Members of North Frontenac Council made short shrift of the 2018 township budget on Monday morning (January 28), working through the entire document, approving a couple of small tweaks, and approving it in principle in time for a late lunch.
The only major change they made to the document was to fund half of the $110,000 increase in the Ontario Provincial Police requisition with reserve funds instead of tax levy dollars. A $55,000 cut in the levy represents almost a 1% difference, dropping a projected increase of 2.37% in the draft budget to 1.41% in the final document. In real dollars, North Frontenac ratepayers will kick in $5.85 million this year, $88,000 more than the $5.77 million they paid in 2017. The other factors that make up the property tax bill will not have a major impact this year either, since the increase in Frontenac County taxes of about $60,000 is offset by a decrease in education taxes of about $45,000.
North Frontenac township did face some increased costs this year, including $50,000 as a first payment towards an Infrastructure Ontario loan to cover repairs and upgrades to the township office. They are also spending $100,000 extra for winter road maintenance, as well as the $55,000 extra for policing. On the other side of the ledger, the township benefited from an increase in its Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) allocation. The OMPF is a fund set up by the Province of Ontario to help rural and remote municipalities. This year the allocation to North Frontenac jumped by $234,000, to over $1.6 million.
“We did really well this year from the OMPF, and that helped us to cover some of the increased budget pressure,” said Chief Administrative Officer Cheryl Robson.
Among new spending in the budget is $35,000 towards funding the phase-in for increased planning costs. At their regular meeting on Friday, January, 26, the township decided to stay with Frontenac County Planning Services even though costs are set to rise as the department adds a new senior planner. Some of the $35,000 increase in the line item for planning is to cover year one of the phase-in of those costs ($11,000) and the rest ($24,000) to cover township staffing costs related to planning.
Mayor Ron Higgins said he is very pleased with the budgeting process this year, “and in all four years we have done well. We have build up our reserves to the point where we could use $55,000 to offset increased OPP costs this year and keep the increase to 1.4%, under the inflation rate.”
He said he is “thrilled with the levy increases this council has been able to bring in, and with the impact of some of the changes that have been made at the staff level as well, which have paid off both in terms of cost and in terms of service.”
On the issue of the contract with Frontenac County for planning service, which is set to rise each year for the next three, he said that he does not see North Frontenac ever pulling out of the contract.
“We could never get a better price for planning services by going to a contract planner,” he said.
The iconic dam at Bolingbroke that created Bobs Lake is going to be rebuilt. Careful consideration has been made in scheduling this complex, in-water construction, due to timing challenges associated with fish spawning, and both high and low water periods. Due to these challenges, the optimal month to begin construction is in early July. Although, earlier or later starting dates are possible, a July start minimizes the possibility of the project running into a more challenging spring season. As the design process is still ongoing, a summer 2017 construction start was not possible and therefore July 2018 is the new target. Due to poor quality rock at the current dam site, it is anticipated that the new dam will be located approximately 40m upstream. Additionally, a second spillway will be added to the dam in order to meet current Canadian Dam Association safety guidelines. This additional spillway will act as a redundancy in case one spillway is ever blocked or requires repair. Additionally, design work has been undertaken in order to create a new walleye spawning habitat in the stream channel that will be created between the new dam and the existing dam.
Community engagement is also underway for this project and will continue through the summer and into 2018. This will include additional public meetings that will be coordinated with community and lake associations. The new dam will not alter the water management strategy for Bobs Lake and residents should not experience any significant change in water levels as a result of construction.
The replacement of the Bobs Lake dam is part of Parks Canada’s three billion dollar investment over five years to support infrastructure work to heritage, and other assets. Dams have existed on Bobs Lake at Bolingbroke since at least 1821. In 1870 the dam site was purchased by the Government of Canada in order to enhance the size of the reservoir for the Northern Sector of the Rideau Canal. In 1871 the dam was significantly increased in size and the volume of water in Bobs Lake was raised considerably.
CAO Orr brought a recommendation that a special meeting of Council be called next Tuesday to award the tender for the Perth Road Fire Hall, because although six bids have been received, the evaluation of these bids by the Architect (based on 80 points for price and 20 for references) has not yet been received.
Since 2009, Fire Hall Studies have recommended the replacement of most of the current fire halls. A 2014 RFP for a firehall concept brought estimates ranging from $2.1-$2.5 million. The same year Council approved a capital budget of $225,000 for land acquisition, site servicing and architect fees for a new Perth Road Fire Hall, and in 2015 set a budget of $1 million for construction of the fire hall. The land was acquired in 2016, and in December of that year, Council approved the design criteria after having gone on two bus tours of various fire halls.
The architect’s contract was also awarded in 2016, for $112,350. The resulting design has been described by Public Works Manager Segsworth as “not an opulent building, or out of the ordinary.”
During 2017 budget discussion Council rejected a $750,000 increase in the construction budget “for fear of creating unrealistic expectations.”
So site works, paving, water tanks and landscaping were pulled out prior to issuing tender for construction because final estimates still exceeded budget. (unofficial estimates put the costs of the excluded items at $200,000.)
Four of the six bids received are within $45,000 of each other, all coming in at or near $500,000 more than the amount budgeted by Council.
Much discussion ensued: Barbeau and Schjerning said that first priority should be given to the sort of building Council wants, rather than setting the price first. CAO Orr said “ The over-budget tenders should not come as a surprise: $1 million would produce a reduced-standard building. Clearly, there is no appetite for extending the budget up. We could push it all back, change from a metal to a shingle roof, etc, but this would reduce the quality and life of the building. Is this what we want?”
Mayor Vandewal referred several times to Amherstview’s much less expensive firehall, and the future needs for new firehalls in Sydenham, Verona, etc. He asked for assurance from staff that this is indeed the minimum size of hall needed for Perth Road. Fire Chief Chesebrough was shaking his head in what appeared to be frustration, and Segsworth said staff had been discussing, but were prepared to come back to Council for direction next week.
There seemed to be agreement among Council that there was no wish to postpone the project one more year. (It should be noted that there does not appear to be any external source of funding assistance for firehalls.)
A special meeting has been called for Tuesday July 18, by which time the six bids will be evaluated and ranked by the architect, to decide the fate of the Perth Road Fire Hall.
Sydenham Lake Association’s State of the Lake Report
Gord Rodgers of French Planning Services and Bill Peairs of the SLA presented Council with the State of the Lake Report, which is to be followed this fall with a Lake Stewardship Plan, currently in draft form. Thanking the Township for help and cooperation received from Township staff members Lindsay Mills and Jenny Kapusta, Rogers called it “one of the best processes I’ve ever been involved in.” He listed many other agencies and individuals that had worked with them to compile this summary of the most current and relevant environmental information on Sydenham lake and its watershed. The Lake Plan will “guide actions towards protection and management of of the environmental characteristics important to the health of the lake.” The entire project has cost $65,000, all of which has been funded by a variety of grants, some related to the fact that Sydenham lake is a source water lake for the village.
The report, which is readable and interesting, can be found on the SLA’s website: www.sydenhamlake.ca.
Annual Report: Sydenham Water Treatment
Kevin Riley, of Utilities Kingston, gave a brief and positive report on the water treatment plant: there were no reported problems, and no questions. There has been some concern about the functioning of the water meters, which is under investigation.
Minimum Distance Separation Zoning Changes
Forbes Symon spoke to a public meeting about proposed revision of the Minimum Distance Separation (MDS) requirements between barns and neighbouring houses and cemeteries which would reflect new provincial guidelines and should make the zoning easier to understand and more flexible. There were a few comments and questions for clarification, but no major disagreement.
Hartington Community Association
Two notices of motion were brought by Councillor Schjerning, a) to reimburse the HCA $23,730 for expenses incurred by their hiring of an expert witness and b) to cover the est. $8700 costs of testing all 29 residences within 300 m of the former gas station. They were deferred until legal proceedings with the OMB are concluded.
Fermoy Hall Repairs Hit a Snag
Plans to repair the plaster at Fermoy hall have been put on hold, following the revelation that there is asbestos in the skim coat of the plaster, which will necessitate removal of all the plaster as well as the wainscotting and electrical service panel and conduits.This is estimated to double the price of $30,000 which was the amount budgeted for all upgrades including well, septic system, paint and insulation.
The future of this “historic pre-confederation building with good footings, strong construction and full accessibility” has been referred back to the Fermoy committee for a strategy and plan for fundraising.
I always love that line from the tv show where a family stands in order in front of a goofy host and tries to fill in a statement such as “Pasta is to spaghetti as pie is to ___?
They give their answer and the hosts says, ... “and the survey says ...”
I wonder who took that survey, where those hundred people came from. Imagine you are walking down the street and someone accosts you, asking what you think about the relationship between spaghetti, pasta, and pie. Do you run? Do you wave our hands in front of your face and cover your eyes? Or do you pause and think, should I say pumpkin? Coconut cream? Apple or cherry?
Frontenac County and South Frontenac Township's Recreation Department both conducted surveys this year, and North Frontenac Community Services is undertaking one this month.
The similarities and differences in these surveys are interesting, as are the results.
The South Frontenac Survey was undertaken this spring and summer. 697 surveys were filled in. With a population of 18,000 or so, that represents about 4% of the population, but some of those responses could represent entire families. It also represents those residents in South Frontenac who use Recreation facilities or participate in local recreation. In a township where much of the population is located close to large recreation facilities in Kingston, the 697 responses were seen by township staff and council as a solid result.
When the survey was presented to Council this fall, it was taken as a bit of a wish list, particularly the question about what kinds of facilities people would like to see built. But as the Recreation Department, which has only 1 full time employee, develops a 5 year plan it is good to know what people are interested in seeing come about.
Some of the responses will not be relevent to that plan. When asked what people would like to see if “money were no object” almost a third of the respondants, 191, had a swimming pool as their first choice. Council is not running out and building a pool, particularly when almost everyone in the township lives in walking or bicycle range to a lake. However, the fact that about half the respondents use the library system and half use the arena (the two are not mutually exclusive) is important to know, and the detail in the survey results about cycling opportunities is relevant to the township's cycling strategy moving forward. The survey was done in-house, at a low cost.
Frontenac County had a more difficult task when conducting a survey this fall. While people know what a park is, they don't really know what Frontenac County does. It is not that surprising then, that even drawing from a larger population (27,000) in the end 274 individuals completed the recent Frontenac County Survey. And given the lack of profile of many Frontenac County services, an average of 220 responses were entered for each question. To demonstrate the problem that the county faces, of those who responded to the survey, who are essentially the most engage 0.8% of the county population, only 179 said they were “somewhat or very familiar with the “services, programs and operations of Frontenac County”. 97 were “somewhat unfamiliar,” “very unfamiliar”, or “knew nothing at all” about county operations.
Over 60% of respondents were somewhat or very satisfied with the land ambulance service, which is county run, and over 65% felt that way about the Kingston Frontenac Public Library (which is run by an independent board that has county and city representation).
The level of satisfaction for Fairmount Home, the county run long term care facility, seems low, at first glance. Only 28% of respondents said they were somewhat or very satisfied with the service at Fairmount, but this does not really reflect dissatisfaction. Only 8% of respondents were somewhat or very dissatisfied. The bulk of respondents either did not know (48%) or had no opinion (14%).
Fairmount regularly surveys its own clientele and their families as part of its operating procedures.
The County survey also asked if residents would like to see it take the lead on a number of fronts: social services, economic development, planning, transportation, etc, and the most common response was that the county should work with partners to improve service in these areas.
While County CAO Kelly Pender said the survey will provide a baseline of information for future efforts in a low key presentation of its results at council last week, care should be taken not to use any of the data that was collected to justify new initiatives or spending.
Aside from any statistical significance of a survey that reaches less than 1% of the population, the low real numbers make the survey open to distortions of many kinds. If, for example, all of the members of council, CAO’s, treasurers and Public Works Managers from the townships and county filled in the survey, that would be almost 50 people. That would mean that people intimately involved with delivering all the services would have a large impact on the results. The number of responses was so low that any group that is over-represented in the survey would have an over-sized impact.
Perhaps the most important messages from the county survey are the low overall response rate and the fact that those who did fill out the survey left almost a 1/4 of the questions blank.
The Ontario Fire Marshall's office conducted a test of the capacity of the Central Frontenac Fire Department to deliver water to a potential fire last Saturday.
The standard that the fire fighters had to meet was to have their equipment up and running within five minutes to pump 200 gallons of water per minute, and to keep up that level for two hours in order to maintain the Superior Water Shuttle Rating for the department.
Central Frontenac Fire Chief Bill Young thought, based on tests in previous years, that they only had two minutes to start pumping, “so I was pretty confident when the inspector said we had five minutes.”
The test took place at a portable concrete facility on Hwy. 7 near Arden.
The first pumper was set up and pumping a stream of water towards the bush within seconds, and then three other trucks rolled in. Crews from each truck quickly, but carefully, set up portable pools to hold water and began filling them. One by one the crews jumped out and pulled the pools off the side of their trucks, set them up, and began filling them.
Within minutes three pools were set up and the trucks were all headed down the road to Arden. Some of the trucks went south at Arden to the Mill Pond, and others north to the bridge at Kennebec Lake.
“Now it's just a matter of driving back and forth and keeping the flow going,” said a relieved Bill Young at the time
Soon after, however, the Fire Marshall Official called Bill Young over and said that since it seemed like the operation was running so smoothly, Young might want to try and up the flow from 200 to 430 gallons per minute to give the township a higher rating, a commercial rating.
“He said that if we didn't get the commercial rating we could settle for the superior rating we already had, so there was no reason not to go for it,” said Young when interviewed two days later.
Crews upped the flow and stepped the pace of the water shuttle was in order keep the pools from draining down. An hour and a half later, the Fire Marshall Official said there was no need to continue. He had seen enough and the commercial rating had been attained.
Superior water shuttle ratings are something that the Ontario Fire Marshall's Office established as a way to demonstrate the capacity of fire departments, and they have the added benefit of lowering the insurance rates that residents pay. The commercial rating will add that of benefit to businesses throughout the township.
Chief Young said that it will take some time for the certificate confirming the rating to arrive at the township, but once it does it will be posted on the township's website. Local businesses will be able to download the certificate and present it to their insurer. They should see some savings as a result.
The township will announce when the rating has been confirmed so businesses eager for savings should wait at least a week before looking online or calling the township for details.
“The test went really well for us,” said Young. “All of our crews were involved and were able to work together, keep the equipment working well, and co-ordinate everything we were doing. It was a good day and we got a better result than we had even hoped for.”
A special meeting to approve paving
Crains’ Construction, who had made the lowest bid of $124,608 to rehabilitate and double surface treat a 1.7 km stretch of the Henderson Road, just north of Highway 7 near Arden, said they were prepared to start on the project this week.
Since the regular Central Frontenac Council meeting was not set until next week (June 14), Council met in special session on Monday (June 6) to approve the contract.
The budgeted amount for the project is $197,000 and that money has been left in place in case there are reasonable options to improve the project once it is under way.
North Frontenac Telephone to expand to Mountain Grove
Council also approved a proposal for North Frontenac Telephone to use a road allowance for an expansion plan to bring high speed Internet service to the village of Mountain Grove.
Members of the Hinchinbrooke District 4 fire crew were joined by Central Frontenac Fire Chief, Bill Young, Deputy Chief Art Cowdy, Scott Hayes from the Ontario Fire Marshall's Office, Sparky, and other dignitaries to mark the official opening of the new Parham Fire Hall on Saturday, May 28. The Parham hall is the third fire hall to be built by Central Frontenac Township in the last 10 years. Photo by Wendy Parliament
I own 85 acres of land with 1300’ of frontage overlooking Mazinaw Lake, which was purchased by my grandfather in 1933 prior to Hwy #41 being constructed. Towards the top of the escarpment separating the Quinte and Mississippi watersheds, there is a large pond often infested by beavers.
Many years ago, the beavers, (and I have nothing against one of Canada’s national symbols - they were here before we were), built a large dam, which gave way and took out part of Hwy #41, closing it for several days - a hole 25’ wide and 15’ deep. North/south traffic was re-routed via Bancroft, necessitating a five-hour round trip from Denbigh to school in Cloyne. While this was exciting for the children I have talked to since, it could have resulted in a tragedy had a vehicle been passing at the time.
I alerted the clerk and council of Addington Highlands a few years ago that under case law and Ontario Provincial expression on the topic, property owners are not responsible for downstream damage caused by beavers, if such owner did not construct something to cause same.
Recently, it was raised by Council that another property along #41 had a beaver dam that was endangering downstream properties. I quickly sent an e-mail to Clerk and Council, reminding them that to be a good citizen, I had hired a trapper last November to monitor the pond level and to sustainably trap any beaver found. Good thing, as he found the pond at a dangerously high level. After eight trips, he had trapped some of the beaver and lowered the dam by over 2 feet - a huge volume of water. As beaver pelts are virtually worthless, we agreed that I should pay $300 for this work, and I did so happily.
I have not had a response to any of my communications to council. However:
Why has there been no mention at Council about the one beaver dam that caused considerable damage and was a huge risk to travelers - mine?
Where was the Township in monitoring this pond and culling beavers as appropriate?
What if I hadn’t hired the trapper and the dam washed away, damaged the Mazinaw Resort or other property - or worse, killed someone?
Despite being convinced that I do not have a liability, I could go bankrupt trying to defend myself from one or more levels of government suing me with other people's money (taxpayers) for property damage or loss of life.
Why has the Township not acknowledged my communications and its responsibility and liability related to any beaver damage from my pond?
The massive rainstorm that took place earlier this month caused the overflow of a drainage pipe that runs next to the Anderson Road, which joins Bradshaw Road in South Frontenac with Crow Lake Road in Central Frontenac. Cottage properties on Crow Lake are accessed by Anderson Road, as well as year-round homes.
“The washout came about because of high water in a pond next to the road, which was too much for a pipe that was running parallel to the road near where the CP Rail line crosses,” said Mark Segsworth, Public Works Manager of South Frontenac Township.
The pipe was in place because at that point in the road the township did not have the normal amount of roadside property, as it was a forced road, so instead of proper ditching a pipe was put in place.
“We have not had any problems there, until now, under South Frontenac, but apparently something happened about 20 years ago there,” said Mark Segsworth.
There is very little traffic on the road in the winter months, and property owners are able to access their properties from either end, so the washout has not resulted in a major inconvenience for ratepayers in either township; at least none have been reported to the South Frontenac Public Works department.
“We have contracted McNichols Construction to rebuild the missing lane and provide for ditching, which should take about two weeks [the work started on January 19], depending of course on the weather. We'll look at a more permanent solution in the spring, which might involve acquiring some property,” he said.
The rainstorm that precipitated the washout was not only a heavy storm - up to 5 cm of rain came down in certain locations - it also took place after the ground was frozen so the water stayed on the surface.
“I suspect it was just too much water for the pipe, and the next thing you know 300 feet of road were washed out.”
Road crews from South Frontenac provide winter maintenance on the entire Anderson Road, under an arrangement between Central and South Frontenac Townships. The South Frontenac crews normally travel up the road from Bradshaw and return the same way. Currently they are doing the bottom half, and returning, and then travelling up Road 38 and along Crow Lake road to access the top part.
I am writing this letter as I am very upset, like many in our area, with the condition of the Arden Road. There is approximately a five-kilometre section of road that is in dire need of resurfacing. The section in question is the road heading to Tamworth from Cranberry Lake Road to the township line running up to the Stone Mills Township.
I understand that this has been on the township list of repairs for a few years now and it always seems to get bumped from the list. Well, folks, enough is enough! Shame on you, Township Council, for letting this road get to the point it is at today. What a mess! There are many people using this road daily to get to and from work, shopping, doctor's appointments, etc. Not to mention the tourists, cottagers, cyclists and motorcycles that travel this daily to admire this beautiful area. Unless this road gets some real repair and not just holes filled over and over and over again, these folks will quit coming to this area and find an alternate route and area to spend their time and money. Our vehicles are taking a pounding, but of course, you do not have to be concerned with the repairs, we do!
I say to council ... please get this back on your priority list for the spring of 2016 and leave it there! Stop sending our tax dollars to other areas and start spending some in this area.