| Mar 03, 2005


Feature article, March 3, 2005

Feature article March 3, 2005

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Strike fears abate, ratification vote set for March 7.Memorandum of Understanding reached in South Frontenac Labour disputeby Jeff Green

After a 7 hour meeting between senior township staff and the executive of CUPE local 4336, which represents 33 South Frontenac Township employees, a tentative agreement was reached, said local 4336 President Trevor Greene.

The tentative agreement came about one day before a strike deadline. It is subject to approval by the Council of South Frontenac, who discussed the issue at an in camera meeting early Tuesday evening, and a ratification vote by union members scheduled for Monday, March 7.

The main issue that separated the two sides as of last weekend was the status of part-time employees. Were pretty good on all the other issues, Trevor Greene told the News last weekend, but there are five workers who work full time, year round, and have been working for up to five years, that receive no benefits. For us its an issue of fairness.

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Neither side was revealing any details of the agreement that was reached on Monday.

The Memorandum of Understanding was considered by South Frontenac Council in a closed session prior to their regular meeting on Tuesday night. After the closed session, Council agreed to refer the Memorandum of Understanding to the members of CUPE local 4336 for their ratification vote on March 7.

Earlier on Tuesday, South Frontenac CAO Gord Burns had said it was possible Council could request further information from the union, so the decision to refer the memorandum directly to a vote by the union means the agreement has cleared one of two major hurdles and a strike is thus less likely.

The major effect of a work stoppage would be on road maintenance throughout the township and on garbage pickup in Portland district. The operations of the township office in Sydenham would be affected as well.

In case of a strike, we have tried to make contingencies for the major roads, but in the event of a large snowfall or freezing rain we would have to look at some further action. But thats not our focus right now, Burns said, adding, We are very hopeful of an amicable resolution to the process.

Notes from SF Council meeting: Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Mitchell Creek Bridge: the Ottawa Solution

In a classic example of using a sledgehammer to crack an acorn, Transport Canadas Navigable Waters Protection Program has ruled that the disintegrating Mitchell Creek Bridge must be replaced by a higher structure with vertical navigation clearance of 1.5m from the average June water level, to facilitate boat traffic. In doing so, they seem to have ignored all concerns about environmental impact or increased traffic in a fragile waterway. (Mitchell Creek is a loon nesting area connecting Desert Lake to Birch and Devil Lakes. Both of these lakes border Frontenac Wilderness Park, which forbids any use of motors within its boundaries.) The present, much lower clearance of the bridge, allows canoes and small motorboats access to the creek and the lakes beyond. Council and local residents feel this is adequate, and presents the most affordable solution. They have agreed to pursue various routes of political appeal in the next few weeks.

Sydenham Water: New Tender Bids, Old Questions

David Waugh addressed Council on behalf of the Sydenham Safe Water Association. Using the March 1st low tender bid of $7,674,000, Waugh demonstrated a means of creating a projected total project budget based on the figures presently available. He offered his services free of charge to the township, if they wished help to draw up a similar, but official overall budget.

He asked for a household exemption policy to be established, which would take into consideration distance and elevation from the road, as well as soil and rock conditions.

The SSWA is also requesting a public information meeting (it has been two years since the last one) now that the new tender bids are in.

Councillor Davison contested Waughs use of the figure of $7,674,00, because it had included GST, which will not be charged. "If you start with skewed numbers," he said, "you will have problems at the end." Waugh replied that this was why he was offering to work with council: he needed their input to be able to draw up an accurate spreadsheet, which could be of benefit to both Council and villagers. Mayor Lake requested a written copy of Waughs presentation.

Councillor Robinson was present throughout: He later noted that he had come late to the last council meeting because of a personal commitment, not because he was avoiding the water issue.

Fireworks

A proposed by-law to regulate the sale and use of fireworks was tabled pending discussion with the fire chief, and some opportunity for public input.

Private Drainage into the Road System

Council adopted a new policy restricting the private use of the road system for property drainage. Details are available at the township hall.

New Member of the Order of Canada

Council agreed to extend their congratulations to Rod Fraser, retiring President of the University of Alberta, and long-time cottage owner on Clear Lake, Bedford. Dr Fraser has recently been awarded the Order of Canada.

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