Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday March 29, 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen

Welcome to the winter that keeps on giving. I was at the Wye Marsh Sweetwater festival yesterday, flipping pancakes. I had to stay extra close to the grill just to keep warm. Lots of people attended so some still believe that spring is coming.

Monday March 30th starts at County at 9:00 am to discuss how we organize municipal and County resources to deliver on our 10 year target – an additional 2,685 affordable housing units by 2024. All sixteen municipalities will be preparing affordable housing plans to meet their own targets - less talk and more action.

That afternoon the Nominations Committee of the Citizens Healthcare Steering Committee meets to plan the process to find members of the public to take up our area’s healthcare challenge.  If you care about your healthcare and want to help direct its future, you may wish to apply. The call for applications will likely be in May.  I will let you know.

On Tuesday March 31st at 4:30 pm you may want to drop by Room 202 at Georgian College in Midland, to see their Entrepreneurship Learning Channel.  This initiative links all Georgian College campuses through a broadcast, sharing information for entrepreneurial businesses. This session features our own Ron Neumann who will speak on generating sales.

Wednesday April 1st features our regular 7:00 pm Planning and Development Committee meeting. This meeting will include a Public Meeting (you may speak) featuring two topics:
-       Official Plan Process update, describing the two year process leading to the acceptance of our Town’s new Official Plan
-       Proposal for floating advertising signs
The meeting will also receive an update on what our economic development corporation (EDCNS) has been doing.

Thursday April 2nd is a bit busier. At 11:00 am I raise the Autism Awareness flag at Town Hall.  At 12:15 pm a special exhibit – “Tour for Humanity” – is in our community. Sponsored by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, the exhibit will speak to tolerance and relations amongst peoples. That’s at Huron Park Public School, 425 Robert Street. That evening Brookside presents the Jeunesse Musicale staged version of Don Paquale at 7:30 pm at MCC. It’s going to be great – take an advance look at:  Tickets are available at the MCC

Friday the 3rd is Good Friday. Town offices are closed.

Its Easter weekend. Take the time to be with your family and enjoy this special time of year. Share that peace with a friend (or stranger).

Gord McKay

Be part of Midland’s Year of Bold Action - 2015

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday March 22, 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen

It has been a week unlike any other.

The death of Stephan Kramp was an absolute shock. He was my right hand at Council for the last four years and a close colleague for many years before that.  Always very passionate, he believed in the truth and would pursue what was right despite the sacrifices involved. He was creative, whimsical and intelligent.  He cared about people, especially those who were having a tough go in life. And he cared deeply about Midland.

Stephan, you will be missed.

The regular business of the Town is dimmed by the loss of Stephan but it goes on nonetheless.

On Monday 23rd there will be a closed meeting of Council at 6:30 pm to consider committee appointments. Council meets at 7:00 pm. The agenda includes:
-       Four presentations including three Awards of Merit
-       Three deputations:
o    Overview of the upcoming Champlain commemoration
o    Preview of the Terry Fox run for Midland
o    Presentation by the Georgian Bay Trails group
-       A Public Meeting (you may speak) to remove the holding symbol from the property at 1081 MacDonald Road (the RSI property)
-       Discussion of the traffic lights at King and Galloway
-       Ratification of the CLAC and OPSEU labour agreements
-       Approval of our 2015 budget. It is coming in at a 0.68% increase but police is not included at this time.
-       Vote on having Midland provide building services to Penetanguishene – good cooperation between the municipalities.

Tuesday the 24th will see me down at County Council at 9:00 am.  A major topic for the meeting will be the taxation structure for the County. Midland will benefit this year from our slow growth in assessment, as the tax burden is transferred to areas of the County that are growing faster. A good news – bad news story.

At 1:00 pm the North Simcoe Housing Working Group meets at Town Hall.  The Group will start the work of delivering new affordable housing in our area. You are welcome to attend.

The Southern Georgian Bay Chamber of Commerce will hold its AGM at the Brooklea golf club staring at 5:00 pm. Then at 7:00 pm is a very special treat – the Vienna Boys Choir performs at St Paul’s church.  Has Midland arrived or what?

Wednesday the 25th is equally busy. The Doctors Recruitment committee meets at PGH at 8:30 am. At 10:00 am is the Downtown Safety Committee meeting at Town Hall. This meeting will feature a discussion of the different models that may be used to improve our community’s safety. You are welcome to attend. The Cancer Society flag will be hoisted at Town Hall at 3:30 pm.

From 6:00 to 9:00 pm will be a viewing for Stephan Kramp at the Carson funeral home.

At 7:30 pm the first “Lakehead Challenge” will take place at the MCC. This new forum-style program is presented by Lakehead University in cooperation with the MCC. The topic will be "The Challenge of Indigenous Canadian Relations."  Panel members will include Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux (Vice Provost of Aboriginal Initiatives at Lakehead University), Ogimaa Duke Peltier (Wiikwemkoong Anishinabek), and Joseph Tokwiro Norton (retired Grand Chief of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake).   There will be discussion of economic, governance and territorial issues. The audience is also invited to get involved in the discussion. You are welcome to attend.

Thursday March 26th.  At 7:30 am the Midland PUC will be holding a Breakfast and Communications meeting to discuss its distribution system and present conservation awards.
At 9:00 am you may want to attend a talk by Ron Neumann about driving sales growth for companies. Ron is a fascinating speaker with a lot of experience. The talk is at the Brian Orser arena in Penetanguishene. Please contact the North Simcoe Community Future Development Corporation if you plan on attending. Their number is 526-1371

The funeral service for Stephan Kramp will take place at St Paul’s church at 1:00 pm.

On Friday 27th at 11:00 am is the regular Waterfront Project Steering Committee meeting. The Committee will be reviewing its Terms of Reference, now that the signing of the Midland Bay Landing agreement has occurred.

Lots to do in the evening:
·         At 5:30 pm is Waypoint’s 2nd Annual Fundraising Dinner, An Evening with Clara Hughes. The event features great music, exceptional food and an exclusive opportunity to meet Clara, all in support of your mental health hospital.
·         At 7:00 pm, Quest hosts its 11th annual juried art show at the gallery in the MCC.  You are most welcome to attend.
·         At 7:30 pm the Friends of the Keewatin are hosting a talk by John Willis, Curator of the   Empress of Ireland display at the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa.  He will be telling the story of the Empress of Ireland.  The event is at the Huronia Museum and begins with hors d’oeuvres and wine at 7:00 p.m. followed by the lecture at 7:30 and coffee, and sweets at 8:30. Tickets are $50.00 per person.


-       It’s the Sweetwater Festival.  Pancakes, maple syrup and a good time at Wye Marsh. I will be there for the 9:00 am start, to help the pancake flippin
-       8:30 to 9:30 pm is Earth Hour.  Be kind to our earth and turn your lights out for an hour

-       Sweetwater Festival continues at the Wye Marsh
-       Books to Eat takes place at 2:00 pm at the library.  The third year for this most unique and tasty event.
-       Magical Moments of mystery and beauty from 5:00 to 9:00 pm at the Library Restaurant.  This fundraiser for We Are the Villagers includes tarot reading, make-up demonstrations, food and much more


Last week saw one of the most historic events in Midland’s history – the signing of a development agreement for our Midland Bay Landing property. It was an excellent ceremony bringing together the citizens of Midland, the Council and our new partners Mountain Ridge Estates and their Chinese investors (see attached)

While I could dwell on the significance of this agreement for Midland‘s future, I am also sensitive to some of our citizens having concerns about our new partners. The negotiation team went through those same concerns and by conducting our due diligence over the last six months, those concerns were resolved.

All land development bears a certain amount of risk.  The negotiation team understood that the Town had to be protected from bad things happening. With the help of senior legal support the Town negotiated protections for almost every eventuality. Some of the contractual protections include:
-       Mountain Ridge Estates will spend its own money for the first 18 months just remediating the land. The Town does not even transfer the land until after we are satisfied with the environmental work.
-       Following the environmental work, the Town will receive letters of credit for the full purchase price and all public elements in advance of any work being done. If trouble occurs these funds will be used to complete any remaining work.

Concern about a project of this scale is understandable.  The agreement that was signed will ensure that our new partner is safely focused on delivering the vison held by the people of Midland.

Gord McKay

Be part of Midland’s Year of Bold Action - 2015

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sunday March 15, 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen

The big announcement from the past week was the agreement with Mountain Ridge Estates (MRE) to build out our Midland Bay Landing waterfront vision.  One of the largest development agreements in Midland’s history, it will take 10-20 years to build and all-in will cost from $200 - $300 million dollars.

Big numbers aside, this Agreement is truly a win for Midland.

1)     The MBL site is a well-known brownfield requiring at least $600,000 of environmental remediation. MRE will cover the full cost of remediation, even if it exceeds that amount. MRE cannot start building until the remediation is complete. The Town will keep ownership of the land until after the remediation, so in the unlikely event the agreement broke down, the Town would gain the benefit of all remediation work.
2)     The Town paid $3.4 million for the Unimin parcel in 2014. Under the Agreement, the Town will receive this amount back plus keep about 25% of the land for public space.  This includes the entire shoreline where we will have a public board walk.
3)     A key challenge for developing the property has been to find the money to complete the “public elements”. Our staff estimates the cost to build the boardwalk, the sea wall, the parks etc. would run between $10 million and $15 million.  This Agreement will see MRE building all of those public element s for an amount of at least $11.6 million.

In return MRE receives the benefit of a waiver on future development charges and fees (some $6 million) plus works with us to build out the waterfront as envisioned in our own Masterplan.

The Town and MRE will formally sign the Agreement on Friday the 20th. You are invited to be part of this important day in Midland’s history.


Monday the 16th and its March Break.  Lots of stuff going on. Check out the Towns listing of events at  and all the activities at the MCC at

On a more serious side I have a GBGH Board Selection Committee meeting in the morning. The Board is going through its regular renewal process – making sure that we have good citizen representatives steering our hospital. At 2:00 pm the Town’s Audit Committee meeting will be held at Town Hall.

At 7:30 that evening a Day in the Life features William Paul Young at the MCC. Paul is the author of the bestselling novel The Shack. His personal life story is startling and compelling.  And he’s a charming and brilliant story teller. Tickets are available online or at the MCC Box Office. 

Faith and Begorrah, Tuesday 17th is St. Patricks Day. If you are not out being Irish, you may wish to attend the Citizens Healthcare Steering Committee meeting at 2:00 pm in the Tiny Town office. At 7:00 pm that evening is Healthcare Innovators at the ShopMildand location. And then at 7:30 pm you want to be at the MCC for the popular Rant Maggie Rant musical celebration of all things Celtic.

Thursday March 19th sees our Seniors Council meeting at the NSSRC at 10:00 am. This meeting will address traffic safety for seniors in our downtown, among other topics.  At 5:30 pm you are invited to Lakehead University, Orillia for the launch of the new “Research Centre for Sustainable Communities”.

Friday the 20th – the first day of Spring. It’s about time.

As mentioned earlier, the Town will have a signing ceremony with Mountain Ridge Estates and their Chinese partner group to formally put the MBL Agreement in to effect. You are most welcome to attend this special ceremony at 11:00 am at Town Hall.


-       Ongoing March Break activities – (See the Monday description above)

-       Family Snow Day at Little Lake Park from 10:00 am to noon, sponsored by Anytime Fitness. Free activities for the whole family.

Another major step has been taken in making our area ready for our many tourist visitors. The four municipalities, in concert with the economic development corporation (EDCNS), are launching our new Destination Marketing Organization. This organization will bring our collective efforts together to significantly improve the tourist offerings and services available to visitors. Please see the attachment for further information.

Gord McKay

Be part of Midland’s Year of Bold Action - 2015

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sunday March 8, 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen

You are likely aware of a number of organizational changes taking place in the Town offices. The most recent changes are the outsourcing of the police dispatch service with the loss of four permanent positions and the re-organization of the Public Works and Community Services departments, so that we have just one “operations group” instead of two. These changes have taken place with minimal reductions to service levels and in fact will allow for improved and new services to residents.

These changes were not made lightly. They come about because we know the needs of our residents are changing. Understanding that our core municipal services must be maintained, citizens also want new emphasis on making Midland a better place to live - more active transportation; more programming such as the Butter Tart festival; a more welcoming downtown as seen in our developing Downtown Masterplan; and even better sidewalks.  And this change must take place while moving our municipality out of the unenviable position of having the highest tax rate in Simcoe County.

Part of the driving force behind making the above changes was to give us needed “fiscal room”. This first step will result in a sustainable reduction of $500,000 in the annual cost of running the Town.  With this new capacity we can now improve our services to the community and lower tax rates in the years ahead.


Monday March the 9th begins at Pearson airport as I travel with my fellow North Simcoe mayors and Sharon Vegh (EDCNS) to visit Minister Gary Goodyear in Ottawa.  We are responding to an invitation from the Minister to tell him how he can help our local economy. We will be presenting 14 different projects from local manufacturers and will be asking the Minister for financial assistance.

I will probably not be back in time, but General Committee starts at 7:00 pm at Town Hall. A fairly lengthy agenda including;
-       Discussion on whether we should have more than one farmers market in Midland
-       Sale of land adjacent to Ingram Crescent
-       Release of the Sunshine List for 2014. In Midland we have 16 police, 9 fire and 6 other staff over $100,000 per year
-       A request to consider a new park in the Sunnyside area
-       A recommendation to transfer the Midland Fire dispatch to Barrie
-       A new by-law on backflow preventers
-       Traffic recommendations for both King Street by Tim Hortons and the lights at Galloway and King.
Following General Committee is a special Council meeting directing staff to provide a report on MPUC

On Tuesday the 10th the day starts at 9:00 am with the County Council meeting.  At 1:00 pm at the MCC you may wish to attend the Spring Job Fair being run by the YMCA and area businesses.

At 7:00 pm in the evening at the MCC is the next installment of the Day in the Life. A special treat for baseball fans, it will feature Paul Beeston. Paul is the President of the Toronto Blue Jays.  Paul presided over the two Blue Jay World Series Championships. He served as President/CEO of Major League Baseball.  He knows everybody in the game.   Tickets are available online at or at the Box Office at the MCC. 

On Thursday March 12th, more fun at the MCC with the 2014 edition of Midland Reads. Five great books and lots of debate as the panel decide on Midland’s next great book selection. Action starts at 7:00 pm.

Friday the 13th will see me meeting with Mr. Will Baird the new General Manager of Huronia Historic Parks. Then at 11:00 am is the Waterfront Project Steering Committee. 

A quiet week-end.  Time to start thinking of the garden work needed for the upcoming season.

Gord McKay

Be part of Midland’s Year of Bold Action - 2015

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sunday March 1, 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen

That beautiful sunshine out there is almost enough to make you want to forgive Wiarton Willie. But its cold. Midland has had about 40 incidents so far of homes with frozen water pipes. Not nearly as bad as places like Owen Sound or North Bay where whole neighborhoods have seen water shut offs.

It’s been a good week for seeing the citizens of Midland engaged in problem solving our future:
1.     Downtown Safety meeting brought many of our social agencies and police together to discuss how we can change our approach to dealing with problems on our streets - less “policing” and more community intervention to prevent the incidents in the first place
2.     Men’s Violence against Women meeting planned a campaign which includes a major public demonstration in May where men throughout our area will publically take the pledge to ending violence against women
3.     Housing Working Group meeting has set its sights on three housing initiatives it will launch to increase the availability of affordable housing and improve housing supports for area residents
A caring community takes action.


On Tuesday March 3rd I am down in Toronto most of the day meeting with the Ministry of Health to discuss healthcare service delivery in our area.  You’d be right to remark that I am spending a lot of time on healthcare, especially when you realize that lower tier municipalities have no mandated responsibility for healthcare. However the time that I and my fellow mayors are investing is essential to encouraging the LHIN to keep needed services in our area and attracting new healthcare jobs. I will prepare an information piece on healthcare shortly to give you more background.

On Wednesday March 4th I meet with a small group of business people including local manufacturers to further the discussion on our area’s manufacturing incubator. This concept will be presented in Ottawa to Minister Goodyear next week by the four mayors and our economic corporation, EDCNS.

At 7:00 pm that evening at Town Hall is the Planning and Development Committee. Two of the more interesting items are:
-       Removal of the holding symbol for the lands at 1081 Macdonald Road. (The RSI development)
-       OPA and ZBA amendments introduced for the Chigamik/Waypoint healthcare development on the waterfront

Two items for Thursday March 5th. At 9:30 am at the Legion in Orillia is an information session for municipalities on the Source Water Protection Act and its implications. Then at 6:00 pm you are invited to our budget meeting of the Town Hall. Hopefully this will be the final meeting before it goes to Council for ratification.

On Friday March 6th the County of Simcoe hosts its regular Housing Advisory Committee meeting in Midlhurst. (I am the North Simcoe rep for this group).  And that evening, Garfield Dunlop is hosting his annual lasagna dinner at Wye Marsh. There are three sittings - 4:30, 5:30 & 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are available at the Wye Marsh or at Garfield’s Midland Office: 482 Elizabeth St, 705-526-8671


-       An annual highlight - Jamie Crouch’s wedding showcase at the MCC - noon to four

If you want to read an article that will make all Midlanders stand a little taller, see the attached item carried in a recent Toronto Star.

Gord McKay

Be part of Midland’s Year of Bold Action - 2015