Political Opinions

Tiny Mayor’s Monthly Message

February 2019

 February is heart month. Happy Valentine’s Day and enjoy Family Day this month on the 18th.

 What’s happening in Tiny?...

Carnaval D’Hiver

Great day at our annual winter carnival! The weather was perfect…for a Winter Carnival!! and there was great support from the community! 

Thanks to all who organized the event and to all our volunteers who helped out.

Annual Winter Road Closures

The hills located on Concession 8 West, Concession 15 West and Concession 17 West are closed for the winter months, as there is no winter maintenance on these sections of roads. The closures will remain in effect until further notice. Find additional details at www.tiny.ca/news.

 Winter Parking & Snow Removal Operations

The Township of Tiny requests the co-operation of all motor vehicle owners in keeping vehicles from obstructing snow removal operations.

 The following is prohibited:

  • Parking, stopping or standing a vehicle on a highway in such a manner as to interfere with the clearing of snow from the highway.
  • Disposing of or piling snow from private property onto a Highway or municipal lands, including ditches.

 Clearing Operations: Class 3 Roads (main roads) are plowed/sanded first to ensure safety for emergency vehicles and school buses. Class 4 and 5 Roads (subdivisions) are attended after the priority Class 3 Roads are clear and safe. After large snowfalls, main roads may need to be plowed more than once prior to servicing subdivision roads. Road safety is our priority. The Municipality works with Minimum Maintenance Standards governed by the Province of Ontario. 

 Reminders:

  • Place garbage & recycling containers within the driveway, and not on roadways, to ensure that the road allowance is unobstructed for operators to effectively clear and push back snow.
  • Ensure that children refrain from building tunnels or forts inside snow banks by roadways, as plow drivers can arrive at anytime, day or night, and will not be able to see children playing in the banks.    Your co-operation is greatly appreciated.

 2019 Budget

Council has held three Special Committee of the Whole Budget Meetings to date and our discussions continue as we prioritize our projects and service delivery for 2019.

Province’s Regional Government Review On January 15th, 2019 the Provincial Government announced that it is moving ahead with a review of regional government and has appointed two special advisors (Michael Fenn and Ken Seiling) to lead the review. The review will encompass discussions around what works well and what can be improved with respect to three key areas – municipal governance, decision making and service delivery. The review will include the seven regional municipalities, the District of Muskoka and the counties of Oxford and Simcoe. Simcoe County is being included in the review due to it’s rate of growth being similar to that of many regional municipalities. To help ensure that local government can respond to future growth efficiently and effectively, member municipalities will be included in the review. On Feb. 19, the two special advisors were at Simcoe County to meet individually with the Head of Council from each of the 16 member municipalities and the Warden. Tiny Council and staff have been discussing the Review during our Committee of the Whole meetings. Please feel free to share any thoughts or ideas you may have with respect to the review via my email address – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 Employment

The Township of Tiny has a number of employment opportunities currently available including Chief Building Official, Customer Service Administrator/Cashier (Full-Time, 6 Month Contract) and a number of Summer Student Positions (Spring/Summer 2019). Visit www.tiny.ca/employment for more information. 

 Reminder of our service for the residents of Tiny

Tiny Connect - Stay Informed | Participate | Be Prepared

 Sign up for Tiny Connect – Tiny’s free notification system!

 Receive alerts about emergencies and other important community news by signing up for Tiny Connect. You choose what categories of notifications you want to receive and how you want to receive them.

 Stay Informed - Learn about road closures, burn bans, water restrictions & more! Participate - Hear about community events, recreation programs and public meetings!

 Be Prepared - Receive alerts about pending and existing emergencies! 

 Sign up at https://www.tiny.ca/Pages/TinyConnect.aspx. Questions? Contact Kristie Czovek, Communications Coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 705 526-4204 ext. 277.

 Upcoming Events

February 23- Waypoint and The Guesthouse Shelter – Coldest Night of the Year Walk  - Registration opens at 3:00pm at The HERO Centre in Midland. Visit www.cnoy.org for details or www.waypointcentre.ca

 February 23 -  CLH Foundation – A Red Carpet Evening featuring Steven Page. For more details visit www.clhmidland.ca

 February 28 - Tiny Committee of the Whole and Regular Meeting of Council

March 8 -  Waypoint Centre for Mental Health  – Shine the Light Gala – 6th Annual Fundraising Event, featuring Canadian Folk Music Award Winners “Twin Flames”. For more details visit www.waypointcentre.ca

 April 7-13 -  National Volunteer Week

 April 27 -  Quest Art School & Gallery – Kaleidoscope of the Arts. For more details visit www.questart.ca

 April 22-  Earth Day

 That’s all for this month, 

 Mayor George Cornell Township of Tiny

 To contact me via e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via phone: 705 526-4204, Ext’n: 229 and leave a message with Laura Russell, Sr. Administrative Coordinator.

 

Mayor Don’s Update - by Don Allen

Minesing Mini Fest – By Ward 3 Councillor Wanda Maw-Chapman

We just celebrated another successful Minesing Mini Fest. It was a beautiful day, marking the 47th Mini Fest, with the theme ‘Winter in the Wild West’. The bowling & euchre on Friday night was a full house of rousing laughter and fun. Saturday started off with a Pancake Breakfast in the packed Minesing Community Hall. Mayor Allen, Deputy Mayor Coughlin, Councillor Moore, MP Alex Nuttall and MPP Doug Downey joined me in presenting awards to Walter Priest as Citizen of the Year and Brianna Barnicutt as Youth of the Year. On to the parade, where floats were creatively decorated. Everyone enjoyed the Chili Cookoff back at the Community Hall and the Winner, voted making the best chili, was Mark Priest. The Magician kept the kids well entertained, with screeches of laughter and disbelief. We ended the night with a dance, with music by ‘County Line’. Thanks to all the hard-working volunteers who helped organize, set up and clean up throughout the weekend. Wanda.

Code of Conduct

Previous Council attempted on several occasions to institute a Code of Conduct, but it could not be completed.

New Provincial legislation requires that all municipal councils adopt a Code of Conduct for Council and Local Boards and Committees by March 1, 2019. In December 2018, this Council appointed an independent Township Integrity Commissioner (IC) and staff have been working with the IC to draft a suitable Code of Conduct for Council and Local Boards/Committees. Council recently participated in a workshop regarding this and further reviewed it at a public meeting before this Wednesday’s Council meeting at the Township. The Springwater Code of Conduct will be final reviewed on February 25th by Council in a Special open 6:30 pm meeting at the Township for hopeful adoption. Drafts of these codes are posted on the website.

The Codes set out guidance on: conflicts of interest, gifts, benefits and hospitality, acceptable expenses, confidential information, use of Township resource, election campaigns, improper use of influence, business relations, conduct, media communications, Township by-laws and policies, respectful workplace, employment of relatives/family members, working against/undermining Council’s decisions, complaint protocol, actions of the Integrity Commissioner and Council review. I believe this is valuable and needed progress and I support it completely.

Off-road Vehicles

Save the evening of March 27 or March 28. The Township will be holding two public open house meetings to obtain input from Springwater residents as to whether they support or do not support the use of off-road vehicles on more Springwater roads and trails than presently is allowed. The March 27th meeting will be at 7 pm at the Elmvale Community Hall and March 28th will be same time at the Springwater Administration Centre. More details will be forthcoming.

Elmvale & District Food Bank (“Food Bank”)

The Food Bank, which is a registered charity, began operating out of a small space at the Elmvale Lions Hall in the early 1990’s and out of several other locations over subsequent years prior to its current location, since 2013, in the Elmvale Community Hall, using approximately 2,600 square feet. The demand for the Food Bank’s services has steadily increased - in 2018 it served 413 individuals/families, being a 21% increase over 2017. The current facility logistics requires food to be manually lifted to a second floor and being manually handled 14-16 times before finally being dispensed. The Food Bank depends on approximately 40 volunteers, many of them seniors, so lifting heavy volumes of food up and down stairs multiple times is impossible for them without the assistance of younger volunteers.

The option of installing a “dumb waiter” was researched to transport food between the two floors. A quote was obtained, and the total cost of this option is estimated to be $115,000.

Another option being considered is to construct a new 3,000 sq. ft. facility on Township property at 62 Yonge Street North. The facility would include a waiting/reception area, washroom, interview room, staff room, food preparation/packing room, cold storage and a warehouse area. The facility would be constructed with a large shipping/receiving door with a sloped ramp to allow for off-loading deliveries on pallets of donated food from larger trucks. Other aspects required would include the construction of the interior access routes and a parking area. Estimated costs for this option range from $285,000 to $360,000. Funding proposed for this includes $100,000 from the Food Bank, $100,000 from the Township and a loan to the Food Bank by the Township for the rest out of the existing Elmvale Hydro Reserve Fund, to be repaid over up to 10 years from future donations to the Food Bank. There are other funding possibilities that are being explored as well.

Council is considering this matter this week. I believe the current Food Bank issues and situation need to be rectified now and that the latter option could be made to work to create a more efficient operation for these hard-working volunteers to work in, which would provide more efficient service to those in need and the ability to expand to fulfill further potential volume increases.

Council Meeting Start Times

A motion is being reviewed by Council this week to change the start time of regular council meetings (only) from 6:30 pm to 5:30 pm. Prior to last 2014 to 2018 term, council meetings started at 5:30 pm. These were changed to 6:30 pm start in 2014. In 2016, Council reviewed this and conducted a public survey and by far, most responses agreed with a change to 5:30 pm, but Council of the day decided to maintain the 6:30 pm start time.

Should a 5:30 pm start time be agreed upon by Council, staff would make certain that the agenda would be arranged in an order that administrative items would be dealt with at the beginning of the agenda. Any important, contentious or items of possible high public interest would be listed further on in the agenda, thus discussing them most likely after the 6:30 pm time period. Items that could be moved forward could include public meetings for planning matters, certain delegations and related action reports and closed meeting sessions.

Senior staff are presently allowed in lieu time to recognize the two hours between the end of business day and the start of Council meetings. Their time during Council meetings is considered part of their job responsibility. Changing the start time to 5:30 pm would reduce in lieu time for meeting attendance in half and if you attribute an average hourly wage estimate to this, it is presently valued at approximately $13,000 annually of time which is generally used by staff for time off before using vacation time.

It is great when residents attend council meetings and the fact that we stream all regular meetings and make all of them available on the Springwater web site is very positive and is watched by numbers of people. The 6:30 pm start time has led to little or no change in physical attendance by the public to council meetings - over 90% of our regular council meetings are attended by very few if any residents. However, total transparency will continue to be maintained, as everything is recorded.  To suggest that there is no concern for residents’ involvement, or anything is being hidden by this proposal is total fallacy. You won’t find a more open Council. 

This month, I started monthly radio interviews, reviewing current Springwater news items with Rock95 and 107.5 KOOL FM news director Dan Blakeley.   

Contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 705-728-4784 ext. 2013 to set a time to meet. Also, review updates on www.donallen.ca.

 

Supporting Political Prisoners: One year in US-Style Torture Centres in Honduras – Part 2

By Karen Spring in Tegucigalpa

One year ago, I made the trip for the first time to the military-run, maximum-security prison known as La Tolva, located in southeastern Honduras. I thought it would be simple to drop off food and clothes for my partner Edwin Espinal and to visit him. I quickly found it to be the opposite.

Arrested on January 19, 2018, Edwin was immediately sent the following day (January 20) to La Tolva by Judge Claudio Aguilar of the national jurisdiction court system on request from the Public Prosecutor’s office. Raul Alvarez, the other political prisoner from Tegucigalpa, was sent to La Tolva a few days before Edwin.

See the February 7 2019 issue of the Springwater News or Karen’s blog at www.aquiabajo.com/blog for Part 1 of this article.

The First Few Days After Edwin’s Arrival to La Tolva

Shortly after arriving to La Tolva, we would find out later that both Edwin and Raul were held in solitary confinement – Raul for approximately 20 days and Edwin for 15 days. Edwin tells me that he almost went crazy the first few weeks. He was enclosed inside a small cell with no bathroom. He begged another prisoner that he saw on his one-hour outside a day (it would later be one hour every two weeks) to let him borrow the Bible. It was the only thing that kept his mind from running wild and one of the few books in the last year that he’s been able to get his hands on.

US Companies Profit from These Torture Centers & Detention of Political Prisoners

The most outrageous part of the conditions and practices of Honduran authorities is that the two maximum-security prisons – La Tolva (or El Pozo II) and El Pozo - are made, designed, and a source of profit for US prison contractors and companies.

Inside La Tolva, one quickly can see that most the equipment, building materials, bullet proof windows, even the large industrial fans on the ceilings of the visiting areas, have been purchased from US companies.

The Honduran government has purchased various types of equipment for the jail that have never been used. For example, there is a large, industrial clothing washer and dryer that is never used, possibly because the prison suffers from severe water shortages. Instead, the equipment just sits there unused while a US company likely received thousands of dollars selling it to the Honduran government. 

All windows, including those in the cellblocks and visitation areas, are bullet-proof. Money has been spent on all kinds of US-style equipment, yet there is little to no medical equipment or medications inside the health clinic that allegedly has a 24-hour physician on staff 7 days a week. Yet prisoners constantly complain of the lack of urgent and regular medication attention including Edwin and Raul who went on hunger strike demanding to see a physician in the first few months of their arrival to La Tolva.

As far as the inmates and prison guards understand, inside La Tolva torture centre there are wood working workshops and gyms filled with various types of equipment. These areas and equipment are not used by the inmates - they just know that they exist. The kitchen has industrial style equipment that is more likely than not, purchased from a US company and imported into Honduras. There are classrooms but these are never used.

At one point, a private US company installed telephones; inmates that wanted to contact their family members had to purchase phone cards costing 100 Lempiras ($4.20) for 12 minutes. The phones were taken out on April 2018. A US company also services and runs the security cameras inside the prison but the name of the company is not public information and difficult to verify.   

Meeting Courageous Honduran Women at The Front Gate - Standing outside the front gate of La Tolva (known as ‘Customs One,’ almost like you’re entering another country and leaving all your rights behind) has become the norm for me.

Almost on a weekly basis, I wait outside of the torture centre with Honduran women from the organization, the Mesa de los Indignados de Progreso that lead the fight to free the political prisoners.

We, and all the female family members of inmates, must constantly fight the various military and police forces at the gate, either to accept medications prescribed by the ‘in-house doctor’; accept additional nutritional supplements; often these requests are refused so we simply demand that prison authorities respect the law. When one demands this, I have myself been laughed at and dismissed by the security forces who tell me: “You’re in Honduras, sweetie.”

At La Tolva torture centre, laws do not apply. Every single legal mechanism that establishes the prison norms, rules, procedures, and laws in Honduras are violated at La Tolva.

The more you mention that the prison authorities are breaking the law, the more the various security forces present inside the jail like the Military Police, the National Penitentiary Institute (INP) police, the military, and the new National Force to Control the Prisons. This National Force are merely US-trained military soldiers in balaclavas with only their eyes exposed and black and green uniforms; they make it more and more difficult for people to get in to see their family members.

The military prison director also finds his way of punishing those that demand that the law be respected. In many cases, the director (who is rotated every 6-7 months) will make you wait outside in the hot sun where there is no shade or trees, nowhere to buy water, no washroom facilities, or areas to sit down. I have spent hour after hour outside of the La Tolva gate, standing next to mostly Honduran women that are doing the same things I am: waiting to be let in for a visitation, drop off medications and prescribed nutritional supplements, or await the answer to simple questions.

As I await outside La Tolva to gain entry, to receive a written confirmation for visitation, or to speak to the Director, I have met countless Honduran women. They tell me endless stories of abuses; sexual abuse and harassment; of times when they have attempted to demand their rights and then punished by having their visitation rights taken away for 6 months; of fighting for their brothers, sons, and husbands and ending up frustrated with no response from the Honduran government.

The Honduran women that continue going to La Tolva to visit and support their family members are truly incredible. I have come to deeply respect their courage, strength, and solidarity as we share testimonies and stories at the front gate of the torture centre.

A Failed ‘Security’ Strategy but a Successfully Profitable One

These torture centres do nothing to ensure the safety of the prison population or the safety of the general Honduran population. Honduran women are the people most affected by this new security policy implemented under the Juan Orlando Hernandez government. Meanwhile the US and Canadian government view these violations of rights by the Honduran government that promote US and Canadian economic interests in Honduras over human rights and prisoners’ rights.

These jails must be closed. In normal Honduran jails, conditions must be improved. As Edwin said to our community members a few weeks ago: “In Honduras, we have jails instead of schools, weapons instead of medicine, bullets instead of books. This just makes our world more unsafe. Let’s build a better world. Ask your government to stop supporting dictatorships.”

Go to Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor online for more information.