| Apr 12, 2007


Feature Article - April 12, 2007

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Feature Article - April 12, 2007

South Frontenac starts moving on amalgamation

by Jeff Green

At the end of this year, South Frontenac will be 10 years old, and by that time its council may have come to some agreement as to how it will be governed for the next 10 years or so.

At a Committee of the Whole meeting on April 10, councillors had a chance to go over a comprehensive organizational review and determine which matters they agree upon and are ready to implement, and which matters require further discussion. It turned out that if a couple of major sticking points, particularly waste management, are left out of the debate, a general consensus on a way forward is emerging.

On road maintenance and road construction, the largest expenditure by far, the prospect of a single roads department with area superintendents, that would be funded through a township-wide budget under the auspices of a ten-year road maintenance and road construction plan, was widely accepted.

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“If you have all the roads classified, and a plan worked out as to what should be done and when, I don’t see why we shouldn’t put all the money in one pot and get on with the job,” said Councillor Ron Vandewal, in supporting the roads recommendations of the organizational review.

Recreation is the one area that Township Clerk Administrator Gord Burns said he thought should not undergo full amalgamation. “I think recreation should continue to be financed by district, and that district rec. committees should be maintained. They know their own areas, and if we did centralize all our facilities we would probably have look to hiring someone,” Burns said.

“My stand on amalgamation is pretty firm,” Mayor Gary Davison said, “but this is one little area where I think it works better the way it is.”

As far as the amalgamation of parkland reserves, monies that come to the different districts from development fees and the sale of road allowances, Bedford Councillor David Hahn said, “Bedford has a lot of money in parkland reserves. I could see collapsing those reserves to a township fund, as long as waste reserves are included. It’s hard to talk about this in isolation.” The debate about parkland reserves was deferred.

When it came time to discuss amalgamating waste management, which Gord Burns said he was recommending, Mayor Gary Davison said, “When we get into talking about waste management, it is going to have to happen at a public meeting. We need to defer this.”

Storrington Councillor John Fillion raised one point in regards to waste management reserve funds, which vary from district to district. “Portland lent Bedford $250,000 for waste at amalgamation, and Storrington lent Loughborough $250,000. Has that money ever been paid back? If it hasn’t, and I don’t think it has, we should take it into account before we start figuring out all of this.”

Mayor Davison instructed Gord Burns to find out about these loans. “Everybody’s going forward,” Davison said, “we are going to get on the same page.”

Several other issues came out of the organizational review that don’t impact amalgamation within the township but could have a large impact nonetheless.

One of them is a recommendation that the two township offices, one at Keeley Road and one that is shared with the public library in the village of Sydenham, be merged into one central office in order to improve communication and allow for more sharing of staff between departments.

“We have about a million dollars put away for this purpose,” said Gord Burns, “One of the things that has been talked about is expanding the library. Maybe we could find them another building. I would love a brand new township office, but we might be able to renovate this building using the library space for a lot less money.”

The idea of bringing all of the township’s office staff into one building was well received by the councillors, and will be looked at further at a later date.

Although there were several contentious moments and some heated exchanges during the two-hour meeting, it’s fair to say that amalgamation is finally on the table in South Frontenac.

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