Info Put On ICE

The Innisfil Community Events Corporation, popularly known as ICE Corp, was created in 1994 to promote events and raise funds for community organizations. It’s founder and president is our current Mayor, Gord Wauchope. Two sitting councillors are currently members of ICE Corp. Four other members of ICE Corp have previously served on Council or run for municipal office.

As a non-profit corporation, ICE Corp is not obliged to make any information available to the public. It would seem appropriate though, that it’s operations should be more transparent considering that it is so closely associated with the Town, elected Council and aspiring politicians.

It would be useful to know more about the sources and uses of funds. What proportion of revenues comes from sponsors? What proportion of revenue is raised at events? How much is retained to finance future events? What proportion is donated to community groups each year?

What organizations have been the beneficiaries over the years? Surprisingly, not even that historical information is available on the ICE Corp web site. We do know that ICE Corp was a major fund-raiser for the Recreational Complex.

ICE Corp solicits sponsors in three categories without further description: Signature, Community and Event Sponsors plus five Media Sponsors. In the past, sponsors included some local developers: Bradley Homes; Pratt Developments (Signature); Friday Harbour; Lormel Homes (Community) and San Diego Homes (Event). Information about sponsors in these categories has been removed from the ICE Corp web site, or perhaps they no longer have any. Five additional corporate “Friendship” Sponsors are listed and ICE Corp also acknowledges the support of Royal Bank, TD Bank, the former “People’s” Credit Union and Rotary Club of Innisfil.

While ICE Corp is most often identified with the annual SummerFest and Santa Claus Parade, it has also hosted a fishing derby, golf tournament, WinterFest, Polar Bear Dip and New Year’s Skate. Improving communication and providing more transparency might help ICE Corp develop some fresh event concepts, encourage wider community participation and stimulate economic impact. Numerous opportunities compiled from the public during Inspiring Innisfil consultations are being missed.

A Beach for All: Town Forum Sep. 26

The local press reports that a number of people spoke about crowded weekend access to Innisfil Beach Park at the last Council meeting. A steady increase in the number of Alcona residents and a growing awareness of the Town as a recreational destination has strained our park resources to the limit during hot summer weather. Although recent complaints have focused on traffic issues, with affected residents requesting a slower posted speed, higher parking fines and No Stopping zones, others clearly feel that the real issue is over-crowding with spill-over to other area beaches. They complain about unsupervised off-leash pets, littering, illegal alcohol consumption and unauthorized boat launching at another local swimming area.

Some residents want the Town to consider creating a “residents only” beach area, asking, “Is it too much to ask that locals get one little piece of heaven to themselves?”. Innisfil still has some private beach facilities, such as the Alcona Beach Club (ABC) that were originally organized by groups of seasonal cottagers who gathered every summer. Later, as Innisfil changed and grew, permanent residents chose not to pay the private annual fees and club membership has dwindled.

The Inspiring Innisfil Implementation Report (2011) included a number of relevant suggestions:

3.1 Establish a Port of Innisfil with a transient marina providing dockage for temporary and overnight use.

3.2 Update the Innisfil Parks Master Plan to identify “end-of-the-road” Lake Simcoe access locations having capacity for limited parking. Improve them for public day use activities e.g. picnics, etc.

3.3 Take advantage of any future opportunities that arise for the Town of Innisfil to acquire lakefront property for greater public access.

3.6 Explore with marina operators and Big Bay Point Resort their willingness to … provide basic infrastructure such as parking and boat launch services on a commercial basis to both residents and visitors.

The Town is holding an Innisfil Beach Park ‘Open House and Forum’ at the Lakeshore Branch of Innisfil Public Library on Saturday, September 26 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Residents are encouraged to attend with suggestions “as to what they see as the future of Innisfil Beach Park and surrounding beach fronts”.

The fundamental problem is that lakeside property was the first to go into private hands probably 50 years ago or more, and no one is making more beaches or shore line. But we have been making a bigger and busier Town! Is a ‘beach for all’ possible?

Stay Calm & Park Your Protest

It’s no surprise that GTA residents head for the nearest beach when we have those sweltering hot weekends. Innisfil Beach Park has been a hit with visitors, even with higher parking fees this year. As the parking lots fill up, cars have taken to parking on adjoining side streets to such an extent that police have had to periodically close local roads and divert traffic away from the park. A large digital sign-board near the Town Hall warns when the park is closed. These occasions are entirely weather driven. The phenomenon is seasonal and very transient. It’s normal for the park to be heavily populated on summer weekends.

The use of a school lot for overflow parking hasn’t solved the problem. Council, led by the Mayor, decided that it was too late in the season to devise any short-term remedies, opting instead to propose a plan for next year. I can understand nearby residents being upset about suddenly being hemmed in by a swarm of vehicles illegally parked on nearby narrow streets.

Innisfil did choose to focus on tourism as an economic driver. We do need a new approach now to deal with this local success story. But the proposed protest that some residents are planning just makes me ashamed. Their reported plan is to occupy as many parking spaces in the park as they can, early on Labour Day weekend, forcing visitors out and away. This does not in any way address the parking issue but it does cast some light on the darker, ugly side of this controversy.

By that I mean that some Innisfil residents just aren’t ready to welcome the wider world to our community. I’ve been aware of a certain undercurrent for several years but hoped it would fade with time. It hasn’t. There are a few clues to the real issue.  Continue reading

Cookstown’s Creative Chair Challenge

It’s time again for crafters, putterers and painters to get ready for Cookstown’s annual Creative Chair Challenge. It’s open to everyone and anyone, any age, who can lay hands on an old discarded chair and make it a thing of wonder. Entries are displayed, and winners announced, during the Cookstown Wing Ding street festival, June 6 and 7.

Entries have to be submitted by May 23 with a $10 fee. If decorating your chair isn’t fun enough, the Cookstown Chamber of Commerce provides some pretty nifty prizes for the winners (valued last year at about $200). You can even offer your chair for sale after the contest. Last years’ entries can be viewed online.

Creative Chair Entry Form

Beach Volleyball – It’s Here Saturday, August 9

SandZone

The Town of Innisfil has partnered with Liberty Hospitality and Outta Hand Inc. to create “Sand Zone”, four beach volleyball courts, in the Innisfil Recreation Complex.

The Grand Opening of Sand Zone takes place Saturday, August 9 at 9:30 am beginning with a tournament, and continuing with a party, BBQ and door prizes.

Innisfil Beach Volleyball
Sand Zone

 

Cookstown’s 31st Annual Wing Ding, June 7 & 8

Update:  It started as lark. We didn’t really expect to win anything. But my wife and I were happily surprised to learn that we won one of the awards in Cookstown’s Creative Chair Contest. Thank you, judges. All of the entries were excellent. And I’m sure the other winners join me in thanking the Cookstown businesses that very generously provided the wonderful baskets of prizes. We hope you enjoyed Wing Ding and look forward to next year’s event.

When I first moved to Innisfil, I wasn’t sure what Cookstown’s Wing Ding was all about. It’s partly a giant neighbourhood rummage sale, partly street festival with music and food, but overall it’s one of the first opportunities to enjoy a leisurely day outside in summer weather.

This year, because of traffic and possible construction concerns, activities take place in the Cookstown Fairgrounds at 20 Church Street beside the Cookstown Branch Library.  You’ll find crafters and artists displays and food trucks. Cookstown residents set up their own yard sales so plan to stroll around too. Wing Ding is “like a box of chocolates” … you never know what you’ll get!  Continue reading