Getting the funds for broadband and cell phone infrastructure improvements and waste management were the two most desirable “breakthrough goals” for Frontenac County, Central Frontenac Council decided at its regular meeting Tuesday evening in Sharbot Lake.
“And a million dollars for our roads,” added Mayor Frances Smith.
Council was responding to a questionnaire led by Kathryn Wood for Frontenac County’s strategic planning.
“Our goal for this consultation is to explore Township perspectives on county-level issues as the County develops its strategic priorities directions and plans for the current term of Council,” Wood said.
To that end, she asked four questions: asking councilors to rate a list of priorities; what would be the most important outcomes to be accomplished by the County through its next strategic level; opportunities, risks or challenges Council sees in working more closely with the County to deliver services; and, if the County could establish breakthrough goal in its next strategic plan, what do you feel that should be.
Coun. Tom Dewey started things off by listing waste management as his top priority.
“We’re getting closer to the time when our dumps are full,” he said. “I’ve been here eight years plus and while we’ve talked about it a lot, we haven’t done very much.”
Coun. Bill MacDonald agreed.
“I think there will be changes coming that one small township won’t be large enough to take advantage of,” MacDonald said.
Dep. Mayor Victor Heese brought up broadband service, which he said went hand in hand with economic development.
“In the more rural areas, satellite just doesn’t cut it,” Heese said.
“And around the lakes,” added Smith. “But EORN (Eastern Ontario Regional Network) is just waiting for approval.
MacDonald wanted to see the County get more involved in roads and bridges.
“I think there’s an opportunity for the County to advocate more for lower tiers in terms of grant money,” MacDonald said.
Most of Council agreed.
“What bothers me most is roads and bridges,” said Coun. Elwin Burke. “There’s been a lot of neglect in the last 10 years.”
“Lennox & Addington has a County road system in name only,” said Smith. “The Townships do all the work.
“Maybe that’s a direction we should go.”
“I can’t see the County playing much of a role in roads, but transportation is a need with our aging population.”
Coun. Brent Cameron said that whatever priorities the County sets, they need to be driven by our demographics.
“We won’t be getting any factories and most of the people moving here are at or nearing the end of their working lives,” Cameron said.
That prompted a discussion about seniors housing facilities but several councilors wondered about just how to address that situation given that the number of seniors is a factor of the baby boom and will likely represent a 20-40 year ‘bubble.”
“Are we going to build a lot of seniors’ residences only to have to tear them down eventually like we did with elementary schools?” said MacDonald.
High frequency train service
Council passed a resolution of support for the proposed Via Rail High Frequency Train project.
As part of the resolution, Council “calls on VIA Rail and the governments of Canada and Ontario to ensure that the project is carried out in such a way as to have a station located in Sharbot Lake to enable residents of Frontenac County direct and fast access to other communities across Ontario and Quebec.”
The rail line, which would use a hybrid electric and diesel engine system, and as proposed, would either use the existing rail bed right of way or bypass Sharbot Lake close to the hamlet.
Coun. Tom Dewey wanted Arden to be added as a potential stop but Mayor Frances Smith put an end to that notion.
“Arden has never been mentioned and we don’t want to create a rivalry between the two communities,” Smith said. “It’s important to be as supportive as possible.”
“Arden is important to me,” said Dewey.
“I concur,” said Coun. Cindy Kelsey, who along with Dewey, also represents Kennebec District.