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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

These guys flop big on ice fishing circuit

No heat, no hut, no fish.

That pretty much sums up Jim Rose's effort on frozen Lake Simcoe yesterday.

Not bad for his first ice fishing excursion. But since he and pal Matthew Konecny chose to test their skills at the Canadian Ice Fishing Championships, it just didn't cut the mustard at prize time.

"We'd never been ice fishing before, so we thought we'd give it a try – and why not at the Canadian championships?" Rose said.

The Chatham duo caught three little yellow stripers on "perch Saturday," the first part of the two-day event. But like true fishermen, they preferred to talk about the one that got away.

"It was a monster – a jumbo perch – but we couldn't get it through the hole in the ice," Konecny, 23, said.

A story for their grandchildren, to be sure.

Many of the 67 two-person teams from across Canada and the United States were having better luck yesterday, the so-called "big fish day" of the tournament. They hauled in whitefish, lake trout and even a huge ling cod.

But as things wound down, Gilles Binneau of nearby Jackson's Point seemed headed for the "lunker award" for biggest fish with a 78-centimetre (31 inch) lake trout.

He, like everyone else, watched officials tally the length of their catches and put them back in the water to let someone else nab another day.

"They catch 'em, we do a quick measurement and then we send them back down the hole," said assistant organizer Don McCaw. "Lake Simcoe is world-renowned for its lake trout and whitefish," he said. "It's a wonderful fishery and we want to protect it for generations to come."

Some ice anglers hunkered down in fancy huts they dragged out several kilometres onto the lake behind their snowmobiles. Others set up portable windbreaks.

"It's just you, the fish and the cold – and the fish usually win," said Nando Surace, 32, of Barrie.

"The weather was beautiful. I caught a herring in the morning, but herring don't count."

So why sit out in the cold instead of curling up on a cozy couch in front of the TV?

"There's nothing like hooking a fish 80 feet down and reeling it up," Surace said.

Ken Hougham agreed.

"There's an adrenalin rush when you hook a fish, when all of a sudden, wham! you get a good hit on the stick," the 50-year-old Keswick angler said. "It excites you.

"My wife likes the trout and we both like the whitefish," he said, although he couldn't keep any for dinner yesterday.

Rose and Konecny weren't as hi-tech as some other experienced teams. Since they had no hut, they braved the bone-chilling winds and just plopped down on tiny stools.

"We got a big zero," said Rose, 24. "A lot of people had luck, but not us."

Konecny was a little more philosophical.

"It's a beautiful day, good times," he said. "We hoped we'd catch the big one, but not today.

"Maybe next time ..."


South Georgian Bay-Lake Simcoe Watershed Region will receive an additional $629,152

South Georgian Bay-Lake Simcoe Watershed Region will receive an additional $629,152 in funding from the province to complete studies on local drinking water systems.
In addition to the regional funding, the Township of Adjala-Tosorontio will receive $96,9640, the Township of Mulmur $127,540, the Town of Shelburne $103,820, and the Township of Springwater $10,000, all in partnership with the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, a member of the South Georgian Bay-Lake Simcoe Watershed Region.
The Severn Sound Environmental Association, also a member of the South Georgian Bay-Lake Simcoe region, will receive $198,125 in partnership with the Townships of Midland, Penetanguishene and Tiny.
Several additional municipalities were also successful in their proposals. The Township of Essa gets $68,000, the Towns of Orangeville and Mono $143,409, and the Town of Wasaga Beach $46,404.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Big Bay Point Resort gets nod - despite Essa’s objection

Resort gets nod despite Essa’s objection

Essa Township urged Simcoe County to not approve the Big Bay Point Resort plan, for fear that more developers will seek to build golf courses and resorts.
“We’re going to be the Caribbean of the north, where our kids are chamber maids and short-order cooks,” said Essa Mayor David Guergis.
“All of our municipalities have had mega land purchased by developers. In Essa, we’ve had a large group out of Calgary purchasing land, and they haven’t purchased it to grow crops … I have grave concerns with this. We have to look past this development.”
However, other county councillors voted to OK the project.
County planning director Ian Bender and its consulting counsel Mark Noskiewicz urged county councillors to approve a Memorandum of Settlement, which averts what was expected to be a six-month Ontario Municipal Board hearing. Legal fees for the county would have been “several hundreds of thousands”, the county’s finance manager noted.
With council’s approval, he can now go to a Feb. 28 OMN prehearing to tell the board the county no longer objects to the plan for the resort, which has been scaled back from 4,200 units to 2,000 – which includes a 400-room hotel.
The plan also protects an 87-hectare greenland area as an Environmental Protection area, in the centre of the site. An 80-hectare area now used for farming, however, will become a golf course, on the resort’s western boundary.
Noskiewicz also told council that the province’s regulations regarding waste management are much more stringent, and the province also recognizes the need to protect Lake Simcoe. The province assisted with the settlement, through the provincial development facilitator’s office.
Councillors were also concerned about the number of requests coming forward to build golf courses on agricultural land, proposals very similar to the one planned for the resort.
“A developer in Ramara has proposed a golf course on class 3 or 4 (agricultural) land,” said Ramara Mayor Bill Duffy.
Noskiewicz, however, reassured politicians there were still checks in the planning process to ensure other developers wouldn’t use the Big Bay Point Resort plan as justification for their golf course plans. He also suggested municipalities update their Official Plans to recognize these growth pressures.

Grab your fishing gear - free fishing!

Grab your fishing gear and a warm coat because all Canadian residents can fish licence-free on Saturday and Sunday.
The weekend will be the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources first Winter Family Fishing Weekend.
Organizers are hoping to introduce the sport of ice fishing to new people, and are encouraging anglers to bring friends and family out for a new experience.
Those looking to drop a line can try Lake Simcoe, which boasts some of the area's best fishing.
Ice conditions can be unpredictable, and anyone venturing out should ensure the ice is safe.
For more information, visit

Thursday, February 22, 2007

County votes on Big Bay Point development today

County votes on Big Bay Point development today

Simcoe County council will be holding a special meeting this afternoon at 1 p.m. (Wednesday) which will see a vote on a scaled down Big Bay Point development proposal.

Simcoe County's Corporate Services Committee gave its provisional approval to the new proposal last Wednesday.

The new proposal which was developed over the past few months between Simcoe County, the Town of Innisfil and Kimvar Enterprises/ Geranium Corporation will see considerably less development than was originally presented by Geranium in 2002.

The 235 hectare property which is situated west of Lake Simcoe between Big Bay Point Road and 13th concession of Innisfil will see a maximum of 1,600 residential units and 700 hotel units. 4,200 units were originally proposed for the area.

Residential development will be concentrated in the eastern section of the property with a golf course and a fire station placed in the west end.

"At the beginning, neighbours had a lot of concern with development in the western area," said Corporate Services committee chair Doug Little.

He said that the dedication of 87 hectares of land to Open Space Conservation in the middle of the property should also lessen concerns

of neighbouring property owners and the placement of only one new road linking Big Bay Point Road to the 13th line was decided to meet concerns about additional traffic in the area.

Also included in the proposal will be 1,000 boat slips at the marina, a 5,000 square foot conference centre, 8,000 square meters of retail space and a 300 seat theatre.

A report from the county's Planning Department said that the changes in the development and the reduction in the number of condominiums had meant that the development met the county's definition as a resort development.

"Residential units have been deleted from the west portion of the site. The resort uses are focused exclusively at the east end of the site, adjacent to and expanding form the existing marina," said the report

Little said that the county had been discussing a compromise solution with the owners of the Big Bay Point development over the past couple of months.

A full Ontario Municipal board hearing on the proposal was scheduled for May.

"Frankly, the county was facing millions of dollars of legal fees with an OMB hearing with no guarantee that we would win," said Little.

Simcoe County council rejected the proposal as premature in 2004 because the Big Bay Point area was not designated as a settlement area. It also said that it wanted to wait on the the final Inter Governmental Action Plan's completion. In December, 2004, Innisfil council supported a reduced proposal for the area which would have seen 2,800 condominiums.

Little said that Innisfil's support was critical in the change in the county's decision to not oppose the development.

"We also were told that the province would not object to the new smaller proposal," he said.

There were few local residents on hand for the Corporate Services committee meeting last week. It was a contrast to the open houses and public meetings held five years ago which saw the largest meetings ever held in the town's history.

If the new proposal is approved by county council, the decision will be discussed at a pre-hearing of the Ontario Municipal Board on the proposal to be held on Feb. 28.

Depending on public opposition to the new proposal, the planned hearings slated for May could be cancelled.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Ice is right for fishing championship

Ice is right for fishing championshipDate: 2007-02-15 Author: John SlykhuisHappy days are here again for the area’s fish hut operators and the guy with the biggest smile around is Canadian Ice Fishing Championship organizer Rocky Madsen.As frigid arctic blasts continue to thicken the ice from shore to shore on Lake Simcoe, Mr. Madsen is getting set for the two-day event based at the Lionshead Lakefront Resort in Jackson’s Point on Feb. 24 and 25.Two-person teams will fish for six hours in a designated area on the lake each day.“Registration is going really well now that we’ve got good ice,” Mr. Madsen said.Up to $50,000 in cash and prizes is up for grabs, in addition to various trophies, including the Georgina Cup —handed out to the tourney champions and the Jean Power Memorial Trophy for the top female angler.Jean was the wife of Beaverton resident John Power, a well-known outdoor writer and CIFC supporter.Last year’s champs were Leon Maloney of Hillsdale and Cam Moore of Aurora who collected the cup and $10,000.They’ll face some stiff competition from Simcoe ice angling masters including past champs John Benyik, Mike McNabb, Brian Joyce, Rick Rogers, Norm Joyce and top female threat Susie Pike.The trophies and prizes will be handed out after Sunday’s scoring at the resort.The cost to register is $260 per two-person team.The event features a major change this year with the first day dedicated strictly to perch.“I’ve had a lot of really positive feedback about that. People like it,” Mr. Madsen said, adding that will also make the scoring go more quickly and smoothly.The limit that can be caught is 15 perch, so the challenge will be to keep the biggest for the weigh-in at the end of the day.Day two is set for deeper water and bigger fish like lake trout, ling, pike, whitefish, walleye and bowfin. They will be scored 25 points for catching and 25 points for live release, plus one point per inch.Mr. Madsen said he is hoping the good ice will stick around for his big “Trap Attack” perch derby Sunday, Mar. 11 with a potential $24,000 payout.The 2007 Canadian Ice Fishing Championships will help to raise funds in support of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Foundation, a non-profit organization working to help save the lake.The CIFC donated $1,400 to this cause last year.To register and for more information, visit

Climate expert speaks in Newmarket

One of the world’s foremost earth scientists believes global warming will fundamentally affect our supply of fresh water.
This would include sources used for drinking and agricultural irrigation, and would also influence flood patterns.
Dr. Richard Peltier will address the new board of directors of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority at its inaugural meeting on Feb. 23. He will speak about how climate change will affect the watershed, and what can be done at the local level to make a difference.
Peltier is a lead author of the Fourth Scientific Assessment report that was issued Feb. 2 in Paris by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world's paramount scientific authority on global warming.
He is also a professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Toronto, and Director of the Centre for Global Change Science, a new multi-disciplinary research group studying human- induced global environmental change. He uses his specialized expertise, along with sophisticated computer modeling, to predict the impacts that certain conditions can have on our future climate.
Until recently, climatic forecasting has only been possible at the global or continental level. The centre is advancing the model to create an interpretation at the provincial and regional level. This will bring the story of global change home in a new way, predicting localized impacts.
Peltier is the principal investigator of the Polar Climate Stability Network, a Canadian national research activity funded by the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences. He was noted by Science Watch magazine as the fifth most highly cited Earth Scientist in the world.
He is also one of the local heroes featured in The Great Warming a Canadian-produced documentary film about the effects of climate warming.
The LSRCA annual general meeting will be held in the council chambers of the Newmarket Town Hall, 395 Mulock Dr., 9-11 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 23. This event is open to the public free of charge.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Barrie councillors will be getting down to work

Barrie councillors will be getting down to work on their strategic priorities this Saturday.
At 8:30 a.m. at City Hall, they will meet to discuss what mark they want to make on the city during their four-year term.
“We have a 20-year plan and that is meant to be the broad vision,” said Rebecca James-Reid, the city’s strategic services director. The vision includes waterfront excellence, safety, attracting diverse industries, protecting the environment and enhancing transportation networks.
“We want this term of council to make their mark on the 20-year plan. We’ll ask them what areas do you want to focus on.”
Barrie created its 20-year plan in 2003, under former Mayor Jim Perri. Former and longtime councillor Steve Trotter chaired the committee, which gathered public input.
The plan also included strategies to enhance civic pride, through culture and recreational programs, a strong city core, environmental stewardship, public-private partnerships and a responsive, accessible city government.
Shortly after the previous council took office in December 2003, it set its 10 priorities, all specific actions based on those broader goals. Those priorities were then posted on the wall of the council chambers, to keep councillors focused as they went about doing the city’s business.
They included protecting Lake Simcoe and Little Lake, attracting higher-paying jobs, bringing back the GO train, downtown revitalization, influencing a new deal for cities and managing growth. Others were improving the waterfront to bolster tourism, developing a long-term financial plan, completing the construction of the Holly Recreation Centre, which is now being built, and improving corporate communications.
James-Reid noted that Saturday’s session will start with a presentation outlining senior staff’s priorities, as well as a summary of what input was gathered during the mayor’s open houses in January and early February.
“We had some great positive feedback,” said James-Reid.
“Citizen comments ranged across the board. We saw a lot of comments on the arts, recreation and facilities, development and growth, downtown redevelopment, economic development, and the need for the city to attract diverse investment.”
As well, emergency preparedness and concern for the environment were also on people’s minds, as well as taxes and access to health care.
The Barrie Business Board has already joined the discussion, as it submitted five items it wants council to consider at Saturday’s session.
In a letter circulated Monday, the group urged the city to continue its efforts to attract industry, to continue with downtown revitalization, to expand its boundaries, to implement the city’s cultural plan, and to protect the environment.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sibbald Pt. Provincial park to receive municipal water

Provincial park to receive municipal water

Construction could begin as early as next month on a water main along Black River Road in Georgina to Sibbald Point Provincial Park to the system.
Councillors last week agreed to the town's portion of funding, $250,000, which will include fire hydrants, a public water tap and provision for future connections at Maple Avenue and Joan Street.

While a sewer line will be constructed at a later date, there is no allocation available to residents along the road.

Servicing for that area, as well as the park, awaits an expansion to the Sutton sewage treatment plant, not scheduled until 2010 at the earliest.

The water main is being paid for by the Ministry of Natural Resources along with up-front financing from developers.

Until now, the park has drawn its water from Lake Simcoe.

"The water is fine, but because of the new regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act we had to issue a boil water order," park superintendent Doug McEachern said.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Lake Simcoe Ice Reports

Lake Simcoe: Reports have generally been good, with ice thickness varying from not safe to 12 inches, depending on where you are on the lake. Check out for ice thicknesses around the lake.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Learn to conserve in celebration of World Wetlands Day

Learn to conserve in celebration of World Wetlands Day

Celebrate World Wetlands Day (Feb. 2) by learning how wetlands improve the quality of our lives through an exciting and educational presentation by the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) - at no charge!

LSRCA encourages schools, youth and community groups to take an active role in caring for our environment, and preserving our natural resources.

"It is important that we educate our youth about the Lake Simcoe watershed and how wetlands enhance our quality of life, not only by helping to ensure safe water, but also through the provision of healthy habitats for human recreation and wildlife," explained LSRCA Chief Administrative Officer Gayle Wood. "Providing exciting learning opportunities about our natural environment is a crucial step to encourage conservation."

LSRCA now offers two curriculum connected presentations for watershed residents; Wetland Wonders, for primary and junior grades, and the new Discover Your Watershed for Grades 7 and 8.

World Wetlands Day originated at the Convention of Wetlands in Ramsar, Iran, 1971, to recognize the importance of wetlands and to formulate a treaty for international cooperation in their conservation.

Wetlands have a vital role in a healthy environment and are among the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet. In Canada, they are home to about 600 plant, mammal, amphibian, reptile, fish, bird and insect species and have a crucial role in the water cycle. Wetlands store and purify surface water, help replenish groundwater resources and can reduce the damaging effects of floods.

The Lake Simcoe watershed is recognized as having one of the highest concentration of wetlands, in Southern Ontario, off the Canadian Shield.

LSRCA encourages groups within the Lake Simcoe watershed, who are interested in booking a presentation at no charge, or to learn more about the presentations offered, to contact Lori McLean at (905) 895-1281 (ext. 242) or e-mail to

Presentations can be modified to suit individual needs.

For more information on the Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority, its Conservation Areas, or education programs, call (905) 895-1281 or visit