Jeff Green | Jun 11, 2009
Back to HomeFeature Article - June 11, 2009 Central Frontenac Council - June 8/09By Jeff Green
Guntensperger chastised over PARC
Councilor Norm Guntensperger asked that the Program and Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) for the local schools be put on the council agenda.
However, Guntensperger, who represented council on the committee, did not present an update into how the PARC had proceeded. Instead he talked about the circumstances surrounding his decision to resign from the PARC.
The issue at hand was a presentation Guntensperger made to the PARC at the beginning of the meeting where the committee was set to pick their preferred option. On the grounds that the school is central to the life of the village of Mountain Grove, Guntensperger argued the PARC should not recommend closing Land O' Lakes Public School.
“The next evening I received a phone call from the mayor saying that I was not representing the township and in fact I had not done my job. She requested that I resign, and informed me that she felt I might be in conflict of interest.
“I reiterated that I did not think I was; the members of the PARC from Hinchinbrooke said on more than one occasion that they wanted their school to be closed. However I was speaking as the representative from Olden. I was clear that I was not speaking on behalf of the township.”
Mayor Gutowski replied directly to Councilor Guntensperger. “In my opinion, as an employee of the Limestone District School Board [Guntensperger is a teacher at Land O' Lakes Public School] I think you should take legal advice about this. To publicly go out and say you do not represent the township when you are sent to represent the township, when there is something as controversial at stake such as school closing, I don't think that was wise.”
“If I may, Madam Mayor, I would just like to say that if I had stood up and said I represent the township it would have been presumptuous. The truth is only people from my district approached me, and they wanted Land O'Lakes to stay open,” replied Guntensperger.
“I'm going to chalk some of this up to inexperience,” said veteran councilor Frances Smith, “when you are sitting at a meeting as a councilor, you represent the township.”
As Guntensperger has now resigned from the PARC, Councilor Gary Smith has stepped in to represent the township as the committee winds down.
(Note – in addition to members from North and Central Frontenac township councils, the PARC includes parents and school support staff members, teachers and principals as well as board employees as advisors)
HOUSING REQUEST – North Frontenac Not for Profit Housing sent a letter to council requesting that development fees associated with a planned five-unit seniors’ housing complex be waived by the township.
Township Planning Coordinator Cathy MacMunn said that the project will require an official plan amendment, a zoning change, and a severance, which will cost between $3,000 and $5,000 in addition to building permit fees.
The request received widespread support, but before a vote could take place CAO John Duchene said it might be preferable for the township to charge the fees, then provide a grant back to the housing corporation.
The matter was deferred for Duchene to investigate and will be finalised on June 23.
ARDEN HALL NEEDS NEW SEPTIC - The continuing saga of repairs to the Arden hall took a new twist when township staff and the public health unit came to the conclusion that it is impossible to keep the existing septic system in place as the wall at the back of the hall is repaired. A new system will be required. The good news is there is money in the 2009 budget for a replacement septic system and the work should be completed this year.
TRACTOR PURCHASE – After a divisive debate, council agreed, in a 5-4 vote, to purchase a tractor to be used for roadside mowing this summer.
SPEED BYLAW PASSED – A long-awaited speed limit bylaw was finally approved. It creates a number of 40 km per hour roads, as well as 50 and 60 km roads. Very small, dead end roads will not be posted.
COUNTY GOVERNANCE – Council received a letter from North Frontenac Council that endorses a plan to create a nine-member Frontenac County Council, including the mayor and another representative from each of the four lower-tier townships that make up the county, and an extra member from South Frontenac. Councilor Gary Smith pointed out that “Since we have endorsed the same resolution, that makes two thirds of the triple majority that this needs to be adopted. It has been endorsed by a majority of councils representing a majority of the population. The only missing element in this is the county council itself; the ball is clearly in county council's court.
Councilor Bob Harvey asked, “Should we make a suggestion that our mayor carry this forward?”
Mayor Gutowski, who is doubling as county warden this year, said “I agree that the discussion should come forward, and I will ensure that this will come forward as an item for action at next week's meeting.”
“Do you have a position yourself?” asked Councilor Guntensperger.
“I'm not yet there with exactly what is proposed. It will be an interesting discussion at the next meeting. It will be on the agenda,” Gutowski replied.