United Counties SDG Council Meeting

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The United Counties Stormont Dundas Glengary (SDG) Council met for their regular monthly meeting via Zoom on April 19.

Councillors discussed amendments to the policy and terms of reference of the Regional Incentives Program. Adjustments were made to the parameters and criteria of applications, in part to ensure that there was no duplication, and that all available grant money could be accessed. The applications are evaluated by a committee, comprised of lay people and Councillors, then the committee makes recommendations to Council. After quite a bit of discussion, it was affirmed that the final decisions regarding funding would rest with Council.

One Councillor reminded the table that it is taxpayers’ money, and the councillors are the elected officials entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that money is well spent. Much of the discussion centred around transparency and accountability, with the table trying to find a balance between letting the committee do their work to evaluate the best applications, and ensuring that council maintains control over taxpayers’ dollars.

Councillors also debated whether the lay appointees to the committee hold positions for two or four years. Those in favour of four years argued that a lot of commitment and time is invested in serving on a committee, and that it seems a shame to replace someone after significant time and passion has been invested. Those in favour of two year appointments argued that two years would allow a person to be replaced that was not serving the committee well. Everyone agreed that the option of a second two year term was appropriate.

Habitat for Humanity has asked SDG for either a piece of land to be donated, or a financial donation. The Council decided to donate $1000, as they cannot find a suitable piece of land for Habitat for Humanity.

The Councillors discussed the future renovation needs of the historic jail and warden’s house. Currently the complex could accommodate six offices, but it requires renovations. They discussed how extensive the renovations should be. There is lots of potential in the space, but there are some significant roadblocks to overcome. Understandably, when it was a jail, the lock-up part was not directly connected to the rest of the complex. That makes a lot of sense when it is a jail, but is an inconvenience for an office space, not to mention an accessibility nightmare. Part of the problem with making decisions about how to go forward, is that in the age of COVID-19, it is not appropriate to do site visits, for example. This makes envisioning what is needed, or what could be done, very difficult. Prudently, the Council is postponing any major decisions until they can go and have a look and understand what is needed, and what is recommended. They have voted to replace roofing with slate-look shingles.

The Councillors discussed the position of SDG in the Ontario political landscape. There was quite a bit of concern expressed about what they see as lack of representation by our MPP at the provincial table. The words “Ontario doesn’t stop at Kingston,” has been heard a few times lately, meaning that some Councillors feel unrepresented and forgotten. They want to know where their voice is at the provincial table. They agreed to ask MPP Jim McDonell, MP Eric Duncan, and Dr Paul from EOHU to attend a meeting to discuss issues important to SDG. That meeting was scheduled for two days later, on April 21 at 6:30 pm.

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