Fundraising committee no longer lending a paw to new shelter
by Roger Varley
A committee formed to spearhead fundraising for the new Uxbridge-Scugog animal shelter has informed council it is dropping its planned major campaign called Lend a Paw.
In a letter sent to the township last month, Ginger Jackson, president of the New Animal Shelter for Uxbridge-Scugog (NASUS), said the committee “is no longer comfortable committing the organization to additional long-term fundraising.” Ms. Jackson said the committee’s action is based on the decision by Uxbridge and Scugog councils to commence construction of the new facility in 2018 and not 2017 as NASUS wanted.
“In delaying construction, we believe costs will continue to increase, at the same time as we find ourselves in an increasingly competitive fundraising environment and an economic climate that may further erode support from local businesses,” Ms. Jackson wrote. “Given this context, the NASUS Board feels it would be neither prudent nor responsible to pursue the interim funding approved by the Townships, or to undertake a major gifts campaign. It was our belief that starting construction in 2017 would satisfy past donors that their contributions were being used as intended, while prospective donors could be assured their donations would be deployed quickly and tangibly.”
So far, NASUS has raised about $650,000 through its golf tournaments, gala nights and other activities. The Lend a Paw campaign was anticipated to raise another $445,000 by offering contributors the opportunity to name certain features of the new shelter, such as the lobby or the cat adoption area.
Ms. Jackson has informed the township she will be resigning from her position as president of NASUS effective December 31.
After hearing a report from township clerk Debbie Leroux on the status of the new shelter, Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor said she is convinced more contributions will come in once the construction is started in the early spring.
Construction is expected to be completed in 2018.
The township has committed $240,000 to the shelter, with another $300,000 in bridge financing to cover the construction. Scugog’s contribution is the same. The Lend a Paw campaign was intended to raise the money to cover the bridge financing. The shelter is expected to cost between $1.4 million and $1.7 million.
Ms. Leroux said the new shelter, when built, might not be built to the model that had been proposed but it will meet the townships’ needs.
“Right now, it’s all speculation about what we’ll have,” she said.
Councillor Pat Molloy noted that “we have to build what we can afford.”
Ms. Leroux’s report said “the future status of NASUS is not known at this point in time.”
Uxbridge school busses in strike position
School bus drivers with First Student Ajax and First Student Brooklin moved into a legal strike position on Sunday.
Durham Student Transportations Services (DSTS) announced last Friday that it was notified by First Student Canada that Unifor 4268, the union representing school bus drivers in the divisions in Ajax and Brooklin would be in a legal strike position on November 12. First Student Canada provides bussing for both the Durham District School Board and the Durham Catholic District School Boards.
Negotiations are ongoing, and there is currently no indication of a plan to strike. However, the union may call for a strike at any time, and must provide the bus operator, DSTS, and both school boards with 72 hours’ notice.
In a letter sent home to students regarding the situation, DSTS CAO Kelly Mechoulan said, “We respect and value the work of our First Student bus drivers and sincerely hop negotiations between First Student and its employees are concluded quickly.”
If there were to be a strike, there would be no school bus service for any routes serviced by First Student Ajax and Brooklin, leaving students without school bus service for the duration of any job action.
Durham Student Transportation Services, the Durham District School Board and the Durham Catholic District School Board encourage parents to be aware of the situation and monitor local media, follow @DurhamSTS on Twitter, or visit the DSTS website (www.dsts.on.ca) for further updates.
Goodwood Public School, Joseph Gould Public School, Quaker Village Public School, Scott Central Public School, Uxbridge Public School, Uxbridge Secondary School, Greenbank Public School, St. Joseph Catholic School and the Durham Alternate Secondary Education centre in Brock Township would all be affected by any strike action.
“13 Ways” Installment #3 – Attracting and keeping business in Uxbridge
by Roger Varley
This is the third “installment” in a series of columns and articles inspired by the book entitled “13 Ways To Kill Your Community.”
The Cosmos gave readers a rest from its ongoing “13 Ways” series last week, and this week tackles an issue that is at the fore of many conversations occurring in and around the township.
In Chapter 2 (jarringly entitled “Don’t Attract Business”) of his book “13 Ways to Kill Your Community,” author Doug Griffiths outlines that it’s just as important to retain existing businesses as it is to attract new ones. And, as noted in the column on page 2, it’s just as important to cater to the people that will be catering to those businesses. So how is Uxbridge doing on all these fronts? The answer would appear to be mixed.
In Monday’s council meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Ingrid Svelnis offered a report on the 2018 version of the township’s Community Improvement Plan (CIP), designed to encourage business owners to upgrade their facades and signage with some funding provided by the township. The program has been in effect for a couple of years now, but Ms. Svelnis admitted that, so far, no business owner has applied for such funding. Business owners often demand help from the township to meet signage requirements and expectations, yet appear to not be availing themselves of financial opportunities that are available to them.
Earlier this year, council expanded the parking lot in Centennial Park in order to address parking problems faced by the employees of Scarsin, a hi-tech company housed in the office building at the corner of Main and Brock Streets. With a healthy growth in the number of company employees, all on-street parking near the Main Street/Brock Street intersection was effectively taken up by Scarsin. More parking in behind the building was to offset this problem.
A couple of years ago, the Uxbridge BIA ran a successful “Win This Space” contest, aimed at attracting new businesses into the downtown area by offering the winner free rent for a year in the available space of their choice. The winner, the Second Wedge Brewing Co., has since established itself as a popular and generous business in the town.
Both Scarsin and the Second Wedge Brewing Co. are proof that Uxbridge can be a desireable location to own and operate a business, both on a local and global scale. At the same time, however, new retailers face hurdles. The proprietor of MT Hangers, a resale store on Brock St., was ordered by the bylaw department, incorrectly, to undergo a police background check before opening.
It is, by now, well known that there are restrictions on the type of signage owners can erect over their places of business. An example of the extent to which these restrictions reach was found at Café XXVIII, a restaurant that has since gone out of business. Its sign at 28 Toronto Street South was intended to be the calling card of a possible chain. The sign showed bubbles streaming from a coffee cup on the left-hand side. The Heritage Committee, which oversees store signage in the downtown area, wanted the cup placed in the centre of the sign instead, with the bubbles flowing in both directions. This, along with the committee’s preference for signs that feature Uxbridge’s heritage colours, that are lit by goose-neck lamps and use various fonts, can throw a spanner into the works of a retailer attempting to establish a brand image with his signage.
The long arm of council and committees can extend far beyond signage. Recently, when a developer unveiled his planned architectural design for a new plaza in the commercial area at the south end of town this summer – a plaza which would include a Wendy’s and a Starbucks – not a word was said by council about the look of the proposed buildings (which, it was noted, did not in any way portray or resemble a “heritage” look, but rather represented a more generic style of building). However, on Monday, in a report from chief building officer Brian Pigozzo, council was told a building permit application has been received from KFC to renovate the interior and exterior of the old Country Style restaurant across the road from the aforementioned plaza. His report included the following: “Council must approve the colour, texture, construction detail and architectural design of the building.” That he recommended council approve the design submitted by KFC does not alter the fact that council can demand changes in a design which might have cost a business a lot of money.
In the same chapter mentioned earlier, Mr. Griffiths says local residents have a major role to play in attracting new business. “They know what businesses are available . . . and they know what is lacking,” he writes.
Residents have already told the Cosmos what type of businesses they would like to see come into town through a survey that was performed late last year, the results of which were published on March 23, 2017. To start with, 80 per cent of those who responded to the survey said they were in favour of the township offering incentives to bring new businesses to town. There was an overwhelming call for a grocery store in the downtown area, as well as for clothing stores for the whole family, boutiques and gift shops, an outdoor activities store, and even a call for such major outlets such as Old Navy, Winners and Toys R Us. And some wanted more restaurants. Since the survey came out, the downtown area has seen the opening of Sushi Park and Laura’s Casual Kitchen, as well as the health food store, Eat It Forward, and the Divine Sisters Metaphysical shop. Yet at the same time, the town has seen Mad Millie’s close, as well as Frankie’s Ristorante and a couple of other retailers.
Shopping and stores are not the only things that can keep a town alive, though. But when it comes to growth in industry, the Township of Uxbridge is limited in what it can accommodate. Industrial enterprises are restricted to the two industrial parks. The Green Belt Act and the Oak Ridges Moraine Act prohibit the construction of any industrial plants anywhere else in the township.
Uxbridge wants to be vibrant and viable; it needs to examine whether the current system draws both potential business owners and residents here, or pushes them away.
“13 Ways to Kill Your Community” is available for purchase at the Cosmos office at 38 Toronto St. N. for $27.50, tax incl. You can also purchase it at Blue Heron Books.
Sam Sharpe stuck in storage
by Roger Varley
Mayor O’Connor said on Monday that a recent conversation with Pickering Uxbridge Liberal MP Jennifer O’Connell brought up the subject of a bas relief of Col. Sam Sharpe that is supposedly destined to be installed in the House Of Commons. The sculpture was completed two years ago by Port Perry artist Tyler Briley, but has been placed in storage since. The Centre Block on Parliament Hill is scheduled to be closed next summer for 10 years of renovations, leading to fears the bas relief could be stored away and perhaps forgotten.
Mayor O’Connor suggested the township should write a letter to newly appointed Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan urging him to make a decision on where the sculpture will be placed.
“It’s become a political thing,” she said, noting the project was initiated by Erin O’Toole, former VA minister in the Conservative government of Stephen Harper. “We should let them know how disappointed we are that Col. Sharpe is in a closet.”
The sculptor agrees. During an interview on CBC’s “As It Happens” last Friday evening, Tyler Briley told host Carol Off that he too believes his sculpture is being used.
“I think it’s become political football or political hot potato. It seems that it just comes down to different philosophies I believe with the different governments. And unfortunately it’s a reality of the way things are. I thought it was all cut and dried, and that it was already been approved and discussed by the three parties and that it was going up.”
Mr. Briley also said that he feels the sculpture should be out in the open to shed some light on post-traumatic stress.
“I think it needs to be out in the open to shed some light on post-traumatic stress. I know that we’ve been talking about it a lot lately but I think one of the most significant places in Canada you can have a piece of artwork is in the Parliament Buildings. I think it would mean a lot to those afflicted by post-traumatic stress.
Council supported Mayor O’Connor’s suggestion and agreed to ask for supporting letters from the Region of Durham and the other municipalities in the region.
Goodwood News with Bev Northeast
It is that time of year again time to feed the birds; after all, they did entertain us all summer.
The Fantasy of Lights will be back again this year in Elgin Park, and the Goodwood Baptist Church will have a display so support your local Optimist club and take the tour.
November 16 is United Church Turkey dinner at the Goodwood Community Centre. It begins at 4:30 p.m. and tickets are $20. For more info call June Harper 905-640-3347.
The Goodwood Baptist Church holds Sunday service at 11 a.m. and all are welcome to attend. Ladies’ meeting this month is Saturday, November 18 at 9 a.m., so come prepared to bake cookies for shut-ins and Sunrise mothers. This will be followed by a pot-Bless luncheon at 12 noon.
The Candlelight Service is December 17 at 6:30 p.m. and all regular programs will continue until mid-December – check the church website for all particulars. www.goodwoodbaptistchurch.com
Please remember to shovel your sidewalk so the residents are not walking on this very busy road, and thank you to those who drive at the speed limit.
As the saying goes “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant!” (Anne Bradstreet)