KAWARTHA LAKES- Premier Kathleen Wynne was in Bobcaygeon today for a “good news” funding announcement but residents had some harsh words and tough questions for her instead.
Greg Whyte and his family own British Empire Fuels in Bobcaygeon. He questioned Wynne on her governments decision to provide a grant to Enbridge to bring natural gas to Bobcaygeon and Fenelon Falls. “It’s going to impact us 100%, if it comes to town we will be laying off 10 people.” Whyte says the company has also put a $2 million dollar expansion on hold after hearing about the move. “We’ve cleared the land to expand but it’s an unlevel playing field now so I put it on hold” He told Kawartha 411. “We don’t get a grant, we are going to take a big hit” he says.
Whyte wasn’t the only one who had a problem with some of the governments recent changes. Adam Matthews owns a restaurant on Bolton Street called 72 Bolton. He was upset about the debt retirement charge still being on his bill for the restaurant. “Just answer the question” he demanded. “Why is it still there?” Wynne said her government has made other changes but Matthews wasn’t buying into it. “So you are going to screw the small business with the debt retirement charge?” he said. Then he asked why his business was not getting the 25% discount it stated on his bill he was getting. “The fact is you are screwing small business.” Wynne replied “I am here to support a business that is a great success story.” “Then help us, we are tired of the talk, lets just have some action” Mathews said.
Local Entrepreneur of the year Aaron Shaw, who owns Crazy Monkey Tree Service said he’s been getting the run around while trying to access training funds for his employees. “I employ 10 people locally, I pay for their education. What am I getting? Nothing.” We have to wait a year and a half to even get an answer on the funding.” Wynne asked if he finally got the training dollars and Young said no. “We are still waiting. It’s been year and a half and these guys are out of school now so we get denied for the funding” Wynne said that should not be happening and asked for his contact information. “We’d be happy to figure out where the log jam is because that’s one of the things we have put in place to support small business.”
A number of other people also brought up the impending increases to minimum wage and how they thought it would negatively effect local small businesses.
Wynne then took to the mic to announce a $311,000 investment in the expansion of Kawartha Dairy. The money is earmarked for a refrigeration unit. “There’s something about ice cream.” she said. “Starting from when I was a little kid, it’s a beautiful town and when I think of Kawartha Dairy, I think summer.” She jumped behind the counter and took some time to scoop ice-cream for local residents.
Kawartha Dairy is celebrating it’s 80th anniversary this year. “It’s a major project that the Crowe Family has invested in.” Blake Frazer, VP and GM of Kawartha Dairy, told the crowd. “We are now in our 80th year in business and we are growing the business . We have products that will need to be flowing through this warehouse which is far bigger than the one you see behind us.” Its going to be about 55,000 square feet and able to house 4000 pallets of product. “We are happy to continue this growth and to have the funding from the Ontario Government.” he said.
The money is coming through the Eastern Ontario Development Fund. “We want to make sure that people living in every part of our province share in the benefits of the economic growth we are achieving.” Wynne says. “Our support for this major expansion project will help the company build on it’s success and create new jobs in the food processing sector.” It accounts for less than 5% of the total cost of the expansion.
The project is expected to create 10 news jobs and secure 115 existing jobs in Bobcaygoen officials say.
MPP Jeff Leal congratulated the dairy on it’s anniversary. “I’d like to start by congratulating Kawartha Dairy on celebrating 80 years of business this year which is an incredible Ontario success story.