| Sep 24, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - September 24, 2009 Frontenac County CouncilBy Jeff Green

County trails plan approved

A draft Frontenac County Trails Master Plan and a Trails Implementation plan were both approved by county council at their meeting on September 16 and are going forward to public meetings in Verona and Sharbot Lake.

Councilors did not have a lot to say about the master plan, but the implementation plan, which includes an inventory of development costs totalling $1.1 million for a trail that runs along the old K&P line in South and Central Frontenac, but is silent on where that money is supposed to come from, provoked comments from Frontenac Islands Mayor Jim Vanden Hoek and North Frontenac Mayor Ron Maguire.

“I think that there must be some commitment of funds from the host townships,” said Vanden Hoek.

“At the time we were applying for the initial grant we were assured the $289,000 grant would cover the whole project. Now we are looking at an implementation plan of over $1 million ... I am reluctant to go to the public with this if it means taxpayers from across the county will be on the hook for this,” said Maguire.

“I have a different perspective on this,” said Warden Janet Gutowski. “I don't think there was an expectation that the grant money would be sufficient to develop the trails. The funding has yet to be sorted out. That's why the implementation is to be phased.”

“I know that we need a commitment on the local level to get this thing going,” said South Frontenac Mayor Gary Davison.

North Frontenac Deputy Mayor Jim Beam and South Frontenac Township Councilor Alan McPhail, both members of the committee that put the trails reports together, were given leave to comment, and they both said the committee did not envision that any county taxation money would go towards trails implementation.

“There was never any intent that county ratepayers would be funding this project,” said Beam. “It was the expectation that a user-pay model and other funding sources such as grants would be the means of paying for this.”

“We have had representation from the Cataraqui Trail and the Eastern Ontario Trails Alliance on our committee, and while those trails have very different models, they are both operated without municipal dollars. We recognise there must be a partnership with the townships, but not necessarily for the tax dollar,” said Alan McPhail.

“That is comforting to me,” said Mayor Vanden Hoek.

In a related matter, the county has agreed to build just over 1 km of fence on a section of the trail located between Hartington and Harrowsmith, at a cost of $15,000 provided a cost sharing agreement can be reached with the adjacent landowner

Spending of federal gas tax funds – Frontenac County has been the recipient of federal gas tax rebate monies for four years, and has been in the process of determining how to spend that money for most of that time.

By the terms of the funding agreement, $475,000, the allocation from 2005-2005, must be spent by the end of 2009. At this point the County has only allocated $365,000.

Council decided to accept a staff recommendation that $110,000 be allocated to the local townships to pay for new infrastructure projects. Certain conditions will apply, but county council agreed to transfer the money.

Some townships need help with inventory project – By the end of this year, municipalities throughout Ontario are required to have completed an inventory of all public assets for something called the Public Sector Accounting Board (PSAB). Mayor Davison from South Frontenac asked if the county would consider hiring a consultant, using some of the federal gas tax money that is still available, to help complete this project for South Frontenac, which will not be able to complete it in time. County Treasurer Marian Vanbruinessen said that she had talked to Central and North Frontenac, and determined that while North Frontenac will be able to manage on its own, Central Frontenac needs some help. Frontenac Islands Mayor Vanden Hoek determined that Frontenac Islands also needed help.

It was decided that $30,000 should cover the cost of a consultant, and that North Frontenac Township should not be penalized for having their work completed, so they will be compensated.

Northern ambulance decision deferred - In a report to council, Frontenac County Director of Emergency Services Paul Charbonneau recommended that a new ambulance base be built in the “Ardoch Road/509 area”.

Based on the data that has been collected, Charbonneau's report said that the proposed location would be the closest to the majority of calls the ambulance has received over the past 2 years.

In response, North Frontenac Mayor Maguire said, “North Frontenac Council passed a resolution rejecting the consultant’s report that this location is based on, and we have not received a formal response. Prior to making any decision on this northern base we want that response.”

“I agree with Mayor Maguire,” said Frontenac Islands Mayor Jim Vanden Hoek. “I'm a little reluctant to support a base in what I call a vacant area. Public infrastructure should be located where the people are. My understanding is that staff have drawn a spot on a map.”

“It's very objective,” said Paul Charbonneau, “very statistical.”

“I would like to think that we can defer this,” said South Frontenac Mayor Gary Davison. “I understand it is a very delicate issue and it is very difficult to know by drawing a circle.”

The matter was tabled. 

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