HomeTiny News – May 9th

Hundreds Protest Tiny Municipal Centre Plan; Resident Calls for ‘Return to Civility’

By: Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca

If there’s a difference between proactive and reactive, it was shown at the protest against a new proposed municipal building in front of the current administration of Tiny Township.

Roughly two hundred supporters of organizer Karen Zulynik joined outside the Balm Beach Road offices prior to last night’s council meeting, and unlike the January protest it was clear there was preparation involved.

Police presence was contained to the safety of leading exiting staff onto the road. Protest music was kept to a background noise while the bullhorn allowed Zulynik to be joined by others to share their message.

Zulynik took the opportunity to remind attendees of the threat to taxes that the potential multi-million Tiny Township administration centre (TTAC) could cause for the average ratepayer, but as the crowd had gathered before 4:30 p.m. and with an hour to pad, Zulynik also reminded the crowd to not exhibit behaviour akin to bullying and to remain respectful inside council chambers; other speakers also took to the bullhorn to share their concerns.

Council was in closed session at the time and did not allow for any representatives to meet with the crowd as 5:30 p.m. arrived and the maximum capacity of just over 55 people entered the basement of the 57-year-old building for the regular meeting to begin.

Open deputations limited to five minutes in length were provided to attendees with pre-scheduled deputations set for 6:30 p.m. However, seven speakers shared their thoughts with wide responses across all topics.

Drew Ironstone, who identified himself as a former Simcoe County employee and asset management specialist with two decades of experience, warned council on the potential costs above the listed price for a new facility, and asked for a pause.

Coun. Kelly Helowka simply asked, “When do we build it?” and was heckled by the crowd with responses.

Resident Dave Wulff cautioned amalgamation as a threat that could happen if other municipalities perceived a weakened council; he provided a quote from Coun. Steffen Walma in his case and was cheered.

Walma immediately replied with the full quote and context to the disapproval of attendees, and countered that taking on the TTAC was a sign that the municipality was invested in its ratepayers and hadn’t abandoned them.

While the general consensus was against council, a deputation by Pam Fulford expressed disappointment over recent conflict of cyberbullying and a lack of respect between frustrated residents and the municipality, encouraging a return to civility. Her concerns were met with muted obscenities by some protesters in the gallery, and she received a less-than-hearty applause upon conclusion; several protesters left the chambers in anger, allowing those waiting outside to fill it back to capacity.

Naturalist Paul Bell shared concerns over species at risk, and Erik Schomann reiterated the momentum and amalgamation angles. For a scheduled deputation, Zulynik provided information on a remote-hybrid work policy while adding emphasis to not needing a new centre built.

The regular council meeting continued dutifully as council proceedings involved adopting minutes of previous meetings; it was at this point that Coun. Dave Brunelle chose to challenge the previous meeting’s decisions of council where his sole opposition to the TTAC could be reconsidered.

Brunelle began his hour-long challenge first by asking public works director Tim Leitch to define the word ‘antiquated’, as taken from eight years prior through a clerk’s summary on a report that wasn’t accessible; the manoeuvre caused other council members and staff to scramble in search of the reference.

Catching on to Brunelle’s obstruction with requests for revotes on all TTAC decisions of the previous meeting, Walma requested for recorded votes on the items where Brunelle was defeated 1-4 in all cases. Walma also proposed a motion for staff to explore finance options, which Brunelle admitted being “baffled” by as it superceded the usual three-week span for a council decision.

At the recess between regular council and committee of the whole when everyone mingled, protesters hugged Brunelle while expressing relief that he was the only one speaking for them. Helowka spoke with Wulff over a point of contention but the two shook hands in understanding and resolution.

The remainder of the meeting drew to conclusion with just Zulynik and one other in the audience before council entered another closed session. As Zulynik departed, she expressed tiredness from the emotionally-charged day having led up to the protest and lengthy council meetings.

Following the meeting, Evans spoke to MidlandToday on the protest and those in attendance of the meeting.

“I think it was very respectful,” said Evans. “I think it was very good night. Sure it’s a tough topic, an emotional topic. It’s something we’ve never done in this township ever, and it’s a substantial change. But I’m very proud of how everybody acted. Although a tough time, it shows the maturity and civility and professionalism of our township.”

In the meeting, attention was brought to Zulynik’s online petition which had remained at 2,200 signatures from the previous meeting; according to the 2021 Census, Tiny Township has a population of roughly 13,000 residents.

Said Evans: “It’s no secret that the majority, we feel, is somewhat silent; sometimes the minority position tends to be a little bit louder. This meeting has been similar to the meeting we had three weeks ago in terms of the sentiment overall.”

The TTAC update report from the previous meeting, including recommendations and schematics for proposed facility variations, can be viewed on the agenda page on the Township of Tiny website.


Severe Weather Biggest Risk to Tiny Township Infrastructure

By: Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca

May 06, 2024  Community threats are a well-heeded concern and a risk assessment is a valuable tool, for both residents and the municipality in charge of handling such emergencies.

At the recent committee of the whole meeting in Tiny Township, a presentation by Grace McDonough of the Loomex Group highlighted the various risks faced by the municipality from the perspective of fire services.

“We establish what the risks are in the community,” explained McDonough, “and we do that – a CRA is a very data-driven document – by examining the data from the last five years. We also use professional judgement – both our judgement and the judgement of the fire chief – to arrive at that list of risks. And once we have the risks identified then we start to look at the consequences of those risks.”

Ranked on a risk level scale were 12 identified public safety risks, including the two highest risks identified of severe weather incident (120) and critical infrastructure failure (96), and lowest risks such as fire in commercial occupancy (42), localized flooding (40) and grass/wildland fire (36).

Those ranks were evaluated on likelihood levels (ranging from rare to almost certain) and consequence (from insignificant to catastrophic) in a matrix, and presented with risk treatment plans for each including ways to handle each risk, the financial implications of implementing each, and the expected timeline it can be integrated to fire services duties.

For a severe weather event, the recommended plan included mitigation through public education before, during and after the emergency, as well as sharing that information throughout the community. In the case of a critical infrastructure failure, educating the public on the importance of having a 72-hour emergency kit while continuing to offer applicable services as required was the plan recommendation.

As the final recommendation for next steps, McDonough noted that although the CRA is a five-year event it would be more prudent for the municipality to collect data to update the CRA on an annual basis along with usage for future strategic plan developments for fire services.

McDonough referenced lightweight construction materials, such as commonly used prefabricated trusses and floors, as higher risks in residential and some commercial homes; items that the Office of the Fire Marshal would be notified by fire services in municipalities, thus being available for CRA data.

“Research has shown that they burn more quickly, that they are less stable,” said McDonough, “(and) I think are going to change the way in which firefighting is delivered in residential, and where those lightweight constructions are used.”

Mayor Dave Evans asked what a critical infrastructure failure would look like in a hypothetical scenario, with McDonough noting that the infrastructure profile including roads, bridges, water and hydro would impact the delivery of fire and other services in the municipality.

However as Evans was trying to pry further into the infrastructure aspect, McDonough diverted the conversation back to the primary risk threat.

“I think the factor that plays into your critical infrastructure failure is risk #1 – your risk for severe weather – because that certainly could impact road closures, hydro delivery, things like that,” said McDonough. “Because you are in an area that experiences severe weather on a more regular basis, I think the unlikelihood that your critical infrastructure is going to be affected, so that risk is slightly higher.”

Evans thanked McDonough for the report, and added that the Loomex Group’s “support is very essential to us”.

The Loomex Group community risk assessment report, including slideshow presentation, can be viewed on the agenda page on the Township of Tiny website.

Archives of council meetings are available to view on the township’s YouTube channel.


A Tiny Senior Moment

By Jennifer Gray, Township of Tiny, Senior Column Writer

April 25, 2024 – Retirement is a significant phase of life.  While in the workplace we look forward to not being a slave to the clock. We anticipate more time to travel, pursue personal interests and time with loved ones.  Many plan to downsize their homes.

The golden years can be more complicated than we think. It’s initially enjoyable to experience the freedom of an unfettered day. However, once the honeymoon wears off, there’s the reality that things have dramatically changed.  People who build their lives around their job can feel lost or without an identity.  This can play out in mental and emotional struggles. Common challenges include depression and loneliness, difficulty filling the extra hours, feeling less useful and navigating home life with a spouse.

Volunteer work can be an effective and enjoyable way to manage retirement. Older adults have tremendous skillsets, experience and wisdom that are valuable to many organizations. There’s a multitude of benefits to the volunteer. Volunteering keeps the brain active which contributes to mental health. Social interaction develops new friendships which mitigates loneliness and depression. It provides a sense of purpose and offers the opportunity to activate a side interest.

It’s important to find a volunteer position that suits your interests and lifestyle. Think about what you like to do.  Gardeners can look to their local horticultural groups for assistance in planting, maintaining public gardens and trail cleanups. Avid readers can help out in libraries or reading programs with schools or ESL groups. Those with good social skills can visit or regularly phone people confined to their residences. Volunteer jobs can be flexible to suit your lifestyle. People who travel for part of the year can still find something they can do while they’re home. Don’t be afraid to approach an organization to tell them about your skillsets and ask how you can help. If they don’t have a position available, they may know someone who does.

The Township of Tiny has opportunities for people wanting to volunteer.  For those who love the outdoors, many positions are currently open. The Community and Pollinator Gardens need helpers to maintain outdoor spaces that beautify the environment. The 23 km Rail Trail needs volunteers to oversee individual sections within the trail.  Are you a beach person? The township has 70 km of shoreline that needs stewards to monitor, conserve and protect the natural resources of the beaches. A dog lover? One of the large off-leash parks needs on-site volunteers to help educate the public on park rules and report maintenance needs. Can’t commit to an ongoing volunteer position? Be a litter pickup volunteer!  These valuable helpers assist by picking up litter along roads, beaches, trails, parks and green spaces. Are you a pickleball player and have good interpersonal skills? Pickleball volunteers provide supervision of games and provide assistance for new players. If you’re into technology, the Township hosts tech workshops needing helpers to assist older adults to become more comfortable with technology and increase their knowledge about the internet.

Not sure what you can do to volunteer?  Call or email the Township of Tiny’s Recreation Department: www.tiny.ca/volunteer or (705) 526-4204 to speak to one of their qualified staff and find the perfect fit for your skills and lifestyle.


Tiny Township Invests in Local Health Care

By Jennifer Russel, GBGH

May 2, 2024 – Midland, ON – During a meeting on April 3, 2024, Tiny Township Mayor David Evans and members of council presented a gift of $32,000 to representatives of Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) and the Foundation.  The investment includes $20,000 for the GBGH Foundation’s Impact Fund, and $12,000 to support physician recruitment efforts for the community.

The Township of Tiny has recognized the vital role that quality healthcare plays in the well-being of our residents and has continuously demonstrated its commitment to fostering a strong and resilient healthcare system. A steadfast supporter of GBGH for 24 years, the township has provided more than $375,000 for hospital equipment and technology. In 2024, the donation will help to address some of the most urgent priorities, including an MRI machine, modern hospital beds, new surgical technology and laboratory equipment.

“We are deeply grateful to the Township of Tiny for their unwavering support and this impactful $20,000 donation,” expresses Nicole Kraftscik, CEO, GBGH Foundation. “This investment ensures that the hospital is equipped with the tools and technology to directly enhance patient care. And, it helps our community remain vibrant and resilient, attracting businesses and families who seek a robust healthcare infrastructure.”

Access to modern medical equipment can make a world of difference for patients and their families. New surgical technology will expand the types of surgeries available for residents close to home. Modern hospital beds are essential for patient comfort and can lead to improved outcomes. Installing an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine will reduce wait times for thousands of patients across the region.

The $12,000 donation will support the recruitment of highly skilled professionals to our community. “We understand the importance of being proactive in our recruitment efforts for the betterment of our hospital and community,” states Dr. Jeff Golisky, Physician Recruitment Chair, GBGH. “With the generous support from the Township of Tiny, we will be better equipped to attract and retain talented family and hospital physicians, providing reliable care for patients today and into the future.”

Having first-rate medical equipment and growing our skilled healthcare workforce is critical for a strong community. Anyone interested in learning more about the Foundation’s Impact Fund, and making a difference at GBGH with a gift, can visit https://gbghf.ca/current-needs/impact-fund/. For more information about physician recruitment efforts in North Simcoe, visit https://georgianbayphysicianrecruitment.com/