‘We are adjusting the secret trails’: Collingwood trails seeing record numbers of users

A bike, a trike or a hike. With the pandemic lockdown lifted and more than 60 kilometres of trails at their disposal, Collingwood cycling enthusiasts are taking to the myriad of trails in record numbers. A thin shaft of light and phone logs tell the tale of increased usage, said Wendy Martin, the town’s manager of parks. “We gauge how busy the trails are mostly by customer complaints,” Martin said. Riders will complain about the conditions of the trails that have been washed out after a rain or complain about trail etiquette; if people are riding three abreast and they can’t pass safely, they’ll call, she said. The parks department also uses a high-tech beam of light across the trails to count the number of cyclists and walkers, she said. “It doesn’t count every single person if they’re walking beside each other, it just counts every time the beam has been disrupted, but we do have actual trail counts and those numbers have gone up,” Martin said. The increased presence has also been noted by the Trail Captains, 30 volunteers who stroll along the trail daily to ensure the trails are kept clean and note hazards for the Parks department. Collingwood has 7.8 kilometres of on-road bike lanes, another 6.8 kms on paved shoulders and 48 kms off-road trails on a packed-granular surface. Celebrating the May announcement of its Silver Bicycle Friendly Community award by the Share the Road Cycling Coalition and the Canadian Automobile […]

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Customers camped out for Casino Rama opening: Gateway official

Casino Rama is doing “brisk” business following a pandemic-related shutdown that lasted more than a year, an official with Gateway Casinos and Entertainment says. “Under the circumstances, things have gone remarkably well considering we were shuttered for 16 months,” Robert Mitchell told Simcoe.com. The gaming facility east of Orillia began its phased reopening on the morning of July 29, following an easing of some COVID-19 restrictions by the province. “Some folks even camped out in the parking lot overnight,” Mitchell said. “One couple came down from Kirkland Lake and slept in their car until the doors opened.” Under current regulations, the casino is limited to 50 per cent capacity and must ensure social distancing of two metres. Even with such restrictions, “we can easily accommodate 1,000 patrons on the gaming floor with plenty of access to all levels of play,” Mitchell added. Business has remained brisk in the days that followed the casino’s opening, and customers have been “very co-operative with contact tracing — often showing up with their contact information filled out in advance of their visit,” he said. “There have been no problems with lineups at the door or gaining quick admission to the gaming floor — except for the lineup on opening morning.” Patrons were greeted by a new gaming-floor layout, the addition of electronic table games, and a variety of denominatio […]

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Simcoe Muskoka health unit records one new COVID-19 death, third-straight day of 20-plus cases

It’s another day with a double-digit increase in the local COVID-19 case tally. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit reported on its website Aug. 20 an additional 21 cases of the virus in the Simcoe-Muskoka region. This is the third consecutive day in which the number of new cases has exceeded 20. Also of note Friday, one more person, a 45- to 64-year-old Simcoe County man, succumbed to the virus Aug. 17. His case wasn’t connected to an outbreak and he becomes the first confirmed Simcoe-Muskoka resident to die of the illness since July. In total, 256 locals have died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Innisfil had six new incidents today. Orillia (five), Barrie (four), Bradford (two) and Adjala-Tosorontio, New Tecumseth, Ramara and Wasaga Beach (one each) were also listed. Four residents 17 years of age or under fell ill. Everyone else was between 18 and 64. Sources of infection range from “close contact” to “community-acquired” and “under investigation.” There are 139 known active cases, including two hospitalizations. Overall, 818,170 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the region, with 427,348 people — or 70.7 per cent of the population — receiving at least one shot. About 63.1 per cent of residents are fully inoculated now. There have been 85 new cases reported to the health unit so far this week; 99 and 37 were reported in each of the previous two weeks. To date, 4,004 Alpha (first d […]

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Ontario reports 650 new COVID cases and nearly 200 in hospital, the most since Step 3 reopening

Ontario is reporting another 650 cases and two more deaths, released Friday morning. Ontario has administered 45,748 , with 20,386,811 vaccines given in total as of 8 p.m. the previous night. According to the, 10,686,526 people in Ontario have received at least one shot. That works out to approximately 82.0 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and older, and the equivalent of 71.9 per cent of the total population, including those not yet eligible for the vaccine. The province says 9,700,285 people have completed their vaccinations, which means they’ve had both doses. That works out to approximately 74.4 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and older, and the equivalent of 65.3 per cent of the total population, including those not yet eligible for the vaccine. The province is now including new data that reflects. Ontario is warning that the new process may cause discrepancies between other hospitalization numbers being collected using a different process, and that the data may not match daily COVID-19 case counts. The province’s new data reports 426 COVID-19 cases were confirmed in unvaccinated people, 64 were partially vaccinated, and 103 cases in fully vaccinated people. Again, the province warns the data may not match daily COVID case counts because records with a missing or invalid health card number can’t be linked. The seven-day average is at 518 cases daily, or 24.9 weekly per 100,000. Ontario’s seven-day average for deaths is at […]

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Doug Ford urged to create a vaccine passport before the fourth wave hits

A sharp rise in Ontario’s COVID-19 cases has business groups turning up the heat on Premier Doug Ford to implement a program. Concerned a fourth wave this fall could force a return to public health restrictions with more than 4 million Ontarians still unvaccinated — including kids under 12 not yet eligible — passport advocates maintain the best defence is a good offence. “The last thing anyone wants is to be shut down but that’s what will happen if we don’t use every tool in the tool kit,” Ontario Chamber of Commerce President Rocco Rossi said Monday. “It’s about mitigating risk as much as possible. We’re going to be living with this for a while.” A vaccine passport or certificate program would allow restaurants, gyms, cinemas, theatres, sport and concert venues and other non-essential operations to offer entry only to people who have been fully vaccinated or have a recent negative test result for COVID-19. It makes even more sense now that Canada began allowing fully vaccinated Americans with a negative test to enter the country at land border points on Monday, Rossi added. “The logic is essentially the same.” But it’s difficult for individual businesses to develop and implement their own systems so governments need to take the lead, preventing a cumbersome patchwork that could leave some open to protests and challenges, said Ryan Mallough of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (C […]

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Ontario’s civil servants will have to be fully vaccinated or face regular testing

Ontario’s civil servants and political staff will have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — or face regular testing — under a new policy for returning to their workplaces this fall. A memo sent to the 64,000 members of the Ontario Public Service (OPS) on Thursday said anyone refusing to be vaccinated without a valid medical reason must attend an educational session in addition to getting regularly tested for COVID-19. The directive follows Premier Doug Ford’s setting a similar standard for health-care, nursing home and educational workers with a deadline of Sept. 7 for implementation. “Employees will be required to confirm full vaccination against COVID-19. All vaccinated Ontarians have been provided with confirmation of their vaccination status,” said Thursday’s memo from Deborah Richardson, deputy minister of the Treasury Board Secretariat. “This policy is part of our ongoing work to keep the approximately 31,000 employees who are working in-person safe, and to support the safe, graduated and flexible return to OPS workplaces over the next two months for those who have been working remotely.” The cabinet minister who serves as president of the Treasury Board said Ford’s Progressive Conservative government “fully supports” the move. “I want to make it clear that the policy will also apply to ministers’ office and premier’s office staff,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, encouraging ci […]

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Innisfil opens two cooling centres amid heat wave

In response to , Innisfil opened two cooling centres Aug. 11.  These are strictly for people in need of a safe space out of the heat, the town said in a media release. The facilities are air conditioned and free bottles of water are offered. There locations are:  • Innisfil ideaLAB & Library, Cookstown Branch, • Innisfil ideaLAB & Library, Lakeshore Branch, The cooling centres are open on Wednesday, Aug. 11, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.  Visitors will have to follow COVID-19 safety measures. Each visitor will have their own designated space, access to washrooms and hand sanitizer.  Residents can use Innisfil Transit to travel to Innisfil ideaLAB & Library’s Lakeshore Branch for the flat rate of $4. All other trips will receive $4 off the fare. In addition, the Town of Innisfil provides discounted fares for low-income households. For more information please visit .

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‘I’m not a litigious person’: West-end Collingwood residents prepare for land tribunal hearing

A west-end Collingwood resident feels let down by the town and the planning process as he and his neighbours prepare for the next round at the province’s land planning tribunal. Chris Krolow says the residents in the neighbourhood known as The Forest have put thousands of dollars into legal and planning fees battling a residential project that will abut their properties. “If I had known a subdivision was going behind my home, I would not have bought the house,” he said. “If anyone is supposed to know about the developments (underway), the real estate agents should, and if the agents can’t figure it out, how is the town supposed to expect residents to even know what’s going on? “I’m not a litigious person, I hate that kind of thing. It just eats up time, money and energy.” The history of Huntingwood Trails goes back nearly a decade, after council, in 2012, turned down an application for what was proposed as a 437-unit development. In 2014, the Ontario Municipal Board approved a settlement deal between the town and the developer that would allow a 179-unit project and see 36 hectares of the 49-hectare Huntingwood Trails project turned over to the municipality as environmentally-protected property. However, the developer didn’t file a zoning bylaw amendment and plan of subdivision until just before a five-year window he was granted closed. After the town informed the developer the file would be closed, the developer res […]

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‘It is going to force discussion’: Rama CAO on Chief Island restrictions

Chippewas of Rama First Nation is taking steps to protect Chief Island with twin pieces of legislation that aim to lessen the environmental impacts of boat traffic and preserve the integrity of lands the community considers sacred. Rules now in effect limit the number of boats allowed to moor in the bay, while also authorizing Rama bylaw, security or police to issue tickets to those mooring or accessing the island without a permit. “It’s going to definitely deter any partying that’s been going on in the past,” Dan Shilling, Rama’s chief administrative officer, told Simcoe.com. The band has had ongoing concerns with noise, drinking, and trespassing on the island, as well as waste left behind by boaters at the site that is home to sacred burial grounds. Shilling said Rama’s fire department over the years responded to “many emergencies” in the area of the island, which is located on Lake Couchiching. “How many times did we (respond) to somebody that got hurt or drunk and got hit by another Sea-Doo, drinking and partying in that area?” he said, adding that the cemetery had been targeted by vandals. Non-band members must now obtain a permit for mooring from the Rama Lands Department at a cost of $20 per boat per day, with a maximum of 80 permits issued daily. Non-members will be allowed to access the island for education or reconciliation purposes, accompanied by a Rama First Nation member who is knowledgeable about the i […]

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OPP charge Orillia man in connection to opioid overdose of Wasaga man in 2020

Police have charged a person nearly a year after launching a criminal investigation into the death of a Wasaga Beach man who died from an opioid overdose. The OPP’s Huronia West detachment initiated the probe in late March of last year after a 31-year-old man died from a drug overdose. The victim was found without vital signs March 24, 2020, while officers responded to a call for service at a home on Mary Street in Wasaga Beach. Police have charged George Brazier, 52, of Orillia, with manslaughter. He is set to appear at the Ontario Court of Justice in Collingwood on March 16. Anyone with information related to this incident is encouraged to contact the OPP at or Crime Stoppers at (8477).

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