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Feature article, March 17, 2005

Feature article March 17 2005

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Washroom project runs into Federal red tape Central Frontenac Council, March 14, 2005

by Jeff Green

Its been 18 months since a fundraising campaign was initiated to upgrade the Sharbot Lake beach by putting in a new washroom with flush toilets. About $12,000 has been raised for the project through a series of community fundraising initiatives, and the Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation (FCFDC) was approached as well for financial support. An application was submitted to the Eastern Ontario Economic Development Fund and has been approved for $15,000. But Industry Canada, the Federal Department behind the funding, has developed cold feet over the project.

Last week, they contacted Ian Trickett, the township building officer and somewhat reluctant project manager for the washrooms, and sent him a form to fill out.

The form is designed to help them decide if an Environmental Impact Study is required before the project can go ahead, Trickett said last week, as he was preparing to fill it out. Trickett submitted the form on Friday, and on Monday, Industry Canada again contacted him and asked for further information. In the meantime, the $15,000 has not been released, and Trickett found out late on Monday that the deadline for spending the money, which was to have been the end of March or the end of April at the latest, has been extended indefinitely.

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The delays are welcome by the township to a certain extent, because the project is anything but ready to go forward. The building has not yet been designed, and it is impossible to move forward on septic permits until the ground is thawed and test holes can be dug.

At their meeting on Monday night, Central Frontenac councillors debated various options for the building design. Some councillors favoured using concrete blocks and parging for the building, and others would prefer putting cedar siding over the outside of the building. Trickett said he would prepare costing for both options.

The possibility of heating the building and keeping the washrooms open year round was also raised, and a costing on that option, including the increased maintenance costs, will also be brought forward by Ian Trickett when he reports back to Council with a design proposal.

The township is still hoping to move forward on this project in 2005, but if Industry Canada demands an Environmental Assessment before releasing the $15,000 the entire process could be slowed down considerably.

Trickett said that he has had a preliminary look at the site and is confident a washroom and an adequate septic bed can be put in place in conformity with the townships comprehensive zoning bylaw.Deputy Mayors job opened up

Central Frontenac Council has decided to reverse a stipulation that has been in place since amalgamation in 1998, which required that the Deputy Mayors position be filled by a councillor elected from a district other than that of the Mayor.

I think it was put there because of mistrust, said Councillor Frances Smith. As long as it is there, we still have mistrust.

Councillor Bill Snyder disagreed. He said that the district the Mayor comes from already has three people on Council instead of two; to have the deputy mayor as well starts to look like stacking the deck.

Deputy Mayor Faye Putnam didnt support the change either, but said, Im under the understanding that we dont need to have a Deputy Mayor. I would be in favour of eliminating the Deputy Mayor altogether.

Putnam was making reference to the fact that he Deputy Mayors position has been largely ceremonial in Central Frontenac since amalgamation. She has been Deputy Mayor since the beginning of this term 15 months ago, and has not yet been called on to replace the Mayor at a meeting.

Since amalgamation, the practice in Central Frontenac has been to elect a Deputy Mayor at the beginning of each three-year term, and maintain that person throughout the term. In 1998, Lloyd Lee from Hinchinbrooke District was elected. In 2001, Jack Nicolson from Kennebec was elected, and Faye Putnam from Olden District was elected in 2004. Mayor Bill MacDonald has been in place all that time, and he is a resident of Oso District.

Logan Murray said he thought the Deputy Mayors job should be rotated on an annual basis to councillors from a different District each year.

Other ideas about the future role of the Deputy Mayor were discussed, but in the end it was time to vote on the resolution as it was presented. In a recorded vote, Logan Murray, Faye Putnam, and Bill Snyder voted against the change. The remaining five Councillors and the Mayor voted for it, and from now on the Deputy Mayor will be elected from all of Council, regardless of which district elected them.

Citing MPAC position, Central Frontenac refuses to share mapping data

After receiving a letter from Bev Disney of the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, Central Frontenac has refused to provide digital mapping of property boundaries to the Greater Bobs and Crow Lake Association as requested.

The Association was hoping to use the information to augment the mapping service they provide for their members as they continue to work on an ambitious lake plan.

In her letter Disney wrote: The Municipality is free to utilize the digital file for its own internal purposes, including providing the data to contractors, while performing work for the municipality, under conditions of non-disclosure and non-retention once the contract is completed. External distribution or resale of the data derived from the assessment mapping is not permitted by the municipality.

Making specific reference to the Bobs and Crow Lake Association, Disney wrote, Although the Bobs and Crow Lake Association has made a distinction in that they are only interested in obtaining the MPAC boundary line data, excluding any other MPAC data, it is MPACs position that the Municipality cannot provide the aforementioned Association with the requested information.

Most of the members of the Bobs and Crow Lake Association live in South Frontenac, and South Frontenac Council has made the mapping information available through an agreement with the Frontenac Environmental Partnership, which counts the Bobs and Crow Lake Association as a member. In fact similar kinds of mapping has been made available for public access through agreements in North Frontenac and Tay Valley, and property boundary mapping is publicly accessible through the world-wide web in the town of Perth, as well as on the websites of Ottawa and Toronto.

When contacted, Bev Disney said those other jurisdictions could have different contractual arrangements with MPAC, but that the license agreement completed between MPAC and Central Frontenac on August 9, 1999, stipulates that the information cannot be made public. She described the agreement with Central Frontenac as a standard agreement for our hard copy maps. Central Frontenac undertook to digitise the hard copy mapping provided to them by MMPAC.

Even with the unequivocal opinion of Bev Disney being received by Council, two councillors, namely Logan Murray and Janet Gutowski, still wanted to release the mapping data.

Logan Murray said MPAC has already gone to court and been told they cannot restrict the data. Its stupid beyond belief that an agency of government would not release information that can be used to promote water quality, community planning, and more.

Councillor Gutowski pointed to Tay Valley, which has entered into a contract in order to release the information. We could do the same thing here.

In the end, Council took Disneys advice to heart and voted to refuse the request of the Bobs and Crow Lake Association, as they had done previously to a similar request from the Frontenac Environmental Partnership.

Other items from Council

Council less than enthused over $20,000 grant

A $20,000 Commercial/Industrial Property Study, to be funded by the Eastern Ontario Development fund, was brought before Council for their approval. The grant came about as the result of an application that was made by the Central Frontenac Economic Development Committee, but it is really a joint venture with the Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation (FCFDC). It was pointed out in the application form for the grant that Frontenac CFDC staff have received numerous enquiries regarding available manufacturing space from companies to expand into the County, primarily in South Frontenac. Unfortunately no properties have been available to accommodate this. The purpose of this project is to make a business case for a developer to invest in building a manufacturing facility. In addition it will look at the feasibility of an office suite concept in Central Frontenac.

Councillor Bill Guigue led the council charge against the study. I think this is a total waste of money, he said. Even though it is not funded from our budget, it is still being funded with tax money, and I am opposed to it. Its a make work project for consultants.

Other councillors pointed out that studies have been done in the past, and manufacturing has not come about as a result.

I agree that some of this information is available, said Mayor Bill MacDonald. I think if you say something is never going to happen, it wont happen. This would be part and parcel of any future strategic planning for our community.

In the end Council voted to accept the grant in a 6-3 split vote.

New Roads Committee date set - The inaugural meeting of the Central Frontenac Roads Committee had been set for March 16, but Clerk Administrator Heather Fox reported to Council that the meeting had been set at a late date and there was no time to publicize it. It was decided that the meeting should be put off until Wednesday, April 6 at 7:00 in Mountain Grove at the Olden Hall.

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