Jule Koch Brison | Jan 21, 2010

Addington Highlands seeks provincial relief for ice storm

At Monday night’s council meeting, Stephen Seller and Warren Sleeth from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (OMMAH) discussed the possibility of the township applying to the ministry for financial relief in coping with the aftermath of an ice storm that hit the region on Boxing Day.

The storm caused power outages that lasted for several days in some parts of the township, but it is tree damage and the need to clear roads that is costing the township heavily.

Last week, Stephen Seller and Warren Sleeth toured the roads with Roads Superintendent Royce Rosenblath to assess the damage and advise the township whether it might qualify for funding under the Ontario Disaster Relief and Assistance Program. One way of applying is to ask the minister (who because of Monday’s cabinet shuffle is a new minister, Jim Bradley) to declare the area a disaster zone – the request would have had to be made by Monday, the day of the meeting. The other way, which does not have a specific deadline, is to write to the minister asking for funding. Seller said that the ministry uses the minimum figure of 4% of a municipality’s revenue in determining whether it needs assistance. The expenses incurred from the disaster have to be higher than 4%, which in Addington Highlands’ case, would be around $66,670.

When asked by Reeve Henry Hogg whether he thought Addington Highlands would qualify, Seller gave the opinion that based on what he had seen and the fact that one of the roads they looked at was a county road, the municipality would not need to spend more than $66,670 on the cleanup and so would not qualify. He said that some of the trees that have to be cut are not an immediate safety hazard, but fall more in the category of maintenance. He stressed, however, that the final decision would rest with the minister. He also said that OMMAH could call on other ministries such as the Ministry of Natural resources (MNR) for expert opinion in assessing the damage.

Council voted to send a letter immediately to the minister, notifying him that Addington Highlands would be applying for funding in a few weeks, when it has a better assessment of the costs.

Before Stephen Seller and Warren Sleeth left the meeting, Royce Rosenblath asked them if they could get the MNR to come in right away to assess the damage, before the cleanup is done and “there’s nothing left to see”. They agreed to the request and left.

Later on in the meeting, Rosenblath disagreed with Seller, and told council that, excluding the county road and the seasonal roads, 25 to 35 km. of full-time roads still need brushing and it’s costing around $8,000 per kilometre, so the township would easily surpass the $66,670 minimum. He said that it was impossible to say that it’s only maintenance to cut down a tree that’s further from the road but leaning on a tree that’s an immediate hazard, because it will simply fall on the road when the “hazard” tree is removed.

Council voted to donate $100 to Doctors Without Borders for Haitian earthquake relief.

The township estimates that it will cost $400,000 to repair the sidewalks and sewers in the village of Denbigh and is applying for a grant to the Community Adjustment Fund, which would fund 90% of the project.

Rumblings last year from the KFL&A Public Health Unit that it would soon cease doing septic inspections have caused major concern in local municipalities. AH’s Chief Building Inspector attended a meeting with the health unit last week, on January 13, and it now seems that the health unit will wait until next year to withdraw the service because the local building inspectors do not all have the training to take over septic inspections.

Council debated whether to adopt a 1-800 number plan for the phone at the Denbigh Hall. Currently the phone is only equipped for outgoing calls, which Denbigh Recreation Chair Janice Kerr says is a safety issue. She says the hall is used between five and six times a month and people need to be able to contact family members when they are at the hall. Council deferred a decision until they could ascertain the costs more exactly.

Fire Chief Casey Cuddy has prepared a draft by-law for a Joint Operation & Management Agreement with North Frontenac Township to establish the Kaladar/Barrie Fire Department. Reeve Hogg expressed some frustration with North Frontenac Township, saying that NF was insisting that the two townships spend $6000 to have a lawyer prepare the agreement, but Addington Highlands feels that the draft by-law covers all the issues and “we’ve dug in our heels.” He said, “The other side [North Frontenac Township] is not grasping it; they seem to think it is a glorified committee.”

The draft by-law will be discussed at a joint council meeting with North Frontenac next week.

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