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)
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) of the Frontenac Detachment has recovered stolen property from a residence in South Frontenac Township.
The items include hand tools and power tools such as cordless drills and impact drills, a job site radio and commercial copper wiring. The power tools have initials written in black marker on some of the items.
If anyone has any information regarding the recovered property, please contact the Frontenac OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or anonymously online at tipsubmit.com.
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.
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.
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.
One Fatality In multi vehicle collision on Highway 401
On November 18, 2017 at approximately 5am The Frontenac detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) responded to a multi vehicle collision on Highway 401 eastbound near the Westbrook overpass in the City of Kingston.
A total of four vehicles were involved in the collision resulting in one fatality and five injured. All five injured were transported to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
The deceased male has been identified as Wade YOUNG 27 years old, of South Frontenac Township.
Highway 401 eastbound traffic remained closed between County Road 6 in Odessa and Gardiners Road until approximately 6pm. The investigation is continuing.
The OPP is requesting that any witnesses to the collisions please contact the Frontenac Detachment of the OPP at 1-888-310-1122.
Jeff Peters was one of six members of the Inverary Lake Residents Association who spoke passionately of the need to protect a small shallow lake just south of the Round Lake Road, near Inverary. Their concern is focussed on an application by a Mr Beech, acting on behalf of a numbered company, to divide a 52.8 acre lot which runs from Round Lake Road to Inverary Lake. The severance would create a new 15 acre lot with house fronting on the road, and retain the vacant 37.8 acre parcel, which has 1,424 feet of shoreline, and a private access lane called Sweetfern Lane. Because of the steep nature of the land on the north side of the lake, there is s special requirement that any structure have a minimum 40 metre setback from the shoreline.
The Lake Association members’ concern is that this severance would open the way for any future property owner to apply for three to five shoreline severances. Their argument is that the lake is already heavily loaded with phosphates and is borderline eutrophic (having an excess of nutrients with resultant heavy plant and algal growth leading to oxygen depletion). Or, as Peters put it, “It’s beautiful in the spring, but pea soup by midsummer.” Like the rest of the speakers, Peters referred to the Township’s Official Plan, which speaks of preserving the environmental quality and enhancing the rural nature of the Township.
They listed several studies which address the extreme fragility of Inverary Lake, which is part of the Collins creek watershed area. Later in the meeting, when the question of approving Beech’s application was called, Councillor Revill said that although he could see the residents’ concerns, “Unfortunately we have an obligation to follow through.” (ie, nothing of the current application to sever off the top portion of the property is in any direct way threatening the lake or adding more than the potential for one additional residence.) Councillor Sutherland brought a motion to defer a decision so that the planner could address the residents’ questions and concerns. A recorded vote passed the motion to defer. (Barr, McDougal, Revill and Vandewal were opposed.) Appointment of Deputy Clerk Confirmed Applause followed Council’s appointment of Angela Maddocks to the position of Deputy Clerk. CAO Orr, in recommending the appointment, noted that Maddocks has been with the Township for many years, and is well qualified to expand her role and range of responsibilities.
Lindsay Mills will continue in his existing role as Planner and Deputy Clerk for planning matters, and the job of Executive Assistant will remain vacant during the transition and will be assessed at a later time. Snow Removal Council approved Mark Segsworth’s recommendations for awarding snow removal contracts, except for Burridge and Bradshaw firehalls, which came in at much higher rates. They, along with the cemeteries, which have no budget allocation for 2018, will be cleared by Township staff, with the cemeteries being treated as a non-priority.
It’s anticipated that the 41 year old Frontenac Arena floor will soon need replacement; probably by 2021, at an anticipated cost of between $700,000 and 1,000,000. South Frontenac is responsible for 59% of the arena Board’s levy: CAO Orr outlined several options Council could follow to prepare for the expense. These will be discussed on budget planning day. For now, Council passed a motion to commit to funding its share of the cost for the Arena floor when the time comes. In Brief: Percy Snider’s application to revise his site plan to include a further equipment shed on his Lambert Road property was approved. Allan & Partners LLP were appointed as Township auditors for the years 2018-2022. funds were reallocated from roadside maintenance, hardtop maintenance and signage to cover an overage of $99,637 for loose top maintenance. A five-year contract for provision of legal services was awarded to Cunningham Swan who have served the Township since 1998, and who continue to offer the least expensive services.
Wayne Orr reported that the current building official has returned to Kingston, and Shawn Merriman of Central Frontenac was appointed to provide interim services. Appointments to the newly-formed Heritage Committee were announced. Brad Barbeau will be the Council representative, and community members are: Pat Barr, Linda Caird, Michael Gemmill, David Jeffries, Wilma Kenny and Mark Millar.
Budget Day is Coming!
Council has set aside Saturday November 18, beginning at 8:00 am (!) to chew its way through planning the 2018 budget. The meeting is open to the public, a unique way to spend your Saturday.
“Just don’t tell me that our needs are greater than our resources,” said Mayor Vandewal, “we all understand that, and hear it every budget session!” With this, Council launched into a discussion of Public Works Manager Segsworth’s presentation of the Transportation, Solid Waste, Water and Facilities draft capital budget details.The final total came to $7,286,000, of which $5,775,000 was for roads, euphemistically called ‘linear assets’. Vandewal questioned the $175,000 purchase of a fully-equipped mechanic’s truck to replace the present one, a 1994 hand-me-down from the fire department.
Councillors listed several missing items: a Harrowsmith ‘parkette’ beside the trail, more staff parking near the Township hall, plans for the use of the former Township garage property on Stagecoach Road, plans for the Petworth mill. Treasurer Fragnito said the latter item would be in the operating budget.
This information will all become part of the 2018 budget deliberations.
Tax Relief Applications
The township has the option to cancel, reduce or refund property taxes due to sickness or extreme poverty. This has to be applied for a an annual basis. Although South Frontenac does not have any pending applications, there have been enquiries. Because of the sensitive nature of such applications, Treasurer Louise Fragnito brought a recommendation that council bring forward a by-law to authorize the Assessment Review Board (ARB) of Ontario to process applications on behalf of the Township. The ARB is trained to hear these appeals, and would conduct their hearing locally. Council agreed.
Revision of Procedural Bylaw
Council discussed a proposal to streamline their meeting schedule by deleting one COW meeting a month. There was general agreement to try holding Council meetings (where by-laws are voted upon) on the first and third Tuesday of each month and one Committee of the Whole (for discussion of proposals and issues) on the third Tuesday. Delegations would be scheduled across all three meetings as necessary. this will mean devolving more preliminary discussion to the four standing Committees (Public Services, Corporate Services, Development Services and S. Frontenac Recreation.) Council seemed in agreement that this revised schedule should be tried, to begin in January. They were less interested in the accompanying proposal, that would permit ‘electronic participation’ in meetings.
Seniors Housing: Next Steps
Currently, Southern Frontenac Community Services has withdrawn any interest in participating in constructing Seniors housing on their property, and the City of Kingston is indicating they might be able to provide funding grants. CAO Orr said he needed direct from Council: does the Township wish to be involved in the provision of affordable seniors housing?
After a lengthy discussion, Council decided they were interested, but needed more information. Orr agreed to talk to a consultant, get some additional written information, and set up a time as soon as possible for a special meeting to further discuss the question.
Council will earmark $590,000 of their reserves (South Frontenac pays 59% of arena costs) for eventual replacement of the arena floor which is 41 years old and still good, but nearing the probable end of its use.
Rather than budget for temporary fencing, Council recommended building one permanently fenced dog park in Centennial Park. Rules and regulations based on those in other municipalities’ off-leash areas will need to be drawn up. Councillor Sutherland said the people who had petitioned for the park had offered to fund raise, so they should be contacted. Someone asked if barking was likely to become a problem for nearby residents. Councillor Roberts said that if they were considering requiring pit bulls to be muzzled, should all dogs then be muzzled? The meeting had already run late, and nobody bit on this.
Coming in at a whole 16 minutes, Tuesday’s regular South Frontenac Council meeting in Sydenham wasn’t the shortest on record (14 minutes) but it was close.
Still, after acknowledging that the meeting was being held on Coun. Ron Sleeth’s 74th birthday, Council did cross a few T’s and dot a few I’s.
For one thing, the Harrowsmith Beautification Committee was recognized as a committee of Council. Based on the model of the successful Verona Community Association, the committee has been busy with a beautification project for Harrowsmith that includes flags, flowers and benches.
When asked by Mayor Ron Vandewal if they “are they as organized as Verona?” Councilor Brad Barbeau replied: “there’s a lot of enthusiasm.”
Still with Harrowsmith, Council authorized a $1,000 donation to Harrowsmith Public School for new playground equipment. Councillor Mark Schjerning commented that he was speaking in favour of the motion but also observed: “given what we did for Loughborough and the fact that we have six public schools in the Township, we can probably expect four more similar requests.”
And CAO Wayne Orr gave Council a rundown on new signage at the Township offices in Sydenham.
“We’ve had people with accessibility issues come up the ramp only to be told that building and planning are downstairs,” Orr said. “And we need to make office hours and the entrance to Council Chambers more accessible from the street.”
Council also approved the purchase of 50 new self-contained breathing apparatus units and 150 spare air bottles for the fire department. The price tag of $572,991 plus taxes will be paid this year from reserves to take advantage of a group discount with Kingston but will be listed on the 2018 fire budget.
And finally, Orr gave a brief report on six small-scale (five acres or less) approved in the Township. None of these projects were brought to Council for approval.
Vandewal speculated that the reason none of them came to Council is that they had First Nations endorsement meaning that they didn’t need the points that township approval would have given them.
Southern Frontenac Community Services is launching a new program this fall. The Youth Volunteer Program is aimed at fostering connections with students at nearby Sydenham High School with the clientele of the agency.
Andy White, newly arrived in South Frontenac, has a wealth of experience working with youth. She will be running groups at Sydenham High School on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons from 2:30 to 5:00.
“The groups will learn a bit about the agency and what opportunities there are to volunteer, and they will have a chance to explore for themselves and decide what they would like to engage in” she said.
The youth will also be able to count the volunteer hours towards their 40 hour requirement to graduate, but White says there is more to it than that.
“It is an opportunity for young people to make a difference, to take leadership roles in events they would like to support.”
SFCS runs a meals on wheels program, diners clubs, a food bank, and many other services and special events out of the Grace Centre, which is located just up the hill from Sydenham High School.
“It is an ideal location for students to help out at,” said White.
Some of the students who have already come forward, have built centre pieces for a dinner this week.
The project is funded by a Township of South Frontenac Community grant, and if it sees some success, the agency will look for some further funding to keep it going. They are looking for some interested high school students who want to make a difference in the local community.