The North Dundas Council met in a Special Meeting on February 23 at the Joel Steele Community Centre, immediately following the Public Meeting. Khurram Tunio, Director of Public Works, explained the proposed re-structuring of the Public Works Department. This will not cost the Municipality any extra, but will allow for increased efficiency.
A looming issue in the Township is water and sewer. Simply put, Winchester and Chesterville, both on the municipal water system, are growing very fast. At the Council meetings you will hear the Mayor, Council, and staff, talk about “water and sewer units.” Each new build has to have enough water and sewage units assigned to it. There is a certain amount of water available, and a specific capacity to the sewage system. There has to be enough to allow a bit of wiggle room in case of a fire, or if there is a drought.
In rural areas, houses or developments have their own wells, and septic systems. The municipal system is similar, except on a much larger scale. At some point in the not-so-distant past, the Public Works Department calculated that, given the finite capacity of the wells and water system to provide water, and the sewage treatment system to deal with waste water, the township had 350 water and sewage units to allocate to development. That amount would have lasted quite a while, if growth in Winchester and Chesterville had continued on the same trajectory. It hasn’t. The pandemic has made people want to live outside bigger cities. There has been an unprecedented demand for homes in most small town and rural areas, thus the demand for development. The 350 water and sewer units that were expected to last a few years aren’t going to. Prior to the pandemic, the township had already begun to think about how to address the future need for more water and sewage capacity.
So, you are going to hear even more about water and sewage allocations in the very near future, and discussions about how to increase water and sewage capacity faster than previously anticipated. (There is detailed information, from page 21 onwards, in the Council meeting package, for the meeting of February 23, on the North Dundas website.)
Council agreed that the water and sewer allocation will be limited to 350 for both residential and commercial growth, and the capital charge (the amount paid by a developer to the township for water and sewer) will be set to $8,800 per unit. The other option presented at the meeting was to increase water and sewer allocation to 450, and set the capital charge at $10,300 per unit. Mr Tunio stressed that he doesn’t want to see the current residents of Winchester and Chesterville burdened by the cost of the water and sewer expansion. Angela Rutley, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), explained to Council that there is very little provincial assistance to expand water and sewer systems, but that when there is the opportunity to apply for such funding, it is very important to show that the township is collecting adequate capital charges, and that the municipal government is looking for funds within their own reserves. The population of North Dundas connected to municipal water and sewer is expected to increase from 4,355 in 2019 to 8,399 by 2040. Considering the unprecedented demand for housing outside of major cities since the pandemic began, this number may need to be adjusted. The sewage lagoons require maintenance immediately. Future growth will have a significant financial impact of a minimum of $45 million. Significant increase in capital charges, combined with short term support from Township reserves, and long term funding from upper levels of governments, are necessary. North Dundas cannot continue to grow without significant financing and funding. In the next three years, water and sewer requires $5.1 million. Capital charges will be limited to $8,800 per unit, and $2.186 million will come from Hydro reserve funds from 1998. The water and sewer expansion will be in the spotlight for the foreseeable future.
The positions for spring and summer employment are currently posted on the North Dundas website. The deadline to apply is March 4.
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) solicited municipal partner support as they begin planning to vaccinate the population, and requested that municipal facilities be identified that could be used to host mass vaccination clinics, such as arenas and community centres, other community locations that might be used, as well as facilities in the municipalities where specific vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, reside. The latter could include specific apartment buildings. The locations suitable for mass vaccination clinics must allow space for physical distancing, must be accessible to all, and must allow for ease of transport of individuals to the site, such as home-bound residents and residents with special needs.
Council authorised the EOHU to use municipal facilities free of charge for vaccination clinics and other relief efforts between February 24 and June 9, 2021. A representative from the EOHU contacted the Recreation Director and visited the Joel Steele Community Hall. The EOHU subsequently requested that the Community Hall be available for five vaccine clinics initially, begining on February 27, and most likely more in the future. The people slated for vaccination next include some high priority health care workers, those in assisted living or retirement homes, and indigenous adults. Specific instructions from the EOHU will be forthcoming.
The meeting package is posted on the North Dundas website (northdundas.com) in advance of the meetings. The regular meetings are held on the second and forth Tuesday of the month. Minutes of the previous meeting are posted right after the following Council meeting, as the Council must approve the minutes from the meeting prior to them being posted. This is your council.