Mixed Use Developments Rise in Alcona


Illustration (MHBC Planning): Janis Ramsey – Metroland

While a seniors residence with ground floor retail is currently under way at the corner of Innisfil Beach Road and the 25th Sideroad, Innisfil residents had the opportunity on March 6 to examine plans for a multi-use development at Jans Blvd. and Innisfil Beach Rd. and adjoining lots (1124 – 1154 Innisfil Beach Rd., illustrated above)

This plan includes a seven-storey building with retail and 147 condo units. The proposal also includes retail and office buildings, two restaurants and three blocks of townhouses.

The Open House was called to review plan amendments concerning “minimum front yard setback, minimum building height, and rear yard setback for accessory structure.” Subdivision of the lands would create “new property lines between the residential townhouse, multi-tenant commercial, restaurant and mixed-use commercial/residential uses. Five accesses are planned – two from Innisfil Beach Rd., two from Jans Blvd., and one from Goshen Rd.”

A Public Meeting to further examine this plan is scheduled for Wednesday, March 21 at 6:00 pm at Town Hall. There will be a formal presentation followed by questions and comments. The proposal then returns to Staff to consider comments and submissions in order to prepare a final recommendation to Council at a future date.


Our Energy Future is Renewable

It’s not a matter of “if”, but “when”. The world is moving steadily and dramatically toward a renewable energy future dominated by clean electricity. As I mentioned before, the countries with the highest solar incidence are the ones making the most progress. Last year, Costa Rica supplied electric energy for 300 days solely from renewable sources. Some of the largest solar projects are being built in countries like India and China. Renewable energy in the UK increased by 27% in 2017.

Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) and the Energy Watch Group (EWG) conducted a study that “simulates a global electricity system based entirely on renewable energy on an hourly basis throughout a whole year. Its results prove that the existing renewable energy potential and technologies, including storage, are able to generate sufficient and secure power supply worldwide by 2050. Under favourable political conditions, a full decarbonisation and nuclear phase out of the global electricity system can succeed even earlier than that.” (my emphasis added)

According to the study, “A 100% renewable global electricity system is also way more efficient. It can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in electricity sector from about 11 GtCO2 equivalent in 2015 to ZERO emissions by 2050. The total losses in a fully renewable electricity system are significantly lower than in the current system. And, the global transition to a 100% renewable electricity system will create 36 million jobs by 2050 in comparison to 19 million jobs in 2015… The study shows that there is no reason to invest any single dollar in fossil fuel or nuclear power production. It also proves that energy transition is no longer a question of technical feasibility or economic viability, but of political will.” (my emphasis added)

This study comes at an important time as Ontario residents are preparing for an election this summer. With the price of electricity, the future of Ontario Hydro, and the ongoing refurbishment of nuclear generators at issue, determining the political will of our provincial parties is paramount. Unfortunately, one party seems to be entirely in denial about climate change and is paralyzed by its own political dogma. Its political will to form meaningful policy on this topic appears non-existent.

Where is Ontario now? Corporations successfully fought against feed-in tariffs and blamed renewable energy for higher electric rates; billions of dollars have been committed to nuclear refurbishment; the nuclear industry is hyping ‘micro-reactors’ to be scattered across northern remote communities; the bulk of Hydro One has been sold off and has made trans-national investments in pursuit of higher profits; revenue from carbon-pricing is being used to subsidize scattered voluntary conservation programs. We can do better but only if we have the political will.

According to the researchers, “policy makers should adopt favourable political frameworks and instruments, promoting fast and steady growth of renewables on the one hand and phasing out all subsidies to fossil fuel and nuclear power generation on the other hand.” (my emphasis added) This summer’s election may be a ‘watershed’ moment for Ontario, either seizing the leadership opportunity or slipping further behind the global trend.

100% renewable electricity worldwide is a new cost-effective reality, Hans-Josef Fell & Prof. Dr. Christian Breyer, (The Beam, Feb 1, 2018)

The Politics of Power

I’ve written previously about the Ontario government’s Green Ontario Fund ($377 budget), and the accompanying lame* approach to this energy conservation initiative. While I applaud the plan to devote carbon-pricing revenues to energy conservation, I think our governments, national and provincial, are way too timid in their approach.

As an example*, I got a quote to install a new gas furnace ($3,000+); the Green Ontario rebate is $500. This old house could benefit from upgraded insulation in the walls – rough estimate up to $15,000 – possible rebate $1,280, based on total square feet. Still, $200 million more is allocated to school retrofits and $85 million for social housing upgrades.

It’s obvious that countries with greater exposure to solar radiation have recognized that sunlight is literally gold. India and Australia, for instance, are making massive investments in solar energy and battery storage solutions. Canada’s weak and haphazard approach means that we will be importing this technology for decades, as we have already with wind power.

One project that I’ve just read about emphasizes the difference. South Australia, which is already the location of the world’s largest grid-storage battery installation, courtesy of Elon Musk, is proposing an even more spectacular solar project – Continue reading


Innisfil Dates to Circle

There are several approaching events that various Innisfil residents might want to circle on their calendars:

Monday, January 29 – Revitalizing Cookstown
Cookstown Library, 20 Church St., 6:30 pm

A “grassroots” meeting to help local businesses and organizations discuss how to bring new vitality to Cookstown. Innisfil’s Economic Development Catalyst will moderate a discussion of three possible strategies and invite additional ideas.

Wednesday, January 31 – Protecting Water Sources
Barrie – Southshore Centre, 205 Lakeshore Dr., 5:30 – 800 pm

An Open House sponsored by the Ontario government to let the public examine proposals to protect regional water sources by extending the Greenbelt.

Wednesday, February 7 – Over-Water Development Application
Town Hall 7:00 pm


Council will consider a zoning amendment to permit construction of a 2,764 S.F. boathouse complex, (foundation shown in photo) which would cover approximately 1/4 acre of Lake Simcoe.

February Blues Festival at IPL / IdeaLab

Had enough ‘serious’ stuff? It’s time for the Blues Festival, at Cookstown Branch Saturday February 3, 11 am to 2 pm with the Django Djunkies; and in Alcona at Lakeshore Branch, Sunday February 4, 2 pm to 5 pm with Richard Whiteman and Kurt Neilson.


Short Story Awards Night

Update: The awards night was attended by 80 people:

“Mayor Wauchope gave a heartfelt welcome, Innisfilm enticed everyone to join and screened a great short – filmed at the Library! And Board member Monica Goodfellow made an excellent MC. The winners and their families were thrilled with the recognition and stayed afterwards to thank the Library for holding the contest, and discussed how much it meant to their children to have been recognized.  One winner shared that after winning last year she chose to take her school’s “Writer’s Craft” English course which she hand’t considered before.  One mom shared that she thinks her daughter will most likely turn out to be an author. Another shared that her daughter, who has autism, used assistive technology to write her story which meant a great deal of extra work. The pride is this mother’s eyes was so clear.” – Chair, Friends of the Library

I was told that the Seepe Walters Story Writing Contest is probably the best kept secret in Innisfil. This literary contest for local students has been running for more than a decade. It was named in memory of Seepe Walters in 2004. She was a journalist, teacher, and a founder of Friends of the Library who was well known in several community organizations including 4H, and Innisfil Historical Society.

Students in Innisfil continue to enter a record number of short stories for the contest. An Awards Ceremony will take place this Friday, January 26 at 6:00 pm at the Lakeshore branch of Innisfil Public Library to publicly recognize the current year’s winners. Everyone is welcome to come and applaud our budding literary talents.

The contest is supported by Friends of the Library, a writer-in-residence, community authors, volunteers, schools, and corporate sponsors. Anthologies of previous year’s winning stories are available on the Library’s website:

Seepe Walters Short Story Contest


The ‘Green’ Struggle

In Ontario, carbon trading has led to carbon-trading revenue, which has led to some silly looking ads promoting the Green Ontario Fund. I guess we can’t have the government ordering people to use less carbon–based energy, so we have to put up with the effort at ‘persuasion’.

If only the ads focused on real personal and environmental benefits instead of imaginary tiny feet. Such as:

Contractor truck backing into driveway / unloading materials/equipment etc.
Neighbour: What happening?
Homeowner: I’m installing / upgrading [insert program]
Neighbour: Sounds expensive
Homeowner: It’s worth it. I get a Green Ontario rebate of [insert rebate $] and I will save [insert energy savings] every year. You benefit too because my carbon footprint shrinks [ X ] %

But sadly, I think the tiny feet will prevail and be less than effective. The ads mention the word, “rebate” a lot but judging from what I have seen it may not be enough to motivate much action.

The Green Ontario Fund is a mixed bag of incentives. A rebate of $250 to replace a gas furnace isn’t likely to motivate anyone. Households are being steered toward an air-source heat pump instead with an incentive of “up to” $5,800. A ductless heat pump has a rebate of $1,900 and homes with existing ducting are eligible for amounts ranging from $3,250 to $5,500. I haven’t seen any mention of renewable energy systems except geothermal.

But a rebate of “up to” $5,000 for high efficiency windows ($500 per window opening) may encourage some people to make the leap. Basic upgrade to insulation carries a rebate of “up to” $7,200. I’ve already paid for attic insulation on my own dime some years ago so that drops to a maximum of $3,800 for upgrading insulation in exterior walls and $1,900 for basement walls. The rebate offsets a part of the cost of insulation materials but wouldn’t be enough for contractor labour or the cost of cosmetic restoration to the interior or exterior walls. My guess is this program might cover about 20% of the total actual cost.

I’m not sure what kind of householders these programs are aimed at, but as a senior, I’m pretty sure the up-front cost is too steep and the return on investment is too distant. I imagine we will live in this house more or less “as is” for as long as we can. Eventually whenever we sell, someone else will either renovate or rebuild to a higher efficiency standard. The Green Ontario Fund won’t make that happen any sooner. But brace for some aggressive advertising from ‘approved’ contractors this year!