Council update

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Due to the restrictions imposed by printing deadlines, there was a regularly scheduled meeting of North Dundas Council that occurred mid December which had yet to be covered in the Times’ regular Council updates. The two-hour meeting took place on December 11, opening with a presentation from Bill Smirle providing a budget and general update from South Nation Conservation Authority. 

Next, representatives from BDO provided an update on an audit of the Township’s finances. The presentation confirmed that the Township’s finances are “clean” and fall within the guidelines of the Public Sector Accounting Standards. Another report on finances followed immediately after, focusing on the technical particulars of a surplus in the budget and differences in how it was tracked in the auditor’s report vs by the Township’s own accounting department. 

Council members were then pleased to discuss a proposal for a blanket insurance policy to cover public events in the Township, thereby making these events easier to organize. Council members gave comments of support, and then approved the concept, with a final amended policy set to be ratified with a vote in the coming months. 

Routine business came next, including an update on the Township’s Multi-Year Accessibility Plan, and updates to the Winter Maintenance and Salt Management policy. Council then jumped into a consideration of a proposal first made in early 2023 by Sevita International, a company with a local facility whose management was requesting exceptions to half load restrictions on some backroads between South Mountain and Winchester. 

The document prepared by staff for Council’s consideration seemed to be leaning against granting the exception for Sevita, stating several times throughout the document that other businesses have made this request before and that if granted, other businesses will surely come forward and make the same request. The report also stresses that full loads during spring months can “result in muddy, rutted roads”. Following the presentation of the report, Mayor Tony Fraser spoke up and stated that as a Township supported largely by the agriculture industry, support should be shown for agriculture (he also lamented that the Province often does not show such support). The Mayor then moved a vote on option 2 – which permits Sevita an exception on a permit basis with a recommended fee of $20,000 annually to help cover road repairs – and this option was passed unanimously. 

Routine business followed once again. Finances were moved around to account for a shortfall on the Cayer Road bridge project and the upcoming Nation Valley Road bridge replacement. The proposed amendment to the Dog Control By-law discussed in the previous meeting was confirmed. This by-law includes the elimination of the dog tag requirement in the Township. Council then approved two requests to delay the payment of development charges to help spread costs for developers over time. 

The next item of business was the confirmation of Preston Stronach as the new Chief Building Official and Supervisor of By-law Services for the Township. In addition, two positions which had previously been interim roles – Director of Transportation and Director of Environmental Services – were made into permanent positions within the Township. The two staff members who were filling the interim roles will continue in their positions permanently. 

Following a short break, Council jumped back into business and discussed a timeline for the 2024 budget presentation and approval, which is anticipated for February. An update on the proposed expansion of the Boyne Road Landfill (to ensure that it can continue to meet the Township’s waste needs) was also given. The Mayor commented that this expansion has been many years in the making, and he stated that he was happy that it will likely soon go ahead. 

The agenda for the evening provided an update on the status of current water and sewer projects, though these projects were not discussed besides a confirmation that they are “on budget”. Projects include a Winchester sewage pumping station upgrade, an upgrade to the Chesterville reservoir and filtration system, and the building of the pumphouse for the new Lafleur road wells, which is anticipated to be complete in 2025, adding 800 additional water units to the Township. 

Fire Chief Kreg Raistrick spoke to Council next, giving an update from the Fire Department, including recent training given to firefighters. The Chief also reported that the average age of firefighters locally is increasing, so the Department will be implementing a Junior Firefighter Program to generate interest in firefighting in youth who may be willing to join the Department when they turn 18. 

Next, when the Township’s Director of Recreation and Culture, Meaghan Meerburg provided an update on proposed increases to the rental rates for Township facilities, Mayor Fraser suggested that it may make more sense to maintain the status quo on base rates, but incorporate insurance costs into the rental rates. A motion will come back to Council on this issue in the near future. 

Council members then discussed how to moderate comments on the Township’s new online community platform (https://letsconnect.northdundas.com/), followed by the approval of routine consent agenda items. Some informal discussions of committee business and December events followed before the meeting adjourned. 

There has been only one Council meeting in 2024 so far. It was a special meeting lasting just over 5 minutes on January 4 to discuss one item – a petition for drainage works by a property owner. It was explained by staff that Council simply needs to approve the petition, with costs then covered by the property owner. The motion was quickly approved, and the special meeting was adjourned.

The next Council meeting will take place on January 18 and will be covered in the next issue of the Times. 

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