Dinner in White pops up at Innisfil’s waterfront

Guests dressed in white unpacked their dinner in front of Lake Simcoe for this year’s annual Dinner in White.

The pop-up picnic event is put on by the Innisfil Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee and this year’s waterfront dinner at the Lefroy Harbour Resorts had an international theme.

Tables were decorated in white and guests pre-picked countries to represent, with guests including touches such as an Irish prayer, Grecian togas and French baguettes.

Proceeds from the annual event go to promoting art and culture in the community.

The next Innisfil Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee event is the 26th annual .

Midland-based Huronia Community Foundation donates to invasive-species program

With the generous support of the Huronia Community Foundation, and Duncan and Penny McLaren and the Stow Fund, the Severn Sound Environmental Association (SSEA) is able to purchase new equipment to support the .

Invasive species, including plants, animals and micro-organisms, can negatively impact the environment and native species, the economy and society. The SSEA and the townships of Tiny, Tay, Severn and the Town of Midland initiated the , to provide local expertise and to co-ordinate a cross-municipal approach to address invasive species, including education, community engagement, mapping, monitoring and management of problematic invasive species.

“Invasive species are not restricted by municipal borders, making a collaborative approach critical. A big thank you to the Huronia Community Foundation; their support makes important community programs like these possible,” said Julie Cayley, SSEA executive director.

The Seven Sound Environmental Association’s mission is to sustain environmental quality and ensure continued protection through implementing a legacy of wise stewardship of Severn Sound and its tributaries. For more information, visit .

The Huronia Community Foundation is a public foundation serving the people of Huronia. The foundation builds permanently endowed charitable funds for the changing needs and opportunities of the community and provides grants to eligible charitable organizations in arts and culture, education, health, environment, sports and recreation, and social service sectors. For more info about Huronia Community Foundation, email or visit .

What’s going on here? New optometry clinic proposed on Centre Street in Alliston

All eyes are on a vacant piece of land that could soon be home to a new optometry clinic in Alliston.

Just the facts:

• A minor variance application has been approved to adjust the maximum lot coverage to permit a new building to be constructed at the Centre Street, just south of the Shoppers Drug Mart parking lot.

• The application was submitted to increase the maximum lot coverage from 70 per cent to 81 per cent to allow for the construction of new building for the New Tecumseth Optometry Clinic.

• The purpose of the increase was to better accommodate and serve the clients and patients.

• The town’s lot coverage standard of 70 per cent is meant to “maintain an appropriate balance of open space and buildings on the property” while also allowing natural areas to provide storm water run-off. However, the town’s planning department considers the increase “minor in nature” and didn’t object to the application.

• The property is designated downtown core commercial and clinics/health care facilities are permitted uses.

• It is zoned urban commercial core and a health service facility is permitted within that designation

• Normally the town requires clinics to provide six parking spaces, but the applicant will provide two and compensate the town for the remaining spaces in cash-in-lieu of parking. Clients will be able to use the municipal parking lot across the street.

• The applicant has yet to submit a site plan application, which will address various engineering matters.

For more information visit

Lake Simcoe life in balance, despite invasive species

Another invasive species is keeping Lake Simcoe scientists busy this summer.

To the untrained eye, the foreigners are being mistaken as plain old zebra mussels.

But it’s a species called quagga mussels that scientists and anglers are keeping an eye on.

“They look almost exactly like zebra mussels, but they’re a separate species. They are like zebra mussels 2.0,” Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority limnologist Brian Ginn said.

Zebra mussels were first found in Lake Simcoe in 1991, feeding on algae and particles in the water column.

Typically, their invasion is cyclical, eating until food is scarce, then they start to die off.

Quagga mussels also come from the Caspian-Black Sea area in Europe and were first noticed in Lake Simcoe in 2004.

“Quagga mussels can survive on less food than zebra mussels and they can close up and survive periods without food,” Ginn said. “They are also better in cold water.”

Zebra mussels would spring to life once Lake Simcoe reached 12 to 20 degrees, he said.

Quagga mussels are active at 4 C, which in Lake Simcoe is year-round, Ginn said. They also don’t mind a sandy bottom and are found across the lake.

As a result, Ginn has seen changes in the water.

“We used to have this big algae bloom in the spring that would set up the food chain for the entire year,” he said. “Now, the quagga mussels are eating the spring algae bloom.”

However, scientists are also learning the food chain is adapting.

“With the zebra mussels, they actually created more food for bugs in the lake.”

Bugs like shad flies and midges live on mussel debris.

“There were more bugs where zebra mussels were found, and little fish like to eat bugs and big fish eat the little fish,” he said. “In the shallow water, it actually increased the amount of fish.”

Lake Simcoe fishermen are noticing lake trout and whitefish are starting to eat the quagga mussels.

“They are an alternate food source for some of the whitefish and the perch. Gobies also eat them when they are small. You get a lot of fish with red lips,” angler and Lake Simcoe Message Board administrator John Whyte said. “They’re not an invited species, but we have a lake in balance.”

However, quagga mussels aren’t a fisherman’s friend. “They are sharp enough to cut your line if you’re bottom fishing,” he said.  They also cling to boats and docks like zebra mussels.

“But they haven’t done the damage to infrastructure like they thought they might have,” he said.

However, that could change.

“One of the problems with quagga mussels is they are on the bottom and they filter every toxin that goes through the lake. When fish start to eat them and birds eat fish, it could be like the E. coli outbreak we had in Georgian Bay.”

The concern is what the future might hold.

For now, Ginn and his team are taking quagga mussel samples at 40 sites in the lake, using a claw machine to dredge the bottom.

Bradford mourns loss of Connor Ramsay, 18, after Holland Marsh crash

A community is reeling and left mourning the loss of a young life after a tragic single-vehicle collision in the early morning of July 9 in the Holland Marsh.

Connor Ramsay, 18, of Bradford,  was the passenger in a grey Toyota Corolla that collided with a tree near the hamlet of Ansnorveldt on King Street, west of Dufferin Street, in King Township around 2:50 a.m. July 9, York Regional Police said in a release.

Ramsay was pronounced dead at the scene.

“It is with deep sadness that the Bradford Curling Club shares the news of the passing of not only one of it’s promising young curlers, but also a future prominent member of the community,” the club posted on its website late July 9.

“The thoughts and prayers of our entire membership go out to his Mother (Wendy) and Grandmother (Mary) and the rest of the Ramsay Family, as they mourn their loss.”

Connor is being remembered by a devastated curling community as a young man who took time not only to improve and play the game he loved, but also to pass along advice to others.

“Our community has lost a shining, bright, positive and gifted young man,” the Junior Slam Series posted on social media.

Team Cowan posted it will wearing Connor’s initials on its jerseys for the 2018-19 season, adding its deepest condolences from the Cowan Family.

The driver, a 17-year-old Bradford girl, was taken to hospital, where she remains in serious but non-life-threatening condition.

YRP Const. Laura Nicolle reiterated an appeal to the public for anyone who may have been in the remote area or who may have seen the vehicle prior to the crash to contact police.

“A young person losing their life is a heartbreaking situation for the families involved and the entire community,” she said. “We are asking our citizens to come forward with any information that might help us in this ongoing investigation.”

Anyone with information is asked contact the major collision investigation unit at , ext. 7704.

Unattended cooking causes kitchen fire in Angus

A mom and her 11-year-old son were treated for minor smoke inhalation after their oven caught fire at their home on Decarolis Crescent in Angus early Friday afternoon.

Essa Fire Chief Cynthia Ross Tustin said the fire happened just after 1:30 p.m. Aug. 10.

The home’s smoke alarms activated after the appliance caught fire and started to burn the wall behind the oven and some of the cabinets.

“The mom extinguished the fire with a garden hose before we got there,” she said.

The fire also caused minor smoke damage throughout the home.

The chief reminds residents to make sure they have working smoke alarms and to never leave cooking unattended.

Get advice from an Innisfil senior at the Elder Wisdom bench

A few seniors from Lakeside Retirement home will be sharing their words of wisdom with a younger generation Aug. 8.

The project is called Elder Wisdom and started a few years ago with Coleman Care Centres and Schlegel Villages seniors’ homes.

One of their stops in 2016 was in Barrie and the program continued this year, with Innisfil IdeaLAB and Library staff participating.

“We emailed them and asked about coming to Innisfil,” Innisfil IdeaLAB and Library strategic planning co-ordinator Dana Stott said. “They are bringing the bench and #ElderWisdom buttons, but it’s important to have local residents sharing the wisdom.”

The concept is a senior will sit on a green bench in front of the library while waiting for a stranger to take a seat beside them and start up a conversation.

“It’s a catalyst to get people talking and to fight ageism within the community,” Stott said. “It’s to highlight talents and wisdom and to show our elders they are valued and appreciated.”

It also creates an intergenerational conversation without the barriers, she added.

“There are a lot of questions about relationships and some about careers,” Stott said. “General life questions and queries.”

One of the ideas with the Elder Wisdom program is people assume seniors have all the answers.

“It’s more like if you’re a senior, you’ve had the wrong answer more times than not and you’ve learned from them,” she said. “That’s one of the ideas on the website that I thought was pretty clever.”

As the Elder Wisdom program has grown, the focus has also turned to technology, with guests using hashtag #ElderWisdom to share their experiences.

“There’s an initiative to get seniors comfortable with technology. This was the first year they had a Twitter panel and included technology as a learning piece.”

The Elder Wisdom program visits Innisfil Aug. 8 from 3 until 8 p.m. in front of the Lakeshore branch of the Innisfil IdeaLAB and Library,  All are welcome to participate by spending some time on the green bench. The event happens rain or shine.

For more details, visit