Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday February 23, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen

GOLD – A wonderful end to our Olympics, even though playing the US or Russia would have been a bit more exciting. These podium triumphs by our young athletes should inspire all of us to be the best that we can.

Many of us were inspired by the release of the Huronia Area Tourism Action Plan this past week. A packed house of tourism operators, government officials and local representatives heard how we will organize ourselves for tourism success in a competitive world. The plan provided good direction on “getting our act together” – but we need to shorten the long four years needed to get it all in place.  The Plan will be presented to each of the four Councils in March. Check your local calendars. (By the way, check out Midland’s new website - - what do you think?)


On Monday February 24th at 7:00 am there will be a closed meeting to discuss a personal matter concerning the appointments to the Midland Police Service Board.

Tuesday at 12:30 pm you will want to drop by the YMCA office on Elizabeth Street for the launch of their Strong Kids Campaign.  This annual event helps answer the challenge of how we give every child a chance to reach their full potential.

Wednesday February 26th will bring a novel event to Midland. Midland Reads will present 5 current Canadian novels, each with the potential to significantly change Midland and/or the world. Five passionate individuals will defend their novel and if they fail will be “voted off the island” by their fellow panelists. Should be a lot of fun. I will have the honor of serving as moderator. That’s
Midland Reads, 7:00 pm at the MCC. Tickets are a steal at $10. 

Thursday will see me at a conference in Markham, dealing with the topic of ownership of electricity distribution utilities - a very relevant topic for our Council as we contemplate the sale of our MPUC.  County Council will also take place that day at 9:00 am – moved from its regular Tuesday slot. I will rely upon our capable Deputy Mayor to carry Midland’s message to County.

Then a drive up to Gravenhurst for the 6:00 pm opening ceremonies of the 2014 Ontario Winter Games.

                                    ONTARIO WINTER GAMES - 2014

Every two years the province organizes the Winter Games to give Ontario young athletes an opportunity to show the world their best. There are 27 different sports including 4 para-sports. The games will host some 3,000 of Ontario’s best youth athletes supported by over 2,000 coaches and volunteers. The games conclude on March 2nd.

Midland will host two events – bowling and volleyball.

            Bowling:           Bayshore Lanes in Midland, Knight Haven Lanes in Penetanguishene
                                    Starts 8:30 am on Friday February 28th
                                    Awards at 5:30 pm on Friday February 28th  
            Volleyball:         NSSRC gymnasium
                                    Awards at 4:00 pm on Sunday March 2nd

For more games information

On Friday February 28th, I will be on course with Midland Fire to update my emergency planning skills. If I get enough of the answers right they may let me out to take in the Winter Games.


Dean and Darrin of the Boathouse restaurant are starting a new Midland arts event – the SUNDAY AFTERNOON JAM from 2:00 until 5:00 pm at the Boathouse.  You are warmly invited to come down any Sunday afternoon and enjoy some of our area’s finest musical talent.

Gord McKay

Be part of Midland’s Year of Making Decisions - 2014

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday February 16, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen

Something odd in the weather forecast – there appears to be some temperature readings without a negative in front of them. Time to break out the sun screen.

For those of you who want a day away from the winter, I recommend the “Open Mic” session every Saturday at the MCC from 2:00 to 5:00 pm. I was there yesterday with about 50 fellow citizens listening to wide variety of talented local folks. No charge to attend. Just grab a coffee and enjoy a thoroughly delightful Midland experience.

Monday is the Family Day holiday.  Town Hall will be closed.

On Tuesday February 18th at 1:00 pm the Town will hold a meeting for the Healthy Kids Community Challenge at the NSSRC.  This program is sponsored by the provincial government to encourage communities to take meaningful steps to reverse the growth of childhood obesity. As a community we can change the environment in which we raise our children and improve their prospects for a healthier life. If you are interested, come on down.

At 6:00 pm a closed meeting concerning personal matters and litigation.  Then at 7:00 pm is the February Council meeting (yes, it’s a week early):
-       Presentation of the Heritage Appreciation and Merit awards
-       Deputation by the Police Service Board on their 2014 budget
-       Discussion on the inclusion of the term “County Councillor” on the municipal ballot
-       Council vote on who should fill the current Police Board vacancy
-       Confirmation of our new Huronia Economic Development Corporation

Then on Wednesday February 19th at 4:00 pm is the regular Police Service Board meeting.

Thursday February 20th will be busy. At 8:30 am Tay will host the HEA Tourism Summit at restaurant Ste. Marie. The highlight of the meeting will be the presentation of the strategy to improve tourism service delivery for the entire area.

At 1:00 pm at the MCC there will be a celebration of life for Emily Harris.  Emily was an active member of the Huronia Players.  Then at 3:00 pm you are invited to the new Bourgeois motors location on Highway 12 to celebrate their grand opening. Later that evening Waypoint will have its opening celebration dinner at Waypoint. It’s a sold out event. For those who like trivia, Waypoint is our largest employer in North Simcoe.

On Friday February 21st, Waypoint invites you to its official opening ceremony at 1:30 pm at the new Waypoint Atrium building in Penetanguishene.  Tours will be available following the ceremony. And that evening, come down and see the start of Huronia Players 2014 season, featuring the Cemetery Club.


Meeting on the economic effects of low water levels on Georgian Bay. 10:00 am at Brian Orser Hall Penetanguishene


Many of you have been asking about what is happening with our waterfront land purchase. The sale has still not closed as we are awaiting a complete Phase Two environmental report from the consultant. It is taking longer than we thought.

Regardless the “Name the Waterfront” contest is nearing completion. Some 40 individuals have put forward ideas on what we should call our newest neighbourhood. It is now in the hands of our Waterfront Steering committee who will recommend the winning name to Council in March.

Gord McKay

Be part of Midland’s Year of Making Decisions - 2014

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sunday February 9, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen

A number of interesting meetings from last week. Last Tuesday I spoke to the Public School Board’s Review Committee about the need for a stronger high school in our area. (My presentation is on the blog at  I also provided input to Garfield Dunlop’s provincial budget consolation – also on the blog.

The Georgian Bay mayors had their first meeting of 2014 to discuss the impacts of low water on our local businesses. Last year we saw the International Joint Committee receive a report stating that long term “adaptive monument” was necessary to manage our lake levels. The federal and provincial governments seem to have accepted that recommendation. Our challenge though is the report speaks to the long term – ten plus years before anything happens. Over the short term we are likely to see low water levels continue to affect many of our shoreline businesses and municipal facilities.

To date a number of federal ministers have indicated financial help is coming.  We mayors will continue to help them in fulfilling that intention.


Monday February 10th will start with a closed meeting of Council at 5:00 pm to address a number of issues including contract negotiations and personal matters. At 7:00 pm that evening at Town Hall is the February General Committee. Depending on what happens in the closed session we may discuss Council’s representatives on the Police Service Board.  Other items of interest are:
-       Update on our progress with the many opportunities from the KPMG report
-       Changes to our process for evaluating our CAO
-       Selection of Council representatives for the new Audit Committee

Tuesday will feature the County Council meeting starting at 9:00 am in Midhurst. That evening you may wish to take in the fourth play-off game between the Flyers and the Kings – 8:30 pm at the NSSRC

Then it’s quiet until Thursday when the four municipalities meet at Tiny Town Hall for the Heads of Council discussion. The meeting will select Council’s North Simcoe representative to the County’s Affordable Housing Committee.


-       Penetanguishene Winterama kicks off with a parade at 11:00 am

-       We Are the Villagers is hosting a Valentines supper and dance at the Library restaurant. Starts at 6:30 pm.

Gord McKay

Be part of Midland’s Year of Making Decisions - 2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Input to the 2014 Provincial Budget

Comments for Provincial Budget Consultation – 2014

Gord McKay – Mayor, Midland

February 4, 2014

I look to the 2014 provincial budget with low expectations for progress and concern about the many challenges facing the province and its municipalities.

The issues affecting Midland and almost all other small municipalities are well known and have been repeatedly presented to the provincial government.  With reference to AMO’s “Top Ten” list:

1.       Infrastructure - Small, rural and northern municipalities need a permanent, predictable fund to pay for aging infrastructure

2.       Uniform Services Costs – Rate of growth of costs for these services is not sustainable. We need an accountable and transparent arbitration system that gives meaning to the  “ability to pay”.  The province must intervene to make these services affordable for small municipalities

3.       OMPF funding is being reduced. Don’t do that

4.       Municipal Liability – the Attorney General’s willingness to explore some version of proportionate liability needs to move into a government and Legislature priority

5.       Waste Management - Bill 91, the Waste Reduction Act reflects municipal perspectives on producers’ responsibility. Stop the talking and move our waste management to a more sustainable future

6.       Housing – The funding of and approach to housing and homelessness prevention must be rethought.  A flexible collaborative approach (consolidation) is needed to produce a more cost-effective service.  Despite the social services upload, property taxpayers in Ontario shoulder the burden of social housing, on top of child care and long term care and public health

7.       Energy – Develop a realistic  generational energy plan and reduce energy costs so that Ontario can become competitive again
The above mentioned concerns point to structural problems that need to be resolved.

Economic purpose and policy

The province needs a realistic economic focus and policy that will create new wealth through new ideas, businesses and jobs.  The policy must be about long term expansion, not just gaining financial efficiencies by shrinking the workforce. The policy must have a “valued role” for rural municipalities. Ontarians must become excited again about their own and the province’s economic future.

From Midland’s perspective: First of all we need a plan. Then ensure the economic plan has new tools to allow rural communities to meaningfully participate in the economic re-launch. The rural economy is more than agriculture.

Municipal fiscal reform

Municipalities are bedeviled by a policy and fiscal structure that limits their ability to pay for infrastructure, deliver services and participate in economic growth. In particular:
-          Property tax over dependency is destructive of  aging rural municipalities
-          Provincial downloading (eg. AODA, Clean Water, etc) without accommodation/compensation skews municipal finance
-          Uniform service costs (fire, police, EMS) are fiscally out of control due to the imposed provincial labour management system
-          OMPF support is being reduced
-          Significant infrastructure costs exist with no funding plan

From Midland’s perspective: A complete fiscal rethink is required to meet the needs of modern rural municipalities.

Healthcare and the social safety net

Similar to the insight that there is only one taxpayer, there is also only one citizen.  That citizen has to navigate through numerous healthcare structures and social supports (ie. social- healthcare structures) often with great difficulty and cost.  While progress has been made in some areas, Ontario has not yet provided a seamless sustainable approach to the “health and well-being” of its citizens.  An effective approach to affordable housing is central to addressing the problem.

From Midland’s perspective: A comprehensive “social/ healthcare system” would significantly improve the quality of life of citizens in rural municipalities.

Closing Comments

If you sense frustration you are right.

Rural municipalities have already given significant input on what they want to see. What we fail to see is action.

Municipalities will survive in one form or another.  It would be good to know that we have a partner who listens to us and chooses to work with us to make Ontario municipalities better for all.

Gord McKay

Mayor, Midland 

The Future of our High Schools

Remarks by Mayor Gord McKay, Midland
Simcoe Muskoka District School Board – Accommodation review Committee
February 4, 2014
I want to begin by thanking the members of the ARC for their work on a subject that we all recognize as being very difficult and also essential to the future of our North Simcoe communities.

This evening I am speaking as a mayor and admit to little competence with regard to educational policy and pedagogical methods. Like many other challenges that land on my desk, I gather input from those who do know and use that to shape the policy direction for our community. 

One other caution – I am the Mayor of Midland and so may be suspected of being a bit biased.

A bit of background on the decision before us:
-          Third iteration of the ARC for North Simcoe – a process that has gone on far too long
-          Area high schools face a projected long-term, low and stable level of enrolment, relative to the space available – the demographics are established
-          Budget pressure on the Board has it looking for more efficient delivery
-          Quality modern education is increasingly critical for our children’s success and our communities’ future

It is time to make a decision and resolve the matter.

The question then – How should our area high schools be best organized to meet the needs of the students and the community?

Looking at Options

All mayors want a high-school in their community – educational asset, community spirit, a more complete community, economic development. That desire to keep their own high-school exists in both Midland and Penetanguishene. In fact, the municipalities have been working collaboratively for years to improve the economy of the entire area. Having either community lose its high-school will have an impact on the whole area.

So could we share a school? – one school with two campuses. It should save money; would support local communities and would satisfy two mayors.  Seems to make sense.

With that thought I had discussions with both principals and a number of parents. Their over-riding concern was the quality of the educational experience – both academic and social. In no uncertain terms they said that a split school may sound good in concept but trying to deliver it while optimizing the student’s experience is problematic. Further comments were that the students generally were onside with a one location school. It was the parents who were opposed.

For me the bottom line is the educational experience – what best prepares our children for the future?  What decision do we take that will have parents choose to educate their children in our area as opposed to moving to Barrie. We cannot afford to maintain two sub-optimal schools and expect our children and our area to succeed.  Our new school must deliver the best in modern education and seamlessly serve the entire catchment area.  And that area is Oro Medonte, Springwater, Severn, Christian Island, Tiny, Tay, Penetanguishene and Midland.

If it is to be one school where should it be? I will speak in favour of Midland and what Midland has to offer the school.  
-          Cultural infrastructure – the new MCC and Town library
-          Sports infrastructure – the modern NSSRC and three new soccer fields
-          Location -  in the middle of the urban area, providing downtown amenities and opportunity for active transportation
-          Location – central to the catchment area
-          Public transit

Midland has much to offer in enhancing the educational outcome for our areas’ high-school students.


My recommendations to the ARC are guided by the “prime directive” – ensuring that we provide the best education and student outcomes for our public high school students throughout the entire area

My secondary considerations are those of budgets and municipal boundaries.


-          That the one area high-school solution be adopted
-          That available funds be used to construct a new school, or failing that to extensively refurbish the existing school
-          That the school represent the area and be named accordingly – eg. Huronia High School
-          That the school be located in Midland
-          That the School Board provide budget to improve after hours transportation for students to all areas, allowing students to fully participate in all the school has to offer. Extending Midland transit to link to Penetanguishene should be considered
-          That the school Board provide budget/staff to assist with the conversion of surplus high school real estate to other useful purposes

-          Conclude the ongoing ARC process by making a firm decision

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sunday Feb 2, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen

There is four letter word that everyone is using these days and non-too politely. If I were Wiarton Willie I would be staying deep in my burrow.  But for those us who love the outdoors, this week’s Winterfest has been a lot of fun. Tobogganing, puddle-jumping, hockey, good food and music – a great time to be out with friends – We love snow!


Monday February 3rd you will want to be at the Midland Post Office at 10:00 am for the unveiling of a stamp commemorating Sarah Burke. Sarah is an inspirational young lady who grew up in Midland and left an indelible mark on the modern sport of free-style skiing. Sarah died in a tragic accident in 2012.  Her memory lives on in her community and the sport that she loved so much.

On Tuesday February 4th Garfield Dunlop invites you to his budget consultation at the Brooklea from 9:00 am until noon. Then at 7:00 pm the Simcoe Muskoka District School Board is hosting an ARC meeting at MSS to gain public input on the future of our public high-schools. The process is well underway and has had input from the Board staff recommending that only one high-school serve our area. Many different groups have come forward with their views.  This is an excellent time for Midland to become fully engaged in this important process.

Wednesday January 5th will see a number of the mayors from around Georgian Bay meeting at the County to discuss low water levels. The mayors recognize that this long term challenge cannot be managed based upon the latest water level reading. We need a forward looking response from both senior levels of government. Despite a year of work there has been very little action.

Then at 7:00 pm at Town Hall is the Planning and Development Committee meeting.  A very busy agenda including;
-       Deputation on the development of the Hanson Lands, (the large property bordering the north side of Hwy 12, west of Walmart)
-       An announcement of the County funding for our Huronia economic development
-       A proposal for our Planning Department to use Twitter
-       Discussion of setting a public meeting on the official plan amendment concerning the Unimin waterfront site

On Thursday the Police Service Board bargaining committee will meet to continue contract negotiations.


-       The CLH gala at the Best Western. You will need a ticket in advance.


Midland approved the bulk of its 2014 budget last week. The Police Services budget will be brought forward in the future for Council consideration. If you wish to read the mayor’s comments from budget night, click

Gord McKay

Be part of Midland’s Year of Making Decisions - 2014