For four days in late November, the Town of Gravenhurst was in a water emergency, but thanks to two businesses its residents never felt like they were left out in the cold.
District of Muskoka council has recognized Kevin Smith, the owner of the Gravenhurst Canadian Tire, and Tim Green, the owner of Green’s Haulage, for their support.
“As we were meeting in the early days of Saturday morning, one of the things that we recognized right away was the need to get a water truck down to Gravenhurst and the most likely place that everyone knew about was Canadian Tire,” Mayor Paul Kelly said.
A Green’s Haulage water truck was stationed in the back corner of Canadian Tire’s parking lot. Meanwhile, at the bay door to the store’s auto centre, a handful of workers were handing out bottled water to anyone that needed it.
“It was a real team effort on the part of Canadian Tire Gravenhurst,” the mayor said. “It’s a real tribute to the staff and what the community means to them.”
Kelly also pointed to Jason Calic, the general manager of the store, for his leadership during the boil water advisory.
“We’re here for our community,” Calic said. “If we can support in any way that you can, you can count on us.”
While he appreciates the recognition, Calic said it was a team effort. “Everybody really jumped in and made it work,” he said. “My hats off to everyone involved.”
Part of that team was Bruce Stewart who manned the Green’s Haulage water truck for four days until the town’s water was safe to use again. “He was the go-to for four days, manning the water truck in Gravenhurst,” Kelly explained. “He was there every single day from start to end in some pretty rotten weather.”
Kelly said that the district isn’t the first to thank Stewart for the long hours he put in. “Some people bought him mittens, boots and a coat,” Kelly said. “It was a real tribute to Bruce and the time he gave to our community, selflessly, during a very difficult time.”
He also took the time to thank the people who won’t be getting plaques to hang in their office. Kelly said there were around 50 district staff members that went door-to-door to make sure everyone affected knew a boil water advisory was in place.
Kelly also gave kudos to Jeff McWilliam, Chief of Paramedic Services and Emergency Planning, for his “often unnoticed” work. “I’m not going to let you go unnoticed this time,” Kelly playfully said.
When town staff first found out what was happening, McWilliam was in Orillia, Kelly explained. “He took the lead,” Kelly said, adding he coordinated getting bottled water to Canadian Tire and making sure everyone knew what to do. “It made all the difference in the world having that water truck there and having the bottled water in particular,” Kelly said.
“It’s very unfortunate that things like this happen in a community, but they do,” Steven Clement, Chair of the committee, said. “I think our staff and the health unit staff did what they were supposed to do. Everybody came out on top without any illness.”