Fill application fills council chambers to overflowing
by Roger Varley
Council chambers had so many residents in attendance on Monday that the crowd spilled into the lobby of the township offices.
The crowd was on hand for a council discussion on an application by Miller Paving and a deputation by David Walker, who heads up a newly formed group called Uxbridge Moraine Aggregate Land Use Association. Walker’s group is opposing a proposal by Miller Paving that it be allowed to set aside a portion of its Boyington pit operation at Reid Rd. and Concession 7 so that it can bring in fill “for the development and rehabilitation of the property.”
A deputation to Uxbridge council on Oct. 6, 2015, by Skelton Brumwell & Associates, acting for Miller Paving, was the first hint that such a move was being contemplated. Since then, the proposal has been out of the public eye. However, earlier this month, Walker distributed copies of a letter Skelton Brumwell sent to the township on June of last year. That action has already seen a couple of residents’ petitions started and resulted in Monday’s turnout.
At issue is Miller Paving’s proposal to take 36 hectares of its 196-hectare property and bring in an estimated one million cubic metres of fill “to match the grade of the surrounding lands.” That fill would be brought in over a period of 10 years, the Miller Paving application said. Walker said that would be 10 years of increased truck traffic with its attendant noise, mud and dust, which would severely impact residents in the area, as well as wildlife and natural habitat.
In his deputation, Walker listed the risks to be considered by council when making a decision on Miller Paving’s application, including not only increased traffic and noise, but threats to public health, wildlife and the environment. Walker pointed out, however, that if council approves the proposal, it would also set a precedent that would allow other aggregate sites to do the same thing.
“We don’t want to be the fill capital of Canada,” he said.
Walker asked council to set aside at least a six-month period to allow for full public participation in the process. He claimed that, if the 36 hectares is removed from the aggregate operation, Miller Paving would no longer be required to rehabilitate that part of the pit despite its claim that it wants to the fill “for the development and rehabilitation of the property.” He also claimed it would be almost impossible to ensure every load of fill brought in is free of contamination. He said he was happy that Miller had dropped a request that it be allowed to build an asphalt shingle recycling plant.
Council also received six letters opposing the Miller proposal.
Although no members of council asked any questions of Walker, Barton said the township would set up a sign-up sheet for residents wanting to be kept informed on developments. He also said he hopes to have Miller Paving appear before council to explain their proposal and application, which does not include a change in zoning.
In response to a question from one of the residents, Barton said any future hearings on the application will be held in a larger venue to accommodate as many people as possible.
Council faced with climate questions again
by Roger Varley
Following up on recent requests that Uxbridge council declare a climate emergency, council faced another request during a deputation on Monday.
Karen Russell and Robert Brown of the Uxbridge Climate Action Group, appeared before council to ask that it form a Climate Adaptation and Transition Committee of Council. Following their appeal, Regional Councillor Gord Highet said the township has won awards for keeping its carbon footprint low. Mayor Dave Barton noted that council already has a sustainability committee.
Highet remained reticent about Uxbridge declaring an emergency when, later in the session, council dealt with a letter from the City of Oshawa. In the letter, the city said it had passed a resolution declaring climate change as an emergency for the purpose of protecting wildlife, the environment and the economy and that the City of Oshawa apply a climate lens to plans and actions, including strategic plans and future budgets.
“If we’re going to declare an emergency, we need an action plan to follow up,” Highet said. “If we declare, people are going to say: ‘Okay, what are you going to do now?'”
Nevertheless, council acceded to Russell and Brown’s request and voted to support the committee they asked for.
Council cross over crosswalks
Council did not take kindly to the Region of Durham turning down its request for a couple of crosswalks in the hamlet of Goodwood.
The township had asked the region to put crosswalks at Conc. 3 and Goodwood Road, as well as at Conc. 3 and Hwy. 47. A letter from the region said pedestrian traffic in the two areas was well below the parametres needed to justify a crosswalk.
Ward 1 Councillor Pam Beach said there was a reason pedestrian traffic is low.
“If the public felt safe, more people would be walking,” she said, noting that many schoolchildren cross at the two intersections.
Ward 5 Councillor Todd Snooks, who is a York Region police officer and head of council’s traffic calming committee, backed up his colleague. He said the criteria used by the region do not take into account the amount and type of traffic at the two intersections. He noted there is little or no sidewalk connectivity in the hamet.
“This is a standard response, rather than an educated decision,” he said.
Council tabled the matter for a coupled of weeks.
Culvert project hurting downtown businesses’ bottom line
by Roger Varley
By now, complaining about the inconvenience of the culvert project downtown is pretty standard among the residents of Uxbridge. Of 22 business on lower Brock Street who were approached by the Cosmos last week, however, the majority claimed their businesses have been adversely affected by the culvert construction.
Four of the businesses were closed at the time. Of the remaining 18, seven said they had experienced no negative affects, although several of them complained about parking problems and offered reservations about what will happen once Brock St. is closed down for three months.
A few business owners were vehement in their denunciations of the construction.
Mary Taggart, owner of MT Hangars, said the effect on her store has been “devastating,” noting that on the day of the survey she had done only $17 worth of business. She said “misinformation” about the project from the township has been her biggest problem.
The Lemonade Stand said they had done only $20 in sales on the day of the survey.
“I want it done and over with,” the manager said. “Sales and customers are down and there’s no communication about the road closing.”
Cheryl Hinzel of Sugar FX said last year was the worst ever for her.
“Christmas was a disaster,” she said. “The township has told us nothing. Storefront businesses are dead.”
She opined that half the stores in the area will eventually be closed.
Captain George’s Fish and Chips said their trade has been negatively affected “big time” because of the lack of parking.
Parking was also an issue for Larry Allbright of The Meat Merchant, who said parking problems have “definitely” caused business to slow down. However, he offered that bylaw officers should be checking for cars parked on the street longer than the parking bylaw allows.
Pizza Pizza said business was down 40 per cent the last time Brock was closed. The store manager said “when they close the road (for three months), no one will come.”
Several business owners complained bitterly about the uncertainty caused by the announced closure – and subsequent reversal – of lower Brock. They said motorists are still seeing signs around town that indicate Brock was closed on Jan. 6 and are avoiding the downtown because of that.
There were three businesses that the Cosmos could not contact: The Divine Sisters have already closed up shop and moved to Port Perry because of the culvert’s effect on their business. Below the Divine Sisters, in the basement, was a dance school, but it closed because of flooding. And now Coffee Time, which sits immediately besides the construction, is closed for the foreseeable future while engineers decide if the building is structurally safe. A large crack has appeared in the building’s rear wall and the floor heaved in front the shop’s counter.
Meanwhile, as of this writing, lower Brock Street remains open to traffic with no indication when the closure will begin.
A winner finally takes it all
by Lisha Van Nieuwenhove
“You can’t win if you don’t buy a ticket!”
These are words that Karen Hammond lives by, and she was busy putting them into action when she got word last Tuesday afternoon that she was the jackpot winner for the Uxbridge Catch the Ace Progressive Weekly Lottery.
Hammond collected her winnings on the weekend, and explained that, on Jan. 7, just after 5 p.m., she had been driving home from work and called her daughter, Melissa Willis, to ensure that she had purchased tickets for the $70 million LottoMax draw that was to happen that evening.
“First she was yelling at me because I hadn’t bought the tickets yet, and then her words during that call were ‘Our luck has got to change’ – I’m not kidding,” laughs Willis.
When Hammond hung up, she received a voice message from Lottery Committee member Ian Morrison, which said only that he had “good news for her.” Hammond returned Morrison’s call, then went to a local grocery store to buy the LottoMax tickets. Morrison called her back and told her as she stood in the lobby of the store that not only had she won the weekly jackpot of $1,324, but had also chosen the Ace of Spades, so won the grand jackpot of $33,822, for a grand total of $35,146.
“I just stood in the lobby there and cried,” says Hammond with a smile. “People kept coming up to me and asking me if I was ok. My son-in-law was in the store at the time, and Melissa had to call him to tell him to come and find me, make sure I was ok and didn’t leave right away!”
Hammond says that she still can’t quite believe that she won – she didn’t miss a single week buying tickets during this second round – and that she isn’t sure what she’s going to do with the money just yet.
“We just know that it will all go towards making life a little easier for the next couple of years,” says Willis.
The next installment of the popular local progressive lottery starts on Wednesday, Jan. 29, with the first draw to occur Tuesday, Feb. 4. Proceeds from the weekly lottery go towards the Rotary Club of Uxbridge, the Uxbridge Legion, and the Canadian Tire Jumpstart program in Uxbridge. Tickets can be purchased at PharmaSave Uxbridge, Vince’s Market, Canadian Tire and at the Uxbridge Legion Br. 170.
Former Shell lot now a parking lot
Council passed a bylaw to enter into a lease agreement with Shell Canada and Tony Peck to lease the lot where Peck’s gas station once stood at Brock and Spruce Street.
Mayor Barton said people have been using the lot for parking since the remediation work was completed. To avoid possible litigation, Shell had considered fencing off the lot. The lease agreement now allows the township to use it as a parking lot. Barton said appropriate signage will be installed soon.
Ultimate Winter Road Trips
Thrilling Winter Activities for Adventure Seekers
The following are a few suggestions from Central Counties Tourism on how to beat those winter blues!
Break free of your comfort zone – and work up a sweat too!
Winter in York Durham Headwaters (YDH) lasts a long time. Our local outdoor adventurers love skiing at our fab resorts and skating on idyllic frozen ponds. But it’s fun to shake a little variety into these cool winter months.
Lucky for us, YDH is full of epic winter activities that’ll really get your heart pumping!
Explore snow-covered trails by horseback at Pathways on Pleasure Valley. Be sure to book in advance and remember to dress for the weather. Most of all, prepare yourself for some seriously breathtaking scenery!
Go Downhill Fast
Tobogganing at the ROC in Georgina always hits the spot. Bring your own sled and a thermos of hot chocolate, and you can keep the fun going all day!
For something a little more intense, check out snow tubing at Lakeridge Ski Resort! You get all the thrill of the hill – without needing lessons or fancy gear!
Go for a Zip
Here are three secrets about winter zip-lining – the lines are shorter, it costs less than in summer, and it’s not as cold as you think it’s going be! Visit Treetop Eco-Adventure Park and swoop over the snow-covered trees like the majestic hawk you are.
Ride Your “B-icicle”
Discover a whole new angle to biking! Fat bikes have wide tires that are perfect for riding on snow. Headwaters has wonderful trails for all levels. Who says riding a bike has to be a summer activity?!
Get a Kick Out of Kick-Sledding
If you combined dog-sledding with cross-country skiing, you’d get kick-sledding! It’s a great way to explore the outdoors and it provides more stability than skiing. Rent a sled and give the sport a try at Island Lake Conservation Area.