Northeast Town Council Notes

Council approves 2015 budget

The Northeast Town council approved the 2015 draft municipal budget at the last council meeting. The budget marks a 4.55 percent increase to the levy. The implications for each ward in the municipality are: 3.67 percent decrease for Ward 1, a 4.35 percent decrease for Ward 2 and a 5.47 percent decrease for Wards 3 and 4.

Bylaw 2014-37 for Howland drain three carried

Council carried a motion to approve bylaw 2014-37, the third and final reading, for Howland drain number three. Prior to council’s decision, CAO Dave Williamson explained that there had been no appeals filed for the drain.

North Channel Cruise Line denied free dry dockage

At a council meeting late last month, the Northeast Town council reviewed a request from North Channel Cruise Line proprietor Chris Blodgett to “utilize a portion of the plot of land inside the Spider Bay Marina basin for the purposes of dry-docking our tour vessel (The Grand Heron)” during the winter months. Mr. Blodgett goes on to say in his request that “there is no suitable marina in the area that could haul the boat otherwise. This vessel presents a very unique set of circumstances.”

Council requested that town staff contact local marinas to see if they could accommodate Mr. Blodgett as the town’s practice is to not compete with the private sector.

At last week’s council meeting, council was informed that both Little Current marinas had been contacted and that they could accommodate Mr. Blodgett.

“We don’t want to interfere with the private sector,” said Mayor Al MacNevin.

Councillor Michael Erskine suggested that staff talk to Mr. Blodgett to determine “where the disconnect is” regarding Mr. Blodgett not believing the other marinas could accommodate his boat.

“We don’t store any other boats, we can’t set a precedent,” continued the mayor.

Councilor Erskine questioned if there was a formal policy in place by the town regarding the town not competing with the private sector.

“It is a sound philosophy and a best practice,” explained Mr. Williamson. “We have always followed, ‘what you do for one, you do for everyone.’ If council approved this for Mr. Blodgett, they need to be prepared to open the door to other similar requests.”

Councillor Erskine suggested that it was confusing that the municipality didn’t have a formal policy in place “to not compete with the private sector.”

Councillor Erskine moved a motion to establish a formal policy regarding municipal services and not competing with the private sector, which was seconded by Councillor Skippen.

Councillor Laurie Cook felt that such a policy would be “hypocritical” in light of the municipal subdivision.

Mayor MacNevin explained that the subdivision was created as there was a shortage of serviced lots in the municipality and there was a need. He also reminded council that the lots were being sold by the private sector (an area restate firm).

In a recorded vote, the motion to create the policy was carried by Councillor Cook, Councillor Erskine, Councillor Marcel Gauthier, Councillor Dawn Orr, Councillor Melissa Peters and Mayor MacNevin. Councillor Paul Skippen and Councillor Bruce Wood voted against the motion.

Northeast Town renews agreement with CBC

The Northeast Town council reviewed its licence renewal agreement with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) for the continued location and operation of the town’s fire department equipment at, and from, the CBC’s transmitter site in Little Current.

“The agreement is for a five-year term commencing on April 1, 2015 and terminating on March 31, 2020,” states a letter from CBC business manager for Ontario Tracy Walsh. “The licence fee for the year ahead continues form the rate currently in place, with an annual escalation of the greater of three percent or CPI in this and each remaining year of the five year term.”

Council carried a motion for the town to renew the licence agreement with CBC.

Library board gains new member

Council approved the appointment of Karen Nesbitt to the Little Current Public Library board.

Council supports senior grant

Town staff explained to council that they were looking for support regarding an Age-Friendly Community Planning Grant that the municipality was applying for.

Mr. Williamson noted that the grant was in line with council’s strategic plan.

Council made a resolution to support the grant which read, “Whereas older persons are an important part of our community and whereas it is in our community’s interest that these citizens continue to live active lives and participate fully in the activities of the community; therefore be it resolved that the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands supports age-friendly community planning and express intention to develop a local action plan for our community.”

Council upset at temporary closure of Sheg Post Office

The Northeast Town council discussed how displeased they were to learn that the Sheguiandah Post Office had been temporarily closed.

“I called the area supervisor and indicated that council was upset that the municipality wasn’t given a heads up,” explained Mayor MacNevin. “He said they couldn’t speak to the internal matters but that it was an emergency situation and that Sheguiandah residents picking up their mail in Little Current was only a short term solution, not a permanent one.”

Councillor Orr added that she had called Canada Post prior to the council meeting and that she was told by a supervisor that he had just been given permission to advertise for a new postmaster position. She also noted that she was told this would be a long process.

Council carried a motion, which read, “the Council of the Corporation of the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands strongly opposes the closure of the Sheguiandah Post Office and demands that Canada Post reinstates services back to this area. Be it further resolved that this motion be sent to Canada Post, MP Carol Hughes, MP Tony Clement, MP Brian Hayes, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.”

Fire Department report

Mr. Williamson reviewed the Northeast Town Fire Department report with council, sending along Northeast Town Fire Department Chief Darren Bailey’s regrets for not being able to attend the meeting.

He reported that there had been 10 calls for service in February including a chimney fire on Blake Street, six calls at the Sheguiandah First Nation Health Centre (alarm calls), a call to the Manitoulin Centennial Manor due to the smell of wood stove smoke outside and a fire alarm call on Vankoughnet Street.

Community services and public works

Reid Taylor delivered the February community service and public works report. He reported to council that the ice is being used regularly and being maintained and that user groups are utilizing the rooms weekly.

“Staff are completing maintenance tasks daily and the Lions Winterfest Weekend went over very well once again,” said Mr. Taylor. “The Family Day skate was also very well attended.”

He said coming up this month at the recreation centre minor hockey and Panther playoffs were starting. He said that the Island Skate will be coming up on March 7, the Northern Ontario Hockey Association Tournament of Champions will be March 13, 14 and 15 and that staff are busy planning March Break youth activities.

Mr. Williamson extended regrets from Gary May to council and in his absence led council through the public works report for February.

He relayed to council that all the town’s vehicles are in good working condition and that the crews are busy keeping the roads clean.

He also mentioned that there had been a number of calls about frozen waterlines, but that none of the frozen water line were municipal.

Building controls and bylaw report

Mitch Varey reviewed the building controls and bylaw report to council for February.

“Open permits from the past building season are being kept up with and inspections are taking place when called for,” said Mr. Varey. “We currently have two permits out in 2015, with a couple others pending.”

As for bylaw enforcement, he said that regular checks for overnight parking and other parking violations have been monitored regularly and that any other bylaw violations are being dealt with as they come to his attention.

Financial reports

Town Treasurer Sheryl Wilkin reviewed the accounts receivable with council. She reported that there had been $105,061.24 in payments made in January. She also told council that the interim tax bills were mailed February 6 and that the due dates were February 27 and April 24.

As for water and sewer she reported that there had been $130,733.45 in payments in January.

She added that there are currently 23 accounts over the $500 maximum, which led to the disconnection of eight of the accounts. She also said that in the case of 15 accounts, the overage was due to the recent billing and or penalty added for January.

Ivan Wheale named Pan Am torchbearer

Council discussed candidates for community torchbearer for the upcoming Toronto Pan Am Games 2015 Torch Relay that will be coming through Little Current on June 2.

The community services and public works committee made a recommendation to council that Ivan Wheale be the community torchbearer for the June 2 torch relay stop in Little Current.

Council approves Island doctor recruitment plan

After hearing a deputation from Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC) CEO Derek Graham in January on a new Manitoulin physician recruitment program, council carried a motion to support the program and donate the requested $6,000 (from the 2015 donation budget) towards the campaign.

The MHC has partnered with physician clinics in Mindemoya, Little Current, Gore Bay and Manitowaning, as well as the Island’s three Family Health Teams (FHT) (the Northeastern FHT, Manitoulin Central FHT and the Assiginack FHT) and Noojmowin Teg Health Centre to create a physician recruitment committee for Manitoulin.

The committee has been reaching out across the Island to potential stakeholder groups, such as the Northeast Town, looking for funding, support and community representatives to sit on the committee.

Council extends FREC event hours for 2015 only

The Northeast Town council reviewed requests from Flat Rock Entertainment Centre (FREC) owners Craig and Kelly Timmermans regarding extended hours for their FREC.ME EDM Festival and Manitoulin Country Fest.

Council agreed to extend the hours of the festivals this year (to 1 am for the EDM and 11:30 pm for Country Fest (1 am for the bar at the festival)).

They agreed that they wanted to only extend the hours this year and continue on an annual review basis instead of permanently amending the site plan agreement.

In the motion council also declared both events of ‘municipal significance’ and donated $200 to each event to help offset the cost of the NIM bins, tables and chairs the event organizers are renting from the town.

Council supports senior co-housing project

The Northeast Town council reviewed a letter from the Kilganan Group regarding its cohousing project for Island seniors.

“Over the past several months I have continued to develop the concept and I am now preparing to move forward with a project in this municipality,” said Byron (Jib) Turner of the Kilganan Group in his letter to council. “As part of this process, I would appreciate a letter of support from the council indicating that you have no objections to this housing form and would encourage the development of this type of alternative housing in the community.”

Councillor Michael Erskine moved a motion of support, seconded by Councillor Laurie Cook. The motion was carried by council.

Northeast Town to recognize World Autism Awareness Day

The Northeast Town council carried a motion to recognize April 2, 2015 as World Autism Awareness Day.

“Whereas Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects more than 100,000 Ontarians,” reads the motion carried by council, “Autism Spectrum Disorder is now recognized as the most common neurological disorder affecting one in every 94 children, as well as their friends, family and community and; whereas ASD is a spectrum disorder, which means it not only manifests itself differently in every individual in whom it appears, but its characteristics will change over the life of each individual as well. A child with ASD will become an adult with ASD and; whereas Autism Ontario (formerly Autism Society Ontario) is the leading source of information and referral on autism and one of the largest collective voices representing the autism community. Since 1973 Autism Ontario has been providing support, information and opportunities for thousands of families across the province; and whereas Autism Ontario is dedicated to increasing public awareness about autism and the day-to-day issues faced by individuals with autism, their families, and the professionals with whom they interact. The association and its chapters share common goals of providing information and education, supporting research, and advocating for programs and services for the autism community and therefore I Mayor MacNevin, do hereby declare April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day.”

Council supports Canadian Union of Postal Workers

National President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers Denis Lemelin wrote a letter to the Northeast Town council requesting their support to “save Canada Post.”

“Over a year ago, Canada Post Corporation announced a plan to change public postal service as we know it and the government endorsed this plan,” reads the letter. “As a result, the corporation has dramatically hiked postage rates and is planning on eliminating door-to-door delivery, closing and downsizing post offices, reducing post office hours and destroying thousands of decent jobs in communities throughout our country.”

In the letter, the union also asks that council pass an attached resolution opposing Canada Post plan for cuts.

Councillor Paul Skippen moved the motion to pass the resolution, seconded by Councillor Erskine and carried by council.