Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday December 18, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen

Just in time, a little bit of snow to help set the stage for Christmas.

Council will meet at on Monday December 19th in closed session to discuss a legal matter.  Then at , the regular Council meeting starts at Town Hall. It should be a short meeting including:
-          a deputation from the Salvation Army
-          approval of our economic development strategy
-          agreement for tree clearing on the property south of Wal-Mart
Please note the 2012 budget will not be voted on at this meeting.

There has been a lot of discussion surrounding this year’s budget. You are welcome to read my views at

The Town offices will be closed during the week between Christmas and New Years. I am also taking a week off, so NFTT will not be published next week.

Please accept my best wishes to you and your family for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Gord McKay

Budget 2012

After three months and six plus intensive meetings the 2012 budget will be presented to Council for a final vote in January. Council has been working with staff to bring in a budget with a year-over-year cost increase of 2% or less. While the final cost increase amount is still being calculated, the municipal portion of your taxes should increase by 1.2% in 2012. In addition to many behind the scenes adjustments by staff, key highlights from the budget are:

-          Council required both non-union staff and Council to accept a salary increase cap of 2% for 2012 (down from an expected increase of 2.5%). Union staff was asked if they would voluntarily accept a similar cap.
-          Council decided to make no changes to its existing benefit program, pending a management study in 2012
-          A decision was made not to hire any additional full-time staff; plus one part time position was removed.
-          The Fire department was asked to adjust its call out system to reduce the amount of overtime it incurs
-          Two contracted planning studies were deferred
-          Affordable recreation was maintained; the hospital campaign was committed to for three years; the physicians recruitment program was supported
-          Library cost increase was held to 2%
-          The Works Depot was deferred for one year and the purchase of a new aerial ladder truck was deferred for three years.

While setting the 2012 budget Council heard public calls to slash staff and municipal services to quickly reduce our tax rate.  Council also learned from staff that many of the Town’s fiscal indicators are in good shape - our full-time staff complement has been essentially stable for the last three years; we have a manageable debt load; we have not depleted our Town reserves. These realities have strengthened Council’s resolve that the best course of action is to maintain the fiscal discipline evidenced in 2012 for the next two years and turn our focus to bringing jobs back to Midland.  That is the better way to control the Town budget and reduce the tax burden on our residents.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday December 11, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen

Last evening was Midland’s first Victorian Christmas House Tour. A magical evening of festive lights and warm welcomes, displayed in six local heritage homes. Thanks to our Heritage Committee, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….

Monday Dec 12th features a special Council meeting at
-          a proposal for a “public space” recycling project
-          recommendation to disband the energy committee

Tuesday December the 13th will feature the sixth (and hopefully the last) special budget meeting. There will be an in-camera meeting at

On Thursday December 15th, members of Midland’s police force will be visiting Bayview and Sacred Heart schools to recognize the graduates of the VIP program. The Values, Influences and Peers program teaches children how to stand up to the many challenges of growing up in our society. I would like to recognize Officer Dave Young, Midland Police who is the heart of this program.

And Friday, if you are down on
Aberdeen Boulevard


As part our Official Plan review, the Town will be updating its vision of the Town and everything that we do as a community. If you wish to make your voice heard on Midland’s future, please get involved before December 23rd. More information is available at the “Vision 2031” website (  or send your ideas to Mr. Wes Crown at

Gord McKay

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Saturday December 3, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen

You know that something is out of whack when you hear the sounds of lawnmowers while on your way to the Civitan Santa Claus parade. Fabulous parade by the way.

On Monday a special event takes place in Midland.  The YMCA is hosting its annual “Gifts to Give” event. Unused “re-giftable” items are made available to persons who may not be able to buy their own Christmas gift.  Last year over 300 individuals were helped by this community exchange. If you have a quality item that you would like to donate please take it to the NSSRC on Monday December 5th between and . If you are in need and would like to choose a gift, please go the NSSRC between and that same day.

On Tuesday December 6th at at the Midland Library, La Maison Rosewood Shelter will remember the tragic events of 1989 when 14 young women lost their lives. Please come and participate in this national day of remembrance and action on violence against women.

Wednesday December 7th at at the Town Hall is the Planning and Development Committee meeting. The meeting will not consider the site plan application for the recycling plant at 1001 Franke
Kindred Road
. What it will address is;
-          an OMB appeal for the property at
281 Cranston Rd
-          a proposal to cut trees for a new development in the south end of Midland
-          an update on economic development in Midland, including a “healthcare summit”

On Friday December 9th you may wish to drop by the Midland Area Reading Councils offices at
67 Fourth Street
for some Christmas cheer. All are welcome.

And on Saturday December the 10th I hope that you have your tickets for the first annual Victorian Christmas Home Tour. This event, sponsored by the Midland Heritage Committee, opens six beautiful Victorian homes in our area all decked out in Christmas garb. The tour runs from to Tickets are just $10 – contact Town Hall at 526-4275.

Gord McKay

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday November 26, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen

There may be a few complaints from those with snowmobiles and blowers all gassed up and ready to go. But is it ever nice to be able to stroll the streets of Midland in late November without the concerns of slushy boots and frozen fingers.

Monday November 28th starts with the opening of a traditional healing room at Georgian Bay General Hospital at 1:00 pm. You are welcome to attend this special event made possible by a partnership with the Beausoleil First Nations. Later that day the hospital volunteers gather for their annual celebration.

That evening at in Town Hall is Council. A relatively long agenda including:
-          two deputations – the GBGH Foundation asking for support of their capital campaign and Shelter Now, asking for consideration of their new building
-          a by-law for a winter farmers market
-          final comments on the shoreline study and an update on the “recycling plant” situation with Martyr’s Shrine
-          recognition in the National Post for Midland’s library

On Tuesday at I travel to Collingwood to celebrate the start of the 100 day countdown to the Ontario Winter Games. Midland will host some of the events including air rifle and hockey. That same day at , the MPUC will host a public meeting in our Library to tell you how to reduce the amount of your hydro bill.

Wednesday November 30th should be a fascinating day as a procession will leave Martyr’s Shrine that morning to present a petition to Town Hall.  We anticipate its arrival about with a brief stop at the NSSRC about , to accommodate those who cannot walk the distance. Expect lots of media attention for this singular event.  That evening your Council will meet in camera to discuss the recycling plant situation.

On Thursday December 1st at at the Brooklea, the County will hold a launch event for its Georgian Village Fundraising campaign. Then at that evening your Council returns to the budget table at the Town Hall. Given the number of suggestions from staff, Council and the public I expect we will have a good solution before years end.

Friday December 2nd sees the Silver Stick hockey tournament return to Midland. This annual event is always great fun, with teams from all over North America competing for top honours. The ceremonial puck drop is at at NSSRC.

Saturday December 3rd launches Christmas in Midland. The annual Civitan Christmas parade is a bit earlier this year starting at . After the parade the BIA is holding a “Welcome Santa” event for children at the Midland Public Library. They are also inviting everyone to support the Local Food Bank by purchasing a Santa hat for $2.  

Gord McKay

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday November 20, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen

And so it starts. The Town Christmas tree is lit.  I have had my first glimpse of the “Jolly Olde Elf”. Christmas lights are starting to appear in the darkling streets. Time to get on with the festive season.

A word of caution for Monday. Rogers TV will be in Town filming my “Mayor’s Christmas Message”.  So if you happen to be at the Museum or the hospital or downtown, watch out if someone hands you a microphone. You may just go viral.

Tuesday November 22nd is a busy day including:
-          The annual Employers Breakfast recognizing area employers and workers – at Brooklea at
-          Simcoe County will debate its 2012 budget starting at in Midhurst. The recommendation is a tax increase of 1.5%.
-          Community Link is launching their new supporting program “Community Reach” – Hartogg House,
Hartman Dr.
-          The Severn Sound Environmental Association hosts its annual reception at the Library starting at

On Wednesday November 23rd at our hospital will have a “technical dig” on their grounds to start the $8 million Emergency Department expansion.  A good sign for Midland’s future.  Also on Wednesday a special treat.  I am privileged to be opening the new Kumon Learning Centre at
295 King Street
at .  You are welcome to attend and see this new addition to our growing community.

On Thursday November 24th Ste. Marie Among the Hurons hosts the first day of its three day “First Light” event. This magical outdoor festival is not to be missed. The festival is open from to .  There is an admission charge.

Later Thursday evening is the kick-off for the Town of Midland’s visioning and strategy process. The initial meeting will be held at the NSSRC starting at .  Please come and let the Town know your ideas for Midland’s future. And if you still have time on Thursday, the YMCA is hosting their World Peace Week gathering at their premises at
334 King Street
, also at .

On Friday, Town employees gather for their annual Town Christmas party. Please take a moment to reflect on all the work that these good people have done on your behalf in 2011.

Gord McKay

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday November 12, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen

The days are definitely shorter now. Snow has made one vain attempt to end our summer embrace. Hate to say it - time to put the snow tires on.

Monday November 14 sees our General Committee at at Town Hall.  The agenda includes:
-          progress on our Council strategy including staffing and labour relations items
-          update on our areas economic strategy
-          good news on insurance – we may save $250,000 this year if Council agrees

On Tuesday Nov 15th, Zero Waste Simcoe will be meeting at at the YMCA premises at King and Elizabeth.  This is a public meeting and will feature presentations on how to “green your holidays”.

Wednesday the 16th will feature the Chamber of Commerce 4th Annual Trade Show to be held at the Best Western starting at . It’s free to the public.  Come out and meet the businesses in Midland and area.  Later that day, at , I will be on Politically Speaking (Rogers Local TV) where I will review many of the recent developments in our community.

Thursday the 17th at at the NSSRC is the next public meeting on our budget. This is a critical meeting as we decide upon whether our Town cost growth will be in the 2% or the 5% range.  Given the nature of the issues to be discussed we will quite likely see one or two more budget meetings this year.

Friday the 18th ushers in the Christmas season with the lighting of the Town Christmas Tree. The event will start with a parade forming at at the intersection of Yonge and King. We will walk down to the dock where we will light our tree. Come and meet your neighbours as we launch our festive season.

Gord McKay

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday November 6, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen

Winter may be on its way but this weekend we are being treated to an exceptional display of fine weather. In order to encourage you to get out and enjoy, I will keep this short.

Very few meetings in the Town this week. Most of my attention will be on economic development – encouraging new companies to come to Midland or expand in our community. While Council is still focused on the tax debate, unless we also improve our economy we will not be able to make progress in building our community. I will be writing more on this topic in the days ahead.

Friday November 11th is Remembrance Day. A very special day in Midland as we pause to remember those who defend our country with their lives. You are invited to the remembrance ceremony at the Cenotaph.  Please be there by . The Town office will be closed that day.

On Saturday November 12th you can start your Christmas shopping at St Margaret’s  Bazaar.  It runs from to in the church basement on Hugel at Third. The bazaar features a tea room and cribbage tourney and lots to eat.

Gord McKay

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday October 28, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen

The pumpkins are out smiling on the front porch. It’s the time of year when it’s great to be a kid (and a dentist).

On Wednesday November 2nd at at the Town Hall, the Planning Department will hold a Public Meeting on Shoreline Structures. This promises to be an interesting meeting. Right after the Public Meeting is the regular Planning and Development Committee meeting. Items on the agenda include:
-  the shoreline structures by-law
-  removal of holding symbol from the “Hugel Lofts” property (the old YMCA building)

Also that Wednesday evening at at the library is the start of the two day Festival of Authors.  A great literary event costing $10 per evening.  For further information click

The Wye Marsh annual fundraising dinner takes place on Friday November 4th starting at at the Ste. Marie restaurant. A great time and a great cause. Call the Wye Marsh for tickets.


There have been a number of significant developments in the Town this past week that you may want to catch up on.

The Town’s Media release on the Penetanguishene decision on policing can be found at

My position on our budget debate can be found at

Gord McKay

Midland – Cost and Taxes

Midland Council is now wrestling with its 2012 budget and municipal tax rate. Council is divided on the matter – some leaning towards a 5% cost increase while others 2%. The debate though is about a lot more than this year’s tax rate. It’s about Midland’s future.

Municipal costs go up every year. To be fair Midland has little control over some costs:
-         inflation
-         ongoing service downloading from the Province
-         growth in population
In addition, service improvements and contractual commitments are also regularly being added to the Town budget. The net effect is concerning. Over recent years our costs have been growing at 5% to 7% a year while the number of households paying for these costs has been increasing by about 1% a year. Something has to change.

Our cost growth must be balanced with our ability to pay.  Midland’s ability to pay is constrained by many factors. Midland has long been an area with low per household incomes. Our large senior population often lives on incomes indexed to the cost of living (less than 2%). Jobs have been lost recently due to the economic downturn. And finally, Midland receives limited financial support from the Province. These factors underscore the need to get our costs under control.

Midland needs a spending discipline that will reduce our cost growth while being respectful of citizens who depend upon municipal services. I believe it can be done and will work with Council to implement the following measures:
-         all-in cost growth increase of 2% or less
-         no increase in total staff complement
-         all –in annual tax increase in the range of 0% to 1%
Recognize these measures must be maintained for the next three years.

Meeting these targets will require adjustments by both the Town and our citizens. But getting our spending under control is necessary for building a better future for everyone.

Joint Police Service Turned Down by Penentanguishene.

Media Release
Town of Midland
Last evening in a vote of 9-0  Penetanguishene chose to continue their contract with the OPP, and turned aside an opportunity to join with Midland in the creation of a new joint police service.
This outcome is a disappointment for the Town of Midland.  When Midland responded to Penetanguishene’s Request for Bid some nine months ago, we made it clear that we wanted to talk with them about a new form of policing - a joint service to be shared equally by the two municipalities of Penetanguishene and Midland. We were told that before such discussions could happen that we had to bid on a pre-defined service requirement – to bid as if Midland was providing an arms-length service to Penetanguishene. We reluctantly agreed. When the numbers were in the OPP had bid $xx and Midland $1.6 million. In addition we advised that if we could just sit down and talk about a joint service that there were further savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars that could be shared between the two communities. That discussion will now not happen.
Some two years ago the Towns of Penentguishene and Midland joined forces to petition the Province to become a “joint urban growth node”.  The citizens of both communities have since worked together to define what that means - to find opportunities for cooperation, to reduce municipal costs while improving the service efficiencies for both communities. It is sad to realize that a major opportunity to make this optimism a reality has been lost.
We remain neighbours – good neighbours. But we go forward with the realization that the path will be longer and costlier than we had hoped. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday October 23, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen

I traded springtime in Australia for autumn in Midland. But its good to be home.

Monday October 24th starts early with the Midland Police Service making a final presentation to the Penetanguishene Policing Review group. The decision to pursue a joint force or not should be made by the Penentanguishene Council on Wednesday (Midland is already fully behind the idea)

Then Monday evening at in the Town Hall is the Council meeting. It has the potential to be a long meeting with four scheduled deputations. Agenda items include:
-          decision on the heritage windows at the Animal Hospital
-          comments on the potential shoreline structures by-law

Tuesday October 25th at is County Council in Midhurst. County Council will be deciding on a number of matters including changes to heavy waste pick-up for Midland and whether to collect waste from small business and merchants.

Wednesday October 26th sees SHARE presenting an information session on solar energy projects at the library, at .  If you are interested in installing a solar energy system, this will be a great source of practical information. Also that evening at the Community Service Department will host a public meeting on recreation related user fees. The good news is that only a few fees will be increasing.

Thursday October 27th is another public meeting, this one dealing with the Town’s Transportation Master Plan. This plan follows from a review of road traffic throughout the Town and will make recommendations on topics such as road modifications and parking restrictions. You can see the transportation report at  - click Town of Midland Transportation Master Plan.

And if you are in Town Hall on Friday and you see people dressed in pink, its for our Breast Cancer fundraiser. Best chili in Town being served for lunch.

Gord McKay

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saturday September 17, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen

Those beautifully crisp bright days of autumn have arrived. The kids are back at school. Summer tourists have fled.  We should all breathe a sigh of relief - except there is so much to do!

This Sunday September the 18th at will see a Legion remembrance ceremony at Lakeview Cemetery. All are welcome.

Wednesday September 21st at at the Penetanguishene Town Hall is their public meeting on police services for Penetanguishene. Penetanguishene is trying to decide whether to continue to contract with the OPP or join with Midland to create a new joint police service for our area. Information publicly available indicates that the new joint service will be less costly and will likely provide better control and a local focus to policing. This meeting will give the residents of Penetanguishene their say as to how they wish to be policed.

On Thursday September 22nd at is the Huronia Community Foundation luncheon and AGM at the NSSRC. If you intend on going please call the HCF ahead of time. 

Later that day at is the official opening of our new Town Hall. There will be number of presentations and tours will be available. Please do come out and join us for this important event.  It’s a busy evening. The Chamber All Candidates debate takes place that evening (6) but over at the Native Friendship Centre.

Friday is the start of the Coldwater Fall Fair which runs until Sunday September the 25th. The opening parade takes place at on Friday September the 23rd.  Come and see one of the best fall fairs in our area.

Saturday September 24th will see an eco-event called “Moving Planet”, meant to remind us that we don’t always need to use the car to get around. There will be a number of events including a walk from the Native Friendship Centre at and a gathering at our Community Garden in Little Lake Park starting at . 

In closing, an update on the Hugel roadwork. The first phase up to and including
Second Street
should be completed this week including paving and lawn repairs. Phase Two (
Second Street
to Fourth) will start next week and continue for about a month. If you have any questions, please contact Shawn Berriault at 526-4275 or

Gord McKay

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday September 11, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen

What a week-end in Midland.  Everything from professional tree climbing in Little Lake Park; to a Pow Wow in Ste. Marie; to an art show at the Huronia museum;  to boating in the bay. The summer that keeps on giving.

The week starts for your Mayor in Toronto on Monday. The MPUC will be meeting with Hydro One and the Ministry of Energy to discuss improving hydro service to our Town.  That same evening at at Town Hall is the September General Committee meeting.  On the agenda:
-          a report on splash-pools, possibly coming to our park
-          a decision on parking and water access improvements at Pete Peterson Park
-          should Party on the Dock expand to become a full week-end festival?
-          a review of the residential waste collection options for Midland that your County Council will be deciding upon

On Thursday September 15 at the Town budget meetings begin. This first meeting will focus on the 2012 capital budgets.

On Saturday September 17th the Huronia Foundation for the Arts and Stellula Music are hosting a Fish Fry Funday in Little Lake Park. Starting at and finishing at , It will be a day of good eating, children’s games, a beer tent and live music starting at . A day ticket is $20, children under 12 are free. A good excuse to have fun at Little Lake.

Looking ahead, fall leaf vacuuming and pick-up starts right after Thanksgiving (October 11th) and continue to November 10th, weather permitting, The Town will try to clean-up the last leaves the week of November 14th.


This past week your Town made a presentation to the Pentanguishene Police Services Board, asking them to join with Midland to form a new joint police service. Penetanguishene also asked the OPP to make a proposal to them about continuing to provide contract policing services.  As opposed to summarizing the presentation meeting and its results, I will quote a piece the Gerry Marshall sent to his residents yesterday.

One of the items of most interest from last week, was the receipt of the bid submissions and subsequent presentations from both the OPP and Midland Police forces.  Please note while reviewing the numbers and data below that the Central North Correctional Center (CNCC) charges are paid by the CNCC and  have no municipal tax implications and that the Town charges noted below are paid by the municipality and do have municipal tax implications.

THE UPSIDE – A credible policing option with a very professional persona.  A large depth of force and services provided that can manage our day to day needs. In an emergency they can quickly add their own resources to the complement of responding officers.  Numbers provided were in depth and hit all the contractual points.

DOWNSIDE -  the Town portion of the pricing sees a $300,000 per annum ( 21% increase) from our actual policing costs for 2010.  A $278,000 (17.2% increase) over their 2011 estimate.   A 3.7% tax hike would be required to support the increase. 


UPSIDE – A professional and credible policing option that can manage our day to day needs.  In an emergency they leverage their relationship with the OPP and Barrie Police for assistance.  The overall number quoted sees a modest savings. The Town portion sees a significant price differential as they come in at $300,000 less per annum then the OPP.  The Midland number proposed for the Town policing portion would result in a zero tax increase.

DOWNSIDE - Midland provided numbers based on our historic policing activities from past years and provided little background detail.  Midland positioned that the lack of detail related to the need of the new 5 person Joint Police Services Board to determine the joint policing model, philosophy and actual move forward service levels.  Once completed the final and true costs could be derived.

As you can quickly see, both proposals come with pro’s, con’s, concerns and questions.  That said, I wanted to get some details to you quickly and well in advance of our upcoming Public Consultation so you had time to get your head around the issues and collect your thoughts.   I do need to highlight though, that there is far greater information that we need to share with you.  I would do this topic a true injustice to say more at this time, without going into a full deep detailed description of all the facts and consideration. 

We will be delving deep into the facts and details during our Public Consultation being held on September 21st , at Townhall.  I do encourage you, your neighbours and friends to attend.  If you could spread the word about the consultation, I would appreciate it.  Along with advertising the public consultation, we will send direct invites to the schools, banks, liquor store, beer stores, corner stores, taxi companies and others to remind them of this meeting. We need your input, insight and thoughts on all of this.  Please do come and share with us.  In the interim please do not hesitate to email or call in advance of the meeting.

Formal Price Submissions
2012 Cost
Town of Midland
(includes $96,678 in capital)
(includes $60,000 in capital)

*2011 budget $2,471,292 ($851,672 CNCC + $1,619,620 Town)

 from Gerry Marshall, Mayor Penetaguishene”

Pentanguishene is about to make a very significant decision for the future of policing in their community. We have put forward our position that joining with Midland to create a new force is in the best interests of both communities. If they should decide in favour of a joint service, we would then start the discussions that may eventually lead to that conclusion.  There will be ample opportunity in both communities for public consultation and input before any final decision are taken on a new joint force.

Gord McKay