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News - Sept. 18 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shawn Loughlin   
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 13:00
While things have settled down slightly from earlier this year for the Fire Department of North Huron, they are still kept busy with regular calls throughout the community. On Friday they were called to a shed fire at the home of the Hussey family on Nature Centre Road. The building was
While things have settled down slightly from earlier this year for the Fire Department of North Huron, they are still kept busy with regular calls throughout the community. On Friday they were called to a shed fire at the home of the Hussey family on Nature Centre Road. The building was completely engulfed by the time firefighters arrived, but they were able to put out the fire quickly and avoid it spreading to the family’s home, just feet away from the blaze. Firefighters were busy again on Sunday night, as they were called in to assist with a serious collision on Wingham’s main street. (Shawn Loughlin photo)

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 10:10
 
Council Upset By Lack of Information - Sept. 18 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shawn Loughlin   
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 12:56
On Monday night, in front of several members of the media, including national outlets, Central Huron Council addressed Saturday’s fatal shooting in the Hullett Wildlife Conservation Area.
Mayor Jim Ginn expressed his condolences to the family of Donato Frigo, the 70-year-old Caledon East man who was killed Saturday.
Ginn and several other councillors reported receiving a flood of calls from residents looking for information in the wake of a quiet OPP.
“There were tons of rumours flying around,” Ginn said.
One prevalent rumour was that Clinton’s town-wide alarm had sounded Saturday night, alerting people to stay in their homes and that the town was under a lockdown order.
Ginn said that isn’t true and that while the alarm did sound, it is thought that it was triggered by the numerous police cruisers, sirens blazing, that were driving past the alarm that night.
He insisted that no one was asked to leave their homes, as had been widely circulated on several social media websites.
Councillor Brian Barnim, who reported receiving calls from residents, said that panic was caused by the lengthy silence from the OPP. He said that people began hearing about a “massive manhunt” Saturday night and then didn’t hear anything again until Sunday afternoon, when the shooting was confirmed.
“People hadn’t been told that it was ‘business as usual’,” Barnim said. “They were starving for information because there was absolutely nothing out there.”
Ginn agreed that the lack of information was a problem, which is something he had “concerns” with.
He sympathized with area residents, who, he said, still have the Jesse Imeson case fresh in their minds.
Imeson is currently in jail on three counts of second degree murder. He was on the run from police and made his way into Huron County, where he killed a Mount Carmel couple. Imeson was believed to be at large in the Huron County area for a number of days before finally being captured near Ottawa.
“There should have been more information provided and that was not the case,” Ginn said.
He hopes to follow up with the police and voice his concerns, as well as the concerns of many Central Huron residents, but once the investigation is complete.
The two men at the head of the investigation that claimed the life of 70-year-old Donato Frigo near the Hullett Wildlife Conservation Area on Saturday evening, OPP Criminal Investigation Branch Detective Inspector Chris Avery, left, and Huron County OPP Detachment Commander Inspector Chris Martin, right, held a press conference on Monday afternoon at the Clinton Fire Hall to update the public on the status of the investigation. Police are asking anyone with information to come forward. (Shawn Loughlin photo)
On Monday night, in front of several members of the media, including national outlets, Central Huron Council addressed Saturday’s fatal shooting in the Hullett Wildlife Conservation Area.
Mayor Jim Ginn expressed his condolences to the family of Donato Frigo, the 70-year-old Caledon East man who was killed Saturday.
Ginn and several other councillors reported receiving a flood of calls from residents looking for information in the wake of a quiet OPP.
“There were tons of rumours flying around,” Ginn said.
One prevalent rumour was that Clinton’s town-wide alarm had sounded Saturday night, alerting people to stay in their homes and that the town was under a lockdown order.
Ginn said that isn’t true and that while the alarm did sound, it is thought that it was triggered by the numerous police cruisers, sirens blazing, that were driving past the alarm that night.
He insisted that no one was asked to leave their homes, as had been widely circulated on several social media websites.
Councillor Brian Barnim, who reported receiving calls from residents, said that panic was caused by the lengthy silence from the OPP. He said that people began hearing about a “massive manhunt” Saturday night and then didn’t hear anything again until Sunday afternoon, when the shooting was confirmed.
“People hadn’t been told that it was ‘business as usual’,” Barnim said. “They were starving for information because there was absolutely nothing out there.”
Ginn agreed that the lack of information was a problem, which is something he had “concerns” with.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 10:11
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Shooting of Don Frigo Shocks Hullett Community - Sept. 18 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shawn Loughlin   
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 12:53
At a Monday press conference, OPP Detective Inspector Chris Avery of the OPP Criminal Investigation Branch confirmed that one man was fatally shot Saturday evening in the vicinity of the Hullett Wildlife Conservation Area.
Avery confirmed what sources had told The Citizen early Monday morning, that the victim was 70-year-old Donato Frigo, a resident of Caledon East.
Frigo and a woman were riding horses when they were approached by “an unknown male” who shot Frigo, killing him, Avery said. The female sustained minor injuries.
It has been reported by numerous media outlets that the woman was Frigo’s wife Eva Willer, but Avery did not confirm that. The pair have been referred to as “royalty” in the Ontario competitive hunting dog community.
“An unknown male approached the two individuals and shot the victim. The female sustained minor injuries,” Avery said, “but was able to get to a place of safety.”
Police were first dispatched to the scene of the shooting shortly after 5 p.m. on Saturday. Several roads in Hullett Township were then closed and some areas remain closed as of The Citizen’s deadline (Tuesday morning).
Huron OPP Detachment Commander Investigator Chris Martin acknowledged that information being released to the public has been slow moving, but he insists that the officers have their reasons.
The first public statement made on behalf of the OPP came Sunday afternoon, when it was confirmed that a man had been shot and killed Saturday evening. No further details were made available until Monday’s 4 p.m. press conference was announced just hours earlier.
Both men read from prepared statements and neither took questions from the assembled members of the media, including reporters from London, Kitchener and Toronto.
“We understand that it has taken longer than usual to get information out to the public,” Martin said, adding that with an investigation like this, the OPP has to “prioritize the need of the public’s right to know with concerns respecting the ongoing investigation; particularly in its infancy stages.”
He said that public safety is always a “top priority” for the OPP and that OPP will maintain a “strong and visible presence in the community.”
The Citizen has spoken to several residents who live on Summerhill Road adjacent to the conservation area who were told to stay in their homes.
“My sister-in-law, who lives on the same road, was stopped by the police. She was told to go home and lock her doors,” one Summerhill Road resident said on the condition of anonymity. “She phoned us when she got home and told us to do the same.”
While she had been told nothing official, the woman was shaken by what she was hearing from neighbours.
“You hear about this kind of stuff happening in other places, but you never think this would happen this close to home,” she said. “Not knowing what is going on makes you nervous.”
A second Summerhill Road resident was similarly told to stay inside until they were told otherwise.
“My husband and I were out walking on Saturday because it was the first nice day we’ve had in a while,” the woman said. “They told us to go home, stay inside and lock the doors. They said it was not a good night to be out for a walk.”
While a larger area was cordoned off on Saturday night, as of Sunday, a block to Hwy. 4 in the west and Kinburn Line in the east, and Summerhill Road in the north and Hydro Line in the south remained blocked off.
Some media outlets have reported that Frigo was the vice-president of a Toronto-based construction company; that he was a horse and dog lover who frequently visited the Hullett Wildlife Conservation Area.
A former employee of The Dinner Bell restaurant in Clinton said she could count on seeing Frigo twice a year, every year as a customer of the restaurant.
Several people have posted in online communities dedicated to outdoor activities since Frigo was killed saying that the world lost a great man.
A post-mortem was expected to be conducted on Tuesday.
In the meantime, the OPP has rented several rooms at the Central Huron Fire Hall at the north end of Clinton to aid its ongoing investigation.
Members of the OPP say the investigation is still ongoing and they are looking for anyone who may have any information that could help detectives. If you think you saw anything of interest, call the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
Two OPP cruisers are seen here blocking Wildlife Line at Hydro Line Road on Sunday morning after reports of a shooting rocked Huron County late Saturday evening. As of Tuesday morning, the area remained blocked off due to the investigation. (Shawn Loughlin photo)
At a Monday press conference, OPP Detective Inspector Chris Avery of the OPP Criminal Investigation Branch confirmed that one man was fatally shot Saturday evening in the vicinity of the Hullett Wildlife Conservation Area.
Avery confirmed what sources had told The Citizen early Monday morning, that the victim was 70-year-old Donato Frigo, a resident of Caledon East.
Frigo and a woman were riding horses when they were approached by “an unknown male” who shot Frigo, killing him, Avery said. The female sustained minor injuries.
It has been reported by numerous media outlets that the woman was Frigo’s wife Eva Willer, but Avery did not confirm that. The pair have been referred to as “royalty” in the Ontario competitive hunting dog community.
“An unknown male approached the two individuals and shot the victim. The female sustained minor injuries,” Avery said, “but was able to get to a place of safety.”
Police were first dispatched to the scene of the shooting shortly after 5 p.m. on Saturday. Several roads in Hullett Township were then closed and some areas remain closed as of The Citizen’s deadline (Tuesday morning).
Huron OPP Detachment Commander Investigator Chris Martin acknowledged that information being released to the public has been slow moving, but he insists that the officers have their reasons.
The first public statement made on behalf of the OPP came Sunday afternoon, when it was confirmed that a man had been shot and killed Saturday evening. No further details were made available until Monday’s 4 p.m. press conference was announced just hours earlier.
Both men read from prepared statements and neither took questions from the assembled members of the media, including reporters from London, Kitchener and Toronto.
“We understand that it has taken longer than usual to get information out to the public,” Martin said, adding that with an investigation like this, the OPP has to “prioritize the need of the public’s right to know with concerns respecting the ongoing investigation; particularly in its infancy stages.”
He said that public safety is always a “top priority” for the OPP and that OPP will maintain a “strong and visible presence in the community.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 10:12
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Municipal Ballots Set For Oct. 27 Election - Sept. 18 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shawn Loughlin   
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 12:49
With the deadline to file nomination papers now behind us, the roster for the Oct. 27 municipal election is now set.
In Huron East, Bernie MacLellan has been acclaimed to a second term as mayor, while Joe Steffler will return as deputy-mayor. Incumbent David Blaney and newcomer John Lowe have both been acclaimed in the Brussels Ward.
In the Grey Ward, incumbents Alvin McLellan and Dianne Diehl will be challenged by Orval Bauer and Dennis Mueller, while in the McKillop Ward incumbent Andy Flowers is joined by Kevin Wilbee and Brenda Dalton in the race for the two McKillop positions.
In Seaforth, incumbents Bob Fisher and Nathan Marshall will be challenged by newcomer Neil Tam and in Tuckersmith, Raymond Chartrand adds his name to two incumbents, Les Falconer and Larry McGrath for two Tuckersmith councillor positions.
North Huron’s ballot is a crowded one, as three men are running for the position of reeve: incumbent Neil Vincent of RR3, Wingham, alongside current Wingham Ward Councillor Bernie Bailey and Steve Hill, both of Wingham.
Four candidates are running for two Blyth Ward positions: incumbent Brock Vodden and newcomer Bill Knott, both of Blyth, as well as Brad Carther of Wingham and Laurie Macpherson of RR3, Blyth.
Six people have submitted their names for two East Wawanosh Ward positions, including incumbents Ray Hallahan and James Campbell. Also running are Terry Brake, Tim Walden, James Woodley and James Taylor.
There are five names in the Wingham Ward election, all new: Trevor Seip, Yolanda Ritsema-Tenninga, Robert Harth, Brent Mills and Rod Galbraith.
In Morris-Turnberry, incumbent Mayor Paul Gowing now has some competition, as current Morris Ward Councillor Jamie McCallum is taking a run at council’s top position.
Ten candidates are vying for five councillor positions in Morris-Turnberry, which will all be elected at-large. The list includes incumbents David Baker, Jamie Heffer and John Smuck, as well as newcomers Terry Brighton, Carolyn O’Neil, Brian Schlosser, Jennifer Wick and Sharen Zinn and former Morris-Turnberry Mayor Dorothy Kelly and former Deputy-Mayor Jim Nelemans.
In Central Huron Jim Ginn has been acclaimed to another term as mayor, as has Deputy-Mayor Dave Jewitt.
In the East Ward, seven candidates are competing for three positions: incumbents Marg Anderson, Dan Colquhoun and Alex Westerhout, as well as newcomers Morag Watt, Gary Haist, Kaushik Patel and Adam Robinson. In the West Ward, four candidates are vying for three positions: incumbents Alison Lobb and Burkhard Metzger and newcomers Genny Smith and Patrick Nagle.
In Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh, long-time Reeve Ben Van Diepenbeek will be challenged for the position this election, as Shawn Drennan has filed to run for reeve.
Paul Bollinger and Wayne Forster, alongside incumbent Doug Miller will run in the Wawanosh Ward, while Bill Vanstone, Glen McNeil, Arden Eddie and Michael Leitch will run in Colborne and incumbents Murray Curran and Roger Watt, along with newcomers Preston Drennan and Jennifer Miltenburg will run in the Ashfield Ward.
Judy Cairncross was acclaimed as the ACW-area representative on the Avon Maitland District School Board.
Robert Hunking has been acclaimed to another term as the central east Huron representative on the Avon Maitland District School Board, while incumbent Colleen Schenk of Wingham will face off against Mike Starenky of Wroxeter for the northeast Huron, Howick and Morris-Turnberry trustee position.
Amy Cronin has been acclaimed to another term as trustee on the Huron Perth Roman Catholic Separate School Board to represent the North Huron area, while Jim McDade will represent the board in the Central Huron area. Marc Allard will represent the area on the French Separate District School Board.
Three candidates are vying to represent the area on the French Public District School Board: Denise Alice Carter, Johanna R. Gray and Denis Trudel.
The deadline to file for nomination was 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon. Keep reading The Citizen to find all-candidates meetings in your area in the coming weeks.
With the deadline to file nomination papers now behind us, the roster for the Oct. 27 municipal election is now set.
In Huron East, Bernie MacLellan has been acclaimed to a second term as mayor, while Joe Steffler will return as deputy-mayor. Incumbent David Blaney and newcomer John Lowe have both been acclaimed in the Brussels Ward.
In the Grey Ward, incumbents Alvin McLellan and Dianne Diehl will be challenged by Orval Bauer and Dennis Mueller, while in the McKillop Ward incumbent Andy Flowers is joined by Kevin Wilbee and Brenda Dalton in the race for the two McKillop positions.
In Seaforth, incumbents Bob Fisher and Nathan Marshall will be challenged by newcomer Neil Tam and in Tuckersmith, Raymond Chartrand adds his name to two incumbents, Les Falconer and Larry McGrath for two Tuckersmith councillor positions.
North Huron’s ballot is a crowded one, as three men are running for the position of reeve: incumbent Neil Vincent of RR3, Wingham, alongside current Wingham Ward Councillor Bernie Bailey and Steve Hill, both of Wingham.
Four candidates are running for two Blyth Ward positions: incumbent Brock Vodden and newcomer Bill Knott, both of Blyth, as well as Brad Carther of Wingham and Laurie Macpherson of RR3, Blyth.
Six people have submitted their names for two East Wawanosh Ward positions, including incumbents Ray Hallahan and James Campbell. Also running are Terry Brake, Tim Walden, James Woodley and James Taylor.
There are five names in the Wingham Ward election, all new: Trevor Seip, Yolanda Ritsema-Tenninga, Robert Harth, Brent Mills and Rod Galbraith.
In Morris-Turnberry, incumbent Mayor Paul Gowing now has some competition, as current Morris Ward Councillor Jamie McCallum is taking a run at council’s top position.
Ten candidates are vying for five councillor positions in Morris-Turnberry, which will all be elected at-large. The list includes incumbents David Baker, Jamie Heffer and John Smuck, as well as newcomers Terry Brighton, Carolyn O’Neil, Brian Schlosser, Jennifer Wick and Sharen Zinn and former Morris-Turnberry Mayor Dorothy Kelly and former Deputy-Mayor Jim Nelemans.
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Cross-Currents Summit Fruitful for 14/19 Group - Sept. 18 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shawn Loughlin   
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 12:35
Eight people involved with Campaign 14/19 have returned from Cross-Currents: Art and Agriculture, Powering Rural Economies in Greensboro, North Carolina with plenty of transferable ideas.
Peter Smith, Project Manager for Campaign 14/19, says the event was a great opportunity for those involved with rural communities to share ideas and learn from the successes and issues of one another.
Smith says there were representatives from 26 states as Puerto Rico at the conference, as well. The 14/19 group, which consisted of Smith, Administrator Karen Stewart and six members of the Campaign 14/19 board of directors, were the only people at the conference from Canada.
The focus of the conference, Smith said, was to marry the worlds of art and agriculture through the lens of the rural economy.
He says that many rural communities in the United States are dealing with the same issues as their Canadian counterparts, with retaining youth and providing employment chief among them.
At the conference, Smith said, were representatives from the U.S. Treasury, as well as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). He said he was surprised to see representatives from such organizations at the conference, but once he began talking with them, he realized how connected the worlds actually are.
Smith said that in the U.S., rural communities are having to broaden the scope of certain economic development projects. Once that’s completed, he said, funding becomes available that those involved would have never considered before.
It’s the rural communities, he said, that have to take an active role in redefining themselves. Many policies still in place in the U.S., Smith said, refer back to the 1970s and 1980s and no longer apply to life in a rural community today.
“People need to step up,” Smith said, “and take responsibility for their relationship with their government.
While at the conference, Smith and his group took in a number of seminars, listened to a lot of guest speakers and met a lot of people involved in rural initiatives, some of which piqued his interest more than others.
One of the projects Smith found interesting and felt would be easily adapted for Huron County is the story of Elsewhere, in Greensboro.
Elsewhere is a constantly evolving art installation that came about from an old thrift store.
The owner of the store, which was an institution in the small community, died and bequeathed the store to her grandson, an artist. The man, overwhelmed by all of the “stuff” in the store, began rearranging it and creating an art installation piece. Ten years later, the art project is still going, welcoming artists from all over the world to come and work at Elsewhere (this year there are three artists from Canada, one from China and one from Australia) on the condition that they bring nothing new in and take nothing out.
Smith said he felt a similar project could work in Huron County, whether it be in an old farm house or in a mobile setting.
One thing Huron County has in abundance, Smith says, is stuff, and with its agricultural background, art installation projects could take on a very interesting life in a place like Huron County.
Another project Smith felt could have a home in Huron County is the success story of Appalshop, a creative film house in Whitesburg, Kentucky.
Opened in 1969, Smith says, Appalshop came to be out of similar needs to Huron County today. Disenfranchised youth, unable to find employment, were in the community and having to leave to find employment. The shop opened its doors and offered a free training course on film cameras and documentary filmmaking with the hopes of sending the town’s youth back out into the world, equipped with skills that may help find them a job.
What happened, however, was that many of the young people stayed and made documentaries in Kentucky. The centre is now a multi-discipline art centre that has been combining the worlds of art and agriculture for 45 years.
Smith said that archetype is exactly what many of those involved in Campaign 14/19 have in mind for the Centre for Rural Creativity envisioned for the former Blyth Public School building.
Part of the conference was those involved with Campaign 14/19 making a presentation and telling their story. Smith said people were very receptive to what the campaign is trying to achieve and, especially with Fare on 4, impressed by what has already been accomplished.
Smith says that the Fare on 4 concept is going to be attempted in a rural California community sometime soon.
“A lot of people want to come to Blyth now,” Smith said. “They were blown away by Fare on 4.”
As far as those involved with the campaign, Smith says the goal is simply to keep fundraising, because the deadlines just keep coming.
“We’re hoping to have shovels in the ground at Memorial Hall a year from now; that’s when the transformation will begin,” Smith said, adding that in two years he hopes work will begin at the former Blyth Public School.
“There’s a lot to do, but we have the people who can do it,” Smith said.
For more information on Project 14/19 and upcoming events, visit www.blyth1419.ca
All of the faces behind Cross-Currents: Art and Agriculture, Powering Rural Economies can be seen here (see 14/19 Project Manager Peter Smith in a light blue shirt in the back left corner) at the conference held in Greensboro, North Carolina. A group of eight representatives travelled to the conference and came away with some great ideas, Smith said. (Photo submitted)
Eight people involved with Campaign 14/19 have returned from Cross-Currents: Art and Agriculture, Powering Rural Economies in Greensboro, North Carolina with plenty of transferable ideas.
Peter Smith, Project Manager for Campaign 14/19, says the event was a great opportunity for those involved with rural communities to share ideas and learn from the successes and issues of one another.
Smith says there were representatives from 26 states as Puerto Rico at the conference, as well. The 14/19 group, which consisted of Smith, Administrator Karen Stewart and six members of the Campaign 14/19 board of directors, were the only people at the conference from Canada.
The focus of the conference, Smith said, was to marry the worlds of art and agriculture through the lens of the rural economy.
He says that many rural communities in the United States are dealing with the same issues as their Canadian counterparts, with retaining youth and providing employment chief among them.
At the conference, Smith said, were representatives from the U.S. Treasury, as well as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). He said he was surprised to see representatives from such organizations at the conference, but once he began talking with them, he realized how connected the worlds actually are.
Smith said that in the U.S., rural communities are having to broaden the scope of certain economic development projects. Once that’s completed, he said, funding becomes available that those involved would have never considered before.
It’s the rural communities, he said, that have to take an active role in redefining themselves. Many policies still in place in the U.S., Smith said, refer back to the 1970s and 1980s and no longer apply to life in a rural community today.
“People need to step up,” Smith said, “and take responsibility for their relationship with their government.
While at the conference, Smith and his group took in a number of seminars, listened to a lot of guest speakers and met a lot of people involved in rural initiatives, some of which piqued his interest more than others.
One of the projects Smith found interesting and felt would be easily adapted for Huron County is the story of Elsewhere, in Greensboro.
Elsewhere is a constantly evolving art installation that came about from an old thrift store.
The owner of the store, which was an institution in the small community, died and bequeathed the store to her grandson, an artist. The man, overwhelmed by all of the “stuff” in the store, began rearranging it and creating an art installation piece. Ten years later, the art project is still going, welcoming artists from all over the world to come and work at Elsewhere (this year there are three artists from Canada, one from China and one from Australia) on the condition that they bring nothing new in and take nothing out.
Smith said he felt a similar project could work in Huron County, whether it be in an old farm house or in a mobile setting.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 10:13
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G2G Rail Trail Working Committee to be Formed - Sept. 18 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shawn Loughlin   
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 12:32
Huron County Council has authorized the creation of a Guelph-to-Goderich Rail Trail Working Committee to address many of the concerns in the community and help the project progress to the next stages.
Project Manager Rebecca Rathwell and Tourism Co-ordinator Cindy Fisher presented the report to Huron County Council at its Sept. 10 committee of the whole meeting, which was part of an update, requested by council on the progress of the proposed trail.
In recent months, the lines of communication have been opened and information is flowing freely, said Director of Planning and Development Scott Tousaw. He told council there was a lot of misinformation in the community regarding the trail, which has been the source of many of the complaints.
Several weeks ago, Tousaw met with representatives from the Huron County Federation of Agriculture, including Margaret Vincent, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture member service representative for Huron and Perth Counties. He said that once the two parties were in the same room, he found that many of the concerns that had been circulating were much easier to discuss.
Tousaw said that one of the major problems was that some media outlets were reporting that the trail was a “done deal” several months ago, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.
In recent months, he said, those involved with the trail have been conducting research and that’s really where proponents of the trail stand now. He was very clear with council saying that nothing has been decided and nothing has been finalized as of yet.
At that meeting with the federation, the concept of a working committee was discussed and, Tousaw said, federation representatives were receptive to the idea.
In addition to the working committee, Tousaw also suggested that funding be set aside in next year’s budget for a temporary staff position; someone who will assist the committee, which aims to work through any identified issues, develop a stewardship model, develop a cost and phasing plan and report back to council.
Part of the committee’s job going forward will be to hold another public open house, like the one held late last year, in Blyth once again to further inform the public about the proposed trail and where in the process organizers are at the time.
Huron East Mayor Bernie MacLellan said that he thought the formation of a committee was a good idea. He said that while he didn’t agree with many of the issues raised by federation members earlier this year, he did agree that area farmers, as well as adjacent landowners, should be kept informed on all goings on pertaining to the proposed trail.
Central Huron Mayor Jim Ginn said he is in support of the trail and suggested that documentation be provided featuring statistics on trail-related crime be provided to concerned adjacent landowners. Ginn said that he estimated that incident numbers would be relatively low, but to be able to prove that, in writing, to adjacent landowners would probably go a long way.
Fisher said that through her involvement with the Maitland Trail Association, there have been very few incidents and of the incidents that have occurred, none have required police intervention.
Ginn acknowledged that there are issues of legitimate concern, such as ATV use, trespassing and the potential marijuana grow plots along the trail, but the reality of the frequency of such situations being low should hopefully provide some comfort to those concerned with the potential trail.
Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh Reeve Ben Van Diepenbeek said that he wouldn’t join councillors in their negativity towards ATVs, saying that industry has been a boon for Bruce County and should be considered in Huron County. He said that while the entire proposed trail couldn’t likely incorporate them, certain portions should be considered for ATV access.
Bluewater’s Tyler Hessel disagreed, re-stating his earlier position, saying that ATV riders need to assemble and self-police one another, similar to snowmobiliers.
He said that if the riders were to organize and start an association, riders would be licensed and the numbers of ATV incidents would go down.
“That’s when you get bad apples, when riders are unlicensed,” Hessel said. “When there’s no licensing system, you can’t identify them.”
Howick’s Art Versteeg was concerned about the potential hiring of a staff member, even a temporary one.
“I think the trail advocates should pay. I don’t want [the trail] to becoming dependant on county dollars,” he said.
Versteeg also said that Huron County should be working in conjunction with Perth County to ensure that they are on the same page when it comes to the proposed trail. He said there’s no point to getting ahead of the neighbouring county and ending up with a trail that ends just east of Walton.
Council approved the report of Rathwell, Fisher and Tousaw.
Huron County Council has authorized the creation of a Guelph-to-Goderich Rail Trail Working Committee to address many of the concerns in the community and help the project progress to the next stages.
Project Manager Rebecca Rathwell and Tourism Co-ordinator Cindy Fisher presented the report to Huron County Council at its Sept. 10 committee of the whole meeting, which was part of an update, requested by council on the progress of the proposed trail.
In recent months, the lines of communication have been opened and information is flowing freely, said Director of Planning and Development Scott Tousaw. He told council there was a lot of misinformation in the community regarding the trail, which has been the source of many of the complaints.
Several weeks ago, Tousaw met with representatives from the Huron County Federation of Agriculture, including Margaret Vincent, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture member service representative for Huron and Perth Counties. He said that once the two parties were in the same room, he found that many of the concerns that had been circulating were much easier to discuss.
Tousaw said that one of the major problems was that some media outlets were reporting that the trail was a “done deal” several months ago, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.
In recent months, he said, those involved with the trail have been conducting research and that’s really where proponents of the trail stand now. He was very clear with council saying that nothing has been decided and nothing has been finalized as of yet.
At that meeting with the federation, the concept of a working committee was discussed and, Tousaw said, federation representatives were receptive to the idea.
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