| Sep 10, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - September 10, 2009 North Frontenac wants out of Frontenac CountyBy Jeff Green

It has been no secret that North Frontenac Council is unhappy with the way Frontenac County is run, and this week council followed through on its promise to write to the province about its grievances.

The letter, addressed to Premier McGuinty and copied to the ministers of Municipal and Rural Affairs, was written in order to advise the premier of the township's “express wish to seek secession from the County and to gain approval and legislation to function as a single tier municipality.”

The township proposes to hold a referendum on the matter during the 2010 municipal election.

Currently North Frontenac and Frontenac County share municipal responsibilities in what is called a 'lower tier- upper tier’ arrangement. North Frontenac delivers the bulk of municipal services (road maintenance, waste management, municipal halls, financial services, land use planning and building services, and others) whereas Frontenac County is responsible for land ambulance, long-term care, and relations with senior levels of government, including the City of Kingston, which provides social services to the county. In the area of land use planning, there is some shared responsibility between the township and the county, with the county having responsibility for subdivision and condominium approvals.

In the letter to McGuinty, North Frontenac Mayor Ron Maguire made reference to remarks he delivered at the conclusion of his year-long term as Frontenac County warden in November of 2007. “I publicly expressed my growing fears about a 'north-south' split in the County, especially on matters of policy attitude and future direction, and cautioned that this situation should not be left to fester. Unfortunately the situation did deteriorate ...”

North Frontenac’s long list of grievances include: “long term care facilities, transportation and access to services, broadband, ambulance, subdivision planning and control, operational planning, county sustainability, minimal or token aboriginal consultation, governance, 'urban' arrogance, lack of appreciation and respect for rural matters.”

These grievances are detailed in a 5-page appendix, which is included with the letter.

In asking for leave to seek independence from Frontenac County, the letter also speaks to North Frontenac's own administrative strengths: “We are immensely proud of our accounting and financial control systems, our management regime; our proud, loyal and experienced staff; our planning expertise; our contractors; our leading waste management initiatives; our enterprising volunteers and citizenry; and our promising future.”

Frontenac County Warden Janet Gutowski had just read the letter when she was contacted by the News on Tuesday evening for comment.

“As far as I can see, Frontenac County is not going to be called upon to respond to the letter. I do agree that North Frontenac has some challenges but I don’t agree with the accuracy of some of the details in the letter. I think it was written with a fair bit of emotion.”

Gutowski said she hopes the letter will not make it more difficult for county council to move forward in the coming months. “My issue is, how do we go forward from here? I don’t find this helpful, but I think the emotions need to be taken out of the equation. I’m not interested in political posturing. We were all elected to work in the interest of the citizens and I will work with all the partners toward that end.” 

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