2023 Year in Review (1/2)

January 2, 2024   ·   0 Comments

Attention Readers!

For our first edition of the Orangeville Citizen in 2024, we’re taking you through all of the highs and lows over the first six months of 2023. The first half of our 2023 Year in Review will share some of the most significant stories impacting our readers from Jan. 5 to June 29. Next week we will publish the second half of our Year in Review with all of the highlights from July 6 to Dec. 21. Now, without any further ado, here’s a look at the year that was!

Jan. 5

  • New Year’s Day marked the return of the Grand Valley Lions Club polar bear dip into the freezing Grand River. Almost 50 people turned out to take the plunge, weather the cold shock to the body, and support the Grand Valley Food Bank, with 48 of them taking the plunge. The club raised $5,337.50 for the food bank.
  • The Orangeville Lions Club will be hosting their first TV Bingo event of the year on Tuesday (Jan. 10), and Shelburne residents now have the chance to get in on the game. Cards for the weekly Bingo event became available for purchase at two locations in Shelburne; Foodland and Giant Tiger as of Jan. 4. Speaking with the Free Press, The Orangeville Lions Club president Don Sinclair said the decision to expand to Shelburne was, in part, due to community interest. 
  • Parents Marina and Marco welcome their first child into the world, Marco Andre, who was born at Headwaters Health Care Centre at 4:26 a.m. on Jan. 1. Marco Andre was the hospital’s first delivery for 2023. Headwaters had over 900 deliveries last year.

Jan. 12

  • A Trillium grant will go a long way toward repairs for Mono’s tennis courts.Kim Heaton, the town’s recreation director, told Mono council during its public meeting Jan. 10 that the Ontario Trillium Foundation has awarded $150,000 for the reconstruction of six pickleball courts at Mono College Park.
  • Chaos broke out at Orangeville Town Hall earlier this week when an unruly audience member got out of their chair and heckled those who sit on council, comparing them to Nazis. With the town’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy for staff and volunteers up for review at a council meeting on Monday (Jan. 9), the chambers were filled with over 100 people, waiting to hear if the policy would be rescinded. The recommended motion from town staff concerning the vaccine policy was that it be suspended. But when Coun. Andy Macintosh brought forward a last-minute amendment requesting that the policy be kept in place for firefighters, chaos ensued. The vaccine policy was later rescinded for councillors, committee members, and volunteers, but the decision on whether to rescind the policy for staff, vendors, contractors, and firefighters was deferred to council’s Jan. 23 meeting.

Jan. 19

  • An Orangeville man who was recently diagnosed with autism wants to let others know that it’s nothing to be ashamed of and he encourages people who feel they may be autistic to get an assessment. David Vahey, 39, received his diagnosis on Dec. 12 and said he’s turning it into a point of pride for his son Solomon, 10, who’s also autistic, after decades of feeling ostracized for being different. Vahey says his autism mostly manifests in social situations, so since getting his diagnosis he’s been connected with community-based organizations that will better help him better navigate the disorder. He’s planning on attending a class about carrying a conversation since this is something that he and many other autistic people struggle with.
  • Local athlete and cross-country skier, Alex Maycock, was named flag bearer and carried the maple leaf during the opening ceremonies of the 2023 FISU Winter World University games in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Thursday, Jan. 12. Alex, a Nipissing University student, carried the flag along with Caroline Beauchamp, an Alpine skier from the University of Montreal.
  • It was a night of full-blown entertainment when four bands and a solo performer took the stage at the Oddfellows Hall in Orangeville on Sunday, Jan. 8. The event was organized by people associated with Aardvark Music and Culture in Orangeville. The bands featured, Heavy Flannel, 027, Hairblind, and Remember November, are all heavy metal bands. At the end of the night, over $500 was raised for Family Transition Place.
  • Headwaters Health Care Foundation has reached their final fundraising goal. The fundraising organization for Headwaters Health Care Centre (HHCC) announced in a press release Jan. 12 that their goal of raising $700,000 has been reached and will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Morningview Foundation.
  • Local father and sons rock trio, The Discarded, released their latest musical project in December when they debuted the film, ‘The Getgoes,’ at the Royal Theatre in Toronto. The film features 13 original songs and eight vignettes performed by The Discarded with colourful animation reminiscent of retro Saturday morning cartoons and the Beatles’ 1968 animated film, Yellow Submarine. The Discarded is composed of veteran rocker JP (Joel) Wasson, and sons, Caden Jax Wasson, and Jared Dean Wasson.

Jan. 26

  • Orangeville council tags ratepayers with a 2.35% tax increase for 2023 at its Jan. 17 meeting.
  • Mayor Lisa Post cut the ceremonial ribbon on Tuesday (Jan. 24), alongside several councillors and town staff members to mark the start of a two-year pilot project for fare-free transit. Removing fares from buses is intended to increase ridership and remove transportation barriers in the community. The estimated annual cost of removing fares for the Town of Orangeville is $166,000 per year.
  • The Town of Orangeville appointed Heather Savage as the general manager of Community Services, effective Feb. 6, 2023.
  • The Town of Orangeville’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy for staff, contractors and vendors, which includes firefighters, is no longer in effect. Council voted unanimously to revoke the vaccine mandate during a packed meeting on Monday (Jan. 23) and revoked the policy for councillors, committee members and volunteers during their Jan. 9 meeting.

Feb. 2

  • An investigation by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) into the conduct of former Orangeville Mayor Sandy Brown while he sat on the town’s police services board has concluded. The investigation, which centred around Facebook posts made by Brown, found he violated six sections of the Code of Conduct under the Police Services Act. The OCPC determined that he is unsuited to be a member of a police service board in Ontario because of the violations. An investigation would be launched if he sat on one in the future. 
  • This season marks the sixth year of the Ontario Minor Hockey Association’s Coach of the Month, presented by The Coaches Site. The organization asked for nominations for coaches who deserve the honour for their dedication to the sport and their teams. This month, Orangeville Flyers U11 House League Team 5 coach, Matt Hall, was chosen to receive the honour.
  • More communities in Dufferin County will soon be connected to faster and more reliable high-speed internet. The provincial and federal government announced an investment of more than $530,000 to bring fast, reliable high-speed internet to rural Dufferin County communities last Friday (Jan. 27).

Feb. 9

  • For the first time in eight years, the Orangeville Business Improvement is increasing its levy. Mike Beattie, Orangeville BIA chairperson, said 2014 is the last time the group’s levy increased. Members heard during the group’s annual general meeting on Feb. 1 that there’s a proposed 3.2 per cent increase to offset inflationary increases. BIA members unanimously accepted the levy increase.
  • More affordable housing for women and children fleeing domestic violence could be coming to Dufferin County. At its Monday (Feb. 6) meeting, Orangeville council indicated support, both financially and in principle, for Family Transition Place’s (FTP) plans to build an affordable apartment complex. The current proposal looks to build 22 apartment units designated for the women and children that FTP counsels and provides shelter. They could live at the apartment for up to five years instead of being limited to a six-week to three months stay at FTP’s emergency shelter. It would be rent geared to income, said Norah Kennedy, executive director of FTP. The organization has already contributed its land and $400,000 to the project. FTP is now seeking a grant from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), totalling $8.5 million, to move it forward. And to increase their application’s likelihood of being approved, Kennedy requested that council indicate ongoing financial support for the project’s operation. In response, Mayor Lisa Post made a motion, which passed unanimously, to write a letter of support for the project to CMHC and allocate $20,000 annually through the town’s community grant funding program if it moves forward.
  • The Town of Orangeville provided five small businesses with non-repayable funding of $10,000 through the My Main Street program to support downtown businesses. The recipients of the funds are Bluebird Café & Grill, Cycling Elements, Jessii Vee’s Peculiar Place, MAD Clear Out and Pottery Parties Studio.
  • A record number of revellers embraced the season’s chill during Mono’s Winterfest 2023. Kim Heaton, Mono’s recreation director, said this year’s edition of the winter celebration was the best one in the past 30 years it’s been held. Hundreds of people turned out on Feb. 5 at the Mono Community Centre to enjoy cross-country skiing, skating, snowshoeing, and horse-drawn sleigh rides.
  • A fire that broke out at an Amaranth barn has resulted in the deaths of several animals. 
  • Dufferin OPP, along with crews from Orangeville, Shelburne and Grand Valley fire departments, attended the scene of a barn fire on 8th Line in Amaranth shortly after 6 a.m. on Feb. 2. Police said the fire claimed the lives of several farm animals, but there were no humans injured. Shelburne Fire is continuing the investigation of the fire but has deemed it non-suspicious. 

Feb. 16

  • For someone who needed dental care but simply couldn’t afford it, a series of free dental care days, sponsored by Dr. Raj Khanuja of Headwaters Dental, provided some much-needed help. Dr. Raj ran a day of free care at each of the eight dental clinics he operates in southern Ontario. At the end of the sessions, he and his staff had provided $104,000 worth of dental care. In the Orangeville clinic, free dental care day took place on Dec. 6. The concept of doing a day of dental care started several years ago when Dr. Raj had a client who had to choose between getting her teeth fixed and buying hockey equipment for her son. While he has colleagues who have donated time in foreign countries, Dr. Raj thought he could do some good by helping people who live in the same towns where he practices.
  • Orangeville resident, Lorne Wise won the LOTTO 6/49 second prize worth $66,997 in the Dec. 24, 2022 LOTTO 6/49 draw. The winning ticket was purchased at Daisy Mart on Alder Street in Orangeville.
  • Dufferin County Council will be taking a further look at its 2023 draft budget at an upcoming special meeting after concerns were raised over the suggested 5.79 per cent tax levy increase. 
  • Shelburne Mayor Wade Mills has released a statement in response to allegations of racism and discrimination within the Shelburne & District Fire Department. A statement from the mayor was posted on the Town of Shelburne’s website on Feb. 7 following the publication of an article by the Alliston Herald reporting allegations of racism and discrimination within the local fire department raised by volunteer firefighter Randy Narine. In the article published by the Metroland Media affiliate, Narine detailed alleged experiences of racism and discrimination including being called racist names such as “monkey and the “N-word” as well as being denied training opportunities. He also alleged that members of the local fire department made racial comments about South Asian residents and did not provide them with the same level of service.

Feb. 23

  • Dufferin-Caledon MP Kyle Seeback held a town hall style meeting at the Dufferin Northern-Peel Anglers & Hunters Association in Mono on Tuesday (Feb. 21) to discuss Bill C-21. The legislation proposed by the federal Liberals looks to ban various firearms, including rifles and shotguns, that are currently legal. The Bill has come under fire from many hunters, sports shooting groups, and Indigenous organizations. Opponents of the Bill say it goes too far and bans firearms routinely used by hunters, shooters, and Indigenous people. It will turn legal firearm owners into criminals if they fail to comply with the new regulations. The event was well attended with about 100 people seated and 20 standing. While the meeting was open to the general public, most attendees were legal firearms owners with a vested interest in Bill C-21.
  • A winter storm warning is in effect for Orangeville and Dufferin County. The storm started yesterday (Feb. 21) and is continuing into today (Feb. 22) with an expected total of 15 cm from a mix of freezing rain, snow and ice pellet accumulation.

March 2

  • Dufferin County council has approved the county’s 2023 Budget. In a press release issued on Feb. 24, the county said this year’s budget would maintain all services and programs, advance existing priorities, and support additional provincially and federally funded initiatives while addressing inflationary pressures and capacity constraints. The total tax levy to support the delivery of services is $44,899,761. The budget will result in a net taxpayer impact of 4.28 per cent on the county’s portion of the tax bill, or an increase of $15.82 per $100,000 of assessment based on MPAC’S assessment of a property. 
  • Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) participants exceeded the fundraising goal set by the Orangeville Food Bank for this year’s edition of the event. The food bank aimed to raise $100,000 in the weeks leading up to the Feb. 25 walk through town. As many as 417 walkers and 56 teams generated $120,972 for the food bank. The venture was put on with the help of 71 volunteers that came out in below-zero temperatures.
  • It’s hoped an infusion of money to Dufferin-Caledon high schools will give students an edge in preparing for careers in tooling and machining. The provincial government is investing more than $98,000 to purchase high-tech machines for two high schools in the region. The money will help young people gain the skills they need to prepare for careers in tooling and machining. Of that money, Orangeville District Secondary School will get $25,480 and Humberview Secondary School in Bolton will get $72,860.
  • Orangeville boxer, Josh Wagner, won a unanimous decision in his Saturday (Feb. 25) night fight at the CAA Centre in Brampton over Xhuljo Vrenozi. The welterweight bout was scheduled for ten rounds and went the distance. Wagner came to the ring with a 14-0 professional record.
  • Around 225 people attended the annual Youth Unlimited YFC Highlands dinner at Compass Community Church on Friday, Feb. 24. The event is a fundraiser in support of YFC’s The Door youth centres in Orangeville and Grand Valley. The Door has been active in the Grand Valley community for over 20 years and 45 years in Orangeville. The event raised $3,000.

March 9

  • The Town of Orangeville is hoping to address “period poverty.” Council directed town staff to bring back a feasibility report on a program offering free menstrual products within washrooms at municipal facilities to combat the issue. A Notice of Motion brought forward by councillor Tess Prendergast passed unanimously during council’s regular meeting last Monday (Feb. 27).
  • Orangeville council voted unanimously to relocate an all-way stop sign in a residential area. During its meeting last Monday (Feb. 27), council approved a motion that pushes a recently installed stop sign 200 meters down Alder St. from the intersection at Sherwood St. to the intersection at Glengarry St.
  • Gun violence in Caledon has resulted in the deaths of two Dufferin County residents. Officers from the Caledon Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) found a deceased male and female with apparent gunshot wounds inside a home in the area of Heather Street in Caledon on Mar. 4. The deceased have been identified as 29-year-old Cassie ANTLE of Mono and 24-year-old David EVANS from Orangeville.
  • Officers from the Dufferin Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have charged an individual in relation to a break and enter at a pizza shop on Broadway in Orangeville. Officers responded to the report of break and enter to the pizza place on Mar. 1 and they saw that the front door was pried open and the front counter had been ransacked. The cash drawer was removed with approximately $500.
  • The Museum of Dufferin (MoD) and the Dufferin County Cultural Resource Circle (DCCRC) have unveiled a new art exhibit featuring the works of Indigenous artists. Artists, members of the DCCRC, local leaders and community members gathered in the Lodge Gallery at the Museum of Dufferin last Friday (Match 3) to celebrate the new exhibit called, Our Story: Past & Present. “When we talk about our history there’s so much variety and people really don’t understand how we have to live in this world. The idea behind this show is to give the new generation of artists an opportunity to speak in their authentic voice, and express what it’s like to be them today; trying to find their place in the world they live in now, but not lose where they come from,” said Suzy Kies-Delong, DCCRC organizer of the exhibit.
  • A new program that aims to bring vulnerable people out of the cold has been launched in Dufferin County. The Out of the Cold Program is supported by the Town of Orangeville, Dufferin County, and Choices Youth Shelter. It’s an initiative to help people experiencing homelessness. The program is touted as a big step toward addressing homelessness in Dufferin County and aligns with the ongoing goals of the town, the county, and Choices to provide support to vulnerable populations. Those who need to access the Out of the Cold program do not require pre-registration and can show up at 59 Town Line between 9 p.m. to 11p.m. daily to access the services.

March 16

  • Grand Valley resident Al Mackie was watching television in his living room on March 2. It was something before midnight, judging by the time a 911 call was received from Mackie’s phone. “I could see flickering on the driveway,” he said. “I thought it was fire or ambulance on his driveway.”

His Gier Street neighbour is elderly and has some health issues, so it was reasonable to expect such cause for flickering lights in the night’s stillness.

“When I get to the door, there’s a four-foot flame shooting out the roof,” he said. Mackie shouted to his wife to call 911, but she wasn’t anywhere near a phone. “So I got back to my phone and out the door and called 911 quicker than she could,” he said.

Mackie provided the address and the 911 dispatcher asked him if there was anybody inside the house. “I said yeah,” he said. “Should I go in?” Mackie was told to stay out of the house but to make as much noise as he could outside, the thinking being anybody inside would be rousted from their sleep. He honked the horn of his car that was parked in the driveway. Mackie’s driveway is side-by-side to his neighbour’s. The car horn was ineffective so Mackie and his wife tried to see into the house through windows, tried to ascertain the situation. They were banging on the side of the burning house. They tried to figure out anything else that could be done to alert the man inside, he said.

“I said screw this and I kicked in the door,” he said. “I yelled for him and he kind of answered weakly from the bedroom. Had he not answered I’m not sure I would’ve gone in. “But, once he answered, I was kind of locked in. I had to go in.”

Mackie said he dodged flames that were spreading through the kitchen, growing in intensity, and made his way to a bedroom door and his neighbour’s voice.

“He was not very steady on his feet,” Mackie said. “He was up out of bed but kind of just standing there. Couldn’t see much between the smoke and darkness. I grabbed his walker, spun him around, sat him on his walker, and dragged him out backwards.”

An ambulance from Dufferin Paramedic Service was pulling up to the house as Mackie got the walker to the door. A paramedic jumped out and went to them.

“Then they got him on a stretcher and were gone pretty quickly,” he said. “I guess they had him on oxygen and were gone pretty quick.”

Police and firefighters from Grand Valley and Orangeville responded to the blaze and the elderly man was taken to the hospital with serious injuries, according to a press release from Dufferin OPP.

  • High school students in Caledon East are empowering each other to become the next generation of leaders. The Female Empowerment Club at Robert F. Hall Catholic Secondary School is not only making a difference in Caledon East — it’s also positively impacting the lives of women in the surrounding community. On International Women’s Day (Mar. 8) the club hosted a candy sale with all proceeds going to Family Transition Place (FTP), which is also known as the Orangeville Women’s Shelter. The sale generated $637 for FTP.
  • Theatre Orangeville announced last Friday (Mar. 10) that its mask mandate is being removed. The decision came after Theatre Orangeville tallied the results of a recent survey that went out to patrons, requesting feedback on their masking policy. In light of the results, and in conversations with board members and theatre staff, it became clear to the organization that it is time to remove the mandatory masking mandate, they said in a notice to patrons.
  • Mono staff and councillors are no longer required to be vaccinated against the coronavirus as a condition of employment.
  • Patricia, a 49-year-old mother, said she’s been playing the lottery for 30 years and her favourite game is LOTTO 6/49. “I was in complete disbelief when I scanned this ticket. I felt a little bit of everything!” she shared while at the OLG Prize Centre in Toronto to pick up her winnings.
  • As Dufferin County grows, more primary care physicians will be needed to care for the region’s increased population. The same applies for Caledon. On March 5, the Hills of Headwaters Collaborative Ontario Health Team (HOHC OHT) announced it had launched a “Physician Recruitment and Retention Task Force” to work on strategies to bring new physicians to the area and “address the shortage of primary care physicians in the Town of Caledon and Dufferin County.”There are over 4,000 people in Caledon and Dufferin who do not have a family physician, according to HOHC OHT data. That amounts to about 5.3 per cent of the area’s population.
  • The Dufferin Caledon COVID-19, Cold and Flu Clinic at the Orangeville Pharmacy (Unit 5-50 Rolling Hills Drive) will officially close on Mar. 30. The decision to close the clinic comes as the need in the community diminishes for a widespread pandemic response and a decrease in patient need for a COVID-19 clinic. 

March 23

  • The Town of Orangeville is now a member of the Dufferin County Multicultural Foundation. Council agreed during its public meeting on Mar. 20 to take $300 from the community grants purse to cover its membership in the foundation. Membership gets each group shared promotion of their various events on each other’s websites and social media channels.
  • The Town of Orangeville has hired Jennifer Innis as Interim Acting Chief Administrative Officer following the retirement of Raymond Osmond earlier in the month. Ms. Innis started the position on Mar. 13.
  • The finances of a local not-for-profit recently saw a significant boost. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dufferin celebrated getting a $102,100 grant through the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Resilient Communities Fund with Dufferin–Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones last Thursday (Mar. 16) during a group outing to the Maple Syrup Festival at Island Lake.

March 30

  • A date has been set for a coroner’s inquest into the death of Terry Baker, an inmate serving a life sentence for her role in the torture and murder of an Orangeville teen. Baker, who plead guilty to her part in the 2002 murder of 16-year-old Robbie McLennan, died at St. Mary’s General Hospital in Kitchener on July 6, 2016. She was transferred to the hospital from the Grand Valley Institution for Women after being found unresponsive in her cell. In 2017, a coroner’s inquest to examine the events surrounding Baker’s death was announced by then regional supervising coroner for inquests, Dr. David Eden. An inquest into Baker’s death is mandatory under the Coroners Act.
  • Mono property owners will see this year’s tax bill 4.7 per cent higher than last year. Town council had aimed to limit the tax levy increase to just four per cent this year. And staff had achieved that benchmark, but it was at the expense of a pair of environmental initiatives.
  • Dufferin County has called on the provincial government to collaborate with municipalities to address homelessness in Ontario. The county has hitched its wagon to an effort by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) to lobby Queen’s Park to work more collaboratively with municipalities to increase the supply of housing. The upper tier council, at its March 9 meeting, called on the province to urgently acknowledge that homelessness in Ontario is a social, economic, and health crisis, and to commit to ending homelessness in Ontario. Dufferin Warden Wade Mills, who is also Shelburne’s mayor, said a comprehensive plan to prevent, reduce, and ultimately end homelessness is needed.
  • Family Transition Place (FTP) recently celebrated the accomplishments of women with the return of their International Women’s Day (IWD) Luncheon at the Orangeville Best Western on Mar. 8. The sold-out event had 240 attendees and spread the message of women’s empowerment while promoting tangible changes for women in need globally. Thanks to contributions from local businesses and ticket sales, the event generated $50,000 for FTP, which supports women fleeing domestic violence or homelessness. While the luncheon successfully generated much-needed revenue for FTP, it had an unfortunate ending. Almost 90 attendees became sick with food poisoning, and two people were hospitalized, according to a report from Wellington–Dufferin–Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) released on Mar. 27.

WDGPH’s investigation into the incident determined 264 people were associated with the outbreak (244 guests and 20 food handlers), and 193 answered a questionnaire from Public Health indicating if they had experienced symptoms. Of those, 88 or 45.6 per cent, said they did. And six questionnaire respondents said they were unsure if they experienced symptoms following the luncheon, so the number of people impacted could be slightly higher.

April 6

  • The importance of supporting and accepting people with autism was recently highlighted in Orangeville ahead of World Autism Awareness Day. Members of council, Dufferin–Caledon MP Kyle Seeback and parents of children with autism gathered to raise the Autism Ontario flag at Town Hall Friday (Mar. 31). Mayor Lisa Post read a proclamation officially recognizing World Autism Day in the Town of Orangeville and urged residents to create a more inclusive world for people with autism.
  • A local resident who’s incredibly active in the arts community is being recognized for his contributions to Orangeville. Local not-for-profit, Lord Dufferin IODE, awarded its annual Citizenship Award to David Nairn, the artist director of Theatre Orangeville, at the Lord Dufferin Centre last Tuesday (Mar. 28).
  • Close to 10,000 people visited the 24th annual Lions Home and Garden Show at the Orangeville Agricultural Centre from Mar. 31 to Apr. 2. The show is now back to pre-pandemic levels as people are once again enjoying events on a large scale and like getting out and spending an enjoyable day at a fair-style show.
  • Dufferin County residents will no longer need to travel far from home for breast cancer evaluations with Headwater Health Care Centre (HHCC) now designated as a certified Ontario Breast Assessment Centre. The local hospital received the certification after obtaining a new mammography unit capable of stereotactic 3D biopsy and tomosynthesis.

April 13

  • Homeless men in Dufferin County now have a safe place to land, with Choices’ Dufferin Men’s Shelter opening at 59 Townline late last month. A shelter for men 25 and older ran at Choices Youth Shelter from August to October of 2021 but closed due to a lack of funding at the time. Since then, there hasn’t been a shelter program for men facing homelessness locally, so Choices’ executive director Erin Goodyear said she’s thrilled to finally have it up and running. Goodyear noted the need for a shelter in Orangeville has long existed, and that’s being reflected in the “exceptional amount of interest” they’ve had since their soft opening on Mar. 27.
  • The Orangeville community chose five charities and non-profit organizations to get money from the Rotary Club of Orangeville Highlands. The Rotary Community Choice Grant recipients were nominated and voted on by members of the community to each receive $2,000. The top three were selected by community members who voted online for their favourite non-profits between Mar. 17-24. The final two were chosen by the Rotary Grants Committee, with a view of supporting non-profits serving Orangeville that have a meaningful impact but do not have the following of larger charities. Recipients of the 2023 grants are Celebrate Your Awesome; the Headwaters Health Care Foundation; Dufferin Parent Support Network; Dufferin Arts Council; and the Orangeville and Dufferin Area Horticultural Society.
  • A coroner’s inquest into the 2016 death of Terry Baker, an inmate serving a life sentence for her role in the torture and murder of an Orangeville teen, has been postponed. The inquest was expected to start on Tuesday (Apr. 11), but on Apr. 5, the Solicitor General announced that after hearing submissions from the parties, the presiding officer, Dr. David Eden, had ruled the inquest be postponed. The Elizabeth Fry Society, who have expressed concerns about Baker’s treatment while in custody, said in an Apr. 11 press release that the delay was due to Correctional Services of Canada (CSC) not producing documents ordered for seizure by Dr. Eden to further his investigation into Terry Baker’s death.

April 20

  • The Town of Orangeville’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Ed Brennan is stepping down from the role, allowing the town to search for and hire a permanent, full-time CAO. Mr. Brennan was first hired at the Town of Orangeville in December 2008 as manager of facilities.  He became director of parks and recreation in 2013 before moving to the CAO position, first as acting and then interim CAO beginning in 2015 and permanently hired in the role in 2016. Currently, the role is filled with an interim acting CAO, Jennifer Innis.
  • These difficult financial times are hitting much of Orangeville in the stomach. Heather Hayes, the executive director of the Orangeville Food Bank, described to the town’s council during its Apr. 17 meeting just how steeply the need for the bank’s service has grown. She asked council to provide the food bank with an annual $25,000 grant to support Orangeville’s food insecure. Council has budgeted $20,000 each for Family Transition Place and the Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival. Councillor Debbie Sherwood suggested council match that amount for the food bank. Coun. Tess Prendergast said, while the music festival is a good economic generator, the food bank provides something more important than entertainment. In the end, council agreed to furnish the food bank with the requested $25,000.
  • Dufferin County is receiving more support for homelessness prevention from the provincial government. A press release from Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones, issued on Apr. 13, announced $1,674,199 for Dufferin County from the province’s Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP). The funding is an increase of more than $560,000 from last year. 

April 27

  • Town council is waiting to see what the additional costs are for active capital projects across town before moving forward with the new Orangeville Fire Station. A motion that would direct town staff to continue with the design and construction of the fire station and have staff report back with a status update, including estimated costs, once the project’s tendered was recommended by staff during council’s April 17 meeting. However, council unanimously voted to refer the item back to staff and have them return in four to six weeks with added costs for ongoing capital projects.
  • Orangeville council unanimously passed a motion to provide free menstrual products in town facilities at a regular meeting on April 17. Town staff have been directed to procure and install product dispensers to provide free tampons in washroom facilities operated by the Town of Orangeville. There’s a one-time cost of $6,257 for installing the dispensers and branding. The 2023 annual expense to administer and implement the program is $10,950. Council will review the future annual expense to run the program during 2024 Budget considerations.
  • Several families with youth who play in the Orangeville Minor Hockey house league were recently defrauded $2,000 to $3,000 by a woman pretending to be the team’s trainer. The person who allegedly scammed the families was charged with six counts of fraud under $5,000 by Dufferin OPP on April 8 and will appear before the Ontario Court of Justice in Orangeville on May 9. The defrauded families paid the team’s trainer for hotel accommodations and two hockey tournaments she never registered for.
  • Orangeville council recently reviewed the Out of the Cold program run by Choices Youth Shelter and partially funded by the town. During a regular council meeting on April 17, council approved a one-time operating cost of $11,000 to fund 50 per cent of the Out of the Cold Program through Orangeville’s Community Grants Program. Council also passed a bylaw to enter into an agreement with Choices Youth Shelter for the Out of the Cold program service, which provided five beds to homeless men overnight from March 6 to April 1.
  • Dufferin County has seen an increase in school bus stop-related complaints, particularly since the start of the year. Four charges have been laid under the Highway Traffic Act for drivers who refuse to stop for the school bus from Jan. 1 to April 24. Dufferin OPP issued two warnings during that time, and 17 complaints have come in, which is an increase from year’s.

May 4

  • Excitement is building for the return of Dufferin County’s largest annual event. The Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival is returning June 2 to 4 for its 19th year with a full slate of fun activities and incredible performances across three stages. Festival founder and organizer Larry Kurtz said he’s eager to see the 75 acts performing. They include Rick Estrin and the Nightcats, Monkeyjunk, Shakura S’Aida, Barbra Lica and Toronto Mass Choir.
  • Headwaters Health Care Centre (HHCC) has released its new five-year plan for clinical services and programs to meet the growing needs of the community. The local hospital announced the publication of the 2023-2028 Clinical Priority Plan (CPP) on April 24. The Clinical Priority Plan, which identifies where the hospital needs to grow and how to improve care, will act as a road map to enhance clinical programs and services at the local hospital. 
  • Headwaters Health Care Centre (HHCC) will receive more than $1.8 million in funding from the provincial government. Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones announced on Tuesday (May 2) that the local hospital would be receiving $1,845,832 to support more on-call funding for doctors working after hours.

May 11

  • A woman facing multiple charges for allegedly defrauding several parents of a local house league hockey team has made her first appearance in court. Chantelle Roberts appeared in an Orangeville courtroom via Zoom on Tuesday (May 9) before Justice of the Peace, N.R Burgess. During the first appearance, duty counsel asked that the case be remanded for four weeks for Roberts to complete an application for legal aid and to retain counsel.
  • Orangeville town council would like to see movement toward the adoption of provincial Bill 74. And they’re going to write a letter to the provincial government in support of the legislation. Orangeville resident Patti Thomas appeared before council on May 1 as an advocate for her autistic daughter and other vulnerable members of the community. Specifically, she spoke about provincial Bill 74, Missing Persons Amendment Act, which has yet to be enacted. That 2023 piece of legislation amends the 2018 Missing Persons Act regarding vulnerable persons alerts. A vulnerable persons alert can be issued during a search for a missing person who, because of age or disability and a dependency on others, is at risk of being harmed by a person in a position of trust or authority. It’s similar to an AMBER alert. Thomas said such vulnerable people would not have been adequately covered by the initial legislation.
  • When Orangeville residents Nichola and Dave Windrim lost their daughter, eight-year-old Myah, to brain cancer in 2015, they decided to continue her legacy by contributing to research through various means. On Saturday, May 6, they held a garage sale at their home on Janes Arnott Crescent in Orangeville. The sale was so large it spilled over to the neighbouring driveways, as neighbours allowed use of their properties to accommodate the sale. The Windrims, known as the Myah’s Wings team, support the Meagan Bebenek Foundation – a charity that raises critical funds and awareness for pediatric brain tumour research. The Foundation holds an annual walk in Toronto called Meagan’s Hug. Over the course of fundraising, they have raised more than $115,000 for the Meagan Bebenek Foundation.
  • The Museum of Dufferin (MoD) is paying homage to missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people with a red dress display.

“This is the first time that we’ve done a Red Dress Day display and we hope to continue to do this into the future, and that this is something that other sites, or community organizations might join in and do as well,” said Sarah Robinson, interim museum services manager.

The MoD’s red dress display consists of around 30 dresses that were donated to the museum by members of the community during a callout back in March. The display is located on the front lawn of the museum and includes informational signage for those who drive a loop of the museum’s driveway.

May 18

  • A new date has been set for an inquest into the 2016 death of Terry Baker, an inmate who was serving a life sentence for her role in the torture and murder of an Orangeville teen. Dr. Karen Schiff, regional supervising coroner for the west region, announced on Monday (May 15) that a motion hearing related to the pending inquest into the death of Terry Baker had been scheduled for May 23. The coroner’s inquest into Baker’s death was originally set to begin in early April, with the inquest spanning two weeks and hearing from approximately 12 witnesses. A week before the coroner’s inquest was set to begin, the Ministry of the Solicitor General announced that after hearing submission from the parties, the presiding officer had ruled the inquest be postponed. 
  • The community has rallied together to support a father of three young children in Grand Valley, recently diagnosed with late-stage brain cancer. George Raynard is unable to work as he undergoes chemotherapy, and since he’s the sole provider for his family, a GoFundMe was started to help cover the cost of food and his mortgage. The online fundraiser has already raised over $20,000 since it was created on April 30 with donations coming in from private donors, community groups, and local businesses.

May 25

  • Orangeville is going to have to raise its spirits a little higher to compete with a neighbouring municipality who was recently named the happiest place in Canada by a real estate blog. Point2, the blog in question, recently created a “happiness index” for Canada’s 100 largest cities and put Caledon at first place.  It did this by analyzing 30 “happiness-related metrics” such as median after-tax income, poverty rate, perceived health, sense of belonging, commute time, rainfall and air quality. The cities in question (Town, in Caledon’s case) were then given a score out of 100. The blog noted none of Canada’s largest cities ranked high in every metric, meaning Caledon was highest with a score of 67. The blog found that the top five happiest cities in Canada are all in Ontario. Caledon tops the list, with Milton, Halton Hills, Clarington and Burlington following. 
  • Local public transportation use has increased dramatically since it was made free to ride Orangeville buses. Town council got a look at the public transit ridership numbers when it met on May 15. Ridership has increased 71 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared to the same months in 2019. As many as 8,322 riders used transit in January 2019, compared to 12,846 in January 2023, for a 54 per cent increase. Town buses carried 7,502 riders in February 2019, compared to 12,716 in February 2023, for a 70 per cent increase. In March 2019, 9,393 riders rode buses. In March 2023, ridership was 17,437. That’s an increase of 86 per cent. Staff used 2019 as the baseline for the analysis as some of the data for 2020, 2021, and 2022 may have been somewhat skewed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other restrictions imposed on transit systems by the provincial government.
  • An Orangeville man who touched almost every corner of Dufferin County through his work and community involvement recently passed away in a three-vehicle collision along Highway 9. Jamie Ferris, 52, often said, “Live every day to the fullest because you never know how many sunsets you are going to get.”

On May 11, he saw his last sunset.

But living to the fullest was something Jamie did well through his ambition, passion and love for life. He founded and operated a non-profit motorcycle riding club called Qwest Riders that donates to various charities each year, touched many lives through coaching boxing and created countless memories at the weddings, local events, and bars he’s DJ’d.

Yet, the one thing that mattered most to Jamie was his family.

He leaves behind his three children, Brilee, Tayah and Noah, and baby granddaughter, Ava.

Those close to Jamie say they’ll miss his incredible sense of humour, selflessness, infectious smile, big hugs, and loving energy.

The three-vehicle collision that claimed the life of Jamie and his friend, Andrea “Lola” Gernack, on May 11 happened between Mount Wolfe Rd. and Caledon/King Townline on Highway 9. A pickup truck collided with Lola and Jamie while they were each on motorcycles.

Under Jamie’s leadership, he’s helped fundraise thousands of dollars, toys and pounds of food for the many not-for-profits in the community that support vulnerable people or those struggling financiall. Many of those donations came through Qwest Riders, which he ran as “prez” (president) since creating the club six years ago.

  • The start date for an inquest into the 2016 death of Terry Baker, an inmate serving a life sentence for her role in the torture and murder of an Orangeville teen, has been pushed until early June. The Ministry of Solicitor General announced in a press release on May 19 that a motion hearing related to the pending inquest into Baker’s death would be rescheduled for June 1. The motion hearing was scheduled to begin on Monday (May 23). 

June 1

  • Nearly $30,000 has been raised for the Alzheimer Society of Dufferin County through its annual Walk for Alzheimer’s event at Island Lake Conservation Area. The walk took place on Saturday, May 27, with roughly 110 walkers, who were encouraged to take 10,690 steps for the 1,069 people living with dementia in Dufferin County.
  • A not-for-profit organization and a social enterprise are teaming up to teach people with disabilities how to grow food from the comfort of their homes. The Orangeville Horticultural Society is partnering with Branching Out Support Services, which provides programming to adults who are neurodiverse, to set up an indoor grow table with microgreens. The grow table will be set up in the window sill of Branching Out, located at 5 First St., and the program participants will learn how to look after the microgreens. Microgreens are seedlings of edible vegetables and herbs for visual, texture and flavour enhancement. They are typically sold for around $25 to $50 per pound, so the program helps to teach gardening and how to make money.
  • The Lord Dufferin IODE‘s 28th Annual Geranium Sale saw great success, with the not-for-profit women’s group selling 3,500 plants, generating roughly $6,500. Lord Dufferin IODE members took geranium orders for all of May, leading up to pick-up day, held at the 10 and 10 Garden Centre in Mono on Friday, May 26 and Saturday, May 27.
  • The Grand Valley Lions 26th Annual Duck Day took over Hereward Park on Saturday (May 27), featuring live music, delicious food, kids’ activities and, of course, the highly sought-after duck race. The event generated roughly $30,000 for the Grand Valley Lions, who will use the money supporting charitable organizations within the community, such as the Little Lions Learn to Skate program, Grand Valley 85 Air Cadets Squadron, Grand Valley Food Bank, and Headwaters Health Care Centre.

June 8

  • In a 6-1 vote, Orangeville council voted to provide the Orangeville Curling Club a grant toward next year’s Great Canadian Pondspiel. For the first time in its history, the club applied for a community grant of $4,500 to help offset some of the costs for the next pondspiel on Island Lake in January. Grant Peters, the club’s president, said it’s one of the only outdoor curling bonspiels in the area. The club drew about 100 participants in 24 teams at last year’s Great Canadian Pondspiel.Building off last year’s success, the 19th Annual Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival returned to the downtown core from June 2-4 with record-breaking attendance. Over 75 acts touched down in Orangeville, bringing their signature sounds to three stages over three days. Blues and Jazz Festival President Josh Leitch said as organizers were planning for this year’s event, they were curious to know if there’d be the same level of attendance as last year when the festival returned for the first time since 2019 and reached new heights. Looking ahead to 2024, for the 20th presentation of the Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival, Leitch said it will be bigger and better than ever while maintaining all of the features that attendees have come to enjoy.
  • Pride is alive and well in Dufferin County. June 1 kicked off the festivities with rainbow flag raisings throughout the region. In Orangeville, the Town Hall, OPP Detachment, and County of Dufferin Office hoisted the flag, as well as the Amaranth Township building, Shelburne Town Hall, OPP Primrose Detachment and Museum of Dufferin.
  • Last summer, a Mono man had approximately $20,000 in watersports equipment stolen, and he’s upping the reward for information that leads to a conviction of those responsible from $5,000 to $10,000. Cliff, who’s offering the reward, didn’t have insurance for the equipment and said the theft likely took place on Aug. 26, 2022, at his property off of Airport Rd., north of Highway 9, Mono. He suspects at least two perpetrators entered his property from Airport Rd. using an angle grinder to cut through gate locks, chains and a shipping container holding the water sports equipment. Anyone with accurate information regarding the theft should contact Cliff at 416-729-2839 or the Dufferin OPP at 1-888-310-1133 or 1-519-925-3838. Refer to the Police Occurrence number: #E221013323.

June 15

  • A structure fire in Orangeville claimed the life of one person and sent two others to Headwaters Hospital on June 8. Officers from the Dufferin Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are investigating the fire, which started around 7:30 a.m. last Thursday. The Orangeville Fire Department and Dufferin County EMS, responded to the structure fire around 7:30 a.m. last Thursday at a two-story residential dwelling on Still Court in Orangeville. The house sustained heavy fire damage in the garage, which spread throughout the home. The identity of the deceased individual from the June 8 fire is being withheld pending identification and notice to the next of kin, said Dufferin OPP.
  • The Dufferin Parent Support Network looks forward to a fruitful continuation of a quarter century of service. And a resilient communities grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation will help take the 25-year-old organization into the future. Sylvia Jones, MPP for Dufferin-Caledon, was on hand at the DPSN annual general meeting on June 12 to officially announce the $16,800 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Resilient Communities Fund.
  • Headwaters Health Care Centre has introduced a real-time wait clock for the Emergency Department (ED). The wait clock will give up-to-date information on the estimated wait time to see a doctor. Wait times are now posted in the ED and on the Headwaters website. 

June 22

  • Over $3 million is needed to complete work at the Alder Street arena swimming pool in Orangeville. So far, $6,253,890 has been committed to the project. Due to challenges with the project, town staff returned to council requesting further funding. Austin Carrol Pool Construction Ltd. was hired in April 2021 to replace the lap pool’s liner, which was expected to be completed by December 2021. Multiple issues and deficiencies were discovered, prolonging the Alder renovation. Remediation work of the soil, water damage, and concrete work has imposed necessary change orders in the amount of $3,028,000, bringing the total to $9,281,890. This is more than double the initial cost estimate for the project in July 2021 of roughly $4.3 million. 
  • Orangeville dog owners will have a new place to let their furry family members off the leash. Heather Savage, the town’s general manager of community services, told council on June 19 that the off-leash dog park will be temporarily relocated to 49 Town Line, the site of the former train station, next year.
  • A new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) has been hired in Orangeville. David Smith, who has more than 40 years of experience in municipal government, most recently as CAO with the Municipality of Port Hope, will be taking over the role from Jennifer Innis sometime this summer.
  • The province is recognizing the contributions a local senior has made with the many not-for-profits she volunteers for in Orangeville. Heather Sheehan is this year’s Ontario Senior of the Year Award recipient. She was nominated by Orangeville council and chosen by the province.
  • Patients, families, visitors and staff will begin to see more smiling faces in Headwaters Hospital as it dropped its mandatory masking requirements on June 19. Masking is still encouraged but no longer required to enter the hospital.

June 29

  • Orangeville’s clock tower will be able to indicate the correct hour more than twice a day soon enough. It’s only a matter of time, and a matter of $50,000 that council approved when it met on June 19 to be drawn from the municipal general reserve fund. The Verdin Company of Woodstock will repair the clock tower located within the Broadway median between First and Second Streets.
  • With the rising cost of groceries pushing many families’ wallets to the limit, the Orangeville Food Bank is taking an innovative approach to making delicious and nutritious snacks available for everyone. Last week the organization launched its Community Vending Machine at Orangeville Town Hall (87 Broadway), where residents can purchase refrigerated snacks, such as sandwiches, wraps, veggie sticks and salads. The vending machine will move to the Orangeville Public Library’s Mill St. branch once its renovations are complete. Priced at 25 cents per item, the vending machine is affordable for all and seeks to reduce food insecurity within the community.
  • Headwaters Health Care Foundation has announced the start of an ambitious fundraising campaign to obtain state-of-the-art technology to help provide access to more healthcare services close to home. The not-for-profit healthcare organization launched Smart Headwaters, an $18 million fundraiser to acquire a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine and other vital medical technology to enhance diagnostic capabilities and elevate patient care at Headwaters Health Care Centre (HHCC).
  • A new program is launching in Dufferin County to help locate and save the lives of individuals prone to wandering. Project Lifesaver, which has run in Caledon since 2019, provides a tracking device to help locate people with dementia, Alzheimer’s, developmental disabilities, brain injuries, or any other cognitive impairment that may put them at risk of wandering. The Dufferin OPP can triangulate the tracking device’s signal if someone registered for Project Lifesaver goes missing. The tracking device is typically located on the body of the program’s participants, often through a necklace, bracelet or other means.

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