The Township of Addington Highlands voted to opt in for retail cannabis outlets at its Council meeting last week in Denbigh, said Reeve Henry Hogg.
“We had two open houses the week before on the subject and while there were more against than for, it was only like one or two people,” he said. “There were about 30 people at the meetings and so you don’t know if that’s representative.”
Higgins said that the determinative factor (for opting in) may have been the potential for financial benefits both from the provincial government and the economic development it could represent.
But, he acknowledged it could be some time before there’s an outlet in Cloyne or Northbrook.
“The first licenses are for communities of 50,000 or more and we don’t have a 10th of that,” he said. “Besides you can already get it in Tyendinaga or online.
“Or you can just grow it yourself.”
On another matter, Hogg said the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority’s request for members on its Source Water Protection Committee didn’t meet the kind of concern it did in neighbouring North Frontenac. North Frontenac had a considerable discussion regarding the fact that Ottawa had two members, Perth, Smiths Falls and Carleton Place for the three of them had one member and all the other municipalities combined had but a single member.
“We did get an email from (North Frontenac Mayor Ron) Higgins asking us to submit a name but we have no sources to protect,” Hogg said. “Other than some headwaters.
“This was something created after the Walkerton fiasco many years ago and whatever they do, it’s going to cost us money.”
It must be getting close to budget time.
Central Frontenac Council had three delegations to its regular meeting Tuesday in Sharbot Lake and two of those came asking for money.
First up was Anne Prichard of the Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation. However, Pritchard wasn’t looking for money. Her organization is funded by the Federal Government.
What she was looking for was Council’s support and for the Township to keep referring fledgling and established businesses to her for counselling/advice, workshops and loans in some cases.
“Part of our funding is dependent on the number of consultations we do, so it helps to get the word out,” Pritchard said. “We are a not-for-profit who are governed by a board of directors and our board member from Central Frontenac is about to step down so we need another one from here.”
The next delegation was also a not-for-profit, the Central Frontenac Housing Corporation who operates the five-unit seniors complex on Clement Road.
Spokesperson Janet Gutowski said they were first asking if donations could be channeled through the Township so that tax receipts for deduction purposes could be issued.
“We can issue a receipt for donations but you can’t deduct it from your taxes,” she said.
Clerk-administrator Cathy MacMunn said that they’d looked into it but unfortunately municipalities aren’t allowed to channel donations for not-for-profits.
So, Plan B was to ask Council for a donation or a gift-in-kind towards removing a large rock in the parking lot.
In her presentation to Council, Gutowski said initial quotes to remove the rock are about $1,000. Ideally, the CFHC would like to add additional guest parking spots to the tune of about $6,000.
“We’re considering several things in this year’s budget and this will be one of the things on the list,” said Mayor Janet Gutowski.
Third up was Martha Johnston from Rural Frontenac Community Services — Programs for Rural Youth.
Johnston said their entire program costs $19,000, of which Central Frontenac Township contributes $15,500.
Johnston said the program operates Kids Club Programs at three sites in the Township, Summer camp, Steps to Success leadership programs, Bucket drumming, and the Youth Homelessness Initiative.
In the future, they would like to develop a rural youth hub at the Centre in Sharbot Lake.
“We are aspiring to create a space where youth can go after school to hang out with their friends in a monitored environment, connect with caring adults and seek professional help if required,” she said.
Tanker sold for $500
Dep. Fire Chief Jamie Riddell told Council that they received one bid on the surplus tanker, for $500. Council voted to accept the bid.
In response to a question from Coun. Bill MacDonald, Riddell said the only things they took off the old Ford truck were the fire lights, the siren and a portable pump.
Meeting time to stay at 4pm
One of the longer debates this Council has had since being sworn in involved Coun. Nicki Gowdy’s notice of motion to change Council meeting times to 6 p.m. from the current 4 p.m.
All of the standard arguments were offered from some councilors having to book time off work to holding evening meetings supposedly leading to more people coming to council meetings.
Treasurer Michael McGovern estimated later meeting starts could result in staffing costs of anywhere from $10,500 to $21,000 for overtime (depending on which staff members were required at meetings and for how long.) He said current costs are in the $4,000 - $9,200 range.
But in the end, it mattered naught as the measure was defeated 5-4.
For the record, voting for changing meeting times were: Councillor Cindy Kelsey, Brent Cameron, Nicki Gowdy and Elwin Burke.
When GREC science teacher Wade Leonard talked his principal into offering a course in drones (and drone mapping) a couple of years ago, he did see a lot of potential.
But he wasn’t all that sure what that potential would be.
“We’re now solving problems we didn’t even know were problems,” he said. “And we’re seeing all sorts of new tendrils of potential.”
Leonard’s program, which teaches students how to fly a drone and what to do with it once they get it up in the air, has already blazed new trails.
For example, they’ve done studies in Alderville for the Black Oak Savanna and Tall Grass Prairie, tracked last summer’s storm damage for Central Frontenac and the Office of Emergency Preparedness Ontario, done a study of a maple sugar bush, tracked milfoil in North Frontenac lakes, several projects for Central Frontenac included a 3D model of the Caboose in Sharbot Lake, trail mapping and volume of the Olden dump (which even shows trails where bears have dragged off bags of garbage) and are scheduled to create a database of headstones in North Frontenac.
“Our first field trip was to the Black Oak Savanna for the Alderville First Nation,” he said. “We got looking at it and learned that the grass is in colonies — you could see individual plants and colony density became the basis for an ecological study.
“You can’t get that from a satellite because not only does the image have to go through the entire atmosphere, it’s always at an angle and you’ll never see individual plants.”
Each job brings something new.
“When we did a project for Wheeler’s Maple Products to see what might be the best route for the sap lines, we discovered that we could do elevation data,” he said. “We didn’t know we could do elevation data until we got there.”
That’s become useful for other projects as well. For example, they’ve discovered they can see the bottom of a lake in 15 feet of water. They have images of how effective the Malcolm/Ardoch Lakes burlap methodology has been.
“And the Tryon Road severe weather research . . . lots of people were interested in that,” he said. “We saw the extent of the damage.
“We’ve filled a gap.”
And they’ve even attracted the attention of some professors at Carleton University.
“Professor Jesse Vermaire told us ‘we don’t do this on the scale you can,’” Leonard said. “He said ‘we’re doing it on scales of metres and you’re doing it in hectares.’
“We’re going to Carleton to talk to him and some other professors.”
Leonard said his program fits in well with the “Authentic Learning” program at GREC, which also includes their forestry program.
“It’s solving real world problems,” he said. “Through inception, planning, execution, analysis and communication.”
To that extent, he’s changed up his program slightly, making students responsible for setting up dates, looking at weather forecasts for the proposed flight, where to fly and even consulting and communicating with the partner for the mission.
“We’ve got it set up now so everything is hyperlinked for the students such as permission forms, pre-flight, and the students do it all themselves,” he said.
And, with changes in regulations coming in June, students 14 and older will be able fly the drones themselves.
“My read on the new regulations is that not only will the students be licensed but potentially will be able to conduct missions.”
Where this program will lead is anybody’s guess but they’re already breaking new ground continuously.
“Context is everything,” Leonard said. “This is such a new area and we’re the only program in Ontario schools that does mapping.
“We’ve just been out there poking around and stumbled on some techniques that haven’t been done before.”
Sounds like their techniques will be used quite a bit in days to come.
If you’d like to see some of the videos Leonard and his charges have made, have a look at his YouTube channel Wade W Leonard.
“Selling edibles isn’t legal yet, but if you want to make your own, it’s OK,” SSgt. Sharon Brown told the SALT lunch Friday at the Grace Centre in Sydenham. “So no bake sale brownies, OK?”
In fact, Brown used humour to make many of her important points during her presentation on what cannabis now being legal means in Ontario from a policing perspective.
“You can smoke cannabis in a private residence or anywhere it’s legal to smoke a cigarette or vape,” she said. “When you’re walking down the sidewalk in downtown Sydenham, don’t crack open a beer, but you can smoke a joint.”
Brown wasn’t being flippant, she was just making a point that one is governed by the Liquor Licensing Act and the other by the Smoke-Free Ontario Act and her audience certainly seemed to appreciate her candor.
“In vehicles and boats, you can’t have cannabis available to the driver, which means passengers can’t be smoking it either,” she said. “Now, in the case of an RV, it can’t be available while the RV is moving, but once you’ve stopped for the night, it becomes your residence and then it’s OK.
“There’s no charges applicable if you’re riding a bicycle because a bicycle is not considered a motor vehicle.”
She did say that passengers in a motor vehicle can consume edibles if they’re in the passenger seat.
She said people 19 and over are allowed to have .30 grams of dried leaf in public but more than that can get you into trouble in varying degrees depending on the amount.
You can’t have products that have been made with solvents such as butane but you can grow your own plants (maximum four plants per residence, regardless of how many people live there.)
“If I come into your house and see four plants, it’s OK,” she said. “More than that and you’re likely getting charged.”
She said that Oct. 17, the day cannabis became legal in Canada “came and went and it was pretty non-descript” in this area at any rate.
She said the best thing about legalization is the effect it should have in cutting down on the illicit drug trade, helping to make marijuana laced with things like cocaine and fentanyl less available.
“Right now, the only legal way to get cannabis is at the online government store,” she said.
When asked about all the ‘pot shops’ in Deseronto, she said: “I’m going to do a Gretzky-like pass and not talk about that.”
She did say that police are concerned about drivers impaired by cannabis and they are sending more officers for training in how to spot in and conduct roadside testing.
But, they aren’t going to be using anything like a Breathalyzer just yet.
“The OPP are not going with screening devices right now,” she said. “I don’t want a machine that ‘might’ work.”
There is another SALT talk on cannabis scheduled for Jan. 25 in the Verona Free Methodist Church at 11:30 a.m.
There is no charge for SALT talks admission and lunch is provided. The lunch at the Grace Centre was particularlly good.
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.
“We’re still looking for jumpers,” said Janet Barr, organizer of this year’s Polar Bear Plunge which is now in its ninth season as part of the annual Frontenac Heritage Festival. “We have four people signed up already.”
The Plunge has become a highlight of the Sunday festivities of the Festival, which is held on the Family Day long weekend in February.
This year’s plunge goes Feb. 17 at noon.
Besides being one of the Festival attractions, the Plunge also raises money for local charities. This year’s recipients will be The Treasure Trunk, Northern Connections and the Central Frontenac Fire Department.
Pledge forms are available at The Treasure Trunk, Community Living North Frontenac or by calling Barr at 613-279-2113.
There are prizes for best costume, most pledges, youngest plunger and oldest plunger, she said.
Barr said they’d like to get more than last year’s 20 participants and maybe even beat the all-time record of 45 plungers.
With the exception of July and August, there’s country music at the community centre in Sunbury. It’s been going on for 17 years, although it’s really been going strong for the past 10 years or so.
“The lady who started it off was Margaret Smith,” said guitar player John Kott. “They didn’t have too many people back then.”
But about 10 years ago, with the advent of Jack’s Jam in Plevna and the Bedford Jam (nee Piccadilly Jam) as well as a few others, Kott, along with fellow aficionados Wayne Eaves and Elwood Rollins took it over and it’s been a going concern ever since.
“Yeah, we’re the ‘executive,’” said Kott, laughing. “But we usually have 25 to 35 entertainers and play to three-quarters to a packed house.”
Kott, who still plays with Jeff Code’s band, said there’s a lot of reasons he keeps doing it into his ’70s.
“Well, it keeps me practised up,” he said. “I’ll keep doing it for a few more years anyways.
“But it’s a good opportunity for those who are just learning to get up and play in front of an audience.
“We’ve had one lady, Thelma McMacken, who just started at 91.”
He said any money raised goes back to the audience in the form of prizes.
“And it’s good for the mind and body,” he said. “It gets you out of the house.”
Barry and Sheila Calthorpe, who show up at many of the open mikes and jams in the area are regulars here too.
“It’s good to see everybody, it’s like a family,” said Sheila. “And we really like to encourage the newcomers.”
“We’ve encouraged all we can,” said Barry. “Some of them to the point they’re better than us.”
For 19 years, the Blue Skies Fiddle Orchestra has been playing a ‘Little Christmas’ concert in January and last Sunday it once again filled the Maberly Hall with people and music.
Joined by the Lanark Fiddlers Guild, the group played a three-hour concert with a variety of tunes ranging from Logging Camp Christmas to Silent Night under the direction of conductor Cindy McCall, who’s now in her ninth year at the helm of the group.
McCall needed some time to collect herself after the concert but offered: “This happens every concert — I put my heart and soul into it.”
The orchestra itself consists of some 60 players, including 36 or so in the main group along with about 15 beginners and 10 intermediates.
“The transformative effect this has on people in terms of community is amazing,” McCall said. “It crosses all ages and not many organizations are like that.”
Jessica Wedden, who’s been making a name for herself as a solo performer for some time now, would agree. A high school student now, this was her fifth Little Christmas concert and she got her start with the orchestra.
“Cindy’s amazing,” Wedden said. “Everyone’s so supportive.”
For Wedden, although she enjoys her solo career and/or playing with one or two other musicians, said playing with the orchestra is cathartic.
“It’s relaxing,” she said. “It’s really nice playing with so many other people who support each other.”
The group really does span all ages, from kids to great grandparents.
The acknowledged veteran of the group is Martina Field-Green, who played in the very first concert back in 2000.
“For the first few years, we played at Oso Hall in Sharbot Lake,” she said. “We were about 12-15 people then and it was just fiddles — we didn’t start adding other instruments until later.
“It was the dream of (founder) Carolyn Stewart.”
She said Stewart started bringing in workshops and they started adding things like pennywhistles and “drums to keep us together.”
She said they gradually started adding more instruments.
“Carolyn’s dream was to bring fiddle music back to the area where it was so prevalent many years ago,” she said.
If you’d like to join the group, learn fiddle or are just curious, call McCall at 613-278-2448.
In addition to lessons and concerts, they also go to jamborees in Cape Breton and PEI and hold an annual Jamathon fundraiser.
“We draw people from all sorts of remote communities,” she said. “It’s affordable because of the support from Blue Skies in the Community.”
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.
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.