Sep 16, 2020

In an odd twist, Frontenac County Council will consider a staff report at their monthly meeting this week, which recommends appointing the county's highest paid employee, Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Pender, as the interim weed inspector for the vast county. The county runs from Big Sandy Bay on Wolfe Island, all the way to the top of Buckshot Road, 25 kilometres north of the Bon Echo Park’s northern border.

The appointment of a weed inspector, who can be called in to inspect and, if necessary, order the removal of weeds on the provincial noxious weeds list, became necessary with the retirement of Ken Gilpin from the company he founded, Frontenac Municipal Law Enforcement (FMLE).

As a staff report to Council points out, Gilpin has been the area weed inspector since 1998 and has now resigned. The new owner of FMLE, Liane Ruttan, said that she has no one on her staff who is qualified to fulfill the position.

The Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority was approached to see if they have that expertise, and said they are not in a position to take on the responsibility.

Frontenac County, and the four Frontenac municipalities, are in the midst of a service delivery review, which may yield a permanent solution to the problem. In casting about for an interim solution, and noting that over his last 8 years in the role, Gilpin has not submitted a single invoice for weed inspection, county staff have settled on their leader, Pender.

He is qualified, because long before he began his career in municipal administration, Kelly Pender completed a degree in landscape architecture, and in her report to council, County Clerk Janette Amini said the “county does not anticipate any costs associated with this appointment”.

The report does not discuss the hourly, or per visit fee Pender plans to charge, if he is called out, or his mileage costs.

For his day job, Pender is at the higher end of the pay grid that was developed before he was hired in 2014. As per the provincial sunshine list, his pay for 2019 exceeded $185,000, which is about average for County Chief Administrative Officers in Eastern Ontario.

In an effort to help out, in case the workload does begin to wear on Mr. Pender, Frontenac News’ ace municipal reporter Craig Bakay has volunteered to help out as a Deputy Inspector

“I will do it for free. They just have to pay my mileage” said Bakay, in an exclusive interview this week “as long as I get a badge that says Deputy Weed Inspector.

There is no word from the county as to whether Pender will be getting a Weed Inspector Badge.

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