| Jan 13, 2005


Feature Article January 13, 2005

Feature article January 13, 2005

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Much ado about roads CF Council Jan 10, 2005

by Jeff Green

Kim Leonard is one angry resident from the Wilkinson Road in Hinchinbrooke district of Central Frontenac, and Mayor Bill MacDonald is the object of her ire.

Leonard, who was a Councillor when Hinchinbrooke was a township (between 1994-97), read a prepared statement to a packed Central Frontenac Council meeting on Monday night in Mountain Grove.

A large crowd of supporters of Kim Leonard, some bus drivers, and members of the roads department were also in attendance at the meeting.

In the preamble to her statement, Leonard said I would like to clarify that although I refer to Council throughout my presentation, my statements are directed more to the Mayor of the Municipality, who in my experience I have found does not accept input for consideration or discussion from the rate payers of this Community.

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The incident that led to her appearance at Council took place on January 2, when a winter ice storm she described as not considered out of the ordinary for a normal Canadian winter was underway.

She said that the Wilkinson Road was not sanded until 1:00 pm on Monday afternoon, 28 hours after the beginning of the storm, and that she has concerns with a Municipality that cannot maintain its roads during normal winter conditions.

Kim Leonard made a phone call to Mayor Bill MacDonald during the storm in the early evening of January 2nd to find out when her road would be sanded.

During her conversation Kim Leonard recollects that Mayor MacDonald advised me that I should know that he does not have contact with the sanders. I recognise that he would not have contact but questioned why he could not contact the road superintendent, as I was certain he would have a cellular phone. I also requested the he respond to me within the hour. This is when the Mayor told me to shut up, not once but twice

She also said I would suggest that if the Mayor has accepted the responsibility of being the only contact for road conditions, that he then not complain to residents about the number of calls he is receiving, and that he not open his conversations on a defensive note.

Her statement then carried on to raise concerns about what she called the unacceptable tax increases and to question what has come of the monetary reserves that Central Frontenac inherited from Hinchinbrooke Township seven years ago.

She also questioned the decision to close the Municipal Office during the Christmas Break, and the closing of the Wilkinson road dump in 2004, again a decision that the Mayor was committed to and had no consideration for public input.

Finally, Kim Leonard said she will be petitioning the Municipal Affairs Office to audit and investigate the township, seeking the following: an account of expenditures and tax revenues by district, audit all accounting, determine if large ticket items are put to tender and how those tenders are awarded, and investigate the authority of the heads of Council.

Mayor MacDonald did not respond to Kim Leonards statement at the Council meeting, although in a phone interview the next day, he said that the township finances are audited annually, and that operations are compared with all other Ontario municipalities through a performance measure process.

He admitted to saying to Kim Leonard, if you would just shut up and let me finish during their phone conversation. Claiming he never sought nor accepts the role of being the only point of contact for road conditions, he said I wouldnt any more know about road conditions at any given time in Central Frontenac than would Mayor Harvey Rosen in Kingston.

He said that the storm that was underway on January 2 was not a normal winter event and that several township trucks went off the road trying to do sanding that evening and on the following day.

At the Council meeting, several Councillors did respond to Kim Leonard.

Councillor Logan Murray said that he wasnt privy to the conversation between Leonard and MacDonald, but the issues that are being brought forward I am in 100% agreement with. There is a problem with roads and the problem needs to be rectified. I think a roads committee needs to be set up and I will make a proposal at the next meeting of Council.

Other Councillors were less supportive. Councillor Jack Nicolson said, Ive only been here 15 years but this winter has been the most difficult one so far for roads.

Councillor Frances Smith took exception to references Kim Leonard made to how the township handles its finances, Ive been around this table for a lot of years. The books are open. What you said about the Mayor reflects on all of us, Councillors and staff. We are responsible for the way the township operates.

Im glad Frances pointed out there are nine of us here, so you cant blame just one of us, said Councillor Bob Harvey, an opinion that was echoed by Deputy Mayor Faye Putnam.

Other items from Council:

Proposals for Murals

Jane Drew appeared before Council representing the Economic Development Committee. One of the committees members, sign painter Rodger MacMunn, has been approached by some businesses who would like to see murals painted on their buildings. The idea of painting murals along the route of the K&P railroad, using railroads as a general theme interests Rodger, Jane Drew told Council that and the Economic Development Committee would like to apply for a Trillium grant for funding. The township is being asked to sponsor the Trillium application, which will be filled out by the Economic Development Committee. Council agreed to sponsor the application. The project could bring murals to communities from Harrowsmith to Snow Road.

Black Bear Signs

In response to a concern raised by Councillor Janet Gutowski about an individual who was confronted by a bear near one of the township dump sites, bear warning signs have been priced out at $150 each, or $600 for the four remaining township dumps. A motion was put forward to purchase signs if full funding can be secured from the Ministry of Natural Resources. Counclllor Bill Guigue disagreed vehemently. If people dont know that bears are wild animals and they should avoid them, no sign will make any difference he said. Even if it is provincial money, why should provincial money be wasted on this? There is only one taxpayer. Nonetheless the motion was approved in a 7-2 vote.

Conservation Authority Budgets

Preliminary budgets have been received from the Quinte and Rideau Valley Conservation Authorities. Even though these budgets will not be considered until the township goes through its own budget exercise, a discussion ensued. The Quinte Conservation levy request is a 19.7% increase from last year, and Rideau Valley Conservation levy is 23.2% higher than last year. Even though the increases are not very high in dollar terms, $2,788 in the case of Quinte and $1,126 in the case of Rideau Valley, several Councillors said the township should object. Last year we said the increases were unacceptable, but we went ahead and paid the bill. This year I dont think we should pay the bill, said Councillor Frances Smith. Both Councillors Nicolson and Murray, who represent Council on Conservation Authority Boards, expressed the view that Council look at more than the percentage increase, but at the services provided by the Authorities. The matter was deferred until budgetary discussions.

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