Angus man dies in single-vehicle collision in Innisfil, police looking for witnesses

Police are looking for witnesses after a 45-year-old Angus man died in a single-vehicle collision in Innisfil yesterday (Aug. 29). According to police, they were called at 9:30 p.m. to a single-vehicle collision in the area of Sideroad 10 and Line 2 in Innisfil. The vehicle involved in the collision is a white, 2008 Mazda 3. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said he was the only person in the vehicle.  The investigation is ongoing. Police are looking for witnesses and anyone with dash camera footage. Anyone with information is asked to contact Const. Jessica Irwin at , , extension 2030, or . 

Barrie Police seize firearm from 18-year-old involved in downtown altercation

An 18-year old Pickering man is facing several charges after being involved in an altercation in downtown Barrie.  At approximately 1 a.m. on Aug. 28, Barrie Police received a report of a man involved in an altercation on Dunlop Street West, who appeared to be carrying a firearm. Police were able to locate the male in the area of Mulcaster Street and Dunlop Street where he was found to be in possession of a loaded handgun, a quantity of cash, and drugs.  The 18-year-old Pickering man was arrested and is facing multiple weapons and drug-related charges including possession of a weapon, carrying a concealed weapon, unauthorized possession of a firearm, and possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking. He was held for a bail hearing. Police say CCTV cameras located throughout downtown were instrumental in allowing them to quickly locate the suspect after receiving the initial report.

‘To me, this is just another blank gesture’: Simcoe County council debates doing more for Indigenous rights

Adjala-Tosorontio township deputy mayor Bob Meadows didn’t mince words when reflecting on about the . The new holiday — not deemed a statutory one in Ontario — was approved by the federal government earlier this summer. “To me, flying an orange flag or wearing an orange shirt is just not the way we should be doing things,” Meadows said at a Simcoe County committee of the whole meeting Sept. 14. “To me, this is just another blank gesture.” Meadows said the federal government should take action to provide fairness for Indigenous residents. “Native peoples up in the northern territories don’t have water. And every municipality knows we have to provide water to our people,” he said. “Why isn’t the federal or provincial government held liable to provide essential water to the northern communities?” Access to safe drinking water should be an essential service, he said. Springwater Township Deputy Mayor Jennifer Coughlin suggested reviewing what resources are in place. “I would like to inquire what programs are existing and how we can support them,” she said. Meadows agreed to re-introduce his suggestion following the Sept. 20 federal election.

No joke, Ramara woman wins $75k in lottery

When Sandra Kaspar learned she had won on a Lotto 6/49 ticket, she was in shock. “I scanned it using the ticket checker and started shaking when I saw the amount come up,” the Ramara resident said. “I ran out to my car, called my husband then ran back into the store to check the ticket again. I was in disbelief.” Kaspar checks her tickets where she buys them — at the Rama General Store on Rama Road in Ramara. But at first, her husband didn’t believe her. “At first my husband thought I was joking with him! He quickly realized I was serious and was so happy for me.” Kaspar, 59, won second prize in the Aug. 7 draw, earning $75,791.20. She’s played the same numbers for the last two years. “I replay the numbers each week and the numbers are made up of my birthday, my husband’s birthday and our wedding date.” The mother of 10 also said her adult children have teased her when she bought lottery tickets. “My daughter would tease me, but I told her, ‘If you don’t buy a ticket you can’t win.’ Guess who is going to start by lottery tickets now?” She plans to top off her retirement fund and share what’s left with her children.

Cause of two-home fire will remain unknown, says Wasaga deputy fire chief

The cause of a multi-million-dollar fire that swept through two homes in a residential neighbourhood in the west end of Wasaga Beach will remain a mystery. Deputy Fire Chief Craig Williams said investigators have determined that the origin of the Aug. 26 blaze in Blue Water On the Bay was in the garage of one of the homes. However, he stated in an email to, “the cause is going to be classified as undetermined due to the extent of fire damage.” The cause is not suspicious, he added. Crews were called out just after noon to the home at the corner of Starboard Circle and Waterview Road. Crews arrived to find the single detached home engulfed. It wasn’t long after that when the blaze jumped from one home to a second neighbouring single detached residence. Along with Wasaga Beach firefighters, County of Simcoe paramedics and the OPP, a crew of Collingwood firefighters were called in with that department’s aerial unit to assist in containing the fire. It took approximately 90 minutes to bring the fire under control. No one was injured, though two Wasaga firefighters were assessed by paramedics for heat stress. The intensity of the heat from the fire also melted the siding on buildings on the other side of Waterview Road, including the neighbourhood’s community centre. Williams said the value of the damage has now been assessed at $3 million.

Five things that happened at Springwater council’s Sept. 1 meeting

Public meeting – 45 Huron St. A public meeting was held regarding a zoning-bylaw amendment for the lands at in Minesing. A severance to divide the subject lot into two parcels was granted by the Ontario Land Tribunal on the condition that the residential parcels comply with the requirements of the zoning bylaw. The proposed amendment would satisfy this condition by permitting a reduction to the minimum-lot-area requirement. Following the public meeting, the application was referred back to staff for a further report. MZO – Snow Valley Yorkwood Ltd. Council received a delegation from Celeste Phillips regarding a request for support of a minister’s zoning order (MZO) by Snow Valley Yorkwood Ltd. The MZO would override the municipal planning process to facilitate the development of the subject lands at for industrial purposes. Phillips spoke to the lack of serviced industrial lands in Springwater and the employment opportunities that could result from the proposed industrial development. Following the delegation, council voted to forward the request to the County of Simcoe to be addressed as part of its municipal comprehensive review process. Award for aggregate production Winters Aggregates Ltd. was awarded the tender for aggregate production at a cost of $167,199 plus HST. The work includes crushing and hauling aggregate materials at the township’s pit on Flos Road 10 East, as well as adding fresh gravel to four municipal roads. 2022 municipal election voting methods Residents will once again have a number of options for casting their ballot in the 2022 municipal and school board election. Council voted in favor of utilizing in-person electronic voting, as well as remote internet and telephone voting. The municipal election will take place on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. Newcomer Recognition Awards sponsorship Council has approved a bronze-level sponsorship in the amount of $5000 for the ninth annual Newcomer Recognition Awards hosted by the County of Simcoe. The awards celebrate outstanding community leaders and champions who take decisive action to enhance the lives of newcomers in Simcoe County. This year’s ceremony will be hosted virtually in November.

Bruce Arthur: Toronto hospital protests: Don’t discount the dangers from a sad and lonely bunch

Honestly, I didn’t expect it to be so sad. Dispiriting, sure: , 18 months into a pandemic, as burned-out health-care workers stared down at people who statistically may be the most likely to end up inside a hospital with . There had been vows online to block ambulances, and even isolated threats of guns from some People’s Party of Canada supporters. There is a virus in this country, beyond the obvious one. “You’ve all got blood on your hands! You’re worse than the Nazis!” one middle-aged man yelled at the TV cameras, outside Toronto General Hospital. “You’ll have rocks thrown at you, next!” A few yelled Fake News like they were at karaoke. Mostly, they rejected vaccines. Society, too. But at ground level there was something piteous about it, malignancy and all. The trappings of a brain-poisoned movement dotted the crowd: a couple of red Make America Great Again hats, some purple People’s Party of Canada gear, a hat from . There was a one-page anti-mask, anti-lockdown, , pamphlet handed out that claimed a vaccine passport was the mark of the beast. “I don’t have time for this s—,” said infectious diseases specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch, shepherding some of his team across the street to Mount Sinai, on what he described as a busy day. Who protests a hospital? Who is that lost? Well, it’s a coalition, of sorts. The hardcore anti-vaxx movement — which is separate from the Canadians who are still merely hesitant — can be borderline rabid. The vitriol and inchoate anger that follows the Liberal party during the election is a blend of conservative disaffection. The PPC is a vehicle for it, and the Conservative party plays a little footsie. You’ve seen something like that tone in the U.S. , too. “I was leaving a vaccine clinic at city hall in May and some of them shouted, go back to your own country with your mask,” said Nishant Chaudhari, a health service administrator at UHN. “And I said, if you pay for a first-class ticket, I’d happily go home, I’m from India. It’s been three years. They didn’t know what to say to that.” And at the same time, most people protesting outside the hospital were clearly lost souls. One carried a giant wooden cross; one had tattoos drawn on with a marker; one had a sign that misspelled the mayor’s name as J. Tori. Some seemed hungry for confrontation that never really came, but it was largely social: they swapped conspiracy theories, or recorded one another. More than anything, they seemed lonely. But then, so do QAnon fanatics, or Trumpian rallygoers. Lonely people are easy prey for conspiracies. “I’ve never met so many people who are into flat earth,” said Radu Dragan, a 35-year-old resident of Toronto, and a regular at protests. “I’ve never met so many people that believed in it, and it’s like a religion. And you can’t tell people that they’re an idiot because they believe in flat earth, because it’s like a religious belief.” Dragan doesn’t believe the earth is flat, and he wasn’t one of those who yelled at the press, or for the benefit of a camera from The Rebel. He tried to calm people down. He has shot YouTube videos of protests and moved to TikTok, and some have been picked up by people like conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, or the . Dragan smokes but says he won’t get vaccinated, because he doesn’t trust what the vaccines will do to him. He mentions his wife disagrees, though. “I’ll die on this hill, literally,” he said. So he comes to the protests, and the people there have replaced his former circle of friends, even dotted as it is with the paranoid, the stressed, and people who vibrate on strange, off-reality frequencies. Society has always had people like this. But if you communicate on Facebook, Telegram, Instagram and TikTok, it can become a social circuit. The fundamental malignancy comes with it, though. There is a school of thought that if only we are nicer to people who think health-care workers are criminals and vaccine advocates violate the Nuremberg Code, then they will come around. Some people are lost, and can’t be brought back. Look, 84.4 per cent of Ontarians who are 12 and older have had at least a first dose of the vaccine, which is almost identical to the national number of 84.13 per cent as of Monday morning, as is about 78 per cent for second doses. More of an outreach, education and equity-based approach should be able to push that number higher; a working vaccine passport could help, if we’re smart and compassionate enough. We’re not the United States. But there is an anger out there in Canada living at the conservative end of the spectrum, as in the polls. “Some of these movements are like a bug light for more radical groups,” says Amarnath Amarasingam, an assistant professor at Queen’s University who specializes in the study of extremism. “It’s not something you can just not have a police presence for, otherwise you wind up with a smaller version of Jan. 6. The vast majority of people on Jan. 6 weren’t violent, . “A lot of these groups are getting their content from abroad as well; there’s this theory that our crazies are not as crazy as America’s. Yeah, but they’re reading American content. They’re talking to them on Facebook … these movements are transnational. “If that kind of rhetoric continues, the general theory is that we’re about five or six years behind American politics. So this could be a huge feature three elections from now, as it steams along. Maybe this protest you see 200 people, but two years from now you see much more. Is this an indication of what’s to come, or is this just a blip, and that’s not easy to say.” And that was the disquieting part. There is an anger and misinformation virus in this country that has been encouraged by some pretend and even mainstream media, and it could absolutely eat our conservative movement. This time there was no violence, and no ambulances were blocked. Thank goodness. Instead it was mostly a bunch of sad lonely people together on a sidewalk, loosely united in a cause, feeling like they had a purpose, and unaware, while outside a hospital filled with the truly sick, that they had become the monsters. Bruce Arthur is a Toronto-based columnist for the Star. Follow him on Twitter:

Slow and safe return to activities planned for SMCDSB’s reopening

Students within the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board (SMCDSB) can look forward to pizza days, sports, and playgrounds when schools resume Sept. 7. The board released its  to families late afternoon on Aug. 27.  “We are hopeful that as we move through 2021-2022 we will be able to slowly and safely return to some of the activities and practices you would find in a more typical school year,” said Frances Bagley, SMCDSB’s director of education.   POP-UP CLINICS As mandated by the Ministry of Health, the board will be hosting COVID-19 vaccine clinics run by the . Youth 12 and up can be immunized without parental consent.  Vaccination clinics are planned at six schools in September. These locations have less than 50 per cent of the student population fully vaccinated, the plans states. These secondary schools include: St. Dominic Catholic Secondary School in Bracebridge, Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School in Orillia, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School in Tottenham, St. Theresa’s Catholic High School in Midland, St. Joan of Arc Catholic High School in Barrie, and Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Bradford. VENTILATION The SMCDSB said it has invested $14.7 million in COVID-19-related maintenance and infrastructure renewal projects with $8.1 million for ventilation improvements. All projects are well underway and are targeted for completion by Dec. 31. There are 16 investment projects in schools and two at board office locations.  All schools have mechanical ventilation systems. Here’s what you need to know: • Students from kindergarten to Grade 12 will be required to wear cloth masks while in school, but not outside.  • There will be no student contact limits. (Last year it was 50 elementary and 100 secondary) • Secondary schools will use a quad-mester model, but with two classes per day instead of one. • Cafeterias, libraries and learning commons will be open, but food services will not be operating. • Field trips, assemblies and masses are on pause at this time. • Lockers will not be used at the secondary level. • All students and staff must complete and submit a daily online COVID-19 screening assessment. • It is not mandatory that students ages 12 to 17 be vaccinated to attend school in-person. • Hands-on programming such as physical education, music, and cooperative education will resume with health and safety restrictions in place. • Outdoor sports begin Sept. 20 and indoor sports will begin Sept. 27. • Common touch points will all be cleaned using disinfectant at least twice during the school day and once in the evening.  • Playground will be open, but not cleaned and disinfected between cohort use. Students will sanitize their hands before and after use. • Elementary families will receive an email prior to Sept. 7 regarding classroom and teacher placement including those participating in virtual learning.

Barrie-Innisfil federal election candidates talk about COVID-19 recovery at CARP forum

CARP Barrie hosted a forum for the Barrie-Innisfil federal election candidates on Sept. 7 and asked questions about COVID-19, seniors, economic recovery and the environment.  The forum was attended by Liberal candidate Lisa-Marie Wilson, Conservative candidate John Brassard and New Democratic Party candidate Aleesha Gostkowski.  Here is what the candidates had to say:  Aleesha Gostkowski, NDP “The cost of COVID-19 recovery needs to be shared by the government, large corporations, banks and the super wealthy. In terms of a time frame, we must accomplish this as soon as possible; the cost of not doing so is too great. As of right now, we do very little to tax the ultra-wealthy or large corporations, but we tax the middle class harshly. “If we begin to tax large corporations that use our resources for pennies on the dollar, at bare minimum we can pay for the changes that the middle-class Canadians need to recover from COVID-19. “To put this into perspective, the parliamentary budget officer, Yves Giroux, crunched the numbers on the NDP’s original wealth-tax pitch last year, and he found that even a wealth tax on families with a net worth of over $20 million would rake in $5.6 billion annually.” Lisa-Marie Wilson, Liberal “As we finish the fight against COVID, we need a federal government that has a plan to grow the economy, create jobs and fight climate change. I believe that the Liberal plan is the best plan to keep us moving forward. “We need a government that is willing to take the steps necessary to finish the fight against COVID-19. This includes hiring 7,500 new doctors and nurses and introducing mandatory vaccination for federally regulated workplaces and introducing national standards for long-term care. “We’re moving forward with a plan that will continue to support Canadians and keep them safe.” John Brassard, Conservative “Conservatives will increase the health transfers to the provinces to the tune of $60 billion so that we can deal with not just the physical health, but also the mental health of Canadians going forward. “It’s about securing our country both from a personal protective equipment, from a biopharma standpoint so that we never get caught in the situation that we were in with no vaccines, making sure that our food and agriculture and our energy sector, that we have those types of securities in our country, because the world is becoming increasingly polarized. “Dependence will rely on Canada and our ability to produce not just PPE, but food and agri-stability, as well as energy stability and security. That’s what we need to move forward. We need to do it together.” To watch the full forum, visit . The federal election takes place on Sept. 20.  For more information about the Barrie-Innisfil riding and candidates, visit .

Family searching for answers after mother dies at Midland long-term care home

Donna Saunders, 74, was healthy when she entered Hillcrest Village in Midland, according to her family. She died two months later due to complications from an infection. Her son Jamie Baxter is devastated and searching for answers. “None of it makes sense to us,” said Jamie. “Our mother went there healthy and died of a bedsore a month later.” Investigations, completed internally and by the Ministry of Long-Term Care, found no wrongdoing on the part of Hillcrest Village. “I believe that we looked into their concerns as fully as we could. I am very sorry that they don’t seem happy with those results from ourselves and our medical director,” said Jonathan Ens, assistant administrator at Hillcrest Village. In January 2020, Saunders and her daughter, Tammie Baxter, moved from London to Barrie. That April, Saunders had her kidney removed and ended up having a bad reaction to painkillers, was bedridden for months and lost her ability to walk. Due to fear of COVID-19, the family decided Tammie would care for Saunders at home. She looked after Saunders, with the help of a nurse, from June 2020 to February 2021 before the family decided to place her in Hillcrest. “We applied to put her in long-term care with the goal of getting her help with rehabilitation, so she could get back on her feet again,” said Jamie. Saunders entered Hillcrest on Feb. 12, 2021. On March 6, Saunders was sent to Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) to get treatment for a urinary tract infection (UTI). While in hospital, a doctor notified the family of a concerning bedsore. “We were shocked,” said Jamie, who noted that there was “no significant sign of bedsores when she entered Hillcrest.” According to Jamie, Saunders was sent back to Hillcrest on March 10 with “complete instructions on how to properly care for the bedsores,” according to Jamie. Two weeks later, on March 24, Tammie went to Hillcrest to visit her mother. “(She) immediately called me on FaceTime and said things didn’t look right. She was very concerned,” said Jamie. Later that night, the family got a call notifying them that Saunders was going to be sent to GBGH. The family soon learned the bedsore had progressed to approximately 10 millimetres deep, and Saunders was septic. She was placed in palliative care and died April 10. Jamie immediately filed a complaint with the Ministry of Long-Term Care, which prompted an investigation. An inspection report, dated July 9 and sent to the family, found two minor unrelated infractions. Jamie said he isn’t satisfied with this report and the fact the investigation took place June 21–25, more than two months after his mother’s death. “I fully understand that the ministry can only investigate whether the home was in compliance with legislation, but if legislation isn’t strong enough to prevent a healthy woman dying from a bedsore a month later, then there’s something wrong with the legislation,” said Jamie. Ens confirmed investigations into Saunders’ death did take place. “The findings were that there was not any negligent care,” said Ens. “With everybody, we do our best to care for them, (but) a lot of our residents that come in are very compromised in their health status.” From 2019 to 2021, the ministry conducted eight investigations at Hillcrest Village related to critical incidents and complaints, including one involving Saunders. These investigations resulted in seven written notifications for noncompliance; six were related to resident care plans, and one involved infection-prevention protocols. Three investigations found no infractions. The family told the Mirror they have reached out to Ontario’s Ombudsman for assistance.