Other Community News

‘Bit of Everything’: Interest in Seed Libraries Still Growing – By: Wayne Doyle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BarrieToday.com

Apr 28, 2024 – A staff member’s passion for gardening 10 years ago has created a legacy program that is among the most popular at the Essa Public Library.

Started in 2015, the library’s seed library was a simple idea that has grown steadily since inception. A couple of years after launching, a TD Green Grant allowed the township’s library to make a significant expansion.

Today, it’s a robust and popular library item that gets extra attention at this time of year.

“The seed library is very popular and our community makes great use of it,” said Emily Nakeff, co-ordinator of public engagement for the Essa Public Library. “Those who know we offer this look forward to it each year, and those who are learning about it for the first time are often excited and amazed to discover the more unique side of our collection.

“There is certainly a sense of enjoyment around the seed library that we love to see,” she added.

While the folks in Essa have a decade of experience managing their seed library, the staff at the Springwater Public Library are sophomores, kicking off the second year of their program.

“We started our program in full force last year,” said Nicole Morneau, a library technician with the Springwater Public Library’s Midhurst branch. “We promoted it with a few programs in Elmvale — we had guest speakers from the Simcoe County master gardeners — and we plan on doing it again this year.”

On May 14 at 6 p.m., the Elmvale branch will host a program dedicated to best practices and best plants for shade gardening, including some attractive seasonal and perennial combinations.

On May 16 at 4 p.m., the Midhurst branch will host Bee and Butterfly Watering Station, a “how-to” session for children who want to build a water feature that helps support garden pollinators.

The next day, May 17, Bee and Butterfly Watering Station will be held at the Elmvale branch at 3:30 p.m.

The cost for each session is $3.

While there’s a fee for the workshops, it’s the only time you’ll have to go into your pocket.

Taking seeds from the seed library in both townships is free. And you can have as many as you want.

All you need in Essa township is your library membership, which is also free to all residents of Essa.

In Springwater, they’re not checking library cards, so anyone in the community can take advantage of the program.

Essa’s seed library is primarily composed of vegetables and herbs.

“We focus primarily on food, to offer the opportunity for people to learn about sustainable and regenerative food choices,” Nakeff said. “While the focus is on food, we do have one or two flowers as well, depending on what comes in by donation.”

The opposite is true in Springwater; they have more flowers than food.

Nasturtium, marigolds, echinacea, zinnias, asters, daisies and petunias are popular varieties. There are some vegetables but the selection is not huge. Beans, carrots, eggplants and lettuce top the edible category.

“We have a bit of everything,” said Moreneau. “It depends on what people have donated.”

To get the seeds you’d like, all you have to do is visit, tell a library staffer what you’re looking for and they’ll help take care of the rest.

“Simply choose your herbs and vegetables from our seed library, check them out at the welcome desk, and grow them at home,” said Nakeff. “At the end of the season, any seeds from your harvest can be shared back with the library to restock the seed library for next year.”

The cycle of life complete.


Compost Available for Purchase at County of Simcoe Waste Facilities

Midhurst/April 25, 2024 – County of Simcoe residents will once again be able to purchase compost at all County waste facilities from May 6 to 25, 2024 (excluding residents from the cities of Barrie and Orillia).

Compost is a soil amendment used in gardens to add nutrients, or as top dressing for lawns to help retain moisture and is produced in-house using leaf and yard waste material generated throughout the County of Simcoe. Learn more about how the County uses your yard waste to make compost.

Compost sales are self-service, and residents should bring their shovels to load bins, truck beds, or trailers. Cost is $5 per carload or $20 per truck or trailer load, while quantities last.

Mulch is also available while quantities last at County waste facilities. Mulch can be applied to soil surfaces, around trees, paths, flower beds, slopes and erosion prone areas, and as top dressing for flower and vegetable gardens. Mulch retains moisture, regulates soil temperatures, and supresses weed growth.

County of Simcoe is composed of sixteen member municipalities and provides crucial public services to County residents in addition to providing paramedic and social services to the separated cities of Barrie and Orillia. Visit our website at simcoe.ca.


Barrie Area Member of Parliament Recognizes Contributors to Annual Calendar

April 23, 2024 Barrie – Springwater – Oro-Medonte MP Doug Shipley hosted a reception to acknowledge residents who contributed to his 2024 annual calendar. Contributors were honoured at an intimate reception, hosted at the MacLaren Art Centre on April 22, 2024. In 2023, for the second year, residents of Barrie – Springwater – Oro-Medonte were encouraged to share original artwork capturing the beauty of our region for consideration in the 2024 annual calendar. The works include paintings, sketches, and photographs. Successful submissions were showcased, month by month, in the annual calendar which is delivered to thousands of residents in Barrie – Springwater – Oro-Medonte. The calendar includes a Kid’s Corner, highlighting drawings from the community’s youngest artists. On Monday, April 22nd, MP Shipley welcomed contributors and their guests to celebrate the local artists highlighted in the 2024 calendar. Thank you to the following residents who contributed their original photographs and paintings to the 2024 calendar: Bregitte Rugman, Sheila M. Bannerman, Carolyn Boyd, Holly Dickson, Elena Gaevskaya, Amber Blythe, Tara D’Souza, Allan M. Craig, Sheila Romard, Mike Heidebrecht, Cathy Volpé, Joan Le Boeuf, and Susan Young. “Encouraging submissions from local artists provided a great opportunity to showcase both the raw beauty and the incredible talent that can be found in our region,” said MP Doug Shipley. “Each year I hear from residents who rely on this calendar to record appointments, meetings, and important dates. My staff and I continue to receive many compliments on the pictures and paintings featured each month.” With such a successful outcome for the 2024 calendar, MP Shipley and his team are accepting submissions for the 2025 calendar and encourage residents to contribute their photos, paintings and sketches featuring Barrie – Springwater – Oro-Medonte.


Friends of the Penetanguishene Youth Raise Funds for Cycling

The Town of Penetanguishene is delighted to formally announce the grand opening of the new Pump Track at Martin Valley Park, funded in full by the Friends of the Penetanguishene Youth.

Date: Sunday, May 26th, 2024

Time: 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Lunch starting at 11:30 AM)

Location: Martin Valley Park, located at 21 John Street.

Mayor Rawson will provide opening remarks followed by an official ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the pump track. This occasion serves as a tribute to the Friends of the Penetanguishene Youth for their significant contributions to the pump track project.

Mayor Rawson expressed his gratitude by saying, “We are profoundly thankful to the Friends of the Penetanguishene Youth for their generous financial contribution. Their support has been instrumental in bringing this project to fruition. This pump track is a testament to their ongoing commitment to our community and our youth.”

Rad Adventures will be onsite to host a clinic designed for both beginners and experienced cyclists. The instructor from Rad Adventures will provide step-by-step guidance on how to navigate the pump track, including how to maintain momentum without pedaling, how to handle the bike on the rollers and banked turns, and how to ride safely and efficiently. This is a great opportunity for attendees to learn from the experts and improve their biking skills.

Interested participants can register for the pump track clinics on RecDesk here: Programs (recdesk.com)

In addition to the activities, attendees will be treated to a complimentary BBQ lunch, generously provided by the Friends of the Youth. The event will also feature a live music performance by Emma Reynolds.

What is a Pump Track:

A pump track is a purpose-built track for bike, rollerblades, skateboards and scooters. It consists of a circuit of rollers, banked turns, and other features designed to be ridden completely by riders “pumping”—generating momentum by up and down body movements, instead of pedaling or pushing.

About Rad Adventures:

Rad Adventures is an organization that has been teaching youth in communities how to have fun on their bikes for over 8 years. They offer a variety of mountain bike programs and summer camps for ages 4 -16, including Learn 2 Ride, Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Leadership In Training1. They also offer adult programs in the Spring and Fall.

They teach the youth how to have fun on their bikes, build their confidence, skills, and athletic levels through the pure joy of riding their bikes. They also teach proper riding techniques, trail etiquette, basic mechanic skills (how to fix a flat tire, etc), use of equipment, road and trail safety, nature and forest values.


A Call for Change – By Amanada Wagner, Community Dev. Coordinator, Huronia Transition Homes

May 3, 2024 – On Thursday, May 2nd, 2024, nearly 200 people turned out to protest sexual violence against women and gender-diverse people at Athena’s Sexual Assault Counselling & Advocacy Centre’s 21st annual Take Back the Night protest in the City of Barrie. Athena’s is the regional sexual assault centre of Simcoe County, and is a program of Huronia Transition Homes, an organization that is celebrating its 40th year in 2024.

The heart of Take Back the Night is emotionally charged, because as so many people occupy the space, it is alarmingly clear how pervasive sexual violence is today. While patriarchy and sexism sound like ambiguous terms, they are heard in the words that survivors hear all too often after coming forward: “Do you have proof?…How much did you drink?…Boys will be boys…What did you do to make him mad?…Well, he bought you ABC, so you should give him DEF…Why did you go there alone?…He is a good person; are you sure that happened?…What were you wearing?…Why didn’t you fight back?”

Violence against women and gender-diverse people happens within relationships and in social interactions, but violence also occurs within our systems. It is a systemic violence that we do not have affordable housing, a safe supply, a supervised consumption site, or specialized care services that address the unique physical and mental health needs of women and gender-diverse people who have experienced violence.

As much as Take Back the Night provides a safe space to hold the pain and struggle that survivors carry, it is also fueled by the powerful drive to create tangible, lasting change. As Haily MacDonald, Acting Executive Director of Huronia Transition Homes, stated in her speech, “if we are going to change from this culture, we have to stop just celebrating our resilience, and we’re allowed to use our rage, and get angry that this still exists.”

But what does change actually look like?


Wow Spring Into It! – By Stephanie Brash, Master Gardener, SCMG

Are you stuck in a rut with your annual containers? Do you do the same thing year after year because it feels “safe”? Well, it’s time to break free! Let’s walk through the process of creating containers that are as colourful and fabulous as they are unique.

I always start my gardening season with a stroll through my favourite garden centres to see what’s new and fun. I choose a few plants that appeal to me individually, knowing I’ll work them into planters somehow. Don’t be afraid to buy a stunning, dramatic plant you’re not sure what you’re going to do with yet. Pick plants of any shape, colour and size you immediately are drawn to.

A good guide to planning your containers is to follow the “thriller, filler, spiller” format:

1.) STEP ONE: Choose a dramatic “Thriller”: You want one real attention-grabbing plant to take centre stage in your container. A “thriller” plant will typically have an upright growth habit with either non-stop blooms, dramatic leaves, or both. In containers viewed from all sides, position a thriller in the centre. If your container is against a wall, place it in the back. The most popular “safe” thriller choice is a spike, or dracaena, but other wonderful choices include canna lilies, agapanthus, coleus, dragon wing begonia, ornamental fountain grass, cleome, alocasia, large dahlias… whatever appeals to you! Make a statement!

2.) STEP TWO: Plant Some “Fillers”. Filler plants complement the thriller, and typically have mounded or spreading shapes. They fill in the soil gaps between the thriller and the edge of the pot, bridging the tall thrillers and the plants that trail over the sides. Fillers can be a single plant species, or a mixture of several different plants. Typical “fillers’ include petunias, impatiens, marigolds… all are beautiful and will flower all season. Consider something different: lantana, gaura, euphorbia, coleus… garden centres have so many unique options. Read the tags and look for plants with mounding habits and a spread and height of up to 12-18 inches.

3.) “STEP THREE: Fill in with Spillers”: Spillers are trailing plants that drape down over the edge of your pot, adding another dimension to your design. Plant spillers along the edges of the pot to soften the feel of the planter, and in openings left between the fillers. Feel free to push plants into place and move things around if it’s a bit of a tight squeeze; annuals grow rapidly and will recover quickly. Calibrachoa (“million bells”) is a staple as a spiller, look for new colours that are always being introduced. Other fun choices are creeping zinnia, bacopa, licorice plant, sweet potato vine, scaevola, verbena, fuschia, wave petunias, ivy, silver falls… as long as it has a “trailing” habit, you can’t really go wrong here.

Remember, nursery staff love to talk plants. If you’re feeling apprehensive about designing a container from scratch, ask for help. Look at some examples and make mental notes of what appeals to you and makes you happy. Plants can be interchangeable: what serves as a filler in one pot could be a thriller in a smaller pot. Think of your garden as a reflection of you… there are no wrong choices!


Houseplants with pretty patterns, colours and foliage variation are fun to add to your annual containers for a bit of extra interest! Spider plants, tradescantia (aka “wandering dude”), philodendron, alocasia… most houseplants will benefit from the brighter light and increased air movement they’ll get from the outdoor growing season. With consistent watering and the occasional dose of fertilizer, they’ll come back into the house in autumn looking refreshed and lush.

This series of gardening articles brought to you by the Simcoe County Master Gardeners, members of the Master Gardeners of Ontario. For more information, visit www.simcoecountymg.ca.



I think spring is finally here.  And if you’re like me, you’ve hibernated through the winter – or what we had of it.  The outdoors are calling.  It’s staying light much longer now.  Let’s go take a walk and bring the dog. But before you head out on that walk, you should head on over to EDGE’s May meeting.  There you will learn about Ticks-Lyme disease with Dusana Bondy of Abell Pest Control. Even working in the garden, you have to be prepared.  So if you have questions, bring them with you.  We will be gathering on Wednesday May 22 at 7:00 p.m. upstairs at the Elmvale Legion.  I am sure that there will be lots of useful information so don’t forget to bring paper and pen.  There will also be refreshments so don’t forget to bring your mug. I saw Daffy at our last meeting. Guests are always welcome.

Also EDGE will be having a Plant Sale at Heritage Park Saturday June 15th from 9 – 2 p.m.  These plants will be coming from our own gardens.  You can’t get any more local than that.  And as every gardener knows there is always room for more plants.


Council Welcomes Minister Lecce to Wasaga Beach, Celebrates Provincial Funding for First High School – By Town of Wasaga Beach

May 1, 2024 – New elementary and high school campus will become part of a Wasaga Beach Community Hub, building on the Town’s new $60 million twin-pad arena and library, and feature post-secondary programs, a community theatre, child care centre and outdoor recreational fields

“The Town of Wasaga Beach thanks the province for their partnership, collaboration and investment in this innovative K-12 school. This unique project will deliver more than additional elementary school capacity, a child care centre and a community theatre for Wasaga Beach. It is the first high school in the history of our community, and it is long overdue,” said Mayor Brian Smith. “This is a defining moment – one that will help shape the future of our community and benefit families and kids in Wasaga Beach for generations to come. This government has made education a priority  – and working together, we are putting students in Wasaga Beach first.”

The Ontario Ministry of Education will fund a partnership proposal developed by the Town and the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board that will build an innovative K-12 campus adjacent to the new Wasaga Stars Arena and Wasaga Beach Public Library.

Future students of this new elementary school and high school will benefit from the Town’s state-of-the-art arena and library facilities. All together, the K-12 campus will offer students a dynamic learning environment and offer residents a hub for education, sport and community engagement.

The project includes a new community theatre that students will have access to during the school day, which will be available to the Wasaga Beach community on evenings and weekends. This will fill a theatre facility void in the town and help support the growth of a strong arts and culture sector in Wasaga Beach.

Looking to the future, the Town has also established MOU’s with Lakehead University and Canadore College that would see specialized programming delivered through the Town’s twin-pad arena and library, and within shared facilities on this new K-12 campus. This specialized programming would be targeted to skilled trade professions in childcare, construction, healthcare and hospitality fields in addition to specific programming opportunities for adult and lifelong learning.

The County of Simcoe has also provided a letter of support to bring much needed child care facilities to the new school campus.

The new elementary and high school campus, and community theatre, is expected to open in 2027.


Look Out World Here Come Code Ninjas

May 2, 2024 – Barrie, Ontario – Code Ninjas Barrie is proud to announce that Kenny Parkes who is 12 years old, in Grade 7 at Elmvale District High School, was one of 9 winners of the Prodigy Program.  This is a contest that spanned across all the Code Ninjas businesses (400+ locations) with each centre being allowed to submit 5 contestants.  Kenny created a video game from start to finish with a drone theme that was judged to be the best in the entire northeast section of the US and all of Eastern Canada.  The winners of the contest received a free trip to Dallas Texas for their whole family and while there, Kenny helped code a real-life drone show that was broadcast in the night sky over the Rough Riders Stadium in Dallas!  Kenny said “it was so amazing”.

It is a great honour for the local owners of this Code Ninjas centre in Barrie, Mark and Yao Diephuis, and Kenny to be chosen as one of the winners and it is a huge accomplishment to be celebrated as it was an international contest across North America. There were many requirements that had to be achieved to qualify for this competition including coming up with an idea for a game that was feasible using the available software platform and tools, coding the game, debugging it and play testing it.  Kenny did all of this with minimal assistance.

“We are thrilled to acknowledge Kenny’s amazing work and achievements”. On top of being one of the contest winners Kenny is also well on his way to being a black belt ninjas here at Code Ninjas,” said Yao Diephuis, one of the owners Code Ninjas Barrie.


Protect Yourself from Tick Bites – By Ministry of Health

May 02, 2024 – TORONTO — As temperatures start to climb this time of year, the Ontario government is encouraging people across the province to take precautions to prevent tick bites and reduce the risk of contracting Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, when enjoying the outdoors.

Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases can cause potentially serious infections if you’re bitten by an infected blacklegged tick, commonly called a deer tick. If you have any symptoms such as fever, headache, chills, muscle and joint pain, fatigue and an expanding circular rash that resem-bles a bulls-eye, consult a health care provider as soon as possible.

If you are living, working, visiting, or enjoying outdoor activities in a wood-ed area, or an area with tall grass and bushes (including city gardens and parks) you are at greater risk of being bitten by a tick. You can protect your-self from tick bites by:

  • Wearing light-coloured clothing, so it’s easier to spot ticks.
  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants tucked into your socks, closed-toed shoes, or any special clothing designed to repel ticks.
  • Applying insect repellent containing DEET or icaridin on your ex-posed skin and your clothes.
  • Checking yourself, your children, and your pets for ticks after being outdoors. Any ticks found should be removed promptly.
  • Putting your clothes on high heat in a dryer for at least 10 minutes before washing them, after spending time outdoors.

Ticks are very small and hard to see. When found, it should be removed immediately using fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible without crushing it. Once you have removed a tick, wash your skin with soap and water and then disinfect your skin and your hands with rubbing alcohol or an iodine swab. Before disposing of the tick, call or check the website of your local public health unit to get advice on how to identify the tick.


Bill Graham Memorial Euchre Tournament – By Linda Belcourt, Editor

May 6, 2024 – The annual Euchre tournament is hosted by Char, Bill’s wife. Bill loved to play cards and this event is held in his memory. Funds are raised to donate to a worthy cause. This year $900 was donated to the Legion. Eddie Valender and Candice Avery donated their winnings to Emma Reynolds that has been diagnosed with cancer recently. The total that went to Emma’s fund was $1,545.00. Second place was taken by host Char Graham and son Brooke. Third place was earned by Sharon Crozier and Arlene Greenlaw and they donated their winnings back. This is a fun filled day of laughter and friendship. Winners Candice Avery and Eddie Valender of the Bill Graham Memorial Euchre Tournament held at the Elmvale Legion on Saturday April 20th 2024.



April 28, 2024 A Tiny Township citizen is working hard to help people in Saint Lucia look after stray dogs and cats. Rosemary Mankiewicz says the situation there is desperate.

“Saint Lucia is such a wonderful Caribbean island,” says Mankiewicz, who has visited several times. “Yet, they have a real challenge: far too many stray animals. That’s why the Saint Lucia Animal Protection Society (SLAPS) was founded as a registered, non-profit organization to try to care for sick and injured dogs and cats. But they do need help.”

The SLAPS organization works with local vets to reduce the overwhelming population of stray animals. Currently there is a shelter for dogs, but there is nothing for cats. “There is an urgent need for a building to house cats,” Mankiewicz says. “I know of one volunteer lady who is caring for 52 cats in her house. That’s not sustainable. If people donate, we can help raise the funds to get a shelter for cats.”

Rosemary Mankiewicz has had a website created (slapscanada.com) which  features a direct link to the SLAPS Go Fund Me page. “I had the website set up to encourage donations,” she says. “The hard working people in Saint Lucia inspire me with their dedication and hard work that so often goes unrewarded. I make no money from this. I am not a part of the SLAPS organization. I am merely an individual Canadian who loves animals, wants to see them treated well, and who knows Saint Lucia needs help with this. My family donates and I hope you will too.”

Along with donations, Canadians can arrange to adopt dogs or cats from Saint Lucia and have them brought here.

As well as producing the website that handles donations, Rosemary Mankiewicz is working to set up local fund raising events. “I will have more information on this soon,” she says. “Let me encourage those interested to look at slapscanada.com/events.html for updates.”

You’re encouraged to visit slapscanada.com and click on the donations button which goes directly to the SLAPS Go Fund Me page. “Your generosity will be so appreciated,” says Rosemary Mankiewicz.

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