North Dundas Council met for a regularly scheduled meeting on April 25. Councillor John Lennox was absent from the meeting after showing up and then subsequently leaving due to an emergency at home. All other members were present.
Council first heard delegations from various organizations, namely the Dundas Federation of Agriculture, Habitat for Humanity, the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, and Stonehouse Vineyard. The presentation from Habitat for Humanity pointed out that the land used for building Habitat partnership homes comes from various sources, and that the donation of surplus Township land is one extremely helpful avenue to ensure that Habitat homes can be built locally. In the HFH 10-year build schedule, five years still have no land determined for building, and none of the five confirmed builds are set to take place in ND. Council accepted the report for consideration pending more research from Township staff.
The presentation from Stonehouse Vineyard sought advice and advocacy for a goal of eliminating an LCBO mark up and wine levy for non-VQA Ontario wines. The VQA is the “Vintner’s Quality Alliance”, and the presentation pointed out that the mark up and wine levy are “punishing and discriminatory” for non-VQA wineries who still use 100% Ontario grapes, and that this is inconsistent with Ontario’s goal of supporting local and being “Open for Business”.
Presenter Craig MacMillian further pointed out that a solution of “joining VQA” may seem like an easy fix to the problem but is simply not feasible for many producers for reasons such as “cold climate grapes” not being recognized by VQA. While it is unusual for a business to address Council over a provincial matter outside of Council’s control, the purpose of the Stonehouse Vineyard presentation was to ask for Council’s “backing” in opposition to the LCBO mark up and wine levy. Craig confirmed that there has been immense backing of the opposition, including from the Council of North Glengarry, MPP Nolan Quinn, and other area politicians. North Dundas Council moved to support the opposition movement.
Routine business such as a part time wage schedule amendment and passing of a motion to increase the number of sick days for Township staff from five days to eight days annually came next. The Township’s vacation policy was also updated to make staff compensation packages more attractive and in line with other municipalities to help in hiring and retaining staff. Other routine approvals followed, including the designation of Bike Night, Dairyfest, and the Meet Me on Main Street events as “events of municipal significance” so that alcohol can be sold.
The last major issue discussed is one that will inevitably affect recreation for locals this summer. The Township was unsuccessful in hiring enough applicants for lifeguard positions to staff both the Winchester and Chesterville public pools full time. Council was tasked with deciding between two options – opening both pools at reduced hours, or opening only the Winchester pool full time.
The Mayor and members of Council took turns emphasizing the challenges that the Township has faced in hiring staff for summer recreation programs including the pool programs. Council ultimately moved to open both the Winchester and Chesterville pools on a part time basis this summer.
The most recent Council meeting took place on May 2, too recent to be covered in the current print edition of the Times. Further highlights from Council will be available in future issues.