My Favourite Photos

A few of my favourite photos... some for sale, even! More »

Glory Whalen

The revised edition of the story of Glory Whalen is now available for download. Click here for more... More »

Jack`s War

Jack Fisher was a flight sergeant and the wireless operator aboard LM 129, a Lancaster bomber attached to RAF Squadron 207. On July 8, 1944, the plane was shot down over France... More »


I`ve picked up my share of awards over the years, for writing, design, and photography. Here`s a bit of my CV... More »


Time for a harbour master plan…

Some of you will probably be reading John Edward’s piece in this Thursday’s Connection, and saying, “WTF Scoop…”

For one thing, I need to make it clear – I cannot write about the harbour in the pages of the E-B; I have a very clear conflict of interest on the matter, and it would not be ethical of me to report on the issue.

John had to edit some of my remarks down, because, you know, once I get yakking about the harbour it’s kind of hard to get me to STFU. I should probably make it clear that I, and the canoe club, are not against docks, per se. We agree that there’s a need for transient boater space… but…

We don’t believe it should come at the expense of other user groups: us, the rowing club, the yacht club, anglers, etc.. I guess it would help if I present my full comments to John, in response to the so-called Collingwood Municipal Marina Coalition:

“Our position has always been that we believe the harbour to be a shared facility. We recognize that it’s a finite space, and trying to balance the needs of the yacht club, rowing club, our club, and a multitude of other users is a delicate line. It’s also important that each user group respects the rights of others to the use of the harbour, and that one group is not granted any rights or given any advantage that could have a detrimental impact on the others.

“To that point, it’s always been our opinion that the municipality needs to embark on a proper harbour master plan that incorporates the needs and issues of all groups. Citing a study from 1988 completely ignores that since 2004, the use of the harbour has changed dramatically with the introduction of the two recreational clubs. While the Baird Report from 2009 did a fair job of documenting these different uses, where it fell down – substantially – was it focused on dock development while presenting recommendations that would have essentially pushed the rowing and paddling uses to the fringes of the harbour.

“Our board was disappointed council decided not to move forward with a harbour master plan this year, as it could have taken the necessary steps to resolve, or at least minimize, some of these potential conflicts and address the matter of shared use. We remain hopeful it will be part of the next council’s planning process early in the term.

“It’s all well and good to cite potential revenue numbers, but without some sort of solid economic or business case, there’s no way to justify the revenue projections put forward by the coalition. A waiting list does not necessarily translate into customers; a waiting list also does not justify the need to develop a facility that could potentially discourage the use of the harbour by other groups.

“We are a growing club, as are the rowing club and the sailing school, and it is vital to the development of those sports – especially for young people – that the harbour is a safe and accessible place. Creating a ‘parking lot’ of docks is not conducive to that goal.”

To add to that, a bit of my own opinion (which may or may not reflect the opinion of the board of the Collingwood Dragon Boat and Canoe Club)…

The ‘build it and they will come’ attitude is something I’ve been battling for the last five years of being a member of the town’s harbourlands committee. The Baird report was short-sighted, with no economic basis to back up the need to create a parking lot of docks in the harbour — and essentially making it unusable for anyone else. And the coalition is incorrect — it was not accepted by the Harbourlands Committee in the form that it’s presented in. The committee made several recommendations to revise some of the report’s conclusions, but those were never put in place because the money needed to prepare the final report was shifted to another municipal priority. What’s being passed around is a draft report — not a final report, and for the Coalition to present it any other way is disingenuous.

The same goes with the introduction of the transient day-use dock in the launch basin late last year; earlier this year, during municipal budget discussions, four councillors were quite willing to drop another $130,000 to extend that dock, even though a pattern of use hadn’t been established yet (because the existing docks had been installed in November), and there was no business case. There are five spots (approximately, depending on the length of the boat) at the existing dock; I can think of one weekend, Elvis Festival, when the dock was full; the rest of the time, I think I see one or two boats on a consistent basis.

And I’m not even getting into the environmental issues, and promoting healthy, active living (I find it amusing that municipal policy discussion on active transportation seems to stop at the town’s shoreline), which were tossed around as I circulated my comments to the rest of my board prior to providing them to John.

So… I go back to my (and the canoe club’s) original proposition – before any more capital dollars are spent in the harbour, the municipality needs to get an understanding of how the facility is used, who uses it, and how it can be properly shared between ALL user groups. The last three years has been spent with certain individuals attempting to ‘divide-and-conquer’ on the harbour – it’s time for ALL the user groups to speak with a common voice to develop a shared vision.

Deputy-mayor power poll

Since I don’t have the time or energy to write anything thought-provoking about, say, bread-making, I might as well run another power poll. Here’s the one for the deputy-mayor candidates:

The August Deputy-mayor Power Poll... who's your pick?

View Results

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There’s an election?

Holy cow, I wish someone would tell me these things

• You wouldn’t have known it, until at least last week, as Joe Gardhouse issued his opening salvo, stomping his feet up and down at his non-invite to the Mountain View ground-breaking.

“Uh, Joe, did you ask the mayor about what happened?” “No.” “Oh…”

As it turned out, it was the developer issuing the invites, and he just didn’t want to have Gardhouse (or Keith Hull) to be in the photo. On the other hand, Steve Assaff may have done the electorate a favour — for those unhappy with the hole at Hume and Hurontario, they now know who *not* to vote for this coming October thanks to our photo.

Joe picked the wrong hill to die on for this issue… tho’ it could quickly be forgotten once September rolls around and we get some real issues to complain and whinge about…

Joe almost had another miscue with the launch of his website last weekend; the original iteration featured the Town of Collingwood logo on the front page (in the box beside the photo of the town hall clock), which is a definite no-no. It only lasted a couple of days, tho’, before it was removed and replaced with a photo of town hall.

• Speaking of interweb miscues and petulant foot-stomping, Ian Chadwick’s passive-aggressive preface to Better Together Collingwood’s questions is mildly amusing. Aside from the fact it appears in my browser (Firefox) as written in capital letters (as I peruse Politically Speaking and his website for advice on writing EVERY WORD IN CAPITAL LETTERS…), the questions posed back to BTC (‘how many members it has’, ‘who are the members’) are the types of things that were posed during the House Committee on Un-American Activities hearings.

There’s also this little bit of misinformation: “… it appears the group is composed primarily of members of the former VOTE special interest group. Several of this group have filed papers as candidates for the municipal election.”

Aside from deputy-mayor candidate Brian Saunderson, there are no other BTC members — current or former — who are running in this October’s municipal election. And, based on my knowledge of who is a member of BTC, and who were members of VOTE, they are not one and the same, in spite of how many times Chadwick tries to spin that particular myth (having attended a BTC meeting as an observer, I can testify that the people involved were not involved with VOTE).

Anyhoo, by popular demand (at least three of you), the August power poll for council candidates (presented in alphabetical order, just so we don’t have to explain yet another conspiracy theory…)

The August Power Poll for councillors — pick up to seven you would vote for if the election was in the next five minutes....

  • Keith Hull (50%, 114 Votes)
  • Steve Berman (45%, 103 Votes)
  • Tim Fryer (37%, 85 Votes)
  • Kathy Jeffery (36%, 81 Votes)
  • Bob Madigan (32%, 74 Votes)
  • Rick Crouch (32%, 72 Votes)
  • Gail Michalenko (30%, 69 Votes)
  • Deb Doherty (30%, 68 Votes)
  • Cam Ecclestone (25%, 57 Votes)
  • Dale West (18%, 40 Votes)
  • Player to be named later (or 'none of the above') (14%, 33 Votes)
  • Kevin Lloyd (12%, 28 Votes)
  • Sandy Cunningham (12%, 27 Votes)
  • Ian Chadwick (7%, 15 Votes)

Total Voters: 228

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An interesting hire…

The Town of Collingwood has hired a new PRC director, Dean Collver…

But a quick surf on the Innernets suggest there’s something a little more to Mr. Collver than just a very impressive background in recreation. Succession planning, anyone?

More fun with numbers…

Wow, what a break to the taxpayers: the dividend back to the Town of Collingwood from Collus Powerstream was $183,000 for 2013.

In the Orwellian Doublespeak we’ve come to expect from council, this is known as a “benefit to the taxpayers…”

Listen, I have no doubts about the benefits of the partnership between Collus and Powerstream, and the deal the town got, while maintaining 50% control of the utility (the debate as to how the town spent the money will be left for another day).

But let’s really boil down that number, in light of a couple of Ontario Energy Board rulings on Collus Powerstream rate applications.

For instance, last year, the OEB granted Collus an increase that added an extra $1.32 to the monthly residential bill; earlier this year, Collus-Powerstream reduced bills by 28 cents due to certain temporary charges coming to an end.

So, to even it out, that means the average monthly residential bill will be $1.04 higher than this time last year. No big deal… over the course of a year, that’s $12.48 (which I think buys three craft beers from the Liquor Barn).

But getting back to the dividend…

$183,000 is a miniscule amount, especially when put against the $26 million the town will collect in property taxes — less than a single percentage point. If I put it against my own property tax bill, it works out to $13.37. So the town saved me just under $1 (89 cents, to be exact). I guess I shouldn’t spend it all in the same place…

Lucky 13…

This is where it gets interesting… former Collus treasurer Tim Fryer, downtown businessman Bob Madigan, and as of this morning, Keith ‘I’m My Own Man’ Hull.

Here’s the poll:

Council Power Poll Part IV: A baker's dozen (Pick up to seven candidates)

  • Keith Hull (62%, 81 Votes)
  • Steve Berman (55%, 72 Votes)
  • Tim Fryer (54%, 70 Votes)
  • Rick Crouch (45%, 58 Votes)
  • Kathy Jeffery (44%, 57 Votes)
  • Deb Doherty (35%, 45 Votes)
  • Bob Madigan (33%, 43 Votes)
  • Gail Michalenko (31%, 40 Votes)
  • Dale West (24%, 31 Votes)
  • Player to be named later (or 'none of the above') (19%, 25 Votes)
  • Ian Chadwick (10%, 13 Votes)
  • Kevin Lloyd (10%, 13 Votes)
  • Sandy Cunningham (9%, 12 Votes)
  • Cam Ecclestone (5%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 130

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The mayor power poll

I am offering no comment to this one, other than have fun – vote early, vote often…

The race for mayor - who's got your vote?

  • Chris Carrier (42%, 60 Votes)
  • Joe Gardhouse (33%, 47 Votes)
  • Player to be named later (or 'none of the above') (13%, 19 Votes)
  • Sandra Cooper (12%, 17 Votes)

Total Voters: 143

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When the disenchanted vote…

… at least, that was my mom’s suggestion for a headline, when I did a little data mining first thing this morning after Elections Ontario released some more numbers from last Thursday’s election.

I was looking for voter turnout, when I cast my eye at the number of refused ballots, and thought 496 for Simcoe-Grey was a little on the high side… it was, many times over. In 2011, only 14 people refused their ballot in the riding. I looked at the provincial number, and saw the same trend right across Ontario.

I did up a quick Excel spreadsheet, and sent a note up the editorial chain, where Canoe picked it up from there and put together a nifty little interactive map based on my spreadsheet.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll get a chance to expand on the idea (today was, uh, nutty). As can be seen from the map, the highest number of declined ballots, both in numbers and percentage, was Elgin-Middlesex-London, where 842 people declined their ballot – or about 1.8% of eligible voters. In fact, I discovered southwestern Ontario had the greatest concentration of voters who handed their ballot back.

Northerners, on the other hand, take their voting seriously, as voters in Sudbury and Thunder Bay would rather mark an X than say no, thanks, take it back.

Power Poll Part III…

OK, now we have a real race for council positions, with 10 people (including today’s latest candidate, Gail Michalenko) on the ballot.

I keep hearing through the grapevine there may be one or two more solid contenders out there, with just under three months left before the Sept. 12 filing date for the Oct. 27 municipal election.

So here’s the third ‘power’ poll… does Berman have staying power to stay on top? Is Chadwick doomed to remain mired at the bottom? What impact will these new candidates have on the race?

Council Power Poll Part III: Who would you vote for as a councillor (up to seven choices; listed in alphabetical order)

  • Steven Berman (66%, 81 Votes)
  • Kathy Jeffery (57%, 69 Votes)
  • Rick Crouch (54%, 66 Votes)
  • Deb Doherty (48%, 58 Votes)
  • Gail Michalenko (44%, 54 Votes)
  • Player to be named later (or 'none of the above') (34%, 42 Votes)
  • Dale West (22%, 27 Votes)
  • Cam Ecclestone (18%, 22 Votes)
  • Sandy Cunningham (9%, 11 Votes)
  • Ian Chadwick (7%, 9 Votes)
  • Kevin Lloyd (7%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 122

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The race is on…

… with the announcement (and filing this morning) of Brian Saunderson for the position of deputy-mayor in Collingwood, there is now a race for all three positions.

At the risk of being accused of publishing the opinion of friends as front page news, and citing Internet polls as being statistically significant, here’s the first power poll of the deputy-mayor race:

Who would your choice be for deputy-mayor of Collingwood

  • Brian Saunderson (82%, 108 Votes)
  • Rick Lloyd (11%, 15 Votes)
  • A player to be named later (7%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 131

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