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Heaps of children and their parents braved the chilly morning on Saturday, April 19, to take part in the Kids Dash, an event that was part of the Run For the Diamond Half Marthon held to raise money for the Uxbridge Cottage Hospital Auxiliary. The kids were so excited that they burst out of the starting gate too early, and had to be called back so that the Easter Bunny could officially lead the way! Photos by John Cavers.

Inside This Week’s Cosmos

The Bard in concert . . . 6

Sudzing up dowtown . . . 7

Airport film looking for funds . . . 9

Learning at the fun fair . . . 11

  Sharp-lobed Hepatica, Countryside Preserve by Renée Leahy

Remembering Chippy: the gem of Rutledge Jewellers

by Amy Hurlburt

Not many dogs can claim to have been on the cover of Elle magazine, the star of countless advertisements, or to have tons of adoring fans wrapped around their paws; but then, not every dog is quite like Chippy.
Best known as the semi-official mascot of Rutledge Jewelers, the much-loved West Highland terrier passed away two weeks ago this past Sunday, and his loss will continue to be keenly felt by his family and the many customers who grew to love him over his 17 years of life.
Named after the Chip n' Dale Rescue Rangers, Chippy was a family dog through and through. Scott Rutledge, owner of Rutledge Jewellers and primary caregiver to, notes that Chippy had a great life: “He loved to play, loved to chase squirrels…he'd play so much at the cottage that you'd have to carry him inside because he'd be so exhausted from playing.”
When his family first got him, he was the smallest pup in the litter, which didn't stop him from developing a big personality.
“He loved to play with the bigger dogs,” says Scott. “His best friend was a Labradoodle named Rexford, and the two of them would play for hours.”
His love for the great outdoors and exuberance for life had him jumping off docks, visiting the neighbours for Sunday bacon, and a one-time-only run-in with an invisible fence. As well, in 2013, Chippy won the Instore Top Dog National Search Dog Foundation Choice Award, which he accepted with humility.
Chippy was just as comfortable with people as he was with canines: after coming into Rutledge every day to greet people since he was seven months old, he became a fixture of the store. He was featured in many of the store's advertisements, and customers loved him: “The phone would light up if we ever had an advertisement without him,” says Scott, adding that he was an especially big hit with children.
“One little boy in town was afraid of every dog-except Chippy,” says Scott. “He was the only dog who could be his friend.”
Another young customer, a five-year-old girl from Calgary, was so taken with Chippy that she wrote letters to him, which the store graciously responded to on his behalf.
“Some customers would get right down on the floor to play with him,” adds Scott.
Despite his public following, Chippy was a family dog, and when he wasn't charming the customers, he would accompany his family wherever they went, whether that was to the golf course, the cottage, or beyond.
“He was very faithful,” comments Scott. “He would go anywhere; even travelling to Florida in the back seat. He had a great sense of balance and could take a corner like you wouldn't believe!”
The store is certainly noticing his passing: “It's very empty in here without him,” comments Laura Moser, the design expert at Rutledge. “He used to sleep in his bed under my desk every day…except for at lunch time,” she laughs. “He may have been tired, but he never missed a lunchtime.”
“He was extremely sweet and friendly,” adds Marissa Kennedy, another employee of Rutledge who grew to love him as well.
While his life was certainly full, Chippy is and will be missed by many. In memory of Chippy, Rutledge will be running a fundraiser for the Scugog animal shelter to coincide with the launch of the Pandora store in the shop: For every cat or dog charm sold May 23 or 24, $10 will be donated to the new animal shelter.
“We want to give our thanks for all the condolences expressed for Chippy,” says Scott.
A quote attributed to Roger A. Caras states that “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” For all who knew him, Chippy will assuredly be fondly remembered in the many lives he touched during his life-filled years.



First Leaside property a “blight on the community”

by Nancy Melcher

It's been two long years since the construction crane was dismantled at the corner of Brock Street West and Victoria Drive. The temporary fencing remains, although some of the green fabric isn't attached anymore. Snow, rain, dirt, and trash end up blown into the foundations of what was supposed to be a gleaming office building. They are a grim reminder of the fate of First Leaside Group, the failed investment company that was supposed to base its head office here.
“It's a blight on the community,” said Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor.
“It's not Structform's fault: they were just doing the concrete work on the building.” Yet they ended up the owners of the property as a result of the settlement reached during the winding down of First Leaside. “They're not developers - they don't really know what to do with it,” the mayor continued.
In a recent email, Jim Greig, President and VP of Finance, explained, “I wish we had better news, but all of our plans have been shot down by the Conservation Authority. They consider our property a flood plain and will not allow any type of construction that requires permanent overnight parking.” This regulation pretty much prohibits any type of residential construction going forward.
The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority does have the final say in what can be built on this land. Obviously personal safety is most important. The original plans called for retail space on the ground floor, and offices for the floors above. That's a suitable use for this parcel, but there are already existing properties in the downtown core (also in the floodplain) that have retail beneath residential. Since there is a precedent, perhaps plans can be made for similar construction on the former First Leaside site.
“We couldn't build our downtown, if we were starting right now. The regulations wouldn't let us do what we already have,” Mayor O'Connor explained. “If Structform came to us with a plan, we would sit down and work with them to negotiate with the Conservation Authority to see what could be done. There would have to be compromise from both sides, but we might be able to find something in the middle that works for everyone. I expect they want to get out of it as badly as we want them to.”
Safety surrounding the property as it currently sits continues to be a concern. “Someone could get under that fence really easily, and if they fell and hurt themselves, it could be a terrible thing,” the Mayor expressed. Liability rests with the property owner, and the Township is getting tired of waiting for activity on the project.
“If nothing has happened there by the fall we'll get working on making the property safe.”
That might mean Structform will knock down what's there and back fill the land. If they don't do it themselves, the Township could do the work and charge it back through levies on the taxes Structform pays.
That's not the ideal solution. Far better to see a building there, and the property used for what's intended. It can only be hoped that Structform can work with the Township to complete the development of this corner site, to make the place safe, bring people and business to that parcel, and remove the eyesore that currently sits there, abandoned and forlorn.

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