Wednesday, 17 April 2019 12:50

North Frontenac passes smoking bylaw

At first glance, the smoking bylaw North Frontenac Council passed at its regular meeting last Friday in Plevna seemed a lot more ominous than it actually turns out to be.

For example, one section contains the phrase: “No person shall, smoke or vape within 20 metres of any point on the perimeter of the outdoor grounds of a community recreational facility and public areas.”

Now if you interpret that to mean the property lines of Township facilities, you might conclude that the bylaw extends into private property. For example, in the case of Barrie Hall, that would mean extending across Hwy 41, into Addington Highlands Township and onto the home of Addington Highlands Reeve Henry Hogg. It would also mean that in some cases, it would extend into Crown Lands (for example some boat launches).

But that’s not the intension, Clerk/Planning Manager Tara Mieske said Tuesday in an interview.

“It only pertains to Township-owned facilities and property,” she said. “The bylaw was updated to come into line with the updated Smoke-Free Ontario Act, which now includes cannabis and the bylaw is designed to reflect that.”

This means smoking is restricted to 9 metres from the entrance to a Township building and 20 metres from the ‘perimeter’ of a children’s playground, sporting area or recreational facility, but it doesn’t extend past the Township-owned property, she said.

“This includes the ballfield and tennis courts in Cloyne but not Township beaches and boat launches, or things that don’t have a roof like waste sites,” she said.

It also doesn’t include things like the Township garages and municipal office (although the 9 metres from the entrance still applies), she said.

Technically, the 20 metres doesn’t include fire halls but in some cases (notably Ompah and Snow Road) the fire halls are attached or adjacent to recreational halls and/or libraries where the 20-metre restriction does apply.

One other unclear aspect of the bylaw is what constitutes smoking.

“Smoke and Smoking includes carrying or holding of a lighted tobacco product, a lighted cannabis product, an activated electronic cigarette, or a lighted or heated water pipe,” would seem to prohibit the First Nation smudging ceremony, common at Powwows and other gatherings.

Mieske said that hadn’t been considered in the wording of the bylaw and she’d research the matter before bringing a report to Council.

 

• • •

On March 26, Mayor Ron Higgins sent an email to Central Frontenac Mayor Frances Smith asking about Central’s plans to fix potholes on Road 509 and Ardoch Road.

“How’d you make out?” said Dep. Mayor Fred Perry.

“You saw her response,” said Higgins.

“Although they did do some work,” said Coun. Gerry Martin.

“I didn’t agree with this action at all,” said Coun. John Inglis. “It was unnecessary and the tone wsas insulting.”

For the record, here are the two emails.

From Higgins to Smith:

“Frances, I was asked by Council to contact you about the road condition of 509 (near Ardoch Road) and 2-3 bad spots on Ardoch Road. We have been getting a number of residents asking if we knew what Central Frontenac was considering with regards to repair. They are concerned about vehicle damage due to bad road conditions.

“Would it be possible to provide us with any plans your Township has in regards to this issue?”

Smith’s response:

“Good morning Ron. I think it is the swamp on the flat that you are talking about. We are quite aware of it and as soon as the thaw permits, we will be dealing with it.”

 

• • •

With about a dozen members of the public in attendance at the meeting, Mayor Ron Higgins asked for a motion to move the public question period up on the agenda so that those members of the public who wished to could comment on the question of ANSIs (Area of Natural or Scientific Interest) in North Frontenac’s Zoning Bylaw could be heard.

Only Coun. Wayne Good voted against the measure.

Later in the meeting, Council voted to end the restriction that a public question period only be permitted if the Council meeting takes under three hours.

North’s meetings commonly exceed three hours. By comparison, Central and South meetings rarely exceed two hours and South has one or two meetings a year under a half hour.

 

• • •

In response to Kerry Skipper’s request for a Pickleball court in Cloyne, Coun. Fred Fowler challenged Dep. Mayor Fred Perry to the first game.

Fowler declined to offer Perry some sort of handicap even though Perry recently had surgery on his leg.

Pickleball is a racquet sport combining elements of badminton, tennis and ping pong using a whiffleball of some sort.

Published in NORTH FRONTENAC
Wednesday, 28 February 2018 12:31

Foundation Grant to Look into Recreation Centre

Thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation For Kingston and Area, the group/township subcommittee working to turn the former Hinchinbrooke school into a recreation and cultural centre has been able to engage Social Focus Consulting to help do a business plan for township council.

The first step is a two part survey of community interest in such a centre and your ideas about what it should include plus a survey of groups and organizations that might use it and provide programs there. The survey should take about 5-10 minutes to complete.

For those who live and/or work within the Township, complete this survey: http://bit.ly/Hinchinbrooke1

For those who are senior decision makers within organizations that serve the Township, please complete this survey too: http://bit.ly/Hinchinbrooke2.

You may have already seen the surveys on Facebook or been given them at a meeting. In order to get more responses there is a new deadline of March 7th so the links to do the survey could be published here in the newspaper.

Your answers will be anonymous. If you need a paper copy you can get one printed for you at the township office, the Frontenac News or from the following group members:

  • Janet Anderson 613-375-9280
  • Bob Teal 613-375-6525
  • Sue Leslie 613-483-5695
Published in CENTRAL FRONTENAC

At their meeting this week (Mayu 21) Frontenac County is being asked to initiate expropriation proceedings to deal with three properties on the former K&P rail line. The owners of the three properties, one of which is located south of Oconto Road in South Frontenac, and two are located in Central Frontenac closer to Sharbot Lake. The owner of the properties have rebuffed attempts by the county to negotiate a land purchase of the former railway corridor.

The county has secured most of the privately held sections of the rail/trail line, and has completed construction at the north and south ends of the final section of trail between Tichborne and Sharbot Lake, but these outstanding pieces, along with the challenges posed by some of swampier sections that the trail passes through, are a challenge to be met as the trail is overdue for completion.

In a report to council, staff explained why they are seeking to use legal means after attempting a less confrontational approach.

“The County's efforts to purchase three sections of privately owned lands at market value for the purpose of connecting the Frontenac K&P Trail have been unsuccessful and staff have determined that it is now necessary and in the public interest to apply for approval to expropriate these private lands. The purpose of acquiring these three parcels of land is to link two sections of the Frontenac K&P Trail and thereby ensure its continued longterm viability as a public trail within the Frontenac County Trail System in accordance with the County of Frontenac Trails Master Plan,” said he rport, which was co-authored by Janette Amini (Manager of Legislative Services) and Kevin Farrell (Manager of Continuous Improvement/GIS)

Published in FRONTENAC COUNTY

I have often wondered why the tax rates in the Frontenac townships vary so much, and why it is that residents living in my own township, Central Frontenac, pay a much higher tax rate than anyone else.

It should be easy to compare tax rates in neighbouring townships in the same county, because they all have the same mix of responsibilities. Frontenac County has no roads department, the local townships pay for all road maintenance costs (except for Hwy 7) themselves. In Lanark and Lennox and Addington Counties for example, there have county roads, making county taxes higher and municipal taxes lower than in Frontenac.

But when we look at the tax rates in Frontenac, it is rather alarming, certainly for a resident of Central Frontenac. The rates are not similar at all. The rate in South Frontenac (using 2017 figures) is $597 per $100,000 in property assessment, in North Frontenac it is $675, and in Central Frontenac it is $841.

What that means, in the most extreme cases, is much higher tax for less service in Central Frontenac as opposed to South Frontenac.

Identical houses located on either side of Boundary Road (where the Frontenac Arena is located), which divides South and Central Frontenac would pay radically different amounts of tax, and the lower taxed house on the south side of the road would have curbside garbage pickup while the higher taxed house in Central Frontenac would not. If the houses were both assessed at $200,000, the difference in taxes would be $488 per year. A pretty raw deal for the poor sod who lives on the north side of the road.

But it it not reasonable to condemn Central Frontenac Council or laud South Frontenac Council based on this one case. There are other factors involved.

The assessed value of a house and property are based on the size and features of a house, and also its location. If you took a house on from Mountain Grove and plopped it down on an identical lot on Rutlege Road it would gain value because of its location within a short drive from Kingston. And of course waterfront, anywhere in Frontenac, is assessed at a much higher value.

This raises a fundamental issue when looking at municipal finances. The number of households in a township is the major factor in determining the cost of services. It is literally the case when it comes to OPP costs, which are charged to the townships on the basis of the number of households, and it is also the case for road, fire, waste disposal and virtually all municipal costs. But numbers of households is not the basis for taxation, property assessment is. Houses are taxed based on their resale value, not on the cost to provide services to the people living in them.

 

There are over 10,000 homes in South Frontenac, about 4,000 in Central and about 3,500 in North Frontenac.

When you look at the total amount of taxes collected in the three townships as a factor of the number of households, they are pretty comparable. The “amount to be raised by taxation” for 2017 in South Frontenac was $18.5 million, in Central Frontenac it was $7.3 million and in North Frontenac it was $5.6 million.

In percentage terms, Central Frontenac has about 39% of the population that South Frontenac has and collects about 39% of the number of tax dollars as well. North Frontenac, with 35% of the population of South Frontenac, but collects only about 30% of the amount of tax dollars.

The reason it costs more per $100,000 in assessment for ratepayers in Central and North Frontenac, is entirely due to lower average property values.

Again, looking at Frontenac County, in 2017 the average home in South Frontenac was assessed at $307,000, the average home in North Frontenac was assessed at $250,000 and the average assessment in Central Frontenac was $217,500.

In fact, when put through a simple formula based on relative property values, the $814 that Central Frontenac ratepayers pay per $100,000 in assessment, equates to $588 in South Frontenac, $9 less than what South Frontenac ratepayers pay. The $675 per $100,000 that North Frontenac ratepayers pay equates to about $550, $47 less than South Frontenac.

Does this mean the smaller townships are actually more efficient than the larger one?

Not necessarily, as there are many other factors at play. For example, North Frontenac has more seasonal residents than the other townships, who only need service 6 or 3 months out of the year. As well, the amount of paved and/or unpaved roads in each township are a function of geography and not the number of households.

North and Central Frontenac both maintain multiple community halls, and most halls in South Frontenac are owned and maintained by community groups, but South Frontenac has a museum, and garbage pickup.

An analysis of the number of households, taxes collected, and average tax assessment, based only on rudimentary mathematics, leads me to conclude that the three townships are pretty similar in the way they finance their operations.

If there are significant differences, they relate to levels of service, not the amount of taxes collected.

Published in Editorials

When the Ontario Liberal government took power in 2003, one of the key issues for municipal governments was dealing with all of the downloaded costs that had been one of the features of municipal amalgamation under the previous Conservative administration under Mike Harris.

The municipal share of costs for social programs, ambulance service, policing, and other services had increased or been instituted for the first time. While the McGuinty, and now the Wynne Liberals have not taken uploaded entire sectors as municipalities had wished, they have uploaded some costs. They also brought in, early in their first mandate, a funding program aimed at helping more vulnerable municipalities cope with the cost of uploaded services. Over time, the program, which is now called the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) has become focussed on helping rural, remote and financially challenged municipalities cope with a variety of costs. The program includes a rural communities grant, a fiscal circumstances grant, and an assessment equalization grant.

The way the program works in 2018, larger municipalities (in relative terms) such as South Frontenac, which has over 10,000 households and an average property assessment of $307,000, will receive $1.52 million in 2018, up slightly from $1.49 in 2017.

A smaller township, such as Addington Highlands, with 2,500 households and an average property assessment of $177,000 will be receiving $2.04 million, up from $1.8 million in 2017.

To illustrate the realtive impact of the grant on the two townships budgets, the OMPF grant for South Frontenac equals less than 8% of the amount council collects from taxpayers, whereas in Addington Highlands it equals about 75%.

North Frontenac Township will receive $1.6 million in OMPF payments in 2018, up $240,000 from the $1.4 million that they received last year. There are 3,500 households listed for North Frontenac at an average value of $250,000.

Central Frontenac Township will receive $2.05 million in 2018, up $75,000 from $193 million in 2017. There are 4,100 households in Central Frontenac, at an average value of $218,000.

Published in NORTH FRONTENAC
Wednesday, 13 December 2017 12:11

Land O’Lakes Tourist Association closes up

It started up 74 years ago, during the second world war in 1943, when the idea of forming a marketing organization for a region that was just developing road access was pretty forward thinking.

Over the years the Land O’Lakes Tourist Association (LOLTA) has seen many ups and downs, and this week in Sharbot Lake the current Board of Directors took the difficult decision to disband.

Harvey Webster, the Manager of the Loughborough Inn, was the chair of LOLTA until Monday. He has been an active member and a member of the Board of Directors over the years.

He said that while LOLTA is shutting down, the marketing work that it had been doing will carry on.

“It was a sad situation but its not that the Land o’Lakes are disappearing. The counties and local townships have stepped in over the last few years, and the provincial Regional Tourist Organisations (RTO’s) have come on stream as well. For our members, there are still opportunities for promotion as part of a region even with us closing down,” he said.

“As far as I am concerned LOLTA is not buried yet, it is more like it is more like it is on hold. If the municipalities and RTO’s step back, we will need LOLTA again.”

The storied history of LOLTA was the subject of a video that was made by Ken Hook in 2013. Hook served as LOLTA manager for one year, after the departure of Terry Shea, manager between 2003 and 2008.

The video outlines how the association got its start as a group of fishing lodges from Tweed, the region called “North Addington” at the time, which is now Stone Mills and Addington Highlands townships, and “North Frontenac”, which at the time referred to the region of Frontenac County north of Verona.

The focus of the association was for lodges and other groups to take advantage of the opportunities that were to come as the war ended and US tourists began to look northward for fishing opportunities. Membership dues went up in 1947 to $5 per season.

Over the years the association changed as new leaders came forward, two of whom, Jeanette Whitfield (1963 -1966) and Faye Henry (1979 -1996) were interviewed. They both talked about issues that were specific to their day, but also to issues that remain relevant today. For example, Henry talked about how much effort it took for the region to be noticed by various levels of government, and they both talked about the need for businesses to work together.

LOLTA was able to access grant money for its members through the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs between the late 1990’s and 2010, but those programs dried up or were diverted to municipalities.

The LOLTA region, which had expanded over the decades to include all Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Counties and the Municipality of Tweed, was essentially cut in half when the province of Ontario set up the RTO’s a few years ago. The Ontario Highlands Region includes North and Central Frontenac, Addington Highlands and Tweed, but Stone Mills, South Frontenac, Napanee, and Frontenac Islands are all part of the Great Waterway region.

Having members split into two regional organizations did not help LOLTA, which has struggled in recent years as managers have come and gone. A couple of years ago, the LOLTA office in Kaladar was shut down and long serving office administrator Joanne Cuddy was let go.

LOLTA was run out of the home office of its latest manager, Jen Fitzpatrick, until she left.

The board began to consider shutting LOLTA down when they realised that, as volunteers who were all busy working on their own businesses, they did not have the energy, or finances, to carry on.

I guess that the Land O’Lakes Tourist Association basically ran its course,” said Harvey Webster. “With the Internet and these other government options that there are for these businesses to be promoted, and the fact that we are a volunteer board, there was nothing for us to do but shut down.”

So, just months from its 75th anniversary, LOLTA is no more.

Published in ADDINGTON HIGHLANDS

Enforcement of the Building Code, including the proper installation and operation of an on-site (residential) sewage system, is the legislated responsibility of the Township. Council chose to shirk its oversight responsibilities for system operations by not adopting a Septic System Re-Inspection program. Whether through an inability or an unwillingness, they dropped the ball on this issue.

The Building Code also requires property owners to keep their sewage systems operating properly. That can best be determined by assessing the sludge accumulation in the septic tank. A failing or failed system can pollute ground water (well water) and surface water (lakes and rivers), a situation we all want to avoid. At this time, though, no one really knows the number and types of systems out there and whether they are functioning properly. On October 24, the Township’s appointed Septic Re-Inspection Committee delivered a reasonable two-phase solution called an On-Site Sewage System Assessment Program. Phase 1: Give all property owners 5 years to share with the municipality an "assessment" of their system. This would be a winwin. It demonstrates compliance with the Building Code for both the property owner and the township.

This assessment would be done by a qualified person and could include septic tank pumpers. Phase 2: Only when properties have not reported by the end of Phase 1 would the Township initiate a "mandatory" re-inspection. One advantage of this two-phased program is that those who are strongly motivated can opt to move ahead first. Given the substantial support from waterfront residents, this group may well become early participants in the program. This first phase allows choice and avoids the need to either politically or administratively separate the Township into different compliance areas. Those less motivated can delay their involvement until they are more satisfied that the process is working well. The only provision would be that an assessment is expected to be done by the end of the first 5-year phase. Because of the strong support of many waterfront owners for the program, it can be tempting to consider only their properties under the program. This would be a serious mistake, because that approach does nothing for the hamlets and village, which are our most vulnerable areas.

Septic systems there are often among the oldest, and they are in close proximity to the wells of property owners and their neighbour, a significant health risk. It may seem expedient, then, to limit the program to waterfronts and hamlets only, but that would ignore the susceptibility of outlying areas to the health risk of contamination from faulty systems through fractured bedrock. The committee has consistently seen risk to public health as the primary reason for the municipality to initiate a comprehensive township-wide program. Certainly, specific implementation details would need to be developed, such as finalizing the assessment form; training and licensing of the assessors; record-keeping; follow-up processes; and the auditing of assessor performance, etc. It would also be logical to continue the work of the Affordability Committee to assess and establish appropriate financial support for the program. The Open Houses revealed that some people believe their tanks will not require a pump-out in a 3-to-5-year cycle because of minimal use. This view resulted in the recommendation to have more people trained to provide an assessment-only service, which would be less costly for the owner, yet still meet data collection needs.

Such an option would increase choice and could result in possible part-time job opportunities. Our involvement as a committee has always been about the protection of public health, the sustainability of the environment, and the enhancement of the economy for all who live, work or play here in Central Frontenac.

October 24 was a dark day for this Council, but more importantly for the rest of us. We deserve better from our elected representatives, and this issue needs to be reconsidered! (John DuChene is a retired administrator. Among his posts were that of Manager of the Ottonabee Region Conservation Authority and Clerk/Administrator of Central Frontenac Township. He lives on Kennebec Lake. Terry Kennedy is a retired educator. He is the Chair of the Kennebec Lake Property Owners Association. The views expressed in the above commentary are their own.)

Published in CENTRAL FRONTENAC

“No septic re-inspection program for Central Frontenac,” was Mayor Frances Smith’s comment following the vote at Tuesday’s regular meeting in which a proposal to accept the septic re-inspection committee’s report and direct staff to begin work on a draft bylaw to begin mandatory inspections was defeated 5-3.
The Mayor, Councillor Bill MacDonald and committee chair Councillor Victor Heese voted in favour of the proposal. Deputy Mayor Brent Cameron, Councillors Phillip Smith, Jamie Riddell, Sherry Whan and Tom Dewey voted against. Cindy Kelsey was absent from the meeting.
Cameron, Riddell, Whan and Phillip Smith voted for an earlier proposal that would have resulted in a phased-in approach, whereby lakefront properties would have been subject to mandatory inspection with other properties being phased in after five years, but that amendment was defeated in a 4-4 vote (ties result in a defeated motion in municipal council meetings).

In fact, all members of Council expressed support for some measure of septic system attention but the devil being in the details, the committee’s report involved several deal breakers.
Cameron, arguably the most outspoken opponent to the proposal, reiterated his concerns that the plan was likely to create financial hardships for those least capable of dealing with them, and would likely leave the township holding the bag for costs in the end.

“My concern is financial,” Cameron said. “Look at the number of people who use the Food Bank and government assistance programs for things like Hydro.
“There are a lot of people for whom this would be an onerous burden and if they can’t fix it, the Township will step in and fix it for them.
“And the people doing the work won’t do it for free and then we’ll have to chase the money.”
“My concern is people walking away from their homes,” said Phillip Smith. “I also have concerns with numbers.”
“South Frontenac had information that this would take a full-time person to administer.”

Riddell was also concerned with administration wanting to see conservation authorities and/or the health unit involved to a much greater extent.
Dewey said “I think a lot of tweaking needs to happen to this (potential) bylaw.”
MacDonald though was fine with proposal.

“We’ve chewed on this rag a long time,” he said. “It’s time to act.
“I look at my septic system the same way I look at my furnace or my roof.
“It’s my responsibility to make sure it’s in good working order.”

Before the discussion, Sharbot Lake Property Owners Association webmaster Bill Wilson presented a petition to Council with 353 names in favour of the proposal. He said of that number, 274 can vote in Central Frontenac elections and “the vast number are lakefront owners.”

Published in CENTRAL FRONTENAC
Thursday, 26 October 2017 13:20

News briefs from Central Frontenac

Council voted to enter into an agreement with GREC’s aerial drone program. Wade Leonard, who teaches the program, said they were prepared to collect data for the Township in return for permission to use Township property to take off and land.

“We are fully Transport Canada compliant and carry insurance from the school board,” Leonard said. “We need places to fly and data to collect. “It’s really authentic if we have a real problem to solve.”

He suggested things like spotting beaver dams and giving an aerial view of proposed developments etc. Coun. Tom Dewey suggested the Township’s Baker Valley property (where the new trails are located) might be a good place to start. Council directed staff to start thinking of potential projects for the program.

When Mayor Frances Smith asked Council if they had anything to report, Coun. Bill MacDonald stepped up and said: “The Leafs are in first place and I haven’t been able to say that in a long time.” “How many games?” said Smith. “Doesn’t matter,” said Mac- Donald.

Actually, at the time of Tuesday’s Council meeting, the Leafs trailed the Tampa Bay Lightning by a point (15 points to 14 points for the Leafs) in the NHL’s Atlantic Division. (Update from the sports desk - Lightening 17 points, Leafs 14 points.)

Published in CENTRAL FRONTENAC

Lights for the Thompson’s Cut section of the K & P Trail through Sharbot Lake beat out the Sharbot Lake outdoor arena project and the Hinchinbrooke Community Centre (the former Hinchinbrooke school) as Central Frontenac’s project for a potential Trillium Foundation Grant, Council decided at its regular meeting Tuesday afternoon at Piccadilly Hall.

Chief Building Official/Manager of Development Services Shawn Merriman told Council that the municipality can only submit one application and of the three projects considered, the trail ask has the best chance for success.
“They (the committee doing the trail renovations) have already completed Phase 1, and trails seem to be the thing right now,” he said. “We’re still waiting for a business plan for the school and the rink committee probably can’t get two quotes in time for the Oct. 25 deadline.”
There are no matching funds required for Trillium grants and the maximum ask is $150,000. The Trail project is for $50,000.
“I know if we don’t apply, we won’t be successful,” said Coun. Bill MacDonald.

However, there was concern from Hinchinbrooke residents and the district’s councilors that if work didn’t get started on the school soon, it may deteriorate past the point of no return. For example, there was no heat on in the building all through last winter in an effort to save money.
“My only concern is the longer we leave the school, the closer we get to there not being any point to doing something with it,” said Coun. Phillip Smith.
His concern was echoed by District 4 Rec Committee member Sue Leslie.

“We have two quotes lined up and we do have somebody who’ll do the plumbing for free if the Township will buy the materials,” she said. “As you know, the copper plumbing was stolen (in late spring).”
“It’s not a matter of either/or,” said Dep. Mayor Brent Cameron. “The school is still on our plates.”

“I know that the committee has applied to the Kingston Community Foundation for a grant to do a business plan,” said CAO Cathy MacMunn.
But Coun. Bill MacDonald came up with a plan that everyone seemed to be able to live with for the time being, moving that Merriman be directed to come back to Council with a quote to keep the heat on in the school this winter.

Elm Tree Bridge/culvert construction is expected to begin Oct. 23, Public Works Manager Brad Thake told Council as part of his monthly report.
He said waste issues have been occupying much of his time these days.
“The footprint of the Olden landfill wood/shingle debris pile has been growing, so we’re exploring shredding with a tub grinder as an option,” he said. “And we’re talking to doing it in conjunction with South Frontenac for optimum pricing.
“We’re also talking with the City of Kingston about the possibility of them accepting and processing our recyclables and should have a report in November.”
He said from May 15 to Sept. 10, there were 387 amnesty loads at the Oso land fill and 414 at Olden.
Coun. Bill MacDonald asked if the Township is using outside road crews for road repair.
“I went by one location and didn’t recognize anybody,” MacDonald said.
Thake said he had contracted out a couple of jobs but “we’re back to our own crews now.”

Merriman said that building stats are “slightly ahead of last year and that construction on the new Ultramar gas station should be starting soon.
“I don’t think it will be open this year, though.”

Published in CENTRAL FRONTENAC
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