| May 19, 2005


Feature article, May 19, 2005

Feature article May 19, 2005

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Eastern OntarioTrails Alliance tries again at North Frontenac Counciland other items from Council

by Jeff Green

Cindy Cassidy of the Eastern Ontario Trails Alliance (EOTA) appeared once again before North Frontenac Council last Thursday, for about the fourth time in the past year she recounted, to propose a partnership between North Frontenac and EOTA.

Cassidy outlined the success EOTA has had in promoting tourism through the development of trails for ATV touring. Through partnerships with municipalities, EOTA has developed an ATV trail system that links communities such as Bancroft, Tweed, Belleville to Sharbot Lake and the edge of Perth and North to Calabogie.

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EOTA is interested in working out an arrangement whereby its members, who pay a $125 annual fee, can obtain legal access to the Crown Land roads that are managed by North Frontenac under an agreement with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Currently, the township charges $40 for non-residents and $20 for residents to make use of Crown Land access roads either with cars, trucks, or ATVs.

In exchange Cassidy said that EOTA would provide funding for road maintenance on those Crown Land roads.

EOTA has been a government funding magnet. Cindy Cassidy described a $160,000 marketing campaign that is underway this year through ATV Ontario, with billboard ads in major centres, heavily distributed maps, and other advertising initiatives.

Council expressed concerns that entering into a partnership with EOTA would jeopardise the revenue they currently receive through the Crown Land Stewardship Programme.

To this Cindy Cassidy responded by saying, We are prepared to help with maintenance costs. We need you to let us know what kind of arrangement would be in your interests and we can work something out.

Other concerns of Council centred on the environmental impact of ATVs on a sensitive wilderness area.

Deputy Mayor Gleva Lemke said if we do increase ATV use, there is a danger that the Madawaska Highlands Land Use Committee might shut it down. There are various environmental sensitivities within the area.

There is an ATV club that has its base in North Frontenac, The Ottawa Valley ATV club, which has 100 members currently, according to its President, Michael Pastor. The club buys crown land passes from North Frontenac for all its members, and they also join EOTA, allowing them to ride in North Frontenac and throughout the EOTA trails network. Pastor appeared at Council with Cindy Cassidy, encouraging Council to take up a partnership with EOTA to make things simpler for his association, and as a way of promoting ATV trails and tourism in North Frontenac.

Currently, Pastor told the News in a subsequent interview, members of the Ottawa Valley ATV club pay a $110 membership fee. The club then purchases a $40 pass from North Frontenac and pays $60 to EOTA for a pass to the EOTA trail system.

But it is a cumbersome system, Pastor said. Its in everyones interest for people to join ATV clubs, participate in proper trail etiquette and pay a share of trail costs. Wed like to see the township move in that direction by partnering with the Eastern Ontario Trails Association.

The greatest economic impact of the Ottawa Valley club in North Frontenac is in Ompah, where on some weekends Alices place is really hopping and Double S Marina has line-ups for gas. The impact is minimal in villages like Plevna, which do not have trail access.

People can get to Plevna by riding the roads, (North Frontenac passed a bylaw permitting ATVs on roads this past winter), but nobody wants to ride the roads; we prefer trails, Pastor said.

Councillor Will Cybulski expressed the concern that the roads in question are managed by the township, under an agreement with the Ministry of Natural Resources, to enable access to camping and fishing locations on Crown land. Our agreement says nothing about ATV trails, or ATV tourism. We would have to get an opinion from the MNR before we went ahead and changed the use of the roads, Cybulski said.

A report from the Crown Land Stewardship Program Committee recommending that the township refuse to enter into an agreement with EOTA was scheduled for consideration by Council later in last weeks meeting, but since Cindy Cassidy had brought new information about potential benefits to the township that could come with a partnership, it was decided the committee should reconsider the matter.

The Crown Land Stewardship Program, which was intended as a break-even program for the township, has lost money every year since it has been in place.

Clar/Mil Fire Hall Report

The Fire Hall Task force brought another report to Council. They recommended that Council revisit a Request For Proposal process they had undertaken a couple of months ago in order to solicit proposals for pre-engineered buildings. The previous process had been for design of a renovation to an existing building and the construction of a new building. One of the bidders submitted an extra proposal for a pre-engineered building that proved attractive, and the task force would like to see further proposals for that type of structure. Council is in the throes of a difficult budgeting process; they have had several long meetings on the budget in recent weeks, and a public meeting scheduled for two days after the council meeting, so they decided to defer any further decisions on the Clar/Mil Fire Hall until after the public meeting. Budget deliberations should be completed by the end of May. Any consideration of a large project like Firehall will be dependent on the townships financial position. So far Council has approved, but not spent, $24,000 for the design stage of the project. $8,000 of that money is being supplied by fundraising dollars from the Clar/Mil Ladies Fire Auxiliary.

At the public meeting on May 14, the Fire Hall issue was discussed at length, with proponents and opponents of the new Fire Hall Project arguing their case.

Policing Task Force Will Cybulski presented the final report of a Task Force on Policing that has been meeting throughout the winter. The township has at its disposal two options as regards policing arrangements with the Ontario Provincial Police. They system already in place, which is known as status quo policing, by which the OPP provides a level of service determined by their current practices, or a policing contract, through which the township could pay for whatever level of service they deem necessary. Given the size of the township, and its tax base, the task force concluded that a policing contract would increase the policing budget by several hundred thousand dollars each year, and recommended maintaining the current arrangement, with one alteration. It recommended that the township set up a Community Policing Advisory Committee to meet with the OPP detachment on a regular basis. A motion to that effect was passed, and will be forwarded to the OPP to start the ball rolling on setting up a committee.

Replacement Councillor

The deadline for applications to replace Councillor Hook, who recently resigned, is today, May 19. As of Tuesday, there were reports that two people were applying for the job. Council is expected to appoint a Councillor quickly, perhaps this afternoon.

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