The following are brief reports of items discussed at the July 27 meeting of Dysart et al council.Local health and beauty business Living Libations is looking to expand their operations.Owners and operators of the business Ron Obadia and Nadine Artemis presented a proposal to councillors to build a new 7000-square-foot building to operate their business.Since starting as a retail location on Queen Street in Toronto in 1994 the business has expanded and moved permanently to the Haliburton Highlands where it employs 25 people said Artemis.Specializing in organic products Living Libations is an online business that ships items made in Haliburton around the world.The couple had planned to build a new facility for their business years ago however in 2013 a fire consumed their home and burnt the house and much of their business to the ground said Artemis.The business was able to continue operations due to the support of a local couple who offered their home on Calico Road as a temporary site.The business has since outgrown that space and the couple is ready to build a new site to be located off Harburn Road.The plan is to build an eco-friendly state of the art building that will provide an innovative space for the employees said Artemis.“The planned building will contain a mix of office production and warehouse space� the couple wrote in a handout given to council. “It is our intent to use sustainable building materials when possible. All interior and exterior finishes will be environmentally friendly and aesthetically appropriate for the property and community.�Reeve Murray Fearrey inquired whether the business would be able to connect to high-speed Internet at their new location and suggested looking into that.The couple would like to get the project moving as quickly as possible with the hopes of moving the business to Harburn Road by next year.The proposed property includes 100 acres zoned rural residential however only five acres would need to be rezoned to allow for the building according to surveyor Greg Bishop.The couple said there are concerns amongst neighbours at their current location but they hope to mitigate those with an open house to improve relations.Artemis stressed that Living Libations adheres to good manufacturing practices with normal operating hours from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.Deliveries are made by standard courier trucks during regular business hours and no harmful chemicals odours fumes or noise comes from the facility.In order to move forward the proposal would require a zoning bylaw amendment and a site plan agreement according to director of municipal planning Pat Martin’s report to council.Describing the business as an agricultural related commercial enterprise Martin said it is consistent with provincial policy and conforms to the Dysart official plan.Glebe Park building moves forwardA proposal for a sustainable building in Glebe Park is moving ahead with the support of Dysart council. Fleming College’s Ted Brandon and Haliburton Highlands Nordic Ski Trails Association chairman Mike Darlington approached council with a plan to build a new facility in the park outside of the college campus.As reported in the July 7 issue of the Echo the hope is to have the building constructed by the school’s Sustainable Building Design and Construction program.While the budget for the project is unclear at this point Brandon said past projects usually come in at $100 per square foot. The proposal includes building a 1500- square-foot building tentatively putting the price tag for the project at $150000 to $200000.The building might change as planning begins due to issues such as water.“It’s going to be a process� said Brandon.The association is hoping to get funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to help offset costs of the project however if and how much funding they receive could affect the scope of the proposal.Council passed a resolution to support a grant application to the OTF for the accessible building project.OP review process beginsDysart et al has officially begun its five-year review of the municipality’s official plan with a special meeting of council on July 27.As mandated by the province the review allows the public to weigh in on planning decisions made by council.Delegations were made by a wide range of community representatives including the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust Communities in Action Environment Haliburton Community Food Assessment and area cottager associations.A variety of issues were raised including addressing empty storefronts along the downtown core a growing demand for local food mandatory septic re-inspection and more.Director of planning for the municipality Pat Martin told those in attendance she anticipates having a draft plan available by the fall of 2016.

Ballplayers want place to play

By Darren Lum

There’s not much to the Haliburton ball diamond.

Except for the chain fence backstop a couple of team benches a pair of bleachers on opposing sides and a set of towering light stands (some leaning off kilter) it’s a virtual sandlot with its best days behind it. However for the children and youth who come out every Tuesday night rain or shine this is the place where they learn not only to play softball but also to fail and to overcome. This is where they get to round the bases or make the run saving catch at the fence while parents and other children cheer.

Mandy Swinson one of the parents who facilitates the weekly pickup night is concerned over the possibility that Dysart could remove the ball diamond from town.

The thought of this night coming to an end is disheartening to her and parent and facilitator Kim Henry.

Henry’s long-time partner Jimmy O’Neill who died last year to cancer started this night after a contingent of children and youth came to him more than three years ago. O’Neill was a passionate baseball fan and could never say no to children. He promised them he would be there for them.

Henry and Swinson want to carry on this promise for them and him.

Although there has been an ongoing discussion about the future of the property Dysart Reeve Murray Fearrey said a decision regarding the baseball diamond in town hasn’t been made but the preference is for a town location such as Glebe Park.

Swinson supports a ball park at Glebe Park. She supports it because of its seclusion within walking and biking distances for the children and youth.

She and Hardy are concerned if council removes the current diamond and if plans for construction of a new diamond are not initiated this autumn then there won’t be a place for the children to play by spring.

Using West Guilford as the only ball diamond in Dysart would hinder children she adds.

Dysart’s director of planning and development Pat Martin said moving the diamond isn’t about replacing it with something different as much as the diamond just doesn’t fulfill “regulation size”  dimensions as outlined by Softball Canada.  She said its proximity to the roadway is also a concern as home runs that clear the perimeter netting above the outfield fence land in the roadway.

The township’s director of parks and recreation Ray Miscio said regulations are different depending on the game.

Softball Canada’s website said for slo-pitch a ball diamond from the plate to between the foul poles must measure 68.2 metres (225 feet) for females 83.3 metres (275 feet) for co-ed and 83.3 metres (275 feet) male. The Haliburton ball diamond is only slightly larger than the female slo-pitch playing area as indicated by a sign with 228 feet at the centrefield fence. Miscio did not respond if regulations apply to pickup games.

The free pickup league is important to the children youth and adults alike Swinson said.

“This is my favourite night of the week. So I think honestly if it goes I will be really upset for the simple fact I look forward to these kids. Just to see a kid hit the ball and see a smile on their face [makes my day]” she said.

Even before the snow is off the diamond children are asking her if they can play Swinson said.

The season starts early-April and ends at the end of September.

As far as numbers go it can vary from season to season and night to night which is the nature of a pickup night she adds.

“When it’s just a pickup league you don’t know what you’re going to have but it’s the convenience of it” she said. “A lot of these kids ride their bikes walk. Being in town the kids just about anywhere can come and play. Parents don’t have to worry about getting them there. They can ride their bikes and they see kids playing they can just join in.”

She adds during the school year there are as many as 80 players who come out from after school to until 10 p.m. Between May and the beginning of July is when pickup is the busiest.

Participants are from four to 19 and when numbers require it are divided into three age groups four to nine 10 to 14 and 14 and up. Organized leagues cost money and require more of a commitment which is a contrast to the free pickup night that just allows an informal recreation opportunity that is lacking for children and youth Swinson said.

“This gives them somewhere to come and hang out and play baseball where there is nowhere else in town for this to happen” she said.

Some of the teens help adults run the night acquiring volunteer hours essential to high school student graduation. The parents said the teens love doing it.

Haliburton Highlands Secondary School recent graduate Jordan Nimigon 18 didn’t even know how to play baseball before he started playing one pickup night three years ago.

Now that he’s older he appreciates being a mentor to the younger players.

“It makes them feel a lot better being able to hang out with us older kids. It feels good on us showing them how to play baseball too so when they get older they can carry on too” he said.

Except for West Guilford there isn’t an option for youth between 14 and 18 who want to play any kind of baseball in Haliburton.

Jim and Marilyn Frost have lived next to the ball diamond for 18 years and corroborate Swinson’s claim that the diamond is a well used facility.

“We’re here 24 hours a day seven days a week” Jim Frost said. “We see who comes and goes.”

It’s the location Frost said that makes it popular. He contends a location out of town won’t get the same usage.

He challenges council to come out and see for themselves if the diamond’s removal would affect anyone.

Up to four days a week the diamond is being used he said.

Every Monday Swinson said the Haliburton Red Wolves Special Olympic baseball team comes out.

“You get rid of this diamond and there is no diamond next year. Where do they go? Where do they play?” she said. “It’s not just us.”

From the first of June until the end of August the Haliburton Red Wolves play from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. said their coach John Kellett.

“The current location is ideal for most of our athletes because they live within walking distance. As well the ball diamond is safe for our special needs athletes because it’s level and has a proper playing field. A different location too far from town would mean that some athletes would not be able to participate” he wrote in an email.  There are 14 athletes on the team who are often joined by other non-team members. They average 20 players a week but popularity grows.

“The numbers are growing each year as we continue to create interest in the community of special needs children and adults to come out to play. Some have been reluctant to participate because they haven’t thought that they could actually do it. In some cases it has taken a couple of years of potential players to first come and watch then cheer on their friends then begin to play” he said.

Kellett said the team has played at the Haliburton location for close to 10 years. They have tried other locations when Haliburton’s wasn’t available but returned for its good condition and lack of bugs.

Sometimes passersby will join in the fun. This is part of the beauty of the a ball diamond in town. It just gives everybody a chance to play Swinson said.