Tasty Treats to Make This Winter Season

Although there is no avoiding the bone-chilling cold that comes along with winter, there is a great way to combat it by making warm and delicious treats. Nothing is better after a long day in the cold than relaxing at home with a warm, homemade snack or drink.

Apple Pie

Apple pie is a go-to dessert in the fall and winter. The flaky outside and warm, gooey insides make homemade apple pie pretty hard to resist. Although store-bought apples will do the trick, nothing improves a pie like freshly picked apples. The Collingwood area is home to a number of apple orchards so if you have any in your freezer leftover from Thanksgiving, be sure to add them in.

Gingerbread

Gingerbread cookies are a classic winter treat that is hard to pass up. They are fairly simple to make and are extremely fun to decorate. Make an afternoon out of it and decorate some gingerbread shapes or go all out and build a gingerbread house. The possibilities are endless when it comes to this tasty winter treat.

Hot Chocolate

Whether you are out on a walk or driving to work, a cup of hot chocolate can be the perfect pick-me-up. Fill up a thermos and you can have some on hand all day long. If you are making it for kids, have fun with it and experiment with different ingredients or find fun recipes online. This will guarantee smiling faces and warm tummies, even on the coldest winter night.  

Shortbread Cookies

There is nothing quite like the smell of shortbread cookies that have been freshly pulled from the oven. Shortbread cookies are great on their own, but they are also quite versatile and can be used in other recipes such as in crusts, sandwiches and to top other treats.

Although the winter can be harsh and cold, a warm snack or drink can make it much more enjoyable. Everyone has their own favorites and there are a variety of treats that are perfect for the season. Try your hand at baking up some of these classic delights this winter. It also never hurts to fill up a thermos with some warm, soothing hot chocolate. If you’re not much of a baker, there are a number of fantastic cafés in the Collingwood area that can satisfy your cravings all winter long.

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Real Estate Market Update

Like much of the rest of Ontario, and other areas of the GTA, Collingwood is not a cheap place to find real estate. But it doesn’t make it any less desirable or put it down lower on the list of places to live when it comes to searching for a new home. Whether you’re a current resident and interested in the market status, or are looking to get into the Collingwood real estate market, here’s an update on some recent real estate news for the area.

Home Sales Down

The numbers are in for September, and much like the rest of Ontario, the trend continues, with decreased home sales numbers. The sales are “running at subdued levels compared to recent years,” says Matthew Lidnetter, President of the Southern Georgian Bay Association of Realtors (SGBAR). In fact, these current numbers are at historically low levels. This is partly to do with the change in mortgage rules that came at the beginning of the year, to which the province is still feeling the effects.

Value is Up

Home sales being down however, isn’t all bad. The total value of Collingwood properties sold this past month is up 1.5 percent compared to September 2017. This is good news for sellers but places an increased burden on buyers who are fighting the mortgage laws as well as increased home prices.

Supply has Increased

This combination of factors is also the reason that there is an increase in supply. When prices go up and fewer people can afford to purchase property, sale numbers decrease. As a result, there are more houses on the market and supply increases. In fact, according to SGBAR, there were 475 new residential listings this year, a 4.4 percent increases in a year over year comparison. But supply being up now, is not indicative of what the supply is normally. Overall, there were record lows in supply, with numbers down 0.7 percent compared to the same month last year. In essence, this makes supply the lowest it has been since the mid-1990s.

Sales Still Happening

Despite these dynamics, properties are moving quickly in the Collingwood market. Indeed, there is still plenty of desire to buy and live in Collingwood, and overall the region had a ten percent increase in units sold in September 2018 compared to September 2017. Broken down by region specifically, the western region sales, including the Blue Mountains area, was down by 16 percent compared to this time last year, while in the east, sales were down by just 2.4 percent compared to September 2017.

If you live in Collingwood, you already know how great of a place it is to live. You know how beautiful it is, how friendly the people are and all the great businesses, restaurants, boutiques, and breweries available to enjoy. And as a result, you probably also know why everyone wants to move here, despite the fluctuation in prices and sale numbers. After all, Collingwood is a great place to call home!

Collingwood in the Fall: Activities, Festivals and Events

 

Whether you love the entrance into fall, filled with crisp mornings and changing leaves, or you’re in the “summer forever” club, Collingwood has a lot to offer in this new season.  With Labour Day behind us, and the kids back in school, it’s time to make plans for how to fill your weekends and take advantage of all the fall fun!

Blue Mountains Apple Harvest Festival

Apples and fall go hand in hand, and there is nothing better than biting into a fresh, crisp apple right off the tree.  Celebrate this amazing fruit and harvest by attending the Blue Mountains Apple Harvest Festival. Ontario is a world-renowned apple growing hotspot and people come from all over to experience the Blue Mountain Festival which offers lots of entertainment and activities, beautiful views of the changing foliage, and of course, apples to pick, eat, and enjoy!

Collingwood Fall Market

In addition to the regular weekly market, on October 13th, from 10am to 3pm, visit the Georgian Bay Hotel for their annual Fall Market. With over 50 exhibitors offering everything from arts and crafts to homemade preserves to fresh produce, there is something for everyone to enjoy.  Bring the whole family and make the most of your Saturday!

PumpkinFerno

Taking place in Discovery Harbour, the award winning PumpkinFerno is a must see this season.  From Thursday to Sunday, October 4th to 21st and every evening from October 22nd to 30th, visit the harbour from 7 – 10pm and see the pumpkins aglow.  When dark strikes, the handcrafted pumpkins are set alight, allowing visitors to experience the haunting magic and the impending Terror in the Terror Zone. Suitable for all ages, bring the kids and enjoy your evening at the harbour amidst the pumpkins!

Collingwood Half Marathon and 10K

A fall favourite that brings the community together, whether you run or spectate, this annual Run Collingwood event is not to be missed. Offering you the rare opportunity to run through the city without having to wade through cars or pedestrians, the October 6th run route allows you to spend time along the lake, see the city sights, and be cheered on by the amazing community spirit of Collingwood residents. Be sure to sign up ahead of time to secure your spot!

Be sure to check out these special festivals and events, and don’t forget about the weekly regulars: the Farmer’s Market is on every Saturday making the most of the beautiful fall harvest, as well as other neighbouring town markets. In addition, Northwinds Brewing is happy to offer daily happy hour from 3-6. Head in soon to experience their special fall brews!

Housing in Collingwood: Renting, Building, and Intensifying

A concern for any city or town, figuring out where to house residents and making sure there is enough housing available is always top of mind when it comes to city planning, infrastructure development, and new housing expansion. Collingwood sits at the precipice of this right now, where it is in the midst of a rental housing crisis, while undertaking new home proposals and trying to fulfil its intensification goals.

Rental Housing Crisis

A combination of low vacancy rates and high rental rates, put quite simply, Collingwood is in the midst of a rental housing crisis.  As of October of last year, the vacancy rates rested between 0.4 percent and 1.2 percent, while the average cost to rent is $1125 per month, including utilities.  While this might sound okay for Toronto residents, it is $16 above the provincial average, and forces Collingwood renters to spend nearly 30 percent of their income on rent and utilities, which is also higher than Ontario’s average. This becomes an increased burden on the city and on cash-strapped residents, especially given that the majority are forced to spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, some even having to dole out over half.

This burden is no stranger to Gail Michalenko of the Simcoe County Alliance to End Homelessness, who has noticed the problem add up over the years, increasing rates of homelessness across the city.  While development is scheduled to be completed on High Street, which will open up 147 units with affordable rates and rent-geared-to-income options, the issue will not be a quick fix or a one-building solution.  Instead, Michalenko says, it’s a matter of the province and the municipalities working together, along with developers, to increase affordable housing stock and take the burden off of struggling residents.

Pocket Neighbourhood

The latest solution to the housing situation in Collingwood is the proposed pocket neighbourhood, to be created in the south end.  At a public meeting on July 23rd, council discussed Blackmoor Gates, the 28-unit proposed development which would be a combination of 24 single-detached homes and four semi-detached homes.  The area will also feature community spaces, shared outdoor living, and in general, encourage an enhanced sense of community living within the area. Some residents support the idea, saying it is a good move when it comes to fulfilling Collingwood’s intensification goals, and it is an “innovative” development that will be well “suited to young families and older people.” Some nearby residents however, fear the increased traffic will be a disturbance, and that the development will impact quality of life.

Whether it is a shortage of rental housing, rates that are too high, or disagreement on the development of pocket neighbourhoods, creating a housing solution for a city is never easy.  And while Collingwood may fare better than other areas of the GTA, the solution may not come any time soon. Instead it will require a strong showing of community camaraderie in the fight for affordable housing, decreased homelessness, and reasonable rental rates.

Collingwood Small Business Growth and Support

With a close-knit community like Collingwood, supporting each other through business and local initiatives is an important part of the community mindset.  Whether it is to shop at a local store, attend fairs and pop up shops that support new and upcoming talent, or to take the initiative yourself to become an entrepreneur and a small business owner, all of these areas are easier to navigate when you have some added knowledge, expertise, and support behind you.  That’s what the Small Business Enterprise Centre strives to offer.

In the spotlight now for their recent event Summer Company Business Showcase, held on July 4th, the Enterprise Centre worked with eight young entrepreneurs to help them network with the public and showcase their company. The centre works to give entrepreneurs the assistance they need to grow their business and to help them develop business skills that will launch them into success for years to come.  The staff at the centre act as the guiding hand behind the ideas and desires of the young owners to help them reach all their entrepreneurial aspirations.

Upcoming Events

For those who missed participating in or viewing the July 4th event however, you can still be a part and get involved in the small business side of Collingwood, on July 18th. Join fellow community members and Explore Entrepreneurship’s founder, Sandra Kahale for a networking event designed to bring together business owners at every stage of their learning, growth and development.  With growth as the theme for the evening, the event will offer part education, part networking and interacting, and part mentoring, with a chance for experienced business owners to share tips and techniques while new owners ask questions and get help.  Held from 5:30-8:30pm, at Gibson & Co., Midsummer Business Boost is sure to give you a fresh perspective, new inspiration and a great new group of like-minded business owners you can start to call your friends. Tickets are $25 and you should plan to reserve your spot ahead of time.

Other Programs and Resources

The Business Enterprise Centre does not stop at just events though. It also seeks to help those starting out in business by offering a selection of resources such as a starting checklist, business plan layouts, and important information on licensing and registration.  There is information available on what to expect in terms of costs and financing, as well as business insurance and marketing your business.  Finally, don’t forget to take advantage of the opportunity for a free consultation with one of their knowledgeable staff members in asking your initial business questions, and finding out where to begin on your entrepreneurial journey.  While you are at it, be sure to ask them if Starter Company Plus, a business development program, may be the right fit for you.

Whether you are supporting the community or starting your own business, the Business Enterprise Centre has something for you if you are looking to develop your role as an entrepreneur or small business owner. Book in for July 18th and then make use of their additional resources to get you started on your path to success.

Summer Education for Kids

Just because the kids are out of school, it doesn’t mean they should stop learning! Indeed, the summer is a great time to help your kids take advantage of learning and educational opportunities outside the classroom, and Collingwood is the ideal place to do it. This summer, here’s how you can help keep the minds of your kids sharp – and give them something to do!

Library Days

What’s better than being able to spend the entire day in the library, surrounded by books, educational resources and the chance to learn. The Collingwood library is focused on encouraging kids to continue to read over the summer, and has just announced the TD Summer Reading Club. By signing up to take part, participants complete BINGO challenges based on what they read and how much they read, and the winners receive free books for every card they complete. In addition, the library will be offering story time, complete with added learning opportunities relevant to the books, and tends have their own programs and events to continue learning themselves: smoothie making workshop, summer gardening club, and teen summer reading challenge.

Active Education

With the recent news that Collingwood residents are lacking in meeting their daily activity requirements, some active education may be the best way for them to spend some of their summer.  Active Life Conditioning is offering summer day camps to not only allow your kids to be active, but also to educate them on various selections of athletic performance.  The August session still has space for the 2004-2008 age group, where they will be able to improve their skills in hand eye coordination, teamwork, leadership abilities and learning more about the rules and regulations of various sports.

Wild for Wilderness

If your kids are more into outdoor education, summer presents the perfect weather to go on a wilderness adventure.  Highlands Nordic caters to the wild side of your child, offering outdoor adventure camps for kids from kindergarten up to grade eight. Each week has a specific theme and will focus on educating participants based on certain topics relevant to the week’s theme.  Send them to camp for one week, or every week!

All About the Arts

Arts, drama, and musical education certainly have a place on the calendar over the summer, and if your child is keen to do more than just draw and paint at home, the Sand Castle Theatre is the place to be. The theatre will offer art and drama camps for children age 7-13. The day will start with drama activities and practicing a play, while the afternoon will be filled with art, creativity, and imagination: painting, costume designing, set creation, and individual art projects. Whatever your child prefers, there is an art creation waiting!

Don’t let the learning stop just because school has stopped. Take advantage of summer activities to educate your child, and they’ll have a lot of fun at the same time.

Business in Collingwood

With a small town feel and a community that regularly comes together in support of one another, there is much to be celebrated when it comes to looking at the businesses that form the financial and economic framework of the city.  On the heels of the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce Business awards, it’s time for us to take a few minutes to highlight the amazing accomplishments and mentality of the business people of Collingwood.

Celebrating Business Success

On Thursday, May 31st, the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce handed out the business excellence awards. Handing out 10 awards, the ceremony and the awards it offered were a way to honour the hard work of small business owners in the community as well as to bring together members of Collingwood, welcoming everyone to a sold-out event at Bear Estates.   Ranging from Small Business Owner of the Year to innovation, to awards in several industries, such as service, accommodation and restaurant, the event acted not only as a way to honour owners, but also as a way to increase business exposure and show what they can offer to the greater Collingwood community.

Highlighting Locals

While the awards seek to bring attention to exemplary businesses and people in the community, the goodness of our city means this is happening all over the place, without any awards necessary. Take for example, Simcoe Street Books, a boutique book store, owned by local residents that is seeking to bring Collingwood together and support the community. Making use of the vintage theatre to hold special events, the store also offers a publishing service, where they seek to “give a voice to people locally who may not have a chance otherwise.” Events typically focus on highlighting local talent, and on June 10th, Sarah Selecky and Genevieve Scott, two Canadian authors, will be speaking in the space.

Praising Forward Thinking

There’s more than just books at the heart of innovative, progressive development in Collingwood businesses. Collingwood resident, Christina Strong, is not just trying to boost local business, but to make local businesses accessible.  In a wheelchair, Strong works as a public awareness co-ordinator to Independent Living Services in Simcoe County and Area to encourage employers to train staff to be sensitive to those with physical or mental obstacles and to offer assistance. She advocates for improved signage, improved physical access, and simply asking to be heard and not ignored. She promotes these messages through her workshop “My Business Welcomes Everyone,” which was recently held during National Accessibility Awareness Week.

Whether you are looking to learn more about Collingwood business, to celebrate the achievements of current business owners, or to join in on advocating for better access to businesses, there is much to applaud when it comes to successful business in our city. Do your part and support small businesses in the area, and don’t be afraid to talk to your local business owner.  They are after all, a Collingwood resident as well!

Highway 26 Improvements

Collingwood is growing and getting improvements all the time. This time, the improvements are to our roadways, as the province has recently announced that they will be widening a stretch of Highway 26 to improve traffic flow and ensure families get home safely. With 22,500 vehicles travelling on this route daily, and that number growing, the province’s mandate for improving and widening the highway in Collingwood is to reduce congestion and improve road safety along that stretch, which is definitely a boon for the Collingwood community – for residents and visitors alike.

The stretch of highway 26 from Sixth Line to Pretty River Parkway will be widened to five lanes and encompasses 1.6 kilometers. There will be two lanes in each direction and a shared median left turn lane. The intersection at Highway 26 and Hume Street/Pretty River Parkway will also be widened.

Sixth Line will be closed at Highway 26 and it will become a cul-de-sac. An extension of Sandford Fleming Drive will then connect those residents to Highway 26.

Not only will the roads be improved, but the walkways will be as well, as Ontario will also be constructing a recreational trail on the north side of Highway 26, as well as a sidewalk on the south side of Highway 26. This trail and sidewalk will go from Pretty River Parkway to Marine View Drive.

Construction is set to start in spring of 2018, which will mean some headaches next spring and summer for visitors and residents of Collingwood, while the construction is underway. But, the improved roads, trails and sidewalks will be a reward well worth the trouble.

Many critics say that the province took its time getting to this crucial project for our community and the province reasons that there were many communities which also lacked infrastructure and each needed the province’s funding and attention. Ontario has committed to spending $2.5 billion on provincial highways and bridges this year and next.

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Protecting Yourself Against Mosquitoes

While you may not recognize that summer is here because of the dreary weather, cooler temperatures and abundance of rain, it is definitely the middle of July. Unfortunately because of this weather, many cities and towns across Ontario are seeing a proliferation of the dreaded mosquito. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has released evidence that mosquitoes in Collingwood have tested positive for the West Nile virus this year. This doesn’t mean that Collingwood is seeing an outbreak of West Nile Virus, just that Collingwood, like other areas in Ontario, have a positive testing for the virus. While the majority of people won’t get sick if bitten by a West Nile infected mosquito, there are things you can do to protect yourself from getting bitten.

Mosquito Repellents

One of the best ways to protect yourself from mosquito bites during peak times (dusk and dawn) is to use a repellent. Consumer Reports did testing to determine the most effective mosquito repellents that deter mosquitoes from biting. Their testing found that natural repellents, like those made with plant oils were not very effective. Rather, the most effective ones were those that contained 15 to 30 percent deet, 20 percent picaridin or 30 percent OLE. Their recommended use is that you apply it on your clothes and only on exposed skin and applying to your face with your hands.

Find a breezy spot

If you are in a situation where you really don’t want to use repellant, but still want to keep the bugs away, consider a fan. Mosquitoes have a hard time flying in wind, so install a fan on your Collingwood deck or patio. Angle the fan down, as many mosquitoes fly close to the ground to avoid the wind.

Wear protective clothing

You definitely know that mosquitoes can bite you right through your clothes, but only certain ones. Clothing that has a tight weave, like high-tech athletic apparel or others made with synthetic fibers will be good to keep the mosquitoes out. On the other hand, cottons and linens are not enough to stop a bug from biting you through your pants or shirt. Mosquitoes are also attracted to dark clothing, so try to wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing.

Remove mosquito habitats

As a Collingwood homeowner, you have a duty to ensure mosquitoes don’t breed in your yard. Any standing water is the perfect spot for this to happen so ensure you remove standing water in:

·         Gutters

·         Old tires

·         Plastic covers

·         Containers

·         Toys

·         Bird baths

·         Fountains

·         Wading pools

·         Potted plant trays

If the water is flowing or moving, then you are good, like in your swimming pool or hot tub or a fountain that stays on.

What doesn’t work?

Bug lights, zappers, traps, citronella candles or torches, and mosquito plants have been studied and found to not be good prevention from mosquito bites.

 

 

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