto and started performing at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto.

While hip-hop has grown to do big business around the world, De Rose said there are many new artists burgeoning below the surface.

“Canadian and underground hip hop has been hidden from most people’s ears for a long time,” he said. “We are just like any other struggling artists. Recently they have opened an art exhibition at the McMicheal art gallery showcasing Canadian hip hop. This is very important as (hip hop) needs it’s proper place in history.”

De Rose said one of his goals is to bring about change with his music.

“Substance is what I am trying to bring and what inspired me about hip hop,” he said. “I love Margaret Atwood and she believes art without a message is pointless. I feel very similar about hip hop. Hip hop has tried to change the world for the better multiple times.”

For more information visit .

Ed Christie – Clearview Township Ward 1

Ed Christie is a 42-year resident of Clearview.

He was born in Collingwood and graduated from Collingwood Collegiate Institute. He moved away to build his career but returned to Clearview to live and raise a family. He is now fully retired and ready to serve the residents of Ward 1, Clearview.

Ed is married to Diane McKee and they are the parents of Michael (Sandra Downer) and Dana (Shawn denBok). They enjoy time with four grandchildren.

An Ontario Agricultural College graduate, Ed Christie went on to become Ontario Sales Supervisor for Chipman Chemicals.  He then returned home and opened Christie’s Clothing in Collingwood.

As a former Collingwood Town Councillor, Ed brings a great deal of municipal experience to the race for the Clearview council seat in Ward 1. He has chaired the Collingwood Heritage and Sign committees. As Chair of the Collingwood Downtown Business Improvement Association, Ed was a driving force behind the nationally recognized revitalization of Collingwood’s Historic Downtown District.

Ed sat on the Nottawasaga Conservation Authority, the Hospital Board, is Past President of the Collingwood Rotary Club and was a founding member of the South Georgian Bay Rotary Club.

As for issues facing Ward 1, Clearview, Ed believes it is necessary to push for an Official Plan Update. He feels the time has come to have this material reviewed to meet today’s demands and standards.

He will also work to initiate a public meeting to allow residents to talk specifically about water and sewer requirements in Nottawa. He believes development in the village is being held back by existing bylaws.

“We have to find a way to make Ward 1 enticing for a developer to want to come here.”

Ed Christie says it would be his pleasure to serve the residents and help continue to do good work on Clearview Council.

Visit Ed Christie’s website: