Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday January 31, 2016

Ladies and Gentlemen

This past week has been stressful for all of us in North Simcoe as we learned about the findings of the operational review of our hospital, GBGH. The review was commissioned by the Board last year. The consultant, Geyer and Associates, came back with 108 recommendations that impact virtually every facet of the hospital’s operation - from a major overhaul of the organization’s culture; to improved training; to eliminating obstetrical care; to closing the cafeteria. For the complete report please visit

Over the last three years the mayors of North Simcoe have joined with citizens in advocating for our hospital. This led in December 2014 to the four mayors, GBGH and the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN signing a joint declaration of support for GBGH:

·         “Ensuring the long-term sustainability of the hospital

·         Maintaining suitable hospital programs and services in our community hospital”

This past week the four mayors met with the CEO of the hospital, Karen McGrath, and the Chair of the Board, Ralph Befort. We agreed that the report was hard hitting and underscored the need for real change. But change had to meet our signed commitment to “suitable hospital programs and services” as reflected in the impassioned statements of citizens at the recent public meetings. The mayors also criticized the report for not addressing the chronic underfunding of the hospital, a fact that likely led to some of the negative outcomes identified in the report.

Following the public and mayors meetings, the GBGH Board met and in a January 29th media release committed to:

-       Continued public consultation

-       Implementation of those recommendations that addressed internal safety, culture and efficiency issues

-       Deferral of the recommendations that dealt with obstetrics, surgery, ICU and bed closures. Specifically “…we would take the recommendations that deal with clinical service changes such as OB, surgery, ICU and bed closures (#’s 70, 76, 82, 83, 84, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108) out of the mix to be dealt with separately,” said Board Chair Ralph Befort.

While GBGH does many things well, many things need substantial improvement. Our meeting with the hospital CEO and Board Chair was candid, direct and sensitive to concerns of North Simcoe citizens. With this as a basis we can move our community hospital to a better place. It will take the combined and cooperative efforts of GBGH leadership, the doctors, the GBGH staff, the LHIN and most importantly the citizens of North Simcoe.  The mayors, in particular, will work to resolve the funding issue with the LHIN/Ministry.  Your help will be essential as we put our hospital on a much more solid foundation to serve our community’s healthcare needs.


Monday February 1st - Get on the bus.  Today marks a milestone in service delivery for Midland and Penetanguishene as the new transit service is launched. Running hourly, the service operates from Monday to Saturday and will allow you to go from one end of Penetanguishene to the far end of Midland, all for one low fare.   If you wish to see your Councilors “get on the bus” be at the Foodland mall parking lot in Penetanguishene at 8:45 am.

Then it is into a full day of meetings. At 9:30 am at Town Hall, Council meets to review its strategic plan and progress made to date.  You are welcome to attend. At 11:00 am Council breaks out of the meeting and goes into closed session to discuss labour and personal matters. Then about noon, Council goes back into a public meeting with staff to discuss the business plan and actions for 2016. At the end of that meeting, Council will conclude with a discussion on the need for a temporary CAO.

On Tuesday the 2nd I will head to Christian Island to meet with Chief Monague.  The purpose of the meeting is to start consultations with Beausoleil First Nation for Midland’s Official Plan.

Wednesday February 3rd will see a key meeting as EDCNS (our economic development group) brings area manufacturers together to discuss strengthening the local economy and creating jobs.  We all know the Canadian economy is going through a rough patch but many of our own local manufacturers are actually expanding. Recent discussions indicate they have 40-50 good job openings available. Their challenge is to find candidates who have the proper skills. Education is key.

At 5:30 pm Huronia Historical Parks is gearing up for the 2016 tourist season with their season launch at restaurant Ste. Marie. This is the same group that brought you the smash event Pumpkinferno. If you are attending, please RSVP to  by Feb 1. At 7:00 pm that evening is Planning and Development Committee at the Town including:

-       Zoning Bylaw Amendment for 711 Aberdeen by Tiffin Harbour Development Corp.

-       Discussion on restrictions to second units

-       Introduction to a planning service the Town is considering that will allow residents improved access to their municipal lot and zoning information. The software is currently in use by Severn Township.  You can see what it looks like at: ( )

Thursday the 4th sees a unique on-line job fair connecting employers to job seekers. It is sponsored by The County of Simcoe, in partnership with the Simcoe Muskoka Workforce Development Board and Employment Ontario. To date more than 1,700 registered job seekers and more than 60 employers offering hundreds of local employment opportunities are involved. The event runs from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Sign up today at

At 1:00 pm the four mayors meet to further their discussions about bringing high bandwidth fibre optic networks to North Simcoe.

On Friday the 5th the mayors start out the day with a meeting with Patrick Brown our MPP.  And then we get right into Midland’s Winterfest. There is far too much going on for me to include here, so please consult the weekend schedule (attached). That said do not miss the annual downtown road hockey match starting at 4:00 pm.



-       9:00 am Valentines breakfast with the Marksmen at St Marks church

-       1:00 pm is the great Chili Cook-Off and competition at the downtown parking lot, Bay and King


-       10:00 am Winterfest Spelling Bee at the NSSRC


Through the fall, residents met with the Town to develop our “vision statement”, a part of our Official Plan process. You can see the Vision Statement Report they produced at:

Gord McKay

Your Year for Getting Aboard – Midlands on the Move - 2016


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday January 24, 2016

Ladies and Gentlemen

The sounds of Wintertime – the hum of snowmobiles; the scraping of car windshields; a quiet moment listening to the chirp of a chickadee – Gotta love it.

Some 300 people crowded into the NSSRC this past week for the first public presentation on the operational situation at our hospital. While much of the discussion focused upon the potential loss of obstetrics at the hospital, the report laid bare that there were problems in many areas. A lot to be done to get our GBGH back to where it should be. Its success is critical to our future. Three more public meetings this week – then the tough work begins.


Monday the 25th sees three meetings at the Town. At 5:00 pm is a closed Council meeting to discuss personal matters. The at 5:30 (approximately), Council will come out into a special open meeting to discuss the impact of the recent departure of the CAO, consider replacement options and identify how we will focus our energies to ensure the business of the Town continues to go forward.  

At 7:00 pm is the regular January Council meeting.  A short agenda including:

-       Three deputations:

o    Review of Culture Midland activities with Fred Hacker

o    Presentation by Askennonia

o    Proposal for the third waiting shed at our Town dock by the Museum

-       Update on our upcoming 55+ Summer games

-       Two motions brought forward by Councilors:

o    Development of a Youth Committee

o    Town-wide traffic calming

Also at 7:00 pm is the GBGH operational review meeting at the Penetanguishene Memorial Community Centre.

Tuesday January 26th at 9:00 am, it’s the County Council in Midhurst. Then at 2:00 pm at the Town is the meeting of the North Simcoe Housing Working Group. 

At 7:00 pm is the GBGH operational review meeting at the Wyebridge Community Centre in Tiny. Also that evening at 7:30 pm it’s a Day on the Life at the MCC. Fred will interview Nicole Moore who in 2011 survived a malicious shark attack in waist deep water at a Cancun beach.

On Wednesday January 27th at 1:00 pm Georgian College reconvenes its “community engagement” group to assess how the college can have a greater impact upon its local communities. This discussion is vital to our future as a well-educated populace is essential to our economy and job creation. At 7:00 pm is the GBGH operational review meeting at the Victoria Harbour Oakwood Community Centre in Tay.

Thursday the 28th sees two interesting meetings.  At 3:00 pm the four mayors will meet with Karen McGrath at GBGH to discuss the operational review. The report identified some major fixes that had to occur.  The mayors want to ensure that an effective recovery plan is in place and the citizens of North Simcoe are properly engaged in its delivery. This is the time we all need to rally around our hospital.

At 7:00 pm Midland entrepreneurs and those with a home-based business are invited to a workshop at the NSSRC.  Council, recognizing the shift to smaller especially home-grown business, wants to change our by-laws and remove unnecessary constraints. Come out and have your say in how we make Midland more supportive of our home-based businesses.



-       8:15 pm “Laugh It Up” fundraiser at Midland Legion. A great evening of stand-up comedy. All monies go to a future splash pad for our children.

-       8:00 pm Buddy Holly tribute at the MCC

Council Issues Update


Council will discuss the budget plan for 2016 at the special meeting on Monday the 25th. I anticipate the budget will be wrapped up in February.


The Wye Marsh is undergoing a re-visioning process and they need your input.  The link (following) is to a very short online survey that will help them immeasurably:

Gord McKay

Your Year for Getting Aboard – Midlands on the Move - 2016


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday January 17, 2016

Ladies and Gentlemen

Our old friend winter has returned once more. I see a lot more excitement around the snowmobile shops but am still waiting for the joy of shoveling your driveway to kick-in.

One of the first stories to hit the local media this year was the impending public release of the 108 recommendations of the Geyer & Associates report on Georgian Bay General Hospital. While I have yet to see the report the media has indicated that it recommends some big changes affecting our hospital’s services and personnel. This slow release of the report has led to a lot of speculation about the long-term prospects for our hospital and our healthcare.

GBGH faces significant challenges. It will take a concerted effort to fix them. A successful outcome will require the coordinated efforts of an energized GBGH Board, doctors, hospital staff and the public.  The GBGH Board will be hosting a number of public meetings from 7:00 to 9:00 pm on:

-       January 21st  - Midland NSSRC

-       January 25th - Penetanguishene Memorial Community Centre

-       January 26th - Wyebridge Community Centre

-       January 27th - Victoria Harbour Oakwood Community Centre

Please get engaged. Our hospital is too important to your future and your community’s to leave it to others.


Monday January the 18th will feature a series of meetings starting with the Citizens Healthcare Steering Committee at 5:00 pm at GBGH. A main item on the agenda will be the recent GBGH operational review, mentioned above.

The Town had planned on having its first meeting with the OPP to discuss costing this evening.  The OPP indicated they needed a bit more time to prepare so the meeting has been postponed to a future date – yet to be announced. That said, you are invited at 7:00 pm to a presentation by Grant Thornton about the considerations facing municipalities for the future of their PUCs. The meeting will be followed by a closed discussion of Council on a personal matter.

A relatively quiet week meeting-wise until Thursday the 21st.  From 9:00 am to 11:00 am you are invited to the MCC for a presentation by our own Dr. Sue Lyons of Health Works Chiropractic on the topic of Workplace and Employee Health.  The event is sponsored by NSCFDC. Please register in advance by calling 526-1371 x 113 or e-mail . At 10:00 am you may wish to attend our Midland Seniors Council regular meeting in the NSSRC Boardroom

At 7:00 pm is the GBGH Board presentation of the Geyer and Associates operational review of our hospital. The meeting is at the NSSRC.

On Friday I am at the County for the first Affordable Housing Advisory committee meeting of 2016. Then at 11:00 am is a meeting not seen in some time. The Midland Bay Landing (Waterfront Project Steering) Committee will meet at the Town. No big announcement expected – just an update on where we are.



6:00 pm - Robbie Burns supper at the Legion. Check with the Midland Legion for tickets

8:00 pm - Native son Neil LeFaive returns to Le Caron for an evening of music


8:00 pm - The real Rabbie Burns party at the MCC, a lively evening of Celtic music

Council Issues Update

Midland Bay Landing

The first status meeting in some time takes place this week. It features an update on the Official Plan Amendment process, recently recommended to Council


The first meeting has been delayed at the request of the OPP. It will be rescheduled.

Downtown Health Centre

The County Committee of the Whole approved the official rezoning by the Town of a portion of Edgehill Park. The matter moves on to the OMB for an expected spring hearing.


Three items in closing. The fourth edition of our Best Butter Tart festival is taking shape for June, If you want to track its progress please link to the new blog page or you can like the Facebook page at

Winterfest is coming up the weekend of February 5 - 6. If you want to get into the spirit check out the new Winterfest Snow Day rap video -

The winter Farmers Market at the Museum is a true hidden gem in our community. A great selection of top quality produce from local farmers, fresh artisanal breads and at prices below what you find in the chain stores. No imports here. That’s every Sunday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Huronia Museum.

Gord McKay

Your Year for Getting Aboard – Midlands on the Move - 2016


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sunday January 10, 2016

Ladies and Gentlemen

The Christmas tree is put away, the kids are at school and that aura of normalcy descends. Hoping for a good year ahead for all.

Monday January 11th will start at 5:30 pm with a Special Council meeting. Our economic development group EDCNS will be presenting to Council on the importance of economic development and how they are bringing economic wealth to our area.  You are welcome to attend.

At 7:00 pm is the January General Committee including:

-       A proposal by our Museum for a display area on the Town dock

-       A review of the many traffic issues raised over the past year.  Traffic issue locations include Aberdeen Blvd, Norman Cres., Mundys Bay School and King Street by Tim Hortons

-       Discussion of a Community Energy Plan

The General Committee will be followed by a closed meeting to deal with a tax situation.

Tuesday the 12th is a bit quieter. County has their Committee of the Whole meeting starting at 9:30 in Midlhurst.  That afternoon I meet with We Are the Villages to plan our first Mayors Annual Charity Event.  Save the dinner hour of Tuesday April 5th for a special evening in aid of a great children’s charity

Wednesday January 13th will feature a closed meeting at 5:30 pm as the Town gets into labour negotiations with our unions. At 7:00 pm is the Planning and Development Committee meeting where we will discuss:

-       The Official Plan amendment required to go ahead with the Midland Bay Landing project

-       Preparations for our Home-Based Business by-law

-       The recent downtown parking survey showing a continued decrease in our use of downtown parking

Also at 7:00 pm is the Huronia Chapter of the Ontario Archeological Society meeting at the Library.  It will feature a fascinating presentation by Jamie Hunter about Champlain’s visit to our area in 1615. Public are welcome.

Thursday the 14th will see the wrap-up meeting of the Downtown Safety Committee at 10 am at the Town Hall.



-       12 noon to 4:00 pm is the volunteer fair for the MCC at the MCC

-       8:00 pm brings the “Hot Rocks” Rolling Stone Tribute show to the MCC

Council Issues Update

Midland Bay Landing – Council will discuss the Official Plan Amendment process for MBL at the Wednesday Planning meeting. In February/March look for both the public open house and a public input meeting on this matter.

OPP – The OPP have indicated that they are ready to start the costing process. The first meeting between the Town and the OPP is scheduled for January 18th.


The BIA is looking for three judges to decide who has the best chili in Midland. The judging will take place as part of our Winterfest on Saturday February 6th. If you are interested in being a judge please e-mail, explaining why you would make a great judge.

Another upcoming event. On Thursday January 21st from 9:00 am to 11:00 am, the NSCFDC is sponsoring a talk by our own Dr. Sue Lyons on Employee and Workplace Health. The talk will be at the MCC.  Please register in advance by calling 526-1371 x 113 or e-mail

Gord McKay

Your Year for Getting Aboard – Midlands on the Move - 2016


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Sunday January 3, 2016

Ladies and Gentlemen

Happy New Year.  It’s great to be back with you for 2016.

2015, Midland’s “Year of Bold Action” is now behind us. And yes there was bold action.  My top three for Council were:

-       Continued focus on reducing municipal costs by doing things differently. Council authorized a shared Building Services and a Fire management arrangement with Penetanguishene, saving both communities money. Council and the Police Service Board made the tough decision to outsource dispatch services for Fire and Police.  Looking forward, Council recommitted to an OPP costing plus working towards a more robust business model for our MPUC

-       Council, after considerable consultation and debate, approved the use of a small part of Edgehill Park for a much needed downtown health centre.

-       And while it may have gone through quietly, Council has entered into an agreement with Penetanguishene to start an inter-urban transit service. Another sign that Midland is maturing.

Midland citizens also took bold action.

-       60 area men took a pledge in front of their peers to End Violence Against Women.  Look for more action on this front in 2016

-       Jeff Fillingham launched a one-man crusade to bring an accessible taxi to Midland and in so doing won the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Champions Award

-       Cody Oschefski, as  a person, launched Little Lake Park’s first Floatie Fest

-       Barb Rowlandson led us to our 3rd successful Butter Tart Festival attracting some 40,000 visitors and a whole lot of media attention

-       Fred Hacker launched Midland’s first Cultural Awards ceremony, formally recognizing the wealth of talented people in our area

-       Barry Goode and Elizabeth O’Connor organized the community to welcome for our first Syrian refugee family

So (…deep breath…) it’s time for 2016. My top five to watch in 2016 are:

-       Increased economic activity in Town including plans for our new high school; ground work starting on the new 1,400 unit Hanson development; refurbishment of the Mountainview Mall; noticeable changes to the downtown as we start to implement our Downtown Master Plan

-       Improved service quality from all parts of the Town as we put in a number of new measures, including the “municipal dashboard” ,a reporting tool that shows you how we are tracking against financial and customer service targets 

-       More activity on the Midland Bay Landing property as the financing situation gets resolved

-       A decision on whether we stay with our own police service or go with the OPP

-       A change in the governance of our MPUC. Maintaining high service levels and no increase in distribution costs are essential. However, our MPUC must change to respond to the significant restructuring already occurring in the electricity sector.

The stage is set. Midland’s future success awaits. The only thing lacking is for each and every one of us to get aboard. It is time to put away the “glass half empty’ view of life or the “One person can’t make a difference.” excuse and seize the opportunities. So my challenge to each of you is to choose just one thing that will make our Town better and then get out there and make it happen. 2016 is your year for getting aboard – Midland’s moving.


A quiet first week in the Town as we tuck away the Christmas leftovers. Monday January 4th 2016 will see the raising of the Crime Stoppers flag at Town hall at 11:00 am.

On Wednesday January 6th, the four mayors and senior staff will meet to discuss North Simcoe taking a leadership role in bringing the digital economy to our area. Specifically, we seek to enable the installation of fibre optics to most of the residents and businesses in our area. This is a major infrastructure discussion with a lot pf challenges ahead. Then at 6:45 pm, welcome the Masters Provincials Curling Championship to Town with opening ceremonies at the Midland Curling Club.

Thursday the 7th features a closed meeting of Council at 6:00 pm to discuss our labour negotiation objectives for the next few years. At 7:00 pm OPSEU will hold a meeting at the NSSSRC to discuss a possible strike at CNCC.

Council Issues Update

Being properly engaged requires you to be well informed. To help out I am starting a “Council Issues Update” section in News from the Town. It will key on a few major long-term issues and let you know how they are developing. Hopefully this will quell some of the fascinating rumours that follow most of these issues and give you the facts needed so you can better understand the challenges faced by Council.

2016 Budget

The budget is going into its third round. It is currently tracking towards a 0% increase in operating expenses. In parallel to the budget process, Council was also considering some additional structural changes to operations that impacted the budget. The last budget meeting stopped this parallel track and directed all recommendations come forward as one financial/operations plan in early 2016.  The budget process should wrap up in February/March.

Midland Bay Landing

Our contract with Mountain Ridge Estates remains in place and is being respected by all parties. The Chinese partner, responsible for financing, is currently restructuring the project finances. All project work - site work and design - is on hold awaiting the financing. According to the contract site remediation work needs to be completed by March 2017.


Council has held a number of public and closed meetings on this topic. Council is currently developing its long term objectives for any potential merger/sale. Any request for interest from another party is unlikely before February


Council has just reconfirmed its interest in pursuing an OPP costing.  Council is now awaiting a response from the OPP.

Downtown Health Centre

Council has approved the rezoning of the site.  A group of citizens has appealed the decision to the OMB. While no date for the OMB hearing has been set, it is unlikely before spring. The OMB process removes the decision from the Town. The OMB will decide what will happen with the site.

Gord McKay

Your Year for Getting Aboard – Midlands on the Move - 2016