Current events from our area for April 2014
Muskokans bring home the medals and memories
Huntsville’s Dara Howell earned the ladies slopestyle gold medal at the Olympics in Sochi.
The 19-year-old was feted with a party hosted by the Town of Huntsville and about 5000 people and band Down with Webster in attendance. The 2014 Winter Games were the first that included slopestyle as an event.
Then a few weeks later, Gravenhurst’s Graeme Murray returned with a bronze medal earned by his sledge hockey team in the paralympics. This was the fourth Paralympics and second medal for the athlete.
Lifelong Bala cottager and former Rosseau Lake College student Katie Tsuyuki achieved her pre-Olympic goal. She finished 13th in the women’s halfpipe snowboarding event, and was the top finishing Canadian. She started snowboarding becasue it was similar to her favourite summer sport, wakeboarding.
Baysville cottager James McNaughton finished 13th in the four man bobsleigh event. His former pilot was involved in a dramatic crash at the games, but was not injured.
John Leslie of Arnprior was watched closely by his extended family in Dorset and Huntsville.
He was the top finishing Canadian in the first ever Para-snowboard event and finished seventh overall.
Elli Terwiel of Sun Peaks British Columbia competed in Sochi in slalom skiing but has a Muskoka connection.
She spent many childhood summers at her grandparents’ Lake
of Bays cottage. Her extended family members, Patrick and Rick Gossage, still have cottages in the area.
Bracebridge ratepayers pay highest levy
Ratepayers in the Town of Bracebridge are set to continue paying the highest levy per property in Muskoka.
On the flip side, the Township of Muskoka Lakes pays the lowest levy. Although it should be noted due to Muskoka Lakes having the highest total MPAC assessment value, the township is able to have a lower rate, according to its staff.
The town or township portion of the tax bill goes towards services such as economic development, fire and emergency services, library services, parks and trails, culture and recreation services, public works, winter control and road maintenance services, engineering and construction services, by-law enforcement, general government, building inspection and municipal planning.
While all municipalities may differ in levies, the District of Muskoka and education portion of one’s tax bill is the same across the board.
The District of Muskoka levy went up to $556.12 this year from $549.58 in 2013 for residential properties assessed at $200,000. The total District net levy is $64,142,673, up from $62,991,889 in 2013.
Polar Vortex draws cold weather
February was another cold month, thanks to a now well-known phenomenon: the polar vortex.
The mean temperature at the Muskoka Airport was minus 12.6 C, which is 3.2 degrees below the normal mean of minus 9.4, making it the coldest February since 2003.
While that deviation from the normal may not sound large, it becomes significant when it involves a month-long time period.
According to Geoff Coulson, warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada, the polar vortex normally is over the high arctic. “It’s there basically 12 months of the year. It becomes especially intense during the winter months and normally that polar vortex stays over the high latitudes and keeps the coldest temperatures over the far north,” says Coulson. But that vortex can migrate southward, brought down by the path of the jet streams in the upper atmosphere. “This particular winter that migration further south hasn’t just happened one or two times, it’s actually been a dominant feature of our winter.”
It is not over yet. “The models that we’re looking at through the second half of March and first part of April are all showing colder than normal conditions, continuing into mid-April,” says Coulson. “Some indications as we finish off April heading into May are that we could be seeing more seasonal temperatures.”