North Frontenac passed a resolution at its regular meeting Monday morning in Plevna to hire a consultant to conduct interviews with its Ward 1 firefighters.
Director of Emergency Services/Fire Chief Eric Korhonen told Council that “our Ward 1residents aren’t getting the same level of service the other two wards are, for one thing, there are a number of different bylaws” and “I do believe there is a cost savings to be had.”
The measure wasn’t on the original agenda, which led Coun. John Inglis to ask “it’s a bit of a news item to me — am I alone on that?”
North Frontenac has a joint agreement with neighbouring Addington Highlands Township to provide fire and emergency services to the former Barrie Township, North Frontenac’s most westerly ward through the joint Kaladar/Barrie Fire Department.
North Frontenac took a look at how it delivers these services in Wards 2 and 3 previously, a study that included interviews with firefighters and support staff.
Coun. Gerry Martin supported the idea.
“We got good results interviewing Ward 2 and 3 volunteers,” Martin said. “We should do the same with Ward 1.
“We got a better fire department because we talked to those people.”
But other councilors weren’t so sure this new study would be such a good idea.
“I’m not in favour,” said Dep. Mayor Fred Perry. “We’ve improved this agreement over time and I don’t want a witch hunt.
“If you make the wrong move, you’re going to have an issue.”
“We might be poking a bear here,” said Coun. Vernon Hermer. “We could be alienating some people.”
Inglis asked how this proposal came about and CAO Cheryl Robson said: “this was all discussed during the Fire Master Plan debate.
“We’re not asking Addington Highlands for any money, we’re just asking the joint committee for approval and I’m looking at whether to put this in the budget.
“I don’t know what the recommendations will be.”
“So this isn’t coming about because somebody is screaming at us about service,” said Inglis.
Korhonen tried to argue for more latitude for the consultant but Council was leery of that.
“I think the consultant will need a little more freedom than just interviewing staff,” Korhonen said.
He also said that he wasn’t aware of any similar joint fire committees in the Province.
• • •
During a rather routine zoning amendment procedure, it was noted that the property was on a private lane with a locked gate.
Fire Chief Eric Korhonen was asked if that presented a problem in the event of an emergency.
“We either roll over them (locked gates) or we cut the lock,” he said. “There isn’t much that can stop our equipment.”
• • •
Council approved the hiring of a summer student to help with the efforts to study and control the infestation of Eurasian Milfoil on Malcolm and Ardoch Lakes.
“It’s an experiment the MNR has approved,” said Mayor Ron Higgins.
“I’m not sure if we’re throwing money away but if they learn something, that will be applicable to our other lakes,” said Coun. John Inglis. “The major (tax) contributors are our seasonables and this addresses their issue.”
• • •
Coun. Gerry Martin took exception to the existence of the Mississippi-Rideau Source Water Protection Committee and how its members are selected.
“This is just bureaucratic system creep and what Randy (MPP Hillier) was talking about,” Martin said. “There’s some empire building going on.”
“Is this the thing where they’re going to tax our private wells?” said Coun. John Inglis.
“Ottawa has two members, Perth, Smiths Falls and Carleton Place have one,” said Martin. “They all have municipal water supplies.”
“I’ll talk to the other mayors and come back with some information in February,” said Mayor Ron Higgins.
Last year when the word came out through the grapevine that Ann Goodfellow was not well, and this was followed by a difficult diagnosis and prognosis, it shook a lot of people in the Parham area and beyond. By the time she died last week (January 5th). It was not a surprise, but it was still difficult news for all of those who knew her.
Ann was a force in the community for many years. Many people knew Ann well, and she touched their lives. I knew her as an advertiser in the paper through the funeral home and Goodfellow’s Flowers shop that she used to run, but mostly I knew her in her role as a school board trustee.
She became involved with the school board by serving on the Parent Council at Hinchinbrooke Public School. Somewhere along the way, that involvement led her to run for the position of trustee, and she was elected or acclaimed every time she ran.
I saw a lot of her during the elections in 2006 and 2010. Because of the size of the territory she represented, she was invited to appear at all-candidates meetings in Central and North Frontenac and Addington Highlands, nine evenings over a three week period.
Each time she gave a 3-minute speech, and sat through a two hour meeting, rarely being asked any questions. In my recollection she never missed a meeting. Although it would not be true to say that she never complained about driving around the countryside after working all day, only to be ignored for two hours, but she always kept a sense of humour about it all. She ran four times, and served 14 years. The last four were the hardest but it was also the term where she made a lasting mark on the board and the community.
Ann was nervous during the 2010 election, much more so than in 2006. The PARC (Program and Accommodation Review Committee) that resulted in the construction of Granite Ridge Education Centre in Sharbot Lake, was underway. Ann was committed to seeing it through before stepping away from the board, and that's why she felt it really mattered that she get re-elected.
She won the election and spent the next two years playing a pretty delicate role. She had to stand by the board at public meetings, as parents learned their community schools were destined for closure and blamed her for it, while advocating for the interests of those same families behind the scenes. And all within the confines of a prescribed, bureaucratic process. It was clear early on that her own Hinchinbrooke School in Parham, where her kids had attended and where she got involved with the board in the first place, was destined to close. It also became clear early in the process that the new school was going to be built in Sharbot Lake, and not in Parham. Whatever she felt about that reality, Ann never let on, ever the realist.
However, when all was said and done, not only was Clarendon Central in Plevna maintained, which was not a surprise because of the distances involved, but Land O’Lakes Public School in Mountain Grove stayed open as well. And the Granite Ridge build was funded.
The Frontenac News article about the final PARC report that confirmed all of this, revealed a bit of the pressure Ann had been facing.
The final paragraph of the article reads like this: “... a relieved Ann Goodfellow made reference to the stress this has caused for her as a community member and a school board trustee as the prospect of multiple school closings was being considered. She said, “This is good. Now I don't have to move.”
Ann was convinced, even before the whole process got underway, that the only way to secure the future of education in what the Limestone Board calls “the North”, was to have a new school built. She knew it would cost more than the board could really afford or could easily justify to the Ministry of Education, which was fixated on a cost per pupil ratio for all of their expenditures.
She took a lot of pride in the role she played in getting Granite Ridge built. She played that role with a combination of discretion and commitment, patience and good will, and it took a toll. When I phoned her in January of 2014, a week after Granite Ridge had opened, to ask if she was going to run for Trustee again, she laughed pretty hard and long before getting one word out. NO!
She was certainly ready to return to working with her husband David at Goodfellows Funeral Home and enjoying the rural life that she loved, a future that only lasted four years instead of the twenty or thirty 30 that she had been hoping for.
There were few surprises at the inaugural meeting of the 2018-2022 Frontenac County Council, which was held on Wednesday, December 22, just as the Frontenac News final edition for 2018 was being printed.
North Frontenac Mayor Ron Higgins will serve as warden for the second year in a row, to be followed in 2020 by Frances Smith (Central Frontenac), who was elected deputy warden for 2019. Ron Vandewal (South Frontenac) will assume the warden’s mantle in 2021, followed by Dennis Doyle (Frontenac Islands) in 2022.
While all four of the above-mentioned mayors are serving at least their second term on council, four new members of Frontenac County Council took office at the meeting. They are: Alan Revill (South Frontenac), Bill MacDonald (Central Frontenac), Gerry Martin (North Frontenac), and Bruce Higgs (Frontenac Islands).
The only other major appointments that were made at the meeting were to the Kingston Frontenac Public Library Board. There are two Frontenac County resident positions on the board, appointed by Frontenac County Council. Council appointed Louise Moody from Central Frontenac to the board, and Natalie Nossal from Howe Island. Council also sends a representative from their own ranks, and that will be Alan Revill.
Warden Higgins delivered an inaugural address. He talked about the importance of the next phase of work by the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) and the focus on cell and broadband coverage in remote regions of Frontenac and neighbouring counties, a key issue for North Frontenac Township in particular. He talked about the completion of the K&P Trail to Sharbot Lake and the next phase of the trail, through North Frontenac.
He also touched on what he considers to be the very real possibility that the changes in governance that were forced on Toronto City Council in the early days of the new Ontario government last summer, was the first step in a more comprehensive municipal amalgamation exercise in the province.
“Personally, I believe it will expand to municipalities across the province,” he said, and then added that “it is obvious that amalgamation is not working the way it was intended and does not reflect the needs of some municipalities today. I believe we should be thinking about the challenge now to ensure that we are proactive and ready in the event that the province mandates restructuring.”
Among the dignitaries who attended the meeting were MP Mark Gerretsen from Kingston and the Islands, Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson, as well as Lanark Frontenac Kingston MP Scott Reid and MPP Randy Hillier.
They all spoke briefly, bringing greetings and said they were committed to working with Frontenac County over the next four years.
In his remarks, Scott Reid took up Higgins comments on municipal restructuring, and said he was addressing his remarks “mainly to an audience of one” MPP Hillier, in order to get a message to the Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs, Steve Clark, who had been scheduled to attend the meeting but was called back to the legislature for an emergency session.
“To try and go back and correct the errors of the past through further amalgamation, will likely bring about a further series of problems that we do not foresee.”
He said that the Canadian experience of governance that features incremental rather than radical change in structures has served the country well.
In his brief remarks, Hillier avoided making any commitments in response to Reid’s advice that municipal restructuring is a dangerous path to undertake.
Instead, he said “regardless of whatever comes up, whatever challenges the county and the municipalities have to face, I will be proud to be with you, to work with you and make sure that we have a strong collaborative approach and that we make things better for this very unique jurisdiction that is Frontenac County.”
It was billed as a Special Council meeting to establish North Frontenac’s ‘Goals’ for 2019-2022’s Strategic Plan, but Coun. John Inglis opened up another topic — Mayor Ron Higgins’ interview on Lake 88 (available as a podcast on the radio station’s website) in which Higgins talked about the Township, his role as Frontenac County Warden and then his plans for One Small Township, a multi-faceted plan for economic development that Council has yet to buy into.
Inglis said it sounded like Higgins was talking about Township involvement in the project when he used the term ‘we’ in that part of the interview.
“You should have mentioned that the Township doesn’t support it,” Inglis said. “We agreed you would no longer imply the Township was behind this project.”
“You said ‘North Frontenac is the first Township to initiate the concept of contributionism,’” said Coun. Vernon Hermer.
Higgins apologized saying he was referring to the management team of One Small Township.
And then, Higgins said that financing is imminent.
“I’ll be getting a cheque in mid-February,” he said. “I’m expecting to break ground on some projects in early spring.”
Higgins said he couldn’t name his backers at this time, but urged Council to support them.
“Part of it is that the people (putting up the money) would like to be recognized with a plaque in the Township office,” Higgins said. “There’s going to be up to 50 jobs created and people moving into the community.”
“I’m trying to look at scenarios,” said Inglis. “I think we have a certain amount of responsibility to do that.”
“If Council doesn’t want any part of it, then we’ll go the co-op route,” said Higgins.
He said he had asked Township treasurer Kelly Watkins about the possibilities of setting up a trust fund to put the money in.
Higgins said the plan is to set up something like similar properties in British Columbia.
“I’m concerned about the true source of the money,” said Coun. Gerry Martin. “I’ve heard about money laundering schemes.”
“This reminds me of the advice the OPP gives seniors,” said Hermer. “If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.”
• • •
Council did establish its goals for the 2019-2022 term:
Investigate incentives for business
Support initiatives for Seniors to remain in the Community for as long as possible
Proceed with a multi-unit affordable residence for senior
Explore opportunities for Seniors to remain in their homes
Enhance and Sustain Capital Assets/Infrastructure
Maintain Asset Management Plan to ensure long term sustainability
Maintain Reserves/Reserve Funds
Enhance Communications Plan
Train Council on Social Media
Enhance communications mechanisms and information to reach all of the public
Attract a diverse Council.
Much of the discussion was focused on potential economic development but several members of Council were resigned to the fact that there really wasn’t a lot any Council could do.
“The Municipal Act says we can’t get into competition with other municipalities by offering tax incentives,” said Coun. John Inglis. “I personally don’t see a lot of opportunities for us.”
When it came to development, Inglis pointed out the “competing interests” of the municipality being a desire to expand the tax base while maintaining the “pristine nature” of North Frontenac.
Mayor Ron Higgins pointed out the lack of overnight accommodation available (most lodges and trailer parks get booked for the season) and suggested the Township might get involved in a small cabins project similar to what Bon Echo Provincial Park is trying.
“The cabins can pay for themselves in one season,” he said.
“But does the Township want to get into the accommodation business?” said Inglis.
“You have to find the land first,” said Dep. Mayor Fred Perry.
When it came to job creation, Coun. Gerry Martin had this to say: “Most people who come here are in the second stage of their lives. They’re not looking for jobs.”
In several cases, the wording of the goals was influenced by staff members Corey Klatt, manager of community development and Darwyn Sproule, public works manager, who said they use such things when applying for grants.
• • •
Council also passed a couple of other resolutions.
One was to get 24-hour ambulance service (particularly at Robertsville) and a potential septic waste disposal site on the agenda for the next Frontenac County Council meeting.
The other was a Gerry Martin request to look into changing the Township logo.
“I just don’t like it,” Martin said.
Local Environmental Protection Councillor Sutherland brought forward a motion to express South Frontenac’s “concerns that the current approval and regulatory process for development does not adequately protect our lakes and wetlands and does not take full account of the concerns of local communities.” This would be sent to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition. These concerns are based on the Township’s experience with the Johnson Point development in a wetland area on Loughborough Lake where, although South Frontenac sets the zoning conditions, actual site plan control falls between the Township, the Cataraqui Conservation Authority, and in some areas, the Ministry of Natural resources, often resulting in poor enforcement of ongoing environmental protection.
Mayor Vandewal said that the Official Plan Review and update will include public consultation, and would be the appropriate time to improve environmental protections.
Councillor Revill proposed an amendment to the motion referring the issue to the Development Services Committee, for their recommendation on how to strengthen the process of protecting local lakes and wetlands.
Sutherland said he felt it was important to deliver this message as soon as possible, given that the province is currently undertaking a fundamental review of all aspects of the development review process.
The motion passed with Revill’s amendment: Morey, Ruttan and Sutherland opposed.
Role of Conservation Authorities Unclear
A second motion was proposed by Deputy Mayor Sleeth, to write to the three Conservation Authorities in South Frontenac, seeking clarification of their mandate, and expressing concerns about the apparent expansion of their roles. Councillor Revill said he would like to bring the question to the next CRCA meeting, and if Council still felt the question was unresolved, a letter could be sent at that time. Sleeth agreed, and the motion was deferred.
Public Services Budget
Public Services Director Mark Segsworth and Area Supervisor David Holliday presented a general overview of the budget items they will be submitting to Council. They focussed on new projects and carry-overs from the past year. This is the township’s largest department, covering roads (building, maintenance, plowing and traffic), recreation programs and facilities (parks, beaches, playing fields, public halls, etc — who knew SF had 21 boat launch sites? ) and solid waste (collection and disposal of garbage, recycling and hazardous waste).
Saturday January 26 has been set aside for an all-day Council session to thresh out the details of the budget: what to keep, modify or remove.
Central Frontenac’s first Council meeting of 2019 Tuesday evening at Oso Hall was pretty quiet as these things go.
The Township is considering changing how it allots computers and/or compensates Council members for computer equipment.
However, when estimates for new laptops were given at $1,500 per computer (times nine for the number of Council members or $13,500), the matter was tabled until budget time to allow staff to acquire more information (read find a cheaper solution).
“There are three people around this table (Coun. Bill MacDonald, Elwin Burke and Nicki Gowdy) who don’t have computers here,” said Smith. “I think deferring this today and looking for something cheaper is the way to go.”
Cannabis retailing a go
For the record, Central Frontenac officially voted to opt-in on cannabis retail outlets. Coun. Tom Dewey asked for a recorded vote which was unanimous.
Cindy Cassidy from the Eastern Ontario Trails Alliance was at Council for an update on their activities and to ask Council for its regular contribution.
Coun. Bill MacDonald took the opportunity to ask Cassidy if she’d heard anything on the rumoured VIA Rail line that might come through the area and how it might affect the east-west trail given that much of it is the former rail line.
“They (VIA) met with us and told us that they haven’t had federal funding approved so it will take awhile if anything is done,” Cassidy said. “But they did tell us that if a new rail line is built, they’ll build a trail right along side of it.”
Coun. Brent Cameron asked acting Public Works Manager David Armstrong for his thoughts and perspectives on how taking back several winter maintenance routes inhouse has worked out.
“I’ve only gotten one call that was a complaint,” Armstrong said. “Cost-wise, it’s too early to tell but quality-wise, it’s as good or better.”
“I don’t think we’ll be able to get an answer for a couple more years because our contracts used to be for three years,” said Coun. Bill MacDonald.
Representing the Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospitals, Gardner Church was at Council asking for a donation — to the tune of $63,073.
Meeting time change?
Notice of motion was given to have a change in the times of Council meetings moved to 6 p.m. from the current 4 p.m.
Both North and South Frontenac gave cannabis fans in their municipalities a green Christmas present at their final meetings of the year, deciding to permit private cannabis retailers access to their market, subject to the restrictions that are set out by the government of Ontario. But the chances of a pot store opening up within the next six months within either township are remote, as the government has limited the number of private stores in the entire province to 25 when stores will be allowed to open up on April 1st, only 5 of which will be located in Eastern Ontario.
The problem is one of supply, and once that is sorted out the government has indicated they will let the market determine how many stores are viable in Ontario.
Both townships received staff reports that outlined the pros and cons of permitting private stores in their jurisdictions before debating the issue at a council meeting.
Claire Dodds, the Director of Planning Services for South Frontenac, summed up the benefits of cannabis sales in her report: “It is broadly recognized that the legalization of recreational cannabis creates a new sector in the economy. While projections of users and sales vary, it is anticipated that the market will be sizeable. It is also expected that the market will grow over time as Canadians begin to participate as legal consumers.
“Opting out of permitting retail sales in the Township would mean that the only legal sources of purchase will be online or through retail outlets in neighbouring municipalities. If retail stores are not permitted in South Frontenac, any associated jobs related to retail stores will occur in neighbouring municipalities.”
The Province has stipulated a 150 metre buffer around schools in any municipality that opts-in to retailing, and has also said that there can be no further restrictions on locations other than commercial zoning.
North Frontenac opts in by Craig Bakay
North Frontenac Council voted 7-1 to opt in with retail cannabis outlets at a special meeting last Friday in Plevna. The lone nay vote came from Coun. Vernon Hermer.
Although he didn’t get a vote, Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston MPP Randy Hillier, who came to Council on another matter (his letter questioning the role of conservation authorities), stuck around to see how the cannabis question resolved.
“I was glad to be here so they could hash it out,” Hillier said.
As it turned out, Council engaged Hillier right off the bat while it ‘hashed out’ the question asking him about the provincial government’s recent decision to limit the number of store licences to 25 in the initial round.
“That’s only the first round,” Hillier said. “It’s because of supply.
“It’s not a cap we’re imposing.”
“I’m aware a lot of people grow it and use it,” said Coun. John Inglis. “Our benefit initially is $5,000 (a government grant when a municipality opts in).”
“Sounds like a bribe,” said Hermer.
“It’s legal now, so if somebody wants to have a business, that’s OK with me,” said new Coun. Fred Fowler.
“It would be a great summertime business,” said Coun. Wayne Good. “Maybe we should open one here in the office.”
“It’s going to be available anyway,” said Mayor Ron Higgins, not necessarily referencing, Good’s comment.
“I think we made the right decision to let municipalities decide if they want to opt in or out,” said Hillier. “I think there will be a benefit by reducing revenue for criminal activities.
“I can see there being lower policing costs from less criminal activity.”
Clerk Tara Mieske pointed out that a retail store cannot be a home-based business.
“So I can’t run it out of my basement?” said Coun. Gerry Martin.
Cannabis Debate: South Frontenac by Wilma Kenny
In bringing the staff report on cannabis to Council, Claire Dodds, Director of Development Services, said there have been some further changes in the provincial regulations since her report was circulated to Council last Thursday. Not more than 25 retail outlets will be phased in ‘at any time’, of which a maximum of five (of the first 25) will be allocated to the Eastern Region of the Province (ie from Lindsay to Quebec). Most of these will be directed to municipalities of 50,000 or more. “Therefore, if we (South Frontenac) opt in, it’s unlikely we will have an outlet here (in the near future), but it keeps us in the conversation.”
Councillor Sutherland proposed that a motion to opt in be amended to stipulate that any outlet should be located in the LCBO stores, “so we would know where they are.” Councillor Barr said that the Province has already decided that cannabis outlets would not go into LCBO stores. Dodds said the Province has given the municipalities only one choice: to opt in or out, with no additional criteria. No one supported Sutherland’s proposed amendment.
Councillor Revill said he was reluctant to opt in, for he was not in favour of enhancing the use of cannabis, but he recognized the danger of encouraging the black market, and respects those who need cannabis as a medication.
The motion brought to Council was to opt in, and to direct staff to develop a policy statement for Council’s approval, which would assist staff with providing comments to the AGCO (Alcohol and Gaming Corporation of Ontario) in line with the municipal public interest on proposals for cannabis retail stores in South Frontenac. This passed in a non-recorded vote, with Councillors Sleeth and Roberts opposed.
Back on Nov. 9, Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston MPP Randy Hillier send a letter to Rod Philips, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks regarding growing concerns with the activities of the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority and the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority. The letter asked that the section “an authority may enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a municipality situated in whole or in part within its area of jurisdiction in respect of programs and services that the authority provides on behalf of the municipality” be deleted. Hillier copied the letter to municipalities in his riding, asking for their support.
North Frontenac deferred the request, directing the Mayor to contact Hillier for clarification.
That clarification came Friday at a special meeting of North Frontenac Council.
In the interim, North Frontenac also received correspondence from the general managers of the two authorities in its area, as well as letters from representatives of various lake associations.
“Conservation authorities are currently under review as they’ve moved to a new Ministry,” Hillier said. “The purpose of my letter (to municipalities) was to ensure a variety of views on the review.”
The Townships of Central Frontenac and Mississippi Mills passed resolutions that support what the local conservation authorities have been doing.
At the end of Hillier’s presentation, North Frontenac took a different track, passing a resolution that supports a review of the Conservation Act to include:
• “Municipal makeup of the Executive Committee (Board of Directors) and define the length of the term for its members;
• “Ensure conservation authorities have detailed asset management plans and adequate reserves to avoid negative municipal levy impacts, which is not mandated in the Act;
• “Review of Development Application Packages where possible versus conducting on-site inspections to avoid duplication and additional costs to the applicant;
• “Ensure that their mandate is fulfilled.”
The resolution also asks that municipalities be involved in the review.
Hillier told Council that in his experience, CAs have had trouble fulfilling their core mandate of maintaining water levels, erosion control and regulating development on waterways and conservation lands.
“We’ve seen them expand their ancillary services thru MOUs with municipalities instead of replacing bridges culverts and dams and maintaining trails/maintenance of their properties,” Hillier said. “I don’t want to get rid of them but I want them to look at their ancillary services as temporary and get back to their core services.
“(And) in the MVCA, representation on the board is more based on the number of people in the municipality rather than the size of the watershed. North Frontenac has one representative, Mississippi Mills has two and Ottawa has five.”
“I sit at those meetings and all I ever hear about is Carp Creek,” said Coun. Gerry Martin.
“Some would call it a ditch,” said Hillier. “I call them about the Clyde — the dams on it are in disrepair.
“I’m told they don’t have the resources — as I drive by their $6 million building.”
Mayor Ron Higgins said the Township finds value in some of the services like the voluntary septic inspection program but questioned the need for a governing board.
“Why do they need a committee?” Higgins said. “I’ve concluded that aspect should go back to the province.
“I think the whole conservation authority needs to be reviewed, not just the specifics of your letter.”
“The thing I find most frustrating as the lack of reserves for infrastructure,” said Martin. “They spend money on new parks when the Kash dam needs to be replaced.
“And there’s the Ottawa old boys network who suggested a special levy on North Frontenac to fix the dam — Thank God that didn’t fly.”
“If you’re interested in conservation, you fix the dam,” said Hillier. “If you’re interested in politics, you build a building.”
“I’m not in favour of restricting MOUs because they’re requested by the municipality,” said Coun. John Inglis. “I hear a lot of praise from lake associations because they get a lot of help with their lake plans.”
“My letter isn’t saying they don’t do some good,” said Hillier. “But there are a number of examples of expensive litigation over a half-acre of land.”
MPP Randy Hillier was at a special meeting of North Frontenac Council Friday to drum up support for a review of the role conservation authorities play in municipalities. Photo/Craig Bakay
The meeting began with Deputy Mayor Sleeth being sworn in.
Ad Bag Delivery Contributing to Roadside Littering
Last meeting, Mayor Vandewal gave notice of a motion that ad bags should not be permitted to be tossed along the roadsides. This was brought to Council in the form of a recommendation that staff be directed to review the regulations with regard to ad bag delivery, along with options for restricting the practice of them being thrown alongside roads in South Frontenac. All agreed.
Hartington Well Testing
In 2017, a motion was made recommending the Township cover the cost of testing the well water twice annually for residences within 300 metres of the former gas station in Hartington, but was deferred until legal proceedings were finalized at the OMB. Councillor Revill asked for deferral until new well tests as recommended earlier, were carried out. Council agreed.
Hartington Community Association Expenses Request
Hartington Community Association had requested reimbursement of $28,792 for costs incurred in their unsuccessful appeal to the OMB, attempting to reverse an application approval for a 13 unit subdivision in the hamlet. Councillor Sutherland said that although he was sympathetic to the HCA, he felt this “would undercut the democratic process if (the Township taxpayers paid for both sides.)” Deputy Mayor Sleeth said, “I don’t generally agree (with Councillor Sutherland), but I think it’s time to move forward. Leonard, Barr and Revill agreed, saying this would set a bad precedent. Roberts asked for a recorded vote: the motion to reimburse was unanimously defeated.
Compressor and Pagers for Fire Department
Council approved the immediate purchase of a mobile air compressor unit ($32,950) and 49 pagers ($31,360) for the South Frontenac Fire Service, as recommended by Fire Chief Knott. CAO Orr said that the compressor would be funded from the 25-year capital replacement fund, and the pagers will come out of the working fund. 25 of the pagers are for the projected new recruits, and the rest will be distributed as badly-needed reserve equipment.
Committee of Adjustment
Council debated the composition of the 8-member Committee of Adjustment, which is a delegated and independent approval authority for minor variances and land severances/consent. The CofA may be made up of all community members, all Council members, or a combination. Surrounding municipalities, with the exception of Frontenac Islands, Central Frontenac and Loyalist, which are all Councillors, are all-citizen committees. South Frontenac, with the exception of Councillor Sutherland (who wanted an all-citizen group), agreed to continue the practise of 4 Councillors and 4 community members.
Next Council Meeting
Tuesday January 8
Among local councils, Addington Highlands has been the most pro-active over cannabis regulations.
This is, at least in part, because the township was notified by residents several months ago that two separate growing operations were up and running within its borders. One of them is an open-air plantation, and the other appears to be a greenhouse operation that is just getting going.
The township heard about one of the operations from a resident who expressed a concern over the smell.
After making inquiries to the OPP and the federal government, the township found out that the operations are federally regulated medical marijuana operations. Not only does the township have no jurisdiction over them, but the federal government will not even respond to requests for information.
“The only group that has any control over medical marijuana is the government of Canada,” said Reeve Henry Hogg. “I don’t mind saying I find this rather frustrating.”
Council met this week in a special session to talk about cannabis retailing, and once again they found their options are rather limited.
“We have the ability to opt in or opt out,” said Hogg, “but if we opt in, we can’t pass any kind of zoning restrictions. The stores, which must be free standing, also need to be located 150 metres away from a school or a community centre, but we can’t impose any other limitations on numbers or on location. Any commercial location is available.”
The township will be receiving $5,000 to cover added costs related to cannabis, and if it says yes to cannabis retailing it will receive another $5,000 next year and will be eligible for funding in future years.
If the township says no, it can say yes later on, but once it says yes it can never rescind that approval
And any jurisdiction that turns down cannabis retailing before the January 22 deadline, may also be forfeiting eligibility for further funding.
“The Province is setting aside $10 million of the municipal funding to address costs from unforeseen circumstances related to the legalisation of recreational cannabis, and priority will be given to municipalities that have not opted-out. Further details will be provided at a later date,” said Ontario Minister of Finance, Vic Fedeli, in a letter to municipalities on November 20.
A week later, the Deputy Ontario Finance Minister Greg Orencsak sent a letter to municipal treasurers containing further details about municipal funding. The total amount of provincial funding has been set at $40 million, to be doled out over 2 years. Orencsak’s letter underlined that municipalities that opt out will be forfeiting provincial money.
“If a municipality has opted-out of hosting private retail stores in accordance with the Cannabis License Act, it will receive a maximum of $5,000. Please note that if a municipality opts-out by January 22, 2019, and opts back in at a later date, that municipality will not be eligible for additional funding,” said Orencsak.
The money that will ultimately be allocated from the $40 million fund, is restricted to specific uses as well. It can only be used for increased enforcement costs, increased responses to public inquiries, increased paramedic or fire services, or bylaw/policy development.
At their meeting this week, Addington Highlands Council decided to consult the public before making a decision on the matter. They will be holding public meetings, one in at the Flinton Recreation Centre at 6:30pm on Monday, January 8, and another at the Denbigh Hall at 6:30pm on Wednesday, January 10th.
North Frontenac Council will be discussing their position on Cannabis retailing at their meeting later this week.
Municipalities are not required to consider the question of Cannabis retailing in detail. The opt out option is the only one that requires municipal action. Municipalities that do not act will automatically opt in.