Cannabis or Cannot?

Ontario municipalities have until January 22, 2019 to opt out of allowing any cannabis retail outlets. The inauguration ceremony for the new Town Council takes place today and it will ultimately make a decision on the issue.

In the meantime, residents are asked to share their opinion on this topic through an online survey which is accessible through the Town of Innisfil website ( An Open House forum is also being held tomorrow, December 6 starting at 6:00 pm at Lakeshore branch, IdeaLab & Library to address any questions and hear public comments.

The Ontario government has estimated that there will eventually be 500 to 1,000 licensed cannabis retailers in the province. They will be licensed and regulated by the Ontario Alcohol and Gaming Commission.

I have mixed feelings but don’t think that realistically, excluding cannabis retailers here would accomplish much. We already profit from gambling, alcohol and cigarettes. One of the surprising things I happened to witness when I first moved here more than 20 years ago was a police drug raid. Apparently there was a local market active enough to take the risks even then.

I have never smoked cigarettes so none of that appeals to me. I think e-vaping is especially annoying. But I have heard some positive things about medical cannabis. With a quickly aging population, some formulations, like topical oils, might offer an alternative to conventional pharmaceutical pain medications.

If we go down the ‘cannabis trail’ and decide later that unforeseen negative impacts outweigh the positives (i.e. tax revenue and removing the illegal market) can we backtrack and undo some of the licensing?

Share your opinions and comments online or at the Open House.


Health Centre Takes Shape


Innisfil’s new Health & Wellness Centre is quickly taking shape adjacent to Innisfil Recreational Complex at the Town campus and is planned to open in 2019. It consists of 44,500 square feet on two storeys. The facility will include family physicians, a permanent walk-in clinic and diagnostic imaging and lab services. Additional space will be filled by a pharmacy, dental care, naturopath, physiotherapist, mental health and addictions counselling, and a Telemedicine office. Public space will include a community kitchen and space for educational workshops.

The total cost is projected to be $20.3 million with $4.5 million expected from donations. Sandra and Diego Rizzardo, of San Diego Homes, have pledged $2 million. In April, Council approved a plan to build and own the building instead of sharing ownership with physician investors. Medical and pharmacy tenants will enter a 10 year lease agreement, which will return the investment costs to the Town.

Let’s Take Back Our Cities

The announcement that Toronto’s Air Canada Centre is going to be rebranded as the Scotiabank Arena generated about as much enthusiasm as the notice of another road closure. We seem to have reached a tipping point for public toleration of corporate intrusion into daily life. I think I reached the breaking point years ago when I arrived at Union Station and was appalled to see the floors and stair risers of the historic building covered with vinyl-graphics advertising in addition to the numerous posters and ads already covering the walls. Virtually every arts and sports venue in Toronto has been claimed by a corporate brand. I no longer know where many of them are because the current name is meaningless and some names have changed several times.

For years we have been told that wages and corporate taxes have to be kept low to compete globally. Yet the same corporations still have hundreds of millions to spend on discretionary branding exercises, and that’s after paying executives record-breaking, tax deductible, compensation. In 2016, Canadian CEO pay was 159 times greater than the average income (Huffington Post). We are expected to accept corporate names on buildings, arenas, and theatres; transit vehicles wrapped in advertising; bus shelters and litter bins plastered with ads. Every major fund-raising charity event is co-opted with corporate advertising. This is the corporate elite telling cities, “We own you.”  Continue reading

Prices – They Are a Changing

Real estate prices have been in the headlines lately. Buying mania has reached our Innisfil neck of the woods over the last couple of years but I doubt foreign buyers are involved. Looking back over some figures, my property tax increased 73% in the last 16 years (an average of 3.7% per year); “market value” assessment increased by 133% (about 6.3% a year); but the current speculative market value of my property has increased about 500% (or more?) based on real estate agents’ estimates and recent home sales in the area. That’s about 10%/year compounded rate of appreciation.

We get approached about listing our home possibly once a week by mail or in person. I’m told that some real estate agents Continue reading

Places to Grow – in Barrie


A public meeting tomorrow in Barrie (council chambers, 7:00 pm) is further proof that Ontario’s Places to Grow strategy to limit urban sprawl is a failure – at least in Simcoe County. It also confirms that Barrie is a city without boundaries and an insatiable appetite for greenfields.


“The lands are designated Highway 400 Industrial/Business Park within the City’s Official Plan and are currently zoned Agriculture (AG) in accordance with Zoning Bylaw 054-04 (Innisfil). The owner has applied to amend the current zoning of the property to Highway 400 Industrial with Site Specific exceptions …”  Continue reading

The Wisdom of the Woodland

Regular readers may recall me writing occasionally about the Transition Network. With all the social, political and economic turmoil in the news lately, I was really impressed with an article by Rob Hopkins in the latest Transition newsletter: The Forest Economy: woodland as New Economy metaphor.

In it, he talks about the role of rain in a forest and how it gathers nutrients as it falls and circulates through the forest canopy and down tree trunks, and sustains a great diversity of life in the woodland ecosystem. He compares this to the globalized economy and talks about how a woodland can illustrate a model for a New Economy.

Here’s a brief excerpt. I hope many of you will read the full article (link above).  Continue reading