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Feature Article - October 13, 2005

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Feature Article

October 13, 2005

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CentralFrontenac reverses decision on mapping

by Jeff Green

Art Dunham of the FEP Art Dunham and Glenn Jackson of the Frontenac Environmental Partnership have been coming to meetings of Central Frontenac for over a year, in what has often seemed like a futile attempt to convince the Council to allow them a view of mapping data the Council receives from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) for an internet-based lake planning tool for their member lake associations.

This week their persistence paid off as Council decided, in a unanimous vote, to allow the data to be released to them.


The story goes back to the spring of 2004, when Art Dunham made a series of presentations to Councils in Frontenac and Lanark Counties about an application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) that would enable waterfront property owners to access maps that include all the properties surrounding their lakes, and allow data to be added to those maps. This data can include water quality information, the location of fish spawning beds, septic information, and other data that can be of use for conservation efforts. This application had been well received by cottage associations, and many joined the Frontenac Environmental Partnership, the group Dunham had developed this computer program for.

In order for the system to work as it was designed, the Frontenac Environmental Partnership required the land parcel mapping information that the townships received from MPAC. MPAC is publicly owned corporation that is funded by a levy from the townships it provides assessment information for. All municipalities in Ontario use MPAC’s services.

Art Dunham’s proposal was warmly received by all the townships he approached, who all agreed to release their mapping data to the Frontenac Environmental Partnership and the electronic mapping application has been up and running for FEP member lake associations in North and South Frontenac and Tay Valley Township. Not so in Central Frontenac, however.

Township staff pointed out that the contract Central Frontenac has with MPAC prohibits the release of the land parcel mapping that they provide to the township. No amount of cajoling from Art Dunham, and later from Glen Jackson, the President of the FEP and of the Silver Lake Property Owners Association, could change Council’s mind.

Earlier this year, Jackson and Dunham came back to Council again, this time armed with some new information. It seems that there is a loophole in the contact that MPAC has with the township as regards the parcel mapping data. The township is allowed to share the information with outside contractors that the township engages. Jackson and Dunham proposed that the township enter into a contract with the FEP regarding the use of this data.

This proposal was ultimately rejected by Council, after seeking an opinion from Beverly Disney, the municipal representative from MPAC. In a letter to Council, Disney described the proposal as an attempt to go “through the back door” to get around the stipulations of the contract MPAC has with Central Frontenac over parcel mapping.

The matter seemed closed. However, the FEP folks kept at it, and on July 5 of this year a meeting took place between the FEP, township staff, and Beverly Disney. Subsequently Disney wrote a new opinion, which Council received as an in camera document at a meeting in September. Terry Kennedy, the President of the Kennebec Lake Association, spoke directly to Beverly Disney about the contents of the letter. She told him on the phone, later confirming via email, that “should the municipality of Central Frontenac feel that there is a requirement to utilise the services of an outside source to enable the township to conduct their business, then the option does exist for the township to establish a contactor agreement/bylaw with the individual/party.” Absent was any reference to back doors.

This opened the door for a fresh debate at Council. Both Art Dunham and Terry Kennedy addressed Council.

Art Dunham assured Mayor Bill MacDonald that the information was going to be used exclusively for environmental purposes and no commercial use was planned. In his presentation, Terry Kennedy extensively quoted the township’s Official Plan, which says at one point that “Council shall continue to cooperate with other partners and commit reasonable resources to the tasks of regular water quality sampling of lakes which are subject to development activity.”

In the end, Council voted unanimously to release the parcel mapping data.

Glen Jackson attended the meeting but did not address Council on his occasion. Both Jackson and Dunham seemed relieved with the results but seemed to be exasperated by the entire process. “That took a long time, didn’t it,” Glenn Jackson said.

Terry Kennedy, whose lake association is undertaking the development of a lake plan, said “We really need this for our lake planning to take place. It would require thousands of volunteer hours just to get the information that has already been collected.”

Other items from Council:

Wedding Approved for Sharbot Lake Beach – Jennifer Tryon approached Council about getting Council’s approval for a special occasions permit for the Sharbot Lake beach for her wedding next June. Council’s Approval is needed before the Liquor License Board will grant the permit. She said that though she currently resides in Montreal, she would prefer to hold her wedding near her childhood home. Council agreed that, provided the tent Ms. Tryon will be renting is not located on either of the two septic beds on the site, and that necessary liability insurance is purchased, they would accept her request. A smiling Jennifer Tryon said, “You are all invited to the wedding.” She then left, with three other family members. Shouts of joy could be heard coming from the parking lot.

$200 off for LOLCN – In response to a request for a better deal in the rent paid for the use of the former Township garage by the Land O’Lakes Communications Network, a staff report indicated Council could reduce the rent by $200 per month, to $1,100 and still cover the township’s expenses for he site. A motion to that effect was approved.

Trailer in Parham causes concern – Council received a letter from Kathy and Noel Bateman concerning a trailer that was placed at the Parham Post office last June by Gerald Howes to be used as office space. The letter said that despite assurances Mr. Howes made to Noel Bateman “that the trailer would be made presentable in short order, this has not happened. As we sit in our living room and look out our picture window, we have a perfect view of this dilapidated piece of construction.”

The Batemans requested that the township ask that the trailer be removed. Council decided to acknowledge the letter, and inform the Batemans that a building permit for an office building was issued to Mr. Howes in May of 2005, and he has two years to complete the construction. Council will also request that Gerald Howes “proceed with the installation at all possible speed.”

Tenders for Wilkinson Dump Closure – A tender for the final topsoil covering and hydro seeding of the Wilkinson waste disposal site yielded only one quote, $44,000 from Crain’s Construction Limited. Councillor Logan Murray was not satisfied, saying the township should seek a second quote or open up the tendering process again. Mayor MacDonald and Councillor Frances Smith both argued that the tendering process had been done according to the township established policy, and the quote was acceptable. The tender was accepted by a majority cote of Council.

Date set for Roads tour – On October 26, Council will gather at Mayor Bill MacDonald’s house, bagged lunches in hand, to set out on a tour of roads that different councillors have suggested should be looked at for possible repairs. The long-awaited roads tour will take the entire day, and the township has hired a bus for the councillors to ride in. The Mayor volunteered to drive, to save the cost of hiring a bus driver.

“You all know where my house is?” Mayor MacDonald asked, “on the most desolate road in the entire township.”

“You’re welcome to move to my road,” said Councillor Jack Nicolson, who lives on a privately maintained laneway on Kennebec Lake.

“I couldn’t afford the taxes,” replied Bill MacDonald.

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