Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday May 27, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen

Thursday May 24th 2012 was an exceptional day for Midland. Huronia Players opened their theatre in the new Midland Cultural Centre to thunderous applause. The Centre is a beautiful modern building that heralds a bright future for our community. Be part of the setting of this major Midland milestone - please attend the opening ceremonies on Saturday June 9th at 10:00 am at the Centre on Elizabeth Street.


Monday May 28th sees the May Council meeting at 7:00 pm in the Council Chambers. The agenda includes:
-       Three deputations: Urban Trees; Out of the Cold; and Human Rights
-       A number of items pertaining to the Museum, including who fixes the roof and future lease arrangements
-       Announcement of Mr. Marc Villeneuve as our new Director of Treasury and Finance
-       With building permits now ahead of the 2011 level, further information on the projects at Tim Hortons, Pro Oil (including the white pine tree issue), Hugel Lofts and the Canadian Tire development

On Tuesday members of the private sector will gather to discuss how to direct economic development in Midland. This information will form an important element of our economic development plans.

The Renew Midland group will meet again on Wednesday May 30th. The project continues to go well with the next stage involving contacting prospective landlords. That evening, a special recognition event will be held by the 724 Midland Lions Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron. Retiring cadet instructor Captain David Elwell will be honoured for 28 years of guiding the youth of Midland.

Thursday May 31st invites you to a Doors Open Huronia launch party at the Library restaurant at 3:00 pm.

Then on Saturday June 2nd it really gets busy:
-       The annual Kids Fishing Derby starts at 9:00 am at the Town dock
-       At 11 am the Midland Bay Sailing Club host it’s Sailpast in support of Big Brothers and Sisters of North Simcoe. Should be a wonderful spectacle.
-       Also at 11 am in Victoria Harbor is the start of the MARC BBQ fundraiser
-       To cap off the day at 5:00 pm is the Huronia Community Foundation gala and philanthropic awards night

June 2nd and 3rd is Doors Open weekend. Your chance to get out and see some special historical homes and buildings throughout our area. For information please see:

Gord McKay

Be part of Midland’s exciting Year of Having Fun - 2012.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday May 20, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen

It’s one of those weekends that you never want to end.  The sun is shining, shops are busy, the farmers market is back in operation, last minute details are being completed at our new Cultural Centre. The start of a great summer.

The work week starts on Tuesday with a meeting of County Council in Midhurst. Likely some heated discussion about where the province wants to see the County’s growth occur. We are also starting a review of County governance. Are 32 Councillors too many?

Wednesday May 23rd is a busy day:
-       I will be heading down to Georgian College’s, Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre in Barrie. A closer association will help our own economic development plans in Midland
-       The County will visit Tiny to update area Councils on the Midland - Penetanguishene transfer site and closed landfill
-       This is Rotary Random Act of Kindness Day. Your chance to pleasantly surprise your fellow citizens with a small act of unexpected kindness. Come down to Town Hall for a free cup of coffee or visit the free noon-time BBQ at the Town Dock.

Thursday May 24th is also busy:
-       The four mayors meet on the economy. One agenda item will be cooperation on joint tourism.
-       At 5:00 pm we cut the ribbon for the opening night of Huronia Players in their new theatre at the Midland Cultural Centre. The opening play is Our Town.  Tickets are still available for some nights.
-       At 7:00 pm the Town will host a Town Hall meeting at the NSSRC to hear your views on whether Midland should be considering a casino. A variety of information on this topic can be found at:

On Friday May 25th you have to be up early for the Dock to Dock Bike Ride. The ride starts at 8:00 am at the DOCK radio station parking lot on Cranston- then down King Street to the Town Dock.

And then the weekend:
-       Saturday May 26th at 4:00 pm, the Coldwater Curling Club honors Glen Howard.  You are welcome to attend. Glen will also grace our Canada Day parade in Midland.
-       Sunday May 27th at 1:00 pm the Lions Walk for Guide Dogs, starting at the Town Dock.

Gord McKay

Be part of Midland’s exciting Year of Having Fun - 2012.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Saturday May 12, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen

Dawn over Georgian Bay was graced by two trumpeter swans landing with delicacy and purpose. It pays to get up early on these beautiful days. And make sure you take time for Mother’s Day this Sunday.

Midland’s traditional start of the shipping season Top Hat ceremony takes place at the Town dock this Monday May 14th at 10 am.  We will welcome the skipper of the Frontenac in fine style. At noon, still at the dock, we officially open our new Visitor Information Centre. You will also hear about our official Tourism Midland logo, phone number, email, website, Facebook and Twitter initiatives to help us provide timely information for our visitors.

At 6:00 pm that evening is a closed meeting of Council.  Then at 7:00 pm is General Committee.  A long agenda including:
-          Consideration of a number of new parking fees – Town Dock, Pete Peterson, NSSRC
-          Consideration of the leases with organizations who occupy Town facilities/property – YMCA, Huronia Players, Lawn Bowling Club, etc.
-          Selection of the firm for the Town’s operational review
-          Discussion of the Museum’s leaking roof and a request for a new lease arrangement

On May 16th and 17th Georgian College hosts its second annual trades showcase. Georgian brings in students from across Simcoe County and Muskoka to give then a hands-on understanding of a trades career. This year’s event will be twice the size of last year’s success.

At 5:00 pm on the 16th I will appear on Roger’s Politically Speaking. Your chance to ask questions of your Mayor. Then at 6:30 pm is the Annual Civic Night dinner sponsored by the Midland Lion’s Club.

Thursday May 17th sees a number of special celebrations:
-          2:00 pm, County Councillors gather in Barrie for the opening ceremonies of the RVH cancer centre
-          6:30 pm at St. Pauls church is a ceremony honoring the achievements of our young ladies in Girl Guides.
-          7:00 pm that evening I attend a Citizenship Awards ceremony at the Community Centre in Port McNicoll

Saturday is your chance to celebrate with our neighbours in Port McNicoll.  Portarama starts at 11:00 am in Port with a parade followed by a day full of fun and activities for all.


This is Police Week. Please take time to say thank you to our excellent men and women who serve you in policing.

Gord McKay

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Saturday May 5, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen

A sunny weekend (again). My garden calls (weeding).  I will keep this short.

On Monday a small group of County Councilors are meeting at County to discuss the problem of structural downloading from the province. While many people recall the “explicit downloading” that occurred under previous provincial governments, the reality is the downloading has never stopped. Your municipality is regularly required to produce new reports, manage new provincial regulations or cover for a provincial service withdrawal. The cost is implicitly handed to your municipality. The group will examine how we deal with this problem.

Tuesday May 8th will see another step in our economic development with an internal meeting to discuss the creation of a trades incubator.

Wednesday May 9th at 6:00 pm, I will be making a presentation the “Midlandcommunity” group. Topics will range from taxation to Fire Departments. Then at 7:00 pm we remember our fallen veterans with a candlelight ceremony at the Cenotaph.  Please arrive early.

On Thursday May 10th, Georgian Bay General Hospital is organizing a volunteer clean-up of the hospital grounds. A good opportunity to help both our hospital and Midland look better. Please come at noon, dressed for rough yard work. And in keeping with the gardening theme, the Girl Guides will be planting trees in Little Lake Park starting at 4:30 pm.

Saturday May 12th will be busy:
-       Season opening mass at Martyrs’ Shrine at 10:30 am
-       Opening of our new Visitor Information Centre at the Town dock at noon
-       M&M is hosting its annual BBQ in support of Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. It takes place at their store on Hwy 93 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Come hungry.

Today being Treasure Day in Midland, a reminder that the County’s new Special Collection Program will start in 2013. This program replaces the old Heavy Waste Pick-up.  With the new service you will be able to call a special phone number and arrange to have your items picked up at your door at your convenience. There will be a fee – yet to be determined.

And in closing, below is a link to the presentation I made last week to Midland Rotary on Midland’s economic development.

Gord McKay

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Economic Development and Midland

Presentation to Midland Rotary Club – May 2, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen

It’s an honor to be with you today. I am here to tell you about the biggest project perhaps in the history of Midland. Let me start by setting the stage.

My wife and I came to Midland 11 years ago – we knew immediately it was a special place.
-          A quiet little Town nestled into Georgian Bay – tree lined streets, sunshine
-          We walked down King St. and were welcomed at Gianettos and introduced to their addictive cottage cheese dip
A beautiful place – so just leave it the way it is.

But the more we became part of Midland the more that we realized that this idyllic community was under threat from events both within and without

The realization started with small things – Midland wasn’t growing

-          In 1996  our population was 16,347 and in 2011 16,572225 people in 15 years – flat growth
-          So we are a slow growth community – no real problem
-          But the reality of no growth in population is slower development, slow real estate market, a lower profile with the province (perhaps a good thing)

Those of us who are here are getting older and the young people are quickly leaving

-          In 2001 19% of us were 65+ versus Ontario at 13%
-          By 2006 our seniors ranks had grown to 19.8%

-          Fewer younger people - in 2001 just 18.3% were under 19 versus Ontario at 19.6%
-          By 2006 our share of young people had dropped to 15.5%

-          Now a greying population is fine but the economic realities are fewer people working, lower consumer spending, a greater demand for municipal services – and fewer children in the street
-          Not so bad as long as we still have jobs ……………..

The global economy is changing Midland and has been doing so for years

-          A problem with being a small community is that you don’t have access to good local statistics. We can see the impact of the global recession anecdotally – Bruin closed, Schott Gemtron layoffs, and lately Unimin closed.

-          One of the few sources of jobs numbers in our area is the Business Times. They publish an annual survey of our large employers in Midland and Penetanguishene, companies with 100 plus employees. Over the last three years, 2008 -2011.
o   Midland and Penetanguishene’s  largest employers have lost over 300 positions
o   The manufacturing sector alone has been shedding 150 jobs a year
o   But the stats also show a silver lining – the healthcare sector has added some 130 jobs over this same period

And that is what I want to talk to you about.


The quality of life is what has attracted us to Midland and what keeps us here. 
We don’t want that to change.  But unless we do change, we will not be able to preserve that quality of life. And that brings us to the topic of economic development.

When I became mayor there was virtually no focus economic development. No budget – no staffing – limited public awareness.  I want to recognize the exemplary efforts of Debra Muenz at the NSCFDC. Good analysis – but limited impact.  We were not yet ready. So we started the discussion.

And sometimes fate steps in to help. The last election brought in four mayors in North Simcoe who had different degrees of interest in economic development. While rural Tay, is different from cottage Tiny, is different from urban Penetanguishene, all faced economic challenges. So we began talking about our differences and common ground. We borrowed ideas from other prior studies. And by the fall of 2011 we had crafted an economic strategy document to guide our efforts.

            (Review the North Simcoe Economic Action Initiative Strategy)

With the mayors aboard, each of our Councils had to buy in. Again a lot of internal debate. Against all odds by early 2012 all Councils had agreed to support the Strategy.  Midland Council went one further and identified economic development as its top priority.

So we were in good shape.  Right?  The commitment was still not there – each Council voted only $5,000 to the cause.  Our total investment for the future of North Simcoe was just $20,000. This sum, though small, will allow some critical initial work to be done in 2012:

-          Create an economic development web-site
-          Develop an area opportunities listing
-          Host a Prosperity Summit, September 26.


Getting the politicians philosophically on side is a good thing but without the involvement and leadership of the private sector it is a hollow venture. It was time to reach out and gain that support.

On February 1st Midland started the Summit Series.  The Summits are a special series of meetings with selected invitees focusing on the key sectors identified in the Strategy.  Their purpose is to guide the initial action plans for each economic sector.

Midland started with the first sector, Healthcare.  We brought in the key stakeholders in our local healthcare economy – GBGH, Waypoint, Jarlette, Georgian College and Lakehead University.  We asked them 3 questions:

-          In 20 years what will our local healthcare economy look like – where are the jobs?
-          What have we got to fix or change to get there?
-          What are our first steps?

And they told us.

They identified how the entire sector was changing – the service models, the funding formulas, where the jobs are likely to be and the types of resources that are needed to be successful.   While the meeting helped refine the strategy, it did much more - it set in motion a change of attitude that will help us take on this transformation and brought together those who could make it happen. 

It takes Midland from simply reacting to external events to a position where we can start managing our economic future.   And in these tough economic times managing is essential.

Let me give you an example.  In our healthcare discussions with the LHIN, they told us that provincial funding will be moving away from institutions and towards distributed health services. So that’s where you need to look for jobs.  One person who has found those jobs was an entrepreneur in town named Ron Shulman. He became aware of a rule change in dental care regulations that permitted dental support services to be provided away from the dentist’s office.  The result – he built a new business around this idea. The business provides services at a price point well below the established market. The business started in Midland, has branched to Wasaga Beach and he is now looking for capital for further expansion. Our future jobs are out there – we just need some help in seeing them.

Over in Penetanguishene, Gerry Marshall has just completed the second Summit on Smart Manufacture.  Scott Warnock is setting up the Tourism Summit for early 2013 and Ray Millar has started work on his Agri-science summit. We are all looking to redefine our local economy.


So far I have talked about four municipalities working on four main sectors in our economic strategy, plus getting the private sector engaged.   You can see how complex this can become. So how do you organize all of this successfully?

Again Midland is taking the lead. 

We began by recognizing that we will be successful when the public and private sector interests are focussed on and aligned in building the North Simcoe economy. 

We currently have no vehicle that will allow that to happen – so we have to build one.

The process will start on May 29th as senior business leaders from North Simcoe meet to discuss an economic development organization. An organization led by the private sector and closely supported by the municipalities.

What are we trying to accomplish?

-          Bring the public and private sector into an effective cooperative arrangement
-          Provide a long-term and sustainable platform for our economy
-          Reduce the unintended effects of the political process  (For example: election upsets every four years)

What will this look like – you will have to invite me back in six months.


I have talked a lot about the economic foundation blocks. But as my constituents keep asking - what are you doing for me today?
The following are just some of the economic initiatives currently underway in Midland.

-          Simplifying the municipal planning regulations – (Example – a change to development financing by allowing conditional Letters of Credit)

-          Renew Midland, bringing life to our downtown

-          Georgian College trades incubator

-          Public consultation process for the Unimin site

-          Public consultation on gaming opportunities

-          Selecting a signature event for Midland

-          Bringing marina operators together for sector discussions

-          A major Town tourism initiative, including the PASSPORT program

All of this is not done for the sake of growth – but to build a solution that will sustain our quality of life.  The people of Midland require this. And we are responding.


I have spoken about community building through economic development. If any organization epitomizes community building it has to be the Midland Rotary.  Your organization has made such a positive difference:

-          The Rotary Trail
-          Party on the Dock
-          The rotary stage and summer concert series
-          Our new MCC. 

Our economic development project is perhaps the largest community building exercise that we have ever undertaken. It will impact our jobs, our healthcare, our taxes, our children – our quality of life.  I look forward to working with Rotary as we continue to build this beautiful place we call Midland.