Council update


A regularly scheduled Council meeting took place on January 18, the first regular meeting in 2024. Council wasted no time jumping into business, beginning with a delegation from two OPP officers. Acting Staff Sgt. Alicia Burtch explained that nothing jumps out from the OPP’s latest report to the community, but that as usual, traffic and other concerns brought forth by members of Council and the public are being actively addressed. The Sergeant also explained that the OPP is adding four new recruits to its SD&G team, which is expected to significantly help police staffing in the area. 

A back and forth discussion took place between Sgt. Burtch and Mayor Tony Fraser regarding the importance of reports from the public. Sgt. Jim Blanchette was also in attendance, and reaffirmed that complaints and concerns from community members are vital in helping the OPP do its job. He assured residents that they are not annoying the police by making a report. The Mayor also alluded to future Township considerations of lowering the in-town speed limits within North Dundas. 

Following the delegation, other routine business proceeded. Eleanor Renaud was nominated as the Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Committee representative. Next came a proposed update to the Township’s Public Complaint Policy. Staff determined that the Policy – which was implemented in 2020 – went beyond what is legally required, for example by requiring a response to complaints when in fact all that is required is that the complaint be heard. The recommendation from staff is that the formal process spelled out in the Policy be used as a last resort, instead encouraging residents to resolve complaints at the Township office or by reaching out to specific departments directly. Councillor Matthew Uhrig commented in support of the “new and improved” complaint policy before the motion was passed. 

The next item of business was an update regarding the Township’s animal control by-law. For over two decades, the Township has partnered with three other municipalities to jointly fund a dog pound for use when a stray dog is caught. The four municipalities (including North Dundas) also contract services from the same Animal Control Officer – Kevin Casselman. Council moved to extend this arrangement for the next six months. Calvin Pol – the Township’s Director of Development Services – explained that the other three municipalities are considering different arrangements due to the age of the shared dog pound. If this happens, North Dundas has pre-arranged to share Russell’s dog pound. Director Pol also noted that far fewer dogs are caught than in previous decades since the internet now allows people to reach out to the community and find their lost dogs more easily. 

Council’s next order of business was to pass two borrowing resolutions – one each pertaining to the Bank of Montreal and the Royal Bank of Canada – to facilitate potential short-term loans for future projects to help bridge the financing gap while the Township awaits longer term loans from Infrastructure Ontario or a financial institution. As is typical in January, Council also passed a by-law to allow an interim tax levy for the first half of 2024 to be billed to property owners in advance of the passing of this year’s budget. The interim tax levy for each property cannot exceed 50% of last year’s bill for the total year. 

Next, Council heard from Director Meaghan Meerburg of the Recreation and Culture Department who explained staff’s recommendation that a tender for a pavilion and concrete pad for Hallville Community Park be awarded, but that two other recreation recommendations – a similar set up for Oschmann Park, as well as a dog park in Chesterville – be put on the backburner for this budget year. Council agreed and the motion passed as recommended. Council then approved design option B for the Hallville, Oschmann, and James Street parks, for a total cost of $323,674.02 + HST. Councillors Lennox and Uhrig made comments that it is worth it for these projects to go over budget to ensure inclusiveness for those living with accessibility issues. 

Council moved quickly on January 18, considering items and voting with no time wasted. A new projector was approved for Old Town Hall. A new water allocation was granted for a Winchester property. Other routine business followed, including a motion allowing a telecommunications company to install a new fibre optic internet line in underserved local areas. 

Next, Council approved a policy allowing seasonal permits for businesses that require exceptions to half load restrictions. This comes following a request by Sevita International last year, which spurred several Council conversations on the matter. Sevita’s specific agreement was also approved at the meeting. Councillor Annable expressed satisfaction that this matter is now settled. Councillor Uhrig expressed a word of caution that Sevita drivers must ensure that they carry their permit with them. 

Council had an in-depth discussion of job benefit enhancements for Township employees. Council members took turns providing their opinions and observations about benefit increase amounts for specific needs such as eyeglasses and therapy. Councillor Lennox asserted that he wants the Township to provide the best possible maternity leave benefits for its employees. Council agreed that a final decision will be easier to make once the impact on benefit premiums is known. Mayor Fraser mirrored the comments of his Council colleagues in his belief that better benefits will help the Township retain employees. 

Councillor Lennox – who is a firefighter – recused himself from a presentation given by Fire Chief Kreg Raistrick regarding a firefighter wages study. Next, Council followed up on a pilot study that began in February of last year to evaluate the “FoodCycler” – an indoor alternative to composting. Feedback on the device was overwhelmingly positive and the device was praised as a good waste diversion tool. 

After some wrap-up routine items of business and a few update reports, the Council meeting concluded after just under 1 hour and 40 minutes. 


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